Paranthaka I renovated the temple and built the Veera Narayana Lake
In celebration of Natha Muni’s contribution in the compilation of Nalayira Divya Prabhandham and the initiation of the Vaishnava Sampradaya, one witnessed a grand 10 day Utsavam at the Veera Narayana Perumal temple in Kattu Mannar Koil near Chidambaram, that culminated on his birthday this Tuesday with the Great Vaishnavite Savant being taken out around the four Mada Streets on a Garuda Vahana procession.
On this day, there was also the recital of 4000sacred verses. On each of the preceding 9days, Natha Muni, decorated in a special Alankara, went out on a procession in a palanquin with the chanting of Nam Azhvar’s Thiruvoimozhi.
Veera Narayana Perumal's direction to Nathamuni
Kattu Mannar Koil is the Avathara Sthalam of Natha Muni who was responsible for bringing back the Nalayira Divya Prabandham that had been previously lost to the world. It was Veera Narayana Perumal, the presiding deity at Kattu Mannar Koil, who asked Nathamuni to collect the verses of the Azhwars and to spread the positive message contained in these sacred verses.
In centuries gone by, the direction to Kattu Mannar Koil was given as being North of Cauvery / Coloroon, West of Veda Pushkarani and South of Vedanarayana (Veeranam) lake.
Pleased with the penance of Jhirumbana Raja Maharishi, who was childless, Goddess Mahalakshmi herself was born here as his child. Once she grew up into a beautiful young girl, there was a svayamvara organised to find her match.
Lord Narayana came here in his Garuda Vahana in the guise of a king (Mannan) to participate in the Swayamvara. Having won over her, he took her away much to the wrath of the other kings who attacked him. Lord Narayana, displaying his Vishwaroopa, defeated them all. Having shown his valour here, the Lord came to be called ‘Veera’ Narayana Perumal.
Another story goes that Mathanga Rishi, to liberate himself from Brahma’s curse for having committed an error in the recital of the vedic chant, went to Srimushnam, where the Lord appeared before him and redirected him to Manyu Kshetram (Kattu Mannar Koil), South East of Srimushnam to undertake penance in the Veda Pushkarani. Answering his prayers, Lord Narayana displayed his Chathurbhuja form here at Kattu Mannar Koil and acceding to the request of the rishi stayed here to provide darshan to the devotees.
Nalayira Divya Prabhandham
Nathamuni, who mastered himself in Vedas at a young age, was very attached to Veera Narayana Perumal of Kattu Mannar Koil and spent most of his time performing daily poojas for the Lord here. One day, while he was performing his daily rituals, he heard a set of devotees from Thiru Narayanapuram chanting the Aaravamuthey verse. These devotees ended their chanting with the words “these 10 out of the 1000”.
Nathamuni was drawn to these songs and asked them to sing the rest of the 990 verses. However, they knew only these 10 songs.
Nathamuni goes to Thiru Kurugur
Seeking to find these 1000verses, Nathamuni left Kattu Mannar Koil for Kumbakonam, where Lord Aaravamudhan directed him to Thiru Kurugur. Unable to get his answers at Kurugur, he went to Thiru Kolur, where he got initiated with Madura Kavi Azhwar’s verses of Kannin Siruthambinaal. He came back to Thiru Kurugur and sitting under the Tamarind tree recited these verses 12000 times, on completion of which Nam Azhwar appeared before him and shared not just the 1000songs that he was looking for but the entire 4000 verses.
Veera Narayana Perumal then called Nathamuni back to Kattu Mannar Koil where the Vaishnavite Savant chanted and shared the Nalayira Divya Prabandham to the world at large. Thus, Nathamuni of Kattu Mannar Koil, was instrumental in bringing back to the world the 4000 verses of the Azhwars.
Creation of Araiyar Sevai
Along with his nephews, Keezhaiyagath Azhwar and Melaiagath Azhwar (the Araiyars are descendents of these two), Nathamuni presented the Naalayira Divya Prabandham, that was until then only in a text form, in a musical and dance form, creating Raga and Thala, that the world could experience and enjoy. To Natha Muni goes the credit of creating the Araiyar Sevai, a visual song and dance enactment of the ‘Paasurams’ through the Abhinaya.
He went to Srirangam and presented the Araiyar Sevai, of the Thiruvoi Mozhi verses with his two Nephews, and once again started the Adhyayana Utsavam at Srirangam which had been discontinued after the time of Thirumangai Azhwar.
Different Names under different rulers
During the Chozha period, this place was referred to as Veera Narayana Vinnagaram, while during the times of Sundarapandyan this was called Mannanar. Krishna Deva Raya referred to the Lord as Azhagiya Mannanar. This place has also been referred to as Veera Narayanan Chaturveda Mangalam and Thuvarapathi Mannan Thiru Koil.
There are 5 wells inside the temple and an expansive garden, which Nathamuni used for his daily poojas for Veera Narayana Perumal.
The name - ‘Kattum Mannan-Aanaar’ koil
As Lord Narayana came here as ‘Mannan’ to take the hand of Mahalakshmi and later showed the way for Nathamuni to compile the Divya Prabandham and the Vaishnava Sampradaya to the world at large, he was referred to as ‘ Kattum’ ‘Mannan- Aanaar’. In course of time, Kattum Mannan-Aanaar became Kattu Mannar.
Aalavanthan- Grandson of Nathamuni
Born in Kattu Mannar Koil, Nathamuni’s grandson ‘Yamunai Thuraivan’ (Alavanthan) travelled often to Srirangam to spread the message of Vaishnavism. Alavanthan nominated Ramanuja as the acharya to succeed him after his death.
Structure of Kattu Mannar Koil
The temple is perfectly built as per KoorathAzhwar's sacred verse:
"Lakshmi Naatha Samaarambaan Nathayaamuna Mathyamaam Asmath Aacharya Pariyantham Vanthey Guru Parampara" - Lord Veera Narayanan in the middle, Natha Muni (facing South) to his left, Alavanthan (facing North) to his right (exactly opposite to Nathamuni) and with Maragathavalli Thaayar to his right between the Nathamuni and Alavanthan Sannidhi.
Moolavar: Veera Narayanan East Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar: Maragatha Valli Thaayar
1. Rajagopalan with Rukmini and Satyabhama
2. NithyaUtsava Perumal- Sundara Gopalan
3. Prarthana Perumal- Shenbagamannan with Sridevi and Bhoodevi’
Temple time: 730am-12noon and 430pm-9pm
Contact details: Annan Srinivasan Bhattar @ 99522 76110/ Venkatesh Bhattar @ 99940 34634
How to reach Kattu Mannar Koil
Buses every half hour between Chidambaram and Kattu Mannar Koil. One can also reach Kattu Mannar Koil from Vriddachalam, Srimushnum and Jayakondam.
By road from Chennai, one can reach Kattu Mannar Koil by taking the Vikravandi- Panruti-Sethiya Thope route (about 235kms)