The Place where Thiru Mangai Mannan was initiated the ‘Pancha Samaskaaram’ by Thiru Naraiyur Nambi
Garuda Sevai is special at this place for Kal Garuda increases in weight manifold - While only 4 people carry him out of the sannidhi, 128 people are required to carry him out of the temple
Located 10kms from Kumbakonam on the Thiruvarur Road is the 5th Century AD Nachiyar Koil in Thiru Naraiyur. Built by the Chozha King Ko Chengan Chozhan, the Nachiyar Koil has 16 Gopurams including the 5 Tiered Raja Gopuram. Ko Chengan had already built 70 Saivite Temples and this one, the 71st, was his first Vaishnavite temple. Hence, this temple has a lot of resemblance to Saivite temples, in its form and structure.
Thirumangai Azhvaar has dedicated an entire set of 10verses in his Periya Thirumozhi crediting Ko Chenganan for his construction of Nachiyar Koil (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2014/12/ko-chenganan-and-nachiyar-koil-divya.html).
Prominence to Nachiyar at the Thiru Naraiyur temple
Lord was of the view that in Kali Yugam men would have to listen to women ( husband to listen to wife’s words). Hence, much before that, he decided that he would first serve as an example and listen to the Goddess here. On all occasions, the first rights are reserved for the Nachiyar. Even the food is first served to the Nachiyar and only then to the Naraiyur Nambi.
Being a temple where Goddess has prominence, one can see the Lord slightly by the side and the Goddess is the one who has the prominent position inside the sanctum. Even from the entrance of the temple, one gets a glimpse of Vanjulavalli Nachiyar.
Naachiyaar Koil in Thiru Naraiyur is one of the few Divya Desams where Goddess has prominence over the Lord. Some of the other Divya Desams where Goddess is dominant are Srivilliputhur, Uraiyur and Thiruvellarai. While Srivilliputhur is called Nachiyar Thiru Maligai, Thiru Naraiyur is called Nachiyar Koil. There is no separate Sannidhi for Goddess and she is always seen together with the Lord. This is the only Divya Desam where Lord is seen with a conch and charka in front of his face.
Thiru Naraiyur Nambi initiates Pancha Samaskaaram to ThiruMangai Azhvaar
Thiru Mangai Mannan (Neelan) who was the army chief of a Chozha king fell in love with Kumudhavalli. She was to accept him only if he came to her with a true Vaishnavite identity. ThiruMangai Mannan looked to ThiruNaraiyur Lord to give him the Vaishnava identity and help him secure the hand of Kumudhavalli.
Thiru Naraiyur Nambi is said to have initiated ThiruMangai Mannan with the Pancha Samaskaaram, which is the true identity for a Vaishnavite. Thus, Thiru Mangai Mannan became Thiru Mangai Azhvaar.
What is Pancha Samaskaaram – The identity of a real Vaishnavite
1. 12 Thiru Naamam on the body (fore head, arms, chest, on the back….)
2. To include the name of an Acharya in one’s name
3. To have the ‘chakra’ seal inscribed on the left hand
4. To first serve the Lord with food every day and
5. To understand and utter the Thiru Mandhiram
Only Divya Desam Lord to have offered Pancha Samaskaaram
Thiru Naraiyur Nambi is the only Divya Desam Lord to have offered the Pancha Samaskaram initiation to anyone. As a mark of initiating the Pancha Samaskaaram on the Azhvaar, Lord Srinivasa is seen leaning forward slightly, quite a unique sight at this temple.
Thiru Naraiyur Lord praised as Nambi
Lords of only a few Divya Desams have been praised as Nambi. The most prominent among them is Thiru Kurungkudi, the other one being the Lord here who is referred to as Thiru Naraiyur Nambi. An Achaarya is referred to as Nambi and since Thiru Naraiyur Lord initiated the Pancha Samaskaram to ThiruMangai Mannan, he became the Achaarya of Thiru Mangai Azhvaar and hence the Azhvaar referred to him as ‘Thiru Naraiyur Nambi’.
ThiruNaraiyur Nambi is also credited with the bringing together of Thirumangai Azhvaar and Kumudhavalli, as he was the one who initiated the Pancha Samaskaram to the Azhvaar, making him a true Vaishnavite.
ThiruMangai Azhvaar’s 110 Paasurams on the ThiruNaraiyur Nambi
Recognising this special initiation of Pancha Samaskaaram, ThiruMangai Azhvaar praised the Lord with over 100 Paasurams, the highest for any temple. The only other Lord that ThiruMangai Azhvaar has praised with a 100 Paasurams was Thiru Kannapuram Sowri Rajan Perumal, where the Lord explained the Thiru Mandhiram to Thirumangai Azhvaar.
‘Mathil Inghe, Madal Anghe’ says ThiruMangai to Srirangam Lord Ranganatha
As seen in the earlier story on Srirangam, Thiru Mangai Azhvaar had built the wall at Srirangam Ranganatha temple (http://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2007/09/108-divya-desams-srirangam-lord.html). So pleased with Lord Ranganatha with ThiruMangai Azhvaar that he wanted him to praise him with Madal - Love Letters to the Lord.
However, Thiru Mangai Azhvaar told Ranganatha that the Madal was dedicated solely to the Naraiyur Lord: “Mathil Inghe, Madal Anghe” meaning ‘Wall in Srirangam” and “Letters in Thiru Naraiyur”. He composed two Madals - Periya ThiruMadal and Siriya ThiruMadal.
The temple has been built in such a way that one can see the sanctum even from outside the temple premises. With several layers, each comprising of several steps, leading to the sannidhi, the sanctum looks like being atop a hill, on first looks from the temple entrance.
Kal Garuda (Garuda made in stone)
Garuda, the vehicle of the lord, is of special significance at this temple. The story goes that a sculptor who was creating an image of Garuda suddenly found the idol flying after he had made its wings. Shocked at this sudden action, the sculptor threw a stone at Garuda and struck him on the nose. Garuda came falling down and decided to settle here at this place and bless the devotees.
A huge and well built Lord Garuda is seen just next to Lord Srinivasa’s Sannidhi. In the Tamil month of Aadi, Thiru Naraiyur Nambi makes a visit to Garuda’s Sannidhi.
During street procession (Margazhi and Panguni), an unbelievable event takes place at the Nachiyar Koil. While only 4 people carry Lord Garuda out of his Sannidhi, as the Lord goes out of each Layer and prakaram, he is said to increase in weight, that 8 people, 16 and then 32 people are required to carry Lord Garuda out of the temple. Finally, when the Lord is taken outside the temple, Garuda increases in weight so much that 128 people are required to carry the Lord. On his way back, it is said that Garuda mount decreases in weight and finally when he is back in the Sannidhi, only 4 people are required to carry him.
Kal Garuda is said to answer the prayers of devotees immediately and remove all Doshams. Childless couples, unmarried women, people with Naaga Dosham will also be relieved if they pray to the Kal Garuda at Thiru Naraiyur temple.
Idols of all 108 Divya Desams at Nachiyar Koil
An old Brahmin wanted to see all the Divya Desams. However, he could not visit because of his old age. The old Brahmin prayed before ThiruNaraiyur Nambi, who is said to have given the idols of all the 108 Divya Desam Lords to the Brahmin. This is the only Divya Desam where the idols of all the 108 Divya Desams can be seen.
In his Periya Thirumozhi praise on Thiru Naraiyur, Thiru Mangai Azhvaar refers to Naraiyur Nambi as the Lord whom he saw in different postures in several other Divya Desam Lords.
Another unique feature at this Divya Desam is that the Vimaanam above the Sanctum Sanctum is like a tower. This is the only Divya Desam where one finds a 10 feet Brahmma in a standing posture within the sanctum. In other Divya Desams one finds the image of Brahmma on the wall.
Nachiyar Koil is the beginning of the Krishnaaranya Kshetram. This continues at Thiru Cherai, Thiru Kannamangai and finally ends at Thiru Kannangudi, near Nagapattinam.
Deity : Thiru Naraiyur Nambi, Srinivasa Perumal Standing Posture facing East
Goddess : VanjulaValli
Azhvaar : Thirumangai Azhvaar-110 verses
Temple time : 630am –12.30pm and 430pm-830pm
Contact : Gopinathan Bhattar@ 94435 97388 / 0435 2467167
Bus : Buses every 15minutes from Kumbakonam (Tiruvarur bound). Auto from Kumbakonam Railway Station will cost Rs. 200/-
Place to Stay : Best to stay in Kumbakonam (VPR Lodge, Hotel Green Park, Raya’s)