Visit to Rameswaram – Part 2 of 3
(Ekadasa Rudhra Parayana pooja and the visit to the Main Temple)
This is the continuation of the previous post Part 1..
Our main purpose of this Rameswaram trip was to conduct Ekadasa Rudhra Parayanam on my star birthday. The pooja was arranged at the Sringeri mutt, the very next campus to the main temple. Ekadasa Rudhra parayanam is the mini version of the Ekadasa Rudhra homam that is normally conducted during the 60th, 70th, 80th birthdays. In both 11 people chant Rudhrams 11 times. One time chant takes about 15 minutes and so altogether it takes about 2.5 hours. In Ekadasa Rudhra homams, there will be 11 kalasams with holy water and this water will be poured on the couple by all the relatives and friends whereas in the mini version which we conducted there was only one kalasam with Ganga water and after the parayanam, abhishegam was done to the Ramanatheswarar lingam with this water. Along with we also arranged milk and vasthrams for Ramanatheswar and Ambal. In the Ambal shrine, we came to know that only silk sarees are adorned to Ambal and so our saree was just symbolically worn for Ambal. It was a great feeling to be there when 11 people chant Rudhrams so loudly. Also we could have a very close dharshan of Sri Ramnatheswar and Ambal for 10 minutes each. The crowd was very normal and the Sasthrigal took us around to about 10 other main shrines and it was a very pleasant and calm dharshan at the temple. It all started by about 3 PM and took us till about 8 PM and indeed it was a great birthday for me.
I was told about the sacredness of the Ekadasa Rudhra pooja as described below:
- To do this pooja on any day on any good Shiva temple is sacred;
- to do it on any month on the day of birth star is more powerful;
- to do it on the exact birthday is even more sacred;
- and to do it on a special kshetras like Rameswaram is the ultimate.
We were very happy with Sri Shanmuganathan Sasthirigal @ 94420 49467 who conducted the pooja and arranged everything.
Rameswaram is an island off the Southern coast of Tamil Nadu and is reached via the Pamban Bridges (both rail and road) across the sea. Dhansuhkodi is the south most tip of the Rameswaram island.
- It is considered that no Hindu’s quest for salvation in this world/birth is complete without a pilgrimage to both Varanasi and Rameswaram.
- It is one of the holiest Hindu Char Dham (four divine sites) comprising Badrinath (North), Puri (East) and Dwarka (West) at four corners of India.
- It is one of the 12 jyotirlings of India and it is only one of the 2 in Southern India (the other being Srisailam).
- Every inch of Rameswaram and Dhanushkodi island is connected with Ramayana in some way and has the footmarks of Sri Ramar and other Ramayana characters.
- Lord Rama is believed to have worshipped Lord Shiva here and hence marks the confluence of Shaivism and Vaishnavism and is thus revered by both Shaivites and Vaishnavites alike.
- The temple is famous for the 22 holy theerthas and the longest corridor of all Hindu Temples in India.
- Of course, one of the 275 Thevara Padal Petra sthalams also
The legend says that Rama was advised to worship a lingam to clear off the Brahmaharthi dosham due to the killing of Ravana. So Hanuman was sent to bring a Lingam from Kasi to worship at an appointed auspicious hour. As Human’s arrival was delayed, Sita moulded a lingam with sand, the main deity being worshiped as Ramanatha swamy, for Rama’s timely worship. Later Hanuman’s lingam was installed a little north of Ramanatha Swamy as (Kasi) Vishwalingam, and decreed that the Hunuman’s lingam should have precedence over the Ramanatha in all honours.
At the beginning, the temple was just a thatched shed under the cover of a Sage and the present structure was the work of number of people spread over a number of centuries but the pride of the place goes to the Sethupathis of Ramnad.
- In the 12th century, Prakrama Bahu, King of Ceylon constructed the Sanctum Sanctorum around the Moolalinga, Sri Viswanath and the Ambal shrine.
- In the 15th century, Udayan Sethupathi of Ramnad and a Vaisya of Nagoor built the western stone tower which is about 78 ft. high and the compound wall.
- In the 16th century, Tirumalai Sethupathi built a portion of the southern second corridor. His statue and that of his son Ragunatha Sethupathi are found by the side of the southern entrance to the Ambal temple.
- In the 17th century, Dalavai Sethupathi built a portion of the main eastern Gopuram.
- Early in the 18th century, Ravi Vijaya Regunatha Sethupathi built the Palliyarai and the Mandapam in front of the Ambal temple. Later in the same century, the world famous Third Corridor was constructed by Muthuramalinga Sethupathi. His statue and those of his two ministers are found in the western entrance to the Third Corridor.
- The third corridor, the longest one in Asia and the third largest in the world, is world famous. It measures about 670 feet East-West and 415 feet North-South with a height of about 30 ft.
- The total length of the outer and inner corridors is about 3850 feet!
- The total number of pillars in the outer praharam is 1212
- The high compound wall of the temple measures 865 feet East to West and 657 feet North to South
- The temple is adorned with a towering 177 feet Gopurams in the East and West. The North and South Gopurams are unfinished and works are underway now to complete them.
Main deity is Ramanathaswami made of sand, installed by Sita devi and the Goddess is Parvatha vardhini. The worship procedure being to worship (Kasi) Vishwanathar (brought by Hanumar) and Goddess (Kasi) Visalakshi first, and then Ramanatha Swamy and Pavathavardhini before proceeding to the other shrines. Since the Goddess Paravthavardhini is present to the right side of Ramanatha swamy, She is considered very special. The Sri chakram in the Ambal shrine is considered highly sacred.
Jyothirlingam is present in the North-Eastern corner of the Ramanatha Swamy shrine. It is believed to have been installed by Vibheeshanan. If the Deepa Aarathi is shown at the back of the lingam, the front will be lightening in red (Jyothi) and so is ‘Jyothirlingam’. Poojas are conducted to the Jyothirlingam four times and Kodi theertha abhishegam is done one time every day.
- The first pooja is being conducted to Vishwanathar and Visalakshi only.
- Every night, the golden vigraha of Ramanatha swamy is being brought from Ramanathar shrine to the Sayana Griha and kept by the side of Goddess vigraha in the Swing for the Sayana pooja. In the early morning, wake up pooja (Thiruppalli ezhuchi) is being conducted. Participating in these poojas is considered to be highly sacred.
- At 5 AM every day, Spatika linga pooja is taking place.
- Every Friday night, the Ambal comes in a Golden chariot procession in the third corridor.
- Mahaganapathi – the morning poojas will start only from here
- Sowbagya Ganapathy
- Sahasra lingam
- Natrajar shrine is big and present in the North-East corner of the third praharam. The inside of the shrine is fully adorned with Rudrakshams.There are many vigrahas of different deities including Mahavishnu, Vyagrapathar, Karaikkal Ammaiyar and Sage Pathanjali. The Jeeva Samadhi of Sage Pathanjai, the prime Siddhar of the 18 Siddhars and considered to be the avatar of Aadhi Seshan is present inside the Natarajar shrine.
- Dakshinamoorthy – Special abhishegam is conducted during the noon time on Thursdays and Aarathi during the pooja of putting the deities into sleep (Palliyarai pooja)
- Santana Ganapathi – A 60+ years old couple had been blessed with child and their statues are installed inside the shrine.
- Palli konda Perumal – Perumal in the form of Sri Ramar with two hands is in sayana posture facing the sky (Normally you can see the Palli konda perumal only in the form of Maha Vishnu with four hands, lying sideways and facing the front).
- Anjaneyar shrine is present on the right side facing South while entering through the Eastern entrance of the temple
- 63 Nayanmars
- Nandhi is a huge 17 feet high sudai sculpture
- Sukravara Mandapam: In the Sukravara mandapam just opposite the Ambal shrine, the Ashta Lakshmis are present facing East. There is Kalyana Sundareswarar shrine here and exchanging garlands here will remove all marriage obstacles. In the northern side of this mandapam, there are eight pillars housing Manonmani, Mahendhri, Kowmari, Rajarajeswari, Lakshmi, Kali, Chamundi and Dwarabaliha. In the southern side eight pillars Dwarabaliha, Shivadurga, Manonmani, Vageeswari, Sethupathy, Kadamba thevar, Pradhani, Bhuvaneswari and Annapoorani are present.
- Chokkattan Madapam: The junction of the third corridor on the west and the paved way leading from the western gopuram to Setumadhava shrine forms a unique structure in the form of a chess board and it is popularly known as Chokkattan Madapam where the Utsava deities are adorned and kept during the Vasntotsavam (Spring festival).
- Sethupathy Mandapam: This is at the entry of the eastern entrance. Raja Baskara Sethupathy’s sculpture is present there.
- Anuppu Mandapam
- Thirukkalyana Mandapam
There are 53 Theerthas (holy water bodies) in and around Rameswaram and 23 of them are very important. Bathing in these Theerthas is a major aspect of the pilgrimage to Rameswaram. The first and major one is called Agni Theertham, the calm shallow water-spread of the Bay of Bengal sea just about 200 meters in front of the temple.
22 of the Theerthas are within the temple. The number 22 indicates the 22 arrows in Rama’s quiver.
The 22 theerthams are (in order):
1. Mahalakshmi therrtham – Dharmarajan got Ishwaryam
2 to 4: Savithri, Gayathri and Saraswathi: Kasiba king got his sins cleared off
5. Sethmadhava theertham: A beautiful temple tank inside with full of Lilly flowers – for Lakshmi kadaksham and Siddha suddhi
6. Gandhamadhana theertham – Removal of poverty, blessings of Ishwaryam; cleansing off Brahmma Hithyathi Pabam
Theerthams 7 to 10 are in the Sethumadhava temple complex
7. Swatcha theertham – to avoid going to hell
8. Gavaya theertham – blessing of Karpaga Vruksha living
9. Nala theertham – getting the Surya dejas and granting of heaven
10. Neela theertham – getting the benefits of Samastha yagam and the grant of Agniyoga
All the remaining theerthams are in the inner praharam
11. Sangu theertham – Sage Vathrinaba got his sin of forgetting someone’s timely help got cleared
12. Chakra theertham – Surya got the golden hand
13. Brahmma harthi vimochana theertham – cleansing off Brahmma harthiyathi sins
14. Surya theertham – Thrikala gnanam
15. Chandra theertham – Thrikasi gnanam
16 to 18. Ganga, Yamuna and Gaya theerthams – GnanaSruthiraja got gnanam (knowledge)
19. Siva theertham – Bairavar got cleansed from the Brahmmaharthi dhosham
20. Sathyamirtha theertham – Puhurunu Chakravarthy got cleansed off from the curses.
21. Sarva theertham – Sudharsanar got cured of his blindness and other bodily problems.
22. Kodi theertham – Considered the most sacred of all, Lord Krishna got cleansed off from the sin of killing his uncle, Kamsan.
People from North India bring Ganga water to do the abhishegam for Ramanatha Swamy and in turn take the Kodi theertham to do the abhishegam for Kasi Viswanathar and the sea sand of the Agni theertham to put in Prayagai.
The temple opens from 5 AM to 1 PM and 3 to 9 PM
We can do the following abhishegams and poojas by paying the appropriate fees at the office:
- 1008 Sahasrakalasa abhishegam
- 1008 Sangabhishegam
- 108 Ashtothra Kalasa abhishegam
- 108 Sangabhishegam
- Milk, Panneer, Vibhoothi abhishegams (individually)
- Kodi theertha abhishegam
- Sahasranama archana
- Ashtothra archan
The temple does not allow photos inside and also I didn’t want to loose my concentration from the pooja. So there are only a few photos.