SRIMAN NARAYANAYA CHARANAU SARANAM PRAPATHYE
SRIMATHE NARAYANAYA NAMAH
SRIMATHE RAMANUJAYA NAMAH
SRI MUDALIAANDAN SWAMY THIRUVADIGALEY SARANAM
SRI AMRITHAVALLI NAYIKA SAMETHA SRI LAKSHMI NARASIMHA PARABRAHMANE NAMAH
Prostrating at lotus feet of LORD LAKSHMI NARASIMHAR , Adiyen feels honoured to share the divine experiences of piligrimage few years ago to Sri Ahobilam Divya desam.
Ahobila Mutt authorities has taken the holy initiative to develop this kshetram on war footing and made it convenient for the piligrims to have darshanam of LORD in the temple.We offer humble obesiances to Jeeyar and the Mutt followers as this holy intiative from HIS HOLINESS has really made piligrims journey more simple compared few years ago . Presently nine archakas ( priests ) have been appointed who perform Nityathiruvaaradhanai ( worship) to all the Nava Narasimhars .
They travel by Cycles to the temples and are very cooperative with the piligrims.
Adiyens sincere acknowledgements to Ms.Ramesh , the author of “108 DIVYA DESAMS”and members of Sri Rangasri group ,whom we regard as our spiritual guide.
Adiyens recent visit last year was most memorable . Out of the 108 Sri Vaishnava divya desams, two are in Andhra Pradesh, Tirumala and Ahobilam. Both the divya desams are situated in the Nallamalai Hills in Chittoor districts respectively. It is about 68 KM from Nandyal Station ( Ex PrimeMinister Shri P.V.Narasimha Raos constiency ) As per the Puranas, Nallamalai Hills is the personification of Adisesha, the great serpent bed of Perumal. Srisailam, one ofthe famous Shiva sthalams is the tail end, Ahobilam is the middle portion, Tirumalais the head and Srikalahasti, another Shiva kshetram is the mouth of Adisesha.
Thus, the sacred hills houses two Vishnu and two Shiva kshetrams.Ahobilam, the great Narasimha kshetram is also known as Ahobalam, SingavelKundram, Vedachalam, Garudachalam, Veera kshetram, pancha kosa kshetram etc.for the following reasons.
AHOBALAM means “great strength”. Since Lord manifested Himself here for
rescuing His devotee by killing the asura, Hiranyakasapu, the devas praised Him
saying “AHO BALAM” (Oh! What a great strength)
VEDACHALAM :-Perumal restored the Vedas to Brahma by killing Somuka, an asura.
GARUDACHALAM:-Perumal blessed Garuda who was doing penance here.
VEERA KSHETRAM :- Lord exercised one of His gunas “VEERYAM”
NAVA NARASIMHA KSHETRAM:
All the nine temples are situated within a radius of 5 krosas or 10 miles or 16 kilometres. As stated earlier, Ahobilam is situated 25 Km from Arlagadda in Kurnool district and can also be approached via Cuddapah district. It is situated on hills amidst thick jungles. The local tribals are very kind . Compared to Tirumala yaatrai, this is strenuous because there is neither an easy motorable road (except to two or three temples) nor well laid pathway like that in Tirumala few years ago .But now things have changed Almost all the temples are scattered on the hills with no direct route , but now the scene is different . One was forced to walk back the way he came and then go to the next temple earlier .
Great care has to be taken while trekking especially when we trek the holy hills . Added to this, the place is inhabited by wild animals and monkeys. Due to monkey’s menace, even eatables have to be taken with utmost care. It is always advised to take help of local guide. This made us recollect Thirumangai Azhwar’s mangalasaasanam comprising of 10 pasurams describing the divya desam beautifully. He describes Perumal’s ugra swaroopam and the scenic beauty of this place. In the first 8 pasurams, Azhwar describes how difficult it is to reach this place which is inhabited by wild elephants, tigers, lions and the tribals .
Azhwar says that even tigers and lions offer their prey to Perumal before eating them. But in the 9th pasuram Azhwar says that these difficulties would be faced only by the enemies and demons and the bhaktas need not have any fear because here Perumal residing along with Thayar would always protect the devotees. This pasuram boosts our confidence level and take refuge in Him. Every nucleus in Ahobilam reverberates with Lord Narasimha’s holy name.
As per sthalapurana , Jaya and Vijaya, the dwarapaalakas gate keepers of Sri Vaikuntam who were puffed up with ego because of their proximity to Perumal were cursed by Sanathakumara brothers (who were the Manasaputras of Brahma ) to get separated from Lord (Perumal). The repentant dwarapaalakas were given the option of either living a pious life for 100 births or become demons for 3 janmas ,develop enmity towards the Lord and finally get killed by Perumal. They opted for the latter and hence were born thrice. In their first janma, they were born as Hiranyaaksha and Hiranyakasipu,they took their second birth as Ravana and Kumbakarna and in their third birth, they were born as Kamsa and Sisupaala.Bhagavan declares in Bhagavad Gita that He will appear to protect His devotees anddestroy His enemies.
So whenever the earth becomes overburdened with sinners,the Lord manifests Himself to protect His devotees. Narasimha Avataaram is one such avataaram where the Lord appeared to protect the great child-devotee, Prahalada by killing his father, Hiranyakasipu. In Matsya, Kurma and Varaha avatarams, Lord appeared as an animal and in otheravatarams like Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, Krishna , the Lord appeared as a human and protected everyone. The Narasimha avataaram is the only avataaram where the Lord appeared as “half beast half man “ a rare combination. It is only in this avataaram that Lord depicts contrasting feelings of “sowlabhyam”and “krodham” i.e. love and hatred with the same organ, “eyes” at the same time.
The Lord was full of compassion and love to the child devotee , Prahalada and at the same time was fierce and angry with Hiranyakasipu. Hiranyakasipu with his severe austerities had wittingly acquired a boon from Brahma that he should not get killed by any of Brahma’s creation, he shouldn’t die eitherduring day or night, he shouldn’t die either on earth or in the sky, he shouldn’t bekilled by using any weapon or astram. Puffed up with the confidence that he couldn’tbe killed as fulfilling as the above conditions would be impossible, he had become notorious and tortured pious people. He developed hatred towards Lord Vishnu. But his son, Prahalada was a born Vishnu Bhakta. All his advises to realise the soul and seek Narayanan’s Holy feet became in vain.
The wicked rakshasa started torturing his son by throwing him from top of hill, administering poison, throwing him in sea, fire etc. All the efforts of the rakshasa became futile as his son was protected by Lord. He realised the purpose of birth and had absolute faith on the Ultimate. Sri Mukkur Swamy gives a wonderful explanation to the incident when Prahalada was thrown from top of the hill. He says that when Prahalada was thrown by the asuras from top of the hill, he held his hands close to his heart to ensure that Perumal who was residing in his heart as ANTARYAAMI” shouldn’t get hurt. Seeing this act of Prahalada,Bhoomidevi overwhelmed with pity protected the child by taking him in her alms on a bed of flowers.
When Prahalada was thrown in the fire, Agni deva protected the child and it was his aunt,Holika , who got burnt. This incident is celebrated even today as “Holi “ festival in India. The asura could not accept the concept of “OMNIPRESENCE OF THE LORD” propagated by Prahalada and as a challenge, he kicked a nearby pillar in his palace and asked the boy to show him the Lord. The asura was fully confident that as he himself had constructed the palace, he was sure that the Lord could not be present. Even before he could complete his sentence, an extraordinary being emerged out of the pillar. The being had a body like a human and a face like that of a lion’s. He had sharp nails like the paws of a lion.
This was the most prominent avataaram of the Lord “NARA-SIMHA “ avataaram. The Lord with His wonderful form of half-beast and half-man (he was neither a man nor a beast but at the same time, he was the combination of the two) and 10 hands placed the asura on His lap (it was neitherearth nor sky), he was holding the asura with two of his hands; pierced the asura’s intestine with his nails, (thus not using any astram or weapon), it was evening when the incident occurred , (thus fulfilling the condition that he should neither be killed in the morning nor night). Thus the Lord killed the asura and lessened the burden of the earth .
Even after the samhaaram, the Lord was furious . Thayar and the demigods were afraid to go near him and pacify. It was Prahalada who sang the praise of the Lord known as “PRAHALADA STHUTHI” and pleased the Lord. This sthuthi comprising of 43 slokas contains the essence of Vedanta philosophy difficult to grasp even by mature minds. Prahalada was able to recite this slokam only due to the grace and touch of the Lord. This incident is mentioned in the seventh chapter of Srimad Bhagavatham. The Lord took him on His lap and blessed him to rule the kingdom and finally reach His abode. He also granted the boon that no one belonging to his dynasty would be killed by Him. (This was the reason why Perumal didn’t kill Bali Chakravarthy, the demon-king who was Prahalada’s grandson when Perumal assumed Vamana avataaram , Dhenukaasuran and Banaasuran during his Krishnaavataaram.
With His touch, the sins of Hiranyakasipu got wiped off . The Lord conceded the request of the devas to stay back in earth and protect His devotees. He later married Chenchulakshmi, a partial manifestation of Thayar and continues to reside in this holy place even today. To this day, this tribe enjoys special privileges and they get offerings for Perumal’s Thirukalyaanam which is celebrated in a grand way. It was only after obtaining the grace of Narasimhar, Sri Ramar got the information that Ravana had kidnapped Sita Devi.
It was after having darshan of Narasimhar,Lord Srinivasar met Padmavathi Thayar and married Her.The presence of the Lord can be experienced even today. To quote few instances, itmay be mentioned that Perumal appeared as a sanyasi to Srinivasachariyar around500 years ago to the first Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt and initiated him into Sanyasam and prompted him to propogate Srivaishnavism. The Lord gave the Jeeyar theutsava vigraham of Malola Narasimhar and this vigraham is in the custody of theAhobila Mutt Jeeyars for Nityathiruvaaradhanai.
The Lord also protected the 33rdJeeyar of Ahobila Mutt from wayside dacoits. The Lord saved Annamacharyar , thegreat saint who attained the Lotus feet of the Lord by singing His praises, from the harassment of the local king and he got initiated into Srivaishnavism by the thenAhobila Mutt Jeeyar. The Lord blessed King Pratapa rudra by enlightening him abouttrue knowledge. This king contributed to a great extent for the welfare of this place.The present Ahobila Mutt Jeeyar has contributed to a great extent by spending few lakhs of rupees for the renovation of old temples and constructed new temples.
The way to these temples has become accessible. As mentioned earlier, there are 9 shrines dedicated to nine forms of Narasimhar.Out of this Prahalada varada Narasimhar is in Lower Ahobilam, Ugra Narasimhar,who is a swayambhu and is treated as the divya desa Perumal is seen in Upper Ahobilam. The other shrines are scattered all over the hills. Apart from the navaNarasimha shrines, “Prahalada padi” where Prahalada studied and “Ugra Sthambam”from where Perumal emerged are usually visited by pilgrims. There are number of Theerthas in this shrine.
A few like konneru near Bhargava Narasimhar , Ramatheertha near Lower Ahobilam and Raktha Kundam near Jwala Narasimhar ,Bhavanaasini near Ugra Narasimhar which flows through both the mountains are a few to name.
MOOLAVAR : SRI LAKSHMI NARASIMHA SWAMY
THAYAR : SRI AMRITHAVALLI THAYAR
VIMANAM : Gugai (Cave)
THEERTHAM : BHAVANAASINI
PRATHYEKSHAM : PRAHALADA, GARUDAR ,HANUMAR
MANGALASAASANAM: THIRUMANGAI AZHWAR (1008-1017)
Situated at the foot of the hills known as Lower Ahobilam, this temple can be visited by one and all. Usually all homams and yagams are performed here. Here Perumal is seen along with Thayar blessing Prahalada. Hence, Perumal is known as “Prahalada Varadar”.The utsava vigrahams of all the Narasimhars except Malola Narasimhar are offered nitya thiruvaadhanai here. To the left of Perumal, utsava vigraham of Pavana Narasimhar can be seen majestically . In front of the Lord, the utsavaiodls of Prahalada varada Narasimhar along with Sridevi and Bhoodevi grace us . The processional deity of Jwala Narasimhar along with His consorts is also seen inthe garbagriham . The vigraham is superbly carved and on request , thearchakar removes the alankaranam and performs Aaarathi to the idol. This idol has 10 arms and Hiranya vadham (killing) is beautifully depicted. There is also asmall vigraham of the first Ahobila Mutt Jeeyar facing south. The temple is a huge Pilgrim’s diary Ahobila mone and many monkeys can be seen here. The walls of the temple depict the sthala puranam briefly. There is a Thayar Sannidhi to the right of the temple.
2) BHARGAVA NARASIMHA SWAMi:
This temple is situated two kilometres from Lower Ahobilam on a small hillock and can be approached by foot. As Bhargava(Parasurama) did penance here, the Lord is thus known. It is easily approachable.
Situated at a distance of 3 kilometres from Lower Ahobilam, this can be approached by foot. It was here that Prahalada mastered the art of yoga from Perumal Himself. The divya mangala swaroopam of the Lord is eye captivating. Perumal is seen alone in Yogaasanam.
4) CHATRAVATA NARASIMHA SWAMI:-
This temple is situated at a distance of nearly 3 kms from Ahobilam on a different route also reachable on foot . As Perumal is seated alone under a peepul tree which protects Perumal like an umbrella, He is known as Chatravata Narasimhar. This Perumal is fond of music played by Gandharvas. It looks as if the Lord is deeply engrossed in music by clasping His hands. We were told that He is fond of Adi Thalam. Reptiles keep moving in this place but they don’t harm the devotees. One has to take care of these.
5) UGRA NARASIMHAR SANNIDHI:-
This temple is in Upper Ahobilam. There is a narrow bus route and it takes about 40 minutes to reach this place from Lower Ahobilam. This is considered as the divya desa temple. Usually, pilgrims have bath in Bhavanaasini or Paavanaasini (a spring which flows from the top of the hill) and then have Perumal’s darsanam. A dip in Paavanaasini absolves all the sins committed.
Though there are no proper bathing ghats, still we can see hundreds of devotees having holy dip unmindful of their surroundings. The sannidhi is located inside a cave . Perumal along with Thayar is seen in Veetruirundha Thirukkolam . Opposite to Perumal, there is an idol of Prahalada. There is a dark room on the other side of the cave which is believed to be the place where Chenchulakshmi resides . Recently, under the supervision of Jeer, a bridge across Paavanasini river has been constructed which facilitates the pilgrims to go to Varahanarasimhar temple (Krodha Narasimhar)
One kilometer further from Upper Ahobilam leads to the shrine of Krodha Narasimhar. He is also known as Varaha Narasimhar as HisThirumukam resembles a varaham (a boar). Any japam done here elevates onespirtually. Especially, Narayana Sadakshara Japam from Varaha Kanda bestows manifold benefits as told by Archakar Swamin.
KARANJA NARASIMHAR SHRINE :
This temple is situated between Upper Ahobilam and Lower Ahobilam.. As the divya mangala moorthi is installed under Karanja vruksham, the deity has been named so. Perumal is seen in VeetruirundhaKolam and is holding Sarngam (bow), dhanus (arrow) and chakram . As usual,Adisesha acts as “Kudai”(refer Irundhal Kudaiyam…) and isprotecting. The theertham here is known as Bhairava kundam. Hanumar who visited this place was astaunch Rama bhakta . Lord Narasimhar appeared to Hanumar, who was a staunchRamabhakta, with bow and arrow thus showing that He is Rama Himself. This Lord is in Padmasaanam pose. One can have darshan of Hanumar also. We are reminded of Sholangur .
6) MALOLA NARASIMHAR:
This holy shrine is situated two kilometres away from Upper Ahobilam. Perumal came in search of Mahalakshmi Thayar who was doing penance here and placed Her on His lap. Hence, Perumal seen along with Thayarhas a somya (graceful) form. Due to Thayar’s presence, Perumal graces even the worst sinner . Azhwar refers to this Perumal in pasuram no. 1016 (Peria Thirumozhi) when he says that bhaktas are always protected by Perumal andonly the wicked have to fear . This Lord gives abhayam to His devotees and Thayar bestows Asthaaiswaryam and grants the wishes of the devotees. There is a vigraham of Thirumangai Azhwar in the sanctum . Outside the temple, there is a small pillar with murthis. Those who are not able to go to Ugra sthambamcan prostrate this pillar.
7) JWALA NARASIMHAR:-
This temple is located at a higher altitude may bear ound 2800 feet. And can be approached from Malola Narasimhar shrine. It takes about 2 hours to reach this temple from Upper Ahobilam. The path is slippery and as mentioned care has to be taken. It was here that Perumal killed Hiranyakasipu by tearing his stomach with his spear like nails. The idol with 10 hands which is approximately 3 feet high and is scaring to look at. Beside this shrine, there is a small pond known as “Raktha Kundam” where the Lord is believed to have washed His blood-stained hands . The water is reddish in colour and this was the explanation given by the guide to us. Recently, a temple has been constructed for this Lord and a archakar is appointed to perform Nitya Thiruvaaradhanai.
8) PAVANA NARASIMHAR:
This temple is situated six kilometres away from Upper Ahobilam towards north east on the banks of River Pavana. It is difficult to approach this temple as wild animals keep roaming earlier If one wishes to visit this temple, he must do so during daytime with the help of a guide.
The path is too narrow, the trek amidst cluster of rocks is strenuous . It takes about 45 minutes for trekking.One can view Malola Narasimhar shrine and few water falls on the way on the other side of the mountain. Forest fire is very common in this place and this helps in one way to ward off wild animals. It is believed that devas offer worship to this Lord.
The Lord is seen along with Thayar . The local tribals usually observe fast on Saturdays and offer flowers, honey, fruits, rice, jaggery etc. to the Lord.The general notion that “bali” (sacrifice) is done here was rebuked by the priest. He said that the sacrifice would be done elsewhere in the jungles . He also added that wild animals do not roam near the temple and only during severe summer,they come to the river bank to quench their thirst.
They usually do not hurt anyone.Besides the above shrines, other places of interest are Prahalada Padi or PrahaladaMettu (Mettu in Telugu and Padi in Tamil means “step”) and Ukku sthambam.
is the place where Prahalada had his vidyabhyaasam from Sukracharya’s sons. The way to Prahalada padi though tough is breathtakingly beautiful with river flowing on one side and with various water falls amidst a huge valley. This reminds me of the route to Badrinath. The temple is in a small cave and one has to crawl to enter inside the cave. Only 4 persons can be accomodated insideat a time. Mountain lizards and bats move freely here.It was here that the child started propogating Lord’s qualities. Prahalada used to resort to this place for meditating upon the Lord. There is a vigraham of Narasimhar in centre . to its right, there is an idol of Chakaratazhwar and to the left , there is a vigraham of Lord Vishnu.
More brief details can be had from this link
which is situated at a distance of 8 kms from Upper Ahobilam isthe pillar from which the Lord emerged . The pillar which is situated at the edge of the cliff is split into two as a proof that Lord appeared from this pillar. Ahobilam usually give their offerings here. It is very difficult to reach this place which is at a highest altitude .Doing pradakshinam around this pillar is even more difficult as it isin the cliff. Near the ukku sthambham (iron pillar) as the Telugus call, there is Perumal’s Thiruvadi. The climb is very difficult . Only with His grace can one visit this place.
One has to have a sharp vision and a flexible body to bend, crawl etc.This can be approached from Prahalada padi on the way to Jwala Narasimhar shrine.While describing this pillar, Sri Mukkur Swamy says that the entire world is still pregnant with Narasimhar inside except this because Perumal has come out of it.The symbols of Vishnu, namely, Sankhu, Chakram, Naamam are carved on the face of the hill.One can have a bird’s eyeview of the entire Ahobilam from this place. Theatmosphere is calm and serene . Various waterfalls all around looking like thin streams makes us wonder and appreciate the nature and Lord’s creation. It’s a best place to meditate.
Adiyen will feel honoured for being a small instrument in devotees wishing to have darsanam of LORD by guiding with route and other details .
Pics : Google images/ Adiyens travel pics