CONSECRATIONThe sanctorum of Sri Vittal-Rukmini Mandir at Govindapuram is open to all.
Govindapuram, the quiet village sandwiched between Kumbakonam and Mayiladuturai is special for the spiritually inclined, especially those who revel in namasankirtanam. This is where the Jeeva Samadi of Bodhendral, 59th pontiff of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, who professed immense faith in chanting Rama Nama and Namasankirtanam is located. Soon Govindapuram will gain fame for one more reason. The construction of the Sri Vittal-Rukmini Mandir is almost complete and consecration is set for July 15.
The force behind the endeavour, Jayakrishna Dikshitar aka Vittaldas Maharaj, is unassuming, refusing to take the credit for the temple, where he is overseeing the arrangements. “I'll describe it as a penance and the Mandir is a blessing from my guru and ancestors,” he says.
At what point did Dikshitar, whose Harikatha sessions always drew a full house audience, with listeners crowding the aisles and spilling outside, think of building a temple for Panduranga on such a mammoth scale?
“The seed was sown decades ago, when I expressed my desire to build a temple, to Guruji (Swami Haridas Giri),” says Vittaldas. Haridas Giri instructed that funds be collected only by singing bhajans and cited how he had toiled hard for 25 years to build a temple, again for Panduranga, at Thennangur. “We started planning in 2004 and an announcement was made during the December music festival at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai. The bhoomi puja took place on a Guru Poornima Day in 2005. It is Divine will that consecration also falls on Guru Poornima (July 15).”
Flow of funds
Actual work started in 2006. “Initially, to buy this piece of land, I sang bhajans at various households for a dakshina of Rs. 500. This went on for three years. Once word spread, funds started flowing during my bhajans and discourses at various places,” says Dikshitar.
Vittaldas's dream was to build a temple at Sundaraperumal Koil, a village through which four rivers pass, but that did not materialise. Instead, his cousin Tiruvisainallur Ramakrishna Bhagavatar suggested Govindapuram adjacent to Bodhendral's Samadi. Dikshitar recalls the words of Krishna Premi, who once told a family in Aduthurai several decades ago that a temple for Pandurangan was sure to come up near their village.
Meticulous planning and design by structural consultant Raj Mohan has been a plus point for this project. Seismic factors, tidal behaviour, wind forces and effects of the monsoon have all been taken into account while finalising the design. The foundation is strong enough to bear the 2000-tonne weight of the main 132-ft gopuram, built in the traditional Maharashtra style. Atop is the 18-ft kalasam. Krishna Premi has named it Govardhana Vimanam.
Selvanatha Sthapati has taken care of the making of the idols according to Agama sastra. He has also designed the Garbha Graham, Ardha Mantapam, Maha Mantapam, Vasanta Mantapam, Maha Dwar and the Pravesh Dwar. Beneath the sanctum is a chamber where crores of Vittal Nama written by devotees in specially designed note books have been placed and its perimeter is meant for meditation.
Dikshitar speaks warmly of Balaji Madhava Rao Baley Rao of Maharashtra, the chief builder. “No scales or no measuring instruments, yet he accomplished the task with aplomb,” he says. The exquisite patterns on the ceiling of the mantapams are breathtaking, akin to the Thennangur temple.
Dikshitar insists that this project has fulfilled some social obligations too. For almost five years, men and women from about 300 families, many of them locals, have been engaged in this work, earning their livelihood.
“This will be a bhajan mandir with entry to one and all irrespective of caste, creed, race or religion,” explains Dikshitar. “One can enter the sanctum and touch the deities but not before he/she has chanted Vittal Nama for at least a minute. The prana pradishtai will be done by Anna and nitya Pooja will be according to Premika Nityotsava Padhati. Already, 365 families have endowed funds for conducting puja daily, throughout the year,” he informs.
The six-tier gopuram stands tall waiting for the consecration, after which, the place will come to be known as Dakshina Pandaripuram.
(Shelter for cows: Page 3)
Consecration on July 15, 9.50-10.05 a.m.
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