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article on Tirukkrungudi

From: Venkatesh Elayavalli/DCOM (vke_at_cypress.com)
Date: Thu Jan 11 1996 - 12:50:10 PST

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Rich in tradition and architecture

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Date: 31-12-1995 :: Pg: 38 :: Col: e

Cl: Religion

        AT  the  foot of the Mahendragiri hills  on  the  western
ghats  and  on the banks of the river Nambiyaru lies  the  sleepy
village of Tirukkrungudi, the abode of Narayana. In the  ``Varaha
Purana''  the  Lord speaks of His sojourn in this  holy  village.
Thus this place derives its name ``Kurungudi'' the smaller  abode
of Narayana. This centre is also called ``Dakshina Badri.'' While
at  Badri  in the north, Narayana  preached  the  ``Tirumantram''
through  ``Uttara''   a  human being  for the  salvation  of  the
entire commnity, it was at Tirukkurungudi that Saint Sri Ramanuja
gave his sermon on ``Tirumantram'' to the Lord Himself.

        Temple  worship  is  a  way of  life  in  the  south  and
tradition  has  an  important place in the life  of  its  people.
Historical  evidence  shows that the close  links  between  Hindu
temples  and  Tamil literature dated back to  several  centuries.
Tamil life cannot be visualised without the temples. The fanes of
Tamil  Nadu  are  unique for their close  association  with  many
saints and their hymns. The tradition of singing hymns in temples
has  been an established practice. Sri Ramanuja, the  Vaishnavite
acharya, who propagated the ``Visistadvaita'' philosophy codified
certain  rituals  in  temple worship and made  it  obligatory  to
recite  the great hymns of Alwars  Divya Prabhandam   in  temples
along with Sanskrit scriptures.

        The temple at Tirukkurungudi is dedicated to Lord  Nambi,
called Sundara Paripurnam in Sanskrit and Nambi Narayan in Hindi.
As  the  name  signifies  there is no equal  to  the  beauty  and
fascination  of  the  deity and He  is  beauty  personified.  The
majestic  mools vigrahas are in different postures  of  standing,
sitting  and  lying. These huge idols are carved  of  stone  with
application of natural colours and decorated with gold leaves  as
per  our  agama  rituals. Nammazhwar  the  foremost  amongst  the
Vaishnavite  saints, is considered to be the incarnation of  Lord
Nambi. Nammazhwar, Periazhwar, Tirumazhisai Azhwar and Tirumangai
Azhwar have chanted hymns in praise of Lord Nambi in the  ``Divya
Prabhandam.''

        A  shrine  for Lord Siva is installed inside  the  temple
besides  the main shrine of Lord Nambi, and the deity  is  called
``Pakkam Nindrar'' and this has been immortalised in his hymns by
Tirumangai  azwar.  After  worshipping Badri  Narayana  and  Lord
Ranganatha,  Tirumangai azwar attained salvation at the  feet  of
Lord  Nambi.  For  upholding  and  preaching  Vaishnavism   Saint
Ramanuja  founded at Tirukkurungudi ``Sri Perarula Ramanuja  Jeer
Swami  Mutt'' which governs the temple. Kaisika  Ekadasi  falling
during  the  Tamil month of Karthigai is of  importance  in  this
temple  as  also  Vaikunta Ekadasi  at  Srirangam,  and  attracts
thousands  of  pilgrims. The presiding deity is  taken  round  on
different vahanams during the annual brahmotsavam. p73

        At  one time 18 families of Arayars were  performing  the
traditional art of chanting the name of the Lord gestures, and on
one occasion Lord Nambi himself witnessed the scene appearing  as
a Srivaishnavite. Pleased by the devotion the Lord gave salvation
to  all  the members of the Arayar families.  In  recognition  of
their  services  a bell is installed inside the sanctum.  A  huge
carvedbell  presented by the Kerala king Aditya Verma in 1468  AD
is also found in the temple. On the hills close by stands a small
temple  dedicated  to Lord Nambi called ``Malai Nambi,''  with  a
panoramic view of the village below.

        An interesting stone inscription is found on both ends of
the  south  mada street, of an agraharam having been built  by  a
British officer, Mr. Livings who was the Collector of Tirunelveli
during  1849  A.D. The early temples were built in  the  form  of
mandapam for the sanctum. Later the arthamandapam,  mukhamandapam
and mahamandapam were added to meet the growing need for  rituals
and  festivals.  The temple at Tirukkurungudi has  a  collection,
intricate  carvings  with  exuberant details  rich  in  different
styles  of the Pandyan and Nayak dynasties. Superb wood  carvings
are found in the tiers of the temple tower. Large stone  carvings
at  the  Rati  mandapam  and  Veerappa  Nayak  mandapam   exhibit
intricate  details.  The  masterpiece  is  the  carved  Narasimha
performing the ``Hiranya Vadham.'' The mastery of the artisan  is
visible on the walls of the main tower and special mention is  of
a piece depicting the trading between India and the Persian gulf.

        TT])
TAMARAPU SAMPATH KUMARAN



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