‘Virgin Goddess’ Town/District, Tamil Nadu
Kanyakumari sits on the very tip of India, where the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean meet. It is the ‘Land’s End’ of India.
Its name comes from the Kanya Kumari Temple. Kanya Kumari is Devi (Bhagavathi, Parvati), the goddess, in the form of an adolescent girl (Devi Kanya, Devi Kumari) a ‘virgin goddess’. Kanya Kumari is also known as Sri Baala or Sri Bhadra.
Swami Vivekananda came here in 1892 to seek her blessing before he embarked on his work as a missionary, and before his trip to the U.S. to speak at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago:
After he visited the temple of Goddess Kanyakumari he went to the seashore. He saw two huge rocks about half a kilometre from the shore. The sea was raging. But he swam to the rocks and sat on one of them. Sitting there he pondered over the plight of his motherland and millions of her children, and his own duty. Before him rose the vision of the glory of India for centuries, her rich cultural heritage,her philosophers and warriors and artists, and her children, enslaved,starving and ignorant. His eyes were filled with tears…Christian missionaries had drawn a picture of India which could command no respect in the outside world. The self-respect of India had to be redeemed [Rao (2012)]
A statue of the sage Thiruvalluvar occupies the neighbouring rock. Thiruvalluvar’s ‘Kural’ is a classic of ancient Tamil wisdom. It is made up of series of couplets in 133 chapters on virtue (aram), wealth (porul) and love (inbam).