Five Pandava Temples in Kerala, Part 4


BY: SUN STAFF - 26.7 2018

Thiruvaranmula Sree Parthasarathy Temple



Devotees who make the pilgrimage to all five Pandava Temples in Kerala make their third stop at the tirtha built by Arjuna Pandava -- Thiruvaranmula Sree Parthasarathy Temple. The presiding Deity installed by Arjuna here is Lord Parthasarathy (Krsna), also known as Sree Thirukkurallappa Perumal, who resides here with His consort Mahalakshmi, known as Padmasani Naachiyaar.

Parthasarathy Temple is situated on the left bank of the Pampa River in a beautiful village called Aranmula. Located in Pathanamthitta district about 9 km west of Chengannur, Parthasarathy Temple is one of the biggest and most famous in Kerala. Aranmula is one among the 64 Brahmin gramams, and Parthasarathy Temple is the grama-kshetram. Lord Mahavishnu gave darsan to Lord Brahma and Vedavyasa at this place. Vishnu revealed the knowledge of creation to Brahma, from whom the Madhu and Kaitabha demons stole the Vedas.

Sree Parthasarathy is celebrated in the epic story of the ninth day of the battle of Kurukshetra. The Kauravas reigned supreme under the leadership of Bhisma, when Sri Krsna motivated Arjuna to take the initiative and vanquish his foe. When Arjuna hesitated to do so, Krsna took up His Sudarsana Chakra and seeing this fearsome sight, Bhisma surrendered to him. Arjuna beseeched Krsna not to kill Bhisma, as it would have been against Krsna's vow not to take up arms in the battle. The manner in which Krsna cleverly executed His statecraft in this regard is a famous element of the Mahabharata epic. It is this mood and pastime that is embodied in Sree Parthasarathy here, who holds His chakra.

Thiruvonathoni Garuda-boat

Arjuna built this temple at a site known as Nilackal, near Sabarimala. He wished to be purified of the sin of having killed Karna on the battlefield, against the dharma of killing an unarmed enemy. At the time Nilakkal was a dense forest, so the Deity was brought here in a raft made of six pieces of bamboo, thus the place is named Aranmula ('six pieces of bamboo'). When the Deity was being transported by raft, several chundan vallams (snake boats) accompanied the procession up the Pampa River. The Deity was installed in the temple on Uthrattathi day of Malayalam month Chingam (August-September). Uthrattathi in Chingam is the birthday of Arjuna, and the day is celebrated each year in Aranmula with the famous snake boat race, Uthrattathi Vallamkali.

Ashtamirohini is another large festival held here, on the birthday of Lord Krishna (Janmastami), and it is celebrated in grand style. A famous prasadam feast is offered, Ashtami Rohini vallasadya, and thousands of devotees come from all over Kerala to get Lord Parthasarathy's prasadam.

Sree Parthasarathy Temple has four 'towers', or peaked roofs over each of its main entrances along the outer wall. A golden flag pole is in front of the main entrance. The large eastern tower is accessed via a flight of 18 steps. Descending 57 steps through the northern tower, one can reach the bank of the Pampa River. Near the northern gopuram there is a shrine for Lord Balarama. It is located in a large pit, and devotees must step down to get the darshan of Sri Balarama. There are no other subsidiary deities residing in this temple. The Thiruvonathoni, a Garuda-vahana boat is kept in a special place near the western gopuram. Lord Parthasarathy is also very fond of elephants, and there are currently three elephants residing at the temple.

Temple Elephant