Friday, July 29, 2011

Thiru Mukoodal Pallava Chola Inscriptions

Bhattar was paid 120Kalams of Paddy and 10 Kasu annually

Gold Offerings to the temple were to be utilised for Vedic School and the Hospital at Thiru Mukoodal

Inscriptions provide rich insights into the salaries of the Vedic Teachers, number of Vedic Teachers/ Students, Number of beds in the hospital as well as the hospital staff and their salaries

Inscription also records the presence of the Barber at the Hospital and the salary paid to him

Inscription in ancient temples gives one an insight into the historical chronology of the temple, the life style of the town and the architectural patterns at the temple depending on when it was constructed and later renovated and the kings who lived during that period.

Interestingly at the 2000 year old Appan Venkatesan temple in Thiru Mukoodal in Pazhaya Seevaram about 12kms east of Kanchipuram, inscriptions provide us with an indepth insights into the kind of health care facilities available at that time, the number of staff involved and even the salary paid to them.

While presence of Vedic schools and the loud recital of the Vedas was not uncommon in those days, insights through the inscriptions here at Thiru Mukoodal give us an indication on the extent to which it was prevelant in that early Pallava Period.

Earliest Inscription- Late 9th Century

An inscription in Tamil dating back to 893AD to the rule of Pallava Nripatunga Varma records a gift of 30 Kalanju of Gold for perpetual lamp. The assembly of Siyapuram entrusted with the gift agreed to supply oil for the lamp from the interest on the capital amount. Interest was fixed at 3 Manjadi per Kalanju. The Oil was to be supplied at 40 Nali per Kalanju.

A 1013AD inscription relating to Raja Raja Chola I records the gift of gold and land for offerings. Another inscription dating to the same year and the ruler records an agreement to pay taxes on certain temple lands from the interest on a specified quantity of gold which they had received from temple treasury.

Conduct of Maasi Magam Festival

On the western wall, a 1015AD inscription relating to Rajendra I records the gift of gold for offerings on Maasi Magam Festival. The gold to be offered was weighed and found to be equal to 3 Kalanju, interest fetched one Manjadi per year. Paddy was sold at 40 Kadi per Kalanju.

There is another inscription dating to 1016-17AD to the rule of Rajendra I recording the gift of paddy for offerings and festival on new Moon days.

Rajendra I- Gift of Sheep for lamp

A 1017AD inscription on the Western Wall relating to Rajendra I records the gift of 90sheep for lamp, a 1021AD inscription records gift of 90sheep and a 1023AD inscriptions records the gift of 113sheep for a lamp. An agreement was entered in 1028AD by the Vaikhanasas to use surplus paddy for reciting Thiruppadiyam at the temple.

The Huge Temple Garden and its functioning

A 1019-20AD inscription relating to Rajendra Chola Deva on the Western wall of the central shrine records the gift of Padagams of Garden land for flower garden. An agreement to have 7000baskets of manure spread on the field had two underlying conditions:

1. The priests of the temple were to have Kilbhogam rights while the Vaikhanasas were to have lease rights for cultivation

2. The bundles of hay weighing not less than one Kalam of Paddy each were to be collected from every tenant of the village by Vaikhanasas and used for the benefit of garden only and not to be sold for private purposes and permitting the temple garden the first claim over the irrigation of wet lands

A 1065AD inscription on the eastern wall of the first prakara relating to Raja Kesarivarma records the gift of two twilight lamps by a Brahmana lady.

On the South Wall of the temple a 1075AD inscription relating to Kulotunga I records the gift of land to the temple. An 1121AD inscription relating to Vikrama Chola Deva records the sale of land

Gold offering to be utilised for Vedic School and Hospital

Vira Rajendra Deva’s inscription in 1069AD records the order by the king that the 75 Kalanju of gold which the residents were paying at that time be entered as tax free Devadana to be utilised for God’s expense including the maintenance of Vedic School and the upkeep of the hospital. The hospital seemed to have 15beds. The physician was paid 90Kalams of Paddy and 8Kasu annually in addition of the grant of a land.
The surgeon was given 30Kalams of Paddy, two nurses were given 30kalams of Paddy and one Kasu annually. There was also a barber who was paid 15kalams of Paddy. In addition to the above, there were two persons who were to get medicinal herbs. These two got 60kalams of Paddy and two Kasu.

Vedic School

The Vedic schools taught Rig Veda and Yajur Veda. The vedic teachers were paid 60Kalams of paddy and 4Kasus annually. The bhattar at the temple was paid 120Kalam of Paddy and 10 Kasu annually

Inscriptions indicate that there were 10Brahmins who were studying Rig Veda, 10 Brahmins who were learning Yajur Veda, 20 Brahmins were studying Vyakarma and Rupavatara and 10 were learning Mahapancharatna. It also records the presence of 3 Saivite Brahmins, 5 Vaikanasas and two others.

Located about 70kms South of Madras, off the Chengalpet-Kanchipuram SH58 at the confluence of three rivers – Palar, Vegavathi and Cheyyar- is The temple is one km South of Pazhaya Seevaram Narasimha temple on the Salavakkam Highway.

For the story on Thiru Mukoodal, visit:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kovil Pathagai Sundara Raja Perumal Temple

Two forms of Vishnu provided darshan to two Great Rishis
Ashta Naga Garuda is a special feature at this temple

Located 3kms North of Avadi Railway Station in Kovil Pathagai is the Sundara Raja Perumal temple, believed to date back 750years, one that has two moolavar deities and where two rishis performed penance and were provided darshan by two different forms of Vishnu.

Brigu Maha Rishi is believed to have undertaken penance at this place. Answering his prayers, Sundara Raja Perumal provided darshan to him in a grand sitting posture and stayed here as per the wishes of the rishi.

Vaikunta Natha Perumal, believed to be the original presiding deity at this temple, provided darshan to Markandeya Maha rishi who is seen alongside the west facing Lord Vaikuntanathan. Opposite Vaikuntanathan is the Ashta Naga Garuda in a sitting posture.

Centuries ago, there was a chariot here at the temple and the Lord is believed to have undertaken processions sitting atop the chariot.

On the Vimana are sculptures of Parthasarathy and Ranganatha, in a Sayana Posture.


Vaikasi Brahmotsavam
Aani Garuda Seva
Panguni – 13 streets procession- Kalyana Utsavam

Quick Facts

Moolavar: Sundara Raja Perumal East facing sitting posture
Vaikunta Nathan West Facing sitting posture

Thaayar : Sundara Valli Thaayar ( Separate Sannidhi)
Temple Time: 7am-8am and 530pm-7pm
Priest: Janakiraman Bhattar @ 98406 29471

How to reach

Bus Numbers: 61D, 61E, 61R and 61K from Avadi bus stand (will take 10minutes to reach the temple)

Share auto from Avadi bus stand will cost Rs.10/-

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Natha Muni Avathara Utsavam in Kattu Mannar Koil

Paranthaka I renovated the temple and built the Veera Narayana Lake

In celebration of Natha Muni’s contribution in the compilation of Nalayira Divya Prabhandham and the initiation of the Vaishnava Sampradaya, one witnessed a grand 10 day Utsavam at the Veera Narayana Perumal temple in Kattu Mannar Koil near Chidambaram, that culminated on his birthday this Tuesday with the Great Vaishnavite Savant being taken out around the four Mada Streets on a Garuda Vahana procession.

On this day, there was also the recital of 4000sacred verses. On each of the preceding 9days, Natha Muni, decorated in a special Alankara, went out on a procession in a palanquin with the chanting of Nam Azhvar’s Thiruvoimozhi.

Veera Narayana Perumal's direction to Nathamuni

Kattu Mannar Koil is the Avathara Sthalam of Natha Muni who was responsible for bringing back the Nalayira Divya Prabandham that had been previously lost to the world. It was Veera Narayana Perumal, the presiding deity at Kattu Mannar Koil, who asked Nathamuni to collect the verses of the Azhwars and to spread the positive message contained in these sacred verses.

In centuries gone by, the direction to Kattu Mannar Koil was given as being North of Cauvery / Coloroon, West of Veda Pushkarani and South of Vedanarayana (Veeranam) lake.

The story
Pleased with the penance of Jhirumbana Raja Maharishi, who was childless, Goddess Mahalakshmi herself was born here as his child. Once she grew up into a beautiful young girl, there was a svayamvara organised to find her match.

Lord Narayana came here in his Garuda Vahana in the guise of a king (Mannan) to participate in the Swayamvara. Having won over her, he took her away much to the wrath of the other kings who attacked him. Lord Narayana, displaying his Vishwaroopa, defeated them all. Having shown his valour here, the Lord came to be called ‘Veera’ Narayana Perumal.

Another story goes that Mathanga Rishi, to liberate himself from Brahma’s curse for having committed an error in the recital of the vedic chant, went to Srimushnam, where the Lord appeared before him and redirected him to Manyu Kshetram (Kattu Mannar Koil), South East of Srimushnam to undertake penance in the Veda Pushkarani. Answering his prayers, Lord Narayana displayed his Chathurbhuja form here at Kattu Mannar Koil and acceding to the request of the rishi stayed here to provide darshan to the devotees.

Nalayira Divya Prabhandham

Nathamuni, who mastered himself in Vedas at a young age, was very attached to Veera Narayana Perumal of Kattu Mannar Koil and spent most of his time performing daily poojas for the Lord here. One day, while he was performing his daily rituals, he heard a set of devotees from Thiru Narayanapuram chanting the Aaravamuthey verse. These devotees ended their chanting with the words “these 10 out of the 1000”.
Nathamuni was drawn to these songs and asked them to sing the rest of the 990 verses. However, they knew only these 10 songs.

Nathamuni goes to Thiru Kurugur

Seeking to find these 1000verses, Nathamuni left Kattu Mannar Koil for Kumbakonam, where Lord Aaravamudhan directed him to Thiru Kurugur. Unable to get his answers at Kurugur, he went to Thiru Kolur, where he got initiated with Madura Kavi Azhwar’s verses of Kannin Siruthambinaal. He came back to Thiru Kurugur and sitting under the Tamarind tree recited these verses 12000 times, on completion of which Nam Azhwar appeared before him and shared not just the 1000songs that he was looking for but the entire 4000 verses.

Veera Narayana Perumal then called Nathamuni back to Kattu Mannar Koil where the Vaishnavite Savant chanted and shared the Nalayira Divya Prabandham to the world at large. Thus, Nathamuni of Kattu Mannar Koil, was instrumental in bringing back to the world the 4000 verses of the Azhwars.

Creation of Araiyar Sevai

Along with his nephews, Keezhaiyagath Azhwar and Melaiagath Azhwar (the Araiyars are descendents of these two), Nathamuni presented the Naalayira Divya Prabandham, that was until then only in a text form, in a musical and dance form, creating Raga and Thala, that the world could experience and enjoy. To Natha Muni goes the credit of creating the Araiyar Sevai, a visual song and dance enactment of the ‘Paasurams’ through the Abhinaya.

He went to Srirangam and presented the Araiyar Sevai, of the Thiruvoi Mozhi verses with his two Nephews, and once again started the Adhyayana Utsavam at Srirangam which had been discontinued after the time of Thirumangai Azhwar.

Different Names under different rulers

During the Chozha period, this place was referred to as Veera Narayana Vinnagaram, while during the times of Sundarapandyan this was called Mannanar. Krishna Deva Raya referred to the Lord as Azhagiya Mannanar. This place has also been referred to as Veera Narayanan Chaturveda Mangalam and Thuvarapathi Mannan Thiru Koil.

There are 5 wells inside the temple and an expansive garden, which Nathamuni used for his daily poojas for Veera Narayana Perumal.

The name - ‘Kattum Mannan-Aanaar’ koil
As Lord Narayana came here as ‘Mannan’ to take the hand of Mahalakshmi and later showed the way for Nathamuni to compile the Divya Prabandham and the Vaishnava Sampradaya to the world at large, he was referred to as ‘ Kattum’ ‘Mannan- Aanaar’. In course of time, Kattum Mannan-Aanaar became Kattu Mannar.

Aalavanthan- Grandson of Nathamuni

Born in Kattu Mannar Koil, Nathamuni’s grandson ‘Yamunai Thuraivan’ (Alavanthan) travelled often to Srirangam to spread the message of Vaishnavism. Alavanthan nominated Ramanuja as the acharya to succeed him after his death.

Structure of Kattu Mannar Koil

The temple is perfectly built as per KoorathAzhwar's sacred verse:
"Lakshmi Naatha Samaarambaan Nathayaamuna Mathyamaam Asmath Aacharya Pariyantham Vanthey Guru Parampara" - Lord Veera Narayanan in the middle, Natha Muni (facing South) to his left, Alavanthan (facing North) to his right (exactly opposite to Nathamuni) and with Maragathavalli Thaayar to his right between the Nathamuni and Alavanthan Sannidhi.

Quick Facts

Moolavar: Veera Narayanan East Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar: Maragatha Valli Thaayar
1. Rajagopalan with Rukmini and Satyabhama
2. NithyaUtsava Perumal- Sundara Gopalan
3. Prarthana Perumal- Shenbagamannan with Sridevi and Bhoodevi’
Temple time: 730am-12noon and 430pm-9pm
Contact details: Annan Srinivasan Bhattar @ 99522 76110/ Venkatesh Bhattar @ 99940 34634

How to reach Kattu Mannar Koil
Buses every half hour between Chidambaram and Kattu Mannar Koil. One can also reach Kattu Mannar Koil from Vriddachalam, Srimushnum and Jayakondam.

By road from Chennai, one can reach Kattu Mannar Koil by taking the Vikravandi- Panruti-Sethiya Thope route (about 235kms)

Rajagopalaswamy temple in Manimangalam

Chola Rulers including Kulothunga I, Vikrama Chola Deva and Raja Raja contributed immensely to the upkeep of the temple but the temple now craves for attention
Parikara Sthalam for getting back one's eye sight

Temples in Tamil Nadu that once upon a time flourished with expansive gifts from the rulers of those days have deteriorated and today find themselves in a sorry state.

One such is the 1000year old Rajagopalaswamy temple in Manimangalam housed on a 1 ¼ acre area, about 12kms West of Tambaram, a temple whose construction dates back to the Chola period and one that is abound with rich stone inscriptions providing us with insights into the glory of this temple.

Conch in his right hand

Moolavar Lord Rajagopalaswamy is seen in a standing posture with a Conch Shell in his right hand and a discus in his left hand. This is also a temple that Ramanuja is believed to have visited.

1000year old inscriptions

The temple is abound with inscriptions in Tamil and Sanskrit earliest of which dates back to the 11th Century AD and continued to find updates of contribution to the temple with the passing of each century.

On the South wall of the central shrine of this temple is an inscription in Sanskrit that records a grant made to Lord Rajagopalaswamy. A Tamil inscription on the same wall records a sale of 4000 kuli of land. Another inscription dating back to Chola Raja Raja I records a gift made by members of the mahasabha to this temple.

On the North and West walls of the temple, inscriptions indicate gifts provided for the offerings and expenses of worship of the temple by making 3200kuli of land.

Gifting by Kulothunga I

An 1118AD inscription records a grand of 4450kuli of land. A few more inscriptions dating to 12th Century AD and to the period of Kulothunga I registers gift of land to the temple as well as the grant of land for providing offerings to the temple.

Several Inscriptions relating to 12Century AD

Two inscriptions on the west wall of the temple relating to Vikrama Chola Deva, in his 13th year of reign, and again to the 12th Century AD, provide us insights into the purchases of land for the offerings at the temple. A 1154AD inscription in Tamil on the outside of the East wall of the inner prakara records a donation of tax free lands to the temple for sacred offerings.

Inscriptions on the North and East Walls dating to 1198AD record gifts of four lamps for the temple.

Raja Raja's Contribution to Manimangalam

Inscriptions dating to 13th Century AD and to the rule of Raja Raja II/III record resolutions relating to gifts for the deity. Another interesting inscription of 1229AD and to the rule of Raja Raja III talks about payments into the treasury for maintaining the Sannidhi lamps. On the South wall in Tamil is an inscription dating to the rule of Jatavarma Sundara Pandya that records the sale by a devotee of a Pattam to be worn by the deity.

Inscriptions also indicate gifts of several lamps by devotees and also gift of gold to support the continuous burning of the lamps.

Craves for Attention
A temple that once seems to have thrived with rich gifts from the then rulers and the devotees alike is now bereft of funds so much so that the festivals have been limited to just one - Garuda Seva in Puratasi. The temple does not have a gopuram.

The surrounding area around the Central Shrine is full of thick bushes with snakes running into the Madapalli on a regular basis giving the priest a scare. Except for select days in the year, devotees have by and large given this ancient temple a miss, though the story goes that this temple is believed to be a Parikara Sthalam for bringing back ‘eye sight’.

Those who wish to support the temple and to bring back the lost glory including the conduct of festivals can contact Jayaraman Bhattar @ 88707 25799

Quick Facts:

Moolavar: Rajagopalaswamy standing posture facing East
Thaayar : Shengamala Valli Thaayar (Separate Sannidhi)
Temple Time: 7am- 10am and 4pm-7pm

How to reach

The temple is about 12kms from Tambaram on the Mudichur road and 5kms from Vandalur on the Sriperambudur highway. One can take the Tambaram- Sriperambudur bus (route numbers: 55N, 80, 583C, 583D) to reach the temple