Lord Brahma started his work of creation by first invoking Lord Vishnu. The Lord appeared before the creator and gave him an idol of himself having four arms carrying the shankha, chakra, gada and padma. Lord Vishnu told him that the idol was purna (full) manifestation of His divinity and therefore it signified “shuddha sattva”. Pure or Shuddha Sattva is the nascent state of Sattva which is extremely subtle and cannot become gross. However, this “murthi” or idol which represents Shuddha Sattva is an exception! Brahma worshipped the idol with great fervour.
King Sutapas and his wife Prisni, who belonged to the Satya Yuga were ardent devotees of Lord Vishnu and they undertook rigorous tapas. Pleased with their devotion and austerity, Lord Brahma gave them this divine idol. They worshipped the idol of Lord Vishnu for a number of years. When Vishnu manifested himself in front of them and asked them what boon they wanted, they said, “we want a son like you, a son like you, a son like you.” The Lord replied that there cannot be anyone like him, and therefore he himself will be born as their son and since they repeated the request three times, he would be born three times at three different periods of time, in three different manifestations.
In their present manifestation as Sutapas and Prisni, in the Satya Yuga, the Lord was born as Prisnigarbha. In Treta Yuga, in their second manifestation as Sage Kashyapa and Aditi, the Lord was born as Vamana. In Dwapara Yuga, in their third manifestation as Vasudeva and Devaki, the Lord was born as Sri Krishna. In all their manifestations, they worshipped the idol that Lord Brahma had given them. The idol was installed in Dwaraka, and even Krishna worshipped the idol of Lord Vishnu. At the end of the Dwapara Yuga, during the dissolution, Krishna entrusted the safety of the idol with Uddhava, his devotee. Krishna asked Uddhava to take the help of Brihaspati, the Guru of the devatas and Vayu, the wind-God to install the idol in an appropriate place. The Lord folded up his manifestation and Dwaraka was submerged in the deluge waters.
Uddhava invoked Deva-guru and Vayu. They both appeared and as instructed by Lord Krishna carried the idol with them and went in search of an appropriate place to install it. They reached Bhargava-kshetra (Kerala) and saw a beautiful lake full of lotuses. The place looked most appropriate for the installation of the idol. This was the place where Lord Shiva had performed tapas and the lake was known as Rudra teertha. On seeing Brihaspati and Vayu, Lord Shiva and Parvati appeared there and suggested that this was the most suitable place for the installation of the Lord’s idol. The divine architect, Vishwakarma was assigned the work of constructing a beautiful temple for the Lord. According to legend, the uniqueness of the temple originally constructed by Vishwakarma is that on Vishu (summer equinox) day, the sun’s rays enter the temple and fall on the Lord’s feet. Traditionally it is believed that the “pratishta” of the Lord’s idol was performed on the auspicious Guruvayur Ekadashi. Since Brihaspati (Guru) and Vayu were involved in the installation of the idol of the Lord, the sacred place was called as Guru-Vayu-Pura, and the Lord as Guruvayurappan. Guruvayur is also known as Bhuloka Vaikunta.
Lord Guruvayurappan gave darshan to Sri Adi Shankaracharya when he visited this sacred place. He composed the beautiful Govinda Ashtakam in praise of the Lord and laid down the procedures for the various daily rituals to be carried out in the temple which are followed till today.
“Sri Krishna Govinda Hare Murare, Hey Natha Narayana Vasudeva!”
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