Monday, June 4, 2018

Thiruvananthapuram of Tamil Nadu!

Inside the Aavarani Anantha Narayana Temple
Thousands throng the temple of Lord Ananthapadmanabha Swamy, at Thiruvananthapuram, despite strict security and dress regulations to worship the 18 feet Lord, reclining on a five headed Anantha (Adhisesha) witnessed through three entrances, whereby his Thirumukam (face), Thiruvudal (Body) and Thirupadam (feet) are visible.

Come to lesser known Aavarani, in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu, where Lord Vishnu is seen as Anantha Narayana, also known as Aabharanadhari, his gigantic 21 feet form reclining on a seven- headed Anantha. This Lord, even larger than Ananthapadmanabhaswamy can also only be viewed through three entrances through which his Thirumukham, Nabhi (navel with Brahma rising from it) and Thirupaadham are visible. The only difference here, is that this temple is relatively unknown and one can spend minutes or even hours before the Lord, without any disruption.


The Lord Aabharanadhari reclining on the seven hooded Adisesha

The village Aavarani, was originally named Aabharanadhari after the Lord. It is an extension of Thirukkannangudi, one of the 108 Divya Desams. It is believed that Lord Rama on his return to Ayodhya from Sri Lanka, passed through here and on the request of Brigu Maharishi and Veda Vyasa rested here in the form of Mahavishnu. 

The legend of this temple is associated with the life and times of Thirumangai Alwar. According to the Sthala Puranam,  the Alwar, desirous of raising resources for the Srirangam temple, came to Nagapattinam to steal the Golden idol of Buddha at the Vihara . He collected some banana stems from a place called Vazhakarai, stole the Golden idol, hid it among the banana stems during the day, and travelled over night towards Srirangam. The place where he hid the statue during day has come to be known as Porulvaithacheri (now called Poravacheri near Sikkal). He then visited Aavarani and worshipped the gigantic Ananthanarayana Perumal. Seeing the huge Lord, he adorned his body with Tulsi garlands which are said to have turned into different jewels. He then called him "Aabharanadhari Narayana". Because of this, the place came to be known as Aabharanadhari. 

From here, he went to the Thirukannangudi Damodhara Narayana Perumal temple and worshipped the Ninraan and Irundhaan (Veetrirundha Perumal) forms of the Lord.  In his mangalasasanam of the Thirukkanangudi temple, the stanza beginning with "Vangama munneer", according to Vaishnavaite scholars, describes the Ananthanarayana Perumal of Aavarani who is reclined on the Anantha ("sangamaarangai thadamalarundhi samameniyen") and hence it is inferred that this sthalam must have been part of the Thirukkannangudi Divya desam originally. Government records also mention Aavarani village as Thirukkannangudi Agaram which reemphasises the fact that Aavarani was a Brahmadeyam (tax free land provided to Brahmin scholars) of Thirukkanangudi.

The Lord

Lord Ananthanarayana at Aavarani
The gigantic form of Lord Ananthanarayana Perumal completely fills the sanctum. Reclining on  seven hooded Adisesha, with a Marakkal (measuring utensil) as headrest,  his head is placed in the Southern direction and feet towards North. He has a right hand supporting his head, and a left hand extended upto his knee.  He wears a number of ornaments on his body true to the name of Aabharanadhari. On his head, he wears a crown, kundalams in his ears, katakas on his arms, a beautiful Nalankilar Haram on his broad chest, sacred thread, and anklets on his feet. Brahma raising from his navel, and Sridevi and Bhudevi found by his side, are also wearing ornaments. Apart from them, Sage Bhrigu and Veda Vyasa are found at the head and foot of the Lord respectively as he gave vision to them at this site. 

Other Deities
Goddess Alankaravalli
On entering the temple, one can see the Pakshiraja Garudalwar facing the Lord. He is seen with snakes as ornaments on his body. He is flanked by a beautiful Hanuman, known as Padma Hanuman. Goddess Alankaravalli is found in a separate shrine . The temple well is very special as the water is said to be extremely sweet. The temple tank is called Ananthapushkarani and bathing here and chanting Achutha, Anantha, Govindha thrice, rids one of all problems and turns them towards liberation.


The beautiful well at the Aavarani Temple
A total of eleven inscriptions have been read at this temple. Out of which nine are from the Chola period, one from the Pandya period and another from the Vijayanagara Period. The oldest among them is from the time of Raja Raja Chola II from 1150 AD. This inscription calls Aavarani as Aabharanadari Chaturvedimangalam. The inscription also mentions a Siva temple known as Thiruvirameswaram which probably existed in Aavarani.

There are six inscriptions belonging to the period of Kulothunga Chola III, and one of Jatavarman Kulasekhara Pandyan.  A 1474 AD inscription of Thippayya Devamaharaya refers to the village as Aabharanadhari yaana Uttaranandapuram and the Lord as Pallikonda Perumal.

The rest of the inscriptions talk about temples nearby. One of the inscriptions refer to Simmavishnu Chaturvedimangalam and a deity called Parvatheeswara mudaiyar and about grants given to the temple. This inscription also mentions the villagers of Ranajaya Chaturvedi mangalam giving grants to Parvatheeswara mudaiyar. This probably was another temple near Aavarani.  Another inscription mentions Chitralekha Perumpalli which probably was a Buddha Vihara nearby. There have been exchange of land between the Parvatheeswara mudaiyar temple and the Chitralekha Perumpalli.

Other significance:

Padma Anjaneya at the Aavarani Temple
This temple is one of the Pancha Narayana Kshetrams referred to in the Garuda Puranam as Pancha Badra. The others being the Damodara Narayana Perumal in Thirukannangudi, Yadava Narayana Perumal in Keevalur, Deva Narayana Perumal in Devur and  Varada Narayana Perumal in North Alandhur.

How to reach here:

This temple is found on the Nagapattinam - Thiruvarur route, about four kilometres from the famous Sikkal Murugan temple.  GPS Coordinates : (10.74561792, 79.77533913)

Contact: S Kumar Bhattar - 97885 17247

Temple Timings: 9-11 am, 5-7 pm

Updated on 04 June 2018:

Inspired by the Lord Anantha Narayana, Poet Diwakara Tanujaha (Mr Sudharshanam) has composed a beautiful verse on him which he has also rendered as an audio file for our listening pleasure:

ஆவரணி ஆபரணம்

(எண்சீர் விருத்தம் – விளம் காய் மும்முறை இரட்டித்தது)

இடதுகை நீளவல(து) எழுதலை வாங்கக்கைக்
...கடகமும் குண்டலமும் கால்களில் தண்டையுமாய்ப்
படியணைந் தாவரணி படுத்துளான் பார்க்கிலனே!
...பணிலமா ரம்பொலிதோள் பொன்முகம் ஒருவாசல்
படைமல ரன்முகிழ்கொப் பூழ்நலங் கிளராரம்
...பாதுகம் இருவாசல் முப்படக் கிடக்குமணி
நெடுவடி மூவேழாய் நீண்டநல் ஆபரணம்
...நிறைமலர் நகையாக்கி நெகிழ்ந்தவன் காணாமோ?

(கடகம் – கையில் கட்டும் கங்கணம்; படி – தானியங்களை அளக்கும் மரக்கால்; பணிலம் – சங்கு; ஆரம் – சக்கரம்; படைமலரன் – படைக்கும், மலரில் இருக்கும் பிரமன்; கொப்பூழ் – தொப்புள்; நலங்கிளர் ஆரம் – பெருமான் அணிந்திருக்கும் நலங்கிளர் எனப்படும் ஆரம்; பாதுகம் – கால்கள்; நிறைமலர் – நிறைந்த மலர், இங்கு துளசி இதழ்)

இடது கையை நீட்டி வைத்து, வலது கையை, உயர்த்திய தலைக்கு முட்டுக் கொடுத்து, கையில் கங்கணமும், காதில் குண்டலமும், கால்களில் தண்டையும் அணிந்துகொண்டு, தானியங்கள் அளக்கும் படியைத் தலைக்கு அணை கொடுத்து, ஆவரணி என்னும் ஊரில் படுத்துக் கொண்டிருப்பவனை நான் இன்னும் பார்க்கவில்லையே!

சங்கும் சக்கரமும் தாங்கிய பொலிகின்ற தோளும், பொன்போல் ஒளிர்கின்ற திருமுகமும் ஒரு வாசல் வழியே, நாம் காணுமாறும், நலங்கிளர் என்னும் ஆரத்தைத் தாங்கும் மார்பையும், படைக்கும் தொழிலைச் செய்கின்ற பிரமன் முளைத்த நாபியையும் நமக்கு இன்னொரு வாசலில் காட்டியபடியும், மூன்றால் வாசலில் தனது பாதங்களைக் காட்டியும், முப்பகுதியாகக் கிடக்கும் மணி அவன்;

நிறைவு பெற்ற மலரான துளசியை, தனக்கு இட்டவரின் பக்தியில் நெகிழ்ந்தவனாய், நீண்ட உருவமாய், இருபத்தொரு அடி நீளத்தில், ஆபரணமாகவே விளங்குகின்ற அவனை நாம் காண வேண்டாமா?

(திருமங்கை ஆழ்வார் இட்ட துளசி மாலை, அவனுக்கு மணிகளாக மாறி அலங்க்கரித்ததால், அவனை ஆபரணதாரி என்றே அழைக்கிறார்கள். மேல் விவரங்களுக்கு வலைப்பூவைப் படிக்கவும்.)

Audio Link to the verse

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