Meenakshi (Tamil: மீனாட்சி, lit. 'Mīṉāṭci',
Sanskrit: मीनाक्षी, lit. 'Mīnākṣī'), is an
avatar of the Goddess Parvati, the divine consort of Sundareswarar
(Shiva) and is considered to be the sister of God Vishnu.
She is mainly worshipped in South India where she has a major temple
devoted to her known as the
Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
She is also considered as a form of Goddess Lalitha Tripurasundari,
one of the Dasa Maha Vidhyas.
7 External links
There are two popular etymologies for Meenakshi. The name
though to be derived from the Tamil meen (fish) and
akshi (eye), thus translated as the one with "Fish-shaped eyes". In
chaste Tamil is
Meenakshi also known as Angayarkanni, from the Tamil
words angayar (of fish) and kann (eyes).
The other popular etymology states that the name is derived from the
Tamil words meen (fish) and aatchi (rule), thus Meenatchi as she is
pronounced in Tamil is translated as "Rule of the fish".[a]
Several great hymns on the goddess were composed in the early modern
period by many saints and scholars, including the famous Neelakanta
Dikshitar. The stotram
Meenakshi Pancharatnam (Five Jewels of
Meenakshi), composed by Sri Adi Sankaracharya, is an incantation to
Meenakshi does not directly appear in the stotram Lalita
Sahasranama, though there is a reference to her in the line Vakthra
lakshmi parivaha chalan meenabha lochana (She who has auspiciousness
and glory of
Lakshmi and has beautiful eyes which look like fish in
the pond of her face).
One Tamil poem/song (Tamilpillai) portrays
Meenakshi as the
intersection of domesticity and divinity and as a global icon for all
who deal with "impossible" children or husbands:
The great madman
Shiva with the metel flower / Wanders through the
courtyard of space / Destroying your work again and again / And then
he comes before you, / dancing. // You never get angry. / Every day
you just pick up the vessels.
According to a legend found in the Tamil text Tiruvilaiyatarpuranam,
king Malayadwaja Pandya and his wife Kanchanamalai performed a yajna
seeking a son for succession. Instead a daughter is born who is
already 3 year old and has three breasts.
Shiva intervenes and says
that the parents should treat her like a son, and when she meets her
husband, she will lose the third breast. They follow the advice. The
girl grows up, the king crowns her as the successor and when she meets
Shiva, his words come true, she takes her true form of
Meenakshi. According to Harman, this may reflect the
matrilineal traditions in South India and the regional belief that
"penultimate [spiritual] powers rest with the women", gods listen to
their spouse, and that the fate of kingdoms rest with the women.
According to Susan Bayly, the reverence for
Meenakshi is a part of the
Hindu goddess tradition that integrates with the Dravidian Hindu
society where the "woman is the lynchpin of the system" of social
relationships. Her eyes are fabled to bring life to the unborn.
One of the
Meenakshi Temple at Madurai
The temple complex at Madurai,
Tamil Nadu in India is dedicated to
Meenakshi as the primary deity. It is also referred to as Meenakshi
Amman or Minakshi-Sundareshwara Temple. Meenakshi's shrine is
next to that of her consort Sundareswar, a form of Shiva.
Though the temple has historic roots, most of the present campus
structure was rebuilt after the 14th century CE, further repaired,
renovated and expanded in the 17th century by Thirumalai
Nayak. In early 14th century, the armies of Delhi Sultanate
led by Muslim Commander
Malik Kafur plundered the temple, looted it of
its valuables and destroyed the
Madurai temple town along with many
other temple towns of South India. The contemporary temple
is the result of rebuilding efforts started by the Vijayanagara Empire
rulers who rebuilt the core and reopened the temple. In the
16th century, the temple complex was further expanded and fortified.
The restored complex houses 14 gopurams (gateway towers), each above
45 metres (148 ft) in height. The complex has numerous sculpted
pillared halls such as Ayirakkal (1,000 pillar hall),
Kilikoondu-mandapam, Golu-mandapam and Pudu-mandapam. Its shrines are
Hindu deities and Shaivism scholars, with the vimanas
above the garbhagrihas (sanctums) of
Meenakshi and Sundaresvara
guilded with gold.
The temple is a major pilgrimage destination within the Shaivism
tradition, dedicated to
Devi and Shiva. However, the temple
Vishnu in many narratives, sculptures and rituals as he is
considered to be Meenakshi's brother. This has made this temple
Madurai as the "southern Mathura", one included in Vaishnava
texts. The large temple complex is the most prominent landmark
Madurai and attracts tens of thousands visitors a day. The
temple attracts over a million pilgrims and visitors during the annual
Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival, celebrated with much
festivities and a ratha (chariot) procession during the Tamil month of
Chittirai (overlaps with April–May in Georgian calendar, Chaitra in
^ Excerpt for the etymology of Meenatchi from "A Comprehensive
Etymological Dictionary of the Tamil Language, Vol. VII, PART - II",
page 68: மீனாட்சி ,Mīṉāṭci, பெ. (n. )
கொண்ட தெய்வம்; Umā, the tutelary Goddess of
Madurai. [மீன் + ஆட்சி. மீனைக்
கொண்டவள்.] Translation: [ Meen + Aatchi. Her who put
the fish as symbol for the flag.] (மீன் - Mīṉ = fish,
ஆட்சி- āṭci = rule)
^ a b Rajarajan, R.K.K. 2005. Minaksi or Sundaresvara: Who is the
first principle? South Indian History Congress Annual Proceedings XXV,
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^ Palmer Hall, Manly (1949). Horizon, Volume 9, Issue 3. Philosophical
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