Uthamar Temple, Manachanallur – Legends
Temple for Trinity:
There are not many temples where the Great Trinity — Lords Narayana, Siva and Brahma — are worshipped in the same premises, though in the temples in Suchindrum, near Nagercoil, and in Thirukkannapuram, near Nannilam, the Shivalingam in the former and the idol of Narayana in the latter, are said to represent the Trinity. In the North, there is a separate temple for Lord Brahma at Pushkaram.
But in the Chozha country there are two holy places sanctified by Azhwars' hymns where there are temples for all the three Gods, not in one, but two places — in Karambanur or Uthamar Koil or Bhikshandarkoil, near Srirangam and in Thirukandiyur, near Thanjavur. Both these places are interlinked as Lord Siva was cured of a curse partially when he visited Karambanur and fully when he visited Thirukandiyur.
Vishnu emerged as a Kadamba tree at this place, giving the name "Kathambanur", which later became "Karambanur". The name Karambanur is mentioned by Thirumangai Azhwar in Nalayira Divya Prabandam, in which he refers the presiding deity as "Karambanur Uthaman". The temple is commonly called "Uthamar Kovil" after the name of the presiding deity.
Brahmma got his shrine in this temple by praying Vishnu here:
Lord Brahmma the Creator had the grievance that he did not have a temple for himself though he too held a position as high as the three Lords. Lord Vishnu made him born on Earth. He was worshipping Lord Vishnu. To test his Bhakti, Lord stood there as Kadhamba tree. Brahmma did not fail to recognize Vishnu in tree form and began to perform pujas to the tree. Lord Vishnu told Lord Brahmma that he had to continue his presence there with Pujas and that he would be worshipped by devotees here even though there were no temples for him due to the curses he incurred. Brahmma stayed here. A shrine was later built for him.
Story of Bhikshatana:
As per Hindu legend, Brahma and Shiva both had originally five heads. Parvathi, the wife of Shiva once got confused and performed Patha pooja (ablution of feet, considered an act of respect) to Brahma instead of Shiva. Shiva got enraged and cut off one of the heads of Brahma. The cut head got stuck in his hand of Shiva on account of a curse of Brahma. Shiva wanted to get rid of the sin holding the cut head of Brahma and went on a sacred trip. While coming to this place, Vishnu requested his consort Lakshmi to give alms to Shiva. Shiva's grail was filled by the alms and Lakshmi came to be known as Poornavalli Thayar (the one who filled the grail).
To get rid of the sin, Shiva worshipped Vishnu at this place as Bhikshadana, where a part of his sin was relieved. He got his curse fully relieved after visiting Vishnu at Thirukandiyur and taking a holy dip in the temple tank, Kamala Pushkarani at Hara Saabha Vimocchana Perumal Temple. After the incident, the tank came to be known as Kapala Theertham (kapala indicates skull). Shiva was pleased and he built the Hara Sabha Vimochana temple and also built a temple for himself near it. Hence the temple is also called Bhikshandar Kovil as the Hindu god Shiva is present in the form of Bhishadanar (a mendicant) and believed to have attained cure by worshiping Vishnu at this place.
Mahalakshmi requested Shiva to remove Brahma’s Head:
According to another legend, it was Goddess Mahalakshmi, who requested Siva to remove one of the heads of Brahma as Brahma looked so charming with five heads and she feared that the Lord would shower all his affection on his son, ignoring her.
People worshipped Vishnu here:
Apart from Lord Siva, King Mahabali and Bhrigu Maharishi also got rid of their sins by worshipping the Lord here, according to legend.
Sage Bhrigu got rid of his curse:
According to another legend, Sage Bhrigu, who visited the three Lords in their abodes to test their superiority and kicked Lord Narayana on his chest, wanted to atone for the sin by visiting all holy places. He got peace when he visited the Kamala Kshetram.
Chandran absolved of his Sin:
The Moon, who committed the sin of seducing his preceptor's wife and lost his charm and shape, was restored of them partially when he took bath in the holy water source and worshipped the Lord here.
King Janaka, Builder of this temple:
The temple is said to be built by the king of Janakapuri named Janakar, father of Goddess Sita. And later it was contributed by Chola kings and Madurai Nayakars. Once when King Janaka was on a pilgrimage here, came here and conducted a Yagna here. When everyone was praying with closed eyes, a dog spoiled the sanctity of the yagna items. At the end of the yagna, the rishis forgot the completion sloka of the Yagna. A Worried Janakar prayed to Perumal and a sage coming that way told Janaka to pray to the Kadhamba tree there.
On doing so, King Janaka heard the holy voice that informed about the spoiling of the sanctity of the Yagna by the dog. So Janaka started another yagna with new yagna items which completed successfully. Happy Janaka enquired the identity of the Sage who guided him. The sage smiled and asked to worship the Kadhamba tree again. On doing so, the Kadhamba tree which was nothing but the form of Vedas, spilt into two and Purushothama Perumal in Sayana pose with Lord Brahma in his Naabi lotus and Lord Shiva in Bitchadanar form by the side gave Dharshan. King Janaka then built this temple.
King Sathkeerthivarthan blessed with Child by praying here:
King Sathkeerthivarthan begot a child by praying in this temple so he did elaborate renovation by constructing the Mandapams, praharams here as thanks giving. He started many temple functions as well.
Shiva demolished ego of Sages of Dharukavanam:
Once, the rishis at Tharukavanam near here (now called Thirupparaithurai in the Trichy-Kulitalai route) were very egoistic feeling that their knowledge and spiritual powers are just sufficient to uplift the people. They felt God is not at all needed since one’s karma only is responsible for the pain and pleasure of him. Equally the rishis’ ladies were also very egoistic thinking that they were the most beautiful of all the worlds including the Devaloka and the consorts of the 3 moorthies.
Wanting to teach a lesson, Shiva took the form of a beautiful full nude beggar with all his sheen as Bitchadanar accompanied by Vishnu as Mohini. To teach the lesson first for the ladies, they both went to Agraharam begging. On seeing such a divine personality with a magnetic voice for the first time, the ladies forgot themselves, forgot what they were doing and came to streets to see him. On seeing the beauty of the Mohini (Vishnu), they felt ashamed and embarrassed with their egoistic thinking about their beauty. Followed by the ladies of the rishis, both Bitchadanar and Mohini went to Dharukavanam, where the rishis were doing a Yagna.
On getting furious over their ladies getting attracted towards this nude beggar, the rishis did different things like creating an elephant, Tiger etc., through yagnas, sending mantras and vedas to fight Bitchadanar but nothing could stand in front of him. Shiva finally revealed his true identity and did a furious dance in front of them. On knowing their mistake, the rishis at once surrendered to Bitchadanar. The rishis learnt hard way that learning all the mantras and vedas are only to promote the human lives and to do good to the society.
First teachings on Saivam here:
Sanaga, Sananthana and Sanathkumaras are given the first teachings on Saivam here.
Markandeya Maharishi got Vishnu darshan here:
Markandeya Maharishi was given the darshan of Perumal.
This sthalaperumal is Purushothaman (Purushan + Uthaman). Purushan means husband and Uthaman means a person who behaves and likes his wife and doesn't even think of other women. Sri Ramar is the best example for Uthaman and he is said to be "Eaga Pathini Vridhan". So this sthalam is named as "Uthamar Koil" and Emberumanar is called as "Uthaman".
This Kadhamba Sthalam is the place where Gnana Thathuvam (explanation of Gnana) and the explanation of Aanma Gnanam were explained.
Naga Linga Flower:
Doing pooja in Naga linga flower is one of the specialties in this temple and it is said to eradicate all the problems in our life.
4 Divya Desams in one go:
In centuries gone by, Uthamar Koil formed part of ‘Foursome Divya Desam’ wherein devotees used to first visit the Uraiyur (in Trichy), walk across the Cauvery to the Ranganatha temple in Srirangam and then cross the Coloroon to Uthamar Koil and then to Thiruvellarai, thus covering four Divya Desams in one go.