Srishaila Mallikarjuna, Lepakshi, Ahobila Simhachala

Shrishaila: Some 230 km from Hyderabad is the Maha Kshetra of Srishaila Mallikarjiuna, called Dakshina Kailasa on the banks of River Krishna is described in detail in Shiva Purana, Padma Purana,and Maha Bharata; the oft-repeated truism about Srishaila shikharam drushtwa punarjanma na vidyate! Duhkham hi doorato yaat shubhamaatyantikam labhet, Janani garbha sambhutam kashtam naapnoti vai punah/( Mere darshana of Srishaila Shikhira/tower, all the difficulties of Life are smashed and such devotees have no rebirth indeed. Their concerns of life are dissolved and happy tidings are set in at once; the congenital issues of life are resolved for ever too. Shiva Purana is quoted: Mallikarjuna sanjnah cha avataarah Shankarasya vai, Dwiteeyah Shri Girou taatha bhaktaa- bheeshtah phala pradah/ Samstuto Linga rupena Suta darshana hetutah,GatastatraMahapreetyaasaShivahswagirermuneJyotrilingadwiteetadarshanaatpMuneh,Mahasukhakaramchante muktidam naatrashamshaya/(Bhagavan Shiva’s second incarnation is that of Srishaila to fulfill the wishes of devotees. As Skanda prayed to Maha Deva with devotion, filial duty and respect, the latter agreed to move himself to Srishaila. Munis! This second Avatar of mine should help generate joy and contentment  and finally bestow Moksha !)   Stated to be the Second in the Series of Jyotirlingas on the Sri Parvat, Lord Siva’s manifestation as Mallikarjuna along His Spouse Devi Bhramaramba is famed mythologically as the place of penance when Kartikeya was unhappy and felt cheated as Ganesha was wedded earlier despite the Agreement that whoever arrived first after full ‘Bhu Pradakshina’ (circumambulation of the World) would win, but Ganesha took advantage of a Provision of the Scriptures and performed a ‘Pradakshina’ of his parents and attained the advantage of the Pradakshina. Siva and Parvati visited the Krouncha Mountain to pacify Kartikeya but to no avail and thus moved over to the Mountain from Kailasa.As Vrishabha Deva –Siva Parvati’s Carrier-did Tapasya to the Maha Devas, they appeared as Mallikarjuna and Bhramaramba at this Holy Spot. Lord Rama is said to have installed a Sahasralinga and Pandavas set up Pancha Pandava Lingas in the Temple surroundings. In a tiny hole inside the temple of Devi Bhramaramba, one could still hear the buzz of bees as the Devi assumed the form of bees all over Her Body and killed Mahishasura. Adi Shankara is reputed to have scripted his well known Work named ‘Soundarya Lahari’ at this Temple. Inside the Main Temple of Mallikarjuna,the Shiva Linga Murti is of a small eight inches size sprushya Linga which could be touched and performed Abhishekham to. Behind the Main Temple is a separate Devi Parvati Temple and the name of the Devi is specified as Mallika.The entry of the Main Mandir is on the eastern side and opposite the Mandir is a small idol of Nandi Deva. On Shiva Ratris, Shiva Parvati wedding is celebrated. From the SrishailaTemple near the eastern side is the path leading to Patala Ganga some km or even less but tha path is difficult to negotiate and from there there are 850 steps of depth; River Krishna water is collected from this place to be taken away by yatris . Some 4km away from the Temple on a hill top is Shikhareshwar or Hatakeshwara Temple. It is from that height that Srishaila Shikhara Darshan is secured as Shri shaila shikharam drustwa punarjanma na vidyate! Bhramaramba Temple is stated to be one of the Shakti Peethas on the Shri Parvata at Shrishaila, where the neck of Devi Sati fell; there is however a controversy that the Temple of Shri Sundari near Shri Parvat, near Ladakh, in Jammu and Kashmir is appropriate where the right anklet ornament of Devi fell and Shiva Linga of Sundaranand is in Place nearby. The legend of Anunasura at Shri Shaila Bhramaramba is popular; the Asura prayed to Brahma with the contant recital of Gayatri Mantra which reverberated the hills and a Brahma appeared finally the Asura requested hat no tw legged or four legged species of Beings could kill him. As even Vishnu or Shiva failed to respond to kill the Asura, Devi Bhagavati wondred as to how to counter the power of Gayatri Mantra; Brihaspati the Deva Guru was commisioned to approach the Asura to whom Deva Guru asked to not to worship Gayatri since Devas worship her always. AsArunasura ceased to pray Gaatri any further, Devi Bhagavati assumed the mighty form of Bhramara or a huge bee and engaging a large army of bees, terminated Arunasura and his army instantly as Devi Bhramarambika! Lepakshi: Some 120km away from Bangalore of Karnataka and actually located in the Anantapur District at Hindupur (Andhra Pradesh) by 15 km is the magnificent Place of architectural work in rock sculpture of Vijayanagar Kings.Lepakshi is justly proud of a huge Nandi bull made of single granite stone of 4.5 mts. of height and 8 mts plus of length positioned just before the Temple complex facing an open air Shiva Linga shielded under a massive rock serpent of five hood rock structure while the Shiva Linga is surrounded by a three rounded coil fomation. This Nandi is a unique specimenm in Bharat, next only that of Gomateshwara. Another significant aspect of the Nandi is a massive ‘Kasu mala’or a necklace, a bell chain of earrings and jewellery all in rock. More importantly are three Temples of Shiva/ Virupaksha, Vishnu and Veerabhadra, the best of them perhaps is that of Veerabhadra on a hilloc named ‘Kurma shila’of tortoise shaped rock. The fantastic creations of these master pieces of art in stone were created by the courtesy of Amara Jakkanna and his followers of Vijaya Nagar Empire.Besides the highlights of art on rock at theTemple already mentioned are the Hanging Pillars, Print of Durga Paadam, typical designs of Lepakshi sarees etc. The depictions on the pillars of the halls are exquisite with scenes of Ramayana and Maha Bharata. An intersting story at the Temple pertains to one of the Master Sculptors annoyed the King who instructed to pull out his eyes; even before the instruction was carried out, the Sculptor himself pulled out his own eyes and the blood marks spilt out on the walls and the blots are seen even now.      Ahobila: Aho veeryam aho shouryam aho bahu parakramam,Narasimham para daivam aho bilam aho balam/ Ahobila Kshetra is a popular Vaishnava (Vadakala) Kshetra split at two levels called in the Telugu local language as ‘Eguva’ and ‘Diguva’ or Upper and Lower levels- in the ‘nallamala’ forests of Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh at the distance of 40 km from Nandyala or 150 km from Hyderabad at the Nallamala forest range at an altitude of 1000 ft. plus. That is the fabled Abode of Lord Narasimha or Prahlada Varada, the fourth incarnation of Maha Vishnu to terminate Hiranya Kashipu the demon who rescued Prahlada the illustrious Vishnu Bhakta. Amrita Valli is the corresponding Devi Lakshmi of the Godedess. Ahobila Kshetra opposite theAkshaya Tirtha where devotees purify themselves with snanas, before entering the Sacred Place portrays nine forms of Narasimha spread among nine Temples viz. Bhargava Nrisimha bestowing Lakshmikara siddhi or excellent prosperity as incarnate at the lower level of Ahobila, Yogananda Nrisimha also at the lower level signifying the aspect of compassion and overcoming problems of one’s life; Chatravata Narasimha representing Ketu Graha bestowing comforts of Life and expetise in Fine Arts; Ugra Nrisimha Temple at the upper level along with Chenchu Lakshmi or a Goddess as of a local Tribe Leader’s daughter who sought to cool down the fierce form of the Lord and eventually married to her representing Dei Lakshmi herself and teaching devotees the qualities of courage and timidlessness yet of maturity; Varaha Narasimha Swami at the upper level again along with his consort of Lakshmi;Malaava Vara Nrisimha along with Shri Lakshmi at Lakshmi Hill granting total fulfillment and auspiciousness to devotees; Jwala Nrisimha as had just annihilated Haranya kashipu since a pond of brick colour with which the Lord had just washed his hands with the blood of the demon called Rakta gunta Tirtham; Paavana Nrisimha or Kshetra Ratna Nrisimha or Pamulati Nrisimha Swami who povides safety and succor to devotees and finally Karanja Nrisimha or He who represents Shadvidha or or six types of austerities and purities viz. those of ‘Kara- charana- vaak- kaaya-karma- shravana- nayana’or by hands, legs, tongue, mouth, body, actions and mid- borne nature!At the Ahobila Complex, the significant Festivities are Phalguna Month celebrations, Janma Nakshatra ( Swati) Mahotsavas, Gramotsavas, Monthly Celbrations and Tirumanjana Sevas. Simhachala Tirtha: Some 16 km near Vishakapattanam in Andhra Pradesh is another significant Nrisimha Kshetra in Bharat is at Simhachala or the Lion Giri viz. Varaha Lakshmi Nrisimha of 15th century built by Gajapati Raja of Kalinga, the present part of Odisha State and King Krishnadeva Raya of Vijayanagara also attended the Opening Ceremony Brahmotsavas as given in available Inscriptions.The Legend about this incarnation of Nrisimha is due to the curse to the Gate keepers to Maha Vishnu’s Vaikuntha by Brahma Manasa Putras viz. Sanaka Sanandana Sanat Sanatana Kumaras who were stopped entry; the respective Danavas were Harayaksha in Varaha; Ravanasura and Kumbhakarna in Shri Rama Avatara,and Kamsa and Shishupalain Krishnavatara, besides Hiranya kashipu in Nrisimha Avatara. The Bhakta saved from Hiranya kashipu in the Nrisimha Avatara was Prahlada.Special Festivals at Simhachala are of Akshaya Triteeya with Chandana Lepana or Alankara with Gandha and during  Vaishakha Month. The main attractions at the Temple are a fantastic Stone Ratha and a 16 pillored Mandapa depicting Dashawataras and many Nrisimha Swarupas.

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at [email protected]