Kanchipuram, 1 hour from Chennai:
This is a brimming temple town, which hosts temples to all the Gods. This was the first time I had entered Kamakshi Amman temple. A small temple with at the most two prakaras, Kamakshi Amman temple is one of the more popular temples in Kanchipuram.
Its a lovely town, where every street has a shrine attributed to the Gods. The Pallavas were meticulous about building temples, making sure that Amman, Shiva and Vishnu got temples exclusively associated with them.
I walked in slowly observing the changes that had come about to the Amman temple. Old granite rocks had given way to modern glossy granite finish; stark rock had given way to color at places. Oil lamps had given way to tube lights that lit the interiors, the silence had given way to strong fans and voices of devotees, the pillared halls had given way to meandering queues separated by metal rods, and the Goddess's divine blessings had given way to "Archana" tickets.
Every thing had changed, from what had once been Pallava except the inner most sanctum and the ardhamandapa that preceded it. These chambers alone were dark, silent and carried a red hue of kumkum along the walls and floor. The ardhamandapa carried the priced Sri Chakra engraved in gold and installed within an octagonal pitha in front of the Goddess while another Sri Chakra lay beneath her feet, unknown to the world.
The Sri chakra was installed here by Adi Shankara to calm down the ughra swarupa of the Amman, that which resembles the Kali swarupa by day. Amman, a silent potent form, who resides within these walls, has the moon dancing on her mukuta giving a very tantrik feel to the chamber. The fire of the oil lamp blazed large flames that lit her ever-shining face, the chandan glowing in every flicker of the flame that seemed to dance in her praise.
It cast a spell, a silent spell that brought to life the very dance form of Bharata. The glowing light of the oil lamps brings alive a form of Amman draped in a madisaar covered with flowers in cosmic conversation with her only devotee who performs silhouetted in an ambience of Divine love.
The language of Bharatnatyam, the emotions in abhinaya, the speech in his very eyes as they dance along reflecting every human emotion that melts one's heart to the Divine Mother.
Around the pitha he places his feet, agile and light to the thundering beats of the mridangam, a slender form merges with the Goddess every move waking the mind to a lesson unknown, to a world unknown, to energy potent as he touches Amman, and casts a spell around.
The world falls at her feet, the drums resound, the power of the Sri Chakra is brought to life from within the Pitha, and Amman changes her form from Ughra to calm and resides within her home, the Mother touches my heart as the silhouetted form dances in vigour and the "chalangai" drive the beat down my spine. Tiny droplets of water wake the cells, the heat rises, a dialog in bharatnatyam wakes the air around to a silent world unknown thundering into the rhythm of the ancient drummers realm. The form sways, the fingers blooming into various mudra, a silent word spoken as the back arches to perform a rhythmic expression of complete devotion.
An ancient world brought to life, giving a wake up call, there is more to the aesthetics of living... its perfection within the chamber of Kamakshi Amman.