kancheepuram

According to the sthala-purana, Lord Brahma practiced severe austerities with the desire of seeing the beautiful four-handed form of the Supreme Lord and the Lord manifested in the form of water (at Pushkar in Rajasthan).

As Lord Brahma wanted to see the beautiful four-handed form of Lord Vishnu he was disappointed. Lord Brahma once again went to a different place and started practicing severe austerities to propitiate Him.

However, the Lord manifested in the form of forest (at Naimisharanya in Uttar Pradesh) this time and Lord Brahma was once again disappointed. Lord Brahma appealed to the Supreme Lord to bless him with the vision of His enchanting four-handed form. An akashavani (ethereal voice) asked Lord Brahma to perform 100 Ashvamedha sacrifices if he wanted to have a vision of the Lord.

Lord Brahma did not have the patience to perform 100 Ashvamedha sacrifices as that would take a very long time. Therefore, Lord Brahma requested the akashavani to tell him if there were any short-cuts.

The akashavani once again said that performing one sacrifice at a particular location in South India is equal to performing 100 sacrifices at any other place on this planet. Being pleased with the akashavani’s advice, Lord Brahma came to the location that was identified by the akashavani and started preparations for performing the sacrifice.

In his eagerness to see the Lord at the earliest, Lord Brahma forgot to invite his consort Goddess Sarasvati to the sacrifice and this enraged Sarasvati. Sarasvati decided to disturb the sacrifice and prevent the successful completion of the sacrifice.

Sarasvati created various demons and sent them to vandalize the sacrifice. As Lord Brahma was not supposed to fight when he was performing the sacrifice, he had invoked none other than the Supreme Lord to protect his sacrifice and, thereby, ensure its successful completion.

The Supreme Lord Narayana appeared in an eight-handed form and destroyed all the demons that were sent by Sarasvati in a flash and foiled all their efforts to disturb the sacrifice. Therefore, the Supreme Lord is worshipped in His eight handed form as Ashtabuja Perumal in one of the temples at Kanchipuram even today.

The frustrated Sarasvati manifested as Vegavati river and started flowing towards the sacrificial arena with great speed with the intention of washing away things that were stored for the successful completion of the sacrifice. The Supreme Lord manifested along with His serpent in a reclining posture on the path of Vegavati river.

River Vegavati, a manifestation of Sarasvati, saw the reclining form of the Lord and decided to flow underground to avoid incurring the wrath of the Supreme Lord. This form of the Lord is worshipped at Thiru-vekha, within the present Kanchipuram town, as Bhujanga-sayana Perumal even today.

According to the sthala purana, the Lord was reclining on the Sesha on His right hand side when He appeared as Bhujanga-sayana Perumal. As Vegavati river had offered her prayers to the Lord before going underground, a Deity of Vegavati personified was symbolically installed near His feet. This temple of Lord Bhujanga-sayana Perumal and its surrounding places came to be known as Thiru-vekha.

It was this Deity that is connected to Thirumazhisai-alwar’s pastime, which will be narrated in the next post.

Thus, Lord Narayana thwarted Sarasvati’s efforts to prevent the successful completion of Lord Brahma’s Ashvamedha sacrifice and at the conclusion of the sacrifice; Lord Vishnu appeared in His four-handed form in the sacrificial pit as Varada, the giver of boons. Lord Brahma requested Lord Vishnu to stay in that place always and, therefore, Lord Vishnu continued to abide in that place as Varada-Raja Perumal.

As Lord Brahma who is referred to as “ka” in the Vedic scriptures worshipped Lord Vishnu in that particular place, it came to be known as Kanchi and later on grew into a big city. The abode of the Lord in the form of Varadaraja Perumal came to be known as Hasthagiri. 

We will get back to Thirumazhisai-alwar in our next post.

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