"Nyastaanghripadmam bhujagendratalpe shtitam ramesam pranataikabandhum I
Poornathrayeesam paradaivatam na:smarami nityam nigamaalayesam II"
The town of Tripunithura was built around the famous temple of Shri Vishnu known as Poornathrayeesa, in the pose of sitting on the five hooded serpent , 'Anantha' . Such seated representations of the deity are rare (At Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple of Thiruvanathapuram and elsewhere, the deity is potrayed as recumbent on the folds of the serpent; At Thiruvanmala, he stands with the hood of Anantha forming an umbrella over Him). The name given to Lord Mahavishnu here literally translates into "the one who possesses all knowledge".
The legends have it that the idol was installed by Arjuna, this is narrated in the Santanagopalam story. The legend goes as follows:-
The legend of Santanagopalam
The son of Bhavathratha, who was a famous scholar and an authority in all the four Vedas, Puranas and Ithihasas was living in Dwarakapuri. But along with his knowledge , he displayed arrogance and hubris at his own knowledge, which was most inappropriate for a scholar and a Brahmin. He used to ridicule other scholars. Inspite of the warnings of his elders, he continued with his high-handed behavior. At that time, his wife became pregnant. The Brahmin was overjoyed and believed himself to be doubly blessed, and thus became even more arrogant. He performed all the religious rituals required during the pregnancy of a lady in all its grandeur. But, the almighty had decided something else for him. His wife gave birth to a still infant.
The pious Bhavathratha was deeply saddened by this, but his son's grief manifested itself in anger. The Brahmin came to the Palace and instead of telling his grievance to the King Sri Krishna, he started abusing him. He stated that the reason for the death of an infant is misrule by the King. He further accused Sri Krishna of being an anti-Brahmin and that he was troubling him wilfully. He lamented that the all-powerful Sri Krishna was not willing to help him and that he was a traitor.
The wife of the Brahmin gave birth to another 8 more infants and all of them died soon after birth. The Brahmin brought every child in front of the Palace and abused the King for the death of his baby and took away the baby for the funeral. Bhagwan Sri Krishna did not come out even once to face the Brahmin and console him.
Arjuna, who was at Dwaraka at that time, could not remain patient on hearing the abuse of Brahmin towards Sri Krishna. He went to the Brahmin and asked him to stop abusing Sri Krishna. The Brahmin then turned to Arjuna and asked him to protect his next child. Arjuna then told the Brahmin who he was and promised the Brahmin his protection for the nest child.
But, Arjuna was also overconfident about his resolution. Arjuna promised the Brahmin that if he could not protect the Brahmin's new born child, he would commit suicide in fire. During the tenth labour of the Brahmin lady, Arjuna was duly informed and he came to the Brahmin's house, took all precautions and also stood on guard. But this time not even the mortal remains of the child were found. Though all certified that the birth had taken place, the dead body was not seen. The Brahmin started abusing Arjuna also and asked him to perform his promise. Arjuna requested the Brahmin for some more time to enquire into the matter. Arjuna then went to the Yama Loka and enquired about the child. But Lord Yama was unaware of the Brahmin's child. He assured Arjuna that he had not brought any such child to Yamaloka. Arjuna, crestfallen and understanding that there are many things beyond one's control prepared the bonfire to complete his promise.
Just at that time, a 'Divya Thejas' (Divine Radiance) fell upon Arjuna. Sri Krishna then touched Arjuna's hand and asked him why he was willing to sacrifice his life by jumping into the fire merely on the word of an ignorant Brahmin. He then accompanied Arjuna to "Vaikuntha", , the abode of Maha Vishnu. Maha Vishnu was lying there on the five hooded serpent Ananda called the 'Anandashayanam', with Maha Lakshmi and Bhoomi Devi tending him. What they saw there was astonishing; all the children of the Brahmin were playing in Vaikunta. Arjuna then requested Mahavishnu to stop the child death. Maha Vishnu then gave Arjuna a 'Sala Gramam' and asked him to find a suitable place on earth and to mount the 'Sala Gramam' to spread the message of knowledge and to give children to the unfruitful devotees. Sri Krishna and Arjuna came back to Earth and gave the Brahmin all his children back. The Brahmin, on realizing his folly, apologized to both and was purged of his arrogance. Arjuna then took the 'Sala Gramam' from his Aavanazhi and entrusted it to the Brahmin to find a suitable place to mount it.
The Brahmin then placed the 'Sala Gramam', the 'Prati Purusha' of Maha Vishnu, which granted divine knowledge to him and to the devotees of the place called the 'Veda Gramam', the present Tripunithura. The secret of Vishnu Sankalpa is narrated in the Vasishta Mandal of Rigveda. According to that, the rays of Vishnu are protecting the World. All the living things are growing and existing through the rays of the Sun, which are an embodiment of the power of Lord Vishnu.
The present Tanthri family of the Temple - Puliyannoor Mana - are said to be the members of the family belonging to the Brahmin who did the 'Pratishta' of the Sala Gramam. There is also a saying that the existing Thanthri's are the Priests who performed the subsequent Pratishta. It is said that the Temple or the Pratishta is more than 5000 years old.
History of the present temple
The original Temple was destroyed in a fire in 1920 (the Malayalam era of 1096). The Pooja vigraham and the Tidambu were brought safely without any damage from the fire. The temple was rebuilt and the architect of the present rebuilt temple was the late Eachara Warrier. There are a number of stone inscriptions in the basement which did not get damaged in the fire. One is ascribed to Goda Ravi of the 10th century. There is also mention of a renovation in AD 1280 (punahpratishtha)
The Gopuram of the Western side which is very old is said to have been constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries AD, by the 'Boodaganas' in the time span of a single night.
Traditions and Festivals
Inside the Sreekovil, there is a "Keda Vilakku". This is symbolic of the first lamp lit by Arjuna during the original Pratishta. It is said that Arjuna gathered gingelly seeds from a nearby place, which was abundant with gingelly cultivation, made oil out of the seeds and lit the lamp. Hence, the present Vazhipaadu of Sree Poornathrayeesa is the Olapenna to commemorate that occasion. This is said to be the most important Vazhipaadu in this temple.
In the Peedhom where the Pratishta Vigraham is kept, there is an Archana Bimbam like the Moola Bimbam. This is made out of Pancha Loha. According to the Tantric Granda's, there is no problem in making Yatraa Bimbam, Archana Bimbam, Bali Bimbam etc. by taking the measurements of the Moola Vigraham. These Bimbam's are also as important as the Moola Bimba.
There is a Ganapathi Pratishta facing south in this temple. It is understood that during the Brahmanical rule, to streamline the Poojas, a Ganapathi Pratishta was made. There is no record to show that the Ganapathi Pratishta has the antiquity of the Moola Pratishta. There is no other Upadevatas in this temple since Sree Poornathrayeesa is the complete embodiment of all Vedas and denotes the concept of all in one.
The present golden Dwajam ("Kodi Maram") of the temple was constructed on the 29th day of the month Meenam during the year 1107. The length of this Dwaja is more than the usual Dwajas found else where in other temples and shows the pride of the temple and the lord.
This festival is celebrated during the month of November-December (Vrischikam) in a grand manner with 8 days of important programs without any hindrance to the Tantric rites. This festival is a national festival and people from all walks of life participate in this festival. The main attraction of this temple is the Sheeveli / Vilakku with fifteen elephants both in the morning and during the nights. Almost all the Meela exponents participate in the Sheeveli / Vilakku. The Kaanikkidal on the fourth day of the festival i.e. on the Thrikketta day is very famous.
This day has become famous because of a certain incident. Sree Vilva Mangalath Swamiar came for Darshan on this day and could not see Devan inside the temple. When he came out, he saw the miraculous scene of Sree Poornathrayeesa playing on top of fifteen elephants with some children. Sree Poornathrayeesa blessed the Swamiar by sitting on a particular elephant. From that day onwards Thrikketta day became very famous and the devotees started worshiping and palcing offerings of Kanikka in front of the lord. It is a belief that with one single Darshan of Bhagawan on Thrikketta day one gets the benefit of having had Darshan for a full year. The festival ends on the eighth day with the Aarattu taking place at the Chakkamkulangara Siva temple pond.
The other festivals are
1. Moosaari Utsavam
2. Nangemma/ Para Utsavam
3. Tulam Utsavam
4. Uthram Thirunaal Utsavam
5. Ankara Mahayana Vilakku
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