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

Friday, September 9, 2011

ThirupullANi Divya Desam

[Click here for more photos of TirupullANi]

ThirupullANi is a beautiful coastal Divya Desam that is intimately connected with the Ramayana. King Dasaratha, seeking progeny, prayed to Lord Sri Adi JagannAtha perumAL at this Divya Desam. His prayers fructified through the birth of Sri Rama and His brothers. Later, when Rama travelled south searching for Seeta, He reached the shores of the sea near ThirupullANi and camped there while His Vaanara army built the miraculous Sethu bridge over the sea to reach and breach Ravana’s fortress. ThirupullAni is numbered 44 on the list of Divya Desams. It is a favourite prArthanA sthalam for couples desiring progeny. ThirupullANi is a small laid-back village with an unmistakable old-world charm.

Vibeeshana’s sharanAgathi:

Most importantly, it was also near this Divya Desam that VibeeshanA’s sharanAgathi at the feet of the Lord happened. In fact ThirupullANi is also known as the “SaranAgathi ksethram”. The episode of VibeeshanA’s surrender is of utmost importance to Sri VaishnavAs. Having quickly realized that his brother rAvaNa was headed inexorably towards destruction at the hands of Sri rAma, VibeeshanA lost no time is hastening to the feet of the Lord SrI rAmA. rAvanA’s generals and his other brother Kumbakarna chose to stick with rAvanA in his evil path and paid for it with their lives. Vibeeshana, exercising his superior intellect and keen perspicacity chose to leave the sinking ship instead of going down with it. His clear-mindedness and faith were rewarded amply and quickly– SrI rAmA not only blessed him with the benison of prapatti but also immediately crowned him the King of Lanka right there on the shores of ThirupullANi. It is very important to appreciate the extraordinary faith exhibited by Vibeeshana when faced with a tough situation. He never had any doubt that Sri rAmA would accept his request for asylum. For a person without faith, VibeeshanA’s surrender to Lord SrI rAmA might sound like a counter-intuitive and stupid decision – even a cowardly one. But VibeeshanA calmly acted with faith and clarity, and in doing so, enriched himself beyond measure and etched his name firmly among the ranks of the glorious souls that have wisely found refuge at the one place to be. In one stroke, Vibeeshana assured for himself, aruL (Grace of the Lord) and poruL (material prosperity).

Another important point in this episode is the Lord’s crystal clear and firm enunciation of His intent to protect anyone who surrenders at His feet. Except for Sri Hanuman, everyone in the vAnarA camp expressed doubts about Vibeeshana’s motivations. All the noises made by the doubters were drowned out in the Lord’s categorical statement of intent:

"Sakrit eva prapannaaya tavaaham asmi iti yaachate
Abhayam sarva bhootebhyo dadaami, etat vratam mama

ThirupullANi is the Divya Desam that is associated with this message of hope and reassurance.

Location and access:

ThirupullANi is located approximately 10 km from the town of Ramanathapuram in southern Tamil Nadu. Ramanathapuram is about 4 hours by train from Tiruchirapalli, which has an international airport (TRZ). It is also possible to drive from TRZ to Ramanathapuram. There are no other Divya Desams nearby. Visitors may find hotel accommodation at Ramanathapuram and rent a taxi or auto-rickshaw to visit the Divya Desam. Alternately, visitors may check with Sri Ahobila Mutt or Srimad Andavan Asramam at TirupullANi for accommodation. (Both are located very close to the Divya Desam – less than 5 minutes by walk). The sEthu seashore, where Sri rAmA camped while building the bridge across the sea is about 5 km from the ThirupullANi temple. sEthu snAnam (a holy dip in this sea) is considered extremely auspicious.

Another way to cover this place is by having the city of Madurai as a travel base. ThirupullANi is about 2.5 hours by land transport from Madurai . There are also a few other Divya Desams in and around Madurai.

Visitors to Ramanathapuram and TirupullANi need to take precautions against mosquitoes especially at night. A good mosquito repellant cream like Odomos (available locally) would be most handy.

Contact details for Sri Ahobila Matam at TirupullANi:
Sri Chellappa:91-04567-254456
(Telephone # 254456;STD code 04567;Country code 91)

The temple:

The TirupullANi temple is a medium sized Divya Desam and if not crowded, all sannidhis can be covered in less than an hour. However, my personal recommendation is to have a relaxed visit and enjoy each sannidhi in detail. The thAyAr here is Sri padmAsani, with a separate sannidhi. The main sanctum is for Lord SrI Adi JagannAtha perumAL, who is in a seated posture with thAyArs on either side. The uthsavar is SrI kalyAna jagannAtha perumAL. An exit from the thAyAr sannidhi leads us to an open corridor around the main sannidhis. As we circumambulate on this corridor, we see a small separate sannidhi for Sri ANDAL. As we continue on this path, we see a sannidhi for Sri darpa-sayana rAmar. This is a famous sannidhi in which Sri rAma is lying on a bed of sacred grass (darpam) while waiting for the sea-god to respond to His request for a way to Lanka. In the sannidhi, we see LakshmaNa in the form of Adi sEshan forming a bed for perumAL. Just outside this sannidhi, we see Sri Vibeeshana as a sculpture. Also, in this temple corridor, we see the sthala vruksham – sacred tree, which is an imposing peepal tree with vast branches. As we re-enter the temple from the corridor, we see a sannidhi for Sri pattAbhi rAmar – in regal splendor with Sri SeetA , SrI lakshmaNA and SrI hanumAn.

The main gopuram for the temple is about 120 feet in height.

Chakra theertham:

The temple tank here deserves special mention. It is known as the Chakra theertham. In contrast to most temple tanks of today, this tank is filled to the brim with clear water – a heartwarming sight indeed. According to old-timers, about two decades back, this temple tank was almost dry, with just a few puddles of wet mud here and there. Thanks to the efforts of Srimad Andavan, this tank has been restored to its original glory. Even in the current times, it is possible to preserve nature – if only man realizes the value of this activity.

Adjacent to the vast theertham, we see a neatly maintained sannidhi for SwAmi dEsikan.

mUlai garudan sannidhi: (Information from Sri RaghuveeradayAL)
There is a sannidhi for Sri GarudAzhwAr in one corner (IsAnya mUlai) of the temple wall. The garudAzhwAr here is very powerful. Such a sannidhi for Sri GarudAzhwAr is found only in select temples.

Legends and History:

The name of this Divya Desam has evolved from the words “pull” and “aNai”, which mean grass and bed respectively in Tamizh. The reference is to the bed of grass (darpa sayanam) on which SrI rAmA lay while waiting for the sea to facilitate the construction of the Sethu bridge. Another version has it that Lord Sri Vishnu appeared before Pulla maharishi under the peepal tree in this ksethram.

Also, SrI rAmA is said to have worshipped SrI Adi JagannAtha perumAL at this Divya Desam before setting out to Lanka. Adi JagannAtha perumAL gave rAmA a bow, which the latter used in the final fight with rAvaNa.

The temple finds mention in the AgnEya purANam and more recently in the Tamizh work akanAnUru. Currently, the temple is under the kainkaryam of the Ramanathapuram Sethu samasthAnam (Royal family of Ramnad). Sculptures of kings of this dynasty can be found in the temple. According to legend, the founder of this dynasty was crowned by SrI rAmA himself as a reward for being of service to Him.

AzhwAr mangaLAsAsanams:

SrI Tirumangai AzhwAr 1768-87, 2674(131)

(pAsuram numbers as found in any standard Divya prabandham book)

A sample pAsuram:

இலங்கு முத்தும் பவளக் கொழுந்தும் எழில் தாமரைப்
புலங்கள் முற்றும் பொழில் சூழ்ந் தழகாய புல்லாணி மேல்
கலங்க லில்லாப் புகழான் கலியன் ஒலி மாலை
வலங்கொள் தொண்டர்க்கு இடம் ஆவது பாடு இல் வைகுந்தமே

According to SrI tirumangai AzhwAr (aka kaliyan) TirupullANi is a beautiful place surrounded by deposits of pearls, coral reefs, lotus ponds and fragrant groves. Those who master this decad of verses by kaliyan on the Lord of TirupullANi will find a place in the state of unadulterated joy (Vaikuntha)

This Divya Desam has also been glorified by other AchAryAs like Sri Periya Nambi, Sri rAmAnujA, Sri Bhattar, Swami Desikan, Sri Nanjeeyar, and Sri Manavala Mamuni.

SrI padmAsani thAyAr samEtha Sri Adi JagannAtha perumAL thiruvadigaLaE saraNam