Sri Varadarajaswami Temple Kanchi- A Study Of Its History, Art And Architecture (An Old Book)
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Sri Varadarajaswami Temple Kanchi- A Study Of Its History, Art And Architecture (An Old Book)

Item Code: NCZ189
Author: K.V. Raman
Language: English
Edition: 1975
Pages: 244 (Throughout B/w Illustrations)
Other Details 10.00 X 7.50 inches
Weight 580 gm
Kanchipuram, one of the reputed Muktik shetras, not very far from Madras, is probably the best known of all places in South India to the earliest writers. Asoka had a stupa built here which Hiuen-Tsang had seen and described. Kanchi was famous along with Takshasila, Varanasi, Vallabha, Nalanda and other great centres of learning. Patanjali, as early as the 2nd century B.C., gives the word Kanchipuram to explain a derivation meaning 'one associated and hailing from Kanchi'. The famous Talagunda inscription of the Kadamba king Kakutsthavarman, in tracing the origin of the Kadamba family, vividly describes how Mayurasarman, the founder of this family, went to Kanchipuram along with his teacher, to give finishing touches to his Vedic learning by studying the highest realms of thought in the field, possible only in Kanchipuram, at that time, reputed for its famous university, Ghatika.

Patanjali, the highest intellectual of his time, naturally could only think of a rare intellectual centre like Kanchi, We know from one of the famous historical sculptures in the Vaikunthaperumal temple, narrating the sequence of Pallava history in a series of panels, that, when the main line broke and a prince of the collateral line was to be elected king, Hiranyavarman was requested to permit his son, Nandivarman, to be made the king. This request was made by the most prominent leaders of 'the people themselves headed by the elders of the University of Kanchi, the Ghatika.

Hiuen-Tsang, the Chinese traveller that came to Kanchi early in the 7th century A.D., has praised the city for its intellectual eminence and its love for learning. It is no wonder, since the rulers like Mahendravarman were versatile, prolific in writing and great patrons of art and literature. Buddhism and Jainism also flourished and Jaina Kanchi is yet an important adjunct of Kanchi.

Dharmapala, the great Buddhist scholar at Nalanda, was from Kanchi. There are two great temples that adorn Kanchi today as the most conspicuous, the Ekamresvara and Varadaraja. There have been many innovations and additions to these temples during the different periods of history. The smaller temples, but aesthetically the most valuable for the study of Pallava art and culture, the Kailasanatha, Matangesvara, Airavatesvara, Vaikunthaperumal, have suffered no change or tampering by additions. The Kamakshi temple, a great seat of Dev worship, with extraordinary reputation as the seat of the grace of Devi extended to the dumb poet Muka who composed the unforgettable honey-sweet verses in a bunch of five hundred with a rare lilt and resonance, Muka-Panchasati, is another of the famous shrines here. The only portrait of the greatest intellectual of India for all time, Sankara, is the sculpture of his in a Pallava temple, Eravanesvara, as a juvenile ascetic, seated reverentially beside Vyasa, who along with Jaimini, flanks Dakshinamurti, the Lord of Learning.

Varadaraja, the form of the Lord who showed compassion to the elephant in distress, Karivarada, is the most reputed Vishnu temple in Kanchipuram. Varada was a favorite of successive kings and philosophers. Ranganatha at Srjrangam, Varadaraja at Kanchi and Srinivasa at Tirupati are the three great deities ever sought for succor by one and all in general and by the Sri Vaishnavas in particular.

Venkatanatha, Vedanta Desika as be is better known, clearly says that his ancestral property is the Lord in the 'Elephant Hill', Hastisailausna me hastisailingra pitripaitamaham dhanam. Appayya Dikshita, the polymath philosopher of the 16th century who wrote the' Sivarkamanidipika', was so attached to Varada, that he would never miss an opportunity to visit Kanchipuram to have his darsana. Infirmity, which made it difficult for him to travel too often, made him build a temple for Varada, along with that for Siva, Kalakantha, in his village Adayapalam, utilizing the gold with which he was bathed in a Kanakabhishek a by king Chinnabomma in appreciation of the Parimala, the commentary he wrote on Amalananda's Kalpataru.

The beautiful mandapa of the Varadaraja temple with its spirited row of horses prancing on the pillars and the monkey and the cat running after the pigeons on the roofline are unforgettable gems of art.

This temple has long remained without a proper exposition of its treasures both artistic and religious. I am glad that Dr. K.V. Raman has written an excellent account of this famous temple discussing its history, epigraphy, ritual, religion, philosophy and thought. He has chosen suitable illustrations to visually present its importance. I have great pleasure in requesting the discerning scholarly world to appreciate this very interesting monograph on a great temple.

This book formed the subject matter of my dissertation for the Degree of the Doctor of Philosophy of the University of Madras. I am thankful to the University for permitting me to publish the thesis.

I must acknowledge my gratitude to Dr. K.K. Pillay, formerly Professor of Social Science, University of Madras, and now Director, Institute of Traditional Cultures, Madras, for his valuable suggestions and guidance in the preparation of that thesis. I thank the Chief Epigraphist, Archaeological Survey of India, Mysore, for giving me access to the originals and transcripts of the inscriptions; the Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India, Southern Circle, Madras for lending me some of the photographs illustrated in the book; the Commissioner, H.R.&C.E. (Adm.) Department for permitting me to prepare plans and drawings of the buildings, besides giving. me other facilities.

I am extremely grateful to Padmashri Shri C. Sivaramamurti, Director, National Museum, New Delhi, for kindly going through the book and contributing his valuable Foreword.

My hearty thanks to Shri Shakti Malik of Abhinav Publications, New Delhi, for the interest and enthusiasm with which he has brought out this book; to my father Shri K.V. Parthasarathi Iyengar for his constant encouragement and Shri Murahari Rao for lending me the color transparency of the cover page; to Sarvashri R. Ramani, T. Elumajai, A.J. Nambiraju and K.P. Balakrishnan for all the help they did during the preparation of the work.

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