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Divya kshetram No. 1 - kumbhakONam.

From: Krishnamachari, N (Krish) (nkrish_at_lucent.com)
Date: Fri Aug 28 1998 - 18:27:52 PDT

		tirukkudandai - The divya kshetram par excellence.

I have now gotten around to really get in the act.  The kshetra purANam of
tirukkudandai is found in brahmANDa purANa, pAdma purANa, bhavishya purANa
etc.  So what I am including below is not some folklore, but is based on
authentic sources.

My initial reasons for not voting for tirunvE~nkaTattAn are pure
selfishness.  Whenever I have gone there, He does not make it easy for me to
get into His residence.  Once, He even used His door keeper to keep me out
by saying that I have girdhA (whatever it means, since I did not
intentionally have it - I just did not worry about how I looked, and He
decided this was sufficient reason to blame me with a girdhA!).

ara~ngan is catching up with tiruvE~nkaTattAn in not being a friendly host
also.  Even when there are not too many people waiting in line, He uses His
servants to kick us out of His sannidhi of late without allowing us time to
enjoy His darSanam.  

This is not the case with my ArAvamudhan, and I hope He will not ever become
an unfriendly Host.  So on purely selfish grounds, I will vote for
ArAvamudhan.  But there are also very sound reasons why He is No. 1.

tirukkudandai is where tiruppati ve~kaTAcalapati and triuvara~ngam's
ran~gaSAyi ended up ultimately.  First is the story of how SrInivAsa ended
up in triukkuDandai.  Lakshmi got angry that Her husband put up with bhr*gu
maharshi's kick on the chest, and left SrIvaikunTham and came down to this
earth.  SrIman nArAyaNa could not live separated from Lakshmi in
SrIvaikunTham, descended down to earth, and came to tiruppati, but here He
met PadmAvati and married Her.  When Lakshmi found out that SrInivAsa got
married to padmAvati, she got furious and came to tiruppati looking for Him
And SrInivAsa did not want to face Lakshmi and so He came to tirukkuDandai
and took refuge in a cave in the temple of ArAvamudhan (the sannidhi in the
temple in tirukkuDandai is called the pAthALa SrInivAsar sannidhi). 

Lakshmi became sad that She could not find Her Lord in tiruppati, and
decided to do penance in the hema pushkariNi in triukkuDandai, and so
appeared on a lotus flower in the pushkariNi.  Bhr*gu maharshi who had
committed the apacAram of kicking the Lord on the chest in SrIvaikunTham,
which started this whole episode, decided to do severe penance in
tirukkuDandai as hema maharshi to get Lakshmi as his daughter so that he can
serve her and thus remedy his sin.  When he found this beautiful child in
the lotus flower, he was overjoyed and took the child with him and brought
her up.

When SrIvaikunTha nAthan came to KumbhakONam, He assumed the name of
ArAvamudhan and married kOmaLavalli and decided to rest here in His serpent
bed. 

For those of you who are pitching in for tiruve~nkaTam as the No. 1 divya
deSam, just be aware that tiruve~nkaTattAn just had an intermediate stop in
tiruppati, but then proceeded to kumbhakONam, where He assumed the name of
ArAvamudhan, and got united with Lakshmi in the form of kOmaLavalli.  This
is confirmed by tirumaZhiSai AzhvAr in tiruc-canda viruttam - 

	"Sezhu~nkozhum perum pani pozhindiDa uyarnda vEi
	  vizhundu ularndu ezhundu viN puDaikkum vE~nkaTattuL ninRu
	  ezhundirundu tEn porundu pUm-pozhil tazhaik-kozhum 
	  Sezhun-taDam kuDandaiyuL kiDanda mAlum allaiyE".  

Also remember that  tirukkuDandai is where Goddess Lakshmi decided to take
Her incarnation in the form of kOmaLavalli, and tirukkuDandai is where
bhr*gu maharshi (assuming the name of hema maharshi) decided to wait for
nArAyaNa to become His son-in-law.   By now, it should be obvious what divya
deSam is No. 1.   Just to give additional reasons, we will look at more
data. 

After the paTTAbhisheka, SrI rAma gave away the ancestral ArAdhana vigraha
to vibhIshNa as a parting gift.  vibhIshaNa rested the vigraha on the ground
in SrIra~ngam, but could not take it back from the ground again, bhagavAn
having assumed His reclining pose as Lord ra~naganAtha.  But He told
vibhIshaNa that He planned to proceed to tirukkuDandai with half of His
vimAna (the vaidika vimAna) to marry Lakshmi (komaLa valli) and bless hema
maharshi.  Then He proceeded to KumbhakONam and assumed the name and form of
ArAvamudhan and married kOmaLa valli.  Thus, ArAvamudhan is none other than
ra~nganAtha, who also ended up in kumbhakONam because kOmaLavalli decided to
reside in kumbhakONam.

It should be noted that our thAyAr is a paDi-thANDAp pattini in every sense
of the term.  Even for kanup-piDi, when the thAyArs from other temples come
to the poRRAmarai tank just outside the temple, our thAyAr stays inside the
entrance and does not come out of the door to the tank which is literally 10
feet away from the door.  Such is Her devotion to the service of Her Lord.

The chariot of perumAL in tirukkuDandai was given to perumAL by none other
than tiruma~ngai AzhvAr (as found in the account by SrI A. ethirAjan in his
account of the 108 divya kshetra-s), and is one of the largest in South
India.  The AzhvAr's composition tiruvezhukkURRirukkai, the words of which
can be arranged like a chariot (you can see it in the temple when you visit
the place), is on this perumAL.

This emperumAn's role in the revelation of the nAlAyira divya prabandham
should be well known to bhakta-s.  It was here that nAthamunigal got his
directive from bhagavAn for restoring the nAlAyiram. Thus, our ArAvamudhan
is credited with giving us back the divya prabandham.  He is also called
ArAvamudha AzhvAr for this contribution of His. 

tirukkuDanthai is a svayam-vyakta kshetram like kA~nci, SrIra~ngam and
tiruve~nkatam.   This is also the place which was drenched by the nectar of
creation that spilled from the pot (kumbham) soon after the waters of
pralaya subsided, and in this sense kumbhakONam (tirukkuDanthai) is the
nucleus of creation.

kumbhakONam is also the place where bhAskara (Sun) performed intense penance
to regain the luster that he lost in a battle with sudarSana cakra, and
Sar~ngarAja ultimately acceded to bhAskara's request that kumbhakONam may
also be remembered as bhAskara kshetram.

The vaiDika vimAnam in which ArAvamudhan resides in kumbhakONam is one of
three vimAna-s in which bhagavAn appeared in response to the penance by
brahma and Surya (the second one is the praNavAkAra vimAnam in SrIra~ngam
and third is the SrIvaikunTha vimAnam).

Even the corridor of ArAvamudhan's residence is sung by periAzhvAr (tU-nilA
muRRattE pOndu viLaiyADa...).  Of the 108 tiruppati-s, the corridors of only
three kshetra-s are sung by AzhvAr-s: that of ArAvamudhan, ra~nganAthan, and
nIla meghap perumAL.

There are 54 pASurams on this perumAL by our AzhvAr-s - bhutattAzhvAr,
pEyAzhvAr, tirumazhiSai AzhvAr, nammAzhvAr, periyAzhvAr, ANDAL, tiruma~ngai
AzhvAr, kamba nATTAzhvAr, and a Slokam by svAmi deSikan in tAtparya
ratnAvaLi (Slokam 66). 

I could go deeper into the meanings of the outpourings of the AzhvAr-s on
ArAvamudhan, but even without that, the point is made in my opinion on why
His kshetram is the foremost one.

-dAsan kr*shNamAcAryan