Thiru Vazhundur

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Thiru Vazhundur, also called as Terezhundur is one of the 108 Vaishnava temples. This is also the birthplace of Kamban (author of Kamba Ramayanam).[1]

Introduction

Thiru Vazhundur or Terezhundur is fairly a big temple situated at a distance of 10 kms from Mayavaram. The origin of the town and its temple dates back to pre-historic times. Situated on Mayavaram-Komal highway route, the temple is surrounded by spacious enclosures, entrances and doorways.[1]

Thiru Vazhundur at a glance[1]
Vishnu here is referred to as Devadirajan, Amaruviyappan
Lakshmi here is referred to as Senkamalavalli Thayar
Kshetra is referred to by the name Panchakrishna Kshetra
Vimana is called Garuda Vimana
Pushkarini is called Darshana Pushkarini
River nearby is Kaveri
Hymns by Azhwars Forty Five
Location 10 kms from Mayavaram

Structure

Thiru Vazhundur, the foremost Pancha Krishna kshetra, has a proper plan with elevated steps. Thus, it is possible to have a panoramic view of the sanctum sanctorum from the sannidhi street. The 80 feet shikhara presents a well-developed phase of Dravidian architecture. Abounding with many episodes, its history unfolds itself during the reign of Raja Raja Chola. The vimana is full of artistic embellishments. And the three-tier gopura adorns the entrance.

"Though the gopura is impressive, it lacks the magnificence of the Kumbakonam tower and the artistic pattern of Sirupuliyur.", says Prof. S. Narayanan.

At the entrance is, the Bali pitha and Dvaja stambha. To the left is the shrine of Hanuman and to the right is Thirumangai Thirumandapam. The outer prahar to the left enshrines a separate sannidhi for Goddess Lakshmi.[1]

Deity

This Vaishnava temple is dedicated to Mahavishnu in the form of Devadirajan who is enshrined in a standing posture (Nindra tirukkolam) facing east. To his left is Garuda and Kaveri Mata. This is one temple where there is no separate sannidhi for Garuda. He is also depicted by the side of the Lord at the sanctum sanctorum. The Utsava murti (processional deity) of the temple is known as Aamaruviappan. He is flanked by a cow and a calf. Sri Lakshmi here, manifests as Senkamalavalli Thayar, the Pushkarini is popular as Darshana pushkarni and the vimana is known as Garuda vimana. It is said that Mahavishnu revealed himself to Uparisaravasu Raja, River Kaveri and Rishi Agastya in this kshetra.[1]

Legends

The temple of Thiru Vazhundur is rich in legends. The Lord here is flanked by Garuda, Kaveri Mata, a cow and a calf and Agastya Rishi. And Thirumangai Azhwar is known to have composed not less than 45 hymns in praise of the Lord Devadiraja. Their presence is explained with the help of the following legends.[1]

Pride of Raja Uparisaravasu

The puranic legend tells that a Raja by name Uparisaravasu obtained unconditional boons of 'victory at any cost' on earth or sky from Brahma. One day in bloated vanity, he was flying his chariot with his queen. The queen expressed a desire to worship Perumal (Mahavishnu) but Uparisaravasu brushed aside her request. Not just that, even as he was flying on the chariot, the Raja ordered all visible objects to be destroyed. The misuse of his boon led to killing of all the cattle grazing on the ground. It was at this juncture that Garuda swung into action with his talons. Mahavishnu took the cudgel (stick | yashti) symbolic of Lord Krishna's compassion for animals against Uparisaravasu. Consequently, the Raja's chariot fell into the pushkarini and broke into pieces. Therefore, the name Terazhundur. However, on the advice of Agastya rishi, the Raja went to the temple of Terezhundur and sought refuge at the lotus feet of Vishnu there. Hence, at this shrine, one can see an murti or vigraha of a cow and her calf along with the utsava murtis (processional murti or vigrahas), symbolic of Bhagavan's compassion towards cows. Talking of the purport in this story, Prof. S. Narayanan says,

"The omnipotent Lord sustains this vast universe, nay, and the whole cosmos. Everything works so meticulously, perfectly ! No human intellect can conceive how the myriad things and beings orchestrate themselves into the melody of harmonious co-existence in this universe. One ought not to disturb this harmony by one's personal preference. If you choose to assert your individual ahamkara, the Lord then hands you the reins of control. Then you lose his grace and benevolence. Conversely, when you demolish your ahamkara and totally surrender to the scheme of things, you receive the Lord's benign grace. This is amplified by the legend."[1]

Brahma's Jest

According to a Bhagavata purana legend, Brahma was closely following the miraculous deeds of Sri Krishna. He, in his enthusiasm, wanted to witness all the possible sports of the Balayogi. One day when the cows were grazing on the banks of the river Yamuna, Brahma managed to hide all of them. Brahma chose to hide the cows in a cave, just as Balakrishna walked into the forest in his search for the cows. Sri Krishna, with his divine powers, intuited that this was a jest of Brahma, the creator. In order to redeem the situation, Sri Krishna with his yogic powers created a group of cowherds with their cattle. He projected these creations out of his own Self. Brahma was now convinced of the powers of Balakrishna and realised that Balagopala was none other than the supreme reality. Consequently, the boys and the cattle were woken up and brought out of the cave by Brahma. While, Balakrishna in his turn, withdrew his projected beings. Brahma later paid homage to Krishna, the incarnation of divinity.[1]

Vatapi and Villava

Yet another legend tells that the two demons Vatapi and Villava had a way of capturing unsuspecting human beings. It was their practice to invite a human being as a guest for partaking food. Vatapi, one of the demons, would be killed and served as a meal by the other demon Villava. After the meal Villava would call for Vatapi. Losing no time, Vatapi would tear open the stomach of the guest and come out. Thus with each passing day a villager would be killed and feasted on by the demons. The villagers then went to Agastya rishi for a solution. The next day Agastya rishi went as a guest to the house of the demons. Agastya rishi had his meal. And as soon as he finished his meal, he touched his stomach saying "vatapi jeerno bhava". With this, he actually ordered the demon Vatapi to be digested in his stomach. Thus, when Villava called out for his brother, Vatapi could not come out. However, to atone the killing of the demon, the rishi did a severe penance at this kshetra to Lord Devadiraja. To mark this incident, an murti or vigraha of Agastya rishi is installed in the Mahamandapa of the temple.[1]

River Kaveri's Prayer

Another legend has it that Agastya Maharishi wanted to marry River Kaveri. On her refusal, he imprisoned her in his kamandala. Lord Ganesha, the silent witness, came to Kaveri's rescue. Assuming the form of a crow, he pushed the kamandala with force and the water from the kamandala gushed out eastwards. However, the rishi cursed not only her but also the region through which she escaped. Kaveri in her turn prayed to Lord Devadiraja at Terazhundur seeking refuge. Responding to the call of a sincere devotee like Kaveri, Mahavishnu appeared and saved the situation. Thus, one can see Kaveri Mata in the Garbagrha in service to Bhagavan Devadiraja.[1]

Hymns by Thirumangai Azhwar

As per historic accounts, Thirumangai Azhwar during his sojourn reached Terazhundur and mistook the temple as one dedicated to Lord Indra. As the Azhwar was leaving the town, he was suddenly paralysed. A little later, he retraced his steps to the temple of Devadiraja. There he felt that it was the divine command of Mahavishnu and he immediately composed 45 hymns on Devadiraja.[1]

References

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Prof. S. Narayanan (April 2004), 108 Temples of Azhvars, Volume 1, Maharashtra: Sri Ramanuja Mission.