You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : January 1997

Thirumaizhisai Azwaar - thiruk kudanthai mahaathmiyam

From: Sampath Rengarajan (
Date: Wed Jan 08 1997 - 11:26:13 PST

There  are some discussions on Sri chakraththaazhwaar's
incarnation  thirumazhisai azhwar being a jyothi  mayam
or  not.  I  am  being  brought  up  in  the  place  of
kumbakonam  would like to present some details  on  the
kshEthram of kumbakonam and theconnections to chakrath
aazwar and this kshEthram. My grandfathers lived here
and do did I and my praents live here currently in the
same place that we dwell for more than 132 years.

The  name  Kumbakonam is due to the fact that during  a
pralayam  the  "gene" for "Srushti"  or  recreation  by
brahma was  stored in a pot (pot made from the sand  of
thrich  chErai)  and kept under the pottRaamaRai  tank.
The  presiding deity Lord Arav"amudan" is also thus known
as one who safe guarded the amutham or gene. The slokam
that explain the fact that "amudam" was stored in a pot
is given below from sthala puraanam.

"kumbasya kONadhO yasmin soothaapooram vinisrutham
thasmaaththu thathpatham lOkE kumbakOnam vathanthihi"

                     - chapter 12 of sthala puraaNam

Once  there was a feud between the (current ?)  suriyan
or sun and Srichakrathaazwaar at this place and Sooryan
assumed and challenged that he is the brightest of  all
and started to shine brighter and brighter. Sri chakram
took  its  anatha swaroopam and shined equiavlent  1000
crore (ayiram kodi) suns. This over powered the sun as he
lost  his  jyothi and was darkened. He was  advised  by
Brahma  to  seek Lord Sriman Narayana's blessing  at
this place of kumbakonam.  And later as directed by HIM
suryan did severe penance seeking the blessings of  Sri
chakrathazwaar  here in kumbakonam and was  blessed  by
srichkrathazwaar  here  and  his  oli  and  thEjas  was
reinstated.  Since sooriyan did kadum thavam or  severe
penance and Lord  sriman  narayana and  later  srichakrath
azwaar  appeared and offered remedy to  sooriyan  after
making him realize his mistake. Sooriyan requested Lord
narayana  to name this place after him to mark the penance
he did seeking Sri chakrath azhwar's blessings and  hence  this
place  is also known as "baskara kshEthram" ever since.
So  historically this place is not "new" for shining by sri chakrath
azhwar  assuch.  The  name baskara kshethram is referred  in  the
following   Sanskrit   slokam   from   the   kumkakonam
mahaathmiyam   thala  puraanam  and   also   from   the
sambaashana between naradha and brahman as
stated in it.

"iththam sthuthO dEvadEvO bAskarENE mahAthmanA !
thatha : prasanthO bagavAn chakra roopi janArthana !
chaarnga pAnE rabinnOsow sarva lOkaika mangaLa :
yath, "thEja"sAhrutham poorvam thath thasmai thathavAnpuna:"
thatha: Evahi thath kshEthram bAskara kshEthramuchyathE !

                     - Chapter 61 of kumbakonamhaathmiyam

please note line 4 above

""thEja"sAhrutham poorvam thath thasmai thathavAn

This  thalam is also called as "Oli mayamaana pattinam"
due to this nature of 1000 crore sun's shining light of
sri chakrathaazhwaar displayed here during the feud.

Sriman Mani Wrote that "On the authority of this  work,
it   is   demonstrably   clear   that   the   brahmins
discriminated against Tirumazhisai Alvar purely because
they  saw him as a sudra.  There is no mention  in  the
Divya  Suri Charita about being startled by a  dazzling
brilliance,     the    Alvar's    sudarsana     amsatva

Considering  the  fact  that  the  references   (brahma
naradha   sambasahana)  and  the  nool   or   literture
"kumabakona mahaathmiyam" are themselves  older (around
thrEtha  yugam ?) to "Divya Suri Charita" and the  fact
that  all  the other "samayams" also accept  "kumbakona
maahthmiyam" as a potential source one should also  see
the  interesting  analysis  coming  out  of  "kumbakona
mahaathmiyam".  The analysis is such that  "kumbakonam"
is  the kshEthram for shining and it got its name  from
chakrathaazwaar's "anantha kOdi soorya  mayam",  it  is
very possible that when the revisit of this same azwaar
occurred  as  thirumazhisai  azhwaar,  his  antharyaami
jyothi  would  have blinded the brahmins  when  he  was
passing  them  thereby  the  episode  of  pausing  veda
paaraaynam etc occured. The "history of shining" is deep rooted
for  this city of kumbakonam and it is connected to the
very  sri charathaazwaar (It was the surya himself who  was
darkened  earlier).  This  being  the  case,  one  will
definitely  consider  the history  beyond  "Divya  Suri
Charita"    and    accept   Swami    Desikan     verses
"thirumazhisai    vazhi   vantha   sOthi"    and    its
interpretation  by navaneetham swamigal  as  stated  by
Srimans  AR  and  Murali. Having  read  the  "kumbakona
mahaathmiyam" it is difficult for me to be so  sure  of
the accounts as emphasized by Sriman Mani.

Sriman  Mani  also mentioned that "It is unlikely  that
this particular set of brahmins would ever see past the
mere   body  and  external  appearance  of  the   Alvar
anyhow.".  I tend to disagree with this because  of  the
very fact that when the three nudhal zhwaars approached
a  cave  there was an enormous light coming from  there
and  where  they  found thriumazhisai  azhwaar  in  his
jyothi  mayath  thuvam. Brahmins  by  virtue  of  their
nature  are  pure and i donot doubt that sri chakrathazwaar
displayed his "flashback" for these holy brahmins  when
he  revisited  this place as azhwar. *One* of  the  dharmam"  and
pradhana  sankathi  or message if I can  research  from
this  episode is such that even as azwaar thirumazhisai
never violated the varnasara daramam. Though he is  the
amsam  of the Lord the veda purushan, he never  uttered
the  veda manthram though he is "aware of" such veda manthram and  instead
symbolically helped the brahmins to get restarted where
they stopped.

There are other factors for thirumazhisai' episode that
one must consider in their research which point out  to
the  fact that this is "THE" kshEthram of chakrathAzwaar
and  thirumazhisai"  (chakra  worshippers  please  take
note) and that anything can happen in this kshEthram to
bring out the pradhanam of Sri chakrathazwaar. Such are

1. Thirumazhsai's episode Sri PD mentioned.

2.   Thirumazhisai  being  tired  of  seeing  the  Lord
"sleeping" in all the other kshethrams in bOga sayanam"
commanded this amuthanin thiruch chantha viruththam as

nadandhakaalkaL nonthavO
  nadunkuNYaala mENnamaay,
idanthameyku lunkavOvi
  lankumaalva raichchuram
kadanthakaalpa ranthakaavi
  rikkaraikku danthaiyuL,
kidanthavaaRe zhunthirunthu
  pEsuvaazhi kEsanE! (2)     (61)

Oh  lord  since you walked all the way to SriLanka  (in
ramaavatharam) that you felt tired and are sleeping. Oh
lord  who appeared as hari and singam, can you wake  up
from  this  bed and talk to me in this kaveri  soozhntha
thiruk kudanthai ?"

"kidantha vaaRu ezhunthu irunthu pEsu"

After these lines the  Lord Amuthan woke up and opened his kamala nayanam
and looked at the azwaar. Realizing this Azwaar said
"vaazhi kEsanE" and requested him to be as it is.  Even
today one can look at amudhan in his "wide opened eyes"
that the lord showed to thirumazhisai. This sayanam  is
called as " uthaayana saynam". There is no other  place
where one can see the eyes of syaniththa perumaal wide
(or Ranganatha's) open.

2.  In  naanmugan  thiruvanthaathi,  it  is  said  that
"chakrpaaNiyallaiyE  chaarngapaani  yalliayE"   thereby
azhwaar  is  recalling the episode of Lord  using   the
chakram  to teach a lesson to suryan and also making  a
temple  "chakrapani koil" for chakrath azhwaar  through

3.  Thirumazhisai spent his rest of the  life  here  in
thiruk kudanthai worshipping aravamudhan and meditating
on  sri  chakrapaani (his athma swaroopma as srichakra)
at  a place exactly half way between the two sannithis.
He  was sitting here in yoga dasai and was believed  to
be   "shining   always"  ("pinnannar  vaNangum   sOthi"-
referred  in  his  charitham)  as  he  attained   jeeva
samaathi  here. Thus thirumazhisai attained  mukthi  at
this  kshEthram  and  his brindavan  is  there  (chakra
worshippers  never  miss  to visit  here  and  get  his
blessings, Sri Murali note this please) near Lord Aravamudan sannithi in  a
 streetcalled  "saththaarath theru" named after  thirumazhisai
himself as he was the "saathaatha iyengar" (ref  Sri  K
Srinivasan's  article on saththaatha iyengar).  Nothing
more  is a proof that chakrathazwaar is living in nitya
vaasam in this place than the srichakra pani temple
constructed by suryan and the nitya jyothi that is
appearing from this brindavanitself for the elevated souls.

4.     After    obtaining    the    permission     from
Srichakrathaazhwaar, On the banks of  kauveri  Sooriyan
constructed this temple for Srickarapaani (who is known
as  a  varaprasaadhi by all *religions* in this  city).
The festivities initiated by sooryan are believed to be
continuing till date for this srichakrathaazhwaar.

I  can  write  a  book full of quotes from  Brahma  and
naradha  on the nature of kumbakona vaasam and validate
it.  However, I think this is just enough to convey the
"root cause"  and  truth behind certain interpretations.

Coming  to Sriman Mani's next statement "There  appears
to  be  reluctance on the part of some of us to  accept
the  fact that some brahmins in the past have committed
grave  bhAgavata  apacArams  and  have  generally  been
unadmirable  people.  There is  no  need  to  deny  the
obvious facts of history by explaining or rationalizing
them away."

   Actually  on contrary the reluctance is not  out  of
mere  sympathy  for brahmins but due to the  very  same
historical past quoted by Brahma to Naradha  as  stated
in   "kumabakona   mahaathmiyam"   on   the   bAgawatha
"uththamath thuvam"  of  kumbakona  vasis,   not   only
brahmins.  Following  are  certain  quotes  from  their
sambaasahana and there are abundant and more quotes but
as  this  post  is already long, I would  only  provide

1. What is the prominence of kumbakona vaasis ?

 "Sri kumbakoNE vasathaam narAnAm kimasthi vakthavyabalam subancha
namathi dEva: munaya: cha: yaksha: gandarva mukyAssaththam muneechvaa"

What  is  there as a balam for the bagyastha  kumbakona
vaasis  ?  hey,  muneechvaraa,  devaas  and  munis  and
gandarvaas and yakshaas always pay respects and worship
kumbakona vaasis.

2. Who get to live there as kumbakona vaasis ?

"janmaanthra thabOyOkaath thathravaasObavEth nruNAm"

One get to live (kshethra vaasam) here due to several
punniyams of poorva janmas.

3.  What  is  the palan for living even "arai  kshanam"
i.e. less than half a minute in this city of kumbakonam?

"shNam shNArththmabivaa kumbakOna vasanthihi
mukthi sthOshaam hastha kaahi kimuthaa kilasambatha"

if  one can live here for even less than half a kshanam
they  are sure to get mOksham. Such being the case they
will  also  get  all  the other  palans  too  prior  to
mOksham.  ie  if one will even pass through  this  city
they are entitled to this punniyam. If this is the case
for   half   a  kshanam  what  about  those  (including
brahimns) who will live here for long ?.

4. What is the effect to those who reads these thala
puraanams of kumbakonam ?

"kumbakonasya mhaathmyam nityam bakthiyuthO nara:
ya: patEth chruNuyaath vaabi sarva paabai:pramuchyathE"

one who reads this thala puranaam with faith and bakhti
will get relieved from all sins.

5. What is the effect for those who put one step from
where they are to goto kumbakonam after reading these?

"kachchaa meetheesa sankalppam kumbakOnam sabasthalam
ya: karOthi sa tharmaathmaa sakulam dhaarayishyathi"

who ever goes towards this kshEthram to worship amudhan
and  srichakrathaazwaar  and  put  one  step  on  their
journey with such intention will get to be born in good
clan  even  if they cannot complete or make such a trip in  their  life

Sriman Mani concludes that

"At any rate, this story serves to illustrate that
spiritualgreatness is in no way determined by jAti."

On  contrary one of the pradhana sankathi  as  per  the
analysis coming out of swami desikan's verses  and  the
brahma  naradha sambaavanai and kumbakonam  mhaathmiyam
and  navaneethpuram swamigal's interpretation  is  such
that  varnasara  dharmam was never  violated  even   by
certain  azhwaars born or brought up  in  other  castes
than  brahmins and by the same azhwaars who  were  also
amsams  of Lord and were far superior to any born  soul
including brahmins.

Sriman Mani ends his post with "We, the Sri Vaishnavas
community, no matter how many stories and how much
proof our own tradition has offered, fail to practice
and perceive this truth to this day".

I  am  a  saamaanyaaL and adiyen has lot  of  kuRai  in
myself  and hence I submit that I can neither agree  or
disagree on this.  All that I can submit is  that  Sriman
Mani's interpretations are thought provoking and offers
the  other  side of the coin. There *may* be some  grain  of
truth  in his conclusions for the state of *some part* of current  day
brahmin  society  but  I  donot  want  to  contract  an
apacharam by characterizing a generalized statement  on
all brahmins. I apologies to Sriman Mani if i have hurt
his   feeling   in   anyway  while   presenting   this
"analysis".   I   end   this   with   a    prayer    on
srichakrathaazwaar of kumbakonam.

"chakraambujE samaaseenam chakraath yaayutha booshanam
chakra manthraathi thEvEsam chakra raaja mahampajE"

Sri  Komalavallith thaayaar samEthara  sri  aravamudahn
thiruvadikaLE charaNam
Sampath Rengarajan