Five Pandava Temples in Kerala, Part 3


BY: SUN STAFF - 25.7 2015

The Sapta Rishis



The Thirupuliyur Mahavishnu Temple is one of the five Vishnu temples established by the five Pandava brothers -- this one built by Bhima Pandava. Like the other four, Thiruppuliyoor is one of the 108 Divya Desams. Here, Bhima installed and worshipped the presiding Deity, Maayapiraan (Maha Visnu). Bhima's gatha (gada), or mace weapon also resides in this temple.

Thiruppuliyoor sthalam is located 3.5 miles to the west of Sengannoor, on the rail line between Trivandrum (Thiruvanandhapuram) and Kollam via Ernakulam. Like Thirichittattu, the earliest references to this temple appear in poems and hymns composed by the greatest of Alvar saints - Nammalvar, around 800 AD, and stone inscriptions in the temple date it back to the Second Chera Empire (800-1102 A.D.). Another of the Alvars, Thirumangai Azhwar has mentioned Thirupuliyur in one of his verses in Siriya Thirumadal (2673,71). It appears that the inscriptions found at the Pandava Temples all coincide with the time of the Alvars singing them, which obviously occurred long years after the original temples were built by the Pandavas.

Looking out from the temple interior, one sees that it is situated slightly above the surface of the earth. The temple is square in shape, with a short flight up stairs up to the entrance. The dhvaja-sthambham (kodi maram, or flagpole) is facing the East, and is always seen to be shining. The vimanam here is Purushothama Vimanam.

Entering the temple and travelling along the pragharam (parikrama walk, devotees come upon separate sannadhi (shrines) for Bhuvaneshwari amman. Outside the gharbha-griham(sanctum) is a niche for dhwara balagars (dvarapalas) on either side, with a Ganapathy murti on the pragharam wall.

The presiding deity (moolavar is Maayapiran, Sri Visnu, who is found in nindra thirukkolam(standing posture). The Deity is three to four feet tall, and He faces a beautiful mandapamwith many pillars and beautiful sculptures. The Lord's consort here is Porkodi Naachiyaar (Laksmi Devi).

There are several grand festivals held here each year, including Janmastami, and another in the Malayam month of Thai (Jan-Feb) when the temple elephant is beautifully ornamented and the utsavar (processional deity) is taken on parikrama both inside and out around the temple.

Next to the fact that this temple was founded by Bhima Pandava, one of the most famous pastimes associated with Thiruppuliyoor is a story of the Sapta Rishis, who also reside here. The Seven Rishis -- Atthri, Vasishtar, Kaasyapar, Gouthamar, Bharadwajar, Vishvamitra and Jamadagni -- got the seva of Maha Visnu and Laksmi at this place, and by the arrangement of Lord Indra, all were liberated. The story is this:

Once, Virukshadharbi, who was the son of Sibhi Chakravarthy, ruled an empire where there was flooding, and no proper vegetation, thus the wealth and beauty of the entire empire seemed to be decreasing. At that time the king thought that if he gave dhaanam (dakshinameant to gain material increase) to the Seven Rishis, it would increase the wealth and beauty of his Empire. However, the Sapta Rishis would not accept this offering, understanding that the flood and decrease in the empire was due to some action or inaction on the part of the King.

The king then tried to sneak an offering of dhaanam to them, by hiding some gold inside fruit that was offered to the Rishis, but with their mystic powers, they saw this trickery, and rejected the fruits. This caused the king to become very angry, and he then tried to kill the Rishis by holding a yagna, produces from its fires a female demon. The Pishacha's name was Kiruthyai, and she rose from the fire with the king's order to kill all the Sapta Rishis.

Knowing this, the Lord sent Indra to destroy Kiruthyai and to protect the Sapta Rishis., Indra killed the asura, and the seven Rishis got the seva of Maha Visnu here, and were thus liberated.

Maayapiraan Visnu at Thiruppuliyoor