Thiruvilayadal puranam - 5. Meenakshi's wedding

5. Meenakshi’s wedding

This girl has earned the true respect and love of her people. Her people thought of her as their god. Under her rule, the Pandya Empire was divided into 365 units. Everyday one of the units should pay the taxes.

Everybody admires her eyes. She commands 8000 elephants, 5000 chariots and 10,000 soldiers.

These facts are noted by historian Pliny who visited Madurai several centuries ago. He refers to the girl as ‘Pandeya’.

Historical records show that this girl is no other than the beautifully sculpted, world-renowned gem among women, Meenakshi. Like the histories of Rama and Krishna, the story of Meenakshi has become one with Madurai.

Because she had eyes like the fish she was called Meenakshi (eyes like a fish).

Because she protected her people the way a fish protects its little ones, she was called Meenakshi.

Just as the fish cannot live without water, she also was always submerged in enhancing her inner consciousness.

Because she showed how women should run their families, she became the Queen Among Women – Mangaiyarkarasi.

Because her hair represents her heightened Siva consciousness, she is called Abhishekavalli.

Because she protected her lands extending up to Kanyakumari, she is called  Kumarithuraiyaval.

Because she was unequalled in beauty, intelligence and culture, she is Abiramavalli.

Because she can absorb knowledge like camphor absorbs fire, she is Karpooravalli.

The Divine Mother has so many names!

History says that at a time when many noble kings ruled the various Indian kingdoms, she was the only queen.

Valluvar says that people consider the king who protects them their god. It is true that this girl also realised the Supreme within herself. She trained to be a good king under her father. She learnt all that was needed to become a good queen, including warfare. But along with all that, she also learnt spiritual enquiry. Such a girl was Thatathakai.

Thatatakai ruled the Pandya kingdom after Malayadhwajan. She was crowned ceremonially and took over the reins of the kingdom.

At the appropriate age, talks of her marriage began. In those days, Pandya kingdom was known for giving women several rights. Realising she would need a partner who would encourage and support her in her spiritual quest, she sought and obtained her parents’ blessings to seek her ideal partner on her own.

Breast falls

When a woman traverses the path of spirituality with her husband, she reaches the masculine Purusha in spirit. One can say that this is the significance of Thatathakai losing her third breast.

Thatathakai fought wars successfully against north Indian kingdoms and then turned her attention to fight the Lankan army headed by Siva. On encountering Siva, she realised she was Shakti and lost her third breast. All of us know that Siva then came to Madurai to ask for her hand and married her as per traditions. There are thousands of poems and literature to sing the glory of the great wedding. In the Madurai Meenakshi temple’s Chitra festival, the wedding takes pride of place. Now let us examine the inner meaning and the miracles associated with the wedding.

What’s Special about Meenakshi’s Wedding?

Unlike other dynasties, Thatatakai did not marry for ensuring heirs. Her goal was to evoke the spiritual energy within her. Who was she, what was she, what was the truth behind her femininity, why had she accepted the rare privilege to become the queen of India, what is marriage, why marry, what is the true significance of it – there is no doubt that she had deeply contemplated these questions and knew the answer well.

A highly enlightened woman tries to attain the purpose of her birth in whatever way possible. She knows that it is possible through marriage and so seeks a suitable life partner.

The significance of saying she saw met her Lord in Kailash is that at the peak of self-realisation, she had the courage to choose a man who had realised the higher truth.

Meenakshi’s wedding was conducted with the fanfare appropriate for a princess. The son-in-law, knowing his wife’s responsibility to her people, agrees to help her in governing her kingdom. Anybody who has realised himself to be one with the Supreme is Sivam. Siva as Sokkeswarar clasps Thatatakai’s hand and rules the kingdom with her.

 The sculpture depicting Meenakshi’s wedding can be seen in the temple. It explicitly displays the inner meaning of our weddings. That is why that image has the pride of place in the wedding invitation of Tamilians.

Thatatakai is the embodiment of Sakthi. Puranas project Sakthi as Mahavishnu’s younger sister. That sculpture shows Vishnu giving away his sister’s hand in marriage to Siva. That is, knowledge is surrendering itself to self-awareness. Brother and sister are one and the same.

What is the Inner Meaning?

Vishnu is the embodiment of complete knowledge. The other form of that knowledge is life power. Siva is total self-awareness. When the life force unites completely with self-awareness, it realises the Divine within it and makes true the says ‘Aham Brahmosmi’ – I am the Divine. That is salvation.

What is Knowledge?

There is nothing called ‘I’. Everything is the Divine. This knowledge is the ultimate Knowledge.

What should one who has been enlightened do?

An enlightened soul should try to understand it through experience. That is a spiritual achievement. That is the state of awareness.

How does one realise the Divine within oneself?

The union of Siva-Sakthi in oneself can be realised by realising the divine within, the divine in others and everything around, doing only good, and serving others with love.

What is the significance of marriage?

Only to realise this truth a man and woman should marry. The service they do to their household is the best way to realise the Sivam within themselves, in each other and in everything around. This is the first lesson Siva gave to Parvati in Mount Kailasha on their first night together.

To experience that and realise it deeply, the Mother Divine took birth in different forms in different parts of India blessing the people of the country.

She is the life force, and we are not separate from Her.

Thatatakai accepted her husband as her guru and started her marital life in her own kingdom. That is why Her wedding festival in Madurai is so popular across the globe. That is why Madurai is also considered auspicious for weddings. Even today Madurai highlights the significance of marriage in our lives. Meenakshi’s wedding is the root for all the miracles there.

Therefore we should understand the inner meaning of Meenakshi wedding. Everyone should also emulate that divine couple in their married lives.

Om Namah Shivaya

  • Try to be part of the three-day Chitirai festival which begins with the coronation of Queen Thatathakai, her campaign and her wedding.
  • Why do Mother and Lord fight each other in the campaign?
  • Our life force does not easily allow its femininity to be destroyed. This battle is portrayed in the campaign. Femininity is not just about the feminine form, but the longings and emotions so typical of human life.
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