Friday, 24 January 2020

Adinatha swamy temple, Azhwar Thirunagari, Tamil Nadu and its association with saint Nammazhwar

Azhwar Thirunagari temple, TN en.wikipedia.com
Adinatha swamy temple, Azhwar Thirunagari. TN .templefolks.com/
This famous Vishnu temple at Azhwar Thirunagari, TN  is a sanctified place of worship because of its association with the great Vaishnava saint Nammazhwar who, as a kid, spent about 16 long years on the temple premises.
Built on an area covering  5 acres  of land is  Azhwar Thirunagari Permual Temple which is  one of the Nava Tirupathi sthalams (nine Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu; here  he is Adinatha swamy or Aadi Piraan and his consort  is  Aadi Natha Valli/Kurukoor Valli.  The temple that is in the district of Tirunelveli is fairly a big one with three prakarams (prathakshana path and a five story rajagopuram, entrance gate. There are big  beautiful halls - mandapams- Tirumanjana Mandapam, Tirumamani Mandapam and  Kannadi Mandapam  and each one  has fine sculptures and stone images of celestial and animals and, no doubt, they exhibit great beauty, artistic excellence and amazing workmanship.  Unlike many temples, here there is a stone Nadaswaram.  It is a wind  musical instrument native to South India - a sort of  South-Indian version of Shehnai  large in size and has a simple double reed rather than the more complex quadruple reed. Normally played in pairs, it  is accompanied by  a pair of drums called Thavil (in Tamil). Sri Aadhi Kumbeswara Swamy temple (7th century; dedicated to Lord Shiva) in the temple town of Kumbakonam, TN  is yet another temple that has a stone Nadaswaram. In Sept. 2017, the Asthna Vidhwan played on this stone wind instrument.
Adinatha swamy temple, Azhwar Thirunagari. TNjustdial.com
Also on the temple premises are small shrines dedicated  various forms of Vishnu - Rama, Venugopala, Narasimhar, Varaha. This temple is regarded as the 9th Divaya Desam shrine extolled by 12 Vaishnavite saints of 7th to 9th century.  They sang in praise of the lord in Nalayera Divya Prabandam.  It is also a famous Budhasthalam (Mercury).
an idol of saint Nammazhwar, Azhwar Thirunagari temple, TN
An interesting ritual associated with this historical temple as part of Vaikuntha Ekadashi  festival (December-January) is Araiyar Sevai.  As in Srirangam Ranganathar temple and Srivilliputtur Andal temple, the tradition has it  the Divya Prabanda Pasurams (verses) are   recited with  dedication and devotion  mixed with facial  expression, music and rhythmic dance by Ariyars. This is normally done by hereditary Ariyar family members.  A holy place, this temple is  referred to as   Aathi Kshetram, Varaaha Kshetram, Theertha Kshetram, Sesha Kshetram, etc.
It is believed that lord Vishnu took the avatar of Nammazhwar in the 4th category of  the four main classes in Hinduism; he appeared in all other three classes earlier.   Hence his birth day  is celebrated as a grand festival in this temple  and  Garuda Sevai is part of it.  Yet another feature is the asterism of each Azhwar. The idol of Nammazhwar blesses the devotees on the Hamsa (Swan) vahanam.  The pasurams are recited before  each of the idols of Nava Tirupati. This being a great festival, devotees  in thousands from this town and nearby places  attend it  to seek God's blessings.   Regarded as  one of the twelve azhwar saints of Tamil Nadu,  Nammazhwar's  contribution to Nalayera Divya Prabandam is vast  - he composed as many as 1352 among the 4000  devotional hymns.
The sthala vriksham (holy tree) of this temple is Tamarind. It is quite interesting to note that  there is a shrine to  saint Nammazhwar. About him, it is said that  when Nammazhwar  (born in 3059 BCE) was a baby,  he crawled to the nearby tamarind tree  and  sat in yogasana (Tiruppulialwar) in  big a hole  in that tree.  In his childhood he was speechless.  Madurakavi Azhwar, driven by divine dispensation,  was the first one to have  interacted with this child prodigy   and he  saw in him a bright future in the realm of Vaishnavism.  The legend has it Rama's brother Lakshmana   took the form of a tamarind tree here. This town  Azhwar Tirunagari owes its origin to  Nammazhwar's  birth in this place. On the 21st day of Vaikuntha Ekadashi  festival toward the end of rapathu (ten night) Nammazhwar Moksham is a great ritual performed at certain Vishnu temples.
an idol of saint Nammazhwar, Azhwar Thirunagari temple, TN
According to the  legend Indira  once got rid  of his sin here and, it   was here  God Shiva revealed  to sage Agasthyar  that a great
 saint would be born (Nammazhwar) who would enhance the beauty of the Tamil language on par with  that of Sanskrit.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nammalvar
https://navrangindia.blogspot.com/2019/01/aathi-nathar-temple-alwar-thirunagari.html
https://www.templefolks.com/temple-pedia/alwar-thirunagari-temple.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alwarthirunagari_Temple