Saturday, September 26, 2015

Bhu Varaha Swamy Temple

Bhu Varaha Swamy Temple
Bhu Varaha Swamy temple is a Hindu temple, located at Srimushnam, in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple is dedicated to Vishnu, who is worshipped as Bhu Varaha Swamy and his consort Lakshmi as Ambujavalli Thayar.
The temple had contributions from Medieval Cholas of the 10th century with later expansions by Thanjavur Nayaks king Achuthappa Nayak. A granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all the shrines and the bodies of water. There is a seven-tiered Rajagopuram, the temple's gateway tower, in the temple.

Six daily rituals and three yearly festivals are held at the temple, of which the Chariot festival, celebrated during the Tamil month of Vaikasi (April–May), being the most prominent. The festival also symbolizes Hindu-Muslim unity in the region - the flag of the chariot is provided by Muslims in the region, they take offerings from the temple and present to Allah in the mosques. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
The legend of the temple is associated with the Varaha avatar of Vishnu. The demon king Hiranyakshan rolled over the earth and ruled the netherworld. He was troubling Bhudevi, who is the divine ruler of the netherworld.
She was praying to Vishnu to relieve her off the clutches of the demon. Pleased by her worship, Vishnu appeared in the form of a boar, killed the demon and appeared in the place. The sweat of the demon king dropped in the place which is believed to be the temple tank. While dying, the demon king wished Vishnu to turn towards his direction, which Vishnu obliged.

The presiding deity hence has his face towards western direction, while his body faces the devotees in the eastern direction. Since it was a boar, the presiding deity is a smaller one. The festival deity, as requested by Bhudevi displays the regular features of Vishnu with his conch and Chakra in his hands. The Story
Prarthana Sthalam
It is believed that those who visit the temple just once and offer their sincere prayers to this Lord at Srimushnam will be blessed to attain moksham.
This is a Prarthana Sthalam for childless couples. Women, who take bath in the temple tank and recite the Varaha Kavacham are said to be blessed with offspring. This is also a Prarthana Sthalam for those unmarried, who on offering their prayers at the Saptha Kannigal Sannidhi are said to find the right match. Belief is also that Lord Bhoo Varaha helps devotees in the purchase of house and car.
While in Tirupathi divyadesam, one will first visit Lord Varaha before having darshan of the moolavar deity Srinivasa perumal, at Srimushnam, devotees are supposed to worship Lord Srinivasa, at the Western entrance, before having a darshan of Bhoo Varahaswamy. One of the specialties at this temple is the offering of Korai Kazhangu as prasadam to the Lord.
Swayambu Kshetram
Srimushnum is one of the eight Swayambu Kshetrams in India. The others are Srirangam, Tirupathi and Vanamaamalai (Nanguneri) in South India and Saligramam, Naimisarinyam, Pushkaram and Badri in North India. The speciality at the Srimushnum temple is thirumanjanam for the saligrama idol is performed every day.

The divine touch
While the moolavar idol is a Swayambu, the temple is believed to have been constructed by Four Nayak kings – Achuthappa, Ananthappa, Govindappa and Kondappa. The story goes that Ananthappa Nayak developed severe stomach pain when they camped at Rajendrapatnam, eight kms East of Srimushnum. He was relieved of his pains when Lord Vishnu appeared in his dreams and touched his stomach. Delighted at this, he came here and constructed the temple. To this day, one can see the five fingers of the Lord below his left stomach. Also there are several inscriptions in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi found on the walls of the outer prakaram of the temple.
The existence of Bhuvaraha Swamy temple during the medieval Chola period is seen from the inscriptions from 11th century. The temple was expanded by Thanjavur Nayak king Achuthappa Nayak (1560 - 1614 AD). The life size image of the king and his brothers are found in the sixteen pillared hall of the temple. An epigraph dated 1068 in the nearby Shiva temples indicates gifts by Virarajendra Chola (1063–1070 AD) to the Varaha shrine. Another inscription dated at 1100 by Kulothunga Chola I (1070–1120) indicates a gift of a village to the temple, where the presiding deity is referred as Varaha Azhwar.
The later inscriptions are from Vijayanagara kings of the 16th century like Virupaksha Raya II (1465-85 AD) dated 1471 AD, Sriranga I (1572-86), Venkata II (1586 - 1614) indicating various gifts to the temple. The most notable contributions of the temple were from Achuthappa Nayak (1560 - 1614 AD) who built the sixteen pillared Purushasuktha Mandapa along with other smaller shrines of the temple.
The Temple
There are two gopurams in the temple and two precincts enclosed within large granite walls- the western tower is seven-tiered and is the commonly used one. The five-tiered one on the eastern side is opened only during Vaikunta Ekadasi. There is a small image of Srinavasa Perumal on the upper portion of the inner side of the tower. Outside the temple, there is an 80 ft (24 m) tall monolith pillar with the image of Garuda on its top facing the presiding deity of the temple. The Sthala Vriksha of the temple is Ashvatha tree.
The central shrine houses the presiding deity of the temple, Bhu Varahaswamy in the form of a Saligrama image with a height of around 2 ft (0.61 m). The image is set in a standing position facing east. The image is depicted as a boar with it head facing the West and his hands in his waist, depicting a victorious posture.
The Utsavar (festival deity) image, Patharaavi, is made of panchaloka and is accompanied by two consorts as in most Vaishnavite temples. The image of the Utsavar is housed in the Artha Mandapa, the hall before the sanctum.[4] The temple has two Dvarapala (guarding deities) on both sides of the entrance of the central shrine made of panchaloha, one of which is commissioned during the modern times. The older one on the left side was confiscated during the Mysore war and was having a wooden replica till it was replaced in 2004.
The sixteen pillared hall is called Purushasuktha Mandapa and it is the place where the hymns of Purusha sukta are recited each day during sacred ablution of the presiding deity.
The vimana over the sanctum is called Pavana Vimana and is surmounted by a gold-plated Kalasa. The 16 columned pavilion is considered a masterpiece of Nayak art built by Achutappa Nayak. The columns are sculpted with images of musicians, dancers and miniature idols. The ceiling has lotus medallion sculptures and scroll work. The central shrine is topped by a conical roof. The decorated outer walls are atypical of Chola Art
There is a shrine of Garuda and Nammazhwar facing the sanctum away from the sixteen pillared hall. There is a separate shrine for Ambujavalli Thayar, the consort of Bhu Varaha Swamy in the second precinct which also houses the shrines of Andal and Ramanuja. Udayarpalaya Mandapam, as indicated by its name was built during the period of zamindars and it houses the Kannadi Arai (room of glasses).
There are other shrines for VenugopalaVishwaksenaVedanta DesikaThirumangai AzhvarManavala Mamunigal, Kuzhanthai Amman and Tirukachi Nambi. There is a garden on the northern side of the temple that houses a shrine of Rama. In this temple there is a statue of Hanuman lifting Rama and Lakshmana on his shoulders. The temple is administered by theHindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department of Tamil Nadu government. His Holiness the Pedda Jeeyar of Tirupathi is the permanent trustee of the temple.
Festivals and religious practices
The temple follows the traditions of the Thenkalai sect of Vaishnavite tradition and follows vaikanasa aagama. The temple priests perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. As at other Vishnu temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Vaishnavaite community, a Brahmin sub-caste.
The temple rituals are performed six times a day: 
Ø Ushathkalam at 7a.m, 
Ø Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m, 
Ø Uchikalam at 12:00p.m,
Ø Sayarakshai at 6:00 p.m, 
Ø Irandamkalam at 7:00 p.m.
Ø Ardha Jamam at 8:30p.m.    
Rituals for both Bhu Varaha Swamy Perumal and Sundaravalli Thayar will be conducted daily as per the timing mentioned above. Each ritual has three steps:
Ø Aalangaram (decoration), 
Ø Neivethanam (food offering)
Ø Deepa aradanai (waving of lamps)
During the last step of worship, nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument) are played, religious instructions in the Vedas (sacred text) are recited by priests, and worshippers prostrate themselves in front of the temple mast. There are weekly, monthly and fortnightly rituals performed in the temple.
Some of the festivals of the temple have been practiced during the Nayak times as indicated by the inscriptions on the walls of the first precinct. The inscriptions indicate patronage for the festivals to be conducted during the presence of Sun in 12 zodiac signs during various months of the year. The usage of processional vehicles during this occasion is also prescribed. 
The temple follows Pancharatra mode of worship. There are two Brahmotsavams celebrated in the temple, one each during the Tamil month of Masi and other during the month of Chittirai (April -May). During the first, the festival deity of Bhu Varaha Swamy is taken for seven days around the villages of Srimushnam.
Hindu Muslim Unity
A specialty of the festival at Srimushnam is that the Chariot sports a Muslim flag, symbolizing the Hindu-Muslim unity. In fact, every year in the Tamil month of Maasi, the utsava deity goes on a 20-day procession to Killai and other villages near Chidambaram.
Another interesting feature is that the Muslims in the area offer prasadams to the Lord Yagyavaraha and in return they take the flowers of the Lord and offer it to Allah. The Muslim devotees are said to thank Allah for having brought Varaha Swamy to their place. The Bhoo Varaha Swamy temple in Srimushnum is the only temple that boasts of such a unity between Muslims and Hindus and this event continues to this day.
The chariot festival is a symbol of Hindu - Muslim unity in the region, with the flag of the temple chariot offered by the local Muslims. They also accept the offerings from the festival deity and present it to Allah in the mosques. The Muslim devotees thank Allah to have brought Bhu Varaha Swamy to their place. 
The other festivals are Sri Jayanti Utsavam during Aavani, NavaratriVijayadasamiDeepavali and Makara Sankranti.
Religious importance
The temple is considered one of the eight Sywayambu Kshetras of Vishnu where presiding deity is believed to have manifested on its own.
Divine ablution is performed daily for the presiding deity, unlike other Vishnu temples where it is performed only occasionally. In the Bhu Varaha temple in Tirumala, devotees are supposed to visit after they worship the Tirumala temple, but in Srimushnam, devotees visit the Srinivas temple in the western entrance before visiting Bhu Varaha Swamy.
The temple is frequented by childless couple seeking children and unmarried people seeking marriage. The local belief is that the worship done to Saptha Kannigaigal in the temple leads to right match. The temple is counted as Abhibana Stalas, the temples that are closer to the heart of Vishnu.
Quick Facts
Ø Moolavar: Bhoo Varaha West Facing Standing Posture
Ø Goddess: Ambujavalli Thaayar East Facing (Sep. Sannidhi)
Ø Utsavar: Yagya Varaha Swamy
Ø Time: 730am-1230pm and 5pm-9pm
Ø Priest: S.S.Ramanuja Bhattar @ 94423 78303

Srimushnum is located 35 kms West of Chidambaram and about 25 kms from Vriddachalam in the Kattu Mannar Koil Taluk.

There are direct buses from Chennai to Srimushnam. By train, one can alight at Vriddachalam Junction and take a bus to Srimushnam via Rajendrapatnam (about 30-45mts)


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