Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sri Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy

Name : Sri Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy

Location : Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh

Legend : This shape of the hill looks like an elephant. From all the directions, the hill appears in the elephant shape only. There is an interesting legend to show as to how the mountain came into existence. Pariyatra, an ancient king had a son Hrasva Srungi visited all holy and sacred places to regain normal bodily stature and finally visited this holy place of Mangalagiri and stayed for three years performing penance. All the Devathas (Gods) advised him to stay at Mangalagiri and continue to do penance in praise of Lord Vishnu. The father of Hrasva Srungi came with his retinue to take back his son to his kingdom. But Hrasva Srungi took the shape of an elephant to become the abode of Lord Vishnu who is locally known as Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy.

Description : Mangalagiri - The Auspicious Hill

Mangalagiri means The Auspicious Hill. This place is one of the 8 important Mahakshetrams (sacred places) in India. The eight places where Lord Vishnu manifested himself are (1) Sri Rangam (2) Srimushnam (3) Naimisam (4) Pushkaram (5) Salagamadri (6) Thothadri (7) Narayanasramam (8) Venkatadri. Thotadri is the present Mangalagiri. Lakshmi Devi has done tapas on this hill. That's why it got this name (The auspicious hill).

There are three Narasimha Swamy temples in Mangalagiri.
1. Panakala Narasimha Swamy on the hill.
2. Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy at the foot of the temple.
3. Gandala Narasimha Swamy at the top of the hill.

The temple of Sri Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy is situated on the hill. A dhwajasthambham was erected in front of the temple in 1955. Behind the temple there is the temple of Sri Lakshmi, to the west of which there is a tunnel which is believed to lead to Vundavalli caves on the banks of the Krishna. There was a cave next the devi temple on the hill. It is said that, there is a way to Vundavalli from that cave, and the sages used to go by that way to take bath in Krishna River. Now, the cave is very dark, and the way could not be seen.

The Demon Namuchi

The Lord that has established himself on the hill is in the form of Narasimha (man-lion) which Lord Vishnu assumed to kill Hiranyakasipu, a rakshasa father of Prahlada, a great devotee. He is also called as Sudarsana Narasimhaswamy. The legend says that Namuchi, a Rakshasa after great penance obtained a boon from Brahma that he would not be killed by anything that is either wet or dry. He began to harass Indra and the Devathas. Encouraged and supported by Lord Vishnu, Indra commenced destroying the army of Rakshasa Namuchi, who did in a cave in Sukshmakaram (small size) giving up his sthulakaram (Physical manifestation). Indra dipped Sudarsanam, the disc of Lord Vishnu in the foam of the ocean and sent it into the cave. Lord Vishnu manifesting himself at the centre of the disc destroyed the Pranavayuvu (life breath) of the Rakshasa with the fire of his exhalation. He thus got the name of Sudarsana Narasimha. The blood that flowed from the body of the Rakshasa seemed to have formed into a pool at the foot of the hill which is known hill. The Devathas themselves were unable to withstand the fire of the anger of the Lord and they prayed for appeasement. The Lord took amrutam (nectar) and cooled down. It was in Krithayugam. The Lord said that he would be satisfied with ghee in Threthayugam, with milk in Dwaparayugam and with panakam(Jaggery water) in Kaliyugam. Hence the Lord is called in Kaliyugam as Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy.

Story in Threthayugam

In Threthayugam, the second of the four yugas, people who enjoyed in heaven as a result of their good deeds in the world are most unhappy to return to this world (when once the fruits of good deeds are exhausted, the soul has to come back to the world). They prayed Indra, the Lord of heaven to save them from the impending fate. Indra advised them to spend their time in the world at Mangalagiri to attain heaven again. In Krithayugam, the first of the four yugas when the sinners were few, Yamadharmaraja, the Lord of hell advised them to wash off their sins by doing penance at Mangalagiri. Mangalagiri is in existence from the beginning of the Universe with the names Anjanadri in Krithayugam, Thotadri in Threthayugam, Mangaladri and Mukthyadri in Dwaparayugam and Mangalagiri in Kaliyugam affording salvation to sinners also. In Krithayugam, Vaikhanasa Maharshi worshipped the Lord and his idol is worshipped even today in the temple. It is also believed that Lord Rama while departing for Vaikuntam after completing his mission in that incarnation advised Anjaneya to stay at Mangalagiri and after obtaining his blessings to remain in this world for ever. Anjaneya took his adobe at Mangalagiri as Kshetrapalaka.

Panakala Narasimha Swamy - God Who Drinks Panakam

It is said that here, god is self-existent. In the temple, there will be no statue of the god, but there is only mouth, widely opened to 15 cms. The mouth is covered by metal face of the god. The temple will be opened till afternoon only, with the belief that devatas will perform pujas in the night. The God takes jaggery water as offering by a conch. The Jaggery water is actually poured into the mouth of the Lord, a gargling sound is clearly audible as if the Lord is actually drinking it and the sound becomes shriller and shriller as and when the Lord is drinking. The sound will come to a stop after sometime and the balance of the jaggery water is thrown out. This phenomenon happens not once in a day but is a recurring feature during the course of the day as and when devotees offer panakam (jaggery water). It will be interesting to note that even a single ant is not traceable near the Lord nor around the temple in spite of the offering of so much jaggery water. As the offering of the panakam to the Lord is peculiar, the Lord here is called panakala Narasimhaswamy. There is a legend about the offering of the panakam (jaggery water) to the Lord. It is said that the hill was once a volcano. Sugar or jaggery water, it is said, neutralizes sulphur compounds found in a volcano and prevents a volcanic eruption.

Gandalayam - Gandala Narasimha Swamy

On the top of the hill, there is no deity for the god. There is only facility to put a deepam. If anyone gets miseries, then they go there, lamp the deepam by cow ghee, and they lose the miseries. That lamp is visible from many villages.

Ksheera Vruksham (The milk tree)

Ksheera vruksham (the milk tree) on the Mangalagiri hill is of great attraction particularly to the woman. The legend goes to say that king Sasibandi was advised by Narada to visit pilgrimages. King left the kingdom, and his queen, and started visiting pilgrimages. The queen came to know about this, and grew furious and cursed Narada to become a Ksheera vruksham on the hill within the easy reach of devotees, blessing women at its very sight, with property, children and washing off the sins they committed out of ignorance or oversight, for having ill-advised her husband to desert her and take to penance. Narada took this not as a curse but as a boon as it meant service to humanity, blessed the queen with happy life with her husband and a thousand children. Even today the milk tree is on the Mangalagiri hill and throughout the year thousands of women visit and worship the tree for begetting children.

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