Author Archives: Sevak

Sri Koorathazhwan Adikesava Perumal Temple at Kooram

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.

Sri Vijayaraghava Perumal Temple (or Thiruputkuzhi)

This is the place where Lord Ramachandra performed the funeral of Jatayu. Sri Vijaya Raghava Perumal Temple is the place where Lord Ramachandra performed the last rites for Jatayu, the vulture. He fought with Ravana to rescue Sita from him and sacrificed his life in the service of the Lord. As a mark of honour to Jatayu, the flag post and the Balipeeta are present outside the temple. Sri Vijayaraghava Perumal Temple is twelve kilometre west of Kanchipuram. Lord Vijaya Raghava Perumal blesses the devotees in a sitting posture holding Jatayu on His thigh, to mark the importance of Jatayu’s devotion. The Pushkarani (temple tank) of the temple is called as Jatayu Pushkarani. The Vimanam (the tower above the sanctum sanctorum) of the temple is called as Vijaya koti vimanam. On certain festive occasions, Lord Vijaya Raghavan goes on street processions mounted on his ‘Horse Vahanam’. There is a separate sannidhi for Jataayu opposite the temple tank. On all festive occasions, Lord first visits the Jataayu sannidhi (altar) during his street procession.

Lord Ramachandra left Ayodhya and went to the forest as ordered by His father, Dasharatha. While in the forest, Sita spotted a golden deer and requested Rama to catch for her. The deer was a demon Maricha and he was sent by Ravana to lure Rama and Lakshmana, so that he could abduct Sita. With Rama and Lakshmana out in search of the deer, Ravana abducted Sita to Lanka. On the way to Lanka, Jatayu stopped Ravana and fought with him to release Sita, but Ravana cut Jatayu’s wings and he fell down to the earth. When Rama and Lakshmana went in search of Sita, They found Jatayu mortally wounded in the forest. Jatayu narrated the events to Rama before he left the body. Sri Rama then performed the last rites for Jatayu. Jatayu belongs to the Pul (a separate family of eagle) family and was buried in a pit (Tamil kuzhi), hence this sthalam is called Thiruputkuzhi. Jatayu was friend of King Dasharatha. Since Lord Ramachandra was not able to perform the last rites for His father as He was away in exile, Lord derived some consolation by performing His obsequies and giving moksham to Jatayu.

Jatayu

Sri Kamakshi Amman Temple and Sri Aadhi Varaha Perumal Temple (or Thirukkalvanoor)

Sri Kamakshi Amman Temple is a famous temple dedicated to goddess Kamakshi or Parvati. This is one of the three holy places of Shakti worship (Shakti Peeta) while the others being Meenakshi temple at Madurai and Visaalakshi temple in Varanasi. The deity is recognised as having Saraswati and Maha Lakshmi in her two eyes. Kamakshi sits at the centre of the Gayathri Mandapa, which has 5 steps representing Panchakshri Mantra of Lord Siva and twenty four pillars signifying the twenty four letters of the sacred Gayathri Mantra. She holds a sugarcane bow and bunch of flowers in the two lower arms and has a pasha (lasso), an ankusha (goad) in her two upper two arms. There is also a parrot perched near the flower bunch.

Sri Aadhi Varaha Perumal Temple is located inside the temple complex of Kanchi Kamakshi Amman temple and also revered as one of the 108 Divya Desam temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The presiding deity Lord Aadhi Varaha Perumal (Lord Vishnu) is in a standing posture facing west direction. Other deities of this temple are Garuda and Anjaneyar. The Pushkarani (temple tank) of Sri Aadhi Varaha Perumal temple is called as Nithiya Pushkarani and Vimanam (tower above the sanctum sanctorum) of this temple is called as Vaamana vimanam.

Story behind the name Thirukkalvanoor:

The legend says that when Goddess Kamakshi, one of the forms of Goddess Parvati, and Goddess Lakshmi were taking bath in Kama koshtam pond, Lord Narayana was said to be hiding behind a pillar and hearing on what they were speaking about. Goddess Kamakshi found that Lord Narayana is hearing to them by hiding Himself. As a result, Goddess Kamakshi gave him a playful punishment by making Him stand, then sit and finally to lie down. Because of this, Lord Narayana is found in all the three sevas i.e. Nindra, Irundha and Kidantha seva on north side of pond of the temple. One can see the images of Lord Vishnu in the standing posture (Nindra Kolam), sitting posture (Irundha Kolam) and sleeping posture (Kidantha Kolam) near to the temple tank. Since Lord Narayana saw them taking bath without knowing them, Parvati kept Him the name as “Kalvan” and this Divyadesam is called as “Thirukkalvanoor“.

Parvathi’s penance on Lord Vamanadeva: As per Purana, Lord Siva cursed Parvati due to some differences of opinion. Parvati prayed and meditated on Lord Vamanadeva at this place standing on one foot. Parvati absolved the curse and hence was named Kamakshi.

Sri Kamakshi Amman

Lord Sri Aadhi Varaha Perumal

Sri Ekambaranathar Temple and Sri Nilathingal Thundathan Perumal Temple (or Thiru Nilathingal Thundam)

Sri Ekambaranathar Temple (or “Lord of Mango Tree”) is the largest temple of Kanchipuram. Sri Chaitanya-Charitamrita Madhya lila 9.68 mentions, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited this temple during His tour to South India – “Arriving at Siva-kanchi, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited the deity of Lord Siva. By His influence, He converted all into Vaisnavas.” Thiru Nilathingal Thundam is one of the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu situated in Sri Ekambaranathar temple. The shrine is in the north-east corner of the temple.

When mother Parvathi was doing tapasya (penance) beneath a mango tree, Lord Siva wanted to test the strength of her tapasya. So, he set the mango tree on fire. Then, Parvathi sought the help of Lord Vaman. After hearing the request of Parvathi, Sri Vamana with four hands with Sankha (conch) in one hand and Chakra (disc) on the other, took out the Chandran (moon) from the head of Lord Siva. With the cool rays, Lord Vishnu made the fire cool and made the mango tree grow once again. After this, Parvathi went back to do the tapasya. Lord Siva wanted to test her again and sent Ganga, the river. When Ganga came very fast to destroy the tapasya of Parvathi, Parvathi explained her that both of them are sisters. Inspite of hearing this, Ganga River didn’t want to stop and tried to destroy her and her tapasya. At that time, Parvathi made a Siva lingam out of sand and elapsed the Linga with all veneration and embraced it. The Linga could not wash away by the water of Ganga. Siva was pleased with Parvati’s devotion. This is the Sthala Puranam of this temple. Lord Siva is worshipped in the form of earth Linga (made out of river sand). The temple tower (Gopura) is eleven storey structure adorned with excellent sculptures. This is one of the tallest temples in South India. There is a Linga in the prakaram of this tree which is a composite of 108 Lingas and another one of 1008 small Lingas.

To help Parvathi, Lord Narayana took the Chandran (moon) from Lord Siva’s head, he is called as “Nila Thingal Thundathan” and so the sthalam is called as “Thiru Nilathingal Thundam”. This Divya desam is found inside Ekambareswarar temple. Since, this temple is taken care by Siva Acaryas; the poojas for Sri Vishnu is done by a Siva priest only. There is a mango tree in the temple dating back to 3,500 years. The divine tree with its four branches representing the four Vedas yields fruits in four flavours – sweet, citric, spicy and bitter.

Vishnu is prayed here as Vamana murthy and the shrine is hailed by the Azhwar saints as one of the 108 Divya Desams. The presiding deity of the Lord Vishnu’s temple is ‘Lord Nilathingal Thundathan‘, also known as Lord Chandra Chooda Perumal. He is in a standing posture, facing towards the west. His consort Mahalakshmi is named as Ner Oruvar Illavalli Nachiyar and also called as Nilathingal Thunda Thaayar. The Pushkarani (temple tank) of Sri Nilathingal Thundathan Perumal Temple is called as Chandra Pushkarani.

Mango tree

Sri Ekambaranathar