Thursday, March 24, 2016

Renugambal Temple, Padavedu

Renugambal Temple, Padavedu
Padavedu is one of the most important ‘Sakthi Sthalas’ in Thondainadu. Goddess Renugambal is self-manifested in this place, indicating "Sakthi is everything in this world" and offering her blessings along with Brahma, Vishnu and Lord Siva. In this place a number of sages performed penance & attained salvation. The existence of Banalingam and Nanakarshna Chakra consecrated by Adi Sankarar is the specialty of this place. This is the most popular temple of Padavedu and is usually crowded on holidays.

This is the place where Saint Jamathakni did penance and attained Mukthi (salvation). Here as blessed by Lord Siva, Mother Renugambal kept her Sirasu (head) for performing pooja by devotees and to offer them her blessings. She took her body to Swarka Loga (Heaven) along with Saint Jamathakni.

Birth of Uma Devi as Renugai:
With the blessings of Brahma, the Mother of all worlds Uma Devi was born to Eraivadha Maharaja, the king of Vidharba Desam. The child named as Renugai grew and attained marital age. Permitted by her father and according to the customs of those times, Renugai traveled the whole world accompanied by her friends and an army in search of a suitable husband. At last, she arrived at Kundalipuram, where saint Jamathakni was doing penance. Since Renugai camped near the Ashram with her soldiers, the sacred place was named "Padai Veedu" (army encampment). "Padaiveedu" is now called as "A.K.Padavedu (Amman Koil Padavedu)".  Here, Renugai saw Saint Jamathakni.

Kamandala Nadhi (River):
At that time a war broke out between the disciples of the Saint Jamathakni and the soldiers of Renugai. Durga alias Chamundeeswari who accompanied Renugai, effected havoc by the fire appeared from her third eye. Hearing this, the Saint Jamathakni brought all the Theerthas available in three worlds in his kamandalam (water jug used by ascetics) and dropped it. The water from kamandalam transformed into a huge river and extinguished the fire brought by Chamundeeswari. This river is known as "Kamandala Nadhi".

Renugai marrying Saint Jamathakni:
She learnt through a voice from Heaven that Saint Jamathakni would be her husband.  Renugai requested the saint to marry her.  Saint Jamathakni agreed and both of them got married. They gave birth to a child 'Parasuramar', a Vishnu Avatar.

Parasuramar chopping off Renukadevi Head:
Renukadevi, daughter of King Raivada married Sage Jamadagni and delivered Parasurama.  Padavedu is the place where Sage Jamadagni, an incarnation of Lord Shiva, lived with his wife Renuka, an Incarnation of Parvathi and son Parasurama, the avatar of Vishnu. Sage Jamadagni and Sage Vishwamitra grew together. The Sage used to perform Yagna daily to which mother Renuka used to bring water in a pot just made that day. One day the Mother saw a Gandharva flying and lost her mind on that due to the Maya or the play of the great Shakti. She was late for the yagna and felt ashamed.

The Sage, knowing this, asked his sons to chop off mother’s head but none came forward. Only Parasurama, to abide his father, came forward and did it and also cut his hand. Nearby Dhobis (Cloth washers) came to rescue the mother but Parasurama killed all of them. The sage was pleased and asked Parasurama’s wish and he rightly wanted his mother back.

Sage agreed and asked Parasurama to join the head and the body and sprinkle holy water over them. Parasurama did so and his mother came to life and also the dhobis who died in the fight. But, alas, his mother’s head was attached to a dhobi woman’s body and vice versa while doing it in an anxiety. But then Universal mother might have wanted this way only and she then made that dhobi woman, her close maiden. She is also worshipped here.

All these happened in Padavedu. There is a river nearby where dhobis washed the clothes. The Holy ash given in the temple is the one from the sage Jamadagni’s yaga Gunda which still exists.
Parasuramar slaying Kshatriyas:
Karthaveeryarjunan stole the Kamadenu cow of Jamadagni after killing him.  Renukadevi accompanied her husband in death.  However, as rain fell, she appeared with burn injuries and neem leaf clothing and met her son Parasurama.  Parasurama pursued Karthaveeryarjuna and killed him and recovered the Kamadenu and began destroying the Kshatriya community.  

Lord Shiva appeared before Parasurama and said that what happened was the act of destiny and asked him to end the anger.  While Renukadevi’s head alone stayed in Earth, the body accompanied Jamadagni to higher worlds. This is how, Renuka’s head alone stayed and now a swayambu in the Padavedu temple.
Greatness of Temple
The Prasadam offered in the temple is sand dug from a pit from a place a little away where an ashram of Sage Jamadagni – husband of Renukadevi – is believed to have existed.  It seems that the sand is ever filling.  It is taken on Aani Thirumanjanam day in June-July. People mix it in water and consume for child boon and cure from stomach pain.  Many say that this is very effective.

The sanctum sanctorum is very different in the temple. Mother Renukadevi is a swayambu with head alone.  All the three Lords are also believed to be in the sanctum without forms.  Acharya Sankara had installed a Banalinga and idol head here.  The full form of Amman also is in the form of a sculpture on the wall along with the idol of Sage Parasurama.  It is believed that many great souls had performed penance in this region.  Of the Shakti Peetas in the Thondai Mandalam region, this temple is one.

The place also gains importance as the birth place of Sage Parasurama born to Sage Jamadagni and Mother Renukadevi, hence praised as Parasurama Kshetra. Ganapathi Muni had performed penance here.  The temple has beautiful sculptures.

Temple Speciality
Amman in the temple is a swayambumurthy - head alone. This is one among the Shakti Peetas. Against the kumkum Prasadam offered in Shakti temples, only sand is offered here. Though an Amman temple, three are no lion paintings on the walls but only cows. Also against a lion or Yazhi (belonging to lion family) vahanam in Amman shrines, there is a bull here.

To prove that everything is under the power of Shakti, it is believed that three Lords, Brahmma, Vishnu and Shiva are in the sanctum sanctorum formless. Worshipping Ambica means worshipping all the Gods and 30 crore Devas of the celestial world.

Temple Structure
East Raja Gopuram:
The main entrance of the temple is facing east.  The Rajagopuram on the main entrance has three storeys and five kalasams (finials). Beautiful stucco figures of Parasuramar, Renugai, Lakshmi, Saint Jamathakni, Meenakshi, Subramaniar and Brahma are found on the Rajagopuram.

Corridor with Flag staff:
From the inner side of the main entrance there is a long corridor with pillars on both sides which leads to flag staff, Nandi and Balipeetham. Bell tower and Temple Kitchen are at the left side of this entrance. Vahana Mandapams and temple office are situated at south Prakaram.  
Shrines of Vinayagar & Subramaniya Swamy:
Moving through south Prakaram we can see the Vinayagar shrine at south west and Subramaniar shrine (with his consorts Valli and Deivanai) at North West. Both the shrines are facing east.  Devotees used to assemble at the small front mandapams of these shrines to perform austerities.
Artha Mandapam:
Renugai Amman Moolavar Sannathi is east facing. In front of Sanctum Sanctorum is Artha Mandapam. Stainless steel pipes are fixed to enable the devotees to come in queue and offer their heartfelt prayers to Goddess Renugambal.  A temple Hundi is also kept in this Mandapam.
Maha Mandapam:
Next to Artha Mandapam, there is a spacious Maha Mandapam. Two "dwarapalagis" guard the entrance of Ardhamandapam.  Beautiful Sculptures depicting various scenes from Puranas are found on the pillars of Maha mandapam.
Utsavar Sannadhi:
Utsavar Sannadhi is located at the Northern side of Maha mandapam facing south. Few stone steps from Mahamandapam lead us to Utsavar Sannathi. Inner side of the eastern walls of Mahamandapam carries stone inscriptions. Colourful paintings portraying the story of goddess Renugambal are fixed on the eastern walls.
Nanakarshna Chakram:
The Nanakarshna Chakram consecrated by Adi Sankarar is found at eastern side of Mahamandapam facing the Goddess Renugambal Amman.
Arts & Inscriptions
The temple is built using stone blocks.  Beautiful sculptures are engraved on the outer walls of the temple depicting puranic legends and works of art. An impressive sculpture showing Goddess Renugambal blessing Lord Rama is found on the northern walls of the temple. In one portion of the temple wall, the figures of 108 women dancers are beautifully engraved.  The specialty of this sculpture is that the women are in different postures and minute gaps (pin holes) are found in between the dancing women.  
Such works of art are available in abundance. This shows the growth of art in the reign of Sambuvarayas. The pillars of Maha Mandapam carry interesting scenes from Puranas.
The stone inscriptions found on the walls near the western entrance mention the following details:
·        Appointment of two persons as Vilakku Kudi (person to light the temple) by Somanatha Deva Nainar.
·         Appointment of Eswara Naicker as Vilakku Kudi
·        Appointment of Elaya Perumal and one other as Vilakku Kudi
·    The king's order to Ayya Nayanar for bringing garlands to this temple from Somanatha Garden.
Inscriptions are also found on the southern outer wall of the sanctum and on inner eastern walls of Maha Mandapam.
Temple Opening Time
The temple is opened for devotees during the following timings;
6.30 A.M. to 1.00 P.M
3.00 P.M. to 8.30 A.M
During Festival Days
5.00 A.M. TO 9.00 P.M
Pooja Timings
Kalai Santhi (Morning Pooja)
8.00 A.M.
Uchi Kalam (Noon Pooja)
11.00 A.M.
Sayaratchai (Evening Pooja)
6.00 A.M.
Pooja Fees Structure
Details of Pooja
Permission Fee for Tonsuring head
Permission Fee for carrying idols 
Permission Fee for Anka Prathatchanam (Rolling the body) 
Permission Fee for Veppam Seelai (Clothing neem leaves) 
Permission Fee for Ear boring
Dedicating Pair of Eyes model
Yearly Pooja Schedule
Tamil Months
As per English Calendar
Pooja Details
(April - May)
Special pooja on the first day of the month
Chithra Pournami (Full Moon Day) Pooja
(May - June)
Pournami (Full Moon Day) Pooja
(June - July)
Aani Thirumanjanam
Collecting sacred ash (Vibhuthi) special pooja
Pournami (Full Moon Day) Pooja
(July - August)
Sukra Vaara Festival (Friday)
Pournami (Full Moon Day) Pooja
(Aug - Sep)
Sukra Vaara Festival (Friday)
Pournami (Full Moon Day) Pooja
(Sep - Oct)
Navarathri pooja
Vijaya Dasami Parivettai Utchavam
Pournami (Full Moon Day) Pooja
(Oct - Nov)
Pournami (Full Moon Day) Pooja
(Nov - Dec)
Deepa Thirunaal Pooja
Pournami (Full Moon Day) Pooja
(Dec - Jan)
Thanoor month Pooja (Early morning)
Pournami (Full Moon Day) Pooja
(Jan - Feb)
Pongal Pooja
Pournami (Full Moon Day) Pooja
(Feb - Mar)
Pournami (Full Moon Day) Pooja
(Mar - April)
Pournami (Full Moon Day) Pooja
Rate (Rs)
Monthly Archanai Kattalai
Performing Archanai on a particular day of a month opted by devotees and sending Prasadam
Yearly Abishegam Kattalai
Performing Abishegam on a particular day of the year opted by devotees and sending Prasadam
Annadhana Kattalai
Performing Annadhanam (Gifting cooked rice) on a particular day opted by devotees
and above
All Fridays in Aadi month are festive days in the temple in July-August drawing huge crowds. Purattasi Navarathri is the other great festival of the temple in September – October. First day of each Tamil month, Margazhi pujas in December – January, Fridays of Thai month covering January – February, Tamil and English New Year Days, Thanoor Month Festival, Deepavali, Pongal are also celebrated with special pujas and aaradhanas.
Marriage Hall:
A spacious Temple Kalyana Mandapam (Marriage Hall) is situated on the northern side of the North Mada Street.  This Mandapam is given for rent to devotees who wish to solemnize their marriages in this sacred place.

Other Facilities:
Adjacent to the Kalyana Mandapam are common bath rooms and a Mandapam for hair offerings. To facilitate cooking Pongal even during rainy days a roofed structure with fire wood stoves are available for devotees.
The temple has excellent facilities for devotees like accommodation, protected drinking water supply etc.
Prayers & Benefits
Significance of Vibhuthi (Sacred Ash):
The sacred ash distributed to devotees in this temple is not prepared using conventional methods.  During Aani Thirumanjanam, the sacred ash is collected once a year from a place where Saint Jamathakni performed penance on the banks of Kamandala River.
Those who wear this sacred ash are cured of Chickenpox, small pox and all other ailments; they are also relieved of the ill effects caused by black magic.
Benefits Accrued to Devotees:
This is a famous Prarthana Sthala (sacred place to make prayers and offerings). Goddess Renugambal not only grants required boons to her devotees but also offers all kinds of wealth besides curing the ailments.
Those who pray for spouses are getting married soon, issueless parents beget children. Through prayers the devotees get relieved of their physical and mental sufferings. After fulfillment of their prayers, devotees visit this temple to make offerings.
People affected with small pox come to the place, stay here for a few days observing some regulations and get cured within 3 or 4 days.  They also spill the water on the body offered in the temple.  They also consume the Veppilai theertham-water mixed with neem leaves.  Devotees also pray for child, wedding boons.  Majority of the devotees pray for cure from small pox and eye related problems.
Realizing their wishes, devotees offer coins equal to their weight. This is called Tulaabaaram. They light ghee lamps and offer small metal pieces – copper or silver with limb symbols, eye in particular and Saris. They use only neem leaves made covering as clothing and circumambulate the temple. Tonsuring is also followed. Ear boring, placing cradles, donating cocks, animals are the main commitments followed by devotees.
For removal of pimples in faces, people offer jaggery and pepper. Kodi Deepam – lighting one crore lamps – is a great undertaking. People prepare Prasad, offer to deity and distribute it to others. Feeding-Annadhanam also is organized by some devotees.
Arulmigu Renugambal Amman Temple
Padaiveedu – 606 905
Thiruvannamalai District, Tamilnadu
Phone: +91- 4181 - 248 224, 248 424.
The location of Arulmigu Renugambal Amman Temple is serene and awe inspiring. Situated at the foot of the mountain chain (Jawadhu hills) the temple is surrounded by trees on all sides. 
Padavedu is 8 km far from the branch road of Chandavasal lying on the Thiruvannamalai highway. Bus facilities are available to Padavedu from Kancheepuram, Vellore, Polur, Arcot and Arani. The place is 42 km from Vellore, 52 km from Thiruvannamalai, 22 from Arani, 150 km from Chennai and 23 km from Polur.
Nearest Railway Station is located at Kalambur, Arani. Nearest Airport is located at Chennai.