Monday, March 19, 2018

Koodal Azhagar Temple – Literary Mention

Koodal Azhagar Temple – Literary Mention
Historians are of the opinion that Koodal Azhagar temple finds mention in Sangam literature (3 century BCE - 3 century AD) in works like Madurai Kanchi by Mangudi Marudan, Paripadal, Kaliththokai and Silapathikaram. Madurai Kanchi details the Thiruvonam festival celebrated in the temple. Koodal Azhagar temple is revered in Nalayira Divya Prabhandham, the 7th - 9th century Vaishnava canon, by PeriazhwarThirumalisai Alvar and Thirumangai Azhwar. The temple is classified as a Divyadesam, one of the 108 Vishnu temples that are mentioned in the book. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the temple finds mention in several works like 108 Tirupathi Anthathi by Divya Kavi Pillai Perumal Aiyangar and Koodal Sthala Purana.
Koodal Purana details the origin of Vaigai river flowing through Madurai. It is believed that Vishnu stood up as Trivikrama, with one of his foot rising to the skies and the foot reached Brahmaloka, the abode of Brahma. Brahma was pleased to perform ablution to the raised foot and the water is believed to have emerged as a rivulet called Krithamala. A large number of banana trees sprang up in the place and it came to be known as Kadhalivana, a forest of banana trees. Satyavrata, a ruler of Madurai was a staunch devotee of Vishnu. It is believed that once Vishnu came out of the river Krithamala as a fish (Matsya avatar, one of the avatars of Vishnu) to teach Vedas to the ruler. From then on, the Pandyas started having fish as the symbol of the kingdom.
This temple is very important as the Tiruppallaandu, the first 12 verses of the 4000 Divyapprabhandhams, was sung by Periyalwar praising the splendor of Azhagar. The Lord was pleased and gave darshan as ‘Koodal Azhagar’. Tirumangai Alwar mentions Kozhi (Uraiyur) and Koodal in a verse while Tirumazhisai Alwar mentions Koodal along with Tiruvenkatam in a verse. Periyalwar is said to have sung Pallandu at Koodal. Kallazhagar is enshrined at Azhagar Koyil, and Srivilliputtur enshrines Kattazhagar, while Madurai enshrines Koodal Azhagar.
Pandya king Pururavan contributed a lot for the Koodal Lord. His grandson conquered the North and came back prompting Periazhwar to sing:
பருபதுக்கு கயல் பொறித்த பாண்ட்யர் குலபதிபோல்
திரு பொழிந்த சேவடி
என் சென்னியின் மேல் பொறித்தாய் மறு போசிதாய்
என்றென்றும் வாசகமே
உரு பொழிந்த நாவிநேனை உணகுரிதாகினையே