The good and bad in life is nothing but your divine play
– A song composed by the great Tamil poet Mahakavi Subramania Bharati
In the heart of Chennai, is located a popular centuries old Temple known as Sri Kalikambal Temple, where Goddess Mother Kali in her benevolent form, showers divine grace on her devotees. The Temple was visited by the great Maratha Emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji in 1677, and was frequented by the great Tamil poet Subramania Bharati who composed many well-known songs such as“Yathumagi Nindrai Kali” in praise of the Goddess of this Temple. In more recent times, this Temple served as the setting for the great Bollywood artist Rajinikanth’s movie “Baba” . In the 1800’s, ice slabs carved out of Walden Pond near Boston, were exported to the Ice House in Chennai to cater to local refrigeration needs. Two centuries later, thanks to the untiring efforts of Shivacharya Bhairavasundaram, a much more valuable item has been brought in the other direction from Chennai to Boston, namely the presence and blessings of Mother Kalikambal in our midst.
Shri Bhairav Ji has established a beautiful Temple for Mother Kalikambal in Bellingham, MA. The people of Greater Boston are very fortunate to have among them Shivacharya Bhairav Ji, an alumnus of the Madras Sanskrit College, and an experienced and highly respected priest well-versed in the spiritual traditions of Hinduism, who is well-known in the area, and who is also closely related to the spiritual custodians of the Chennai Kalikambal Temple. In fact, the late Guru Deiva Shri Dr. Sivasri Sambamurthy Sivachariar of the Chennai Kalikambal Temple was Bhairav Ji’s primary mentor and guide. His son and disciple Guru Swami Sathasivom Sivacharyar of the Chennai Kalikambal Temple continues to mentor and guide Bhairav JI in his mission, and sets aside time to visit the Boston Kalikambal Temple to participate in important events.
The Boston Kalikambal Shiva Temple in its two years of existence has proved to be a spiritual magnet attracting throngs of devotees from Massachusetts as well as neighboring states. The Temple hosts shrines for Mother Kalikambal, Lord Omkareshwara (Shiva) in the form of a tall and exquisite Shiva Linga, Lord Ganesha, Lord Subrahmanya with his consorts Valli and Devasena, Lord Ayyappan, Lord Guruvayurappan, Lord Hanuman and other deities. Daily worship rituals are conducted in the Temple, and special services are conducted on days of special religious significance as prescribed by tradition. Devotees are permitted and encouraged to perform abhishek on an Abhisheka Lingam dedicated for this purpose. Bhairav Ji, who is a master in the art of alankaram, dresses up and decorates the deities exquisitely and with great attention to detail, creating an experience of rapture in the hearts of devotees who come for darshan. The Temple reverberates with chants of Om Namah Shivaya, Sri Rudram and other sacred mantras, and also includes a meditation hall with a Dhyana Linga. The Temple has also hosted numerous cultural events including music concerts, dance recitals, and lectures by eminent scholars including Prof. Ramasubramanian of IIT, Bombay, Acharya Arumuganathaswamy, Editor of the Hinduism Today magazine published from Hawaii, Mahamahopadhyaya Acharya Sri Dorbala Prabhakara Sarma, a renowned Sanskrit shatavadhani and scholar in Nyaya Sastra and Vedanta, and Dr. Shanmuga Sivachariyar, a scholar in Agama Shastra. The Temple also hosts Sanskrit classes conducted by Samskrita Bharati.
The Boston Kalikambal Temple is currently housed in temporary premises that is part of a shopping plaza on North Main Street in Bellingham, MA. As the limitations of the temporary premises both in terms of accommodating the increasing crowd of devotees and in providing a solid spiritual ambience became evident, Bhairav Ji has embarked on a mission to create a permanent home for Mother Kalikambal in Boston, built in accordance with our spiritual traditions, and with the blessings of spiritual preceptors and support of devotees. A permanent Temple with a total building area of more than 54000 square feet is envisioned with an estimated cost of about $300 per square foot. Bhairav Ji recently announced that the first phase of this project, namely the acquisition of land on which the Temple will be constructed, has been successfully completed. Bhairav Ji and his team of enthusiastic volunteers have now taken the leap to initiate the next phase of this dream, namely constructing the Temple building (“Nootana Aalaya Nirmaanam”) and has commenced fund raising activities for this. The team seeks your generous donations and contributions (kainkarya) to make this dream a reality. Bhairav Ji points out that in the past in India, the source of Temple patronage was royalty – the Emperors, Rajas and Princes who ruled the land. In the modern days, Temple patrons are the generous donors in the community who rush to support noble causes. Accordingly, Kalikambal Temple plans to recognize and honor donors making various level of donations with titles that represent various tiers of royalty including Kainkarya Chakravarthy (Diamond tier – one hundred thousand dollars and above), Kainkarya Maharaja (Gold tier – Fifteen thousand dollars and above) to Dharma Rakshaka (Silver tier – One thousand two hundred dollars and above).
A Chat with Bhairav Ji
I had the opportunity to chat with Bhairav Ji, in which he shared some interesting information about the Temple.
One day in 2010, not long after he left the Sri Lakshmi Temple at Ashland, MA to pursue his inner calling, he unexpectedly received a big shipment of several murtis from Guru Swami Sathasivom Sivacharyar of the Chennai Kalikambal Temple. He had not asked for them, and not knowing what to do with them he just kept them at his home. Mother Kalikambal and her family of deities had landed in Boston and been placed in Bhairav Ji’s care, though he did not know why!
A few years later when he was hospitalized with a critical illness, he says he had a realization that powerful deities that must have been sent to him to grace the entire Boston community had remained confined within the four walls of his home. He resolved to correct this inadvertent slip by building a Temple and enshrining the deities there, so the entire community can receive their blessings. He says things started changing rapidly after he made this sankalpa. He not only regained his health, but was also able to quickly mobilize the funds, resources and community support, to establish a temporary home for the deities in Bellingham at the current site of the Temple. Also, Guru Swami Sathasivom Sivacharyar who has taken on a mission of establishing twelve Jyotirlingas in the North American continent, chose the Bellingham Temple for the Omkareshwara Linga (he has installed the Mahakaleshwar Linga in San Diego, CA). In fact, there are so many Shiva Lingas enshrined at the Temple, that Acharya Shri Dorbala Prabhakara, the renowned Sanskrit scholar (who likes to assign Sanskritized names to Western towns, just as the British anglicized names of towns in India), was inspired to suggest that Bellingham must really be called “Bahulinga Kshetra”! Dr. Shanmuga Sivachariyar, the Agama Shastra scholar made the amusing observation that there couldn’t be a town better than Bellingham to locate this Temple, since its name has both a “Bell” and “Lingam” in it!
Many of Bhairav Ji’s devotees seem to share his faith in the power of the deities enshrined at this vibrant Temple, to guide them in their lives and help face and solve their problems. He talked about devotees who had experienced cures from illnesses by the grace of Devi Kalikambal much like he himself had experienced. Bhairav Ji says the Temple is as much a divine healing center as it is a place of worship. He also recalled instances where devotees felt rescued from a job loss situation by propitiating Lord Ganesha at the Bellingham Temple. He counted wedding celebrations in families who prayed at the shrine for Goddess Swayamvara Parvati and Lord Kalyana Sundareswarar at the Temple. Bhairav Ji added that he was mentioning all of this only because most Hindus, unlike many other religious groups, seem to be shy or humble about acknowledging and discussing what can only be miracles delivered to them by the Lord in answer to their prayers, and this is something he would like to see changed.
Bhairav Ji also shared with me his deep bhakti and regard for Sri Kanchi Paramacharya, and how he felt inspired and guided by this great sage at various times.
Another Sacred Space for Greater Bostonians
There is a popular saying in the Tamil language – “Do not live in a town that does not have a Temple” – that emphasizes the importance of living close to a Temple. A Temple provides a sacred space that enlivens the soul. Even though Hindus believe that the Almighty pervades everything and is everywhere, a Temple is where they go for a pure and focused experience of the divine. The spiritually charged environment of a Temple infuses serenity, peace, love and a sense of security, silently guiding the individual on the path of satya (truthfulness), dharma (righteousness), prema (love and compassion), shanti (peace), ahimsa (non-violence) and seva (service to the community). Even the mere glimpse or darshan of the edifice of a Temple has the power to trigger serene feelings (“gopura darisanam koti punyam”), and so Hindus like to live close to a Temple. A Temple serves not only as a place of worship and pilgrimage, but also as a center of Hindu culture and learning that brings into the community and keeps alive ancient wisdom such as the vedas and shastras, and, classical music and dance art forms. The Boston Kalikambal Temple will shine as a unique diamond in the necklace of Hindu Temples adorning the Greater Boston community.
An Opportunity to Earn Good Karma
It is said that dharma protects those who protect it (dharmo rakshati rakshitah). Shivacharya Bhairav Ji seeks your generous support and kainkarya for this sacred project that will not only create a permanent home for Mother Kalikambal, Lord Omkareshwara and the other deities enshrined in the Temple, but also help sustain Hindu dharma for our children and their future generations. The Boston Kalikambal Shiva Temple is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
For more details on how you can participate and contribute to this sacred project, and to make a donation, please visit the Temple web site at http://www.bskst.org/.