Travel : Bruhadeeswara Temple in the Rains : Thanjavur

Getting there and stay : Direct train from bangalore (SBC) to Thanjavur(TJ), reached at 5.30 am. Clean railway retiring room, Rs 400 for 24 hours. We walked to the temple from the railway station.

It has been raining heavily in Thanjavur, courtesy the north-east monsoons which don’t care if varsha rtu (rainy season) is over in the rest of the country. The Mettur dam is almost full we hear.  This Brihadeeshwara temple was built by the indomitable, Raja Raja Chola, a childhood hero of mine,  a descendant of Karikala Chola, himself a descendant of the Ikshvakus. (See : Karikala (Kalikala) Chola and the Ikshvakus: Tiruvalangadu Copper-Plates of Rajendra-Chola I).

It is always good to see the prakaras (environs, sculptures, surrounding walls etc) first and then the pratishtha (the vigraha into which divinity has been invited to accept worship and grant boons). The purpose of the pradakshina (going round the temple) is just this. Once you go inside and get hit by the inner spiritual divine beauty, you won’t have eyes for lovely sculptures.

We reached the temple before 7 am and worshipped Ganesha, Nandi and Parvathi Devi : Karthikeya was busy at that time.

Then we went in for the treat of a life time. With the 13 foot Sivalingam having an abhishekam of water, milk, sandalwood, panchamrutas, turmeric… it was an awesome visual for the eyes as well as for the antahkaranas (inner senses). We watched for about an hour and had the archana (worship) done.

Even as it was raining lightly in the prakaras and the chanting of veda mantras filled the morning hours, as eyes focussed on the abhishekam and the manas (sensory mind) danced in joy in response to the treat. Later Karthikeya found some time for us when we could worship him on this karthika bahula dasimi day. I was very happy, this is the first time I had a proper darsanam as well as worship of Karthikeya, son of Siva, the slayer of Tarakasura, also called Skanda, Subrahmanya, Kumaraswamy, Muruga, Shanmukha… and so on. : this is nice. look around..

I was content, but mom wanted to see Srirangam, about which she had heard from her grandmother. So we bussed it to Srirangam. All the locals were well-informed, courteous, helpful and went out of their way to share information and directions. Mom was always given a seat in the bus. I was so happy.

Just to look at the first gopura of Srirangam is to completely quiet your mind and make you reach in one instant, that peace which you felt before birth when you were at one with everything. The line here was miles long and it took us about 2 hours to get a 1 second fleeting darsanam of the sleeping Sri Ranga Sayi. To see my mother race through the dwaras (doorways) as I trailed behind, to hear her chirp excitedly about when we would get a first glimpse, “can we see now? can we see now?” and then to hear her demand from me, a proper tamil nadu meal while in Srirangam, was another lovely and new delightful experience.

She was very happy and went on being thankful. I was so happy. Is it this easy to delight a mom? I must do this again as soon as she lets me.

The brahmin priests here are well versed in veda mantras and don’t ask for anything at all. You give or not according to your wish. I was very happy to be back on familiar territory again. Maybe, the circumstances are very different for brahmin priests in the south and than for brahmins north of India, as well as the status of women. Here everyone was respectful, gave the information that we sought, accurately, without any additional questions and without any unwanted advice. They would give you their seat in the bus, but expect that you know your own mind.

Where women are respected, there do gods delight! – Manu in Manu Smriti.

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