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Chitragupta Temple, Kanchipuram

This temple is a very unique and rare temple. This is the only Chitragupta temple in South India. The deity Chitragupta is an assistant of Yama, the God of death. Devotees visit the temple as a remedy for afflictions of Ketu

Chitragupta Temple, Kanchipuram
Chitragupta Temple, Kanchipuram

History

The original temple structure dates back to the 9th century Chola dynasty. Archaeological inscriptions support this fact. In 1911, repairs were being made to the temple. The idols of Chitragupta and Karnikambal were discovered and installed in the temple. There have been two consecrations of the temple since then. The temple has a single precinct and a three-tiered Gopuram.

Chitragupta
Chitragupta

Legend

Lord Shiva and Devi Parvathi were in discussion bout maintaining Dharma or righteousness among all people. The maintenance of Dharma required the maintenance of an accurate account of people’s good deeds. They felt that the maintenance of Dharma required someone who would watch over the people. When there was accountability, people would do good deeds and avoid crimes. To better illustrate his point Lord Shiva drew an outline on a gold plate. Devi Parvathi asked him to draw it in more detail. This drawing was made a reality by Lord Shiva and Devi Parvathi. This being was named Chitragupta. Chitra means picture and Gupta means accountant. Chitragupta became the assistant of Yama, the God of death.

Chitragupta
Chitragupta

Brihaspati And Indra

Once Brihaspathi and Indra had a dispute and Brihaspati stopped being his Guru. Indra who wanted to make peace and perform penance went on a pilgrimage. The wish-granting cow Kamadhenu gave Chitragupta to the earth to save it from the curse of Indra’s actions.  When Indra reached his destination, he built this temple there and golden lotuses appeared in the temple tank nearby.

Another tale states that Indra worshipped Lord Shiva and prayed for a child. But Indrani was not supposed to have a child. Shiva told Kamadhenu the wish-fulfilling cow to produce a child. Indra and Indrani brought him up as Chitragupta. 

Lord Yama
Lord Yama

Yama

Another legend of the temple states that Yama needed help with his work. There were so many people who died every day and Yama needed assistance in judging all their actions in each lifetime accurately. He prayed to the Gods for help. Since Chitragupta has an amazing intellect blessed by Lord Shiva himself, his father the Sun God directed him to go and help Yama. Some stories say that Bramha made him the accountant. So, Chitragupta stayed with Lord Yama and maintains the balance sheets of the good and evil actions of all beings on Earth. When a person dies, the soul goes to Yama. Here Chitragupta assists Yama by reading out the person’s account of deeds to Yama. He helps Yama judge their actions accurately when they pass from this world. 

Yama In the Center With Chitragupta
Yama In the Center With Chitragupta

The Deity

The deity of Chitragupta has a pen in the right hand with scripts in the left hand. This depicts his function as a record keeper. The deity is seated with one leg folded and the other on a lotus. The deity is the Adidevata for the Graha Ketu. Both Shaivites, as well as Vaishnavites, worship the deity. He is said to give knowledge and Moksha. In olden times, accountants would seek blessings from this deity for their profession. 

Chitragupta is the deity for Ketu. People who have problems in their birth chart caused by Ketu visit this temple for relief. In this unique temple, he is the principal deity. 

Festivals And Worship

The full moon in the month of Chitrai called the Chitrai Pournami is an important festival. This is the day that Chitragupta was born. The festival also features the marriage of the deity with his wives. Women fast or eat food to which salt has not been added for the day and seek the deity’s blessings. Some people offer lamps with horse gram to the deity. 

Travel And Accommodation – Other Sights To See

Kanchipuram is easy to access from Chennai by road as well as rail. It is a popular pilgrimage centre and there is plenty of accommodation available. The ancient town has historical significance as it has long been a learning as well as a religious centre under many different rulers. There are many other famous temples to visit with the most significant ones being the Ekambareswarar Temple and the Kamakshi Amman Temple.