The Only Divya Desam that features Lord Vishnu in a ‘Maaru Sayanam’
Lord Vishnu is seen sleeping in the opposite direction from Right to Left
Located in Chinna Kanchipuram 2 kms west of Varadaraja Perumal Koil, Sonna Vannam Seitha Perumal gets one thinking. As one enters the Sannidhi, one feels that there is something wrong, something different, that one is not normally used to seeing in Vishnu temples.
It takes a little time for one to realize that Lord Vishnu, here at Thiru Vekka, is seen in a different sleeping posture from right to left (Maaru Sayanam) with his head resting on the left hand. In all other Divya Desams, where the Lord is represented in a sleeping posture, he can be seen sleeping from left to right with his head resting on his right hand.
புருபிடையே நின்றும் புனல் குளித்தும்
ஐந்து நேரிபிடையே நிற்கவும் நீர் வேண்ட விருப்பு
உடைய வெக்காவே செர்தானை
அக்காவே தீவினைகள் ஐந்து - பேயாழ்வார்
Such is the fame of the Lord here that PeyAzhvaar in this Paasuram says 'One need not stand atop mountains to penance. Neither does one need to be stick our neck into ice cold deep water nor in the midst of five fires to penance. It is just enough if we worship Sonna Vannam Seitha Perumal at ThiruVekka with flowers and a sincere heart. And we will liberated from all our sins.'
5 temples in Chinna Kanchipuram have stories relating to Brahmma’s Ashwamedha Yagna and Saraswathi’s anger at being ignored for the Yagna. To prove a point to Brahmma that a yagna cannot be successful without her presence, Saraswathi tries many different ways to stop the yagna.
In the story relating to ThiruVekka, she takes the form of a fast flowing river (VEGAVATHI) and tries to flood the place. Brahmma looks up to Lord Vishnu to help him with the smooth and safe conduct of the Yagna.
Vishnu, this time, sleeps across the river as a dam, thus stopping the flow of the river. With the river being blocked, Lord Vishnu, along with MahaLakshmi provides darshan to Brahmma, who then continues his Yagna.
ThirumazhisaiAzhvaar and the Lord Leaving this Place
Once ThirumazhisaiAzhvaar’s disciple Kani Kannan was heard singing praise of the Lord. Pleased with his voice, the king ordered that Kani Kannan sing praise of him too. KaniKannan refused stating that he would sing praise only of the Lord and not of others.An upset king banished him from the kingdom. Kanni Kannan narrated the happening to his preceptor Thirumazhisai Azhvaar who decided to accompany him out of the kingdom.
Thirumazhisai Azhvaar went up to the Lord and requested him too to join them on their journey.
கனி கண்ணன் போகின்றான் காமருப்பூண்
கச்சி மணி வண்ணா நீ கிடக்க வேண்டாம்
துணிவுடைய சென்னா புலவனும் போகின்றேன்
நீயும் உன்ருன் பை நாகப்பாய் சுருட்டிகொள் - திருமழிசை ஆழ்வார்
And the three left the place- This action plunged the entire kingdom into darkness.
Realizing his mistake, the king reached out to Thirumazhisai Azhvaar and requested that the three of them come back to the kingdom. Thirumazhisai Azhvaar asked the Lord to return to his residing place. The Lord is said to have followed this instruction immediately and in this hurried return is said to have slept in the opposite direction.
In memory of the event marking Thirumazhisai Azhvaar leaving the place, the Lord along with the idol of Thirumazhisai Azhvaar is taken in a procession to the nearby river VegaVathi, every year during the Tamil Calendar month of ‘Thai’(Jan-Feb),
Other Reasons for Maaru Sayanam
Two other reasons are also stated for Lord’s opposite sleeping posture. Since he left his residing place and later returned, he is said to have slept in the opposite direction as proof that he had left the place once.
Legend also has it that, as Lord Vishnu came in a tearing hurry, on Brahmma’s request, to block River VegaVathi ( Saraswathi), he is said to have slept in the opposite direction.
Name of the Lord
As the Lord listened, in strict obedience, to the instructions of Thirumazhisai Azhvaar and did as the Azhvaar wanted, he is called ‘Sonna Vannam Seitha Perumal’.
5 Azhvaars have sung praise of the Lord- Poigai, PeyAzhvaar, NammAzhvaar, Thirumangai Azhvaar and Thirumazhisai Azhvaar. This is also the birth place of Poigai Azhvaar.
In early days of Vaishnavism, this temple was referred to as the Lord representing ‘Sleeping Posture’ as can be seen from the songs of the Azhvaars.
இசைந்த வரவமும் வேர்புங்கடலும்
அசைந்து கடைந்த வருத்தமோ
வேக்காவில் கிடந்திருந்து நின்றது மங்கு - பேயாழ்வார்
Moolavar : YaaThotha Gaari Perumal in a west facing maaru sayana posture
Goddess : Komalavalli Thaayar
Utsavar : Sonna Vannam Seitha Perumal
Birth place : Poigai Azhvaar
Timing : 8am-11am, 5pm-8pm
Contact : S. Ramanuja Acharya Bhattar @ 044 3720 9752
Address : Old 28, Aanai Katti Street, Chinna Kanchipuram 631 503