Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 65


Shri Vedanarayana Perumal at Kkumbakonam
Lord Brahma, Saraswati and Gayatri

Oct 12, CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of places of Lord Brahma's worship.

Lord Brahma at Kumbakonam

Bounded by the River Kaveri on the north and the Arasalar River on the south, the town of Kumbakonam is 40 km. northeast of Thanjavur, and 60 km. inland from the coast of Tamil Nadu. It is home to the Shri Vedanarayana Perumal Temple, which is a very interesting example of Brahma worship. Here, Perumal Visnu is in the form of Lord Brahma combined with Saraswati Devi and Gayatri. The deity is known as Vedanarayana Swamy. The prefix "veda" refers to Lord Brahma's catur-mukha, or four faces, which are associated with the four Vedas.

Main gopuram, Vedanarayana Perumal Temple

While some call this a Visnu temple, it is properly considered a Brahma temple, and has been categorized as such for many years. Kumbakonam appears on all of the 'short lists' of rare Brahma temples in India. It is known by various names: Vedanarayana Perumal Temple, Brahnam Kovil, and the Bramman Temple.

The temple is located beside the Mahamagha tank, in what is now called Pattunoolkara (silk weaver) Street. Of the 17 major temples in Kumbakonam, 12 are Saivite, 5 are Vaisnava, and only the Vedanarayana Perumal is dedicated to the worship of Brahmadeva. In general, the temples on the outskirts of Kumbakonam are relatively modern, having been constructed by the Naik kings, but the temples in the center of Kumbakonam are ancient, going back to the Chola period. Sri Vedanarayana Perumal Temple falls into the latter category. During the 7th century, Kumbakonam was the capital of the Cholas.

Elumalayaan Srinivasa Perumal

The deities residing here are Shri Vedhanaraya Perumal (Brahma), Elumalayaan Srinivasa Perumal, Shri Narasimha moorthy, Shri Aandaal, and Mahalaksmi. Vedanarayana Swamy is standing, with four faces.

Shri Narasimha Moorthi

There are a number of famous pastimes involving Lord Brahma that are associated with this temple. When Lord Brahma was gathering the tools for his works of creation, most notably the Amritham, he kept his paraphernalia in the Kumbam, the pot which contained seeds of all the life forms. These Brahmadeva put to use after the Pralaya, when the material universe was annihilated by flood at the end of the age.

Shri Mahalaksmi

Lord Brahma also came here to perform yagna while he was learning the Vedas. Lord Visnu, being very pleased, appeared to Brahma as Vedanarayan and Varadharaja. Here at Bramma Kovil, Sri Vedanarayana Swamy is flanked on either side by Saraswati and Gayatri, who are both associated with Brahmadeva's absorption in the Vedas.

Shri Varadharaja Perumal

Shri Vedanarayana Perumal Temple is a very beautiful architectural structure. The gopurams, prakarams and walls are all beautifully adorned with sculptures, paintings and inscriptions from the various Vedic epics. Thousands of devotees throng to the temple each year to get darshan of this rare Brahma deity, and to enjoy the beautiful devotional art in the temple.

Vedanarayana Perumal Temple Complex

Every 12 years, a Kumbha Mela is celebrated at Kumbakonam, at the Mahamagam Theertham. Over half a million devotees amass around the temple tank to witness the observance of the great Ganga, coming to fill the tank. Sixteen temples border the great Mahamagam theertham, including one which bears the same name.

Shri Aandall

The theertham covers an area 12 acres in size, making it a very large tank. There are steps descending on all four sides, and in the center of the tank are 9 wells, in which all nine of Bharat's sacred rivers are said to converge on the day the Mela is observed.

Sri Narasimha Gopuram

On four of the temple banks there are 16 sannathis (shrines) for 16 famous mahalinga swamis, known as Shodasa Lingas. All are said to have been built by Sri Govinda Deekshitar, Chief Minister for King Achuthappa Naicker, circa 1545 A.D. The King gave him gold by his weight, with which he built these temples.

Mahamagam tank

During the Khumba Mela, a 10-day Brahmotsavam is also celebrated at the Vedanarayana Perumal Temple, with Theerthavari also held for Lord Brahma at the Arasalaru theertham (a nearby holy tank). Theerthavari is held there for both Vedanarayana Perumal and Veeraraghava Perumal.

Photos courtesy City of Kumbakonam.


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