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Srimad Anantheshwar Temple, Manjeshwar
By Rashtrakavi Govinda Pai

The following is the write up by Rashtrakavi Sri Manjeshwar Govinda Pai about the Sahasra Kumbhabhishekam which was performed in the year 1920.

On the morning of the 28th of November last, (i.e., the day of Car Festival) this oracle ordered in the presence of His Holiness Shri Sukratheendra Swami, the spiritual head of the Kashi Mutt and several thousands of votaries assembled here for the Car Festival that on the full moon day of the month of Magha (i.e. February 1920) the great purification ceremony of the "Sahasra-Kumbhabhishekam" should be performed in this Temple for the increase of "Devasanidhya" or the presence of the immanent divinity, in pursuance whereof this function was taken up. About a month later, the trustees issued order to solicit the presence of all the three Swamis of Kashi, Gokarna and Kaivalyapur Mutts for this ceremony and also to send messengers to every place on the west coast from Goa to Cape Comorin inviting every member of our community that owes allegiance to three Mutts. Accordingly invitations were sent forth in the form of "Niroop" or precept issued in the name of God Shri Bhadranarasimha with His seal fixed Unto each of them in conformity to the immemorial vogue of the Temple and half a dozen priests bearing these writs were sent from Goa to Comorin to deliver them each within his prescribed limits. Wherever it was impossible to send such priests on account either of the want of time or remoteness of distance, of course the post did duty on them. Very material service was rendered in this matter by the long and detailed list of the names of our brethren in the "All-India Saraswath" in its special number of October 1919 in helping the organisers of this function to address these invitations.

The responses to these invitations were not small, for nearly 10,000 people gathered here during three most important days of this ceremony, and these people represented no less than 300 different places on the West Coast and the Ghauts; and if more did not come, it was because, as is evident from their letters, wires etc. they could not on account of the long time that would take them to reach here or in many cases, of the heavy cost of journey from places very far off. The Swami of Kaivalyapur Mutt could not attend the ceremony as His Holiness was very busy with preparing for the Prathista Ceremony at Gokarna of the Chakravartishwar Shivalinga to follow within 20 days of this ceremony here and the Swami of Gokarna could not come as His Holiness was in a bad state of health at that time. So only the Swami of Kashi Mutt was present here to perform it.

On Monday the 2nd of February and the 13th day of the bright half of the lunar month of Magha this Sacred Ceremony commenced with the performance of the rite of "Kautukabandhana" when a red silk thread with a piece turmeric attached to it, was tied up to the right wrists of all the most important images as well as nearly 70 priests who were to officiate at this function. That day the "Vastuhoma" and the "Navagrahahoma" were performed. On the Next day the sacred "Homa" of "Shri Narasimhagayathri" was performed to the repetition of hundred thousand times of the holy mantra and the Name of Shri Narasimha by all the priests, and pieces of Sacred and consecrated fuel were offered in the fire after each utterance of the "Mantra". That evening just before the sunset, all the Thirthas or Sacred waters procured from various places in India, as many and more Sacred Earths, and all the other very rare things procured with pain such as sun-stone, rain-water, snow, dew water etc. were taken over to the Temple from where they had been carefully kept till then. On both of these days just after nightfall, at the termination of the day's functions, all the thousands of men, women and children that had assembled for this ceremony were served with meals which had been just consecrated by having been offered to God.

The next day i.e. Wednesday, the day of the full moon (4th of February) that holiest day of holies, in a special pendal was drawn the beautiful and immense rectangular diagram with powders of various colors specially prepared for it, and upon this chequered figure were placed the 1001 pots of which one was gold, eight of silver and the rest of earth, each filled with its special substance and water, and the consecration of these pots commenced therewith. On that day, till after the meals were over at night, none was allowed to cross the outer threshold of the Temple and enter inside who had not kept his fast to break it only with Gods Naivedya at night and who was not in wet clothes over his body; and nearly two thousand people if not more, observed fast that day.

A few words with regard to the substances that were used in the function and consecrated in these pots for the bathing of the holy images, will not be out of place here. The diagram, which was an oblong in shape, was composed of several chequered squares, in each of which was placed a set of as many pots as there were chequers in it. Thus one set consisted of pots containing all the precious stones, metals, sunstone, moonstone, loadstone etc. put one in each pot. The next set contained one fruit in each pot and numbered about 25 in all. The third set contained pots filled with powders of vegetable and other perfumes. The fourth set consisted of pots filled with waters drawn from various sources. (This set contained pots filled with rainwater, dew water and snow in addition to several other waters. The Advaita Ashram at Mayavati in the Himalayas, kindly sent a quantity of Himalayan snow and from a village in the very remote east of the district a large quantity of dew water was specially collected for this purpose and brought over here) The fifth set consisted of several sorts of grains, the sixth of different preparations made of barley flour, the seventh of gingelly oil, sugar cane juice, honey, molasses and several other liquids that have to be specially prepared. And the next consisted of various Earths, such as Earths collected from holy places Earth obtained from an Elephants tusk, from a Wild boars tusk, from the horn of the yellow colored bull, from an Anthill etc. A man was specially deputed to Cochin, where in the state Zoological gardens at Trichur, the wild boar there was tempted to delve into the Earth when the Earth as it stuck to its tusks were collected. The Earth from the Elephants tusk was collected here for the purpose in December last when a certain Elephant had been brought over to this place. Then followed a series of sets, one consisting of various herbs only, another of barks of diverse trees, the third of different varieties of leaves, the fourth of many a sort of flowers, the fifth a lot of seeds, the sixth of not a few grains, the seventh of tender offshoots, the eight of bulbs or tubers and so on and so forth.

The consecration of all these 1001 sacred pots as also the simultaneous performances of the HOMA connected therewith continued till about 4 P.M. where after the bathing of the images was begun with pouring over them the several thousands of tender coconuts offered by the votaries. Then the images were bathed in the sacred thirthas brought from far and wide. Arrangements had been made to obtain from several parts of India and Burma almost all the most important among the countless thirthas or sacred waters for this ceremony and everywhere the request conveyed in this matter was readily compiled with.

When all these sacred waters had been poured over the images, about 500 men, young and old, everyone of them fasting and dripping wet, prostrated themselves before God once to each chanting of His 108 names as the same were recited by two priests from the Narasimha Astotharam. Then His Holiness Shri Sukratheendra Swami began to bathe the holy images with one thousand and one consecrated pots. When it was nearing towards the hour of midnight the last pot, that of gold, was poured over the images amid acclamations of the Holy names. Then the images were wiped clean and set in their proper placed decorated with their respective ornaments, when lights were waved before them and the whole ceremony of this Holy ablution thus came to a very happy close at about one in the night.

Then were meals served to all the thousands of people, once, again and over again, by turns, as there was no room enough to seat all of them, men, women and children, all at one and the same time. When all these turns of meals ended the dawn was purple in the east. Then there was the invocation of the Oracle. Offerings were made in aid of this ceremony by a good number of votaries and large sums were promised by several others, and the Oracle then presented 500 (Five Hundred) rupees to the Swami of the Kashi Mutt. That afternoon Dakshina was given to one and all of the priests that had officiated at the ceremony as well as to all others, and such of these priests as had come over here from outside, far or near, were paid their traveling expenses also.

It is really a matter of delight to mention here the splendid and selfless services rendered by the volunteers in this ceremony. They came from several parts of the district, and counted among them both educated and uneducated men, young and old, who were not less than 200 in number. All of these volunteers observed fast during the 4 or 5 most important days of this ceremony.

A new step, of rather significant character, was taken on the 30th and 31st of January, a couple of days before this festival, when the trustees of every religious institution and the leaders of every such other community as had no particular place of worship for itself, were specially invited and were paid from the Temple treasury commensurably to the number of its members, and were requested to use it in feeding its members on that holy day of the 4th February, and offer prayers in a body unto God at mid noon on that day for the welfare of all the people, irrespective of cast and creed, and supplicate unto Him against the famine and pestilence of the last year and the year before last and further to withhold the same thenceforth from the sons of men. A very large amount of money was thus disbursed among all the Hindus, Brahmins and non-Brahmins, Muhammadans and Christians, even Panchamas and the aboriginal Koragas, and no religious institution not even animistic shrine, nor any community however small and insignificant, was left out of account in this charity, as was within a radius of about 3 or 4 miles. And on the 4th of February a treat was given to all the school children within the same radius.

This Sahasrakumbhabishekam ceremony, as was performed here, is in accordance with the prescripts laid down in a work called the Padmasamhita which is an incorporate portion of a larger work called the Pancharathra obviously a work of the Vishishtadwaita school of philosophy and ritualism. In the ninth chapter of the charyapada of the Padmasamhita Vishnu enjoins the performance of this ceremony to Brahma, describing it in every detail, as the one that can avert many a calamity, general as well as particular, such as famine, pestilence etc. and its performance has been exhorted especially in these days of decay of faith, when the spirit of God is said to withdraw day by day from the abode of man. This very same ceremony was performed in this very Temple under the superintendence of the Late Bhuvanendra Thirtha Swami on the full moon day of Margashira month in the year Yuva (12th December 1875). But the organisers of the other days function had an advantage over those of its predecessor in that day had the far larger facilities of post, wire and widespread acquaintance, no less than those offered by the All India Saraswat which supplied us with so many addresses of our brethren in all the different parts of India, that every arrangement could be made to obtain one and all of such substances required for this ceremony as are not known in this district and its vicinities. Thus as the leaves and barks of the Tamala and Kadamba trees could not be had anywhere to the south of the Vindhya range, a wire was sent to Rai Pandit Radhakrishna Bahadur of Muttra, U.P., to send these things as well as tulasi leaves from Brindaban, sacred earth from the same place, the water of the river Jamuna and some other things. He most promptly complied with the request and kindly sent one and all of these things at his own cost and declined to accept money remitted to pay their cost and other expenses and wired back to say as a Saraswat himself, he deemed it his sacred duty to contribute his share towards this ceremony in a Saraswat temple, may such love increase among our community and may the sacred word Saraswat have the force of a matrakul to attract, unite and hold together our whole community from Kashmir to Comorin into the space of its sense in a very close fraternity, was the one prayer which all of us offered on the holy day unto Sri Bhadranarasimha, the God of Saraswats quoting once and again the noble words of this gentleman in public! Many other gentlemen rendered similar services to this ceremony, and the superintendents of the Agricultural Gardens of Madras and the Government Botanic Gardens of Bangalore not only supplied all the required vegetable substances but took great pains to find out the exact Latin names corresponding to the rare Sanskrit names of the plants which were quoted to them from the text, and for all these services of one and all of these gentlemen, the organisers of this function are deeply indebted to them. Here I beg leave of my readers to close this article with an humble tribute of mine own towards this great, unique and sacred ceremony, the like of which, one cannot say when he will have the rare fortune to witness again.

Temple of Shri Ugra Narasimha, Sri Bhadra Narasimha, Shri Subramanya, Shree Naga / Naaga, Sri Anantheshwar, / Anantheshwara , Shri Madanantheshwar / Madanantheshwara belonging to Gowda or Gaud Saraswat Brahmins / GSB community at Manjeshwar. This is one of the oldest and famous Temples of Konkani , Konkanis

Srimad Anantheshwar Temple Manjeshwar India