Thursday, May 17, 2007

108 Divya Desam- Thiru Koshtiyur



Ramanuja learnt the ThiruMandiram here on his 18th visit from Srirangam

This week we take you to three Divya Desams, Thirumayyam near Pudukottai, ThiruKoshtiyur near Thirupattur and Thirupullani near Ramanathapuram.

We start with ThiruKoshtiyur
Located about 8 kms southwest of Tirupattur on the SivaGangai highway, this is the place where Ramanuja was initiated the ThiruMandiram by his Acharya ThiruKoshtiyur Nambi.

The Temple- 3 Tier Structure
At the ground level, there’s a Sannidhi here for Lord Shiva. Above that is a 3 Tier tower with an Ashtanga Vimanam that is seen only at Koodal(Madurai) among the Divya Desams. On level 1 is the Lord in Sleeping posture(Uraga Mellanaiyaan-Sowmya Narayana), Tier 2 is the Lord in Standing Posture(Upendra Narayana). And on Tier 3 is the Lord in Sitting Posture-Paramapada Nathar.

On Tier 3, one is taken around by Shri Krishnamurthy, a young guide at this temple, through a small gap to the place from where Ramanuja pronounced the ThiruMandhiram to the world at large.

He explains the ThiruMandhiram story with so much passion, that even in the scorching 40 degree + May heat, the devotees are spell bound listening to his narration.

ThiruMandhiram-Ramanuja and Nambi

Ramanuja comes to ThiruKoshtiyur to meet Nambi and learn the ThiruMandhiram. On reaching here, he says “ I have come to meet you…………..” But he is turned back on 17 occasions.

On the 18th occasion, Ramanuja starts with “ Adiyen Daasan(your disciple) Ramanuja has come..” This time Nambi welcomes him saying ‘Your arrogance is gone. Now we can talk’.

Ramanuja requests his Acharya Nambi to teach him the Thiru(Narayana) Mandhiram. He is initiated the Thiru Mandhiram, subject to one condition that Ramanuja would not share it with anyone else and that if he fails, he would go to hell. Having learnt the ThiruMandhiram, Ramanuja goes to the 3rd tier, calls for the people and recites the Thiru Mandhiram to the world at large.

Shocked at this ‘break of promise’, Nambi questions Ramanuja on his failure to keep up the promise and the consequence of this ‘public’ utterance( i.e Ramanuja will go to hell for having failed to keep up his promise). In a stunning reply, Ramanuja says ‘By sharing the Thiru Mandhiram, I alone(one person only) will go to hell but by having shared it with the world at large, several people will get Moksham. And hence, he is ready to go to hell.’

Ramanuja known as Emberumaanar

Impressed with Ramanuja’s reply, Nambi tells him ‘ Nee Emperumaal Aanar’(you have become my Lord). Hence Ramanuja here is called ‘Emberumaanar’. Ramanuja and Nambi have separate Sannidhis at this temple. Outside the Nambi Sannidhi is a board that contains the list of 18 ThiruMandhiram.

On the third tier, on the southern side, one can see a beautifully sculpted statue of Ramanuja in a sitting posture to mark the ‘ThiruMandhiram’ pronunciation to the world.

Story of HiranyaKashipu and ThiruKoshtiyur
Asuran Hiranyakashipu prayed to Brahmma for a boon that he would not be killed by Devas, human race, animals or by weapons. Once he got the boon, he went around harassing everyone. Such was his force that he made everyone utter ‘ Namo Hiranyaya Namaha’.

Worried at his increasing power and anxious at what his next action would be, Devas went to Shiva asking for a solution. Lord Shiva directed them to Brahmma, who then directed them to Vishnu as the only one who could pin down Hiranya.

The Devas went to ThiruPaarkadal only to be told by Lord Narayana that Hiranya’s powers had spread around the world and there was no place where his name was not being uttered. They managed to find Kadamba Rishi’s Ashram as the one place where Lord Narayana’s name was still being uttered.

The Devas and Tri Murthies went to Kadamba Rishi’s ashram to discuss the plan to kill Hiranya. While everyone remained there, Lord Narayana went back to Thirupaarkadal. There he asked Sanghu Karnan to be born as Hiranyan’s son. From the time of birth, Prahalada, Hiranya’s son, utters Namo Narayana all the time, much to his father’s shock.

When asked where this Narayana was, Prahalada tells him that he can be found anywhere/everywhere. Angered at this and wanting to test, Hiranyakashipu smashes one of the pillars and finds Lord Narayana in his Narasimha form( Half human-Half animal) coming out. The killing of Hiranya by Lord Narayana marks the end of Narasimha Avataaram.

Kadamba Rishi requests Brahmma to give him a model of Lord Narayana killing Hiranyan. Brahmma instructs a 3 tier structure - one with Om, another with Namo and the 3rd with Narayana. He asks Vishvakarma to construct the Southern side of the tower depicting ‘Lord Narasimha catching Hiranyan’ ‘and Maayan to construct the Northern side of the tower depicting Narasimha killing Hiranyan’.

In the famous Thirupallandu(12 verses), Periyazhvaar refers to ThiruKoshtiyur in the following Paasuram.

“ Al Vazhakkonrumilla Ani Kottiyurkon Abhimanathungan
Selvanai pola Thirumale Naanum Unakku Pazhavadiyen
Nalvagayaal Namo Narayana Venru Naamam Palaparavi
Palvagai yaalum Pavithirane Unnai Pallandu Kooruvane”- Thiru Pallandu 11

(O Lord, Like the faultless Kottiyur Nambi, I am a servant of yours singing Om Namo Narayana and spreading several other names of yours in several different way, I sing praise of you life long”)

As the Devas came here in Groups(Ghosti) requesting Lord Narayana to kill Asura Hiranyakashipu, this place is called Koshtiyur. The belief is that a visit to this place will remove one’s sins as can be seen from the name – Thiruku( Sin)- Otiyur(removed).

It is said that a Vaishnavite who does not visit ThiruKoshtiyur will become a monkey in the next birth.

Quick Facts

Deity : Sowmya Narayanan East Facing
Goddess : Thirumaamagal

Mangalasaasanam : 5 Azhvaars - Thirumangai Azhvaar, Peyazhvaar, Thirumazhisai Azhvaar, Bhoothathazhvaar and Periyazhvaar

Paasurams : 40
Birth Place : Thirukoshtiyur Nambi

Temple timing : 730am –1230pm and 5pm-8pm

Priest : G.S. Madhavan
Temple Address : Soumya Narayana Perumal Koil, Thirukoshtiyur 630 210
Tel No. : 98654 85886 / 04577 261248

Also contact : Krishnamurthy( Guide/Assistant) on 99423 79393
Or 04577 261197

Location : 8Kms South West of Tirupattur, 25kms North of Sivagangai and about 25kms West of Karaikudi
Bus : Buses every 5-10 minutes between Thiruppatur and SivaGangai
Auto : Auto will charge anything between Rs. 50 and RS75 for a one way drop from Tirupattur to Thirukoshtiyur
Place to Stay : Best to stay in Madurai(about 60kms away)

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