Athi Varadar in Varadaraja Perumal Temple

Kanchipuram, is one of the seven holy cities in India. Kanchipuram means, Puram-a city where “Ka” (Bramha), “anchi” (worshipped) Lord Vishnu. At one time there were around one thousand temples in this city of temples. Now, the number has been reduced to one hundred. You need at least four hours to go around the city and visit the temples that are spread across.

Varadaraja Perumal Temple

One of the most popular temples in Kanchipuram is the Sri Varadaraja Temple built by the Kings of Vijayanagara dynasty in the 12th century. This Vishnu temple is one of the major Vaishnava temples in South India that is ranked at par with the temples in Tiruparti and Sri Ranganath. The idol of Lord Varadaraja who resides in the temple is said to be installed by Lord Bramha himself. Varadaraja means “the King who gives benedictions”, where varada means “bestower of benedictions and raja means “King”.

Legend Behind Varadaraja Perumal Temple

The story goes that once Lord Bramha was asked by his wife Saraswati to declare who was greater between her and Goddess Lakshmi. Bramha replied saying Lakshmi was more powerful than Saraswati. Hearing the reply, Saraswati was angry and she left Bramha. At that time Lord Bramha was planning to perform a Yajna. Saraswati refused to participate in the yajna. Bramha went ahead and started the sacrifice alone which angered Saraswati. Saraswati took the form of River vegavati and came rushing to the place where the Yajna was being performed. When Bramha appealed for help, Lord Vishnu laid across the river to stop the flow. Every attempt by Goddess Saraswati to stop the Yajna was foiled by Lord Vishnu. At the end of the Yajna, Lord Varadaraja emerged from fire. Lord Bramha asked Sri Varadaraja to be in Kanchipuram and take care of the devotes. Once Sri Varadaraja agreed, Lord bramha asked Visvakarma, the architect of the demigods make the idol.

The original idol of the deity called Utsava Murti, was made of wood that came out from the sacrificial fire of Yajna. The wooden idol was destroyed during the muslim invasion. Since a broken idol cannot be worshipped, the idol is kept in the silver casket and kept immersed in the temple tank called Anantha-Thirtham. This tank is built to the north of the temple with 100 pillars. And in the place of the wooden idol, a granite idol was installed in the Garbha mandapam of the temple.

Raising of Athi Varadar

The idol called Athi Varadar is taken out of the temple tank once in every 40 years and displayed to the public and worshipped for 10 days before putting it back in the silver casket and immersed in the temple tank. Devotees can have a once in a lifetime experience and take the blessing of original murthi during these 10 days. Last time this event took place in the year 1979. So the next will be in the year 2019. The expected start date is July 15th which falls on Monday.  Many vaishnavas from near and far away place plan to visit this event and take the blessings of Athi Vardaar.
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