20 March 2009

Samudram Evening

Walking about Samudram Erie is a favourite for my doggies and I, and I've previously posted many photographs of the hitherto unspoilt area. However things are changing and currently unchecked illegal sand quarrying occurs in this area, not only through the night but also during the day. Hopefully good results (for the sake of conservation) in the upcoming elections might change local dynamics and result in the people currently involved in sand quarrying being prevented from futher damaging our beautiful 750 acre natural reservoir.

The actual name Samudra means - sea of syrup (one of the seven seas), a gathering of the waters above and under the firmament and an ocean of virtues and auspiciousness.

There is an epigraph chiselled in the masonry at the Tiruvannamalai Temple dated 1317 which describes the glory of King Vallaladeva’s reign at Arunasamudra, an ancient name for Tiruvannamalai.

“From the lotus of [Vishnu's] navel arose Brahma, the creator of all men. From his mind was born Atri. Then Soma [the moon] was born in his eye. In [his family] was born the king Someswara. To him was born Narasimha who was like a lion to his elephant-like opponents. From him whose gifts eclipse those of the heavenly tree [the kalpa-vriksha or wish-fulfilling tree] whose wealth eclipses that of Kubera [the god of wealth] … and whose prowess eclipses that of the terrible blaze emanating from the forehead eye of the God having the bull as His vehicle [i.e. Siva] was born the king Vallaladeva.

The illustrious King Vallaladeva, possessing all auspicious things, was staying at his capital, which was distinguished by the name Aruna-samudra (earlier name for Tiruvannamalai), belonging to the Hoysala kingdom, which was established with love by his father, which possessed the wealth of a kingdom, and which was the abode of real riches.”

A Samudram Story

There is a fascinating story connected with the idols of Venugopalaswami and his Devis; Rukumini and Satyabhama, whose shrine is located immediately behind the Siva Sannidhi inside the Arunachaleswarar Temple. The story goes like this:

“It seems the statues were originally in a small Vaisnava Village or Agrahara near the large tank ‘Samudram’ about two miles to the south of Sri Arunachala Temple. The people of the village during certain festivals used to carry the Utsava murtis from there to Tirukoilur about 20 miles away. Tirukoilur is a Vaisnava centre with a large Vishnu Temple having a big gopuram on each of sides with no enclosure walls. The Vasinava inhabitants were over-zealous people. Every time the Saiva idols from Sri Arunachala Temple passed by to go round the hill the Vaisnava villagers would obstruct its progress. Repeated complaints of their behaviour were made to the Chola king of that period. The king himself it is said came to verify the complaint and when he was satisfied he worked out a strategy.

During a certain festival the king ordered that all the people of that village near the Samudram to go in procession to Tirukoilur. When they were gone, he had the images of Venugopal and his Devis removed from that Temple and had them installed immediately at the back of Sri Arunachala shrine. When this news reached Tirukoilur, the Utsava murtis were kept in the Temple there and the agraharam near the Samudram was abandoned by its inhabitants. It is also said that the property of the Temple goes in the name of Venugopala Swami to indicate that Arunachaleswarar is worshipped by Lord Vishnu in this Temple.”

[Extract from ‘Arunachalam’]

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