Kaisika Puranam has great relevance in today’s life
Araiyar Sevai-The visual song and dance enactment of Naalayira Divya Prabandham originated here at Thirukurungkudi
Known as the ‘Dakshina Badri’, the Azhagiya Nambi temple at Thirukurungudi is located about 40kms from Tirunelveli (and about 15kms from Nanguneri) off the Nagercoil highway at the foot of the Mahendra hill on the Western Ghat.
The Lord here is seen 5 different Kolams- Ninra Kolam, Iruntha Kolam, Sayana(Sleeping) Kolam, Thirupaarkadal Nambi and Thirumalai Nambi(on top of the Mahendra hill).
While Lord Narayana, at Badri, lectured Ramanuja, at Thirukurungkudi, he took the role of a disciple and obtained Vaishnava Initiation from Ramanuja. Hence the Lord here is called Vaishnava Nambi.
The Lord here has 39 different names including Kurungkudi Nambi, Tirupparkadal Nambi and Malai Mel Nambi. Lord Nambi answered the prayers of a childless couple and was born as Nammazhvaar at Azhvaar Thirunagari.
Hanuman’s Leap to Lanka
Under half a km from the main temple is the Thirupaarkadal Nambi temple and about 8 kms from here on the Western Ghats is the Thirumalai Nambi temple, from where Lord Hanuman is said to have taken the leap to Lanka.
Ramanuja’s early trip back to Thirukurungudi
Ramanuja who stayed at Thirukurungudi made trips to other Divya Desams such as Thiruvattaru, ThiruvanParisaram and also Anantha Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, where the Lord asks Garuda to carry him fast that same night back to Thirukurungkudi. And to Ramanuja’s surprise, he was on top of the Thirukurungudi rock at the blink of an eye.
As a result of this event, it is believed that one does not find Garuda in the Ananthapadmanabhaswamy temple.
The famed Araiyar Sevai originated at Thirukkurungkudi and was first introduced by Nathamuni. Araiyars, the descendents of Nathamuni, have since carried the Araiyar Sevai. Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam is believed to have given the Araiyars the right to perform the unique musical chanting at the temples and presented them with the cone-like red cap, two cymbals and the sacred garland.
Legend has it that Lord Nambi used to listen to Araiyar’s Abhinayam (song and dance enactment of the Paasurams) hiding behind a wall in Bashyam Street (South Mada Street). Hence the Lord here is also referred to as ‘Gaana Priyan’. In recognition of this significant event, one can, to this day, find the name of this street in Tirunelveli’s Gazette.
Thirumangai’s Moksham at Thirukurungudi
Thirumangai Azhvaar who built the huge walls of Srirangam and contributed in no small measure to the temple asked for Moksham from Srirangam Ranganatha, who directed Thirumangai to visit his ‘Southern house’. Thirumangai composed the last of his Paasurams here at this temple and is believed to have attained moksham from here. An idol of Thirumangai Azhvaar, with folded hands, that was created here at Thirukurungkudi was later sent to his birth place(near Thiruvali Thirunagari).
As per the Vaishnavite Sampradayam, Thirukurungudi is said to be the ‘Southern House’ of Lord Vishnu. Hence, it is believed that ‘Vaikuntam’ (the ultimate destination for Vaishnavites) is in ‘calling distance’ from Thirukurungudi.
(Thiru Narayana Puram is said to be the ‘Mela Veedu’, Kanchipuram the ‘Keezha Veedu’ and Srirangam ‘The Veedu’.)
Thirukurungudi and Kaisika Ekadesi
If Srirangam is known for Vaikunta Ekadesi, Thiru Kurungkudi is said to be the home to the Vaishnava tradition of ‘Kaisika Ekadesi’ and Kaisika Natakam (drama)- worship of the Lord through dance, music and drama is a special event at the Thiru Kurungudi Nambi temple on the Kaisika Ekadesi day.
Kaisika Ekadesi is celebrated in the Tamil month of Karthigai and precedes Vaikunta Ekadesi. It is believed that those who undertake fast and sing and/or listen to the Kaisika Puraanam on the Kaisika Ekadesi day will attain Vaikunta Moksham.
Kaisika Puranam, which is a part of Varaaha Puraanam and comprises several hundred songs- all in small stanzas- shows Lord Narayana as the ultimate supreme force and is a case study in this modern money making world of keeping up one’s word at the cost of anything, even life.
Paraasara Bhattar -The one who composed the Kaisika Puraanam
Parasara Bhattar took the story of a complex Kaisika Puraanam (in Sanskrit) and composed it in a simple, easily understandable language. He made it more interesting by analysing the different Avatars of Lord Vishnu and showcasing Varaaha Avatar as the best and the purest, despite the Lord taking the form of a pig (Human beings typically give pigs the poorest treatment). In the Varaaha Avatar, the Lord took the form of a pig and yet saved the world.
Paraasara Bhattar dissected the Kaisika Puraanam and created the vyakyaanam for the entire Kaisika Puraanam, which was hitherto non-existent.
The Story of Kaisika Puraanam
Kaisika Puraanam is the story of Nambaaduvaan, a low caste person and his love for ThiruKurungudi Nambi. Embarrassed to enter the temple during the day as he belonged to a lower caste (similar to TirupaanAzhvaar who felt shy to enter the Srirangam Ranganatha Temple), he would walk several miles in the night to the Thiru Kurungudi Nambi temple and would, for hours together, stand before Lord Nambi with a Veena and sing praise of him. And to ensure that no one took notice of his presence, he would return to his place before dawn.
One night, he was stopped by a Brahmma Raakshasha (a huge demon) who wanted to consume Nambaaduvan for dinner.
Unable to convince him that he would return after visiting Lord Nambi one last time, Namaaduvan relates the essence of Sathya Sankalpam to the Raakshasha: “ The world was created through Sathya Sankalpam- Promises- and continues to exist as a result of the promises. It is because of the Lord’s Sathya Sankalpam that the world is seeing peace today.”
Essence of Kaisika Puranam
Nambaaduvan makes 18 promises that night to the Raakshasha and states that if he fails even in one of those 18 promises, he will be a party to 18 sins. The 18th promise of Nambaaduvan is the essence of the Kaisika Puraanam.
“Swarva Swamiyum MokshaPradhaana Sriman Naarayananaiyum
DevathaiGalaiyum Samamaaga Bhaavikiren Yaavaroruvan
Avanai Poley Nithya Samsaari Yaaven”
Nambaaduvan says “If one ever tries equating Lord Narayana to anyone else in this world, I will be a party to the biggest sin in the world. And I will never get Moksham from this cycle of births”
This promise reinforces the belief that Lord Naarayana is the one and only supreme force in those days and that he is incomparable. This promise convinced the Raakshasha that Nambaaduvan would return and he let him go. Nambaaduvan spent the entire night at the Thirukurungkudi Nambi temple and then made his way back to the Raakshasha as promised.
On his way back , the Lord disguised as an old Brahmin stops Nambaaduvan and asks the reason for him rushing back, much in contrast to his usually slow and thoughtful walk. Nambaaduvan explains his situation to the Brahmin, who condemns him as a fool and offers protection from the Raakshasha. Nambaaduvan rejects this offer stating his promise to return as quickly as possible.
A 1000 years later, what Nambaaduvan said that day is relevant even today, more so especially in this money minded world:
“ I will even give up my life but I will never go back on my word. I gave him a promise and I have to fulfill it. Hence, I will have to go back to the Raakshasha and if he has to take me as his prey, so be it.”
By now, the Raakshasha had changed his mind and no more did he want Nambaaduvan’s body. Instead, he now asked for the fruits of all the praise that Nambaaduvan had secured through his visits to Thirukurungudi Nambi every night.
Nambaaduvan shared with the Raakshasha the ‘Kaisika’ Puranam, the songs which he had sung that very night in front of Lord Nambi of ThiruKurungkudi and thus helped secure Vaikunta Moksham for the Raakshasha. It is believed that any one who recites/reads or listens to the Kaisika Puraanam will attain Moksham in this birth.
Kaisika Puraanam recital and Araiyar Sevai clearly showed that, in centuries gone by, music and dance had a special place in religious worship in Divya Desams.
PeriAzhvaar refers to Thirukurungkudi, Thiruvellarai and Thiru Kannapuram in his paasuram
உன்னையும் ஒக்களையிர் கொண்டு
தம் இல் மருவி உன்னோடு தங்கள் கருத்து
ஆயின செய்து வரும்
கன்னியரும் மகிழ, கண்டவர் கண்குளிரக்
கற்றவர் தேற்றிவர, பெற்ற எனக்கு அருளி
மண்ணு குறுங்குடியாய் வெள்ளறையாய்
மதில் சூழ் சோலைமலைக்கரசே
என் அவலம் களைவாய் ஆடுக செங்கீரை
ஏழுலகும் உடையாய் ஆடுக ஆடுகவே
Moolavar :Ninra Nambi, Kurungudi Nambi, Vaishnava Nambi East Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar : Kurungkudi Valli
Azhvaar : Periyazhvaar (1), Thirumazhisai Azhvaar(1), Thirumangai Azhvaar (25) and NamAzhvaar(13)
Temple Timing : 8am-12noon and 5pm-9pm
Priest Contact : Raju Bhattar@ 94863 21552
Onam is celebrated in this Divya Desam
Garuda Sevai on the 5th day of Panguni is a special occasion
Kaisika Ekadesi is one of the big highlights at this temple
How to reach Thiru Kurungkudi
It is best to take a train and get down at Valliyoor- about 40 kms from Tirunelveli – Kanniyakumari Express and Ananthapuri Express stop at Valliyoor. From here, one can reach Thirukurungkudi in 20 minutes by taking the Papanasam bound bus. One can also take a bus(infrequent service) from Nanguneri, but this is not recommended.
By car, one can reach Thirukurungudi in 45 minutes from Tirunelveli.