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The Unofficial Website of Sri Athikkottai Kamatchi Amman Temple @ Kamatchipuram

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"Let my every word be a prayer to Thee,
Every movement of my hands a ritual gesture to Thee,
Every step I take a circumambulation of Thy image,
Every morsel I eat a rite of sacrifice to Thee,
Every time I lay down a prostration at Thy feet;
Every act of personal pleasure and all else that I do,
Let it all be a form of worshiping Thee."
       - Verse 27 of Shri Aadi Shankara's Saundaryalahari

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The worship of Feminine Divinity

The Feminine Divinity has enshrined in many places on earth with Thousands of different names. In India, She takes upon the name of Kamatchi in Kanchipuram, Meenakshi in Madurai, Vishalatchi in Kasi, KanyaKumari in Cape Comorin, Bagavathy in Kodungallur and so on. This doctrine of female divinity has established Divine as firm roots among Hindus. The worship of the Divine as Mother evokes motherly traits of tenderness, generosity and love.

Three most important and popular form of Divine Mother

One is her powerful of all embracing grace and opulence and properity, in the form of Sri Lakshmi. Mother Lakshmi is a mother of prosperity, peace and illumination. Without Her grace one can’t have inner peace or perennial joy.

Second is her profound capacity for knowledge and self expression, in the form of Sri Saraswati. Goddess Saraswati manifests to create the universe through pulsation (Spanda), which animates the mind as subtle thoughts, and emerges on the physical plane as speech. All of material creation is also embodied in the subtle vibrations of this divine speech, and mantras, which encapsulate these energies, when properly pronounced, can actually recreate material reality.

The third form is her splendid strength, her warrior mood and her world-shaking force, as in Kali, Durga, Saptamatrikas, Mahavidyas and Prathyankara Devi. She is the Hindu Warrior queen, the one which all the Devas and even Asuras meditate upon just to get a mere glimpse of her as a blessing before any great battle. As Sri Parvati Devi, She is the whole left side of Lord Shiva, her consort in the form of Ardhanarishvara.

The meaning of her name; Sri Kamatchi or Kamakshi Amman

Mother Kamatchi has very special eyes, as portrayed in her name itself. The word 'Kama' can be refered to as Love, wanton or attractive, magnetic pull. Thus, the name means one who has a beautifully dazzling and captivating eyes. But the word 'Kaa' also means means Sri Lakshmi and 'maa' means Sri Saraswati, as in Kamatchi, the Supergoddess with Sri Parvathi, Sri Lakshmi and Sri Saraswati as her eyes. She blesses all that dedicate themselves to her.

The legend goes that Siva and Parvati fell out in a game of dice. Siva cursed Gowri to become ugly. With the help of Vishnu Parvati propitiated Siva by performing penance under a single Mango tree at Kancheepurarn on the banks of the Kampa River, and regained her beauty with dazzling eyes, from which the name of Kamatchi has been derived for the tutelary goddess of the temple. As Parvati regained Siva under the mango tree, the name of Ekamranatha (Ekaone, amra - mango, and natha-Lord) was given to Lord Siva and it later became Ekambareswara.

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Sri Parvathi is doing thapam in Kanchipuram

According to Devi Bhagavata, the lord of the ganas, Citrakarma creates the image of a man out of the burnt ashes of Love; the Love god Manmatha who tried to distract Shiva from meditation and got burnt by the power of agni (fire) from the third eye of Shiva. Shiva names the new image, Bhanda or Panda, teaches him a powerful mantra and gives him the boon of being one and a half times as strong as his enemy, and empowering him as ruler for sixty thousand years. By the power of this mantra, one could gain half the might of one's adversary. Unfortunately, because he was generated from the ashes of Shiva's wrath he is transformed into a fierce demon. Intoxicated with his new found power he proceeded to rampage the kingdom of the gods. Apprehending defeat and humiliation, there is nothing that any of the gods can do during the sixty thousand years when Siva is protecting Bhanda, but once this time has gone by, the gods try to find a way to destroy him and protect all the Celestials from the atrocities of a demon. 

Sri Lalita Ambika
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The Devas in disguise of a parrot image together with the holy Trinity, Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, summon the Divine Mother Adi Parashakti, Sri Lalita Ambika, in the form of Kamatchi. Legend has it that Kamatchi appeared in her ethereal form in a pit or cave (Bilakasa Swarupa) to save the Devas from Asuras agrees to stop Bhanda's efforts to overtake the city of the gods and destroy him.
 
The battle starts and gods rejoice in Kamatchi's growing success and worship her. Nonetheless, Bhanda is still alive and empowered. Sri Kamatchi Devi agrees to bless all of those worshiping her with progeny, fame, and virtue, among other things. As the city is being attacked by Bhanda, Kamatchi  in the form of Parvati marries Lord Shiva, forming a strong allied army. At the same time, Kamatchi proclaims her independence while honoring her independence. Years go by and Kamatchi leaves her Consort to lead the army against Bhanda.
 
Bhanda does not regard an army of women as a serious threat, and laughs that Kamatchi is as soft and delicate as the flower. To Bhanda's dismay and the gods' delight, Kamatchi's army is very powerful. She is supported by strong women who work together to create unique weapons, particularly the noose and goad (which Lalita's icon often hold) in order to be successful. One after another, Bhanda's generals are defeated. Kamatchi creates new gods to fight as the battle rages on, including Lord Ganesa, and he destroys many armies and Bhanda's brother. As a reward, Kamatchi grants him the right to be worshipped before all other gods. The battle rages on, all of Bhanda's family is killed, and finally he tries to save himself by creating powerful missiles to destroy Kamatchi. She is too powerful for him and sends Durga after him. Finally, it is a showdown between Bhanda and Kamatchi. She kills him using the kamesvara missile, which has an incredibly bright splendor. The deity's praise Kamatchi for her courage and success. She agrees to bring back the god of Love, Manmatha and reunites him with his grateful wife Rathi Devi.

This myth shows how Kamatchi is the two forms of human nature simultaneously. She is able to be devoted to her Consort Siva, but to maintain the independence she needs to lead her army to war. She is fierce in her battles, but her most powerful weapons and warriors are created from her laugh and jubilance. Kamatchi shows people the way to deal with problems in their everyday lives. Her being is not an example for those who intend to lead an isolated life. Kamatchi shows how to live in balance, for people with numerous responsibilities. She demonstrates that it is possible to honor the family and other responsibilities, without disappointing anyone.

The legend also says that Kamatchi appeared through Bilakasa in front of  Manmatha, having been impressed by his penance. The entire temple complex of Kamatchi temple at Kanchipuram (Kanchi) is believed to be within the perimeter of the same Bilakasa.

 

In one fine day, Ugraswarupini (Kali) slipped out of the temple at night and caused maelstrom and mayhem in the city. The people of Kanchi were very apprehensive at the destruction. Sankara prayed to Kamatchi and received assurance that she would not leave the temple and wander into the town without his express permission. The curfew worked and people were happy. This is one of the very few curfews imposed by man on goddess. The tradition continues even to this day in that Kamatchi receives permission from Sankara before she ventures out of the sanctum. Tirunavukkarasar, TirugnanaSambandar and Sundarar sang devotional songs on Kamatchi. Her Sakti radiates throughout the land from her sanctorum at Kanchi.

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Sri Kamatchi Amman at Kanchipuram (Kanchi) Tamil Nadu.

Another story of the temple is that while Lord Siva was meditating, Parvati playfully covered his eyes for a moment. This resulted in the earth being covered with darkness for years. This angered Siva who cursed Parvati to go to earth and do severe penance. She came to earth and created the earth linga and worshiped it under a single (eka) mango tree in Kanchipuram. Siva sent different obstacles to test Parvati’s sincerity. When he sent a flood, she clasped to the linga so tightly that imprints were made on it.

In a more interesting tale, A beautiful maiden Sati, who is also called Dakshayani; one of the daughters of Prasuti and Daksha, an ancient creator god, loved Shiva. But her father Daksha forbade her marriage to Shiva.

Daksha got revenge by performing Yajna without offering the first Prasada to Siva, he did not pay any attention to Sati, when she showed up for the Yajna.  Sati declared to the assembled galaxy of gods, goddesses and Rsis that she was ashamed to own the body given to her by her father. She performed Tapas and the internal heat generated by the Tapas consumed her life. Having heard the death of Sati, Siva, in a fit of anger, pulled his matted lock and flung it on the ground and performed the dance of destruction (tandava nritya) with Sati’s dead body on his shoulder, in the form of Bhairava.

From the fulgurant lock emerged a being, scraping the skies and heavens with a thousand arms, with three eyes shining like the sun, dark complexion like a rain clouds, fierce teeth, a garland of skulls, matted locks resembling ropes of fire, and a host of weapons at the ready. That was Virabhadra, a part manifestation of Siva in his fierce form, together with 7 other beings called Muneeswaras. They immediately sought and received their mission which is to annihilate Daksha and his sacrifice. Daksha met his death at the hands of Virabhadra.

Siva picked up the body of Sati and wandered all over the universe. Vishnu seeing Siva in such condition sent his discus, which cut the dead body of Sati into several pieces, which fell all over Indian subcontinent.  Wherever the body parts fell, that ground became sacred. The womb or the Bone of Sati fell in Kanchi, Tamil Nadu, which became the sacred site of temple (Sakti Peetha) for her in the form of Sr Kamatchi Amman.

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Lord Shiva and Sri Parvati Devi's Thirukalyanam

The Hindu answer to the Triple Goddess, Lalita can symbolize many things. She is the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone, the Light, the Dark and the Unknown and she is the beautiful (sundari) goddess of the three cities (tripura) which are sun, moon and fire. The noose is attachment (moon). The goad is repulsion (sun). The sugarcane bow is the mind. The flowery arrows are the five sense impressions. When consciousness perceives these, the outward directed arrows stop being dry sticks. These five flowery arrows together with the bow are personified as six Krishnas.

 

Lalita means She Who Plays. All creation, manifestation and dissolution is considered to be a play of Devi or the goddess. Mahatripurasundari is her name as transcendent beauty of the three cities, a description of the goddess as conqueror of the three cities of the demons, or as the triple city (Tripura), but really a metaphor for a human being.

 

Lalita Mahatripurasundari is the central goddess to the Sri Vidya tradition of the Hindu religion, also, the "School of Auspicious Wisdom." The Sri Vidya is a branch of Sakta Tantrism which considers Lalita as the supreme form of the Mahadevi. It is prominent in the South of India, and has many variants on its theme, but none claim to be different than the others. Within the Sri Vidya tradition, ritual plays an important role (in order to make comprehensible the uncompleted world in which we live). In ritual, the listing of names is often central, as these names are the deity's mantras (subtle forms of the deity).

 

The Tantrarajatantra states that Lalita assumed a male form as Krishna, and 'by enveloping all women enchanted the whole world'. Each of the six forms is like dawn, with six arms, holding flute, noose, goad, sugarcane bow, flowers, sour milk.

 

Lalita has 15 attendants, the Nitya Devis, and these are the days of the Waxing Moon. She resides in three naadi-s (nerve channels), namely sushhumnaa, pingalaa, and idaa. She is the ruler of the three Shaktis - ichchaa (will), jnana (knowledge) and kriyaa (action). She pervades all the three worlds - heaven, earth and the nether world. She is the controller of all the three bodies - sthula (gross), suukshhma (subtle), and kaarana (causal). She is the self which is present through the three states of existence - jaagrat (waking), svapna (dream), and sushhupti (deep sleep). Though she is above all guna-s, She pervades the three modes of energy- sattva (purity), rajas (mobility) and tamas (inertia).

This is the Hindu Triple Goddess Tripura-Sundari
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This is a direct and hard-hitting portrayal of the Goddess dominating the important male deities of the Hindu pantheon, a central belief of the Mahavidya ideology. She is the savior of all, the Last Refuge. She is the symbol of sweetness, beauty, and Softness. These qualities depict her  of an unsurpassed splendor.

The word 'Shodashi' literally means sixteen in Sanskrit. She is thus visualized as sweet girl of sixteen. In human life sixteen years represent the age of accomplished perfection after which decline sets in. Indeed sixteen days form the completed lunar cycle from the new moon to the full moon. The full moon is the moon of sixteen days. This girl of sixteen rules over all that is perfect, complete, beautiful.

 

Click the Link below or on the Navigation bar to visit 'MAHAVIDYAS' page. Get to know more about this great Goddess and her various other forms.

MAHAVIDYAS - The Assertion of Femininity in Indian Thought

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