Friday, 12 August 2016

Kanchi Kamakshi Temple in Tamil Nadu

Kanchi Kamakshi Temple is one of important 51 Shakthi Peetam and Kanchipuram is one of the seven Mokshapuri in India!!

Kamakshi Devi is the only presiding goddess for the hundreds of Shiva Temples located in and around Kanchipuram!! There is no separate sannidhi for Parvathy devi in any of the Shiva Temples!! 

Tirukalvanur Kalva Perumal part of 108 Divya Desam is located in the Gayatri Mandapam of Kamakshi Temple!!

Kamakshi Temple in Kanchipuram is located at a distance of 75-80 Km from Chennai and can be reached by travelling on Bangalore Highway for 2 to 2.5 hours. The Google Map Location of the same is as follows,

Kamakshi Temple Golden Vimana/Tower in center of Temple
Kanchipuram: Name Meaning

The word 'Kanchi' in Sanskrit refers to Hip Ornament and Kanchipuram is the Shakthi Peetam where the Hip Bones of the Goddess Sati fell after Sati's Body was cut into pieces by Sudrashana Chakra.  The exact place where the body part fell is located at Santana Sthambam/Pillar within Gayatri Mandapam of Kamakshi temple.

You can read the detailed Story of 51 Shakthi Peetam and Sati Devi in my post on Kamakya Shakthi Peetam below,

Kamakshi in Lalitha Devi's Form

Kamakshi Devi in Garba Griham/Sanctum Sanctorum of this Temple resides in Padmasana Posture with four Hands. The Top two Hands hold the Paasam and Ankusam. The other two hands hold Sugarcane and Flower Arrows of Manmatha/Cupid.  'Kama' means desire and 'Akshi' means 'Eyes'. She is known as 'Kamakshi' because she satisfies the desires of her devotees through her Eyes itself.

Lalitha Parameswari is described to reside in the same form above in the Book 'Lalithopakyana' wherein Lalitha devi along with her other Sri Chakra devi forms destroy Bandasura demon.

Kamakshi Devi as Described in Lalithopakyana

'Lalithopakyanam' is part of Brahmanda Puranam and narrates the Story of Lalitha Devi's annhilation of Bhandasura as the Dialogue between Hayagriva and Agasthya Maharishi, the first Devi Upasakas. The Book Beautifully describes the Mani Dweepa and Sripuram where the devi resides. The Sri Chakra Devi forms are explained and it helps us to delve deeper into the meaning of Lalitha Sahasranamam.

Lalithopakyanam from Brahmanda Puranam is the source for Sri Lalitha Sahasranamam and Lalitha Trishathi Mantras also.

Interestingly as we enter the Raja Gopuram of Kamakshi temple, one can see Sanndhi for Agasthya and Hayagriva Moorty who were the first Devi Upasakas. The Sannidhi is located on the top and one has to look upwards in the left and right direction. There is a shop selling pooja articles below the Raja Gopuram and after we cross it we can view Hayagriva and Agasthya on the Top left and Right Side. 

Bandasura Vadam: Jaya Sthambam in Temple

Interestingly, the Sthala Puranam of Kamakshi Temple is also related to Bandasura Vadam/killing Bandasura demon as described in Lalithopakyanam.

Bandasura born from the ashes of Manmatha was troubling the Devas and the Devas/Celestial beings took the form of parrots to perform penance in Kanchipuram under Champaka Tree and prayed to Parashakthi. (Interestingly one can still see parrots in the outer Prakara/Corridor of the Temple).

Goddess in the form of young girl as Bala Tripurasundari killed Bhandasura and he was laid below Kamakshi Temple. A Sthambam/pillar was raised in memory of the Victory over Bhandasura. Hence it is known as Jaya Sthambam. The Temple has three Kodi Maram/Dwaja Sthambam and the middle one which we see in the Queue line is Jaya Sthambam.

Bala Tripurasundari
After slaying Bhandasura the Goddess was ferocious and in order to calm her, the Devas/Celestial Beings constructed the Gayatri Mandapa where the 24 pillars represent the 24 syllables of Gayatri Mantra. The seated the ferocious goddess in a simhasana and closed the doors of the Gayatri Mandapa. They prayed to the Goddess all through the night.

The next day when the Devas opened the doors the Goddess was a seen in her smiling form as Lalitha Parameswari in Padmasana Posture. Kamakshi appeared in this form in Srimukha Year, Tamil Masi Month (Sun in Kumbha Rashi), Poora/Purva Phalguni Nakshatra, Friday. Every year Brahmotsavam is celebrated during Masi Month for 10 days including Poora Nakshatra Avatara Day.

Gayatri mandapam houses Kamakshi Devi in 3 Forms namely Kamakshi Devi Vigraha Swaroopam/Idol Form, Bilaakasam and Sri Chakra Swroopam of Goddess. Sri Chakra is known as Bhoo Chakram here as it is laid in the ground with the Ashta Lakshmi around the Sri Chakram. 


Kanchipuram is the Shakthi Peetam where the Hip Bones of the Goddess are said to have fallen. 'Kanchi' refers to the ornament worn around the Hip. Kamakshi devi is said to have come to Kanchipuram Temple though this Bilakasam on Poora Nakshatram day. Bilakasam is located near the Right Side of Goddess Kamakshi.

According to Devathin Kural by Paramacharya Sri Chadrasekara Swami, 'Bil' means 'cave' and 'Akasam' means 'Space'. As the Baby in Mother's Womb gets nourished by its mother through the umbilical cord, all the creation in the Universe gets nourished by Parashakthi through this Bilakasam. 

Kamakshi: The only Shakthi Temple in Kanchipuram

Manmatha after he was burnt to Ashes by Shiva prayed to Kamakshi that the world only knew of him as being burnt by Shiva. He wanted recognition that he is also responsible for Love, Desire and Passion in this entire universe.

Goddess Kamakshi took pity on Manmatha and withdrew the powers of all goddess from all temples onto herself. All Shiva Temples in the world had no consort and their powers were brought within Goddess Kamakshi. Goddess Kamakshi appears here with the Sugarcane Bow and Flower Arrows that is held by Manmatha/Kama deva.

After withdrawing her powers the Shiva Temples were devoid of Shakthi. Brahma deva prayed to her to re-establish the Shakthi in all Shiva temples to save the world. Goddess replied that she had withdrawn her power on behalf of Manmatha and that she would re-establish her powers again in areas outside Kanchipuram.

Since no Goddess Forms are seen in Shiva Temples within Kanchipuram, this place is known as 'Sivajit Kshetram'. It is also said that all Raja Gopuram/Main Vimanam of other temples face Kamakshi Amman Temple only in Kanchipuram.

Above details of Kamakshi devi is detailed in 'Kamakshi Vilasam' and 'Sowbhagya Chitamani' written by Durvasa is the book based on which daily pooja is performed in Kamakshi Temple.

Santana Ganapathy and Santana Sthambam

In the Gayatri Mandapam, there is the Santana Sthambam/pillar that is covered by Silver and is the place where Sati Devi's hip bones fell. Dasaratha is said to have prayed here for childbirth blessings here. Later he was blessed with Lord Rama as his child after performing Putrakameshti Yagna.

Near the Santana Sthambam, there is shrine for Santana Ganapathy and Sowbhagya Ganapathy. It is to be noted that Santana Lakshmi one of 8 forms of Lakshmi is also present surrounding the Sri Chakra in Kamakshi devi Garba Griha.

Hence praying here would bless Childless couples with Childbirth, proesperity and happiness in life.

Kalvar Perumal part of 108 Divya Desam

Once Mahalakshmi in Vaikuntam was proud that she was exceedingly beautiful. She was cursed by Mahavishnu to lose her form and she came to be known as Aroopa Lakshmi. She came to Kanchipuram and is performing penance here in order to regain her beauty. Aroopa lakshmi can be seen on the Left Side as Goshta Murthy of Kamakshi Devi.

Ideally the Kumkumam Prasadam of Kamakshi is laid on the Feet of Aroopa Lakshmi and only little kumkumam is taken from her feet as Prasadam. This act of devotees is said to aid the penance of Aroopa Lakshmi.

Aroopa Lakshmi after she regained her beauty came to be known as Soundarya Lakshmi. She is seen on the right side as Goshta Murthy of Kamakshi devi. 

Maha Vishnu from Vaikuntam came to see Soundarya Lakshmi in a stealthy way. Theives in Tamil are known as 'Kalvar'. Since Vishnu came in a stealthy way to see Soundarya Lakshmi he came to be known as Kalvar Perumal and this Divya Desam is Known as Tirukalvanur.

Sri Chakra Devatha in Kanchipuram

Kamakshi/Lalitha devi is the Adistana devatha or Head of all devi forms of Sri Chakra. 

There is a Sannidhi for Rajasyamala who is the Mantri of Lalitha Devi outside. Goshta Murthy refers to the deities on the walls of Prakara/Corridor. Here Vaarahi and Ardhanareeswarar are seen as Goshta Murthy inside Kamakshi Gayatri Mandapam. Vaarahi is Senathipathy of Lalitha Devi.

There is Sannidhi for Annapoorna devi outside Gayatri Mandapam. Bhairava and Mahisasuramardhini form of Durga Devi are seen as the Dwara Palakas of the Temple itself. They are seen on the Top left and right side of the Main Raja Gopuram/Vimanam.

Kamakshi Utsava Murthy is seen with Lakshmi and Saraswathy outside the Gayatri Mandapam. This Murthy is taken in procession for Swarna Ratham/Thanga Ther. 

There is also Sannidhi for Purna Pushakala Sametha Sastha and Adi Shankaracharya. Adi Shankara retrieved the Kamakshi Temple from Extremists who had taken over the Temple from Hindu Priests. Kamakshi was in Ugra Swaroopam here earlier. Adi Shankara installed the Sri Chakra here and prayed to Goddess to manifest herself in Sowmya or pleasing form. There is also Sannidhi for Varasiddhi Vinayaka and Naga Subrahmanya. All the other Sri Chakra Devatha Murthy are in Subtle Form in Sri Chakra inside Gayatri Mandapam

 Rajamathangi/Raja Syamala
How to enter Gayatri Mandapam

One can enter Gayatri Mandapam only when we pay for Abhishekam of Kamakshi Devi in advance. Otherwise the Queue line leads to prakara/corridor outside Gayatri Mandapam only. 

Sri Chakra Navaavarna pooja is performed here at night time on Pournami or Full Moon Day. After 10 pm Gayatri Mandapam is locked and the main priest alone performs pooja to the Nava Avarna of Sri Chakra inside. Devotess wait outside and they are allowed to enter later only. The Theertham of the Kalasam that was worshipped is offered as Prasadam.

Bangaru Kamakshi
On the right side of the entrance of Gayatri Mandapam, we can climb steps that lead to Raja Syamala/Rajamathangi  Devi sannidhi. Opposite to the same is the empty place that once housed Bangaru/Golden Kamakshi. 

During the Foreign invasion of India in 18th Century, it was feared that the Golden Idol would be stolen/damaged for its value by foreigners. Hence it was shifted from Kanchipuram after smearing it with musk/black punugu from musk cat by the Peetadhipathi of Kamakoti Peetam. It was taken like a child from Kanchipuram in a cradle after smearing Musk/punugu. Bangaru Kamakshi devi is currently in a temple in Melaveedhi in Thanjavur.

Even today the Vigraham/Idol is smeared with Musk/Punugu hence it looks black though it is made of pure Gold. 

Tapas Kamakshi 

Tapas Kamakshi is seen on the right side of Moola Kamakshi Vigraha in the Garba Griham of Gayatri Mandapam. 

She is Katyayini, the Daughter of Sage Katyayana who came to Kanchipuram to perform penance and marry Lord Shiva. The Mango Tree under which she performed penance can be seen in Ekambareswarar temple outside Kamakshi temple.

Tapas Kamakshi
Five Forms of Kamakshi Devi

Kamakshi devi resides in Five Forms here namely,

  1. Kamakshi in Padmasana in Gayatri Mandapam
  1. Anjana Kamakshi or Aroopa Lakshmi in Gayatri Mandapam
  1. Tapas Kamakshi near Bilakasam 
  1. Bangaru Kamakshi currently in Thanjavur
  1. Utsava Kamakshi taken in procession outside Temple
Kamakshi Utsava Murthy in Swarna Ratham/Thanga Ther