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.

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