Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Attukal Devi - The Mother of Love

History of Attukal Bhagavathy

The Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, One of the ancient temples of South India is popularly described as Sabarimala of the Women, as women form the major portion of devotees. The Goddess in the temple of Attukal is worshipped as the Supreme Mother, creator of all living beings and the mighty preserver as well as destroyer of them all. The pilgrims from all over the country, who visit Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple and worship the Lord, do not consider their visits complete without the visit to the shrine of the supreme Mother Attukalamma. Vishnumaya took the incarnation of Bhagavathy to annihilate the evil and protect the good in the world in the present Era namely Kaliyuga.

According to mythology, Attukal Bhagavathy is supposed to be the divinised form of Kannaki, the famous heroine of Chilapathikaram, written by Elenkovadikal, the Tamil Poet. The story goes that after the destruction of ancient city of Madurai, Kannaki left the city and reached Kerala via Kanyakumari and on the way to Kodungalloor took a sojourn at Attukal. Kannaki is supposed to be the incarnation of Parvathy, the consort of Paramasiva. The all powerful and benign Attukal Bhagavathy reigns eternally supreme at Attukal and nurses devotees as a mother does her children. Thousands of devotees from far and near flock to the Temple to bend before the Goddess with awe and reverence to prostrate and redress their affliction and agony.

The legend has that the Goddess Bhagavathy revealed herself to a fervent devotee of a Mulluveettil family. One evening a young girl appears before the head of the family when he was performing his oblations in the Killi River and requests him to help her cross the river. The old man not only helps her cross the river but also takes her to his house nearby, but suddenly the girl vanishes. That very night the Goddess Bhagavathy appears before the old man in his dream and demands that he should establish an abode for her in the nearby sacred ground of shrubs and herbs (kavu), at a consecrated spot marked by three lines. The next morning the old man identifies the spot and starts constructing the temple. Many years later, the building was renovated by the local devotees. Another legend has that Attukal Bhagavathy is a divinised form of Kannaki who was the famous heroine of Chilapathikaram. When the ancient city of Madurai was destroyed, Kannaki left the city and reached Kerala and on the way to Kodungalloor took a sojourn at Attukal.

Incarnation of Goddess

India has ever been the holy land of gods and goddesses. Since ages past, men and women kings and emperors, saints and sages here were worshipping the Lord not only as the omnipotent and absolute 'one' but also as the 'one' whose manifestations are varied and manifold and who possesses different names, forms and divine attributes. Thus Almighty the Eternal God was worshipped in different forms such as Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, and their consorts; representing specific divine attributes of the Lord. Ancient puranas have described that Siva and Sakthi were simultaneously worshipped from the period of Aryans and Dravidians. Vishnumaya took the incarnation of Bhagavathy to annihilate evil and protect the good in this world. She grants every wish of Her devotees and resides in their hearts in multifarious forms.

Story of Kannaki

According to mythology, Attukal Bhagavathy is supposed to be the divinised form of "Kannaki", the famous heroine of Chilappatikaram, the sangham work of Tamil Literature written by ilamkovadikal. After the destruction of the ancient city of Madurai, Kannaki left that city and reached Kerala via Kanyakumari and on her way to Kodungalloor took a sojourn at Attukal. The hymns of the "Thottampattu ) sung during the annual temple festival, are based on the story of Kannaki. Moreover, architectural depictions of Goddess Kannaki seen on the Gopuram temple substantiate this mythology. Small wonder then. that, Sri. Vidyadhiraja Chattambi Swamy, the well known saint of Kerala, found this temple premises ideal for his meditations. And there are so many stories which prove the greatness of the Goddess and which attract thousands of devotees to the temple.

Aesthetics of Architecture

Anyone visiting the Attukal temple is first struck by the beauty and charm of the temple architecture. The temple structure is a harmonious conglomeration of both Kerala and Tamil styles of architecture. The beautifully carved figures of Mahishasuramarddini, Goddess Kali, Rajarajeswari, Sree Parvathy with Lord Paramasiva and various other depictions of the Goddess in and around the temple are undoubtedly the work of a gifted artist. Equally well presented around the corridors surrounding the temple, are the depiction of various other Gods and the epic stories of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu viz., the "Desavathara". On either side of the elegant front gopura - are the icons based on the story of Goddess Kannaki. On the southern Gopura, the puranic story of "Dakshayaga" is depicted in sculptures. The decorated gate at the entrance of the temple is by itself an excellent example of architectural beauty.