Kerala is known as "Gods own land". Legend has it that Kerala is a part of the land created by Lord Parasurama by annexing it to the main land from the sea by throwing an axe into the sea. The western range of mountains forms the eastern boundary of the state. It is seen to be believed the beauty of the land. Tiruvilwamala is a small range of mountain situated in Talappilly Taluk of Trichur district near the Nela River popularly known as Bharatha Puzha. It is said that the mountain range gets its name Vilwamala because it is believed there exists a golden vilwa tree [three petal leaf used for worshiping Lord Siva] under the mountain.
There are three popular Sri Rama temples in Kerala. Tiruvilwamala, Triprayar and Tiruvangad. Of the three Sri Rama of Vilwamala is self emerged [swamyambu]. Sri Rama of this kshetra called "Vilwadrinathan" after the name of the place Tiruvilwamala. Another uniqueness of this kshetra, there is a separate shrine for Sri Lakshmana also.
Sri Vilwadri Mahatma, a Sanskrit text with eighteen chapters, describes the origin of this ancient temple which is housing two deities of Lord Maha Vishnu. Sri Parasurama went killing all the kshatriyas and thus incurred lot of sin. On praying to Lord Siva, he was given the deity of Lord Vishnu which Sri Siva himself was worshipping. Sri Parasurama found the westernmost end of the Vilwamala to be the suitable place for consecrating the Lord Vishnu's deity for worship. May be because there is an golden vilwa tree under this mountain. This is the earliest temple in the site to have been built. Presently the idol consecrated by Sri Parasurama is in the eastern sanctum. The stone image is about three feet in height is pleasing to the eyes and very charming, especially when decorated with the bare minimum ornaments.
According to same text, the second idol which is in the western sanctum is self emerged ie., "swamyambu". Saint Aamalakan, son of Saint Kashyapa was meditating on Lord Maha Vishnu for His dharshan chanting - Rama – the tharaka mantra. King of devas Indra not knowing the intention of the penance undertaken by the Aamalakan, took some initiative to interrupt the penance of the Saint in vain. Saint Kashyapa explained that his son has no desire except to attain unstinted devotion to Lord Maha Vishnu. While Devatas were pleased with the assurance of Saint Kashyapa, asuras became quires and disturbed the penance of the saint Aamalakan. When at his end of patience the saint opened his eyes, the asuras were turned into ashes and then into rock. It is said that the rock at the south east corner of the temple is heap of ashes that turned into rock and hence named "rakshasapaarai".
Maha Vishnu pleased with the penance of Aamalakan appeared before him along with Sri Devi [Lakshmi] and Sri Bhuma Devi, with Adishesha as His canopy. Sri Aamalakan was spell bound on his seeing the Lord, overwhelmed with joy could not utter a word. Sri Maha Vishnu asked him to seek any boon he wishes. Aamalakan said he wished noting- not even Swarga, but unstinted devotion towards God. Boon was granted by the Lord and as per the wishes of Aamalakan Lord had transformed His image as seen by Aamalakan as a deity at the very place. Since self emerged deity at the west sanctum at the request of the Aamalakan who was chanting the taraka mantra – Rama – this idol is regarded as Sri Rama. The MahaVishnu idol consecrated by Sri Parasurama is regarded as that of Sri Lakshmana.
The idol in the Western sanctum is about five feet in height. The deity is permanently covered and protected with gold plates. It is said that the when attempted to remove the cover the idol got slightly damaged, hence the golden cover is now never removed. Sri Vilwadrinathan is seen as He appeared before saint Aamalakan. His right hand holds disc [sudharshan] the other right holds lotus, while His left arm holds counch [Sangu] the other left is seen resting on the mace [gadha]. Sri Devi and BhuDevi are seen standing next to Him. All of them are seen protected by the Adishesha as their canopy. It is believed that below this sanctum there is a cave and a golden Vilwa tree. Therefore Sri Rama of this kshetra is called Sri Vilwadrinathan. It is worthy to note that Sri Vilwamangalathu Swamiyar had sung in praise of the Lord of this kshetra addressing the Lord as "Vilwadrinatha".
When the fame of this kshetra reached high and devotees and saints were drawn to this place by the sheer power of these two deities. The wicked forces [ravanathigal] could not tolerate this and started working negative. On one occasion their leader disguised as a Brahmin entered the sanctum of the west shrine in order to displace the idol. To the surprise of the evil forces there was a tremendous tremor at that moment at that place. Ravanathigals went hither and slither, they ran for the shelter and found a cave and entered it. It is believed that evil forces are trapped inside the cave by none other then Sri Vilwadrinathan [Sri Rama] and a big rock had covered the entrance of the cave.
There was a Raja Gopuram in the Eastern side of the temple compound. After it was struck by the lighting and destroyed, it was never rebuilt. There were instance of fire at this sacred temple. It is believed that Sri Hanuman descended on this kshetra and started protecting the kshetra. After this Sri Hanuman deity was installed facing west, near to the then raja gopuram. After installation of Sri Hanuman at this kshetra as protector of this temple complex there was no untoward instances.
Idol of Sri Hanuman of this kshetra is just less than three feet in height. Lord Hanuman's standing posture itself so graceful with left leg slightly bent, as if He is ever ready to come out of shrine for the help of His devotees. Lord Hanuman is seen in the standing posture with his face slightly tilted is so graceful to see and a feast to the eyes. Hanuman's beautiful eyes just looking at the devotee is magnanimously showing the grace. He wears a crown and beautiful ornaments adore His shoulders, neck, arms, waist, and ankles feet. Lord Hanuman's hand is showing a 'dhrjani mudra' meaning that the Lord is great and one. Sri Hanuman as the guard of this kshetra and Sri Vilwadrinatha [Sri Rama] is the beloved for one and all who visit this temple.
Visit this kshetra of Sri Rama who is present along with Sri Devi Bhu Devi and Lakshmana and Sri Hanuman. The breath taking picturesque scenery of Kerala and Tiruvilwamala will make you feel heavenly, take the blessings of Sri Rama Parivar and feel the contentment like Saint Aamalakan.
[Ed : July 2010]
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