Yesterday evening I had the darshan of Mantralaya Raghavendra Swamy. This is my first visit to Mantralayam, after the Mutt and village were submerged in Tungabhadra floods. Long before I reached the village, I could see the traces of floods all along the route. There was hay left hanging to the branches of the trees, which must have swept in with the floods. Signs of destruction were still visible on many houses in the village.
I had a very good darshan of the goddess. In spite of it being a Thursday, there were not many devotees. Devotees from Karnataka usually arrive at Mantralayam on a Wednesday night and after having darshan in the early hours of the following morning, start returning to their places by afternoon.
The village looked completely devastated. The ground floors of all houses and shops in the village were submerged under floodwater. The floods had deposited huge amounts of silt on the land. I was told that as this silt was drying up, an unbearable stench had spread across the entire village. It is only now that the shops around the town were getting back into business.
Even the temple was drowned in water up to the sunshade level. The temple was flooded with snakes, scorpions and other insects. The priests told me that they had seen various kinds of snakes in the temple. Some people had even died of snake bites. The silt was so acidic that people cleaning the temple were left with burnt fingers and toes. It apparently took them over a month to clean the entire temple.
I tried to understand from various angles what could have been the reasons behind this large scale destruction caused by the river Tungabhadra. I also did some research from the astrological perspective. Putting those reasons aside, I came to know of a strange thing from one of the members of the temple board.
There is a temple of the presiding deity of that village, Manchalamma, right next to Mantralayam Mutt. All devotees first pay a visit to Manchalamma before visiting the Mutt. In fact, the name of the village itself was Manchala, on which the name of the goddess was based. Manchalamma, the presiding deity of the village is none other than Goddess Renuka. Like in many local deities of villages, here too, only the head of the Goddess which is surrounded by flames, is worshipped. She is believed to be very ferocious. Some people regard the presiding deities worshipped all over the country to be none other than Goddess Renuka. Some even worship her as Kali and Durga. She is worshipped as Jwalamukhi in Northern India. I personally believe that wherever there is an idol of goddess with face alone, then that must be goddess Renuka.
Renuka Devi, who gave birth to Lord Parasurama, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, could not have possibly been an ordinary mortal. Moreover, the incarnation of Lord Parasurama was a very ferocious one. He was the pioneer of ancient combat techniques. The head of Renuka which was severed by Lord Parasurama is still being worshipped in the same form. According to Ganapati Muni, the goddess Chinnamasta of Dasa Mahavidyas, who appears in her pictures as cutting her own head is none other than Goddess Renuka. Kundalini, the bestower of siddhi on the yogic path and goddess Renuka, are believed to be one and the same by the tantriks and yogis alike. According to yogis, she is the cosmic energy reaching Earth in the form of cosmic dust and rays.
One of the members of the temple board told me that, for some reason, the temple of goddess Renuka was subjected to negligence for the past one year. While constructing the new temple, the idol of goddess was moved aside and no proper prayers were offered, which led to the goddess taking her ferocious form, that resulted in the temple being submerged under flood water of river Tungabadhra. I inquired what the current situation was, to which he replied, “Having realized our mistake, we are now very careful in offering our prayers in the temple”.
My daughter asked me, “Why did Raghavendra Swamy, who solves the problems of many, keep quiet when his own temple was being submerged under flood water?” I did not have an answer to her question, so I said nothing. Whatever we may presume, can only be our imagination, which could be partly true and partly not. How could we possibly know the real reasons behind this? That is why I remained quiet, but I did tell her one thing, “Perhaps, the submersion of the temple was also his will. I suddenly remembered the words of Mother of Jillellamudi, “If food is to be considered a form of Brahman, then what about excrement?” She always used to say, “It is a proof of God’s compassion not only when good things happen, but also when hardships arise”.
Once at the Kali temple in Dakshineswar, thieves robbed all the jewelry of Lord Krishna’s idol. Then the son-in-law of Rani Rasamani, Madhuranath became very angry and said, “How can you be God, when you cannot protect your own jewelry?” Having heard these words, Sri Ramakrishna scolded him and advised, “This jewelry might be valuable to you, but to God it is as good as dirt. Goddess Lakshmi, who is the goddess of wealth, sits at his feet. It would be better if you understood this before saying anything”. I was reminded of this incident.
Moreover, there might be many subtle reasons behind such incidents. Places of pilgrimage slowly losing their sanctity, increased political interference, people excessively indulging in luxuries and entertainment, negligence from management, corruption and growing impurity in the village too might be some of the many reasons. What will we do when our house stinks? Don’t we clean it thoroughly? Likewise, the entire village seems to have got cleaned at one go.
I observed another strange thing on this visit. Next to the tomb of Raghavendra Swamy, there was another tomb which belonged to some other Swamy. When we reached there, I was surprised to find the priest chanting Rudram. People belonging to the Madhva tradition neither worship Lord Shiva nor do they recite hymns on Lord Shiva. So, it was very surprising to me that he was chanting the Rudram with a loud voice.
Whatever might be the reason, after these floods, there has been a visible rise in fear and devotion among the people living there. There has been a decrease in arrogance, negligence and excessive indulgence in partying, that were previously seen. If natural disasters bring about ethical order into human life, then can we say that the reason behind those disasters is fulfilled to a great extent? If this not only brings balance in Nature, but if it also leads to moral and psychological balance, then, does this imply that Nature’s purpose is fulfilled? Does the same rule that applies to Nature also apply to man? If that is true then, can we safely assume that the bad incidents that take place in man’s life are enforced by God/Nature only to further cleanse him?
Some questions remain questions always because they don’t seem to have answers!
All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Snehalatha M, which was originally posted in teluguyogi.net on April 30, 2010. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.