Sowmiya Narayana Perumal Temple, Thirukoshtiyur - Legends
Story of Hiranya Kashipu and Thirukoshtiyur:
Asura Hiranyakashipu prayed to Brahmma for a boon that he would not be killed by Devas, human race, animals or by weapons. Having secured the boon, he went on a rampage harassing everyone and forcing them to utter ‘Namo Hiranyaya Namaha’. Worried at his increasing power and anxious at what his next action would be, Devas sought Shiva’s help, who directed them to Brahmma, who further directed them to Vishnu as the only one who could pin down Hiranyakashipu.
The Devas went to Thiru Paarkadal only to be told by Lord Narayana that Hiranya’s powers had spread around the world and they had to go and find a place in the world where his name was still being chanted. They managed to find Kadamba Rishi’s ashram as the one place where Lord Narayana’s name was still being uttered. The Rishi was undertaking severe penance in his quest to have darshan of the Lord as Sheerabdhi Nathan.
The Devas and Tri Murthis went to Kadamba Rishi’s ashram to discuss the plan to kill Hiranya. While everyone remained there, Lord Narayana went back to Thiru Paarkadal where, he asked Sanghu Karna to be born as Hiranyakashipu’s son Prahalada who would utter Namo Narayana all the time, much to his father’s shock. The Devas pleaded with Vishnu to show the form before he could take it. Vishnu showed them the avatar, but not pleased with the vision, the Devas and sages pleaded him to show it again.
Vishnu appeared in three forms of standing, sitting and resting posture at Thirukoshtiyur. Since Vishnu showed his form after hardship (called Thirukkai in Tamil) of Devas, the place came to be known as Thirukoshtiyur.
Brahma built Thirukoshtiyur Temple:
After Hiranya Samhara, Kadamba Rishi requested Brahmma to give him a model of Lord Narayana killing Hiranya. It was Brahmma who directed Vishwakarma to construct a 3 tier structure at this place - one with Om, another with Namo and the third with Narayana with the Southern side of the tower depicting ‘Lord ‘Narasimha catching Hiranyan’. He asked Mayan to construct the Northern side of the tower depicting ‘Narasimha killing Hiranyan’. Indra, who had stayed back here till the Hiranya Samhara, presented to Kadamba Rishi the silver plated idols of Sowmiya Narayana along with Sri, Bhoo and Neela Devi.
Pururavan built Thirukoshtiyur Town:
When Pururavan, the son of Budhan (Mercury) flew above Thiru Koshtiyur on his way for a bath in the Ganges, he was brought down to this place through the powers of the Ashtanga Vimana. Having had a darshan of the Thiru Koshtiyur Lord and lured by his presence, Pururavan built the town where people could stay and have darshan of Sheerabdhi Nathan.
Ramanujar publicizing Ashtakshara Mantram:
Thirukoshtiyur is the birth place of Thirukoshtiyur Nambi, who is also named as "Selva Nambi". He was the guru of Ramanujar, who was preached with the "Ashtakshara Mantram". But the way he was taught the Ashtakshara Mantram was one of main issue that has to be explained. Selva Nambi ordered Ramanujar to do the fasting in this sthalam. Having crossed the age of 60, to get the Mantram, he followed the order of Selva Nambi. He took only water as his food and one fine day, he was preached with the Ashtakshara Mantram for which he was waiting for. But, he was ordered by Selva Nambi that the Mantram should not be published to any one and it should be kept secret.
But on hearing the Mantram, he thought it is not only a secret thing that is helpful and useful for him only, but it should be made public to all and it should be useful for all the other people. As a result of his thought, he went straight to the temple of Sowmiya Narayana perumal and stood on the huge walls of it and all of the village people to gather. And once all the people gathered, he loudly pronounced the Ashtakshara Mantram, which is said to sacred and explained it to all. He also asked them to repeat it.
On hearing this, Selva Nambi got angry on Ramanujar since he has not obeyed his words and has broken the promise that he had given to him. Then, he called up Ramanujar and said that having broken the promise, he will have to pay for the mistake, and as a result, he will be going to the hell. But before that, Thirukoshtiyur Nambi (Selva Nambi) wanted to know the reason why he made the Ashtakshara Mantram so public. But Ramanujar answered that in this world, all the things belongs to Sriman Naarayanan and no other thing should be kept secret (or) themselves but it should be used to others.
As the same way, on explaining the Mantram to all, it might help them from many things and because of this reason only, he answered that he publicized the Mantram. On hearing this from Sri Ramanujar, Selva Nambi realised how his mind was narrowed and felt for it. But, at the same time he was attracted by the thinking of Ramanujar towards humanity and Vaishnavism. As a result of it, Selva Nambi called Ramanujar as his Emperumaanar. We can find two separate statues that are made of bronze for Thirukoshtiyur Nambi and Ramanujar in this temple.
Thirukoshtiyur as the birth place of Lord Krishna:
In Periazhwar Thirumozhi, a Vaishnava canon contributed by Periazhwar (one of the twelve azhwar saints of South India), predicts Thirukoshtiyur as the birth place of Lord Krishna.
The Name - Removal of all Sins:
As the Devas came here in Groups (Ghosti) requesting Lord Narayana to kill Asura Hiranyakashipu, this place is called Koshtiyur. The belief is that a visit to this place will remove one’s sins as can be seen from the name – Thiruku (Sin) – Otiyur (removed).
Importance of this Divya Desam:
Belief is that visiting Thiru Koshtiyur provides one the fruits of visiting Naimisaranyam Divya Desam, a bath in the Ganges and a visit to Kurukshetra. It is said that a Vaishnavite who does not visit Thiru Koshtiyur will become a monkey in the next birth.