Kateel or Kateelu is a temple town in the Dakshina Kannada district of the Indian state of Karnataka. It is considered one of the holiest Hindu temple towns in India. It is situated on the banks of the river Nandini.
Kateelu Durga Parameswari Temple Kshetra Puranam:
The first quarter of the twenty-eighth recurrence of the Yuga quarter of the Vaivaswatha manvanthara is in progress. The earth is in the grip of an unprecedented drought. Not a drop of water in the rivers, lakes or wells. Forests and gardens give a desolate look with plants and the creepers withered and trees despoiled. No water to drink and no food to eat. Animals, birds and men look starved and emaciated. The earth is looking like a veritable morgue with heaps of corpses littering the earth everywhere. All around can be heard the groan of dying beings.
Inside a cave in a sequestered lush green forest close by the Amalaka Theertha (the lake of the emblic tree) sage Jabali was in deep meditation, absorbed in him. As if by a divine will be was woken up. Come out of himself he opened his eyes on the thirsting and starving millions. It was too much of agony for that kindly soul to look on and do nothing about. He resolved to eradicate the drought with a Yajna.
But how to perform a Yajna in a land of acute water famine? A sacrifice that requires many materials and accessories to perform it? How to gather the required materials? The sage thought a moment. Then by his yogic powers he ascended in his body of light to heaven and laid at the feet of Indra, the performer of a hundred sacrifices, the earth’s tale of suffering and pleaded: “Lord, I have resolved to perform a sacrifice for the welfare of the earth and to eradicate the drought now ravaging it. Be kind enough to send the divine cow Kamadhenu to be the source of provision for the sacrifice. But for her, I don’t see the sacrifice materializing in the wasteland the earth now is”.
“Oh sage, Kamadhenu has gone to Varunaloka for a sacrifice I am helpless. I can’t send her with you now. But her daughter, Nandini is here. She is as endowed and divinely blessed as her mother. If she is agreeable, you may take her and consummate the sacrifice” said Indra giving his consent.
Happy that his wish was granted sage Jabali left Indra and came to where Nandini was. With folded hands, he addressed her with these words: “Blessed Mother, the earth is in the grip of a scorching drought. Starved stomachs are gulping the flesh of dogs and jackals: parched tongues are licking the dropping tears. Without rain no crops are possible and without crops no life. Sacrificial offerings consecrated with manthra make the gods happy and they, in turn, bless the word with timely and plentiful rains, say the scriptures. As such, I have resolved to perform a Yajna in order to get the world rid of the drought and to ensure is welfare. But the drought-scorched earth can’t provide the material requisites for the Yajna. You are the daughter of Kamadhenu, the provider of all wishes. Magaminmous mother, graciously accompanies me to the earth and bless the sacrifice with the material requisites therefor”, supplicated the sage.
Endowed by birth with the divine power to provide every wish Nandini was filled with pride in every vein and swelled with the importance of being in the company of gods. Her divine endowments made her feel superior to all. Vanity overflowed from within her: insolence radiated from her eyes. Arrogance had blinded her: impertinence had dried up the last drop of pity in her. Unmindful that her supplicant was a great spiritual master and a seer she retorted in utter flippancy and reckless abandon. “Your earth is the womb that begot fallen villains like Keechaka, Ravana and Karthaveerya. It is the abode of evil and a den of corruption. I will never set my foot there “So dismissed Nandini with impunity the piteous prayer of the sage.
Jabali was deeply pained. “The blessed earth on which Lord Narayana successively incarnated, divine souls, performed miraculous deeds, great master’s unmatched heroes moved and moved human souls and rewrote man’s destiny, the most hallowed place in the whole creation thus shunned and dismissed! How unfortunate I am to get to hear the land of my birth thus condemned!” With anguish overflowing and anger overpowering him but somehow restraining him, the sage beseeched her once again.
“Holy mother, mire will be where the lake is. Evil will be where man is. Filth will be where human habitation is. That is investable. But men are not the only sinners. The great gods have sinned too! And men have not committed what they gods have not. Didn’t Indra, infatuated with Ahalya, get cursed with eyes all over his body? Wasn’t Rama born on the same earth Ravana stalked and revenged? Please don’t be so merciless to the starving and suffering mankind. Relent and accompany me to the earth and facilitate the sacrifice. Be benignant on the mortals.
But, alas, all this warmth of concern and heat of distress could not melt the hardened heart of Nandini. Without batting an eye she rejoined, “Sage, don’t press me further in vain. Let Lord Shiva himself come and enjoin, I won’t budge an inch from here to get down to that abode of sinners of yours. Let them suffer the retribution for their sins.”
Though a master of himself Jabali lost his restraint. He had reached the end of his endurance. Softer than a flower, his heart becomes stone. From top to toe he flamed with wild rage. His blistering tongue shot out words of curse:” You have condemned the earth, the holy land of redeeming rivers like the Ganga. Let you be a river too flowing on the very same earth”.
The curse struck Nandini like a bolt from the blue. Whatever had happened and all in a trice and unawares! Shattered she collapsed at the sage’s feet. Her penitent tears washed them. She begged him to relent, “Enlightened father, mercy. Forgive this ignorant and proud creature her sin. Mercifully withdraw the curse; prescribe the remedy”.
Jabali by nature was a kindly soul. Even his disciples in the ashram had never received a harsh word from him. Presently he relented and took pity on the wretched creature. But it was too late. The curse had been uttered. Now there was no taking it back. It could not be. How to repair the split milk? “If it were not so willed by Providence”, he thought, “How could my disciplined and restrained mind be so overpowered by anger?” Consoling her sage said, “Nandini, my child does not grieve. Flowing as a river is preferable to be born tree, a beast, a bird, or a man. It seems to be the will of the supreme Mother, Shakthi. Or else this tongue of mine would not blurt out these cursed words of a curse. To redeem you now from the cruse with a counter- curse to neutralize it is beyond me. Get yourself presently to “Kanakachala” on earth and there undertake penance meditating on the supreme Mother. She will bless you with the way out of this course.” So saying Jabali blessed Nandini and returned with a heavy heart to his hermitage in the lonely lush wildness.
Nandini bade farewell to Indra and left heaven. Turning the words of the sage over in her mind she reached Kanakachala and started her penance. She meditated hard on the omnipotent Mother. Many years passed. One auspicious day the Mother, ever beloved of her devotees, appeared before her and said, “Nandini my child, here I am, pleased with your austerity and internal worship. I will grant you your wish. Ask” Nandini was beside herself with joy. “Mother of the universe kindly frees me from the curse of sage Jabali”, she prayed. The Mother said calmly but firmly. “Nandini, the words of great sages are not a mere cluster of letters. They have the force of a manthra. They can never be falsified or nullified. You have but to flow like a river”. At this Nandini was perplexed. She pleaded piteously, “Mother is all my worship over these many years in vain? Should I remain here on earth a river forever? Have I no redemption?” The harrowing wail of Nandini prompted the Mother to prescribe the remedy. “Nandini, all is not lost. Let you flow like a river from the foot of this Kanaka Mountain at the dawn of the Magha full moon day. Let you drench and fertilize the drought–scorched earth and join the west sea. Some day I will appear in the form of a phallur girdled by your stream”, promised mother and assured Nandini. “That will be the day of your redemption from the sin. Do not grieve.
Feeling relieved and sensing that the day of her redemption was not far Nandini carried out her instructions. She started flowing from the foot of Kanakachala and glided in the direction of Jabali hermitage in the lonely dense forest. The sage was returning to his hermitage after his early morning dip in the Amalaka Lake. Nandini washed his holy feet in her nascent stream on her way to the west sea. Jabali with his inward eye immediately knew that touch and raised both his arms in a wholehearted gesture of benediction. Blessed was Nandini and blessed was that full moon day of Magha that witnessed Nandini swallowing up in the immensity of her belly the very flames of drought that had swallowed up the earth and men casting a longing eye over food and water after a long time.
Once upon a time, there were two demon brothers called Shumbha and Nishumbha. They had struck terror into the gods and established their dominance over the three worlds. Their prime minister was Arunasura. When Goddess Sri Devi slayed Shumbha and Nishubha this demon had somehow managed to go underground and slip into the netherworlds. There, by virtue of penance, he had attained longevity and built his capital city of Ekaveeradri. Waiting for the arrival of Kaliyuga he was at the time dreaming of establishing a demon empire impregnable and invincible. Chanda and Prachanda were his two ministers.
Once the Rakshasa chieftains counseled him, “Lord, to build a strong Danava empire and make it unassailable and everlasting needs martial power, manpower, money power material power and brainpower. But they are not enough by themselves. Most of all it requires divine grace. And that is attainable only by penance. As such it is best for you to gratify the Creator, the Supreme Lord Hiranyagarbha and have matchless boons granted. Thus making yourself invincible you may then proceed to conquer Swarga and the other lokas”. Arunasura found the suggestion best for him to carry out. He straight went to the impenetrable Amaravana and undertook a most severe penance which lasted a great many years. At first, he ate only once a day. Then he made do with water along and finally gave up that too. Totally fasting he meditated fiercer and fiercer standing on one leg. Flames emanating from him heated the heavens. The sun shuddered and sweated; the underworld scorched red; the seas boiled; the gods recoiled and despaired. The people of the three worlds were terrified. Hiranyagarbha Brahma had no choice but to appear before this fierce propitiator of his. And he did appear in the company of Saraswathi and said,” Aruna, I am pleased with you. Ask your wish”.
“Oh, four-headed father, if you truly pleased with me grant me immortality”, pleaded Aruna.
Brahma flashed a soft smile and said at length, “Aruna, there is a law behind the operation of this universe. That is called Ritha, the immutable Law. Not even gods can violate it; they shall not. You too shall not aspire to immortality which is possible and unrealizable for mortals. You shall not ask it and I may not give it. It is death that makes this world appear ever new. The born is sure to die. Every visible object with its form and name must meet its inevitable end. That being the case you may ask for anything But deathlessness and I will grant it but immortality, never”.
“My Lord, I knew very well that you would not grant me immortality. There is no death to death except that Conqueror of Death, Mrithyunjaya Lord Shiva. So, be it so. Now, grant me this wish as a substitute: let me not meet my death by any God, demon, reptile, Yaksha, Gandharva, Kinnara, Kimpurusha, Siddha, Sadhya, and Vidhyadhara or by an Appears: by man or by a woman; by animals that move on two or four; by any weapon. Bless me with such a boon, oh my Father, “prayed the demon jubilantly. Prompt came the grant: ‘Amen’. That was a grant of near immortality and by Brahma himself. Arunasura’s joy knew no bounds. In effect, he had become deathless without being granted deathlessness. But Aruna did not stop at that. He prostrated to the Goddess of Learning who stood beside the Creator and supplicated, “Mother, may your advent here not be barren. Graciously bless me with a boon as a token of motherly love”. And the mother, pleased with the prayer, initiated him to the Gayathri manthra and alerted him, “So long as you meditate on this manthra every day without fail so long will Death not touch you. But the day you fail in your austerity and in your devotion to Mother Gayathri She will fail you. And that will be the day of your death”.
Separately blessed by Vani and Brahma the demon Aruna swelled with importance; teemed with vanity. His invincibility got into his head. The devoted practice of the Gayathri manthra gave him increased confidence in him, fortified his mind, augmented his strength and heightened his spirits. His faculties got harmonized and well settled in himself but not his unbridled ambition and his untamed impudence. There was no check on his exploits, no match to his courage, no power to dam the flood of his power. He didn’t idle away or bide his time. With a huge army commanded by his two ministers, Chanda and Prachanda, he besieged heaven, the very abode of gods. Gods, they could not impregnate the fort of boons that fortified him. They were routed. Aruna did not prefer to ascend Indra’s throne himself. He would rather have Indra rule heaven as his subordinate and pay him timely tributes and make gifts. As such, he heaped his dictate on the lowered head of Indra and forced him to subjugation. Then he subjugated the earth and the underworld and thus brought the three worlds under his solitary rule.
Arunasura’s fame spread everywhere; day by day his glory brightened and his power heightened. And his hold over the worlds tightened. His devoted practice of Gayathri manthra continued without a lapse. His austerity and devotion didn’t wane a bit. Gayathri was his breath, his food, his soul. Unprecedented and unrelenting was his dedication to the holy manthra. No wonder that no defeat, no distress ever crossed his way. The vanquished Gods fondly coveted his defeat which was nowhere in sight.
Indra went with his train to Sathyaloka and laid at the feet of the Creator the distress of gods. Pleaded Brahma his helplessness “I bestowed the boon on him, right, but restraining him now is not within my powers. “The entourage led by Brahma then went to the silver mountain and related to Maheshwara their distress story. Unable to suggest to them a way out of their plight or do something about it himself, Maheshwara led them to Swethadweepa and apprised Lord Narayana of the plight of gods caused by the unassailable Arunasura. Consoling them said Adi Narayana, “The Supreme Mother has already promised protection assuring us that she will assure the form of a bee and slay Arunasura when he troubled the three worlds unresisted. So let us all go to the foot of the Meru Mountain and meditate on that supreme Power, the primordial Mother, inhabiting in the Kadamba grove there”.
Lord Narayana followed by the entire divinity reached the Meru and meditated on the Holy Mother. Presently she appeared before them. The Trinity and all the divinity sang her glory with eulogies. Pleaded, the Mother addressed them in words that both soothed them and alerted them to the hard reality of the case, “I know what ails you. But so far as Arunasura remains steadfast in his worship of Gayathri not even can the God of Death touch him. Therefore let Brihaspathi, the preceptor of gods, approach him in disguise and instruct him in atheism. That will effectively make him discard the worship of Gayathri. Then I will pluck that thorn of a demon from out of the flesh of the world and ensure its welfare”.
Brihaspathi promptly appeared as an old Brahmin in the abode where Arunasura practiced austerities. “Who are you? What brought you here?” queried the demon king. “I am to see the conqueror of the three worlds and prostrate at his feet. But having come here and seen you I felt like laughing and pitying you. Think who you are; the omnipotent provider and protector of the three worlds! And see what you do there: chant some unless manthra and invoke someone else and bow your head in a tame surrender to him! What magic is this? What mesmeric stupefaction? I don’t understand you. You are the ruler, not the ruled. Not a servant, but master. Not a subject, but the king. Not dependent on others, but master of your own self. Hence not one who must worship, but one worthy of worship. Lord of the worlds you bow your head to someone else! Nothing could be more shameful,” spoke the old Brahmin disarmingly.
Aruna could not follow the march of drift of the old man’s words. He rejoined: “Holy Brahmin, your luster is bright and your words poignant. But what you say confuses me. Oh revered Brahmin, by the grace of Lord Brahma I became the conqueror of the worlds. All my strength, resources, adventure, accomplishment and renown are due to the Gayathri manthra granted by Mother Sharada. To denigrate the grace of the father and gift of the Mother is to commit suicide. The two took my name and glory even to the bounds of the sky. How do you fault me worshipping them? Not worshipping would be ingratitude; forgetting that which has made me what I am today would be impertinence”.
Vachaspathi in the guise of a Brahmin listened intently to the long and strong logical argument of Aruna with a smile. Then he set out to hoodwink the demon with his sophistry. “O emperor of the Asuras, your words look good enough on their surface. But thought out a little philosophically, you will know they prove to be without meaning. Who is the giver of boons? Who is the receiver? Who favors whom? Who is the benefactor? Who benefited? What is gratitude? What ingratitude? Who gives help without getting something in return? Strength, courage and confidence are not things gifted by someone or by some manthra. You are knowledgeable and wise. Don’t act like a superstitious fool you can never be a worshipper, a propitiator of others. You are the object of worship of the others, the only one worth being adored by all. The world must be worshipping I don’t know what. What self-oblivion.
One shall uplift one’s own self, not dissipate and destroy it. One is one’s own friend and one’s own foe too. None uplift another. You make or mar your own destiny; you are your own friend philosopher and guide; you are your own destroyer or preserver. This is the wisdom of the scriptures. Brahma’s boon to you is not a gift, not a favor. To what austerities had you not subjected your spirit; to what rigors, your mind; to what hardships, your body? Brahma had no way but to be favorably disposed towards you. And he was. He bestowed on you the boon. But then, he had got himself paid for it in your hard penance. It was an exchange, pure and simple. He had been obliged to give what he gave. You need not feel indebted to him for that or feel slavishly grateful. Nobody gives thanks to the goblet because the drink was delicious. One doesn’t worship the axe that cuts a tree or, the broom that sweeps a floor! The resources you speak of are physical, mental, spiritual and tempoarlinere in you, not in the manthra you must worship. You remind me of the musk-deer that knows not the fragrance issuing from its own navel. That Sharada, wife of that Brahma gave you not a manthra, but an illusion, a mirage! It is a trap laid by gods for you; a trick to keep you under their hold. If all that you achieved is due to the Gayathri manthra what is your own greatness in it? What credit? Any nonentity in the possession of a manthra can then be an Arunasura. In that case, the manthra becomes all in all. And you get reduced to a passive medium, a hollow container of the manthra. You can not be called the Lord so for you keep wasting yourself in the worship of this manthra. Instead, you will remain an obsequies slave. Not master but a servant; not free, but in bondage, greedily waiting for grace to fall on you from the corner of the eyes of a master who has no grace in him. This doesn’t become you, born to be the conqueror of the worlds but now become a mesmerising fool, a veritable beggar”.
The pricking innuendo of this long speech of Brihaspathi had driven the nail right into the head of Arunasura. His dormant pride was stirred and got into his head and pushed out reason abiding there, which taking the opposite course went into a deep slumber. The feeling that there was no power superior to him got strengthened in him. He praised the intelligence of the old Brahmin and blurted out, “No more manthras with me and no more Gods Austerities and worship given a go by. Henceforth I am the god, the only God. All shall worship given me. This is my command. And you are witness to it”. His job done, expediently and incredibly well, with the blessings of the Divine Mother Brahspathi fared the demon well overjoyed and went back to heaven. The gods were beside themselves with joy that Arunasura had abandoned the practice of Gayathri.
Brihaspati had cast a spell on Arunasura. He was thoroughly changed, his mind vitiated and corrupted. He gave up the practice of personal rites. What rites, what practices for God himself? What is more, he commended the sages to stop all rites, ablutions and oblations. Festivals worships and ceremonies stopped in the shrines. It was ruled that all should worship Arunasura himself as God. And he was worshipped. Day by day the measure of his sins swelled. The vessel filled and overflowed.
Sri Devi got ready for action, the final act of the play. One day Arunasura’s ministers, Chanda and Prachanda, saw the Devi in the sprawling pleasures garden of the capital, Ekaveeradri. It was a tantalizing, blinding beauty the like of which they had not seen. Overwhelmed they could not know that it was Supreme Power Herself in the form of a youthful damsel, Mesmerised they rushed into the harem of Arunasura and reported to him gasping and with folded hands. “Lord, a virgin of matchless beauty is to be seen in the royal garden. She has been seen perched on the pleasure hill. She is a veritable lightning flash. Vain is the eye that has not seen her, the tongue that has not addressed her, the ear that has not heard her and the hand that has not touched her. She is most suited to be your queen.
Aruna didn’t hear the next words of his ministers; perhaps even the last. Like a hurricane, he dashed into the garden, saw her and stood rooted to the ground, “Oh beauty, marry me,” blabbed the demon as if in a dream. “I have not come here to marry. I came to kill. Without even knowing who I am you have already proceeded to marry me. What impetuosity!” These teasing words of the illusory virgin caused Aruna to lose heart. He was afraid. But without showing it he said firmly, “Oh young woman, whoever you are I don’t care. I am the lord of the three worlds. What I wish I have. What I desired, I must have. You are here determined to kill me. What can be more ridiculous? The bungled, delicate hand holding a sword..! What a sight it will be! Why waste time and words? Accept my offer and follow me to my harem. You shall be the empress of the demon race”. The magic damsel burst out laughing and challenged him: “You devil of a demon, I am the very chandika who slayed Shumbha and Nishumbha. And you are the one who slipped away like a coward from the battlefield. You managed to save your life on that day. Here do I come back to take my due which has long eluded my hands here, you stand not before your desired queen, but before your destined death”.
Aruna’s blood boiled to hear this. None had challenged him thus, much less, humiliated. He wielded his sword and charged at her. She disappeared into a rock. After a long, desperate search for her, he returned to his palace frustrated. He ordered his army in its full strength and led by his two ministers to ransack every nook of the pleasure garden for the invisible magic-virgin. Sri Devi assumed a terrible form in the name of Raktheshwari and destroyed to the last man the huge army of Arunasura including Chanda and Prachanda. Streams of blood flowed unabated. Arunasura’s rage knew no bounds. He swore to avenge the death of his masters Shumbha and Nishumbha by sucking the life out of this devil of a woman. Sword in hand he went round the garden not leaving an inch looking for her. Unable to find her he stabbed and jabbed at the rock she had disappeared into.
Lo! Swarmed out of the rock myriad bees attacked Aruna. They dipped their stings into his flesh and sucked his blood. Sri Devi herself alighted right on the demon’s chest and pierced his heart with a sting strong as diamond and sucked the life from out of it. The six-footed bee is neither two-legged nor four-legged; and the bee is neither god, nor demon, norman and the sting of a bee is no weapon of any kind. The Mother, thus, rid the world of a terror that was Arunasura without violating the terms and implications of the boon of Brahma.
Sage Jabali saw all this with his inner eye. He came running from his hermitage in the lush forest with his numerous disciples to where the Mother was and propitiated her with eulogies. He pleaded with her to assume a milder form and stay on earth permanently.
The gods, now free from fear, gathered in the holy presence of the Mother and sang the praise of Her glory. On instructions from Jabali Indra brought from heaven a great quantity of tender coconut yielded by Kalpavraksha and performed along with the other gods the holy shower for the terrible bee in order to pacify it. Nandini, the daughter of Kamadhenu, who was flowing nearby as a river assumed her original bodily form and prayed the Devi with folded hands to redeem her from the sage’s curse. Pacified and pleased the Devi graciously withdrew her terrible form and assured them protection. “My beloved one I grant Jabali’s prayer and will make this place my abode and bless my devotees. But this spot is not fit for me to abide in, defiled as it has been by the death of Arunasura. As such, I will incarnate as a Linga in the middle of Nandini flowing like a stream near here. As per the boon, I have already granted her she will be freed from her Curse. Great is the efficacy of the penance of Jabali which will see me repose my divine presence in the Linga that emerged from the middle of the river Nandini. I will make of her forked stream my girdle”, promised the Supreme Mother.
As promised the Mother incarnated in the form of a linga in the middle of the stream of Nandini. And Nandini was redeemed from her curse. The single-stream divided into two where Sri Devi emerged as a linga. After skirting the linga, the streams reunite and flow as one stream that joins the west sea. Blessed Nandini, rewarded with the privilege of wasting forever the Mother’s feet!
The Champaka is not liked by the bee for his strong fragrance. So the flower is not used in this shrine of Bhramari, the female bee. The water of tender coconut is the favorite of the Mother so none in this shrine drinks tender coconut without first offering it to the Mother. The abhisheka (holy shower) with tender coconut is the ultimate of the favorites of the Mother. Because the Mother appeared as a dancing damsel in the garden of Aruna in order to kill him She is fond of the yakshagana dance offered by devotees as service to Her.
Books for Reference:
Skanda Purana – Sanathkumara Samhithe-Sahyadrikhanda
From Sode Mutt- Shri Nirjararanya Mahatmayam (1927)
Kateel Durgaparameshwari Temple Timings:
Temple Timings: 4:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Darshan Timings: 5:30 AM to 9:30 PM