My son Madhav Balaji was super thrilled on learning about our forthcoming visit to Erode. He started preparing his packing pretty early. We bought some murukkus , bread, cheese etc., on the earlier day. It was decided to start by about 8 AM on 24/4/2022. A sudden hitch developed on that very day. Our driver Ramesh expressed his inability to travel. This has been a regular feature and we have gotten used to it. I sent an SOS to Etios Murthy. He was there in 30 minutes and we proceeded towards Erode immediately. The Fastag helped us to move faster on the highway. I dozed off in the car. We reached the the Mulubagal Mutt at Agrahara Street by about 10 : 30 AM. My friend Lakshmi Narasimha Babu received us with complete warmth. A godhanam ( donating a cow to a learned scholar ) was in progress and therefore we decided to visit the Navabrindavanam at Erode all by ourselves.
The Mulubagal Mutt at Agrahara Street was endowed with a shrine for Saint Raghavendra. A priest was delivering a talk on Garuda Puranam at the Mutt. This Puranam is normally approached only at the time of a bereavement in a family. A cow is donated in order to ensure that the departed soul travels across and reaches a safe place. The tail of the cow is said to support the soul. My wife Sujatha, son Madhav Balaji and myself offered our prayers to Kalpavruksha among Saints and proceeded to the Navabrindavanam Temple.
The cab driver Murthy was quick to take us to the Navabrindavanam Temple. it was a very nice spot. The memorials of Nine Dwaita Saints were constructed here. A number of people were offering their prayers at this old shrine. The colourful image of Saint Madhwacharya attracted us instantly. His stretched out fingers indicated that the soul and super soul co exist for eternity. The memorial Brindavanams of the following Nine Saints are present at Erode , at the banks of the sacred River Cauvery - Lakshmi Manohara Theertharu ( 1670 - 1708 ) , Lakshmipathy Theertharu ( 1700 - 1715 ), Srinidhi Theertharu ( 1781 - 1787 ), Vidhyanidhi Theertharu ( 1772 - 1795 ) , Sudhinidhi Theertharu ( 1888 - 1908 ), Medhanidhi Theertharu ( 1908 - 1926 ), Thejanidhi Theertharu ( 1770 - 1806 ), Thaponidhi Theertharu ( 1806 - 1838 ), Yashonidhi Theertharu ( 1840 - 1856 ). All of them belong to the Sripadaraja Mutt.
We gathered ourselves to the Raghavendraswamy Brindavanam on the banks of the River Cauvery. The huge Brindavanam resembled the one at Mantralayam. It is said to be the first one of its kind in Tamilnadu and is more than 200 years old. A few kids were playing around the temple. We met the Managing Trustee Kuppulakshmi and her family. Her son was performing the Shraddham ( memorial service ) for his father. We saw a gentleman preparing mantrakshta in the shrine. He had created a mixture of turmeric and lime in order to make it. Madhav Balaji wanted to visit the shrine often. They were discussing the details pertaining to the alankaram on Akshaya Triteeya. The Brindavanam was to be decorated with sandalwood paste.
The darshan at the shrine of Saint Raghavendra and Lord Hanuman made us happy. I remember visiting the Adhavan Madhavan Temple nearby during my earlier visit. A non Brahmin priest was in charge here. We were advised to eat at Trichy Cafe and the food was very nice. The lunch was followed by a 25 minute drive to the SKM guest house. Our friend S.Dattatreyan had organised our stay in this lovely campus. The two courtyards and the two shallow pools were breath taking. The rooms, garden and the attention entralled us. All of us took some rest and freshened up by about 4 PM. Coffee was served and we got ready to visit the Periya Mariamman Temple at the heart of Erode City. Madhav Balaji offered a 21 lemon garland to Devi Mariamman.
The darshan satiated us and we proceeded to Golden Mahal in order to attend the Wedding Reception of my cousin Aswath's son Raju Sreyas and Harni. We met up with the people behind Olirum Erode - Kumar Venkateswaran & Shanughasundaram. Their simplicity was astonishing. The friends from the Erode Vidya Sangam met us at the reception. They included Dattatreyan ( Dattu ) , Dayanand ( Daya ) , Sudhakar, Hymavathi and Sadasivam. Meena Sudhakar happens to be from Coimbatore and Sujatha was happy to connect with her. The son Sai Balaji is currently among the eligible bachelors of this region. Cousin Vishnu, his wife Ramya, my aunt Nimmakka, cousin Gayathri, her husband Sholy and others posed for a photograph. It was a happy get together. The spicy dinner was new for us.
The next day saw us attending the Muhurtham. We were introduced to the Tamil commentary along with the prayers. It was new to us. We met my father's cousin Jaganathan and his wife Shanthi of Salem. Her brother Shivakumar and Punitha were introduced to us. Punitha Shivakumar happens to be the great grand daughter of Vasavambal, the elder sister of my great grand father P.A.Raju Chettiar. The couple are blessed with three sons and the handsome third son Praddep is the other eliglible bachelor whom we came across. Well, it was time to call it a day and we decided to visit a few jewellery outlets. The huge stores from the metros had set up shop in Erode. The city seems to be grappling with the ' marketing invasion ' ! My father used to state that the earlier era entrepreneurs created the market but the new day ones were capturing market share through their predatory activity.
Madhav Balaji, Sujatha and myself visited the family residence of Dattatreyan. We met his mother Saraswathi Sundaram, wife Geethanjali, brother Dayanand and sister in law Renuka. The third brother Arvind is a businessman in Chennai. The house had been designed by architect Janardhanan, the cousin of my cousin Vijayalakshmi Narayanan. The family of Dattatreyan and Vijayalakshmi hailed from the nearby Kumarapalayam. They were bankers and landlords. this family consisted of a number of intellectuals. The descendants are mostly in the USA and are doing very well. Renuka Dattatreyan happens to be related to Vijayalakshmi. While Dayanand is a Rotarian, Dattu is part of ' Bouncing Board '. This is an interesting organisation. The members meet once a month for about 5 hours and discuss a number of this things. They are said to maintain complete confidentiality about the proceedings.
Dattu ( Dattatreyan ) hails from the Ikshvaku Gothram. My paternal grandmother Lalitha Bai hails from a similar background. We were offered some nice filter coffee and hot dosapindi untas ( one type of a bonda made at the Komati households ). Dattu invited us to his Madurai residence and he offered to take us to the temples in and around the Sangam Age city. We agreed to visit him. It was shocking to learn about the merger of Lakshmi Vilas Bank Limited with another bank. The shareholders had not been covered properly. Let us hope that they get something out of the deal. This bank had over 500 branches and 1000 ATMs. I remember seeing the Swarna Lakshmi in the Bank Chairman's chamber many years ago.
We left Erode after a nice rest at the SKM guest house. The group Chairman S.K.Mayilanandam had donated a sum of Rs.500,000 many years ago to our green NGO Siruthuli. He continues to be known for his charitable mindset. I learnt that Chennimalai is close by and we visited the famous Chennimalai Andavar Temple at 5 PM ( 25/4/2022 ). The temple was free for us and we had a good darshan. It was located at an altitude of about 1000 feet. Baladevaraya Swamigal had presented the sacred Kanda Sashti Kavacham in this very ancient temple. The deity took over our thoughts. We left the temple by about 6 PM and reached home by about 8 PM.
We were fortunate to see a small vendor cycling towards Chennimalai. He was carrying the Drishti Bommais ( dolls which will ward off an evil eye ). They had been made well. I was also also reminded about the famous cotton merchant Chennimalai Krishna Chetty. This gentleman had made a fortune through cotton trading those days. His wife used to wear gold tassels in her saree and she was the proud owner of the largest diamond haram in Western Tamilnadu. My great grandfather P. A. Raju Chettiar had acquired this iconic ornament those days.
Well, we at The Verandah Club have been wanting to promote ' Tamilnadu' as ' The Temple State of the World '. The idea was to begin in a suburban place. Our friend Saravana Kumar, Curator S.Jaganathan and myself zeroed in on the temples in and around Musiri in Tamilnadu. We wish to begin with this microcosm and create such patterns Nationally.
I am earnestly hoping that ' Temple Tourism ' and ' Cultural Commerce ' will add to the wealth of India that is Bharat. Looking forward to share many more such temple visit stories. Dear readers, I request you to share similar stories through Home - The Verandah Club
Mr. Rajesh Govindarajulu is one of the founding members of The Verandah Club Pvt. Ltd. He is a leading columnist, historian, jeweler, entrepreneur, and a heritage enthusiast who is earnestly working to revive the past in the light of the present. Experiential learning about the history of Coimbatore is his main course of interest and he is also a panel member of many colleges in the city.
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