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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Three famous temples at Tirunindravur, Tamilnadu

Bhakthavatsala Perumal temple is located at Thirunindravur, Tamilnadu. It is revered as one of the 108 Divya Desam Temple dedicated to Bhagwan Vishnu (Varaha Avatar). Here Bhagwan Vishnu is worshipped as Bhaktavatsala Perumal and his consort Lakshmi as Ennai Petra Thayar (meaning Mother who gave birth to me) also called as Sri Sudhaa Valli. It is the 58th Divya Desam. This place is also known as Srinivasa Kshetram since Lord Vishnu came here and stayed for some time.

Legend of Sri Bhatavatsala Perumal Temple

Legend is that Sagara (Varuna Deva), who is the father of Devi Lakshmi worshipped Bhagwan Vishnu here. Thiruninravur is considered as the place of Goddess as she settled here first and then Lord came here to Her place. The rarity of this temple is that Sri Bhakthavatsala Perumal is staying permanently at his in-law’s place. As Goddess settled here first, the place itself had got its name after her. In Thamizh, ‘Thiru’ means Sri Lakshmi, ‘Ninra’ means stood, ‘Vur’ means place.

The Devas and Asuras jointly churned the White Sea with a mountain (Mandhara) by using Vasuki the snake as a rope. While churning the sea Nectar came out which has the power of keeping anyone alive without death. At that time Devi Lakshmi came out along with the Nectar from the sea and she got attracted by the beauty and majesty of Bhagwan Vishnu. She decided to marry him and to realise her wish she came to Thiruninravur and did a serious penance.

Bhagwan Vishnu was pleased and came there with all the Devas and got married at this place. The Devas after seeing this memorable incident did not want to leave this place. Hence, they turned themselves into bees and started living there. (Still there are bee hives in the temple that are preserved by the temple authorities).

History  

The temple is said to be built in the sixth century AD by the Pallava kings. There are engravings which reveal that king Nandi Varma had originally built the temple. The earliest inscriptions of the temple are dated between 820 to 890 AD during the period of Nripatungavarman. There are inscriptions from the later Chola kings like Rajendra Chola II (1051–1063 AD), Virarajendra Chola (1063–1070 AD) and Rajaraja Chola II (1146–1173 AD). The Pallava inscriptions mention this place as Ninravur and some of them quote it as Virudhurajabhayankar-chaturvertimangalam.

The main tower is an architectural splendour which is a five decked Raja Kopuram. Opposite to the main temple Gopuram is a temple to Lord Hanuman. The king of all the snakes Adisesha also has a shrine in this temple. Other deities worshiped in this temple are Andal who loved Sri Krishna and got merged with him and other Alwars who are the traditional devotees of Bhagwan Vishnu who have attained salvation by their devotion.

The height of the Main deity is around 10 ft (3.0 m). The Utsava Moorthy (procession deity) is called Patharaavi is made of panchaloha and is accompanied by two consorts as in most Vaishnavite temples. There is a separate shrine for the goddess Ennai Petra Thayar (also called Sudhavalli), the consort of Bakthavasala.

One of the incarnations of Bhagwan Vishnu is ‘Vamana’. During this avatar he took his original shape and lifted his mighty legs that went up to Brahma Loka and Bhagwan Brahma washed the leg and performed abhishekam with the holy water from his kamandalam. A drop of it spilled out and the drop is said to have become the holy pond in this temple which is called as punniyatheertham (holy waters). This holy water is believed to have removed the curse on Moon God when he took bath here. It is said that Bhagwan Vishnu himself took the water and performed Abhishekam to Devi Lakshmi and hence she is also called as Abhisheka Valli.

The Bakthavatsala Perumal temple follows the traditions of the Tenkalai sect of Vaishnavite tradition and follows Pancharatra rituals.

Shaiva Kshetram

Tirunindravur is also the home town of Pusalar, who is one of the sixty-three Nayanar saints mentioned in Periyapuranam. Periyapuranam is a Tamil poetic account depicting the lives of the sixty-three Nayanars, the canonical poets of Tamil Shaivism. It was compiled during the 12th century by Sekkilhar. Among all the hagiographic Puranas in Tamil, Sekkilhar’s Tiruttondar Puranam or Periyapuranam, composed during the rule of Kulottunga II (1133–1150 CE) stands first. Pusalar conceives the design of the temple which he wanted to build for Bhagwan Shiva in his deep worship.

Meanwhile, Rajasimha Pallava, the King of Kanchi had undertaken the task of erecting a temple for Bhagwan Shiva. On the completion of the task, the king wanted it to be named Rajasimeswaram and duly consecrated. Hence the king fixed a date for the consecration. The Lord appears in King’s dream and directs him to meet Pusalar. The King realizes the ardent devotion of Pusalar and builds the temple as conceived by Pusalar and after that he performs the consecration ceremony for the Rajasimeswaram temple built by himself.

Pusalar’s temple for Bhagwan Shiva became famous as Hridayaleeswara temple. The inner roof of the temple is designed like that of a heart divided into four compartments probably displaying Poosalaar’s conception. Parvati here is worshipped as Maragathambika. Poosalaar’s statue is found with folded hands in the shrine of Hridayaleeswara (also known as Irudhayaleeeswara).  Irudhayaleeswara is also worshipped as Manavaleswara. People with an ailing heart are said to visit this temple seeking the grace of Irudayaleeswara for speedy recovery. The temple has a 5 tier gopuram at the entrance and two precincts.

Rama Temple

The Rama temple of Tiruninravur is known as Kaiunakaramurti and Daasharathi and fondly referred to as Eri Katha Rama. This small shrine of Rama facing east is located in a very scenic spot about half a kilometer west of the Bhaktavatsala Perumal temple, with the holy tank known as Ksheera Pushkarini on one side and bordered by the vast lake named Varuna Pushkarini on another. The legend associated with Lord’s name as Eri Katha Rama goes as follows.

It is believed that the lake in Tiruninravur was once flooded in a storm and the bunds were in the verge of breaking when the villagers prayed to Sri Rama. Sri Rama is said to have created a fence of arrows around the lake that prevented it from breaking whereby the village was saved. The villagers showed their gratitude by building a temple on the banks of the lake for Sri Rama. Thus, the name Eri Katha Rama, which means Rama who controlled the Lake from getting overflown and flooding the town.

Itihas

There is an interesting episode connected with this temple. It is believed that once, the sister of Sri Ramanuja named Nachiyaramman and her husband Ananta Dikshitar came from nearby Sri Purushamangalam (now called Nazarethpettai near Poondamallee). This couple did not have children for a long time. On their way to Tirumala Hills (Tirupati) they halted for the night in Tiruninravur at the Eri Katha Rama temple.

Sri Rama appeared to Ananta Dikshitar in his dream and bestowed him with a boon that he would get a son who would be His own incarnation. Just as Ramanuja of Sriperumbudur was the incarnation of Adisesha, he was named Daasharathi (Rama, the son of Dasaratha) later known as Mudaliyandan (i.e., Vishwakshena, commander in chief of the army of Bhagwan Vishnu) who became Ramanuja’s very ardent disciple.

This tiny Rama temple, which is built on a slightly elevated level, enshrines the very tall images of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita on the same pedestal. The height of the Rama image, the principal deity is approximately eight feet and the other images are equally tall. The captivating image of Rama is two-armed holding a bow and arrow. His brother Lakshmana is placed next to him. He is seen with his hands in an unusual posture as if holding his bow in a horizontal way.

The graceful image of Sita with a beautiful smile, holding a lotus is placed to Rama’s right. The three deities are made of stucco (composed of sand and hydrated lime mixed with water). The stucco images are fascinating and they are reminiscent of the similar imposing stucco images of Ulagalanda Perumal and few other deities found in the temples in Kanchipuram. The beautiful processional images or utsava murtis of Sri Rama, Lakshmana, and Devi Sita and Hanuman of this temple are kept in a separate shrine very near the main sanctum inside the Bhaktavatsala Perumal temple.

In front of the main sanctum of the Rama temple of Tiruninravur there is a small-pillared mandapa. In this small mandapa is enshrined a unique image of Hanuman who is seen carrying Rama and Lakshmana on his shoulders with the legs of the heroes hanging on side, front and back. Hanuman holds a scepter and a shield in his right and left hand respectively. He is seen treading on the writhing figure of a demoness. This image of Hanuman very much conforms to the episodes of the legends and myths.

At the time of the Brahmotsavam in the Bhaktavatsala Perumal temple, the processional image of Perumal visits the Rama temple in Mohini avataram. This shrine, just like the Bhaktavatsala Perumal temple, follows the Pancharatra rituals of worship.

Pilgrims going to Tirunindravur can visit all the three temples, Viz., Bhaktavatsala Perumal, Hridayaaleswara and Lord Rama as they are located very near to one another.

How to reach Tirunindravur?

Tirunindravur is located around 30 KMs from Chennai central railway station. It is easily approachable by local trains and by road. The Tirunindravur comes under Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA).   

Reference:

  1. https://tamilnadutemples.co.in/article/id/8838/temple/464/chennai-divya-desam-temples.
  2. https://tamilnadu-favtourism.blogspot.com/2018/05/eri-katha-ramar-temple-thiruninravur-thiruvallur.html.

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Dr. B.N.V. Parthasarathi
Dr. B.N.V. Parthasarathi
Ex- Senior Banker, Financial and Management Consultant and Visiting faculty at premier B Schools and Universities. Areas of Specialization & Teaching interests - Banking, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Economics, Global Business & Behavioural Sciences. Qualification- M.Com., M.B.A., A.I.I.B.F., PhD. Experience- 25 years of banking and 18 years of teaching, research and consulting. 270 plus national and international publications on various topics like- banking, global trade, economy, public finance, public policy and spirituality. Two books in English “In Search of Eternal Truth”, “History of our Temples”, two books in Telugu and 75 short stories 60 articles and 2 novels published in Telugu. Email id: [email protected]

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