Friday, February 26, 2016

Thirunaraiyur Nambi Temple, Nachiyar Koil – Legends

Thirunaraiyur Nambi Temple, Nachiyar Koil – Legends
Nachiyar Koil:
As per Hindu legend, the sage Medhavi was doing penance at this place. While taking a bath in the river, he found an image of Chakrathazhwar entwined with Yoga Narasimha. A divine voice asked him to install the image in his hermitage and worship it. Sage Medhavi was a staunch Vishnu devotee. He wanted to have Lord as his son-in-law. He performed penance sitting under the Vanjula tree to have Mother Mahalakshmi as his daughter.
Mother appeared before the sage as a little pretty girl before him on the Uthiram star day in Panguni (March-April). The sage named her Vanjula Devi and brought her up in his hermitage. Lord Mahavishnu came to earth in five forms as Sankarshana, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Purushotama and Vasudeva to find Mahalakshmi and marry her. Each searched for Mother in different directions.
Garuda Bhagwan who accompanied the Lord, spotted Mother in the Sage’s ashram and informed the Lord. Lord Vishnu expressed his desire to the sage to marry his daughter. The sage accepted Lord’s wish on one condition that his daughter would have all powers in all matters. Lord Vishnu agreed to the condition. The sage happily married Lakshmi to Vishnu and requested him to stay in his place, which Vishnu accepted.
Both Lord and Nachiyar are seen here in a beautiful wedding posture, a unique feature at this Divya Desam. Lord Vishnu told Garuda that he should have his place here blessing the devotees as he had to be under the influence of his wife. Thus, Garuda Bhagwan became prominent in the temple. The place was named after Mother (Nachiyar in Vaishnavite terms) and came to be called as  Nachiyar Koil.
Thirumangai’s Madal to Thiru Naraiyur Nambi:
Thirumangai Azhwar composed Madal comprising of Siriya Thiru Madal and Periya Thiru Madal in which he expressed his intent to embarrass and publicly humiliate the Lord by visualizing himself as Parakala Nayaki and adopting the Madal route to displaying his love and trying to force the Lord to accept the love. In ancient Tamil tradition, when one falls in love, the message is conveyed to the other person through his friends. However, if his attempts turn futile, the man, in a final desperate move, resorted to Madal Erudhal (a practice of embarrassing and humiliating the girl in public.
As part of this process, the lover would make a horse out of palm leaves, then draw the picture of his beloved on a cloth and hang it as a flag on the horse, wear a garland and go around the streets shouting slogans and crying in public, of betrayal of love in a bid to humiliate his lover, announcing as to how he has been suffering as a result of her not accepting his love. But for a girl to do such a thing was not a traditional practice as this was considered unbecoming of a woman.
Thiru Mangai in the Madal says that since the Lord had not accepted the love despite repeated requests of Parakala Nayaki, the last option was to try and gain acceptance through the performance of Madal. Even though Madal Erudhal by a woman was not accepted in Tamil culture, Thiru Mangai says that considering the state of the lovelorn Parakala Nayaki, this route had to be adopted based on Sanskrit literature and following the many examples that existed in the Northern culture.
In the Siriya Thirumadal, Parakala Nayaki refers to this intoxicated state of love with the entire composition being that of a Nayaki expressing her love in short lines through someone else. The identity of the lover of Parakala Nayaki is brought out through a soothsayer, who provides the description of the Nayaki’s lover by referring to the great qualities of the Lord. In the Periya Thiru Madal, the narration is from the dejected lover herself and the terrible experience she has gone through in not being able to convince her man (Lord) accept her love.
Here, she explains how the handsome Lord, seen in various Vishnu temples in different postures, has been the reason for her to fall in love as Parakala Nayaki. Periya Thiru Madal ends with the threat of her performing the forbidden Madal even if it was at the cost of her being rebuked by everyone. The entire Madal (both Siriya Thirumadal and Periya Thirumadal) is directed at the Lord of Thiru Naraiyur as can be seen from the fact that Thirumangai opens and ends the Madal with reference to Thiru Naraiyur.
When Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam for whom Thiru Mangai built the famous huge walls requested him for Madal verses of praise, Thiru Mangai retorted ‘Madhil Inghe, Madal Anghe’ (Madhil (the big walls) here for you at Srirangam and Madal (the songs expressing love for the Lord) there for the Nambi at Thiru Naraiyur), thus signifying that the Madal was for the Thiru Naraiyur Lord.
Thiru Mangai Mannan (Neelan) was an army chief of a Chola king. He spent all his wealth in the service of Lord Vishnu. As he was not a Vaishnava, nobody recognized his devotion and services. He fell in love with Kumudhavalli. She informed him that she could accept him only if he came to her with true Vaishnavite identity. Thiru Mangai Mannan begged to Thiru Naraiyur Lord to give him the Vaishnava identity and help him secure the hands of Kumudhavalli. Thiru Naraiyur Nambi is said to have initiated Thiru Mangai Mannan with the Pancha Samaskaaram, which is the true identity for a Vaishnavite.
Thus, Thiru Mangai Mannan became Thiru Mangai Azhvaar. As a mark of initiating the Pancha Samaskaaram on the Thirumangai Mannan, Lord Vishnu is seen leaning forward slightly, quite a unique sight at this temple. Lords of few Divya Desams have been praised as Nambi. The most prominent among them is Thiru Kurungkudi, the other one being the Lord here who is referred to as Thiru Naraiyur Nambi.
An Acharya is referred to as Nambi and since Thiru Naraiyur Lord initiated the Pancha Samaskaaram to Thirumangai Mannan, he became the Acharya of Thiru Mangai Azhvaar and hence the Azhvaar referred to him as Thiru Naraiyur Nambi. As a token of his gratitude to Lord Vishnu, Thirumangai Azhwar sung over 100 verses praising the Lord Vishnu, the highest for any temple. The only other Lord that Thirumangai Azhvaar has praised with 100 Paasurams is Thiru Kannanpuram Sowri Rajan Perumal, where the Lord explained the Thiru Mandhiram to Thirumangai Azhvaar.

Kochengat Chola was an early Chola king and one of the 63 Nayanmars (Saivite saints) of Saivism. He is believed to have attained spiritual rebirth of a spider that fought with an elephant in its previous birth over the worship of the Lord Shiva. He had red eyes during birth as he remained in his mother’s womb a little longer. His mother, looking into the baby red eyes said Kochengkannano (in Tamil Ko=king, Cheng=red, Kan=eyes), which literally means king with red eyes and hence he was named Kochengat Cholan. 
After becoming a king, he followed Saivism and built 70 Maadakovils, temples with elevated structure where elephants cannot reach the sanctum, in the Chola empire. Kochengata Chola had a desire to see Lord Vishnu in his abode Vaikunda. He prayed to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu granted darshan to the king with two hands and ordered him to build a temple for him. This is the only Vaishnavite temple built by Kochengata Chola in Mada Kovil type. He built this temple in a Shaivite design. Thirumangai Azhwar mentions this temple as Mani Mada Koil. 
Idols of all 108 Divya Desams at Nachiyar Koil:
An old Brahmin wanted to see all the Divya Desams. However, he could not visit because of his old age. The old Brahmin prayed before Thirunaraiyur Nambi, who is said to have given the idols of all the 108 Divya Desam Lords to the Brahmin. This is the only Divya Desam where the idols of all the 108 Divya Desams can be seen in one place.
Kal Garuda:
As per local folklore, the sculptor who sculpted the idol of Garuda got frustrated as the idol flew away each time after he had made its wings. He had to carve a new idol each time. In frustration, the sculptor threw a stone at Garuda striking him on the nose. Garuda got injured, fell down and decided to stay at the temple as Kal Garuda. .
Weight gaining of Kal Garuda:
The weight gaining of Garuda during procession reminds Lord Vishnu commitment to Sage Medhavi. When both Lord Vishnu and Goddess are taken out in a procession, Lord should lead the procession, but his promise to Sage Medhavi that his wife would have the first place in everything would be broken. Hence, Garuda becomes heavier and it becomes tough for the devotees to carry him faster than Goddess. Thus, Lord Vishnu fulfills his promise made to Sage Medhavi to till date.
There is huge tank called Manimutharu, in front of the temple. There is a beautiful tale behind the name of this pond. Once, king of the birds, Garuda, took a diamond head ornament to Narayur Nambi from Tirupaarkadal. A diamond (Mani) accidentally fell from the ornaments into this pond. As the precious stone fell into the pond degrading its status equivalent to ordinary pearl (Muthu) this tank is known as Mani + Muthi + Aaru (tank or pond).
Suguntha Giri:
Nachiyar Koil is also called as Suguntha Giri.