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Home Srikalahasti - An Ethereal Experience

Srikalahasti - An Ethereal Experience

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The cosmic law of cause and effect is evident even as an ensuing belch as a result of a tasty lunch one had enjoyed. An apple seed sprouts into a apple tree. One can’t expect a harvest of ripe mangoes from it. “I don’t believe in Karma” - claim a few as long as the going is smooth. Nature would have been dramatically chaotic if its laws were to be functional based on people’s sanction. The law of gravity existed even before Newton proved it. In this light, in order to redeem His children from the unseen garland of Karma which man wears from his very birth, God manifests himself.

One such ‘Karmic ally curative’ and efficacious sthala is Sri kalahasti, where one can break asunder the doshas of ‘Rahu & Kethu’ by devout prayer, heartful repentance and by performing the ‘Rahu Kethu Dosha Nivarana Pooja’.

Paschi maabhi mukham lingam
Sarpaakara prathishtitham
Sakruth darshana mathrena
Sarva bheeshta phala pradam

The deity Srikalashasteeswara (the Lord of Srikalahasti) faces west and symbolizes liberation, the death of ego upon the rediscovery of the self, is the final stage of life just as setting is the sun’s last act before it disappears over the horizon. The Lord is Sarpa Akara (in the form of a serpent) on this lingam. It bestows health, wealth, and prosperity to the ardent devotee at the very sight of it, in the form of darshan.

Sri Kalahasti is one of the ancient holy places of our country. It is believed that many saints attained ‘mukti’ (salvation) at this unique and important punyakshetra. The presiding diety of this punyakshetra (the holy place) is Srikalahasteeshwara. This ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva is one of the pancha bhoota sthalas (temples celebrating Shiva as the embodiment of the primary elements) - ‘Air’ being the element in case of Srikalahasti. The ‘lingam’ in this temple is ‘swayambhu’ (self-manifiested) and is called ‘Sri Kalahasteeshwara Swamy’, named after three devotees - sri (spider), kala (serpant), hasti (elephant) who worshipped Shiva with unflinching devotion and attained mukthi (salvation) at this place.

Sthala Purana (history of the place):
It is said that the spider wove a web above the lingam to protect it from sun and the rain. The elephant would get water with its trunk and give bath to the lingam and the snake would also worship the Lord. One day the snake found bilva leaves and water near the Lord. Thinking that someone was trying to harm the Lord, The Snake surrounded the Lord to protect. When the elephant came to worship, the snake got into the trunk. Unable to bear the pain the elephant dashed against the lingam killing the snake and the elephant also died at the feet of the lingam. Lord Shiva gave mukthi to his three devotees at this place.

The main lingam is in the shape of an elephant trunk with tusks on each side and a figure of a spider at the bottom. If you look at the linga from the top it looks like a snake with hoods. The spider is ‘Sri’, the snake ‘Kala’ and the elephant ‘Hasti’. The three names combined together is the name Srikalahasti. As the legend goes, the spider was Vishwakarama’s son Oornanabha, who was replicating Brahma - the creator’s job, and annoyed Brahma cursed him to become a spider. The snake was once cursed by Shiva himself. The elephant was a Deva cursed by Parvathi when he intruded their privacy. The Shivalinga at Srikalahasti is an amalgamation of these three animals.

Srikalahasti mahathyam:
The Telugu poet Dhoorjati in his ‘Srikalahasti Mahathyam’ has many interesting stories beautifully depicted. Thinna is another devotee, who attained salvation through his unstinted devotion. He is none other than Arjuna of Mahabharatha who asked Shiva for moksha and was born as Thinna the hunter, to attain the same. It is said that Sri Kannappa (Thinna) sacrificed his eyes to the Lord and attained mukthi. Since Thinna offered his eyes to Lord Shiva, he is called ‘Kannappa’ - ‘kannu’ being the Telugu word of eye.

Legends associated to the temple:
The spider is said to have attained salvation in krita yuga (the first of 4 yugas) while the elephant and serpent were   devotees in treta yugam. Nakkiradevar, Indra, Muchukunda and others are believed to have worshiped Shiva at this temple. According to Tamil sources ‘Sri Kalahasti’ has been known as the ‘Kailasa of South’ (Dakshina Kailas). River Swarnamukhi flows just by the side of the hillock on the slopes of which the temple of Sri Kalahasteeshwara was built. Shiva resurrected his duties, gave them liberation and took them into his own body. At the foot of the linga one can see a spider, two elephant tusks and five headed serpent to remind the devotee of these aspects of supreme devotion.

The presiding Goddess:
The presiding Goddess is Gnana Prasoonamba (‘the giver of knowledge or the Mother of all knowledge’) who represents the ‘wealth’ i.e., freedom from limitation conferred by self-knowledge. On Fridays, the resplendent sight of the Divine Mother, who is Varaprasadini (wish fulfiller) and also Gnanaprasadini (knowledge provider), when she is clad in ‘bangaru pavada’ (golden robe) permeates the heart of an ardent devotee and fully satisfies one’s tender longings to behold the Loka Matha (mother of the world) within these mortal eyes.

Other deities in the temple:
Sri Pathala Vinayaka, Sri Balambika, Sri Kali Matha outside the shrine and Lord Saneeshwara, Bezawada Kanaka Durga, Lord Venkateshwara, Lord Kala Bhairava, Lord Subrahmanya, Sri Kasi Visweshwara, Sri Ramalingeshwara and Sri Dakshinamurthy inside the shrine make it a complete pilgrimage.

Importance of Darshan:
The lamp inside the sanctum that is constantly flickering, despite the lack of air movement inside, can be seen. The flames of several ghee lamps flickers, as if blown by the moving air. When all the lamps in the sanctum glow steadily, one can notice two lamps flickering now and then, proving the Lord’s inhalation and exhalation. Thus a visit to Sri Kalahasti is equal to visiting other holy places of great importance in India as among the Pancha Bootha Lingams, Srikalahastheeshwara Linga is worshipped as Vayulingeshwara.

The Beauty of the Temple:
The history of Srikalahastivara temple can be traced back atleast to the 7th century A.D. as evidenced by the Tamil sacred literature Devaram and Tiruvacakam. The Nayanars sung its glory to their heart’s content. As the region in which the temple of Srikalahastivara formed part of the Chola empire, its epigraphical history starts with the appearance of their inscriptions from 1000-01 A.D., since not only the cholas but also their successors belonging to different dynasties made significant contribution to the architectural and economic growth of the temple.

The three lofty Gopurams of the temple are remarkable for their architecture. A huge hundred pillared Mantapam is another important part of this shrine.

When one enters the temple town of Srikalahasti, what strikes instantly is the old world-charm it still breathes, reflecting our culture in all its grandeur. Something that one cannot fail to take notice of the huge temple tower, majestically standing in the middle of the busy road filled with shops on either side and bustling with pilgrims.

The vast temple campus is a maze of intricate structures, and one is likely to loose one’s way without a guide. The temple of Srikalahasti has four major entrances each with a huge tower.

The Sivarathri Brahmotsavam is a 12 day festival of great importance that attracts lakhs of people from various parts of the country. Maha Sivaratri, Nandi Seva, Lingodbhavam, Rathotsavam, Teppotsavam & Sri Swamy Ammavarla Kalyanotsavam are the important aspects of this festival.

Importance of rituals:
The main linga is untouched by human hands, even by the chief priest. The sight of the navagraha kavacha adorned on the linga relieves the devotee of the evil effects of the nine planets. This temple is attributed to the planets Rahu & Kethu. According to the legends, a pilgrimage to Sri Kalahasti on a Saturday or Tuesday will mitigate the evil effects of Rahu & Kethu. ‘Rahu Kethu Dosha Nivarana Pooja’ performed during the Rahu kala relives one from the evil effects.

Every day four times Abhishekams are performed to Lord Kalahasteeshwara and Goddess Gnana Prasoonamba in this sacred Temple, renowned as ‘Kailasa of the South’.

Abhishekam Timings:
1. Morning: 7.30 am, 9.30 am and 10.30 am;
2. Evening:  5.30 pm;
3. On Friday Evening Abhishekam begins at 4.30 pm.

Rudrabhishekam: It is performed to the Lord and the Goddess with Rudra Parayanam.
Palabhishekam: This is another abhishekam offered to the Lord and the Goddess with milk.
Panchamritha Abhishekam: This is an important abhishekam offered to the Lord and the consort.
Pachcha Karpoorabhishekam: This is yet another important abhishekam performed only to the Lord who is a self-manifest.

Rahu Kethu Sarpadosha Nivarana Puja: This is a highly efficacious puja conducted in the temple reputed as ‘Rahu-Kethu Kshetra’. Those who are affected by rahu-kethu doshas, graha doshas, sarva doshas, unmarried, childless, perform this puja to remove such doshas and get desired results. Lakhs of devotees who received good result after performing this puja, come from different parts of our country and abroad, and continue to fulfill their vows again and again.
Nithya Kalyanotsavam: This is offered to Sri Shiva and Parvathi along with abhishekam to the Lord.
Unjal Seva: This is a special seva offered to the Lord and the Goddess on every pournami (full moon) day.
Nandi Seva: This is another seva performed in this temple.

Other Poojas and Homams:
Gopuja, special Rahu-Kethu Pooja, Rudra homam, Chandi homam, Mruthanjaya Abhishekam, Mruthanjaya japam and Sahasranama Archana are the other sevas the devotees can perform to the Lord and to the Goddess.

Nithya Annadana scheme: There is no gift superior to annadanam (donating food). To provide food to the poor and hungry is a noble tradition followed by us since the vedic times. One who performs this sacred service receives several crores of merits.
Sri Gnanaprasunambika Devi Nithyannadana scheme was set up in Sri Srikalahastheeshwara Swami temple to provide free and hygienic meals to the pilgrims visiting the temple. Not less than 200 pilgrims are provided with free meals under the scheme every day.

Annadanam is offered on the interest accrued on the endowment made by the devotees in their name on any day they prefer. Devotees can send any amount not less than Rs. 1,116 /-. Every year on a day Annadanam is performed in the name of the donor on the interest accrued on the endowment.

Those who donate a sum of Rs. 50,000/- will be honoured as Maharaja Poshakas. Those who donate Rs. 25,000/- will be honoured as Raja Poshakas. Those who contribute Rs. 10,000/- will be honoured, and for an amount less than those mentioned above, they will be considered as donors.

All donations may be sent to the Executive Officer, Sri Srikalahastheeshwara Swami Temple Devasthanam, Sri Kalahasti by way of D.D., drawn from any bank.

Service to Education by Devasthanam:
Sri Srikalahastheeshwara Institute of Technology (referred as SKIT), came into existence under the sponsorship of Sri Srikalahastheeshwara Swamyvari Devasthanam Educational Society. It also runs Sri Gnanaprasunambika School of Nursing.
Sacred places in and around Sri Kalahasti:
Bharadwaja Teertham, Nandanavanam, Talakona waterfall, Sri Prasanna Vardaraja Swamy temple, Sukhabrahmsanam, Nataraja Ranghashtalam, Pancha Mukheshwaram, Kannappa Gudi, Durgamaba hill, Kumar Swamy hill, Dakshina Kali, Neelakanteshwara Swamy temple and Ardhanarishwara temple.

To reach Sri Kalahasti: 
Sri Kalahasti is 40 kms away from Tirupati, situated on the Tirupati-Nellore highway. APSRTC has buses plying very frequently every half an hour from Tirupati. It also operates a special package called Yatra Darshini and Divya Darshini. Sri Kalahasti is also well connected by train. Chennai is hardly two and half hour journey by road from Sri Kalahasti.

Temple timings: The temple is open from 5:30 am to 9:30 pm.

Traditionally Sri Kalahsati is famous for the wooden panel carvings of Madhava Mala artists and fine Kalamkari work done with fast vegetable colours, illustrating the Hindu epics on cloth, used for decorating the homes.

This year, the Annual Sivarathri Brahmotsavam Cultural Festival was well organized by the temple committee which was held from 7th to 19th February 2010, at Dhoorjati Kala Vedika. Apart from the local artists participating, the programme was inaugurated by Padma vibhushan Dr. Mangalampalli Sri Balamurali Krishna.

Padmasri Kadiri Gopalnath, playback singer Kalaimamani Sri Unnikrishnan, Sankarabharanam film fame Smt. Manju Bhargavi, Grammy Award winner Padmasri Vikuvinayak Ram, mimicry Srinivas, music director Ramachary, Kalaimamani Dr. Saraswathi and disciples, whistle wizard Siva Prasad, Kalaimamani Smt, Krishna Kumari Narendran and disciples and Padmasri Dr. Sobha Raju, who excel in their fields, performed during the festival which was well organized and systematically planned & executed by cultural co-ordinators Sri S.R. Subramanian & Jayanthi Subramanian (Sai Jayanthi Holidays and Event Managers). It was appreciated by the press, media, public & temple authorities and finally in appreciation of their professional handling of the events, they were honoured by the temple Executive Officer Sri A. Sri Ramachandra Murthy & Chairman Sri Santharam Pawar.

Present Executive Officer Sri A. Sri Ramachandra Murthy along with his staff and the board of trustees headed by Chairman Sri Santharam Pawar and the members of the trust, who as a team conducted and concluded the Mahasivarathi festival in a grand manner, which received all round appreciation.

Sri Kalahasti is also known as ‘Sathyavrata Bhaskra Kshetram’. This place has received tremendous popularity in recent times with Rahu Kethu Pooja and Sarpa Dosha Pooja. Our special correspondent S.R. Subramanian had an exclusive interview with the present Executive Officer of the temple and special graded Deputy Collector Sri A Sri Rama Chandra Murthy.

Following are the excerpts of the interview: 
SRS: On Behalf of our Primetime Prism magazine, I take this Opportunity in congratulating and complimenting you and your team for the systematic and perfect execution in handling the recently concluded Sivarathri festival.
EO: Thank you and I sincerely feel that the entire system worked out well mainly because of the blessings of Srikalahastheeshwara Swamy and Goddess GnanaPrasunambika and of course with the excellent cooperation of our temple staff and the trustees.

SRS: In recent times Sri Kalahasti has gained tremendous popularity and attracted devotees from various parts of the world mainly due to Rahu Kethu Pooja and Sarpa Dosha Nivarana Pooja. Can u highlight the facilities you intend to offer to the visiting devotees?
EO: Yes. Lakhs of devotees are visiting to perform the Rahu Kethu Pooja and Sarpa Dosha Nivarana Pooja to get the benefit of the planetary position and also to get rid of Sarpa Dosha. It is firmly believed by the devotees that after performing these poojas they are being benefitted with the blessings of Srikalahastheeshwara Swamy and Goddess GnanaPrasunambika. Hence day by day there is an increase of devotees visiting this temple. Shortly we will be creating our own website and are planning to provide online reservation for various sevas.

SRS: Since number of devotees are increasing day by day, what are the amenities you intend to provide to the devotees?
EO: Though there is all round development, it is very important that we take every care to take care of the comfort and the facilities to the visiting devotees who are attracted from the different parts of the world. The most important is to take care of hygienic conditions and providing pure drinking water etc. We are constructing a 100 bedded accommodation called ‘Sri Shiva Sadan’ and are also planning to provide an ambulance van. We want to introduce a free transport bus to pick up devotees from the Railway station to the temple. We are also continuously providing free Nithya Annadanam for which we request the devotees to contribute liberally.
For the benefit of senior citizens and physically challenged persons we will have a special queue for darshan and in this direction we are providing wheel chairs too.
We intend creating our own website and are planning to provide online reservation for various sevas for smooth darshan.

SRS: Under the Devasthanam you are running an engineering college and a nursing college. Can u highlight your future plans in this direction to serve the society?
EO: As of now we are professionally managing these two institutions with the object of serving the society. We are planning to have an eye hospital in the name of ‘Sri Bhaktha Kannappa’. In this connection I appeal to the public in general and the readers of Primetime Prism magazine in particular, to generously donate for this cause which shall be exempted from income tax.

SRS: Can you give us details of the proposed Vajra Kireetam to Goddess GnanaPrasunambika.
EO: We have placed order for the diamond studded Kireetam to Goddess GnanaPrasunambika, through TTD and the work is in progress. It is costing approximately Rs. 2.5 crores. On this occasion I request the devotees to contribute liberally and receive the blessings of the Goddess for prosperity and peaceful life.  

Month: April 2010.

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