Mridanga Saileswari Temple, Kannur

Mridanga Saileswari Temple is a famous Hindu temple located in Muzhakunnu, Kannur district, Kerala, India. It is one among the 108 Durga temples of ancient Kerala, believed to have been installed by Parashurama, the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu. The main deity, Mridanga Saileswari, is a four-armed Durga holding conch and discus in the two hands pointed upwards, blessing her devotees with the front right hand and placing her front left hand on her waist.

The three principle forms of Durga worshiped in Hinduism are Maha-Durga, Chandika and Aparajita. Of these, Chandika has two forms called Chandi who is of the combined power and form of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati and of Chamunda who is an esoteric aspect of Chandi created by the goddess for killing demons Chanda and Munda. Maha Durga has three forms , Ugrachanda, Bhadrakali and Katyayani. Bhadrakali Durga is also worshiped in the form of her nine epithets called Navadurga.

The main Deity in this temple is Durga who is also called Mizhavil Bhagavathi in a separate Sanctum prohibited to public. Mizhavil Bhagavathi, exists as Chandi and Chamunda in this temple. Mizhavil Bhagavathi exhibits herself as Saraswati, also called Mridanga Shaileshwari in this temple Srikovil, with a predominant power of knowledge, giving blessings of skill (Siddhi) in arts and as Chamunda also called Porkali outside the main temple complex. Mizhavil Bhagavathi as Mridanga Shaileshwari, in this temple acts as the patron of music, arts and all kinds of knowledge. Mridanga Shaileshwari in the main temple sanctum sanctorum (Srikovil) can also be worshipped as Saraswati, Parvati Lakshmi or Chandi depending upon the need. The power of Saraswati, knowledge is said to be predominant here and she is the goddess of arts, especially music as per legend. The worship of this temple is said to be not complete unless one worship the secret Mizhavil Bhagavati in the secret sanctum.

Mridanga shaileshwari is the family deity of Kottayam royal family. The legends of Pazhassi Raja is closely associated with this temple.

The temple, which was under ruins for a long time, gained national prominence when Alexander Jacob, a retired DGP of Kerala Police revealed a fascinating story related to the temple. It is said that thieves tried to steal the temple idol 3 times in three different occasions and each time they failed to do so because of strange reasons. Each time the idol was stolen, the idol was returned to the temple by the thieves themselves because of strange paranormal activity. When Alexander Jacob reveled this story in a television interview, from that day onwards, thousands of devotees are visiting the temple everyday. The temple is administered by Malabar Devaswom Board, an autonomous body under the Government of Kerala.

The temple nomenclature revolves round Mridanga, acclaimed to be the mother of all musical instruments, originated in Devaloga or heaven. Devi is presumed to have originated in the form of Mridanga and the reverberation of her voice provided the name Muzhakkunnu, the hill that echoes. MridangaSailam stands for the drum hill and the Goddess seemed to have appeared on the south eastern premises of the temple. Lord Parasurama captivated the essence of Devi into an idol and founded the temple in MridangaSailam or Muzhakkunnu.

It is worth mentioning that Kathakali took shape here in this temple premises by the acclaimed king of Kottayam Thampuran, who got influenced by the Ramanattam of KottarakkaraThampuran. Kottayam Thampuran penned the texts of Bakavadham, Kirmeeravadham, KalyanaSaugandhikam and Nirathakavachakalakeyavadham in this temple. The first lines of Kathakali seeking God’s blessings, speak out the relevance and fame of Mridanga Saileswari and echoes all through the world! A popular myth related to Kathakali, prevailing here is that when Thampuran could not properly visualise the ‘lady figure’ in Kathakali, he meditated for a while. The Goddess appeared in the temple pond, exhibited a lady form and till now without a change, this feminine attire is employed in Kathakali. The clan diety of Kerala Lion Veera Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, Goddess Porkkali stays in trio-state here-that of Saraswathy, the goddess of education, Lakshmi-the goddess of plenty and Kali-the evil destroyer Goddess. In whatever form we appeal to her, Devi appears is in the same shape and structure! The name Porkkali came into existence as sacrifice was offered to Devi by kings before setting out for warfares. This was the custom of all Purali kings as the Goddess was their family diety as expressed in black and white in ‘KokilaSandesham’. The sacrifice and the trance experience happened in the cave temple situated west of the main shrine. ‘Kali’ or blessings for ‘Por’ or war later contributed a new title to Devi as Porkali. The Guha temple believed to be the pivot of all Porkkali temples of South India is now no more, just the remnants remain. We all must anew take pledge on behalf of the Goddess and dedicate ourselves for the renovation of the temple and reconstruction of the Guha temple bringing back its past pomp and glory, lifting it to the forefront to be acclaimed as the best temple of the world. Let us take this as our mission, as it is the need of the times and surrender ourselves for its fruitful enactment!

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