It is the birthplace of Sri Koorathazhwar. Kooram is a tiny picturesque hamlet near about 10 km from Kanchipuram. Kooram is the birthplace of great devotee, Sri Koorathalwar (or Kuresh) and there is a temple dedicated to him. Kuresh appeared in 1008 A.D. and he was the prime disciple of Sripad Ramanujacarya. He is an epitome of humbleness and person with unmatched guru bhakti. Although born into a rich family, he gave away all his material wealth and became a disciple of Sri Ramanuja. He lost his eyes in an act to protect his guru Ramanuja from the fanatics. He helped Ramanuja compose the Sri Bhasyam.
In Kooram there is Kooram Koorathazhwar Temple. This temple has two parts one dedicated to Sri Adi Kesava Perumal and the second part dedicated to Koorathalwar. The temple was dedicated to Koorathalwar. It was his residence thousand years ago. The first part of the temple is the main portion facing in eastern direction. The sanctum sanctorum has the deities of Sri Adi Kesava Perumal with His consorts Sri Devi and Bhu Devi. All the Deities are in the standing posture.
The second part of the temple belongs to Koorathalwar. The sanctum sanctorum has the deity of Koorathalwar in the sitting posture. The prakara surrounding the sanctum has a lot of paintings depicting his life. The bronze Utsava deities of Lord Ramachandra, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, are around 1000 years old which were worshiped by the parents of Koorathalwar. They are also placed along with his deity in the sanctum sanctorum. The room where Koorathazhwar was born is converted into his shrine.
This portion of the temple has many sub shrines such as Pillai Lokacharya, Manavala Mamunigal, Ramanujar, Parasara Pattar, Senai Mudali, Nammalvar and Tirumangai Azhwar. Although the temple is ancient, it is entirely renovated recently.
Atrocities of Kolatunga:
There was a fanatic king of the Chola dynasty named Kolatunga. Throughout the religious history, we find this type of fanaticism blemishes the good name of God consciousness.
Spirituality is to make us humble, forgiving and at the same time very strict and very serious about practicing our own faith and feeling compassion for all living beings. There cannot be hate in the heart of one who loves God. Basically religious fanaticism is not about God or religion, it’s about the false ego or the ahankar. Ahankar has a very powerful tool to fulfill itself in the form of so called religion. Because then we can bring it to absolute dimensions that justifies in doing anything to anyone, anywhere at any time. It is the feast for the ego.
Kolatunga was a Shaivaite and he wanted to convert everyone. He had a minister called Chaturgrama. He was a disciple of Kuresa and an associate of Ramanuja. But somehow because of too much false ego he became bitter, antagonistic. Chaturgrama suggested Kolatunga that if he wanted the kingdom to convert to his religion, then, either he will have to convert Ramanujacarya or kill him. So the king sent military to Sri Rangam to invite Ramanujacarya to come to Kanchipuram for a debate. When the soldiers came, Ramanujacarya was bathing in the river. He was collecting everything and was ready to go. There was a disciple of Ramanuja, his name was Kuresa (also known as Koorathazhwan and Kuresan). He was a very, very devoted disciple, he was so pure and so simple and so humble but yet so learned in his philosophy. He told Ramanuja, his gurudeva, “Please I beg you, you are so important to this world but I am insignificant. If this world loses your association then it has lost everything, there is no hope. But I am insignificant, so please let me go and accept this debate and you hide, otherwise they will kill you.” So Ramanujacarya, seeing the great desire of his devotee, he put on the white cloth and left Sri Rangam in the guise of a grihastha (householder) and nobody knew where he was leaving and Kuresa put on his guru’s sannyasa’s robes. Mahapurna said, “I will go with you and defend the truth.” So they left with the soldiers, and meanwhile Ramanujacarya and his disciples went into exile.
Mahapurna and Kuresa came to the court of Kolatunga. Kolatunga asked them ‘what is the goal and purpose of life.’ Kuresa replied that goal of life is to surrender to Lord Vishnu. Hearing this Kolatunga became very angry. He brought the best pandits in the kingdom but Mahapurna and Kuresa defeated each one of them. The king said, sign this statement or you will be tortured and killed. There was a paper which read, “Siva is supreme.” Mahapurna and Kuresa signed the paper. Kolatunga was very happy until he read what was written. They had written that, “Even dron is greater than Siva.” Dron and siva are measuring weights. The king was outraged and he ordered the soldiers to take them to the forest. He said that because Ramanujacarya saved the life of my daughter, I’ll not kill him but remove his eyes.” So he told his soldiers to pluck out their eyes. The soldiers had red hot iron rods and they blinded them. Kuresa folded his arms and prayed for the soldiers. Even soldier’s hearts melted.
The Haunted Princess:
There was an incident that took place sometime before. When Ramanujacarya was still a student at the ashram of Yadavaprakash. Yadavaprakash was not only a great mayavadi but he was also a mystic yogi and a magician. He was very famous for exorcising ghost. So the king’s daughter was being haunted by a ghost. She was just totally mad and crazy.All blasphemes were coming from her mouth, although she was a very quiet shy girl. So they called for Yadavaprakash and he was doing all of his rituals to exorcise the ghost and the ghost with a high shrills spoke through the mouth of this girl. She said, “Yadavaprakash, you have no power to get rid of me, you might as well give up all your futile attempts. I am so much more powerful than you”. His whole image and reputation was on stake, so he was trying again and again with no avail. But finally the ghost again spoke in a terrible shrilling voice through the mouth of this young princess that, “There is no hope, the only way is if your youngest disciple Ramanuja comes, then I will be forced to leave because of the purity of his heart” .Others heard this, so Yadavaprakash was forced to call his disciple Ramanuja. Ramanuja was very gentle, humble and he began to pray to Lord Narayana, “Please, save this girl.” While he was praying the ghost spoke through the mouth of the girl, “Ramanuja, I will only leave the body of this girl if you put your lotus feet on my head.” So then the princess who was completely being controlled by the ghost bowed down and put her head on the ground and then Ramanuja placed his feet on the princess head and then Ramanuja said to the ghost, “What will be the sign that you have actually left this girl?” She said, “We are sitting under this banyan tree, the highest branch of this banyan tree will crack and fall to the ground as soon as I leave.” Just within seconds the highest branch of the banyan tree cracked and fell to the ground.
Kuresa, an ideal disciple:
After Kuresa defeated the ministers, they wanted to kill him but the princess appeared and said, “He saved my life, and how can you kill him? He saved me from that ghost, you cannot kill him.” So instead of killing they burned his eyes out.
Just see the great dedication of a disciple for his spiritual master. Then they took Kuresa and they just threw him in a jungle area where he was completely lost and they left him there. So Kuresa was feeling very grateful to Lord Narayana that he was allowed to do such a wonderful service for his spiritual master. He was not thinking, “Oh! I have surrendered I have done all this for my guru and look what is happening. I am blind and lost and probably starved to death”. He was very grateful. He was very happy that “By your mercy my Lord, you are so kind you have allowed me to do such a wonderful seva for my gurudeva.”
This is the quality of a real disciple. He is willing to give his life for his guru. He is willing to accept any inconvenience gladly with a grateful, happy and joyful heart. Koorathazhwar was the ultimate symbol of perfection-The perfect disciple with the perfect knowledge. He lived for 110 years, spending his final days in Srirangam before returning to the spiritual abode.