Sri Veera Narayana Perumal Temple and the recovery of Naallayira Divya Prabhandam by Shriman Nathamunigal
The town is situated at:
around 25 km SouthWest of Chidambaram on the Chidambaram-Trichy highway;
around 11 kms from Meensurutti & 18 kms from Sethiathope both on the Vadalur (Chennai) – Kumbakonam highway
Links: Wikimapia Location
The pride of Kattumannarkoil
While I was compiling information about the temples in and around Chidambaram for the Chidambaram Temples Directory, I was fascinated with the significance of the little known Kattumannarkoil and around with the following facts:
Recovery of Saiva and Vaishnava Verses:
- The most sacred Tamil verses of both the Saivaite and Vaishnavaite were found through the Acharyar and Adiyar lived in and around Kattumannarkoil.
- Nambiandar Nambi from closeby Thirunaraiyur, with the blessings of Polla Pillaiyar of Thirunaaraiyur and the effort of King Rajaraja Chola, compiled all the Saiva Thirumurais – Thevram, Tiruvasagam, Periyapuranam etc., from the termite eaten palm leaves recovered from the Chidambaram Natarajar temple.
- Similarly, Nathamunigal, the first of the Vaishnava Acharya parampara, born and lived at Kattumannarkoil, with the blessings of Veera Narayana Perumal of Kattumannarkoil brought back the lost “Nalayira Divya Prabhandham”, Vaishnava verses back to the world.
- Thus Kattumannarkoil plays an important role in bringing out the 275 Thevara paadal petra sthalams and the 108 Divya desams to the outside world.
- Kadambur was the kingdom of Cholas once and their Kadambur palace might have witnessed so many legendary events including the assassination of Adithya Karikala Chola. But what remains of that palace today is just an empty ground with the basement of that great palace.
- The miniature wonder Melakkadambur temple (see a separate posting here) stands majestically as the only evidence of Chola’s excellence that existed once here. It was also devastated but thanks to some great efforts by people in 1890s, the temple was brought back to its old glory. Keezhakkadambur temple, still in dilapidated condition, tells all the tales of the wars.
- Writer Kalki’s magnum opus Ponniyin Selvan, which starts on the banks of the Veeranam lake mostly traverses around the Kadambur palace and its surrounds only.
Veeranam lake and Kattumannarkoil
- King Paranthaga Cholan I, during his rule (907 to 935 AD), formed this biggest tank of Tamilnadu to improve the Irrigation facilities in and around Chidambaram (which now feeds Chennai as well), and named it as ‘Veera Narayanan Eri’, now called Veeranam Eri. ‘Veera Narayanan’ is the nickname given to him for his Valour.
- He also formed a village called as ‘Veera Narayana Chathurvethi Mangalam. This Village was gifted to the Scholars who were well versed in the four Vedhas. This Village is now called as Kattumannarkoil which is situated in the right flank of Veeranam Tank.
Nathamunigal and the recovery of “Nalayira Divya Prabhandham”
The Naalayira Divya Prabandham is a collection of 4,000 Tamil verses composed by the 12 Azhwars. Prominent among them are the 1100+ verses known as the Thiruvaaymozhi, composed by Nammazhwar which forms the third portion of the overall Divya Prabandham. Many modern academics place the Azhwars date between 5th and 10th century CE, however traditionally the Azhwars are considered to have lived between 4200 BCE – 2700 BCE.
For a long dark period of several centuries after the last Azhwar, the priceless 4,000 verses were lost without any trace. Then came Nathamunigal during the 9th – 10th centuries (the first of the Acharya parampara) who was born and lived in Veera Naarayanapuram, the present-day Kaattu Mannaar Koil.
Legend has it that once Nathamunigal heard some people from Thiru Narayanapuram of Melkote (Karnataka) reciting the pasuram of “Aaraavamudhe (ஆரா அமுதே)” of Nammaazhvaar which praises the Lord of Kumbakonam. The recital ended with the mentioning “Aayiraththul Ippaththu (ஆயிரத்தில் இப்பத்து)” (these 10 out of the 1000). Captivated by these pasurams, Nathamunigal wanted to know the remaining 990 but they did not know anything about them.
But as the song mentioned the name and place of the azhwar, Kurugur Sadagopan (the birth name of Nammazhwar), Nathamunigal proceeded to Thirukurugur or Azhwar Thirunagari (one of the Nava Thirupathis of Thirunelveli), the birth place of Nammazhwar, seeking the 1,000 verses. The people there also did not know anything but they told him about “Kanni nun Siruthaambu (கண்ணி நுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு)”, the 11 pasurams of Madhurakavi Azhwar, a deep disciple of Nammazhwar.
Nathamunigal, then went to Thirukkolur nearby (another Nava Thiurpathi of Thirunelveli), the birth place of Madhurakavi Azhwar but again he could not get any clue out from there.
He came back to Thirukkurugur and sat under the tamarind tree where Nammazhwar sat from birth to 10+ age without any food and water. Nathamunigal recited the 11 pasurams 12,000 times. Pleased with his penance, Nammazhwar granted him not only his 1,000 pasurams, but the entire collection of 4,000 pasurams of all the Azhwars.
Veera Narayana Perumal then called Nathamunigal back to Kattumannar Koil where the Vaishnavite Savant chanted and shared the Naalayira Divya Prabandham with the world.
The name – ‘Kattum Mannan-Aanaar’ koil
As Lord Narayana came here as ‘Mannan’ to hold the hand of Mahalakshmi; and later asked Nathamunigal to share the Divya Prabandham and the Vaishnava Sampradayam to the world at large, he was referred to as ‘ Kattum – Mannan – Aanaar’ (the Lord who came as a king and showed the direction) and the town later became Kattu Mannar.
Creation of Araiyar Sevai
Along with his nephews, KeezhaiyagathAzhvaar and MelaiyagathAzhvaar (the Araiyars are descendents of these two), Nathamunigal gave the Naalayira Divya Prabandham a musical (Raagam and Thaalam) & dance form and presented it in a form that the world can experience and enjoy. He went to Srirangam and performed the “Araiyar Sevai” of the Thiruvaai Mozhi verses, with his two nephews, and once again started the Adhyayana Utsavam at Srirangam which had been discontinued after the time of Thirumangai Azhvaar.
Note: In Kaliki’s Ponniyin Selvan, Vandiyathevan first meets Azhwarkadiyan Nambi in the Perumal temple and get to share some thoughts on Nathamunigal and his contribution to Araiyar Sevai.
The start of Acharya parampara:
After the period of 12 Azhwars from Poigai Azhwar to Thirumangai Azhwar, the Acharya Parampara starts with Shriman Nathamunigal as the Mudhal (first) Acharya. Some of Nathamunigal’s disciples include Uyyakondan, Thiru Kannamangaiaandan and Deivanayagaandan.
Aalavanthan- The grandson of Nathamunigal:
Nathamunigal’s grandson, Alavanthan, was named as ‘Yamunai Thuraivan’ as per his wishes. Born in Kattu Mannar Koil, Aalavanthan would travel to Srirangam often and spread the message of Vaishnavism. He is also said to have nominated Ramanuja as the ’to be’ acharya after his death. Aalavanthan’s disciples include Periya Nambi, ThiruKoshtiyur Nambi, Thiru Kachi Nambi and Srirangam Araiyar.
Sri Veera Narayana Perumal Temple of Kattumannarkoil
Avathara Sthalam of Vaishnava Acharyar Nathamunigal who was responsible for bringing back to the world the “Naalayira Divya Prabhandam” hymns and his grandson Alavanthan
Moolavar: Sri Veeranarayana Perumal facing East in standing posture
Thayar: Sri Maragathavalli Thayar in separate shrine
Uthsavar: Sri Rajagopalan, Rukmani, Sathyabama with a cow & calf,
Utsava Thaayar; Sri Shengamalavalli Thayar
Nithya Utsavar: Sri Kattum Mannanar / Azhagiya Mannar / Sundara Gopalan
Prarthanai Perumal: Sri Shenbaga Mannanar with Sridevi and Bhoodevi
- Goddess Mahalakshmi was born to Jhirumbana Raja Maharishi as per his prayers. When she attained the marriage age, a Swayamvaram was conducted and Shriman Narayan Himself, came in His Garuda Vahana, picked Her up, defeating the other Kings who attacked Him in the process. Since Shriman Narayanan showed valour (veeram) here, He came to be called Veera Narayana Perumal
- Sage Mathangar once committed mistake in his Vedic chant during the Ashwametha Yaga conducted by Brahmma at Kanchipuram. He was directed to Srimushnam to escape the wrath of Brahmma and then to here. After a severe penance here, Sage Mathangar got the dharshan of Shriman Narayanan in His Chathurpuja roopam and as per his wish, the Lord stayed here.
The temple is perfectly built as per KoorathAzhvaar’s sacred verse:
“Lakshmi Naatha Samaarambaan Natha Yamuna Mathyamaam
Asmath Aacharya Pariyantham Vanthey Guru Parampara”
Lord Veera Narayanan in the middle, Natha Muni Shrine (facing South) to his left, Alavanthan Shrine (facing North) to his right (exactly opposite to Nathamunigal Shrine) and with Maragathavalli Thaayar Shrine to his right between the Nathamunigal and Alavanthan Shrine.
In the Nathamunigal Shrine, one finds his disciples at their Acharya’s feet ready to serve him.
There are 5 wells inside the temple and an expansive garden, which Nathamunigal maintained for his daily poojas to Sri Veera Narayana Perumal.
The first Paranthaka Chozha alias Veeranarayanan renewed this temple by brick construction.
Sadaya Varman Sundara Pandian renovated the temple fully and installed the present deity Sri Veeranarayana Perumal in the 13th century.
Inscriptions relating to Kulothunga Chozha I period refer this place as Veera Narayanan Vinnagaram and Krishna Deva Raya, who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, revere this Lord as Azhagiya Mannanar.
Contact: Annan Srinivasan Bhattar @ 99522 76110 /
Srinivasa Swami (Hereditary Theerthakar) @ 04144 262257 /96299 79779
My grandfather’s house faces the compound wall of the Sri Veera Narayana Perumal temple and I’ve visited his place few times before. I (possibly, most of my relatives as well) knew nothing about Nathamunigal and this temple nor was told and so had not visited before. Now, after knowing all these, we made an exclusive trip for this temple. What an ignorance!
Uruvam Azhagiya Nambigal Temple at Kuppankuzhi
The birthplace of Shriman Nathamunigal and Shri Yamunacharyar (Shri Alavandar Swamigal) is located at around 2 kms east of the Sri Veera Narayana Perumal temple at Kuppankuzhi.
Contact: Sri Kannan @ 99425 61513 / Sri Thothathri @ 98941 72981
The 2nd part of the post will continue on “the recovery of Thevara hymns by Nambiandar Nambi with the blessings of Thirunaraiyur Polla Pillaiyar”.