Kamakshi Amman Temple
The Kamakshi Amman temple has gopurams with gold overlays.
|Proper name||Kamakshi Amman Temple|
|Primary deity||Kamakshi (Parvati)|
|Architectural styles||Dravidian architecture|
|History and governance|
The Kamakshi Temple (Tamil:அருள்மிகு காமாட்சி அம்மன் திருகோயில்) is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Kamakshi, one of the forms of the goddess Parvati. It is located in the historic city of Kanchipuram, near Chennai, India and is popularly associated with Sankaracharya, one of the greatest Hindu gurus. The Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, the Akilandeswari temple in Thiruvanaikaval near Tiruchirappalli and this Kamakshi are the important centers of worship of Parvati as the mother goddess, in the state of Tamil Nadu. The temple was most probably built by the Pallava kings, whose capital was Kanchipuram, around 6 C.E.
The main deity, Kamakshi, is seated in a majestic Padmasana, an yogic posture signifying peace and prosperity, instead of the traditional standing pose. The goddess holds a sugarcane bow and bunch of flowers in the lower two of her arms and has a pasha (lasso), an ankusha (goad) in her upper two arms. There is also a parrot perched near the flower bunch. There are no other Parvati temples in the city of Kanchipuram, apart from this temple, which is unusual in a traditional city that has hundreds of traditional temples. There are various legends that account for this fact. One of them according to Kamakshivilasa is that the Goddess had to absorb all the other shakthi forms to give a boon to Kama, the Hindu god of love. Another legend attributes it to the Raja Rajeswari pose of the deity that signifies an absolute control over the land under the deity's control. Legend has it that Kamakshi offered worship to a Shivalingam made out of sand, under a mango tree and gained Shiva's hand in marriage.
Adi Shankaracharya, the famous 8th-century CE scholar and saint, established the Sri Chakra in this Kamakshi Devi temple in the trough-like structure in that shrine. This Sri Chakra soon became the All India famous Kamakoti Peeta. The Acharya's Lalitha Trishati Bhashya comments Kamakoti Peetam as Sri Chakra.
Four worship services are offered each day. The annual festival falls in Spring, in the Tamil month of Masi, which runs from mid-March to mid-April. During this time the chariot festival (Ther) and float festival, (Theppam) are held. Other festivals include Navaratri, Aadi and Aippasi Pooram, Sankara Jayanthi and Vasanta Utsavam in the Tamil month of Vaikasi. All Fridays are considered sacred, though the Fridays in the Tamil months of Adi (mid-July to mid-August) and Thai (mid-January to mid-February) are celebrated.
Adi Kamakshi Devi Temple
The Devi in this Adi Kamakshi temple is called by various names like Kirtimati, Devagarbha in extant Tantric works like Tantrachudamani. She has four hands containing in each of them respectively, Ankusa, PAsa, Abhaya and a Kapala. This description corresponds to those extant old tantric works.
Kamakshi as Lalitha Maha Tripura Sundari
shrI lalitA parAbhaTTArikA presides over the kAmakoShTha in five forms:
1. shrI kAmAkshI parA bhaTTArikA – Sri Kamakshi is the mUla devatA of the kAmakoTi pITha seated in the centre of the inner sanctorum of the shrine in Kanchipuram known as the gAyatrI maNTapam. According to kAmAkshI rahasya, this maNDapa was built by the celestials with the four walls representing the four Vedas and the twenty-four pillars representing the twenty-four syllables of the sacred formula of gAyatrI. shrIvidyA parameshvarI, who forms the inner core of the prakaTA gAyatrI and thus called rahasya gAyatrI, is enshrined at the centre of the gAyatrI maNDapam as shrI kAmAkshI. She is seated on pancha brahmAsana and sports in her four hands pAsha, ankusha, iSkhu kodaNDa and puShpa bANa. parAmbA is seated in yonyAsana and faces southeast. When tormented by asuras led by bhaNDAsura, devas are said to have performed a penance to appease the Supreme Shakti in the form of parrots, residing on champaka vrkShas at kAnchI. Pleased with their penance, parAmbA is said to have appeared from her residence in mahAmeru or bilAkAsha through the bila dvAra and destroyed the demons. The shrI vigraha of parAmbA has been described as representing her three forms: sthUla (dhyAna yogya, sAvayava), sUkShma (mantra and yantrAtmaka) and kAraNa or vAsanatmaka. It is also said that Lord mahAdeva himself worshipped parAmbA in the four yugas assuming the forms of sages krodha bhaTTAraka, parashurAma, dhaumya and Adi shankara bhagavatpAda (and mUka shankara, believed to be an incarnation of krodha bhaTTAraka). The bila dvAra leading to bilAkAsha can be seen today in front of the tapomagna kAmAkshI sannidhi inside the garbhagrha. It is also said that bhagavAn rudra assumed the form of durvAsas on her emergence from the bilAkAsha and first worshipped her through the modalities of shrIvidyA tantra by consecrating a shrIchakra here. He is thus the sampradAya guru of shrIvidyA and the credit for crystallizing parAmbA at kAnchIpuram as gurumUrtisvarUpiNI (charyAnandanAtha-parA bhaTTArikA mithunAtmikA) goes to this great Seer. The forms of vashinyAdi vAgdevatas can be seen around the shrIchakra in their same positions as in shrIpura. A shrine dedicated to hayagrIva and agastya can be seen in the third prAkara of the temple, at the location where the teaching of lalitA trishatI was imparted.
2. tapaH kAmAkshI – This form of parAmbA can be seen to the right of the mUla devatA and close to the bila dvAra. Separated from mahAdeva, umA appeared first as annapUrNA in kAshI and then following the advice of sage kAtyAyana, appeared in kAnchI to worship Ekamranatha under the Mango tree in rudrakoShTha and married him.
3. anjana kAmAkShI – Also known as arUpa lakShmi, her shrine is situated to the left of the mUla devatA, facing the north and in front of saubhAgya gaNapati. ramA is said to have performed a penance to regain her lost beauty in this place and due to the grace of parAmbA, kumkuma offerings of mUla devatA is offered to her here before being accepted by the devotees. While she represents ramA in her form as ramA-bIja, she represents kAmAkShI in the form of kAmakalAkShara that is inherent in the ramA bIja.
4. svarNa kAmAkShI – The shrine of this deity, also known as Bangaru kAmAkShI is situated in the second prAkAra. It is said that this form was created by shrIvidyA parameshvarI from her third eye to serve as the shakti of ekAmranAtha named ekAmbikA. The original idol that appeared from the third-eye of parAmbA is seen today in Tanjore, which was transported to Tanjore to protect the idol from Muslim attacks by kAmAkShIdAsa, an ancestor of shrI shyAmA shAstrigal.
5. utsava kAmAkshI – The shrine of utasava kAmAkShI, the idol which is brought out during processions, is located in the second prAkara. The idol is accompanied on either side by idols of shAradA and ramA. While the devatAs generally are accompanied by their male/female consorts in most cases, on account of kAmAkShI being shiva-shaktyAtmikA, there is no shrine devoted to shiva here.
Sri Lalitambika, who appeared from Chidagni for the destruction of Bhandasura, was presented to the world by Brahma with the special name – Sri Kamakshi. Thus, ‘kAmAkshi’ is the special epithet of the primordial Parashakti Sri Lalita. As she brings joy to the mind of Sri Kameshwara, she is referred to as ‘Sri Lalita’.
The shrine situated in front of Sri Kamakshi’s Garbha Grham is of Sage Durvasas, also known as Krodha Bhattaraka. There are thirty-two chief upAsakas of Devi like manu, chandra, kubera etc. Among these, Kamaraja, Lopamudra and Durvasa are the chief upAsakas. Durvasa praNIta vidyA is called sAdi vidyA. Durvasa represents the power of sAttvika krodha of Amba, used to protect and correct her devotees, and thus her limitless kriyA shakti. It is Sri Durvasa who established the Kamakoti Peetha by consecrating a Bhu-Prastara Srichakra in front of Amba. He composed Lalita Stavaratna, also called AryA dwisahti, describing the Srinagara. He also composed Traipura Mahimna Stotra, a complete mantra shAstra in itself and also the Para Shambhu Mahimna Stotra. Due to a curse by Saraswati, he was born as a deaf and dumb brahmana and was graced by Sri Kamakshi with Anugraha Diksha.
Another popular myth is about Adi Shankara pacifying the Raudra Swarupa of Kamakshi. Sri Kamakshi is Purna Brahma Swarupini and she did not attained Raudra. The shrine in the temple premises, referred to as Adi Kamakshi, is actually Kalikamba. It is possible that this deity was pacified by Adi Acharya
The Kanchi Kamakshi Amman Temple as a Shakti Peeth
Shakti Peethas are divine temples of Adiparashakti. The cause of the presence of Devi's presence is due to the falling of body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi. The naval part of Sati Devi's body is believed to have fallen here. There are 51 Shakti Peeth linking to the 51 alphabets in Sanskrit. There are also arguments that the old Kanchi temple is the Shakti peetha, where Sankaracharya has installed the Shri Chakra. It is reverred worldwide as Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham.
In the shrine of Kamakshi Amman close the sanctum, the Tirukalavanur Divya Desam, the temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu glorified by the 7th-10th century alwars (Tamil saint poets) is present. The temple faced west went to ruins and the deity is now placed inside the Kamakshi Amman temple. There are shrines over the vimana.
Other famous Kamakshi temples in Tamil Nadu
- Sri Aadhi Kamakshi Amman Temple,Thiruvarangam,Near to Paramakudi(16 km from paramakudi bus stand),Ramanathapuram District
- Sri Kamakshi Amman Temple, Arappothu, near to Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram District
- Sri Ekambareswar Kamakshi Amman Temple, Keela eral(near Ettaiyapuram, Kovilpatti, Tuticorin district), Tamil Nadu, India. Sri Chakra made here and praying 51 gods.Every year festival will be done attracting people all around the world getting blessings from the Kamakshi.
- "Kamakoti peetam on Kanchi".
- "Hindunet's article on kamakshi".
- (Translator), F. Max Muller (June 1, 2004). The Upanishads, Vol I. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1419186418.
- (Translator), F. Max Muller (July 26, 2004). The Upanishads Part II: The Sacred Books of the East Part Fifteen. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1417930160.
- "Kottiyoor Devaswam Temple Administration Portal". http://kottiyoordevaswom.com/. Kottiyoor Devaswam. Retrieved 20 July 2013. External link in
- South Indian shrines: illustrated P.539.P. V. Jagadisa Ayyar
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