Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Temple Visit - Kandakottam

“Kovil Illatha Ooril Kudi Irukathe” – Please don’t reside in a place where there is no temple. The Statement of our forefathers is sacro sanct because the temple indicates that the community is graced by the presence of God and that its Citizens form a moral community. A Community identifies and is identified by others with its temples.

There are lots of temples in and around the Metropolis of Chennai. Chennai has vaishnavite divya desams, thevara shivite temples and even Navagraha temples in and around the city. I recently happened to visit Kanda Kottam a shrine dedicated to Lord Muruga located on the heartthrob of Chennai.

The temple is situated amidst the narrow lane of “Rasappa Chetty Street” in the Park Town which is located near the Ratan or Evening Bazaar between Chennai Central and Parry’s Corner. The temple has the legend dating back to 15th Century and is managed by Ayira Vysya Beri Chettiyar Community.

This temple was frequented by the Saint Poet “Vallalar” Ramalinga Adigal who has sung “Deiva Mani Malai” a devotional poem on the Lord Kandasami.

Thought of sharing the details of the temple.
Please read on to know more about the temple and its legends.
Happy Reading!
Warm Regards
A.V. Devan
Chennai – July 7th 2010


Kandasami temple was founded by two old friends Velur Mari Chettiar a Beri Chettiar and Kandappa Achari a Viswakarma man. According to the legend, the two friends were on their monthly pilgrimage to worship Lord Murugan at Tiruporur, fifty six kilometers away situated on the Old Mahabalipuram Road when they miraculously discovered the idol of Kandasami hidden in an anthill and brought it back to Madras. There on an auspicious day in 1673 they installed and consecrated the deity in a temple dedicated to the elephant God Vinayakar located in the garden of one Muthiyalu Naicken of Pedda Naickenpet. Subsequently when Mari Chettiar sought to build a temple for the deity funded in part by his wife’s generous gift of her jewelry, Muthiyalu donated the Park Town lands on which the temple now stands.

When Mari Chettiar completed the Temple, he handed its management and that of its financial trusts to the “Eighteen Group” Beeri Chettiars, the eighteen named clusters that composed the Town Beeri Chettiar community at that time. In commemoration of his services, the Beeri Chettiars installed a statue of Mari Chettiar near one of the Temple’s sanctums, where he is worshiped today as a God. Here we see an individual Mari Chetti, being commemorated for what he had done. From archival materials, endowment records and stone inscriptions in the temple we do know that Beri Chettiar control of the temple is more than two hundred years old. F.L. Conradi’s map of “Madraspatnam” as the city was then called depicts a small unnamed shrine at what is the temple’s location today.

“Vallalar” Ramalinga Adigal & Kandakottam

After losing his father at an early age Ramalinga Adigal’s family migrated from Chidambaram to Chennai. Ramalinga showed no interest towards formal education but rather prefer to spend his time in the precincts of Kandasami temple at Kandakottam. Sabhapati, his elder brother was upset with the behavior of his younger brother Ramalinga and as a punitive measure he instructed his wife not to give his daily meal. However the compassionate sister-in-law secretly fed him food and softly advised Ramalingam to pursue his studies at home. Ramalingam relented with a condition that he is given a separate room of his own which was agreed. Now in the solitary confines of the room Ramalingam set up a mirror and in front of it lit a small lamp and start mediating relentlessly and this was the beginning of the young Ramalinga’s spiritual journey.

The first reward came in the form of a vision of Lord Muruga and in the saints own words “The beauty endowed divine faces six, the illustrious shoulders twelve”. Ramalingam spent most of his time in his room. Sitting before a mirror, he used to meditate and compose poems. As he meditated his individual self had disappeared and the Lord he realized within revealed himself in the reflection on the mirror. Visiting the Kanda Kottam Murugan temple became the daily routine and he felt intensely emotional and poured out his devotion in the form of Deiva Mani Malai, Kandar Sarana Pathu, Shanmugar Kalaipathu etc., The temple trust has recorded “Deiva Mani Malai” sung by Seerkazhi Govindarajan which is available for sale in the temple.

Temple Facts

The area covered by the temple is about eight acres. The moolavar Sri Kandaswamy, which was brought from Thiruporur is two feet high and Sri Valli and Sri Deivayanai are on either side of this presiding deity. There are also other shrines in the temple. The Uthsava moorthi is known as Sri Muthukumaraswamy with consorts Valli and Deivayanai and is enshrined in a separate shrine before a big uthsava mandapam. There is also a separate shrine near the temple tank for Sri Kulakkarai Vinayagar with Siddhi and Buddhi as his consort’s shrine. Near this Vinayagar shrine there is also a separate shrine for Sri Kasi Viswanathar and Goddess Visalakshi. At the entrance of the temple, there is a hall called Parivedan mandapam. Sculptured image of Vezhmugathu Vinayakar in sitting and standing postitions are kept on either side of the mandapam. To the front of the Artha mandapam, there is a dwajasthambam (Flag Staff).

The Mukha mandapam is where the idols of Sarva Siddhi Vinayakar, Meenakshi Sundareswarar, Idumban, Arunagirinathar, Sri Vallalar, and Pamban Swamigal are found along with the image of Mari Chettiyar. The jewelry adorning the images of Skanda are of great beauty. The entrance to the temple is crowned with a Rajagopuram and there is a tank within the temple premises. Four worship services are offered each day here.

The annual Bhramotsavam is celebrated in the month of Thai. The eighteen group sponsor each day of the function like 6th day function by Gold Merchants (Kassu Kadai varthagarkal) 18th day by country-drug (Naattu Marunthukadai) merchants. The day following the Thai Poosam festival, witnesses a procession of Subramanyar to the Kachabeswarar temple in George Town, for the float festival (celebrated during times of plenty). Vasanta Utsavam is celebrated in the month of Vaikasi. Arudra Darisanam is celebrated in the month of Margazhi where the processional image of Nataraja is taken out in a grand procession through an exceptionally long processional route. The main festivals celebrated here are Skanda Shashti, Thaipusam and Vaikasi Visakam.

Saints like Dharmapuram Swaminathan (Oduvar), Thirumuruga Kripananda Variyar Swamigal, Purasai Arunagiri, Pithukkuli Murugadass were among the few who have frequently visited the temple and gave their performances like discourses, concerts etc especially during the festive season.

Please do visit and get the blessings of Kandasami!


Public faces, private voices : Community and individuality in South India - By Mattison Mines, Professor of Antrhopology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Temple Visit - Thiruneermalai

I recently happened to visit one of the 108 Vaishnava Divyadesam “Thiruneermalai” on the outskirts of Chennai. Here the Lord is in four different postures i.e.

Nindran - Standing Posture – Lord Rama
Irunthan - Sitting Posture – Lord Narasimha
Kidanthan - Reclining Posture - Lord Ranganatha
Nadanthan - Walking Posture – Lord Trivikrama
You will be surprised to know that by visiting this temple we get the benefit of visiting the four temples namely

· Thirukovilur
· Thiruvali
· Thirunarayur (Naachiyar Koil)
· Thirukudanthai (Kumbakonam)

Finds interesting?!! Please read on to get to know more about this temple.
Happy reading!
Warm Regards
A.V. Devan
Chennai – 15th Apr 2010


About the Temple:

Thiruneermalai is situated near Pallavaram about 12 Kms from Chennai en route Chengalpattu on the GST Road. This temple is one of the 108 Vaishnavite Divya Shetrams found in Thondai Nadu. In this temple, the Perumal or Lord Vishnu is found in various positions as Standing (Nindraan), Sitting (Irunthaan) , Reclining (Kidanthaan) and Walking (Nadanthaan) Thirukkolam. This Thiruneermalai Kshetram is also called as "Thoyagiri Kshetram" or "Thothadri". Thoya means "Water" and Adhiri means "Mountain" (malai). Since the mountain is surrounded by water, this sthalam is named as "Thiru Neermalai". The three lords i.e. Ranganatha, Trivikrama and Narasimha shrines are located in the 300 feet hillock and Neervanna perumal shrine is located near the foothill.

Four Lords

The Perumal shows his 4 sevas in this temple (i.e.) - Nindra, Iruntha, Kidantha and Nadantha Thirukkolmas.

Neervanna Perumal (Lord Rama) - Nindra Thirukkolam.
Lord Narasimhar - Irundha Thirukkolam.
Lord Ranganathar - Kidantha Thirukkolam.
Lord Thiruvikrama - Nadantha Thirukkolam.

The Neervannar is found in Nindra (standing) thirukkolam facing his Thirumugham towards East direction. He is also named as Neelamugil Vannan. Prathyaksham (seva) for Thondaimaan, Brighu Munivar and Maarkandeyar. Lord Ranganathar is found in Kidantha (lying) position facing his thirumugham towards South direction and the Sayana kolam is referred to as "Manicka Sayanam". He is lying on the Aadhiseshan under Ranga Vimaanam. Thaayar The Thayaar of this sthalam is Animaa Malar Mangai and has her own separate Sannadhi.

Historical Information

The foremost and earliest historical evidences about Thirumalai temple are the pasurams sung by Boodathalwar and Thirumangaialwar. Thirumangaialwar is considered to have lived during the period of Pallava King Second Nandhiwarman (710 A.D-775 A.D). His songs remains as testimony that Thiruneermalai remained as one of the finest temple during his period. Also the inscriptions provide information about the renovation and divine works carried out by later Chola and Vijayanagara Kings. According to these informations the temple belongs to 8 A.D.

The Legend

History has it that once sage Valmiki reached Thiruneermalai (then going by the name Gandavanam) and atop the Thoyadri hill worshipped Lord Narayana in three forms Ranganatha in the reclining posture, Narasimha in sitting position and Thiruvikrama in walking style; but he still felt that he was missing something. Back at the foothill he realised what he was looking for. His earnest prayers were answered by the Lord and there was his favourite “Kalyana Raman'' giving him darshan as “Neervannan'' with Sita, Lakshmana, Sathrugna, Bharatha, Hanuman and others. Later, when Thirumangaialwar wanted to worship the Lord at the temple, the place was surrounded by a large sheet of water and he waited for months at Kaliyanchavadi (now known as Karayanchavadi) to have the access and the darshan. Since then the place came to be mentioned in religious literature as ‘Thiruneermalai'.


It is believed that a devotee worshipping at Thiruneermalai will be endowed with the blessings which one would receive by visiting the four sacred places of Thirunarayur (Nachiyar kovil), Thiruvali, Thirukkudanthai (Kumbakonam) and Thirukovilur.
The Utsavar deity of Ranganatha is seen at the Neer Vannan temple at the foot of the hill. Only thrice a year- on the first and last day of Brahmotsavam festival and on the Panguni Uthiram day- is he taken up the hill to be alongside the Moolavar Lord Ranganatha. This place is called Madhya Rangam and Lord Ranganatha is seen in Bhoga Sayanam. The temple building and structures belongs to the ancient Chola Period. The temple tank is also known as Suddha pushkarani, Sheera pushkarani, Karunya pushkarani. It is the holy water point of this temple. Taking holy bath in this tank and worshipping the deity provide relief from disease and rejuvenates both mind and soul. The tank spreading over 3 acres has a beautiful Neerazhi mandapam in center.

How to Reach

Thiruneermalai is situated near Pallavaram about 12 Kms from Chennai en route Chengalpattu on the GST Road. From Pallavaram one can take the diversion. See map given below. You can also travel in the Poonamalle-Tambaram by pass road to reach the temple. See map given below (A) is Tiruneermalai.

“ Anraayar Kulakodiyoodu, Manimaamalar Mangaiudan Palavi, Avunarukku Enraanumirakum Nanraaya Punal Naraiyur Thiruvaali Kudanthai Thadanthigal Koval NagarNinraan Irunthaan, Kidanthaan Nadanthaarkidam Maamalaiyaavathu Neer Malai Ye”

Reference :

The Hindu article about Thiruneermalai –

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thiruvidanthai - Lord Varaha Tample

I recently visited a special and unique temple at Thiruvudanthai near Chennai. Yes! Here the Wedding of the Lord is celebrated on all the 365 days of the year. The Lord here is Varaha Swami [Wild Boar] which is one of the Avatar of Lord Vishnu who redeemed Mother Earth from the clutches of demon Hiranyaksha. The Lord is aptly named as “Nithya Kalyana Perumal” i.e. Lord who is ever engaged in Marriage. Here the Lord got married the 360 daughters of Maharishi Kalava.

Attention bachelors and spinsters! If your marriage proposal getting delayed please visit this temple and make your offerings and the Lord will answer to your needs. One could able to see the steady stream of aspiring grooms and brides from all parts of India here to make and complete their vow. One of the 12 Azhwars or devotees of Lord Vishnu Thirumangai Azhwar has visited this temple and composed divine poem on the Lord. Hence this shrine is considered as one of the 108 Vaishnava Divya Shetras or Divine Temples.

Finds interesting?!! Please read on to get to know more about this temple.
Happy reading!
Warm Regards
A.V. Devan
Chennai – 28th Feb 2010

Thiruvidaventhai toThiruvidanthai

Thiruvidanthai a small but scenic village, is about 40 km from Chennai en route Mamallapuram on the ECR Road. This holy pilgrim centre is one of the 108 principal Vaishnavite kshetrams. Here is the Lord with the wild-boar (Varaha) face hailed as the Sri Lakshmi Adi Varahaswamy, who has his right foot, raised knee-high, resting on the many-hooded serpent Adi Sesha. This sacred shrine faces the sea on the east, and has, for its environs, tall trees and lush groves aplenty, giving the pilgrim sublime peace and equipoise. The centre earns its name due to the fact that the 9-foot-high Lord’s idol has his consort Bhoomi Devi (Mother Earth) seated on his left thigh (‘Thiru’ : Sacred Consort : Ida Venthai : left side). This place is also called Nithya Kalyana Puri, Sri Puri and Varaaha Puri. Soon after entering the archway, one finds the temple tank and in a few meters away is the temple. A beautiful 16 pillar mandapam stands before the temple entrance, exhibiting rare stone-panel relief figures carved on its pillars with deities and avatars of Lord Vishnu and some damsels and folk artists as well. Thiruvidaventhai soon got changed to Thiruvidanthai by which name it is presently known.

The temple history dates back to 8th Century A.D. The Epigraphical evidences found in the temple precincts advise us of the relative antiquity of this Thiruvidanthai Sri Akhilavalli Sametha AdiVarahaSwami - Nithya Kalyana Perumal Temple, from the 10th to 16th centuries A.D. Chola, Udaiyar, Rashtrakuta and Pandyan kings have worshipped the Lord at this temple and have bequeathed meaningful gifts as was the custom prevalent then. Raja Raja Chozha is said to have celebrated a 7day festival during the Tamil calendar month of Aavani and a 9day festival for Panguni Uthiram. He is also said to have fed a number of Brahmins here. Vijaya Rajendra Chozha is said to have donated this entire village to the Thiruvidanthai Lord.
Proper worship to the divine serpent holding the Lord’s divine feet is expected to relieve the devotee of Rahu-Kethu afflictions. Rahu and Kethu are symbolic snake representations. There is a separate shrine for Komalavalli Thayar. Holy dips in the Varaha Theertham sacred temple tank in the month of Masi (Feb-March), in the Kalyana Theertham in Chithirai (April-May) and in the Ranganathar Theertham in Margazhi (Dec–Jan) would ensure wish-fulfilment and ultimate redemption. A nine-time circumambulation of the temple precints in the enjoined manner assures pleasing and speedy wedlock.
Thirumangai Azhwar & Thiruvidanthai

The moolavar (immovable principal idol) is worshipped as Sri Akhilavalli Sametha Adi Varahapperumal or Jnaanappiran, the embodiment of all wisdom and knowledge. Thirumangai Alwar, the hierarchically juniormost Alwar, is the only Alwar to have sung on this Lord ten pasurams (Peria Thirumozhi - 2.7.1 to 10) glorifying his form and attributes. It is the firm belief of all devotees that a devout prayerful pilgrimage to this sacred shrine will ensure speedy marriage and lifelong prosperity. The utsavamurthy (the processional idol) Sri Nithya Kalyana Perumal has for his consort Sri Komalavalli Naachiyaar (Komalavalli - the Goddess typifies a delicate creeper : tendril). This place is believed to be a ‘Kalyana dosha nivarthi sthalam’ and is thronged by a large number of youngsters of both sex, every day, who pray with their parents to ward of the hurdles in their life for their marriage to take place smoothly. Later, on fulfillment of the marriage they visit once again with their spouse and go round the temple together wearing garlands around their necks. This is a common sight taking place in the temple daily which one can’t miss.

The Legend

Once a Rishi named Kuni Muni performed severe penance to reach heaven along with his daughter. By the blessings of the supreme, Kuni Muni ascended to the heavenly kingdom, however his daughter could not achieve the same fortune. Sage Narada took pity on the distraught girl and came down to talk to her. “Child, didn’t your father tell you, that the riches of the kingdom of heaven can be achieved only by married men and women? Don’t worry over this. Marry a suitable man, enjoy the bliss of a grahastha, and then you too would ascend to heaven.” Narada consoled her. The girl immediately took Narada’s advice and went around the holy place of Varaha Kshetra, asking the eligible rishis to marry her. When she knocked the door of Kalava Maharishi with the same plea, the rishi took pity on her and married her. As destiny would have it, the blessed couple parented 360 children, females all! The celestial maiden left for her heavenly abode. The sage, burdened with 360 fast-growing female children, was counseled to worship Lord Varahaswami at Thiruvidaventhai and get suitable bridegrooms for them all in due course. It is said the Lord himself came down before the sage in the form of a young and charming bachelor and in pursuance of the sage Kalva’s earnest prayers, agreed to marry all his 360 beautiful daughters. So, in the next 360 days, the celestial bachelor, Lord of Lords, married all these maidens, one by one for one whole year. Hence, he earned the appellation ‘Nithya (daily) Kalyana (marriage) Perumal (the Lord of Lords)’, meaning ‘the Lord who gets married every day’.
But, lo! All the 360 brides got transformed into one single bride. As the first maiden’s name was Komalavalli, the combined form of all these maidens into one came to be worshipped as Akhilavalli Naachiar (Akhilam signifying ‘many’ : Akhilam also means the ‘world’ and, therefore, Mother Earth, Bhoomi Devi). The Nithya Kalyana Perumal utsavamurthy is invariably dressed and decked as a bridegroom and marriages are celebrated everyday. Even the ‘drishtippottu’ - the dot placed on the left cheek of every bridegroom, to ward off evil spirits - is placed on the Perumal’s cheek on all days as he is the daily bridegroom, the ever bridegroom!

Bali's penance and Aadhi Vaarahan providing Darshan
Asuras wanted to take on the Devas and sought the help of Bali, son of Asura Meganathan. Bali, known for his fairness, asked them not to fight the Devas without a cause and refused to support the Asuras. Without Bali’s participation, the Asuras were soundly defeated. The Asuras surrendered to Bali and once again requested him to fight for them. Pushed by the Asuras, Bali agreed and under his leadership the Asuras won. Bali is said to have undertaken penance here at Thiruvidanthai to atone the sin of fighting the Devas without a just cause. Pleased with his prayers, Lord Aadhi Varaahan is believed to have appeared before him and given him Moksham at this place.
Vaishnavite lore has it that all of us are females and the Lord Narayana is the only male - Purushothama. For ultimate salvation we have to seek eternal union with him. It is only in this context that Thirumangai Alwar offers 10 hymnal endearments (pasurams) to the Lord yearning for merger in him. The ‘Nayika’ (bride) seeks merger in the ‘Nayaka’ (bridegroom). This is, in essence, bridal mysticism. It is against this background that Thiruvidanthai assumes special significance when we pray to the Lord for marriage - wish fulfillment in an earthly way but with a sublime connotation. We must understand and appreciate the spirit and significance behind a reverential pilgrimage to this temple.
How to Reach

The temple at Thiruvidanthai is in Chengalpattu circle, Kanchipuram district, about 40 km from Chennai Located on the Chennai – Mahabalipuram ECR Road, about 2 Km from Kovalam. Regular buses are available to this sacred centre at frequent intervals.
Quick Facts
Deity : Aadhi Varaaha Perumal East Facing standing posture Goddess : Agila Valli NaachiyarUtsavar : Nithya Kalyana PerumalAzhvaar :ThiruMangai Azhvaar - 13 Paasurams ( 1108- 1117, 1021,2707,2774)Temple Timing : 6am –12noon and 3pm-8pmContact : Sriram Bhattar @ 044 27472522 or 98409 36927Address : 1/55, U-1 Mada Street Thiruvidanthai PO, Kovalam Via, Kanchipuram Dist 603112Location: 40 kms South of Madras along the East Coast RoadBus : Buses from Chennai (bus nos. 117,118,188V,188K,188A)

Reference :

“My crooked deeds are chasing me relentlessly like a shadow and I am truly shaken. I, therefore, ran and sought refuge at the divine feet of the Lord at Thiruvidaventhai and, lo, these evil forces are fleeing away from me realising that the Lord there is my saviour, support and dear to me." Divyakavi Pillai Perumal Iyengar - 108 Tirupati Andaathi - ‘Thiruvidaventhai’.

Kundrathur Murugan Temple

Kundrathur as the name implies this is a small village surrounded by hills. The Murugan temple is situated at the top of a small hill and 75+ steps leads to the temple. On climbing the steps “Valansuzhi Vinayagar” sannidhi stands first and having a dharshan of vinayagar in just a few steps one can enter the murugar shrine. Another Vinayagar Sannidhi can be seen here under a villva tree. This is a small hill temple for Lord Subramanya or Muruga with His two consorts built by King Klothunga Chola - II. Legend has it that Lord Muruga stayed in the hill on an auspicious day during His travel from Thirupporur to Thiruthani.

This place is also known as South Thanigai since Lord Subramaniar is sitting in the direction of north facing Thanigai and this is the only Murugan temple in Tamilnadu where the God is facing north. In the moolasthanam subramanyar stays with his consorts valli and devayani. The other specialty being that Lord Subramaniar can be seen with only one Goddess at a time though He is present with both of His consorts. The Saint Poet ‘Arunagirinathar” has visited this temple and has sung “Thiripugazh” on the Kunrathur murugan. The temple celebrates karthigai deepam in a grand manner and deepam will be lit on the hill temple. Kartikai asterism each month is considered sacred here. Skanda sashti in the month of Aippasi and “Padi Utsavam” in the month of Vaikasi are the main festivals celebrated here. In the inner praharam Shivan, Amman, and Vinayagar can be seen. In the outer praharam bhairavar, navagrahas, nagalingam under a peepal tree, dhaksinamurthy and durgai have separate sannidhis.

In addition to the above two temples there is a temple for Vishnu known as “Thiru Ooraga perumal” and a temple dedicated to the Saint “Sekkizhar”.

You will definitely like to visit next once more after having darshan at Kundrathur.

Shiva Temple @ Kundrathur

I recently visited two temples at Kundrathur which is about 28 kms from Chennai located in the middle of Pallavaram, Poonamalee and Porur. The Nageswarar temple is the one dedicated to Lord Shiva and the other one is the famous temple for Lord Subramanya or Muruga. The Murugan temple is on the hillock with all serenity and you will get fresh Oxygen here without the city pollutions and can recharge your soul. You will be surprised to know that this town is also the birth place of Saint Poet Sekkizhar who is the author of the famous “Periya Puranam” which is considered as an important epic in Tamil literature. The poem narrates the life of the 63 Nayanmars or Saivite devotees of Lord Shiva. If there has to be a temple shot in films, filmmakers head to Kundrathur for its multi step entrance and its mountainous view. Films like Vijay’s 'Nenjinilae', Simbu’s 'Kadhal Azhivathilai', the latest 'Azhagar Malai' and TV serial 'Kolangal' and 'Velan' have been shot here. Finds interesting?!! Please read on to know more about the temples of Kundrathur.

The Nageswarar temple is more than 800 years old. The Lord is known as Nageswarar since he is being worshipped by Adi Sesha the foremost and king of all snakes and his consort is known as Kamakshi. This temple is believed to be built by Sekkizhar. This is considered the Raagu sthalam of the Navagraha Temples around Chennai. The temple and its tank are clean and well maintained. This place is also called as “Vada Thirunageswaram” i.e. temple similar to the Tirunageswarm temple near Kumbakonam.

The Thondai Nadu was divided into 24 sections and it was in the division known as “Puliyur Kottam” - Kundrathur - that Sekkizhar Swamikal was born. He was known as Arul Mozhith Thevar. Kulothunga II was ruling the Chola dynasty at that time. He had heard the adage “Thondai vala nadu sandror udaithu”. The plentiful land of Thondai Nadu abounds with scholars. He wanted to test the validity of this statement and also to identify the best of scholars living there. He therefore sent a Palmyra leaf to the land, containing three questions, for the scholars to answer.

The three questions were:

Which is loftier than the hills?
Which is vast than the ocean?
Which is greater than the world?

These questions did their rounds among the scholars and they found it difficult to answer. Finally when it came to Sekkizhar, he answered all the three of them, from the great work, Tirukkural.
The Kural that answered the first question is “loftier than a mountain will be the greatness of that man, who without swerving form his proper state, controls himself.” (Kural 124).Sekkizhar quoted the answer from Tirukkural for the second one also “If we weigh the excellence of a benefit which is conferred without weighing the return, it is larger than the sea.” (Kural 103) For the third question, ‘Which is greater than the world,’ he gave the answer; “A favour conferred in the time of need, though it be small is much larger than the world.” (Kural 102)

The questions could not have been answered more appropriately. This incident is mentioned by Kamban, the poet of poets, in his ‘Erezhubadhu.’ “Mannil, Kadalil, Malayil peridhena enni ezhudhik koduththa etrrakai” he says. The hand that wrote the thoughtful answers of which is greater than the world, the hills and the ocean. Kulothunga II realised the greatness of Sekkizhar and honoured him with the title ‘Uthama Chola Pallavan.’ Sekkizhar became the minister of the King. He worshipped Lord Shiva in Then Thiru Nageswaram, near Kumbakonam. The temple tank is known as Surya Pushkarani since it has the distinction of Sun having his holy dip in it. The Champaka tree became the sthala vrksha, since Parvathi did her penance under the tree for uniting with her Lord in the ‘Ardhanareeswara’ form. Sekkizhar installed a Lingam in Kundrathur and consecrated a temple there, in all respects similar to the one in Then Thiru Nageswaram - with a temple tank called Surya Pushkarani and the Champaka tree as the sthala vrksha. Therefore, the temple, which in all respects is a replica of the original temple, is called Vada Nageswaram. The direct rays of Sun fall on the presiding deity in the month of Masi, on 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22.


The wedding festival of the Lord and Devi is celebrated on the full moon day of the month Chithrai followed by Brahmotsavam for 10 days. In the following month, Vaikasi, birthday of Sekkizhar is celebrated on the star Pusam. The temple underwent many changes and additions during the coming years. The 24-stone mantapa, the massive wall around the prakara were later additions. In the year 1944, the Raja gopuram and also the gopuram on the sanctum sanctorum were constructed. The Rajagopuram, Vimanam over the sanctum sanctorum of Lord and Devi, dwaja stambam, the temple kitchen, the compound wall, etc., were renovated in 1972. There are 46 stone inscriptions in the temple. Significant among them are the ones of Kulothunga Chola III (1178-1218 AD), Rajendra Chola III (1246-1271 AD), Sundara Pandiyan (1251-1271 AD) Maravarman Kulasekara Pandiyan I (1268-1311 AD), Harihara Rayar I (1509-1592 AD) Sriranga Devarayar (1582-1592 AD) etc., covering a period of more than 500 years.

Shiva Temple - Kovur

I happened to visit recently a 1300 year old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva at Kovur near Porur (Chennai). The temple is famous due to the visit of Saint Tyagaraja’s who had composed five songs on the temple known as “Kovur Pancharatnam”. Also the Vilva tree in this shrine is having 9/16/27 leaves in every stem instead of the usual 3 leaves. Also this temple is one of the Nava Graha Temple in Chennai meant for parikara sthalam of Bhudan. This is also the place associated with of Saint Poet Sekhizhar who had written Periyapuranam. Also this temple was sung by Thirunavukkarasar (Appar). Sounds interesting please read on to know more about Kovur.

Reaching Kovur

From Guindy Kathipara Junction one should take the Butt Road leading to Porur Junction. From there take left towards the road leading to Kundrathur and you can reach Kovur in less than 5 KMS from the Porur Junction. The entrance is picturesque with an array of houses and tall Asoka Trees on either side and greets us by 85 ft high temple tower (Raja gopuram) unique and great in art and sculpture. This temple has the unique Maha Vilvam as its Sthala Vruksham. (Sacred tree in the temple) which has bunch of 27 leaves in one single stalk!!!

The Shrine

The Stone Plates reveals that the temple was built by Sundara Chozhan during 965 BC. The Lord here is named as Sundareswarar (a) Thirumaneeswarar. The Ambal is Soundrambika (a) Soundaryanayaki. The shrine proper is in the gajaprishta style, resembling the Tiruvottriyur temple. This therefore indicates that it was built in Pallava times. Both Swami and Ambal have their sanctums within the same super structure. Lord Sundareswarar faces east and is a fairly large lingam. There are icons for Kalyana Sundareswara with consort, Somaskanda, the Goddess Saundaryanayaki, Subrahmanya with Valli and Devasena, Nataraja with Sivakami and Manikkavachakar, and the arupattu moovars. In addition, the temple also houses an utsava moorti of Vishnu with Sreedevi and Bhoodevi. This moorti, titled Karunakara Perumal, is obviously of a sound vintage though the recess in which it is housed is modern and shows that the Perumal has been brought in here in relatively recent times.


According to legend, when Goddess Kamakshi did penance in the nearby Mangadu, the entire world trembled, as the heat that emerged was unbearable for all living beings. Then Goddess Mahalakshmi took the form of the celestial cow, Kamadhenu, and pacified Kamakshi. As a result, the intensity of the heat got reduced and the entire world heaved a sigh of relief. To add to this Lord Shiva showed the real swaroopam in the Linga along with Parvathi and came to be known as ‘Thirumeneeswarar’. The temple has a seven-tier Rajagopuram on the southern entrance and the sanctum sanctorum, like in many Shiva temples, is in "Gajabrushta" (elephant's back) form. As Mahalakshmi appeared here as a cow the place came to be known as Kovoor ("Ko" in Sanskrit means cow). The holy water source is Sivaganga Theertham. Apart from the main shrines for the Lord and His Consort, there are shrines for Vinayaka, Subramanya, Dakshinamoorthy, Lingodbhavar, Brahma, Chandikeswarar, Durgai and Mahavishnu, known as Karunakara Perumal along with His Consorts. Pooja is offered five times in the temple, famous for its "Thiruvembavai" festival and the "Arudhra" festival in the Tamil month of Margazhi. Skanda Sashti Soora Samharam and Sivarathri festivals are also celebrated in the temple, which is flocked by thousands of devotees during the Thirukkalyanam Festival held on Vaikasi Visakam day. The presiding deities as well as the Panchamurthis will be taken in procession on that day.

Appar & Sekizhar

Legend is that the Saint Poet Sekizhar who was written the “Periya Puranam” got his first line “Ulagelam” from the Lord at Kovur. This temple is also sung by Saiva Saint “Thirunavukkarasar” (Appar) and is one of the Vaipu Sthalam (meaning temple mentioned in atleast one verse of their songs)

Saint Tyagaraja’s ‘Kovur Pancharatnam’

Tyagaraja while on his Stay in Madras at the request of Dubash Sundaresa Mudaliyar visited Kovur and composed five songs on the Lord later came to be known as “Kovur Pancharatnam”.

The five songs composed by the Saint are :

Sambho Mahadeva (Pantuvarali, Roopakam) is in Sanskrit and comprises pallavi, anupallavi and a single charanam. It is largely a descriptive ode of the attributes of Sundareswara.

Sundareswaruni joochi (Sankarabharanam, Adi) comprises pallavi, anupallavi and three charanams. Couched in Telugu, the song depicts a grand spectacle of the shrine and the deity.
E vasudha (Sahana, Adi) has pallavi, anupallavi and a single charanam of eight lines. Perhaps the most popular among the five songs composed at Kovur, it states that even if one were to stay for half a minute in Kovur, wealth and other benefits can be obtained.

Kori sevimparaare (Kharaharapriya, Adi) comprises pallavi, anupallavi and a charanam of four lines. Like his Raju vedala (Desia Todi, Roopakam) and Chootaamu raare (Arabhi, Roopakam), composed at Srirangam, Tyagaraja speaks of leading a group of devotees and urging them to come and worship at Kovur.

Nammi vacchina (Kalyani, Roopakam) has pallavi, anupallavi and a single charanam comprising four lines. The kriti beseeches the Lord to protect Tyagaraja who has come unto Him with true faith.

Temple Tower (Rajagopuram)

The temple tower (gopuram) gives pride of place to Saint Tyagaraja. The builder/designer has used his imagination and in the lowest panel shows Tyagaraja coming to Kovur in a palanquin with several disciples in his retinue. The muscular figure of Wallajapet Venkataramana Bhagavatar is easily identifiable. It would appear that Tyagaraja was received with royal honours for the procession is led by drummers, standard bearers and pipers. On the other side of the lower panel, one has the same procession repeated with Rama and Lakshmana bringing up the rear. This obviously refers to the divine brothers protecting the saint from dacoits en route to Tirupati. The upper storeys of the gopuram depict several incidents from Tyagaraja's life such as his tutelage under Sonti Venkataramanayya, his darsan of Narada and his visit to Tirupati. In the last named sequence, the sculptor has depicted the doors of the Tirupati temple being closed, whereas legend has it that it was the screen (tera) that was drawn preventing Tyagaraja from having darsan.


Lord Hayagriva Temple @ Chettipunyam

Temple of Lord Hayagriva - Embodiment of Knowledge

I recently went to Pondicherry while returning I took the dindivanam route and on the way visited a village called “Chetti Puniyam” where there is a temple for Lord Hayagriva. The Hayagriva in the temple, it is believed, bestows upon the devotees, education, wealth and progress in all walks of life. The avataram of Hayagriva Bhagavan took place to restore the Vedas to Brahma. Brahma became extremely conceited about his power as the creator. Lord Narayana discerning this, decided to rid Brahma of his pride. A couple of water droplets from the lotus seat of the Lord incarnated as two Asuras, Madhu and Kaitabha, who stole the Vedas from Brahma. Unable to carry on his work of creation without the Vedas, Brahma beseeched Lord Narayana for help. Lord Narayana incarnated as Hayagriva and destroyed the Asuras and restored the Vedas to Brahma. Swami Desikan has very eloquently described the greatness of Bhagavan Hayagriva in the Hayagriva Stotram. Many references from the Hayagriva Upanishad are succinctly contained in Swami Desikan's tribute.

In Hinduism, Hayagriva is an avatar of Vishnu. He is worshipped as the God of knowledge and wisdom, with a human body and a horse's head, brilliant white in color, with white garments and seated on a white lotus. Hayagriva is celebrated in the Puranas for rescuing the Vedas from the demons Madhu and Kaitabha and teaching them again to Brahma. Symbolically, the story of Hayagriva represents the triumph of pure knowledge, guided by the hand of God, over the demonic forces of passion and darkness. Hayagriva is a very important deity in the Vaishnava tradition. His blessings are sought when beginning study of both sacred and secular subjects. Special worship is conducted on the day of the full moon in August (Sravana-Paurnami) (his avatara-dina) and on Mahanavami, the ninth day of the Navaratri festival. He is also hailed as "Hayasirsa" HayaSirsa means haya=Horse, Sirsa=Head.

jnAna-Ananda-mayam devam
AdhAram sarvavidyAnAm
hayagrIvam upAsmahe!

This verse is originally from the Pancaratra Agamas but is now popularly prefixed to the Hayagriva Stotram of the 13th century poet-philosopher Vedanta Desika. It is very popular among devotees of Hayagriva.
The idol, small but bewitching, was brought to Chettipunyam from Thiruvahindrapuram in 1848, and attracts many devotees. Lakshmi Hayagriva is the presiding deity of the Parakala Math in Mysore. There are also sannidhis for Hayagriva in the Desikar temple in Mylapore and also in the Soundarraja Perumal temple in Dadikombu near Dindigul.

In Thiruvahindrapuram, Vedanta Desika recited the Garuda Mantra taught to him by his uncle, Kidambi Appular and was initiated into the worship of Hayagriva by Garuda. Desika composed the Hayagriva Stotram in 33 verses. Apart from the `phalasruti' there are 32 verses. There is a reason for Desika writing the Stotram in 32 verses. The Brahma vidyas are 32 in number. His composing the Hayagriva Stotram in 32 verses is to show that Hayagriva is the repository of all vidyas. Desika says the neighs of Hayagriva are the essence of the Rig, Yajur and Sama Vedas. The 32nd verse which is the `dhyana sloka,' speaks of Hayagriva's right lower hand as `vyakhyamudra' - the elucidating pose and the left lower hand holds a book. Desika says that Saraswati, Dakshinamurthy and sages like Vyasa reflect a fraction of Lord Hayagriva's effulgence.

Singaperumal Koil, which is neither a village nor a city but a delightful mix of both, is about 45 km to the south of Chennai. The Devanathaswamy Temple is situated about 3 km West of Singaperumal Koil. Devanathaswamy resides in a village named Chettipunniyam, which boasts of four or five streets. The presiding deity, Devanathaswamy, sits facing East.

Though there is no direct bus from the city, route no. 60c plying from Tambaram to Vadakal takes one to the temple. The other way to reach the Devanathaswamy Temple, from the city is to reach Singaperumal Koil, by buses going Kalpakkam, Madurantakam, Chengalpattu, and then go by autorickshaw to the Devanathaswamy Temple. Though a Sannidhi for Varadaraja Perumal has been in this temple for the last 350 years, it was only in 1848, thanks to the efforts of Sirasdar Rao Sahib Rangachar that the idol of Devanathaswamy of Tiruvendipuram was installed in this temple. The year was 1848; the day Friday; month Vaigasi; date 22; and the star Makam. From that day, daily pooja is offered to this deity. Devanathaswamy did not come alone but along with Hayagrivar. These facts are corroborated by the Government Gazette records of the South Arcot Government, of the same year.

The idols of Thayar, Sridevi, Boodevi and Andal were installed after this. The idols of Sri Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman were brought to Vandalur in Chennai, in the year 1868, on Oct 5, by Mudumbai Ramaswamy Iyengar, from the Tanjore Palace. When Ramaswamy Iyengar migrated to Bangalore, he had all these Gods installed in the Devanathaswamy Temple, since Chettipunniyam, was his native village. There is a separate sanctum sanctorum for Sri Rama in this temple. It has to be mentioned here that the first Mysore Dewan Veeravalli Rangachar (1831-1883) also hailed from this village.

The villagers conduct the 'Thiruparvettai' festival in a grand manner, on a Sunday in the month of 'Thai' (Jan 15 - Feb 15), every year. The temple trust organises a number of utsavs like Sri jayanthi, Special thai velli poojas, Sri Vaikunta Ekadasi, Sri Desikan Sathumurai, Vaigasi magam and Deepa (Lights) utsavam. The devotees also conduct many utsavs - adhyayana utsav, Vijaya dasami, Adi Pooram, Panguni Uthiram, Udayavar Saathumurai and Sri Ramanavami. Another famous celebration was Sri Devanathaswamy's centenary (100 years in this temple), which was celebrated for 10 days, in grand style.

After a very long time, in 1993, the Ashtabandhana Maha Samprokshanam was performed on May 17.The devotees of the village say, as far as their knowledge goes, no Samprokshanam had been done in the last 100 years. This famous temple is under the HR & CE board. An officer has been appointed to manage the affairs of the temple. A five-member committee oversees the functioning of the temple. The temple owns about 55 acres of agricultural land and a big grove, in the village. It also owns a house thanks to Thiru Rangaswamy Iyengar, who has donated his ancestral home to the temple.