Moolavar (Presiding Deity) : Sri Aandalakkum Aiyan Perumal
Thayaar (Consort) : Ranganayaki Thayar
Thirukkolam (Posture) : Sayanam(Reclining)
Thirumugam (Facing) : East
Mangalasasanam (Hymns sung by) :
Sthalapurana (Brief History) :
Thirumangai Azhwar exhausted all the money he had in the renovation of Srirangam temple. He had nothing left to pay the wages for the workers. He prayed to Lord for money, a divine voice asked Azhwar to come to a specific place on the banks of Kollidam river to collect the money.
Azhwar reached the place and found a trader wearing a turban holding a measuring bowl (marakkal), palm leaf and Ezhuthani (writing tool). The trader told that Lord Ranganatha had sent him to help Azhwar and asked him his need, Thirumangai requested money to pay wages for the workers.
The trader said that he had no money but the Marakkal he had would fulfill the need. He said that he would give sand measuring by his bowl, which will turn into gold only to such workers who sincerely worked and would remain sand itself to those who are not sincere.
Azhwar accepted the condition. To many, it was sand only. The workers felt that the trader was a magician and began to attack him. He began to run away. Azhwar too chased him. The trader-Lord stopped at this place and showed His true form. He taught Azhwar in writing on the palm with the Ezhuthani. "Aandu" means to govern/rule in tamil, "Alakkum" means to measure, hence the Lord here is called "Andallakkum Aiyan".
As Kamadhenu, the divine cow performed penance here, the place is named Athanoor. "Aa" in tamil means cow, "Than oor " means its place.
About the temple:
Lord Perumal appears in His reclining form with His consorts Sridevi and Bhoodevi. He has His Marakal (measuring bowl) as a pillow holding the palm and ezhuthani in His left hand.
Kamadhenu, the divine cow is at the feet of the Lord. Lord Shiva who had his Brahmahatti Dosha relieved by worshipping Perumal, has His due place in the sanctum near Perumal. Sage Bhrigu and Thirumangai Azhwar are also in the sanctum.
According to our beliefs and scriptures, there are two pillars in the Paramapata, Abode of Lord Vishnu. Jeevas would be relieved of their sins once they embrace these pillars while going up. There are two such pillars in this temple in the Arthamandapa. Devotees use to circumambulate the pillars and worship the feet and head of Lord to attain salvation. Of the 108 Divya Desams, only Srirangam and Adanur temples have these pillars.
DIVYA DESAMs - 12/108 - Thirukudandhai
Name of the Divya Desam : Sri Sarangapani Swamy temple
Location : Kumbakonam
Moolavar (Presiding Deity) : Sri Sarangapani / Araavamudhan
Sri Aandal, Periyazhwar, Thirumazhisai Azhwar, Boothathazhwar, Peyazhwar, Nammazhwar, Thirumangai Azhwar
Sthalapurana (Brief History) :
As per legend Sage Hema Rishi did penance here to get Sri Lakshmi Devi as his daughter.
Lord Vishnu was pleased by the penance and blessed the sage that he will get Sri Lakshmi as his daughter. Lakshmi Devi emerged from the Potramarai kulam (Lotus tank) among thousand lotuses and was thus named Komalavalli (one who emerged from lotus).
At her appropriate age, Lord Vishnu descended to earth holding a bow, as Araavamudhan (unlimited nectar) in a chariot drawn by elephants and horses from his abode Vaikuntam and married Komalavalli thayar. "Sarangam" means bow of Vishnu and "pani" means holding, hence the Lord here is called Sarangapani ("one who holds the bow").
About the temple:
The temple rajagopuram (main gateway) has eleven tiers and has a height of 173 ft (53 m). The temple faces east and the Potramarai tank is located outside the western entrance.
There are two stepped entrances to the sanctum, Utharayana Vaasal (opens from 15/Jan to 15/Jul) and Dhakshanayana Vaasal
(opens from 15/Jul to 15/Jan).
The speciality of this temple is that the central shrine is in the form of a * Chariot drawn by horses and elephants*, with openings on either side, showing the descent of Sri Sarangapani from Vaikuntam in the chariot. Lord is in a slightly raised reclining posture, with his head resting on his right hand. Sage Hemarishi, Lakshmi Devi and festival images are enshrined within the sanctum.
Once Thirumazhisai Azhwar came here to worship the reclining Lord Araavamudhan. He was enchanted by the beauty of the Lord and sang ”Oh, Keshava, please just raise yourself slightly and talk to me". The Lord readily obliged and tried to get up (from the sleeping posture) to speak to the Azhwar. The Azhwar requested Perumal to remain in the exact posture of getting up, and to this day the Lord in this shrine can be seen in this Udhaana sayanam (slightly raised reclining) posture.
Lord serves his devotee:
* Sri Lakshmi Narayanaswamy, a devotee was ever engaged in the Nityakainkarya (Daily service to Lord) of the temple. With the help got from kings and the wealthy, he was able to procure oranaments for the deities, accumulate properties for the temple. He also built the Raja Gopuram and other extensive mandapas for temple. When the devotee breathed his last on a deepavali day, the Lord himself ordered to perform the funeral rites of the deceased as he had no heir.
Even now on every Deepavali day shraddha is performed to Sri Lakshmi Narayanaswamy on behalf of the Lord. All the things necessary for doing rites and rituals are kept in Sri Aravamudhan's sannadhi and the temple is closed, so that Perumal can perform shraddha for Sri Lakshmi Narayanaswamy. *
As per legend, once Tulasidevi did penance to attain closeness to Lord Vishnu. Lord gave a boon to her that His consort Mahalakshmi would appear under her lap in Thiruvinnagar. Tulasidevi appeared in the place where the temple is located as Tulasi plant.
Markandeya Maharishi worshipped Lord Vishnu and desired to have Mahalakshmi as his daughter and Vishnu as his son-in-law. Once the rishi was on a holy trip and as he reached Thiruvinnagar, he felt that it was the right place for getting his desire fulfilled.
The Rishi started severe penance for thousand years seeking Mahalakshmi's blessings. Lakshmi appeared as an infant under the already incarnated tulasi plant here. Markandeya took the baby, named her Bhoomidevi (as she was found in the Bhoomi - ground) and raised her with care. At the appropriate age of Bhoomidevi, on the panguni month of Shravana, Lord Vishnu appeared as an old man and showed interest in marrying her.
Requesting the old man, Markandeya said "You are very ripe and old, my daughter is too young and she does not even know how to cook with right proportion of salt" to which the old man replied, "If your daughter must cook without salt, then I will still take it as my best food, but I will not leave from here without marrying her".
Markandeya prayed and sought the help of Lord Vishnu. He realised that the old man was none other than Maha Vishnu himself. Just then Vishnu appeared in front of him with Sangu (conch) and Discus (chakram) as in Vaikundam. Markandeya Rishi happily offered his daughter's hand in marriage to the Lord.
The temple Neivedhyam (prasadh offering in the temple) is always prepared without salt. As Perumal accepted food without salt (Uppu in Tamil), He is known as Uppili Appan and as Oppili Appan as none equals Him (Uppili - without salt, Oppili - no equal). Tulasidevi-Bhooma devi came to stay on the chest of Lord in the form of garlands offered by devotees in all Perumal temples.
About the temple:
As the Lord says in Bhagavath Gita Ch-18:Ver66 - “*Maam Ekam Charanam Vraja*”, it is written on Sri Oppiliyappan's right hand pointing to His feet, meaning “I take care of those surrendering unto me”.
As per another legend, a learned Brahmin by name Devasarma, overcome by passion had a forceful union with the daughter of Jaimini rishi. On her tearful complaint to her father, the rishi cursed him to become a bird. It was then the sinner repented and begging pardon, requested the Sage not to impose the curse.
The Sage relented and advised that while he could not withdraw the curse already pronounced, as a bird he might live in the branch of a tree overlooking the holy pushkarini (pond) at this temple. Several years later, a cyclone blew in the night and broke the branch of the tree, the bird fell into the holy waters. Due to the bird's contact with the holy waters, it was relieved from the curse and Devasarma regained his original form. A speciality of this temple is that bathing is permitted in the pushkarini known as "Ahoratra pushkarini" both during day and night.
DIVYA DESAMs - 14/108 - Thirunaraiyur
Name of the Divya Desam : Nachiyar Kovil / Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple
As per legend, Sage Medhavi prayed to Lord Vishnu to get Goddess Lakshmi as his daughter. True to his prayer, the sage Medhavi found a beautiful girl child under vanjula tree. He took care of the child and named her Vanjulavalli.
The girl grew up and was of marriageable age. Vishnu appeared to Medhavi, pleased by the latter's devotion and asked his daughter to be married to him. The sage happily married Vanjulavalli to Vishnu and requested Lord Vishnu to stay in his place, which Vishnu accepted. The sage asked Lord Vishnu that his daughter should always be given prominence. From then on, the temple has been known as Nachiyar Kovil.
As per another legend, Sri Garudan (vahana of Mahavishnu) was the one to trace Lakshmi to this place and led Vishnu here. As a mark of gratitude, Lord Vishnu blessed Garudan to receive equal status at this temple.
As per yet another legend, Thirumangai Azhwar, formerly Neelan the chieftain spent all his wealth in the service of Lord Perumal. As he was not a Vaishnava, nobody recognized his bhakti and services. Azhwar came to this place and begged Perumal to acknowledge him as His devotee.
Pleased with Azhwar, Perumal did Mudradanam to him. (Mudradanam is a ceremony of accepting one in the Vaishnava group by placing the symbols of Discus and Conch in hands). This is the only Divyadesam where Perumal came as a Guru and offered Mudradanam to a devotee.
As a token of his gratitude to the Lord, Thirumangai Azhwar sung over 100 verses praising the Lord and named Him Nambi. Nambi in tamil means a trustworthy person.
About the temple:
Kal Garudan is made of salagrama and can be worshipped in a separate shrine outside the main sanctum. During the Tamil months of Margazhi (December–January) and Panguni (April - May), the festive images are carried out in procession in Kal Garudan. *While only four people are needed to carry the idol of Garuda out of the shrine, it multiples to 8, 16, 32, and 64 people when the image is taken outside the temple. The image is believed to get heavier as it moves away from the temple.
On the way back it reduces its weight and from 64, 32, 16, 8 and only 4 people are required to carry it inside the shrine. *
The sanctum is so designed centering the glory of Thayar Vanjulavalli. She is a little ahead of Perumal in a standing form. During processions too, she goes forward in Annam vahana and Lord follows Her. First Abishekam is dedicated to Her only. She has a parrot in Her hand and key bunch on hip confirming Her predominance over the Lord.
As per legend, Sage Medhavi was doing penance at this place. While taking bath in the river, he found an image of Chakrathazhwar entwined with Yoga Narasimhar. A divine voice asked him to install the image in his hermitage and worship it.
As per another legend Chola king Kochenganan, a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva occupies a place among the Nayanmars, has built about 70 Shiva temples in his life. He had a desire to see Lord Perumal in His abode - Vaikuntam. He prayed to Perumal. Lord Perumal granted darshan to the king and ordered him to build a temple for Him. The king built a temple with Shiva temple design with Yalis-a lion-like pillar, enabling the devotees to have darshan of Perumal from all sides. This is a Mada-type temple (temple at a raised level). Thirumangai Azhwar mentions this temple as Mani Mada Koil.
DIVYA DESAMs - 15/108 - Thirucherai
Name of the Divya Desam : Saranatha Perumal temple
As per legend, during the Pralaya (devasting floods), Lord Brahma wanted to safeguard the Vedas. He tried creating a strong mud pot which can hold the scriptures but he was unsuccessful.
He approached Lord Vishnu for His help, Perumal asked him to take the soil of Thirucherai to make a pot and place the Vedas in it for safety. As the soil served as a Base or Moola (Saram in tamil), the Lord here is known as Saranatha Perumal and the place Tirucharam which later changed as Tirucherai.
As per another legend, Mother Kaveri prayed to Perumal and asked Him to grant her the status of Holy Ganga, considered superior in washing off the sins of those bathing in the river. She performed penance under the Bodhi tree on the western bank of Sara Pushkarini (holy pond). Pleased by her penance, Perumal crawled on the lap of Kaveri as a little child.
Kaveri said that she was not for that boon alone. Perumal appeared before her with His consorts. Kaveri begged Perumal that He should stay in the place in the same form. Perumal obliged and also granted a space to her in the sanctum.
As per yet another legend, Azhagiya Manavala Naicker who ruled Thanjavur, planned to build a temple for Sri Rajagopala swamy in Mannarkudi. He assigned this responsibility to his minister Narasa Boopalan who was an ardent devotee of Sri Saranatha Perumal of Thirucherai.
For temple construction, blackstones where brought from all possible places. The minister ordered his men to unload one stone from each cart which passed through Thirucherai. A spy of the king saw this and informed the king who came for an inspection. But before the king could reach, Narasa Boopalan partially constructed this temple and to please him, added a sannathi for Sri Rajagopala swamy too. The king pardoned the minister for his devotion towards the Lord and completed the construction of the temple here.
About the temple:
This is one among the few Divyadesams where Perumal grants darshan to devotees with five consorts, Sridevi, Bhoodevi, Mahalakshmi, Saranayaki and Neeladevi.
DIVYA DESAMs - 16/108 -Thirukannamangai
Name of the Divya Desam : Bhakthavatsala Perumal temple
As per legend, Goddess Mahalakshmi appeared from the churning of Samudhra Mandhan, wanted to marry Lord Vishnu. She performed penance here to attain the Lord. Pleased by her penance, the Lord at his abode Thirupaarkadal (milky ocean) asked his security Vishwakshenar to suggest a good day for their wedding.
On the auspicious day, the Lord appeared before the Goddess and married her. It is believed that all the Devas congregated here to witness the divine wedding. They were so overwhelmed on seeing the divine couple, they took the form of bees and decided to stay here ever after.
To this day, one can find the bees in the Thaayar Sannidhi – a unique feature of this Divya desam. During utharayana the bees live in the north window and during dakshinayana in the south window. As Lord's wedding took place at Thiru Kannamangai, this place is called Krishna Mangala Kshetram.
About the temple:
Thirukannamangai is one of the Pancha Krishna Kshethrams. The other four are, Kapisthalam, Thirukannapuram, Thirukovilur and Thirukannangudi.
It is believed that this place is protected by Lord Shiva in all four directions in four forms. There is a separate sannadhi for Sri Ramanujar.
Thirumangai Azhwar sung his last 10 Pasurams here in Thirukannamangai..
As per legend, once a garland of flowers sent by a Chola king to the Lord did not reach the temple and hence the priest could not get the Lord ready in time for the King’s visit. To save himself from the King’s wrath, the temple priest quickly organized a garland of flowers from his house and placed it around the Lord.
The king found that there was a hair in the garland and questioned the priest, who told him that this was the Lord’s own. The priest told the king that he would show it(the Lord's hair) to him the next morning.
To save the priest, the Lord gave darshan with black ‘Sowri’ (wig) to the king. Hence the Lord is known as ‘Sowriraja Perumal’.