Sunday, June 12, 2016

Yathothkari Perumal Temple (Tiruvekkaa), Kanchipuram – Legends

Yathothkari Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram – Legends

Sonna Vannam Seitha Perumal / Yathothkari Perumal:

Thirumazhisai Azhwar is one of the twelve alvar saints of South India, who are known for their affiliation to Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism. He was born to Sage Bhargava and his wife Kanakangi, a celestial dancer, after an unusual 12 months stay in the womb. The foetus came out as just a lifeless lump of flesh with no arms and legs. The couple were terribly depressed and with unwillingness left it under a bamboo bush and left to celestial world. He is considered an incarnation of Chakra (the discus of Lord Vishnu).

Lord Vishnu along with his consort Lakshmi appeared and blessed the lifeless lump of flesh and turned into a healthy baby. A childless tribal couple namely Thiruvalan and Pankajavalli noticed the abandoned baby and picked up the child. They feel overwhelmed by the grace of god for this gift of a baby. They named him Sivavakkiyar and brought him up affectionately. When the boy reached adulthood, he was hesitant about choosing between Shaivism and Vaishnavism. He was defeated in arguments by Pey Azhwar.

Thus, he became the disciple of Pey Azhwar and became an ardent follower of Vaishnavism. He changed his name Sivavakkiyar to Bhakthisarar and later as Thirumazhisai Azhwar. Thirumazhisai Azhwar noticed an old dasi served the Yathothkari Perumal of this temple wholeheartedly. She used to clean the temple premises. Pleased with her selfless devotion, Thirumazhisai Azhwar blessed her to become a beautiful maiden. The reigning Pallava king was attracted by her beauty and married her. The king grew older as the time passes but the lady remained young.

The king came to know about the secret of her everlasting youthful nature. The king was curious to meet Thirumazhisai Azhwar and wants to compose a song on him so that he also could remain young. Kanikannan was a close associate and an ardent follower of Thirumazhisai Azhwar. The Pallava king ordered Kanikannan to come to his court. The Pallava king demanded Kanikannan to bring Thirumazhisai Azhwar to his palace and sing poems on praising him. Kanikannan informed that Thirumazhisai Azhwar would sung in praise of Lord Vishnu only not the king.

The king persuaded Kanikannan with all the precious jewels and diamonds but Kanikannan refused to make arrangement for meeting Thirumazhisai Azhwar with the king to compose a song on the King. The king got furious and ordered him to leave Kanchipuram immediately. Kanikannan went to Thirumazhisai Azhwar and explained all that had happened in the palace and prepared to leave from Kanchipuram. Thirumazhisai Azhwar also decided to leave from Kanchipuram along with his disciple Kanikannan.

Thirumazhisai Azhwar sung beautiful verses requesting Lord Yathothkari Perumal to be with them on their way out from Kanchipuram before leaving Kanchipuram. Pleased with his devotion, Lord Yathothkari Perumal also decided to leave Kanchipuram. Thus, Yathothkari Perumal followed Thirumazhisai Azhwar and Kanikannan on their way out from Kanchipuram. When the three left Kanchipuram, it was engulfed in darkness.

Realising his mistake, the king reached out to Thirumazhisai Azhwar and requested them to return back to Kanchipuram. As the king realised his mistake, Thirumazhisai Azhwar along with Kanikannan came back to Kanchipuram. Then, Thirumazhisai Azhwar asked Perumal to return back to the temple. The Lord is said to have followed this instruction immediately and in this hurried return is said to have slept in the opposite direction.

As the Lord listened to the instructions of Thirumazhisai Azhwar in strict obedience and did as the Azhwar wanted, he came to be called as Sonna Vannam Seitha Perumal / Yathothkari Perumal (means obeying and doing the same what was told to him). To commemorate the event, Lord  Yathothkari Perumal along with the idol of Thirumazhisai Azhwar is taken out in a procession to the nearby river Vegavathi, every year during the Tamil month of Thai (Jan-Feb).


As per legend, once there was an argument between Saraswathi, the consort of Lord Brahma and Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu on superiority. Both of them went to Indra, the king of celestial deities. Indra judged Lakshmi as superior and not satisfied with his argument, Saraswathi went to her husband, Brahma. He also chose Lakshmi to be the superior one. Saraswathi was unhappy with the decision and decided to stay away from Brahma. Meanwhile, Lord Brahma decided to perform an Aswamedha Yagna on Lord Vishnu.

Lord Brahma needed Saraswathi, his wife, to be by his side to perform the ritual. So, he sent his son Vashishta to make Saraswathi return to Brahma. However, Saraswathi refused and Brahma started the Yagna by keeping Savitri and his other wives next to him. The asuras (demons) wanted to stop this Yagna. So, they went to Saraswathi and told her that the Yagna is going to be performed without her presence. She got angry on Lord Brahma and took the form of Vegavathi.

She began to flow in a southerly direction and flow across the place where the Yagna was being performed so as to destroy it. Lord Brahma prayed to Lord Vishnu to protect the Yagna by stopping the Vegavathi river. Pleased with his prayers, Lord Vishnu stopped the flow of the river by lying across the Vegavathi river on his serpent Adiseshan. As Lord Vishnu appeared as dam (Setu) to stop the Vegavathi river, he came to be called as Vega Sethu / Vegavanai. Later became Vekkanai and finally became Vekka (Thiruvekka).

It is said that Lord Vishnu came in a hurry to block Vegavathi river and his return to the sanctum is said to have slept in the opposite direction. This temple is counted one among the five temples in Kanchipuram that include Yathothkari Perumal TempleAshtabhujagara Perumal Temple, Vilakkoli Perumal Temple and Varadaraja Perumal Temple where the legend of Brahma performing Aswamedha Yagna and anger of Goddess Saraswathi at being ignored by her husband who was busy with the fire ritual.

Avathara Sthalam of Poigai Azhwar:

Poigai Azhwar is one of the twelve alvar saints of South India, who are known for their affiliation to Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism. Poigai is one of the three principal alvars, with the other two being Bhoothath Alvar and Peyalvar, collectively called Mutalamalvargal who are known to be born out of divinity. Poigai is considered an incarnation of Panchajanya (the conch of Lord Krishna). According to traditional account, the first three alvars belong to Dvapara Yuga (before 4200 BC).

It is widely accepted by tradition and historians that the trio are the earliest among the twelve alvars. As per legend, Poigai was found in a small pond near the Yathothkari temple at Tiruvekkaa. As he was found in a small pond (Poigai in Tamil), he came to be called as Poigai. The pond were Poigai Azhwar was discovered in the lotus flower is still available and it is called as Deva Sarovaram / Poigai Pushkarini. There is a shrine dedicated to Poigai Azhwar on the banks of the Deva Sarovaram.

He was variously known as Ayonigi, Saro Yogi, Kasara Yogi, Poigai Piraan, Saravora Munindra and Padma Muni. Poigai composed hundred verses that are classified as Muthal Thiruvandhadhi and his composition is set in the Andhadhi style in which the ending syllable is the starting one for the next verse. Azhwar Utsavam is a festival celebrated annually during the birth date of the saint based on Tamil calendar in the Yathothkari temple at Tiruvekkaa.

Manavala Mamunigal explained his Sri Bhashyam here:

It is said that Manavala Mamunigal explained his Sri Bhashyam to the world in this temple.

People worshipped Lord Vishnu here:

It is believed that Lord Brahma, Saraswathi, Poigai Azhwar, Thirumazhisai Azhwar, Kanikannan, Manavala Mamunigal and Bhoothath Azhwar had worshipped Lord Vishnu of this temple.