Beyond Dwarka, A day in Guruvayur – My India Day 15

Guruvayur, located in Thrissur district of Kerala is famous for red roofed Guruvayur temple. It is a Sri Krishna Temple and often referred to as ‘Bhooloka Vaikuntham‘, translating to “abode of Vishnu on Earth”. This is also known as the Dwarka of South India. There’s another temple in vicinity, known as Mammiyur Sri Mahadeva Temple. It is believed that without visiting Mammiyur temple, the visit to Guruvayur temple isn’t complete. Let me tell you the story behind that!

The story goes like this – when Dwaparyuga was coming to an end, and Dwarka was almost submerged in water, Sri Krishna, in His child form, was playing on a banana leaf and being tossed in the waves. Vayu deva and Devaguru Brihaspati stumbled upon Him. Then the Lord asked two sages to take the idol of Supreme Lord from His temple, which he had been worshipping in Dwarka and give Him an appropriate sthan somewhere else, with proper consecration.

Right beside the Guruvayur temple on the Northern side, there is a big pond – this the place where Shiva worshipped Lord Vishnu on the Southern bank of this pond, with His family for ages with His consort Sreeparvathi. One name of Shiva is Rudra too. Therefore, this pond is also known as Rudrateertha. Brahaspati and Vayu deva strolled along lake Rudrateertha. When Lord Shiva got to know about the situation, He voluntarily relinquished His initial abode and shifted to other place, accommodating Lord Krishna’s Supreme Lord – Mahavishnu there. The other place where Lord Shiva moved is known as Mahimayoor – the name coming from mahima shown by Lord Shiva by giving His place to Lord Krishna. In course of time, this place/temple is known as Mammiyur.

The temple puja is done according to the routines laid down by Adi Shankaracharya himself –

(Shivaya Vishnu Roopaya,

Shivaya Roopaya Vishnave,

Shivaya Hrudyam Vishnu,

Vishnoscha Hrudayagum Shivaha!)

The trip to Guruvayur temple is incomplete without knowing about the most famous, majestic and celebrated elephant known as “Guruvayur Gajarajan Guruvayur Keshavan”. Keshavan was known for His devout behaviour. It is believed whether human or animal – once a devotee of Krishna is forever a devotee. That’s the Krishna spell. Keshavan died at the age of 72, on Ekadashi – which is known to be an auspicious day. It is believed that on the day of Ekadashi, energies are aligned in such manner that dissolution becomes a real possibility. So Keshavan fasted for the entire day and then dropped down facing the direction of temple with his trunk raised, as a mark of prostration. The death anniversary is still celebrated in Guruvayur and as a mark of respect there’s a life size image of Keshavan. There is also an elephant sanctuary adjacent to the temple.

Guruyavur is a place which strengthens the idea that impermanence is the only truth. A place where Lord Shiva himself meditated for ages and considered to establish as His abode, was given up in a moment. A place where an elephant was a devout Krishna follower. Its a story of sacrifice and love. That’s how Guruvayur will always be remembered by me.

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