KAMARASAVALLI – STHALA PURANAM by Sri P. R. Kannan

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Temple View

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Karkotaka seen praying to Lord Soundareswara

Kamarasavalli is a Village in Thirumanur Taluk in Ariyalur District of Tamil Nadu. It is

located on the northern bank of river Kollidam (tributary of river Kaveri), 20 km towards

south from district head quarters Ariyalur and 9 km from Thirumanur.

Sthala Puranam

Two great Puranic personalities are associated with the temple here. One is Rati,

consort of Manmatha and the other, the great snake Karkotaka. The name of the place,

Kamarasavalli is associated with the story of Rati. The name of the presiding deity,

Karkoteswara owes its genesis to the worship of the Lord by the serpent Karkotaka.

Rati: As prodded by Devas, once Manmatha cast his famous flower-arrows of love at Lord

Siva, who was in Yoga, when Parvathi was practising penance separately to attain him.

Siva was angry and reduced Manmatha to ashes from the fire from his third eye in the

forehead. As advised by Vishnu, Rati pleaded in this sthala before Devi Balambika and

Lord Soundareswara to forgive Manmatha and restore him to life and bless them. They

acceded to her prayers. Manmatha was restored to life, but he was Ananga (one without

limbs), visible only to Rati. The cycle of creation thus came to be continued without a

break due to the Lord’s grace. As Lord graced Rati Devi, the place came to be known as

Rathi Vara Puram and Kama Rati Valli, which changed into Kamarasavalli in course of

time. In confirmation of this story, a copper idol of Rati Devi is in the temple in the posture

of begging the Lord for restoration of her mangalya. In commemoration of this event,

the temple celebrates ‘Kaman’ festival every year on Magha Pournami day. During the

festival, devotees plant a ‘cut into two’ castor plant. Symbolizing the boon of Lord for Rati

- Manmatha union, the plant comes to life within 8 days, thus confirming the grace of the

Lord even today. Women seeking Mangalya boon and resolution of marital discords pray

here for fulfilment of their wishes.

Karkotaka:

One of the eight great serpents in the underground Naga world, Karkotaka, the offspring of

sage Kasyapa and Kadru, is well known for his timely help extended to king Nala, when he

was afflicted by Kali. A famous prayer runs as under:

कार्कोटकस्य नागस्य दमयन्त्याः नलस्य च ।

ऋतुपर्णस्य राजर्षेः कीर्तनं कलिनाशनम् ॥

“Chanting the names of the serpent Karkotaka, Damayanti, Nala and Rajrishi Rituparna will

destroy the ill effects of Kali.”

Once when King Parikshit was hunting in the forest, he became very weary due to severe

hunger and thirst. He saw Rishi Sameeka in contemplation and asked for water. The

Rishi, who was in Samadhi, was unaware of his surroundings. On receiving no response

from the Rishi, Parikshit became furious and picked up a dead serpent and hung it on

the Rishi’s neck. The Rishi’s son, Sringi could not stand this dishonour of his father and

cursed that whoever had perpetrated this hideous crime would die of bite by the serpent

Takshaka on the seventh day. Parikshit, of course, spent these seven days listening to

Srimad Bhagavatam from sage Suka and attained Mukti. But his son Janamejaya, who

was crowned king, was prodded by some ministers to avenge his father’s untimely death

by conducting a serpent sacrifice, in which all serpents would fall in the fire and die. In the

course of the sacrifice, when a large number of serpents had lost their lives in the sacrificial

fire, the serpent Karkotaka was afraid and took refuge under Lord Mahavishnu.

Lord Vishnu directed Karkotaka to this place, Kamarasavalli and advised him to perform

intense penance and pray to Lord Soundareswara for his grace. Karkotaka scrupulously

followed Vishnu’s advice. Soundareswara appeared before him and blessed him with

protection for not only his life but also for the serpent families. The gracious Lord also

assured that no Kala Sarpa dosha would affect those who pray at this temple. This

happened on a day ruled by Kataka Lagna and Kataka Rasi. Hence those belonging to

this Lagna and Rasi are advised to pray in the temple for relief from all difficulties. In view

of the special worship of the Lord by Karkotaka, Lord Soundareswara came later to be

known as Karkoteswara. A noteworthy feature is that according to inscriptions here, no

one had died of snake bite in this place.

The Temple

At the entrance we can have darshan of the large Vinayaka idol, Nandikeswara on

a high pedestal and Balipeetham. We then move on to the garbhagriha, where Lord

Karkoteswara gives darshan majestically, facing east. Dakshinamurthi, Ardhanareeswara,

Lingodbhava, Brahma and Durga are in the Goshtas. There are beautiful Utsava Vigrahas

in the Ardhamandapa. In the Mahamandapa, we see the sculpture showing Karkotaka

performing Siva Puja with Lord Vinayaka and Nandi. Every pillar in the temple is full of

sculptural beauty. Mother Balambika graces from a separate Sannidhi in standing pose,

facing south. Vinayaka, Subramania with his consorts Valli and Devasena, Mahalakshmi,

Saraswati, Durga, Chandikeswara and Navagrahas grace from their shrines in the

prakara. The temple has a separate Mandapam with Lord Nataraja. There are some

Naga idols, to whom devotees pray for relief from the adverse effects of serpent planets,

Rahu and Ketu. There is also a kitchen.

We have historical information from about 45 stone inscriptions found in the temple

premises. We find that the kshetra has other names such as Tirunallur, Karkoteswaram,

Chaturvedi Mangalam, Rathivara Puram and Kamarathi Valli. According to one inscription,

the temple was built by Sundara Chola also known as Raja Kesari Varma (AD 957-974) in

the year AD 962. Raja Kesari Varma is the grandfather of Raja Raja Chola who built the

Thanjavur Big Temple. One Sriranga Thanda Naicker, the commander of the king Posala

renovated this temple in the year 1260. According to history, besides the Cholas, Pandyas

and Posala kings had also paid due attention for the maintenance of the temple. Sundara

Chola, Uthama Chola, Raja Rajan I, Rajendran I, Kulothungan I, II and III, Vikrama Chola

and Kadavarman directly supervised the administration of this Kamarasavalli temple,

according to epigraphic findings. These inscriptions also speak about the debates

organized among the Vedic scholars, Margazhi Tiruvadhirai festival and the folklore dance

called Chakkai Koothu. Another inscription is about the visit of King Posala in 1240 to hear

and deliver a verdict in a land dispute. Many inscriptions refer to gifts of land for various

services in the temple such as preparation of sandal paste, provision of offerings to the

gods, gifts to Vedic pundits who chant Vedas during festivals etc. The flower Garden –

Nandavanam was then known as Picha Devan Nandavanam. There was also a family

quarter for those maintaining the garden called Tiruthondan complex.

It appears there was also a mutt in the name of Child Saint Tirugnana Sambandar. This

is also famed as the 70th

Above all, the temple has the added reputation that Jagadguru Sri Kanchi Maha Swamigal

Sthala, worshipped and sung by saint Appar (Tirunavukkarasar).

visited the temple in 1950 and performed abhishekam to Lord Karkoteswara with his own

hands. Many other saints have also had darshan at this temple.

Monthly pradoshams; Tamil New year day falling on or about April 14; Aadi Pooram in

July-August; Vinayaka Chaturthi in August-September; Navarathri in September-October;

Aipasi Annabishekam in October-November and Margazhi Tiruvadhirai (Ardra Darsanam)

in December-January are the main festivals celebrated in the temple.

Varadarajaswamy Temple

The sthala also has a temple for Sri Varadarajaswamy with consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi.

The Lord, who is in standing pose, blesses the devotees with all auspiciousness, specially

relief from skin diseases.

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