All Merciful “Lord Sriman Narayana” appears in five different forms as para, vyuha, vibhava, archai and antaryAmi . To uplift the fallen souls Lord advises the Nityasurees to incarnate in the mortal world and spread the message of divine love and true knowledge for a common man to come back to God head .
Thus Azhwars were the incarnations of of Lord Sriman Narayana’s divine weapons and ornaments (“Azhwar” in Tamil means ‘one who is immersed’). Since the advanced saints were always immersed in the Lord and His qualities, they were glorified as Azhwars and the places which was glorified by Azhwars are earmarked as Divya desams . Out of the 12 azhwars, 4 Azhwars appeared towards the end of Dwapara yuga and Eight Azhwars appeared during Kali yuga.
- Poigai Azhwar – Panchajanya ( Lord Krishna’s conch)
- Bhootha Azhwar – Kaumodakee (Lord Maha Vishnu’s Mace/Club)
- Pey Azhwar – Nandaka ( Lord Maha Vishnu’s sword)
- Tirumazhisai Azhwar – Sudarshanam ( Lord Maha Vishnu’s discus)
- Nammazhwar – Vishvaksena ( Lord Maha Vishnu’s commander)
- Madhurakavi Azhwar – Vainatheya ( Lord Maha Vishnu’s , Garuda)
- Kulasekara Azhwar – Kaustubha ( Lord MahaVishnu’s necklace)
- PeriyaAzhwar – Garuda ( Lord Maha Vishnu’s eagle
- Andal – Bhoodevi
- Thondaradippodi Azhwar – Vanamaalai ( Lord Maha Vishnu’s garland)
- Tiruppaan Azhwar- Srivatsa (An auspicious mark on Lord Maha Vishnu’s chest)
- TirumangaiAzhwar – Sharanga ( Lord Rama’s bow)
The Srivaishnava Divyadesams are the temples glorified by 12 azhwars. Among the 108 Divyadesams, 105 temples are located in India and one in Nepal. The remaining two temples are in the celestial world glorified as Sri Vaikuntam and ThiruParamapadham. The 106 temples are classified into six divisions –
- Chozha Nadu divya desam – 40 temples situated in Central Tamilnadu around Trichy,Kumbakonam,Mayavaram, Srikazhi,Nagapatinam
- Pandya Nadu divya desams– 18 temples situated in southern part of Tamilnadu around Madurai,Tirunelveli, Ramnathapuram, Sivakasi
- Nadu nadu divya desams – 2 temples in the northern part of Tamilnadu located near Virudhunagar and Cuddalore
- Thondai nadu divya desams -22 temples in the northern part of Tamilnadu located in and around Chennai(4),Kanchipuram (15), Arakonam(3)
- Malai nadu divya desams – 13 temples out of which 2 are in Southern tip of tamilnadu and the rest 11 temples are in Kerala scattered around Trivandrum,Chenganoor, Ernakulam, Thrissur
- Vada nadu divya desams – 11 temples out of which 2 are in Andhra Pradesh, 1 in Gujarat, 4 in Uttar Pradesh, 3 in Uttaranchal and 1 in Muktinath.
The 4000 Divya Prabandham(Naalayira Divyaprabhandham) also known as “Dravida Vedas” are the out pouring of the Azhwars who appeared in Southern India few thousand year ago as per the divine commands of Lord Sriman Narayana to uplift the humankind and thus composed the divine pasurams which all the vaishnavas make it a law to recite . In Srimad Bhagavatam, Lord declares that HIS devotees would be born in Kaliyuga around the banks of Tambaraparani ,Cauvery rivers. As the recitation of vedas is restricted tto only few (women and low caste are not allowed to recite them), the compassionate Lord made azhwars appear on the earth for the upliftment of one and all and compose the pasurams in nectarian Tamil so that it could be relished by all.
Thirumangai Azhwar, the last among all the Azhwars was the only Azhwar who has glorified the maximum number of temples -86 divya desams and he alone has the credit of glorifying 47 divya desams exclusively.
Azhwar appeared on the 397th year after the advent of Kaliyuga as per “Guru Parampara prabhavam” composed by Sri.Pinbhagzhagiya Perumal Jeeyar a disciple of Swamy Nampillai,,,
Neelan as he was called appeared on a bright Thursday in Nala varushey(year name), Karthigai maasey (karthigai month as per tamil calender[Nov-Dec])on Krithikai star on Pournami in Kallar kulam at Thirukuraiyalur – a small village near Thirunangoor about one hour drive from Sirkazhi
His parents –Aaliaaduudaiyaar(father) and Vallithiru (mother) named him as “Neelan” as he was Neelavarnan . He had various other names which he himself mentions in the last verse of his works (pasuram) dedicated to Sirkazhi Perumal as “Aali naadan”, “Arulmaari”, “Aratamukki”, “mangai vendhan”, “parakaalan”, “kaliyan”,”thirumangai mannan”, “Naalukavi Perumal). Lord (Perumal) addressed him as “kaliyano??” .
As he was like kaalan for people who refuted “paran”(perumal), he came to be known as “Parakaalan” . He was an expert in composing different types of poems in different meters as per Tamil grammar which earned him the name “Naalu Kavi Perumal”.
In thanian ( Introductory verses ) for Peria Thirumozhi, Swamy Embaar says “Engal gathiye Ramanusa muniye…..mangaiyar kon eendha marai aayiram anaithum thangumanam enaku thaa” which means Swamy Embaar submits to Swamy Ramanuja grace for remembering the 1000 pasurams sung by the famous Thirumangai Azhwar and hence the Sattaree is “Ramanuja Padhuka” who in turn is considered as “Thirumangai Azhwar’s padhuka” at Tirunagari divya desam
Swamy Manavala Maamunigal in the ninth verse (pasuram) of the great work Upadesaratnamalai glorifies the appearance day of Thirumangai Azhwar as “VEERUDAYA KARTHIGAIYIL KAARTHIGAI NAAL”as this azhwar exhibited his veeram (valour) in getting Perumal’s anugraham.
Its a great day as Azhwar , Acharyar Nampillai and Asmath acharyar-Sri Kumara Venkatacharyar( descendant of Swamy MudaliAndaan ) also appeared on the same dayThree important festivities are celebrated grandly in this village.(1) Thai Amavaasai for 3 days (Jan-Feb)(2)Thiruvedupari utsavam on Panguni-Pooram (March-April)(3)Thiru avataara utsavam-10 day utsavam during Karthigai month culminating on Karthigaiyil Karthigai
Neelan was very valiant and brave which earned him a position as army chief in Chola kingdom . He was later elevated to the position of a king for a small territory named “Aalinaadu” . Thus we have “Thirumangai mannan” who had that power , fame , position which took him to material pleasures like any human . The possessions and power engulfed him . Blinded by daring heroism, Neelan was indulged in sensual pleasures
(Azhwar himself admits in his pasurams that he was behind dove-eyed beautiful women).
By Perumal’s nirukethu sankalpam, he happened to meet Kumudavalli daughter of a physician in Thiruvellakulam who played a vital role in transforming Neelan into Azhwar. Her appearance also was a divine plan to correct Neelan in the right path …
Kumudhavalli a damsel (apsaras) who was named Thirumaamagal/Sumangalai along with her friends descended on Himalayan forests mocked at a siddhar who was being imparted knowledge by Kapila maharishi. The infuriated rishi cursed her to descend to earth and get married to a human being .
When she repented for her mistake and asked for a means to go back to the heavenly planet, the sage advised her to transform Neelan(an amsam of Saarangam) and make him a great devotee and get married to him.
After accomplishing her mission, he blessed her that she would be able to get back to her heavenly abode. Thus , she appeared as a small girl on the banks of Swetha Pushkarini(Thiru vella kulam) in front of Srinivasar Kovil in Thirunangoor.
A physician who happened to pass by was attracted to the small kid. He learnt from her about the cause of her appearance and adopted her as his daughter. As he was childless for a long time, he considered to be Lord Srinivasar’s blessings .As she was seen holding Kumudha flower, he named her as Kumudavalli.
Once Neelan , the ruler of the province around Thirunangoor happened to come to Thiruvellakulam. He was mesmerized by Kumudavalli’s beauty and expressed his ardent desire to marry her. He approached her parents and expressed hos desire .
The Parents were overjoyed as the King was at their doorstep . However , Kumudavalli expressed her desire “to marry only to a person who sported Thiruman kaapu ( Tilak ) on his forehead and got pancha samskaaram ( initiation ) done”.
Immediately Neelan set out in search of an Acharya to get initiated (pancha samskaaram in srivaishnava sampradaya) done.
No one dared to initiate him considering his qualities.
The ever compassionate Lord Srinivasar of Thirunaraiyur appeared before him as a Priest and did panchasamskaaram to Neelan. Later, Thirukannapuram Lord Sowriraja Perumal imparted the intricate meanings of Ashtakshari to him. Hence, these two Lordships are considered as “Acharyar” for Azhwar.
Having fulfilled her condition, Neelan approached Kumudavalli . She replied
Oh Prince ! Am glad with your desire in entering a relationship with me .But please understand as your better half I have another condition . I wish you undertake to carry out the bhaagavatha dhadhiaaradanam to 1000 people for one year which gives me immense satisfaction.
Neelan accepts the condition with a smile as she would be his queen soon .
Now , the couple did dhadhiyaaradhanam for one year and continued with the kainkaryam later. The place where he did dhadhiyaaradhanai kainkaryam is known as “Mangai maadam”.
It was a grand feast every day . A vast area was covered with pandals .for devotees thronging daily . It became a sacred shrine with hundred of devotees gathering daily with vaishnava tilaks and glorifying Lordships with songs . Few were discussing the greatness of Neelan and kumudha .Filled with bhagavathas , the place became more vibrant with devotion.
Neelan loved the new role. He never questioned the spending even the coffers of Thirumangai was coming to a stock out position . The Ministers whispered about the coffers getting emptied , but he continued the services selling his jewellary and other precious things .
The news reached the chozha king. He summoned Neelan to return the entire money or face repercussion. As Neelan didn’t oblige, the king had to send an army . Neelan defeated the army with ease . Shocked , the king came in person to wage a war.
Knowing Neelan’s might, the king with the help of his minister, conspired a plan to trick Neelan and arrested him.
Neelan was locked up in a temple for 3 days without food and water.(very similar to bhakta Ramadasar). The ever compassionate Lord Varadarajar of Kanchipuram appeared in Neelan’s dream informing that he could use the wealth lying on the banks of Vegavati river in Kanchipuram to clear the king’s dues.
The next day , Neelan informed the king that he would return the entire money given a chance . The King sent Neelan along with his soldiers to the banks of Vegavati river.
The search could not find any wealth . The Soldiers were instructed to harm Neelan If the search was untrue.
Lord appeared in Neelan’s dream again and informed him the exact location of the wealth. Neelan , overjoyed once again marched to the river and thus found the wealth. He cleared the king’s dues and kept the balance with him for continuing the bhagavatha kainkaryam which he got infected to.
The greedy king along with few others who realized that Neelan had wealth , claimed that their dues were not fully settled and asked for more wealth.
Neelan prayed to Lordships to help him out . The Compassionate Lord asked him to measure the sand on the banks of Vegavati river using “marakkal”( a measure) and settle the dues.
Obediently , Neelan accordingly collected the sand and handed over the same in gunny bags. This infuriated the king that Neelan was giving them sand instead of wealth.
But as the soldier who was trying to put the same in treasury , it turned into gold dust. The king realized that Neelan was not an ordinary person. He begged forgivance and after rewarding him sumptuously , released him forever,
It was a home coming . Neelan resigned from the king’s service and dedicated his full time for bhaagavatha kainkaryam. To continue the kainkaryam, Neelan resorted to looting wealth from the rich peasants who were egoistic selfish and greedy .
He did that by waylaying with the help of his four friends -Neermel nadappan(one who could walk across water), nizhalil odhunguvaan(one who was an expert in following a person’s shadow), thaaaludhuvaan (one who could open any lock without key), tholavazhakkan(one who could not be defeated in any argument).
As the looting expedition was also getting a bad name to Neelan who was doing a great kainkaryam ( service ) Lordships of Thiruvaali divyadesam along with Thaayar had to intervene.
The Lordships appeared as a newly wed couple fully bedecked with costly jewels and set out on a closed palanquin to Thiruvaali .
Neelan’s friends who came to know of this, informed Neelan that if the bridal party is looted, they would have enough wealth to support lifelong bhagavatha kainkaryam. Neelan was very pleased . He immediately galloped on his horse(Aadalmaa) followed by his thief-friends and reached the place which is presently known as “Thirumanan kollai”.
On reaching the place, Neelan threatened the couple to part with their entire jewellery. Accordingly , the couple surrendered all their jewellery except the toe ring on the bride as it could not be removed.
Though Neelan had the entire loot , Lord veiled a maya on him which made him to lure for the toe ring too which was very attractive. Neelan himself bent down to remove the ring but as his efforts were futile, he tried to remove the ring with the help of his teeth by his mouth.
Unknowingly, he surrendered to Thayar’s lotus feet for the material wealth .But , by coming into contact with Goddess (Thayar’s) lotus feet, wisdom dawned on him. He was mesmerized and choked with no words . He attempted to move quickly and thus bundled the entire loot in a big cloth. Looking at the divine couple , he tried to lift the baggage but for its weight .
Shocked that the small booty could not be lifted , Neelan thought that the bridegroom must have cast a spell on the bundle . He wanted to frighten the bridegroom now . He threatened them with a dagger to reveal the secret which made that booty so heavy that he couldnt lift it .
The mischievous bridegroom smiled and agreed to share the secret with him . He advised him to purify himself in the nearby stream and wait under the banyan tree (arasa maram).
Neelan did as advised and the bride groom uttered the sacred Ashtakshari mantram on Neelan’s right ear.
Wisdom dawned on Neelan and there was an instant flash …. he repented for all his deeds. He understood his real purpose of his birth . The divine couple appeared as Lord Lakshmi-Narayanan on Garuda vahanam and blessed their child .
Lord addressed him as Thirumangai mannan as he had the blessing of Thiru (Thayar first).
Now the jeevatma “Thirumangai mannan” in ecstasy repenting for all his misdeeds outpours torrential verses instantaneously in presence of Divyadampathigal starting with the most beautiful verse ….
“vaadinen vaadi varundhinene manathaal……”
concluding each phrase glorifying “Narayana” naamam…..
The name N A R A Y A Y A N A itself can give stature and wealth. The name destroys miseries .This Holy name gives a seat in heaven a seat in Paramapadam .It will give you strength It will give you everything .This lovely name will give more that what a loving mother can give …And thus Azhwar reveals saying ..
.I have found such a good word in HIS holy name….
This wonderful incident is recapitulated every year in the holy place and is celebrated grandly as “Thiru vedupari utsavam” on the night preceding Panguni Uthiram in the month of March-April . As part of 10 day brahmotsava celebrations at Thiruvaali, on the sixth day, Lord (Perumal ) arrives to wed Goddess ( Thayar ) and set out on a “moodu pallaku”. The divine wedding (thirukalyanam) takes place in the afternoon and saatrumarai goshti gets over by 9 p.m .
Later the divine couple set out on a palanquin slowly and head toward Thirumangai maadam and rest in a mandapam. Azhwar sets out from Thirunagari temple at midnight and swiftly reaches the mantapam and goes round the couple thrice.
A screen is drawn and it is presumed that all the ornaments are removed. Lord gets ready to give darshan on Garuda vahanam along with Thayar. Meanwhile Thirumangai mannan is taken to a nearby mandapam where thousands of devotees throng to have the beautiful sight of Azhwar riding on the horse for about an hour.
Later Azhwar is taken towards Perumal who imparts the Eight syllable mantra “Ashtakshari. The bhog is offered to the Lordship. Azhwar circumblates around Lordships with benevolence.
Lord blesses Thirumangai Azhwar with prasadam, maalai, parivattam. The assembled goshti start reciting “Vaadinen vaadi….” slowly and after completing of the first 10 pasurams, mangalaaarthi is given to both Perumal and Azhwar.
This incident happens around early hours 2-3 a.m. The entire group return to Thiruvaali temple and on the way , the entire Peria Thirumozhi ( the compositions of Thirumangai Azhwar ) is recited by the goshti.
One devotee relished his experience that when the azhwar sets out from the temple to loot the Lord, his valour ,pride ,strength ,determination can be seen on Azhwar’s thirumugam and when he returns after having Perumal’s darsanam, Azhwar’s speed is reduced as he becomes submissive having shed away his pride and takes about 4 hours to reach the temple as the procession moves slowly.
Coming back to the divine incident , Neelan who becomes transformed to Thirumangai Azhwar decides to visit all the holy shrines and glorify the Lordships .
Lord captivated his attention by giving HIM beautiful darshan in all the temples. In his divine pasurams, he vividly describes the Lord, location of the holy place , surroundings and the opulence .
Azhwar , personally visits the divya desams beginning with the Northern side temples starting at Thirupiridhi ( JoshirMutt ) and submits his glorifications to the Lord . Every verse he puts before LORD moves the person with tears reciting them .
The struggle of a jiva in this material world seeking true knowledge with stiff opposition of maya draws comparision with all of us .
Thirumangai Azhwar composed six prabhandhams which are treasures .He stands second to Swamy Nammazhwar in the contributions to Divya Prabhandam.
Thirumangai Azhwar’s six prabhandhams are the six angams for Maaran’s four works (Nammazhwar’s four prabhandhams-
Azhwar’s compositions are:
- Peria Thirumozhi comprising of 1084 pasurams
- Thirukurunthandakam comprising of 20 pasurams
- Thirunedunthandakam comprising of 30 pasurams
- Thiruvezhukootruirukai comprising of 1 pasuram
- Siriya Thirumadal consisting of 155 lines considered as 1 pasuram
- Peria Thirumadal consisting of 297 lines considered as 1 pasuram
Details of 86 temples glorified by Azhwar starting from Srirangam with PRABHANDHAM reference are given below:
Out of these, 70 temples are in Tamilnadu,
2 in Andhra,
4 in Kerala,
1 in Gujarat,
4 in Uttar Pradesh,
2 in Uttaranchal,
1 in Nepal and 2 out of reach.
(PT-Peria thirumozhi; TKD-thirukurundhandakam; TND-tirunedundandakam
STM-siria thirumadal; PTM-peria thirumadal; TVKT-thiruvezhukootruirukai)
- CHOLA NADU DIVYA DESAMS (Trichy,Kumbakonam,Thanjavur,Mayavaram ,Sirkazhi)
- Srirangam – 73 (PT, TKD, TND, STM, PTM)
- Thirukozhi(Uraiyur) -Uraiyur near Trichy – 01 (PT)
- Thirukarambanur(Uttamar kovil) – 01 (PT)
- Thiruvellarai -13 (PT,STM, PTM)
- Thirupernagar -19 (PT,TKD,TND, STM,PTM)
- Thirukandiyur – 01 (TKD)
- Thirukoodalur -10 (PT)
- Thirupullamboothangudi -10 (PT)
- Thiruaadhanoor -01 (PTM)
- Thirukudandhai -25 (PT,TKD,TND,STM, PTM, TVKT)-only Perumal who was referred to in all the 6 prabhandams
- Thiruvinnagar -34 (PT,TND,STM,PTM)
- Thirunaraiyur -110 (PT, TND,STM, PTM)
- Thirucherai -13 (PT,STM, PTM)
- Thirukannamangai -14 (PT,STM,PTM)
- Thirukannapuram -104 (PT, TND, STM,PTM)
- Thirukannangudi -10 (PT)
- Tirunaagai – 10 (PT)
- Thiruthanjhaimaamanikovil – 03 (PT)
- Thirunandipuravinnagaram – 10 (PT)
- Thiruvelliangudi – 10 (PT)
- Thiruvazhundur -45 (PT, TND,STM,PTM)
- Thirusirupuliyur – 10 (PT)
- Thiruthalaisanganaanmadiyam – 02 (PT)
- Thiruindhalur -11 (PT,PTM)
- Thirukaavalampaadi – 10 (PT)
- Thirukaazhiseerama vinagaram – 10(PT)
- Thiruarimeya vinnagaram – 10 (PT)
- Thiruvanpurudothamam – 10 (PT)
- Thirusemponseikovil -10 (PT)
- Thirumanimadakovil -12 (PT,PTM)
- Thiruvaikuntavinnagaram – 10 (PT)
- Thiruvaali Tirunagari – 41 (PT, TND,STM,PTM)
- Thirudevanaar thogai -10 (PT)
- Thiruthetriambalam -10 (PT)
- Thirumanikoodam -10 (PT)
- Thiruvellakulam -10 (PT)
- Thirupaarthanpalli – 10 (PT)
- Thiruchitrakoodam – 21(PT,PTM)
NADU NADU DIVYA DESAMS(near Cuddalore,Vizhupuram)
- Thiruvahindrapuram – 10(PT)
- Thirukovalur – 18 (PT, TND, STM,PTM)
THONDAI NADU DIVYA DESAMS(in and around Kanchi, Arakonam,Chennai)
- Thirukachi athigiri – 04 (PT,TKD, TND)
- Thiruashtabuyakaram – 11(PT, PTM)
- Thiruthankaa -02 (PT,TND)
- Thiruvellukai – 01 (PTM)
- Thiruneeragam – 01 (TND)
- Thirupaadagam -02 (PT, PTM)
- Thirunilathingalthundam – 01 (TND)
- Thiruooragam – 04 (TND, STM, PTM)
- Thiruvekka – 06 (PT,TND,STM,PTM)
- Thirukaaragam – 01 (TND)
- Thirukaarvaanam – 01 (TND)
- Thirukalvanoor – 01 (TND)
- Thirupavazhavannam – 01 (TND)
- Thiruparameswara vinnagaram -10 (PT)
- Thiruputkuzhi – 02 (PT, PTM)
- Thirunindravoor -02 (PT)
- Thiruevvul – 11 (PT, PTM)
- Thiruallikeni -10 (PT)
- Thiruneermalai -19 (PT, TND,STM,PTM)
- Thiruidavendhai -13 (PT,STM,PTM)
- Thirukadalmallai -26 (PT,TKD,STM,PTM)
- Thirukadigai -03 (PT,STM)
VADA NADU DIVYA DESAMS(Andhra,Gujarat,Uttar Pradesh,Uttaranchal,Nepal)
- Thiruayodhi – 01(PT)
- Thirunaimisaranyam -10 (PT)
- Thirupiridhi -10 (PT)
- Thiruvadhariasramam -21 (PT, STM)
- Thirusalagraamam -10 (PT)
- Thiruvadamadurai -04 (PT, STM)
- Thiruvaayarpaadi -07 (PT, STM)
- Thirudwaarakai -02 (PT)
- Thirusingavelkundram -10 (PT)
- Thiruvenkatam -61 (PT, TKD,TND,STM,PTM)
MALAI NADU DIVYA DESAMS(Kerala)
- Thirunaavai – 02(PT)
- Thirumoozhikalam – 03(PT,TND,PTM)
- Thiruvallavaazh -11 (PT,PTM)
- Thirupuliyur -01 (STM)
PANDYA NADU DIVYA DESAMS(near Madurai,Tirunelveli,Sivakasi,Ramnad,Trichy)
- Thirukurungudi -25 (PT,TND, PTM)
- Thiruthankaal -04 (PT,TND, STM, PTM)
- Thirukoodal – 01 (PT)
- Thirumaliruncholai – 33(PT, TKD,STM,PTM)
- Thirumoghur -01 (STM)
- Thirugoshtiyur – 13 (PT,PTM)
- Thirupullani – 21 (PT, PTM)
- Thirumeyyam – 09 (PT, TKD,PTM)
DIVYA DESAMS NOT IN THIS WORLD
- Thirupaarkadal – 11 (PT, TND)
- Thiruparamapadam – 01 (TKD)
As per the great compositions of “Peria Thirumozhi” Azhwar started from north, has sung ranging from minimum 10 pasurams to 100 pasurams . Azhwar’s pasurams details the geographical locations . Peria Thirumozhi is divided into 10 hundreds and in each of the 10 pasurams, Ahwar glorifies only that particular divya desa Perumal. ONly in the 10th hundred pasurams, azhwar has sung pasurams on multiple divyadesams. IN Peria Thirumozhi, azhwar eloborates about 50 divya desams and the remaining 36 divya desams(out of 86 glorified by him) have been referred to in other prabhandhams.
While one recites them, the ambience feeling and the quench to have darshan of the Divya dampathees draws us closer and gives the soul to rejoice in bliss knowing its identity in seeking our loving Lord….
Divya desams as per Peria Thirumozhi are given below:-
VADA NADU DIVYA DESAMS
- Thirupiridhi (10) – Joshirmutt in Uttaranchal
- Thiruvadhiri (20) — Badrikasramam in Uttaranchal
- Thirusaalagramam (10) — Muktinath in Nepal
- Naimisaaranyam (10) — near Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh
- Singavelkundram (10) — Ahobilam in Andhra Pradesh
- Thiruvengadam (61) — Tirumala Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh
THONDAI NADU DIVYA DESAMS
- Thiruevvul (11) — Thiruvallur near Arakonam in Tamil nadu
- Thiruvellikeni (10) — Triplicane in Chennai
- Thiruneermalai (19) –Pallavaram in Chennai
- Thirukadalmallai (26) –Mahabalipuram near Chennai
- Thiruvidandhai (13) — near Mahabalipuram
- Thiruvattabuyakaran (11) — Ashtabhuja perumal in Kanchipuram
- Thiruparameswara vinnagaram (10) — In Kanchipuram
NADU NADU DIVYA DESAMS
- Thirukovalur (18) – in Vizhupuram-Thiruvannamalai route
- Thiruvahindrapuram (10) – near Cuddalore
CHOLA NADU DIVYA DESAMS
- Thillai Chitrakoodam (11) – Chidambaram Natarajar temple
- Thirukaazhi seeraama vinnagaram (10) -1 km from Sirkazhi station
THIRUNANGOOR DIVYA DESAMS TOTAL 11(About 1 hour drive from Sirkazhi)
- Thiruvaali Thirunagari (41) – 8 kms south east of Sirkazhi
- Thirumanimadakovil (12) – Thirunangoor- 8 kms from Sirkazhi
- Thiruvaikunta Vinnagaram (10) – Thirunangoor
- Thiruarimeya vinnagaram (10) – Thirunangoor
- Thirudevanaar thogai (10) – 4 kms from Thirunangoor
- Thiruvanpurudothamam (10) -8 kms from Sirkazh
- Thirusemponseikovil (10) -Thirunangoor
- Thiruthetriambalam (10) -Thirunangoor
- Thirumanikoodam (10) -1 km from Thirunangoor
- Thirukaavalampadi (10) -10 kms south of Sirkazhi
- Thiruvellakulam (10) -10 kms from Sirkazhi enroute to Nagapatinam
- Thirupaarthaanpalli (10) -3 kms from Sirkazhi Venkadu
- Thiruindhaloor (11) -in Mayavaram
- Thiruvelliangudi (10) -Kumbakonam -near Aduthurai
- Thirupullamboothangudi (10) -Kumbakonam-near Swamimalai
- Thirukoodalur (10) -Kumbakonam –tanjavur route near thiruvaiyaaru
- Thiruvellarai (13) -20 kms from Trichy near Thuraiyur
- Thiruvarangam (73) -Srirangam -12 kms from Trichy
- Thirunandhipuravinnagaram ( 10) – Nathan kovil-4 kms south of Kumbakonam
- Thiruvinnagar (34) -Oppiliappan kovil -7 kms from Kumbakonam
- Thirunaraiyur (110) – 9 kms from Kumbakonam enroute to Thiruvaarur
- Thirucherai (13) – 24 kms in Kumbakonam-Thiruvaarur route
- Therazhundhur (45) -21 kms from mayavaram enroute to Komal
- Sirupuliyur (10) -3 kms from Kollumangudi station-
in Mayavaram-thirvarur route
- Thirukannamangai (14) – 7 kms from Thiruvaarur
- Thirukannapuram (104) – 2 kms from Thirupugalur on Nagapatinam-
- Thirukannangudi (10) – 1 km from Aazhiyur on Nagapatinam route
- Thirunaagai (10) – Nagapatinam
PANDYA NADU DIVYA DESAMS
- Thirupullani (21) -near Ramnathapuram
- Thirukurungudi (25) -12 kms from Nanguneri near Tirunelveli
- Tirumaliruncholai (33) -20 kms from Madurai
- Thirugoshtiyur (13) – near Karaikudi
MALAI NADU DIVYA DESAMS
- Thiruvallavaazh (11) -Tiruvalla on Ernakulam-Kollam route
In most of the pasurams , Azhwar repents starting with “vaadinen vaadi….” and claims that he has got everything now with the great Narayana thirunaamam.
He confesses to Lord Srinivasar at Tirumala for all his misdeeds and praises his mind for having resorted to the Lord’s holy feet.He says that he was under the illusion that his parents,wife etc are everything -did many mistakes when he was in youth,later he strived hard for serving his family and now with repentance approached the Lord like a dog and prays to Lord to accept him. (Azhwar who is an amsam of Lord couldn’t have been so but just to uplift us, he demeans himself)
In pasurams dedicated to Lord Narasimhar of Ahobilam, the place is only accessible to devas.
IN the pasurams dedicated to Naimisaranyam, he surrenders to the Lord Devarajan for upliftment. He addresses the Lord as “mother-Naimisaaranyathul enthaai…” .
He addresses all the five forms of the Lord at Thiruvellikeni-Parthasarathy, Thelliya singam, Gajendra Varadar,Ramar,Ranganathar.
During his course of enlightened journey the Divya dampathees ( Lordships in the temples ) were eager to meet their child which can be authenticated by citing a divine incident. During his journey Azhwar by oversight skipped Thirunindravoor near chennai and after doing mangalasaasanam at Thiru-evvul, he directly proceeds to Thiruvellikeni and in due course reached Mahabalipuram.
Goddess Sudhavalli Thayar-the divine consort of Lord Bhaktavatsalan persuades Lord to invite Azhwar as he had missed them by oversight. . Lord appeared at his next destination Thirukadalmallai and while glorifying the Lordships at Thirukadalmallai, Lord Bhaktavatsalan gave a vision to azhwar which made him take HIS name.
In the course of his travel, Azhwar glorified (mangalasaasanam) at 86 divya desams and finally reached Srirangam and undertook various construction and renovation activities.
However, Lord commanded to continue his services as HE wanted to relish the nectarine outpourings of Azhwar. (Very similar to Annamacharyar’s life)
Later he composed Thirukurunthandakam comprising of 20 pasurams where he begs Lord (Perumal) expressing his craving to have HIS darshan (as Perumal wanted him to reach the highest transcendental bliss)
Thirunedunthandakam comprising of 30 pasurams(in the first set of 10 pasurams, Azhwar sings with his own identity , in the 2nd set of 10 pasurams, azhwar assumes the role of a mother expressing her daughter’s plight and in the last set of 10 pasurams , donning the role of a girl expresses her desire to attain Perumal to her friend ) .
Our most revered Acharyar Swamy Parasara bhattar used to always contemplate on this prabhandham and thus invited Nanjeeyar into Srivaishnavism by a debate based on this lovely prabhandham. During Adhyayana utsavam , this is recited on the first day and the goshti is honoured with medicated oil to be smeared on the vaishnavas neck who would recite as a honrarium.
Thiruezhukootruirukkai comprising of one pasuram glorifies Lord Aaravamudhan of Thirukudandhai.
In Siriya Thirumadal Azhwar assumes the role of a lovelorn lady who suffers pangs of separation from her lover-. She holds his picture in her hand, longing for her lover’s association. She contemplates on how to defame the various archa murthis but faith prevails upon her which makes her restrain from doing so. She waits patiently and with confidence that her Lord would come to take her. The emotional outpourings takes us to transcendental heights.He composed both the madals at Thirunaraiyur as the Lord of Thirunariayur is considered as the acharyar for him.
In Peria thirumadal, Azhwar becomes restless for poor response from the Lordships. He starts lamenting how the Lord who had taken various forms and resides in various divyadesams didn’t concede her request even after repeated pleading . Realising that the Lord cannot be confronted in commanding , he decides by just surrendering to HIM he would be pleased and respond.
Thirumangai Azhwar personally visited all the above holy shrines on his courageous horse “aadalma”.
He has done mangalasaasanam (glorified) to 86 divyadesams and has the special honor of glorifying the Lord exclusively in 47 divya desams. The 47 divyadesams which was glorified by Thirumangai Azhwar alone are as follows ….
Thirukozhi, Thirukarambanur, Thirukandiyur, Thirukoodalur, Thirupullamboothangudi, Thiruaadhanoor, Thirucherai, Thirukannamangai, Thirukannangudi, Thirunaagai, Tirunandipuravinnagaram,Thiruvelliangudi, Thiruvazhundur, Tirusirupuliyur, Thiruthalaisanganaanmadhiyam, Tiruindalur, Tirukavalampadi, Thirukazhiseerama vinnagaram, Thiruarimeya vinnagaram, Thiruvanpurudothamam, Thirusemponseikovil, Thirumanimadakovil, Thiruvaikuntavinnagaram, Tirudevanarthogai, Thiruthetriambalam, Thirumanikoodam, Thiruvellakulam, Thirupaarthanpalli, Thiruvahindrapuram, Thirukovalur, Thiruthankaa, Thiruvellukai, Thiruneeragam, Thirunilathingal thundam, Thirukaaragam, Thirukaarvaanam, Thirukalvanoor, Thirupavazhavannam, Thiruparameswara vinnagaram, Thiruputkuzhi, Thirunindravoor, Thiruvidavendhai, Thirunaimisaranyam, Thirupiridhi, Thirusingavelkundram, Thiruthankaal, Thirupullani,Thirumeyyam.
He was more inclined to have darshan of Archa Moorthy at the holy shrines on the earth rather than the Lord in Paramapadam. Azhwar’s pasurams serve as a guide for visiting various divya desams.
Azhwar continued with his divine services in various divya desams especially at Srirangam.
His ardent desire to construct vimanam, mandapam, big walls around Srirangam, gopuram, kitchen etc. for Srirangam temple needed financial support .
Azhwar priorities was service to Perumal and HIS children for which he went to any extent of getting wealth by looting, robbery etc. Coming to know about the golden Buddha vigraham at Nagapatinam from a passerby , he decided to try his skills to possess it . He was informed that the vigraham was being protected by a revolving wheel.
He managed to pick the golden Buddha idol from Nagapatinam to construct the compound walls of Srirangam temple . On follow ups from them, he issued a promissory note to the Buddhists saying he would return even the little finger unscathed and after one year, he just gave them the little finger and won them by argument.
After the completion of the projects , he did not have sufficient money to pay them . Still he assured all of them that they would be paid for their divine deed . The laborers who were travelling by a boat got drowned due to some imbalance in the middle of the river.
Unknowingly , the kith and kin of the laborers approached the Azhwar. Azhwar cooly replied everything that has happened was with Lord’s will .To reveal their state he advised them to come the next day.
Lord Ranganathar with abundant mercy appeared in Azhwar’s dream and advised him to ask the relatives of the deceased to enter into Srirangam temple after taking a dip in Kaveri. On reaching the temple, Lord Ranganathar made them have a vision of not only their deceased ones but also their great ancestors.
The muktas applauded Azhwar’s contributions and felt fortunate to be associated with him. They advised their kith and kin that they would attain the highest position by serving Azhwar who was performing devotional service which would assure them salvation.
Extremely pleased with Azhwar’s services one day Lord Ranganathar called Azhwar and asked him to choose a boon.
Azhwar expressed his deep desire to have darshan of the dasa avataarams of Lord. Lord Ranganathar fulfilled his desire immediately .
Thanking Lord , Azhwar requested Lordships to honour Swamy Nammazhwar’s Thiruvaimozhi for 10 days starting from Vaikunta Ekadasi which was immediately accepted . The grand “Thiruvadhyayana utsavam” at Srirangam was started by Thirumangai Azhwar. Azhwar arranged to get Nammazhwar’s idol from Azhwar Thirunagari and in the presence of Namperumal in the newly constructed mandapam, Azhwar arranged for recitation of Nammazhwar’s Thiruvaimozhi for 10 days. Initially, Adhyayana utsavam was celebrated for 10 days during azhwar’s time. Later Nathamunigal arranged for 21 day festival by including recitation of the entire divyaprabhandam by dividing it as “Pagal pathu” and “Raa pathu ” utsavams.
As per Lord’s instructions, Thirumangai Azhwar constructed a mandapam for Namperumal to listen to Nammazhwar’s nectarian Thiruvaimozhi.
Lord also blessed Azhwar that whoever reads the six prabhandams composed by Tirumangai Azhwar considered as the six angams for Swamy Nammazhwar’s works will be blessed with salvation.
As a mark of confirmation ,Lord commands Azhwar to throw his Vel ( spear) assuring that the entire place where the spear falls, if a person’s last rites are performed , he would be liberated .
This special place is on the northern banks of Kaveri. ( “Paadiya vaalan Padithurai” where last rites are performed for the departed even today).
As days passed one day Azhwar requested Lord to liberate him from this samsara . Lord out of abundant compassion advised Azhwar to go to Thirukurungudi a holy divya desam which is known as “Siriya Veedu”to serve MalaiNambee perumal .
Azhwar overjoyed leaves Srirangam. Like a newly wedded girl who before leaving for her inlaws place bids goodbye to her relatives, Azhwar recollects Lordships at various divya desams .
Thirumangai Azhwar reaches Thirukurungudi and continues his services at this temple On a Vaikunta Ekadasi day with Lord’s mercy he attained salvation . Even today we can have darshan of this holy place which is about 3 kms from Thirukurungudi temple
Azhwar doesn’t have a spear and is seen with folded hands along with Kumudavalli Naachiyar.
After few years , Swamy Manavala maamunigal visited Thirunagari to have darsanam of Azhwar. He was in ecstasy and composed “Vadivazhagu Choornikai “-a beautiful poem vividly describing the beauty of Azhwar.
This deity of Azhwar was installed by Tirumangai Azhwar’s brother in law as per Lord Ranganathar’s instructions in Thirunagari temple at Tirunangoor – a small village near Sirkazhi and is being worshipped since time immemorial.
Freely translated, Swamy describes Azhwar’s beauty as the one who is holding spear(vel), with folded hands, wearing thiruman, lips slightly opened in such a way as if he is uttering “Omkaram”, having a sharp nose, cool face, broad eyes, curly hair, ears slightly bent as if to listen to Ashtakshari ( Eight word syllable )being imparted by Lordships , long ear rings, body bent at 3 places (thribangam) near neck, hip and feet , standing benevolently to obtain Lord’s grace.
He glorifies further about Thirumannankollai-the place where Perumal ( Lord) imparted ashtakshari –how he threatened Lakshmi’s husband with a knife forcing him to reveal the spell and how Lord gave the precious mantra extolled by the vedas to him and having received the mantra how realisation dawned on him and he got transformed into a devotee and humbly stood in front of the Lord with folded hands .
Swamy concludes that his eyes are blessed to see the broad chest holding the spear, one who utters the eight lettered mantra , the beautiful face and the holy feet.
VAAL VALIYAAL MANDHIRANKOL MANGAIYARKONE THOOYONE CHUDARMAANA VEL.
All glories Thirumangai Azhwar
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Pics Courtesy : Google images uploaded by several devotees