Abodes of lord Vishnu

43. Arulmigu Perundevi Thayar sameda Varadharaja Perumal Temple - Thirukkachi(Athigiri)

 
Moolavar   Varadharaja Perumal
Utsavar  
Thayar   Perundevi Thayar
Kshethram   Athigiri
Theertham   Sesha Theertham
Pose & Direction   Standing Pose facing West
Vimanam   Punyakodi Vimanam
Sthala Vruksham   Aththi Tree
Paadiyavar   Pei Alwar, Boothathalwar, Thirumangai Alwar
Travel Base   Kanchipuram
Nearest Railway Station   Kanchipuram
 

 

Location

The temple is in the heart of Kancheepuram with adequate travel facilities from all parts of Tamilnadu. This Temple is located at a distance of 75 km far from Chennai, 35 from Chengalpet and 30 from Arakonam. Kanchipuram which is 75-km away from Chennai is well connected by a network of roads. There are frequent buses from the city to Chennai, Bangalore and other places. For local transportation bicycles can be hired from the shops near the bus stand. Cycle Rickshaws and auto rickshaws are also available on hire to move in and around the city. This Temple is situated 4 Kms away from Bus Stand.

 

History

Legend has it that Bhrama worshipped Vishnu in Krita yugam, Gajendra in Treta Yugam, Brihaspati in Dwapara Yugam and Adiseshan in Kaliyugam. The legend has that, Lord Brahma desired for Dharshan of Lord Sriman Narayana with Sangu, Chakra, Gadha, ( Conch, Disc, Mace) / ‘Chaturbhuja Seva’ and underwent severe penance. Lord Narayana pleased at the devotion of Lord Brahma and gave him Dharshan in the form of ‘Pushkarani’ (Theertham). Lord Brahma was not satisfied, He continued his Tapasya, Lord Narayana appeared in the form of a ‘forest’, which was came to known as ‘Naimisharanya’. At this point of time, an unknown voice from the sky instructed Lord Brahma to perform hundred Aswamedha Yaga to get the Chaturbhuja Seva of Lord Sriman Narayana as Sri Varadharaja. Lord Brahma felt depressed at the thought of performing hundred Aswamedha Yaga and the requirement of time and efforts for it. As per the instruction of Lord Sriman Narayana, performing one Aswamedha Yaga at the scared land of Kanchi is equivalent to thousand Aswamedha Yaga, Lord Brahma began performing the Yagam and Sri Varadharaja emerged out of the scared fire. Finally, Lord Brahma had the Chaturbhuja Seva of Sri Varadharaja as he desired. Brahmma wanted to see Lord Vishnu, on earth, in his full form. He undertook penance and the Lord appeared in the form of water in Pushkaram and in the form of forest in Naimisarinyam. He was then asked to do Aswamedha Yaagam at ‘Sathya Vratha Kshetram’. It was here in Kanchipuram that Brahmma performed the Aswamedha Yaagam. As seen in the earlier Divya Desam stories (relating to Kanchipuram), Saraswathi was angry that Brahmma undertook the Yaagam without her support and presence and adopted different ways to stop the Yaagam. Lord Vishnu took different forms to thwart her attempts. At Thiruvekka, he stopped river Vegavathi by sleeping across as a dam, at Ashtabhujam he came with 8 hands to kill the Asura and subdue Kaali, at Thiru Thanka, he appeared as a flame to provide light (after Saraswathi had plunged the place into darkness). Finally, Lord Vishnu is said to have landed here in his Punyakoti Vimaanam and appeared before Brahmma to signal the completion of the Aswamedha Yaagam. “Ka” – means Brahma and “Anjitham” – means who was worshipped. Since, Brahma worshipped Emperumaan as Varadharajar; this sthalam is called “Kanchi”. Belief is that Brahma comes here once a year on the full moon day in the Tamil month of Chitrai (April-May) around mid-night, for a darshan of Varadarajan. On this day, it is the practice for the priests to place food inside the sanctum and to wait outside for 24 minutes. At the end of this, the food is said to smell sweeter. During the Muslim invasion, the Moolavar deity (Lord Varadarajan) is said to have been damaged. As a damaged deity could not be worshipped, it was immersed in the temple tank. The Moolavar that we see today at Kanchipuram was brought from Pazhaya Seevaram, about 20kms from Kanchipuram. In memory of this, the Utsava idol of Lord Varadarajan is taken on a procession once a year, during the Tamil month of Thai (Jan-Feb) to Pazhaya Seevaram. Lord Narasimha is also taken on a procession to Keezh Seevaram during the Sankaranthi period (Kanu).The original Moolavar of Lord Varadarajan which was immersed in the temple tank. Athi Varadan is taken out once in 40 years and placed outside for public worship for a period of 10 days. This event took place last in 1979 and the next one is slated for 2019.Two disciples of Gautama Rishi used to fill water every day for their Guru. One day, to their shock, they found a lizard jumping out when they placed the tumbler in front of their Guru. An angry Rishi cursed the two for their carelessness and they instantly turned into Lizards. The 2 disciples stayed here at Kanchipuram as lizards until Indra came, as Elephant Gajendra, to worship Varadarajan Perumal and relieved them from their curse. In memory of this, there is a golden lizard and a silver lizard outside the Varadarajan Sannidhi. Belief is that one will be relieved of all diseases if one prays to Lord Varadarajan and touches the Lizard on the way out. The lizard is considered to be a very important creature in such modes of communications. When a lizard steps into the puja room and stays there it's considered auspicious. They say that either your Guru or the Lord Himself rides on the lizard when they come visiting. The nature of the lizard in such cases is quite different. They tend to be fearless, hang around the deep dark corners of the room and come closer to the devotee as and when they wish, sometimes it's too close for comfort. A family is considered blessed and the home is believed to have positive vibrations when lizards come to live within the walls of its puja room. Lizards seem to have held a very strong place in function. Killing or harming lizards is considered one of the greatest "doshams"(negative effects) committed ever. Even more intriguing is the fear that is triggered with the accumulation of "doshams" when a lizard falls over a person. They say that if a lizard fell over our head, something very inauspicious is going to happen, like probable death in the family, while if it falls on the foot it means travel. It looks like our ancestors didn't take to traveling very well, not half has lightly as we take it today. There might have been dangers they would have to face in the journey so avoiding travel was probably recommended. In order to rid one off these negative effects our ancestors thought a lot for the masses. Interestingly found only in the Varadaraja Perumal temple at Kanchipuram is the silver and gold lizards on the ceiling of a small chamber in this temple. With mystical diagrams of the sun and moon near it, this large lizard is supposed to wipe out all the accumulated "doshams" if we get to touch it. There is an endless list of "doshams" given in our panchangam. The sun, moon and the lizard (palli) are related to astrology and give remedies with relation to our horoscopes for a more peaceful living. Touching these lizards on the ceiling nullifies the negative effects that we might have accumulated in the course of our living, knowingly or unknowingly.Thirumangai Azhvaar, Bhootath Azhvaar and Pey Azhvaar have praised Lord Varadarajan. Kanchipuram is the birth place of Poigai Azhvaar and Vedantha Desigan. It was here that Thirumangai Azhvaar was given money for the construction/renovation of the Srirangam temple.Thirukkachi Nambikal (Also known as Kanchi Purnar) was an ardent devotee of this temple. He used to bring flowers every day from Poovirundhavalli, where he maintained a garden. He did Aalavattam Kainkaryam, waving to produce breeze with the help of hand fan. It is believed that Varadharaja used to converse with him, while he was doing that Seva. Aalavattam Kainkaryam is a worship practise followed in modern times also. Nambi also composed Devarajaashtakam (A Sanskrit poem of 8 verses) on the presiding deity. Sri Ramanujar, another great Vaishnavite, got answers to his six questions from Lord Varadharaja through Sri Thirukkachi Nambikal. For 15 days succeeding this (after the full moon day in Chitrai); Sun’s rays fall directly on Lord Varadarajan at the time of dusk. At Sri Vaikuntam - Nava Tirupathi, Sun’s rays fall directly on Lord Vaikuntanathan on two days (April-May and October - November period every year). Aalavanthaan met Ramanuja for the first time here in Kanchipuram. The story goes that Ramanuja once lost his way in the Vindhya forest. Lord Varadarajan is said to have appeared as a hunter and carried Ramanuja all the way to Kanchipuram. A tired Varadarajan (the hunter) asked Ramanuja for water. When Ramanuja brought water from the street well, he is said to have seen Lord Varadarajan, along with the Goddess, disappear right in front of him into the temple Sannidhi. To this day, sacred water for Lord Varadarajan is brought from this street well. Thirukkachi Nambi used to ‘fan’ Lord Varadarajan to prevent the Lord from sweating under the heat. It is believed that he also used to have daily interactions with the Lord. Ramanuja, who was performing the daily rituals for Kanchi Varadaraja Perumal, had to be moved to Srirangam to succeed Aalavanthaan. Thirukkachi Nambi is said to have got the permission from Varadarajan to allow Ramanuja to move to Srirangam. Hence, Varadaraja Perumal is credited with the handing over of Ramanuja to Srirangam. In those days Yamunacharya was the leader of the Vishishtadvaita School. He had authored many learned works in Sanskrit on that school of philosophy. Mighty contributions yet remained to be made for the development of its tenets, but Yamunacharya was becoming very old. He was wondering who would continue the great tradition. He was then living in Sriranga. He had devoted himself to the worship of Lord Ranganatha. He used to hear now and then about Ramanuja. Once he happened to come to Kanchi. He saw Ramanuja when the latter was going in a crowd, and was much pleased. Ramanuja was tall, handsome and well built. He thought that Ramanuja was the right man for the task of guiding the Vishishtadvaita School. He prayed to God Varadaraja Swami that Ramanuja would be the successor.

 

Architecture

Sri Devaraja Swamy Temple, popularly known as Sri Varadarajar Temple is situated at the eastern corner of Kancheepuram. Lofty Gopurams and lengthy walls bear testimony to the fame of the temple. The temple is originally built in 1053 and it was expanded during the reigns of the great Chola kings Kulottunga Chola I and Vikrama Chola. In 14th century another wall and a gopura was built by the later Chola kings. The temple covers an area of 23-acre (93,000 m2) complex and shows the architectural skills of ancient Vishwakarma Sthapathis in temple architecture and is famous for its holiness and ancient history. The temple has three outer precincts (prakarams) namely Azhwar Prakaram, Madai Palli Prakaram and Thiru Malai Prakaram. There are 32 shrines, 19 vimanams, 389 pillared halls (most having the lion type yali sculpture) and sacred tanks some of which located outside the complex. The main sanctum faces west and can be entered through a 130 feet tall, 7-tiered Rajagopuram (main gateway tower). The eastern gopuram is taller than the western gopuram, which is contrasting to large temples where the Rajagopuram is the tallest one. One of the most famous architectural pieces in the temple is the huge stone chain sculpted in a single stone. There is a 100 pillared hall which has sculptures depicting Ramayana and Mahabaratham. It is a masterpiece of Vijayanagara architecture. The height of East Gopuram is 125 feet; width 99 feet and the height of west Raja Gopuram is 96 feet and width 92.5 feet. The shrine of Varadarajaswamy is on a small hillock 10m tall and a flight of 24 steps, termed "Hasthagiri". It has murals of the late Vijayanagara Empire on the ceiling. Other significant features of the temple are beautifully carved lizards and gilded with gold, over the sanctum. The Vimana over the sanctum of Varadaraja Swami is called Punyakoti Vimanam and the one over Perundevi Thayar shrine is called Kalyana Koti Vimanam. Lord Varadharaja Swamy resides in the upper prakaram. Beneath the Sannidhi there is a shrine for Lord Narasimha. Apart from the main stone idol, the temple has the wooden image of Varadarajaswamy preserved within a silver box from which water is pumped out every 40 years. There are two long Mandapas under the tank north of the 100 pillar mandapam in the temple, where the 40 feet long Athi Varadaraja Perumal in his reclining posture is placed. The wooden idol is brought out for the darshan of the devotees once in forty years. Special Pujas are offered to Perumal.The theertham of this sthalam is "Sesha theertham" and is found along the north side of Nootrukkal Mandapam (100 pillared Mandapam). All along this theertham, Adiseshan did tapas. Azhagiya Singar - Narasimhar is found along with Arithra Devi Thaayar and his Sannadhis Vimaanam is (cave) Gugha Vimanam. There is a shrine of Narasimha on the hillock. The origin of the mask of Narasimha is mysterious and believed to possess inexplicable powers. It is said that the Narasimhar Sannadhi is first Sannadhi to be built. The image of Chakrathaazhwar (Sudarsana) in the temple is depicted with 16 hands holding conch and discus is on the eastern side of the temple tank. He is also praised as Sudharsana Azhwar. There festival image of the temple has seven different images of Sudarshana depicted within the same Chakra. The place derived the name Athigiri as Iravadam elephant lifted Perumal as a Mount (Athi – Mount). The 24 steps in the temple represent the number of letters of Gayathri Mahamantra.

Arulmigu Perundevi Thayar sameda Varadharaja Perumal Temple
Kachipuram, Kanchipuram - 631501
Phone: 94439 90773
Temple Timings : 6.00 am to 11.00 am, 4.00 pm to 8.00 pm