The Lord waits on the riverbank
The Moolavar and Utsavar deities with Consorts and Andal ... the holy spot needs a facelift. Pic. by M. N. Srinivasan
WHILE THE Lords in places such as Srirangam, Tirupati, Azhagarkoil, Nachiarkoil (Thirunaraiyoor) and Thirukannapuram have been offered garlands of hundreds of verses by Azhwars, there are places like Kapisthalam, in Thanjavur District, which are mentioned in a single poem, and others Thirunindravoor and Thirukkoodal (Madurai) for example about which only a passing reference is made in the Divya Prabandam verses. While preceptors have dedicated to the Lord of Kapisthalam a single verse by Thirumazhisai Azhwar in his "Naanmukan Thiruvanthathi," there is no reference at all about the place or the Lord enshrined there in it. But it has been concluded that the name of Aatrankarai Kidakkum Kannan (the Lord on the banks of the river) refers to the Lord in this holy place, which is one of the Pancha Krishnaranya Kshetrams.
Preceptors have hailed the quality of the Lord in Kapisthalam as the remover of one's sins (Paapa Vimochakatvam). The holy place of Kapisthalam is linked to the legend of the Lord saving an elephant from the jaws of death thereby exhibiting His attribute of Paapa Vimochakatvam or removal of one's sins. According to legend, Pandya King Indradyumnan, an ardent devotee of Lord Narayana, earned the wrath of Sage Durvasa (some scholars say that the sage was Agasthya) who cursed him to become an elephant. He told him that he would remain a devoted elephant offering a lotus to the Lord daily. He also told him that he would be liberated. A celestial, Huhu, was cursed by Devalar, to be born as a crocodile and when it caught hold of the elephant the latter raised an alarm and the Lord rushed on His Garuda mount and slew the crocodile. This incident took place, according to scriptures, in Kapisthalam, and the holy water source here is known as Gajendra Pushkarni. The Utsavar idol is known as Gajendra Varadan. However the Moolavar is known by the name of Aatrankarai Kidakkum Kannan as mentioned by Thirumangai Azhwar.
According to the sthalapuranam, the place got the name Kapisthalam, as the Lord gave darshan to Hanuman (the word "Kapi" means monkey) here.
Kapisthalam is situated three km from Papanasam on the Thanjavur-Kumbakonam route via Tiruvaiyaru, between the rivers Kollidam and Cauvery. The temple is rather small with a single prakaram and a Rajagopuram.
The Moolavar is found in the Bhujanga Sayanam pose under the Kanagakruthi Vimanam. Besides the Gajendra Pushkarani there is another holy water source known as Kapila Theertham. The Goddess, Ramamani Thayar, is worshipped in a separate shrine to the right of the main sanctum sanctorum. She is also known by the pure Tamil name of Potramaraiyaal. There are shrines for Yoga Narasimhar, Sudarsana, Garuda and the Azhwars.
Gajendra Moksham festival is celebrated on a grand scale in the Tamil month of Panguni. The ancient temple presents a pitiable sight today due to lack of patronage and long years of neglect. The temple is in urgent need of repair though the recently whitewashed small Rajagopuram presents a slightly healthy look.
T. A. SRINIVASAN
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