Sunday, January 25, 2015

Bilavadi Kathayi Amman

Bhilavadi Kaththaayee Amman
(Please see his  other blogs at http://santhipriyaspages.

Stated to be incarnation of Parvathi , she appears in Chittadi in the form of Kaththayee and relieves the sufferings of her devotees. Kaththayee Amman is Valli devi and Kaththyayini Amman is Parvathi. Similarity in name sometime causes confusion to many. However this temple has been built only for Valli, consort of Lord Murugan and affectionately called Kaththayee though both the deities Kaththayee and Kaththyayini ( Pachai Vazhi Amman ) find their place here. Two very interesting legends surrounding Kaththayee and Kaththyayini are in vague . Parasakthi protected her devotees against evils and gave darshan to her faithful devotees in several forms and governed the universe from immortal times. Here in Chittadi she came as Kaththayee to alleviate their sufferings. From the
inscriptions and documents available in the Tanjore Saraswathi mahal Library the land 400 year old temple for Kaththayee Amman ( Valli ) exists in a place called Bilavadi,a small helmet in the outskirt of Kumbakonam in Tiruvarur district of Tamilnadu. The place where it has been built was earlier known as Chittadi. It is difficult to explain the mystics of the temple which has beautiful structures. The temple lies in a sprawling field in the southern part of river bed Mudikontan. to the temple was reportedly donated in the year 1577, to a saint by Sevvappa Naicker erstwhile King of Tanjore . The place has been recorded as Avanam Chittadi.

Valli alias kaththayee Amman- Legend

The interesting story of Kaththayee goes as thus. Once upon a time, in the midst of a gathering in Devaloga ( Heaven ), two drops of tears fell from the eyes o Lord Vishnu in ecstasy which turned into two girls. The elder of them was named Amudavalli and the second as Sundaravalli. Born twins and grew together both wished to marry Lord Muruga and remain together for ever . Seeking such a boon from lord Muruga they went to river bank of Saravana Poigai and sat over the forest reeds and meditated. Pleased with their prayer, lord Muruga appeared before them and explained that it would be difficult for him to marry them immediately since they were born as Kriya and Icha sakthis, but would certainly marry them after vanquishing demon Suran. However till such time his mission was accomplished the elder of them should live in Devaloka ( Heaven ) and the younger in Bhooloka (Earth). While Sundaravalli went to earth, Amudavalli in the form of a motherless child, went to Indira and sought asylum. He initiated her as his daughter and directed Elephant Iravada his palace guard to bring her up . She came to be known as Devayanai . Deva as she was brought up in Devaloga ie Heaven and Yanai meaning Elephant . In Bhooloka, Lord Tirumal, born as a Rishi out of a curse from Lord Indira was meditating in a lonely place . Tirumal's wife Lakshmi came as a Deer, and stood before the Rishi who when opened his eyes starred at her in lust for a moment. She became pregnant out of that act. Taking cue of it Sundaravalli immediately entered into the womb of Lakshmi who soon gave birth to a female child. As soon as Vishnu was relieved of the curse of Indira, they abandoned the child in a bush near a pond called Vallikulam and proceeded to Vaikunta. By chance Nambirajan, a hunter saw the abandoned baby and took her home out of pity . When she grew up she was sent to the millet field to guard the crops against the hunting birds and other Ganapathi Nataraja Sivakami Subramanya Devasena Aayee i.e Kaththayee ( Kaththa in tamil meaning guarded and Ayee meaning a tribal lady ). Once accidentally Murugan met Valli in the millet field, befriended her and their friendship blossomed into love which grew deeper with time. Murugan decided to marry her and went to Vallimalai to meet her accompanied by a trusted guard . Sensing Murugan's plan his brother Vijayanagar accompanied by his parents, sage Narada, other Rishies and saints also followed them discreetly. Events transpired fast and finally with the blessings of everyone, Murugan married Valli. Lord Shiva who was present there requested Sage of Kanchamalai to built a temple in honor of Valli at the same spot. Sage of Kanchamalai and others regretted that though they were Siddas ( Great Muni/Rishies) none respected or cared for them and therefore felt that it could be achieved only by some others, but would certainly carry out the orders of Siva. They promised that a temple with three sanctums- Parvathi in the centre sanctum , Valli in left, and Murugan at the right side sanctum would be established. Saints and sages like Vishvamitra, Lord Narada, and other seven Rishies ( Saptha Rishies ) who were present in Murugan's marriage would also be seated at suitable place in the same temple. Agreeing to their request Lord Shiva blessed them saying that as a honor to Sage of Kanchamalai he would also like to be present animals which was the custom of the tribes to engage marriageable girls for such duty. Valli stood as guard at the field, sitting in an elevated platform called paran ( High Platform ). She was called Kaththa there as Kanchamalai Muni in separate sanctum. As soon as Sage of Kanchamalai got Lord Shiva's nod, he immediately took invisible form and called a Brahmin walking at a distance away " My son come here". Hearing the voice of an unknown the Brahmin went from where the sound came, but could not find anyone. Astonished he started walking back when again the invisible asked him not to go back as she had come there to alleviate their sufferings. Valli ,Kalinga Nardana ( Dance of Krishna over the head of a snake)- Dakshinamoorthi and Bhairava and protect it from the severe heat during summer ? Therefore he offered only flowers to the vermillion. During day time he used to keep his hand over the heap like an umbrella to prevent sun rays falling on it. Days passed. Mysterious female voice came again asking how he was going to protect her from the rains ? Sensible question he thought, but could not find an answer readily. The puzzled Brahmin considered several options and finally he made a clay mould and placed it above the vermillion heap and continued the prayers. When he realized that the clay mould like human body would also perish and can not protect it permanently he sat in meditation seeking solution to the vexed problem. Slowly he realized that inner vision over shadowed his thought process. Some feeble image appeared in his vision followed by several squares which merged together finally to display forty three triangles in seven structures i.e 4+3=7. Next came Kaththayee. He was amazed to see her beauty and fainted. Kaththayee woke him up saying that she was the same god who Soon dump struck Brahmin immediately saw heap of vermillion lying on the ground at a distance from where the voice came. He realized that the voice belonged to some deity which indeed remained there. From next day onwards he started worshiping the heap of vermillion, but the nagging concern was evident. How to conduct prayers to the heap of governed the universe and repeated that had come there to only alleviate their sufferings . She also indicated that she would emerge from the river displaying three head gears which should be taken out and consecrated at some place for worship. Scenes that followed slowly melted away. Next morning the brahmin went to the river bed , sat there in the bank starring the river all through the day. Suddenly he saw one bunch of three head gears floating and disappearing into the water. He jumped into the river brought out a idol lay buried inside the sand. Elated at its beauty , he kept it over his shoulder and jumped , rejoiced and wept in happiness. Anticipating such a find he had earlier constructed a small platform on the western side of the river to consecrate the find. He walked back dancing in ecstasy all way to the spot collected the heap of vermillion, spread over the platform and placed the idol over it and started worshiping it. In the same haste without realizing the consequences, he threw away the clay mould into the river which went down. Some times everyone indulges in such foolish acts , no wonder fate played its role to make the Brahmin commit such folly. Next morning when the brahmin concluded prayers and as usual waited for
the invisible to indicate something only an eerie silence remained. He shouted aloud mother, mother but for some time nothing happened. When he repeated the shout the invisible asked him not to search her as she had already left that place along with the clay mould thrown into the river. He realized his foolish act, which of course was not intentional. He was unaware of the consequences, he committed a sin not reversible. How to retrieve back the clay mould from the water ? Crying aloud like a motherless child, he pleaded for pardon as it was borne out of ignorance. Inspite of it if she refused return back he would jump into the river and commit suicide carrying the idol. He went on telling how he painstakingly plucked the flowers and showered on her till both hands pained. He blamed his two legs which were real culprits that took him to the river side to help throw away the clay mould and therefore would punish them by doing 'sit and stand' exercise till the tissues in the legs broke leading to oozing of blood. A mother can not remain spectator to the suffering of her kin and kith. After all, the priest had worshiped her with utmost sincerity ? Kaththayee appeared before him to assure that his mistake had been condoned and she would return back and remain there as Gnanambika ( mother of Wisdom ), Odyana roopini ( Ottiyana meaning remain struck in heart) and Karunamayee ( One who is kind) to remove their distress. Symbolizing the above three aspects in three head gears, she merged in to the idol. First she appeared in the form of heap of vermillion, stayed in the clay mould and finally in the idol. Like Nambiraj who brought her up ( Nambi in Tamil means believed ) she assured to remain there for ever alleviating the sufferings of those who surrendered themselves into her feet, drive away evils like how she drew the birds and animals from millet fields. She also expressed her desire to be with those who attended her wedding – Murugans parents Parvathi and Shiva, Sainrts Jada Muni, Narada, Agasthya and Gouthama, Karu Muni, Chem muni, Saptha Rishies like vazu muni, veda muni Vamadeva, Vishwamitra, Muthu Muni, Bharadwaj. She became Katha + Aayee = Kathaayee , because she guarded the fields ( Katha in Tamil meaning protected and Aayee means a tribe girl ). Town became to be known as Muthu Muni Pachai Muni Sada Muni Chem muni Lada Sanyasi Chittadi since many Siddas meditated there ( Chitta meaning Siddas and Aadi means danced) and river named Mudikondan conveying her appearance with three headgear in that river.

Wonders of  Kaththayee

The mystic acts of Kathathayee who called up a stranger to construct a temple 400 years ago is not difficult to believe. Many had strange personal experiences and enjoyed the gratitude of mother in several ways, out of which only few can be told. Read this incident which occurred several years back. In the midst of a night a holy Brahmin was walking through the temple area. It was 20.00 hrs at night. Tired and fearing to continue the journey in night with huge cash in hand he searched for a rest house .The temple appeared like an isolated house and as he reached there seeking shelter a lady came out . He told her that he was proceeding to the next village with lot of cash to buy bullocks and therefore sought her help to find a place to stay that night. Without uttering a word she took him inside, served some food and asked him to leave the cash bag there and proceed to another house along with her son to take rest . He advised him to come back in the morning to collect the money. After handing over the bag containing the cash the Brahmin followed her son who walked through the bushy areas carrying a lantern, and showed a sleep yard outside the house in an Agrahara ( Place where the Brahmins reside as a community ) in village Chtthadi to take rest . Next day morning the owner of the house came out and awakened the stranger to inquire the purpose of his visit. When the Brahmin narrated the entire story, the owner scotched at him and refused to believe the story stating that no such house existed in the near vicinity and blamed that he was bluffing. 'What will be the fate of my money ?' Brahmin was panicky. 'Okay let us go and see' said the owner and accompanied him to the house where he had deposited the money the previous night. Tracking back the same route he walked the previous night the Brahmin took him near the temple site where he said the house was seen. The temple priest who opened the temple said 'Don't worry, let us pray to the deity' and took them inside. Alas ! They were shocked to find the same bag as described by the Brahmin lying at her feet and entire amount remaining intact. Unable to control his emotion the tourist cried aloud ' mother not only you saved the money, my prestige has also been saved, lest I would have remained a liar in front of all' wept the Brahmin who then spent the entire money to built the temple. This relates to an incident that happened 300 years ago. On an occasion two family members of Kaththayee group traveled to the temple to offer prayers in two bullock carts. After offering prayers and other rituals they returned home. One of the female child who was playing in the temple complex was unknowingly left behind . Everyone thought that she was traveling in the other bullock cart. Back home they found the child missing and searched all over. Finding no trace of the child the agonized family rushed back to the temple in search of her. As they were all crying in the sanctum sanctum an invisible said ' calm down and do not search the child any more. Years back when she fell ill it was promised that the child would be given to me. Since you failed to honor the promise I have taken her. She is my child now' The family remembered that indeed such a promise was made years back when the child was seriously ill . It is believed that the statue of a small child seen at the feet of the deity is the same child. Forty years ago Janaki Ammal wife of Krishnamurti was returning to her native place Thirunilankudi a nearby small village from Chittadi in a Jadka ( Bullock Cart). The river on way suddenly swelled and the cart began to submerge. 'Kaththayee save us shouted the lady' What a miracle ? Some one came in a bicycle, pulled up the cart and the bullocks and safe landed them. He also accompanied them in his bicycle till the border of the village and disappeared. Every one forgot the incident. In the next few days when once Krishnamurti and his family went to the temple again to attend a function, the temple priest Duraiappa Gurukkal in trance started dancing and went near Krishnamurthy uttering' It is me who helped your family from the swollen river'. They now realized that the person who came in a bicycle and saved their lives was none than Kaththayee. In the year 1939 same Krishnamurti's mother who carried a pot full of milk entered in to the burning Yagna Kund (Holy pyre). To everyone's astonishment she stood in the midst of the burning fire for full ten minutes and not even her silk saree burnt. Only after the request of the temple priests Sri Sundaresa Gurukkal and Sri Duraiappa Gurukkal did she come out without even a scratch on her body. One family was in trauma as their daughter's marriage did not realize for many years. One of their family friends advised them that instead of going to several other temples to pray for it, it would be proper to go and offer prayers first to the family deity to find a solution.Taking his advise they went to Kaththayee temple and prayed there. In the next one month their daughter got married. Some more miracles occurred in the same family. On the advice of the Kaththayee trust secretary they prayed for a grand son and got the wish fulfilled. Once their son could not return back to India from U.S due to several obstacles and when they prayed at Kaththayee by keeping a coin tied in a yellow cloth, his transfer orders came forth with . Whoever went to her and prayed with utmost devotion and sincerity their trust were never betrayed.

Legend on Pachaivazhi Amman ( Kathyayini )

Pachai vazhi amman ( Kathyayini) mother of Murugan too is seated in another sanctum in the same temple carrying behind an interesting story. Very long ago Kathyayana maharishi sat in tapas seeking Siva's blessings. His wish was that Parvathi should be born as his daughter and that he should get her married to Shiva . Strange wish. However Shiva granted the boon. He ensured that Parvathi was born to him. The child was named Kathyayini and when attained puberty she desired to marry Shiva. Her father's friends like Siva, Dharma, Nada, Yoga, Vazz, Puruda and maha muniswars ( Saints ) helped her succeed in her tapas . When lord Siva appeared before her she expressed her desire and also wished to remain there so that whoever came there seeking marriage boon she could fulfill their wish. As per the wish of Kathyayana Muni Siva-parvathi got married. Shiva allowed her to remain in a separate sanctum to grant boon to the devotees seeking alms for the marriage. It is believed that those who observed Kathyayini vrith ( Fast ) obstacles on the marriage gets removed.

Structure of the Temple

Kathyayini remains seated in the centre of sanctum sanctum with Kathathayee on the right side and Murugan on the left side in two separate sanctums. Kaththayee holds a lotus in her right hand and keeps the left slightly folded in a stylish fashion. Three head gears appears on her head, left leg folded and right leg stretched to the ground. A child is also found seated below her leg. Outside the temple complex Kanchamalai Siva holding a lotus in his hand is seen. He keeps his left arm over a cobra. It is interesting to see that Kathyayini devi too holds a lotus in her hand in similar fashion. At different ends statues for Veerabagu muni with veera mitra bommi, nine saints, lada sanyasi Danvanthri muni, and Pachi amman are seen consecrated. Vilvam and neem trees are considered to be the sacred trees of the temple.
Courtesy: ----I sincerely thank the Kaththayee Bhaktha jana trust, No 2, -Sarangapani Street, T'nagar, Chennai-17 for rendering valuable assistance to collect the information and supplied several photographs without which the 400 year old history of Murugan's consort Valli's beautifully architectured temple could not have beencompiled and would have remained unknown to many readers.

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