Srikalahasti

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Srikalahasti is a famous Shivaite temple situated on the banks of river Suvarnamukhi in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. There are many rishis and bhaktas associated with this sacred place. Also called as Dakshina Kailasam, this kshetra has many tirthas nearby.

Once Kailaasa (the one which is beyond all Lokams) Himself thought He will become a dhanya by serving Shiva at this great Kshetram. At once, He sent one of His Shrungams (peaks) to this divya-kshetram and started to serve Shiva in the form of a hillock. This is the same hillock on which we can see Shiva in the form of ShriKaalaHasteeshwara today! Since the hillock is Kailaasa Himself and is the only such in South India, it is popular by the name Dakshina Kailaasam. It is one of the five Pancha-Kailaasams on the Earth. Ever since this teertha-kshetram became Kailaasam, all Devatas, including Trimurti‘s and ultimately, Parvati Devi, come here to perform archana of Shiva. Moreover, Paarvati Devi decided to stay back here as Gnyaana Prasoonaamba.

Gajakaananam or Srikalahasti became a Swayambhu Kshetram, then a Teertham, then one with Divya-Parvatam.

Legends

Suvarnamukhi River

Once Lopaamudra and Agastya came to Gajakaananam (ShriKaalaHasti), where Vasishtha had Saakshaatkaram of Parameshwara. There they had Divya-darshanamof Dakshina-murthy, who promised Vasishtha that He will stay back and bless the Bhaktas who come.

Since Shiva is Jalapriya, Agastya thought that it would be appropriate if this great Punya-Kshetram also has Divya-jalam (Ganga). He then performed severe Tapas for Gangaadhara. Shiva then sent Brahmadeva to tell Agastya that Gangawill soon appear in this Kshetram. Then Ganga, from the enormous Jatajootamof Shiva, came down to this Kshetram. While She came down, the waters glittered like Gold (Suvarnam) and sounded very pleasantly (Mukhari-dhvani). Hence the Ganga in ShriKaalaHasti is known by the name SuvarnaMukhari. Thus Lopaamudraagastya, with their Tapasshakti, turned this Kshetram into a Teertha-Kshetram.

The greatness of Suvarnamukhari cannot be described in words. It’s punya-jalam can wash severe of the severest paapams. Also, many other Kshetrams, like Tirumala, also are located on the banks of this river. In Shiva Panchaayatanam, the loham used to make Ambika is found only in this river bed! Another speciality is Suvarnamukhari is Uttara-Vaahini here. Later, 36 other Divya-Teerthams also appeared in this kshetram.

Natkeera

The mahima of this Dakshina Kailaasam is well illustrated by Natkeera‘s story. Natkeera was a great scholar, great Kavi, and more than all, a great Bhakta of Shiva. However, he had slight Kavita-Ahankaaram (he used to have pride in his poetry). Needless to say, Bhagavaan will always protect His true bhakta by removing such negative qualities (if any); And, then grant His divya-gnyaanam. At the right moment, Shiva decided to kill this Ahankaaram in Natkeera and started the following Divya-leela:

Once there was a great famine in Pandya kingdom, where Natkeera was a Raja-aasthaana-pandita. There lived a temple archaka in the same kingdom, who was a great Bhakta too. For a long time he managed to some how offer Naivedyam to Shiva everyday, inspite of the severe drought. Things worsened and there was a situation where he could even get anything to offer as Naivedyam. Unable to see this unfortunate situation, he decided to leave the village and go elsewhere for sometime. Atleast then he need not witness Shivanot being offered daily Naivedyam! Seeing his pure Bhakti, Shiva appeared before the priest and gave him a shloka (composed by Shiva Himself). He then directed the priest to take this shloka to the Pandya King and recite it as if the priest was its composer. The king would then offer enough gold in the happiness of hearing to that divya-shlokam. The priest can use the gold for Shiva-archana.

However, when the priest recited the Shlokam, though the King was deeply impressed, Natkeera found a fault in Shiva‘s Shlokam! At one point in the shloka, a woman having hair with natural aroma was referred to. Natkeera argued that as per the Lakshana–shaastra of Kshemendra, such an impossibility cannot be referred to in a natural description. Hence the shloka recited by the priest is wrong. The priest then went back depressed and cried before Shiva. Parameshwara then came along with the priest in disguise to defend the correctness of His Shloka. He defended saying that Parvati‘s hair has natural aroma (and She is the ONLY woman whom He knew naturally :). Even after this clarification, Natkeera continued the argument. Then Shiva showed His third eye (Gnyaana Netram) to Natkeera. Out of Kavita-ahankaaram, Natkeera, even after realising that the composer (and defender) of the Shloka was none other than Shiva Himself, said “Even if one with eyes all around the head argues, this shlokam is definitely wrong”. The great Karuna-samudra, Ambika-pati, then gave a shaapam to Natkeera in order to remove his Kavita-Ahankaaram. As a result Natkeera got leprosy.

Natkeera then realized his mistake. He then began to experience the fact that Shiva, the gnyaana-pradaata, was the very reason behind Natkeera‘s scholarship. And now with the pride of the same scholarship he rejected Shiva. Natkeerathen fell on Shiva‘s feet and requested Parameshwara to enlighten him and remove the dreadful disease. Kaameshwara, the dayaalu, then told Natkeera that the disease will be cured once he has darshan of Kailaasam.

Natkeera then immediately sets out for Kailaasa darshanam (in Himalayas). However, as the disease intensity increased it became very more and more difficult to travel. In course of the journey Natkeera reached a thick forest. He took rest nearby a sacred river flowing through the forest. He observed that leaves falling into the river’s water were turning into birds and flying off. While he was watching this mysterious happening, a Brahmaraakshasa caught him and put him in a cave and closed its entrance. To Natkeera’s surprise there were 99 more people in that cave, all of whom started crying on seeing Natkeera. On enquiry, they told Natkeera that the raakshasa’s hunger wont be satisfied unless he eats 100 people at a time and now that Natkeera came as the 100th person, they were afraid that the Brahmaraakshasa would now eat them off.

Natkeera, being a bhakta, was not afraid. He immediately did dhyaanam and stotram of Subrahmanya Swamy, who appeared and slayed the raakshasa. Kumaraswamy then freed all. Natkeera told his unfortunate story and seeked help from Subrahmanya as Kailaasam was still very very far and the disease already was in its advanced stage. Bhagavaan then, out of Karuna, asked Natkeera to take a dip inside the river’s holy water and to Natkeera’s surprise when he came out of the water, he was at Dakshina Kailaasam (ShriKaalaHasti). Immediately his disease was cured and Natkeera sang 100 shlokams (Shatakam) in praise of Shiva residing in this punya teertha-kshetram. In due course of time, he reached Paramaatma. This story is hence an illustrious example of how ShriKaalaHasti is equivalent to Kailaasam.

Kanchi Paramaachaarya, Shri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati Swaami, also did prarikrama of this Dakshina Kailaasam, and performed Sadyomukti vratam here. He used to advise all to have darshan of this Dakshina Kailaasam that is far more accessible nevertheless equivalent to Kailaasam.

Devendra and Chitguha

The following story from Upanishad narrates how it became one having a Divya-Guha. Shaastras say that in a popular, ancient, swayambhu Kshetram there is 25% of Daiva-Saannidhyam. Additionally, if it has a teertham, then there is 50% of Daiva-Saannidhyam. Additionally, if Trimurtis, Indra and other Devatas perform archana, then there is 75% Daiva-Saannidhyam. Finally, if additionally, there is a Divya-Parvatam with a Divya-Guha, then that Teertha-Kshetram will have 100% Daiva-Saannidhyam. And such a Kshetram is called as a Bhaaskara Kshetram. Thus this story ascertains that ShriKaalaHasti is a Bhaaskara Kshetram.

Once Devatas won a long lasting war against daityas. Devatas naturally have the sense that it is Paramatma‘s Vibhuti in them that is giving them Shakti and hence they never have unnecessary abhimaanam on their Shakti (i.e., they naturally do not have possessiveness of their talents). However, this time, due to Bhagavaan‘s maaya, they felt that the Shakti is their’s own! Hence they decided to celebrate their victory.

In the celebration, everyone started to praise his own powers. VaayuDeva said without his power to blow things away, victory was impossible. Varuna said without his power to flood things away, the victory was impossible. Yama said, without his consent no Daitya would have died! Similarly all devatas praised their own powers. Seeing this, Paramaatma, out of mere Karuna, wanted to remove this swaabhimaanam in Devatas and performed the following Leela:

He appeared in the form of a Divya-Jyoti in the middle of all the devatas. Then the Jyoti turned into a Yaksha. The Yaksha then put a test to the powers of the Devatas. However, VaayuDeva, who can even blow huge mansions away, was not able to blow a small grass shoot placed by the Yaksha! Varuna was not able to wet the grass shoot. Yama was not able to destroy it. All Devatas, except Devendra, tried their powers but nothing happened to the small grass shoot!

Then Devendra realized that the Yaksha is none ordinary and seeked Sharanaagati of Him. As soon as Indra did Sharanaagati, the Yaksha turned into a Devi. Indra was surprised, and asked the Devi who she was, and who the Yaksha was. She replied “The Yaksha is Parameshwara. As soon as You did Sharanagati, His Kaarunyam came  out as Me (Paarvati)”. Then Indra did a great Stotram and the Devi gave Her Divya-gnyaanam to Indra.

The divine place at which this divya-leela happened, where Indra had Saakshaatkaaram of Paramaatma, is situated in the Dakshina Kailaasa giri (in ShriKaalaHasti) in a Guha (cave) known as Chit-guha or Yaksha Guha. Even today one can, with effort, have darshan of this Guha. The Paarvati Devi, who blessed Indra, stayed back at this kshetram by the name Gnyaana-Prasoonaamba. This story and Kshetram hence have equal importance to both Shaivas as well as Shaakteyas.

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