Bridging history, heritage and culture -Visit of President of India to Lord Athi Varadara
A nation goes on progressing when there is link between past and future, when there is relationship between oldand new, when there is bond between history, heritage and culture with governance. A nation builds her ideas and imaginations through the examples set by individuals who are holding highest offices.
There has been a unique moment in Indian history, when on 12th of July Honorable President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind ji visited the Lord Athi Varadar in Kanchipuram Tamilnadu. It is a watershed moment for Indian culture and heritage, it's a moment where history has been visited, where a long forgotten story has beenunearthed not only for people living in Tamilnadu but for Indian society. This is a moment when a person occupying highest office, on whose name the government functions, on whose name policies are formulated, theone who is not only figurehead but who heads social theme had visited and paid his respect and offered himself to Lord Athi Varadraja. From the perspective of Indian heritage it’s one of the those moments that needed an overall applause from each of us.
One can google the history of Lord Athi Varadar but let me give some snaps from history, Lord Athi Varadara gives darshan to his devotees every 40 years for 48 days, there lies an important aspect of Indian heritage and mythology. Athi Varadar is approximately nine-feet long idol, made out of the divine fig tree, like every other myth in this country which instead of giving complex ideas through complexity , expresses beautifully that Goddess Saraswathi was once enraged with her husband Brahma and in a fit of anger took away his divine wandto retrieve which he performed the Aswamedha yagna in the Athi forest (Fig forest), now Kanchipuram. Aided by the Asuras, the demons, Sarawathi runs as the river and tries to interrupt the Yagna, when Vishnu emerges from the holy fire as Athi Varadar. Saraswati is pacified and the yagna continues. Lord Viswakarma carves out a body for Athi Varadar using a fig tree.
A nation builds her ideas and imaginations through the examples set by individuals who are holding highest offices.
This was the original Idol worshipped in Kanchipuram till 16th century, during the second half of the century many invasions had taken place and to keep the Idol safe the Athi Varadar idol was placed in the tank, the Idol was immersed inside Pushkarani (Anantha Sarovara)inside the temple premises secretively. There were only couple of people knew about the whereabouts of Lord Athi Varadar but they passed away. For 40 years the temple had no deity and later, for nearly 40 long years, the temple had no moorthy in the Grabhagraha ( Sanctum Sanctorum )and no pooja was being performed in the temple. So a decision was made to get a new Vigraha (idol) for the temple. (The Moolavar that we see today in this temple at Kanchipuram was brought from Pazhaya Seevaram, about 20kms from Kanchipuram. It is made up of Granite and is called Devaraja Swami)
During the year 1699, the temple tank was drained of its water ( reasons unknown and multiple stories such as famine etc has been given a reason ) and that is when the Lord Athi Varadara revealed himself to the people after 40 years. Since then every 40 years Lord Athi Varadar is taken out from temple tank for 48 days for public to pay their respect and offer Puja.
This has continues for 1739, 1779, 1819, 1859, 1939, 1979 and now in the year 2019 during the month of July when Hon President of India did go with his family to pray to Almighty. For me its not only a prayer by Hon President Shri Ram Nath Kovind ji, his family but this is the prayer by custodian of Indian constitution, whose presence and offering is greatest moment of Indian heritage and culture. The mere presence of Hon President Shri Ram Nath Kovind ji with his family is about giving importance to an event that is being held every 40 years but also this is about converging the history and imaginations of this important temple of South India and creating a bridge. I have not known or heard that it was done by any important public figure in the year 1979, same event which came after 22 years of Indian Independence. Another important aspect of this visit that should have been in each and every news paper of India is that Hon President’s visit to the shrine and offering his prayers to Lord Athi Varadara before he goes to be present while ISRO is launching Chandrayan 2 ( which was aborted an hour before scheduled time yesterday) For me Hon President visit is about forging a bond between Indian history, heritage and future, it’s about forging a link between tradition, heritage and science, its about bridging together the glorious past of India with remarkable future of India to come. Mahatma Gandhi had said “The future depends on what we do in the present” I am certain that as long as the highest offie of this country is occupied by a person who sees deeper than our own collective imagination we are progressing the path of Nation building thorough the ideas of Infinite where there is no stop for our collective spirit. This nation and citizens of this country will go on searching deeper meaning of this universe and at a same time will go one searching the meanings of their lives. This will be a nation where philosopher’s politicians and spiritualists will all express their ideas to better human society.