Jaya Jaya Sankara Hara Hara Sankara – Let’s have the great fortune of hearing about the grandeur Annabishekam function celebrations @ Gangai Konda Cholapuram, how Maha Periyava started it all in way back 1985. There is a very interesting incident told by our Periyava on why we should start doing Annabishekam to Siva lingam. It is very moving to see the tons of cooked rice distributed not only to humans but also all other living beings as per our Periyava’s wish!
Shri S.Ravisankar, our sathsang seva volunteer and Annabhisheka core committee member has just come back after the past two weeks of hectic schedule playing a key role in organizing this mega event. Enjoy this narration from him. Ram Ram
Annabhishekam at Gangai Konda Cholapuram on the initiative of HH Mahaperiava of Kanchi from 1985
The whole of Kanchipuram had a festive look , on the return of Kanchi Mahaswamy in the year 1983 after His Visit to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, etc. from early 1978. Ocean of devotees, like wave after wave thronged Kanchipuram to have a glimpse of our Acharya on His return.
An old person Sri .Vethavinesa gurukkal of Ambal Brahannayaki samedha Lord Brahadeeswara temple of Gangai Konda Cholapuram Ariyaloor district also visited to have Maha Periyava Dharshan . The great Saint knew the purpose for which , the Gurukkal had come to Kanchipuram.
We few were fortunate to be there in the early morning when Gurukkal explained his problems of meeting both ends meet with children to be fed , cook rice in the house, take to temple, perform Neivedyam to Lord and Ambal Brahannayaki and then feed his children. Locals were only helping him. Though temple is having 500 acres property, there was no return from any of them.
HH Periyava immediately directed us to visit the temple, pool the money we can generate and put it in a deposit and and pay the interest to Gurukkal every month. He wished that we should not collect from anybody. Those days with the money we generated , an amount of Rs 125/= per month was sent to him. Mahaswamy as we all know a Thrikalagnani, imagined the plight of many such Sivachariayars , Bhattacharyas and village (grama) devatha poosaris. Sri.R.M.Veerappan HR&CE minister, an ardent devotee of Mahswamy periodically visited Kanchi to have H H Dharshan. On the instructions of Maha Swamy, in consultation with the then Chief minister Sri.M G R, the government under HR&CE dept deposited around 8 crores out of which nearly 100 village priests and about 75 poosaris were paid Rs 100/ and Rs 75/ each per month respectively.
Sri. Mettur Rajagopal (later Shri Mettur Swamigal) serving Mahaperiava throughout His North Yatra decided to bring Ganges water from Haridwar in about 360 cans of 20 Ltrs each. This was for Maha Swamy’s snanam every day for one year. Before the departure of Lorry with volunteers from Sri Matam entrance gate (courtesy New Howrah transport where Mr. Jatadharan was Chennai Manager) H.H. came round the Lorry ,inspected under chassis, the tyres, driver’s cabin ,area where cans were kept and sprinkled holy water, indeed a great blessing .
On the return of the Lorry to Kanchi with Ganga water cans , H.H. stopped unloading at Sri Matam and directed Sri.Rajagopal to divert the Lorry to Gangai Konda Cholapuram and perform Abhishekam with this water to Lord Brahadeeswara. He preferred the Abhisheka Thirtham is brought from there for His snanam. When everybody was wonderstruck, HH explained that it is nearly 1000 years back , King Rajendra Cholan 1, brought Ganges water on the heads of North Indian Kings whom he defeated and did Abhishekam to Lord at Gangai Konda Cholapuram. Many centuries in between, no big care was there for that temple and it was His wish Lord Brahadeeswara Abhishekam is done with plenty of Ganga water now.
Gangai Konda Cholapuram came to lime light again in the year 1984 by the grace of Maha Swamy .Till then it was only an archeological monument .
The big temple at the Gangai Konda Cholapuram was constructed by the King Rajendra Chola I. It is determined by Archeologists that the temple was built and completed in the year 1036 AD during his 24th regnal year of his rule. To celebrate the victory achieved by him, invading up to Ganges in the North, he has named this temple as Gangai Konda Choleeswaram. To celebrate the victory he also erected a big jala (water lake) called Chola-Gangam. Many great devoted people had sung many devotional songs on this temple particularly to name, is Karuvur Devar. Gangaikonda Cholapuram was the capital of the Chola Kings who won many laurels including the conquest of South East Asian countries. This place was the capital of Chola kings for almost three centuries and witnessed their great achievements. At present this temple is classified as a living monument under UNESCO.
The total height of the Siva lingam is 6’3″from the base whereas total from floor level is 13 ft 3 Inches and the circumference is 63 feet. The known oldest and biggest divine structure of Linga is Lord Brahadeeswara at this Place.
After the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire, Kanchipuram endured over two decades of political turmoil. The Golconda Sultanate gained control of the city in 1672, but lost it to Bijapur three years later. In 1676, Shivaji arrived in Kanchipuram at the invitation of the Golconda Sultanate in order to drive out the Bijapur forces. His campaign was successful and Kanchipuram was held by the Golconda Sultanate until its conquest by the Mughal Empireled by Aurangazeb in October 1687. In the course of their southern campaign, the Mughals defeated the Marathas under Sambhaji, the elder son of Shivaji, in a battle near Kanchipuram in 1688 which caused considerable damage to the city but cemented Mughal rule.
Soon after, the priests at the Varadaraja Perumal, Ekambareshwarar and Kamakshi Amman temples, mindful of Aurangazeb’s reputation for iconoclasm, transported the deities to southern Tamil Nadu and did not restore them. Back to Kanchi Sri Matam for long time till Mughal empire came to an end.
The great Shankaracharyas of Kanchi 61 st and 62 nd, during that period moved their matam to south, traveling to different parts and finally came to Thanjavur district, a wide big district that time. They were under the protection of Udayarpalayam Jamindars for matam expenses . The great Brahadeeswara temple was under their control of Udayarpalayam zamindars they spent money to the matam from this temple income.
The approximate gold Varahans spent for this purpose is recorded in a copper plate (seppu pattayam). Mahaswamy traced out the copper plate and reading the expenses, HH asked His devotees, many CA’s werer also there, to calculate the repayment amount with accrued interests till date.
Stunned, none could arrive to a solution as it was running to Rs thousands of crores.
Then Periava explained that, even if it is Sri Matam, we have no right to touch Shivan property and enjoy for personal benefits. The only way to repay to Lord is performing Annabhishekam on Aippasi Pournami day to Lord Brahadeeswara covering the Baanam and Aavudaiyar fully with cooked rice. This will bring lot of prosperity and agricultural wealth apart from plenty of rains in that area which is normally considered as dry area.
Thus Annabhishekam was started about 32 years ago by the initiation of Kanchi Maha Swamy with guidance and physical presence of Mettur Sri. Rajagopal (later Shri Mettur Swamigal ) and few stalwarts and a group of committee members. In spite of best efforts, cooking even 100 bags of rice, the Lingam portion was not getting covered as, this portion is more than 6 feet height.
Though H H was not fully satisfied, with half hearted consent of HH, after 4 to 5 years we fabricated special stainless steel mesh like Kavacham around Baanam, giving enough space to fill cooked rice in that area.
H.H. Balaperiava during one of His visits during Annabhishekam, told that it looked like Sahasralinga and suggested for improvements.
Annabhishekam has become a huge and grand function in Tamizh Nadu.Nearly 30,000 people attend Annabhishekam and about 6000 people are fed full virundhu lunch in our Mahaswamy Annakoodam on that day. Apart from this another 1000 people are distributed prasadham in the evening after deeparadhana.
Mahabhishekam is carried out on the previous day. Nearly 18 to 20 Aagama paadashala boys come and help the local shivachariyars to clean the Garbagraham and surroundings apart from carrying out the mammoth task of placing rice around Lord Brahadeeswara. Thiruvilakku pooja is performed that evening with nearly 100 ladies from local areas.
A day before Mahabhishekam, Sri.Kanakka Vinayakar is worshipped with Sankalpam etc. Nearly 3500 kgs of rice is cooked in 6 boilers from morning 4 AM. Volunteers from Neiveli and brahmin devotees from all places, without taking food or breakfast, transferring the cooked rice to Lord Brahadeeswara Garbagraham ,the Lord fully covered with cooked rice .With the Kavacham like special stainless steel Mesh assembled around Baanam cooked rice is poured till 4PM ,later decorated with Bakshanams ,vegetables , flowers and garlands, it is a site ( kankolla KAILASA kaatchi) to see and feel.Same day NAVAVARANA POOJA is carried out to Ambal Brahan Nayaki. In the evening with about 30 Suvashinis all honored after Puja. Distribution of Annabhishekam rice. As per Sastras and H H Mahaperiava ‘s wish, the total quantity is divided into 5 parts.
1. Top portion around Linga is distributed to devotees . Nearly 1300 to1500 people collect this rice prasadham. Sambar is seperately served in containers.
2. On the Aavudaiyar, it is collected and distributed to 4 legged and 2 legged animals like cow, etc.
3. The bottom portion is collected and distributed to flying birds and similar Jeevans.
4. A portion of rice is dissolved in water for fish and similar souls.
5. The bottom most on ground level is collected and spread in the pit for worms and other souls living below ground. Thus all souls living under this earth get their due and what a great Hindu philosophy and Periyava’s forethoughts!!!
It is proposed to perform Kumbhabhishekam of this great temple by 02 Feb2017. Participation of all HH Mahaswamy and Sri Matam devotees are solicited substantially contributing both monetarily and in kind . Two photographs of this year Annabhishekam is enclosed below for your viewing pleasure.