Sri oppiliappan perumal temple, Kumbakonam
The temple is situated about 7kms south of Kumbakonam and about 1\2km from Kumbakonam - Karaikal bus route. Number of town buses ply frequently between Kumbakonam and this place and Naganatha Swamy Temple (Rahu Sthalam) is also closeby.
NAMES AND MANIFESTATION
Different Names of this Holy Place:
1. Akasa Nagaram
2. Vaikunta Nagaram
4. Oppiliappan Sannidhi
5. Uppiliappan Sannidhi
Different Names of the Presiding Deity:
Different Names of the Goddess:
1. Bhoomi devi
3. Bhoomi Nachiar
4. Dharani devi
The Manner of Manifestation :
The Deity stands majestically facing east. His consort Bhoomidevi is seated with a bending knee and folded hands facing north. Markandeya is seated facing south in a posture indicative of giving Kanya - dan.
Five forms of the Lord:
Tradition has it that Lord Oppiliappan appeared to Nammalwar in 5 different forms as
4. Ennappan and
Alwars who sang in praise of lord oppiliappan
1. Nammalwar (11 verses)
2. Tirumangai alwar (34 verses)
3. Poigai alwar (1 verse)
4. Peyalwar (2 verses), Total 48 verses
Unique Features of this Place
In his ecstacy while praising the Lord, Nammalwar could not bear the separation with Oppiliappan. The Lord in His kindness, Himself embressed the Alwar, shared His happness with his devotee and decided to stay here permanently. This is how the Alwar's verses in praise of this Lord have been interpreted by ancient commentators.
Further, in 9 of his verses in Tiruvaimozhi in praise of this Lord, Nammalwar has highlighted that God is dwelling even in mutually conflicting objects and thereby the Lord harmonises mutually contradictory objects.
Tirumangai Alwar in his first decad eulogising the Lord here, observes that if only he can have the divine vision of the Lord, he would not desire family life here. He emphasises this point by repeating the same in 9 out of 10 verses.
Those who had divine vision of the Lord here were Garuda, Kaveri River, Dharma devata and sage Markandeya, according to Purana.
It is named as Suddhananda, meaning "pure happiness". Devotees who worship this vimana (tower) derive immense and unalloyed happiness. Note that the vimana in Tirumala - Tirupati is named as Ananda vimana, whereas here it is Suddhananda Vimana.
Because of Markandeya's severe penance, the Lord appeared here and married Bhoomidevi, who also appeared here earlier and was brought up by Markandeya. Hence it is called Markandeya Kshetra. Since Bhoomidevi appeared here among the forest of Tulasi plants, It is also known as Tulasi Vanam.
Holy waters: (pushkarini)
The pushkarini (Temple Tank) here is known as "Ahoratra Pushkarini", meaning that bathing is specially permissible here both during day and night. Normally according to sastras, bating in holy waters is not permitted during nights. But nowadays bathing is permitted here, only when the temple is kept open for darsan.
Other holy waters:
Sarnga Tirtham, Surya Tirtham, Indra Tirtham and Brahma Tirtham are situated outside the temple according to puranas. These are now dry and not fit for bathing.
To the south of the temple, three holy rivers flow-known as Dakshina Ganga, Dakshina Yamuna and Dakshina Godavari.
The day Lord oppiliappan appeared:
It was at noon on the day of sravanam in the Tamil month of Panguni that Lord appeared to Markandeya here. As such a 9 day festival of Brahmotsavam is celebrated every year, with rathotsava (chariot) on the day of Panguni Sravanam.
Lord oppiliappan married Bhoomi Devi on the day of Sravanam in the Tamil month Aippasi. In celebration of this, a 12-day music and dance festival, is held every year, commencing with Tirukkalyanam (holy wedding) of the Lord with Bhoomidevi on Aippasi Sravanam.
Speciality of the Temple
All food offerings at the temple are strictly and completely saltless. Salt or any food item containing salt is not allowed in the temple beyond Garuda's Sannidhi. It is a sin to carry salt inside the temple. Hence the Lord is also called as 'Lavana Varjita Venkatesa' i.e. Venkatesa who avoids salt.
There is no separate shrine for Bhoomidevi here and as already stated, Bhoomidevi is sitting with folded hands by the side of the Lord in the main sanctum sanctorum. The utsava deity oppiliappan is never taken out of the temple, without His consort, Bhoomidevi.
Desika's Sannidhi is located near the sanctum sanctorum. On the sides of the inner-prakara (corridor), Anjaneya is on the south, and Alwar's and Sri Rama's sannidhis are located on the northern side. On the eastern side is SriRamanuja.
Outside the main temple, on the southern side is the shrine for lord Maniappan and on the northern side is Ennappan and also the holy birth-spot (avatara sthala) of Bhoomidevi. Garuda's shrine is located right opposite the main temple. Just on the southern side of the main entrance, dancing Krishna in a niche welcomes us all with a bewitching smile.
PUJAS AND PRARTHANAS
Sampradaya in the temple:
Vadakalai tradition is followed in the temple, giving importance to Vedanta Desika. He accompanies the utsava deities in almost all festivals.
Pujas and festivals are conducted in the temple according to Vaikhanasa Agama sastras. Pujas are performed six times daily, starting with Viswarupa Darsanam in the morning when recitation of Suprabhatam, Prapatti and Mangalam specially composed in praise of this deity takes place.
Tiruppavai recitation and Vedaparayanam then follow, concluding with Sathumurai. Then the principal Puja takes place, when offerings are made at all other shrines also. Then at noon another Puja is performed. Again the evening Puja is held, when recitation of Divya Prabandha and Veda Parayana takes place, followed by Sathumurai. Then about 8.00p.m. Principal night Puja is performed when offerings are made at all other shrines also. Then the last Puja for the day is performed about 9 p.m., following which the temple is closed for the day.
One the specific requests of the devotees, in fulfilment of their vow, Kalyana utsavam, Garuda Sevai, Golden chariot, Brahmotsavam, Dolotsavam, Nitya-aradhana, mirror-room seva, and Darbar seva are performed at the appropriate timings. Besides, Tirumanjanam (holy bathing) of the Moolavar deity, Utsavar deity, Rama etc., is also done on requests from devotees.
The relevant fees and timings for these various prarthana festivals are given at page 5 in this book. Further details can be had from the authorities of the temple.
Sri Ramanavami is celebrated for 10 days on a grand scale at this temple, with music and dance performances. On the concluding day, kanakabhishekam and Rama Pattabhishekam are conducted on a grand and majestic scale, attended by thousands of devotees.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE UTSAVAS
1. Vaikasi (may-June)
Vasanta Utsavam or the spring festival for 6 days at the Nandavanam (garden), culminating on Sravanam day.
2. Avani (Aug -Sep)
Pavitrotsavam (Purifying festival) for 5 days, ending on Sravanam day, When there is early morning garuda seva of the Lord.
3. Purattasi (Sept-Oct)
Brahmotsavam for 9 days. Little Chariot (Goratham) on the last day, Sravanam.
4. Aippasi (Oct-Nov)
Kalyana Utsavam for 12 days commencing from Sravanam, when the holy marriage of god and goddess is celebrated.
5. Margazhi (Dec-Jan)
Adhyayana Utsavam-Day Utsavam for 10 days Night Utsavam for 10 days. Plus 2 days. Total 22-day festival.
6. Thai (Jan-Feb)
Float festival for 5 days culminating on Sravanam.
7. Panguni (March - April)
Brahmotsavam for 9 days with Big chariot festival on the 9th - Day Sravanam.
HISTORY OF THE TEMPLE
HISTORY OF THE HOLY PLACE FOUND IN BRAHMANDA PURANA
Narada's prayer to Brahma
Once Narada prayed to Brahma to enlighten him on the history and greatness of the holy Markandeya kshetra that will also be for the benefit of humanity.
On hearing this, Brahma gladly started narrating the greatness of Tiruvinnagar and its presiding deity, whose glory cannot be described even by Adisesha with his 1000 tongues.
Tulasi's prayer to God
Once Tulasi Devi who was born along with nectar (amrita), while churning the milky-ocean, begged Lord Narayana that she also be adorned by Him on His chest like Mahalakshmi.
Lord's boon to tulasi:
Thereupon, the Lord said that Lakshmi did very severe penance to gain a place on His chest. The Lord further said that Lakshmi would appear as Bhoomidevi at a holy place near Kumbakonam, to the south of Kaveri and would be brought up by sage Markandeya as his daughter. Tulasi should go there earlier and be in the form of lovely Tulasi plant at the sage's hermitage. Then Lakshmi would appear under the Tulasi plant as Bhoomidevi. Later on Lord Narayana would come and marry Bhoomidevi and live there forever. Then the glory of Tulasi will become known to all.
The Lord further said that those who worship Him with petals of tulasi, shall attain all prosperity in the world and also the benefit of performing 'Asvamedha yaga'. All those who reside in this holy place will attain Sri Vaikunta at the end of their lives. From then onwards, Tulasi lived in this holy place, which therefore came to be known as Tulasi Vana (Tulasi forest).
Sage Mrikandu's son Markandeya, after touring many holy places and bathing in sacred waters, finally reached this holy place. He was so enchanted by the congenial surroundings here that he decided to stay here permanently. Wishing to get a daughter who would be given in marriage to the Lord Himself, he started doing sever penance to achieve his objective.
Narayana's Instructions to Lakshmi
Lord Narayana was pleased by his penance and resolved to bless him. He asked Lakshmi to appear as a small child in the tulasi forest, to be brought up by sage Markandeya and given in marriage to the Lord.
Goddess Lakshmi accordingly appeared as a small child in the tulasi forest and was found by sage Markandeya. With immense pleasure he lifted the divine child Lakshmi from the ground, fondled her and asked about her parentage. For this the child replied that she did not know who her parents were and that Markandeya was everything to her. Thrilled beyond words, he named her as Bhoomidevi, as she was found on earth.
Markandeya's Concern and Worry
The sage brought her up lovingly and as she grew up, he was very much worried about her marriage. He was in frantic search for a suitable bridegroom.
At this stage Lord Narayana decided to play some mischief with the sage. So He appeared before the sage, in the guise of an old Brahmin, clad in torn clothes and with a walking stick in hand, on the day of Panguni Sravanam at noon.
Markandeya Welcoming the Old Man
Markandeya, without realising that the old man who was coughing incessantly was Sriman Narayana himself, received Him with due reverence and respectfully proceeded to serve Him, attending to His needs like washing His feet and so on. The sage then reverentially asked the old man the purpose of His visit. The visitor then proceeded to state that He was on the look - out for a suitable bride, as He wished to marry settle down in life and beget good sons. He therefore sought the hand of Bhoomidevi in marriage to enable Him to attain His objective.
Sage and Old Man - Dialogue
On hearing the strange request of the old man (Narayana), Markandeya was non-plussed and did not know what to do. He then started explaining to the old man that Bhoomidevi was very young and was too tender in age to run a family. Moreover the age disparity between the old man and the young girl was too much. He requested the old man to drop His idea. The old man would hear none of it. He threatened to commit suicide if the young girl was not given in marriage to Him.
The sage Markandeya did not know what to do. He tried all methods to dissuade the old man from insisting upon marrying the young girl. The sage told the old man that his daughter was too young and did not even know how to cook properly She might even forget to put salt in the eatables, which may result in the old man getting angry and cursing her. Finding the old man still stubborn and unrelenting, the sage silently prayed to Lord Narayana for guidance.
The sage also sought his foster - daughter's views in the matter and asked her whether she was willing to marry the old man. She threatened to commit suicide, if she was forced to marry the old man, much against her wishes.
Sage Markandeya was caught between the old man who threatened to commit suicide, if the girl was not given in marriage to him, and his daughter who threatened to commit suicide if she was given in marriage to the old man. He fervently prayed to the Lord to show him a way out of the piquant situation.
After prayers to God for a long time, the sage opened his eyes and there he found before him Lord Narayana in all splendor and glory, in the place of the old man. Realising that the Lord had played a practical joke on him, the sage danced and cried in ecstacy.
The Lord, blessing the sage Markandeya, said that He will married Bhoomidevi and will take only saltless offerings in this temple. Anyone who brings salt inside the temple will go to hell.
Sage's prayer for boon
Overwhelmed with joy, Markandeya readily agreed for the marriage and prayed for 3 boons: -
1. The Lord, after marrying Bhoomidevi, should stay in this place forever.
2. The holy place should be known in his name as Markandeya Kshetra.
3. Saltless offerings in this temple should also be relished by the devotees.
He should also be granted moksha.
The Lord gladly granted the boons as prayed for and further blessed that the place will be known as "Tiruvinnagar" and "Tulasivana Markandeya kshetra" and stated the marriage would be held in the month of Aippasi on Sravanam day. At the request of the sage, the Lord also agreed to make all arrangements for the marriage.
Garuda in the service of the Lord
The Lord Himself wrote out the marriage invitation and instructed His vehicle Garuda to hand over the invitations to Brahma and all devas and further help Him in conducting the marriage on the day of sravanam in the month of Aippasi.
The joy of Brahma and other devas knew no bounds on hearing the happy news of the divine wedding and they all duly came with their wives to attend and worship the divine couple at their marriage. The holy wedding of the Lord and Bhoomidevi was duly conducted on a grand scale according to Vaikhanasa Agamas.
Then onwards, the Lord continues to reside in this temple, along with His consort Bhoomidevi, blessing His devotees and granting them their desires.
Performance of Brahmotsavam
After invoking the grace of the Lord and obtaining His permission, Brahma performed the 'Utsavam' (and hence called Brahmotsavam) for a period of 9 days in the month of Panguni, in accordance with Vaikhanasa Agamas, with the chariot festival on the 9th day, coinciding with Sravanam.
Again in the Tamil month of Purattasi, Brahma, with the permission of the Lord, conducted another Brahmotsavam, lasting 9 days and with the small chariot (Goratham) festival on the 9th day, coinciding with Sravanam.
ALWAR'S VERSES IN PRAISE OF THIS LOARD
Tirumangai alwar's Peria Tirumozhi (6-1)
It was the intention of Lord Narayana that Tirumangai alwar should have the experience of enjoying and worshipping at the holy temples here. But the Alwar saw the impermanent and evil temptations in this world, which could lead man to evil ways, to satisfy his lust and desire. So Alwar prays to the Lord here that he is terrified and disgusted with this worldly existence. He repeatedly prays to the Lord here to bless him with His grace and vision (darsan).
1. O Lord residing at Tiruvinnagar, devas and devotees have gathered here at Your holy feet with fragrant flowers, mobbed by honey-sucking bees and with prayers to You to destroy their countless sins. You traversed all worlds with Your tender feet, as Trivikrama.
* My Lord, if You bless me with the fortune of seeing You, I will not desire this worldly life, this samsara.
2. O Lord residing at Tiruvinnagar, You, as the Lord of the universe, churned the milky-ocean. You commanded Siva to drink the poison which came out of the ocean. You gave the nectar to the devas and You took the superior nectar i.e. Mahalakshmi.
3. O Lord residing at Tiruvinnagar, with divine body of bluish hue, Siva took refuge in Your body of bluish hue, Siva took refuge in Your body. When the fiery Siva destroyed Tripura, with the Mahameru Mountain as bow, You were the shining fierce arrow.
4. O Lord residing at Tiruvinnagar, during pralaya, You kept in Your stomach the sun, the moon and all worlds and all objects therein. Then You took the form of a small child and were resting on a peepal leaf in the ocean.
5. O Lord residing at Tiruvinnagar, You are the Lord of the seven worlds, seven oceans and seven mountains. During the pralaya, you contained all the seven worlds in Your tender stomach. You are known by the single alphabet "a", which is the origin of all alphabets.
6. O Lord residing at Tiruvinnagar, You are (expanded as) the oceans, mountains and all worlds. Even devas like Brahma cannot apprehend Your real nature. You are the four Vedas personified.
7. O Lord residing at Tiruvinnagar, Brahmins do homa in the fire, with freshly melted ghee, in the mornings and evenings. They then recite Veda mantras and pour offerings to devas in the fire. You are the sweet sound of the Veda mantras and denoted by pranava (OM).
8. O Lord residing at Tiruvinnagar, You are adorned with beautiful fragrant flowers on Your bejeweled kirita (crest jewel). I fear the temptations of loving and going after women, which only leads to pain and unhappiness. I therefore take refuge in You.
9. O Lord residing at Tiruvinnagar, You are that meaning of the four Vedas that are recited. You are the master of Brahma, Siva and Indra. I fully detest the misery of repeated births and deaths I take refuge at Your lotus feet.
10. Those who recite these lovable hymns composed by the reputed Tirumangai alwar on the Lord of by the reputed; Tirumangai alwar on the lord of Tiruvinnagar, who eternally resides here, surrounded on all sides by beautiful gardens, will reach the lotus feet of the Lord.
PERIA TIRUMOZHI - 6.2 , PERIA TIRUMOZHI - 6.3, TIRUVAIMOZHI - 6.3 ...(click here)
Peria Tirumozhi of Tirumangai Alwar 10-1-8
The Lord is the very life of His devotees. He is cool like the moon and dazzling like shining jewels. After worshipping Him at Tirumalirumcholai (Alagar kovil), one should proceed to Tiruvinnagar to worship Him, who is cool and pleasing like a pearl, gorgeous like a gem and enchanting like a blue diamond.
He, who married Nappinnai of the cowherd family, who churned the milky ocean, who built the bridge across the sea to Lanks in Rama avatara and wiped away Ravana and other demons with His mighty arrows, who lifted the Govardhana mountain on His finger, who stands majestically at Tiruvinnagar, surrounded by turbulent waters and who lies on Adisesha at Kumbakonam-Him the majestic Lord, I have treasured in my mind.
I shall keep roaming around Tiruvinnagar where the Lord, shining like a bluish gem, resides and such other places.
When the Alwar indulges in praising archavataras, he first starts with Tiruvinnagar.
The Lord of Tiruvinnagar, the Lord of Mahalakshmi of slender, waist, seated on a lotus, is standing majestically like a golden mountain.
POIGAI ALWAR'S FIRST TIRUVANDADI-77
Tiruvengadam, Tiruvinnagar, Tiruvehka and Tirukkoilur, surrounded by waters with fully blossomed flowers, are the places where the Lord has taken the postures of standing, sitting, lying down and taking strides respectively. If devotees think of these, their sins will be washed away.
PEYALWAR'S THIRD TIRUVANDADI-61, 62
The Lord, who eternally resides in Sri Vaikuntam and the Milky ocean, has come down to Tiruvengadam, Tirukkadigai surrounded by flowergardens with bees humming, and Tiruvinnagar, where the Lord appears eternally youthful, to bestow His grace on devotees. The Lord, who took the worlds as gift from Mahabali (as Vamana), showers His grace on devotees at Tiruvinnagar, Tiruvehka, Tiruvengadam of surging waters, Velukkai with majestic mansions, the marvelous city of Kumbakonam, Srirangam with beautiful gardens of flowers, flowing with honey and Tirukkottiyur.
108 TIRUPATI ANDADI-by Pillai Perumal Iyengar.
O Lord of Tiruvinnagar, you have blessed me with doing service only to you, with my mind, words and hands (body). So, I will not even think of going to Srivaikunta.
Address of the Temple:
Arulmigu Venkatachalapathi Swami Temple
Tirunageswaram - 612 004
Phone (0435) 246 33 85