Friday, August 26, 2011

Story of Garbarakshambigai



Once there lived a Rishi called Nidhruva who lived with his beautiful wife Vedhika in an Ashram. He spent his life praying to the lord and performing holy rites. They were very happy, except that they didn’t have a child, so they prayed fervently to the lord to be blessed with a child.

After many prayers Vedhika became pregnant. Everything was going on well and the couple were eagerly expecting their first born child. One day Nidhruva left to visit Lord Varuna by travelling through the skies. The rishis in those days had many powers. Vedhika was in the third trimester of her pregnancy, When he was gone, Sage Urdhvapada visited the Ashram. Vedhika was alone in the ashram and since she was in an advanced state of pregnancy and very tired after the daily household chores, she was lying down and taking rest. Vedhika didn't notice the Rishi or hear him, therefore, she failed to respond and unwittingly failed to offer, due hospitality to the guest. Urdhvapada felt terribly insulted and unaware of her pregnancy got incensed at her conduct and cursed her for not paying due respects to him. He cursed that she should suffer from a disease called “Rayatchu”, as a result of which poor Vedhika was struck with a foul disease, which began to eat into the very vitals of not only herself but also the child in her womb.




Vedhika realized the effect of the curse and that the baby in the womb had become disformed because of this curse. The helpless Vedhika fervently prayed for relief to Goddess Parvati who in the plentitude of her mercy appeared before Vedhika, the Goddess offered protection to the embryo by keeping it in a divine pot till it bloomed into a full-fledged child. The foetus that was saved by Goddess Parvathi develops into a beautiful healthy male child called Naidhruvan, who receives blessings from Lord Shiva (Mullaivana Nathar) and Goddess Parvati. The holy cow Kamadhenu gives its milk to the newborn baby thus blessing and nourishing the baby.

When sage Nidhruva returned and heard what had happened, he was overwhelmed by the grace of the Almighty. He prayed to Lord Shiva (MullaivanaNathar) and Goddess Parvati (Garbharakshambika) that they should shower their blessings to all devotees praying to them. He fell at the feet of Goddess Parvati and prayed that she should take a permanent abode at the place and continue to offer protection to future generations of women also. Thus we find this prayer being fulfilled even to this day.

Since the Goddess Parvathi appeared in the form of a savior to protect Vedhika’s unborn child, she was known as Shri Garbharakshambika (The one who protects the unborn child or the one who protects the womb). To this day, pregnant women visiting this temple at Tanjore and praying to Shri Garbharakshambika have a peaceful delivery and it is believed that the Devi takes care of them and vouches safety to women during pregnancy and childbirth, just as she took care of Vedhika. 

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