Here is the history (Sthala Puranam) of Antarvedi Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. This ancient temple is located near the coast of Bay of Bengal and on the banks of Vashishta River.
History of Antarvedi Temple
In Kritayuga,Sage Sounaka and his colleagues gathered in Naimisaranya to coundut Satrayaga in the their Leisure time,they used to learn about distinguished and siginificant historical india Shrines from suta,a quaranic narrator.One day,they asked him to tell about the greatness and significance of Antarvedi Shrine and of Lord Lakshmi Narasimha.Suta was Pleased to tell the story which was once told by Lord Brahma to Sage Narada.
Once Narada asked Lord Brahma to tell about the historical back ground of the Antarvedi,Lord Brahma spoke as follows.
Sage Vasista after mingling the Goutam Branch of the river Godavari into the Sea established his ashram Lord Brahma, to get freed from the sins committed against Lord Sankara, performed Rudrayaga and installed Lord Neela Kantheswara there. As that Place was made a stage or ‘Vedik’.to perform the Yaga, it was named as “ANTARVEDI” It is the place beside the vasisthta river.
After some time, Raktavilochana, the son of Hiranyaksha, did tremendous penance for ten thousand years on the banks of the Vasishta river, to please Lord Siva and to get his Grace Lord Sanjara was very much please with his penance and appeared before him. He promised to bless him with Whatever he would desire.Raktavilochana asked him that the number of sand particles drenched by the blood drops failing from his body on to the ground at war,would produce equal number of Rakshasas as strong and vigorous as him self after and they would assist him at was and become one with him after Killing all the enemies.
Lord Sankara was astonished at the demon’s uncommon desire, but as per the promise, being impressed of his penance had concerned to his desire.then the rakshasas pride knew no bounds. He started harassing brahmine, the Gods, the saints and the cows and obstructed yagas and Vedic-recitals.
Sage Viswamitra found opportunity to take revenge against Sage Vasishta and provoke Raktavilochana to kill Vasisthta’s Wife, wept a lot for the death of her son and prayed to Vasisthta who was then at Brahmaloka.The Sage by his divine vision, colud come to know of what all happened at his hermitage. He returned to his ashram and prayed for Lord Narasimha’s grace.
“Prahlada varadam Vishnum Nrusimham Paradivatam, Saranam Sarvalokaanaamaapannaarti Nivaaranam.”
Then to save his devotees, Lord Narasimha along with Goddess Lakshmi, Charioted on Garuda Vahana and appeared before Vasisthta. Vasisthta after singing his glory, appealed about the arrogance of the demon and his cruelty in killing his sons. He then prayed to the Lord to descend at his ashram, after Killing the demon, so that he would worship him always.
Lord Narahari blow the “panchajanya” inviting the demon to the war. Raktavilochana heard the thundering noise of the panchajanyaand like a cyclone enveloped the lord and engulfed him to fight with him. He shot all type of weapons at the Lord.Lord Narahari could attack and smash them with his only weapons the ‘Sudarsana’ the chakrayudh wounded the sensitive parts of the demon’s body. As a result of which blood-shed took place. the soil particles drenched by the blood droops falling on to the ground from his body, produced equal number of demons as strong and vigorous as Raktavilochana.Demons having been thus generated, began hurting Garuda who attacked them in such away that they could not with stand him. The demon-King saw this and threw his weapon one after another at Garuda which could not do any things against him, as Lord Narahari destroyed them on the way with Sudarsana Chakrayudha.
In addition to that he created ‘Maya Sakthi’ to manage stopping the fall of blood drops from Rakta Vilochana’s body to the ground. At last, after a thought fight with the demon, Lord narahari Killed by cutting his hand with Chakrayudha, With the same Sudharsanacharka,he killed the demons also. Then the blood stopped by Maya Sakthi from falling ground, was released by her as a reddish river, Knows as the “Raktakulya”. This river can’t be passed over even Bhetala and devils. Maya Sakthi rode a Horse, and so is called as “Aswarudhamba” or “Gurralakka” The place where the Lord after Killing the demons washed his Chakrayudha, become popular as “Chakrateertham” A dip at the place washed away all the sins.When the Lord wiped of the troubling demon, Vasishta expressed his desire of establishing his Holiness at his hermitage. The Lord was pleased to fulfill his desire.
Sage Vasishta on an auspicious day, in the Presence of all Gods and angles with all Vedic formalities, erected Lord Narahari at Antaravedi all of them said their prayers to the Lord and sang His glory. Then the lord told them about the significant greatness of the shrine in future. He described Antarvedi in many ways as the easiest means for achieving the ultimate Mukti.
Later on, Suta,at the request of the sages, explained in detail about the sacred and splendid power of the Lord of Antarvedi,the effects of doing any harm to it and the remedy for it .He told them the story of santhana as an illustration.
Once Santhana by mistake lost his divinity and was cursed as unworthy to ascend the divine chariot.Sage Narada advised him to follow Indra’s son regain divinity . Indra’s son used to take away all flower from a harden cultured by “Ruchi” at Antarvedi. Ruchi was much Worried about this Lord Narahari appears to his in dream and advised him to keep the flowery remnants of worship of the temple around the garden. He did so on the next day. As usual, indra’s son descended on to the earth in his chariot and passed over the flowery remnants. But when he returned to his chariot, he could not find them there, as he lost his divinity by passing over the flowery remnants. Then his driver told him the cause for it. He at his matter’s request, before returning to the Heaven; also advised him to perform Mahasatrayage for twelve years and to eat the food left over after being tasted by the Brahmins. Indra’s son did so The Brahmins learned from him about the purpose of doing so and blessed him. Then he regained his divinity and returned to the Heaven ascending his chariot. Santhana was advised by Narada to follow indra’s son also did soat, Antarvedi and regained divinity.
For sometime after commencement of Kaliyuga, Antervedi was a Jungle where Kesavadas, a cow-herd used to graze his cows daily. A reddish brown cow of the herd to go lonely in the jungle and used to shed her milk on the bhill behind a bush. On her returning home, Kesavadas was not given milk by the cow. One day he watchfull followed that cow and astonished to see the scene that was daily happening. He was too much worried and feared about this. He could not get sleep that night. At last when he could somehow merge himself in to sleep. Lord Narahari appeared on him in dream and said to him to build a temple for him there. The next morning Kesavadas told this to the villagers. A Brahmin scholar of the village, who had a sound knowledge if the Sastras, could guess the God appeared to Kesavadas in dream to be Loard-Narasimha who was once erected and worshipped by the Sage Vasistha.
The villagers made a survey of the ant-hill area, where the cow daily used to shed her milk, and dug the area after offering coconuts to the Lord. They found a stoney culptured from of the Lord Narasimha. They build a temple there and that place become one of the most popular shrines in the later ages. The daily rituals and annual-fair have been conducted since then. The village where Kesavadas lived in named after him as “Kesavadasupalem”
After sometimes the temple was ruined. The Sri Narendra Lakshmi Narasimha Rao, wealthy generous gentleman of the area took initiative in re-erecting the temple. He donated some money and his men to Bhadrachalam to purchase timber for the construction of the temple. His men went to Bhadrachalam, selected the logs and marked them with the Lord’s name paying the money. But there was no contents in the Godavari being low because of failure of monsoon.
They appealed to Narasimha Rao about situation That gentleman did tapas in devotion of the Lord” as the sea-shore with out food continuousaly for three days, but the lord didn’t two shower his grace. So he got angry and standing in Seawater said that the Lord was a destitute lion who could not come and see logs of wood even arranged for the construction of his temple. The same night there was heavy rain which brought all the logs of wood that we marked with the lord’s name to the Ganta-ghat of Antarvedhi. The Sri Narasimha Rao ordered that all the wood could reach Gantaghat in a single leap. Later on,the temple was ree rected by the notable initiative of Sri Narasimha Rao with the villager’s cooperation. Again all the rituals were celebrated as usual.
After sometime, the temple was again reuined then some devotees were in plans of re-constructing the temple. One night Lord Narahari appeared to a devotees of the Lord who had two sons Ranganatha and Krishnamma residing at Bendamurulanka. The villagers, on hearing the devotees’ dream, approached a Sri Adinarayana and sought his financial contribution. Adinarayana denied to help them as he was in a desperate need because of his missing seven of his ships. Then his son Ranganatha said to him that somebody appeared to him in dream and asked him to construct a temple a tower and canopy for him. So that they would be blessed with every joy and wealth.Adinarayana was thrilled to hear his son words and prayed the Lord that he would definitely construct a temple, a tower and a canopy spending the whole money present in his seven ships, if they would be back to shore without any damages, by the grace of the Lord on third day all the seven ships returned to the shore with out any loss.
Adinarayana was pleased to hear the news and executed his oath. He ordered his sailors to get the required stone equipment for the construction of the temple, the tower and the conopy. On a auspicious day the foundation stone was laid on a first step for the reconstructions of the temple in 1823. The reconstruction work that initiated by Adinarayana,was completed by the combined effort of his sons Ranganatha and Krishnamma. This is historically evident from a stone inscription in the temple even today.
Sometime later once a fisherman was fishing his net in the Raktakulya river. He found a marble Saligrama instead of finshed. He carelessly threw it back into the water and again spread his net. He found the same stone as many times as he was fishing at different spots of the river he found the same stone coming again to him. Being afraid of this incident, he angrily dashed it to the ground then there was a strange continuous blood flow from the stone with surprise and fear, he prayed to the Lord and fell senseless there. The Lord appered to him in dream and said that he only appered in the waters of Raktakulya river as Kurmavatara in marble and asked him to take him to the temple and install him at the Abode of Lord Narasimha telling the priests as his words to celebrate the “Nityabhisheka” formalities to him along with Lord Narasimha there. The fisher did so this stony from Kurma incarnation of the Lord can be seen available even today at Antarvedi Devasthanam.
There are five important spots of this Holy shrine namely.
1) The Sea.
2) The Sager Sangam
3) The Vasishta River
4) The Raktakulya River
5) The Chakrateertham
It is said that there will be no re-birth on taking a dip at these places and on offering charities there. performing ceremonial formalities to the ancestors at this holy-shrine is equivalent to those done at Gaya and Ganges. One who passes away at this place will be blessed from with multitudes from distant place, will be blessed from with multitudes from distant place like Varanasi, visit this place, especially to participate in Lord Narasimha’s Chariot procession in the month of Phalguna (January) and dolepournami celebration in the month of Phalguna (March).Then the Lord is worshipped with panchamrita abhishekam.This Shrine blesses the pilgrims with Mukti,and so it is also called the Mukti Kshetra.Antarvedi is also named after the Lord as” Narasimhakshetra”
Antarvedi has the Sea in the East and the South the Godavari in the West and the Raktakulya river the North. It covers a distance of about four square miles . It is in the Razole Tq., of the East Godavari District. Special Conveyance facilities are arranged for the convenience of the pilgrims coming from distance place attend the annual Meal there. At the time of the Meal, Antarvedi Seems to be Kaliyuga Vaikuntha The Meal runs for about nine days. It is one hundred and eight shrines of Lord Narasimha.
Antarvedi is said to be the second Varanasi by the grace of the Lord , the resident of the shrine have a fear of the floods or of he drought. A mere wish to visit this holy place, will bless the devotees with desired results. Thus the great glory of the shrine is boundless.