Parthasarathy Temple, Triplicane
|Parthasarathy Perumal Temple|
Sri Venkatakrishnan (a) Parthasarathy
Sri Rukimini Thaayar
|Major festivals||Panguni Serthi, Pallava Utsavam, Ramanujar Utsavam, Vaikunda Ekadashi, Every Friday Sri Vedavalli Thayar Purappadu|
|Date built||8th century AD|
The Parthasarathy Temple is an 8th-century Hindu Vaishnavite temple dedicated to the god Krishna, located at Triplicane, Chennai, India. The temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil literature canon of the Alvar saints from the 6th–9th centuries CE and is classified as among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu. The name 'Parthasarathy', in Sanskrit, means the 'charioteer of Arjuna', referring to Krishna's role as a charioteer to Arjuna in the epic Mahabaratha.
The temple is one of the oldest structures in Chennai. There are shrines for VedavalliThayar, Ranganatha, Rama, Gajendra Varadaraja, Narasimha, Andal, Hanuman, Alvars, Ramanuja, Swami Manavala Mamunigal and Vedanthachariar. The temple subscribes to Vaikhanasa agama and follows Thenkalai tradition. There are separate entrances for the Krishna and Narasimha temples. The gopuram (towers) and mandapas (pillars) are decorated with elaborate carvings, a standard feature of South Indian Temple Architecture.
As per Hindu legend, Saptarishis, the seven sages worshipped five deities Panchaveeras, namely, Venkata Krishnaswamy, Rukmini, Satyaki, Balarama, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. As per Mahabharatha, Vishnu, in his avatar as Krishna was acting as charioteer for Arjuna, the Pandava prince during the war with Kauravas. Krishna did not take any weapons during the war. During the fight between Arjuna and Bhishma, Krishna was injured by the arrow from Bhishma. The mark in the image in the temple is believed to follow the legend. The place is called Allikeni, meaning a pond of lily as it is believed that historically the place was full of lily ponds. The place is the only place where the presiding deity is sported with a mustache. As per another legend, the place was once a Tulsi forest. A king named Sumati wanted to see Vishnu in the form of Parthasarathi and prayed at Srinivasa temple in Tirupathi. Srinivasa directed the king to visit the temple here built by sage Atreya and worshipped with another sage called Sumati.
The temple was originally built by the Pallavas in the 8th century, subsequently expanded by Cholas and later by the Vijayanagara kings in the 15th century. The temple has several inscriptions dating from the 8th century in Tamil and Telugu presumably from the period of Dantivarman, who was a Vishnu devotee. Thirumangai Alvar, the 9th century alvar also attributes the building of temple to the Pallava king. From the internal references of the temple, it appears that the temple was restored during 1564 CE when new shrines were built. In later years, endowments of villages and gardens have enriched the temple. The temple also has inscriptions about the Pallava king, Nandivarman of the 8th Century.
The temple was extensively built during the Chola period and a lot of inscriptions dating back to the same period are found here. The outer most mandapam is replete with sculptures of various forms of Vishnu, especially the avatars. One can also see inscriptions of Dantivarma Pallava of the 8th century, Chola and Vijayanagara in the temple. The first architectural expansion of the temple took place during the reign of the Pallavas (Tondaiyar Kon) as vividly described by Tirumangai Azhwar. Reminiscent of this is the inscription of the Pallava King Dantivarman (796-847 A.D.), which is preserved in the temple. The temple witnessed a major expansion during the rule of the Vijayanagar kings like Sadasiva Raya, Sriranga Raya and Venkatapati Raya II (16th century). Many subshrines and pillared pavilions (mandapas) like the Tiruvaimozhi Mandapa were added.
A Pallava king built the present temple in the eighth century. The gopuram was also built by a Pallava king - Tondaiman Chakravarthy. There are inscriptions that record the contributions of the Chola kings Raja Raja and Kulottunga III, Pandya King Maravarman and many rulers of the Vijayanagar dynasty including Ramaraja Venkatapathiraja and Vira Venkatapathy. For a while the East India Company administered the temple. The pushkarani is called Kairavani and five sacred teerthams are believed to surround the tank - Indra, Soma, Agni, Meena and Vishnu. Seven rishis - Bhrigu, Atri, Marichi, Markandeya, Sumati, Saptaroma and Jabali - performed penance here. All five deities in the temple have been extolled by Tirumangai Azhvar. There is also a separate shrine for Andal, one of the 12 Alvars who is also considered as a consort to the presiding deity.
It is one of the very few shrines in the country dedicated to Krishna as Parthasarathy, charioteer of Arjuna and to contains idols of three avatars of Vishnu: Narasimha, Rama, and Krishna. Because of the association of the temple with Krishna, Tiruvallikeni came to be regarded as the Southern Vrindavana. He also mentioned about the Telliya Singar shrine within the temple.
Darshan, Sevas and Festivals
The temple is administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu. The temple follows the traditions of the Thenkalai sect of Vaishnavite tradition and follows vaikanasa aagama. The temple has grand brahmotsavams (big festival) for Sri Parthasarathy swami during the Tamil month of Chittirai (April–May), on the same month Udayavar uthsavam is also celebrated. In the month of Vaigasi, Sri Varadarajar uthsavam, Sri Nammalwar uthsavam (vaigasi-visagam) and Vasanthothsavam are celebrated. Sri Azhagiyasingar (Lord Narashimha) during the Tamil month of Aani (June–July). So uniquely two Bhrammotsavams are performed here annually. There are also festivals for Ramanuja (April–May) and Manavalamamunigal (Oct-Nov) besides festivals for Alvars and Acharyas. Vaikunta Ekadesi and during the Tamil month of Margazhi (December–January) draws lot of pilgrims.
Utsavams take place around the year in Parthasarathy temple. Urchavams (or utsavams), as these are termed, take place for a particular god at a particular period of time in the year. It is a religious practise to carry the different gods of the temple through the mada veethis of triplicane during some of these festivals. The Gods will move in different religiously built temple vehicles (vaghanams, as these are termed in Tamil), like Elephant, Garuda, horse, Yaali (a mythical animal), temple rath (ther in Tamil, chariot or ratham, alternative terms), etc.
The following are the various festivals or urchavams or utsavams or utsav in Parthasarathy temple in different parts of the Tamil Calendar year. During festival days the place is given a new look and accompanied by various traditional rites.
|Traditional Tamil calendar month (Gregorian calendar months)||Festival|
|Chithirai (April–May)||Shri Bhrahma Utsav (Brahmotsavam)- Lord Shri Bhrahma himself will perform this most important festival. Seer Shri Udaiyar's Utsav and Vidaiyaatri (Concluding and Leave-Taking Ceremony).|
|Vaigasi (May–June)||Vasanthoutsavam- Spring Festival
Shri Gajendra Varadaraja Swamy Utsav Shri Ranganatha-Shri Vedavall Thayaar Utsav
|Aani (June–July)||Shri Narasimha Swami BhrahmoUtsavam
and Kodai Utsav (Summer Festival)
|Aadi (July–August)||Shri Gajendra Moksham (Salvage for Gajendra-King of Elephants)
Shri Parthasarathy .Jyeshtabishekam. Jyeshta-means Chief-in-Brethren: Abhishekam means pouring of selected Holy Liquid and Solid Items (like milk, honey, etc.) on the Lord Thiru Paavadai Utsav Anointing of Epicurean Offerings on the Holy Physique. Thiru Aadi Pooram - Birthday of Shrimadh Aandal on Iler Birth Zodiacical Star Shri Parthasarathy .Jyeshtabishekam.
|Aavani (August–September)||Pavithroutsavam (Thiru Pavithra Utsav) - Santification ceremony.
Shri Jayanthi or Krishna Jayanthi (Birthday of Lord Krishna)
|Puratasi (September–October)||Navarathiri -Festival of nine lights
Shri Vedavalli Thaayar Laksharachana
|Iypassi (October–November)||Shri Manavaala Mamunigal Utsavam
Deepavali or Diwali - Festival of Lights Anna kooda utsavam- offering variety of rice
|Karthigai (November–December)||Thir karthigai Deepam - Various and Varied Lights
Thaila Kaapu - anointing of several medicinal oils or his/her corporal
|Margazhii (December–January)||Maargazhii Pagal Pathu (Days-Ten)
Shri Vaikunta Ekaadasi (Entering into Heaven) Raa Pathu (Night-Ten)
|Thai (January–February)||Laksharachana of Shri Parthasarathyswamy
Rathasapthami (Ratha-Car, Sapthami- Seventh Lunar Occasion) Visiting Festival to Ekkatuthangal
|Masi (February–March)||Masi Magam (Magam-star day)
Theppam or Thepotsavam (Float Festival in Temple Tank) Dhavana Utsav (Spring Festival)
|Panguni (March–April)||Panguni Uthram (uthram - a star day)
Shri Rama Navami (Birthday of Lord Ram)
The most important among these festivals are the Vaikunda Ekadesi - as huge crowds from not only chennai, but also various parts of Tamil Nadu and India come to the temple on this day; Theppam or Thepotsavam - the colourful float festival, and the utsavam for the main deity lord Parthasarathy.
Theppam (Float) festival
Also known Teppothsavam (= Theppam + utsavam), this pictorial and colourful festival takes place on 7 days in the Tamil month of masi, 3 days for Lord Parthasarathy, one each for Sri Narasimhar, Sri Ranganathar, Sri Ramar and Sri Gajendra Varadhar. The seven-day event attracts a large number of devotees and onlookers from different parts of Chennai and Tamil Nadu.
A floating structure made up of drums, timber would be constructed and would be beautifully decorated with lights, flowers, religious paintings, silken buntings, etc. which serves as a visual delight. For better ambience, lights were also installed in the garden around the tank and additionally, focus lights were placed on the corners of the neerazhimandapam (the mandapam (structure) in the center of the temple tank). Perumal (God) would come to the temple tank in purappadu (departure) and be placed majestically inside the float. On all the days, the float completed five rounds around the neerazhimandapam. After this, the deities were taken in a procession around the four Mada Streets. Devotees in hundreds would converge and sit on the steps of the temple tank to have darshan of the Lord on theppam. The specialty of the third day function is the ‘Thirumanjanam', performed to the deity inside the float. Other than the bhattachariars (temple priests), no one is allowed inside the float. A Rescue team of about 10 swimmers is usually provided by the Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services.
This theppam festival exhibits one of the aspects of the richest cultural heritage aspects of triplicane which one can see nowhere else in chennai, other than mylapore.
The temple had internal conflict from the 1750s till the end of the century between the two subsects of Vaishnavism, namely Thenkalai and Vadagalai. The two sects were grounded over the right of reciting each of their own version of concluding verses in the temple. A petition was received by the ruling British government to decide the religious dispute. English records mention petition during the year 1754 filed by local inhabitants and merchants seeking to resolve the dispute. They suggested that the Tenkalai Brahmins could recite their Srisailesadayaptram in the Parthasarathi shrine, while the Vadakalai Brahmins could recite their Ramanujadayapatram in the Telinga Singar shrine. The council agreed that the suggestion in the petition be accepted and publicly announced. There were further petitions in 1780 from the Tenkalai Brahmins that since the temple was built, recitals were made only in Srisailesadayaptram, which should continue. It also asserted that the trustee Manali Muthukrishna Mudali favoured Vadakalai resulting in the issue. While both the sects were claiming theirs should be the practice followed in the temple, the English administrators in India has deep rooted belief that old ways were the only solution to preserve tranquility. The Tenkalai sect had the sanction of antiquity and custom resulting in Tenkalai gaining precedence.
The bearers at the temple were traditionally fishermen of Triplicane. During the temple festivities, they carry the festival idol in their sturdy shoulders in an atmosphere of wine and toddy shops. They bargained for additional rights in the temple in 1928, which eventually ended their ties with the temple.
Bharathiar, the legendary Tamil poet and independence activist was struck by an elephant at the temple, whom he used to feed regularly. Although he survived the incident, a few months later his health deteriorated and he died.
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