'Lankayam Shankari Devi'

Published on May 16, 2015 01:35:35 AM
Those who are familiar with the sloka of Ashtadasa Shakti Peetha will be aware that it starts with "Lankaayaam Shankari Devi….” composed by Adi Shankara, means Shankari in Sri Lanka. The Sloka also describes the list of places of Devi temples which are considered to be part of the 18 Devi Peethas.

The temple situated in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka is considered holy by Hindus. When the body of Sathi was cut into pieces by the Sudarshana chakra of Sri Maha Vishnu, the parts have fallen in various places, which later became Shakti Peethas. It is said that the ‘groin part of Sathi fell here. The temple was completely destroyed by Portuguese and Islam rulers.

The temple is steeped in history and mythical lore. The first of the 18 Shakthi Peethas, a piece of Mount Kailasha and the southern residence of Shiva, the sanctity of the temple is but incalculable. People have started revisiting this center of ancient Saivism only in recent times. Shankari Devi temple is located on a hill top. Trikoneshwara temple is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. "Ravana Veddu” is the other name for the hill on which Lord Trikoneshwara temple is situated.

Trikoneshwara is one of the four important Shiva temples in Sri Lanka. The deity was worshipped more than 2500 years ago, even before Prince Vijay one of the first Kings who is said to have landed in Sri Lanka during 300 BC. The ancient Shiva temple was a large structure on the rock. According to Archaeological and literary evidence, there were at least three temples on the hill top. The Gopurams of the temples were taller than one another and the tallest gopuram overseeing the Indian Ocean, had the main deity.

There is a story in Puranas regarding this temple. According to one Puranic reference, Parvati Devi requested Lord Shiva to build a palace for her. But Shiva, used to living in Mount Kailash did not heed to her request. After several requests from Parvati, Lord Shiva finally relented and asked Vishwakarma to build a palace. Vishwakarma built a beautiful palace in Lanka Dweep for Parvati Devi.

Lord Shiva and Parvati came to Lanka to perform the Griha Pravesh of their palace. Ravana was doing a rigorous penance to get the blessings of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva and Parvati Devi were pleased with the penance of Ravana and Lord Shiva blessed Ravana with boons. Ravana, a Brahmin by birth and master of all the four Vedas was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Pleased by his penance, Parvati Devi asked Ravana to perform the rituals associated with the Griha Pravesh of their palace. Parvati Devi was impressed with Ravana who did the Griha Pravesh rituals and wanted to bless him with a boon.

She asked Ravana to ask for a boon, and he asked for the Lanka palace. Parvati Devi, though saddened initially by the wish of Ravana granted the boon and gave away the palace as Dakshina. However, Ravana requested Parvati Devi to stay at the palace. Parvati Devi agreed to stay at the palace as Shankari Devi with the condition that she would stay at the palace, as long as Ravana pays heed to her words. After some time, when Ravana brought Sita Devi from Ayodhya, Parvati asked Ravana to return her to Lord Rama. When Ravana refused to return Sita Devi, Shankari Devi left the Lanka Palace for Kailash.

Many still remain in darkness, not knowing the existence of this old sthala. But the visiting pilgrims leave the place with much to share, both spiritually and otherwise. The temple is located in Trincomalee on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka. The temple is well connected by roads. There is also a Kali temple which people visit enroute to Shankari Devi temple.