What is now the Rajarajeshwari Temple on the Girivalam pathway has been
located at the same quarter acre site in some form or another for the
last 100 years. The family which maintains the Trust of this independent
Temple is that of A.Valagurumudaliar Annaporni, and is currently
comprised of seven brothers and two sisters, all of whom are actively
involved in the running and maintenance and continual development of
this beautiful shakti Temple.
The family hails from a merchant tradition, and are Mudaliars, a sect
famous for their support of Temples and Religious endeavours in many
areas throughout Tamil Nadu besides Tiruvannamalai, including
Chingleput, Tiruvukoil and Vellore Districts. Other notable Mudaliars
supported Temples in the township of Tiruvannamalai include the Kali Ma
Temple on Chengam Road, Mariyamman Temple on Manullarpet Road and the
Pachaiamman Temple located at the Southeast side of Tiruvannamalai.
Of the seven brothers of the Valagurumudaliar Annaporni family, Arul
Arasu, who trained as an engineer, is currently the priest and manager
of Rajarajeshwari Temple. The small shrine room of the current
Rajarajeshwari Temple used to be the original Temple. However over the
years the Temple has grown and expanded around the shrine room and now
includes many other features.
Rajarajeshwari is held as the first God of the Devi Mahatmyam, in
which all others Gods are centred. Temples dedicated to this aspect of
the Goddess are particularly associated with South India with the
biggest and most famous Temple located at Tanjore (the city of Temple
artisans; sculptors and painters). The Rajarajeshwari Temple at
Tiruvannamalai is most remarkable for the presence of a Koorm Pristhiya
(Kurma Meru Yantra) in the Temple's Shrine Room, for the recently
installed murtis of the Dasa Mahavidyas and also for the Temple's
location at Parvati Hill.
There is a blind spot on the fourteen kilometre girivalam road that
starts around the Palani Andar Shrine and ends at the Surya Lingam, from
which it's impossible to see the Deepam on top of Arunachala during
Karttika festival. This stretch of roadway of approximately half a
kilometre is the only part of the fourteen kilometre girivalam pathway
from which the view of the top of Arunachala is obscured. For this
reason local folklore has it that Parvati Hill (at the foot of which is
situated the Rajarajeshwari Temple) is particularly associated with the
Shakti (Parvati) aspect of Ardhanarishvara.
Koorm Pristhiya (Kurma Meru Yantra)
There are three kinds of Sri Yantra, Bhuprastha, Kurma Prastha and Meru
Prastha. A plain Sri Yantra is called Bhuprishtha (back of the Earth),
one which is raised on a tortoise back is called Kachchhap Prishtha and
that which is raised fully like the Sumeru Mountain is called Meru
Prishthha (like a Mountain).
The 3-Dimensional Meru Sri Yantra is a multi-Pyramid Cosmic Grid
signifying unlimited abundance and positive powers. In the cosmos there
are three states; Creation, Establishment and Destruction and these are
represented by the three circles in the Sri Yantra which in itself is
the symbol of the Universe or Cosmos.
Sri Yantra is the worshipping place of the form of the Mahatripura
Sundari (Rajarajeshwari). It is Her divine abode. All Gods and Goddesses
are worshipped in it and all other religious adorations are done there
as it includes all conducts, learning and elements.
Koorm Pristhiya (Meru) Sri Yantra is one of the oldest, rarest and most
precious Yantras and believed to have been created by Adi Guru
Dattatreya for the welfare of the world. The name, Kachchhap Prishtha,
which means, "mounted at the back of tortoise upwards" is also
significant because in Hindu mythology, it is believed that the tortoise
lifted the weight of the earth on its back. The tortoise is
particularly relevant as it's a very powerful, protected being that can
live in either water or land. It is also non-violent and Nature has
provided it with a strong cover or jacket to protect it from danger.
The Sri Yantra designed over the back of the tortoise has eight petals
as in the case of the original Sri Yantra where the Lotus flower
(Kamala) has eight groups with sixty four Lotus dal. The reason the
lotus flower was chosen for the base of the Yantra is that the lotus is
the only holy flower believed to have originated from the navel (Nabhi)
of Lord Vishnu.
The Sri Yantra designed on the mount over the back of a tortoise looks
similar to the dome of a temple which is slightly mounted. It also
depicts one of the fundamental of Vastu Kala which says that any
residential house, palace or temple must be mounted at the centre to the
top, so that the person residing in it should get more energy radiation
and solar reflections from the Universe in order to ensure a life of
This particular Meru inside the shrine of the Rajarajeshwari Temple on
the Arunachala girivalam pathway has an fascinating recent anecdote. In
2000 Swami Nithyananada performed a homam (puja) at Rajarajeshwari Kovil
(on behalf of the Temple) for the purpose of expediting the successful
completion of ongoing Temple development. In lieu of financial payment
for the puja, the Temple presented the then existing Sri Meru Yantra to
Swami Nithyananda and replaced it with a new Sri Meru Yantra for the
Rajarajeshwari shrine room. Thus the current Sri Meru Yantra at the
Temple only dates from the year 2000.
In addition to the peculiar facts of the Temple's location and the Sri
Meru Yantra, Rajarajeshwari Temple is also unique (at Arunachala)
because of the presence of statue representations of the Dasa Mahavidyas
in the Temple's Shrine room.
The feminine aspect of the Divine represents knowledge (wisdom) and also
what is hidden, secret, subtle and sensitive, what has to be searched
out and discovered. The Goddess who represents both the teaching and its
comprehension, is thus the inner guiding power. She represents creation
on all levels, expressed through her Ten Wisdom Forms (Dasa Mahavidyas)
and their different functions.
"The Ten Forms of the Goddess function not merely to teach us
superficially or intellectually but to challenge us to look deeper. As
great cosmic forces their energies can be difficult to bear and their
extremes of appearance and expression may jolt us. Their forms are often
disturbing, and they are not meant to be merely pleasant. They are
meant, like mysteries, to entrance or shock the mind into awakening.
They are not meant to merely console or inspire but to promote within us
the deepest search. Their forms are ambiguous, contradictory and
paradoxical. They are provocative energies designed to take hold of our
minds and through their enigmatic nature neutralize the thought process
which keeps us in bondage."
[by David Frawley]
The Dasa Mahavidyas - The Ten Wisdom Goddesses
Kali: The Goddess of Yogic Transformation. She is thought to be
the most mysterious and difficult to understand of the Goddesses. She is
dark, destructive, terrible in form, and unpredictable and is allied
with the forces of death. She appears alien to ordinary esthetic
interpretations of beauty.
Tara: The Saving Word. Tara is not only an important Hindu
Goddess, she is also the most important of the Buddhist Goddesses. The
word Tara, means the deliverer or saviour and this Goddess is called
upon in emergencies or at crossroads where we require guidance.
Tripurasundari: The Beauty of Pure Perception. Sundari literally
means beauty. To worship this Goddess is to follow the path of beauty
and delight through the world of nature into the Absolute.
Bhuvaneshwari: The Queen of the Universe. Bhuvaneshwari means the
Queen or ruler of the Universe. She is the Divine Mother as the Queen
of all the worlds. All the Universe is her body and all beings are
ornaments on her infinite being. She carries all the worlds as a
flowering of her own Self-nature. She is thus related to Sundari and to
Rajarajeshwari, the supreme Lady of the Universe.
Bhairavi: The Warrior Goddess. "Bhairavi specifically means
"terrifying" and is the powerful, awesome, or energetic form of the
Goddess. She represents transforming heat or radiance, Tejas, which is
the primal power or Divine energy. This we experience as a frightening
thing because it burns away and destroys all the limitations and
illusions of egocentric existence." [David Frawley]
Chhinnamasta: The Consciousness Beyond the Mind. The name
Chhinnamasta, literally means "a severed head" - is the most frightening
form of the Goddess. She has cut off her own head and, holding it in
her right hand, with it drinks the blood flowing from her own severed
neck. Yet her face is not frightening but happy, even blissful. What she
presents is the joy of transcending the body, not the pain of losing
it. She is also the most energetic form of the Goddess and shows the
power of transformation in action.
Dhumavati: The Grandmother Spirit. Dhumavati is the eldest among
the Goddesses, the Grandmother Spirit. She stands behind the other
Goddesses as their ancestral guide. As the Grandmother Spirit she is the
great teacher who bestows the ultimate lessons of birth and death. She
is the knowledge that comes through experience.
Bagalamukhi: The Hypnotic Power of the Goddess. Bagalamukhi is
the Goddess of speech, and as such is related to Tara and regarded as a
form of her. When sound becomes manifest as light, Tara, becomes Bagala.
"When the brilliant light of speech comes forth, then Tara gains the
effulgence of Bagala and causes all things to become still. Bagala is
thus the stunning radiance that comes forth from the Divine Word and
puts the human or egoistic word to rest." [David Frawley]
Matangi: The Utterance of the Divine Word. Mata literally means
"a thought" or "an opinion". Matangi is thus the Goddess power which has
entered into thought or the mind. She is the word as the embodiment of
thought. She bestows knowledge, talent and expertise.
Kamalatmika: The Lotus Goddess of Delight. Kamalatmika is one
whose nature is of the lotus. The lotus Goddess is Lakshmi, the consort
of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the Universe. Kamala is Lakshmi among
the Ten Wisdom Goddesses (Dasa Mahavidyas) and is the goddess of wealth,
beauty, fertility, love and devotion.