Monday, December 29, 2014

Ko Chenganan and Nachiyar Koil Divya Desam

Ko Chenganan's anger against elephants is reflected not just in Saivite temples but here as well in the Naraiyur Nambi Vishnu Temple
Thirumangai Azhvaar dedicated an entire set of 10verses to the Chozha King clearly impressed with his 'Maada Koil' construction

As seen in the story on Thiruvanaikaval, Chozha King Ko Chenganan had developed hatred for elephants in his previous birth (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2014/12/thiruvanaikaval-jambukeswarar.html) and he carried this anger into the first Vishnu temple that he built – Nachiyar Koil Divya Desam in Thiru Naraiyur. He had earlier built 70 Saivite temples, the first of which was in Thiruvanaikaval.

It is huge credit to the Chozha king Ko Chenganan that Thirumangai Azhvaar dedicated an entire set of 10 verses in his Periya Thirumozhi to his contribution to the Nachiyar Koil in Thiru Naraiyur.

This is the only Divya Desam where an Azhvaar has praised a single king over 10verses in the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham. So impressed was Thirumangai Azhvaar with the king’s construction that he explains the greatness of the king in detail.

செம்பியன் கோச் செங்கணன் சேர்ந்த கோயில் 
திருநறையூர் மணிமாடம் சேர்மின்களே 
In the initial verses, he refers to Thiru Naraiyur as a temple where Ko Chenganan repeatedly visited to invoke the blessings of Lord Naraiyur Nambi. Thirumangai Azhvaar also brings in the story of his anger against elephants. In a couple of the verses, he specifically praises Ko Chenganan as one whose sword slit that throat of opponent kings on elephant tops. He says time and again Ko Chenganan rode fast on a horse top and killed the kings who seemed taller sitting on top of an elephant and brought them down one by one. He almost seemed to indicate that Ko Chenganan’s determination to destroy his opponents grew exponentially when he saw them on elephants.

Thirumangai Azhvaar also praises Ko Chenganan as a great Chozha king who built 70 big sized temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, thereby referring to Nachiyar Koil as the first Vishnu temple built by him.

இருக்கு இலங்கு திருமொழி வாய் என் தோள் 
ஈசற்கு எழில் மாடம் எழுபது செய்து உலகம் ஆண்ட 

In all the verses, he refers to the Thiru Naraiyur temple as a ‘Mani Mada Koil’ indicating that similar to all the Saivite temples built by Ko Chenganan, in this one too he made sure that elephants would not enter by making the steps to the Sanctum steeper than normal.

திருக்குலத்து வலச் சோழன் சேர்ந்த கோயில் 
திருநறையூர் மணிமாடம் சேர்மின்களே  

Nachiyar Koil clearly has the stamp of Ko Chenganan style of architecture. One can clearly see the sanctum right from the entrance of the temple similar to the Thiruvanaikaval temple where too one can see the sanctum from the entrance of the temple.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Vaishnavite Thiruman Madurai HC issues notice

Follow up Story
Taking up the Vaishnavite Cause
Mannar Koil Archakar receives nod from the Madurai HC
Following the case filed last month by Periya Nambi Narasimha Gopalan Acharya of Kulasekara Azhvaar Mannar Koil (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2014/11/periya-nambi-acharya-fights-for.html), the division bench of the Madurai High Court has this week issued notices to the State Home Ministry, DGP and the Regional Censor Board directing them to clarify as to why they did not take action against the derogatory use of the Thiruman in public places and in Tamil Cinema.

The hearing has been fixed for January 19, 2015 and it is expected that, given the court notice, the three parties will have to explain and try to justify their inaction and/or promise relevant action in the future against any insult caused to the centuries old traditions of the Vaishnavites.
Narasimha Gopalan can be reached on 04634 318408 / psngaran@gmail.com

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Periyaazhvaar prays in advance to the Lord of Srirangam

துப்புடையாரை அடைவது எல்லாம்
சோர்விடத்துத் துணை ஆவர் என்றே

ஒப்பிலேன்  ஆகிலும் நின் அடைந்தேன்
ஆனைக்கு  நீ அருள் செய்தமையால்

எய்ப்பு என்னை வந்து நலியும்போது அங்கு
ஏதும் நான் உன்னை நினைக்கமாட்டேன்

அப்போதைக்கு இப்போதே சொல்லி வைத்தேன்
அரங்கத்து அரவணைப் பள்ளியானே – Periyaazhvaar Thirumozhi - 4-10-1


Periyaazhvaar in this verse offers his 'advance' thanks to the Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam. He says that while knowledgeable ones have the benefit of seeking his help anytime when they want, he is not sure if he is so blessed and worthy of such a request.

Citing the example of the Elephant King whom he saved when in distress, Periyazhvaar presents his case before the Lord of Srirangam. He says that when he is in the death bed and when he may need the Lord's help, it is likely he may not remember the Lord and all the good things that the Lord has done for him in his life.


Hence, here in advance, well ahead of the time of need, Periyaazhvaar conveys his sincere prayers when all is fine and thanks the sleeping Lord of Srirangam for all that he has given him in his life and to take care of him  when in need!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Saathaatha Vaishnavas

Ramanuja entrusted them with several key and sacred responsibilities in temples
Safe Keep of Jewels, Possession of Outer Keys, Ensuring ‘quiet’ during sacred recitals, leading the procession with ‘Velli Thadi’, Presenting ‘Kattiyam’ and presentation of Flower Garlands and Tulsi Leaves were some of the key activities assigned to the Saathaanis 900years ago

At Srivilliputhur,  Saathaatha Vaishnavas make the sacred parrot and present to Andal in the evening every day of the year. 

If you hear loud shouts of 'Pesaathey' or 'Eth Sarigai Sari ga Sari ga...'  at the Lord Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam, you would know that the Saathaatha Vaishnavas are in Service of the Lord. It is a couple of the number of service activities assigned to this set of people by Ramanuja 900years ago.

Ramanuja, who returned to Srirangam after a 12 year exile to Melkote, laid down specific processes to be followed in temples and assigned each of these to a specific set of people. Interestingly, he included people from different walks of life and ensured that they too would participate in the temple activity.

One such set of service activities was assigned to the Saathaatha Vaishnavas. They are referred to as Saathaatha Vaishnavas as they signify their status as True Vaishnavas in all respects except wearing the sacred Poonal ( referring to them as ‘Poonal Saathaatha’ Vaishnavas).

Several of these Saathaatha Vaishnavas accompanied Ramanuja on his sacred trips across the country and were given specific responsibilities during such trips. Ramanuja found them to be so trustworthy that he bestowed several important responsibilities on them as part of the service activities in temples. Ramanuja also gave them tax free lands near temples for them to stay and perform their service.

In a number of temples, they are also referred to as Koil Vaishnavas or Dasa Nambis.

Initial Phase
In the early stages, the Saathaatha Vaishnavas were engaged in sharpening and cleaning out the palm leaves to be used by Ramanuja for his writings. They also used to clear his pathway to the temple every morning and would alert the devotees ahead of time all along the way. The devotees would then lay out beautiful kolams to welcome Ramanuja in front of their homes.

900 old year service tradition
Saathaatha Vaishnavas also played the role of supervisors overseeing a number of activities in temples. In many temples, the Saathaanis were even given possession of the outer keys, such was the trust reposed in them by Ramanuja. In some temples in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, they still play the role of archakas.

Highlights of their Service
Safeguarding Lord’s jewels (Karuvullam) both round the year as well as during his processions, acting as Stores-in- Charge, Thirumeni Kaaval, offering flower garlands to the Lord and Kattiyam (making various announcements relating to the Lord), maintaining silence around the Lord during processions and sacred recitalss are some of the services assigned by Ramanuja to the Saathaatha Vaishnavas. They also have the special right to make the announcement of ‘Eth Sarigai’ that directs the Lord to stop and proceed during processions.

If Uthama Nambi descendents are the ones who have control over the Lord inside the sanctum, it is the Saathaatha Vaishnavas who have control once the Lord has made his way out of the sanctum on a procession.

No Substitutes for Saathaatha Vaishnavas
There are no substitutes for Saathaatha Vaishnavas and they are to carry out all the service activities themselves. On an annualised basis they are paid around Rs.30 for their services through the year. However, Ramanuja assigned them an active share in the Lord’s daily prasadam. Sthaanikas, Archakas and Saathaatha Vaishnavas are the three sets of people who receive prasadams from the Lord every day. For their non- stop service through the year, it is the Saathaanis who receive the maximum share of the prasadams out of these three.

Daily rituals of Saathaatha Vaishnavas
Except for not wearing the sacred thread (which they have been given exception to), all other traditions that are applicable to Vaishnavites are followed by the Saathaatha Vaishnavas including not eating food outside except God’s food or devotees’ presentation. They also have to perform the Pancha Samaskaram.

Headquarters
Kanthadai Ramanuja Mutt is the headquarters of the Saathaatha Vaishnavas. The mutt head always wears a cap similar to the one the Araiyars wear while at temple festival events. During Ramanuja’s time, Pillai Urangavalli Dasa and his wife Ponnaai Chiyaar lived at the mutt and as a symbolic gesture, their idols are still seen at the mutt.

Koil Vaishnavas of Srirangam
At Lord Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam, the Koil Vaishnavas (about 10families still live here) perform a number of services through the year including on festive occasions.

Velli Thadi
Koil Vaishnavas lead the procession with the big sacred stick (Velli Thadi) making way for the lord so he can go unhindered. The Velli Thadi that they carry with them is believed to be the two pillars of Sanctum of Lord Ranganatha and was presented to them by Ramanuja himself.

The Koil Vaishnavas have the honour of beautifying the mandapas ahead of Namperumal’s procession. Ramanuja assigned the Saathaanis with the right to stand in front of the Lord and Thaayar and sing praises during procession on festive occasions.

Maintaining Silence - Pesaathey
During chanting of Divya Prabhandham and other sacred recitals including during Araiyar Sevai and Ghosti, the Koil Vaishnavas are assigned the task of shouting out ‘Pesaathey’ to silence the devotee crowd and to listen to the recital in peace and to maintain order.

Kattiyam
During procession of both Namperumal and Ranganayaki Thaayar, Dasa Nambis have been bestowed the rights to present Kattiyam – the process of announcing the arrival of Lord/Thaayar for the procession and praising him on such occasions. They have been given rights to present 12Kattiyams including  a few verses in Sanskrit.  They present special verses of praise on Lord Namperumal during the 10days Pagal Pathu Utsavam and also on 5days of the Era Pathu utsavam. In addition, they also present verses in praise of Ranganayaki Thaayar during the Navarathri Utsavam.

Eth Sarigai during processions
It is after they shout out ‘Eth Sarigai’ does Namperumal stop during processions. It is only after they give the green signal by shouting out ‘Eth Sarigai Sariga Sari’ can Namperumal start moving again during the procession.

(Eth Sarigai is a caution to the Seemaanthaangis, who carry the Lord on their shoulder, to take care of the Lord during the procession and to move him to the final destination in a cautious way wading through the big crowd that is having darshan of him)

Pantham It is also the Saathaatha Vaishnavas who carry the Dasa Nambi Pandham. They would pour Ghee into the Pandham. Centuries ago, it was the ghee lamp lit on a long vertical stick that provided light for the Lord during processions and hence it is a particularly significant service that they rendered.

On Ekantha Seva occasions of Namperumal and Ranganayaki Thaayar, Dasa Nambis have the special privilege of being presented ‘Vedrapani’ Arulapadu – Recital of ‘Naayinthey’….. and ‘Sriranga Vibho Daya Vijay Bhavo’ that Lord is believed to listen without any worries – a recital that requests the Lord to bless all the true devotees with victory in their every day endeavour.

It is also the Dasa Nambis who shout out ‘Aahoo’ and ‘Oohoo’ before any sacred moments for the Lord. Through this they are calling out the two Gandharvas who had been cursed to an elephant and crocodile and who were liberated from their curse through the Gajendra Moksham episode.

Opening of the Sacred Screen
After the archaka has performed the pooja for Lord Ranganatha and after the Mangala Aarathi, Dasa Nambis are the ones who have the rights to open the screen at the Gayathri Mandapa for the devotees to have darshan. At the Ranganatha Sannidhi, the Koil Vaishnavas have the right and responsibility to be present at the eastern entrance to the sanctum.

Margazhi Divya Prabhandham Utsavam in Srirangam
Come Margazhi and the Saathaanis have special set of activities assigned to them. On Thiruppavai Satru Murai days and on the occasion of Nam Azhvaar Moksham that is celebrated in a grand way at the Ranganatha temple, the Saathaana Vaishnavas present sacred Tulsi leaves in big numbers in the sacred vastram laid out by Paricharaka who then hands it over to the archaka for placing at Lord’s feet.

Kaisika Ekadesi – Padi Etra Sevai
Srirangam is one of the two Divya Desams where Kaisika Ekadesi is celebrated in a grand way. On the night, the dresses worn by Namperumal through the year are showcased following which Araiyars present sacred verses of Nam Azhvaar. Late into the night, the descendents of Parasara Bhattar present the story of Kaisika Puranam.

On the morning after Kaisika Ekadesi is a special event that takes place at the western entrance of Santanu Mandapa. With Namperumal making his way back up the steps to the sweet songs of the Araiyars, the Saathaana Vaishnavas are bestowed the exclusive rights to shower Pachai Karpooram on Lord Namperumal. This is a much looked for event as part of the Kaisika Ekadesi Utsavam referred to as ‘Pachai Karpooram Padi Etra Sevai’.

Dasa Nambis also have right to close the gate of the Jaya Vijaya entrance mandapa and to present Ramanuja Muthirai.

A street named after them
They have been accorded the rights to bring flower garlands for Ranganatha, Namperumal and Ubaya Nachiyars and to present directly to the archakas and to also hand over the sacred Tulsi leaves for Thiru Aradhana of the Lord. Every evening they present flower garland to Ranganayaki Thaayar on a Silver plate accompanied by sound of music.

Over the last few centuries, the Saathaanis have also got into the business of selling flowers in a street South of the Ranga Ranga Gopuram. This street where they have lived for centuries has come to be referred to as Saathaara Vaishnava Veedhi and this is now the wholesale flower market in the Trichy region with street buzzing with activity from 3am-7am every morning.

Saathaatha Vaishanava Sridharan has been performing these services at the Ranganathaswamy temple over the last decade. He is an integral part of all the festivals and the processions of Namperumal at the temple. His father Vaishnava Srinivasan performed this service with true devotion to the Lord for seven decades in the 2nd half of the 20th century.

Till middle of the last century, Saathaanis were involved in participation in Ghosti following the recital of Nalayira Divya Prabhandham and they actually had a role in the presentation of two verses.

While this privilege has lost its way with passing of time due to a variety of reasons, they are, to this date, accorded the sacred Sadagopan respects at Karthigai Mandapa at the end of the Ghosti.

Three days in a year – Sankranti, Theppam and Sri Jayanthi- the Saathaatha Vaishnavas are accorded a special honour for their services. From the temple, they are taken on an elephant and ‘dropped’ back home accompanied by Melam and Thaalam.

The making of the ‘messenger’ parrot in Srivilliputhur
Ramanuja also assigned many important tasks to Saathaanis in several other Divya Desams. At the Divya Desam in Srivilliputhur, parrot holds a special significance. Andal Nachiyar used the parrot to send message to her beloved Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam to come fast and marry her.

The Saathaatha Vaishnavas have the privilege of making and presenting the special parrot every evening to Andal Nachiyar for the Thiru Aradhana pooja at this Divya Desam. This is quite an arduous task and takes 6hours every day.

Dasa Nambis use Plaintain leaves as a basic input for the first layer inner layer. They then add Maravalli Kizhangu leaves on top of that as the 2nd layer. Mica (‘Kaaka Ponn’) is added to beautify the parrot. The parrot’s nose is made using the outer layer of Pomegranate.

For the parrot’s tail, they use White Arali and Nandhyavattai leaves. The parrot’s ear is brought to life by shaving off the top layer of bamboo and reconstructing that using their artistic skills to make the Nachiyar's ears!!! 

They present this artistically made parrot to Andal Nachiyar every evening at the Srivilliputhur Divya Desam - 365days a year. The Saathaatha Vaishnavas make no money out of this and do it purely as a service to Andal. The parrot is not for sale!!!!

Saathaatha Vaishnava Sethuraman has perfected this art of making parrot over the last 25years. His forefathers have been rendering this service for the last several centuries. This service by the Saathaatha Vaishnavas in Srivilliputhur has been in vogue for the last 750years.

Karuvullam
The Dasa Nambis have also been assigned the task of taking care of the security of the room that houses Lord’s jewels – Karuvullam. They have also been bestowed the right to accompany the Lord/Andal Nachiyar on their Vahana procession.

At Srivilliputhur, the Dasa Nambis live in the same street right next to the archakas, an indication of the high status given to them by Ramanuja.

Dasa Nambis in other Divya Desams
A few centuries ago, some of the Saathaanis of Srivilliputhur moved to Vanamamalai to perform the selfless service at the Thothathri Nathan Divya Desam. After the ghoshti, the Dasa Nambis have the privilege of presenting Namazhvaar’s sacred verses at the temple in Vanamamalai.

In Margazhi, as part of Vaikunta Ekadesi festival, the Dasa Nambis present Raya Ramanuja Dasa Arulapadu. At some point of time, over 400years ago, they may have been assigned as the representatives of Raya clan and hence possibly that arulapadu has come to be referred to as Raya Ramanuja Dasa Arulapadu.

At the Aathi Nathan Divya Desam in Azhvaar Tirunagari, the Saathaatha Vaishnavas are accorded special respect on the last day of Vaikunta Ekadesi festival for their selfless service that they render through the year. Also, like in Vanamamalai, they have the privilege of rendering a few of the sacred verses of Namazhvaar, after Ghosti. 

At the Sowmya Narayana Divya Desam in Thiru Koshtiyur, the Dasa Nambis are called Bhattar Piran Dasa. At the temple where Ramanuja was initiated with Thiru Manthiram on his 18th visit, the Saathaanis take care of the temple jewels. 

At Sriperambudur, during processions they have the task of taking care of Lord’s jewels - a service referred to as ‘Thirumeni Kaaval’. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Thirupattur Brahmmapureeswarar Temple

The Largest and a most special temple for Brahmma in India
Brahmma regained his creative powers here after invoking the blessings of Lord Shiva
Sincere prayers at this temple is believed to reverse your destiny and bring about a positive change to your fate!!
Located 5kms West of Siruganur off the Madras Trichy NH is the 1200 years old Brahmmapureeswarar temple in Thirupattur where Brahmma provides darshan in a majestic sitting posture in a separate sannidhi ready to change the fate of the devotees who offer sincere prayers and invoke his blessings.

The Story
Once upon a time, both Shiva and Brahmma had 5heads. Shiva felt that Brahmma had grown arrogant as a result of this and removed one of his heads. This led to Brahmma losing his facial beauty and his power of creation.

To regain his powers, he installed 12 Shiva Lingams and undertook penance here at Thirupattur. Pleased with his prayers, Shiva appeared before him and changed his destiny by restoring his power of creation. Hence, Lord Shiva is referred to here as Brahmmapureeswarar.

In addition, he also handed out the boon that any of his devotees who visit this place and offer sincere prayers will have a positive transformation in their destiny.

However, only those who are destined to have their destiny reversed are likely to visit this temple!!!

Special days for invocation
Mondays, Thursdays, Thiruvathirai, Punarpoosam, Sathayam as well as the birthday star of the devotee are special days to invoke the blessings of Brahmmapureeswarar and Brahmma. Those who visit on any of these days have to invoke the blessings of Shiva, Brahmma and Ambal, light 36 Ghee lamps and go around the temple 9 times to have their destiny reversed in a positive way.

Sacred Tanks
There are three sacred tanks inside the temple. There is also a separate temple south of here for Arangetra Ayyannar. A visit here is believed to positively impact education.

Architecture
The 12 Shiva Lingams can be seen north of the Brahmma Sannidhi. The gopuram in the north western corner is reflective of the Pallava style of architecture.

This is the largest temple for Brahmma in India and dates back to the 8th century AD to the Pallava Period. 

Festivals
During Margazhi, Brahmma can be seen in Brahmma Muhurtham ( 430am-6am) – a special occasion at this temple
Brahmotsavam in Panguni
Procession of a specially decorated Brahmmapureeswarar and Ambal on every Prathosham
Procession of Ambal on Aadi Pooram as the first festival of the year

Quick  Facts
Moolavar: Brahmmapureeswarar
Goddess  : Brahmma Sampath Gowri
Speciality: 6feet Brahmma in a separate Sannidhi
Time        : 7am-12noon and 4pm-8pm (on Thursdays, the temple opens at 6am)
Contact    : Bhaskaran Gurukal @ 0431 2909599

How to reach
Buses every hour from Samayapuram – 12kms
One can get down at Siruganur (30kms from Trichy on the Madras NH 45) and take an auto to the temple 5kms west (Rs.60-Rs.75)
From Samayapuram and back, a taxi will cost Rs. 300. Contact: 98425 82585

Monday, December 15, 2014

Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswarar Temple

Neer Sthalam among the Pancha Bhootha Sthalams
Kochenganan Chozha showed his anger against Elephants by building the sanctum with such a narrow passage that an elephant would not be able to enter!!!
Located on the Northern banks of Cauvery is the Lord Jambukeswarar temple in Thiruvanaikaval, one of the Pancha Bhootha Sthalams, where Lord Shiva manifests himself as ‘Water’ (among the five elements). Hence this is referred to as a ‘Neer’ sthalam (‘Appu’ in Sanskrit). Thiruvanaikaval is home to Nava Theertham and the belief is that those who bathe in the Nava Theertham on Chitra Pournami and invoke the blessings of Jambukeswarar and Akilandeswari are said to attain Mukthi.

The temple dates back to the 5th century AD to the rule of Kochenganan Chozha, who ruled from Uraiyur and is an architectural marvel with high roofs, five huge prakaras south of the Coloroon, towering Gopurams in the East and the West and Nava Theerthams.
The Spider and Elephant
Thiruvanaikaval is the first of the ‘Maada Koils’ built by Kochenganan. In recognition of his great contribution to temple architecture and as the one who built the Thiruvanaikaval temple, Kochenganan’s idol is seen inside the temple.

Two devotees – Pushpavana and Mayavana - of Lord Shiva were involved in the process of plucking flowers from the Nandavanam and presenting to the Lord. One day, an argument arose between the two as to who had presented more flowers and they ended up killing each other in the fight that ensued. But having been true devotees through their lives, Lord Shiva provided them darshan at Kailasam and blessed them into birth as a spider and elephant in this Gajaranya Kshetram.

Provided with an opportunity to serve the Lord, the Spider provided shade to the Lord through its cobweb, while the elephant performed pooja removing all the dirt around the lord, bringing water for Abhishekam, plucking flowers and fruits and providing sandalwood.

One day, angered at finding a cobweb above the Lord, the elephant swung his tail and hit out at the web as he saw it as dirt. In retaliation, the spider entered the nose of the elephant. Stung with unbearable pain, the elephant died. The spider caught inside elephant’s body too died of suffocation.

And for the 2nd time, they entered Kailasam. When asked for a wish, the elephant asked for this place where he performed pooja with sincerity to be named after him. Hence this place came to be called Thiru ‘Aanai’ Kaval.

The spider asked to be born as a King who would build everlasting temples.

The spider was thus born as Kochenganan Chozhan in the Chozha dynasty. His parents were childless. An astrologer suggested that if the child was born during a specific time slot, he would become a great king and serve the Lord through his lifetime. Unfortunately, his mother Kamalavathi was slated for a pre delivery. Determined to have the child only during the specified slot, she asked her maids to tie her and hang here upside down till the specified time arrived. And thus she ensured that her son was born at that specified time. As the blood circulation had been disrupted, the child was born with red eyes. The mother called him ‘Ko’ ‘Chenganan’ (the one with red eyes) and died immediately after his birth. It was his aunt who took care of him through his childhood.

Maada Koils
Ko Chenganan built over 70 Saivite temples and is also credited with building Nachiyar Koil, the first Vaishnavite temple built by him. With two life time incidents of having fought with the elephant, he carried his anger into this life as well. All of the Saivite temples built by him were such that the elephant could not enter. It was either a small entrance into the sanctum or a high rise that an elephant could not climb. Such temples with either a narrow passage or high rise are referred to as Maada Koils.

Ruling from Uraiyur, the then capital of the Chozhas, Ko Chenganan crossed the Cauvery and found an idol of Shiva beneath the tree. He also remembered his life as a spider when he had provided shade right above. His devotion touched a peak and he built Thiruvanaikal as his first Saivite temple. He then went on to build several more in the Chozha kingdom including the Maada Style temple at Nachiyar Koil that is very different from the typical Vishnu temple in terms of architecture.

One of its kind Uchchi Kaalam Pooja
Ambal takes 3 forms every day here at Thiruvanaikaval. Early in the morning, she provides darshan as Lakshmi. At noon she is seen as Parvathi and in the evening she presents herself as Saraswathi in a white saree.

Legend has it that Goddess Parvathi once scoffed at Lord Shiva’s deep penance and his yogic style. Angered at this gesture, Shiva directed her to Earth. She reached this Jambu Vanam (Rose- Apple Forest) and performed pooja with sacred water that turned into Lingam, thus invoking his blessings.  This tradition is followed every day during the Uchchi Kaalam Pooja. The priest dressed as Parvathi (draped in a saree) performs pooja at Jambukeswarar Sannidhi. Following this, he performs pooja on the sacred cow.  This form of Uchchi Kaalam Pooja is the only one of its kind in Saivite temples in India.

Brahmma’s Penance
Once, Brahmma created a beautiful girl in this world. Instead of seeing her as his own daughter, Brahmma cast his eyes on the beautiful damsel. Inflicted with Brahmma Hathi Dosham, he came here, bathed in the Theertham south of the temple and undertook penance invoking the blessings of Jambukeswarar. A pleased Lord Shiva decided to provide darshan to Brahmma and liberate him from the Dosham. As Shiva was preparing to leave, Goddess Akilandeswari too wanted to join. Shiva cautioned that Brahmma had got into this situation lured by the beauty of a young girl and did not want to take a chance once again. They decided to interchange roles – Shiva took the form of Akilandeswari and the Goddess went there as Jambukeswarar and provided darshan to Brahmma. After liberating Brahmma from his Dosham, it is said that they got back into their original forms.

During Brahmotsavam, this interchange between Lord and Ambal is re-enacted on the Rohini day on the South Street of the fifth Prakara. As part of this Pancha Parva Utsavam, the Lord comes on a procession in each of the five prakaras – one of the highlights of the year at this temple.

Vibhoothi Prakara


The largest and outermost prakara – the fifth prakara is referred to as the Vibhoothi Prakara. Several thousands of labourers toiled hard through the day to construct the prakara. As a reward of their hard work, these committed labourers were each given Vibhoothi as prasadam. As they went back home, to their pleasant surprise they found that the Lord’s Prasadam had magically turned into money – a testimony to the truth that the Lord rewards who offer their sincere prayers and works sincerely in their daily lives.

Sundarar’s Devaram Verse
One of Sundarar’s Thevaram verses on Thiruvanaikka refers to an interesting episode that suggests that every devotee should first offer to the Lord before consuming it. A Queen who was a gifted a set of glittering necklaces adorned herself and showcased it with all joy. After bathing in the Cauvery, she found the necklaces missing. Shocked at this loss, the king and the queen invoked the blessings of Lord Jambukeswarar to help find the necklaces. Shortly after, as the priest provided the Lord with the sacred bath the necklaces were seen on the Lord’s Lingam making them realise that in their hour of joy and greed they had forgotten to first thank him for their state of happiness.

This story is beautifully narrated by Sundarar as a message to all devotees that we should not forget the Lord in our hour of happiness.

Adi Sankara’s Contribution
Adi Sankara installed the idols of Vinayaka and Muruga in the front and back of the Ambal Sannidhi to cool an angry Ambal who had undertaken penance here. Adi Sankara also presented the Goddess with two beautiful ear rings – Thaadagam with Sri Chakra. The alankara process for beautiful looking Akilandeswari is a very special feature at this temple.

The unfortunate street of Thiruvanaikaval
A few centuries ago, an expert Vaishnavite cook from the Madapalli at Srirangam used to make a trip every day to Thiruvanaikaval to meet his beloved and they used to be converse for hours together. One evening, he stayed back and slept inside the temple in tiredness. That night, he heard the noise of anklets and woke up to the sprinkling of water on him. As he opened his eyes, he had darshan of Akilandeswari. The sacred water initiated him into sacred thoughts and transformed him into ‘Kaala Megha’ Pulavar. He went on to sing many verses of praise – ‘Thiruvanaikka Ula’ - on the Goddess. However, he never visited that girl again. Subsequent to this episode, the story goes that the street in Thiruvanaikaval from where the girl came became one where girls did not get married since!!!!

Architecture

This is one of the 8temples in TN with 1000pillared mandapa. The vimanam is a granite structure – similar to the one seen in Thittai. Vikrama Chozha built the 3rd prakara, Sundara Pandyan the 4th prakara, while Shiva Siddhar built the outermost and biggest 5th prakara. An inscription refers to Hoysala King ruling this place from Samayapuram (Vikramapuram).

Saneeswarar is seen with his wife and mother – the only one of its kind in a Saivite temple.

There are hundreds of inscriptions inside the temple dating back to the rule of Chozhas, Pandyas and Hoysalas.
 Four Saint Poets and their praise
Appar, Sundarar and Sambandar have sung praise in the Thevaram verses while Manickavachagar too has sung praise of the Lord of Thiruvanaikaval in his Thiruvachagam verse.

Festivals
Panguni Brahmotsavam
Theppotsavam in Thai and Aadi – Only temple to have two Theppam Festival – as this is a Neer Sthalam
Karthigai Deepam
Margazhi Thiruvathirai Utsavam

Quick Facts
Moolavar: Jambukeswarar
Goddess : Akilandeswari standing on a Padma Peedam
Time      : 6am-12noon and 4pm-9pm

Contact: ST Subramanyam (STS) @ 99425 75663 / Hari Archakar @ 98949 14466 / Meera @ 75981 71929

Panchapakesan (Panchu Iyer) @ Ph. 0431 2232958 / 98947 74780) – He performed pooja for the Lord for over 35years including 4 Abhishekams every day and washed Ambal’s clothes every day

How to reach
Thiruvanaikaval is on the old GST road 2kms East of Srirangam and on the Northern banks of the Cauvery. 


Auto from Srirangam Railway station to the temple will cost Rs. 40/-. Auto contact @ 97917 56869/99945 62964 (Karthik / Kumar)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kottur Srinivasa Perumal

A Temple built by the Mudhaliars of Kanchipuram in the 17th Century AD


Located just over 10kms from Mannargudi on the Thiruthuraipoondi road is the 350years old Srinivasa Perumal temple in Kottur, one that was built by the Mudaliars of Kanchi. The temple that recently was renovated wears a new look. Once upon a time the entire village was home to the Mudhaliars.

In the 17th Century, people from Kanchipuram migrated and several of them settled at Karappankadu. The Mudhaliar community that hailed from Vallapakkam village near Kanchi settled here in Kottur. Their Kula Deivam was Venkatachalapathy and hence they built the Srinivasa Perumal temple in the heart of Kottur. 

In memory of this, there is an idol of Krishna Mudhaliar inside the temple.


They also created an Agraharam and set up a Veda Paatashala. This was later surrendered to the HR & CE in the 20th century.

Later people from Ukkada Kamalapuram used to take care of the temple.

This continues to be the Kula Deivam temple for many of them.

Festivals
Procession on Shravanam every month

When here also visit, Varadaraja Perumal temple in Rayanallur, just a few kms away.

Quick Facts
Moolavar: Srinivasa Perumal east facing standing posture
Time      : 7am-10am and 5pm-8pm
Contact   : Sriram Bhattar @ 96592 71274

How to reach

Buses ply every half hour between Mannargudi and Thiruthuraipoondi

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Periya Nambi Acharya fights for the Vaishnavite cause

Depicting the sacred ‘Thiruman’ in poor light draws flak from revered Acharya
Narasimha Gopalan of Mannar Koil files a petition with the Madurai High Court to restrain derogatory use of the word ‘Naamam’ in public places
In many homes, Vadivelu’s ‘Pathu’ Mami joke in the tamil movie Arasu would have evoked loud cheer but for one revered Vaishnavite Acharya at the Periya Nambi Thirumaligai in Mannar Koil, near Ambasamudram, the heart boiled.

PS Narasimha Gopalan, Archakar, Kulasekara Perumal Rajagopalaswamy Temple in Mannar Koil  (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2009/11/kulasekara-perumal-koil-in-mannar-koil.html) and a revered Acharya of the centuries old Periya Nambi Peetam found this to be the ultimate insult to the Vaishnavite culture and he lost no time in raising his hand to fight for the Vaishnavite cause.

Over several centuries, a Vaishnavite was seen as an embodiment of learning and simplicity and was seen as one who upholds the true ‘values’ of life. However, over the last 60years or so, Vaishanavism and Vaishnavites have come to be a staple food for fun making so much so that Naamam and Cheating have come to be seen as synonyms.

Naamam stands for the 12different names of Lord Vishnu. Thiruman in literal terms means (sacred) ‘sand’ (ash) referring to the fact that Vaishnavites forever are at/below the Lord’s feet seeking his divine blessings to Moksham.

With an emergence of a new political class, Naamam has come to be used freely in cases relating to cheating. This has now come to be a laughing stock  even in Tamil movies as seen in the film ‘Arasu’ where comedian Vadivelu uses the Thiruman comically as a healing solution for an old lady who was unwell ( Pattu Mami becoming Pathu Mami!!!).

Narasimha Gopalan who took up the entire organisational aspects of renovating the huge Mannar Koil a few years back ( it now wears a beautiful new look) and who has created a beautiful Nandavanam inside the temple complex almost from scratch has now taken this cause and filed a petition in the Madurai High Court this week.

Three Notices to DGP – TN
Way back in 2008, Narasimha Gopalan had written to the DGP- TN to issue instructions restricting those organising protests and agitations in public places from verbally misusing Naamam or symbolically gesturing in a way to indicate being cheated. This did not elicit any response from the DGP, except that he was called for an enquiry at the police station in Ambasamudram.

In 2012, he once again sent a similar request letter to the DGP-TN. This too did not get the desired response. For a third time, in July this year, he sent a notice to the DGP-TN. Simultaneously, Narasimha Gopalan Acharya also wrote to the Regional Officer of the Censor Board to restrain them from permitting scenes in movies that are derogatory of the Vaishnavite religion.

All of these served as a record of the process he had followed in fighting for justice before reaching out to the highest court in the state.

According to Article 25 read with Section 295 and Section 295A of the IPC, making fun of any religion or looking down upon any religion and its faiths and beliefs tantamount to a criminal offence.
In a bid to preserve our heritage and culture, Periya Nambi Narasimha Gopalan has taken to court to secure justice for the Vaishnavites. He has pleaded with the court to direct the Home Secretary, DGP-TN and the Regional Officer of the Censor Board to issue instructions in public interest restraining the use of Thiruman/Naamam in a derogatory way and to inform the public that this will be seen as criminal offence and relevant action will be taken against those disobeying the instructions.

The Honourable Judge of the Madurai High Court has directed the division bench to look into the matter. This is likely to come up for hearing sometime in December. A copy of the derogatory comedy scene in Arasu and the song ‘excuse me Mr. Kandaswamy’ in the movie Kandaswamy has been handed over to the High court as conclusive proof of Tamil cinemas depicting Vaishnavism in a poor light.  

Centuries ago, Periya Nambi had fought even the strongest of the Chozha Kings without any fear and Narasimha Gopalan, a descendent of that great clan believes that this is no social service that he is doing and it is his inherent duty and responsibility to protect our rich traditions. He has almost 4000 disciples who are staunch followers of Vaishnavite traditions!!!

There are three Periya Nambi Thirumaligais in Tamil Nadu – Srirangam, Thirukurungudi and at Mannar Koil, near Ambasamudram, that is stated to be 900years old.

He has more coming his sleeve in the coming years on matters relating to keeping our traditions alive including one relating to Bhattars of TN temples. Watch out for this section for more on that.


In the meantime, one will await judgement on this filing from the division bench of the Madurai High Court.

Narasimha Gopalan can be reached on 04634 318408 / psngaran@gmail.com