Updated: Mar 20
I’m very excited to enter Ranga Gopuram and visit each sanctum. Hope you also have that same enthusiasm and joy to enter the gopuram and visit each sanctum.
Hope you can see the entrance down there. Let’s get into the Gopuram via this entrance. To have a virtual experience of staying there, just close your eyes and imagine yourself staying there now, this minute. Keep imagining all that we see using these pics as though they are in front of you now. I just want to you all send your mind, heart, and soul there.
Please leave your footwear in the stand which is located to the left side of the Gopuram.
Gear up! We will enter the gopuram in another couple of minutes, after leaving your footwear in the stand which is located to the left side of the gopuram. You will find a line which takes you into the temple. So, just enter that line and continue straight and take left, towards the entrance of the gopuram. Enter the gopuram….
Just feel the place…
There we go …. Now, we are inside the gopuram…
Just observe what’s in there …. We are currently standing inside the temple…This is how it is-
Inside Ranga gopuram.
Can you see the gopuram entrance right there inside the gopuram? That’s where we are standing right now. You will find a vast space in front of you. The left and right side of yours is filled with small shops. Towards your immediate right, you will find a sanctum.
Sri Koorathaazhwaan Sanctum
It’s Koorathaazhwaan sanctum. The speciality of this sanctum is that we have three deities residing in one sanctum- Koorathaazhwaan, Paraasara Bhattar & Nanjeeyar. You will find all of them together only in this temple, nowhere else can you find them together.
Since three of them are in the same sanctum, we will take each day to experience each deity.
So, first we shall go inside the sanctum.
We are inside the sanctum and we can see a blank space with grey tiles and pillars on both sides of the sanctum.
We will proceed straight and we will have to keep just 3-5 steps in there forward. We can find 2 more steps while heading towards the main sanctum (Garbhagriha).
Wow, we have made it to the main sanctum. As of now, I’m inserting only Koorathaazhwaan’s procession deity Photo (Utsavar) of Srirangam. But, in the original sanctum, all three deities will be together.
Swami Koorathaazhwaan, utsavar, Srirangam
Yes, here is Swami Koorathaazhwaan of Srirangam. He was born in a place called Kooram, 1009 A.D; Sowmya year, Thai month, Hastham Star…during the month of Thai, in a small village called Kooram, which is located 5-10 km away from Kanchipuram. Swami Koorathaazhwaan belonged to the ‘Haritha’ clan, which consists of popular landlords. Swami Koorathaazhwaan was given the name Srivatsachinna Mishraa by his parents, as Swaami was born as the incarnation of Srivatsam (mole on Lord Vishnu’s right side of his chest and is also the place where Sri MahaaLakshmi). Swaami Koorathaazhwaan was also known as Kooresaa.
Swami Koorathaazhwaan was married to Andal (not to be confused with the Andal who was born as an incarnation on Bhoodevi, as, as, as a daughter of Periyaalwaar & sung 30 hymns called Thiruppavai.) who was pious and devoted to Lord Vishnu right from her childhood.
Couple of incidents from Koorathaazhwaan’s life…
Swami Koorathaalwaar used to do a lot of charity. Once Lord Sri Varadaraaja Perumaal and his consort Perundevi Thaayaar heard a heavy sound of a door being closed, let’s see what happened next…
PERUNDEVI THAAYAAR immediately inquires lord regarding the incident.
SRI VARADARAJA PERUMAAL calls out for Thirukacchi Nambigal (temple administrator during Koorathaazhwaan’s time). Lord had inquired about the incident and had found out that, it was Koorathaazhwaan who had closed his brass doors, after completing his daily routine of feeding the poor.
Lord Varadaraaja then asked Thirukacchi to leave and continue with his other works.
Lord Varadaraaja enters Koorathaazhwaan’s dream and asks him to visit the temple the next day morning.
Koorathaazhwaan comes to the temple next day, meets Thirukacchi nambigal and gets to know about the conversation between Perumaal and Piraatti.
Koorathaazhwaan realizing that it was a mistake on his part to disturb Perumaal and Piraatti, at the night time, by renouncing his charity activities. Koorathaazhwaan immediately gave up all his wealth and traveled along with his wife to Srirangam. Swaami met his dear friend Bhagavat Raamaanujaa, surrendered unto Swaami Raamaanujaa, and asked him to accept him as his disciple.
Raamaanujaa is an incarnation of Aadhiseshaa (snake – bed of Lord Mahaa Vishnu), who was born in the year 1017 A.D. to Aasuri Kesava Sowmayaji and Kaanthimathi, at Sriperumbudhur. We shall see more about Raamaanujaa when we visit his sanctum.
Bhagavat Raamaanujaa, then onwards took Koorathaazhwaan along with him wherever he went.
Another incident which happened between Koorathaazhwaan and Bhagavat Ramaanujaa was…
During Chola reign, there used to be strong debates regarding who is superior, Lord Siva or Vishnu. The King Kirumi Kanda Chozhan (one who has a worm-like neck) who belonged to the Chola dynasty, sent his courtiers to bring Raamaanujaa to his court. Swaami Koorathaazhwaan came to know about the danger that Swaami Raamaanujaa might undergo if he goes abiding by the commands of the Chola king. So, Swaami Koorathaazhwaan dressed up by wearing a saffron dhoti (a loose piece of cloth wrapped around the lower body) and instructed one of the disciples of Raamaanujaa to handover this white dhoti to Raamaanujaa and ask Swami to wear this. Saying so, Koorathaazhwaan along with Periya Nambi went to Srirangam. The King asked them to write a declaration note which states- शिवात् परतरं नान्ति | ‘Nothing greater than Lord Siva exists’ and had asked them to affix their signatures without protesting and refusing it.
Swaami Koorathaazhwaan refused to do this. Swaami entered into reciting all the texts from Vedaas, Prabandhams, Upanishads, Smritis, and Puraanaas which state Srimaan Naaraayanaa is the supreme being and none can be equated to Lord Mahaa Vishnu for he is the ParaBrahmam (Ultimate being, Godhead) and is the only object for worship and contemplation. The King Kirumi Kanda Chozhan insisted he sign the declaration by forcing a writing quill in his hand and commanded that if he doesn’t do it then, his eyes will be pulled out here and now.
Koorathaazhwaan replied saying – ‘Oh sinner, I will save you from doing that sin, I shall pull out my eyes by my own hands. These eyes which have seen such a sinner is not worth enough to see anything anymore. Let me pull out my eyes now. ‘, saying so, Swaami Koorathaazhwaan took the writing quill and extracted his eyeball from the socket and threw it at the feet of the King.
The entire Kingdom was shocked to see such an action happening in the presence of so many people. The King was left unfazed. Next, the king asked Periya Nambigal, an age-old Aacharya (spiritual master) also to sign the declaration, he too refused, the king ordered his courtier, Naaluraan to pull out his eyes too and due to unbearable pain, Mahaapuranar also known as Periya Nambi left his life there(attained the lotus feet of Lord Sriman Naaraayana).
Koorathaazhwaan left the place with at-most grievance and their pain cannot be explained using words. Bearing all the pain, he went to Sanctum Sanctorum to worship Lord Ranganaathaa, but was stopped by the servants of Chola king (at Aariya Bhattaal Vaasal) saying ‘those having connections with Sri Raamaanujaa are not allowed to enter the sanctum’. Despite people telling about Koorathaazhwaan, they refused to leave him to enter the Sanctum. After hearing this he left from Srirangam to Thirumaalirincholai, before which Swaami Raamaanujaa left to Thirunaaraayanapuram, Melkote, where he stayed for 12 years.
To forget the pain, Swaami Koorathaazhwaan remembering the divine qualities of Lord Ranganaathaa sung two stotraas namely, Sri Vaikunta Sthavam and Athimaanushya Sthavam. Sri Vaikunta Sthavam consists of 100 stanzas and is the first of the 5 Sthavaas which Swaami had written. In Athimaanushya Sthavam Swami speaks about the qualities of the Lord enjoying his Avathaars. This Sthavam mainly speaks about Narsimha Avathaar, Krishna Avathaar, and Sri Raamaa Avathaar. This Sthavam is supreme in terms of its phraseology, meanings, poesy, and worship.
Swaami prayed through the 4 shlokaas that Srirangam should get cleared out of all devilish elements and that he should stay at the lotus feet of Raamaanujaa.
Koorathaazhwaan had sung Sundhararaaja sthavam praising Lord Kallazhagar @ Maalirincholai). Then on hearing that the Chola King Kirumi Kanda Cholan had died due to cruel disease, they left Thirumaalirincholai to Srirangam.
Later, Swaami Raamaanujar, who is in Melkote, heard through Vaishnava, all the atrocities that had happened to Aazhwaan and Periya Nambi and that it was a great thing that at-least Koorathaazhwaan returned alive. Immediately, Swaami sent Marathi Chiraiaandaan who was under his service to go to Srirangam and gather news about Koorathaazhwaan and other ancillaries. In doing so, he brought the news that the cruel king had died. On hearing this news, Raamaanujaa becomes extremely happy and returned to Kanchipuram as soon as he could and met them.
Swaami Koorathaazhwaan narrated Raamaanujaa about the dream of getting his divine eyes back after singing songs on Lord Varadaraaja. Swaami Raamaanujaa immediately asked him to go Deva Perumaal’s sanctum, all alone by himself, and pray to him. Accordingly, they left to Swaami Varadaraaja Perumaal Temple, and as per the wishes of Swaami of Raamaanujaa, Koorathaazhwaan sang Varadaraaja Sthavam. Before he could complete the sthavam, Swaami Raamaanujaa went around the temple and Lord Varadaraaja became happy after hearing the sthavam and asked him to ask for a boon. Koorathaazhwaan had asked that whatever I ask for should apply to Naaluraan also, as Naaluraan was the instrumental cause for Periya Nambigal’s death.
Though he was a great sinner, he should not go to hell. Being a vaishnavite, Koorathaazhwaan has shown mercy to the greatest sinner. Lord Varadaraaja said -So, be it! Hearing all that had happened in the temple and that Koorathaazhwaan did not ask what he wanted him to ask lord, also that Koorathaazhwaan had asked for something useless, Swaami Raamaanujaa felt very bad at his heart. Understanding the pains of Raamaanujaa, Lord Varadaraaja told him that he had given divine eyes to Koorathaazhwaan through which he could see Lord Varadaraaja and Sri Raamaanujaa. Feeling convinced to an extent, Sri Raamaanujaa left to Srirangam.
Swaami Koorathaazhwaan’s greatness doesn’t end here. There is a reference from Raamaanujaa Nootrandhaadhi, written by Thiruvarangathu Amudhanaar which states Swaami Koorathaazhwaan’s greatness in one paasuram (Tamil verse) ….
MOZHIYAI KADAKKUM PERUMPUGAZHAAN * VANJA MUKKURUMBAAM KUZHIYAI KADAKKUM *NAM KOORATHAAZHWAAN CHARAN KOODIYA PIN** PAZHIYAI KADAKKUM IRUMAANUSAN* PUGAZH PAADI ALLAAL VAZHIYAI KADATHTHAL* ENAKINIYAADHUM VARUTHAM ANDRE**
Meaning- After taking refuge in our Koorathaazhwaan, his glory is beyond our words, who takes us out of ignorance caused due to devoid of true knowledge, I sing the praise of Sri Raamaanujaa who removes all the sins. Thus I have escaped all non-paths, now I don’t have any regrets.
Will see about Parasarar Bhattar tomorrow.
Stay safe. Reach safe.
Inform once you reach home.
Meet you all tomorrow at Sri Ranga Ranga Gopuram, 4th Praakaaram.