Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thiru Nagai Soundara Raja Perumal

A spell bound Thiru Mangai Azhvaar raves about the beauty of Soundara Rajan

The sea port town of Nagapattinam is home to the handsome Soundara Raja Perumal. Thiru Mangai Azhvaar is said to have been so lured by the beauty of the tall and lanky Lord Soundara Rajan that he imagined himself as a lady (Nayaki) to admire better the beauty of the Lord. In almost each of the 10 Paasurams that Thiru Mangai Azhvaar composed in praise of Soundara Raja Perumal, one can see him admiring his beauty.

பொன்  இவர் மேனி மரகத்தின் பொங்கு இலன்
ஜ்யோதி யகலதரம் அச்சோ ஒருவர் அழகிய வா

‘Achcho’ is a phrase used to show our excitement when we see something that keeps us ‘spell bound’.

The temple is said to have been constructed by the Naaga Kings, improved upon and renovated later by the Maratha rulers and the Nayak Kings.

Fame across 4 Yugams
The fame of this temple is distinct and dates back across each of the 4 Yugams. In Kretha Yugam, the king of Nagas ( Serpent Lord) undertook penance here. Pleased with this, Lord Vishnu agreed to accept Adisesh as the one on whom he would rest ‘always’. Since the Serpent Lord bagged this big gift from the Lord, this place has come to be called ‘Naagar’ Pattinam.

It was here that Bhooma Devi, in Tretha Yugam, and ‘Markandeya’ Rishi, in Dwapara Yugam, undertook penance.

Another story goes that Druva, a young kid (son of King Uthana patha) undertook deep penance wanting to rule the entire world. So pleased was the Lord that he came on the Garuda Vaahanam to grant Druva’s wish. However, on seeing the beautiful Lord, Druva’s mind changed, and dramatically so. Instead of wanting to rule the world, Druva requested the Lord to grant him Moksham and of seeing his beauty all the time at this temple.

It is believed that Naga Raja performed Kanniga Dhanam at this kshetram

Three Postures of the Lord
Lord can be seen in all 3 kolams here - standing, sleeping and sitting posture and is said to have given Darshan in each of these 3 postures to Naga Raja.

Thiru Mangai Azhvaar, in his Paasurams, compares Lord Soundara Rajan to Sarangapani of Kumbakonam, Sathya Moorthy of Thiru Maiyam, Kallarpiran of Sri Vaikuntam and KalAzhagar of Thiru Maliruncholai.

A Unique Narasimha statue
There is a bronze statue of Narasimha where he is seen blessing Prahalad with one hand and destroying Hiranyakashipu with his other hands.

Temple Tower as a Light House
In centuries gone by, the 7 tiered Gopuram of this Divya Desam had a light atop the tower that served as a ‘light house’ for ships coming into and crossing Nagapattinam.

Chitrai Avataara Utsavam
Vaikasi Vasantha Utsavam

Quick Facts

Moolavar: Soundara Raja Perumal East Facing Standing Posture

Goddess  : Soundara Valli (Separate Sannidhi)
Time       : 730am-12noon and 530pm-9pm
Contact   : Rangaraja Bhattar / R. Sriraman Bhattar@ 94422 13741

How to reach 

Direct night train from Madras to Nagai ( Karaikal Exp dep: 11.15pm). The temple is walking distance from the Nagapattinam Railway Station

The temple is about 3kms South of New Bus Stand. Auto will charge Rs. 40 from the Nagai New bus stand

Where to stay: Krishnammal Kalyana Mandapam, VPN Lodge

Sirupuliyur Arumakadal Divya Desam

Lord as a small kid – Bala Sayanam
Located about 15 kms South of Mayavaram is the Kripa Samudran(Arumakadal) Divya Desam in Sirupuliyur where the Lord is seen as a small kid in sleeping posture (Bala Sayanam).

Seeking Moksham, two old rishis, Yagapalar and Kanvar, invoked the blessings of Lord Shiva at Chidambaram. Shiva directed them to go westwards to Srirangam, stating Vishnu was the one equipped with the powers to grant Moksham. Because of their poor eye sight, the Rishis instead went southward, lost their way and reached Kripa Samudiram. Here, they offered their sincere prayers  to Lord Vishnu reasoning out to him  that they were to come to Srirangam to invoke his blessings but had lost their way and that he grant them Moksham.

It is believed that that the Lord originally gave darshan to the Rishis as Lord Ranganatha (like in Srirangam) in his full form. Because of their old age, the rishis could not see, clearly, the big image of the Lord and hence the Lord gave darshan in a smaller form known as ‘Bala Sayanam’. The Lord Kripa Samudran can be seen as a small kid in sleeping posture. Being the Lord in small form, this place is called Siru (small) Puliyur.

A special feature of this temple is that this is one of the only two Divya Desams where the Lord in sayana kolam (sleeping posture) is facing the Southern direction, the other being Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam.

Garuda does not fly over this place- Fight between Garuda and Adhiseshan
Once Garuda (the Vahana of the Lord) and Adisesha (on whom rests the Lord) entered into an argument as to who was more powerful and more devoted to the Lord. Seeing Garuda a little arrogant, Lord Vishnu went in favour of the Serpant God. Worried that Garuda might be angered at this, Adiseshas sought Lord’s protection, upon which Lord asked him to roll himself and lie under him. Angered at this gesture of the Lord in protecting Adisesha, Garuda decided never to fly over this place.

A disappointed Thiru Mangai Azhvaar

வான் ஆர் மதி பொதியும் சடை மழுவாளியொடு ஒருபால் 
தான் ஆகிய தலைவன் அவன் அமரர்க்கு அதிபதி ஆய் 

தேன் ஆர் பொழில் தழவும், 
சிருபுலியுர்ச் சலசயனத்து 

ஆன் ஆயனது அடி அல்லது ஒன்று 
அறியேன் அடியேனே 

When Thiru Mangai Azhvaar visited this place, he is believed to have been quite disappointed as he found the Lord too small and like a kid. The Lord is said to have consoled him saying ‘ Come and see me in my full form at Thiru Kannapuram’.

Thiru Kannapuram is about 25kms South West of this temple on the way to Thiruvarur.

Liberation from Naga Dosham
It is said that one will be relieved of Naga Dosham if one visits this place. Unmarried people and childless couple also find solution if they offer their sincere prayers at this temple.

One of the features of this temple is the enthusiastic and very devoted young priests. Their explanation of the temple history and legend is sure to lure every devotee to this temple.


Vaikasi Brahmotsavam
Aadi Pavitrosatvam
Margazhi Adyaana Utsavam

Quick Facts
Moolavar     : Kripa Samudran Bala Sayana posture facing south
Thaayar       : Daya Nayaki Thaayar
Azhvaar       : Thirumangai Azhvaar ( Periya Thirumozhi 7-9)
Temple time : 7am –12noon and 5pm-8pm

Contact Srikkanth Bhattar @ 91598 67324 / 04366 233041

How to reach
Bus : Take the Mayavaram- Tiruvarur/Karaikal Bus. Get down at Kollumangudi bus stop (about 10kms from Mayavaram). Take an auto from there (2 kms)- will charge Rs. 40/-. One can also reach here from Thiru Vazhandur Divya Desam via Komal, Keezhanur and Kollumangudi by auto/car (about 15kms)

Cab /Auto from Mayavaram to the temple and back will cost Rs. 500. ( Auto Ramesh @ 94435 68757)

Place to Stay : Best to stay in Mayavaram

Therazhundur Aamaruviappan Divya Desam

The capital of Karikala Chozhan I 
Standing posture of Garuda alongside the Lord is a unique feature
Birth Place of Tamil  Poet Kamban

The capital of Karikala Chozhan I and the birth place of the great Tamil poet Kamban, Ther Azhundur (Thiru Vazhandur), a Krishnaranya Kshetram, is situated 11kms West of Mayavaram off the Kumbakonam Highway.

A tall and handsome 12 feet Lord Devathi Rajan is flanked on his right by Prahalad and on his left by Garuda. 

Krishnaranya Kshetram- The story of Krishna coming here to Thiru Vazhandur

Once Brahmma took away the herd of cows which were grazing around in Gokulam while Krishna was having bath on the banks of Yamuna, and brought them to Thiru Vazhandur. Krishna came back and through his powers found out what had happened. Instantly, he created the same number of cows at Gokulam. Realising his folly, Brahmma approached Krishna and requested him to give darshan at Thiru Vazhandur. Accepting his request, Krishna appears as Aamaruviyappan (Gosakan in Sanskrit) in his ‘divine form’ along with a cow by the side of his back and a calf in front of him, a beautiful sight that one is not witness to in any of the other Krishnaranya Divya Desam Kshetram. This is a speciality of this Krishnaranya Kshetram.

The other Krishnaranya Kshetrams are Thiru Kannangudi, Kapisthalam, Thiru Kannapuram and Thiru Kannamangai.
‘Ther- Azhundur’ 
King Ubarisaravasu had the power to fly, courtesy a boon he had received. With this, he had become arrogant and incurred the wrath of the rishis, whose curse resulted in the chariot coming crashing down into this place .

Another story goes that Lord Krishna’s cows were destroyed when King Ubarisaravasu’s chariot’s shadow fell on them (It is believed that Ubarisaravasu had obtained this quite special boon that anyone on whom his chariot’s shadow falls would get into trouble). Wanting to teach the king a lesson, Krishna pierced the chariot to prevent the chariot from flying any further. The Chariot came thudding down into this place and got stuck here.
Hence, the name Ther Azhundur (Ther= Chariot)

A Unique Feature- Garuda alongside Lord Devathi Rajan
Indra once presented Garuda a gold ornament and a vimanam. It is said that Garuda gave the Vimanam at this temple at Thiru Vazhandur( the Gold ornament was given to Thiru Narayanan at Melkote near Mysore). Happy at this gesture of Garuda, the Lord accorded him a special status at this temple with a position alongside him at the sanctum sanctorum, a unique feature at a Divya Desam. Normally one finds Garuda opposite the Lord but here he is seen next to the Lord Himself. 

Prahalad wants a ‘softer’ darshan!!!
Prahalad who had seen an aggressive and angry Lord Vishnu killing Hiranyakashipu in his Narasimha Avataar undertook penance here wanting to see a softer, quieter version of the Lord. Legend has it that the Lord gave darshan to Prahalad here in his not so ‘angry form’. One finds Prahalad alongside DevathiRajan, another unique feature.

Cauvery's Penance at Therazhundur
Sage Agasthya wanted to wed Cauvery. When she refused, the sage locked her here. Cauvery escaped from this place only to be cursed by the Sage who said " Let the place where Cauvery goes be in trouble'. Cauvery undertook penance here at TherEzhendur to get liberated from the curse of Sage Agasthiya.

Birth Place of the Great Tamil Poet Kamban 
This is the birth place of the famous Tamil poet Kamban ( Kamban wrote the Ramayana in Tamil). There is a separate sannidhi for Kamban at this temple. The place where Kamban resided, on the Sannidhi street, has now been turned into a beautiful new ‘Kamban Mandapam’.

Vaikasi Brahmotsavam
Chitrai Rama Navami Utsavam
Puratasi 10 day Desikar Utsavam
Aipasi Pavitrotsavam

Maasi Punarvasu -Aamaruviappan provides darshan to Lord Vedapureeswarar near the Chariot
at the Eastern end of the Agraharam

It is believed that this was the place where Sage Markandeya performed penance here to get Moksham.

Help Required for this Divya Desam

The Sannidhi Street right opposite the temple runs for ½ a km once housed Brahmins right across. Today, there are only about 3-4 Brahmin family in this entire place. The temple is running short of funds, so much so, that salary to temple staff is becoming an issue. Just a couple of months ago, the power to this temple was cut off citing non payment of bills.

However a redeeming aspect that is sure to pull devotees again and again to this temple is Srinivasan Bhattar, who greets every devotee with a smile. And his loud and clear recital of Thiru Mangai Azhvaar’s Paasurams relating to Aamaruviyappan is a sweet music to one’s ears. It has become so much an attraction that a couple of North Indian folks( no Tamil knowledge), who are working in a nearby company, have turned up here regularly to listen to the Azhvaar Paasuram recited by the Bhattar.
1 year ago(end of 2007), young children of Therezhendur used this temple tank as a cricket play ground. It was dry and with well grown grass and bushes in the corners. Today, it is a delightful sight as one enters the temple to see the tank brimming with water, although it will leave the children a little disappointed that they will not be able to play anymore in the tank.

Quick Facts
Moolavar : Devathi Rajan Grand Standing Posture, East Facing
Utsavar   : Aamaruvi Appan (Gosakan)
Goddess  : Sengamala Valli (Separate Sannidhi)
Azhvaar  : Thirumangai Azhvaar Periya Tirumozhi – 45 Paasurams
Temple Timing : 730am-12noon and 5pm-830pm

Contact: Srinivasan Bhattar / Hari Sundar Bhattar @ 80568 69235/97919 69943

How to reach
Bus : From Mayavaram, take bus going to Kumbakonam, get down at Komal Road Junction
(9 kms from Mayavaram). Take another bus to Therezhendur ( 2kms from there)

Bus Nos. 10A, 10B, 10C ply directly from Mayavaram to Ther Azhundur

There is also a direct bus (No. 33) from Kumbakonam

Auto contact numbers: 99948 51538/ 96776 38763
Auto : Auto will charge about Rs. 50 from Komal Road bus stop

Nearest Rail Head : Kuthalam Railway Station on the Kumbakonam-Mayavaram route is about 4 kms from here. (There was a railway station for Ther Azhundur before but does not exist now)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Thiru Indhalur Parimala Rangan Divya Desam

The greatest sin of life is to cast one’s eye on another’s wife – Brihaspati curses Chandran to deformity
Chandran partly liberated from his curse after undertaking penance here at Thiru Indhalur

Indhalur Parimala Rangan Temple- Pancha Ranga Kshetram
The Lord shuts the door on Thiru Mangai Azhvaar which prompts the Azhvaar to say in his Paasuram “Vazhnthey Pomneerey…”

Located 2kms North of the Mayavaram bus stand on the Northern banks of Cauvery is the Parimala Rangan Divya Desam in Thiru Indhalur, a Pancha Ranga Kshetram where the Lord is seen in a grand Veera Sayana Posture displaying his four hands.  The other Pancha Kshetrams are Srirangam Ranganatha Swamy Temple, Srirangapatnam Ranganatha, Koviladi Appaala Ranganatha and Kumbakonam Madhya Rangam.

Chandran’s Curse 
The story goes that Chandran (Moon God) fell in love with his preceptor Brihaspati’s wife Tara and eloped with her, in the absence of his Guru. When Brihaspati found his wife missing, he sought the help of Brahmma who asked Tara to return to her husband.

Later, when Tara’s pregnancy came to light, a furious Brihaspati cursed Chandra to deformity saying that the biggest sin of life is to caste one’s eyes on another’s spouse and that Chandran would have to undergo the full severity of the curse for having cast his eyes wrongfully on another's wife.

Another story goes that Dakshan was so taken in by Chandran’s handsome features that he decided to make him the suitor for his 27daughters. However, Chandran was interested only in one of the daughters, Rohini and mockingly ignored the others.

Dakshan found that the handsome looks had made Chandran too arrogant and cursed him to immediately lose his youth and his strong luring features.

Repenting for wrongly casting his eye on another man’s wife, Chandran requested Brihaspati to provide him an opportunity for performing parikara that could help him cleanse his grave sins.

3Phased Parikara
As part of the 3 fold parikara, Chandra undertook penance here at Thiru Indhalur after bathing at the sacred Theertham, invoking the blessings of Lord Vishnu. Answering his prayers, Lord appeared before him and agreed to liberate him from part of the sins.

(The story goes that Chandran went to Thalai Changa Naan Mathiyam, another Divya Desam about 15 East of Thiru Indhalur, where he was fully liberated from his curse and dosham).

The Name Indhalur

Pleased with being partly liberated from his curse, Chandran (another name of Chandran is Indhu) requested that this place be called Indhalur in his memory.

Argument between Thiru Mangai Azhvaar and Lord Parimala Rangan
When ThiruMangai Azhvaar reached Indhalur, Lord Parimala Rangan shut the door on him reasoning that he was late. Upset at this, ThiruMangai Azhvaar argued vehemently Parimala Ranganatha.

When a friend keeps a thing that we want and does not want to share with us, we typically say
‘Keep it to yourself’ in jest. Similarly, here, with the Lord not allowing Thirumangai Azhvaar an entry into the temple, the Azhvaar asked Parimala Rangan to keep all his beauty to himself and to enjoy it on his own.

ThiruMangai Azhvaar goes on to argue that the world would talk about the Lord in bad light as he shut the door on the Azhvaar. The Lord ignores this comment of the Azhvaar saying that he need not worry about it and that he will take care of any ill feelings.

Despite repeated attempts to impress the Lord to allow him an entry, Parimala Rangan maintains his silence. A dejected and frustrated Thiru Mangai Azhvaar decided that he would leave the place as the Lord was stubborn at not allowing Darshan to the Azhvaar.

Thiru Mangai Azhvaar says ‘
வாசி வல்லீர் இந்தளுரீர் வாழ்ந்தே போம்நீரே….’ to mean that ‘I am leaving, you yourself live here and enjoy life’.

Sensing that Thiru Mangai Azhvaar may actually leave the place without praising him enough, Lord Parimala Rangan tries to prolong the argument and asks him to sing praise of him. Thiru Mangai Azhvaar replies saying “How can I shower praise on you when you do not allow me to see you”. Lord Parimala Ranga says “You who have sung praises of other Lords, sitting in your place, do sing praise of me too so I can happily listen to your sweet songs.” 

ThiruMangai Azhvaar finally fell for it and composed verses of praise on Parimala Rangan.

Month Long Festival in Aipasi
It is believed that a bath in the Cauvery here during Aipasi is sacred. During this month, the temple attracts devotees from across the country.

King Ambarish built this temple. There are several beautiful sculptures inside this temple.

Quick Facts
Moolavar    : Parimala Ranganathar East Facing Veera Sayana Posture
Utsavar      : Maruviniya Mainthan (also called Sugantha Vana Nathan)
Goddess     : Parimala Ranganayaki- Sugantha Naayaki (Separate Sannidhi)
Time          : 730am-12noon and 5pm-930pm
Priest      :  V. Muralidharan Deekshithar/ Sridhar Bhattar  @  99429 16241/ 99446 64999

How to reach
From Mayavaram, one can take buses going towards Needur, Manalmedu, Kadalangudi (10 minutes from main bus stand). Auto : Auto will charge about Rs. 50/- one way from the bus stand

How to reach Mayavaram
Night trains from Chennai Egmore and one daily day express ( 820am dep). Mayavaram is about 130kms from Trichy, 75kms from Thanjavur and 35kms from Kumbakonam- Buses ever 15minutes

Friday, August 10, 2007

Cricket Tales-VV Kumar in Indian Express

This story on VV Kumar featured in the front page of Indian Express-City Express on Wednesday 8th August 2008

Spinning energy

Wednesday August 8 2007 10:24 IST

Viswanathan Vaman Kumar (VV Kumar to his friends) turned 72 recently but when you meet him it’s easy to find as to why age is no deterrent to this all-time great leggie. He can still turn his arm over and make the youngsters dance to his ‘looping spin’.

His eyes lighten up when you talk to him about ‘loop and turn’ and he instantly hits back saying ‘‘That was our foundation, but it is a forgotten word these days.’’Thirty years after his retirement from first class cricket, VV Kumar can still bowl 15 overs at a stretch and make the ball turn and bounce.

When quipped on this, he says, ‘‘When you do something that is close to your heart, you don’t feel the tiredness. When I played, I enjoyed the game. Total commitment along with the spirit of enjoyment is my secret.’’

During the 1960s and 1970s, which he calls the Golden Era of TN cricket, VV Kumar and Venkataraghavan spun many a team out, working in tandem, after Kalli (Kalyanasundaram) had done the early damage.VV Kumar says with pride, ‘‘Look at the score cards of the 1960s and 1970s and you will find very few big scores by the opposition. Such was our bowling strength.’’

VV Kumar is convinced that spinners are made, not born.

Any regret from his cricketing days? A hesitant VV Kumar confides, ‘‘It came towards the end of the 1970s. I had played for over two decades for Madras/ Tamil Nadu and taken well over 400 Ranji wickets. TNCA did not tell me that I was going to be dropped. And there was a big newspaper article that said ‘VV Kumar dropped’. I thought it was a poor way to treat a player who had served you with glory for over 20 years. It remains my saddest moment in cricket.’’

Kumar feels that spin bowling is all about creating ideas to get a batsman out. Spin bowling is not devoid of ideas. It is a game played in the mind. Kumar says, with a touch of sadness, that today it is all about containing runs and keeping it tight. ‘‘It’s flat and straight these days.’’