Divine Grace of Devi Saradhambal at Coimbatore

पीठे कांचन कल्पिते सुरुचिरे रत्नप्रभा भास्वरे  नानालंकृतिमण्डिते विलसितां स्मेराननां सुंदरीं  |

Pīṭhe Kānchana Kalpite Suruchire Ratnaprabha Bhāsvare

Nānālankritimaṇḍite Vilasitāṃ Smerānanāṃ Sundarīṃ |  

दिव्यद्रत्न किरीट कुण्डलधरां शीतांशुलेखांवितां देवीं शारदनीरदो ज्वलरुचिं  श्री शारदांबां भजे ||

Divyadratna Kirīṭa Kuṇḍaladharām Śītāmśulekhāṃvitāṃ

Ḍevīṃ Śāradanīrado Jvalaruciṃ Śrī Śaradaṃbāṃ Bhaje || 

Shakthi, the supreme power has taken three magnificent forms as Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvathy representing three essential aspects of human life – wisdom, wealth, and valour.  As such, Adi Shankaracharya established his first math at Sringeri located on the banks of holy river Tunga and consecrated Goddess Saraswathi in the form of Devi Saradhambal. 

Mere words are not sufficient to describe the glories of Goddess Saradhambal.  Contributions of our   Pontiffs in spreading human virtues like love, devotion, dedication, unity, etc. are enormous and as an initiative towards this, temples for Devi Saradhambal  are being constructed all over our country and the role of devotees has remained a catalyst in all these initiatives. 

Coimbatore, a predominantly industrial and textile city, which has gained its pride through various other industries like jewelry, engineering, and handloom, etc. has also been full of highly learned men who are also philanthropists and devotees of Sringeri Math.  Saradhambal was mother (Janani) for them, and it is not a wonder that every man requires his mother’s presence with him.  Hence, people of Coimbatore frequently travelled to Sringeri to have a darshan of their mother as well as aachaarya-s

But for a longing child, merely seeing a mother once in a way was definitely not sufficient.  The eminent lawyer, Sri K. V. Narayanaswamy Iyer, of Coimbatore, an ardent devotee of math and the aachaarya-s felt that they had to find a way to have the mother come to their own city, so that her benevolence was made available to the people of Coimbatore.   

With this idea in his mind, about four decades ago, Sri K. V. Narayanaswamy Iyer made a request to Shri Sethna, a businessman in Coimbatore to donate his bungalow at Racecourse for construction of a temple to Goddess Saradhambal to which he agreed. But the then pontiff, Sri Abhinava Vidya Theertha Swamigal felt that the place was isolated, and it may not be convenient for the devotees to go over to the temple and hence, the idea did not materialize. 

After a few years, Sri K. V. Narayanaswamy Iyer took Annur Sri K. Govindaswamy Naidu to Sringeri for darshan.  At that time, His holiness Sri Abhinava Vidya Theertha Swamigal expressed that it was the right time a temple came up for Goddess Saradhadevi in Coimbatore.  Sri Govindaswamy Naidu replied that since he does not own land in Coimbatore, he can give away ten acres of land in Annur and also get the temple built there.  But the aachaarya felt that the temple should be located at Coimbatore City to be accessible to a greater number of people for darshan and religious events. Sri Narayanaswamy Iyer and Sri Govindaswamy Naidu agreed to the aachaarya’s point and returned to their lodge at Sringeri.

Shortly after this incident on the same day, Sulur House, S. R. Nanjunda Iyer along with his brothers, S. R. Subbaraya Iyer and S. R. Ramakrishnan came to have a darshan of the aachaarya.  When they came to know about aachaarya’s intention, they immediately offered more than one acre of land at a very prominent place near main road in Racecourse. Saying that it would give them immense pleasure if their land could be used for the service of Goddess Saradhambal.  On hearing this, the aachaarya immediately sent words to Sri. K. V. Narayanaswamy Iyer and Sri. K. Govindaswamy Naidu to rush back to math.  All of them together, in front of the aachaarya, agreed to construct a temple for Devi Saradhambal at the land offered by Sulur House Sri. S R Nanjunda Iyer.   

On returning to Coimbatore, documents were immediately made over by the four brothers the next day itself in favor of Sringeri Math for the purpose of construction of the temple with the help of Sri. K. V. Narayanaswamy, the senior advocate and the man behind the noble work. 

Plans on the temple structure, deities to be consecrated, etc. were made. Aachaarya wanted shrines of Goddess Saradhambal and Adi Shankara to be established. Sri. K. Govindaswamy Naidu requested for two additional sannidhaanam-s to Bala Ganapathy and Bala Murugan to which the aachaarya agreed.  Accordingly, plans of the temple were drawn by Sri. T. S. Ramani Sankar, a renowned architect of Coimbatore and a fervent devotee of the math. Those were then approved by the aachaarya after making necessary changes. 

Foundation stone for the temple was laid and about ten people including Sri. Radhakrishna Iyer, Sri. S. R. Nanjunda Iyer and the family members of Sri. K. Govindaswamy Naidu. They were all present during the auspicious occasion. Swetharanyam Sthapathi was assigned the work of temple construction. 

Sri. R. Ramakrishnan, son-in-law of Sri. K. Govindaswamy Naidu, endearingly called as Mappillai Naicker, took charge of monitoring and supervising day-to-day progress of the construction work. Four gopuram-s for four deities of the temple viz., Devi Saradhambal, Adi Sankara, Bala Ganapathy and Bala Murugan were built by the Sthapathi (An expert architect specializing in temple construction according to the aagama-s) from Madurai. Impressed by his proficiency and skills, aachaarya assigned him the work of constructing the gopuram of Sri Malahanikeshwara Temple, Sringeri. 

Panchalokha idol of Devi Saradhambal was made in Kumbakonam. Sri. K. V. Narayanaswamy Iyer and Sri. R. Ramakrishna Naidu were personally present there to supervise casting of idol.  The marble idol of Sri Adi Sankara came from Sringeri itself and stone idols of Ganapathy and Murugan were done locally in Coimbatore.   

In about a year, temple work was fully completed including the minute details.  Sri. K. Govindaswamy Naidu and Sri. K. V. Narayanaswamy Iyer wanted to get the Kumbhaabishekam of the temple done by the aachaarya as early as possible. But somehow things were getting delayed. At this point, both met Sri. Binny Subba Rao, who is an ardent devotee of the math, and who is held in high esteem by everyone.  The duo, Sri. K. Govindaswamy Naidu and Sri. K. V. Narayanaswamy Iyer, requested him to go to Sringeri and get the approval of the aachaarya for Kumbhaabishekam.

Sri. Binny Subba Rao is well-known for the Mega Rama Navami Celebrations done by his family at Coimbatore.  So, he assumed the role of Sri Aanjaneya in this task and went to the aachaarya and came back with the good news of kumbabishekam date and Acharya’s consent to be present during the event.  Acharya, fully understanding the anxiety and eagerness Sri K.V.Narayanswamy Iyer, requested Sri Subba Rao to inform about him first and then to others.  During the waiting period for kumbabishekam, the four idols were in dhanyavasam (immersed in grains) at the residence of Sri R.Ramakrishna Naidu.  

At last, the waiting was over and  Acharya, along with junior pontiff, His Holiness Bharathi Theertha Swamigal made pattinapravesam in Racecourse and stayed in the completely vacated residence of Sri K.G.Balakrishnan.  Daily rituals including Chandramouleeswara Puja were conducted and Coimbatore witnessed heavy rainfall during the period in which both pontiffs were performing pujas at Coimbatore.  People of Coimbatore talk even today about the excellent pravachanam rendered during the period by junior pontiff, Sri Bharathi Theertha Swamigal at Sri Sankara Mutt during his maiden visit to Coimbatore.   

On the day prior to prathishta, the idols were taken as procession along with veda parayanam, bajanai, elephants, horses and endless devotees to the temple for consecration in which Acharyas also crossed a part of Racecourse by foot which sanctified our Coimbatore soil.  Miraculously, rains also stopped for the procession to take place as per plan and there was no rain afterwards.  On the day of Mahakumbabishekam also, though there were mild drizzles, to everyone’s wonder it stopped right at the time of Kumbabishekam.  Thus, Devi Saradhambal has started gracing Coimbatore by her presence.   

On next day, Acharya mentioned to Mappillai Naicker Sri R.Ramakrishna Naidu that though every work was completed to the minutest detail, ‘madapalli’ (kitchen) for the temple and quarters for the priests have been left out.  It was immediately decided that the horse stable nearby would be converted into temple kitchen and priest’s quarters and work completed in no time.   

Right from commencement in 1979, all the festivals and rituals were being done following the procedures adopted at Sringeri under the guidance Sri K.V.Narayanaswamy Iyer and Sri Subba Rao.  Smt Kannammal, W/O Sri Ramakrishna Naidu and D/O Sri K.Govindaswamy Naidu assumed total charge of procuring materials for special pujas, decorations and Chandi Homams during Navarathri festivals. 

After some years, second Kumbabishekam was done to Devi Saradhambal and accompanying deities under the auspices and presence of Sri Bharathi Theertha Swamigal who mentioned that construction of a mandapam in the adjacent vacant land will be useful for the people, which was undertaken by Sri Ramakrishna Naidu under war-footing basis with the help of Engineer Money and team, also was completed with the grace of Goddess Saradhambal and divine guidance of Acharya in 35 days i.e., before pontiff could finish his Vijayayatra of Tamilnadu.   

Now, the temple, where Friday Pujas, Monthly Shivarathri, Pradosham, Krithigai, Sankatahara Chathurthi Poojas apart from annual Navarathri and Vasanth Navarathri celebrations are conducted and which attracts hundreds of devotees on a daily basis, stands there as a majestic reminder of  divine grace and Acharya’s guidance, efforts of philanthropists, team work of Coimbatoreans and ofcourse, the massive support of Coimbatoreans.   

Each festival is conducted in a very creative and artistic way which kindles the interest and enthusiasm in the minds of all.  For example, during Aadi Pooram festival, a special alankaram for Saradhambal is decoration with bangles which has been associated with our religion and culture from ancient days.  The glass bangles which are considered as a must for ladies are adorned on the goddess and is distributed to lady devotees which are considered as special ‘prasadams’ by them.   

In the same way, on Nine days in Navarathri, very special alankarams like Sakambari, Rajarajeswari, etc. are made to Goddess, a mega Chandi Homam along with other Homams are conducted and annadhanam is being done on very large scale.  Also people of Coimbatore prefer to perform many auspicious occasions like weddings and vidyarambhams in the family in this temple.  The awareness created by such events in the minds of devotees go a long way in nurturing our Hindu culture and traditions.   

In the year 2012, His Holiness Sri Bharathi Theertha Swamigal blessed Coimbatore by his visit during his Vardhanti Mahotsavam.  Also in 2017, both Acharyas His Holiness Sri Bharathi Theertha Swamigal and Sri Vidhu Shekara Bharathi Swamigal (his maiden visit to Coimbatore after assuming Sanyasa) also made pattinapravesam in Coimbatore, the grand ceremony was attended by thousands of devotees.  Events like Veda Parayanam, Pravachanam, Chandi Homam were conducted at a large scale and prasadams were distributed to countless people.  It will remain green forever in the memories of Coimbatoreans. 

Salutations to lotus feet of Goddess Saradhambal,  Salutations to lotus feet of Acharyas !!! 

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