Last week, on one of those busy weekdays, I had managed to wrap up work on time and surprisingly got back home in 40 minutes without being held up by traffic-jams. A friend of mine who had recently returned from Bangkok invited me to join him on a visit to the Parathasarathy temple at Tiruvallikeni, now known as Triplicane. It was an unexpected blessing. On an earlier occasion, when I tried to make a trip to the temple, it did not materialize.
When I entered the temple, I was filled with awe and joy. The temple was quite empty and I was able to spend time at the main shrine and absorb His presence to my heart's content. The temple priests also took immense interest in answering my curiosity questions about the temple's history.
The temple is over 2000 years old and one among the 108 Divyadeshams in India. Believed to be built by the Pallavas in the 8th century, subsequent contributions were made by the Chola and Vijayanagara dynasties. The temple follows the Thenkalai tradition. Bhagavan stands 9 feet tall facing east.
In the great epic, Mahabharata, prior to the war at Kurukshetra, Arjuna requests Lord Krishna to stay by Arjuna's side in the war. The Lord becomes Arjuna's charioteer in the great war. Partha refers to Arjuna and Sarathy means Charioteer, hence the name, Partha-sarathy, Arjuna's Charioteer. As a charioteer, the Lord sports a moustache, denoting valour and manliness. So he is also known as Meesai-Perumal (God with a moush) in Tamizh.
In keeping with His promise, the Lord does not use the Sudarshana chakra in the war, instead wields the holy conch Panchajanya in his Abhayahasta (right hand) to announce the war and his Varadhahastam (left hand) points downwards towards His feet denoting the Gyana Mudra. Out of love for His Bhakta (Devotee), here Arjuna, the Lord shields him from Bhishma's arrows in the war and hence His face shows scar marks. In order to treat His wounds, only ghee is used. No spices or ground nut oil is used in the temple. It is also a constant reminder to devotees that outward beauty is fleeting.
The name Tiru-alli-keni refers to Goddess Mahalakshmi who is believed to have been born here in a lotus flower in the tank. Tiru refers to the Goddess, Alli is the lotus and Keni is the pond. Sage Bhrigu prays to the Lord requesting Him to become Bhrigu's son-in-law. In answer to the sage's prayers, Mahalakshmi is born as Vedavalli. When it is time for Her marriage, Lord Ranganatha comes to Bhrigu to ask for his daughter's hand in marriage. Vedavalli Thaayar (mother) has her own shrine in the temple.
Another unique feature is the presence of the Lord with the entire family. He blesses devotees along with his Mother Rukmini, wife Mahalakshmi, brother Balarama, son Padyuman and grandson Anirudha.
When you enter the temple, you will be surprised to notice a message from Swami Vivekananda. This deepens the significance of this great temple. The Tiruallikeni Parthasarathy temple is also featured in Mahakavi Bharathi's songs including the great saint Thyagraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar. Further, the temple is also known as the panchamurthy (5 idols) stalam since it is the abode of Lord Venkatakrishna, Yoga Narasimhar, Sri Rama, Lord Gajendravaradha and Ranganatha.
I would not recommend going to the temple on auspicious days because of the teeming crowds. If you want to enjoy being with Him, go on a lean day, sit there and pray. You will leave the temple premises with peace of mind and joy.