Vadakkunathar, Prasanna Bagavathi Mariamman, Lord Venkatachalapathi and Goddess Padmavathi
Vadakkunathar - An unmolten ghee Lingam
In the year 1992, Swami went on a trip to Banaras along with a few devotees, during Sivarathri time. While they were having a dip in the Ganges, Swami took out a big Maragatha Siva banam (Siva lingam) from underwater. Later, he tried his best to install the lingam at various places, to no avail. Once, after visiting Chothanikkara temple, he happened to go to the Vadakkunathar (Lord Siva) temple at Trichur in Kerala. There he received the divine order from Devi about the installation of the Siva banam. It was installed behind the Lord Ayyappan sannadhi at the peetam. When nei (ghee) abhishekam was done, Devi whispered in Swami's ears that this ghee would never melt and also it would be unaffected by the elements of nature. From that day the idol came to be known as Tambara Vadakkunathar. It is an unbelievable wonder that the ghee, even after a period of nine years, has never melted, even during the hottest summers in Chennai with temperatures soaring above 45 degrees Celsius and inspite of the morning sun's rays falling directly on it. Even the ghee which is poured on this Lingam on festive occasions by devotees gets frozen. When we asked Swami about this marvel, he explained that the frozen ghee is a sage in siddhar form. Underneath the lingam is an idol of Meenakshi (another form of Devi). After about five years, as per the divine direction, an idol of Goddess Parvathi was sculpted on the outside temple wall right behind the Vadakkunathar idol, so that people from outside can also receive the blessings of the Lord.
One of the main priests performing the rituals for Lord Ayyappan in the Sabari hills once happened to visit the peetam. When he saw Lord Ayyappan and the sacred eighteen steps, he was elated and requested Swami to allow him to perform the pooja to Lord Ayyappan at least for a week. Swami magnanimously blessed him to do the poojas for during the mandalakalam and makarajyothi (from November 15th to January 15th). When he began to perform the special padipooja for the sacred eighteen steps, he found it very difficult and somehow he managed to complete the pooja only after a great length of time. Since then, every year, Swami only does the padi pooja by tanthric methods which he practiced and mastered with the blessings of Sri Adi Shankara. At this point, it is interesting to point out that Swami belongs to the generation of Adi Shankara who asked Gnananandar to get merged with Swami. Adi Shankara had been worshipping the jyothi (Chothanikkarai Devi) and Gnananandar thus merged with the generation of Adi Shankara. Every year many devotees who are fortunate throng the peetam and climb the sacred eighteen steps to worship Lord Ayyappan and witness the Makara jyothi in the sky. At that moment, every one forgets the world outside and swims in the ocean of joyful bliss, chanting 'Swamiyai Saranam Ayyappa'.
Prasanna Bagavathi Mariamman (Mazhikapurathu Amman)
This deity is another form of Devi. She is the adopted mother of Swami. The reader may recall the incident when Swami was one year old and was saved by this deity. That incident was outlined in an earlier chapter on Swami's life history. This idol's sannadhi is located behind the sacred eighteen steps. Whenever the Ayyappan sannidhanam is kept open, that is during the Mandalakalam and also during the first three days of every Hindu calendar month, this deity is covered with a silver kavacham (body sheath). In this form, She depicts Mazhikapurathu Amman. In the Sabari hills, abhishekam is done to Devi with turmeric powder. The legend behind this deity is that She wanted to marry Ayyappan who in turn told her that when no new devotee comes to see Him in Sabarimalai, that day he would marry Her. She remains single. In the peetam, on all other days, She is depicted as Prasanna Bagavathi Mariamman. On all Tuesdays and Fridays, except on the days when the Ayyappan sannadhi is open, abhishekam for this deity is done with turmeric powder, milk, curd, honey, tender coconut water and sandal paste. A payasam (porridge) made out of rice is offered as neivedyam to Her. Her divine name confirms that She always showers the devotees with joy and happiness.
Lord Venkatachalapathi (Gurupathi) and Goddess Padmavathi (in divine vision, none other than Swami's grand mother)
Behind the sannadhi of Kalyana Bagavathi, there are two sannadhis adjacent to each other wherein Goddess Padmavathi and Lord Venkatachalapathi were installed on the eight of January 2000. The significance behind the idols is as follows. Any unmarried person facing a long delay in getting a suitable life partner who ties a mangal suthra (Hindu wedding identity symbol) to this Goddess and prays sincerely will be certainly blessed and soon get married. Lord Gurupathi is Gnananandar Himself playing a different role. Married couples who perform kalyana utsavam (a wedding ceremony offering) to these two deities will be freed of all obstacles and grievances in their wedded life and blessed with a peaceful life without quarrels and serious misunderstandings. The important factor in this offering is that Swami, with his divine powers will name five couples in a year, in advance, who need to perform this offering and get blessed thereupon.
In the year 1999, Swami had gone to Sharjah to a devotee's house for Devi's weekly pooja. On a Thursday, while he was conversing with the devotee, he got the divine message from Devi that two idols have come to his house at Kumbakonam. He at once called his family on phone to find out whether any packets were present in the pooja room. Swami's wife went inside the pooja room and noticed that two packets had come from nowhere and she conveyed her amazement to Swami over phone. Swami asked her to open the packet. Two panchalokha (made of five metals) idols of Lord Venkatachalapathi and Goddess Padmavathi were in the packets. Swami, then gave instructions for two sannadhis to be built in the peetam behind the main deity as per Devi's command. As per the divine wish, the prathishta and abhishekam was done on eight January 2000.
Kumbabhishekam (abhishekam to the five kalasams located on top of the two sannadhis) was done by Swami and a vaishnavite priest who came specially for this function. The latter had a thrilling experience which he narrated to all of us just before he left the peetam. Earlier, Swami had been to a place called Chidambaram to bless one of his devotees who was celebrating his eightieth birthday. Though not a brahmin, the devotee had invited the brahmin priests to conduct the religious ceremony. Among them was this vaishnavite priest. Swami's attention was drawn towards him and later he asked him out of curiosity how he had not only come there but also conducted a ritual for a non-brahmin. The priest replied saying that he was an ardent devotee of Devi and he never cared about caste and creed in rendering his service. Swami was very happy with his reply and briefed him about the siddhar peetam. He told him about the proposed prathishta of Lord Venkatachalapathi and Goddess Padmavathi which was to take place. After that meeting, Swami had no communication with the priest for about two months.
It was one day prior to the prathishta day. In the afternoon, the priest who had never visited the peetam nor Tambaram, came on his own to Tambaram railway station. He called Swami over phone and asked him for directions to the peetam. Swami immediately sent a car with a person to bring him to the peetam. After the abhishekam, the priest performed the entire pooja to the two idols. After the function got over, when the discourse by Sri Radhakrishnan was about to end, the priest came forward and asked Swami's permission to say a few words to all of us before his departure. He said that while doing the abhishekam to the five kalasams he experienced and witnessed the divine darshan of Lord Venkatachalapathi and His two consorts Goddess Padmavathi and Goddess Lakshmi. The Lord appeared with the divine shanku and chakram. While relating this experience, he broke down with tears of joy. He further said that in the peetam, there is great divinity and sanctity which he relished and experienced with immense joy.