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Stands for Rama's noble qualities



The unusual posture of Lord Rama with His Consort Sita and Lakshmana.

IN NEDUNGUNAM, situated 24 km from Arani (North Arcot district), is an ancient and attractive temple for Sri Rama. The word Nedungunam itself signifies the main noble quality of the Lord.

After Vibhishana Pattabhishekam in Sri Lanka, Rama is returning to Ayodhya along with Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman and other varanas. He notices on the banks of the Kaliyar, Sukha Brahman, a saint in the form of a parrot, offering prayers to Him. The Lord alights from His chariot and just stands before the saint whose joy knows no bounds. The place where Sri Rama blessed the saint came to be known as Nedungunam, meaning noble quality. Although He was in a hurry to go to Ayodhya to save Bharata, Rama did not fail to pay heed to the prayers of a devotee. This place is connected to Madhuranthakam, near Chengleput, by Kaliyar.

The sight of the magnificent five-tier Rajagopuram overwhelms one. We are surprised by the presence of another rajagopuram almost like the first one, which only proves that this is one of the biggest temples dedicated to Sri Rama. Inside the temple Garuda and dwarapalakas reflect artistic excellence. In the sanctum santorum, we are greeted by Lord Rama in sitting position with chin mudra, Sita on his left which is a unique feature. Without His much celebrated Kothandam, He is santha murthi, a rare form. To his right stands Sri Lakshmana. Here Rama assumes the role of Guru, as Anjaneya the greatest devotee is seated listening to his Lord in rapt attention. Here Rama is known as Vijaya Raghavan, thereby signifying Rama's victory over Ravana. The utsava murtis (two) are holding chakra and conch in their upper hands with the lower right hand showing the abhaya mudra.



The five-tier gopuram of the temple of Sri Rama, Nedungunam.

There is an interesting story about the presence of two utsavars. Long time back, one set of idols (Rama with consort) was stolen from the temple and soon after the installation of the second the original was found in tact and restored. There is a separate shrine for Thayar Sengamalavalli. She is in sitting posture blessing all of us in Abhaya and Varadha mudras with both the moolavar and the utsavars. There are shrines for Azhwar and Sri Krishna. Sudharsana has a separate sannidhi along with Yoga Narasimhar as an integral part on its back side. There is also a sannidhi exclusively for Lord Venkateswara.

Vaikanasa the preceptor of Vaikanasa agama is seen with four disciples in a corner. There are two idols of Anjaneya one of which was found in a nearby hill.

Srirama Navami Brahmotsavam is celebrated on a grand scale every year in this temple. The temple boasts of majestic Garuda, Gaja (elephant), Hamsa and Sesha vahanas. One leaves the temple meditating on the most noble qualities of Sowlabya (simplicity) and Sowseelya (the ability to treat everyone alike) without any discrimination. The two qualities that sum up Sri Rama.

R. S. RAGHAVAN

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