Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 48

BY: SUN STAFF - 19.2 2018

Sri Chakrapani temple gopuram

A serial exploration of places of Lord Brahma's worship.


Lord Brahma at Chakrapani

Less than two kilometers north of the Ramasamy Temple in Kumbakonum, Tamil Nadu is an ancient shrine known as Chakrapani Temple. Built in the 13th century, it is one of the most colorful and vividly sculptured temples in Tamil Nadu. Chakrapani Temple, also known as Chakrapaniswamy Temple, is situated on the southern banks of the holy River Kaveri (Cauvery). It was mostly built by the Nayak kings, with construction spanning the 13th to 17th centuries.

Sri Sudarshan Chakra

The presiding deity here, Sri Chakraraja, is joined by Sri Sudarshana Chakra, who also presides in the sanctum sanctorum. The Lord's consort is Sudarshanavalli thayar. Vilva (Bilwa) archana is performed here for Perumal (Visnu), although it is more typically offered to Shiva. Like Tulasi, Vilva leaves are one of the eight leaves mentioned in pancharatram texts as being suitable for offering to the Lord. Maha Laksmi is said to reside in the Vilva tree.

Lord Brahma, Surya and Agni glorified Lord Visnu here. Devotees offer worship to a deity of Brahmadeva here, found in the posture of worshipping Sri Chakraraja. Surya and Agni's murti are also here.

Sri Chakraraja

Sri Chakraraja is seen standing on a lotus platform, with eight hands holding conch, chakra, bow, axe, shove, gadai, stick, and lotus. His consorts, Sudarshanavalli and Vijayavalli thayar, are seated. Behind Sri Chakraraja is Sudarshan Chakra, who resides here in honor of a pastime wherein Lord Chakraraja subdued Surya, who had become puffed up. On certain days, the sun's rays fall directly on the deities.

Lord Chakrapani has a third eye on His forehead, an attribute typically associated with Shiva. Sri Chakra symbolizes Maha Vishnu, who adorns his right hand, therefore Chakrapani is also known as Chakra-roopa Vishnu, Hethiraja, Sudarsana Raja, and Chakrathazhwar.

Lord Brahma's presence here is associated with a pastime wherein Maha Visnu sent Sri Chakra to kill the demon Jalanthar-asura. Sri Chakra traveled to Patalaloka, killed the demon, and re-emerged unscathed from the River Kaveri at Kumbakonam. He placed himself in the hands of Lord Brahma, who was taking bath there. Delighted by His arrival, Brahma consecrated the place where Sri Chakra had appeared, the temple was constructed, and Lord Brahma offered Sri Chakra worship here. Chakra Theertham is also here, along with Amirtha Pushkarani, on the north side of the temple.

Temple Theertham

Surya's presence here has to do with his failed attempt to compete with Visnu. Arrogant Surya wished to be judged a brighter celestial personality than the Lord, who manifested Himself in the form of Sudarshan Chakra, cutting down Surya's pride. Visnu increased His own radiance by absorbing Surya's rays, thus dwarfing him. In order to regain his original brilliance, Surya surrendered to Sri Chakra, who appeared with three eyes and eight arms, shining like the fire of Agni. Surya's effulgence was eventually restored. Surya, who is also known as Bhaskara, asked that this place be named Bhaskara Kshetram, after him. Surya later become a devotee of Sri Visnu at the nearby Nageswara temple.

Sri Chakraraja Temple

Chakrapani Temple faces east, and the central shrine has two main entrances. The southern entrance is used during the Dakshinayana period, when the sun is in the southern hemisphere, and the northern entrance is used during the uttarayana period, when the sun is in the northern hemisphere. The eastern and western entrances are known as Thatchinaya vayil and Utharavanan vayil, respectively. The outer prakara of the temple was built in the form of a balcony.

There are subsidiary deity shrines here for Agampara Vinayakar (Ganesh) in the south, and Panchamuga Aancheneyar (Hanuman) in the north. A mirror has been placed so that Hanuman's rear face can be seen. As they prepare to exit the temple, devotees are greeted by brass statues of King Saraboji and his queen. The king is said to have been cured of severe colic here in the temple.

The main festivals at Chakrapani Temple are Vaikunda Ekadasi and Masi-maham. Special pujas are conducted on Saturdays. On certain festival days, Lord Chakrapani goes out on procession to greet Sri Anjaneya Swami, the presiding deity of nearby Sri Ramaswamy temple. Vice versa, Sri Anjaneya Swami sometimes comes to Chakrapani to visit Lord Chakrapani.

Entrance to Thaayar Sannidhi