Kamakshi Amman Temple, Kanchipuram – Forms of Kamakshi Amman in the Temple
The goddess is shown in five forms (icons) in Kanchi Kamatchi Temple:
1. Kamakshi Devi
2. Thapas Kamakshi (in penance)
3. Bangaru Kamakshi or Swarna Kamakshi (golden form)
4. Anjana Kamakshi or Arupa Lakshmi (distorted figure of Lakshmi)
5. Utsava Kamakshi (processional images)
Shri Kamakshi Para Bhattarika:
Sri Kamakshi is the moola Devata of the Kamakoti pitha seated in the centre of the inner sanctorum of the shrine in Kanchipuram known as the Gayathri 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 Gayathri. Srividya Parameshvari, who forms the inner core of the prakata Gayathri and thus called rahasya Gayathri, is enshrined at the centre of the Gayathri 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 Bhandakasuran, devas are said to have performed a penance to appease the Supreme Shakti in the form of parrots, residing on champaka vrikshas 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 sage’s krodha Bhattaraka, Parashurama, dhaumya and Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada (and mukha 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 garbhagriha. It is also said that Bhagavan Rudra assumed the form of Durvasa on her emergence from the bilakasha and first worshipped her through the modalities of Srividya Tantra by consecrating a Srichakra here. He is thus the Sampradaya guru of Srividya and the credit for crystallizing paramba at Kanchipuram as gurumurtisvarupini (charyanandanatha-para Bhattarika Mithun AtmikA) goes to this great Seer.
The forms of vashinyadi vagdevatas can be seen around the Srichakra in their same positions as in shripura. A shrine dedicated to Hayagriva and Agastya can be seen in the third prakaram of the temple, at the location where the teaching of Lalita Trishati was imparted.
This form of paramba can be seen to the right of the moola Devata and close to the Bila dvara. Separated from Mahadeva, Uma appeared first as Annapurna in Kashi and then following the advice of sage Kathyayana, appeared in Kanchi to worship Ekamranatha under the Mango tree in rudrakoshtha and married him.
Also known as Arupa Lakshmi, her shrine is situated to the left of the moola Devata, facing the north and in front of Soubhagya Ganapati. Raama 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 moola Devata is offered to her here before being accepted by the devotees. While she represents Raama in her form as rama-bIja, she represents Kamakshi in the form of kamakalakshara that is inherent in the Raama bIja.
The shrine of this deity, also known as Bangaru Kamakshi is situated in the second prakaram. It is said that this form was created by Srividya 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 kamakshi Dasa, an ancestor of Shri Shyama Shastrigal.
The shrine of Utsava Kamakshi, the idol which is brought out during processions, is located in the second prakaram. The idol is accompanied on either side by idols of Sharada and Raama. While the devatas generally are accompanied by their male/female consorts in most cases, on account of Kamakshi being Shiva – Shakthi AtmikA, 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’.