Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 66

BY: SUN STAFF

 

Entrance to Thiruvallam Parasurama Temple

A serial exploration of places of Lord Brahma's worship.

 

Lord Brahma at Thiruvallam Parasurama Temple

In a recent segment, we visited the Brahma Temple at Thirunavaya, which was consecrated by Lord Parasurama in honor of Brahmadeva, his 'Brahma-Kshatriya' Guru. Today we'll cover another temple in which Lord Brahma is worshipped, this one dedicated to Parasurama himself.

The Thiruvallam Parasurama Temple is located 10 km. from Trivandrum (Thiruvanantha), on the Kovalam route, where it sits on the banks of the river Karamana. Thiruvallam Parasurama Temple, built entirely of granite, dates back to the late 12th, early 13th century, in late Pandyan period. Now a protected monument, it is said to be the only temple in Kerala dedicated to Parasurama. The temple is thought to have been constructed by Athiyaman Perumal, a legendary Chera King.

Commonly known as the Thiruvallam Temple, the temple complex sits at the confluence of the rivers Killi and Karamana, where a cluster of shrines are all enclosed by a high stone wall. The foundation-to-ceiling granite construction of the main temple makes it an imposing building. A row of bhuthaganas, lions, elephants, floral ornaments, and bearded faces line the upper surface. The main sanctum is round, with a rectangular mandapa in front. There is little other sculpture or ornamentation. In 2007, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) completed a renovation of the Parasurama Temple, repairing the roof of the chuttambalam, which had developed a heavy leak over the years.

 

 

Thiruvallam Parasurama Temple

The presiding deities here are the Trimurti, in the personality of Parasurama (Visnu), Lord Brahma, and Lord Shiva. This is the only known temple where Lord Parasurama is the personification of Visnu in a Trimurti installation of deities. Consequently, the temple is referred to as 'Thrimurthi Ellam' (Thiruv-allam). There is a sect of brahmins in North India called the Mohyal Brahmins, who are the kshatriya descendents of Lord Parasurama. Dronacharya was said to be among this group. While the Mohyal Brahmins build Parasurama bhavans in various places, they don't worship Parasurama, but rather worship only Sri Krsna and Rama.

These prathishta shrines of Parasurama, Brahma and Shiva are positioned in a row along the south side, from west to east. Parasurama and Brahma's shrines are facing north, while Shiva's is facing east. The Parasurama and Shiva shrines have separate flagpoles. There are five full pujas and other offerings performed here daily, making this a mahakshethra, or 'great temple'. Separate worship is offered to the presiding deities.

There are also shrines to ten upaprathishta, or secondary deities, including Krishna, Nrsimhadeva, Matsya, Mahishasura Mardini (Bhadrakaali), Ayyappan, Ganapati, and the saint Vedavyasa.

The deity of Parasurama has four hands, two of which hold conch and chakra. The traditional weapons of Parasurama, the parasu and hala, are hardly distinguishable. The weapon in the right front hand appears to be a gada.

The shrine of Brahma is also built of dressed granite. The Brahmadeva deity has four heads and four hands and is seated in the padmanasa pose, on a lotus pedestal. A kamandalu with spout and an open lotus flower are held in two of his hands, while the other two are in mudra pose.

On the base of the Brahma shrine, to the west, is an inscription in Vattezhuthu about a transaction made in the month of Makaram in 399 ME, when Jupiter stood in Vruchikam. Veera Kerala Varman, who ruled Venad, gave paddy and ghee from buffaloes for the daily offering. There is one incomplete inscription, from 411 ME, which deals with an assembly convened by Mukundottama Bhattrar.

 

Thirvallam Temple Elephant

Of the main temple, with two dhwajasthambas, a temple legend states that Lord Visnu appeared before Vilwamangalam, in His reclining posture on Adisesha, His head resting at Thiruvallam, His middle at Thiruvananthapuram, and His feet at Truppappur.

Temple Events

Aside from the unique nature of the presiding deities here, one of the great attractions that draws devotees, pilgrims and tourists alike to Thiruvallam Parasurama Temple is the Balitharpanam, or 'Bali' ritual performed for departed souls. Like the Navamukundan Temple in Thirunavaya, this place is a destination for throngs of people who come to make offerings to their ancestors, after first taking bath in the holy river here. Sri Adishankara is said to have made Bali for his mother at this place. Likewise, Parasurama is said to have offered obeisances to his mother here.

One of the unique aspects of this temple is that Balitharpanam ceremony is allowed to be performed inside the nalambalam, (inner premise of the temple), rather than be restricted to elsewhere on the temple grounds.

Of all the new moon days, the one that falls in the month of Karkitakam is considered the most auspicious for offering Bali and Thila Havanam. On Aadi Amavasay, which is a public holiday in Kerala, thousands throng to the temple to offer pithru tharpanam to the departed souls. Women are permitted to do the rites on all days, guided by the local Namboothiri priests. For a few rupees, cooked rice, til, etc. are provided by the temple, since goods are not allowed to be brought inside the temple complex. For vastram, they instruct the yajaman to offer a thread of his/her cloth. There is also a kovilkulam outside where immersion of ashes is done.

Parasurama Jayanthi and Sivarathri are also celebrated here.

Thirvallam Backwaters