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Sunday, 8 May 2011

2. SRI MALLIKARJUNA in SRI SAILAM

OM NAMOH SIVAYAM
 

 Mallikarjunaswamy  Srisailam

Shiva and Parvati appered here as “Arjuna” and “Mallika”, hence the name “Mallikarjuna”. The mount is famous as “Sri Sailam” meaning “The Esteemed Mount”. It is the second shrine on the Dwadash(Twelve) Jyortirlinganga Circuit.


Bhramaramba Mallikarjunaswamy  Srisailam or what is popularly called Srisailam is the presiding deity. Srisailam is located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. This whole area is full of forests of Kadali, Bilva trees, mountain ranges and Patalaganga (Krishnaveni river). All of them echo from these joyous voices of devotees.


It is situated on the south bank of the river Krishna, in the Nallamalai forest, on a hill. "Sri Mallikarjunam" and "Sri Parvatham" are its other popular names. The temple is also the seat of Mahakali in the form of Bhramaramba. The most appealing feature of this temple is that any one irrespective of his cast or creed can not only enter the temple, but can also touch the deity and worship here.


Puranic History of Srisailam

The place is believed to be witness to all yugas-Sata,Dwaper,Treta and Kaliyug as per Hindu mythology.The place is also known as Southern Kashi. Mahabharata, Shiv Purana and other holy texts describe the importance of this shrine. It was to this mount Kartikeya/Muruga had exiled himself when estranged from his parents on account of their declaring Ganesh as the winner in the contest of circunambulating the world to decide who should marry first, Kartikeya/Muruga or Ganesh. To placate the frayed temper of their son, Shiva and Parvati appeared here as Arjuna and Mallika, hence the name.


When Siva and Parvathi decided to find suitable brides for their sons, Ganesha and Muruga argued as to who is to get wedded first. Lord Shiva bade that the one who goes round the world in Pradakshinam could get married first. By the time Lord Muruga could go round the world on his vahana, Lord Ganesha went round his parents 7 times (for according to Sastras, going in pradakshina round one's parents is equivalent to going once round the world (Boopradakshinam). Lord Shiva got Siddhi and Buddhi, the daughters of Viswaroopan got married to Lord Ganesha. 


When Kumar Kartikeya returned to Kailash after completing his trip around the earth, he heard about Ganesha’s marriage from Narada. This angered him. In spite of being restrained by his parents, he touched their feet in obeisance and left for Krounch Mountain. Parvati was very distraught at having to be away from her son, implored Lord Shiva to look for their son.


Together, they went to Kumara. But, Kumara went away a further three Yojanas, after learning about his parents coming after him to Krouncha Mountain. Before embarking on a further search for their son on each mountain, they decided to leave a light on every mountain they visited. From that day, that place came to be known as Jyotir Linga Mallikarjuna.


It is believed that Shiva and Parvati visit this palce on Amavasya (No moon day) and (full Moon day) Pournami, respectively. Visiting this JyotirLinag not only blesses one with innumerable wealth, but also name and fame and fulfils all the desires.


Lord Rama himself installed the Sahastralinga, while the Pandavas lodged the Pancha pandava lingas in the temple courtyard. Heroic legends from the Mahabharata and Ramayana are sculpted in stone on the temple walls and the Mahabharata epic refers to Srisailam as Sri Parvata - the blessed hill. Demon King Hiranyakashiyapu is also worshipped at Srisailam. 


Once, a princess named Chandravati decided to go to the Jungles to do penance and meditation. She chose Kadali Vana for this purpose. One day, she witnessed a miracle. A Kapila cow was standing under a Bilwa tree and milk was flowing from all of its four udders, sinking into the ground. The cow kept doing this as a routine chore everyday. Chandravati dug up that area and was dumb founded at what she saw.


There was a self-raising Swyambhu SivaLinga. It was bright and shining like the sun rays, and looked like it was burning, throwing flames in all directions. Chandravati prayed to Siva in this JyotirLinga. She built a huge Shiva Temple there. Lord Shankara was very pleased with her. Chandravati went to Kailash wind borne. She received salvation and Mukti. On one of the stone-inscriptions of the temple, Chandravati’s story can be seen carved out.




Bhramaramba
A demon named Arunasura acquired immense power after he pleased Brahma with his devotion. He received boon that any creature with two or four legs would not be able to kill him.He became a menace.Devas thus went to goddesss Durga and requested to destroy Arunasur.Goddess agreed  and she destroyed the demon by releasing thousands of bees (Bhramara),which have six legs. They stung the asura to death. Goddess Durga remained in Srisailam in the name of Bhramarambika. The beautiful temple has its unique style. The door leading to the sanctum is covered with silver. The idol of the devi has eight hands and beautifully decked up in neatly pleated silk sari. One can watch kumkum puja by suhasinis (Married women)as seva to the goddess. 


Development of mallikarjuna swamy temple

Chatrapati Shivaji used to come to take a Darshan of the JyotirLinga during the Maharatri. He built a tower on the right side of the Temple and also opened a free-meal center. The kings of the VijayaNagar Dynasty too built a Temple, Tower, Portico and a pond. Ahelyadevi Holkar, a great devotee of Siva built a strong bathing wharf consisting of 852 steps on the banks of the Patalganga.


Earlier, this part of the Shaila mountains was an unreachable tough terrain and fraught with danger. Even then, devotees, with their sheer will power, used to reach there in large numbers. Hiranyakashipa, Narada, Pandavas, Sri Ram are some of the great mythological personalities who have visited this holy shrine. Srisailam recently hit headlines with Bolywood Superstar Amitabh Bachhan announcing donation of Rs.1 crore to Srisailam.  

Mallikarjuna Swamy temple:



Bhramaramba Mallikarjunaswamy Srisailam has 8 gates. Shiva and Parvati are worshipped here in the form of Mallikarjuna and Bhramaramba Devi. Shiva's sacred bull Vrishabha is said to have performed penance at the Mahakali temple till Shiva and Parvati appeared before him as Mallikarjuna and Brahmaramba.


Brahmaramba is one of the 18 Shakti Peethas .It is said that Shakti Peethas gives will power, knowledge power, and work power to its devotees. The beautiful temple with its imposing gopurams is a spectacular sight. A large idol of nandi facing the sanctum presides over a pillared hall. The door to the sanctum is silver plated.


To its left is the idol of Ratnagarbha Ganapati. To the right are Virbhadra Swamy and Bhadrakali.The small black linga has a hooded golden cover.The garbhagriha is small and only temple priests are allow.To the north of the sanctum is five lingas installed by Pandavas. 

Two Lingams are actually called “Mallikarjuna Lingam”.


The “new” Mallikarjuna Lingam is placed in a silverplated Mantapam in the main Mallikarjuna shrine. It is aproximately 15 x 20 cm and 12 cm high. It is placed in a square formed Yoni apr. 75 x 75 cm and 8 -10 cm high. The main worship takes place here and thousands of pilgrims have the darshan of Lord Mallikarjuna here every day.


The “old” Mallikarjuna Lingam is placed in a smaller shrine in the temple south of the main Mallikarjuna shrine. This is the only Lingam in the temple which has no Nandi bull in front. The Lingam is big, about 20-25 cm high and 30 cm in diameter. It is marked by time and looks like the stub of a tree. It is said that this Linga is older than the main Mallikarjuna Linga.


THE SANCTUM

The sanctum enshrining Lord Mallikarjuna is a shell-like structure. The Mukhamandapa is a well-sculptured pillared hall in Vijayanagar style. Nandi, Shiva’s mount, is enshrined in a separate mandapa. There are smaller shrines for Nataraja and Sahasra Linga. The Sahasra Linga is an interesting aspect . The main Linga is divided into 25 facets, each of them again representing 40 Lingas, making a total of 1,000 Lingas. A three-hooded cobra is carved as entwined round the Linga. Another Linga of Mallikarjuna under a Vata vriksha (tree) is considered the original Linga.


Slightly away from these shrines is the sanctum of Goddess Bhramarambika, the consort of Mallikarjuna. The Goddess is believed to have assumed the form of a bee and worshipped Shiva here. Adi Shankara had visited the temple and sung in praise of Lord Mallikarjuna in his famous hymn Shivananda Lahari and of the Goddess in Bhramarambika Ashtakam.


THEERTHAM


The Krishna river, which flows four km away from the shrine, is the holy Theertham known as PaathaalaGanga. Devotees take a dip here and carry holy water uphill to perform abhisheka for the Lord. A shrine dedicated to Lord Umamaheshwara is situated on way to the Theertham


The Sri Sailam area covers an area of 384 x 384 km. As a hilly river and forest area lots of waterbanks are formed by nature. Old bathing ghatts have been constructed as early as in the beginning of the 14th century. The area has nine cities, nine caves, nine banana gardens, nine Nandi bulls, medicinal plants, forests of meditation etc.


Devotees take great importance in a darshan of the the Sri Saila Sikaram from the top of the highest hill in the Sri Sailam area. The hill is six miles from Sri Sailam and the Sikareswara Swami Temple is situated on top of the hill. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Another temple is also there, dedicated to Lord Ganesh. One of the features is a small Nandi Bull on the top of the temple hill facing Sri Sailam and the Mallikarjuna Temple. It is custom to hold two fingers on the horns of the small bull and look at the Sri Sailam through the small peephole thus formed. 


In Sri Sailam the Krishna river is known as "Pathala Ganga", and is regarded as a very sacred river for pilgrims. About two miles from the Mallikarjuna Temple is the bathing ghatt with the 500 steps leading to the river Krishna. People bathe in this river before going for darshan of Lord Shiva in the temple.


Sri Sailam is an  important wildlife area is the largest of the States wildlife sanctuaries. Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Sanctuary (Now named Rajiv Gandhi Reserve Forest) is spread over 3568 sq. km across five districts of Andhra Pradesh. The Srisailam Sanctuary shelters tigers, blackbuck, panthers, chinkara, spotted deer, nilgai, pangolins, leopards, soft-shelled turtles, porcupines, crocodiles, wild dogs, civet, hyena, jackals, wolves, giant squirrels, lizards, python, vipers, kraits and variety of animals, reptiles and over 150 species of birds.

How to get there



Sri Sailam can be reached by bus or taxi, driving 7 hours (220 km) from Hyderabad or 5 hours (aprox. 175 km) from Kurnool. After 4½ hours drive from Hyderabad the road goes through the dense Nallamalai Forest and a harsh mountain drive where u-turns begins. The forest is a wildlife sanctuary, with restricted access mainly because of the tiger population. It is advisable to go by daylight as the roads are in poor condition. From Sri Sailam to Kurnool the road is one tracked for approximately two hours drive through the hilly forest.

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