Kamakshi Amman Temple, Kanchipuram – Legends
Parvathi penance on Lord Shiva:
After quelling the demon Tharuka, Lord Shiva and Uma Devi were engaged in a blissful conversation at the Mount Kailas in a holy hall called “Mani Mandapam”. While it was going on, Devi came behind the Lord and blindfolded him with her hands just for fun. The whole Universe plunged in to darkness. The work of creation stopped, Yagnas were deterred. Penance and Charity were abandoned. Living beings suffered in gloom. Growth of Knowledge was hindered. Books on Vedhas disappeared. The entire world was in a state of stupor on account of darkness. Devas and hermits yelled in fear. Their cry reached the ears of the Goddess Uma Devi. She removed her hands from the eyes of Lord Siva which began to shine in effulgence. The universe restored its lost light and action.
Lord Siva told Uma that the whole world grieved and sin enveloped as a result of she closed his eyes. As it is a sin, Shiva directed Devi to do atonement by either worshipping from a place where Lord Siva was in appearance or from the place where his followers were in their greatness. The goddess Parvathi got a curse due to this and had to born on earth as Kamakshi. Goddess Kamakshi was praying under a mango tree with a Shiva lingam made of sand to marry Lord Shiva.
At that moment, Lord Shiva incarnated as Kamba River with high tides to test Kamakshi. Kamakshi grasped the idol closely with her two hands and prevented it from getting eroded in the tides. She also performed Pooja by sitting in a needle tip surrounded by “Panchakagni” (surrounded by 5 fires) to free herself from the interest of livelihood. The Lord Shiva became happy, gestured before her and married her. When the goddess was performing penance, her fury was felt well beyond the Champaka grove affecting the villagers outside. The saint Dhurvarsa requested her to become peaceful.
Kamakshi Amman killing Bhandakasuran:
Rakshasha named Bhandakasuran did severe penance for Lord Brahma and got several boons. He became very powerful and started troubling Devathas. Devathas urged Lord Siva for help. As Lord Siva knows only Sri Bala Tripurasundari Devi has the power to kill Bhandakasuran, he advised them to go to Kanchipuram through Bilamarga (tunnel), which is the safest place during Pralayam and pray for Bala Tripurasundari Devi.
Devathas came to Kanchipuram. They stayed in Kanchipuram in the disguise of parrots on a Champaka tree and prayed for Bala Tripurasundari Devi. Goddess was pleased by their prayers and came out of a Bila in a very ferocious form with 8 hands, Chakra and 18 weapons and killed Bhandakasuran, who is sleeping in Kailasam. She dragged the body of Bhandakasuran from Kailasam to Kanchipuram and entered the Bilam in the form of a small girl.
Devathas recognized the goddess and took their original identities, but were frightened to go near the goddess as she looked very ferocious. They all prayed her to calm down. She took the form of a beautiful young girl with all the ornaments and with a smile on her face. She ordered Devathas to bury the body of Bhandakasuran in the ground and install a Jalasthambam on it. Devathas buried Bhandakasuran as said by goddess. They built Gayathri Mandapam and did vahana of the goddess in the form of a young girl on the Ratna Simhasana.
Later they closed the doors and kept chanting Devi Slokas. They waited till next morning and then opened the doors. They wondered to see Lalitha Parameswari Devi in her original form of Maha Tripurasundari with full of grace in her face, instead of the young girl. They Chanted Slokas in praise of her. She was pleased by their prayers and told she will be blessing every one coming here with her eyesight itself by the name of “Kamakshi Devi”.
She emerged as Swayambu on Srimukha Nama year, Phalguna month, and when sun is in Kumba rasi, Krishnapaksha Thithi, Purvapalguni Nakshatram, and Friday. Devatha’s wanted to do Pattabishekam to Maha Tripurasundari Devi. Vishwakarma had sent Pallakku, Lord Brahma had sent pearl necklace, Lord Vishnu had sent Navaratna Kiridam, Lord Siva had sent Srichakra Pathakam made of all ratnas as gifts and decorated goddess with all ornaments and did Pattabishekam.
They urged her to stay here permanently. It is important to go to Swarna Kamakshi Mandiram after visiting Kamakshi Devi and not to do Sastanganamaskara in Gayathri Mandapam. We can see idol of Thundeera beside Vuschava Kamakshi. It seems as if he is in Dhyanam. Devotees pass by without disturbing him. While crossing him devotees close their mouth by their hand (silence) as a sign of respect.
Goddess Lakshmi penance on getting back her beauty:
Once the goddess Lakshmi was given curse by the Lord Vishnu to incarnate as Aroopa form (deformed). Goddess Mahalakshmi comes to Kanchipuram and performs the worship chanting in the name of Lord Vishnu to free her from this Aarupam. After long prayers, the Goddess is freed from her Aarupam and given a Rupam by the Lord Vishnu. There exists a belief that Goddess kamakshi kumkum has to be offered to the idol of Aarupa Lakshmi within the sanctorum where by the goddess Lakshmi will fulfill your needs on the prayer.
Dasaratha getting boon from Kamakshi for heirs:
The history reveals us that King Dasaratha performed “Putra Kameshti Yagam” in the temple for the Birth of a child to his kingdom. The King performed pooja to the “Nabisthanam” of the goddess in the temple. The King Dasaratha within a few months received a child. The King Dasaratha belongs to the “Ishyavagu Vamsam”. The prime deity is Goddess Kamakshi for this clan. The extract of this story is visible in “Markandeya Puranam”. The faith is if prayed truly the goddess provides child for the childless couples.
The Santhana Sthambha inside the Gayathri Mandapa of this temple is associated with the king Dasaratha, the father of Lord Rama. He came to this temple and prayed to Kamakshi Amman for the grant of a boon to get sons.
Ganesha incarnation as son of King Akasa Bhoopathi:
In olden days, there was a king named Akasa Bhoopathi didn't have son. He came here and prayed Kamakshi Amman. Kamakshi's son Lord Ganesha incarnated as the son (Thundir Maharaja) of the king. You can find the idol of Thundir Maharaja in this temple.
Kamakshi absorbing all Shakthi forms:
According to Kamkshivilasa is that the Goddess had to absorb all the other Shakthi forms to give boon to Manmatha (the Hindu god of fertility and love).
Raja Rajeswari absolute control over the Land:
Another legend attributes it to the Raja Rajeswari pose of the deity that signifies an absolute control over the land under its control, leaving no other forms of Shakthi.
Mother turning a dumb to poet:
The temple was visited by a dumb devotee named “Mookan”. The devotee begged the goddess to free him from this dumbness so that he can perform poems on the praise of the goddess. The goddess suddenly provides him grace by freeing him from dumbness and giving him intellectuality in creating poetry. He was very happy with the goddess that he wrote a poetry named “Mookapanchashati” in which he praises entirely about the grace of the goddess with her beauty.
The temple goddess has been so graceful that she has made dumb to a poet, has given birth to the childless couples and provides wealth to all her devotees. The goddess destroys evil and helps the prosperity of goodness to prosper throughout the world.