Friday, December 31, 2010

Thirumangai Vedu Pari December 2010

How a king turned minstrel
The story of Thirumangai Mannan is enacted at the Srirangam temple

The last of the Azhwars - Thirumangai Azhwar - made a significant contribution, visiting and singing the praise of Lord Vishnu in over 85 temples (Divya Desams). While all other Azhwars got things done by showing love and devotion to the Lord, Thirumangai Azhwar alone was different. The only Azhwar with a spear in his hand, he was aggressive, so much so that even the Lord had to humour him to make him sing His praise - a couple of cases in point being Tiru Indalur and Tiru Ninravur Divya Desams.

Initiated into Vaishnavism

Born in Tiru Kuraiyulur, 2 km from Tiruvali-Tirunagari near Sirkazhi, Thirumangai Mannan (king), who belonged to the Kallar Community, fell in love with the beautiful Kumudavalli of Annan Koil (another Divya Desam near Sirkazhi). To get Thirumangai Mannan initiated into Vaishnavism and devoted to Lord Vishnu, Kumudavalli laid down tough ‘wedding' conditions, one of which was to feed 1,008 Vaishnavites every day. Tirumangai Mannan, in this attempt, lost a lot of his wealth. But determined to fulfil her conditions, he turned a thief and resorted to ‘stealing.'

One night, Thirumangai saw a newly married couple, decked with jewellery, coming his way. It was Lord Ranganatha of Tirunagari taking along with him Amruthavalli Thayar of Tiruvali. In that darkness, in Vedarajapuram (the village between Tiruvali and Tirunagari), Tirumangai waylaid the couple threatening them with his spear.

Having relieved the two of their jewellery, Thirumangai put the booty in a bag but found it too heavy to even lift it from the ground. Lord Ranganatha revealed himself and initiated the bandit king into the ‘Ashtakshara Mantra.' The divine couple appeared in their wedding splendour, a sight that moved the reformed ruler, who became Thirumangai Azhwar.

Thirumangai Azhwar wanted Margazhi Festival to be a Tamil Divya Prabhandam festival as against just the Vedic recital that existed before his time. The 10-day ‘Era Pathu' festival called ‘Thiruvoimozhi Thirunaal' was specially created for the Lord to listen to the beautiful compositions of Nammazhwar.

At the Ranganatha temple in Srirangam, the story of ‘Vedu Pari' is enacted every year as part of the eighth day celebrations of the Era Pathu festival.

The episode took place last week. Namperumal seated atop a golden horse was brought to the sand expanse on the eastern side of the temple.

The deity held in his right hand a sword, javelin and arrows while his left hand held the reins. A speciality was the performance of Kona Vaiyali (zig-zag fast-paced movement).

The gathering was also treated to an enactment of Vedu Pari as young members of the Kallar community armed with long sticks surrounded the deity. Thirumangai, who earlier in the evening walked in as the king (Mannan) with a bow and arrow in hand, was seen in a completely different form at the end of the Vedu Pari, dressed as Azhwar, one who had just received the initiation of the Ashtakshara Mantra.

The drama was followed by a ceremony, where the list of the Lord's jewels was read out.

Rare kind

The events of this annual Vedu Pari Utsavam came to an end with Veena Ekantham, a unique and the only one of its kind veena presentation. Srirangam is the only Divya Desam where this Yaazh Isai tradition of waking up the Lord and putting him to sleep is followed.

Namperumal listened in peace for almost an hour from 1 a.m. to the sweet tunes of the four-member Sathya Kootam Veena Vidwans (Srinivasan, Ramanujam, Govindan and Gopalakrishnan) and their presentation of Thirumangai Azhwar's paasurams.

Their final song on the Vedu Pari night – ‘Eth Sariga Sathanambu Ekantha Ranga' (Vijaya Ranga Sokka Nathar's composition) put Namperumal to sleep after a long and tiring evening with the Lord entering his sanctum at around 2 a.m.

It was Ramanuja, who wanted the veena recital to be an integral part of the daily routine at the Srirangam temple and gave it the most sacred role - that of both waking up the Lord as well as putting him to sleep.

Ramanuja assigned ‘Sathya Kootam,' a clan that belonged to a village near Srirangam for the Yaazh Isai performance. Thus began a tradition at the Ranganatha temple in Srirangam.

This has come to be included in the Limca book of records and the now 76-year old former National College (Tiruchi) Vice-Principal, Veena G. Rangarajan is noted as the 45th descendent of this tradition.

Vedu Pari Highlights

* 8th day of Thiruvoimozhi Thirunal celebrated as Vedu Pari.

* 900-year old ‘Veena Ekantham' tradition.

* Only occasion of Kona Vaiyali inside the temple.

During the 10-day Era Pathu festival, the artists present Yaazh Isai for about an hour every evening. Interestingly, while the daily morning and evening recitals are solo performances with the artist seated, Veena Ekantham during the Era Pathu Thiruvoimozhi festival is presented with the artists standing, the veena tied to their shoulder. In all, they present around 250 paasurams during this Tamil Prabandham festival. In addition, they also present kritis of other composers, including Tyagaraja and Dikshitar.

The tunes are elegant and simple in its presentation and in a conversational style. It takes ten years for an artist to attain proficiency. First, they master the repertoire vocally; then learn to play the veena and finally present the hymns on the instrument.

Different ragas

Every morning at around 5.15, the veena vidwans present for about 30 minutes Thondaradipodi Azhwar's 10 beautiful verses called Thiruppalli Yezhuchi to awaken Lord Ranganatha. The 10 verses of Thondaradipodi are set in five different ragas, one for every two verses - Bhoopalam, Bilahari, Dhanyasi, Malaya Marutham and Saveri.

In the evening for about 20 minutes, from 10 p.m., the team presents Kulasekara Azhwar's Paasurams to put the Lord to sleep. The ragas are Neelambari, Ananda Bhairavi, Sahana, Revati and the recital ends with Neelambari.

They present this daily veena recital for 262 days (there are no recitals on some special festival days) in a year. They also present the recital on another 29 festival days. They were paid Rs. 2.48 a month for their divine service! It is heard that even this miniscule payment has been stopped.

This Story featured in The Hindu Friday Features today ( 31st December 2010)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Periya Thirumozhi Thiru Venkatam Pasuram

Forgive the sins of my Youth

தெரியேன் பாலகனாய், பல தீமைகள் செய்துமிட்டேன்
பெரியேன் ஆயினபின் பிறர்க்கே உழைத்து ஏழை ஆனேன்

கரி சேர் பூம் பொழில் சூழ் கன மா மலை வேங்கடவா
அரியே, வந்து அடைந்தேன் அடியேனை ஆட்கொண்டருளே

Similar to his first Periya Thirumozhi verse, Thirumangai here laments the
sinful and wicked things he did as a young lad.

He says, as he grew up, he worked for others and became poor.

Finally, having experienced the good and bad in life, he says,
he has come here to Thiru Venkatam, where the Lord is surrounded by elephants and groves, to offer himself in complete service of the Lord.

He wonders if the Lord will accept his service!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sirupuliyur Divya Desam

The Bird versus the Serpent
Baala Sayana posture of Lord Kripasamudran is a special feature at the divya desam

Renovation is under way at the Sirupuliyur Kripasamudra Perumal temple, a divya desam, whose legend dates back to Garuda Puranam, where one finds reference to the battle of words between Adisesha and Garuda, the Lord's vehicle, as to who played a more important role in their service to Lord Vishnu.

Seeking a solution to their argument, the two arrived at Sirupuliyur and finally looked up to the Lord himself for his opinion. Finding Garuda a little arrogant in his argument, Lord Vishnu, who appeared as Kripasamudran, went in favour of Adisesha. Fearing an angry reaction from the bird, Adisesha looked for protection and was asked by Lord Kripasamudran to coil himself and lie under him. Unhappy with the decision going against him, it is believed that Garuda decided not to fly over this place. Another story goes that the aged Rishi Vyaakrapadha undertook penance at Chidambaram invoking the blessings of Lord Nataraja for attaining moksham. The rishi was directed to go westwards to Srirangam as Lord Ranganatha was the one equipped with the power to grant Moksham.

Owing to his poor eye sight, the rishi lost his way, went southward and reached Kripa Samudiram. Unable to walk any further, he sat in penance at Sirupuliyur. The Lord appeared in his full sayana posture like the one in Srirangam. Since the sage was not able to take in the big form with his feeble eye sight, He appeared in the form of a child - Baala Sayana.

Azhwar surprised

When Thiru Mangai Azhwar visited this place, initially he felt let down by the tiny size of the Lord. Thirumangai, who had seen different displays and different forms of Lord Vishnu, was then impressed upon by Kripasamudra Perumal that this was indeed something very special and that he should savour for the moment. Then he could come to Thiru Kannamangai (Divya Desam about 25 km south-west of Sirupuliyur) for a darshan of his full form in a standing posture. A happy Thirumangai showered 10 verses of praise on Kripasamudra Perumal in his Periya Thirumozhi referring to the Lord as Sala Sayana Perumal and also making a specific reference to Adisesha.

Prarthana sthalam

As this was the place where Kripasamudra Perumal accorded a special status to Adisesha by placing him above Garuda, this temple is of special significance for relief from Naaga Dosha and Kaala Sarpa Dosha. This is the only divya desam where there is a separate temple for Adisesha.

In addition to the overall renovation including the 75-feet five-tier Raja Gopuram and reconstruction of mandapas, the temple is also looking to build a new Hamsa and Simha Vaahana as well a new chariot. Those interested in contributing to this cause can contact: 99946 48980/ 04366 233477/04144 220425

Quick facts...

Moolavar: Kripasamudra Perumal in a south-facing Bhujanga Sayana posture

Thaayar: Thirumaa Magal Nachiyar

Temple Time: 7 a.m.-12 noon and 5 p.m.-8 p.m.

Important festivals: 10-day Brahmotsavam in Vaikasi and 3-day Avataara Utsavam in Maasi.

How to reach the temple

Sirupuliyur is about 15 km south of Mayiladuturai near Kollumangudi off the Mayavaram-Tiruvarur Highway. One can get down at Kollumangudi and take an auto (Rs. 30) to reach this Divya Desam.

The above story featured in The Hindu Friday Features on 10th December 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Araiyar Sevai - Saving a rare Art

Changing Times - From Thirukurungudi Araiyar to Infosys Araiyar

One of my first temple stories was on the Araiyar of Srivilliputhur in early 2007. In the time that has passed, India has seen a severe slowdown. Broadly, the country seems to have come unscathed as can be seen from the frantic hiring by the IT companies.

This is no IT story, though as you will see at the end there could be an IT connection to this!!!

Its that time of the year when the renowned Araiyar Sevai, a visual song and dance enactment of the ‘Paasurams’ that has been performed at Divya Desams for over 1000 years will be seen at its best. The Tamil Calendar month of Margazhi will see Pagal Pathu and Era Pathu Utsavams in Vaishnavite temples where the Araiyars present the Naalayira Divya Prabhandham during the 21day festival.

A ritual that was once performed in several Divya Desams is now down to three in Tamil Nadu- Srirangam, Srivilliputhur and Azhvaar Thirunagari (near Tirunelveli).


The Araiyar originated in Thirukurungudi, a Divya Desam 40kms from Tirunelveli. Legend has it that the Lord used to listen to Araiyar’s Abhinayam hiding behind a wall in Bashyam Street (South Mada Street). In recognition of this significant event, one still finds the name of this street in Tirunelveli’s Gazette.

Who are Araiyars

Araiyars (King of Music) are descendents of Nathamuni, who is said to have introduced the Araiyar Sevai. Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam himself gave the Araiyars the right to perform the unique musical chanting at the temples and presented them with the cone-like cap, two cymbals and the sacred garland (which they wear around their neck when they perform).

The Araiyars first recite the Paasuram, they then explain its inner meaning and finally perform the Abhinaya, a unique art/dance performance with their hands and legs explaining the Paasurams with special musical effect.

The Araiyar Sevai requires a deep knowledge and understanding of the Paasurams. It is not an easy art, as can be seen from the fact that it takes nearly 20 years to learn and perfect the ‘Abhinaya’.
One of the special ‘Araiyar Sevai’ occasions that is of particular significance is during the Paghal Pathu (10 days) and the Era Pathu (10 days after Vaikunta Ekadesi), when one is treated to a real spectacle with the Araiyars enacting the ‘Story of Andal’ growing into a young beautiful girl through their Abhinaya.

Will Araiyar Sevai become a thing of the past?
Between the slow down and the recovery, we are possibly seeing a dramatic change in the lifestyle of Araiyars.

One Araiyar is now flying high, literally – he has become a pilot, another has just completed BE in Computer Science and might soon land up a job at one of India’s high profile IT companies.
50years ago, they took up jobs as teachers in Schools. Today, they are moving into high pressure jobs in Corporates.

Of worry is the fact that only a handful of Araiyars are keeping this most difficult art going and even they seem to be giving into the lure of the financial world. It is possibly true that they have lived a financially insecure and unstable life for several decades without any form of support, either from the temple or elsewhere.

And hence, the next generation of Araiyars will move to cities like Madras and it is quite possible that we may soon see a deterioration in the enactment of the paasurams, the beginnings of which were seen last year at the Prabhandham Festival in Srirangam where the Araiyars fumbled with the Paasurams and forgot the steps!!!

Araiyars by location vs Araiyars by Profession
In centuries gone by, Araiyars used to be known by the place they belonged to. Hence, you would find a Thirukurungudi Araiyar, Srivilliputhur Araiyar, Thirukannapuram Araiyar, Srirangam Araiyar and so on.

Some time in the near future, they could be known by 'Infosys Araiyar' and 'Pilot Ariayar'.

In some sense, it is a shame that we are losing sight of history, not just the society at large but also those few sacred people who offer their divine services at temples.

In many ways, it is a reflection of the direction that the world is headed towards – A materialistic way of life is the standard norm and not the exception anymore.When one looks back in time, we will find that we have come through lot more difficult phases in history (did we not see the duels between Azhvaars and Nayanmars, did we not protet Srirangam from the Islamic invasion) and hence we should be able to get through this testing phase as well.

Meter Gauge Trains

Over the next year or two, we will sadly see the end of meter gauge lines in Tamil Nadu bringing to end an era where people travelled in smaller compartments, by slower trains, stayed under the bulbs ( lighting) and sat on wooden seats!!! And yet did not seem to complain.

Its another matter that no more do we drink water from the village pumps on the rice fields of Thanjavur or Nellai or travel by cycle rickshaws in Madras and hence not having meter gauge trains seems to be yet another obvious sign of development!!!

With the last phase of gauge conversion (meter gauge to broad gauge) currently taking place, there are only a few sections in Tamil Nadu that still officially remain meter gauge- Madurai-Coimbatore (now Podanur) section, Mayavaram- Tiruvarur, Madurai- Bodi, Tirunelveli- Ambasamudram-Tenkasi and Shengottai-Quilon.

Possibly in 2011-12, we will see the end of meter gauge lines in Tamil Nadu and one more nostalgia of the 'Black & White' days will get into the history books.

Below is a photograph of a meter gauge train moving towards Madurai from Dindigul in its final days ( this section too has got converted to broad gauge)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cycle Rickshaws

A photo that brings old memories - CycleRickshaws/Entyce
The Rickshaw man fighting it out for survival

Cycle Rickshaws used to be a oft used mode of transport in the 1970s in Madras and other parts of Tamil Nadu.

I made a few cycle rickshaw trips in the 1970s in Madras.

And the school uniform in most of my early school years were from entyce, which forms the background to this photograph.

In the last two decades people have not taken a liking to either of these with few exceptions like this one on West Chitrai Street Madurai.

Given this scenario, it is heartening to note that Sundaram Finance Mylapore Festival, the annual festival that celebrates 'Madras that was' in the month of Margazhi, has taken up the cause of the cycle rickshaws in their own little way by organising Heritage trips around Mylapore on the cycle rickshaws.

If not for anything, it will at least take people back to the good old days when they did not feel it odd or shy to travel on a cycle rickshaw discussing on the way all kinds of things with the rickshaw man ranging from the latest MGR movie to political developments in Tamil Nadu and from the local Ranji Trophy match to Sunil Gavaskar scoring 36runs in 60overs under our own Venkataraghavan's captaincy in a World Cup match.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Periya Thirumozhi Thiruvallikeni

This is the only verse in his Periya Thirumozhi where Thirumangai Azhvaar refers to all the four brothers and Sita.

பரதனும் தம்பி சத்ருக்னனும்
இலகுமனோடு மைதிலியும்

இரவும் நன் பகலும் துதி செய்ய நின்ற
இராவனந்தகனை எம்மானை

குரவமே கமழும் குளிர் போழிலூட
குயிலோடு மயில்கள் நின்ற ஆழ

இரவியின் கதிர்கள் நுழைதல் செய்தரியாத்
திருவல்லிக்கேணி கண்டேனே

Thirumangai says that he found here at Thiruvallikeni the handsome Lord Rama surrounded by his three brothers Bharatha, Satrugana and Lakshmana with Sita by his side, amidst cool groves where birds sing and peacocks dance...

Interestingly, Thirumangai also adds that the huge trees here make it difficult for the Sun to pierce into this place.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Karanja Narasimha Ahobilam

Lord provided darshan to Anjaneya in a special form with bow in hand, chakra and as Narasimha

Located 6kms from Lower Ahobilam en-route to Ahobila Narasimha Divya Desam (Singavelkundram) is the Karanja Narasimha temple in Upper Ahobilam, west of the Garudathri Mountain and part of the Nava Narasimha temples in Ahobilam.

The Story

Wanting darshan of his favourite Lord, Anjaneya undertook penance under the Karanja tree at this place.

To test the sincerity of Anjaneya, Lord Narayana appeared before him in his Half-Lion –Half Man Narasimha form. Anjaneya was disappointed not to be blessed by Lord Rama himself.

When Narasimha tried to convince Anjaneya that he was the same as Rama and was only in a different form, Anjaneya dismissed this suggestion saying his Lord was handsome and was one with the bow in hand. And that what he was seeing in front of him was one with very long nails in a fiery posture.

Anjaneya threatened to continue his penance till he had darshan of Rama. Pleased with his devotion for Rama, Narasimha provided Anjaneya darshan in a special form with a bow in his left hand ( like Rama), with Adisesha on top and holding the chakra ( like Narayana) and the half lion-half man Narasimha Avatar, thus convincing Anjaneya that Narayana, Rama and Narasimha were one and the same.

Hence, at this temple one finds Karanja Narasimha with a bow in hand and with a chakra. Anjaneya is seen in a standing posture with folded hands with his face turned towards Karanja Narasimha.

600 Year Old Mandapam
There is a 600 year old 100 pillar mandapam where from the First Jeer of Ahobila Mutt is believed to have delivered lectures.

Priest : Ramesh Bhattar @94418 02368 or Veeraraghava Archagar @ 96032 27118
Temple Time : 9am-4pm

How to reach

From Lower Ahobilam, one can take a share auto (Rs.10per head) to reach this temple
Individual Auto from Lower Ahobilam will cost Rs.60-75/-

Friday, November 5, 2010

Triplicane and Mylapore reference by Thirumangai

மீன் அமர் பொய்கை நாள்மலர் கொய்வான்
வேட்கையினோடு சென்று இழந்த

கான் அமர் வேழும் கை எடுத்து அலற
கரா அதன் காலினைக் கதுவ

ஆனையின் துயரம் தீரப் புள் ஊர்ந்து
சென்று நின்று ஆழி தொட்டானைத்
தேன் மலர் சோலை மாட மா மயிலைத்
திருவல்லிகேனிக் கண்டேனே

Thirumangai in his Periya Thirumozhi verse on Thiruvellikeni talks about
Mylapore and Triplicane in one go indicating that there were big groves and mansions
in Mylapore.

Interestingly, he states that the Lord resides in Mylapore and that he has seen Him in Triplicane, an indication of the history of these two locations in Madras and how they were referred in the same breath in those days.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ranji Trophy Tamil Nadu v Assam November 2010

Rain break and Umpiring!!!
One awaits Match Referee's review of the footage and his action on the way the umpires conducted the operations during the rain break on the 4th evening

On the final evening of the four day Ranji Trophy match between Tamil Nadu and Assam played at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai (November 1-4, 2010), one witnessed some glaring errors from two very reputed umpires- AM Saheba and Sanjay Hazare, both international umpires.

With Tamil Nadu chasing 120 to win, they seemed on track at 84/2 when a sudden heavy downpour forced the players to go in at around 345pm. After a 15-20minute rain spell, the grounds men used the sponge sopper to remove the water from the tarpaulin that had been laid out across the pitch covering the entire 30yard area around the wicket.

Then came the rather shocking sequence of events.

No inspection of the wicket/bowler’s run up after the rain

AM Saheba, who had just given of what seemed to be a couple of rough decisions (Abhinav LBW when the batsman seemed to indicate that it had hit his bat and Dinesh Karthik caught at short leg of the reverse sweep- when the batsman seemed to indicate that it had not hit his bat) prior to the rain break, did not inspect the pitch, the bowlers run up or the 30 yard area after the tarpaulin was removed once the rain had stopped and the sponge sopper had been used.

Only one umpire comes back into the ground during the rain break
The other umpire Sanjay Hazare did not enter the field even once from the time the play was stopped for rain till the time he accompanied his partner Saheba for resumption of play at around 430pm.

When asked at the end of the match as to why he did not inspect the pitch or bowlers run up or the 30yard area, Saheba denied not having inspected and said that he did inspect the pitch, bowlers run up and the square before taking the decision to re-start play. When this writer told him that not once did he go anywhere near the wicket after the tarpaulin was removed, Saheba stuck to ‘I did inspect the wicket and the bowler’s run up and it was fit to start’.

Asked as to why his colleague Sanjay Hazara did not come out on to the ground to check the ground conditions, he said that Hazara was making the calculations on the remaining overs.

When this writer asked the Match referee Rajendrasinh Jadeja as to how Saheba came to the conclusion that the pitch and bowler’s run up on both ends were fine for the play to recommence without having inspected the pitch or bowler’s run up, he said he was inside, in the room, with Sanjay Hazare making the overs calculation and that Saheba came back from the ground and told him that he had inspected the pitch and bowler’s run up and that it was fit to re-start.

Asked as to how Saheba took a call himself without the other umpire, the match referee said that this was team work. 'While Saheba was inside the ground, Hazara was finalizing the over count as a result of loss of play' said Jadeja.

This meant that the call to resume play based on the ground conditions being fit was taken by one umpire i.e Saheba while his colleague Sanjay Hazare was busy inside the room making the overs calculations.

Can one umpire make the decision on the ground regarding the fitness of the ground without the presence of the other umpire?

A reading of Law 3 seems to indicate that the umpires may have violated this law.

‘It is the responsibility of the umpires to monitor the conditions and they must make inspections as often as appropriate, unaccompanied by any of the players or officials. Immediately the umpires together agree that conditions are suitable, they will call upon players to resume the game.’

In this case, only one umpire re-entered the ground during the entire period of the rain break. He did not inspect the pitch or bowler’s run up after the tarpaulin was removed. And he took a singular call (and not a joint call with the other umpire) that the ground was fit to play.

While Saheba denied this writer’s comment that he did not inspect the pitch or bowler’s run up (Match referee also said that Saheba told him that he inspected the pitch and bowler’s run up), the match referee Rajendrasinh Jadeja told this writer that the entire sequence of events during the rain break up has been captured by the video camera and that as part of the process, he would review the video footage and take appropriate action if the footage indicated that Saheba did not inspect the pitch or the bowler’s run up or the square.

It will be interesting to see how this story develops over the next 48hours and also as to what kind of action Srinivas Venkataraghavan takes in this case of just one umpire having come back into the ground (during the entire period of disruption of play) to check the ground condition and the other umpire re entering the field only for the resumption of play.

Immediately after the play re-commenced after the rain break, the fast bowler who was to bowl the 2nd over after the rain break informed the umpire (Sanjay Hazara) that the bowler’s run up was slippery and asked for saw dust. During the time, the saw dust was brought up by the groundsmen, the ball was with the fielder at Mid off. The umpires failed to take possession of the ball during this short interruption which lasted for about 2minutes. It seemed to be an ‘off evening’ for the two umpires.

One of the players that the writer spoke said that they did ask as to how the match was re-started without inspecting the pitch, the run up.

However, Amol Muzumdar, the captain of the Assam, team refused to make any comment stating he was bound by the code of conduct and that he cannot say anything regarding this. He also refused to say if his team would lodge an official protest with the match referee.

As part of the process, match referees do view the footage from the Ranji matches and initiate action whether there are any special 'events' in the match. One will have to wait for the verdict from the Match referee after his review of the footage!!!

For the record, TN won the match by 7wickets.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ahobilam Singavelkundram

Thirumangai Azhvaar in his Periya Thirumozhi refers to this place as Singavel Kundram and says it is almost impossible to visit because of the rocky terrain 
Located about 110kms North West of Cuddapah amidst the dense Nalla Malai Forest of the Achalachaaya Meru mountain range is the Singavelkundram Divya Desam in Ahobilam, one of the 16 prominent Swayam Vyaktha Kshetrams. Reference to Ahobilam is found in 10 chapters (over a 1000slokas) in the Brahmanda Purana. 

Divya Desam- Upper Ahobilam 
It is the Ahobila Narasimha cave temple in Upper Ahobilam (about 8kms from Lower Ahobilam) at the foot of Garudathri at about 3000feet above sea level that Thirumangai Azhvaar visited and sung praise referring to this location in his verses as Singavel Kundram. Ahobila Narasimha is seen in an Ugra Posture with Prahalada standing opposite to him. Narasimha came and stayed here as a hunter and being away from Goddess Lakshmi, married Senjuga Thaayar, who was born and brought up here. Hence, at the Upper Ahobila Narasimha temple, one finds a separate sannidhi for Senjuga Thaayar. The Utsava deity of Ahobila Narasimha Divya Desam is seen at the Lakshmi Narasimha Prahalada Varadan temple at Lower Ahobilam. Bhavanasini River flowed here so Narasimha could clean his hands after the Hiranya samharam. 
Narasimha Avataara Sthalam 
 While Ayodhya is the Avataara Kshetram of Rama and Mathura is the Avataara Kshetram of Krishna, Ahobilam is the place of incarnation and the Avataara Kshetram of Narasimha. This is the shortest of his Avatharams and unlike other avatharams, this one was taken for the sake of one person (Prahalada) answering his sincere prayers.

The name 
This place is popularly referred to as Ahobilam.Thirumangai Azhvaar in his Periya Thirumozhi refers to this  as Singavel Kundram. As there are nine Narasimhas here, this place is also referred to as Nava Narasimha Kshetram. As Garuda undertook penance at the mountain here, this is called Garudachalam. After seeing Narasimha tear apart Hiranyakashipu, the Devas are believed to have exclaimed ‘Aaha’ ‘Balam’ (supreme strength of the Lord). Hence this place came to be known as Aho-Balam. As this is a cave temple, the place also came to be referred as ‘Aho’ ‘Bilam’(cave). 

Nine Forms of Narasimha 
Narasimha is said to exist in one of the nine forms- Ugra, Veera, Jwala, Sarvamukham, Nrisimha, Bisanam, Bhadram, Mrityu and as Vishnu (Lakshmi Narasimha). At any of the Narasimha temples, one would see the Lord in one of these forms. It is only here at Singavel Kundram that one is able to see him in all the nine forms in a single location. (more on each of these nava Narasimhas in a seperate story) 
The Story 
Vishnu took the form of Narasimha (half man-half lion) in this mountainous terrain to kill Asura Hiranyakashipu. The pillar – Ugra Stambha- out of which Vishnu came out in his Narasimha Avataar is seen at the top of the Nalla Malai forest, about 7kms above the Upper Ahobila Divya Desam. It is one of the most exhilarating experiences to make the trip across rocks and water falls to reach the top of this mountain. While it is not an easy task, especially as there is no straight path or steps (unlike a Sholingur), a sincere devotee whose thoughts center around the Lord will be able to make it to the top of this mountain in about 2hours from Ahobila Narasimha temple. 

The difficulty of visiting Singavel Kundram can be seen from this verse of Thirumangai where he says that it is almost impossible to reach this temple as this is a rocky terrain with constant forest fires and the presence of bow wielding hunters. 
முனைத்த சீற்றம் வின்சுடப்போய் 
மூவுலகும் பிறவும் அனைத்தும் அஞ்ச ஆள் அரி ஆய்
இருந்த அம்மானது இடம் 
கனைத்த தீயும் கல்லும் அல்லா 
வில் உடைய வேடரும் ஆய் 
 தினைத்தனையும் செல்ல ஒண்ணாச்
 சிங்கவேழ் குன்றமே - Thirumangai Periya Thirumozhi

Red Blood of Lord Narasimha  
2kms below the Ugra Stambha and 5kms above Ahobila Narasimha Divya Desam is the Jwala Narasimha temple, the exact place where Narasimha tore open Hiranyakashipu. This temple is in a very scenic location, mountains on all sides, with the water fall just about 50yards away. To this day, one can see the red blood below the rock signifying the Hiranya Samharam. At the Jwala Narasimha Sannidhi, one finds Lord Narasimha in the middle in a fiery sitting posture here with 8hands. With a couple of hands, he is seen tearing open Hiranyakashipu and with another two, he is seen holding the Conch and Chakra. The left leg is seen in a folded posture and the right leg hanging on the ground. Prahalada is seen at the feet of the Lord in a praying posture. On the right, one finds Narasimha engaged in the battle with Hiranya. 
Garuda's Penance 
With Lord Vishnu taking a sudden trip to this place to fight Hiranyakashipu, he decided to come on his own leaving behind Garuda at Vaikuntam. Hence, Garuda who normally plays the role of the Lord’s vehicle had to miss the Narasimha Avatar. Unhappy with this, Garuda undertook severe penance in this mountain. Answering his prayers, Lord appeared here as Jwala Narasimha and provided Darshan to Garuda. As per the wishes of Garuda, this Kshetram has been referred to as Garuda Kshetram and the mountain is called Garuda Chalam or Garudathri. In Kritha Yugam, Lord Shiva performed pooja here and praised Narasimha as the Supreme Being uttering the Mantra Raja Mrutha Stotram. In Tretha Yugam, in search of Sita, Rama visited this place and worshipped Ahobila Narasimha singing praise on the Lord in 5 verses - Narasimha Pancha Mrutha Stotram. In Dwapara Yugam, the Pandavas reached Ahobila kshetram and invoked the blessings of Narasimha. In Kali Yugam, Srinivasa of Tirupathi presented ‘Thaligai’ to Lord Narasimha of Ahobilam prior to tying the knot on Padmavathi Thaayar. Adi Sankara who was attacked by evil forces here at Ahobilam praised Narasimha through the Karavalamba Stotram for protecting him. He also installed a Siva Lingam at the Ahobila Narasimha temple. 
Visiting three temples
In an earlier story on Narasimha temples around Villupuram, one had seen as to how it was sacred to visit Singiri, Poovarasan Kuppam and Parikkal in a single day. ( Legend has it that Adhiseshan’s presence is spread across this entire region with his head resting in Tirupathi, his body here at Ahobilam and the tail at Srisailam. The belief is that it is sacred to visit these three temples in one go. 

  Inscriptions-festivals 220days a year 
There are several inscriptions inside both the Lower and Upper Ahobilam temples. 14th Century inscription records the construction of the steps at the Upper Ahobilam (Divya Desam) temple. A 15th century inscription reveals the gifting of the village (Kaluvacheru- Komaragiripuram) by Karama Reddi for the conduct of the daily rituals and worship at the Divya Desam. A mid 16th century inscription reveals the contributions made by Vijayanagar kings. Kakatiya kings also contributed to the improvement of the temple and the mandapas. 
Inscriptions relating to the 16th century provide insights into the building of mandapam, Garuda Stambha and festivals on 220 days in the year relating to the Lower Ahobilam temple. Another interesting inscription refers to ‘Thaligai’ to be presented to the Lord twice a day- once at noon and the other in the evening at the Lower Ahobilam temple. Krishna Deva Raya, who sought the blessings of Ahobila Narasimha before going for a battle, came back after having won the battle and installed the Vijaya Stambha in front of the temple here. Ramanuja and Vedanta Desigar are believed to have visited this temple. 

Azhvaar Praise Thirumangai Azhvaar begins the first of his 10verses on Singalvel Kundram by praising Narasimha's physical strength and his special appearance in a half man-half lion posture and tearing Asura Hiranya’s chest while the world looked awe struck at his power and ability to destroy the Asura. 
அம் கண் ஞாலம் அஞ்ச அங்கு ஓர் ஆள் அரி ஆய் 
அவுணன் பொங்க ஆகம் வள் உகிரால் 
போழ்ந்த புனிதன் இடம் 
பைங்கண் ஆனைக் கொம்பு கொண்டு பத்திமையால் 
அடிக்கீழ்ச் செங்கண் ஆளி இட்டு இறைஞ்சும் 
சிங்கவேழ் குன்றமே 

Ahobila Mutt 
In the late 14th Century, the Lord is said to have initiated Adivan Sadagoopan to launch the mutt here at Ahobilam to propagate the Vishista Dwaitha philosophy. This is home to the 600+ years old Ahobila Mutt. In the last two decades, the Nava Narasimha temples have seen renovation efforts thanks to the efforts of the Mutt. Out of the Nava Narasimha Utsava idols, the Utsava deity of Malola Narasimha temple is the abhisheka idol of the Ahobila Mutt Jeer. It was also the 44th Jeer of Ahobila Mutt who was responsible for the construction of the Rajagopuram at Srirangam.  
Currently, there are festivals on 180days of the year. 
Kalyana Utsavam, Swati Homam and Specific Prarthana Abhishekams are particularly sacred here.
Vaikasi - 10day Narasimha Jayanthi Aippasi 
10day Pavitrotsavam – 4days Lower Ahobilam, 6days Upper Ahobilam 
Thai- Maasi - 45day procession to 33villages around Ahobilam 
Panguni - 12day Brahmotsavam 
Chitrai - Week long utsavam for Pavana Narasimha 

Every month, on the Swathi Nakshatram, there is a special Abhishekam for all the nine Narasimhas

Quick Facts 
Moolavar : Ahobila Narasimha, East Facing Sitting Posture with Prahalada standing opp the Lord
Thaayar : Amruthavalli, Shenjaga Lakshmi 
Utsavar : Narasimha (9 different idols) 
 Azhvaar : Thirumangai Azhvaar (10 Paasurams in Periya Thirumozhi)

 Priest : K.Venugopal (Ramesh) –Chief Archakar @ 94418 02368 or 08519 252097 Ahobila Narasimha Divya Desam- M. Veeraraghava Archagar @ 96032 27118
Time : Upper Ahobilam – Ahobila Narasimha temple 7am-1pm and 2pm-7pm
Lower Ahobilam – Prahalada Varadan temple 630am-1pm and 3pm-8pm 
Other Narasimha temples - 10am-5pm(1pm-2pm rest) 

Where to stay 
Ahobila Mutt has a nice guest house at Lower Ahobilam in front of the Prahalada Varadan temple. For room booking, contact Badri Narayanan-Manager @ 94905 15284 

Vegetarian Food 
There is vegetarian food outside the Ahobilam guest house as well as a Udupi hotel. Temple Thaligai is another option 

How to reach 
By Train Chennai Egmore-Cuddapah (Kacheguda Exp -5pm dep) or Chennai Central-Cuddapah(Bombay mail 1045pm dep). Bus every 30minutes from Cuddapah to Allagadda (84kms- takes 2hours) on the Nandiyal-Kurnool-Hyderabad route. From Arlagadda, one can take another bus to Lower Ahobilam (24kms) - Buses every one hour and takes 30-45minutes. 

A taxi from Cuddapah station to Ahobilam will cost Rs.1500/- (one way) Bus Three direct buses every evening from Chennai Koyembedu bus stand to Allagadda (10hours) via Tirupati-Cuddapah (Kadapa) and return buses from Allagada at 630pm,8pm and 845pm back to Chennai.(Rs.260 per head)

  Lower Ahobilam to Upper Ahobilam A share auto will charge Rs.10per head from Lower to Upper Ahobilam (one can visit Karanja temple on the way).

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gopurapatti Adhi Nayaka Perumal Temple

Tharpanam for 12000 Vaishnavites is performed here on No Moon day in Aadi in memory of their sacrifice fighting the Islamic Invasion at Srirangam in the 14th Century
Renovation took place on 27th August after 512years

Located 20kms North West of Trichy near Manasanallur between two rivers Peruvalavan and Kamba (these have gone into extinction and are currently seen in the form of a small canal) is the Adhi Nayaka Perumal temple in Gopurapatti, where the Moolavar is seen in a Bala Sayana Posture with a Measuring Instrument.

After a gap of over 500years, the Samprokshanam of the temple took place last month. Only a couple of years ago, this temple was in a completely dilapidated condition. Prior to this, renovation was undertaken by Hoysala King Veera Vallalan in the 14th Century and the last one by a Lankan King in the late 15th Century. Hence, this temple can be said to be at least 700years old.

The Story

In the 14th Century, Srirangam was ravaged by the Islamic invasion. During this period, lasting close to 50years some of the residents fled the place but many others stayed on to fight the invaders. Over 10000 Vaishnavites gave up their lives fighting to protect Srirangam from these invaders. In memory of them, every year, during the No Moon day in the Tamil Calendar month of Aadi, Tharpanam takes place on the banks of the Peruvalavan River in Gopurapatti.

It was a km from here at the Sundara Raja Perumal Koil in Azhagiya Manavalam that Namperumal, the Utsava deity of Srirangam, was safeguarded during those years and was taken back to the Srirangam temple at the end of the battle against the invaders. (

Measuring Instrument
There was a lot of land belonging to the Srirangam temple in the area around Azhagiya Manavalam and Gopurapatti. It was here at the Adhi Nayaka temple that the farmers congregated to measure the rice they would present every month to the Srirangam temple. Hence, the Lord here is seen with a measuring tool.

Quick Facts
Moolavar : Adhi Nayaka Perumal Bala Sayanam
Goddess : Adhi Nayaki (Separate Sannidhi)
Temple Time: 9am-1pm and 4pm-8pm
Priest : Murali Bhattar @ 94431 83939

How to reach Gopurapatti
Take the Thuraiyur Mofussil bus from Chatiram Bus Stand. Get down at Manasanallur. Mini Bus every 30minutes to Gopurapatti from Manasanallur (5kms) via Azhagiya Manavalam.

Auto from Manasanallur to Gopurapatti will cost Rs.100/-

(A version of this story featured in The Hindu dated 22nd October 2010)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thiruneermalai Thirumangai Paasuram

Four in One says Thirumangai Azhvaar

அன்று ஆயர் குலக் கொடியோடு அணி மா மலர்
மங்கையொடு அன்பு அளாவி, அவுணர்க்கு

என்றானும் இரக்கம் இலாதவனுக்கு
உறையும் இடம் ஆவது, இரும் பொழில் சூழ்
நன்று ஆய புனல் நறையூர்
திருவாலி, குடந்தை, தடம் திகழ் கோவல்நகர்

நின்றான், இருந்தான், கிடந்தான், நடந்தாற்கு
இடம் மா மலை ஆவது, நீர்மலையே-

Thirumangai Azhvaar Periya Thirumozhi

In this verse, Thirumangai refers to Lord Kannan as the spouse of Nappinai ( the cowherd lady)and Lakshmi (the Lotus Goddess) who was merciless in killing the asuras to protect the world at large.

Giving Thiruneermalai a special status, Thirumangai compares it with Naraiyur, Thiruvali, Thiru Kudanthai and Thiru Kovilur and reveals that one can see the Lord of all these four temples at Thiruneermalai.

In his reference to Thiru Naraiyur, Thirumangai refers to the standing Lord residing amidst groves in the well watered town. He refers to Kudanthai as the Lord in a sleeping posture, to Thiruvali, where the Lord is seen sitting and to Thiru Kovilur as the one in a standing posture.

In conclusion Thirumangai says that on the hills of Thiruneermalai, one can find him in all these four postures and hence it is sacred to visit this place.

Vadarangam Ranganatha

Ranganatha seen in a Bala Sayanam Posture
A unique feature is that Coloroon runs North-South at this place
Prarthana Sthalam for Husband-Wife reunion

Located 12kms West of Seerkazhi on the Eastern banks of Coloroon is the Ranganatha temple in Vada Rangam. Similar to Srirangam, this temple is located between two rivers – Coloroon and Rajan River. Also, there is a saivite temple in the same location (similar to Thiruvanai Koil)

The temple was originally located right on the Coloroon banks but floods in 1924 washed away a major portion of the temple.

Hence, a new temple was constructed about 200yards off the place where the original temple was located. One now finds a Rama Sannidhi at the original location of the Ranganatha temple.
A special feature of the location of this temple is that Coloroon runs in the North- South direction (one usually finds Coloroon in the East-West direction).

The story

This temple dates back several centuries as can be seen from the historical stories relating to this temple.

Asura Vikraman had become unstoppable after obtaining the powers to kill all Devas. Answering the prayers of the Devas, Lord Vishnu is believed to have come here and defeated him much to the delight of the Devas. As per the instruction of Vishnu, the Devas bathed at the Theertham here. Hence, this is said to be very sacred.

Cauvery got liberated from Agastya’s curse and re-united with her husband Samudra Raja at this place. Hence, this is said to be a prarthana Sthalam for re-union of husband-wife.

Another story goes that a Saurashtra king was liberated from a serious ailment after bathing in the sacred theertham here. Pleased with this, he donated land for Chariot Festival to be conducted in Vaikasi.

Legend has it Sage Vashista directed Vishwakarma to visit this place and design the temple architecture.

10day Brahmotsavam in Vaikasi
Maasi Utsavam
Vaikunta Ekadesi
Rama Navami

Quick Facts
Moolavar   : Ranganatha in a Bala Sayanam Posture
Thaayar      : Ranganayaki East Facing
Priest        : Soundara Narayana Bhattar @ 97872 13235
Temple Time : 7am-12noon and 5pm-8pm

How to reach
From Seerkazhi, cross the railway line (Seerkazhi Station), new bye pass road and drive 12kms West to reach this temple.

Buses every ½ hour between Seerkazhi and Vadarangam (Bus No.A8)
(First bus at 5am)

Auto from Seerkazhi and back will cost about Rs.250/-.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thirumangai Thiruchitrakoodam Paasuram

Visit Thillai Thiru Chitrakoodam and you will find a sudden calm and peace in yourself

கையோடு நீடு கனி உண்டு,
வீசு கடுங்கால் நுகர்ந்து, நெடுங்காலம் ஐந்து

தீயோடு நின்று, தவம் செய்ய வேண்டா
திரு மார்பனைச் சிந்தையுள் வைத்தும் என்பீர்

வாய் ஓது வேதம் மலிகின்ற தோல் சீர்
மறையாளர் நாளும் முறையால் வளர்ந்த

தீஒங்க ஓங்கப் புகழ் ஓங்கு
தில்லைத் திருச்சித்ரகூடம் சென்று சேர்மின்களே

To those seeking to keep the Lord in their hearts, Thirumangai Azhvaar provides a simple solution. He asks them not to undertake severe penance living just on fruits and vegetables, drinking thin air.

He says that they need not stand between the five fires.

Just visit Thillai Thiruchitrakoodam where Govindarajan resides amidst
the daily chanting by Vedic Seers
and see the transformation in yourself, says Thirumangai.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thiru Kudanthai Periya Thirumozhi Pasuram

ஆவியே, அமுதே என நினைந்து உருகி
அவர் அவர் பனை முளை துணையாய்

பாவியேன் உணராது எத்தனை பகலும்
பழுதுபோய் ஒழிந்தன நாள்கள்

தூவி சேர் அன்னம் துணையோடு புணரும்
சூழ் புனல் குடந்தையே தொழுது

என் நாவினால் உய்ய நான் கண்டுகொண்டேன்
நாராயணா என்னும் நாமம்

In this Periya Thirumozhi verse, Thirumangai Azhvaar talks about how
sinned we are going behind women and how we all realise late that it
has been a complete waste of time.

Only when one visits Thiru Kudanthai and experiences the pure water of the Cauvery
amidst the bustling sounds of the birds, does one finally wake up to the fact
that chanting Narayana's name is the ultimate route to salvation... and that we should not waste time in other worldly pleasures.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Koviladi Appakudathan Renovation

This Pancha Ranga Kshetram is looking for funds for renovation

Utren, Uganthu Pani Seithu Un Paadham Petren 
Eethey Inmai Venduvathu Enthaai
Katraar Maraivaanargal Vaazh Thiruperaarku
Atraar Adiyaar Thamakku Allal Nillaavey
                                                  - Thiruvoimozhi Paasuram on Thirupernagar

It was on the Lord of Thirupernagar that Nam Azhvaar dedicated the last of his Divya Prabhandham verses before attaining the feet of the Lord and hence the credit for ‘NamAzhvaar Moksham’ goes to this Lord.
A Pancha Ranga Kshetram, the Appala Ranganatha Divya Desam at Koviladi (Azhvaars in their Paasurams refer to this place as Thirupernagar) is located on a mound right on the banks of Cauvery 25kms from Trichy /Srirangam and 6kms East of Kallanai. One has to climb 21steps to reach the sanctum.

Four of the Azhvaars (Thirumangai, Thirumazhisai, Peri Azhvaar and NamAzhvaar) have showered 33 verses of praise on Appaala Rangan of Thirupernagar. As seen from the above verse of Nam Azhvaar, Thirupernagar was once home to great Vedic scholars and one where there was non-stop Vedic Chanting.

Inscription on the Northern wall of the temple that dates back several centuries indicate that there were donations made towards construction of a Maha Mandapam.

The name Koviladi
Legend has it that Appaala Ranganatha was the one who led the way and measured the steps to Srirangam (Ranganatha) and hence the name ‘Kovil - Adi’ (Srirangam is referred to as the ‘Kovil’ among Divya Desams and Adi means ‘Step’) and hence the belief is that Koviladi dates back to a period prior to the Srirangam temple. 
A divya desam with such a rich history has been in bad shape in recent times. Moolavar Appa Kudathan seen in a grand Bhujanga Sayana Posture facing West has been resting amidst broken temple walls, cracked temple tower and almost a collapsing Madapalli (cooking area)!! The good news is that the temple authorities have finally decided to renovate the temple. 

The Story of the Lord eating Appam 
King Uparisiravasu, while on a hunting expedition, accidentally killed a Brahmin, mistaking him for an animal. Cursed by Sage Durvasa, the King lost all his powers. To get himself liberated from the curse, he was asked to feed one lakh Brahmins. While he was undertaking this process, Lord Narayana, disguised as an old hungry Brahmin, visited the king here at Thirupernagar. Taking the opportunity to feed another Brahmin, the king took special care of his guest. But to his dismay, the old Brahmin consumed all the food that had been prepared that day. 

Not satisfied with what he had just consumed, the disguised Lord asked the king to feed him a pot (Kudam) of ‘Appam’ (a sweet rice cake delicacy). The moment he consumed the pot of ‘Appam’, the King was liberated from his curse and regained his lost powers. 
Being the one who consumed a pot of this sweet delicacy, the Lord here is called ‘Appa Kudathan’. To this day, one finds the ‘Appam’ ‘Kudam’ to the right of the Sleeping Lord inside the sanctum. This is the only Divya Desam where Appam is offered daily to the Lord. 

Pancha Ranga Kshetram
Another significance of the Appala Rangam Divya Desam is that this is a Pancha ‘Rangam’ Kshetram – said to be the most sacred of Ranganatha temples. The other four of the Pancha Ranga temples are Aathi Rangam (Srirangapatna), Madhya/Kasturi Rangam (Srirangam), Chathurthara / Saarangam (Thiru Kudanthai) and Anthima/Parimala Rangam (Thiru Indhalur).
Appala Rangan lures Thirumangai 
Thirumangai Azhvaar was so enticed by the Lord at Thirupernagar that he continued to be reminded of  Appaala Rangan even after he left Koviladi and moved on to Thiruvellarai (a Divya Desam on the Northern side of Coloroon) as can be seen from this verse in Periya Thirumozhi: 
“Thulakkamil Sudarai, Avunan Udal Pilakkum Mainthanai
Peril Vanangippoi Alappilaar Amuthai, 
Amararku Arul Vilakkinai Sendru
Vellarai Kaandumey” 

The 13 day Brahmotsavam in Panguni, Kaisika Dwadasi in Karthigai, Theertha Vari at the Cauvery on the Maasi Magam and NamAzhvaar Moksham during Era Pathu in Margazhi are special occasions at this temple. 

Those interested in contributing to the renovation of this ancient Divya Desam can contact: 94431 83618 / 97150 37810 / 99524 68956. 

Quick Facts
Moolavar         : Appa Kudathan West Facing Bhujanga Sayanam 
Utsavar            : Appaala Rangan
Goddess           : Indira Devi / Kamalavalli
Temple Time   : 730am-1pm and 430pm-8pm
How to reach Koviladi: 
 One can reach Koviladi by taking Trichy- Kallanai - Thirukattupalli route. Buses ply every half hour from Trichy Central bus stand and Chathiram Bus Stand. Taxi from Srirangam/Trichy to Koviladi and back will cost Rs.350-400.

Highlights of Koviladi Divya Desam
One of the Sacred Pancha Ranga Kshetram
Nam Azhvaar Moksham is credited to the Thirupernagar Lord
Only Divya Desam where Appam is given to the Lord every day

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Erettai Tirupathi

Nam Azhvaar saw Lord Devapiraan of Erettai Tirupathi as both his father and mother, While the ladies here were always uttering and chanting the name of 'Aravinda Lochana'

Two Temples at Thulai Villi Mangalam, referred to as Erettai Tirupathi, about 100 yards of each other on the Northern banks of Tamaraibarani make up one Divya Desam

Nam Azhvaar has sung 11 verses of praise on Devapiran and Aravinda Lochana, the deities of the twin temples, located about 10kms East of Sri Vaikuntam. There is now a lot of freshness about the place now with a school and a hospital set up TVS, with these two temples receiving a face lift as well.

Devapiran Temple

When Rishi Suprabar dug the ground here for a yagna he was performing, he found a bow and a measuring scale, which turned into a handsome young man and a beautiful girl thus relieving them from Kubera’s curse.

Nam Azhvaar saw and attained Lord Devapiraan of Erettai Tirupathi as both his father and mother in thought, word and deed.

சிந்தையாலும் சொல்லாலும் செய்கையாலும்
தேவபிரானையே தந்தை தாய் என்று அடைந்தவன்
குருகூர் சடகோபன் 

The name
As one found a bow and measuring scale, this place came to be called ‘Thulai’ ‘Villi’ Mangalam.

Karthigai Brahmotsavam
Thai Fridays
Puratasi Saturdays

Quick Facts

Moolavar: Devapiran Standing Posture
Goddess : Karunthadakanni Thaayar
Contact : Seshamani Bhattar @94424 90567 / S. Raghu Bhattar @ 94878 31689

Aravinda Losanar Temple

100 yards North of Devapiran temple is the Aravinda Losanar temple. Pleased with Sage Suprabar’s devotion of offering Lotus flowers every day without fail., Lord provided darshan in a standing posture. As he adorned himself with the Lotus flowers, he is referred to as Aravinda Losanar. Belief is that those who offer sincere prayers here with Lotus flowers will be relieved from their sins.

In the Thiruvoi Mozhi Verse on Aravinda Lochana Divya Desam, Nam Azhvaar refers to this prosperous temple as being in Thulai Villi Mangalam on the Northern Bank of Porunai River (Tamaraibarani) where there was constant Vedic Chanting and where the ladies were always uttering the name of ‘Aravinda Lochana’.

திருந்து வேதமுகம் வேள்வியும்
திரு மா மகளிரும் தாம் மலிந்து
இருந்து வாழ் பொருநாள் வடகரை
வான் தொலைவில்லி மங்களம்

கருந்தடம் கணி கைதொழுத அந் நாள்
தொடங்கி இன் நாள்தோறும்
இருந்து இருந்து, அரவிந்த லோசன
என்று என்றே நைந்து இறங்குமே

Festivals: 10day Aipasi Brahmotsavam
Moolavar: Aravinda Losanar
Goddess : Karunthadakanni Thaayar
Contact  : Ramanan Bhattar @ 94435 54570

Azhvaar : NamAzhvaar (11 Paasurams)
Time      : 9am-1pm and 2pm-6pm

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thirupulingudi Kaisini Venthar Divya Desam

Bhoomi Paalar is seen in a Bhujanga Sayana Posture
Guru Sthalam
NammAzhvaar refers to both the place and the name of the Lord in the same verse

Located 1km East of Natham Varagunamangai Divya Desam is the Thiru Pulingudi Divya Desam (part of the Nava Tirupathi) on the Northern Banks of Tamaraibarani,where Lord Kaasini Venthar is seen in a Bhujanga Sayanam Posture with Sridevi and Bhoodevi by his side.

The Story
Lord Vishnu along with his consort Sridevi came down to the banks of Tamaraibarani to spend sometime. Angered at being left out, Bhoodevi hid herself in the nether world causing draught and darkness everywhere.

Reasoning out that she was as dear as Sridevi, Lord Vishnu brought her back from the Nether World and gave darshan here at Pulingudi.

The Name- Bhoomi Paalar
As he brought Bhoo devi here, Lord is referred to as ‘Bhoomi Paalar’ at this temple.

Another story goes that a king who ignored the rishi’s presence was cursed to become an asura. Indra, who had Brahmahathi Dosham as a result of killing a rishi, in disguised form as a deer, had bath at the Theertham here and offered prayers to Bhoomi Paalar to get liberated from his curse. Pleased with this, Indra performed a yagna here at Thiru Pulingudi. The asura, who tried to prevent the yagna was killed by Vishnu and thus was liberated from his curse.

Sayana Kolam
One can see the feet of Lord Bhoomi Paalar from a wall opening while one goes around the temple.

Azhvaar Praise
NamAzhvaar in his praise refers to the Lord as Kaisini Venthar.

காய்சின பறவை ஊர்ந்து 
பொன் மலையின் மீமிசை கார் முகில் போல
மாசினமாளி மாலிமான் என்று அங்கு
அவர் படக் கனன்று, முன் நின்ற

காய் சின வேந்தே, கதிர் முடியானே
கலி வயல் திருபுளிங்குடியாய்
காய் சின ஆழி, சங்கு, வாழ், வில், தண்டு
ஏந்தி எம் இடர் கடிவானே
- Thiruvoi Mozhi - 9th 10

For auto to Nava Tirupathi temples contact:  9442370844 / 94435 27620  or For Cabs @ 9952755336

Quick Facts
Moolavar : Kaisini Venthar Bhujanga Sayanam
Thayar     : Malarmagal Thaayar, Bhoodevi, Sridevi
Azhvaar    : Nam Azhvaar (12 Paasurams)

Temple Time: 9am-12noon and 1pm-6pm
Contact      : Gopalakrishnan Bhattar @ 04630 256116 or 93666 18185

How to reach
Thiru Pulingudi is about 4kms East of Srivaikuntam on the Tuticorin road One can take an auto or taxi from outside the Srivaikuntam temple to visit the Nava Tirupathi temples- will cost Rs.350-400.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Varagunamangai Divya Desam

Vijayaasana Perumal at Natham
NamAzhvaar refers to Srivaikuntam, Pulingudi and Varagunamangai Lord in a single paasuram

Located 2kms East of Srivaikuntam Divya Desam is the Vijayaasana Perumal Divya Desam in Natham (Varagunamangai), where the Lord is seen in a grand sitting posture. This is part of the Nava Tirupathi Divya Desams,on either side of Tamaraibarani.

The Story

A Brahmin undertook penance here at Varagunamangai chanting the ‘Aasana Mantra’. Pleased with his prayers, the Lord provided darshan at this place. As the Brahmin attained moksham as a result of his chanting the ‘Aasana Mantra’, the Lord here came to be referred to as ‘Vijaya’ ‘Aasana’ Perumal.

Another story goes that a fisherman, who had cast a net at this Theertham, was bitten by a snake and immediately attained moksham thus reaching the abode of the Lord.

Romasa rishi narrated to his son the story of the fisherman attaining moksham referring to his previous life as a king, who had performed harsh acts and hence had to lead the current life as a fisherman.

But sincerity in performing all his duties in this life led him to attaining the Lord’s feet. As he attained moksham here, the theertham at this temple is said to be sacred.

Azhvaar Praise

NamAzhvaar in his only Paasuram refers to the Standing Lord at SriVaikuntam, the Sleeping Lord at Thiru Pulingudi and the sitting Lord here at Varagunamangai.

புளிங்குடி கிடந்தது, வரகுணமங்கை இருந்து, வைகுந்தத்தில் நின்று
தெளிந்த என் சிந்தையகம் கழியாதே
என்னை ஆள்வாய்-எனக்கு அருளி

நளிர்ந்த சீர் உலகம் மூன்றுடன் வியப்ப
நாங்கள் கூத்து ஆடி நின்று ஆர்ப்ப
பளிங்கு நீர் முகிலில் பவளம்போல் கனிவாய்
சிவப்பா, நீர் காண வாராயே

Serpent Lord at Srivaikuntam and NathamWhile at Srivaikuntam,west of this temple, Adisheshan has his hood atop a standing Kallarpiran, here at Varagunamangai, the serpent king is seen unfurling his hood atop Vijayaasanar, seen in a grand sitting posture, with one leg folded and the other feet on the ground.

Quick Facts :

Moolavar : Vijayaasanar Perumal in a Sitting Posture Facing East
Goddess : Varagunamangai and Varagunavalli Thaayar
Azhvaar : NamAzhvaar (1)
Temple Time : 9am-12noon and 1pm-6pm
Contact : Rajagopal Bhattar @ 98656 52280 / 94864 92279

How to reach

Natham is 1km East of Sri Vaikuntam Divya Desam. One can cover the Nava Tirupathi Divya Desams by using a cab or an auto from SriVaikuntam

Taxi to cover Nava Tirupathi Divya Desams

Taxi from Tirunelveli to cover Nava Tirupathi Divya Desams will cost Rs.800-1000/-
Contact: 94436 71632 for taxi 

For auto to Nava Tirupathi temples contact:  9442370844 / 94435 27620  or For Cabs @ 9952755336
Buses between SriVaikuntam and Tuticorin ply on this route

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sathurangapatnam Malai Mandala Perumal Koil

Lord Varadar is seen in a walking posture with his feet at the same level as the head of Garuda
Presence of Ashta Naaga Garuda- A Prarthana Sthalam for liberation from Sarpa Dosham
Several special features make this an interesting temple

Located about 15kms South of Thiru Kadal Mallai Divya Desam and a couple of kms ahead of Kalpakkam on the Thirukazhakundram-Kalpakkam SH 58 is the ancient Mani Mandala Perumal Koil in Sathurangapatnam (Sadras), one that has several interesting features.

The name of the location
Believed to be well over a 1000years old and originally located on a hill, this place dates back to the period of Vijayendra Chozha and was called Raja Narayana Patnam named after the minister of the Chozha.

Later, during the Vijayanagara rule, this came to be referred to as Sathura-Vasam- Patnam, which in course of time became Sathurangapatnam. While the Dutch referred to this place as ‘Sadras’, the name ‘Sathurangapatnam’ has come to stay.
This was originally a Lakshmi Narayana temple. Later, with Varadaraja Perumal appearing here as a Swayambu Murthy, Lakshmi Narayana is said to have given way for Lord Varadaraja.

Lord in 3 forms
At this temple, one finds Varadaraja Perumal in an East facing standing posture along with Sri and Bhoo Devi. Lord Narayana is seen in a sitting posture with Goddess Lakshmi on his lap. A special feature of Lakshmi Narayana is that it is made of a single stone. Ranganatha is seen in a Sayana Kolam facing the South.

Walking Posture of Varadaraja Perumal

Lord Varadar is seen almost in a walking posture with his right leg slightly ahead of the left leg, reminding one of Gajendra Moksham. An interesting feature at this temple is that feet of Lord Varadar is at the same level as the head of Garuda, seen opposite the main sannidhi, indicating the slightly raised position of the sanctum. Bhoo devi is seen slightly shorter in height than Sridevi, an indication of her holding the pressures of the earth. Also, at this temple, we find Bhoodevi looking and smiling at us rather than Sri devi.

Ashta Naga Garuda

Yet another interesting feature is the presence of Garuda seen here in an Ashta Naaga Posture- 1snake on his head, 2 each on his ears, shoulders and chest and one on his hip. Hence, this place is said to be a Prarthana Sthalam for liberation from Naaga Sarpa Dosham.

Just next to the Lakshmi Narasimha is a special lamp on whose four sides is Garuda, with a leg on the Peedam and another stamping a snake. Below the lamp at the base are 6 parrots seen in a posture of holding the lamp. Every shravanam, a special pooja is performed here.

Yoga Narasimha above the Dwarapalakas

At the entrance, one normally sees Lakshmi above the Dwarapalakas. But at this temple, one finds Yoga Narasimha. On Pradhosham days and Swathi star day, sweet milk is first presented to Yoga Narasimha before serving to Lord Varadaraja Perumal.

Bhoothath Azhvaar’s presence here

The first of the Azhvaars, Bhoothath Azhvaar, is said to have stayed at this place. He is seen in a Gnana Mudra Posture similar to the one at Thiru Kadal Mallai Divya Desam.

400year old Inscription

At the main temple door, one finds an inscription, in Tamil and Telugu, dating back to 1603.


Vaikunta Ekadesi
On Maasi Magam, Lord leaves the temple for his only street Procession of the year for a Theertha Vaari at the Sea. This entire festival is hosted by the fishermen community.

Quick Facts
Moolavar : Varadaraja Perumal East Facing Standing Posture/ Narayana/Ranganatha
Thaayar : Perundevi Thaayaar/Mahalakshmi
Time: 730am-11am, 430pm-8pm
Priest:Sridhar Bhattar@95852 12797 / 044 27489064

How to reach

Bus No. 108 from Chennai to Sathurangapatnam via Chengalpet
Bus No. 118 from Chennai to Sathurangapatnam via ECR/Mahabalipuram
From Chengalpet, one can reach via Thirukazhakundram (about 28kms)
By car, one should drive 12kms on the Mahabalipuram-Pondicherry highway and take a left at the Vengambakkam Junction. Sathurangapatnam temple is 4kms from this junction.
From Vengambakkam Four Road Junction, an auto will cost about Rs.40 to this temple.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

kothandarama Pon Vilaintha Kalathur

1000 year old Pattabhisheka Rama is seen with Sita on his lap

The third in the set of Vishnu temples in Pon Vilaintha Kalathur, near Chengalpet, is the thousand year old Kothandarama temple. The other temples in PV Kalathur are Lakshmi Narayana temple and Chathurbhuja Rama temple.

This temple is as old as the village itself. The moolavar deity is Pattabhi Rama, seen in a Grand Pattabhisheka sitting posture with Sita on his left lap and Lakshmana by his side. The marks one finds on the Moolavar Rama deity is an indication of the history of the temple.

Venkata Varadan
The moolavar Venkata Varadan deity was found under the earth when the Maha Mandapam of Kothandarama temple and one now sees the handsome 6ft Venkata Varadan, seen with a Abhayam in a South Facing posture. When Kothandarama went on a procession to Edayur hill, near here, the Srinivasa Utsava deity was brought here as the utsava deity could not be maintained in that place.

The temple in its current form is about 500years old and was renovated by the Ahobila Mutt, with sacred water from Vilokoli Perumal Temple at Thoopal (Kanchi), the birth place of Vedantha Desigar.


1day Rama Navami (9th day)
Aipasi Pavitrotsavam

Quick Facts

Moolavar : Pattabhi Rama with Sita on his left lap and Lakshmana to his right
Utsavar : Kothandarama with Sita

Moolavar: Abhaya Venkata Varadar with Sridevi and Bhoodevi
Utsavar: Srinivasan
Goddess : Alarmel Mangai Thaayar

Temple Time: 8am-1030am, 5pm-730pm

Priest: Kasturi Rangan Bhattar @ 044 27441142 / 94437 06842

How to reach:

Pon Vilaintha Kalathur is about 65kms from Madras, near Ottivakkam Railway Station.
There are direct buses to the temple from Chengalpet.
One can also take passenger train to Ottivakkam and walk to this temple from the station
One can take an auto or taxi from Chengalpet (10kms)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Namakkal Narasimha

Three Temples of Namakkal

Anjaneya carried the Saligrama stone which turned here into a mountain
Ranganatha is seen in a ‘Karkodaya’ Sayana Posture

Located about 55kms from Salem off the Bangalore- Kanyakumari NH 7 is the Narasimha temple at the Saligrama Cave Hill in Namakkal. Opposite the Narasimha temple is the Anjaneya temple where he is seen in a standing posture facing Lord Narasimha. Behind the Narasimha temple on the Eastern side is the Ranganatha temple, where the Lord is seen in a Karkodaya Sayana posture.

The Story
Given the urgency of the situation, Lord Vishnu had to make a sudden trip to slay Asura Hiranya. He embarked on this mission, on his own, without Goddess Lakshmi and Garuda. Having missed the Narasimha Avatar, Goddess Lakshmi requested him for a darshan of the Lord as Narasimha. She was asked to chant the Thiru Mandhiram at Kamalalayam banks.

At the end of the Ramayana, Anjaneya went to place the Sanjeevani Mountain back at its original location. After doing so, he found the sacred Saligrama stone on the banks of Kantaka River. On his way back, he stopped by at the Kamalalaya Pushkarni to perform his morning prayers. Finding Goddess Lakshmi undertaking penance here, he placed the Saligrama on her hand and went ahead with his prayers.

A little later, after his prayers, Anjaneya came back to find the Saligrama missing from her hands. Goddess Lakshmi told him that she found it too heavy to hold and hence had placed it on the ground only for it to turn into a Saligrama mountain.

Being the one who carried the huge Sanjeevani Mountain, it would not be too much of a task for him to carry the Saligrama Mountain as well, she said.

Narasimha provides darshan to Anjaneya and Lakshmi

As per her direction, Anjaneya unleashed his tail to pick up the Saligrama Mountain only to find a sparkling light emanating from the mountain. It was Lord Vishnu providing darshan, in his Narasimha posture, to both Mahalakshmi and Anjaneya.

Since Anjaneya brought the Saligrama to this place and helped create this place, Lord Narasimha asked him to remain here facing the Saligrama hill and provide darshan to the devotees a tall standing posture without a Gopuram.

The Name - Naama Giri

As Goddess Lakshmi undertook penance here by chanting his ‘Naama’ (On Namo Narayana’) and the hill was created after she placed the Saligrama on the ground, Lord Narasimha named this hill as ‘Naama Giri’ and referred to her as Naama Giri Thaayar. Given her contribution to this place, he gave her the first priority at this temple. Devotees are to first visit Naama Giri Thaayar before they enter the Narasimha Sannidhi.

Inside the Sanctum
At the Narasimha Sannidhi, one finds Narasimha in the middle flanked by Shiva on his right and Brahmaa on his left. Also, inside the sanctum are Sanaka and Sanaathana, Brahmma’s sons. One finds Surya and Chandra fanning Lord Narasimha.


Next to Narasimha inside the Sanctum are sculptures of Vaikunta Narayanan, Hiranya Samharam, Vamana, Trivikrama andVaraha, all said to be 13th Century work of the Pallavas.

Ranganatha Temple

To the East of the hill and behind the Narasimha Temple is the Ranganatha temple, where Lord Ranganatha is seen in a special Karkodaga Sayana Posture with his head resting South and his feet directed towards the North.

King of Snakes ‘Karkodagan’ undertook penance here and requested the Lord to rest on him. Hence, the posture here of Lord Ranganatha is referred to as Karkodaga Sayanam. While he is seen sleeping on top of the Snake, a unique feature here is that the face of the Snake Karkodagan is that of a roaring lion.

There are three entrances to the Ranganatha temple. The entrance in the middle is the one that is opened every day, while the other two entrances are opened only on Vaikunta Ekadesi day. One has to climb 100 steps to reach the sannidhi.

Thaligai for Lord Narasimha

On the occasion of his Thiru Kalyanam, Devas wanted to feed Thirupathi Srinivasa, who referring to this place as ‘Mel’ Ahobilam, asked them to feed the Lord here. Hence, presenting Thaligai to Lord Narasimha here is very special and is equivalent to feeding Thirupathi Lord Srinivasa.

On Pradhosham, presenting Thaligai and Paanagam (sweet drink made with jagerry) will liberate one from all troubles.


Panguni Brahmotsavam
Vaikasi Narasimha Jayanthi
Aadi Pooram- Thaayar Utsavam
Aavani Krishna Jayanthi
Pournami Pavitrotsavam

The four Saturdays of Puratasi are special at this temple

Quick Facts

Narasimha West Facing Sitting Posture
Ranganatha Karkodaga Sayanam
Anjaneya East Facing Standing Posture

Thaayar : Naama Giri Thaayar East Facing

Temple Time: 730am-1pm, 430pm-830pm
Contact phone number: V. Raja Bhattar @ 94437 23073

How to reach Namakkal
Chennai-Salem Yercaud Express(Salem arrival 5am) or Chennai Egmore-Salem Express (Salem arrival 6am)
Direct Trains also from Coimbatore and Bangalore to Salem
From Salem, one can take a one hour bus trip to Namakkal
Buses every 5minutes from Salem

By bus, Namakkal is about 7hours from Madras