Where Paramacharya learnt the Vedas
HERITAGE Foundation was laid for the Siva temple in Mahendramangalam. CHARUKESI
IN IDYLLIC SETTING: The Veda Patasala and (right) the lingam, which was recovered from a banana grove.
Foundation was laid for the Siva temple in Mahendramangalam, a village on the Tiruchi-Thottiyam road, in a ceremony simple but emotion-filled. The Sivalingam retrieved from the temple buried under the soil in the village, where the Kanchi Seer studied in the Veda Patasala from 1911–1914, is at last going to get its own sanctum sanctorum. The Lingam which is temporarily housed in the Perumal temple under a thatched roof will be shifted once the temple is ready.
Set in lush green surroundings with the Cauvery flowing, the village, near the famous Musiri town, is really enchanting.
Climbing 1,000 steps
“Paramacharya had visited the nearby Rathnagirieeswarar temple many times, climbing all the one thousand steps!” informs Ramamurthy, who performs puja for the Adi Sankara statue installed by Paramacharya. Adi Sankara, it is believed, had visited this village. But why was Mahendramangalam chosen for the Seer's study?
Ra. Ganapathy, in his book ‘Nadamaadum Kadavul' writes that when Mahaswami was appointed head of the Mutt at a very young age, he had a lot of visitors in Kumbakonam and that forced the Mutt authorities to find a place where he would not be disturbed. “When all the students would bow before the teacher, it was the guru who had to bow before this unique sishya, as the Peetathipathi,” the author states.
“Kanchi Mahaswami had seen this Lingam lying unattended when he visited the village in 1960-61, but could not do much about it. It was shifted from the plantain grove in April 2006 to its present temporary abode. When I recently visited the Kanchi Mutt, I came to know that Sri Jayendra Saraswati had installed a statue of Mahaswami in the mutt's small mantap situated on the way to Sandhyavandhana Thurai. He asked me to take up the work of building the temple for the Sivalingam and the Nandi. The latter of course is much damaged and hence a new Nandi has been installed. Ambal's name is Tripurasundari. Swaminatha Sthapathi, son of Subbiah Sthapathi, is in charge of the construction of the temple. He had sculpted the Maha Periyava's statue, said Y. Prabhu of Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai.
“I was the fortunate one to make the statue of Mahaswami and I am blessed to have been asked to build the temple, too!” said an emotional Swaminatha Sthapathi. “The temple, apart from the Moolavar and Ambal, will have Pancha Parivaram - Vigneswarar, Muruga, Chandikeswarar, Nandhi and Navagraham with Pancha Koshtam – Nritha Ganapathy, Dakshinamurthy, Brahma, Mahavishnu and Durga. The main deity, Chandramouliswara, will be seven feet above the road level and the entire temple complex will be 100 feet by 45 feet,” added Swaminatha Sthapathi.
The Veda patasala where the Kanchi Seer had studied is a trust property of Kuvalagudi Singam Iyengar of Srirangam and the class room is on the first floor of the building. The premises is well maintained, the caretaker being the grandson of Singam Iyengar, present owner. Watchman Madurai is only too willing to open the house and show it to the visitors.
The Tulsi Madam which Mahaswami got built in the courtyard is still around. The stone slab fixed in the premises states that the property cannot be utilised otherwise. Perhaps, it could regain its past glory and house the Veda Patasala, once the village becomes a pilgrim centre. It is indeed a heritage building and Singama Iyengar was truly a visionary.
Willing to help
The octogenarian patriot of the village, Gandhippithan, who had moved with the Mahaswami in his early years, feels that the statue could be shifted to the temple once the construction is over. During the Bhoomi Puja, thanks to his prompting, all the villagers were present in full strength promising cooperation to the construction of the temple.
For those who hold Paramacharya in high esteem, Mahendramangalam is not an ordinary hamlet. For them it is a sacred soil, touched by the feet of Mahaswami in his early years and later. “Improvements will perhaps follow this development, who knows!” exclaims Jayaraman, a resident of the Agraharam, whose father was a close associate of the Kanchi Seer.
The estimated cost of the construction of the temple is around Rs. 45 lakhs. Those interested in participating in the project can contact Y. Prabhu (Ph: 6529 8363/2435 9202) or Kamakoti Seva Samithi Trust, 17-A Seethamma Road, Alwarpet, Chennai 600 018.