Celebrating the Azhwars and the Divya Desams of Lord Sriman Narayana!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Thiru nAvAi Divya dEsam

thirunavaya temple

Our journey through the Indian state of kEraLA now brings us to the last and the northernmost of the malai nAdu divya dEsams – ThirunAvAi.

Location and Access:

ThirunAvAi divya dEsam is located 2 km from the railway station of the same name. This station is on the rail route from Chennai to KallikkOttai. The town of ThirunAvAi is also accessible by bus from ShOranUr, which is 37 km away. Pilgrims can take a bus from ShOranUr to Kuttipuram and then travel further by bus to ThirunAvAi, which is a small town with no facilities for food and lodging.
The Temple:

This medium sized temple is located on the banks of the BhArathapuzhA river. The thAyAr here is Sri malarmangai nAchiyAr, also known as Sirudevi thAyAr. The Lord here is known as Sri nAvAi mukundan also known as nArAyanan. The Lord here is in a standing posture. ThirunAvAi is the only divya dEsam in kEraLA that has a separate sannidhi for thAyAr.

Legends and History:

According to legend, nine yOgis meditated on the Lord here. Hence this place came to be known as “Thiru nava yOgi” (nava = nine). The current name – ThirunAvAi is a corruption of this moniker.

This shrine is considered the equal of kAshi in sanctity. Hence this is a preferred place for pilgrims to offer libations to their forefathers.

According to another legend, the elephant-king Gajendra and Sri MahAlakshmi thAyAr worshipped Sri perumAL here with lotus flowers from the theertham. On one occasion, GajendrA was unable to get any flowers, and he complained to Sri perumAL about this. In response, the Lord bade Lakshmi to come and sit with Him and granted GajEndrA the privilege of worshipping the Divine Couple jointly.

AzhwAr mangaLAsAsanams:

nammAzhwAr: 3634-44
Thirumangai AzhwAr: 1520, 1856

[Note: The numbering convention for the pAsurams seems to differ in various Divya Prabandham books. In some Divya Prabandham books, the same pAsurams by srI nammAzhwAr are listed as verse numbers 3041-51.]

A sample pAsuram:

கோவாகிய மாவலியை நிலங்கொண்டாய்!
தேவா சுரம் செற்றவனே! திருமாலே!
நாவாய் உரைகின்ற என் நாரண நம்பி!
ஆவா அடியான் இவன் என்று அருளாயே!

In this pAsuram, sri nammAzhwAr says to Sri perumAL – “You took possession of the asurA mAbali’s kingdom! Lord of the dEvAs! Lord of SrI! My Lord who resides in thirunAvAi! Take me as Your servant!”

Sri malarmangai nAchiyAr, Siru dEvi thAyAr samEtha Sri nAvAi mukundan thiruvadigaLE saraNam.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

ThiruvithuvakkOdu Divya dEsam (Thirumithakode)

[Click on pictures to enlarge]

So far in this blog, the Divya dEsams in southern and central KeraLA have been covered. Now let us travel further north in KeraLA. There are two divya dEsams – ThiruvithuvakkOdu and Thiru nAvAi in the northern (or north-central, to be more precise) part of kEraLA.

ThiruvithuvakkOdu is a beautiful Divya dEsam that has been glorified by Sri KulasEkara AzhwAr in a set of extremely moving pAsurams.

Location and Access:

This temple is locally known as “anjumoorthy koil” since it has five separate sannidhis. It is also referred to as ThiruvinjikkOde.  It is located about 17 km from Shoranur, en route to GuruvAyUr. The nearest railway station is Pattambi, which is 3 km away. Pattambi is a station on the Shoranur-KallikkOttai railway line. Pilgrims may alight at Pattambi, cross the BharathapuzhA river and walk two kilometres to the temple.

Alternately, pilgrims may take a bus towards GuruvAyUr from Shoranur  and alight after about 15 km. After alighting, a walk of 2 km along a narrow path will lead to the temple. There are no facilities for food or stay near the temple itself. The temple is located on the banks of the BhArathapuzhA river.

The Temple:

The thAyArs here are Sri VithuvakkOttu vaLLi and Sri padmapANi nAchiyAr. The Lord here is Uyyavandha perumAL, also known as abhayapradhan. The temple has four sannidhis dedicated for Sri perumAL and one to SivA. The temple is fairly big with a lot of open space. The theertham here is known as Chakra theertham.

Legends and History:

This Divya dEsam is said to be the place where the great devotee King ambareeshA attained salvation. According to legend, Sri perumAL took four different forms – as pradyumnA, aniruddhA, sankarshanA and Para vAsudEvA - and appeared before King ambareeshA here. Hence there are four separate sannidhis here representing each of these forms. It is also believed that these sannidhis were worshipped by the pAndavAs of mahAbhArathA fame – one sannidhi each by YudhistirA, BheemA and Arjuna and one sannidhi jointly by nakulA and sahAdEvA.

AzhwAr mangaLAsAsanams:

KulasEkara AzhwAr: 688-697 
[pAsuram numbers as in any standard Divya prabandham book]

A sample pAsuram:

விற்றுவக் கோட்டம்மா நீ வேண்டாயே ஆயிடினும்
மற்றாரும் பற்றில்லேன்  என்று  அவனைத்  தாள்நயந்த
கொற்ற வேல் தானைக் குலசேகரன்  சொன்ன
நற்றமிழ்  பத்தும் வல்லார்  நண்ணார்  நரகமே.

In this pAsuram, Sri kulasEkara AzhwAr avers that he has no refuge other than the feet of Sri perumAL even if the Lord does not like or accept him. Those who chant Sri kulaSEkara AzhwAr’s  decad of pAsurams on the Lord of ThiruvithuvakkOdu will never suffer the pangs of hell.

Sri vithuvakkOttu vaLLi, Sri padmapANi nAchiyAr samEtha Sri uyyavandha perumAL thiruvadigaLE saranam

Saturday, February 21, 2015

ThirukkAtkarai Divya dEsam (Thrikkakara)

Thrikkakara is a grand Divya dEsam where the Lord is said to have incarnated as vAmanA to save the Asura king mAbali from his own arrogance. Hence it is also the epicentre of the Onam festival, which is an important celebration in kEraLA and is linked to the legend of mAbali and vAmanA.

Location and Access:

Thrikkakara is located 10 km North-East of the city of Ernakulam in central kEraLA. It would be convenient for visitors to stay at Ernakulam as there are no lodging facilities near the temple. The temple is located at a distance of 15 km from angamAli railway station. It is also about the same distance from the IrinjAlakkudA railway station, which is on the Alwaye-Trichur train route. This temple is also at a distance of 6 km from the train station of Idappalli.

The Temple:

The Thrikkakara temple is built in the typical kEraLA divya dEsam style, with a conical roof over the main sanctum and open corridors with plenty of space. The thAyAr here is Sri perunchelva nAyaki (also known as vAtsalya vaLLi) and the Lord here is known as Thrikkakarayappan (also known as vAmanamUrthy) who is in a standing posture facing south. The temple is also locally known as the Thrikkakara vAmanamUrthy kshetram. The main religious event at this temple is the Onam festival which occurs in August-September. The theertham here is known as Kapila theertham.

Legends and History:

The temple is said to be the exact site where vAmanA sent mAbali to the nether-world with His Divine Foot. This has given rise to the etymology of the name Thrikkakara (place of the Holy Foot). Many people think wrongly that the purpose of the vAmanA incarnation was to kill or humiliate mAbali. mAbali was actually a benevolent king and was the grandson of Sri PrahalAdA, who was one of the foremost devotees of Sri perumAL. Unfortunately, mAbali began to develop arrogance as a result of his victory over the dEvAs. In order to save mAbali from error and extinction, Sri perumAL incarnated as vAmanA. By showing mAbali a glimpse of His Infinite form as Thrivikrama, the Lord made mAbali aware of his own insignificance and restored him back to his humble, good-natured self. In the process Sri perumAL also granted mAbali suzerainty over the nether-world.

mAbali sought a boon from Sri perumAL that he be allowed to visit his subjects once a year. It is believed that mAbali rises each year from the nether-world on the anniversary of the vAmanA incarnation (which falls on the day of the ThiruvONam star in the month of AvaNi). This is the day of the Onam festival each year.

Another legend has it that a farmer had a banana plantation that never yielded him any produce. The farmer prayed to Sri perumAL at this temple. With the Grace of Sri perumAL, the banana farm started yielding a rich produce of large-sized bananas, which are now known as the “nEndiram vAzhai” (a special type of banana endemic to the region).

AzhwAr mangaLAsAsanams:

nammAzhwAr: 3612-22

[Note: The numbering convention for the pAsurams seems to differ in various Divya Prabandham books. In some Divya Prabandham books, the same pAsurams by srI nammAzhwAr are listed as verse numbers 3019-29.]

A sample pAsuram:

அறிகிலேன் தன்னுள் அனைத்தும் உலகும் நிற்க
நெறிமையால் தானும் அவற்றுள் நிற்கும் பிரான்
வெறி கமழ் சோலைத் தென் காட்கரை என் அப்பன்
சிறிய என் ஆர் உயிர் உண்ட திரு அருளே     

In this pAsuram, Sri nammAzhwAr says that the Lord Sri perumAL who contains the entire Universe is also contained in everything. Out of extreme humility, Sri AzhwAr says that the Grace of Sri perumAL is unfathomable for a lowly person like him.

Sri vAtsalya vaLLi thAyAr samEtha Sri Thrikkakarayappan thiruvadigaLE saraNam.

Friday, January 23, 2015

ThirumUzhikkaLam divya dEsam

In this blog, so far, the divya dEsams in the southern part of kEraLA have been covered. Now let us proceed further north to cover the two divya dEsams located near the twin cities of Cochin-Ernakulam, which are located in central kEralA. These two divya dEsams are ThirumUzhikkaLam and ThirukkAtkarai.

Location and Access:

ThirumUzhikkaLam is located 5 km from the railway station of AngamAli town in kEraLA. There are no facilities for boarding and lodging in ThirumUzhikkaLam itself. Pilgrims may stay at the nearby towns of Alwaye or ErnAkuLam and visit this temple by public bus. The temple is located on the banks of the river BhArathapuzhA.  

The Temple:

The thAyAr here is Sri madhuravENi nAchiyAr. The Lord here is known as “thirumUzhikkaLathAn”, “appan” and “Sri SukthinAtha perumAL”. The icon of a sage by the name of hAreetha maharishi is also seen here.

The temple is built over a large area and is located amid picturesque surroundings. The temple is built in typical kEraLA temple style with plenty of open space.

Legends and History:

When Sri Rama started living in the forests of ChitrakUtA  at the beginning of his exile, his brother BharathA visited him. BharathA’s intention was to persuade Sri Rama to curtail His exile and return to ayodhyA. However, when LakshmanA saw bharathA approaching with his retinue, he mistakenly suspected bharathA’s intentions. He thought bharathA’s purpose was to harm rAmA and hence prepared to attack the former. Later, when he understood the truth, Lakshmana felt very guilty about suspecting the pure-hearted bharathA. To get rid of his guilt, LakshmanA worshipped Sri perumAL here. According to legend, when LakshmanA worshipped here, bharathA himself appeared and assuaged his guilt with his kind words and tender embrace. With the negative feelings cleared up, both of them together worshipped the Lord at this Divya dEsam. Since kind words were exchanged (between LakshmanA and bharathA) here, this place came to be known as Thiru-mozhi-kaLam – which literally means – “place of auspicious words”. The name gradually evolved into Thiru mUzhikkaLam. It is believed that LakshmaNA renovated this temple. In fact, the temple is even locally known as LakshmaNa perumAL temple.

Another legend associated with this Divya dEsam is that a sage by the name of Hareetha Muni, who was the son of Sage VisvAmitrA worshipped Sri perumAL here. The Lord revealed His form to Hareetha Muni here.

AzhwAr mangaLAsAsanams:

nammAzhwAr: 3623-33
Thirumangai AzhwAr: 1553, 2061, 2674(129)

[Note: The numbering convention for the pAsurams seems to differ in various Divya Prabandham books. In some Divya Prabandham books, the same pAsurams by srI nammAzhwAr are listed as verse numbers 3030-40.]

A sample pAsuram:

எனக்கு ஒன்று பணியீர்கள் இரும் பொழில்வாய் இரை தேர்ந்து
மனக்கு இன்பம் பட மேவும் வண்டு இனங்காள்! தும்பிகாள்!
கணக்கொள் திண் மதிள் புடைசூழ் திருமூழிக்களத்து உறையும்       
புனக்கொள் காயா மேனிப் பூந்துழாய் முடியார்க்கே

In this pAsuram, Sri nammAzhwAr implores the insects to act as his messengers and convey his longing to the Lord Sri perumAL at thirumUzhikkaLam. ThirumUzhikkaLam is fortified by high walls and the Lord here has the colour of kAyA flowers and is adorned with Thulasi (basil).

Sri madhuravENi nAchiyAr samEtha thiru mUzhikkaLathAn thiruvadigaLE saraNam

Saturday, August 16, 2014

ThiruvaNvaNdUr Divya dEsam (aka ThiruvamundUr)

ThiruvaNvaNdUr is yet another Divya dEsam that is located in the Chengannur area. It is one of the five divya dEsams in this area that is connected with the pAndavAs of mahAbhArathA fame.

Location and Access:

This Divya dEsam is located 6 km to the North of Chengannur along the Ernakulam-Trivandrum railway. There are no facilities for lodging here, hence it is best to stay at TiruvallA.

The Temple:

The temple is located on the banks of the pampA river. It is built in the typical kEraLA divya dEsam style with a circular vimAnam. The thAyAr here is Sri Kamalavalli nAchiyAr and the perumAL here is Sri pAmbaNai appan (pAmbaNai = snake bed; appan = father). Also, the name pAmbaNai appan is interpreted as “pampA nadi appan”, since the temple is located on the banks of the pampA nadhi (river). Sri perumAL here is also known as Sri kamalanAthan. Sages mArkandeyA and naradA are also seen in this temple. There is an idol of Sri Krishna dancing on the head of a five-headed snake in this temple.

Legends and History:

According to mythology, Sage NaradA worshipped Lord Sri Vishnu here. Sri Vishnu ordained that it would be Sage naradA’s vocation to disseminate true knowledge to the world. Also, Sage naradA composed the “naradeeya purAnam” here, establishing the primordial nature of Sri Vishnu and the protocol for worshipping Him.

According to legend, this temple was renovated by Nakula, the fourth of the pAndavA brothers in the mahabhArathA.

According to recent history, idols of Lord Sri Vishnu were found in this town while digging the earth. These were installed in the temple in new sannidhis.

AzhwAr mangaLAsAsanams:

nammAzhwAr: 3227-37

 [Note: The numbering convention for the pAsurams seems to differ in various Divya Prabandham books. In some Divya Prabandham books, the same pAsurams by srI nammAzhwAr are listed as verse numbers 2634-44.]

A sample pAsuram:

வேறுகொண்டு உம்மை யான் இரந்தேன்; வெறி வண்டினங்காள்
தேறு நீர்ப் பம்பை வடபாலைத் திருவண்வண்டூர்
மாறு இல் போர் அரக்கன் மதிள் நீறு எழச் செற்று உகந்த
ஏரு சேவகனார்க்கு என்னையும் உளன் என்மின்களே  

In this pAsuram, Sri nammAzhwAr appeals to honey bees to convey his longing for Sri PerumAL to Him. The Lord who reduced the demon-king rAvaNA’s capital to rubble resides in ThiruvaNvandUr, which is located on the northern bank of the river pampA.

SrI  kamalavaLLi thAyAr samEtha Sri pAmbaNai appan  thiruvadigaLE saranam

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Thiru vAran viLai Divya dEsam (Aranmula)

This is also one of the five malai nAdu divya dEsams associated with the five pAndavAs of mahAbhArathA fame. Also, this is one of the six divya dEsams that can be visited with the town of TiruvallA as the travel base.

Location and Access:

It is located 10 kilometres east of the town of ChengannUr and is on the banks of the PampA river. There are very limited facilities for boarding and lodging here. It is best to travel by road from ChengannUr or TiruvallA. Incidentally, the pampA river at the banks of this temple is the site of the famous Aranmula boat race that is held in the Onam season (August – September). Also, Aranmula is the provenance of the famous Aranmula kannAdi, which is a type of hand-crafted mirror made of metal alloy instead of glass. For more information on this, see this link: http://www.aranmula.net/AranmulaKannadi.aspx

The Temple:

The temple is fairly big. The thAyAr here is known as padmAsani nAchiyAr and the mUlavar here is ThirkkuraLappan who is in a standing posture. The mUlavar is also known as pArthasArathy (literally means, ArjunA’s charioteer). Also seen here are icons of BrahmA and sage vEda vyAsa. The theertham here is known as vEda vyAsa saras.

Legends and History:

According to legend, Arjuna, the third of the pAndavAs renovated this shrine. He worshipped the Divya Dampathi here to expiate for his sin of killing Karna when the latter was unarmed during the great mahAbhArathA war, and regained his peace. It is also believed that the vanni tree here has healing properties.

Also, once, a couple of demons named Madhu and KaitabhA stole the vEdAs from BrahmA, the creator. BrahmA, bereft of the vEdAs, prayed to the Divya dampathi for their restoration. The Divya Dampathi here restored the knowledge of the vEdAs to BrahmA.

AzhwAr mangaLAsAsanams:

nammAzhwAr: 3436-46

[Note: The numbering convention for the pAsurams seems to differ in various Divya Prabandham books. In some Divya Prabandham books, the same pAsurams by srI nammAzhwAr are listed as verse numbers 2843-53.]

A sample pAsuram:

இன்பம் பயக்க எழில் மலர் மாதரும் தானும், இவ் ஏழ் உலகை
இன்பம் பயக்க, இனிது உடன் வீற்றிருந்து ஆள்கின்ற எங்கள் பிரான்
அன்புற்று அமர்ந்து உறைகின்ற அணிபொழில் சூழ்  திருவாறண்விளை
அன்புற்று அமர்ந்து, வலஞ்செய்து கைதொழும் நாள்களும் ஆகும்கொலோ ?

In this pAsuram, Sri nammAzhwAr wonders when he will have the fortune of worshipping and circumambulating the Lord at ThiruvAran vilai. The Lord rules the world benevolently with His Consorts, spreading happiness.

SrI padmAsani thAyAr samEtha SrI ThirukkuraLappan thiruvadigaLE saranam

Saturday, September 21, 2013

ThiruppuliyUr divya dEsam (aka kutta nAdu)

This is one of the 5 divya dEsams in the ChengannUr area of kEraLA, that are connected with the five pAndavA brothers of mahAbhArathA fame.

Location and Access:

ThiruppuliyUr is located 5 km West of the town of ChengannUr. It is best to drive to this Divya dEsam. Buses are very infrequent. There are practically no facilities for staying here.

The Temple:

The temple is fairly big and is built in the typical kEraLA divya dEsam architecture with a big open prakAram. The thAyAr here is Sri porkodi nAchiyAr and the perumAL is Sri mAyappirAn in a standing posture. The temple tank is known as pragnyA saras.

Legends and History:
  • Stone inscriptions in the temple date it back to the Second Chera Empire (800 - 1102 AD).
  • The temple is believed to have been built by BheeemA, the second of the pAndavAs of mahAbhArathA fame. There is a large mace in this temple that is said to be a likeness of BheemA’s weapon. 
  • The food offerings (prasAdam) at this temple are of a huge quantity – as befits the appetite of the temple’s patron, BheemA. 
  • Legend has it that, this place was ruled by a cruel king Virukshadarbi. There was a famine here and the king thought of giving gifts to the holy Seven Sages (saptharishis) to attract their blessings. However the sages declined to accept the ruler’s gifts. The enraged ruler performed a sacrifice and invoked an evil spirit to kill the Rishis. Lord Sriman NarayanA directed Indra to slay the evil spirit and protect the sages, which Indra did dutifully. Further, the Lord appeared before the Rishis and blessed them here at this divya dEsam.

AzhwAr mangaLAsAsanams:

SrI nammAzhwAr: 3535-45
SrI thirumangaiAzhwAr: 2673 (71)

[Note: The numbering convention for the pAsurams seems to differ in various Divya Prabandham books. In some Divya Prabandham books, the same pAsurams by srI nammAzhwAr are listed as verse numbers 2842-52.]

A sample pAsuram:

நேர்பட்ட நிறை மூவுலகுக்கும் நாயகன் தன் அடிமை
நேர்பட்ட தொண்டர் தொண்டர் தொண்டர்  தொண்டன் சடகோபன் சொல்
நேர்பட்ட தமிழ் மாலை ஆயிரத்துள் இவை பத்தும்
நேர்பட்டார் அவர் நேர்பட்டார் நெடுமாற்க்கு அடிமை செய்யவே

In this pAsuram (which is the last of Sri nammAzhwAr’s set of 11 pAsurams on this divya dEsam), AzhwAr describes himself as the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord. Those who chant this decad of pAsurams by Sri nammAzhwAr will be blessed with the fortune of being devoted worshippers of the Lord.
Sri porkodi nAchiyAr samEtha Sri mAyappirAn thiruvadigaLE saraNam