Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Kovil | Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple
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Nagapooshani Amman Temple on the island of Nainativu is a very ancient Hindu temple. It is believed that this temple was originally erected many millennia before by the Nagas who were a pre-historic race of people of Sri Lanka. The temple was originally erected and dedicated for the worship of the Serpent God called “Nayinar” by the Nagas. In the Nainativu temple, the object of worship in the sanctum sanctorum is a stone figure of a five-headed cobra. The festival of the Sri Nagapooshani Amman Kovil is generally held in the Tamil month of Aani (June/July) each year for fifteen days.
During the festive season, many childless couples come on pilgrimages to the Kovil to receive the blessings of the Nagapooshani Amman, the patron Mother Goddess of the Kovil. The devotees, whose wishes are bestowed, too come with their new born babies to fulfil their vows. As such, the Sri Nagapooshani Amman Kovil becomes a place of high activity during the festive season.Nainativu is a unique islet which houses the religious places belonging to all main religions practised in Sri Lanka, namely Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. The famous Buddhist temple, “ Nagadeepa Vihara ”, is also located on the the same island in close proximity to the Sri Nagapooshani Amman Kovil, symbolising religious coexistence among peace loving citizens in the country irrespective of their ethnic differences.
Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple is an ancient and historic Hindu temple located 36 km from the ancient capital of the Jaffna kingdom, Nallur, Sri Lanka. It is dedicated to Parvati who is known as Nagapooshani or Bhuvaneswari and her consort, Shiva who is named here as Rakshaseshwar (Nayanair).
It is believed to be the place where the silambu (anklets) of Gauri had fallen. Anklets have been given immense importance in the worship of Shakti since time and memorial. This ornament is also referred to in the famous Tamil epic Silapathikaram – where the story begins and ends with an anklet.
Bhuvaneshwari means the Queen or ruler of the Universe. She is the Divine Mother as the Queen of all the worlds. The entire Universe is her body and all beings are ornaments on her infinite being. She carries all the worlds as a flowering of her own Self-nature. She is thus related to Sundari and to Rajarajeshwari, the supreme Lady of the Universe.
In Hinduism, Bhuvaneshvari is the fourth of the ten Mahavidya goddesses and an aspect of Devi, as elements of the physical cosmos, in giving shape to the creation of the World”. Also Bhuvaneswari is considered as the supreme goddesses who creates everything and destroys all the unnecessary evils of world. She is also considered as the Mother goddess of Kali, Lakshmi, and Saraswati also Gayatri. In Hindu Mythology she is considered as the most powerful goddess in the universe. Parvati is Sagun Roop of Goddess Bhuvaneswari. Her bija mantra is “Hreem.”
She is also known as Adi Shakti i.e. one of the earliest forms of Shakti. She is capable of turning situations according to her wish. It is considered that even the navagrahas and trimurtis cannot stop her from doing anything. She can order the Trimurtis to do anything she wants.
The Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple is believed to be originally established by Lord Indra while seeking alleviation from the curse of Gautama Maharishi. The Sanskrit epic Mahabharata records that Lord Indra was overcome by his sexual desires for Ahalya, the wife of Gautama Maharishi. Indra disguised himself as the saint and proceeded to seduce and make love to Ahalya. When the saint came to know, he cursed Indra to have a thousand marks resembling the yoni (female reproductive organ) all over his body. Indra was ridiculed and referred to as Sa-yoni. Unable to face the humiliation, he went into exile to the island of Manidweepa (Nainativu). There, he is believed to have created, consecrated and worshiped the moolasthana murti of the Goddess to atone for his sins. The Queen of the Universe, Bhuvaneswari Amman, satisfied with Indra’s utmost devotion, repentance and remorse appeared before him and transformed they yonis on his body into eyes. She then took on the name of “Indrakshi” (Indra Eyed).
Another legend states that, many centuries later, a cobra (Nagam) was swimming across the sea towards Nainativu from the nearby island of Puliyantivu with a lotus flower in its mouth, for the worship of Bhuvaneswari Amman (who had already been consecrated by Indra). An eagle (Garuda) spotted the cobra and attempted to attack it and kill it. Fearing harm from the eagle, the cobra wound itself around a rock (referred to in Tamil as; Paambu Sutriya Kal “the Rock around which the Snake wound itself”) in the sea about half a kilometer from the Nainativu coast, and the eagle stood on another rock (Garudan Kal “the Rock of the Eagle”) some distance away. A merchant by the name of Maanikan from the Chola kingdom; who was himself a devotee of Sri Bhuvaneswari Amman, was sailing across the Palk Strait to trade with the ancient Naka Nadu noticed the eagle and the cobra perched upon said rocks. He pleaded with the eagle to let the cobra go on its way without any harm. The eagle agreed with one condition that the merchant should construct a beautiful temple for Sri Bhuvaneswari Amman on the island of Nainativu and that he shall propagate her worship in the form of Sri Nagapooshani Amman for universal peace, prosperity and humanity. He agreed and built a beautiful temple accordingly. The eagle took three dips into the ocean to atone for its sins against the Nagas in the Mahabharata, and hence, the Garuda and Naga resolved their longstanding feuds.
The original temple was looted and destroyed by the Portuguese in 1620 CE. The modern day structure was restored and re-established in 1788. The temple was later attacked, burnt, and sustained severely damaged, in June 1958, and in March 1986 by the Sri Lankan armed forces. The Nagadweepa Buddhist Vihara which is a few meters away from the temple was established in the 1940s by a resident monk with the help of local Tamils.