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Deities & Mythology
THE GODS & SPIRITS RESIDING IN THE COMPLEX AND THE LEGENDS & FOLKLORE ASSOCIATED WITH THEM


Pranala
      THE PRANALA


Within the Sreekovil :
1. MAHA VISHNU - ADBHUTA NARAYANAN

2. DAKSHINA-MOORTHY - SHIVA & GANAPATHY

3. NARASIMHA-MOORTHY
In the Naalambalam :
4. BELI-STONES

5. NIRMALYA-MOORTHY
Outside Naalambalam :
6. SHASTA / AYYAPPA / PAAZHAYIL ASHAAN

7 . NAGADEVAS

8 . KSHETRAPALA

9 . RAKSHAS

10. GODDESS OF THIRUMANTHAKAAVU
Outside the Walls :
11. SRI SUBRAMANYA TEMPLE

Deities within the Sreekovil:

In the ancient Tamil scriptures, the Sreekovil at Thrikodithanam Temple is described as the Punyakodi-vimaanam . It is exceptional because of the unusual number of Divinities that reside in a single enclosure, each receiving his individual share of worship and attention.

1. MAHA VISHNU - ADBHUTA NARAYANAN

Facing east is the Main idol -moola-bimba - a standing four-armed VISHNU holding the Shanku (conch-shell), Chakra (discus), Gada (mace) and Padma (lotus-bloom). It is sculpted out of an unusual black stone called Aanjana-kallu . The idol is placed in such a manner that a devotee entering the Naalambalam can catch a glimpse only if s/he bows down.

Seiveli Murthy - carried atop elephants

Separate idols are also present for Seiveli (processions) and for Archana (floral worship). Of special interest is a second idol of Laxmi-Narayana or Bhama-Narayana, enjoying the status of the main idol. However, unlike the main idol, it is not fixed to a spot and journeys forth on specific days of the festival. According to some, the concept of consecration itself is of the Bhagavan with the Devi.

Mythology: During their wanderings, each of the Pandava princes found a separate idol of Vishnu for personal worship. All except Sahadeva, the youngest prince. After much effort, when he could still not find a suitable idol for himself, Sahadeva, in despair, decided to immolate himself. Just as he was about to leap into a huge flaming pyre, an idol of Vishnu appeared miraculously. This idol was called Adbhuta Narayanan.

The Pandava princes later consecrated their idols at various places before they renounced the world and set-off on their last journey. The five holy places chosen for this were THIRUCHITTATU (Yudhistira) , THIRUPULIYUR (Bheema), THIRUARANMULA (Arjuna), THIRUVAMUNDUR (Nakula) & THRIKODITHANAM (Sahadeva).

Consecration rites at Thrikodithanam were performed by Agni (God of Fire). Hence the god of fire is honored here during every festival season.

2. DAKSHINAMOORTHY - SHIVA & GANAPATHY

The presence of Shiva in a sanctum of Vishnu, in a temple of acknowledged vintage, is rare. In Kerala this is not unusual and it in fact underlines the absence of cult clashes between Vaishnavites and Shaivites which was rampant in other parts of India. In Thrikodithanam temple, there isn't even a separate enclosure within the Sreekovil for the two gods.

Images of a seated SHIVA (Dakshinamoorthy) & GANAPATHY face south. Both these deities can be viewed and worshipped only through a hole on a mock door.

Mythology: On an auspicious Karthika day, in the month of Vrishchigom (Nov.-Dec.), Shiva manifested at the north-eastern side of the temple grounds. His blaze of glory was as intense as a mighty fire and this distressed the other gods. Vishnu and Brahma appealed to Shiva and in response to their request, Shiva contained the fire of brilliance within himself. The Deepa festival event commemorates this event.

3. NARASIMHA-MOORTHY

Facing west is the fierce NARASIMHA-MOORTHY. The idol was consecrated after 1766 AD, to ward off 'negative effects from powerful quarters', possibly the Mysorean invasions of Kerala led by Tipu Sultan.

The deity is given an unusual daily offering - sweet Naivedya made of milk, rice, sugar, as well as jaggery - called sharkara-paal-paayasam. On the granite floor in front are four carved swastika designs in one square.

Sri Narasimha-moorthy is of such high stature at Thrikodithanam that he has his own festival alongside that of Maha-Vishnu.

Deities in the Naalambalam:

4. BELI-STONES

The space adjoining the Sreekovil is called the Anthar-mandala. Protective gods, represented in small sacrificial platforms ( Beli-kall ), are placed in each of the following directions:

  • EAST - Agni, Indra, Brahma, Isaana
  • SOUTH - Saptha-Mathrkkal (seven spirits ), Yama and Sastha
  • WEST - Nrithi, Varuna, Vaayu
  • NORTH - Durga, Subramanya, Kubera and Soma

5. NIRMALYA-MOORTHY

To the north - outside the sanctum is a beautiful Nirmalya-moorthy in granite. This represents VISVAKASENAN - the guardian deity for Vishnu. Normally this deity is represented only as a Beli-stone.

Deities Outside the Naalambalam:

6. SHASTA / AYYAPPA / PAAZHAYIL ASHAAN

Towards the south-western side in the compound, outside the Pradikshina Patham (ceremonial pathway) is a simple shrine to Shasta. This temple was installed at the beginning of the Malayalam Era (ME) in 825 AD.

Apart from Shasta, the idol at this little shrine also represents Manikantan (another name of Ayyappa) and Paazhayil Ashaan, a victorious army commander. Every festival season, a special percussion session called Panacchikaletta is held to welcome and escort this hero to witness the Deepa ceremony.

As in many other temples across Kerala, it is quite possible that this site holds the remains of a Buddhist shrine that occupied the main temple area, before the revival of Vaishnavite Hinduism in 800 AD.

7. NAGADEVAS

Under a Banyan tree near the Shasta shrine are the Nagadevas (snakegods), represented by rough hewn granite stones.

8. KSHETRAPALA

Towards the left of the Shasta shrine is KSHETRA-PALAN represented by a rough Beli-stone (uncommon location). Another Beli-stone is also there for him on the north-eastern side of the temple.

9. RAKSHAS

Two powerful RAKSHAS are housed behind the Sastha shrine.

One legend has it that the Rakshassu represent the spirits of two persons - a young boy and his maternal uncle. A long, long time ago, both were seriously engrossed in a board game inside the Koothambalam (located above the gateway), when the uncle suddenly discovered that he had been beaten by his nephew. In a fit of rage he is said to have killed the boy and then later, in abject remorse, committed suicide himself. The shrines were built to placate their troubled souls.

10. GODDESS OF THIRUMANTHAKAAVU

This sub-shrine was built recently to the Goddess of Thirumanthakaavu in deference to astrological directives. Tradition holds that 10 Namboodiri families who managed this Maha-Vishnu temple came from Thirumanthakaavu.

The Deity Outside the Temple Walls:

11. SRI SUBRAMANYA TEMPLE

Sri Subramanya Temple

Outside the temple walls, towards south-eastern side is a Sri Subramanya Swami Temple. Folklore has it that this is the oldest place of worship in the area. Perhaps this shrine is also the reason why the main temple was built nearby.

It is considered inappropriate for devotees visiting Thrikodithanam temple to depart without praying at the Sri Subramanya Temple.



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