Thiruvanantapuram is considered as the Main among the Kshetrams of Malayala Divya desams! Pushkarini here is called Matsya Theertham or Varaha Theertham. It is a very large pushkarini and after a bath in it, as we enter the temple, a very large Mandapam welcomes us. Photography inside the temple is prohibited. The Lord of the Kshetram is gracing reclining on the serpent. Till circa 1686, the Lord's image was made of wood [iluppai maram இலுப்பை மரம்]. We may remember the incident when the Lord, First appeared as a very large tree to Bilwa Mangala Swami and sage Diwakara, and later at their request compressed His form to mere 18 feet! Like this He was gracing for many Centuries! But in 1686, a fire accident took place in this temple. Excepting the Wooden idol of the Lord, all things were destroyed in the fire. The King was very much grieved. This temple was administered by the kings od Travancore, traditionally. That time the King was Marthanda Varma. He was worred and wondered whether to renovate only the temple and keep the idol as it was or not. But the Lord ordained the King to change the idol also. The King did not know in which material to make the new idol – same type of wood or stone? However, the King started the building works. It took nearly Forty years to build the temple as we see it today! Only in circa 1729, reconsecration or samprokshanam was performed! Nearly 4000 sculptors, 6000 workers and 100 elephants participated in day and night reconstruction work of this temple.The prakaram [corridor around temple] used for Sreeveli, is 450 Feet in length and 350 Feet wide! In it are 324 pillars. Each pillar is sculpted with a girl holding a lamp. History reveals that the King directly supervised to complete the construction. During that time a wonder took place. from the far Northern end of India, from Nepal, nearly 24,000 salagrama stones, were carried by many elephants, without any mahout, and reached the Southern tip of India, Thiruvanantapuram! The King was surprised and after worshiping all, he off loaded the salagrama stones. Again the Lord ordained the King to use just half the quantity to make His idol and the balance to be hidden so that they could be used on another occasion to make again His idol! The King accordingly used 12,000 salagrama stones and formed the present idol using Katusarkara [an Ayurvedic mix] method. The Lord in idol form is a large One reclining, viewable from Three gates - head from the First gate, navel from Second gate and Divine feet from Third gate! Right hand is stretched casually, downwards; left hand is raised to hold a lotus flower! All the Devas and Rishis are worshiping the Lord! Sri Utsavar is gracing along with Ubhaya [Twin] Nacchiyars! There is a single stone mandapam of 400 Sq.ft! Only on prescribed days, people are permited to go in it. Alwar commands us to serve the Lord by sweeping the temple! It is mentioned as Thiru alagiduthal [திரு அலகிடுதல்], in Vaishnava conversations! The last step in front of His sannidhi is called Kadai thalai [கடைத் தலை]. If we could get an opportunity to clean that, then, Alwar says, all our sins also would be swept away! Once in 1750, the King suddenly decided, just like Swami Vedanta Desika says 'mam madiyam cha nikilam chetana chetanatmakam [माम् मदीयम च निकिलम चेतना चेतनात्मकम] - 'I or my belonging, all are His [belongings]', and placed his long sword in front of the Lord and performed total surrender or saranagati! From that time all his successors are addressed as Padmanabha Dasa [servants of Sri Padmanabha]! Even at present, daily, the Royal family worships the Lord for an hour from 7:30 A.M. During that time public are not allowed for darshan! This visit of the Royal family is a grand sight. If on any day, due to any reason, the King was not able to visit the temple, he pays Rs. 160, as penalty per day! Even at present certain festivals are conducted by the Kings. During Brahmotsavam in Aippasi and in Panguni, two festivals - Pallivettai [பள்ளிவேட்டை] and Aarattu [ஆராட்டு] - on the 9th and 10th days, are celebrated by the king. Sundara Vilasam is the fort in which the King resides, and from the mantapam inside, King and others lead a procession, without any drum beat or any noise of instruments. The King would carry a bow and arrows towards a forest area. The King would shoot an arrow on Three coconuts placed. With that it is believed that all enemies had been driven away. This is called Pallivettai! After this, the King again leads the return procession and now all drums and other instruments are sounded! During Aarattu, the Lord arrives at Sankhumukam [சங்குமுகம்] spot in the beach. King accompanies and after Holy bath of the Lord [theerthavari தீர்த்தவாரி], the Lord returns.
There is another important festival of Murajapam [முரஜபம்], with 100,000 lamps [laksha deepam லக்ஷ தீபம் ]. It appears that King Marthanda Varma, invited Thousands of Vedic scholars, and got all the Vedas - Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana - chanted Seven times continuously. On the last day 100,000 lamps were lighted on the pushkarini. It would be a very grand sight. Also Bhadra deepa utsavam is important.
In this Kshetram lived an Acharya, Swami Vilancholai Pillai [விளாஞ்சோலை பிள்ளை] , and wrote Tatva sakai [தத்வ சாகை] and served the Lord for many years. Now we will see sloka 3 of Chapter 16. In the First Three slokas, the Lord lists 26 noble qualities of Devas. We have already seen some and now the balance in sloka 3:
tejaḥ kṣamā dhṛtiḥ śaucam adroho nātimānitā
bhavanti saṃpadaṃ daivīm abhijātasya bhārata 16.3
Bharata = Arjuna [of Bharata dynasty], bhavanti = [these qualities] are, daivim = divine, abhijatasya = born persons. These qualities are in those divinely persons or persons blessed with punya:
- Teja = Enemies are afraid of his blazing personality. If a person is endowed with divine qualities, others will never think of doing any harm to him. He can never be conquered. None will ever think of fight with him.
- Kshama = Patience. It is not the patience while asleep or in faintness! It is control of our senses, when the surrounding is to make us burst out!
- Dhrti = Resoluteness. Resolve to complete the undertaken task, despite all hindrances.
- Saucam = Cleanliness, of mind, words and actions. Having mind, words and action on the same itself is a sort of cleanliness. If atman is to be clean, mind should think of Him and His devotees, body should be clean with proper satva food, proper bath and associated rites, etc.
- Adroha = Droha means strong person cheating weaker ones. So, adroha means mightier does not harm weaker ones.
- Natimanita = manam, atimanam and na ati manam. Abhimanam is praising. Durabhimana is ego or ahankara. Persons can have abhimanam because of education or wealth. But this should not be excess or should not be ati manam! So excess of ego should not be there. Our glory should be because of serving Him.