Sunday, 30 August 2015

Sri Panakala Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy

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Temple Famous for :

This place is one of the 8 important Mahakshetrams (sacred places) in India. In the temple, there will be no statue of the god, but there is only mouth, widely opened to 15 cms. The mouth is covered by metal face of the god.

About Sri Panakala Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple :

Mangalagiri means ‘the holy hill’.

Panakala Narasimha Swamy – means God who drinks Panakam, which is mix of jaggery water with cardamom flavor.

This place is one of the 8 important Mahakshetras (sacred places) in India. 

The 8 places where Lord Vishnu manifested himself are
  1. Shri Rangam
  2. Shrimushnam
  3. Naimisaranyam
  4. Pushkaram
  5. Salagamadri
  6. Thothadri
  7. Narayanasramam
  8. Venkatadri.
Thotadri is the present Mangalagiri.  As Shri Lakshmi has done tapas (Penance) on this hill, it got this name (Mangala - Auspicious, Giri - Hill).

There are 3 Lord Narasimha temples in Mangalagiri.
  1. Panakala Narasimha Swamy on the hill.
  2. Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy at the foot of the temple.
  3. Gandala Narasimha Swamy at the top of the hill.

There is a legend, to point out how the mountain came into existence.  

The mountain itself is in the shape of an elephant.  Pariyatra, associate in nursing ancient king, had a son – Hrasva Srungi.  He visited all holy and sacred places, to regain traditional bodily stature and at last visited this place of Mangalagiri and stayed for 3 years doing penance.  All the Devas (Angels) suggested him to remain at Mangalagiri and continue penance in praise of Lord Vishnu.  The father of Hrasva Srungi came along with his retinue to bring his son back to his kingdom.  However, Hrasva Srungi took the form of an elephant,  to become the abode of Lord Vishnu,  who is regionally called Panakala Lakshmi Narasimha swamy.

In the temple of Lord Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy only, the face of the God is seen with the mouth widely open.  Behind the temple, there is the temple of Shri Lakshmi.

The Lord who has established himself on the hill,   is in the form of Narasimha (man-lion).  He is also called Sri Sudarsana Narasimha. 

The legend says that Namuchi, a Rakshasa after great penance,  obtained a boon from Brahma,  that he would not be killed by anything that is either wet or dry.  He began to harass Indra and the Devathas. Encouraged and supported by Lord Vishnu, Indra commenced destroying the army of Rakshasa Namuchi, who hid in a cave in Sukshmakaram, giving up his stulakaram.  Indra dipped Sudarsanam, the disc of Lord Vishnu in the foam of the ocean and sent it into the cave. Lord Vishnu manifesting himself at the centre of the disc,  destroyed the Pranavayu (oxygen or lifeline) of the Rakshasa with the fire of his exhalation.  He thus got the name of Sudarsana Narasimha. The blood that flowed from the body of the Rakshasa,  seemed to have formed into a pool at the foot of the hill.

The Lord said that he would be satisfied with milk in Dwaparayugam, with ghee in Threthayugam and with Panagam (jaggery water) in Kaliyugam.

The peculiarity in this temple is that,  jaggery water locally known as "Panakam" is poured as an offering to the Lord with a conch.  The jaggery water is actually poured into the mouth of the Lord as an offering. While the jaggery water is being poured into the mouth of the Lord, a gargling sound is clearly audible,  as if the Lord is actually drinking it and the sound becomes shriller and shriller as and when the Lord is drinking.  The sound will come to a stop after sometime and the balance of the jaggery water is thrown out.  This phenomenon happens not once a day,  but is a recurring feature during the course of the day,  as and when devotees offer panakam.  It will be interesting to note that even a single ant is not traceable near the Lord,  nor around the temple,  in spite of the offering of so much jaggery water.  As the offering of panakam to the Lord is peculiar, the Lord here is called Panakala Narasimhaswamy.

It is also believed that Lord Rama while departing for Vaikuntam,  after completing his mission in that incarnation,  advised Anjaneya to stay at Mangalagiri and after obtaining his blessings to remain in this world forever.  Anjaneya took his adobe at Mangalagiri as Kshetrapalaka.  The place thus also came to be known as Mukthyadri (the hill that grants Mukthi-salvation).

Ksheera vruksham (the milk tree) on the Mangalagiri hill, is of great attraction particularly to the woman. The legend goes to say that king Sasibandi was advised by Narada to visit pilgrimages. King left the kingdom and his queen, and started  pilgrimages. The queen came to know about this, grew furious and cursed Narada to become a Ksheera vruksham on the hill. The tree is within the easy reach of devotees, blessing women at its very sight, with property, children and washing off the sins they committed out of ignorance or oversight, for having ill-advised her husband to desert her and take to penance.  Narada took this not as a curse,  but as a boon as it meant service to humanity, blessed the queen with happy life with her husband and a thousand children. Even today the milk tree is on the Mangalagiri hill and throughout the year, thousands of women visit and worship the tree for begetting children.

There is a legend connected with the making of the procession idols of the temple. A reputed goldsmith was appointed to make the procession images of the Lord.  In spite of all his skill and care, the panchalohas (five metals) melted together in a huge crucible and smeared over the images to form a brilliant coating.  The metals used to separate themselves and this bitter disappointment continued day after day. He began the process of burning one day, after praying for the Lord's grace and heard a voice that success in his work required human sacrifice. Just then his son rushed to him and requested the father for water to quench his great thirst. He lifted his affectionate son and threw him into the molten mixture of the five metals and the body disappeared in no time. The amalgam was cast and beautiful icons of the Lord were then completed. After completing the work, the goldsmith thought about his son and called out in agony “come my son and I will give you water to quench your thirst”.  It is believed that the body jumped out of the image and stood before his father.

Shri Panakala Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Brahmothsavam is very important annual festival. It is believed that the celebration was inaugurated by Dharmaraja at the behest of Lord Krishna. Pradyumna, the son of Lord Krishna, reqested his father to celebrate his birthday annualLy for a sapthaham (seven days) from Phalguna Suddha Sapthami. Lord Krishna entrusted this work to Dharmaraja, the eldest of the Pandavas who was the successor to the throne at Hasthinapura.

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