Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 41


Padmanabha Swamy Temple and Mithranandapuram Complex

Sep 18, CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of places of Lord Brahma's worship.

Lord Brahma at Mithranandapuram

Numerous references are found to a Brahma temple located in Mithranandapuram, Kerala, but there is some confusion about its location. This undoubtedly stems from the fact that there are two Mithranandapuram temples in Kerala, and both are located in the Thiruvananthapuram District. Thiruvananthapuram, however, is a very large district covering over 2,000 square kilometers. Only one of these Mithranandapuram Temples is dedicated to Lord Brahma.

The Mithranandapuram which is not a Lord Brahma temple is located north of Cherpu, in the middle of the state, southwest of Coimbatore. Here we find the Mithranandapuram Mahavisnu Temple, also known as the Vamana-murthy temple. This locale is famous for the Vedic pundits who periodically gather here to recite the Krishna Yajurveda, and every 12 years for the Murajapam recitations.

The Mithranandapuram Brahma Temple is found at the Mithranandapuram temple complex, a group of temples located adjacent to the Padmanabha Swamy temple in Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala, located at the southwestern tip of the state. Trivandrum is 330 km. south of Cherpu.

In the Mithranandapuram compound are temples dedicated to Lord Visnu, Lord Brahma, and Lord Shiva. It is believed that the Trimurtis conducted a great fire yajna here, to the Sun God, Mithra, thus the complex is known as Mithrananda puram, 'the town which gave happiness to the Sun'. Presumably, the more northern Mithranandapuram shares a similar derivation of name.

From the time of its construction, the Mithranandapuram temple at Trivandrum has been jointly supervised by the Travancore and the Cochin kings. Initially under the administrative control of Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple, the temple complex has since become independent, although the priests of Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple still reside at Mithranandapuram.

The Mithranandapuram complex includes the Mithranandapuram tank, in which the priests of Padmanabha Swamy Temple are expected to bathe each day. Earlier this year, a local press article described the deplorable conditions of this polluted tank.

Mithranandapuram Tank

Inside the Mithranandapuram temple complex itself, a path leads to the three main temples. At one end of the path is the temple dedicated to Brahmadeva. The Brahma deity is made of stone and has four hands and one head, rather than being catur-mukhya. A regular program of worship and puja is offered to Lord Brahma here.

This Brahma temple is said to have been consecrated in order to ward off a Yakshi who was troubling people in the local area. In the early days, women were not allowed in this temple, but with some restrictions, they are now permitted to enter. Inside the Brahma Temple is a small Ganapati shrine, along with murtis of his consorts. Ganesh is worshipped here primarily with appam (a rice cake).

Slightly in front of the Brahma Temple is the temple dedicated to Lord Visnu, which some consider to be dedicated to Lord Krsna. The Deity is in a standing posture and holds conch, chakra, mace and lotus flower in His four hands. While this paraphernalia is typical of Visnu, Ashtami Rohini (Janmastami) is celebrated in the temple. Inside there stands a Garuda murti, just outside the sanctum, which also indicates it is a Visnu temple. As with all three temples in this complex, there is a Ganapati shrine attached to the temple.

At is believed by some that the sage Vilwamangalam has his samadhi at this Visnu/Krsna temple, and that the samadhi is located directly under the Deity. This fact is contested by Krsna devotees from north India, however, who believe the saint's samadhi is in Mathura. Others say the samadhi is in Kottakkakam, Kerala. Regardless, in front of the main Deity here, made of granite, is a small metal murti believed to be the deity that was worshipped by Vilwamangalam.

The next temple on the path is the one dedicated to Lord Shiva. In the southwestern corner is a Ganapati temple. Shivrathri is celebrated here, along with regular chanting of Rudram. Next to the temple is a Naga-raja shrine, which is growing in popularity.


Other Temples in the Area

Thiruvananthapuram, or Trivandrum as its more commonly called, is 55 kms. north of Kanyakumari, in the southwestern corner of Kerala. A very traditional and conservative city built on top of seven hills, Trivandrum is the capital of Kerala state. This ancient city dates back to 1000 B.C., and it served as the capital of the Raja of Travancore in 1750. The city's name, 'Thiru-anantha-puram', means the 'city of Anantha', the abode of Sesanaga on which Lord Vishnu rests.

The Padmanabha Swamy Temple is the most easily recognized monument in the area, having a 100 foot, seven-tier gopuram. It is also the temple most visited by tourists. The nearly 2,000 year old structure stands by the side of a tank called Padma Theertham, meaning 'the lotus spring'. Devotees come here for sacred bath. The temple has a corridor with some 365 sculptured granite-stone pillars decorated with elaborate carvings. An eighty-foot tall flagstaff stands before the main entry of the corridor.

Temple architecture typical of Trivandrum


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