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Friday, July 15, 2011

Sri Vasavi Kanniha Parameswari Temple

The temple is located at the Aadhiappa Naickan street and this temple has a rich legend. The legend has it that along with Kanniha Parameswari, Vaisya couples from 102 Gothrams took firebath and attained salvation. The names of these 102 couples have been inscribed in the temple. Vasavi Kanniha Parameswari’s janma sthalam is Benukonda which is about 400 kms from Chennai but one can worship the same Goddess here at Chennai.
Kusuma Sresti , the king of vysyas was ruling the kingdom making PENUGONDA (Jestasailam) as capital city for all the 18 paraganas during 10th –11th Century A.D.  Kusumamba was his wife. They were ideal couple and led a peaceful domestic life. They were worshipping Lord Siva (Nageshwara swami) as the part of their daily duties. His Kingdom was part and parcel of Vengi desha, which was ruled by Vishnu Vardhana-7 or MaharajVimaladitya .
Though they had spent many years of their married life,  the couple did not have the peace of mind. They suffered a lot, as there was no any successor to look after the administration of the Kingdom. Their many rites and sacrifices did not bear any fruit and hence they were heart striken. Then, with sheer disappointment, they approached Kulaguru (family Teacher) Bhaskaracharya. He advised them to perform Puthra Kamestiyaga which Dasharatha had observed.

During the auspicious hour, Kusuma Sresti couple started the yoga. The Gods were pleased and sent prasadam (blessed fruit from god) through Yagneswara(fire God).  There was a divine utterance that they would be get children after eating prasadam. With utmost devotion they ate Prasadam, within a few days the sign of pregnancy was found with Kusumamba. She expressed unusual desires, which indicated that she would give birth to children who would fight for the welfare of all.

Birth of Vasavi Devi :
During spring season, there was pleasure everywhere. Even the atmosphere was beautiful. Amidst this beauty, kusumamba gave birth to twins, one male the other female on Friday the tenth of vaishaka (Indian month) at twilight during coincidences of Uttara Nakshatra and Kanya (virgo) Male child was baptised as Virupaksha , and the female as VASAVAMBA. During childhood itself, in Virupaksha, the features of a powerful king, leadership qualities were clearly visible, whereas in Vasavi, the inclination towards art & architecture, adoration music and philosophical approach were seen. Even parents supported their tastes & preferences.
Education of Vasavi Devi :
Under the guidance of Bhaskaracharya, Virupaksha learnt Vedas, fencing, horse riding, martial arts and statecraft archery and others, which were essential to rule a country. Vasavi learnt all fine arts and got mastery over the philosophical subjects and proud to be an intelligent woman.
Marriage of Virupaksha with Ratnavati :
When Virupaksha attained proper age he married Rathnavathi, daughter of Aridhisresti of Aelur Town. The huge gathering thought that even Vasavi's marriage would also be observed with same grandeur and pompous.
Vishnu Vardhna fell in love on Sri Vasavi Devi :
Once, Vishnu Vardhna to eradicate his enemies and to extend his empire went on expedition. On the way he visited Penugonda. King Kusumasresti received him and took him in a procession and arranged felicitation program in the colourful auditorium on behalf of his subjects.
Among the crowd, Vimaladitya (Vishnu Vardhana) spotted Vasavi who was glittering with her beauty after when Manamatha (the god of romance) threw his sweet arrows on him which influenced him a lot. To enquire about her he sent his minister. He made up his mind to marry her. He went to the extreme extent that without Vasavi he could not live in the world. The desire of Vishnuvardhana (Vimaladitya) was like a deathblow to Kusumasresty. He was neither in a position to accept it nor to deny. The age disparity barrier of difference of caste in addition to that Emperor was already married. All these facts crashed his mind into pieces.

Consequences after Vishnu Vardhana demand :
Kusumasresti sent Vishnuvardhana. Later he discussed this issue with his nearest & dearest. They unanimously decided to give most importance to the views of Vasavi. In turn, Vasavi frankly expressed to be a Virgin throughout her life and intended to meditate upon eternal problems.
Kusumasresti sent a denial message to the king Vishnuvardhana. As a result,the king rose into high anger and sent a Battalion of his army with words to attack mercilessly and to get Vasavi for him. The brave Vysyas of Penugonda by using all sorts of techniques of Sama, Dhana, Bheda and finally Danda, defeated Vishnuvardana's army.

Community reaction:
At this crucial juncture, Kusumasresti called for Great Conference of the Chief of all the 18 paraganas, the people of all 714 Gotras. The conference was presided by kusumasresti in the begin presence of Bhaskaracharya.

In the conference, there was difference of opinion. The Chiefs of 102 Gotras thought that ‘Those who are born must die'. Moreover, cowards die many times before their death. Their valiant never tastes of death but once. Hence, even the opponent is stronger, let us fight for the good cause. Cannot the spark burn a heap of straw? This was their firm decision. Whereas, Contrary to this the persons of 612 gotras urged that the matrimonial alliance would be safer and beneficial.

Later on Bhaskaracharya told  "we must safeguard our respect even at the cost of our lives". These words acted like a Catalyst on Kusumasresti. Even though they framed minority he stood firm not to give his daughter Vasavi in marriage to the king. With this incident, the unity among Vysyas was broken. Emperor like an injured Cobra took the lead of his huge army with strong determination to destroy his opponents.  In Penugonda also necessary arrangements were made with supporters of 102 Gotras and the people to face consequence.

Vasavi Devi reaction :
Vasavi, now entered into scene and told "Why there should be bloodshed among ourselves for the sake of a Girl? It does not look nice to sacrifice the lives of soldiers for our selfish desire. It is better to give up the idea of war. Instead, let us rebel in a novel way. We can control war through non-violence and self-sacrifice. Only people with strong will power and moral strength can participate in this kind of self- sacrifice,. The stream of Vasavi's new thought was delightful directions to Kusuma couple, and they decided to act in accordance with directions of Vasavi.

Arrangements for final exit
On the banks of Godavari, the holy place Brahmakunda as per the directions of Vasavi, the royal servants arranged 103 Agnikundas ( fire pits) in a special way. The whole city was observing that day as a festival day. Then Vasavi asked the couples of 102 Gotras as "will you plunge into this holy fire along with me?' everyone of them whole heatedly gave their consent. There was strong faith in the minds of those persons that Vasavi must an incarnation of God. They requested her to show them her real nature or swarupa.

She smiled and revealed her true self, which had the glittering radiance surpassing the brightness of sun. She told, " I am the incarnation of Adiparashakthi."  To safeguard the dignity of woman and to protect Dharma, to destroy Vishnu Vardhana and to reveal to the world the magnanimity of Vysyas I come here in Kaliyuga. Like Satideva who was insulted entered into holy fire, I too plunge into the holy fire and enter the other world. Kusumasresty during last birth was a great Saint by name Samadhi as per his aspirations he could attain salvation along with the people of 102 Gotras. That is why I asked you all to undergo Atmabalidhana." Vasavi advised the gathering about patriotism, honesty, social service, tolerance etc.,

Final exit and Vishnu Vardhan's death :
Devi disappeared as soon as the divine words came out of her mouth and people saw her in human form. Then all of them entered into holy fire after meditating upon their Gods.

Though Vishnuvardana felt bad Omens, he marched ahead and reached the main entrance of Penugonda. Then his detectives reported what all had happened in the city. He could not bare the great shock and his heart shattered into pieces. He fell down vomiting blood and he was no more.

The self-sacrifice of Vasavi and the end of Vishnuvardana was the talk of the town. People condemned the deeds of VishnuVardana and appreciated the epoch maker Vasavi and her non-violent principle.

History after Goddess Sri Vasavi Devi Final exit
The son of Vishnuvardana,Raja Raja Narendre rushed Penugonda and repented about the incidence. Later on Virupaksha consoled him and told " Brother, let us learn and formulate the present and future on the strong base of past. Vasavi had came to rescue of the people without giving room for great bloodshed. Her non-violence gave a good result".

Then, they consoled themselves. Virupaksha visited many pilgrim centres like Kasi, Gaya and other places, under the guidance of Baskaracharya. To commemorate the pilgrimage they installed 101 lingas for each gotra in penugonda. Then, Narendra installed a statue of Vasavi as a token of respect. From that day and even today all Vysyas are performing poojas to her and she to considered as Vysyakula Devatha-Vasavi Kanyaka parameshwari.

Vasavi's life is worth remembering, because of her faith in non-violence religious values and her defence of status of women. She become immortal as she has been mainly responsible for the propagation of reputation of Vysyas throughout the world. Vasavi who had rejected worldly pleasures, won the minds of   Vysyas and the champion of peace and non-violence should be remembered at all times by one and all.

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