CHENNAI: The Parthasarathi Svami temple in Thiruvallikeni is one of the 108 Divya Desams, praised in the Tamil verses (Pasuram) of the Azhvars or Vaishnava saints. Pey Azhvar, Thirumazhisai Azhvar and Thirumangai Azhvar have sung about the deities enshrined inside the temple complex. It is the processional image (utsava-murti), known as Parthasarathi, from whom the temple takes its name.

This east-facing deity is thus called as he is Krishna the charioteer (Sarathy) of Partha (Arjuna). The marks on his face are believed to be caused by arrows shot by the Kauravas having pierced this weaponless charioteer in the Kurukshetra war. The main image on the east side, seen with a white moustache, is worshipped as Venkatakrishnan. This two-armed deity holds the conch (Sankha) but the discus (Chakra) is not seen which is rather rare in a Vishnu image.

This is because Krishna did not use weapons in this war. Inside this sanctum are fi ve more deities namely goddess Rukmini, Krishna’s consort; Sankarshana (Balarama), Pradyumna (Krishna’s son), Aniruddha (Krishna’s grandson) and Satyaki (also called Yuyudhana, a warrior and Krishna’s friend). Yoga Narasimha, facing west, is also a main deity with a fl ag-post (dvajastambha) in front, just like Venkatakrishnan.

The offerings in this temple are fi rst made to Narasimha and subsequently to other deities. Gajendravarada, Ranganatha, Rama and Vedavalli Thayar (consort of Ranganatha) are worshipped in separate sanctums. Ten-day festivals (Brahmotsavams) are conducted for Narasimha and Venkatakrishnan. There is a ten-day festival for Gajendravarada, a nine-day festival for Rama, and separate ten-day festivals for the preceptors (Acharyas), Ramanujacharya and Manavala Mamuni.

Chithra Madhavan