Nominated for one of the Wonders of the World, this temple of Meenakshi Amman in Madurai stands apart in terms of exuberance and excellence. A master piece of construction, it is believed that Lord Siva himself descended upon this holy place to seek the hand of Goddess Meenakshi, a place where the Celestial Wedding took place, a place where Dravidian culture and Hindu tradition meet. Everything is unequivocally explained in this book that takes one through the corridors of traditional value and culture.
This is an epithet of 265 photographs, illustrations, miniature paintings and architectural drawings weaved together with legend, facts and narration capturing the essence of the most powerful Goddess temple in this part of the world. The first book of its kind, it aims at inspiring the believers, educating the information seeker and enlightening the curious. The book captures sites and glimpses of Madurai Meenakshi. It tries to depict the past, describe the present and encapsulate the spirit of the people.
The book attempts to provide an understanding of Madurai Meenakshi. It acts as a source of information for the next generation and an object of memorabilia. Photographs from the early 20th century; images and illustration of idols from the 7th century, miniature paintings and graphics representing the legends along with narrations of festivals, daily sevas and rituals provide an insight into the culture that prevailed in the last 1000 years in this part of the world. It takes one through a journey of old tradition and custom, a way of life at that time and the quintessential qualities that were prevalent. Architectural rendering attempts to capture the beauty and skill of artisans in the past. The narration of the Divine Play (Thiruvilavadal) and the verses of the four great saivite saints (Nallvar ) are depicted in the temple , premises, which is explicitly described in the book.
Valayappettai Ra.Krishnan, born in 1949 in Valayappettai village near Swamimalai in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, is a direct descendent of the illustrious Shyama Sastri, one of the famous Musical Trinity, through his mother Smt. Seethalakshrni Ramamurthy.
A commerce graduate from Annamalai University, Sri Krishnan served as an auditor in a large group in Chennai for many years and owe his interest and involvement in Tamil devotional literature to his elder brother Dr Ramaseshan, known as "Sekkizhar Dasan". Along with his brother he co-authored ‘Arunagirinathar Adichuvarttil'- Thiruppugazh Thalappavanam, 'Muzhudum Azhagiya Kumaran' (Iconography of Subramanya) and Maheswara Vadivangal (Manifestations of Lord Siva).
Sri Krishnan has also written numerous articles on his own and published several books - out of which 'Sindhai Niraikkum Siva Vadivangal', 'Muthal vanakkam Muthalvanukke' and 'Muthamizh Muruganin Uthamath Thondargal' published by the Ananda Vikatan group are noteworthy With his extensive knowledge of Thiruppugazh, he has brought out many thematic audio cassettes and discs containing Thiruppugazh songs rendered by his wife Smt Sundaravalli and daughter Smt Bavya Harishankar.
Examples of his research achievements in Thiruppugazh are the discovery of a new song on Sengundapuram near Virudunagar culled out of palm leaves in Kerala University and the identification of the Thiruppugazh thalam, Gnana Malai, near Sholingar and Somesar Koil, both in Vellore District based on the evidence of inscriptions.
Ra. Krishnan has been honoured with several titles; notable among them being Thiruppugazh Araychi Thilagam, Thiruppugazh Seer Paravuvar, Thiruppugazh Kalanidhi, Thiruppugazh sathurar, and Thiruppugazh Gnana Banu.
Madurai- the name at once evokes a feeling of devotion and awe; devotion towards Mother Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwarar, the presiding deities the most famous Madurai Meenakshi Temple of Tamil Nadu and awe at the long, uninterrupted history of literature, art and architecture that flourished in this temple town from pre-Christian era to the present day. That the divines grace and compassions of Goddess Meenakshi pervades and permeates through every aspect of life in this region, can be the only reason that through several changes of dynastic rules, wars and vicissitudes, Madurai has been the centre of attraction for thousands of years to pilgrims and tourists, traders and travelers, Kings and commoners from all over the world.
Apart from being a place of religious worship for centuries, held sacred by generations of Hindus, the architecture and design of the temple complex, t he mandapams and the sculptures therein, the paintings and festivals, all combine to make the temple a visitor’s paradise. Anonymous sculptors and artists have lavished their masterly skills in embellishing the tall and majestic towers and the pillared halls in and around the sanctum, adding a stunning beauty to their sheer size and massiveness.
The historic events that shaped the city under different rulers and the myriad legends around the deities beautifully captures in the brilliant art forms one can see in the Meenakshi temple. A discerning observer can piece together how generations of kings vied with one another in adding luster to the abode of their guardian deity, by constructing a corridor here and a mandapam there, adding an arch here and a few sculptures there.
The temple on the whole is a treasure house depicting the evolution of art and architecture of South India and the magnificent heights they were able to reach under the rule of Pandiyars and Nayakars. A casual visitors will be struck with wonder and amazement at the majesty and grandeur of the towers and the multitude of sculptures, but a discerning enthusiast would like to understand and appreciate the story that the stones tell. This book is intended to provide a guide for such an experience.
In bringing out this book, the immense co-operations and assistance from Shri. Karumuttu T. Kannan, Fit Person and Shri. P. Dhanapal, Commissioner HR&CE and Administration of the Arulmigu Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple. The involvement and the helpful interest from the staff and officers of HR&CE Department is gratefully acknowledged .
My sincere thanks to Sri. S.Sivakumar for the lucid translation, Dr. R.Mahadhaven for the fine editing job with dedicating and shri J. Lakshmi Narayanan for his creative and total involvement in this production.
I believe that is book will occupy will occupy a pride of place in every lover of Tamil Nadu temples and connoisseur of the art and architecture of such Indian temples as well as devotes of Goddess Meenakshi.
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