Monday, September 25, 2017

Senganoor Sakthi Gireeswarar Temple

One of the 70 Mada Koils built by Ko Chenganan Chozhan
Thiru Gnana Sambanthar praises Senganoor as a prosperous location on the Southern Banks of Cauvery
Located just over 10kms from Kumbakonam off the Madras Highway is the Sakthi Gireeswara temple in Senganoor, a place praised by Thiru Gnana Sambanthar as flourishing with activity on the banks of the Cauvery. This is the birth place of Chandeswara Nayanar.

Sathya Gireeswarar temple is located facing the East and is one of the 70 Mada Koils built by Ko Chenganan Chozhan (

The temple has three prakaras and the Lord goes out on a procession around the four Mada Streets on festive occasions. There are three agraharams – Keezha Veethi, Nadu Veethi and Mela Veethi. Senganoor also stands testimony to the unity between Saivites and Vaishnavites.

100 yards from the temple facing the West is the Srinivasa Perumal Temple, whose idol was brought from Tirupathi and installed by Vaishnavite Acharya Periya Vachan Pillai (

In centuries gone by, Kola Villi Rama from Thiru Velliyankudi Divya Desam came here and went with Srinivasa Perumal on a joint procession to Kollidam for the Theerthavari Utsavam.

Reference in Periya Puranam
In the Periya Puranam, Senganoor is praised as being wealthy. Periya Puranam also refers to the place being on the Southern banks of Manni (Cauvery) river.

பூந்தண் பொண்ணி என் நாளும்
பொய்யாது அளிக்கும் புனல் நாட்டு
வாய்ந்த மண்ணித் தென் கரையில் மன்ன
முன் நாள் வரை கிழிய

ஏந்தும் அயில் வேல் நிலை காட்டி
இமையோர் இகல் வெம் பகை கடக்கும்
சேந்தன் அளித்த திருமறையோர்
மூதூர் செல்வச் சேய்ஞ்லூர்

It is said that Lord Subramanya came here to invoke the blessings of his father and took the ‘Sakthi’ weapon from here. After the Soora Samharam, he is believed to have come back here and created the ‘Kumara’ Theertham.

100s of Brahmin families lived here
To liberate himself from a disease, Sibhi Chakravarthy built 360 houses in this region and brought 360 Brahmins from across the country to reside here so one could hear the Vedic Recital continuously all through the year in Senganoor. He provided a home to each of them. One Brahmin lady gave birth to a child as she was about to enter Senganoor and hence could not reach here.

With one Brahmin less, Sibhi was worried that a house would remain unoccupied. It is believed that Shiva and Parvathi took the form of an old Brahmin couple and occupied the last house in the agraharam. When Sibhi came on his morning rounds around the agraharam to enquire about the well being of the residents, he found this house locked from inside and without a response. When he broke open the door, he found to his delight Lord and Ambal providing darshan from inside the house.  This house on Southern tip of the Agraharam still exists and is referred to as the ‘Lord’s home’.

After a bath in the Theertham, the king is believed to have been liberated from the disease.

Sathya Giri Kshetram
When Adiseshan held on to the Meru Mountain to show his superiority over Vayu, the God of Wind retaliated by blowing away the mountain with his power. Pieces from the mountain spread far and wide, one of which fell here in this region. Hence this is referred to as Sathya Giri Kshetram.

Chandeswara Nayanar
A Brahmin Echathathan belonging to the Kaasiya Gothram and his wife Pavitra had a handsome looking son by name Vichara Sarma. He took upon himself the responsibility of grazing the cows and took them daily to the Manni river bank. He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. On one such trip, moved by devotion, he made a Shiva lingam with the pure white sand from the river bank and began performing abhisekam for the Lord with the milk that the cows gave.

When his father heard this bizarre episode from the villagers, he came to this place and called out for his son. But the son who was immersed in Bhakti did not respond to the father’s call. Angered at this the father kicked the sand mound with his leg. Upset with his father’s action, the devoted Vichara Sarma hit out at the father’s leg with the grazing stick. The stick turned into a weapon and cut off the father’s legs. 

Pleased with the devotion of Vichara Sarma that he took action even against his own father, the Lord provided darshan to Vichara Sarma at this place and blessed him as Chandesan and provided him with Mukthi. Those who offer worship to Chandesan at this temple are believed to secure the blessings that Chandesan himself had received from the Lord.

Brahmotsavam in Thai
Harischandra stayed here for a period and created the Appan Kulam (Oma Kunda Theertham) East of the temple. He also introduced the annual festival in Thai beginning on Uttaratadhi. The Chariot Festival is celebrated in a grand way on Punarpusam with the Theerthavari Utsavam the next day. 

Krishnapremi and his childhood days at the temple
It was at the Dakshinamurthy Sannidhi at this temple that Krishnapremi Swami spent a major part of his childhood in penance like prayer. Thanks to his efforts over the last decade, this entire place stands transformed.

Saint Poet’s Praise
Thiru Gnana Sambanthar in his praise of Senganoor says that Senganoor was surrounded by groves that gave out honey / nectar in huge quantities and the bees were seen buzzing around rendering sweet music. The temple was surrounded by beautiful mansions with greenery all around.
பாணடைந்த வண்டுபாடும்
பைம்பொழில் சூழ்ந்த அழகார்

சேணடைந்த மாடம் மல்கு
சேய்ஞ்சலூர் மேயவனே 

He also points out in the 6th verse that this was a temple built and worshipped as Mada Koil by Ko Chenganan Chozhan.
காடடைந்த ஏனம் ஒன்றின்
காரண மாகிவந்து
வேடடைந்து வேடனாகி
விசயனொடு எய்ததென்னே

கோடடைந்த மால்களிற்றுக்
கோச்செங்கணாற்கு அருள்செய்
சேடடைந்த செல்வாழும்
சேய்ஞ்சலூர் மேயவனே 

Kanchi Periyava stayed in this agraharam in 1949 for one long month.  In those decades, dating back over half a century, this entire agraharam was vibrant with several Saivite and Vaishnavite families. There were dozens of kids in each house and entire place was buzzing with activity says 67 year old S Chandramouli who spent his entire childhood here in the agraharam in the 1950s and 60s. His forefathers were trustees of the Sathya Gireeswarar temple.  He studied in the Government School till 5th and then had to move to Thirupananthal for his high school and higher secondary education.
He says that the anti Brahmin movement in the 1960s and 70s drove residents out of the agraharams into cities.

In those days, when he was a young boy in the 1950s, residents lived a contended and happy life. They consumed healthy home food throughout their lives. He could see happiness all around. 

A Vibrant Senganoor
The temple was rich in glory and there were positive vibrations all around. Peacocks were seen fluttering their wings and dancing around in happiness. Bees were seen playing music that was sweet to the ears. Repeatedly he refers to the place being amidst green fertile groves and amidst singing and dancing birds.
வீசடைந்த தோகை யாட
விரை கமழும் பொழில்வாய்த்

தேசடைந்த வண்டு பாடும்
சேய்ஞ்சலூர் மேயவனே

After decades, he is back in Senganoor after retirement from his corporate job and has settled down in the  traditional long agraharam home of his in the East Street. Over the last decade, he has been performing Kainkaryam at the Sathya Gireeswarar temple.

He says that many of the original inhabitants of Senganoor are now buying land here and is hopeful that this place will once again be vibrant like the centuries gone by. 

The temple is open between 9am-11am in the morning and between 430pm - 730pm in the evening. Contact TK Ramakrishnan Gurukal 93459 82373 / S Chandramouli @ 70948 29225 / 96006 30839

The Mei Kavalar Venkateswaran has been performing duty here at this temple along with his father for well over 5 decades. Contact : 73739 67693

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Velliyankudi Sukra Sthalam

A 1000 years ago, the mansions and pillars in Thiru Velliyankudi were so huge and studded with ‘Glittering Gems’ that it was difficult to make out if it was ‘Day or Night’!!!

Beautiful young girls learnt the art of dancing here at Thiru Velliyankudi and the sound from their anklets was heard all around the Kola Villi Rama temple 

Through the 1970s and 80s, the Kola Villi Rama temple in Thiru Velliyankudi, praised in all its glory by Thiru Mangai Azhvaar in the Periya Thirumozhi remained a deserted place. There was no public transport to the temple. There still isn’t.  There were no proper roads from any direction.

One had to walk through a 5km mud path from Sholapuram that was full of pot holes. There was no electricity along the path and it was difficult to visit the temple in the evenings after 6pm. It was the same story from Thirupananthal or Aduthurai. 

The Bhattars lived a lonely life at the temple waiting for the odd devotee to turn up so they could narrate the legendary story of Sukracharya and how he regained his vision here at Thiru Velliyankudi. 

Even those who visited the Divya Desams in and around Kumbakonam ( and sought the darshan of Kola Villi Rama found it difficult to reach the temple in the last decades of the previous century. 

The scenario is a little better now with cement roads laid out from Sholapuram and Thirupananthal but public transport is still hard to come by to the temple and there are no shops in Thiru Velliyankudi. Renovation activities took place a couple of years back and Samprokshanam was performed just over a year ago.
Now, another generation of the Bhattar (the son of Ramamoorthy Bhattachar) has become an integral part of performing aradhana at the temple,. He also now has the role of doubling up as the cook at the Madapalli for as seen in several remote Divya Desams, it is not easy to find a 'sacred cook'.

Well over a 1000 years ago, the story was lot more joyful and residents lived a prosperous and wealthy life. Thiru Velliyankudi as seen from Thiru Mangai Azhvaar’s praise was a vibrant location with water from the Cauvery gushing in full flow all the time, unlike this week when even during the much ‘talked about’ and the previously ‘un-celebrated Cauvery Pushkaram’ the river remained dry around Kumbakonam.

A Gushing Cauvery
Thiru Mangai Azhvaar in fact begins his praise of Thiru Velliyankudi describing its location as being south of the Manni River (Cauvery) with one hearing the loud noise of the river flowing through in full force.
காய்த்த நீள் கமுகும் கதலியும் தெங்கும்
எங்கும் ஆம் பொழில்களின் நடுவே
வாய்த்த நீர் பாயும் மண்ணியின் தென்பால்
திருவெள்ளியங்குடி அதுவே

Similarity to Thiru Gnana Sambanthar's praise of Senganoor - Cool Groves all around
The temple was surrounded by huge groves of Areca, Banana and Coconut. There were also Punnai groves and Serundi Trees seen all around the temple and one could hear the buzzing noise of the bumble bees that drank the overflowing nectar humming sweet music in happiness.

Interestingly one finds a similar praise in Thiru Gnana Sambanthar’s Thevaram praise of Senganoor , the birth place of Periya Vachan Pillai( and the Sakthi Gireeswarar temple there.

பூநிரைச் செருந்தி புன்னை முத்து அரும்பி
பொதும்பிடை வரி வந்து மிண்டி
தென் இறைந்து உண்டு அங்கு  இன்  இசை முரலும்
 திருவெள்ளியங்குடி அதுவே

Thiru Velliyankudi was home to beautiful dancers. Thiru Mangai Azhvaar praises the location as one where beautiful girls with thin waists practiced the art of dancing. The noise from their anklets reverberated all over Thiru Velliyankudi.

பட அரவு அல்குல்  பாவை நல்லார்கள்
பயிற்றிய நாடகத்து ஒளி போய்
அடைபுடை தழுவி அண்டம் நின்று அதிரும்
திருவெள்ளியங்குடி அதுவே

The scenario around the temple was quite prosperous as he describes Thiru Velliyankudi as a place that had huge jewelled mansions that were so tall they seemed to be playing with the Sun!!! He goes on to say that as the Cauvery gushed along flowing towards the East, it deposited large quantities of gold as wave after wave lashed the banks of Velliyankudi.

துறை துறை தோறும் பொன் மணி சிதறும்
தொகு திரை மண்ணியின் தென்பால்

செறி மணி மாடாக கொடி கதிர் அணவும்
திருவெள்ளியங்குடி அதுவே

In the green fields of Velliyankudi, Valai Fish jumped out in fear of being caught and consumed suggesting that this wasn’t a place for them and they were seen entering the water tank in the temple.

Huge Banana Plantation in Thiru Velliyankudi
Thiru Mangai Azhvaar refers to the Lord as a beautiful archer indicating the posture of him holding a bow in hand. The groves are lush green with Banana plantation. The ripened fruits were falling down for the Kayal fish to grab and eat. And in that joy of having consumed a healthy food, they danced around in the fields. One still finds the Plantain tree, the Sthala Vriksham, inside the temple on the Northern side of the prakara. 

கொங் கணை துரந்த கோல வில் இராமன் தன் கோயில்

ஊற்றிடை நின்ற வாழையின் கனிகள்
ஊழ்த்து வீழ்ந்தன உண்டு மண்டி
சேற்றிடைக் கயல்கள் உகள் திகழ் வயல் சூழ் 

Pray with a Pure Heart
Even the cuckoos in the groves were a devotional lot moved by the positive vibration around the temple and were seen chanting the name of the Lord ‘Hari Hari’. 

Thiru Mangai Azhvaar says that those who offer worship with a pure heart before Lord Kola Villi Rama are sure to be blessed.

அள்ளி அம் பொழில்வாய் இருந்து வாழ் குயில்கள்
அரி அரி என்று அவை அழைப்ப
வெள்ளியார் வணங்க  விரைந்து  அருள் செய்வான்

The mansion and pillars were huge and studded with glittering gems so much so that it was even difficult to make out if it was day or night!!!

படியிடை மாடத்து அடியிடைத் தூணில்
பதித்த பன் மணிகளின் ஒளியால்
விடி பகல் இரவு என்று  அறிவு அரிது ஆய
திருவெள்ளியங்குடி அதுவே

Lotus flowers were seen growing between the huge sugarcane and paddy fields. In the water tanks, swans danced around in pairs playfully.

The Lord in Bhujanga Sayanam
Devotees in huge numbers offered worship to the Lord seen reclining on a serpent and holding a discus in hand. 

குடி குடி ஆகக் கூடி நின்று
அமரர் குணங்களே பிதற்றி நின்று ஏத்த
அடியவர்க்கு அருளி அரவு  அனைத்துயின்ற
ஆழியான் அமர்ந்து உறை கோயில்

The Divya Desam lagged behind in Infra Development
Unfortunately in the infrastructure development that took place over the last century, this historical location was left behind. The good news is that the greenery and the fertile lands that were described in Thiru Mangai Azhvaar’s praise still exist in and around this Divya Desam. But for the devotees who are in a hurry to ‘move on’ to the next temple, this is not an easy one to visit for it takes some effort to reach here. 

Like Nathan Koil (,  importance has not been accorded to easing the visit of a devotee to this ancient Divya Desam with a legendary tale.

Visiting an ‘Oppiliappan’ temple or a ‘Sarangapani’ temple is the easy option for most. But to those seeking to spend a day in peace in front of and with the Sleeping Lord, seen in a Bhujanga Sayana Posture, this Sukra Sthalam of Thiru Velliyankudi offers an ideal opportunity (The temple is named after the legendary event of Asura Preceptor regaining lost vision as Thiru ‘Velliyan’ Kudi (Tamil name for Sukran is Velliyan).  Offering prayers here in this Divya Desam is said to liberate one from Sukra Dosham.

Will the Brahmotsavam be back one day?
With the remote location of the temple and lack of support staff to even carry the Lord, there have been no processions for the Lord for many years, even though Brahmotsavam was celebrated in a grand manner in the century gone by.  Garuda and Hanumantha Vahanas are still seen at the temple complex but they do not carry the Lord anymore.  It is hoped that efforts will be taken by like-minded devotees to revive the traditional festivals at this ancient Divya Desam including processions on the Vahanas. 

The temple is open between 8am-12noon and 4pm-7pm. Contact Ramamoorthy Bhattachar @ 94433 96212.

How to reach
From Kumbakonam, one can get down at Sholapuram (on the Madras Highway) and take an auto 6 kms East (Rs. 150). From Aduthurai, take a Sholapuram bound mini bus to get down at Thiru Velliyankudi. From Thirupananthal, auto costs Rs. 100 to the temple.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Periya Vachan Pillai Senganoor

Krishnapremi brings about big Transformation in Senganoor
'Vyakyana Chakravarthi' Periya Vachan Pillai, who was born here, installed the idol of Thiru Venkatamudayan over 8 Centuries ago - The temple reverberates with Divya Prabhandham recital during festivals

The story of Senganoor, a remote village 1km North of Thiru Velliyankudi Divya Desam, dates back to the period of the Saivite Saint Poets to the 7th Century AD. Thiru Gnana Sambanthar visited this place and praised Lord Chandikeswarar giving one a glimpse of the life in Senganoor during that period (to be seen in the next story).

Centuries later, Vaishnavite Acharya Periya Vachan Pillai was born here a few 100 yards South West of the place where the Srinivasa Perumal Temple is now located.There are three beautiful agraharams in his historical village.

Born to Yamunachariar and Nachiyar Ammai, Periya Vachan Pillai would accompany his father everyday to the nearby Kolavilli Rama Divya Desam in Thiru Velliyankudi (, one praised by Thiru Mangai Azhvaar. During these trips, his father initiated the young boy into Nalayira Divya Prabhandham and Ramayana Slokas and got him to recite it the next day. This early episode in his life created special interest in the boy towards the 4000 sacred verses as well as the Ramayana which was to then reflect later on in his life through the extraordinary commentaries that he wrote.

On one of his trips to Thiru Velliyankudi, a learned Brahmin suggested to his father to get the young boy to Srirangam as he seemed destined to make a significant contribution to the devotional world (Years later, he would finally make that trip to Srirangam from where he was to write legendary commentaries) citing the special plantain trees amidst the huge groves as an example of this differentiated personality.

Soon he got married and as was the tradition he, along with his wife, made a trip to his Kula Deivam temple of Thiru Venkatamudayan at Tirupathi. So moved was he with the Lord there that he decided to stay there. While he was anxious at thus being away from his home town and parents, the archaka acting as a messenger of the Lord handed a Saligrama Idol of the Lord and directed him to head back to Senganoor for he was destined for bigger things. He carried the idol in his hand and reached the banks of Coloroon, a few kms North of Senganoor.

Placing the idol on the pure white sand on the river bank, the couple took a sacred bath invoking the blessings of the Lord to relieve them from any sins that they may have committed, as was the tradition.

On return, much to his dismay he found the Lord missing. However, he appeared in his dream providing darshan to him in his full form of Conch and Chakra and directed him to take along the villagers to the river banks to recover the idol. Periya Vachan Pillai installed the idol in the heart of Shenganoor much to the delight of the villagers.

In memory of his contribution to his home town, an idol of Periya Vachan Pillai was installed later inside the temple. The street where the temple is located is now named after him as Periya Vachan Street.
After the death of his parents, Periya Vachan Pillai moved to Srirangam and became a disciple of Nam Pillai. Listening to his acharya and after securing his approval, he wrote commentaries on the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham and the epic Ramayana. Of particular significance is the 24000 Padi, an analytical commentary on Nam Azhvaar’s Tiruvoimozhi.

After the demise of his acharya, he mentored his disciples Vadakku Thiru Veethai Pillai and Azhagiya Manavala Jeer, among others and clarified many of their doubts with confident ease.

பிள்ளான் நஞ்சீயர்  பெரிய வாச்சான் பிள்ளை
தெள்ளார் வடக்கு திரு வீதிப்பிள்ளை
மணவாள யோகி திருவாய்மொழியைக் காத்து
குணவாளரென்று நெஞ்சே கூறு

During that great phase in Srirangam, he wrote 100s of commentaries. However, many of these have been lost to the future generation leaving his analysis and detailed description and explanation of the Divya Prabhandham and Ramayana as his most significant contributions. He is referred to as ‘Vyakyana Chakravarthi’ for his extraordinary commentaries that have stood the test of time and have served as a benchmark in the world of explanation of the Divya Prabhandham. He also wrote commentaries on Rahasya Granthams and Strotras.

He is also one of the few to be credited with the prefix of ‘Periya’ (others being Periya Azhvaar, Periya Jeer and of course Periya Perumal of Srirangam).
Transformative Changes in Senganoor
The ‘Thiru Maligai’ where he was born and lived still exists in the ‘Krishnapremi Swamy Street’ in Senganoor.  One of the heartening features of this remote village is that there are three agraharams that continue to function, housing old style unaltered homes.

The Thiruvenkata Mudayan temple wears a fresh new look. The story of Periya Vachan Pillai is depicted atop the wall on the Western side. There is a separate Sannidhi for the Vyakyana Chakravarthy at the temple.
10day Brahmotsavam is celebrated in Thai in a grand manner
3 day Pavitrotsavam takes place in Avani
Rohini in Avani marking the birthday of Periya Vachan Pillai is a big day at the temple 

First Bank Branch/ New Hospital / A garbage less Village
Krishnapremi Swami, a descendant of Periya Vachan Pillai, has transformed this historical village over the last decade or so. The three agraharams bring refreshing memories of the village in the decades gone by. 

Just last week, the first bank came into the village with City Union Bank opening a branch here. The Government School, near the Perumal Koil has now become a Smart School thanks to the efforts of Krishnapremi. The school is equipped with modern computer systems. English medium is soon to be introduced at the school and the classes will also expand up to 12th.
Even better news awaits the residents of this village praised by Thiru Gnana Sambanthar. A new hospital , the first big one in the region, is likely to come up soon near the temple. Recently, a ‘Naama Dwaar’ has been opened where the villagers congregate every day to chant the name of the Lord.

It is refreshing to find that the entire village is totally clean and one does not find garbage anywhere on the streets. Those original inhabitants that had left the village seeking greener pastures are in the process of building homes here with the possibility of coming back to their home town in the future.

The first of that happened over the last decade when a senior citizen couple returned to perform Kainkaryam at the temple. The lady presents verses from the Divya Prabhandham every morning in front of Lord Thiru Venkatamudayan.
Senganoor is about 4kms South of Thirupananthal and North of Sholapuram off the Kumbakonam- Madras National Highway. Auto from Thirupananthal will cost Rs. 100. The Kola Villi Rama Divya Desam in Thiru Velliyankudi is just over 1km South East of the temple.