Sowmiya Narayana Perumal Temple, Thirukoshtiyur – Greatness of Temple
Besides consorts Mothers Sridevi and Bhoodevi, Lord Sowmya Narayana Perumal graces the devotees with Madhu, Kaidaba, and Indira, emperor Pururuva, Kadamba Maharshi, Brahmma, Mothers Saraswathi and Savithri. Lord Santhanakrishna (Perumal who grants child boon) is in a cradle. He is also praised as Prarthana Kannan. Those seeking child boon pray here lighting lamps.
Indira was staying in this place till Lord killed Hiranya, gave the Sowmya Narayana Vigraha to Kadamba Maharshi. He was worshipping Perumal in his Indraloka earlier. This Vigraha-idol is the procession deity of this temple. In his Mangalasasanam, Periazhwar had included this procession Perumal too. The place and temple has the reputation of Mangalasasanam of five Azhwars, Periazhwar, Thirumangai Azhwar, Thirumazhisai Azhwar, Bhoothathazhwar and Peyazhwar.
It is noteworthy that divine sculptor Vishwakarma and demon sculptor Mayan had jointly worked in the design and construction of the Ashtanga Vimana. The Vimana has three petals representing the three syllables Ohm, Namo, Narayanaya. Perumal blesses the devotees in four forms from the Vimana – as Nardana Krishna (Bhooloka Perumal) from the base petal, as Sowmya Narayana Perumal (Tiruparkadal-Milk Ocean-Perumal) from the first tier in reclining form, as Upendra Narayana (Devaloka Perumal) in the second tier, as Paramapada Nathar (Vaikunda Perumal) in a sitting form in the third tier.
Mother Tiru Mamagal has her own shrine, also praised as Nila Mamagal and Kulama Magal. Prayer with lamp is an important prayer here. Devotees buy a lamp, place it at the feet of Lord, take it back home, place a coin and Tulsi leaf, keep it in a box and cover it. They believe that Lord and Mother had come to their home in the form of Tulsi and coin. Realizing their wishes, they take this lamp along with another one lit with ghee on the Masi (February-March) float festival day for worship. New devotees coming there take this lamp for their worship.
While Emperor Pururupa was carrying out renovation of this temple, the great Mahamaga festival of Kumbakonam also coincided. The emperor wished to have Perumal darshan in this place. Responding to his prayer, Holy Ganga sprang up in the well at the northeast side and Perumal gave darshan to the emperor from this well. The well is thus named Mahamaga Kinaru. Well means Kinaru in Tamil. This festival occurs once in 12 years when Lord grants darshan sitting on his Garuda Vahana.
Teaching to Sri Ramanuja:
Thirukoshtiyur Nambi living in Thirukoshtiyur was a great scholar in scriptures. Ramanuja approached him for initiation in Mantras. He called Nambi standing outside. Nambi asked who the caller was. Ramanuja said “I am Ramanujan. (I in English mean Naan in Tamil, an expression of disobedience or arrogance in spiritual terms) Nambi simply asked Ramanuja to go back and return after the death of Naan. Ramanuja did not understand what Nambi meant. Yet, he came to Nambi 17 times and returned back with the same answer.
When Ramanuja came finally, he told Nambi that ‘Adiyen (meaning the humble disciple) has come. Nambi called Ramanuja and taught the Mantra ‘Ohm Namo Narayanaya’ on condition that this should not be disclosed to anybody and if he violated the condition, he (Ramanuja) would be pushed into the hell. But compassionate Ramanuja wanted this Mantra made available to one and all so that all would receive the choice grace of Lord Perumal. He climbed the Vimana, called the masses and taught them the great Maha Mantra. Angry Nambi appeared there and condemned Ramanuja’s disobedience.
Ramanuja politely told Nambi that though as an individual, he was to get the hell for displeasing his Guru; millions would be blessed with the benefits of chanting Lord’s Mantra. Startled Nambi embraced Ramanuja saying that he was greater than him (Nambi). Ramanuja appears on the Vimana from where he preached the Narayana Mantra to all. Nambi’s house is just opposite this vimana known as Kal Maligai. There are separate shrines for Nambi and Sri Ramanuja in the temple.