Kumbakonam: Notoriously Sacred Place

Discussion in 'Travel' started by arcot, Nov 25, 2007.

  1. arcot

    arcot New IL'ite

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    A sacred place with notoriety , sounds paradoxical, but there is one such centre in South India, to which this description perhaps would seem to apply, till a few decades ago.

    I hail from Kumbakonam , a well known place in the Tanjore district of Tamil Nadu. I had spent my child hood days there, finished my studies, and moved on to greener pastures in search of my livelihood .The first question the people in those places used to ask me was to which place I belonged to .With utmost innocence, my spontaneous reply was Kumbakonam ,invariably the predictable reaction from those people was a smug and mischievous smile on their face. It was only belatedly I realized that this could have had been prompted by the notoriety the place had achieved at one time, when it was associated with qualities of cunningness or even worse, crookedness. More than the place, it was the people who belonged there, who were supposedly over smart or capable of pulling a fast one on others. It was even told that this allegorical reference had also gained an entry in the dictionary of English language, only to be deleted subsequently under vociferous protests.

    Kumbakonam has a rich spiritual Heritage. Right from how it got its name to the great souls who have lived here.
    It becomes imperative to know as to what is contained in the mythology about Kumbakonam. When the proverbial deluge was about to take place, Lord Brahma made a pot or kumbam out of the celestial nectar and sand and after filling it with other sacred items like coconut etc, set it afloat in the floods in the northern mountains of Kailash. When the kumbam drifted and rested at a southern point, Lord Shiva appeared as a hunter and aimed his arrow at the Kumbam. It got broken and the place where the nose of the pot fell was called as Kudamukku, mukku, in Tamil meaning nose, which in later years came to be known as Kumbakonam, and the site where the celestial nectar flowed into, was the MAHAMAGAM tank.

    <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Temples</st1:City></st1:place> and festivals in our country are the essentials for peace and tranquility of mind and body. .Apart from this they also tend to contribute and preserve the architectural splendor of our ancient times. Kumbakonam is remembered ,as an important pilgrim centre equally alike by both the Saivites and Vaishnavites the two dominating sects of Hindus , because of its innumerous temples and festivals. In fact there is a saying that Kumbakonam weighs more than Kasi [ Banares] by Veesam, which means a miniscule unit of weight. In every street corner you will find a temple big or small and in most cases the roads would be adjoining a temple compound wall.
    The foremost and famous festival of this place is the Mahamagam, which is celebrated once in twelve years. at the Mahamagam tank. <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> is known for festivals along the water fronts mostly at river beds like the Kumbh Mela, but this is the only festival of its kind which is celebrated in a tank. The origin of this festival is traced to time immemorial , when the nine holy rivers in the country like Ganges , Yamuna, Godavari etc..,went and poured their heart out to Lord Shiva saying that when all human beings come to them to have a bath and wash off their sins they had no place to go to unload the sins so accumulated and carried by them. The lord consoled and advised them that they come to Kumbakonam and take a bath in this famous tank on the auspicious day falling once in every twelve years when the conjunction of the planets Guru and Moon take place in a particular position. Hence, with the strong belief that having a bath on that day in the sanctimonious tank would be tantamount to having a bath in all the holy rivers of our motherland, millions gather here for that single day event.

    Kumbakonam, was the seat of learning, of scholars, and of stalwarts of carnatic music. That mathematical, genius S.RAMANUJAM, who died at a very young age, before his works and thesis could hit the world, belonged here. Classical carnatic music thrived here and many noted musicians had their origins from, and also lived, here before moving over to Chennai with the advent of the music Sabhas. People used to proclaim in a lighter vein that even a bullock cart driver in this town would be singing the Bhairavi varnam , a delicate musical piece, while driving his cart.

    Commercially also it was well known for its brass vessels and silk sarees.A day here always started with the choicest rice idlys, accompanied with kadappah, a delicious side dish exclusive to this place and culminating with Degree Coffee, meaning coffee made with milk tested with a lactometer , to check for the degree of dilution with water by the milk vendor.
    There is a Vedic school, which is about five centuries old, turning out Vedic scholars who spread out all over our country, and at times even beyond those frontiers. Founded by Govinda Dikshitar ,a minister for temples under the Tanjore king. Sadasiva Bramendra was another great spiritualist and Sanskrit scholar about whom there is a legend that once when he was in deep meditation in the middle of the Cauvery river , a sudden flash flood submerged him in a heap of sand , and oblivious of this, he continued with his meditation , until he was rescued by people after a few days when he was still in the same posture. .Another great personality was Sreedhara Aiyavaal , whose prayers and devotion made the river <st1:place w:st="on">Ganges</st1:place> flow into the well at the backyard of his house. This has become an annual festival even today when on the appointed day large crowd throng at the famous well.
    Kumbakonam has an abundant number of temples, some of them being alluded to as places where the other broken parts of the celestial pot fell. .These are located not only within the main city itself but also within a radius of a few kilo meters from that town. Next week, I will post about these temples.

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  2. puni88

    puni88 Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for sharing this wonderful info about kumbakonam.
    I really never knew about history and heritage of this place.
    Also didnt knew about peoples mentality from that place :)
  3. SriVidya75

    SriVidya75 Platinum IL'ite

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    heyy this is good pieceof info....pls keep sharing thanks again!!

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