Friday, December 25, 2015

Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Thirukovilur – Legends

Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Thirukovilur – Legends

Ulagalantha Perumal:

As per legend, Lord Vishnu descended as the Vamana avatar to restore the authority of Indra over the heavens, as it had been taken by Mahabali, a benevolent Asura King. Mahabali was the grandson of Hiranya Kasipu, the son of Prahalada. King Mahabali was generous and engaged in severe austerities and penance and won the praise of the world. With the praise from his courtiers and others, he regarded himself as the invincible in the world.

Emperor Mahabali, though good natured, ever helpful to those in need, had a desire that none should exceed him in status and fame.  To realize this aim, he conducted a great yajna headed by his Guru Sukracharya.  Lord thought to bring down his pride. He took the form of dwarf, came to the Yajna field and sought three footsteps of land (three steps by his foot) as charity. Guru Sukracharya sensed some mischief in the dwarf and understood that the visitor was none other than Lord Vishnu.  

He vehemently warned Mahabali and did his best to prevent his promise. Mahabali did not relent. He was only keen to keep up his word to dwarf and offered his wish. Lord took his Viswaroopa, measured the earth by one foot step and the Akasha by the second step and there was no place for the third step and asked Mahabali for the third. Mahabali gracefully accepted his inability and offered his head for the third. Lord placed his head on Mahabali and demanded that he solemnize the charity with water from his right hand.  

Mahabali took the water bowl to confirm his promise but Sukracharya took the form of a bee and blocked the hole of the bowl from releasing the water. Lord Vishnu took a grass piece, put it on the bowl hole that blinded the Guru. Mahabali was pressed by the Lord Vishnu to the Padala Loka and taken later with him. It is said that the above incident happened in this temple. The same legend is associated with Thrikkakara Temple in Kerala and Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram.

Oruvar Padukka, Iruvar Irukka and Moovar Nirkalam:

Once, the first three Azhwars namely Poigai Azhwar, Boothathazhar and Pey Azhwar wanted to worship the Trivikrama, a form of Lord Vishnu in Thirukkovilur. One fine day, they started from their respective places to worship the Lord Vishnu in Thirukovilur, separately. They reached Thirukovilur on a dark and stormy night. They found all houses shut, all Choultries locked up except a narrow passage in the front portion of an ashram belonging to Mrikandu Maharshi.

Poigai Azhvaar, of Kanchipuram was the first one to sought refuge for the night at the ashram of Mrikandu Rishi. Mrikandu Rishi informed him that the place would be sufficient for just one person to sleep. Rishi welcomed Poigai Azhwar to sleep for the night. Bhoothath Azhvaar, from Mamallapuram, followed shortly and he also requested for stay in the ashram for the night.

Poigai Azhvaar welcomed him and said that the place would be sufficient for one to sleep and two to sit and took him inside. Finally, Pey Azhvaar, from Mylapore, also reached the ashram. He was told that the place would be sufficient for one to sleep, two to sit and three to stand. The three of them stood in the small space and were sharing their experiences. The famous phrase ‘Oruvar Padukka, Iruvar Irukka and Moovar Nirkalam’ refers to this incident.

After some time, the three Azhvaars felt the presence of a fourth person and with space only for three to stand, the Azhvaars felt uncomfortable. They found that the fourth person was none other than Lord Vishnu with Mahalakshmi adorning his broad chest through their divine vision. They started glorifying him with each one of them composing 100 songs. Thus, the literature later called Divya Prabandha came into existence.

It is believed that the ashram where the 3 Azhvaars stayed that rainy night is the one where one, today, finds the sanctum. The first of the three Azhvaars also find a place inside the Sanctum. Also, the temple is believed to be the place where the first three Azhwars, the Vaishnava saints, namely, Poigai Azhwar, Boothathazhar and Pey Azhwar attained salvation.

Lord Vishnu’s Viswaroopa darshan to Sage Mrikandu & his wife Mitravathi:

Sage Mrikandu wanted to have Viswaroopa darshan of Ulagalantha Perumal and approached Lord Brahma to realise his wish. Lord Brahma advised the sage to visit Krishnaranya on the banks of Krishnabadra River to realize his wish.  The sage along with his wife Mitravathi came to this place and performed severe penance for the darshan of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu visited his ashram in the guise of an old Brahmin and begged for food. 

They didn’t have even a single grain of rice to offer. Mrikandu requested his wife to organize food from somewhere. Mitravathi went in, took a bowl in hand and prayed to Lord Vishnu to fill the bowl with food if she was the chaste wife of the sage. The bowl was full of delicious food. Pleased with their penance, Lord Vishnu granted his Viswaroopa darshan to the couple.

Vishnu Durga Shrine:

As per legend, Goddess Durga came here from her original abode in Vindhya Mountains to stay with her brother, Lord Vishnu. After his Trivikrama Avathara, Goddess Durga sought permission from Lord Vishnu to go back to Vindhya Mountains but Lord Vishnu advised her to stay here and bless the devotees. It was said that the Goddess Durga is guarding the Lord Trivikrama shrine. This temple has shrine for Goddess Durga, which is not common in Vishnu Temples.

Chakra Theertham:

Chakra Theertham is believed to have been from the waters used by Lord Brahma to wash the feet of Vamana. It is believed that the water is source of river Pennar, which flows nearby the temple. According to tradition, Agasthya bathed in this tirtha before the commencement of his penance to get the darshan of Lord Trivikrama.

Varaha Theertham:

It is believed that Parasurama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is said to have bathed in this Theertham to atone his sins of having killed the kshatriyas. 

Arjuna worshipped Trivikrama here:

As per legend, it is believed that Arjuna visited this temple during his Theertha Yatra. He took bath in Thenpennai River and worshipped Trivikrama.

Sage Parasurama and Sage Agasthya performed penance here:

It is believed that Sage Parasurama and Sage Agasthya had performed penance at Thirukkovilur.