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Sri Badrinarayana Perumal Temple, Thirunangur

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Life is a dream
Staff member
Who would not like to visit a temple town that has in its vicinity 12 of the 108 Vaishnava Divya Desams, amongst them the birthplace of Thirumangai Azhwar, and also the temple that is known as the southern Badrinath? In addition, once a year, the utsava murthys of all these temples congregate in the latter temple for a grand Garudotsavam. The town is none other than Thirunangur, 15 km from Sirgazhi, near the famous temple town of Chidambaram.

Though it is the fervent wish of every devout Hindu to visit Badrinath in the Himalayas in his or her lifetime and have darshan of Lord Badrinarayana (believed to ensure moksham), not everyone from the south of India can undertake a pilgrimage to Badrinath even today. Therefore, it was wonderful to learn that Lord Badrinarayanana is very much resident in Tamil Nadu, in similar majesty as in his snowy abode.

The southern abode of Sri Narayana Perumal, where Lord Vishnu is in the same form as in Badrinath, is the little hamlet of Thirunangur. The main deity is in seated posture along with Sreedevi and Bhoodevi. The goddess is Pundarikavalli.

During his lifetime, the Vaishnavite saint Thirumangai Azhwar accompanied by this wife Kumudavalli Thayar walked through the paddy fields to the 11 Divya Desams in and around Thirunangur and finally reached the temple of Narayana Perumal to celebrate the Garudotsavam. The Azhwar sung verses in praise of all the gods and performed aradhanai for each of them. It is believed that as he walked on the paddy fields, the harvest would always be plentiful.

In the Sri Narayana Perumal temple, on the day following new moon day in the Tamil month of Thai, eleven forms of Vishnu and Thiruvali Thiruvagari Thirumangai Azhwar assemble for the Garudotsavam festival. Garuda, the golden eagle, is the vehicle for Lord Vishnu.

The gods who assemble at the Thirunangur Sri Narayana Perumal temple for the festival are Kudamadukoothar with Amuthakadavalli, Semponnarangar with Allimamalaral, Lakshmiranganathar with Senkamalavalli, Sreenivasaperumal with Alarmelmangai, Venpurushothaman with Purushothamanayaki, Varadarajaperumal with Sreedevi and Bhoodevi, Vaikuntanathar with Vaikuntavalli, Madhavaperumal with Madhavanayaki, Parthasarathy with Senkamalavalli and Rajagopalan wth Rukmini and Sathyabhama.

But why do the 11 forms of Vishnu assemble in one place? The legend goes that Lord Siva had to get rid of the Brahmahatti Dosham – the sin of having decapitated Lord Brahma. He conducted a yaga for this purpose. At the conclusion of the austerities, Lord Vishnu appeared before Siva along with the celestials. Siva then requested Vishnu to show his 11 forms of himself. Vishnu obliged and revealed himself in 11 different and beautiful forms. So, the 11 Divya Desams in Thirunangur, it is believed, came to please Lord Siva.

The twelfth Divya Desam nearby is Thiruvaliyum Thirunagariyum, the birthplace of Thirumangai Azhwar. These temples were built by the Cholas. Stone plaques say this was the only town in the Chola kingdom to have so many temples. In Chola times, 4000 Vedic Brahmins lived here and it was called Chathurvedhi Mangalam or “Village of the Chathurvedis”.
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