Sowmiya Narayana Perumal Temple, Thirukoshtiyur – Ramanuja Connection with this Temple
Ramanuja & Thirukoshtiyur are inextricably connected in Vaishnava lore. Ramanuja was advised by Thirukkachi Nambigal to visit Thirukoshtiyur and learn the Sacred 8 letter hymn, Ashtakshara manthra from Thirukoshtiyur Nambigal. Accordingly, Ramanuja travelled 18 times all the way from Srirangam to Thirukoshtiyur for learning the "Ashtakshara Manthram" ("Om Namo Narayanaya!!") from the Thirukoshtiyur Nambigal.
Each time Ramanuja tried to meet the Nambigal but was ultimately rejected by Nambigal. This continued for 17 times and at last 18th time when Ramanuja arrived and knocked the doors of Nambigal ashram saying "Adiyen Ramanujan vanthurukiren..!" (Means "Beloved student Sri Ramanuja has arrived!!"). On which he was allowed to enter. The reason why Ramanuja was denied 17 times and allowed during his 18th time is that, Ramanuja introduced himself as "Adiyen Ramanujan" (means Beloved student Ramanuja) in 18th time unlike his past visits in which he introduced himself as "I, Ramanuja have arrived".
The word “I’m", which indicates his egocentrism, led Thirukachi Nambi to reject him. When his ego vanished in word and deed during this 18th visit, he was considered eligible for learning the Ashtakshara manthram. Thirukoshtiyur Nambigal blessed Ramanuja with the 'Sacred 8 letter hymn' Ashtakshara manthram ("Ohm Namo Narayanaya!!") and told him not to preach to anyone.
Nambigal also warns that if Ramanuja disobeys the order, Ramanuja will attain hell. Ramanuja climbing to the top of temple summoned the whole village people and delivered the Ashtakshara manthram. The act enkindled Nambigal and he started questioning, for which Ramanuja replied "Because of the manthram many will attain moksha for which I am glad to go to hell". Nambigal was overwhelmed with kindness showed by Ramanuja and he bestowed the name "Emperumanar" on Ramanuja, which is used to this day by those of the Srivaishanva sect.
It is said the event happened in front of Sri Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy Sannidhi, small shrine present on the way towards the Sowmya Narayana Perumal Sannidhi. Ramanuja and Nambi have separate Sannidhis at this temple. Outside the Nambi Sannidhi is a board that contains the list of 18 Thiru Mandhiram. On the third tier, on the Southern side, there is a beautifully sculpted statue of Ramanuja in a sitting posture to mark the ‘Thirumandiram’ pronunciation to the world.