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Today I was surfing the net to get the postal address of Mannarsala temple and its contact number to make some offerings. Mannarsala temple is about 40 KMs from Pandalam, which is my native place. I could get a lot of information about the temple from their website. I thought of sharing the same with you all. Some deletion here and there is done from the web site information to limit the length of posting. This is part 2 of the posting.
I hope if you read further after bath and suddham that itself will give a lot of benefits.
Gopala Krishnan Dated 3-9-09
(Continued from Part1)
14.4 The story of a Tahsildar who opened the cellar
When Sri Chitra Thirunal was ruling over Travancore owing to the destruction caused by World War II, the people were oppressed by poverty and there was famine everywhere. Sir.C.P.Ramaswamy Iyer was the Diwan, a man of great intellect and formidable prowess. Orders were issued to take over foodstuff from any household, even if they are in the custody of the great ones, and to introduce rationing.
The Tahsildar of Karthikappally at that time was a Tamil Brahmin; a native of Haripad; his house was very close to his office; a gentleman who knew exactly the income of each individual and family in the locality. He was waiting for an opportunity to please the Diwan. He got ready to display his skill to the maximum. Among the list of landlords the Mannarasala Illam was included. One day very early in the morning the Tahsildar and his associates came to the Illam along with a batch of policemen. They took away every grain of rice and paddy, even what was meant for Nivedyam. Everything was heaped in the courtyard.
He was disappointed at not being able to collect as much rice and paddy as he had expected and it made him indiscrete. He knew very well that no one would enter the Nilavara of Mannarasala temple. He issued orders to open the doors of Nilavara on the suspicion that foodstuff had been illegally stocked there, without heeding to the requests of the family members not to open the Nilavara. No one came forward to do so, including the accompanied policemen. The infuriated Tahsildar under a false sense of prestige opened the cellar. But he could not enter inside and had to retreat.
(With in a short period he lost his eyesight and his family, which had been rich, was reduced to penury and destroyed. He was completely broken and had to sell off whatever left and had to leave the place forever).
My note- one of my periyamma was from Haripad and I had known from her that there were a lot of Brahmin Houses at Haripad. So in every probability the Brahmin mentioned in the story can be a Kerala iyer. In all the surrounding places of Mannarsala if we see a snake (mostly we see Chera only) we never used to disturb it other than making some sound and chase it away if it is close to the house. In the compounds (Purayidam) it was not strange for us to see snakes. If we were seeing snakes very frequently, it was a customary practice to visit Mannarsalai .I do recollect from the day we visit Mannarsalai the snakes will never make a re appearance. If it was not immediately possible to go over, we use to send money through others who visit Mannarsalai or keep some money separately in a kizhi called â€œUzhinju veikkal)
The officers came with their men to take away the rice that had been heaped in the courtyard. On the top of that heap, a serpent was seen and the policemen were frightened. They approached the head of the family for help. He advised them to take away everything leaving behind what was meant for nivedyam in the temple. They were ready to do so and the serpent slowly crept away and disappeared into the jungle nearby.
14.5 Tale of a trespasser into Nilavara
There is a tale that has been well known from ancient times depicting about the consequences for trying to enter the Nilavara, except by the Great Mothers from time to time.
A few days after Anantha the â€˜Muthassanâ€™ disappeared in the Nilavara, his younger brother had the desire to meet his brother. When he insisted obstinately, the mother said, â€œ Then, enter the Nilavara and close your left eye and look at the south-west corner with your right eyeâ€¦â€� The son followed it and saw a brilliant light. The eye that saw it lost the power of sight!
It is interpreted that the main characters in this tale, the Mother and the younger brother could have been the Valia Amma and son of a later generation. That mother by divine insight must have realized that he might lose eyesight because of the halo of light; hence she may have advised him to close one eye and look with the other eye. And in this way he might have lost the sight of one of his eyes because of the flaming brightness of the light.
14.6 The mother and the serpent-child
Legends say that Anantha was born as a five-hooded serpent-child to Vasudeva and Sreedevi of the Illam. Once the aims of his incarnation were fulfilled, he informed his mother that he would remain in the Nilavara in Samadhi forever, blessing the devotees. (More details in History â€” Muthassan, Appoppan Kavu).
The Mother who was so full of affection could not put up with that separation. Human weakness pained the Holy Mother. She rushed into the cellar herself; there shone only a halo of lightâ€¦. The beloved son consoled the Mother.
Only the Mother was granted the opportunity and authority to see the Lord face to face; he gave his full consent to be satisfied with the Motherâ€™s offering of worship just once a year. (Still Nurum Palum is offered only once in a year, the day next to Sivaratri by the Great Mother).
15. Worship in the temple will go to stellar
He also revealed the secret truth that the worship in the cellar need be offered only by the Mother and the worship offered in the temple will reach him without any loss of time, with the same force. Thus he gave his beloved mother the unusual permission to offer worship in the temple as well as the rare opportunity ever granted to an antarjanam (women) priestess.
16.History of Mannarsala temple
Though the legends related to the origin of a place cannot be deemed as its history, the story on the evolution of Mannarasala as the supreme place of worship of the serpent Gods is associated with Parasurama, the creator of Kerala.
16.1 Sanskrit poem by Mannarsala Namoothiri
The history of Mannarasala has been mentioned in the ‘Mandara Salodayam’ Sanskrit poem written by Mannarasala M.G.Narayanan Nampoodiri of the sacred family, who wrote it on the basis of reliable accounts and legends traditionally handed down and in the light of old books available with the temple.
16.2 History in Malayalam by Sri N Jeyadevan and translated by Dr Ayyappa Panicker
Since the poem was incomplete, the history narrated here is from the book ‘The Serpent Temple Mannarasala’ , published by Mr.N.Jayadevan of Manasa Publications (Translated to English by the renowned scholar Dr.Ayyappa Panikker). This book is based on the advice and instructions received from the former Great Mother, and in accordance with the other members of the family as well as the old records examined for the purpose.
16.3The Raising of Kerala:
Sree Parasurama decided to seek release from the sin of killing the Kshathrias. He approached the sages. They suggested that he should make a gift of a land of his own to the Brahmins. Parasurama, the son of Jamadagni in the lineage of sage Bhrigu, propitiated Varuna Deva (the Lord of the Seas) to get some land for himself. He threw into the sea the axe, which Paramasiva had given him with his blessings. Thus he raised the land from the sea and gave it as a gift to the Brahmins according to the rules. This land came to be known as Kerala. That piece of land was not habitable because of the salinity. Not even vegetables grew there. People began to leave the place.
Parasu Rama was pained at this. He undertook penance to please Lord Siva, who advised him that the objective could be realized only if the flaming poison of the serpents was spread everywhere and that the only means of doing that was the worship of Nagaraja.
16.4 Parasu Rama do penance to please Nagaraja
Parasurama decided that he would take no rest until he saw Kerala come up as a land of evergreen beauty full of trees and plants, prosperous in every way. He set out with his disciples in search of a deserted jungle in order to please Nagaraja who was inaccessible and beyond anybody’s understanding. He found a suitable place near the seashore in the southern part of Kerala. Satisfied with having found a proper place for the realization of his cherished dream, the great sage constructed a Thirthasthala for the performance of penance.
16.5 Nagaraja makes his appearance
Nagaraja, who was pleased, appeared before Parasurama, willing to grant him his desire. According to the poem by Mannarasala M.G.Narayanan Namboodiri, the Nagaraja made his appearance as if:
” The unspeakable splendour of millions of moons! The bright magnificence of emeralds stuck to the hoods. Golden jewels made attractive by miraculous embroidery! Lotus feet worshipped by crowds of Gods! Brilliant beauty of form, full of youthfulness!â€�
Parasurama prostrated at the lotus feet of Nagaraja and prayed to realize his objective. Nagaraja granted his request with great pleasure. Parasurama then requested the Lord to bless the land forever with his eternal presence, and that was also accepted by the kindly disposed Nagaraja.
(My note- Mannarsala is a seashore area for people not knowing about coastal Kayamkualm ,Haripad, Ambalappuzha ,and Alleppy NH. In my younger days we use to say Driver can take hands from steering all the way from Haripad to Alleppy )
At a very auspicious moment Parasurama, the supreme devotee, installed, according to Vedic rites, Nagaraja, who is Brahma, Vishnu and Siva in one in the ‘Thirthasthala’ (Hall of pilgrimage) filled with Mandara trees, the place now known as Mannarasala. (The installed deity here represents Anantha (Vishnuswaroopa) and Vasuki (Siva in spirit). The installations of Sarpayakshi, Nagayakshi and Nagachamundi, the Naga deities, as well as of their associates were conducted in the proper places with the proper rituals.
Parasurama performed to the accompaniment of Vedic recitation and singing of Sama, Abhishekam, Alankaram, Neivedyasamarpanam, Neeranjanam, Sarpabali and other rites pleasing to the serpents and thereby made all the serpents happy.
Parasurama brought learned people from other regions; installed Durga and other deities in different places; appointed Brahmins who were Thanthric experts for performing poojas. After giving important instructions to be followed to preserve the sanctity of the place, Parasurama left to do tapas on Mahendra Mountains.
17.Story of Vasudeva & Sreedevi
Many generations passed by. The family fell into the grief of childlessness. Vasudeva and Sreedevi were the sad couple that had to bear that heavy load of sorrow, which resolutely worshipped Nagaraja to allay their grief.
It was about this time that unexpectedly fire broke out in the jungle around the dwelling place of Nagaraja and burnt down the jungle. The serpents were tortured by the flames, forcing them to hide in their pits with great difficulty.
Vasudeva and Sreedevi looked after the serpents, which had their hoods charred, bodies half-burnt, and fainting from time to time, falling down and crawling along. They gently fanned them with fans made of sweet-scented grass and poured ghee mixed with honey and oil on the wounds; cooled their melted bodies with sandalwood ointment; and comforted them. They put them at the foot of banyan trees. They performed purification ceremonies and consecrated the pits; and were put up in special places under the shade of deodar trees and in Chitrakudas.
18. Origin of Noorum Palum
The couple performed abhisheka with thirtha like Panchagavya (a holy mixture of five items from the cow’s milk, curd, butter, urine and dung); observed elaborate poojas according to rules with areca nut flower bunches, fragrant flowers and water, incense etc., Nivedyam with melted butter (ghee), milk, payasam with molasses, rice powder, turmeric powder, coconut juice, Kadali fruit, cow’s milk, all mixed together in the proper form as NURUM PALUM, equivalent to the elixir of life. They offered serpent deities with great devotion, appam, aval (beaten rice or rice wafers), tender coconut etc. They chanted Vedic mantras, performed circumbulation and performed all kinds of poojas to restore those crowds of serpents to full health.
( My note- In fact though I have performed Noorum Palum at Mannarsala temple, now only I read legend behind it. Probably for every thing TIME is there.)
19. Birth of Nagaraja as the son of Vasudeva and Sreedevi
The omnipresent and omnipotent Nagaraja was greatly pleased with their continuous penance and the love shown to his associates; Nagaraja made himself visible to the couple and blessed them that he would incarnate on the earth as their beloved son. He said ” I shall assume the form of a serpent and stay here (in Mannarasala) permanently, AS LONG AS THE SUN AND THE MOON ARE THERE, showering prosperity on your family and granting protection to all the devotees who come here â€¦”.
Thus Mandarasala, the place filled with Mandara trees, the holy spot where the serpents got shelter, where the earth was fully cooled, became Mandarasala.
( My note- this is from the temple website. In due course as such Mandarsala would have became Mannarsala)
The boon came true. The Brahmin lady became pregnant and gave birth to five-hooded serpent-child as well as a human child. The two brothers grew up together. Initiation ceremonies and Vedic education were carried out at the proper time in the traditional style. Nagaraja instructed the younger brother to enter into matrimony for the perpetual reservation of the holy family and he obeyed it. When the five-hooded Nagaraja realized that the objectives of his incarnation were realized, he informed the Holy Mother that henceforth he would live at this Illam by entering into Samadhi to bless the devotees. Then he suggested certain inviolable rituals and rules for offering worship and then went into the immaculate cellar and vanished.
(It is believed that even today that five-hooded Nagaraja stays in the cellar doing Tapas for the abound prosperity of his dependents. The members of the household always refer to him with great respect and devotion as “Muthassan’ and “Appoppan” (Grand father). The jungle close by is the exclusive preserve for his unobstructed peregrinations (Appoppan Kavu – Grandfathers’ Grove).
(To be continued)