Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Madurantakam Eri Kaatha Raamar

Kothanda Raamar is seen holding the hand of Sita

Located about 80kms South of Madras on the Madras-Tiruchirapalli Grand Southern Trunk (GST) Road is the Kothandaraamar(Eri Kaatha Raamar) Temple in Madurantakam. This place was once referred to as Vakularanya Kshetram (this place is believed to have been full of Maghizham flowers- Vakulam= Maghizham flowers. Hence the name.).
The story- Raama visiting this place
Vibandaka Maharishi’s son Rishya Singar was the one who helped King Dasharatha conduct the Putra Kameshti Yaagam which resulted in the birth of Raama.

In his search for Sita, Rama and Lakshmana reached Vibandaka Maharishi’s ashram here in Madurantakam. It is believed that the Rishi reassured Raama that he will locate Sita and wanted him to visit this place and provide Darshan along with Sita.

After having defeated Ravana, Rama comes back with Sita on the Pushpaka Vimaanam showing her, on the way, all the places that he had been to in search of her. On reaching Nyana Giri Parvatham, he was reminded of his promise to Vibandaka Rishi.

To fulfil this commitment, he is said to have landed here in the Pushpaka Vimanam and given darshan to Vibandaka Rishi along with Sita and Lakshmana.

No Hanuman inside the temple
A unique feature at this temple is the absence of Hanuman inside the temple. As Raama had sent Hanuman as a messenger to inform Bharata that he was on his way and did not come along with Raama in the Pushpaka Vimaanam, Hanuman is not seen inside the temple.

It is also believed that having given the idol of Lord Ranganatha to the new Lankan king Vibeeshana, Raama, the king of Ayodhya, is said to have invoked the blessings of Karunakara Perumal and that he was the pooja deity of Raama.

Karunakara Perumal

The Name-Eri Kaatha Raamar
Just over a couple of centuries ago, in 1798, the people of Madurantakam sought the help of the then British Collector at Chengalpet Lionel Blaze to protect the temple from the floods that would strike the town every year, resulting in the breach of the tank bund, thus ravaging the villages and the crop.

The collector, who found some granite stones behind the temple, suggested that these be used to prevent the breach. In the argument that followed, he was told that these stones were to be used for the construction of the Sannidhi for the Goddess inside the Kothandarama temple. Not pleased with this answer, the General questioned as to why their favourite Lord could not protect this place.

Reacting to this, the people of Madurantakam performed Vishnu Sahasranama Parayanam seeking Lord Raama’s help. With the rains belting down and the lake close to its brim, the Collecter visited Madurantakam once again and this time is believed to have camped here on the night that the tank bud was expected to breach and lash out into the temple and the entire town.

What he saw that night was a miraculous event. Amidst the flash of lightening, he saw two people in the lake holding a bow (and arrow). The next morning, to everyone’s surprise, there was no breach and everything was normal.

A delighted collector is said to have immediately allocated 10000 Pagodas for the construction of the Thaayar Sannidhi and a bridge across the lake, just behind the temple.

As Lord Raama is believed to have protected this place from the bursting of the lake bud, this place is called ‘Eri Kaatha Raamar’.

The meeting of Ramanuja with Periya Nambi
Ramanuja, coming from Kanchipuram, met with his Acharya Periya Nambi, sent by Lord Ranganatha to bring Ramanuja to Srirangam, at this temple below the Makila tree and Pancha Samskaram took place here. Amongst Ashtaacharam, Dwayam and Saramaslokam, Ramanuja is said to have been specifically initiated with the ‘Dwayam’ manthiram here. Hence, this place is also called ‘Dwayam Valaintha Tirupathi’.

Rama Navami Celebrations – The Lord in 5 different attires

On the Rama Navami day, Raama provides darshan in five different attires- ‘Lord with a Plait’, ‘Ekaantha Vastram’, ‘ThiruAabarana Alankaaram’, ‘Vaira Mudi Sevai’ and ‘Muthu Kondai’.

Parivettai Utsavam


Once a year, on the 3rd day of the Tamil Calendar month of Thai (mid January to mid February) on the occasion of Parivettai Utsavam, Karunakara Perumal goes on a procession to Nyana Giri Parvatham, the hill where Raama is believed to have descended on his Pushpaka Vimaanam.

History
This temple is believed to be about 1500 years old. Uthama Chozhan, the ancestor of the great Chozha king Raja Raja Chozhan, is said to have played a role in the construction of this temple and is believed to have dedicated and given this temple to those learned Vedic Scholars (Vedham Othum Anthanar).

Later, Pandya and Naayak kings are said to have helped in the renovation and contributed to the improvement of the temple. Naayaks are believed to have constructed the Raja Gopuram that is seen today.


Ahobila Mutt Educational Institution
Outside the Eri Kaatha Raamar temple is a six decade old Oriental high school run by Ahobila Mutt with hostel facilities. Started in 1950, the school runs classes from 6th to 10th standard with Sanskrit as the first language.

The Ahobila Mutt also runs, entirely free of cost for the students, a 7 year Vedic Education class, a 5 year class to learn Divya Prabhandham and a 5 year Shiromani class (equivalent to MA). The school currently has around 150 students, who have come from across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Quick Facts

Moolavar : Kothanda Raamar(Kalyana Raamar) with a bow in Hand, East Facing Standing Posture
Goddess : Janaka Valli Thaayar

Utsavar : 1. Karunakara Perumal
2. Raama

Temple Time : 730am-12noon and 430pm-830pm

Contact : Rangarajan Bhattar @98429 09880 or 93814 82008

Address : Lord Kothanda Raamar Temple, Madurantakam- 603 306

Festival : Sri Raama Navami in Panguni, 15 day Brahmotsavam in Aani,Bashyakaarar Jayanthi in Chitrai

How to reach Madurantakam
Buses every 5-10mts between Madras (Chennai) and Tindivanam/Villipuram/Trichy

By Train
One may also take the Sub-Urban train to Chengalpet and then a 30 minute bus drive to Madurantakam (25kms from Chengalpet)is a good option.

By Car
With the 6 laning of the Chennai-Trichy highway, one can reach Madurantakam from Chennai in an hour and half by car

2 comments:

lakshmi said...

Dear Prabhu,
The association of our family with madurantakam is more than a century old now.Ive heard that my great grand father hailed from this historic town through my grand father Shri Ramasamy iyengar.Visiting your link has given me the closest possible experience of revisiting my child hood days in the late 1970's when my father Shri varadharajan iyengar used to take us to maduranthakam for the local car festival and also for the deepavali celebrations which used to witness a huge gathering as my grand father shri Ramasamy iyengar had 8 children in all and the entire family network used to assemble.One can imagine the extent of all the fun and frolic that would prevail in a gathering like this.Our house was located on the car street which was also more than a century old and was identified by a big BADHAAM tree in front of the house.A visit to maduranthakam was never complete without stepping into the ERIKAATHA RAMAR temple to seek the divine blessings as my family had a very close association and was actively involved in all temple festivities.There would be a tremendous sense of relief and fulfillment as one enters the temple and one has to visit the temple to experience the same.
Things change, time moves on..years roll by as 30 years have gone by, now as i post this comment thousands of miles away from maduranthakam.Neither my parents are alive now,nor we own the century old house in the town ,but..what remains is the fond memories and the everlasting grace of madurantakam ERI KAATHA RAMAR.
I sincearly thank you for taking me through a journey of the wonderful days of my childhood and reminding me of this historic town and the greatness of this temple.
May lord Rama bless us all.

Prabhu.S said...

Krishna,

Hi! Good to know your background.

It is in reasonably good shape, but folks like you should visit the temple when ever possible(it may be a little away from Madras and may require a bit of little to travel and come back).

Also, you should do your bit for the temple and the priest, so the relevant festivities and daily poojas are kept going without any discomfort.

If each of us take care of a few temples that are close to our heart, we can ensure that these temples dont become 'history' during our time.

Regards
Prabhu