Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Meenakshi Amman Kovil, S Ramachandrapuram, Saduragirimalai

The following temple is my all time favorite. This temple is in my husband's village near Srivilluputtur, TamilNadu. Sadhuragiri is 12 km from this place. This is a beautiful village.

This is a very quiet temple. As you enter, you're welcomed by a huge Ant-house ( Pambu puthu) that sits under a wide banian tree. This is a beautiful temple. The temple has been renovated now, however, this wasn't always the case. Here is the story of this temple that sends chills down the spine.

This is an ancient Meenakshi Amman temple built by one of the Pandias. Although there is not much information on the builder, this temple is not as big as, and as crowded as Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple, in fact, it is quite the opposite. 40-50 years ago this temple was in ruins. Three men from weavers community(Saliar) decided to clean the temple. The poisonous plants, cobwebs, snakes, scorpions and other venomous creatures hidden under tall weeds and grass did not deter this team from cleaning the place. The team consisted of an old man, a middle aged man and a teenager. The village was poverty stricken, and most of the villagers were weavers. They did not make a lot of money from weaving.  Although they were in poverty, their love for the temple and Meenakshi Amman was very rich. After weaving, everyday the men gathered at the temple to clean it. In the process of cleaning they discovered old scrolls on occult science. If one follows the instruction from the scroll, how actually one can meet Meenakshi goddess in person! The team did not use it right away, as cleaning was still in progress. They successfully removed the weeds and cobwebs that decorated the temple for centuries. In the cleaning process, the team moved to sacred sanctum. As they kept cleaning inside the sacred sanctum, they found the main idol of presiding deity. They were completely bewitched by the beauty of Meenakshi amman Idol that stands on the alter.  Found more scrolls on Tantric practices,  and secret passage in the sacred sanctum. To this day, no one knows where the other end of the passage leads too.

They successfully cleaned the temple. And they were madly in love with the Meenaksh Amman. Determined to meet her, they first started yagna or homa, and bought murukku, and a banana or two, as that is all they could afford for the Homa. Started the homa inside the sacred sanctum. All they chanted was 'Om meenakshiE Namaha'. They were not trained vedic priests and did not know any mantra. They started the homa hoping to meet the goddess. The smoke from the homa filled the room to dangerous level, and as a result they couldn't finish it. They were forced to abandon the homa in the middle. They were staunch devotees and was very determined to meet the Amman. After the first failed attempt, they decided to follow steps/ Instruction from the old tantric scrolls. It involved some of the gory steps. 

This project was led by the old man. Although, they were weavers by profession, they were also avid hikers and hiked the beautiful Saduragiri hills, part of Western Ghats. They knew flora and fauna like back of their hands. The senior most member guided the team. They went on a wild hunt to get the tantric ingredients. When Tantric methods are not followed as per the scrolls, that can turn dangerous.  In the middle of the process, the team lead lost his vision on both eyes, and the other two dropped the idea. The other two did not lose hope, but did abandon the tantric way at once. Knowing it is too dangerous to pursue to meet goddess they quit. They went back to do their work, and also taking care of the temple, and doing daily priestly duties. The blind, retired from the temple duty. Also, he never got back his vision and died blind. 

It was understood, one was an assistant priest and the middled aged man was the main priest at the temple. One day on a hot summer afternoon when the senior of two was away, a lady barged in to the temple. Seeing the lady, the young teenager, who was alone and cleaning the temple lamps and other temple utensils decided to stop this woman from entering in to the temple. It was afternoon and technically, temple was closed. The lady, walked past him into the temple's sacred sanctum. He followed behind. He was very upset at the woman, and angrily asked: 'who are you? Temple is closed now, come later!' To which, the woman replied with a smile: ' I thought you wanted to see me'. The young priest was puzzled by her answer. As he kept staring at her, the lady who was wearing kandangi Saree, changed her avatar and revealed her true-self--Meenakshmi Amman. The priest was taken back. The goddesses was so pleased by the priest and said: 'I'm pleased by your love and affection. Thank you for renovating the temple. As a token of appreciation, i will teach you the mantra. Whenever you need something recite it.' After teaching him the mantra, the goddess vanished.  

The young priest was in a shock & surprise state. He couldn't believe it was the divine mother, who just visited him. He wanted to know if  he was dreaming or hallucinating. Also was very excited to use the divine mantra, so sitting in the sacred sanctum he wished for 2 bananas recited the mantra. When he opened his eyes, he saw 2 bananas in front of him! He now knew he wasn't dreaming. Armed with the sacred mantra, he continued to ask for more expensive things like money, gold etc. The young priest, for whatever reasons, did not tell the other priest of his experience with the divine mother. The sudden rise in his financial status made everyone in the village to take notice. The other priest too noticed. He wanted to know how he is able to afford, when having a square meal in itself is a difficult task. Finally, the young priest spelt the bean. After listening to his rendezvous with the goddess, out of spite, the cheif priest took promise from the assistant that he should never use the mantra ever again in his life. The young priest obliged; and stopped using it out of respect. The family of the other priest took over the Temple maintenance and other temple works. To this day, their family takes care of the temple, and the sacred utchava murthy is at their home.

Today, this young priest is 60+ years old works as the main priest at the Sundara Mahaligam --Anandavalli temple, Sadhuragirimalai. This story was narrated to me by the priest himself during one of my Navaratri visits to Sadhuragirimalai in 2011. There were others who also endorsed the story. He remembers it like it was yesterday. He also tells me has seen many UFO descend on Sadhuragiri hills. BTW, if you're visiting Sadhuragiri hills, please visit this temple which is in S Ramachandrapuram ( Patti a Kal, Bus-Stop). 

Temple Festival:

Meenakshi Amman pongal is celebrated in May-June month. All villagers no matter, which part of the country they are in, come to celebrate this festival. This is a huge festival. 

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