Afternoon we proceeded to Mannargudi. The temple is famous as Sri Krishna Raja Gopalam. The other information about the temple is that the deity is actually the Gopala Sundari. This is a unique method of 'deitification' in Sri Vidya Sampradaya where the central deity (Lalitha Tripurasundari) assumes the bhakta’s ‘mano icchha rupam’. We asked the Archaka about the Koil Varalaru and he described the Vaishnava Agama Sampradayam that is followed. We asked about the ‘Sri Chakram’. He said that the only chakram he knows is in his hands – The ‘Sudarsanam’. We again asked about the story of Krishna standing on the Sri Chakra and pat comes the reply that he doesn’t know about it even though some people do ask about this information.
Oothukkadu Siddhar an exponent in Music as many people know him, was a highly exalted person spiritually. He is said to have been instructed in ‘Vidya’ by none other than Lord Sri Krishna himself in the ‘Bala Rupam’ (Child Form) on whom a temple is present in the Oothukkadu village. He is probably the first person to compose a Navavaranam – which is on Kanchi Kamakshi. This was named as Kamakshi Navavaranam. He also lived slightly before Dikshitar’s time and is said to have had the Sampradaya Diksha from none other the Sri Bhaskararaya Makhin. His Samadhi is at Kumbakonam and close to Darasuram. When we went there in 2006, sadly the place was dilapidated and close to falling down. In the Mangala Kriti in Kamakshi Navavaranam, he expressly states that he stands in front of Sree Akhilandeswari to ensure he attains the brother of Haladhara ie Krishna himself. The line reads as ---
‘Haladharaanujam Praptum Vayam Dehi Dehi Sri Akhilandeshwari Guruguha Janani’
There are no clear translations possible for the actual meaning or the exposition of the word ‘Praptum’ here. The closest one word is Attain. Those in the Maarga may, by the blessing of Sri Guru, find the inner meaning and be blissful…..
Dikshitar also has sung a composition Srividya Rajagopalam primarily on this method. The great Malayali Saint – Sri Vilwamangala Swamiar (also known as Leelasukar), whose Samadhi is just on the back street of Ananda Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Trivandrum, also has sung about the deity and a certain connection on the same sampradayam with Guruvayoor as well. The information about the Srividya Rajagopalam has been well explained by the Sri L Girish Kumar, Director of The Shripuram Tantra Research Centre at Irinjalakuda, in one of his discourses on Devi Mahatmyam at the Ramakrishna Mission Vyttila, Ernakulam.
From the great temple complex we proceeded to Tiru Alangudi – The Guru Kshetram in the Nava Graha Temples. Guru Peyarchi (Transit) was about to happen in about another 2 weeks time and naturally this was an important occasion at the temple. Dakshinamurthy is the Guru Sannidhi here. The temple always has a festive surrounding and it was no different this time as well. There was a small girl singing upon a makeshift mandapam in the complex at right angles to the main deity – Apath Sahayeshwarar also known as Aranyeswarar and the lingam is swayambhu. The Goddess Sannidhi of – Yelavarkuzhali (also known as Umai Ammai) is also visible at the main Darsanam area.
As it became late in the evening we decided to retire back to our comforts at the Hotel Gnanam at Tanjavur and mentally prepare for the further travels for the next day.