The temple for Saraswathy located at Koothanur is believed to have been gifted to Ottakkoothan by Raja Raja Chola II and hence the name. This small temple has only one praharam (Cicumambulatory corridor) around the sannidhi (sanctum) of Goddess Saraswathy. Though small, this temple is very important one because temple for Goddess Saraswathy is very rare.
She is the consort of Lord Brahma and is the Goddess of wisdom and learning. She is the one who gives the essence (sara) of our own self (swa). She is the embodiment of all knowledge. She is always seen wearing a pure white sari and seated on a white lotus. Goddess Saraswathy carries a Veena which represents mastery over the physical organs and actions where the veena is symbolic of life and strings are symbolic of feelings. The Vedas (ancient scriptures) she holds in her hand represents Knowledge. The 50 Beads Spatik Mala (Necklace made of Quartz beads) symbolises transparency. Each of the beads represents a Sanskrit alphabet. Her four hands represent the mind, intellect, alertness and ego – all of which influence learning. Some consider this to represent the four Vedas. The Swan is supposed to have the ability to separate milk from water and drink only the former and hence epitomizes her discrimination between good and bad. The all-white appearance signifies Her chastity and purity. The peacock changes its mood as the weather changes and represents the unstable mind. It reminds us that we should not let these mood swings to affect our decision-making ability. We should make every effort to overcome our fear, anger, indecision and fickleness.
Just consider this and think it over. There are not many temples dedicated to Her. And yet, there is no dearth of her devotees. She has been worshipped for ages and will continue to be worshipped as long as the virtues of knowledge, intelligence and wisdom are more sought after than merely being rich and powerful.
An old Sanskrit saying goes thus;
Swadeshey pujyathey raaja
Vidhwan sarvathra pujyathey
Which means, “A king or a powerful and rich man is revered only in his own land, whereas a learned man is revered everywhere”
Temples dedicated to Her are rare but she is widely worshipped during festivals like the Navaratri. On Saraswathy Pooja day of Navaratri, pilgrims throng Koothanur in big numbers. On Vijayadasami, hundreds of people flock the shrine for the Aksharabhyasam/ Vidyarambham of their children. Not surprisingly, She is very popular among the student community. The young students place pen, pencil and books at the feet of the Goddess and seek Her blessing.
According to Legend, Koothanur is associated with the mingling of the three holy rivers – Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathy. These rivers merge here as the Arasalar river. It was a time when Dakshayini had been reborn to Parvatharajan as Parvathi. On attaining the age for marriage, she pleased Shiva with her severe tapas (penance) in a Vilva forest (Vilvavanam). Ganga was separated from Him in order to facilitate Lord Shiva marry Parvathi. The place where Ganga merged with the Arasalar River came to be known as Rudragangai.
Saraswathy & Brahma had an argument which escalated beyond control and culminated in both cursing each other. As a result, they were born to a Brahmin named Punyakeerthi, as daughter (Shraddha) and son (Bagukanthan). It was when they were of marriageable age and their father was looking for suitable matches, that Brahma and Saraswathy realised who they were. They prayed to Shiva to save them from this complex situation and got papa vimochanam (absolution of sin). Saraswathy mingled as a river in Arasalar and was blessed to have a shrine on the bank of the river as the Goddess of Knowledge. Brahma, who had already been cursed, was deprived of a shrine. However, Lord Shiva blessed him to have poojas in the rituals performed towards departed souls. Brahma Pooja, if performed here has a special significance.
Yamuna was suffering from the doshas (sins) of the people who bathed in her; Krishna suggested that she be relieved of them by bathing in the Arasalar River and meditating on Shiva. With the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathy into the Arasalar River, the place came to be known as Dakshina Triveni Sangamam.
The vinayakar in this temple is a swayambhu (self manifested). There are separate sannadhis (shrine or sanctum) for Valampuri Vinayaka, Baladandayuthapani, Nagar, Brahmma, Brahmmapureeswar & Swan.
Those who perform rituals for the ancestors here on the banks Arasalar river, during the tamil month Thai (January-February) gain great benefits from the blessing of their elders like; employment, improvement in business and career advancement. The benefits also include matrimonial harmony. Estranged couples are united after worship here.
Koothanur is near Poonthottam which is on Mayavaram – Tiruvarur Road.
Boarding & Lodging:
There is a Sankara Mutt at Koothanur which offers accommodation to the pilgrims at a nominal charge. If you want a very comfortable stay, have your travel base as Kumbakonam, Mayiladuthurai or Tiruvarur.
Temple Phone Number: 04366 273 050
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