…Continuation of “The Pride of Kattumannarkoil – 1”
Recovery of Panniru (12) Saiva Thirumais
Same as Naalayira Divya Prabhandham of Vaishnav Azhwars, for a long dark period of several centuries after the last Saivaite Nayanmar, the priceless hymns by the Nayanmars were also lost without any trace. Just like the Naalayira Divya Prabhandham were brought back to the world through Sri Nathamunigal with the blessings of Sri Veera Narayana Perumal of Kattumannarkoil, the saivaite Thevara hymns were also brought back to the world through Nambiandar Nambi with the blessings of Polla Pillaiyar at Thirunaaraiyur, 8 kms East of Kattumannarkoil. Incidentally and proudly Kattumannarkoil plays the pivotal role in the recovery of both Saivaite and Vaishnavaite verses.
Nambiandar Nambi was born in Thirunaaraiyur. Ananthesar, the father of Nambiandar Nambi used to do pooja at the Polla Pillaiyar shrine and offer the prasad at the temple. When Nambi, at home, asks for prasad, he used to tell that the Vinayagar ate it. When Ananthesar was out of town, Nambi went to the temple to do the pooja and offered the prasad to Vinayagar. When Vinayagar didn’t take it, he thought he had made some mistake and cried vigorously by pounding his head on the floor and walls. Vinayagar then stopped him with His trunk and ate his offering. When he told the same to his parents, they didn’t believe and the next day his parents watched him from a hidden place. They were stunned to see Vinayagar very fondly eating his offering.
(The following pictures are the paintings in the Polla Pillaiyar shrine)
The news spread like wildfire and King Rajaraja Chola came to know of this. The King did not believe this miracle initially and asked Nambi to offer the Prasad, which the King himself had brought, to Lord Vinayaka. Pillayar was smilingly silent. Nambi sang the Irattai Mani Malai hymns with a touching prayer. Polla Pillayar ate the nivedhana in the presence of all. (Nambi’s Irattai Mani Malai hymns, available in the 11th Thirumurai, are considered very powerful and during every Sangada hara Chuthurthi, these pathigams are sung before the Polla Pillaiyar here). The King then bowed before the child requesting him to get the information of the place where the Thevara hymns were located, from his favourite Polla Pillaiyar. On request from Nambi, Polla Pillaiyar then disclosed not only the place as the room in the Thillai Natarajar temple where the hand symbol is marked on the door (Melavai Mutram?) but also the information on the total no of hymns as that of Sambabndhar’s as 16,000; Thirunavukkarasar’s as 49,000 and Sundarar’s as 39,000 (what could be recovered later was not even 10%!).
The King took Nambi along with him to Chidambaram and recovered the palm leaves of hymns from the room at the Chidambaram Natarajar Temple, though major portion of them got destroyed by pests (This Thirumurai room is located at the North-West corner of the inner praharam in the Chidambaram Natarajar temple). With the blessings of Polla Pillaiyar of this temple, Nambi then compiled the recovered palm leaves as Thirunaavukkarasar’s Thevaram, Manikkavasagar’s Thiruvachakam, Thirumoolar’s Thirumandhiram, Sekkizhar’s Periya puranam etc., along with his own creations as “12 Thirumurai”s, meaning, “Ordered holy text”.
Later, Madhanga Soolamani ammaiyar, a (dumb?) lady from Erukkatham puliyur (now called as Rajendrapatnam) near Srimushnam, who came in the tradition of Neelakanta Yazhpanar (one of the 63 Nayanmars), had added the musical part (பண் ) to the Thevara hymns.
The whole saivaite world is indebted to the great people – King Rajaraja Chola and Nambiandar Nambi – for showing up these priceless hymns, which otherwise would have been a prey to the hungry termites. They cover about 600 years of religious, philosophical and literary development.
Rajaraja Chola and Nambiandar Nambi moorthies within the Polla Pillaiyar shrine:
During our temple trip around Chidambaram, knowing the significance of the Polla Pillaiyar, we conducted an abhishegam for Him. When the Pillaiyar is fully dressed up with the alankarams, He can’t be recognized as a Swayambu moorthy but during the abhishegams, his dharshan as a bare Swayambu moorthy is a delight to watch. The whole abhishegam took about 2 hours and it was commendable that the Gurukkal Sri Muthukumara swamy was fully dedicated and focused on his job without uttering any word to anybody during the entire period, as if no one was around him. We were very happy that we selected this temple for the abhishegam during the trip and we enjoyed that very precious moment!
Now, to the temple details:
NCN033 – Sri Soundareswarar Temple at Thirunaaraiyur
8 kms East of Kattumannar koil en route Chidambaram
Thirunaaraiyur (திருநாரையூர்) and Thirunaraiyur (திருநறையூர்):
Don’t get confused between the two. Thirunaaraiyur is one of the 275 Shaivaite Thevara Paadal petra sthalam near Kattumannarkoil / Chidambaram, the name coming from the legend connected to the Naarai (நாரை) bird, whereas Thirunaraiyur, also called as Nachiyar koil, is one of the 108 Vaishnavaite Divya Desams, near Kumbakonam very popular for its Kal Garudan. To add to the confusion, Thirunaaraiyur is connected with Nambiandar Nambi, the saivaite saint, whereas in Thirunaraiyur (Nachiyar koil), the Perumal Himself is called as Nambi. Thirunaaraiyur is even now known in the same name only whereas Thirunaraiyur is the ancient name of Nachiyar koil and is now known more as Nachiyar koil than Thirunaraiyur.
- One of the 276 Thevara padal petra sthalams
- The most significant of the temples with special significance for Vinayagar
- The Polla Pillayar of this temple is highly powerful and popular. Polla pillaiyar, meaning that the Vinayagar was not sculpted with chisel but appeared on His own as Swayambu.
- Birth place of Nambiandar Nambi, who along with Rajaraja Chola restored the Saiva Thirumurais from Chidambaram
Sri Soundhareswarar / Swayamprakasa Easwar as Swayambu lingam facing East with Ambal Sri Thirupurasundari
- A Gandarva was cursed to be born as Naarai bird by Sage Duravasar when he disturbed the yagna and got mukthi and this temple is considered a mukthi sthala temple.
- Around 80 feet, 3 tier Rajagopuram welcomes us.
- Apart from the usual Shiva temple shrines, there are shrines and moorthies of Santhanacharyar, King Rajaraja, Sekkizhar, Naraai and Chandra sekarar.
- There is a special mandapam for Nambi.
During every Sangada hara Chuthurthi, Nambi’s “Irattai manimaalai” pathigam will be sung before the Polla Pillaiyar.
- Sung by Appar and Sambandhar
Contact: Sri Muthukumaraswamy Gurukkal 99432 54861 /
Thiruppani committee – 94439 06219
Links: The Photo Album
Polla Pillaiyar Shrine: