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article on Tirukoilur (an account of Saiva and Vaishnava history)

From: Venkatesh Elayavalli/DCOM (
Date: Thu Jan 11 1996 - 12:58:28 PST


Abode of peace and tranquillity

[Photo Available] [Image size: 57190]

Date: 08-12-1995 :: Pg: 31 :: Col: d

Cl: Religion

Tirukoilur  promises solace and succour to spiritual seekers.  An

        Tirukoilur,   located  within  the  spiritual   aura   of
Arunachala,  the  hill  of the  holy  beacon,  beckons  spiritual
seekers, promising solace and succour.

        This  area,  where the Vaamana avataara is said  to  have
taken  place,  is  known for its divine  bards,  revered  saints,
spiritual    ambience,   ancient   shrines,   and    Vijayanagara
architecture. Peace and tranquillity reign supreme in Tirukoilur.

        The meeting of the Mudal Alwars (Poygai, Bhutam and  Pey)
in  the house of sage Mrigandu in Tirukoilur is well known.  This
holy  town  has also the samadhis of three  revered  saints   Sri
Raghothama Teertha of the Srimad Uttaradi Mutt (1557-1596), Swami
Gnanananda  Giri,  a  Mahayogi  and  Gnanasiddha,  who   attained
salvation  in  1974,  and  Gnaniyar  Swamigal,  founder  of   the
Tirukoilur Tamil Sangam. The Sangam period poet Kapilar  attained
jeevanmukthi  by  fasting  on a rock here, in  the  south  Pennar

        Tirukoilur   is   also   the   birthplace   of   renowned
personalities  such  as  the  first  Raja  Raja  Chola's   mother
Vanavanmaadevi,  Tamil poet-scholar Athi Madhura  Kaviraayan  who
lived during the period of Kavi Kalamegham, (13th century),  King
Meyporul  Nayanaar also known as Milad Udayar  (seventh  century)
saint-poet   Kapila   Deva  Nayanaar,  who  authored   the   11th
Thirumurai, historical story writer Chandilyan...

        Sri   Raghottama   Theertha  chose  Tirukoilur   as   his
headquarters to spread the Dwaita Siddhanta in the country  while
Gnanananda Giri Swamiji established `Tapovanam', to encourage the
study  of Vedanta. Also a Gnanasiddha, he cured diseases  through
his  Siddha  medicines.  Jeeyar Madom was founded  here  by  Sree
Emperumanaar to spread Vaishnavism during the 16th century.

        The  poet who wrote Tirukoilur Sathakam (a collection  of
100  poems) Kavimamani Uthiyan (38) is incidentally, the  present
president  of the Tirukoilur Tamil Sangam. He has authored  seven
novels,  400  dramas  and around 2000 poems.  He  is  the  Indian
representative   to  the  ``World  Tamil   Poets   Organisation''
headquartered in Malaysia.

        Unique are the temples here, so too the idols. The ten ft
tall  idol of Varadaraja Perumal in Manam poondi, built in  stone
during  the Pallava period is in meditating sitting posture.  The  p73
Sreedevi  and Bhoodevi idols are six ft tall;  the  Sthalapuranam
reveals  that both goddesses had meditated here. The Vamana  idol
in  the Ulagalanda Perumal Temple is one of the three  such  rare
idols  in the country. The second is in Srirangam, the  third  in
Rishikesh.  The Vishnu's idol in the Ulagalanda Perumal temple is
16  ft  tall. The Ten ft tall Sivalingam of  the  Pallava  period
carved  in stone, in the Vellai Ganapathy temple is  yet  another
attraction.  The  Rajagopuram  of the Trivikrama  Temple  is  the
fourth  largest heightwise in Tamil Nadu. The 1300 year old  Siva
temple  stands  as a memorial to the killing of  Andhakaasura  by
Lord  Siva.  The  marriage  hall  just  outside  the  temple  was
constructed during the Vijayanagara period, in the 14th  century.
Ganesha, seated south west of this temple has been worshipped  by
poetess  Avvayar (seventh century) ``Seetha kamala  poom  porpada

        History  reveals that one among the  eight  Veerateshwara
(Siva) temples, in the country, is in Tirukoilur, also worshipped
by   Appar   and   Tirugnanasambandar   and   saints   such    as
Arunagirinathar and Ramana Maharshi.

        The Aathulyannatha temple (Siva) with Goddess Arul Nayaki
built  in  the  seventh  century during  the  Pallava  period  is
situated  on  the northern bank of the River South  Pennar  on  a
flattened rock. The Rajagopuram faces south while the main temple
faces  west.  Five  caves beneath and a  temple  tank  are  other
features of this temple.

        Srivilliputhur Alwar, lived here during the 14th century.
Swami  Shanathananda Saraswathi had his schooling in  Tirukoilur,
before  becoming  the  disciple of  Swami  Gnanananda  Giri,  who
directed  him  to  take sannyas from  the  Himalayan  sage  Swami

        Sanskrit  scholar Krishna Premi predicts that  Varadaraja
Perumal  at Manam poondi will have a great temple in the days  to
come.  The  idol  is at present under a  temporary  shelter.  The
temple  built  in  the eighth century is believed  to  have  been
destroyed  in the 12th century by floods. ``Nowadays, poojas  are
offered  on  a daily basis. We are also planning to  construct  a
temple''  says Dr. T. S. Jayaraman, a homeopathic doctor, one  of
the trustees of this temple.

        The  Tirukoilur  Cultural  Society  has  been  conducting
``Kapilar  Vizha'', an annual affair (May 1 to 4)  with  unabated
regularity  for  the  last  19  years.  Mr.  T.  S.  Thiyagarajan
president  of the Society, which has 100 members, says that  top-
notch  artistes,  scholars and musicians  have  performed  spoken
during  the vizha. ``Kapila Vaanar'' title is also  presented  by
the society to up and coming poets, annually.

        ``With  better  roads,  more  informative  literature  in
English,  the  Tourism Department can attract  more  tourists  to
Tirukoilur''  remarks  Mr.  K. Natarajan, a  school  teacher,  at
present doing research on the cultural heritage of the Tirukoilur  p73



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