Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Madhava Perumal in Mylapore

Lord Vishnu directed Veda Vyasa here as the best place for liberation from Kali Dosham in this Kali Yugam
A Prarthana Sthalam for unmarried people and childless couples

One of the most prominent among the Non Divya Desams is the Madhava Perumal Koil in Mayurapuri (now Mylapore) in the heart of Madras. The temple that has a rich history attached to it is said to be at least 800 years old ( in its current form) though there are views that this temple may have existed around the time of the Azhvaars or just after.

In Brahmmaanda Puranam, under the section Mayurapuri Mahatmiyam, one finds reference to this place as ‘Madhavapuram’.

Another indication that this temple is really several centuries old is the four pillar mandapam in front of the temple, typical of some of the Pallava construction of that time. It can be seen that the most traditional and historical of temples, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, have the four pillared structure in front of the temple and such temples are said to be at least about 500-600 years old.

The story

Veda Vyasa wanted the best place on earth to undertake penance to get liberated from any kind of Kali Dosham in the Kali Yugam. Lord Narayana directed him to the ashram of Brigu Rishi in Madhavapuram as the ideal place for this.

PeyAzhvaar
One of the first three Azhvaars, PeyAzhvaar, was born in a street South East of the Madhava Perumal temple. Reference to this is found in the Brahammanda Puranam in the section relating to Mayurapuri Mahaatmiyam.

PS: There is a dispute on the real Avataara Sthalam of PeyAzhvaar - Is it KesavaPerumal or Madhava Perumal or neither!!! Will keep that for a separate story. Suffice to say here that Madhava Perumal Koil has all the requirements that made up a historical Perumal Koil- Pushkarani, Mathil ( the four walls), Agraharam, the four pillar mandapam at the entrance….

The name- Madhavapuram
It is believed that Lord Vishnu came here from his abode in Vaikuntam as Madhava Perumal to marry Amruthavalli Thaayar. Hence, this place came to be called Madhavapuram.

The temple which was supposedly in a dilapidated condition in the early part of last century is said to have been revived to its old glory by the Chettiars, about 50-60 years ago, who installed the Utsava deities that one sees today.

Prarthana Sthalam

Santhana Pushkarani, which is now found to the South of the temple was the sacred tank of Sage Brigu, who lived in the ashram here. The age old belief, as referred to in Mayurapuri Mahaatmiyam, is that couples who bathe here on the full moon day in the Tamil calendar month of Maasi (mid Feb-mid March) and who offer their prayers to Madhava Perumal and Amruthavalli Thaayar will be immediately blessed with children.

This is also a Prarthana Sthalam for unmarried people. Offering prayers to Lord Madhava Perumal who is seen in Kalyana Kolam is said to help one find his or her match immediately.

Andal
In the Tamil calendar month of Aadi, Lord Madhava Perumal is seen in a sleeping posture on the lap of Andal- a special event at this temple.

Andal makes passing reference to Madhava Perumal in her Thiruppavai…

“Maamaan Magaley Manikathavum Thaazhthiravaai
……………..
Maamaayan Madhavan, Vaikuntan Enrenru
Naamam Palavum Navinrelorembaavaai”

Another reference is in the last verse : Vanga kadal Kadaintha Madhavanai Kesavanai…..

Bhoo Varahar
On the western side of the temple is the Bhoo Varahar sannidhi. A special homam is performed in February every year ahead of the final exams of students…It is believed that Varahar helps student devotees come out successfully in their examinations.

One of the special features at the Madhava Perumal Koil is the 9 day festival during Panguni when Rama is brought to life with special decorations every day relating to different events/episodes in his life.

Festivals

Theppotsavam in Maasi
PeyAzhvaar Avataara Utsavam in Aipasi
Chitrai Brahmotsavam
Varaha Jayanthi Utsavam in Chitrai

Quick Facts

Moolavar: Madhava Perumal East facing Sitting posture (Kalyana Kolam)
Thaayaar: Amrutha Valli Thaayar
Utsavar Deities: Aravind Madhavan, Niranjana Madhavan

Temple Time: 630am-11am and 430pm -9pm

Priest : R. Srinivasa Bhattar @044 24666 2039 or 94440 18239
Parthasarathy Bhattar @ 90421 76949

Location : Behind Sanskrit College/ Thiru Valluvar Statue

Sunday, March 29, 2009

ThirupaanAzhvaar

No matter who you are, if you show sincere faith in the Lord he will take care of you
The man who, earlier, could not enter the Srirangam temple gains a grand entry into the Sannadhi - Composes 10 sweet songs in praise of ‘Arangan’

This story is a classic illustration of the Lord sharing the pain with the devotee and being by the side of a devotee, when he needs HIM the most.

The Baanar community lived in Srirangam on the Cauvery river banks near Melur. The Baanars were well known for their special penchant for playing sweet music. However, they were seen as outcastes and would not be allowed inside temples.

Among them was one who developed a special affection for Srirangam Lord Ranganatha from a very young age and who later went on to compose 10 beautiful verses, in praise of the Lord, called ‘Amalanaathipiraan’ .

Prayers from the southern side of Cauvery
Being denied entry into the temple, this young man, Thiru Baanar ( Thirupaan Azhvaar), had only heard of Namperumal and had never seen the Lord. Given this constraint, Thirupaan (Azhvaar) would wake up very early in the morning and, before dawn, would walk up to the banks of the Cauvery with a Veena in hand and facing the direction of Lord Ranganatha would immerse himself in the thoughts of the Lord. This man would visualise the Lord, engage himself in deep conversation with the Lord day in day out and would sing praises of the Lord as visualised by him in his thoughts.

Baanar pelted with stone
One morning, Sage Loka Saranga came to the banks of Cauvery to bathe and to then proceed to meet the Lord in Srirangam. Finding this man blocking his way, the sage indicated to him with a show of hands to move away from his path (prior to his bath and during this early morning process before meeting the Lord, the sage would not talk to anyone).

With no reply from the man, the sage began to lose his patience. Another wave of hands and with no answer from this man, the sage mistook this lack of reaction for arrogance and in a fit of anger threw a stone at the man. With blood oozing from his forehand, the man opened his eyes and found the sage behind him in an angry mood.

The man soon realized that he had obstructed the path of the sage and had delayed the sage’s bath and his visit to the Lord Ranganatha temple. Immediately, he moved away from this place so the sage could carry on with his devotion to the Lord.

Lord Ranganatha bleeds-Shares pain with his devotee
After completing the formalities, the sage proceeded to the Lord Ranganatha temple. On reaching the sannidhi, he found to his shock blood from the fore head of Lord Ranganatha. Unable to immediately understand the reason for the bleeding, the sage became restless. He would not have anything that day and spent the entire day wondering the cause of this bleeding.

That night, in his dream, he saw Lord Ranganatha unhappy with him and expressing his displeasure about the sage‘s treatment of the devotee who was immersed in his morning prayers. The Lord said ‘To those who show utmost devotion, I become one among them and share their pains. You have hurt Baanar, who despite not being able to visit me, has been relentless in his devotion from the Cauvery banks. I am today sharing the pains of Baanar.”

Sage Loka Saranga carries Baanar on his shoulder
Realising his folly, the sage pleaded with the Lord to forgive his actions and asked for a reprieve. The Lord wanted the sage to carry this devotee on his shoulder from the Cauvery river banks and bring him to his sannidhi. Obeying the Lord’s orders, the sage went to the southern banks of Cauvery the next morning where he found the man immersed once again in his prayers facing the direction of the Srirangam temple.

The sage fell at the feet of Baanar who was shocked at the action of this great sage and requested that the sage not do such a thing- falling at the feet of a lowly man from a different community. The sage sang praise of this man from the Baanar community and said that his eyes had been opened thanks to the sincere prayers offered by Baanar every morning on the banks of Cauvery .

He added that Lord Ranganatha had come in his dreams the previous night and instructed him to carry Baanar all the way to the Ranganatha temple. The sage requested Baanar to allow him to follow the instructions of the Lord.

Amalanaathipiraan- ThiruPaan Azhvaar’s 10 songs in praise of Lord Ranganatha
The sage, accompanied by his disciples, carried him into the Ranganatha Sannidhi and for the first time Baanar entered the temple and found himself in front of the Lord who he had only visualised till then. So thrilled was Baanar at the sight of the Lord that he instantly showered in 10 verses of praise of Lord Ranganatha beginning with the loving legs of the Lord - ‘Amalan Aathipiraan …. Thiru Kamala Paatham Vanthu En Kanninullaney Okkinrathey’.

He ended his praise of the Lord with the words “ En Amuthinai Kanda Kangal Matronrinai Kaanaathey”. Now that he had seen the Lord, he wanted nothing else in this life and wanted the Lord to take him along…

The Lord was truly impressed with this composition and the devotion of Baanar that he took him in along with him. In front of a startled Sage and all his followers, Baanar merged with the Lord and attained moksham.

The ten compositions came to be called Amalanaathipiraan and the man from the Baanar community who would sing praise of Lord Ranganatha from the banks of Cauvery came to be called ThiruPaanAzhvaar.

ThiruPaanAzhvaar Jayanthi takes place in Karthigai on Rohini Nakshatram.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sholingur Narasimha Thiru Kadigai

One who visits this temple and stays here for 24minutes is said to attain mokshamThe only Divya Desam with such special significance for Lord Anjaneya

Periya Malai
Lord Vishnu who undertook the Narasimha Avataaram at Ahobilam (Andhra Pradesh), once again displayed the Narasimha Avataaram to saptha rishis, who undertook penance at Sholingur. Hence, this is said to be the one of the most sacred of “Divya Desams on the Hill” in Tamil Nadu.
Located about 90kms west of Madras (and about 25kms from Arakkonam and 40kms from Tiruttani), atop a hill on a single stone is the Lord Narasimha Divya Desam in Sholingur, also called Chozha-Simha-Puram and Thiru Kadigai. This is also referred to as UtheeCheerangam(North Srirangam).

There are two temples of significance here- the Yoga Narasimha temple at Periya Malai (the big hill) and the Yoga Chathurbhuja Anjaneyar temple at Chinna Malai (the small hill).

1300 steps up the big hill
Guarding oneself against the hundreds of monkeys, one has to walk up 1305 steps to reach the Narasimha Sannidhi at the ‘Periya Malai’. East of this Sannidhi in another hill is the Yoga Anjaneya Sannidhi( one has to climb another about 406 steps to reach the Sannidhi atop the chinna malai ).

Atop the hill, in Thiru Kadigai, one finds the Moolavar deity and Amruthavalli Thaayar, while in the town below, one can have darshan of the Utsava Deity.

Utsava Deity seen in Sholingur Town

In downtown Sholingur, one finds the Aathi Kesavaperumal Koil built by the Chozha kings. The sacred water at this temple goes into the feet of the Lord Kesavan and from there directly on to the earth below!!! The Utsava deity of Bhakta Sithan(Bhaktavatsala Perumal) is seen here in downtown Sholingur.

The storySage Vishwamitra, who undertook penance here, was blessed with ‘Brahmma Rishi’ by Lord Narasimha, within 24 minutes (One Kadigai/ One ‘Naazhigai’). Following the foot steps of the great sage, Saptha Rishis too undertook penance here at Sholingur wanting a darshan of the Narasimha Avataaram and hoping to get the darshan within 24minutes!!
Hence, it is believed that one who stays here for 24 minutes will attain Moksham.

During his rule, the great Chozha king, Karikaala Chozhan, called this region Thiru Kadigai.

Anjaneya’s Moksham request
Yoga Anjaneya
At the end of the Rama Avataaram, Anjaneya wanted to join Raama in his abode at Vaikuntam. However, Rama had other thoughts and asked Anjaneya to go to Sholingur to protect the Rishis from Asuras. Rama provided Anjaney with Conch and Chakra.

Devoted as ever and always following Raama’s words, Anjaneya is said to have come here and demolished the asuras. Lord Narasimha appeared before Anjaneya and asked him to remain here, as Yoga Anjaneya, with the assurance that he would take Anjaneya into Vaikuntam during Kali Yugam.

There is a small opening on the wall of the Periya Malai Koil through which it is said that Yoga Anjaneya, from his place in Chinna Malai, has darshan of Lord Narasimha.

Abiding by the Lord’s wishes, Anjaneya is said to have remained here atop the small hill and is seen here with four hands( Chathurbhuja Anjaneyar) in a Yoga posture with Conch, Chakra, Japa Maalai and the fourth hand with a Japa Sankai( counting the Japam).

This is the only Divya Desam with such special prominence for Lord Anjaneya.

There is a Raama Sannidhi and Ranganatha ( tiny) Sannidhi inside the Yoga Anjaneya temple.

Dodda Acharya and the Sholingur-Kanchi connection

The Sholingur Narasimha Koil has been managed and taken care of by the descendents of Dodda Acharya for the last several centuries. Dodda Acharya was the grandson of MuthalaiAndaan and to him, it is said, goes the credit of creating this beautiful temple town of Sholingurk in the Arcot region of Tamil Nadu.

Dodda Acharya used to visit the Garuda Sevai of Varadaraja Perumal at Kanchipuram every year. However, once he could not make his annual trip to Kanchi as he fell ill. Saddened by this, he bathed at the temple tank at Sholingur, invoked the blessings of Varadar of Kanchi and sang 5 songs in praise of Lord Varadaraja Perumal.

So pleased was the Lord with his devotion that he is believed to have provided darshan to Sholingur Dodda Acharya from his Garuda Vaahanam.

A special event at Kanchi every year

In memory of this event, every year on the third morning of Brahmotsavam at Kanchi, the temple door is closed for a few minutes and Lord Varadaraja Perumal, in his Garuda Vaahanam, says ‘ I am now going to give darshan to DoddaAcharya of Sholingur.

The Lord waits at the entrance of the temple, faces the direction of Sholingur and provides darshan to Dodda Acharya. This is called the Dodda Acharya Sevai in Kanchipuram.

There is a separate sannidhi for Dodda Acharya at the Sholingur temple.

Budhan liberated from Agastya’s curse
Budhan, who played a prank on Sage Agastya and was subject to a curse by the angry sage, performed service to saptha rishis at Thiru Kadigai and is said to have been liberated from his curse.

Azhvaar Praise-Thirumangai refers to the Lord as ‘ Thakkan’

Yoga Narasimhar
NammAzhvaar, PeyAzhvaaar and Thirumangai Azhvaar have sung praises of the Kadigai Lord Narasimha in four verses.

“ Mikkaanai Maraiyaai Virintha Vilakkai, Ennul Pukkaanai Pughazh Ser
Polingra Pon Malaiyai, Thakkaanai Kadigai Thadan Kunrin
Misai Iruntha Akkaara Kaniyai, Adainthu, Uyinthu Poneney”- Thirumangai….

Thirumangai in the above Paasuram refers to the Sholingur Lord a ‘Thakkan’ to mean that the Lord is the right one to fulfil all the wishes of devotees.

Prarthana Sthalam

Varadarajan with Perundevi Thayar
This is a Prarthana Sthalam. Belief is that the Lord cures devotees, who bathe here and walk up the two hills, from all kinds of diseases and is said to give them peace of mind. Lord Narasimha is also said to fulfil all the wishes of the devotees.

Every Friday at 7am in the morning, there is a Prarthana Utsavam for Amruthavalli Thaayar with special Abhishekam for the Thaayar and Perumal. On Sunday at 7am, there is special Abhishekam for Lord Anjaneya.


Festivals

Chitrai Brahmotsavam
Maasi Dodda Acharya Utsavam
Vaikasi Narasimha Jayanthi
Puratasi Navarathri Utsavam
Margazhi Adhyaana Utsavam and
Panguni Thiru Kalyana Utsavam

On the same day as the Kanchi Varadaraja Perumal Garuda Sevai, there is Garuda Sevai at Bhakta Sithan temple as well as the Varadaraja Perumal Koil in Sholingur.

Annual trip of Thaayar down the hill

Amruthavalli Thaayar
Amruthavalli Thaayar makes her annual trip to down town Sholingur in Puratasi and stays here with Bhakatvatsala Perumal for two month( Puratasi and Aipasi). On the first day of karthigai, she makes her trip back to the top of the hill.

Quick Facts

Moolavar : Akkara Kani Yoga Narasimha East Facing Sitting posture
Thaayar : Amruthavalli Thaayar (separate sannidhi)
Utasavar : Bhaktavatsala(Bhakta Sithan) Perumal - below in the town of Sholingur
Paasurams : PeyAzhvaar, Thirumangai Azhvaar, NammAzhvaar
Temple Timing : 8am-5pm

Contact : Dodda Acharya Descendant Singarachari - Kutti Kannan (son of AKC Periya Bangar Swami) @ 04172 262770 or 94442 74589

Address : 39 Sannidhi Street, Sholingur 631 102

Others contacts : Mohan Bhattar@ 04172 295999 or Kumar Bhattar @ 99443 30705

How to reach Sholingur

From Madras, one can take the following trains:

1. Early morning Kovai Express or Brindavan Express to Arakkonam and a 29km bus trip from Arakkonam to Sholingur (will take about 45minutes to 1 hour) - Good wide Arakkonam- Walajah SH 61.
Or
2. Sapthigiri Express (625am departure) to Tiruttani(arrival at 730am). There are a number of buses from Tiruttani to Sholingur (40kms).
Or
3. Take Chennai- Bangalore Express (departure at 1.20pm) and get down at Sholingur Station( 240pm arrival). A number of Share autos from the North of the station will take you to Sholingur temple in 30 minutes( a distance of 16kms)

There are also direct buses from Madras to Sholingur but it is better to take the train-bus option.

Auto will charge Rs.10/- from Arakonam/Walajah highway to the foot of the Periya Malai. One can take another auto for Rs.10-15/- from the foot of the Periya Malai to the foot of the Chinna Malai.

Big Hill