Sculptures in temples in Kumbakonam: photo 127
Photo 127 of 640 in Gallery: Sculptures in temples in Kumbakonam
Image title: Figure 126. Ramaratnam Bhattacarya
Interview of Bhattachar at Ramasvami Temple
Date of Interview–28.10.2013.
Designation–Arcakar or Bhattacarya
1. How many years have you worked as an Arcakar?
A. For 8 years.
2. Who built this temple and when?
3. How old is this temple?
4. Please explain the Vigrahams.
A. In this temple Tayar does not have a separate Sannidhi. She is together with Sri Rama. Both Rama and Sita are in Pattabhiseka attire. Here Sita is to the left side of Rama. Only during marriage she is on right side of Rama. In the Utsava Murti. Sita’s Vigraham [Vigraha] is on the right. This Sthala is called Daksina Ayodhya. After Ayodhya only in this place can you see the Pattabhiseka attire. In this temple Rama, Laksmana, Anjaneya, Bharata and Satrughna are all there. On the left side of Rama is Satrughna. On the right is Bharata and Laksmana. Anjaneya is seated down. In one hand he has Vina and in the other hand he is holding Ramayana book for Parayana. This is an unusual feature found here only.
5. How many hands does Sri Rama have?
A. Sri Rama has Dvibhujam [Dvibhuja] i.e. two hands only, both as Mulavar and Utsavar.
6. Can you please describe the Utsava Murti.
A. In the Utsava Murti we can see Rama, Sita, Laksmana and Anjaneya. This is the Kalyana (marriage) attire. Rama is holding bow and arrow in his hands. Even Laksmana is holding bow and arrow. Sri Rama is Kodandapani. Even Sita Devi is Dvibhujam [Dvibhuja] and is holding lotus in left hand and the right hand is in Lata. Santana Krsna also comprises the Utsava Murti.
7. Are there any legends attached to the temple?
A. No such legend. Rama is an aspect of Sarngapani but here he is in sitting posture (Amarandan). As Cakrapani (Ninran) he is standing erect and as Sarngapani (Kidandan) he is reclined.
8. What are Rama and Sita holding in their hands as Mulavigrahams [Mulavigrahas]?
A. Sita is holding lotus with right hand and the left hand is in Varada. Sri Rama’s right hand is in Abhaya and is left hand is in Lata. Sri Rama has his left leg lifted and his right leg is down. Sita Devi has her left leg lifted and her right leg is down.
9. Does the Vimana here have any special name and shape?
A. The Vimana here has no such special name. It is a simple one.
10. How many entrances does this temple have?
A. This temple has only one entrance functional that is the souther one. The Garbha Graham [Graha] is facing north signifying that the Lord is looking at Ayodhya. The northern entrance is shut for safety purpose. This entrance is open only during Mahamaham festival for allowing people to reach the tank.
11. How many Prakarams [Prakaras] are there in this temple?
A. There are two Prakaram s–the Ul Prakaram (inner) and the Veli
12. How many Mandapams are there in this temple?
A. There is only one Mandapam [Mandapa] i.e the Maha Mandapam [Mandapam]. On the eastern side there is a “Kannadi arai” or “Tiru Palli Arai” meaning a bedroom for the Lord which has mirrors in it. During Brahmotsavam [Brahmotsava] the Utsavamurti is brought there after the procession. He does not go to the Garbha Graham [Graha] till the festival is over. The pillars in the Mahamandapam [Mahamandapa] have been constructed by the Nayaka kings. There is no Sthala Vrksam [Vrksa] attached with this temple and also no tank or Kolam.
13. How many times is Puja done in this temple?
A. In this temple Puja is done five times in a day.
Visvarupa Puja–at 7.30 am -milk is offered as Naivedyam. Kalasandhi Puja at 10.00 am–Tairsadam (curd rice) is offered as
Sayaraksai Puja at 8.00 pm–Pongal is offered as Naivedyam.
Ardhajamam [Ardhajama] at 9.00 pm–Sakkaraipongal is offered as Naivedyam.
14. Why is the Mulavigraha always black?
A. That is because Karpura oil is smeared on the Vigrahams once a month. Hence the colour deepens.
15. How many Utsavams are celebrated in this temple?
A. During Ramanavami 10 days of Brahmotsavam [Brahmotsava] is celebrated. On the 9thday the Utsava Murti is taken out in Ter or procession. This is celebrated during Phanguni month. Navaratri Utsavam in Purattasi Masam.Unjal Utsavam [Utsava] in Margali
16. Is this temple under State government jurisdiction?
A. Yes, it is. But the Bhattacharyas are not paid by the government. Since it is a family tradition whatever is given as Daksina is their earning.
17. Were there any Dasis attached with this temple in the olden days?
A. I am not aware of this.
18. Who has constructed the elaborate sculptures on the pillars in the Mahamandapam?
A. This work has been done by the great king Raghunatha Nayaka.
Kumbakonam is considered as one of the holiest places in Tamil Nadu and is known for its temples and Mathas (monasteries which were centres of Brahmanical learning). These photographs depict the connection between the sculptures in the temples and Natya Shastra and related texts dealing with iconography.