Rajagopalaswamy Temple, Mannargudi – Legends
When cruel Kamsa put his own sister Devaki and her husband Vasudeva in prison, Lord Vishnu appeared before them and assured that he would be born to them. This is his first Leela-divine play Krishna Leela. His life in Gokhulam as a shepherd was the 32nd Leela. Based on these events, the presiding deity is Vaasudeva and procession deity as Rajagopala. While opening the Vaasudeva shrine in the morning, Gopuja-cow puja and Gaja puja-puja to elephant are performed.
Reason behind the name Mannargudi:
Procession deity is also called Rajamannar, hence the name of the place Mannargudi.
Lord holding a tusk in his left hand:
Kamsa engaged a wild elephant named Kuvalaya Peetam to kill Balarama. Lord Krishna killed that elephant. Remembering the event, Lord is holding a tusk in his left hand.
Lord with ear rings:
Lord Krishna arranged a competition among the Gopikas bathing in Yamuna River. The contest was that they should dress properly and wear the jewels after the bath. One Gopika could not find one of her ear ring. They found it at last in the ear of Krishna and were excited with joy to see its beauty in his ears. Based on this event, Lord in the temple has a Thadanga-ear ring in one ear and Kundalam-ring in the other.
Lord showed Krishna Leela to Gopilar and Gopralayar:
During the Krishnavatara, there were two sages in the south named Gopilar and Gopralayar. Hearing the Leelas of Lord Krishna they set out to see him in Dwaraka. Maharshi Narada met them on the way and told them that Krishnavatara had ended and Lord had returned to his abode. The sages fell fainted on hearing this news. Maharshi Narada woke them up and consoled them. As advised by Narada, they began penance to have lord’s darshan. Lord appeared before them as Krishna in all his 32 Leelas. As requested by the sages, Lord stayed in this place.
Thirumangai Azhvaar Visit to this Temple:
It is said that Thirumangai Azhvaar did visit this place. He came up to the entrance of the temple, lifted the Dwaja Sthambam (Flag Post) at the entrance of the temple that was lying on the floor and went away.
It is said that the Lord here gave darshan to Brahmma in Kritha Yugam, to Brugu Rishi and Goddess Mahalakshmi in Tretha Yugam, to Agni, Gopila and Gopralaya Rishi (children of Rishi Vahnimugar) in Dwapara Yugam and to King Rajasekhar in Kali Yugam.
Significance of the place – Staying here for a Night:
In the Mahabharata, Pulasthya tells Bheeshma that anyone staying for a night at Mannarkoil earns the merit of having gifted a 1000 cows, such is the significance of this place.
32 Photographs around the Main Sannidhi:
It is believed that the Lord gave darshan in 32 different forms to the 2 Rishis here. The first of that was Paravasudeva (Moolavar here) and the last was RajaGopalan (Utsavar). These 32 forms are displayed in a colourful form around the main Sannidhi at this temple.
Temple Elephant and the 10 km walk every morning:
The temple elephant Shengamalam takes a 10 km walk every day to keep herself fit. With 32 villages around this temple, the elephant walks to one village every day. Interestingly, Shengamalam does not eat plantains like other temple elephants. She has a special liking for biscuits.
Near the Utsava Moorthy, one also finds Santhaana Gopalan. It is believed that those who pray to the Santhaana Gopalan will be blessed with a child. A Srilankan couple, who prayed to the Lord here and were blessed with a child immediately.