Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thiru Kurungudi Shiva Sannidhi Demolition

The demolition of the Shiva Sannidhi in 2004 was one of the Saddest Moments of my lifetime – 86 year old Periya Nambi K Srinivasachariyar

The temple has lost its positive devotional vibration after the demolition and has never been the same again

'We will soon bring the Shiva idol back to the Sannidhi in the Inner Prakara'- Sri Perarulala Ramanuja Jeer, Thiru Kurungudi Mutt

(This is the first in the two part story on Thiru Kurungudi)
When Thirumangai Azhvaar sought Moksham, Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam directed him to visit his ‘Southern Home’ at Thiru Kurungudi ( Accordingly, Thirumangai Azhvaar came to this Vamana Kshetram and performed service invoking the blessings of Lord Azhagiya Nambi and attained moksham here. Hence, it is believed that ‘Vaikuntam’ (the ultimate destination for Vaishnavites) is in ‘calling distance’ from the Lord’s Southern Home at Thiru Kurungudi.

Thiru Kurungkudi is also the home to the Vaishnava tradition of ‘Kaisika Ekadesi’, one of the big festive occasions here. Kaisika Natakma, the story of Kaisika Puranam, is a form of worship of the Lord through dance, music and drama and is presented on the night of Kaisika Ekadesi (

The over 1000 years old art of Araiyar Sevai originated at Thiru Kurungkudi and was first introduced by Natha Muni. Legend has it that Lord Nambi, hiding behind a wall in Bashyam Street (now South Mada Street), used to watch the young Araiyars practice for hours this difficult art form. Hence, the Lord here is also referred to as ‘Gaana Priyan’ (

Periya Thirumozhi Praise of Thiru Kurungudi
Thiru Mangai Azhvaar in his Periya Thirumozhi verses refers to Peacocks dancing in the groves and Parrots speaking like the beautiful girls of Thiru Kurungudi, streams in full flow washing aside precious gems, Mullai Flowers seen in the groves with dripping nectar, swans playing in groups in the cool lakes that are abound with lotuses. He finds Kuravu trees all around Thiru Kurungudi. There were mansions so tall that they seemed to touch the moon.
86 year old Periya Nambi K Srinivasachariyar, the son of the 47th Jeer of the Thiru Kurungudi Mutt at Thiru Kurungudi has seen it all over the last 8 decades. He had served the temple as a Maniam 
(time keeper of the daily events and utsavams) several decades ago  The  residents of Thiru Kurungudi have great regard for his significant contribution to the temple during the 20th Century. In 1980, he had documented, in detail, the historical event of the Kaisika Ekadasi and its relevance at Thiru Kurungudi. Later, he wrote a book on this ancient Divya Desam documenting the unique aspects of the temple. 

Srinivasachariyar has tears in his eyes when he comes up with a devotional rendition of a couple of verses from the Periya Thirumozhi where Thiru Mangai Azhvaar asks to be carried to the Lord’s abode in Thiru Kurungudi (குறுங்குடிக்கே என்னை உய்த்திடுமின்). Srinivasachariyar has just lost his wife of many decades and has been away in Bangalore over the last few months. With these verses, he sought to be back in front of Nambi at Thiru Kurungudi, such has been his devotional attachment with the Lord for well over 8 decades.
Thiru Kurungudi is one of the very few Divya Desams that houses both Perumal and Shiva within the same complex. Even more rare is a praise by Azhvaars of both Perumal and Shiva with only Thiru Kurungudi and Thiru Koshtiyur having been thus praised.

May 2004 - Demolition of Shiva Sannidhi
However, as he rolls out the next verse from the Periya Thirumozhi, he becomes uncontrollable and finds no consolation to the event that happened in May 2004.

In the opening verse of the 6th Decad of the 9th Canto, Thiru Mangai Azhvaar refers to the Lord of Thiru Kurungudi as one in a standing Posture with the skull and tiger skin bearing Shiva by his side.

அக்கும் புலியின் அதளும்  உடையார்
அவர் ஒருவர் பக்கம் நிற்க  நின்ற 
பண்பர் ஊர்போலும்

Srinivasachariyar is clearly unhappy at what he calls an ‘unfortunate’ event that took place 13 years ago. Perumal and Shiva cannot be separated at this temple as is seen from the sacred verse. Abhiseka Theertham, Thaligai and Aradhanam are all the same for both of them.

“The demolition of the Shiva Sannidhi is one of the saddest moments in my life at Thiru Kurungudi. All the residents without exception were disturbed at the demolition. How could the Mutt have allowed such a historical Sannidhi that has been jointly praised (Shiva and Vishnu) in the Divya Prabhandham to be brought down?”

Srinivasachariyar bemoans that ever since the demolition, the temple has lost its positive devotional vibration and the temple has never been the same again. He made several attempts with the current Jeer to try and reason out the importance of bringing back the historical deity back to its original location but all his efforts turned out to be in vain.

Shockingly, at the Thiru Koshtiyur temple as well, the Shiva and Pillayar Sannidhi were brought down last year ( as part of the renovation exercise.

Thiru Kurungudi - A Public Temple!!!
Initially the Nanguneri court had directed the idol to be taken back to its original location. Later on appeal, the case was heard at the Madurai HC where too the judge upheld the Nanguneri court's verdict.

The Hon'ble Judge Malathi (now retired), citing a similar example in Kanchipuram, said that the moment the Mutt started collecting money from a donar for renovation, it became a Public Temple and ceased to be a 'private' Mutt temple. As such, proper approvals had to be got from the Commissioner for renovation or any alterations to the temple complex.

When asked specifically on what the plans are relating to the Shiva Sannidhi, 50th Pontiff of the Thiru Kurungudi Mutt Sri Perarula Ramanuja Jeer (who, interestingly, was the one who had initiated the case in the court against the demolition before he became the Pontiff) told this writer that he has no 2nd thoughts on bringing the Shiva idol back to a ‘suitable location’ in the North East corner in the inner prakara. He also accepts that the local residents have not been happy with the moving of the idol away from the inner prakara.
The Mutt has gone on appeal to the Supreme Court also seeking a clarification on the rights of the hereditary Mutt in policy making decisions relating to the temple, that were restricted by the judgement of the Madurai High Court.

Interestingly the Saivites too have been unhappy. While there is a larger, separate complex now for Lord Shiva and there are reasons to be happy on that count, they believe that  the Lord has been shunted out away from the main Sanctum and thus the sanctity of worship may not be the same.

The Jeer says that the temple as well as the Shiva Sannidhi is integral to the Village and that he is ready to execute as per the court orders. 
Renovation Photo taken by me in 2012

This writer had also  written many years ago about the renovation activities that were being undertaken at the temple over the last decade. 

With the case on the demolition of the Shiva Sannidhi, this too had been put on hold and the Samprokshanam has been delayed by several years. 

Over the last few months, the renovation activity has gained speed once again. The once 'black and white' Raja Gopuram has been 'colour painted'. 

Some of the other repair works too are going on in full swing inside the temple complex (photo below is of work on this week near the Raja Gopuram).
Time will tell as to what direction the case takes but all the residents of Thiru Kurungudi are eagerly waiting for a final decision on this and are hopeful that the Shiva Sannidhi will be back in the inner prakara.

(A 2nd story on Thiru Kurungudi follows)


Anonymous said...

Very Well Written Piece.

Srikanth Srinivasan said...

Hariyum Sivanum Onnu, Athai Ariyadavan Vaayil Mannu endru oru sotrodar undu! Sambo Siva Sambo, Om Namo Narayana!

Renganayaki Srinivasan said...

The Truth is presented very well.But the present renovation of the age-old sculptures by way of sand blasting has brought down the sharpness of those miniature figures.

Anonymous said...

Great job done by you in tracking all of these…
On reading these, there is some black spots but some confidence….a mixed feelings……..