Saturday, March 2, 2013

Perunkarunai Varadaraja Perumal Temple

Avathara Sthalam of Selva Nambi
It was on the advice of Selva Nambi that Pandya King Vallabha Deva announced a debate that Peri Azhvaar of Srivilliputhur won and sung Pallandu verses of praise, in his lap of honour
Located 75kms from Madurai off the Manamadurai-Paramakudi highway is an ancient Varadaraja Perumal temple in Perunkarunai that dates back to the period of PeriAzhvaar.

Perunkarunai assumes special significance as it is the avathara sthalam of Selva Nambi, the Vaishnavite acharya and the preceptor of the Pandya King Vallabha deva.

The Story
Vikrama Pandya who had no children invoked the blessings of his kula deivam Paramaswamy of Azhagar Koil and was directed to the Sethu Sea Shore for a darshan of Paravasudevan at the Aathi Jagannatha Perumal temple in Thiru Pullani and that he would have a son who would be instrumental in the upkeep of dharma. Following his trips, he was immediately blessed with a son Sri Vallabha. On one of his Pilgrimage trips, he stayed overnight at Kotraval Kudi Village.

2kms away from this village, at Perunkarunai there resided around 500vaishnavite scholars who had been brought in from Thiruvellarai (near Srirangam) to spread the Vedas and Vaishnavism in this region. All of them had a kudumi in their head and hence were referred to as ‘Poorva Sikha Sozhiya Srivaishnavas’.

For centuries, Perunkarunai was home to the loud early morning chanting of Vedas and Divya Prabhandham. In later period, many of these Vaishnavites moved to other places in the region – ‘Sikkal Perunkarunai, Senthathor Vembathur Okka Oru Kulai Kaai’. It was from Perunkarunai that these Vaishnavite Scholars moved to Vembathur and Sikkal. Currently, only the 80 year old Shri. Narasimha Narayana Bhattar resides here at Perunkarunai with all other Vaishnavite families having moved out for better prospects!!!

Birth Place of Acharya Selva Nambi
Selva Nambi, the renowned Vaishnavite acharya and the advisor to Pandya King Vallabha Deva in Madurai, was born  and brought up here at Perunkarunai. His father Sowmya Narayanan performed poojas for the Lord at Thiru Koshtiyur. His mother hailed from Perunkarunai village. Staying here at Perunkarunai, Selva Nambi learnt the Vedas from his uncle scholar Varadarajan before he became the preceptor of the Pandyas in Madurai.

Kotta Kudi Village
Coming to know about the presence of the Pandya king at Kotraval Kudi, Selva Nambi made his way there and recited the Bhagavatha Purana to the king and concluded that those who listen to this will be saved from all evils and that this dharma should be understood by everyone in the future.  Having listened to this recital, the Pandya King who had previously heard that there were some troubles in his kingdom during his absence was  reassured from his  ministers that in a dramatic turnaround all the issues had been sorted out overnight and that all was well in Madurai. This place where the Bhagavatha Purana recital took place - Kotraval Kudi - exists to this day and is now called ‘Kotta Kudi’ near Perunkarunai.

The delighted king built the Varadaraja Perumal temple in Perunkarunai.  He also donated several villages for the maintenance and upkeep of the temple and the festivities at the temple. ( There is also a Rama temple opposite the Varadaraja Perumal temple)

The moolavar deity is a Varna Kala idol. There is a separate Sannidhi for Perundevi Thaayar. Currently the outer prakara is full of bushes and is seeking attention!!

Selva Nambi's Fame
Sri Vallabha Deva had Selva Nambi as his preceptor and his most trusted counsellor. The king looked up to Selva Nambi for the right direction whenever he was in doubt. When Vallabha Deva was in doubt as to how to attain Moksha and who was best suited to provide salvation, it was Selva Nambi who suggested the idea of a debate of Scholars in his royal court in Madurai which was attended by Vishnu Chittar of Srivilliputhur.

(Vishnu Chittar – PeriAzhvaar- won the debate- he pronounced that Lord Narayana was the Supreme Lord and one who could provide salvation- and was carried around the streets of Madurai on an elephant top, from where he sung his famous Pallandu verses).

later Period Renovation - Sethupathi Kings
In later periods, the Perunkarunai Varadaraja Perumal Temple was renovated by Sethupathi Kings of Ramanathapuram. A few years ago, Thiru Koshtiyur Charitable Trust and Vijayawada Thirudhandi Sriman Narayana Jeer Swami contributed to the renovation efforts and performed the Samprokshanam. The temple has been taken care of the Sethupathi Maharani of the Ramanathapuram Devasthanam.

Quick Facts

Moolavar: Varadaraja Perumal East Facing Standing Posture with Sri and Bhoo Devi
Thaayar   : Perundevi Thaayar
Contact   : S Narasimha Narayana Bhattar @ 99440 45347
Time      : Contact the Bhattar on the above number before going

How to reach

From Manamadurai drive about 7kms towards Paramakudi on Rameswaram NH to reach Parthibanur. Take the right at Parthibanur and drive 10kms South on the Parthibanur- Kumuthi-Aruppukottai road. Just after Abhiramam, take left and head East about 4kms to reach Perunkarunai.

Bus Number 26 from Paramakudi

From Parthibanur, one can take the Kumuthi-Aruppukottai bus and get down at Abhiramam, from where one can take an auto to reach the temple. 

Taxi from Madurai and back will cost around Rs. 1000


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the wonderful details and keep up your great work!!!

Ranga said...

Thanks for your writeup! Great work! Could you please let me know the source of this information?

Unknown said...

Swamy great initiative by you for giving insight of the temple.We associated with temple are interested to take it to next level with your kind knowledge and information provided.Can I contact you on your number if provided. Iam Murali 9597288922 staying near Coimbatore.Awaiting your reply.