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  Sankara Matam
  Kanchi - A brief sketch
  Shower of Gold
  Mutts in Kancheepuram
Sri Adi Sankara & Sri Kamakoti Peetam
Sankara History By Art
  Matam Branches
  Guruparamparas
  Temples
  Sri Varadaraja Perumal
  Sri Yadokthakari
  Ashtabhuja Perumal
  Sri Kachapeswar
  Sri Kailasanathar
  Kumarakottam
Pandava Dhootha Perumal
  Sri Ekamreswarar
  Sri Ulagalanda Perumal
  Sri Kamakshi Devi
Sri Pachaivannar and Sri Pavalavannar
Sri Vaikunta Natha Permul
  Chitragupta Temple

   
 Kanchi - A Brief Sketch
 

Introduction:

    Kancheepuram, popularly known as 'Kanchi' is one of the ancient cities of South India. This historic city is famous for its lovely temples and prominent for its silk industry. It is one of the important pilgrim centers in the Thondainadu region of Tamilnadu located 65 Kms. southwest of Madras. It is considered to be one of the seven Mukthi Kshethras, the sacred places of worship where the devotees are believed to attain salvation. Poet Kalidasa's words 'Nagareshu Kanchi' and the saying 'Mukthi Tharum Nagaramezhul Mukkiyamam Kanchi' of the great Vaishnavite Acharya 'Swami Nigamantha Maha Desika' are said in praise of this sacred city. It is described in the puranas as Sathyavratha Kshethra, meaning a holy centre, the residents of which had built up a high reputation for speaking the truth, as Sathyavachana, speaking truth alone was their varatha or walk of life. It is said that all austerities performed in this city will bear fruits in plenty. A number of religions flourished here at different times. The large number of temples here stand to show that Saivism and Vaishnavism hold their sway in this sacred city.

    The city Kanchi is divided into two parts viz. 'Vishnu Kanchi' or 'Little Kanchi' and 'Siva Kanchi' or 'Big Kanchi'. That part of the town situated on the left of the central bus stand of Kanchepuram is called 'Vishnu Kanchi' while that on the right is called 'Siva Kanchi'. The temples of Lord Varadaraja, Yadokthakari, Deepaprakasar and Ashtabuja Perumal embellish 'Vishnu Kanchi' while the shrines of Sri Vaikunta Perumal, Sri Ulagalantha Perumal, Sri Ekamreswarar, Sri Kachapeswarar, Sri Kailasanathar, Goddess Sri Kamakshi, Sri Kumarakottam and Sri Sankara Mutt of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam adorn the 'Siva Kanchi'. It is said that 108 sanctums of Lord Siva and 18 sanctums of Lord Vishnu are situated in this holy city. The sky scraping towers and huge walled enclosures of the temples on all sides of the city attract pilgrims and immerse them in a sense of deep devotion. Words are not adequate to describe the artistic beauty of the sculptures on the towers and the pillars of the mandapas in the temples, standing in proof of the high level of advancement of this art in ancient times. Thus, the city of Kanchi is a big treasure of art and architecture and is therefore fittingly called 'The city of Temples'.

 
Puranic Origin:

     Kanchi is described as the naval of our motherland 'Bharath' and the girdle of Mother Goddess Parasakthi manifesting in teh mono-syllable absoluted designate "Om". It is said that Lord Brahma worshipped Godess Parasakthi who adorns Sri Kamakoti Peetam here. Again, it was here that Lord Vishnu emerged in a resplendent form with four arms bedecked with the celestial conch, wheel, cub and Abhaya hastha from the ritual fire of Lord Brahma. The city of Kanchi is so called becuase Brahma performed worship here, - The word 'Ka' denotes 'Brahma' and 'Anchi' denotes worship. It is here Brahma worshipped Lord Varadharaja and Goddess Sri Kamakshi.

    The five primordial substances, Earth (Prithvi), Water (Aapaha), Light-fire (Thejas), Air (Vayu) and Space (Aakasa) form part of the creations and the existence of these five components is exhibited in every creation of this universe. They are called the 'Panchabhootas' and reflect the truth that God is ominiscient.

    Each of these panchabhoothas is associated with one among the five sacred places in our holy country, called Panchabhoothasthalas, of which Kanchi is one and is associated with Prithivi, the earth. Lord Siva manifests Himself here in the form of Prithivilinga and is worshipped as Sri Ekamreswara. Similarly, among the shrines where Satkthi is worshipped as 'Jagathkarani' Goddess Prasakthi is worshipped at Kanchi as Kamakshi who is associated with space or Akasa. Here the Goddess is said to have manifested herself in the form of cosmic space Or Akasa. Here the Goddess is said to have manifested herself in the form of cosmic space glorified as Bilakasa. It is here that Lord Vishnu gave dharshan in the form of an Archamoorthi and is worshipped as 'Varadaraja' fulfilling the ambitions of the devotees.

    Lord Ekamreswara, Goddess Kamakshi and Lord Varadaraja are said to sanctify the shrines dwelling under Rudrakoti, Kamakoti and Punyakoti Vimanas respectively. Another famous temple in this sacred city is "Kumarakottam" the shrine of Sivakumara "Sri Subhrahmanya". It is with the grace of this Lord Sri Kumaraswami that Sri Kachchiappa Sivacharya, the priest of this temple wrote the famous work in Tamil 'Kandapurana", which narrates the story and glory of the Sivakumara.

    The glory of the temples of Kanchi was sung by Nayanmars, Alwars, Acharyas, Saints and spiritual guides. It is here that Sri Adi Sankara installed "Srichakra" in the shrine of "Sri Kamakshi" and instituted" Sri Kamakoti Peetam". Besides, Kanchi was also described by the famous, Chinese pilgrim “Heiun-Chuwang”.

Kanchi - A MUKTHI KSHETRA:

     Temples are the sacred spots where we have the privilege of worshipping the Almighty in a form appealing to our thought and heart. The omniscient and omnipotent God descends on to the earth to uphold 'Dharma' and to protect the virtuous from the wicked whenever excigenicies arise.It is discribed as Avathar or incarnation. In these incarnations, the Lord performs many a miracle to manifest His greatness and to establish faith in the hearts of His devotees. Our ancestors have constructed temples to commemorate these incarnations and also to perpetuate the faith in God. The Deity is installed in the temple to enable devotees to think of the greatness of God with undaunted faith that the deity installed there sanctifies the place to shower blessings on the devotees for all times to come. These temples are the sacred spots of worship by means of which our thoughts are purified. Purification of thought is the sure way to get rid of our sins, egoism, and wordly worries. Purity of thought is the path for peace and worship ensures purity of thought. Prayer protects us from falling a prey to the impluses of 'Maya' and makes us worthy of seeking liberation. Our ancestors, have, therefore laid stress on the importance of temple worship as a means of mental peace. It is no exaggeration to say that the pilgrims who visit Kanchi will carry the impression that those who have a glimpse of the glorious temples of Kanchi and offer prayers in this Mukthi Kshetra are indeed the blessed and are well on their way to reach the goal of life.