Friday, February 26, 2016

Thirunaraiyur Nambi Temple, Nachiyar Koil – Religious Significance

Thirunaraiyur Nambi Temple, Nachiyar Koil – Religious Significance
The temple is considered as one of the nine Vaishnava Navagraha temples of Tamil Nadu and is a part of the popular Navagraha pilgrimage in the state. This Temple is associated with the planet Mars (Sevvai). The planets are believed to influence the horoscope computed based on time of one's birth and subsequently influence the course of life. Each of the planets are believed to move from a star to another during a predefined period and thus sway over an individual's fortunes.
The Navagrahas, as per Hindu customs, are believed to provide both good and bad effects for any individual and the bad effects are mitigated by prayers. As in other Navagraha temples, the common worship practices of the devotees include offering of cloth, grains, flowers and jewels specific to the planet deity. Lighting a set of lamps is also commonly followed in the temple. As per belief, the energies distributed cyclically by Navagrahas can be channeled based on remedial measures.
Vaishnava Navagraha Temples of Tamil Nadu are;

Goddess has prominence over Lord Vishnu here:
Nachiyar Koil is one of the few Divyadesams where the goddess has prominence over Vishnu. Some of the other temples where the such female dominance is observed are Andal Temple at SrivilliputhurAzhagiya Manavala Perumal Temple at Woraiyur and Pundarikaksha Perumal Temple in Thiruvellarai. While Srivilliputhur is called Nachiyar Thiru Maaligai, Thirunaraiyur is called Nachiyar Koil. Vishnu was of the view that during Kali Yuga, men would have to listen to women.
Hence, he decided that he would first set an example and listen to goddess here. During all festive occasions, the first rights are reserved for Nachiyar, who moves ahead, while Srinivasa follows her. Even the food is first served to Nachiyar and then to Srinivasa. Being a temple where goddess has prominence, Vishnu is located slightly by the side and goddess has the prominent position inside the sanctum. 
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. 
Divya Desams:
The temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Alvar saints from the 6th – 9th centuries AD. It is considered as one of the 108 Divyadesams dedicated to Lord Vishnu and has been praised by Thirumangai Azhwar in over hundred hymns. It is the second temple revered by Thirumangai having more than hundred verses, the first one being the Neelamegha Perumal Temple at Thirukannapuram.
Sugantha Giri:
In Vaishnava theology, Varadaraja Perumal Temple at Kanchipuram is referred as Hasthigiri and Tirumala Venkateshwara Temple at Tirupathy as Sesha Giri and the temple at Thirunaraiyur is referred as Sugantha Giri.
Madhil Inge Madal Ange:
It is also believed that when Thirumangai was asked to present a Madal (ballad) by Ranganatha of Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple, Thirumangai replied that he built the walls in Srirangam, while he built the verses for Thirunaraiyur.
Thiru Naraiyur Lord is praised as Nambi. Lords of only a few Divya Desams have been praised as Nambi. The most prominent among them is Thiru Kurungkudi. An Acharya is referred to as Nambi and since Thiru Naraiyur Lord initiated the Pancha Samaskaaram to Thiru Mangai Mannan, he became the Acharya of Thiru Mangai Azhvaar.
Srinivasa Perumal:
Thirumangai compares Srinivasa Perumal of the temple with Venkateshwara (form of Vishnu) at Tirupathy and believes that he found the same beauty in both of them.
Siddhi Kshetra:
The temple is considered as Siddhi Kshetra, a sacred place where sages attain earthly liberation.
Birthplace of Nambiyandar Nambi:
The place is the birthplace of Vaishnava saint Nambiyandar Nambi. Though he was named Nambi after the presiding deity of the Vishnu temple, he followed Saivism. He was an eleventh-century Shaiva scholar of Tamil Nadu in South India who compiled the hymns of Sambanthar, Appar and Sundarar and was himself one of the authors of the eleventh volume of the canon of the Tamil liturgical poetry of Shiva, the Thirumurai.