Guruvayoor Sree Krishna Temple
I am writing my second blog and I felt this should be dedicatd to Guruvayoorappan. I am scribbling down the interesting stories behind the temple.
The Krishna temple in the town of Guruvayoor in Kerala is one of the five famous Krishna/Vishnu temples in India. Even though the idol in Guruvayoor is that of Vishnu it is still known as a Krishna temple since the boy Krishna is always said to be running around in the temple premises.The presiding deity is MahaVishnu, in standing posture with four hands carrying Sankhu Panchajanya, Sudarshana chakram,lotus and gada. He is worshipped as Balakrishna, the full avatar (Purnaavatara) of Mahavishnu .The idol is made of a rare stone known as Patala Anjana.Adorned with the divine Tulasi garland the idol represents the majestic form of Maha Vishnu as revealed to Vasudeva and Devaki at the time of Krishna avatar
Lord Krishna in Guruvayoor is popularly called Sri Guruvayoorappan. Appan means lord or father so the title means the Lord of Guruvayoor. The small idol is made of the stone known as black antimony and is a magnetic stone said to have special medicinal properties.
The day of the lord begins with Vakacharthu and it is the preparation for his holy bath. The garlands, the flowers of the previous night are removed after the Nirmalyadarsanam and gingelly oil is poured over the idol. This oil collected their after, is considered to be very sacred.
It is believe that it acquires medicals and spiritual value. The oil remaining on the idol removed by applying vaka powder. This powder is light brown in colour and gives an added hue to the idol. Crowds go to the temple at 3 A.M in order to see this charming sight. Then water from the temple, consecrated with mantras is poured over the idol for his ritual bath. This holy water is then eagerly drunk by the devotees since it is said to contain a little of the miraculous properties of the stone of which the idol is made.
According to the legends, the idol worshipped here is more than 5000 years old. The history of the idol goes back to the hoary past to the age of Dwapara when Lord Krishna was alive.
This idol was once worshipped by Mahavishnu in Vaikunta. Vishnu handed it over to Brahma. King Suthapas and his wife who worshipped Bhrama for a child received this idol from Brahma. He advised them to 2 start worshipping the idol. Once Lord Vishnu appeared before them and blessed them that he himself will be born as their child in their three re-births in three different forms and in three different situations. Thus they got the good fortune to worship the same deity in all three rebirths. They gave birth to Prasnigarbhan who gave to the world the practice of Brahmacharya Vratha (Celibacy) . In their next birth, Suthapas and his wife were born as Kashyapa and Adithi . Their son in that birth was Vamana. The third rebirth was as Vasudeva and Devaki. The Lord Krishna was born as their eighth son. In the long run , the Lord Krishna himself installed this idol in Dwaraka and worshipped it.
Finally at the time of Krishna's ascension to Vaikunta, he instructed Udhava to entrust Brahaspathi (the Guru of Devas) with the task of taking the idol to a suitable place where people could worship it, so as to get salvation in Kaliyuga.He told
that the island of Dwaraka, would be swept away by the sea, seven days after he left his mortal body. He instructed him to rescue the precious idol of Vishnu which his parents had worshipped, and hand it over to Brihaspati, the guru of the gods who would come to him. After seven days, the island submerged in the sea as foretold by Lord Krishna. Uddhava went sadly to the seashore and saw the idol bobbing up and down on the waves far out in the sea. He begged the wind god – Vayu to bring it closer to him. The wind wafted it gently to the shore and Uddhava picked it up lovingly and cradled it in his arms. As he was wondering how to contact the guru of the gods, he found that Brihaspati himself was walking towards him. Uddhava told him the whole story of how Lord Krishna had instructed him and Brihaspati who knew everything agreed to take it and install it at some special place. He was sure that he would be given further instructions.
Now Brihaspati asked Vayu, the wind god to transport him through the air so that they could choose a perfect spot for the installation. Carrying the precious idol in his hands, Brihaspati was wafted across the sub-continent of India till they came almost to the sea shore to the spot where the present town of Guruvayoor now stands. Looking down Brihaspati saw a beautiful lake filled with lotuses on the banks of which Shiva and Parvati were dancing. He was charmed by the sight and he requested Vayu to float him down. For some time he stood spell-bound by the dancing couple. When they had finished he prostrated to them and begged Shiva to tell him of a perfect spot to install the idol of Vishnu. Shiva said that this was indeed the ideal place. He told him to build the temple right there at one end of the lake where he and Parvati had been dancing. He magnanimously said that he himself would take up residence at the other end of the lake which was known as Rudrathirta. The temple of Mammiyoor to which Shiva shifted still exists. . The idol was installed by Brihaspati, the guru of the gods and Vayu, the god of wind and hence came to be known as Guru-vayoor!
On November 30,1970,a massive fire broke out in the temple. It begin from the western chuttambalam and raged all around for five hours, but the Sreekovil , the Vigraha, sub-shrines of Ganapathy , Sastha , Bhagavathy and flag-staff remained unaffected
Melpathur Narayana Bhattatiri
The famous poet and scholar, Meppathur Narayana Bhattathiri, composed the poem known as “Narayananeeyam”, which is a wonderful epic in Sanskrit consisting of one thousand and thirty six verses.
Melpathur Narayana Bhattatiri, was an erudite scholar in Sanskrit, well-versed in the choice of words which make the work highly rhythmic and flowing, with a very high literary value, comparable to any of the compositions of classical Sanskrit poets.
The composition of the poem is connected with a miracle.
Narayana Bhattathiri was born is a family of Namboodiris, who are the Brahmin caste of Kerala. By the age of sixteen he was a great Vedic scholar. However he soon fell into bad company and began to neglect the daily duties enjoined on him by his caste and upbringing. His father-in-law was a very pious and learned astrologer. One morning when he was seated on the veranda scrutinising a yantra in front of him, Bhattathiri who had woken up late came rushing out and in his hurry to reach the yard he jumped over the sacred yantra. The old man rebuked him in strong terms for his negligence in the pursuit of his swadharma and for dissipating this human life which should have been spent in the pursuit of the final goal of liberation. Somehow the effect of this rebuke was electrical. He realised his mistake and promised to mend his ways and begged the old man to accept him as his disciple.
Bhattathiri became one of his greatest disciples. In his later years the astrologer was stricken with crippling rheumatoid arthritis. Bhattathiri was a very great devotee of Lord Guruvayoorappan by this time and he begged the Lord to allow him to take over the disease of his master. Needless to say the old man improved and Bhattathiri contacted the dread disease. He was totally afflicted and could hardly move. He made his friends take him to Guruvayoor. Every morning he would take his bath and be carried to the temple. Here he sat propped up by the wooden pillar on the eastern side of the southern porch and composed his immortal classic called “The Narayaneeyam” which is a condensed version of the Srimad Bhagavata Purana which describes the glories of all the ten incarnations of Vishnu with special reference to the Krishnavatara. The hundred-canto poem follows the original closely and describes all the incarnations of Lord Vishnu starting with the “Fish”. Naturally he elaborated at length on the life of Lord Krishna. Every day painfully, he would continue with his self imposed task and at the end of each canto he would beg the Lord to cure him of his dire disease.
The special thing about “The Narayaneeyam” is that it is addressed directly to the Lord of Guruvayoor. Bhattathiri imagined the child Krishna sitting in front of him listening avidly to the stories of his own incarnations. Hence many of the stories sound as if they are being told to a child. At times the pain would be too intense for him and he would stop in the middle of a story and throw his stylus down and refuse to go any further even though the child was anxious to hear the end of the story. At this time it is said that the child Krishna would come close and stroke his limbs and make him fit to carry on with the tale the next day.
As the days and months slipped by with Bhattathiri singing the praises of the Lord, he got progressively better. By the time he sang the last canto he was completely cured. Moreover he was blessed with a vision of the Lord standing inside the sanctum and smiling at him. The hundredth canto is a description of this beatific vision. He starts this canto with the words, “In front of me I am seeing…” Bhattathiri lived to the ripe old age of a hundred and six years. He spent most of his life in the temple worshipping the Lord of his heart. The poem is indeed a gem of both devotion and erudition. Even though most of the temple has been re-modelled and the pillars changed into marble, the wooden pillar on which Bhattathiri rested during his arduous labour of love is still retained.
. The old Namboodiri Brahmin known as Poonthanam was a great devotee and many miracles took place during his lifetime. The famous poem called “Jnanapana” is a masterpiece of devotion and wisdom. Vilvamangalam was another great devotee. Krishna is said to have appeared in person and sat before him whenever he did his puja! Another great devotee was Kururamma who was a childless widow. When she grew too old to attend to her own necessities it is said that the boy Krishna came to her in the form of a servant boy and did all her work for her!
Many cases of cures and miracles have been attributed to Guruvayoorappan.The temple opens at 3 AM and closes late at night very often at 10 PM or even later when there are special functions.
The Lord is decorated in various ways during the different pujas. Early morning he is shown as a young child wearing only a small red kaupina and decorated with small jewels and mayilppeeli.He holds a ball of butter in his hand. For the next puja at 10 AM he looks a little older. He is fully adult by the noon puja which is the most elaborate. This ornamentation remains on him till the next morning.One of the striking features of this temple is that the idol has been so placed that it is visible from very far off, way beyond the main temple doors.