30th April, Monday
We checked out of the hotel and started a long journey. Due to last minute change of plans and rescheduling, we could not cover a few areas which we had thought about which included En Kann (Description to come later) & Brhadeeshwaram.
We reached one of the streets with a line of temples. My teacher’s son knew the place and so without doubt we reached there. However I missed out the route. The small temple that is, had not yet opened and we were there almost at 6.00 am. The deity which was kept inside the grills (What a usage!! And what a way the humans have degraded their conduct!!!) could be seen from outside. Thus consoling ourselves, we decided to circumambulate the prakaaram. There was a small goshala and one of the calves was so cute which pulled me to just run my hand over its head and between the eyes. Seeing this, Rishi and the other kids in our party also did this. While we were coming around the north western side, a Brahmin called out to me from one of the small ways leading to the compound. There was a gate which was bolted from the temple side. He requested to open this bolt. I did this and he straight away walked to the main door of the deity. He was the main Archaka there!!!!
He opened the door and showed the Arati for us. Some of us had already reached back to the van, but for us who saw it, it was like Devi presenting herself majestically for our full view. Lakshmi’s mother had kept some jackfruit as ‘Kaazhcha’ for the devi. The Archaka took the same and placed it as Nivedyam. He then took the same and placed it in my hand as Prasadam. He also gave some flowers and should I say we were thrilled to have received such grace.
The Devi is said to have been brought from Kanchi when the Muslim invasion happened. Banagaru is for Gold and the deity is supposedly in Gold. Whether it was the same vigraham or not, the inner feeling was quite unique. This was also the place where Sri Shyama Sastri had conducted the regular puja as he was in the family of the Poojakas.
Just to think that due to the time constraint we were planning to skip the temple. My teacher insisted that since I had shown an interest before the start of the trip to visit the place, this shouldn’t be missed.
Panchanadeeswarar - Tiruvayyar
We then went to Panchanadeeswarar Koil at Tiruvayyar, which was also the place where Sri Tyagaraja had done his Rama Mantra Japa successfully. My teacher said that there was a marble ‘sila’ where he used to sit. However we were unable to see the same now. During my last visit to Kumbakonam in 2006, after visiting the Tyagaraja Samadhi which is only about 200 mts away from the main entrance, we tried to go to the temple. But the same was not opened then, since it was very early in the morning. I had thought that maybe next time when I come, I may be able to see him. Strange are the Lord’s ways as this darsanam came into a reality while I was thinking it may not be possible due to time constraint and the Devi made us wait a while until giving her Managala Darsanam since abhishekams were going on.
Adjacent ‘veedhi’ or ‘Teruvu’, pathway had the house of Sri Tyagaraja, where he lived later on. We couldn’t enter the same as it would open only by 9.00 am - some one staying nearby said.
Next we visited the Tyagaraja Samadhi. The river bed was sandy and without water as the summer was peaking steadily. We spent time doing our own prayers there. Also saw some of the Brahmins doing the Sandhya Vandanams and japams there and were wondering whether they were the Archakas or just living there!
It is at this Samadhi that the annual Tyagaraja Sangeetha Aradhana Festival is done, which culminates in the Pancha Ratna Krithi Alaapana by all the artists present. This is a famous festivity relayed across the world and triggers a host of Tyagaraja Aaradhana across at various parts of the music world.