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Thiru viN Nagaram - oppu illA appan kOil - part 3 - akAsa nagari / thulasi vanam

From: Sampath Rengarajan (srengara_at_ford.com)
Date: Thu Jul 10 1997 - 07:46:41 PDT

part 3 - akAsa nagari / thulasi vanam

	The thalapuraanam of this temple is discussed in Bramhaanda puraaNam as
Sri Naarathar asked his father Brahmaa and the details are offered by Brahmaa
himself. This place is discussed as Vaikundam in Sanskrit literatures and also
as "aakasa nagari". The naattaaru (dakshiNa gangai) that runs here is
considered as "virajaa" river.

	Once thiruth thuzhaay (thulasi) did penance and
asked the Lord , "You are bearing Lakshmi alone in your chest. I request for
your such special blessings and attention for me also". The Lord said "Lakshmi
occupied my chest after doing severe penance for several years. Now she is
about to incarnate on the banks of river kauveri in boolOgam in the name of
boomi dEvi. You may appear there prior to her as a thulasi plant and she will
incarnate in your lap (i.e. under your shadow). I will accept Lakshmi some days
later and since you would be the support or aathaaram for her incarnation, you
shall also be regarded as very special to me in this temple. One can attain the
blessings of Lakshmi dEvi only after severe penance. But one who worships me
with your ithazh or leaves (ie. leaves of thulasi) will get the effect of doing
"aswamEtha yaagam". And those who dwell in your vanam (this place is known as
THE thulasi vanam) as their place of living ( our Sri sadagOpan is from there)
will surely attain mOksham. You will always be the garland that is presented to
my chest. I will accept thulasi maalai first and will marry Lakshmi only next
in this kshEtrham". On hearing this, thulasi appeared in ThiruviNNagaram, and
this is confirmed by the 53rd paasuram of Sri Nammazhwaar in thiru viruththam.

	MrikaNdu Maharishi's son Sri MaarkaNdEyaa did worship the Lord and had
a desire
that Lakshmi should appear as his daughter and the Lord should become his
Son-in-Law. While he was doing theerththaadanam and shEthra yaaththirai, after
reaching this thalam he felt that that was the right place for getting his
desire fulfilled. He did severe penance for 1000 years seeking Lakshmi dEvi's
blessings. Lakshmi at the end of 1000 years appeared as a baby under the
already incarnated thulasi chedi or plant. Since he felt the bliss by the
presence of this baby, he realized the right thing that the baby was Lakshmi
and that part of his desire was fulfilled. He took possession of the baby and
brought her up. When this young girl reached the adolescent age or paruvam, one
day (panguNi month sravana nakshathram) the Lord, appeared as an old man and
asked saint mArkaNdEyA his permission to marry his daughter.


	MaarkaNdEya replied to the old man "You are very ripe and old. My
daughter is
very young and she does not even know how to cook a meal with proper salt
(lavanam) contents. You may get angry and curse her if she cannot even cook
properly. This is not fair. I know of everything. You are bodily old but
mentally very aware. You must forgive me and bless me as this will not work
out."

	Lord replied "If your daughter must cook EVEN
without salt, I will take it asmy best food. I will not leave from here without
marrying your daughter". Without knowing what to do , MaarkaNdEyaa sought the
help of the ever protecting Lord Vishnu's help and did meditate at that
instant. He realized using his thaBovalam that the old man is no one other than
Lord Vishnu HIMself. When he opened his eyes the Lord appeared in front of him
with changu and chakram as in SriVaikundam (HE is seen in the same thiru uruvam
even now in this temple) and MaarkaNdEya asked for forgiveness and did
kannikaathaanam of his daughter (Lakshmi) to the Lord HIMself.

Since the Lord said that HE will accept the food that is not salted as His best
and most desired food, this temple neyvEthiyam is always done without salt in
any food. No one should take anything that contains salt ever into this temple
and puraaNaas indicate that such persons who knowingly do so will suffer in the
bottom most hell severely. The name uppiliappan is also due to this puraaNam.
ie
uppu ili appan. ie ., the Lord who takes the food withoput salt. (salt in tamil
is called as uppu).  However, Nammaalwaar called him "than Oppaar illappan",
i.e. HE is one who has no comparison to HIM (i.e. there is neither an
equivalent nor superior available to this Lord i.e. mikaiyum oppum
illaathavan).


Sri Boomi Devi naachchiyaar samEtha Sri Oppiliappan thiruvadikaLe saraNam.
Sampath Rengarajan