Friday, August 7, 2009

Temple Visit - Chettipunyam


I recently went to Pondicherry while returning I took the dindivanam route and on the way visited a village called “Chetti Puniyam” where there is a temple for Lord Hayagriva. The Hayagriva in the temple, it is believed, bestows upon the devotees, education, wealth and progress in all walks of life. The avataram of Hayagriva Bhagavan took place to restore the Vedas to Brahma. Brahma became extremely conceited about his power as the creator. Lord Narayana discerning this, decided to rid Brahma of his pride. A couple of water droplets from the lotus seat of the Lord incarnated as two Asuras, Madhu and Kaitabha, who stole the Vedas from Brahma. Unable to carry on his work of creation without the Vedas, Brahma beseeched Lord Narayana for help. Lord Narayana incarnated as Hayagriva and destroyed the Asuras and restored the Vedas to Brahma. Swami Desikan has very eloquently described the greatness of Bhagavan Hayagriva in the Hayagriva Stotram. Many references from the Hayagriva Upanishad are succinctly contained in Swami Desikan's tribute.


In Hinduism, Hayagriva is an avatar of Vishnu. He is worshipped as the God of knowledge and wisdom, with a human body and a horse's head, brilliant white in color, with white garments and seated on a white lotus. Hayagriva is celebrated in the Puranas for rescuing the Vedas from the demons Madhu and Kaitabha and teaching them again to Brahma. Symbolically, the story of Hayagriva represents the triumph of pure knowledge, guided by the hand of God, over the demonic forces of passion and darkness. Hayagriva is a very important deity in the Vaishnava tradition. His blessings are sought when beginning study of both sacred and secular subjects. Special worship is conducted on the day of the full moon in August (Sravana-Paurnami) (his avatara-dina) and on Mahanavami, the ninth day of the Navaratri festival. He is also hailed as "Hayasirsa" HayaSirsa means haya=Horse, Sirsa=Head.

jnAna-Ananda-mayam devam
nirmala-sphaTikAkRtim
AdhAram sarvavidyAnAm
hayagrIvam upAsmahe!

This verse is originally from the Pancaratra Agamas but is now popularly prefixed to the Hayagriva Stotram of the 13th century poet-philosopher Vedanta Desika. It is very popular among devotees of Hayagriva.

The idol, small but bewitching, was brought to Chettipunyam from Thiruvahindrapuram in 1848, and attracts many devotees. Lakshmi Hayagriva is the presiding deity of the Parakala Math in Mysore. There are also sannidhis for Hayagriva in the Desikar temple in Mylapore and also in the Soundarraja Perumal temple in Dadikombu near Dindigul.

In Thiruvahindrapuram, Vedanta Desika recited the Garuda Mantra taught to him by his uncle, Kidambi Appular and was initiated into the worship of Hayagriva by Garuda. Desika composed the Hayagriva Stotram in 33 verses. Apart from the `phalasruti' there are 32 verses. There is a reason for Desika writing the Stotram in 32 verses. The Brahma vidyas are 32 in number. His composing the Hayagriva Stotram in 32 verses is to show that Hayagriva is the repository of all vidyas. Desika says the neighs of Hayagriva are the essence of the Rig, Yajur and Sama Vedas. The 32nd verse which is the `dhyana sloka,' speaks of Hayagriva's right lower hand as `vyakhyamudra' - the elucidating pose and the left lower hand holds a book. Desika says that Saraswati, Dakshinamurthy and sages like Vyasa reflect a fraction of Lord Hayagriva's effulgence.

Singaperumal Koil, which is neither a village nor a city but a delightful mix of both, is about 45 km to the south of Chennai. The Devanathaswamy Temple is situated about 3 km West of Singaperumal Koil. Devanathaswamy resides in a village named Chettipunniyam, which boasts of four or five streets. The presiding deity, Devanathaswamy, sits facing East.

Though there is no direct bus from the city, route no. 60c plying from Tambaram to Vadakal takes one to the temple. The other way to reach the Devanathaswamy Temple, from the city is to reach Singaperumal Koil, by buses going Kalpakkam, Madurantakam, Chengalpattu, and then go by autorickshaw to the Devanathaswamy Temple. Though a Sannidhi for Varadaraja Perumal has been in this temple for the last 350 years, it was only in 1848, thanks to the efforts of Sirasdar Rao Sahib Rangachar that the idol of Devanathaswamy of Tiruvendipuram was installed in this temple. The year was 1848; the day Friday; month Vaigasi; date 22; and the star Makam. From that day, daily pooja is offered to this deity. Devanathaswamy did not come alone but along with Hayagrivar. These facts are corroborated by the Government Gazette records of the South Arcot Government, of the same year.

The idols of Thayar, Sridevi, Boodevi and Andal were installed after this. The idols of Sri Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman were brought to Vandalur in Chennai, in the year 1868, on Oct 5, by Mudumbai Ramaswamy Iyengar, from the Tanjore Palace. When Ramaswamy Iyengar migrated to Bangalore, he had all these Gods installed in the Devanathaswamy Temple, since Chettipunniyam, was his native village. There is a separate sanctum sanctorum for Sri Rama in this temple. It has to be mentioned here that the first Mysore Dewan Veeravalli Rangachar (1831-1883) also hailed from this village.

The villagers conduct the 'Thiruparvettai' festival in a grand manner, on a Sunday in the month of 'Thai' (Jan 15 - Feb 15), every year. The temple trust organises a number of utsavs like Sri jayanthi, Special thai velli poojas, Sri Vaikunta Ekadasi, Sri Desikan Sathumurai, Vaigasi magam and Deepa (Lights) utsavam. The devotees also conduct many utsavs - adhyayana utsav, Vijaya dasami, Adi Pooram, Panguni Uthiram, Udayavar Saathumurai and Sri Ramanavami. Another famous celebration was Sri Devanathaswamy's centenary (100 years in this temple), which was celebrated for 10 days, in grand style.

After a very long time, in 1993, the Ashtabandhana Maha Samprokshanam was performed on May 17.The devotees of the village say, as far as their knowledge goes, no Samprokshanam had been done in the last 100 years. This famous temple is under the HR & CE board. An officer has been appointed to manage the affairs of the temple. A five-member committee oversees the functioning of the temple. The temple owns about 55 acres of agricultural land and a big grove, in the village. It also owns a house thanks to Thiru Rangaswamy Iyengar, who has donated his ancestral home to the temple.

3 comments:

KParthasarathi said...

Very informative.Thanks

jaykarth said...

sir
can i get the postal address of this temple

suresh iyer
synthesource@gmail.com

veena krishnakumar said...

hi
this is a very informative post. thank you. could you please tell me about the timings of chettipunyam temple?