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Krishnadevaraya visits Swamimalai

-Dr.R.Nagaswamy

Shri Swaminatha Swami, Swamimalai

The famous Vijayanagara Emperor Krishnadevaraya, visited Swamimalai near Kumbhakonam in the year 1514 almost five hundred years ago. A grand celebration is envisaged to mark the occasion in the year 2014. It is known that Swamimalai is one of the most important kshetras of Lord Subramanya. In modern times, it has assumed another importance as a great centre of Bronze casting of the Chola style throughout the world. As there were a few families of Bronze casters living in that village  at the beginning of last century, when Chola bronzes were becoming popular, it began to attract foreign art lovers, especially the technique of solid casting also known as pancaloha technique. But from inscriptional record, we find this place rose to be a great pilgrim centre from the 16th cent especially after the visit of Krishna-devaraya in 1514, on an Uttaanadvaadasi day, when the Emperor visited and made a gift of this village Tax free which is recorded in an inscription found on the temple wall. The date of the record in modern calendar is 30th Oct 1514. The name of the deity is mentioned as Swaminatha in the record which shows that it was known from the time of Krishnadevaraya by that name.
Krishnadevaraya
The inscription is recorded both in Tamil and Sanskrit, the Sanskrit portion which is at the end is damaged and so much information is lost. The Sanskrit portion mentions Krishna-devaraya which is also found in the Tamil portion. Further, the Sanskrit portion says that the gift was made on the Day when Lord Vishnu was taught ,Mura-vairibodhanadina which fell on,  according to the Tamil portion, the Uttanadvadasi day. Another point of interest in the Sanskrit portions is the name of the hill given as “Harikanta-purva-malai”. It is possible there was a person named Arikantan after whom it was called so or it may be that it was the day when Subrahmanya taught Vishnu on the Uttanadvadasi. The other point of interest is that the purva-malai, kilakkumalaior(Kilmalai).Incidentally it also explains why the God there was called Swaminatha.
Swamimalai Swaminatha Swamy Temple
The present Swaminatha Swami temple is on an artificially built up hill with ascending steps. It is known that the Chola land of this region had no hill but as Subrahmanya is the lord of the hills, in Kurunci land an artificial hill was made. Some years later, another great ruler of Thanjavur namely SevvappaNayak, the son of Thimmappanayak of Nerkunram made a gift of wet and dry land to the temple for  abhisheka of Kumara, for burning lamps in the temple with ghee and for the Velayudha Swami Matha. The God is mentioned in his inscription as Kumaraswamy, on Swami Malai in the village of Swamimalai in Parantakanadu. The inscription then gives the names of the territorial divisions and subdivisions in which Swamimalaai was included then. Swamimalai was at that time included in the larger territorial divison called Thiruchirappalli Usavadi. The Parantakanadu in which the village was situated was included in Innambarnadu which was in Vikramacholavalanadu. These names ucavadi, valanadu, Nadu are all like our modern divisions like Province, District, Taluk, Firka, and village, in administrative  use in the time of Krishna Devaraya,and immediate successors. This record in Tamil is dated in 15th Oct, 1573 and the Tanjore ruler is mentioned as Caturthakula.  It is an illustrious example that the Chaturthakula was not excluded from ruling in Tamilnadu and the great rulers like Achyutappanayaka, VijayaRaghunathanayaka, who were most brilliant rulers of the Caturthakula.

No evidence exists about the village earlier to Krishnadevaraya. The temple structure is also stylistically of the age of Krishnadeva Raya. The main image of Swaminatha in the sanctum is standing holding amrita kalasa and akshamala in his hands as symbols of“Giver of knowledge”.Kalasa and Akshamala are associated with Knowledge and as Kumara here appeared as Swaminatha, teacher of Vishnu, he received that name. It resembles closely the sculptures of Krishnadevaraya in style. There are some portraits in the front mandapa and one is probably the figure of SevvappaNayaka of Tanjore. It is known that Sevvappanayak was an adappam, a close attendant of Krishnadevaraya who built the famous Thiruvannamalaigopura and other works on behalf of Krishna devaraya. And during Krishnadevaraya’s time, he ought to have been  quite a young man and he was presented the Tanjavursirmai as a Stridhana by Accyutaraya, Krishna devaraya’s brother and successor to the Vijayanagara throne. He was given one Murtimamba as his wife who was a sister in law of Accyuta Raya. Sevvappa inherited Tanjore as his kingdom which marked the beginning of TanjoreNayak dynasty. Thus he seemed to have lived until 1575 and named his son Accyutappa after The Vijayanagara ruler Acchyutaraya.

Govindadikshita

At this stage I may mention an important event that took place in Tamilnad. The advent of Kishnadevaraya brought a good number of Kannadiga Brahmin Families who were settled on the banks of Kaveri. Among them was one important personality named GovindaDikshita a most brilliant Vedic scholar cum administrator and his relatives. Govindadikshita contributed immensely to the development of Agriculture in the Chola heartland and was affectionately called Ayyan by the Nayaks of Tanjore. He served as the chief Minister of Sevvappanayak, his son Accyutappanayak and for some time his son VijayaRaghunatha. Some of the irrigation canals were dug by him and are called even today after his name as AyyanVaykkal. The later half of 16th and the first half of 17th cent bore the indelible mark of this great personality Govindadikshita,who spent major part of his time at Kumbakonam and nearby places like Thiruvidamarudur, Pattisvaram etc. which are near Swamimalai. As Sevvappa was the main benefactor of Swamimalai Subramanya temple following Krishnadevaraya, Swamimalai became the Family deity of Govinda Dikshita as well.
His Holiness Pujyasri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamiji
His Holiness Pujyasri Mahaswamiji

The great Acharya of Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Shankaracharya Swamiji affectionately called the world over as Mahaswamiji who lived amongst us for 100 years was born in that family of GovindaDikshita in his mother’s side The Maha-swamikal’s Grand-father was Ganapatisastrikal who served as the chief administrator of Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Shankaracharya Matha for long. His son Subrahmanya Sastrikal served in the educational field at places like North Arcot, Tanjore and other regions. Pujyasri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamikal was born to him while he was serving at Villupuram. He also had Swamimalai Swaminatha Swami as kuladeiva(family deity) and hence named his illustrious son Swaminathan, later ascended the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. Both the families of Pujyasri Mahaswamikal on the father’s side and mother’s side lived with Kumbakonam as the centre. Mahaswamikal’s mother’s father was the principal guide and adviser on spiritual matters for people living along the route from Kumbakonam to Thiruvaiayru. Swamimalai is hardly one kilometer from Kumbakonam and now virtually a part of Kumbakonam.

With Krishnadevaraya building the temple of Subramanya swami temple and SevvappaNayak following him, paying personal obeisance and grants  to the temple and who had as his Rajaguru Govindadikshita  advising him in religious matters, Pujyasri Mahaswamiji had a glorious ancestry and shone  as the greatest and unparalleled Acharya of 20th century, who was an embodiment of Indian piety, religious ethos, and heritage and whom the entire Nation, from the President of India and the Prime minister to the common man, adored and sought religious solace. Swamimalai is the place Divine and Divine wisdom of India, which gives the clarion call to the world to cultivate friendship and love for all “MaitriimBhajata.”

Related items:

Anusha Veda Parayanam at Swamimalai


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