Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Patteeswaram Durgai Temple

Nandi moves to the left to allow a grand entry for Thiru Gnana Sambandhar
Rama installed Shiva Lingam here to liberate himself from Chaaya Hathi Dosham after the battle with Ravana
Located 8kms South West of Kumbakonam is the Durgai temple in Patteeswaram that in its current form was constructed in the 16th Century AD.  There are several stories relating to this huge temple that has 5 towering Gopurams including the 7 tier Rajagopuram. This is the 23rd Saivite Shrine South of Cauvery as praised in the Devaram.

The name Patteeswaram
Parasakthi undertook penance here invoking the blessings of Lord Shiva. Kamadhenu sent her daughter Patti to support the penance. Pleased with Parasakthi’s prayers, Shiva appeared here with his long uncombed hair (Sadai Mudi) and provided darshan. As Patti played an important role in the success of Sakthi’s penance, this place came to be called Patteeswaram.

This is one of the important places where Kamadhenu, the sacred celestial cow, visited and undertook penance invoking the blessings of Lord Shiva. Answering her prayers, Shiva appeared here and promised to fulfil the wishes of devotees who offer sincere prayers at this temple. In memory of this event, Lord came to be referred to as Dhenupureeswarar.

Rama’s visit to Patteeswaram
After defeating Ravana, it is believed that Rama visited Patteeswaram to invoke the blessings of Lord Shiva to liberate him from Chaaya Hathi Dosham that had struck him for having killed Vaali striking an arrow from hiding.  He installed Shiva Lingam here at Patteeswaram, one of the three places in Tamil Nadu where he did this, the other two being Rameswaram and Vedaranyam.

Liberation from curse
Medhavi Rishi who was undertaking penance in the Maalava kingdom left his ashram to attend a yagna. He assigned his disciple Dharma Sarma to take care. On return he found that the cows had become weak significantly impacting their ability to deliver milk. An angered rishi cursed him to turn into a dog. To liberate himself from the curse, Dharma Sarma, now in the form of a dog, came here to the South of Cauvery to Devi Vanam. When the sacred water fell on the dog, he was liberated from the Sage’s curse and regained his original form.

10day Festival as thanks giving
King Chitrasena of Kaambeeli had no child. To liberate himself from the sins of the previous birth, he came here with his wife and undertook bath in the sacred tank. Pleased with his prayers, Lord Shiva appeared before him in Vaikasi and blessed him with a child. As a thanks giving to the Lord, a delighted king started the grand 10day festival in Thai.

Thiru Gnana Sambandhar’s Patteeswaram trip
The great Saivite Poet Thiru Gnana Sambandhar, who was on his way to Patteeswaram to have darshan of Lord Dhenupureeswarar and to sing praise of him, was almost knocked down by the sweltering heat. To protect him from the heat, Lord Shiva sent the invisible Devas with a pearl canopy that turned into a beautiful ‘Flower Top’ much to the surprise of Thiru Gnana Sambandhar.

When he was about to enter the temple with his disciples, Dhenupureeswarar asked his Nandi to give way to Thiru Gnana Sambandhar so he could watch the poet’s grand entry thus providing him darshan  right from the entrance. Hence to this day, the Nandi at the temple is seen slightly to the left and not directly opposite Dhenupureeswarar.

In memory of this event, Muthu Pandhal Festival is celebrated at this temple in a grand way every year in Aani.
The Great Chozha kings including Raja Raja Chozha I had great respect for Durgai and the Goddess acted as the security guard for them. Also, before their departure for any battle and also after their return, the Chozha kings would invoke the blessings of Durgai.

Towards the end of their regime and with their palace at Patteeswaram going into ruins, they moved the idol of Durgai into the Northern entrance of the Dhenupureeswarar temple from where she currently provides darshan to devotees.

At this temple, Durgai, with Simha Vahana to her left, is seen in a cool form with eight hands and lacks the typical aggressive looks.

Right from the Chozha period, Durgai has been so popular as she solves all the problems of devotees that this temple has come to be referred to as the Patteeswaram Durgai Temple.

Ancient  Landmark

In centuries gone by, the landmark to this place was denoted as being South of Arasalaru and North of Mudikondan River.

In the 8th Century AD, Pallava King Nandivarma II built the beautiful Nandipura Vinnagaram -Jagannathan Perumal Temple (Divya Desam), a few kms East of Patteeswaram giving this region a grand stature and a rich place in history. Subsequently, Rajaraja Chozha, Rajendra Chozha and Kulothunga Chozha made this an integral part of their kingdom from where  they made several important decisions    .


10day Festival in Vaikasi with all the five Utsava deities go out in a procession
Muthupandhal Festival with a palanquin of pearls
Navarathri Festival Durga Pooja
Margazhi Festival – Five Utsavars go out on a procession

How to reach
 Patteeswaram is 8kms South West of Kumbakonam. Auto from Railway station will cost Rs. 150
Town Bus and mini bus every half hour from Kumbakonam Bus Stand
One can also board Aavoor bound bus to reach the Patteeswaram temple

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Krishnan Koil Ambasamudram

Prarthana Sthalam for bringing together Separated Couples
Markandeya Rishi installed the Saligrama Venugopalaswamy
Located 30kms West of Tirunelveli and 100yards North East of the Kallidaikurichi-Ambasamudram road  bridge is the over 1000year old Krishnan Koil (Venugopalan) in the Punnai Vana Kshetram of Ambasamudram, where the handsome Saligrama Krishna., is seen in a standing posture playing the flute along with Rukmini and Satyabhama. The Utsava deity is also in a similar posture playing the flute.

Markandeya Rishi's connection with Krishnan Koil  
The moolavar deity is believed to date back to the period of Markandeya Rishi. Legend has it that Adisesha stopped by here providing darshan to Markandeya Rishi and asked him to install the idol of Krishna on the Northern banks of Tamarabarani River. And promised to be present here.

Markandeya Rishi is said to have brought the Saligrama idol from Kandigai River in Nepal and installed it here. The interesting feature is that the Saligrama idol was carved in the form of Krishna playing the flute without any help from the sculptors.  

9Hooded Adhisesha atop the Standing Lord
The 9hooded Adhisesha who normally is seen atop the Lord in a sleeping posture, is seen here atop Lord Venugopalaswamy in a Standing posture.  Each of the 9heads is believed to relate to a Navagraha planet. Hence, a visit to this temple and offering sincere prayers is believed to liberate one from Navagraha dosha.

Temple Architecture- Chera Period
Chera King Sengutty Valithi is believed to have constructed the temple as seen in the current form and architecture.

Name of the Temple
In centuries gone by, this entire area was a Punnai Vana Kshetram. Hence the Lord here is also known as Punnai Vana Krishna. In memory of this, the Lord goes on a Punnai Vana Vahana on the 7th day procession of the Brahmotsavam in Vaikasi.

The Villagers in and around Ambai also refer to this Lord as Krishnaswamy, though the temple itself has now come to be known as Krishnan Koil.

Prarthana Sthalam
This is a prarthana sthalam for bringing together separated couples. It is believed that performing a Thirumanjana for Lord Krishna at this temple and offering sincere prayers here will bring together separated couples.

As part of the success of their prayers, within 6months of child birth, devotees may perform Milk Abhisheka for Lord Krishna.


10day Brahmotsavam in Vaikasi
Theppotsavam in Aani( there is a big temple tank to the North of the temple complex)
Oonjal Utsavam on Fridays in Thai
On the 5th day of the Brahmotsavam is the 5Garuda Seva
On the 10th day, Perumal and Thaayar go on a procession to the Thaamarai Barani for Theerthavari utsavam

Quick Facts
Moolavar  : Venugopalaswamy East Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar    : Rukmini and Satyabhama
Utsavar    : Venugopalan playing the flute
Time        : 730am-1030am and 530pm-8pm
Contact    : G Krishnan Bhattar @ 04634 251445 or 99439 57884

How to reach
Ambasamudram is about 30kms West of Tirunelveli on the Tenkasi Highway
Krishnan Koil is located 100yards East of the Ambasamudram Arch and is a 5minute walk from the Ambai bus stand
Buses every 15minutes from Tirunelveli
Train services twice a day from Tirunelveli and Tenkasi to Ambasamudram 

Car from Tirunelveli and back will cost about Rs.1000/- . Contact @ 94436 71632 for car from Tirunelveli
When here also visit, Mannar Koil Rajagopalaswamy Temple ( 5kms West) and Kallidaikuruchi Aadhi Varaha Perumal Temple ( 2kms South)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Thirumangai Azhvaar's Madal

In the Siriya Thirumadal and Periya Thirumadal, Thiru Mangai Azhvaar prefers Kama to Moksha
Takes the role of Parakala Nayaki directing her love for the Lord of Thiru Naraiyur (Nachiyar Koil) threatening to commit the Madal if the Lord does not accept her true love
Thiru Mangai Azhvaar has been known for threatening the Lord and getting his way with the Lord by adopting the ‘threat’ route. At Thiru Indhalur, when Lord Parimala Rangan shut the door on Thiru Mangai, he threatened to leave the temple without singing praise of the Lord, only for the Lord to retract and convince Thiru Mangai to sing praise of him. At Thiru Ninravur, finding Bhaktavatsala Perumal and Goddess not giving him the due attention, he moved on giving Thiru Ninravur a miss only to come back later on Lord’s request.

However, in the Siriya Thiru Madal and Periya Thiru Madal songs which form part of Iyarpa composition of the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham, Thiru Mangai’s threat reached the pinnacle. Directing his extreme love for the Lord of Thiru Naraiyur (Nachiyar Koil), Thirumangai Azhvaar composed Madal comprising of Siriya Thiru Madal and Periya Thiru Madal in which he expressed his intent to commit the Madal- embarrass and publicly humiliate the Lord- by visualising himself as Parakala Nayaki and adopting this route to displaying his love and trying to force the Lord to accept the love.

Madal Eruthal
In ancient Tamil tradition, when love was one sided, the lover tried to convey the love through his friends. However, if love did not still gain acceptance, he, in a final desperate move, resorted to Madal Erudhal - a practice of embarrassing and humiliating the girl in public. As part of this Madal Eruthal process, the lover would make a horse out of palm leaves, then draw the picture of her beloved on a cloth and would hang it as a flag on the horse, wear a garland (Erukkam Poo- usually worn by the unmarried) and go around the streets shouting slogans and crying in public, of betrayal of love in a bid to humiliate his lover, announcing as to how he has been suffering as a result of her not accepting true love.

But for a lover girl to do this was not a traditional practice as this was considered unbecoming of a woman and immodest behaviour on her part. It was not a custom for women to go around and humiliate men in public. However, the question arises as to what should a lover woman do when the divine kama is not accepted. The final resort seems to be Madal Eruthal. Thiru Mangai in the Madal says that since the Lord had not accepted the Love despite repeated requests of Parakala Nayaki, the last option was to try and gain acceptance through the performance of Madal.

Even though Madal Eruthal by a woman was not accepted in Tamil Culture, Thiru Mangai says that given the love intoxicated state of mind of Parakala Nayaki, this route had to be adopted based on Sanskrit literature and following the many examples that existed in the Northern culture.

Kama route to attaining God
Thiru Mangai in his Madal showcases that Kama in a true form of love to the Lord was also a possible route to attain him instead of taking the moksha route. In the Madal, he drives home the point that out of the three principles of life- Dharma, Artha and Kama, the last one was the preferred route
(ஆராயில்  தானே  அறம் , பொருள் , இன்பம்  என்று , ஆர்  ஆர்  இவற்றினிடை  அதனை  எய்துவார்  ….)

Thiru Mangai Azhvaar disregards the fourth principle – that of Moksha- on the basis that those who sacrifice everything in life and live in extreme heat and cold surviving just on fruits and leaves may reach Vaikunta but since they never come back, one does not know what happened to them and if they really have achieved what they set out to accomplish and condemns it as only a hearsay. 

In the Madal, Thirumangai suggests that the love she, as Parakala Nayaki, will get here from the Lord’s acceptance of her love is unequalled. Thirumangai goes on to say that Kama as a true form of love to the beloved should be pursued.

Siriya Thirumadal and Periya Thirumadal
In the Siriya Thirumadal, Thiru Mangai Azhvaar as Parakala Nayaki refers to this intoxicated state of love with the entire composition being that of a Nayaki expressing her love in short lines through someone else. The identity of the lover of Parakala Nayaki is actually brought out through a soothsayer, who provides the description of the Nayaki’s lover by bringing out the great qualities of the Lord who is present in different temples.
கார் ஆர் குழல் கொண்டாய் கட்டுவிச்சி கட்டேறி
சீர் ஆர் சுளகில் சில நெல் பிடித்து
ஏரியா வேறா விதிர்விதிரா

மெய் சிலிரா கை மோவா
பேர் ஆயிரம் உடையான் என்றால் 
பெயர்த்தேயும் கார் ஆர் திருமேனி காட்டினாள்

Contrasted with this, in the Periya Thiru Madal, the narration is from the dejected lover herself and the terrible experience she has gone through in not being able to get her lover (Lord) to accept her love. Here, she explains how the handsome Lords of various Vishnu temples in their different postures have been the reason for her to fall in love as Parakala Nayaki. In the Periya Thiru Madal, the virtue of Kama gains precedence at the expense of seeking moksha and other principles of life.

மின்னி மழை தவழும் வேங்கடத்து எம் வித்தகனை
மன்னனை மாலின்ருஞ்ச்சோலை மணாளனை கொள் நவிலும் ஆழிப்
படையானை கோட்டியூர்

‘Having held out my hands for him in worship and having spoken my heart out, will he at least now reach out to me and accept me as his’ asks Parakala Nayaki.

Parakala Nayaki defends the decision for a woman to adopt this route with a couple of reasons- the unbearable state of her own mind that is intoxicated with an unfulfilled love combined with several precedents that already existed in the Northern Tradition including that of Sita who forced Rama to take her along to the forest conveying her deep love for the Lord and Ulupi falling in love with Arjuna (in the Mahabharatha).

Periya Thiru Madal ends with the threat that she will perform the forbidden Madal even if the world rebukes her if the Lord does not respond to her craving for his love and if he does not accept her love for him (ஊரார்  இகழிலும் ஊறாது ஒழியேன் நான், வாரார் பூம் பெண்ணை மடல்).
The entire Madal- both Siriya Thirumadal and Periya Thirumadal- is directed at the Lord of Thiru Naraiyur as can be seen from the fact that he opens and ends the Madal with reference to Thiru Naraiyur.  It was also here at Thiru Naraiyur that Thiru Mangai was initiated with the Pancha Samskara by Lord Nambi.

Thiru Mangai rejects Lord Ranganatha’s request
When Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam for whom Thiru Mangai built the famous huge walls requested him for Madal verses of praise, Thiru Mangai retorted ‘Mathil Inghe, Madal Anghe’ (Mathil- the big walls- here for you at Srirangam and Madal – the songs expressing love for the Lord – there for the Nambi at Thiru Naraiyur), thus signifying that the Madal was for the Thiru Naraiyur Lord.

A very interesting feature of the Madal is that while it is the practice of Thiru Mangai Azhvaar at the end of every 10verses to refer to himself as the composer of the verses, here in the two madals there is no such reference to himself, the reason being that he visualised himself as Parakala Nayaki and transformed himself into that role as the Lover girl of the Lord of Thiru Naraiyur.