Thennangur – Legends
Avathara Sthalam of Madurai Meenakshi:
According to Hindu mythology, the Hindu goddess Meenakshi was found as a three-year-old child by the Pandya king here. To support this hypothesis, a temple was also built for Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar at Thennangur.
Thennangur was previously known as Dakshina Halasyam, meaning “a place where the wise drink nectar.”
As this place was full of forests, it was also known as Shadaranya Kshetra (six forests).
Gnananandagiri Swamigal & Shri Haridas Giri Swamigal:
Thennangur Village was given rebirth when Shri Haridas Giri Swamigal, a chief disciple of Swami Gnanananda Giri, who decided on Dakshina Halasyam as the home for spreading Sanathana Dharma through Namasankeerthanam because he strongly believed that one can easily reach the feet of God through music.
Sadguru Sri Gnanananda Giri:
Gnananandagiri Swamigal was born at Mangalapuri near Gokarna on the west coast in Karnataka to an orthodox Brahmin couple. At his young age, he was driven to Pandharpur with an urge to know the self. It is in this historic place, that Swami was guided to meet his Guru, Swami Sivaratna Giri of Jyotirmutt, one of the four mutts established by His Holiness Sri Adisankaracharya himself.
Swami Sivaratna Giri accepted this young boy as his disciple and swami then followed his Guru like a shadow and derived great delight in serving him. After Swami attained proficiency in Ashtanga Yoga, Hindu Scriptures, Upanishad truths etc., Swami was given holy order of Sanyasa by his Guru and was named ‘Sri Gnanananda Giri’ into the ‘Giri’ order of Jyotir Mutt.
Later, after Mahasamadhi of his Guru, Swami adorned the Peetam of Jyotir Mutt for some time before relinquishing the same for undertaking intense penance at Himalayas. After long period of seclusion, swami travelled extensively on foot, spanning the whole of India, Tibet, Nepal, Burma and Srilanka. Finally swami is believed to have returned to Southern India and from around 1966, Swami permanently stayed at Tapovanam at Tirukkovilur, near Thiruvannamalai.
Guruji Sri Haridas Giri:
The chief disciple of Sri Gnanananda Giri Swamigal was Swami Haridas Giri known familiarly as “Guruji”. Swami Haridas Giri (Guruji) was born in the sacred month of Margazhi under the auspicious star of Uthirattaadhi. He was born in the sacred land of Arunachala Shetram (Thiruvannamalai). His father, Sri Nott Annaji Rao, was an ardent Bhagavatha and a devotee of Swami Gnanananda Giri. Sri Nott Annaji Rao was an expert in the field of Sampradaya Bhajan.
His mother was very pious soul. Haridas Giri even while he was youth was attracted to Namasankeerthanam, the inspiration emanating from his father. Every Bhajan held in any part of the town he happened to live in, found him with eager eyes and throbbing enthusiasm. He gradually experienced in his own self a desire overflowing in his heart to take up this as his walk of life. Thus, the seed for a change in him was sown early in his teens.
In 1954, One day when Guruji was sitting on top of a hill enjoying the nature around him, Guruji saw a small fire about 200 yards away, he asked some of his workers at the tea plantation, where Guruji was working at that time to check it out. The workers went down the hill to check and told Guruji that they could not see any fire around that area.
For one week Guruji saw that fire. Then one night Guruji heard a knocking at his door, as Guruji opened the door, Guruji again saw the fire there and suddenly it disappeared and his Master appeared before him. The Master told Guruji that his place is not here and that Guruji is for the world. The next day Guruji told his boss about the fire and the appearance of His Master. His boss said that it is only an illusion and gave him 15 days leave.
Guruji went back to Madras see his father Sri Nott Annaji Rao, who took him to see a saint in a temple outside the city. When Guruji saw him again, Guruji burst out crying. He was the Master that appeared from the fire. After many trials and tests on Haridas Giri, Swami Gnanananda Giri appointed Swami Haridas Giri (Guruji) and told him to spread and sing in the praise of the Lord known as Nama Sankeerthanam, as the only pathway to salvation.
Swami Gnanananda Giri gave Guruji His Paduka, blessed him with the hidden treasures of our great scriptures and commanded him to undertake a life of renunciation and the mission of spreading the great cult of Namasankeerthanam with a musical discourses on saints and sages who had tread this soil in a similar manner. In the course of his mission, Guruji established many Mandalis, Seva Samajams and other Philanthropic institutions throughout the world.
Sri Swami Haridas Giri shed his mortal coil on 4th September 1994 at Koteeswar near Rudraprayag in the Himalayas by entering into Jalasamadhi but spiritually showering his Bountiful Blessings to all. The Namasankeerthanam mission started by Guruji is now being carried forward by his close disciple Sri Namananda Giri Swamigal.