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purAna & the sibling ideal-Part 7 (concluding)

From: sudarshan (lucasfie_at_md2.vsnl.net.in)
Date: Fri Oct 02 1998 - 11:22:34 PDT

Dear bhAgavatOttamA-s,

A string of "sthala-purAna-s" related to several villages of South India
reveal to us the the heart-rending story of how Lord Narayana as a mere
cow-herd and Goddess Parvati as a hapless cow wandered in exile across the
land. From the account of the "sthala-purAnA-s" we get an idea of the
"travails and tribulation", the sadness and pain the Divine Siblings both
experienced on earth.

"tEr-ezhundUr" in TamilNadu is the place to which sister and brother
arrived one day after wearily trudging many miles through desolate
lands....

This village, "tEr-ezhundUr", today is known for its beautiful temple of
"gOpAla". The Lord in this temple is known as "gOsakhan" (He who remained
constant companion to "the cow"). The village is also known as
"gOsakha-kshEtram". The great AzhwAr, "Tirumangai-mannan", offered his
"mangalA-sAsanam" (poetic outpouring of inspired devotion), at this temple
in praise of the deity of Lord Narayana here.

At the other end of "tEr-ezhundUr" village there is also a temple of Siva
where Saint "GnyAna-sambandhar" too was moved to sing the glory of the Lord
of Kailasa in stirring "tEvAram-s" (the poetic Saivite equivalents of the
AzhwAr's "divya-prabandham-s").

This village is also the birth-place of the famous Tamil poet, Kamban.

Legend has it that at a place called "pilloor" very near "tEr-ezhundUr",
Vishnu the cow-herd tended to his sister, Parvati the cow, with touching
solicitude and great affection. As Amba rested, the Lord offered Her
"pillU" i.e. freshly cut grass and stroked her gently, whispering little
terms and sounds of endearment much as a cow-herd would do! The place thus
came to be called "pilloor" !

Nearby there are other small villages called "mEkkiri-mangalam" and
"An-Angur" where too, it is said in the "sthala-pUrAnA", that the Lord
grazed his beloved cow ("An" is an archaic Tamil synonym for cow, in fact).

It is also said that Vishnu, the beloved brother of Parvati, who greatly
grieved over her marital condition, proceeded to propitiate Lord Siva by
installing two deities in the temple at "tEr-ezhundUr" or
"gOsakha-kshEtram". Siva is thus known to this day in the two temples as
"vEda-purIsvara" and "aa-maruviyappan" ( "aa" again being an archaic Tamil
synonym for the cow!). 

Thus, "tEr-ezhun-dUr" where the Lord Veda-purIshvara came to preside at the
behest of Lord Narayana, eventually became a great centre of Vedic
learning. Many great Vedic scholars have historically flourished in this
otherwise nondescript village. Sambandhar, the Saivaite saint, thus hailed
the village as "azhundai maraiyOr !" --- the Vedic pundits of "Ezhundurai".

In recent times, one of the most venerated pontiffs of the Srimad SriRanga
"Ashram" hailed from "tEr-ezhundUr".
 
Very near "tEr-ezhUndUr" there is a site called "tirukkulambiyam". It was
at this spot that Parvati the cow, while grazing one day under the watchful
eyes of the cow-herd Lord Narayana, accidentally tripped over a Siva
"linga" embedded in a mound of earth. She was horrified! The poor cow began
to run helter-skelter in a state of great panic until her cow-herd brother,
Vishnu, pacified her and counselled her to get a grip on herself and face
life with courage.

Vishnu then proceeded to implore Siva through heart-rending prayers to
forgive Amba and restore to her the rightful place and dignity as reigning
Consort of Kailasa. The legend of the "sthala-purAna" goes on to narrate
how Siva, pleased with Vishnu's ardent entreaties, appeared before Him and
spoke thus: "Keep grazing the cow until you get to the banks of the River
Kaveri. Bathe her in the pure waters of the Kaveri so that Parvati may
regain her form. Thou hast my word, O Lord Narayana, I shall surely wed thy
sister, Uma, again!".

The brother Narayana was filled with unbounded joy!

As bidden He took the cow to the banks of the Kaveri and bathed her in the
cool streams at a place called even to this day as "tiru-vAdu-turai" in
Tamil Nadu.

Amba rose from the waters in her radiant form again!

Lord Narayana watched her stride forth like a lovely bride again, His
filial heart bursting with pride and joy at its seams!

Brother led the beautiful bride, Parvati, to a village called
"tirutturutti", near Mayavaram in today's Tamil Nadu.

At "tirutturutti" Lord Siva made his appearance to undertake wedding vows
("vrata") at a place called "vElvikkudi". The spot where Siva again took
Parvati as his Bride by performing the "pAlikA" ceremony is called even
today as "kurumulai-palli". It is said in the "sthala-purAna" that the
canopy or awning under which Siva and Parvati were married spread over
two/three villages. One of the villages today is known as "tirumAnanjEri",
again in TamilNadu.

It was in "tirumAnanjEri" that Lord Vishnu, the greatest Ideal of Filial
Affection and Duty, gave His beloved sister, for whose sake He had suffered
much on earth as a common cow-herd,   He gave her hand in marriage again to
the Lord of Kailasa!

It was an occasion of great joy for Him to see His sister rejoice in the
restitution of conjugal felicity!    
                                      
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On the auspicious occasion of Navarathri which has neared its end today, I
enjoyed recounting this little "purAni-c" tale where Amba and Parameshwara
were united by the untiring efforts of Lord Narayana.

I had observed, if you remember, in an earlier post that as many "broken
marriages" are mended in heaven as are first-time ones made therein!

After re-counting the above tale of Narayana and Parvati, I stand
corrected:

Now I am led to believe that marriages may be made in heaven, but "broken
ones" (like that of even Parvati and Siva) can only be mended on earth! 

If you need proof of that please go on a pilgrimage beginning with
"tEr-ezhundUr" and terminating at "tirumAnanjEri" !

adiyEn,
sudarshan