Thirukkurungudi Dhivya Desam – Legends
As per accounts in the Varaha Purana, a treatise of Varaha, an avatar of Vishnu, Varaha preferred to stay at this place with his consort Varahi in a small form and hence came to be known as Thirkurungudi (literally meaning a small house).
This temple is also called as “Vaamana Kshetram” which infers that the shrine is related to the Vamana Avathara, one of the ten Avatharams of Sriman Narayanan. Vamana was born in Purattasi month – Sukla patsham in Sravana Thuvadasi for Kaasyabha Maharishi and Athithi. He was taught the Savithri mantram by Suryan and Brahma Soothram by Vyazha Guru Bragaspathi.
He got the Dharbai from his father, Kaashyaba Maharishi; Krishna Aasanam from Bhoomi (earth); Thandi (used as a support for the hand) from Chandran; Koupeenam (clothes) from Athithi; Kamandalam from Brahmma; vessels from Guberan. Bharadhwaja Maharishi was his Guru and taught all the Vedas.
Mother Parasakthi gave him food with her holy hands when he begged for food. In spite of taking the gigantic Thirivikraman – Ulagalandha Perumal Kolam, Vaamana is giving his Seva as a short sage in this Sthalam. Because of this, this Sthalam is called as “Kurungudi”.
Lord Shiva got relieved of Brahmahatti Dosham here:
When Lord Shiva got his Brahmahatti Dosham by plucking the head of Brahma, he came to this Sthalam and as advised by the Nindra Nambi, begged from Kurungudi Valli Thaayar for Amudham (food) and got out of the Dosham. He also learnt the Sudharsana Japam from Vaamanar and got completely out of the Dosham.
Thirumangai Azhwar Moksham:
As per the Vaishnavite Sampradayam, Thirukkurungudi is said to be the ‘Southern House’ of Lord Vishnu. Hence, it is believed that ‘Vaikuntam’ (the ultimate destination for Vaishnavites) is in ‘calling distance’ from Thirukkurungudi. Thirumangai Azhvaar who built the huge walls of Srirangam and contributed in no small measure to the temple asked for Moksham from Srirangam Ranganatha, who directed Thirumangai to visit his ‘Southern house’. Thirumangai composed the last of his Paasurams here at this temple and is believed to have attained Moksham from here. An idol of Thirumangai Azhvaar, with folded hands, that was created here at Thirukkurungudi was later sent to his birth place (near Thiruvali Thirunagari).
Legend of Kaisika Puranam:
Thirukkurungudi is a very ancient village referred in Varaha Purana and Brahmanda Purana. Kaisika Puranam is within Varaha Puranam and was narrated by Varaha Nainar (Third incarnation of Lord Mahavishnu) to Sri Bhoomi Devi. Nampaduvan (Madangar) was a great devotee of Lord Nambi, though he was born in a very low class society. He used to sing in praise of the Lord Nambi. One day, on Sukla Ekadasi night in the month of Karthigai (Vrichika masam), he was going to Temple crossing through a dense forest. The legend of Kaisika Puranam revolves around Nambaduvan, a low caste person belonging to the Baanar (musician) family who had unflinching faith on Lord Nambi. Since Nambaduvan was a low caste person, he was embarrassed to come to the temple during the day time and so used to come during every night. He will stand in front of the temple and sing the praise of Lord Nambi with a Veena all through the night and leave before dawn.
During one such night, on the way, he was intercepted by a hungry wild demon which wanted him for the dinner. Undaunted, Nambaduvan requested the demon to wait for a little time so that he could complete his Kaisika Ekadasi Vratham and the Dharshan of Kurungudi Nambi assuring that he will return back. Unable to convince the demon, Nambaduvan made 18 promises that night to the demon.
Through these promises, narrated beautifully in the Kaisika Puranam as a lengthy discussion between the two, one comes to know of the different sins we commit every day in our lives as a result of not adhering to some of the basic values in life. 17 promises later and not having got the nod from the demon, Nambaduvan made the 18th promise:
“Swarva Swamiyum Moksha Pradhaana Sriman Naarayananaiyum
Devathai Galaiyum Samamaaga Bhaavikiren Yaavaroruvan
Avanai Poley Nithya Samsaari Yaaven”
If I do not return, I would have committed the biggest sin that exists – that of comparing and equating Lord Narayana with others. And I will become a sinner who will never get Moksham from this cycle of births.” This extraordinary promise moved the demon and the demon let him go.
Nambaduvan, after singing the Nammalwar Paasurams in a mesmerizing musical note in front of the temple, was returning to see the demon as promised. On the way, Lord Nambi in the guise of an old man, stopped Nambaduvan and after knowing his story from Nambaduvan, advised him to escape in some other route and not to get in the clutches of the demon. But Nambaduvan reiterated that he would not deviate from his promise.
The old man gave Dharshan of his original form of Lord Nambi, blessed Nambaduvan and also gave him the title “Nampaaduvaan”, meaning “the person who will sing the praise of me (Lord)”. Nampaduvan then went straight to the demon and offered himself as the demon’s food. But the demon changed his mind and asked for the fruit of the songs he sang on Lord. After repeated submission by Nambaduvan, the demon explained that he was a Brahmin in earlier birth and became demon due to a curse.
Only the purest of the Nambi devotees had the power to relieve him from his curse – and that’s why he wanted to listen to Nambaduvan’s praise of Lord Nambi. Nambaduvan shared with him the ‘Kaisika’ verses, which he sang that very night in front of Lord Nambi. Just listening to these verses helped the demon getting liberated from the curse and attains Moksham. Belief is that those who undertake fast, and listen to the Kaisika Puranam, on Kaisika Ekadesi will attain
Paraasara Bhattar - The one who composed the Kaisika Puranam:
Paraasara Bhattar took the story of a complex Kaisika Puranam (in Sanskrit) and composed it in a simple, easily understandable language. He made it more interesting by analyzing the different Avatars of Lord Vishnu and showcasing Varaha Avatar as the best and the purest, despite the Lord taking the form of a pig (Human beings typically give pigs the poorest treatment). In the Varaha Avatar, the Lord took the form of a pig and yet saved the world. Paraasara Bhattar dissected the Kaisika Puranam and created the vyakyaanam for the entire Kaisika Puranam, which was hitherto non-existent.
If Srirangam is known for Vaikunta Ekadesi, Thiru Kurungudi is said to be the home to the Vaishnava tradition of ‘Kaisika Ekadesi’ and Kaisika Natakam (drama) - worship of the Lord through dance, music and drama is a special event at the Thiru Kurungudi Nambi temple on the Kaisika Ekadesi day. Kaisika Ekadesi is celebrated in the Tamil month of Karthigai and precedes Vaikunta Ekadesi.
It is believed that those who undertake fast and sing and/or listen to the Kaisika Puranam on the Kaisika Ekadesi day will attain Vaikunta Moksham. Kaisika Puranam, which is a part of Varaha Puranam and comprises several hundred songs- all in small stanzas - shows Lord Narayana as the ultimate supreme force and is a case study in this modern money making world of keeping up one’s word at the cost of anything, even life.
The story of Ramanuja:
The story of Thiruvattaparai is very engaging & interesting. The great Vaishnavite saint Ramanuja was preaching the Vishistadwaitha philosophy in Thiruvananthapuram city and his fame was spreading far and wide. Lot of people there became disciples of Sri Ramanuja (amongst whom Vaduga Nambhi was close to Ramanuja), which couldn’t be tolerated by the Nambhoodhiris there. So the Nambhoodhiris with their black magic move Ramanuja to Thiruvattaparai overnight (just a hill separates this place from Kerala).
The next day, the unsuspecting Ramanuja, thinking he is in Kerala, wakes up calling his disciple, “Vaduga... Vaduga...” The Nambhi of Thirukkurungudi, moved by poignancy of the moment, immediately appears before Sri Ramanuja as Vaduga Nambhi and renders service to his favourite Acharya. Ramanuja had the habit of keeping his remnant Thirumaan to Vaduga Nambhi. On the eventful day too, Ramanuja keeps Thiruman, but for the Supreme Lord himself. The both then go to the main temple to worship the moolavar.
The Perumal in the guise of Vaduga carried the pookkudalai and thiruthuzhai in the baskets and went past the dwaja sthambam, entered the garbha griham, placed them there and went further inside and vanished. Later when Ramanuja goes to temple, he sees the Thiruman on the deity’s still fresh & exactly as he had kept for Vaduga Nambhi. Sri Ramanuja begged his pardon, but the Lord told him that he was not satisfied with his own Avataras and that he wanted to act as a sishya to a great Acharyan and to get upadesam from him.
He requested the Acharyan to preach him the Thirumanthiram or Mahamanthiram. Accordingly Ramanuja sat on a pedestal befitting his dignity and the Lord seated himself at a lower level in an obedient posture with his right ear just below the face or mouth of Sri Ramanuja. Hence, Lord Vishnu is also called as 'Vaishnava Nambi'. Even to-day we can see the great teacher and the Lord in this position in the Ramanuja’s temple at Thiruvattaparai.
Ramanuja’s early trip back to Thirukkurungudi:
Ramanuja who stayed at Thirukkurungudi made trips to other Divya Desams such as Thiruvattaru, Thiruvan Parisaram and also Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, where the Lord asks Garuda to carry him fast that same night back to Thirukkurungudi. And to Ramanuja’s surprise, he was on top of the Thirukkurungudi rock at the blink of an eye. As a result of this event, it is believed that one does not find Garuda in the Ananthapadmanabhaswamy temple.
Araiyar Sevai is a performing art form centered on the ritual singing and enactment of the hymns of Divya Prabhandham. It originated in this village and was introduced by Nathamuni. Araiyars, the descendants of Nathamuni, have since carried the Araiyar Sevai. Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam is believed to have given the Araiyars the right to perform the unique musical chanting at the temples and presented them with the cone-like red cap, two cymbals and the sacred garland.
Legend has it that Lord Nambi used to listen to Araiyar’s Abhinayam (song and dance enactment of the Paasurams) hiding behind a wall in Bashyam Street (South Mada Street). Hence the Lord here is also referred to as ‘Gaana Priyan’. In recognition of this significant event, one can, to this day, find the name of this street in Tirunelveli’s Gazette.
As per another legend, it is believed that Nammalvar was born due to blessing of Lord Nambi in this temple.
As per Ramayana, Lord Hanuman is believed to have leaped to Sri Lanka in search of Sita from Mahendragiri, the hill located in this village. Malaimel Nambi temple is found on the hill.
Story behind Flag Post slightly moved to a side:
There lived one Nambaduvan, belonging to a backward community at the foot of Mahendragiri hills, was a staunch Vishnu devotee. He was sad that he could not have the darshan of the Lord Azhagiya Nambi even from outside the temple as the flag post-Kodimaram was shielding the sanctum sanctorum. To oblige Nambaduvan, Lord asked the flag post to move a little to enable the devotee to have his darshan. We see the flag post in the temple slightly moved to a side.
The temple also houses the shrines of Lord Shiva and Lord Bhairava as a symbol of Saiva-Vaishnava harmony. When pujas are performed to Lord Nambi, to ascertain whether pujas are performed to Lord Shiva also, a priest nearby would ask “anything short for Lord’s beloved friend”. The other one will reply “nothing”. This is in vogue even today.
Kurangam in Tamil means Mother Earth-Bhoomadevi. As Mother prayed here on Perumal, the place is also known as Kuranga Kshetram.
Story behind formation of Silambaru:
When he took the Vamana (Dwarf) Avatar and then grew touching the sky, the spring that came out of his anklet is named Silambaru, Silambu-anklet, according to ancient scriptures.