Saturday, 13 March 2021

Kadri Shree Manjunatha Temple

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Shree Manjunath temple at Kadri, in Mangalore is a popular tourist destination. Devotees visit the temple to seek the Lord’s blessing. This old temple has a varied history. It is said initially it was a Buddhist place of worship and learning. Later as Buddhism declined, it merged into the Hindu Shaiva tradition and became a renowned temple. The most intriguing thing here is, the temple is below, at floor level and the water tanks on a higher level. And still above, amidst the greenery and plants is the quiet monastery where swamis and sadhus especially from north India come to spend some time here before they proceed further in pursuit of religion and god.

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Kadri Manjunatha Temple is a historic and an ancient temple in Kadri in Mangalore, Karnataka in south India. It is considered to be around 1500-2000 years old. It is one of the most visited temples in Mangalore, along with Mangaladevi temple, after which Mangalore city is named. The temple of Manjunatheshwara on the hills of Kadri is said to be built during the 10th or 11th century. It was converted to a complete stone structure during the 14th century. The chief deity of this temple is Manjunatha, which incorporates a Shiva ling. The bronze statue, about 1.5 meter tall of Lokeshwara (identified as Brahma) in a seated position with three faces and six arms, is tipped to be the oldest and the best bronze statue in south India. 

It has an inscription dated 968 AD, engraved on the pedestal. The inscription states that King Kundavarma of the Alupa Dynasty installed the Lokeshwara idol in Kadarika Vihara. It mentions Mangalore as ‘Mangalapura’. The image has three faces and six arms, and holds flowers in two of the arms. The crown depicts a Dhyani Buddha. The image has an ornate Prabhavali, and two attendants. It is very well preserved with enameled eyes. There are two other undated bronze images of similar class and craftsmanship. One of them is identified as Avalokiteshwar (called Narayana) and other as Buddha (called Vedavyasa). Another stone inscription in Tulu, Kannada and Malayalam scripts from 12-13th century AD, in the temple's kitchen, states that the ruler and the local landlords contributed land for the temple. A 1730 AD text, Kadli Manjunath Mahatmyam gives an account of the association with Natha Mantha.

It is believed that Parashurama who was living in Sahyadri, killed the kshathriyas who were arrogant and cruel and donated the lands to Kashyapa. He prayed to Lord Shiva for a place to live. Lord Shiva assured Parashurama that if he performed a penance at Kadali kshethra, Lord Shiva would reincarnate as Manjunatha for the betterment of the world. As per Shiva's orders, Parashurama threw his axe into the sea and created a place for his penance. Yielding to Parashurama's prayers Lord Shiva appeared to him as Manjunatha with Goddess Parvathi and stayed at Kadri for the betterment of the world. As per the orders of Manjunatha, the Sapthakoti manthras become the seven theerthas. Hence Mangalore is also known as Parashurama bhoomi.

This temple has Hindu and Buddhist history. Buddhism was practiced here till the 10th century AD. But after the decline of Buddhism, the devotion of Manjusri and Avalokiteśvara continued in this region. The Nath cult embraced Buddhism and continued Tantric Shiva tradition as well. As a result, many Buddhist temples came into the Hindu fold. According to M Govinda Pai this temple was known as Kadri Manjunatha, where Manjunatha relates to Shiva and Kadri is derived from Kadri Vihara which was Buddhist monastery of Vajrayana cult.

King Kundavarma of the Alupa dynasty left an inscription on the base of the Avalokiteśvara image stating that he was devotee of Shiva. This image was not of Buddha, but of Bodhisattva, who was being worshiped as integrated form of Shiva. Further M Govinda Pai has concluded this was center of Bodhisattva Manjusri's cult. And later on this Bodhisattavs were identified as Saivite deities. Shiv ling and Bodhisattva were worshiped together for centuries at this place until it was converted completely to a Saivite temple. Knadarika Vihara provides firm inscriptional evidence for this transformation. After the 11th century Brahmins took possession of the temple.

In front of the temple, at an elevation, there are a number of water tanks with natural and warm water spring. It is called Gomukha. It is believed that the water flows from river Bhageerathi in Kashi and thereby it gets its name as Kashi Bhageerathi theertha. The water from this spring is let into nine ponds of different sizes adjacent to it. Visitors wash themselves in these ponds before entering the main temple. There's a garden surrounding the tanks. When one walks down from here in front of the temple, there is a tall bronze Deepa Sthamb. During Karthika maasa, Deepothsava is held here with the burning of the lamps. There are statues of Machendranath, Gorakanath, Shringinath, Lokeshwara, Manjushri, and Buddha in the temple.

The Annual Jathra Mahothsava (temple festival) is held during the month of January. The nine days of festival starts on the day of Makara Sankranthi. Bhandara of Malaraya Daiva is paraded from Kadri Kambala Ganada Kottige house. Theertha Snana (holy bath) is held in the morning, followed by Dwaja Sthambha Arohana, lighting of Kanchi Sthambha, and Bali Uthsava on the same day. Bali Uthsava is held for four days, where Lord Manjunatha consecutively visits the four kattas in the four directions -Bikarnakatte Savari, Mallikatte Savari, Mundana katte Savari and Konchadi katte Savari.

On the seventh day of festival, after the Savari's, ‘Seventh Deepothsava’ is held and Maha Anna Samtharpaney (mass meal) is served, thousands of devotees assemble to accept the Prasadam served to all. This entire event draws a large number of devotees every year.

Devotees arrive in large numbers from Mangalore and all over India and even from abroad to witness the Rathothsava. 

Maha Rathothsava – the following day, Maha Rathothsava  takes place. Devotees from all over assemble to seek the blessings of Lord Shree Manjunatha and to be a part of the grand ceremony. Later Belli Rathothsava (silver chariot) follows. And later the festival draws to a close after some rituals.

Also read: Mookambika Devi Temple   *   Dharmashtala

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