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Preceptors of Advaita

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58

(i)

KAMAKOTI AND NAYANMARS

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ikshukodandapushpeshu

                                                pasankusakarojvalam

                                    udyatsuryanibham vande

                                                mahatripurasundarim.

                        The saktis of Ambika or the consort of Siva, present in each and every one of the Siva temples have emanated from Sri Kanchi Kamakoshtha.  There are about fifty Siva temples at Kanchi and none of them contains a sanctum sanctorum for the goddess.  But the Siva temples outside the limits of Kanchi have a separate sanctum sanctorum for the goddess.  The reason for this is to be found in Lalita-sahasranama, Lalita-trisati and Lalita-ashtottara, texts on silpa and Agama, Puranas, inscriptions and some of the devotional hymns traditionally known as Saiva-tirumurai comprising Tevaram and Tiruttandakam.  We shall now deal with this in detail.

                        The Lalita-sahasranama refers to the goddess as kamakotikayainamah, the Lalita-trisati as kamakotinilayayai namah and the Lalita-ashtottara as kamakoti-mahapithapadmasthayai namo namah.  Thus in the three namavalis, the name kamakoti as the seat of the goddess occurs.

PURANAS

                        The Bhagavata-purana printed in the Grantha and the Telugu script referring to the tirtha-yatra of Balarama in the tenth skandha describes Kanchi as the Kamakoti-puri: kamakotipurim kanchim.

                        This reading is found in the Subodhini, a commentary on the Bhagavata by Vallabhacharya.  And this reading slightly differs from the one found in the Bhagavata texts printed in North India which reads as follows:  kamakoshnipurim kanchim.

KAMAKSHIVILASA

                        The reason for the absence of any separate sanctum sanctorum for the goddess in the Siva temples in Kanchi and the presence of it in the temples outside the skirts of Kanchi is stated in this work.  The god of love, who was reduced to ashes by Lord Siva, out of desire to have a body performed penance at Kanchi to propitiate Sri Kamakshi.  Pleased by his penance, Sri Kamakshi by a mere glance from her eyes blessed him with a handsome body.  He further requested her to bless him with the power to vanquish Lord Siva.  She acceded to his request; and, she withdrew into the bilakasa in the Sri Kamakshi temple at Kanchi the saktis that are present in all the Siva temples.  Sometime later Brahma went to Kailasa to have darsan of Siva.  After worshipping Siva, he went to worship Devi, but could not see her there.  He went to all the Siva temples on earth and in none of the temples could he find the presence of Devi.  He reflected on the circumstances that led to the absence of Devi in all the Siva temples and intuitively felt that it was due to the will of Sri Kamakshi herself.  Desirous of having the presence of the goddess in all the temples as before, Brahma went to Kanchi and performed penance for twelve years.  Pleased by his penance Kamakshi said:  ‘Let there be the manifestation of my saktis in all the Siva temples outside Kanchi; but in Kanchi, which is known as Sivajit-kshetra there need be no separate sanctum sanctorum for me’.

                        pura panchasaro’nangah pratyakshangabhilashaya

                        kamakoshtam samasadya kamakshim samprapujya cha

                        hridi dhyatva tu tam kamastapastepe’tidushkaram

                        tatastat kamadevasya tapasa tushtamanasa

                        kadachit tatra kamakshi mahatripurasundari

                        prasannatha mahasaktih svakatakshanirikshanat

                        dadau kamaya divyangam nrinamanandadayakam, (9-12)

 

                        tada sarveshu saiveshu kailasadyalayeshu cha

                        yatra yatra sthitah sarva gaurih svamsataya sthitah

                        samakrishyaikyato devi tushnimasicchubhanana. (31-32)

 

                        kadachidatha lokesah kailasadyalayeshu cha

                        sevartham paramesasya samagatyalayam tada

                        devahinalayam drishtva sivasthaneshu sarvasah

                        kimarthamambika nasti sarvasaivalayeshu cha

                        iti chintya tato brahma kamakshyaschitramityapi

                        vijnaya jnanadrishtya tu kamakoshtha mahitale

                        kamakshyassannidhim prapya dhyatvaradhya chesvarim

                        sarvalayeshu saiveshu sarvalokasthiteshu cha

                        yatha sambhustatha gauri sada sannidhyakankshaya

                        hridi dhyatva tu kamakshim dvadasabdam tapo’karot

                        tatah prasanna sa devi kamakshi bhaktikamada

                        tatra brahmanamalokya vachanam chedam abravit.  (68-73)

 

                        sivajitkshetramityuktam idam kshetram vina bhuvi

                        sarvalayeshu saiveshu sannidhattam sada’mbika. (75)

                        As the goddess has withdrawn all her powers into the bilakasa which pervades the whole of Kanchi-kshetra, there is no need for a separate sanctum sanctorum for the goddess in any of the Siva temples at Kanchi1.

KANCHIMAHATMYA

                        Each of the five primary elements has a siva-kshetra; and, Chidambaram is considered to be the akasa-sivakshetra.  In the same way, each of the five primary elements has a sakti-pitha; and, Kanchi is the akasa-sakti-pitha.  Chidambaram and Kanchi are thus the akasa-sthanas.  In Chidambaram, the akasa is present only in the kanaka-sabha.  But as regards Kanchi, the whole of Kanchi is considered to be the akasa-sthana.  The goddess, Kamakshi, is in the form of bilakasa in the cave under the Gayatri-mandapa at the Kamakshi temple.  And this akasa pervades the entire kshetra.  This is the reason why there is no separate sanctum sanctorum for the goddess in the Siva temples at Kanchi kshetra.  As in Kasi, there is no sparsa-dosha in the Kanchi-kshetra.

                        yatra purvam tvaya kanchyam smaratarthamimam hrdi

                        pujaniyo mahalinge namna mardalamadhave

                        tatraiva cha mahanrittam sarvarakshakarabhidham

                        karomi satatam hrishtah parakase bilantare

                        atra dabhrasabhamatram parakasa iti smritam

                        tarta sarvapibhuh kanchyam parakasah smrito budhah

                        satyam jnanamanantamadyam yo vedasya guhantare

                        paravyomni cha vai kanchyam so’snuteyamathepsitan

                        sarvajnenanunano’rva mahato mahatantaram

                        ye tu pasyantyatmakritagunadhikkritasugjanah

                        tatra ye paramakase pravisanti janah hare

                        te sarve manmayah syurvai muktatmanastu te smritah

                        agnimadhyagatam vastu tanmayam syadyatha kshanat

                        evam kanchi pravishta ye manmayah syur na samsayah

                        tasmadatra nrinam sanghe svapachananna sutakam

                        chandalanamapi hare sprishtva kanchyam na sutakam. (44,4 to 11)

TANTRIC TEXTS

                        Ottiyanam, as we know from its usage in the Tamil country, is an ornament worn around the waist.  It is called kanchi in Sanskrit.  This will be over the navel position.  The work, Meru-tantra, states that Kanchikshetra is the navel position of the earth.

                        vide Merutantra, 10, 848.

SAUBHAGYA-CHINTAMANI

                        This work which was composed by the great sage Durvasa and is still followed in the Kamakshi temple at Kanchi refers to the seven moksha-puris in the words––

                        ayodhyadishu pitheshu prithivyadishvanukramat.

Of the seven moksha-puris,

                        ayodhya mathura maya kasi kanchi avantika

                        puri dvaravati chaiva saptaite mokshadayikah,

the first five, beginning with Ayodhya and ending with Kanchi, are five sakti-pithas beginning with prithvi.  And, Kanchi, thus becomes the akasapitha.  This is in conformity with the view expressed in the Kanchi-mahatmya.

TEXTS ON SCULPTURE AND AGAMAS

                        The silpa texts also speak of the goddess in temples only as Kamakoshtham.  For instance, the silpa text, Manasara, states:

                        kamakoshthavidhim vakshye.  (65, 1)

                        The Saiva-agamas, the Sukshmagama and the Karunagama, refer to the seat of the goddess as Kamakoshtha.

(i) kamakoshthavidhim vakshye srinu tvam tat pramanjana

[SukshmagamaSaktipratishtha-kamakoti-vidhipatala]

                        (i) bhogangamarchanam kuryat sarvasampat samriddhidham

                                    ratrau pujavasane tu ardhayamena karayet

                                    mandirasyottare bhage kamakoshthasya madhyame

                                    [karunagama: yogangarchana-bhaga]

 

INSCRIPTIONS

                        That the seat of the goddess in the Siva temples is referred to as Kamakoshtha could be seen from the inscriptions found in the many Siva temples.  The book entitled South Indian Temple Insciptions, published by the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras, contains several such inscriptions which are as follows:

CHIDAMBARAM:

            koilukkum tirukkamakottamudaya peria nachchiyarukkum sattiyarula2

 

AVINASI:

            koilil tirukkamakkottattu nachchiyar perunkarunai3

 

VIJAYAMANGALAM:

tirunagisvaramudaiyar tirukkamakkottattalu (kai) tada (ya) na

nachchiyarukkamudupadi4

 

TIRUVORRIYUR:

            tiruvorriyurudaiya nayanar koirtirukkamakkottamudaiya

                        nachchiyarukku vendum nibandangalukku5

 

TIRUPPALAIVANAM:

            tiruppalavanamudaya nayanar tirukkamakkottam iyadilum papadi

                                                                                                                        nachchiyarukku6

 

TIRUKKATTUPPALLI:

            tirukkamakkottamudaiya nachchiyar alagamar mangaiyarkku7

            tirukkamakkottamudaiya periyanachchiar alagamar mangaiyarukku

karrali8

VALLAM:

            ikkoil si kamakottamudaiya nachchiyarukkum vendum nimittattirku9

 

TIRUPPALANAM:

            ikkoil pujai nilaihalum tirukkamakottamudaiya nachchiarkoil bhattacharya

                                                                                                                                    nilaiyum10

            nan elundaruluvitta tirukkamakottamudaiyar tiruppalanattudaiyarkku11

            innayanar tirukkamakottamudaiya periya nachchiyar12

 

KOILADI:

            ikkoilil nan elundaruluvitta tirukkamakottamudai akhilanayakiyarkku

                                                                                                                                    pujaikkum13

HASTIGIRI:

            sri puravaradisubara kamakotti (ti)mbikalapraptavaraprasada14

 

CHIDAMBARAM:

            devyastasyah sikhariduhituh kamakoshthasthitayah

            prakarajyamapidashayitamosaukliptavan mantapancha

            kinchestyah svapati natanasyanayogyaprakaram

            satyam bhaktya sukaramakarot bhushanam mauktipurvam15

            pitambaram kanchanamesha devyah

                                                tat kamakoshthasthitamasthitayah

            chakara yadvairivilasininam

                                                vanagnidhumambaratam karoti16

 

SAIVA TIRUMURAI

                        Devotional hymns traditionally known as Saiva Tirumurai in Tamil literature refer to the seat of the goddess as Kamakottam or KamakottiAppar of the seventh century in his Tiruvadikai Tiruttandakam uses the word Kamakotti; and this conforms to the version in the inscriptions referred to above.

                        elundirai natittuvalai nanainda tingal

                                                ilanilattihalhinra valarsadaiyane

                        kolumpavalacchenganivai kamakotti

                                                kongaiyinai yamarporudu kolangonda

                        talumpulave varai marbil vennulunde

                                                santamodu santanttinalaru tangi

                        alundiya sentiruvuruvil vennirrane

                                                avanakhila tihai virattattane

                        Sundaramurti Nayanar in the Tevaram relating to Onakantantali situated on the northern bank of Sarvatirtha in Kanchi speaks of Kamakotta thus:

                        varirum kulanmai vanedungan

                                                malaimahan madhuvimmu konrait-

                        tariruntatamarbu ningat-

                                                taiyalalulahuyya vaitta

                        karirumpolir kacchimudur

                                                kamakottamundaha nir poy

                        uridum picchaikolvadenne

                                                onakantanraliyulire

[7th Tirumurai: Onakantantali 6]

                        It is to be specially noted that the Tevaram of Tirujnanasambandar relating to Alangudi–-the Dakshinamurtikshetra in the Tanjore district in the south–-refer to the sanctum sanctorum of the goddess as kacchi kamakoti

                        nacchittoluvir kanamakkadu solvir

                        kacchippoli kamakkodiyudan kudi

                        icchittirum pulaiyidam konda visan

                        ucchittalaiyil balikondulalune

It may be added here that prior to the introduction of the printing press the same symbol was used to denote both the long and short sound of ‘O’.  Hence kodi in kamakkodi in the above Tevaram must be read as kodi.  Here kacchi means Kanchipuram and Tirujnanasambandar explicitly states that the sanctum sanctorum of the goddess is Kanchi Kamakoti.

 

EPILOGUE

                        The sthala-purana, Kamakshi vilasa, already referred to, states the reason why there is no separate sanctum sanctorum for the goddess in any one of the Siva temples in Kanchi and the presence of a separate sanctum sanctorum for the goddess in all the Siva temples outside the skirts of Kanchi.  Goddess Kamakshi after blessing the god of love with a body retracted all her powers in the bilakasa at the Kamakshi temple in order to help the god of love in his victory over Siva.  Later, on Brahma’s request she spread all her powers in the Siva temples outside Kanchi.  The goddess in the form of bilakasa pervades the entire kanchikshetra.  Hence there is no need for any special sanctum sanctorum for the goddess in the Siva temples at Kanchi.  It is only from here that she again spread all her powers to be manifested in the temples outside kanchi-kshetra.  Herein lies a matter of profound importance, namely that the term Kamakoti which is applied to the sanctum sanctorum of the goddess in the Siva temples is derived from the Kamakoshtha of Kanchi.   This point is further substantiated in the Alangudi Tevaram of Tirujnanasambandar wherein he refers to the sanctum sanctorum of the goddess at Alangudi as Kacchi Kamakodi.  This Tevaram in unmistakable terms refers to the identity of Kanchi Kamakoti with the ambika of the local shrine.  And within the city boundary of Kanchi there is no garbha-griha with Ambika installed in it.  No key to this curious phenomenon in the millenium-old temple construction scheme within the Kanchi city limits and to the countrywide practice of referring to Ambika shrines in the Siva temples as Kamakoti would have been available but for the two texts––the Kamakshi-vilasa and the Alangudi Tevaram of Saint Sambandar.  A few lines in the simple sthala-purana of Kamakshi has regulated the millenium-old temple worship of Ambika all over the country.

                        May Kamakshi whose divine rays are manifested in the sanctum sanctorum of the goddess in all the Siva temples and who is the para-sakti of the Kamakoti-pitha, which has been doubly sanctified by being presided over by Adi Sankara himself and now by our Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati, protect us all !

kamaparipanthikamini

                                                kamesvari kamapithamadhyagate

                        kamadugha bhava kamale

                                                kamakale kamakoti kamakshi.            

 

1.  Vide Kanchimahatmya, 44, 4 to 11.

2.  South Indian Temple Insciptions. (Madras: Government Oriental Manuscripts Library) Part I, No. 14, p. 22.

3.  Ibid., No. 197, p. 190.

4.  Ibid., No. 267, p. 248.

5.  Ibid., No. 530, p. 517.

6.  Ibid., No. 539, p. 528.

7.  Ibid., Part II, No. 597, p. 586.

8.  Ibid., No. 598, p. 586.

9.  Ibid., No. 635, p. 613.

10.  Ibid., No. 1042, p. 975.

11.  Ibid., No. 1048, p. 980.

12.  Ibid., No. 1049, p. 981.

13.  Ibid., Part III, Section I, No. 1175, p. 1152.

14.  Ibid., No. 1209, p. 1220.

15.  Ibid., Part III, Section II, Nos. 1271-73, p. 1321-23.

16.  Ibid.

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