A Place called Vrishapathri, Thirumaaliruncholai- Part I
The rishis of Naimisharanya, kept pouring into the clearing that had been created in the midst of the divine forest. “Is it true?”, they kept asking their comrades, “Is Vyasa’s student Suta among us today? Wonder why he has come”. The general chatter battered back and forth, spreading the news and rumour. And the rishis kept clamoring into the forest opening. Hundreds of them!!!
Amidst all the noise, a voice, called out. Nay, the voice commanded, “To you, who live in this forest abode of Vishnu, I offer my heartfelt pranams”. Seated by a tree was a rishi, just like the others, suffused in a soft glow of light, his tapaagni kept under control. Sutamuni smiled at them. “But tell me, would you not like to know that there does exist another place, equally captivating as this very place? Full of flowers and gardens, so beautiful that it even lured the God of Death into it’s magic”.
As stunned silence followed immediately replaced by murmurs of assent gliding along the gathered munis.”Then gather around”, voiced Suta, “to hear in full about the grandeur of Vrishabadri”.
Thus begins the Vrishabadri Mahatmayam, detailing in all glory the holy hill of Vrishabadri.
Sutamuni begins his narrative, the rishis giving him their highest attention. ” It once happened that Yama, the Lord of Death was on a pilgrimage to all the sacred places on earth. Wandering along the mountainous regions in the south of Bharathakaanda, he is delighted by the sight of colourful flowers and heady scents that beckoned him. Leaving his vaahana, the buffalo, to graze, he sits down to meditate upon the Parabrahman. Narayana, extremely happy with Yama’s prayers appears before him and grants him a wish. Ever gracious on the humankind, Yama asks Vishnu to remain at the place, for the benifit of humanity. Narayana too agrees, and in a glimmer of light spreads himself over the area. Yama immediately summons VishwaKarma, the divine architect, and asks him to construct a vimanam there. Upon its completion, happy with his accomplishment, Yama returns back to Yamaloka. Now, since Yama was in his Dharma Samrakshaka form while he meditated, he was called Vrisha and the place came to be known as Vrishapatri. The name could also have come upon because of the Bull shape of the mountain (Vrishaba-Bull), a stark remainder of the of Yama’s Buffalo once having grazed there.”
” The place is blessed with lush forests, peace loving animals and rich lands, all fed by the ever perennial river, Silambar. When Vishnu as Vamana, asked Bali chakravarthy to grant him 3 paces of land, Bali readily agreed. The word given, Vishnu then assumed his Trivikrama Roopa, covering earth with one stride and all of heaven with another. Brahma, in SathyaLoka, excited at the sight of the Lord’s toes reaching up to the heavens, poured water from his kamandala on them and offered his prayers. A few drops are believed to have spilt earthwards when some of the toe rings (Noopura) of Vishnu shook. It is this which runs as Silambar today and due to its origin it is also called Noopura Gangai. It is supposed to be highly wish granting for any person who bathes in it with devotion and sincerity. Don’t you all agree that the place is worth a visit?”
The soul stirring narration of Sutamuni, infuses a divine light into the listening rishis of Naimisaranya. They all unanimously decide that this place where the divine river flows is definitely worth a pilgimage and scatter to ready themselves for a long journey south.
“Then, may the lord of Vrishabathri protect us all. Om Namo Narayanaya!!!”, prays Suta, ending his holy narration, and preparing himself for the journey.
Months later, they end up at the foot hills of Vrishabadri, having visited various theerthas and kshetras on their way. And guess what? The controlled senses of the rishis were no match to the glorious surroundings that had captured even Yama’s attention with their beauty. The rishis decided to stay over there and perform tapas unto the supreme lord, Padmanabha. They set up a vast ashrama in the foot hills, by the holy Silambar, and perform yagnas, poojas and tapas, praying for the welfare of the world. Thus Vrishabhadri, already sacred by virtue of Yama’s presence and the Noopura Ganga, was further sanctified by the tapas of the rishis.
To Be Cotd.