Wednesday, 13 November 2013

AstavaDasha Shakti peetham Shankari Devi - Sri Lanka


Shankari Devi:-

Shankari Devi temple in Tricomalee, Srilanka is a prominent temple for Hindus. But, it is most rarely visited and it is very least popular in all AstavaDasha Shakti peethas.



Shanakri Devi Temple is situated in an east coast town of Srilanka, Tricomalee (Tri – Cona – Malai = a triangular hill).

Along with the temple of Shaankari Devi, there is a temple of Lord Shiva – TRIKONESHWARA Temple.

Portuguese people demolished these temples in 17th century.


About Temple:-

Koneswaram temple also Thirukoneswaram is a Hindu temple which is located in the town Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. It is dedicated to main deity in Shaivism namely Lord Siva and is one of the five ancient Sivan templearound the island.


Trincomalee is a natural deep-water harbor that attracted great sea farers like Marco Polo, Ptolemy and sea traders from China and East Asia from the ancient times. The local name Thirukonamalai means "Holy East Hill". Kona is a derivative of the 1st Century Tamil word Kuna meaning East. Trinco as it is commonly called has been a sea port since the days of the ancient Kings and one of the British Empire's most important ports in Asia during the second world war. From 1941-45, Trinco had been the headquarters of Lord Louis Mountbatten Allied Southeast Asia commander.
The Koneswaram temple is believed to have been a major religious shrine since before the arrival of Prince Vijaya 2500 years ago. Many inscriptions found in the surrounding area speak of Indian Pallava, Chola and even Pandya kings making contributions to the upkeep of the temple indicating an origin in antiquity. Local legend has it that it was renovated by a Tamil Chola king from South India named Kulakottan. This temple is one of the four important Saivite temple connected to the revival of Hinduism in Sri Lanka. The other three temples are situated in Ketheeswaram, Munneswaram and Galle.


There is evidence that indicates at least some of the later Sinhalese Buddhist kings too maintained the temple although Buddhist King Mahasena was reported to have destroyed it and built a Buddhist temple and Dagoba in its place.

This shrine was demolished in 1622 by the Portuguese (who called it the Temple of a Thousand Columns), who fortified the heights with the materials derived from its destruction. Some of the artefacts from the demolished temple were kept in the Lisbon Museum. The stone inscription by Kulakottan has a dual fish emblem and is engraved with a prophesy stating that after 1500s, westerners with different eye colors will rule the country for the ensuing 500 years and at the end of it, the rule will revert back to Vadugus. Trincomalee was next held by the Dutch and subsequently by them and the French alternately, till the capture of Sri Lanka by the British in 1795.

The hill face is rugged and is called 'Ravanan Veddu'. As Trinco is full of seismic and volcanic activity as seen in Kanniya Hot Springs area, this rugged face of rock is a reminder of the movement of Earth's crust in this area.

Along with Ketheeswaram in Mannar, this temple was mentioned by one of the Bhakti era Tevaram literature by one of the Nayanmars, namely Sundarar in South India, indicating its popularity even in India.

Thirukonasala Vaipavam, written by the poet V. Akilesapillai is an important literary work in Tamil on the history of this temple.
After 1505 A.D, the temple was destroyed by Portuguese catholic colonialists (along with countless Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim places of worship around the island), while the main statue was taken out to town for a festive occasion. At this time Portuguese soldiers entered into the temple dressed as Iyer priests and robbed the temple. The temple was destroyed and its building materials were used in the construction of a nearby fort by the Portuguese.The present statues were found when digging a well in Trinco. During the time of Portuguese rule the statues were hidden in a silted well and were later forgotten. During independence, the ancient statues were finally discovered.

After a gap of almost 450 years, after the Sri Lankan independence, some Sri Lankan Tamil hindu people of Trincomalee came together and built the present temple in 1952. In size it's very small compared to the original temple.

The annual festival at this temple attracts pilgrims from all parts of India.


Legend :-1)
Ravana Legend:-

Long long ago, in the Tretha Yuga Parvathi was suddenly hit with a strong desire. She wanted a house, a large palatial mansion, where she could live happily with Shiva and her children, Heyrambha and Skanda. Coyly, she approached Shiva. “Swami, I have one request to make of you” she said, her head hanging down with shyness.

Shiva smiled his all-knowing bubbly smile. “Devi, you know fully well the repercussions of your previous request to me. But still, you have a desire. Speak away.”


“I want a house Swami. I want to live in a lovely mansion, attended by Yoginis and playing with our children. Please grant me this wish” said Parvathi.

Shiva laughed. “Shakthi, who are you speaking to? Have you forgotten that you are talking to me, who is extolled as the yogi of yogis, who has achieved supreme control over his senses and who sees no difference between the luxurious and the mundane.”

“I fully understand Swami, but it is you who does not understand my intentions for the goodness of this world. I want a house and I want it now.” said Shakthi with a hint of finality.

Shiva realized the thought behind Shakthi’s request and finally he gave his assent. Waving his hands in front of him he said, “Vishwakarma, I am in need of your help”. Lo, before him stood the Devaloka Architect, with a chisel in one hand and a hammer in the other. He bowed to the divine couple and awaited his instructions.

“Vishwakarma, build me the best palace ever seen in this world so that Uma can have her desire satisfied.” intoned Shiva.

In an instant Vishwakarma flew southwards and chose a beautiful spot on the island of Lanka. There he raised a magnificent structure, gleaming with gold and gems, cooled with water fountains and filled with the smell of many divine flowers in the garden, a palace that qualified to be the residence of the Mother of the three worlds.

Parvathi was extremely pleased with the outcome and wanted to perform the Griha Pravesha of this beautiful palace with the help of the best of the Brahmanas. Shiva and Shakthi came down to Lanka to find a suitable brahmana for the Grihapravesha. It was then that the distant but powerful chant of “Om Namah Shivaya” reached their ears. Following the divine sound they came to a place where they beheld a ten-headed man, performing austere tapasya invoking Shiva. Shiva smiled at Shakthi and then spoke out.

“Ravana, you have achieved the purpose of your tapas. So strong was your tapa that it not only drew me to you but also attracted Shakthi along with me to the place of your penance. You will achieve all that you desire.” he blessed.

Realising that Ravana was the son of the great saint Vishravas and very well versed on all the four Vedas, Parvathi was suddenly sure that he would be the right brahmana to perform the Grihapravesha to her house. Ravana gladly accepted the invitation and set a date for the auspicious entry into the palace (Ravana is believed to have been an authority in Astrology too and is said to have authored a separate book on Astrology titled Ravana Samhita)

On the prescribed date, Ravana performed the ceremony with much grandeur and splendor, with the correct usage of all the mantras and shlokas. Shiva and Parvathi entered their mansion and added further sanctity to the spot. Parvathi was extremely pleased with Ravana’s prowess in the Vedas and offered him any boon that he wanted as dakshina for performing the ceremonies.

Shiva, however laughed silently besides Parvathi. “It is not proper for a Brahmana to ask what he wants for dakshina. He should be pleased with what the Yajamana or Yajamani gives him. However, as Shakthi herself offered you the boon, you may ask whatever you please.”


Ravana demands the Palace as a giftRavana smiled at the couple and realized suddenly what he wanted. He had fallen in love with the palace itself. He had admired every piece of woodwork, every carving and every room that had been designed by Vishwakarma. “Jaganmata, I would like this house of yours in return for my ceremonies.” He asked.

Parvathi smiled at the play of fate and granted him his wish. Ravana was visibly thrilled but at the same time guilt rattled him. He felt ashamed at robbing Parvathi of her house. “Devi,” he exclaimed, “do continue to live in Lanka as long as you please. This land is but equivalent to one speck of dust on your feet. Please give your consent to stay here and bless this land forever.”

Parvathi smiled again. “Ravana, I accept your invitation. My shakthi will always pervade this place. But on one condition- I will go away from the island the moment you disobey any of my commands.” Ravana agreed to her condition and with one last Tathastu, Parvathi returned to Kailasha.

Ravana built a gigantic temple, replete with architectural details, dedicated to the goddess Shankari Devi. The temple was located on the top a cliff that fell sharply into the magnificent sea below. Around the temple, Ravana set up a beautiful garden, the best in all of Lanka. The goddess smiled on the people of Lanka and the kingdom prospered.

Trouble began when Ravana, overcome by carnal desire, kidnapped Seetha and brought her to Lanka. Shankari devi was angered by this base action of Ravana. She asked him to leave Seetha and return her to Rama. But lust clung to Ravana like a leech and he did not obey Devi’s advice. Highly disappointed, Shankari left the island country and with her left all the peace and prosperity of the kingdom.

We are of course familiar with the remainder of the story detailing the Rama-Ravana war and the subsequent defeat of Ravana. When Vibheeshana was crowned by Rama as the emperor of Lanka, he prayed that Shankari devi once again take residence in the island nation. Shankari Devi accepted his prayers and re-entered her temple, bringing glory to Lanka once again.


Shankari Devi as described in the Dhyana ShlokaThe place where Ravana had built Shankari Devi’s temple is believed to be the exact spot where the groin of Sati is said to have fallen. The magnificent cliff where the temple was built is by itself considered to be a part of Kailasha.


Legend:-2
Adisesha Legend :-


When this universe was born, Parameshwara had delegated various tasks to various gods and demigods and blessed them with the required powers. Adisesha was assigned with the duty of holding up the earth, steadily until the next Mahapralaya. Having heard about this Vayu, the wind god, was furious. “Sesha”, he taunted, “how can you, who is afraid of Garuda, be the perfect choice to hold up this earth”. Adisesha was livid. “I live just by eating you, oh Wind. I am much stronger than you are” he slashed back. Blinded by fury, they attacked each other. Adisesha coiled himself around Kailasha and sneered at Vayu. “If you are as powerful as you say, try blowing away one peak of this great mountain”. Vayu turned into a hurricane and attacked Kailasha. The worlds trembled at the force of this combat and the devas yearned for refuge at Shiva’s feet. Shiva then ordered Brahma to create another Kailasha to the south and then descended with Parvathi to reside at the Southern Kailasha.

“Adisesha,” said Shiva. “All this is another play of mine. I have decided to protect the people of Bharatha Khanda from the south too. This war of yours will end just as successfully in my favour. Listen to me.” Adisesha lifted three of his thousand hoods to look and listen to the lord. At that instant, Vayu broke away three peaks from Kailasa. By Parameshwara’s orders he placed these three in Thondai naadu(ThiruKaalahasthi), Chozha Naadu (Thirichirapalli {See Thayumanavar}) and in Eezha Naadu (Thirukkonamalai, Lanka) respectively. The third hill came to be known as Thirukkonamalai and lies along the same longitude as Kailasha, thus earning the nameDakshina Kailasha. This was where the famed Shankari Devi temple was located.

For those of you who did notice the past tense in the last sentence, it was not a mistake. Sadly, the temple no longer exists. All that remains of the magnificent temple, that was lovingly build by Ravana, is but one pillar.

Legend:-3)
 Kethu Legend :-


Foraging around for legends, we came across a few that were vital to the temple. The Asura, Kethu, stealthily swallowed a portion of the Divine Nectar obtained by churning the Ocean of Milk, which would confer immortality on him alone. Vishnu beheaded him and Kethu wandered headless until Brahma took pity on him and transformed him into the planets Rahu and Kethu. Restless with the burden of sin, Kethu came to Ketheeswaram, propitiated Lord Siva and obtained moksha. Thus the place came to be known as Tiru — Kethu — eeswaram.

Description:-

 At its zenith, Thirukkonamalai was perhaps the richest and the most visited Hindu shrine, maybe more so than Rameshwaram or Puri. Extolled by the Nayanmar saints in the Tevaram and by Arunagirinathar in his Thiruppugazh, Konamaamalai was a great center of Shiva worship, second only to Chidambaram. It is one of the two Paadal Petra Thalams in Lanka. Archeological and literary evidence prove the existence of at least three temples on the cliff, with one gopuram taller than the other, the highest gopuram enshrining the main deity. The main temple itself was believed to have a thousand pillars supporting a humongous hall and many mandapas.



The rock carving near the temple, referred to as the Konesar Kalvettu places the beginnings of the temple circa 1580 BC. The temple has recorded history from as far as 300BC. Destroyed by the Buddhist king Mahasena and replaced by Buddha Viharas, the temple was renewed and reconstructed by the Chozha King Kulakotta Chozhan. He rebuilt the temple and the tank, earning his name (Kulam – Tank, Kattu – Build) and brought down the Vanniars to settle in the region and make it flourish. The temple was further served by the Pandya, Pallava and the Jaffna kings making it a magnificent place of pilgrimage that attracted people from all over the subcontinent. The kings and the Vanniars paid handsome tributes of gold, silver and pearl to the lord, making the temple prosperous and famous. The glory however became the very bane of the temple. On the Tamil New Year day (14th April) 1624, the temple was looted by the Portuguese. When the utsavar was taken out in a procession, the Portuguese entered the temple dressed as brahmanas and plundered its wealth. Gold, pearls and gems that were collected over thousands of years were looted in a few hours. The temple itself was cannon-balled and broken to pieces. Much of the temple’s masonry was used to reinforce Fort Frederick and the rest of it was pushed into the Indian Ocean. The fleeing priests buried much of the idols and sent the rest for safekeeping. The looting of the temple is perhaps the biggest plundering of the Indian temples by the western barbarians. An amazing yet true fact is the presence of a rock carving, dating to the early Pandya dynasty complete with the double fish Insignia, which foretells the fall of the temple into the hands of the Franks. Presently kept in the Lisbon Museum it prophesizes “O King, be warned, the franks will ruin the ancient temple built by Kulakottan and no future king will ever think of building it to its previous glory again.”



In 1689 a smaller temple was built nearby to house the idols that had survived in the procession. This Adi Konanayakkar temple still exists and so do the idols that escaped their fate on that fateful day. No worship was allowed to take place at the ruins until the Britishers entered the country. People then often went to the rock and broke coconuts, sometimes throwing offerings into the sea below where it reached the underwater ruins. In 1950, the ancient Konanayakar Utsavamoorthy made of Panchaloha, the idol of Ambal and Ganesha were discovered while digging for a well. 350 years after the destruction of the temple, the Lankans reinstalled the utsavar idols and in 1952 built a temple to Koneswarar at the spot near the ancient ruins. A diving team which included the author Arthur C Clarke (of Space Odyssey fame) took some stunning photographs of the underwater ruins of the temple and retrieved the ancient Swayambhu Linga which was later installed in the temple.


The present temple is of much modest dimensions compared to the one of yore. Regarded as one of the Pancha Eeswarams of Shiva, Koneswaram has shrines to Ganesha, Subramanya and other Shaivite deities surrounding the central Garbha Griha which enshrines the ancient powerful Asura Linga, Thirukkoneswarar. The recently recovered Panchaloha idols are worshipped in the Vasantha Mandapam. There is a separate smaller temple dedicated to the goddess worshipped as Mathumai Ambal. Though many pilgrims worship her as Shankari Devi, the Peetha Nayaki of the Shankari Shakthi Peetha, she is not the ancient Shankari devi who was worshipped by Ravana and Adi Shankara, to whom the grandest temple on Lanka was built. The form of Shankari devi as described in the Dhyana shloka does not match the divine form of Mathumai Ambal. The original idol is lost forever. People worship the lone pillar standing at the summit of the hill as the only remnant of the grand Shankari temple. Many believe that the pillar itself marks the exact position of the Shakthi peetha though this is a debatable topic.


The temple theertha, the Mavaliganga, bubbles up from a well at the western portion of the hill, circumambulates the hill and empties into the Indian Ocean. It is believed that when Parvathi once examined Shiva’s matted locks, she caught the sight of a woman’s face for a fleeting second. The terrified Ganga froze into an ice drop which was covertly scooped up and dropped into the sea by Shiva. It is believed that it is she who wells up in the Sivanolipadam hills near Northern Lanka, flowing towards Thirukkonamalai as Mahabaliganga, towards Ketheeswaram (the only other Paadal Petra Thalam in Lanka) as Manikka Ganga and towards Kathirgama as Kaveri Ganga.




Swami Rock, as the spot was named, in 1870The rock carving near the temple, referred to as the Konesar Kalvettu places the beginnings of the temple circa 1580 BC. The temple has recorded history from as far as 300BC. Destroyed by the Buddhist king Mahasena and replaced by Buddha Viharas, the temple was renewed and reconstructed by the Chozha King Kulakotta Chozhan. He rebuilt the temple and the tank, earning his name (Kulam – Tank, Kattu – Build) and brought down the Vanniars to settle in the region and make it flourish. The temple was further served by the Pandya, Pallava and the Jaffna kings making it a magnificent place of pilgrimage that attracted people from all over the subcontinent. The kings and the Vanniars paid handsome tributes of gold, silver and pearl to the lord, making the temple prosperous and famous. The glory however became the very bane of the temple. On the Tamil New Year day (14th April) 1624, the temple was looted by the Portuguese. When the utsavar was taken out in a procession, the Portuguese entered the temple dressed as brahmanas and plundered its wealth. Gold, pearls and gems that were collected over thousands of years were looted in a few hours. The temple itself was cannon-balled and broken to pieces. Much of the temple’s masonry was used to reinforce Fort Frederick and the rest of it was pushed into the Indian Ocean. The fleeing priests buried much of the idols and sent the rest for safekeeping. The looting of the temple is perhaps the biggest plundering of the Indian temples by the western barbarians. An amazing yet true fact is the presence of a rock carving, dating to the early Pandya dynasty complete with the double fish Insignia, which foretells the fall of the temple into the hands of the Franks. Presently kept in the Lisbon Museum it prophesizes “O King, be warned, the franks will ruin the ancient temple built by Kulakottan and no future king will ever think of building it to its previous glory again.”
In 1689 a smaller temple was built nearby to house the idols that had survived in the procession. This Adi Konanayakkar temple still exists and so do the idols that escaped their fate on that fateful day. No worship was allowed to take place at the ruins until the Britishers entered the country. People then often went to the rock and broke coconuts, sometimes throwing offerings into the sea below where it reached the underwater ruins. In 1950, the ancient Konanayakar Utsavamoorthy made of Panchaloha, the idol of Ambal and Ganesha were discovered while digging for a well. 350 years after the destruction of the temple, the Lankans reinstalled the utsavar idols and in 1952 built a temple to Koneswarar at the spot near the ancient ruins. A diving team which included the author Arthur C Clarke (of Space Odyssey fame) took some stunning photographs of the underwater ruins of the temple and retrieved the ancient Swayambhu Linga which was later installed in the temple.

Bilva Tree :-

 The temple offers a spectacular vista of the calm Indian ocean stretching out for miles. By the edge of the cliff, stands an ancient Bilva tree, under which Sri Rama is said to have meditated.


The Kannyayi Hot Springs :-

Among the sights of the place are the seven hot springs of Kanniyayi, on the road to Trincomalee. About a mile on a side road branching from the main route, the springs are worth a visit. A high wall assembles all the seven springs in a rectangular enclosure. Each enclosed in a dwarf wall forms a well of its own. The water is mildly hot; the temperature varies but slightly in each. In effect, a public bathing resort, the use of the springs is controlled by the neighboring Mari Amman Kovil who holds the lease of the wells. People believe that bathing in these well will refesh themselves.


Mavaliganga Theertha :-

The temple theertha, the Mavaliganga, bubbles up from a well at the western portion of the hill, circumambulates the hill and empties into the Indian Ocean. It is believed that when Parvathi once examined Shiva’s matted locks, she caught sight of a woman’s face for a fleeting second. The terrified Ganga froze into and ice drop which was covertly scooped up and dropped into the sea by Shiva. It is believed that it is she who wells up in the Sivanolipadam hills on northern Lanka, flowing towards Thirukkonamalai as Mahabaliganga, towards Ketheeswaram (the only other Paadal Petra Thalam in Lanka) as Manikka Ganga and towards Kathirgama as Kaveri Ganga.


Festivals :-

Workers of the Sri Lanka Port Authority in Trincomalee will be holding the ‘Theppath Thiruvilazh’ (Boat Festival) as usual this year also on 13 April in the Dutch Bay Sea. Lord Konesar, chief deity of the temple with his consort Mathumai Ambal will be taken in boat around the temple from the Swami Rock via Back Bay Sea to the Dutch Bay Sea. Religious discourses and cultural items will take place throughout the night of 13 April in the Dutch Bay sea beach. Thereafter the deity will be taken to the temple next day early morning by road through the Fort Frederick entrance, the sources said.

Pathirakali Ambal Temple and some other Hindu Temples are holding their water-cutting festivals in the Back Bay Sea for several centuries.

Location of Temple:-

The temple is located on the North Eastern coast of Sri Lanka in a city that is presently known as Trincomalee (a vulgarized form of Thirukkonamalai). The city is well connected by roads. The temple itself is reached by a rigorous hike up the Konamalai. Vehicles can also drive up to the very door step of the temple. The place is as much Tamil as any temple in Tamil Nadu, with even the priests and commoners speaking the language, which is a great convenience.

3 comments:

  1. amazing info had never heard of tk u for the kindness to share it

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lankayam shankaridevi.Visited in Dec 2014. Had great experience & feeling. New Kumbhabhishekam is scheduled in march 2015

    ReplyDelete