Adinatha Perumal Temple (Thirukurukur), Alwar Thirunagari, Thoothukudi – Legends
Vishnu incarnation as Nammalvar:
Alwar Tirunagari is believed to be the largest town in the time of Pandya kings. The name of the town in Sanskrit is Srinagari; and under this appellation, it is alluded to Brahmananda Purana. The distinguishing name, with azhwar prefixed to Tirunagari, Alwar Tirunagari. The place is believed to be the birthplace of Nammalvar. Just as in other avatars, or incarnations, Vishnu is believed to have incarnated as Nammalvar. The reason assigned to the incarnation is that Vishnu has incarnated in all 3 class of castes, but not in the fourth.
Madhurakavi Alvar becoming disciple of Nammalvar:
The nine Vaishnava holy places are considered as related to the Navagrahas (Nine Planets) and worshipped. The deities themselves are taken to be the Navagrahas and prayed. To a Vaishnavite, the term ‘Alvar’ signifies Nammalvar who has rendered in Tamil Tiruvaymoli, considered to be the essence of Vedas. He had not visited any divyadesam and remaining in the tree-hole, he sang of all the deities in the different divyadesams. It is believed that all these deities rushed to Kurukur, sat in the branches of the tamarind tree and requested Nammalvar to hail them.
Madhurakavi Alvar, born in Thirukkolur (Navathiruppathi for Mars), saw a blazing light from the south when he was journeying in the north, came to Kurukkor following the light. He saw Nammalvar sitting in Yoga in the tree-hole, understood that he was his Guru and declared in his 11 pasurams, commencing with the phrase “kanninun cirutthaambu” that there cannot be a God other than Kurukoor Nambi (Nammalvar). He then compiled the Thiruvaaymoli. Nammalvar alone has consecrated this deity in 11 pacurams.
Manthan, a Brahmin boy having abused the Vedas, incurred the wrath of his master who cursed him to be born in a low-caste in his next birth. He was born Dhanthan, led a disciplined life and came to Kurukoor to worship Aathippiraan. The high-caste priests drove him away; but Dhanthan made a sand-image of the Lord at the banks of River Thamiraparani and carried on his worship.
The high-caste-priests suddenly lost their eyesight and when they surrendered to the Lord to find out the reason, a voice from the sky directed them to ask pardon to Dhanthan. So did the priests and retrieved their lost eyesight. Dhanthan had the beatific vision of the Lord with his Spouse. We can see the image of Dhanthan sculpted in the first step of the ardha mantapam; where he worshipped Aadhinathan is known as Appan Koil or Chemponmaada Tirukkurukoor.
Some sages of the yore desired to see the Varaha avatar (Boar incarnation) of the Lord and so conducted a rigorous tapasya at this sacred place. The Lord in Varaha form with Bhoomadevi on his lap appeared before them and blessed them. Hence, this is Varaha Kshetram. The Lord is hailed as Jnanappiran.
Shankan, a sage was carrying on a tapasya with an intention of becoming one of the guards of eight directions of the universe. Narada advised him to do the tapasya towards Lord Narayana who would grant him moksha. When Shankan asked about the way to achieve it, Narada told him that he should be born as a conch (Chanku) in the sea where River Thamiraparani merges and worship Aadhinathan for 1000 years. Shankan by becoming so worshipped first the Lord established by Dhanthan and later, instructed by Narada prayed Aathippiran in the morning as a human being and in the night went to the sea as a conch.
Once when he was coming with his crew to have his daily worship, a whale stopped his progress and Shankan prayed intensely to Aathippiraan. At that time, a man appeared in the sea and swallowed the whale. Shankan and his crew, thereafter, happily carried on their prayer. After 1000 years, the Lord with his Devis on his Garuda Vahanam revealed himself to Shankan and his fellows and granted them moksha. The wharf where Shankan and his crew entered is known as Thirucchankaniturai even today. Since it was entry through water, this holy place has gained the name Thirtha Kshetram.
This legend is related to Ramayana and subsequently to Nammalvar, because of whom this holy city is called Alwarthirunagari. Three days before the cessation of Ramavatara, Lord Yama (God of Death) came to see Lord Rama, who instructed his brother Lakshmana not to allow anybody thereafter. Sage Dhurvarsa desiring to see Lord Rama before the completion of incarnation came and Lakshmana, afraid of incurring his wrath and curse, did not stop him. But, the displeased Rama cursed his brother to become a tree, as he did not respect his order.
Lakshmana cried and asked pardon that he could not live without him. Rama then said that he himself had to be like a statue for 16 years, for committing the sin of sending Sita to the forest and that he would sit in the hole of the tree at that time. Lakshmana would become a tamarind tree at the Varaha Kshetram. Sage Kashyapa and his wife, born as Kaari and Utaya Nangai would come to Kurukoor praying for a child. The Lord would be born as Maran (Nammalvar) and as a baby he would crawl to the hole in the tamarind tree and sit motionless for 16 years. After this Yoga, he would do the Vedas in Tamil and pave way for bhakti.
Lord Rama gave his ring to his brother and said that Lakshmana would be a tamarind tree where the ring dropped. Lakshmana, the incarnation of Adisesha stands as the tamarind tree in this holy temple. So the place is appropriately called Sesha Kshetram. Nammaalvar sat beneath the Tamarind tree and did Mangalasasanam for 35 divyadesam through his “Gnana Eye”. This Tamarind tree with some holes can be seen now, too. This tree is called as “Puliyalwar”.