Mental Worship & Idol Worship

The Kailasanathar (கைலாசநாதர்) temple is one of the oldest in Kanchi, the ancient town of temples. Certainly, the temple is famous for exquisite carvings from the 7th century. An interesting story connects the inauguration of the temple with another temple further north. Surprisingly, this other temple existed only in the imagination of the saint Poosalar (பூசலார்). The saint was engaged in Manasa Puja (Mental worship)

Kailasanathar temple inauguration

The Pallava King had set the date and an auspicious time for the grand consecration ceremony of the famous Kailasa Natha temple. Lord Shiv appeared in the dream of the king, the previous night. Firstly, Shiva informed the king that he could not attend the consecration ceremony. Secondly, he had committed to be at different temple at that time.

The king woke up the next morning. He decided to reach the town and the temple which was ready for consecration. He became to see no crowds, no music and no fanfare there. Further, the towns people directed the king to a saint who they considered crazy. They told the king that the saint Poosalar always shared his grandiose plans for a grand temple.

A temple in Poosalar’s imagination

Saint Poosalar had just completed building a temple, mentally. He ready to install the deity inside the imaginary temple, in the cave of his own heart. Poosalar’s devotion touched the King. It was not easy to connect with the formless spirit, mentally, as an abstraction. The king had heard of Rishis who could worship the formless with total ease. It took great steadiness to engage in pure mental worship. These Rishis themselves prescribed methods to connect with the Omnipresent in tangible objects – the fire altar, the water pot, the sacred plants and trees and consecrated stone idols. The king recognized the greatness of Saint Poosalar because of his dream earlier.

The power of Manasa Puja - Mental worship VS physical worship - Kailasanathar Temple
Poosalar with Pallava King Rajasimhan

The power of Manasa Puja

The king decided to build a brick-and-mortar temple in that same town. He wanted everyone to recognize the devotion experienced by Poosalar. Further, the king delayed the consecration of the Kailasa Nathar temple until this new temple was completed.

Visitors throng the Kailasanathan temple. This temple is a classified archaeological monument. People enjoy looking at the sandstone carvings there. On the other hand, anyone who finds thrills in to connecting with the unseen visit the other temple. The temple in Thirunindravur enshrines the unseen in the form of the Hridayaleeshwara Shivalinga.

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