Located between two rivers, Cauvery and Arasalaaru, in the heart of Kumbakonam, once the capital of the Chola Kingdom is the Sarangapani Divya Desam where Lord Aaravamudhan is seen in a Uthana Sayana Posture. This is the third tallest Temple Tower among the Divya Desams in Tamil Nadu at 150ft after Srirangam(236ft) and Srivilliputhur(192 ft).
'ஆராவமுதே அடியேன் உடலம் நின்பால் அன்பையே
நீரால் அலைந்து கரைய உருகின்ற நெடுமாலே
சீரார் சென்னேல் கவரி வீசும் செழு நீர் திரு குடந்தை
ஏரார் கோலம் திகழக் கிடந்தாய் கண்டேன் எம்மானே'
It was after listening to this Tamil verse 'Aaraavamudhe' composed by NammAzhvaar and after being totally swarmed by its content "Aayirathil Ippathe"( these 10 verses of the 1000), that Vaishnavite savant Natha Muni wanted to listen to the 1000 verses of Divya Prabandham.
Not knowing where to go to collect the entire Prabandham, Natha Muni invoked the blessings of Lord Aaraavamudhan who directed him to go to Azhvaar Tirunagari, near Tirunelveli, to meet NammAzhvaar and to compile the works of the Divya Prabandham. Having searched for the 1000 verses, Natha Muni actually got to compile the entire 4000verses(Nalaayira Divya Prabandham).
Being responsible for the compilation of the famed 4000 verses by showing Natha Muni the right direction, the Lord here is also called ‘Aaraavamudha Azhvaar’.
Some parts of the temple is believed to have been built in the 7th Century AD by the famous Pallava King Mahendra Varma but the real construction of the temple is said to have been done by the Cholas and later renovated by the famous Vijayanagara King Krishnadeva Raaya.
In an effort to test the patience of the Tri-Murthies and in order to find out as to who is most patient, Sage Brigu once kicked Lord Vishnu on the chest. An embarrassed Goddess Lakshmi left the Lord, who in search of her came to Tirupathi. At Tirupathi, the Lord got married to Goddess Padmavathi. To save himself from an angry Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu is said to have hid inside a small cave here. To this day, one can see a small Sannidhi below the earth inside this temple, near the sanctum sanctorum.
Undertaking penance to repent his arrogant action, Brigu was reborn as Hema Rishi and Goddess Lakshmi was born as his daughter. It is said that Brigu gave his daughter in marriage to Lord Sarangapani.
ThiruMazhisai Azhvaar and ‘Slightly Raised Reclining Posture’ of the Lord-Uthaana Sayanam
நடந்த கால்கள் நொந்ததோ நடுங்கு நில மெனமாய
கிடந்த மேய் குலுங்கவோ விலங்கு மால் வரைசுரம்
கடந்த கால் பரப்பிக் காவேரிக் கறைக் குடந்திஆயுள்
கிடந்த வாரே எழுந்திருந்து பேசு, வாழி கேசவனே
Azhvaars praising the Lord
Also, after Srirangam (11) and Tirupathi (10), the Sarangapani temple has the maximum number of Azhvaars (7 of them) singing praise of the Lord.
Sarangapani temple boasts of one of the biggest temple chariots and is said to have been given to the Lord by ThirumangaiAzhvaar himself.
Thiru Pallaandu and Sarangapani
PeriyaAzhvaar in his ThiruPallaandu refers to the Kudanthi Lord “சார்ங்கம் என்னும் வில்லாண்டான் தன்னை …” ( the Lord with a ‘Sarangam’ bow in hand….)
Sanctum housed on a Chariot
Lord Vishnu came down from Vaikuntam in his chariot to marry Goddess Lakshmi here at Kudanthai. The main sanctum has been conceived like a chariot with wheels drawn by horses and elephants and is truly a splendid sight to watch. There are two entrances to the sanctum sanctorum, the southern entrance and the northern entrance (each is open for 6 months in a year). The Utsav moorthy here is regarded with the same importance as the Moolavar.
As seen in the story on Srirangam Lord Ranganatha had settled down with the Prana Vaakruthi Vimaanam on the banks of Cauvery in Srirangam. The Lord told Vibheeshana that he would settle down with the Vaidheega Vimaanaam at Kudanthai. Hence, this temple is 2nd only to Srirangam among the Divya Desams.
The Name Thiru Kudanthai
Foreseeing some difficult times, Brahmma placed the Vedic content, nectar and the seeds of creation inside a pot (Kudam in Tamil), which then slipped all the way and down to this place. Shiva pierced the pot and the nectar flowed in two parts – one into the Mahaamagam Tank and the other into the Lotus Flower Tank. As the nectar flowed into the tank through a pot (Kudam), this place came to be called Thiru ‘Kudanthai’
A visit to this temple, it is believed, will help get rid of one’s past sins, just as a trip to Kasi in the North, would. It is sacred to bathe in the lotus water bed in the temple tank.
Lord does Shraadham for a Brahmin
Lakshmi Narayana Swami was a brahmachari and was devoted to Lord Aaravamudhan. It was he who built the Raja Gopuram. He was worried about his final rites as he was a brahmachari. Pleased with his devotion, the Lord himself is said to have performed the final rites. Also, every year, in the Tamil month of Aipasi, the Lord is said to perform the Shradham for Lakshmi Narayana Swami.
Pancha Ranga Kshetram
ThiruKudanthai is a Pancha Ranga Kshetram
"அன்ய க்ஷேத்ர க்ரிய பாவம் புண்ய க்ஷேத்ர வினச்யதி
புண்ய க்ஷேத்ர கிருதம் பாவம், வாரனச்ய வினச்யதி
வாரனச்ய கிருதம் பாவம் கும்பகோணம் விநச்யதி
கும்பகோணம் கிருதம் பாவம் கும்பகோணம் விநச்யதி "
There is no swarga Vaasal at the Saarangapani temple. About 50000 people are expected to attend the Vaikunta Ekadesi festival.There are festivals all through the year at this temple. Other Temples to visit: Raamaswamy ( Raama in a grand standing posture) and Chakrapani temple.
Moolavar : Aaraavamudhan – East Facing, Uthaana Sayana Posture
Thaayar : Komalavalli Thaayar
Azhavaar Praise : Periyaazhvaar, Pey Azhvaar, Bhoothath Azhvaar, Nam Azhvaar, Thirumangai Azhvaar, Thirumazhisai Azhvaar, Andaal,
Paasurams : 52
The temple is open between 730am –12 30pm and 4pm-9pm
Contact : Soundara Raja Bhattar @ 94863 10896/ 0435 2427218
Location : 3Kms West of the Railway Station
Auto : Rs. 40 from Railway Station and Rs. 30 from Bus Stand
Place to Stay : VPR Lodge/Siva International 0435 2424013 (Economical) and Hotel Green Park 0435 2402853/Aditya/ Raya's (Premium)
For a Divya Desam trip in and around Kumbakonam by car, one can contact: Saravanan (Cab) @ 99945 46416/ Auto Murugan @ 99525 29356/ Auto Suresh@ 94451 60667 / Auto Senthil@ 99449 54567