The Thirukoneshwaram temple in Srilanka known as ‘Dakshin Kailas’

The study tour of Srilanka associated with
Ramayan done by Sadguru (Mrs.) Anjali Gadgil and four
student seekers on behalf of Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay !

After annihilation of Ravan when Shrirama left for Ayodhya in the Pushpak airplane, He realised that a black cloud was following them. At that juncture Deity Shiva manifested and told Shrirama that this black cloud symbolizes the sin of annihilating a Brahman (priest). As Ravan was a Brahman, Deity Shiva advised Shrirama to worship Deity Shiva at a place where there are five Deities, in Srilanka, to nullify the sin arising from his annihilation. Shrirama obeyed Him. These five Deities are Keteeshwaram, Tondishwaram, Munneshwaram, Koneshwaram and Naguleshwaram. Of these the Tondishwaram temple is submerged due to the rising sea level. Let us learn about the koneswaram temple amongst these five Deity temples.

In this sculpture in the Thirukoneshwaram temple the ten-headed Ravan is seen seated praising Deity Shiva at the foothills of Kailas

 

1. River Mahaveli
Ganga from Srilanka meets the sea at
Thirukoneshwaram, a rocky mountain present here is
triangular in shape and the Koneshwaram temple exists at this place

The temples of five Deities Keteeshwaram, Tondishwaram, Munneshwaram, Koneshwaram and Naguleshwaram from Sri Lanka are famous. Koneswaram is also referred to as Thirukoneswaram as it is in the village of Thirukoneswar. Thiru means ‘Shri’ and Koneswaram means ‘God exisiting on a hillock of conical shape’. Thirukoneshwaram village is on the east coast of Srilanka. The River Mahaveli Ganga which originates from the peak of the highest mountain ranges of Srilanka in the mountainous Middle Province of Nuwara Eliya meets the sea at Thirukoneshwaram. At this juncture  there is a  rocky mountain which is triangular in shape. The Indian Ocean surrounds it on three sides. On the peak of this mountain is the Thirukoneshwaram temple.

 

2. Story about installation of the linga at
Thirukoneshwaram as narrated in the Vayu Puran

Sadguru (Mrs.) Anjali Gadgil worshipping the Shivalinga installed by Maharshi Agasti at Thirukoneshwaram amidst spiritual emotion

A story about Thirukoneshwaram is found in the Vayu Puran. All Deities were attending the marriage ceremony of Deities Shiva and Parvati in Kailas. At this time due to increase in the weight of the northern part of the earth it gets tilted on that side. To rectify this Deity Shiva sent Maharshi Agasti to the south. Maharshi Agasti then installs the linga given by Deity Shiva in Thirukoneshwaram as advised by Deity Shiva. After that the earth became steady and came back to its normal position. Hence later this was called Dakshin Kailas. Both Kailas situated in North Bharat near Tibet and Thirukoneshwaram temple in Srilanka to the south of Bharat, are aligned in a straight line. Both places are located on the 81.3 degree longitude of the earth.

Sadguru (Mrs.) Anjali Gadgil feeding a deer outside the Thirukoneshwaram temple
The Thirukoneshwaram temple and the idol of Deity Shiva outside it
An idol of Ravan in a posture offering obeisance outside the Thirukoneshwaram temple

 

3. When Ravan tried to
cut off and take the Koneswaram
Shivalinga to establish it at home so as
to enable his aging mother to worship it, Deity
Shiva appears there, and Ravan’s sword falls from his
hands onto the Koneshwaram hillock dividing it into two parts

It is said that the King of Lanka ‘Ravan’ would worship the Shivalinga at Thirukoneshwaram temple every day and would meditate while seated on the ‘Laggala’ mountain in Nuwara Eliya Province. He was able to see the Shivalinga on the Thirukoneshwaram hillock which was located 150 kilometers away from this mountain peak. Thirukoneshwaram was the maiden hometown of Ravan’s mother. She would worship this linga every day. Later due to old age and illness she could not go to the temple for worship so he thought that he should install it in her home. Ravan went there to cut it off with his sword. At that very moment Shiva manifested and the sword from Ravan’s hand fell onto the Koneswharam hillock. This sword divided the hillock into two parts which are visible even today.

 

4. Portuguese razed all the temples hereafter
which the temple priests hid the Shivalingas and
temple idols in a well in a village and in 1950 while
excavation at this place these idols were found and the temple
was reconstructed with assistance from Hindus all over the world

Once upon a time this temple was very big. It had a big hall within it with 1000 pillars. There was another temple of the Matsya (fish) incarnation of Deity Vishnu known as Matsyeshwar within this temple. In the 13th century a king from Tamilnadu ‘Kulakottan’ who had come here had renovated this temple. In 1624 Portuguese who invaded Thirukoneshwaram razed all the temples here. Even today in the depths of the sea at Thirukoneshwaram the remnants of the temple are found. The temple priests had hidden the lingas and idols of Deities of this temple in a well in a village. Later for next 300 years in a village 30 kilometers from Thirukoneshwaram called Tampalgamma, a linga resembling the Thirukoneshwaram was installed and worshiped ritualistically in a village called Tampalgamma which is located 30 kilometers away from Thirukoneshwaram. From 1624 till 1950 there was no temple in Thirukoneshwaram. During a digging in the area around the hillock of Thirukoneshwaram in the year 1950 all these old idols were found in a well in the vicinity of the Koneshwar mountain and with the help of Hindus from all over the world the temple was reconstructed.

 

5. Due to special permission taken by
trustees of the temple, from the Srilankan army
seekers were able to go till the steps of the temple despite
the presence of the Srilankan army and naval bases outside the temple

A fort constructed by the Portuguese is present on the Koneshwar hillock. There is a temple within the surroundings of this fort. The temple is 2 kilometers away from the main door of the fort. Outside the temple as well as within the area of the entire fort there are bases of the Srilankan army and navy. A devout Hindu, Mr. Marvanpulavu Sacchidanandan’s friend and trustee of the Thirukoneshwaram temple Mr. Arul Subramaniam had procured special permission from the Srilankan army and so we were able to go till the steps of the temple.

 

6. Outside the temple there are
idols of Deity Shiva and one of Ravan in the
obeisance posture and inside the temple are many
sculptures depicting the scenes of Ravan and his devotion unto Shiva

There are deers everywhere outside the temple. Sadguru (Mrs.) Anjali Gadgil fed them. A huge idol of Deity Shiva is installed outside the Thirukoneshwaram temple. There is also an idol of Ravan in the posture of obeisance. There are sculptures on the temple walls glorifying the devotion of Ravan unto Deity Shiva.

 

7. Other features of this place

A. During the Mahabharat period of the Dwaparyug serpents, Deities and yakshas (demi-gods) would worship this Shivalinga.

B.  It is said that this is the birthplace of the expounder of the Yogasutras, Maharshi Patanjali.

 

8. Gratitude

‘With the grace of Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale all of us were able to pay obeisance to one  of the five temples from the area and for that we offer gratitude a million times at His Holy feet.’

– Mr. Vinayak Shanbag, Sanatan ashram, Ramnathi, Goa (18.6.2018)