Thursday, September 1, 2016

Sundararaja Perumal Temple, Vempathur, Sivaganga

Sundararaja Perumal Temple, Vempathur, Sivaganga
Sundararaja Perumal Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu located at Vempathur in Sivaganga District of Tamilnadu. It is believed that the temple was built during Kulasekara Pandya. Great Poets like Kambar visited this place and composed poems.

This Temple is located about 35kms East of Madurai and 4kms North of Tirupachethi. The temple in its current form is said to date back to the 13th Century AD and to the rule of Kulasekara Pandya. The Moolavar deity is a Mooligai idol and is seen in a Abhaya Varada posture blessing the devotees.
Legends
Vinayaga accepting the Patta from Pandiyan King:
There was severe drought in Pandya kingdom during the rule of Kulasekara Pandian due to failure of monsoon. His wife was the daughter of Chola king.  Finding that Chola region was too fertile and green, he asked his chola father-in-law the secret of his country’s prosperity and sought his advice to make his kingdom rich. Chola king suggested that he should bring 2008 Brahmins from Kasi and perform a yajna for rains and restoration of prosperity. Pandya followed the advice. 2008 Brahmins were brought from Kasi and the Yajna was conducted as per rules. 
Rains poured in and the country recovered from the drought. When Pandya offered lands to the Brahmins in their own name and presented the pattas, the last Brahmin Ganapathy by name was found absent. The king was sad.  After a short while, Lord Vinayaka himself appeared there in the guise of the Brahmin and accepted the patta. That piece of land is Vembattur. It is believed that this 2008 Ganapathy is teaching Vedas from his shrine on the bank of a tank here.  Majority of the people in the place are well educated and are scholars in Vedas and medical science.
Saivites as Priests in this Vishnu Temple:
Several Centuries ago, over 500 Vaishnavite scholars and priests had been brought in from Tiruvellarai (near Srirangam) to the Pandya Kingdom to spread Vedas and Vaishnavism. About 150 of them had moved into Vempathur with just as many going to Sikkal and hundreds of them had stayed back at Perunkarnunai, the Avathara Sthalam of Selva Nambi.  All of them had a Kudumi in their head and hence were referred to as ‘Poorva Sikha Sozhiya Srivaishnavas’.
Over a period of time, all of them at Vempathur had converted to Saivites. Hence, the priests at this Perumal temple are Saivites. Also, an interesting feature here is that Vibhuthi is provided as the sacred Prasadam every evening after a presentation of Sahasranamam.
Lord Bhoo Varaha emergence from Earth:
It is also believed that Lord Bhoo Varaha emerged from the earth and was installed here inside the temple to the North of Sundararaja Perumal Sannidhi. Belief is that Lord Bhoo Varaha fulfills the wishes of those devotees who place their prayers on a white paper at his feet.
The Temple
Presiding deity is Sundararaja Perumal with Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi. Perumal appears majestically tall. The idol of Perumal is made before the advent of sculpture arts and used stone only as instruments. Lord welcomes the devotees with his left hand and blesses by the right. Though Perumal is said to be the Lord of Wealth, He is Lord of both wealth and wisdom. 

There are epigraphic evidences showing that Kavi Chakravarthi Kamban and Poet Kalamega worshipped this Perumal. Lord 2008 Vinayaka graces the devotees from a shrine at the border of the place. There are shrines for Lords Lakshmi Narayana, Lakshmi Narasimha, Lakshmi Hayagriva and Lakshmi Bhuvaraha. It is noteworthy that all four Lords grace together. 

It is said that worshipping the Lords together brings in freedom from financial problems, good education and poetic skills. There are also shrines for Vinayaka, Karuppannasami, Garuda Bhagwan, Sri Anjaneya, and the ten avatars-murthis of Sundararaja Perumal with his consorts Sridevi and Bhoodevi.
Temple Opening Time
The temple is open from 6.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and from 5.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Literary mention
It is also noteworthy that renowned Sangam poets had dedicated their verses to Perumal – Vembathur Kumaranar the 157th verse in Agananooru and the 317th verse in Purananooru, Vembathur Kannan Koothanar the 362nd verse in Kurunthogai are in worship of Perumal.
Great Poets like Kambar, Avvaiyar and Otta Koothar (contemporary of Kambar) have visited this temple and composed poems. Rajendra Chozhan built the front mandapa here so the great poets could sit in peace and compose their works and spread their Tamil poetry. There is a Hayagriva Sannidhi in front of whom it is believe that Poet Kamban sat and composed songs.
Inspired poet Kaviraja Pandit worshipped this Perumal and rendered the Tamil version of Ananda Lahari and Soundarya Lahari of Bhagwan Sri Adi Sankara. With the blessings of Perumal, he had also authored Manamadurai Ananda Nayaki Malai, Gnana Ula on Mela Kodumanur Lord Muruga. Honoring his poetic Mastery, Mother Meenakshi served the Pandit as his daughter when he visited Kasi. He belongs to 11th Century.  
Devotees may note that Vembathur Perumal blesses them with such mastery in poetry with such honour that Meenakshi Herself offers her services to them. U Ve Swaminatha Iyer in his Thiruvilayadal Purana makes a detailed reference to this place and the Vedic recitals that used to take place here.
Festivals
·        Aavani Thiruvonam
·        Vaikunta Ekadesi
·        Procession in Karthigai
·        Hanuman Jayanthi
Prayers
Perumal of the temple belong to a very ancient age.  Praying to this Perumal ensures high academic achievements and poetic skill to the devotees, it is strongly believed. Devotees pray here before admitting children to general schools, Vedic schools and colleges for higher education.  They also pray for job opportunities commensurate with their education. Realizing their wishes, devotees perform Thirumanjanam to Perumal and Mother offering vastras.
Contact
Sri Sundararaja Perumal Temple,
Vempathur, Sivaganga District
Phone: +91- 4575- 236 284 / 236 337
Mobile: +91 - 97903 25083 / 98409 35113/ 97915 83169
Connectivity
One can take the Madurai – Rameswaram Bus from Mattuthavani Bus Stand in Madurai. Get down at Tirupachethi (about 30kms from Madurai) after Tirupuvanam. From Tirupachethi, take an auto to Vempathur (about 6kms). There are also mini buses/share auto from Tirupacheti. Nearest Railway Station is located at Madurai and Nearest Airport is located at Madurai.

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