Website Wednesdays: Interview with Sarvanan from Dhivya Darsanam, a Blog on Hindu Temples in South India
Please leave comments for Sarvanan directly at his blog, click here. Thank you.
Saravanan has been posting links to his blog in my yahoo group, Tamil Devotionals since last year. It’s only in the last few months I have been still enough to read the intriguing entries and eagerly awaiting for more.
Saravanan’s blog detailing Hindu temples he’s visited mostly in Tamil Nadu, India, is not a travel blog- in my opinion it is almost like a historical narration of these various sites. Saravanan is able to narrate the legends behind the temples. These legends are not just about the historical background and initiations of the temple, but also stories of why people visit certain temples complete with photographs that make one and all who visit his blog feel as if you are experiencing the temples with him as you read along.
Saravanan, what was the initial inspiration to start this blog? What continues to spark your eager enthusiasm to continue this blog?
Sarvanan says: Thanks Jennifer, for this opportunity to interact with you. Right from my childhood, temples have always been fascinating me. I just love the way some ancient temples are constructed, with some reasoning attached to them.
In the course of my temple visits, I found many temples which are about 1000 years or 1500 years old but lacking funds for maintenance. The authorities of many such temples even find it difficult to light the lamp everyday, without money to buy oil for the lamp. Such is the state of many temples here. Temple priests do not have proper salaries. Sometimes, they spend their money to serve God. They only wish that many people visit the temple and know the importance and heritage of the place.
I thought if I start writing about the places I visit, at least 1 or 2 people visit the temple after reading my blog, it could be of some help to the temple. Just thought, even 2 people visit everyday and contribute Rs. 5 each; it will be of help to the temple at least to light the lamp for the Lord, which is very very important.
The legends and accounts you narrate reach into antiquity- some accounts reach back more than 1500 years. Do you find it easy to collect these accounts when you visit the temples? Who in the temple narrates these stories to you?
Sarvanan says: You are right. I visit certain temples by hearing about them through friends or some books. But in most of these temples, the priests or the temple officers are happy to share the legend and history with us, as they are happy that some one is willing to know about the temple. In few temples, they also sell the books about the legend and history of the temple at a nominal price and the money earned out of it is used for the development of the temple.
In a few posts you mentioned that there are a series of 9 Navagraha temples in Chennai. Which temples have been selected? Who decides on adding these to this exclusive list? What makes these temples special in comparison to the many temples of Chennai that would be having Navagraha shrines (Nava- 9 Grahas- planets)?
Sarvanan says: Almost all temples have Navagraha shrines. But these Navagraha shrines which I specially narrated are dedicated to 1 planet each. You can see the popular Navagraha temples of Kumbakonam. Similarly, our ancestors have built 9 temples dedicated to 9 Navagrahas around Chennai. All these belong to Chola period. Recently the government has identified those temples and has officially announced a package trip in Tamilnadu tourism to these temples.
I find it fascinating that Hindu temples were often constructed with mathematical calculations. Some calculations are based on the direction and degree at which the sun shines at certain time of the year (as in this post, Poondhamalli Sri Vaidheeswarar), and others based on the direction of the temple entrance (as in this post, Ariyathurai Sri Varamoortheeswarar). I noticed these calculations can also be equated with certain special qualities- such as south facing entrances or “‘Parihaara Sthalams’ meant for finding remedies to one’s problems.” What are some of the most intriguing of such calculations you have learned about in your temple research until present?
Sarvanan says: Actually there are so many such calculated constructions with some meanings attached to it. For instance Surya Pooja at Sri Vedanarayana Perumal temple at Nagalapuram. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in his Matsyavataar (in form of fish). Lord took the form of a fish and went deep inside the ocean to bring back the Vedas which were kept under custody by a demon. As the Lord was in water for long time during his war against demon, it is said that the Sun God does pooja with his warmth for 3 days in a year. The first day, the sun rays fall at the feet of the Lord. Second day till the chest level and the third day rays fall up to the forehead level. And this never repeats again till next year. What a calculation!! Imagine the construction. Would you call it the architectural excellence or the astronomical brilliance? Am sure our ancestors were good in astronomy as they can calculate the degrees and directions of Sun’s positions.
Another interesting fact I came across was in any Shiva temple, if the base of the Lingam is of square shape, it means that the idol was installed by some Rishi or Saint for worship. If the base of the lingam is of circular shape, it is either self evolved or sculpted and installed by some king or others.
Similarly, if the Goddess in standing position, has her left foot a bit forward, it signifies that she is ‘Chathru Samhari’ (destroyer of enemies). People pray to her to be relieved from fear of enemies.
There are many such more calculations which denote many things in life. But the time and space won’t be sufficient here to narrate all. But one has to visit and experience them to believe them.
Thank you for your time and blogging efforts! Will keep tuned in for more!
Some of my favorite posts on Sarvanan’s blog:
Sabarimalai Sri Ayyappan
Thirukkarugaavoor Sri Garbharakshaambigai
Thenkudi Thittai - Guru Bhagavan
Maangaadu Sri Kamakshi Amman
Nagalapuram Sri Veda Narayana Perumal
This post is a one in the series of Inspirational Blogger Interviews
Related Posts/Sites: Stories about Kanchipuram Temples (in 10 parts)
Photo by Krishna Kumar
. Used with permission.
Website Wednesdays Archive
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Updated July 2009.