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.
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.
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.