Saturday, 25 August 2012

Sensibly Religious Observant

"Sometimes we might reach the places we never planned for"

My flight was about to land Trivandrum. But what I could see from the top was Arabian Sea, backwaters and the thick coconut forest. I could not believe that there was actually a city amidst the coconut trees until the flight landed safely on the runway. It was a relatively calm, rustic and small city compared to other cities of India. The journey onwards had to be towards Kanyakumari where I had to catch Science Express. But sometimes we might reach the places we never planned for.

I thought I should visit this old and famous temple called Padmanabha Swamy.  This temple is very close to the bus stand. As I strolled towards the temple, few people stopped me and took me inside the cloak room. They took away my laptop and other belongings. No personal belongings were allowed inside the temple. Then they asked me to take off the jeans and put on dhoti. I did the same. Later they asked me to even take off t-shirt and proceed to the temple with bare chest and dhoti. It was quite odd for me when somebody took all my clothes off before entering the temple. There was a small pond near the temple for the holy bath if you want.

The air was filled with the chanting of holy words. The temple had a huge entrance. I could see everyone outside and inside the temple with a bare chest and a dhoti. As I entered the temple, one of the priests handed over some flowers and worship material and asked for 50 rupees. There was no scope to say no. I proceeded further with the flowers. I was trying to analyse how old this temple would be. What is the meaning of the hymns and holy words?  Why the deities are in particular position? The mind was brimming with questions of religions and it was searching for the souls who could answer some of them. Or they could at least provide a lead to those questions. I met a couple of priests in the temple and read the book on history of the temple. If I believe the book and the local people, then this is the temple of all the temples in India. The walls and roofs had turned black and all the figures had lost their details.

The interior buildings of the temple gave a rustic charm. The wait for the most awaited moment was over. I saw Lord Padmanabha in his full glory in the central sanctum; I was stunned to see the deity which was almost 20 feet long, visible through two small doors. Lord Vishnu was in reclining position on Sheshnaga. From his naval came out the flower of lotus on which Lord Brahma was sitting. His fingers of right hand were pointing towards the Lord Shiva. The priest took the flowers from me and offered it to the eternal. It was a wave of belief and logic sweeping in counter direction in my mind.

Outside the main sanctum, there was another temple of Lord Krishna. This temple is considered to be older than Padmanabha temple. The priests estimated that it was some 5000 years old. It has been mentioned in some religious documents that the temple was formed on 950th day of Kaliyuga. Another interesting and unknown thing about this temple is that it caught fire in 1686 A.D. after which it all turned into ashes. It was then rebuilt by the king of Travancore. Since then the royal family of Travancore takes care of this temple and considers itself to be servant of Lord Padmanabha.

In March 2011, the six secret cellars of the temple were opened on the order of honourable Supreme Court of India. What was found created a world record and blinded the people with its glitter. Gold deities and animals, jewellery and other precious things were found. The total value of the gold was estimated to be $22 bn. Padmanabha Swamy temple became the richest temple in the world after the disclosure of the information.

Thiruvananthapuram word finds the history of its name in this temple. Thiru means respect, Anantha means infinite or God, Puram means Abode. Thiruvananthapuram means "Abode of respectable God" (Padmanabha Swamy). A must visit place for anybody who comes down to Trivandrum and wants to understand the history and firmness of Indian religion.

- Ankit Kapoor

(one of silently-sincere Science Communicator of Science Express-Biodiversity Special 
- found of ancient places, good observer and keen learner for   surrounding nature and culture)

Science Express runs by fuel of such young people, who loves to fly high beyond such boundaries and sharing vast Biodiversity of India.   

needless to explain: "वसुधेव कुटुम्बकम |"

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