'Mangalagiri' greets the ears with mellifluous lilting strains, and presents before the eyes a holy hill temple consecrated by
the auspicious presence of Lord Narasimha, the fourth incarnation of Sri Mahavishnu, conferring mukti on the adorers, since
Kritayuga onwards. True to his name Narasimha - the combination of man-lion form though causes tremors in the minds of
the lily-livered or unrighteous, demonical persons; he is the kindest of kindest extending succour to the truest Bhaktas at the
cost of personal discomfort. His fierce looking exterior in fact conceals the most responsive, soft, supple, sensitive, readily
dissoluble, butter-like heart that wafts him speedier than manovega across the universes to lift the adorers at a mere call.
And it is this incarnation that showed to the world the Omnipresence of the Supreme Providence. By rescuing Prahlad from
the excruciating tortures, he presented to the world a unique specimen of a devotee, besides freeing the world from the
egoistical creed of 'Ahambrahmasmi' of that conceited Hiranyakasipu. It demonstrated that he endures anything for the sake
of his Bhaktas, as evidenced by bearing that hideous, uncouth, terrifying lion's head with its grisly mane, sharp incisors and
dishevelled hair over the shapely, sturdy, shiny, broad shoulders of his jaganmohanarupa.
Origin of Panaka Offering
His assuming of that dreadful shape lasted then for a few nimeshas, and is within the limits of endurance, but remaining with
it eternally for Jaganmangala is something extraordinary and possible to God of gods alone. The august Narasimha form
with which he is remaining in this hill bears testimony of his 0mnicompassion. But for this, the surrounding region throbbing
with millions and millions of people would have been a laavamaya barren, rocky soil fit for neither habitation nor cultivation;
for, the hill over which he is seated according to one version was once a live voleano, but turned into a gracefully cool hill
now. That apurva Karunaikasindhu, by drinking potfuls of beverage is mollifying the blazing volcano, in addition to slaking
his enormous thirst caused by the burning pedestal over which he is seated. And so he is popularly known as Panakala
Narasimhaswamy, ever contented with Panaka Naivedyam in preference to Panchamrita abhishekam, or Panner
Prakshalanam. And it is this Narasimhaswamy that is conferring emancipation by a mere single visit with soulful prayers; it is
here Anjaneya is dwelling permanently as kshetrapalaka at the instance of Sri Rama for lokakalyana; it is in this kshetra lies
the grand shrine of Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy built by Yudhistara in Dwaparayuga; it is this holy place visited by Chaitanya
Mahapiabhu, Adisankara, Ramanuja who had sung in praise of the archamurti; it is this kshetra sanctified by the Lakshmi
Pushkarini built for the ceremonial bath of Sri Mahalakshmi before joining Vaikunta as the consort of Sri Mahavishnu; it is the
holiness of this place that keeps sweet meats and jaggery from the menace of ants and flies as evidenced by their absence
in and around temple precincts though maunds of jaggery are used every day to offer panaka puja to the Lord; it is here in
the dim past Hrusva Sringi, a prince did penance and assumed the shape of an elephant before forming into mountain to be
freed from his father's exhortation to return home, giving up a life of austerity.
Bhaktakoti started worshipping him with honey as Naivedya, in the Kritayuga. With the passage of time, the practice
changed itself into milk in the Tretayuga, ghee in the Dwaparayuga and Panaka in the Kaliyuga, may be on account of the
availability of the materials, or perhaps due to adulteration of sentiments due to Kala Prabhava. Anyhow, the Panakapuja -
the ritual of offering of the beverage made of jaggery and water as Naivedya has become a regular practice and it is offered
with utmost devotion, as a mark of redemption of vows taken by the adorers, whenever they were caught in the meshes of
life taking problems, or worries knocking them down. And Io! the Lord too is immensely pleased to accept the Panakapuja
and considers it as the best. And what is more, nothing else pleases him more than this. He-receives it whole-heartedly and
drinks to his contentment by a peculiar gurgling sound, while pouring the beverage into his mouth. As it marks his samtripti,
the priest stops pouring, and gives back the rest of the quantity made as Prasad, which is distributed among the visiting
Bhaktas assembled. This is the star attraction of this sacred shrine. And people who are relieved of their problems are
visiting to offer this ritual to the Lord, their number is ever growing and consuming several maunds of jaggery. Everyday and
throughout the year that too. Hundreds of Bhaktas visit everyday and huge quantities of Panaka is offered.
And the peculiar feature observed here is the absence of any other image. Only Narasimha's icon - a Swayamvyakta is
adorning this rock-cut temple and he is adored with boundless ardour. Here there is only one hall in the fore of the image,
installed in the hollow of a big boulder. Except this. neither carvings of any kind on ceiling or walls, nor painting of any deity
is seen here. Another stunning fact discernable here is the absence of flies, or insects of any kind, though jaggery is found in
abundance, brought for making Panaka.
Even if seen with microscopic lens, none detects any irritating creature creeping or flying in the vicinity. Isn't it due Lord's
Mahima? Does it not mirror His anantavatsalya? And that marks him out as a Mokshapradatha first and last, thereby it
establishes that his ways are incomprehensible to the test-tube scientists and inexplicable to the book drunk scholars. To
the Bhaktas like Prahlad, it is as clear as amalaka on the palm. They explain and enthrall the listeners for hours and days, if
attendance is given. Another odd feature observable in the garbhagriha is that there is no passage for the huge quantities of
Panaka to drain it out. Where does it go and how? Look that entire area is always dry and hot.
Nobody knows except ONE and that greatest alone who knows how to draw HIS children to HIS feet by means best. It is
again a mystery to all, but not to Bhaktas. Let us now descend down the flight of steps, numbering 500 to be the foot of hill
to feast our eyes with several temples dedicated to gods and liberal endowments made by the asthika mahaprabhus from
time to time.
On coming down, and when we look up high into the blue sky, we find that the hill Mangalagiri is in the shape of an elephant
in reclining posture and the temple situated at its mouth. It is nestled mid-way between the sikhara and the foot of hill.
It lies in the centre of Managalagiri on the hill, 10 km off Vijayawada of AP, accessible by town bus.