Exotic Saguni temple in Kerala, S. India

The very name Saguni is synonymous with villainy, wickedness and vice. He is simply a personification of all that is evil. In India people use the word Saguni as a metaphor to refer to a scheming person - who does mischief between people or families. Saguni is an important character in the Mahabharata, India's great and popular epic. Born in Gandhra, present day Afghanistan,  he was the prince of Gandhara Kingdom in present-day Gandhara, and was the brother of  princess Gandhari. He was known for his deep devotion to Lord Shiva. Being  smart and religious, how come Saguni became the chief architect  of  Mahabharata?  It is a riddle surrounded by layers of speculations. As the proverb says 'men are shaped by circumstances and the events happening around them', Saguni was not an exception to this wise-saying.

In India there are thousands of temples dedicated to Gods and goddess and most  of them  were  built as per temple Sastra or Agama. There is none dedicated to a person  of evil disposition. Exception being there are a few temples dedicated Ravana, Emperor of Lanka  who abducted Sita, wife of Sri Rama (the god-incarnate) in the great epic Ramayana. There is a temple dedicated to Saguni, the arch villain, in Kerala,  South India. It may sound crazy, yes, it is true as Hinduism sees a person in terms of Gunas.  It is true he has dominant 'Tamasic' traits, but does have  'Sattvic' traits. This characterization suggests that he is not a villain in the true sense  and that is the reason why  a community in Kerala  has pushed him to the status of god. To succeed in  any endeavor, people  have to sharpen their mind, rather than sharpen their dagger, that is what Suguni believed.   The Mayamkottu Malancharuvu Malanada Temple dedicated to Saguni  is  at Pavithreswaram in Kollam District. There are no pooja rituals as common  in all other Hindu temples. Tender coconut, silk, toddy, etc are the common offerings made here. The members of this community - Kuravar   believe that Saguni attained Mokksha (heaven) here with  blessings of Lord Shiva soon after the war at Kurushetra. The temple is  being maintained by the Kuravar community of the region. The  other deities in the temple such as Nataraja and Devi Bhuvaneswari.  Malakkuda Maholsavam, is an important temple  festival held in the month of Makaram -28 th as per Malayalam calender.  Thullal by ‘ooralis’ carrying ‘malakkuda’ is the major attraction of the festival. The punaprathishta rituals of the temple, that begin on Thursday will normally conclude on Saturday.

There is a folklore (fictional one) associated with Saguni's story  and assumed importance over a period of time. The reason for Suguni's complete change of personality, thus  becoming a mastermind in the Mahabharata is  his deep affection for his beautiful sister Gandhari who  was given in marriage to Dhritarashtra, a blind  Kaurava prince.  

Saguni's anger was more directed towards Bishmer, under  whose initiative, the marriage was held. In rage he misunderstood Bishmar, a good man and an intellectual. The fact that the groom - the prince was a blind man was purposely censored and the princess came to know  about it only later after engagement.
So, Saguni held Bishma responsible for spoiling the marital life of his sister. He took it  as a big insult and vowed to avenge the Kurus including  Bishma and his clan. When Dhritarashtra' sons grew up  he had sown the seeds of poison in their mind and  set them up against Pandavas,  Dhritarashtra's brother. He kept the hatred burning in them till the Kurushetra war. As the time and tide kept changing, so were the fortunes of Kauuravas and Pandavas. When the sons of Pandava (brother of Dhritarashtra) were in serious trouble, Saguni instigated his nephews and gave the Pandavas all kinds of problems, insults, banishment from the kingdom, death threats, etc.

Yet another version with respect to Saguni's change of personality points out his extreme grief over the death of his parents after their war against the clan of Bishma. He carved out the dices from the bones of his parents and became a master in the game of dice. He also mixed his skill with mesmerism, hence he never tasted defeat. Through his dexterous handling of the game of dice, beefed up by his innate skills in manipulations and intrigues, he made the Pandavas lose the kingdom  

Duriyodhana temple, Kerala. utkarshspeak.blogspot.com


There is also a temple to Duriyodhana, eldest son of Dhritarashtra.  not far away from Pavithreswaram  at Poruvazhi. His uncle was Saguni under whose guidance he was at perpetual war with Pandavas. He became a wicked man on account of his uncle's influence. Legend has it he once visited this place and while travelling through the dense forest, he was feeling thirsty. It so happened a woman from a tribe gave him toddy to quench his thirst. Duriyodhana, being a Kastrya  king drank it , unmindful of caste distinctions. Further, he gave her 100 acres of land for her gesture. Hence at the temple here toddy is the main offering.