Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Parthasarathy Koil Adyapakas’ arrogance to the fore

A ‘Go Slow’ Tactic by Adyapakas delay Lord Parthasarathy’s sleep

MA Venkatakrishnan and his team of Adyapakas showcased themselves in extremely poor light late this evening at the Parthasarathy temple in Thiruvallikeni on the 9th day of the Era Pathu Utsavam
A 45 minute Tiruvoimozhi recital that was extended to 2 1/2 hours as a mark of protest that stunned the devotees and the bhattars to a state of shock

Decked in Govardhana Giri Thiru Kolam, a form that has been extensively described by Periyazhvaar in his Thirumozhi (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2015/09/krishna-govardhana-mountain.html), Lord Parthasarathy made his way through the Paramapada Vaasal just after 6pm on Monday (January 16) evening for the ‘Periya Veethi’ procession along with Nam Azhvaar that was to precede the Tiruvoimozhi recital.  

For about 30 minutes or so, it all seemed normal until the Lord came to a standard ‘Shatari’ halt in front of the Thiru Maligai of Shri. Parthasarathy Bhattar, the lead Bhattar of the temple on the West Street.

It is believed that it has been a practice of the Bhattar to present a range of prasadams to the Lord on one of the days of the Era Pathu Utsavam during the street procession. Only this time, the halt was a lot longer than usual.

With the Lord standing there on the West street for half hour, one could feel a sense of uneasiness taking over the minds of the Adyapakas who were the leading the Lord with the recital of the sacred verses.

But what followed in the evening a couple of hours later left everyone in a state of shock inside the temple.

The big street procession usually takes 75-90 minutes during this 10 day Era Pathu festival and the Lord was to be back at the temple by 7.30 pm. But with the extended halt in front of the Bhattar’s house, it took around 2 hours for the Lord to make his way back into the temple.

Brutal display of Intellectual Power
Aggrieved at this delay, MA Venkatakrishnan and his team of adyapakas in an ugly display of power decided to give it back to the Bhattars.
This evening was to be the 9th Canto of a 100 verses of Nam Azhvaar’s Tiruvoimozhi (on each of the 10 days of the Era Pathu utsavam, the big and celebrated Ghosti of Parthasarathy temple recite a 100 verses culminating in Nam Azhvaar Moksham on the final evening – one that is slated for Tuesday evening at around 10 pm)

Usually the set of 100 verses during the Era Pathu Utsavam is recited in a time frame of 45-60 minutes. And over the last few days, the Lord has headed back with his winter clothing well before 11 pm.

However, this evening turned out to be different bringing back bad old memories from over a decade earlier.

GO SLOW Tactics
If one thought that the Go Slow tactics was an exclusive weapon of the workers in the manufacturing unity, Venkatakrishnan showed that it could be applied in a temple scenario as well to showcase one's anger.

Unhappy at the delayed return from the procession, the Venkatakrishnan led Adyapaka group took an impromptu decision to slow down the recital to an abysmally unheard of pace taking even their teammates by surprise.

As 10 verses passed and into decad 2, the rest of the Ghosti, who were not clued into this secret plan of Venkatakrishnan and co tried to speed up the recital to the usual pace but the senior Adyapakas slowed it down again. Into the 3rd and 4th decads, an attempt was made by the other members of the ghosti to get back to the normal recital but Venkatakrishnan would have none of it.

Half way into the 9th Canto, it was clear to one and all that there was something wrong. Most of the members of the Ghosti (the non adyapakas) were constantly looking at the clock and the roof above as the clock touched 10 pm and they weren't anywhere near completion!!! A few of them headed out in the middle of the presentation.

The devotees on their part too made their way out of the temple as the clock ticked past 11 pm. And still the end wasn't near!!!

Ameena Seshadri (the sacred time keeper) and Maniam Balaji turned silent spectators as Venkatakrishnan seemed to showcase in Public to the devotees at large as to who had the final POWER that night.

However, a large percentage of the ghosti members who seemed to have been taken in by surprise at this sudden move of the adyapakas, later indicated that they were helpless and had to follow the 'Lead Speed'.

Over 2 1/2 hours to recite a 100 verses 
In a shabby display of intellectual arrogance and overcome by ego, that had been hurt by the longish wait during the procession, Venkatakrishnan and his adyapaka group slowed down the recital to such a pace that it took almost 150 minutes to complete the 90 verses (it would have taken around 40-45 minutes on normal days).

And then they came back a few minutes later to complete final decad of 10 verses where Nam Azhvaar praises the Lord of Thiru Kannapuram. By then the clock had ticked to almost mid night.
Angered at this ugly treatment meted out to them, the Bhattars now slowed down the presentation of the Theertham, thus making the Ghoshti wait for the Thaligai.

Everything just seemed in poor taste this evening, when everyone seemed to have forgotten that there was one man who was watching all their action from just a few yards away. In fact, his Thiru Kolam of carrying the huge mountain in a single hand showcased that he was there ever willing to protect the true devotees. But to those who forget his presence and take law into their hands in an unjust manner, he always reminds them as to who the real BOSS is.

Finally, the Lord headed back to the mandapa at 0.30am, almost two hours later than on the previous day (the 8th evening).

Prof Venkatakrishnan’s message to his Vaishnavite Students!!!
MA Venkatakrishnan had been a professor of Vaishnavism dept of the University of Madras for well over two decades and retired as the Head of the Department a couple of years ago. He is now anchoring the Correspondence course in Vaishnavism of a private University in Tamil Nadu. He also presents the verses of the Azhvaars on TV Channels explaining the inner meaning of the verses.

Is this the message he wants to give to the students of Vaishnavism - 'Teach others a lesson by using such low handed tactics' inside the temple making the Lord wait for 2 hours in a vulgar display of power.

Is this how he will explain Periyazhvaar’s verses of Krishna holding on to the Govardhana Mountain to protect the true devotees on earth. Is Venkatakrishnan’s message one of taking revenge for a seemingly unintended delay in procession. Is he advocating such a path to his students of Vaishnavism and to the viewers of Television  through his upanyasams. 

His wife too was a lecturer at the Madras University and she too had been quoted in a column in The Hindu about the route to Moksham. Mrs. Venkatakrishnan should be asking him if this abject display of power in front of the Lord is the route that Thirumazhisai Azhvaar (that she quoted a year and a half ago) suggested as the route to Moksham.

Adyapakas making the Lord wait during processions
Over the last few years, he and the lead row of adyapakas have repeatedly made the Lord wait during street processions by not moving on despite the loud requests from Amena Seshadri from behind. Repeatedly Venkatakrishnan has tried to show as to who the BOSS is on the street. On a number of occasions through the year, Venkatakrishnan is seen meddling with his smart phone during the recital of the sacred verses.
It is time for Venkatakrishnan to take a re-look at the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham and the inner meaning of the verses. Nowhere in the 4000 verses have the Azhvaars advocated revenge as a tactic of life. Does the Adyapaka group realise that they have committed a sin this evening by delaying the sleep of the Lord by two hours. Do they think that Lord Parthasarathy would have shut his eyes off tonight forgetting their wicked deed of the evening.

While the Ghosti of the Parthasarathy temple ranks among the best in temples in Tamil Nadu (they always turn out in large numbers and many of them present with great devotion before the Lord), it is time for them to realise that they have been presented an exclusive opportunity in this life to present the sacred verses day in and day out in front of the Lord. 

At the moment, they seem to be blinded by an intellectual arrogance that they have repeatedly been taking ‘law’ into their hands.

There was at least one strong voice (from the Ghosti) of dissent at the end from one who had been part of the Ghosti for four decades at the way the evening had been conducted albeit well after the temple had closed for the night. But at least he seemed to have realised very soon that the Adyapakas had not been fair to the Lord on the night.

Time will tell if the Lord’s eyes were indeed open tonight and if he indeed listened to this arrogant recital of the verses on Thiru Katkarai, Moozhikalam and Navai by Venkatakrishnan and his team of adyapakas.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Kulasekara Azhvaar Thiru Chitrakoodam

Narrating each phase from the entire Ramayana in a Single Decad
Kulasekara Azhvaar refers to his favourite Lord as being 'Peerless'

Kulasekara Azhvaar ends the Perumal Thirumozhi of over a 100 verses with a decad dedicated to the Lord of Thillai Chitrakoodam (Chidambaram). On reaching there, he was so moved on seeing the handsome features of Lord that instantly he was reminded of the glorious tale of Lord Rama and goes on to praise the major achievements of his favourite Lord in a sequence right from his teenage days through to the time when he reaches his abode at Vaikuntam.
Kulasekara Azhvaar begins by praising Lord Rama as one being peerless and as a Lord with Lotus eyes.
 விண்முழுதும் உயக்கொண்ட  வீரன்தன்னைச்
Following this, he goes on to narrate the achievements in a sequence.

As a youngster, he was sent out to guard the fire sacrifice of Sage Vishwamitra ( King Dasaratha reluctantly agreed as he believed that his son was too young to fight the mighty asuras). It was there that he provided the first glimpse of his astonishing powers by destroying several rakshashas with effortless ease.

மந்திரம்கொள் மறை முனிவன் வேள்வி காத்து
வல்லரக்கர் உயிர் உண்ட மைந்தன் காண்மின்  

3000 Seers in Chitrakoodam
During his time, there seemed to be Vedic Seers in several thousands as Kulasekara Azhvaar specifies that 3000 seers constantly chanted praise of the Lord of Chitrakoodam on a daily basis.  He describes Chitrakoodam as a place surrounded by groves that is full of flowers. The walls of Chitrakoodam, he says, were so huge that enemies feared entering. 

செந்தளிர்வாய் மலர் நகை சேர் செழுந்தண்  சோலைத் 
தில்லை நகர் திரு சித்திரகூடந் தன்னுள்
அந்தணர்கள் ஒரு மூவாயிரவர் ஏத்த
அணிமணி ஆசனத்து இருந்த அம்மான் தானே 

For his beloved Sita's sake
Moving into the next phase of Rama’s life, Kulasekara Azhvaar says that to attain Sita, he once again showed his physical strength as he broke the bow of Siva, that all others had failed to even lift and later drove away Parasurama, the sworn enemy of the kings.

செல்வரிதற் கருநெடுங்கண் சீதைக்கு ஆகிச்
சினவிடையோன் சிலையிருத்து மழுவாள் ஏந்தி
வெவ்வரிநற்  சிலை வாங்கி வென்றி கொண்டு
வேல்வேந்தர் பகை தடிந்த வீரன் தன்னைத்  

Follows Dharmic Path
When he was about to be coronated, Rama provided his first indication of following the dharmic path by obeying his mother’s words (though his father was hesitant to let him go) and heading to the forest. He crossed the Ganges assisted by his long time friend the boatman Guha. While in the forest he gave away his sandals and the kingdom to Bharata and lived here in Chitrakootam.

தொத்து அலர் பூஞ் சரிசுழல் கைகேசி சொல்லால்
தொல் நகரம் துறந்து துறைக் கங்கைதன்னைப்
பத்தி உடைக்க குகன் கடத்த வானம் போய்ப் புக்கு

Life in the Forest
He killed the demon Viratha thus protecting the rishis and recognising his contribution was gifted a bow by the great sage Agasthya. Later he cut off the nose of Soorpanaka and killed Khara and Dhooshana and the golden deer.
வலி வணக்கு வரை நெடுத்தேன் விரதைக் கொன்று
வன் தமிழ் மா முனி கொடுத்த வரிவில் வாங்கி
கலை வணக்கு நோக்கு அரக்கி மூக்கை நீக்கி 
கரனோடு தூடணன்தன் உயிரை வாங்கி 

He was separated from his wife Sita and lost consciousness for a while in a moment of shock. It was during his search for Sita that he gave moksham to Bird Jatayu by performing his final rites.

Gives Ravana an early warning
As he proceeded further, he made friends with Sugreeva , the monkey king and killed his elder brother Vali. He enraged Ravana when his messenger Hanuman burnt the beautiful city of Lanka with his tail.
வாலியைக் கொன்று இலங்கை நகர் அரக்கர் கோமான்
சினம் அடங்க மாருதியாற் கடுவித்தானைத்

Having found the location of Sita, he split the sea with his arrow and enabled the causeway to be built crossing the sea. He killed many rakshashas and finally their King Ravana. Handing over the kingdom to Vibheeshana, he reunited with Sita and returned to Ayodhya, a city that Kulasekara Azhvaar describes as one full of tall mansions.

Kulasekara Azhvaar presents the happiness of Rama when he heard his own story from the lips of his twin sons Lava and Kusa.

Towards the end, Kulasekara Azhvaar presents the story of the Lord killing Jambuka giving the life to the dead Vedic seer. He sent Shatrugna to kill asura Lavana. Through the curse of Durvasa, Rama had to separate from his beloved brother Lakshmana.

செறி தவச் சம்பூகன் தன்னைச் சென்று கொன்று
செழு மறையோன் உயிர் மீட்டு தவத்தோன் ஈந்த

நிறை மணிப் பூண் அணியும் கொண்டு
இலவணன் தன்னைத்

தம்பியால் வான் ஏற்றி  முனிவன் வேண்டத்
திரள் விளங்கும் இலக்குமனைப் பிரிந்தான் தன்னைத்

In the final verse, Kulasekara Azhvaar praises Rama as one who gave life to moving and even non moving creatures by taking them to Vaikunta where he entered his abode in a grand form with his four glorious arms.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Kulasekara Azhvaar Lord Rama

Lullaby to Rama that is then followed by the lament of a forlorn father
Kulasekara Azhvaar praises Thiru Kannapuram as a town with fortified walls and the temple with a huge tank

Why hasn't my heart split into two? Dasaratha on being forced to banish his son to the forest
After a couple of decads on Krishna, his love for the Gopis and mother Devaki’s feelings of missing her son through the entire growth phase, Kulasekara Azhvaar dedicates the final three decads of the Perumal Thirumozhi entirely to his favourite Lord Rama.

While the 8th decad comprises of Lullaby to Rama, the 9th one is a lament by Dasaratha on how his old promise to Kaikeyi has come to haunt him at the most inappropriate time and how, as a father, he has had the misfortune of having to banish his beloved son to the forest on the eve of his coronation.
In the 8th decad, he praises the Lord of Thiru Kannapuram while describing the different events in Rama’s life. He praises Thiru Kannapuram as a temple surrounded by huge fortified walls ingrained with gold and the sacred water being holier than the Ganges. He praises the place as one where Cauvery flowed in full speed. He describes the removal of weeds and the consequent blooming of lotus flowers in the huge tank. Kannapuram was a place where red lotus grew everywhere around the temple.

கன்னி நன் மா மதில் புடை சூழ் கணபுரத்து என் கருமணியே

களைகழுநீர் மருங்கு அலரும் கணபுரத்து கருமணியே 

Kannapuram as a Location
Early in the morning he found bees circling around the temple with a buzzing noise that seemed to be in melodious tunes. Kannapuram, he says, was a place where learned sages lived and one where elders resided.

Kannapuram is praised as a temple by the seashore where strong winds washed ashore jewels.

காலின்மணி கரை அலைக்கும் கணபுரத்து என் கருமணியே

Kulasekara Azhvaar praises the Lord of Kannapuram as one who is seen with fragrant flower garland in his crown.
The Greatness of Rama
Through the verses, he describes the greatness of Rama through the different events including the removal of the ten heads of Ravana, the king of Lanka in the South. It was his arrow that pounded the chest of Tadaka who did not give up till the end. 

He praises Rama’s handsome features and sees him as one with lovely locks.His greatness is then brought out through his clan. Rama is praised as the Son in Law of Janaka and as Dasarathi, the descendent of Emperor Dasaratha and as the consort of Mythili.

கொங்கு மலி கருங்குழாள் கௌசலைதன் குலமாதலாய்
தங்கு  பெரும் புகழ்ச்சனைகள் திருமருகா தாசரதீ

Leaving charge of the kingdom to his brother Baratha, who is praised as being the noblest, Rama entered the blazing forest unmindful of the heat along with his devoted brother.
பார் ஆளும் படர் செல்வம் பரத தம்பிக்கே அருளி 

ஆரா அன்பு இளையவனோடு அருங்கானம்  அடைந்தவனே 

He killed Vali and handed over the Vanara Kingdom to the younger brother Sugreeva. He describes beautifully in a verse the event of building a causeway with big boulders and rocks amidst high waves in the sea  

Description of Lanka
Lanka is praised as a city with high fortified walls alongside the huge sea. It had to be his special bow, incomparable in its features, that he destroyed the huge city.

He makes a comparison of Srirangam and Thiru Kannapuram.

Dasaratha’s moaning
Kulasekar Azhvaar dedicates an entire decad, the only such in the entire Nalayira Divya Prabhandham, to moaning of a desolate Dasaratha.

While the entire city of Ayodhya was awaiting the coronation and eagerly looking to see Rama as the king, Dasaratha laments that the step mother has ordered his dear son to the dangerous forest. ‘Listening to her, I have taken the kingdom away from you. It is a pity this I have done this.’

You were to lead the royal elephant of our kingdom. You were to drive the chariot and the horses. But the harsh words from my cruel tongue has driven you to the wild forest accompanied by your consort, who looked beautiful adorning the jewels.

Sita’s eyes are praised as being lovely and long and he compares the sharpness to a spear smeared with ghee. He asks as to how he would move along the thorny forest and tehn wonders as to what he could do now having sent him away.

Dasaratha then describes the physical features of Rama and his valour.

‘His eyes are beautiful and shoulders long and strong like a mountain. Calling himself a sinner, he says that his son who was to sleep on the soft bed in the palace has to now learn to lie down under a leafless tree with the rock as his bed in the cruel forest.

He describes Sita as one whose hair was decked afresh with flowers and whose beautiful shoulders shone like a bamboo.

Once again, he is reminded of his son and asks him to return at least for a while just for a glance.

He wails that it is his past sins that have damned him to such a state. As he visualizes this dear son straying away into the forest amidst the deadly wild elephants, Dasaratha wonders as to how his heart has not yet split into two.

How unfortunate would it be if in the forest where sharp stones under the heat of the blazing sun cut open the sole of Rama’s feet causing it to bleed? “You have to now bear the torturous heat that will cause severe hunger. Listening to the words of my wicked wife, I have turned a sinner but what can be done now. There is no remedy in place’.

My son may still be calling me father with his dear sweet voice but I am not able to hear it. No more will I be able to embrace his chest and be able to enjoy his gentle caress. His steps when he walked were like elephant’s majestic walk, his face like a blossomed lotus.

Dasaratha laments as to why he should still live having sent his Godly son away in a moment of thoughtlessness.

He calls out for Sumantra and Sage Vashista and cries out that his son should have been in silk robe but instead is likely to be in dabha grass. He adds that it was time for him to be decked with flowers, but he is now with matted plaits. Would not his body be losing its lustrous beauty.

He then poses a question to Kaikeyi. By sending out the learned Rama and the beautiful Sita and handing over the kingdom to Bharata will she not be bring infamy to him and by sending her husband to his death bed, has she gained anything. He taunts her saying that they can all enjoy the huge wealth of the land.

He describes the greatness of Rama by reminding one of the episodes relating to Parasurama. Despite possessing features that are rare and keeping aside all the greatness (of Rama) and not considering mother Kausalya’s painful afflictions, it has finally come down to my earlier promise to Kaikeyi. Nothing else is important now for the son to fulfill. He lauds the greatness of Rama and says that in all his future births he would desire a son like him.

Finally, he bids adieu to this life stating that having left Kausalya and Sumantra in a state of grief and having had to listen to kaikeyi who was unduly influenced by hunch back Mantra and meeting her unfair demands, ‘I made my son leave this city that was all set for festive celebrations.’

With this he says he cannot live anymore and is willingly taking his path to heaven.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Madanagopal finally cracks the elusive

Big New Year Gift
Madanagopal and his long time friend Ananthapadmanabhan to umpire Ranji Semi Final
Two months after I had written about JR Madanagopal (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2016/10/madanagopal-j.html still awaiting the big break in Umpiring) the big call has finally come this evening. The Ranji Trophy knock out posting that had remained elusive all these years has finally arrived. He has been posted for the knock out semi Final Clash between Gujarat and Jharkhand starting this Sunday.

JR Madanagopal, whose umpiring prospects I had first written in 2012 (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2012/05/.-set-for-big-leap-as-umpire.html) has finally managed to draw the attention of the powers that be with an impressive performance in the league phase of the current Ranji season, where he umpired some crucial matches including ones involving Bombay.

Interestingly, his umpiring partner for the Ranji Knock out is former Kerala and South Zone leggie KN Ananthapadmanabhan.  Both Madanagopal and Ananthapadmanabhan passed the umpiring board exam in the same year a decade ago with almost identical marks!!

Ananthapadmanabhan (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2016/09/ananthapadmanabhan-kn.html) had told prtraveller earlier this year that he and Madan were constantly engaged in intellectual discussions on umpiring over the last many years.
This is the first time Madanagopal will be umpiring a knock out Ranji game. A good game could possibly land him a Finals opportunity as well (if Bombay makes the final).

With the Semi Final match, it is likely that Madanagopal would jump into the top 10 in India this year. And that would throw open opportunities for him in the 2017 edition of the IPL.

It is hoped that both of them who played their cricket with a lot of commitment over a long period of time, will be able to soon make it into the (inter) national level in umpiring.

PS: Madanagopal should have made his knock out debut last week but unfortunately as the Ranji quarter final clashed with the U19 match that he was umpiring earlier last week, he had to let go that opportunity. Thankfully, he has had to wait only a week longer. 

Nachiyar Koil Divya Desam

Bhattars struggled in the 2nd half of the 20th Century ending up in poverty
Revival of Nachiyar Koil driven by the new gen enterprising Bhattars and the new 'Donor' contribution Model 


Thiru Mangai Azhvaar composed over a 1000 verses in the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham. Out of these, he accorded a 100 or more verses only to two temples one of which was Nachiyar Koil (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2007/11/108-divya-desam-naachiyaar-koil-thiru.html) where he was initiated with the Pancha Samskaram and hence saw the Lord as his Acharya. Both the Madals – Siriya and Periya Thiru Madal are also dedicated to the Lord of Thiru Naraiyur.

In his praise, he has described the town and its people as it was during his times, the festivals, the greatness of the Lord and has compared the temple with other temples such as Srirangam. He says that he saw the Lord at Thiru Naraiyur as the one he had seen in a handsome standing posture at Thiru  Venkatam.

The Green Fields of Thiru Naraiyur
During his times, the Lord was surrounded by Areca and Fruit orchards. The fields were fertile and different varieties of fish danced around in the waters. The Cuckoos came in large numbers and pecked on the Mango Trees. Peacocks danced to the tunes of the bees, swans swam in pairs and drank nectar from the lotuses and soon after slept around the lotuses.

Dripping Honey from Jack Fruit
He also found Jack Fruit with honey oozing out on to the trees. Another stand out feature of Thiru Naraiyur was the huge Plantation fields where huge bunch of bananas were seen slipping out of the branches.

களை கொண்ட பலங்கனிகள் தேன் பரிய
கதலிகளின் தில்லை கொண்ட பழம் கெழுமித்
திகழ் சோலைத் திருநறையூர்

Thiru Mangai Azhvaar saw the birds flying far and wide searching for food and came back later into the resting place in the trees. The White storks went after the big fish and consumed them. Later they too went and drank nectar from the Lotuses. Cranes too were seen in the fields. He says that the groves were full of nectar.

Ripe Paddy grew in the green fields along with beautiful red lotuses. Tall Sugarcane plants were also seen in big numbers in the fields of Naraiyur.

சீர் தழைத்து கதிர்ச் செந்நெல் செங் கமலத்து இடை இடையில்
பார் தழைத்துக் கரும்பு ஓங்கிப் பயன் விளைக்கும் திருநறையூர்

Flowers @ Thiru Naraiyur
Different varieties of flowers were seen in the groves of Thiru Naraiyur. The bees moved from the fragrant Shenbagam and Mullai flowers to the Vakula and Panal flowers.

A speciality of the 100 verses in the Periya Thiurmozhi is a decad dedicated completely to Ko Chenganan Chozhan in recognition of the beautiful construction of the first Mani Mada Koil in a Perumal temple after having completed the construction of70 such Saivite temples (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2014/12/ko-chenganan-and-nachiyar-koil-divya.html).

Mani Mada Koil is a special type of construction to prevent the entry of elephants anywhere near the sanctum (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2014/12/thiruvanaikaval-jambukeswarar.html).

வம்பு அவிழும் செண்பகத்தின் வாசம் உண்டு
மணி வண்டு வகுளத்தின் மலர்மேல் வைகு
செம்பியன் கோச் செங்கணான் சேர்ந்த கோயில்
திருநறையூர் மணிமாடம் சேர்மின்களே

A rich and vibrant location - Cauvery and her greatness
 Cauvery is described as a perennial river from where pearls, gold and sandal wood were washed ashore on to Thiru Naraiyur, a town that he praises as wealthy. People came to the banks to pick it up. He compares the red lily to the eyes of the beautiful girls of Thiru Naraiyur and the lotus to the face of these lovely maidens.

அகில் குறடும் சந்தனமும் அம் பொன்னும் அணி முத்தும்
மிகக் கொணர்ந்து திரை உந்தும் வியன் பொன்னித் திருநறையூர்

The people
The place resonated with Vedic Chants of the Seers who, he says, even surpassed Brahmma and Shiva in the sincerity of their chants. They practiced each day to perfect the art of the recital of the four Vedas. The streets were filled with people who he compared in their handsome features to Manmatha.
நலம் கொள் வாய்மை அந்தணர் வாழும் நறையூரே

An interesting episode
He narrates the story of an angry female crab at Thiru Naraiyur. A tired male crab had slept the night in the lotus flower buds of the sacred tank at Thiru Naraiyur. The partner who waited all night long showed her anger in the morning on his return to the fields.

Round the Year Festivals
Thiru Naraiyur was a place where there were endless festivities all through the year.  Thiru Mangai Azhvaar makes a specific mention of the festivals there.

He praises Thiru Naraiyur as a place where one heard festive sounds emanating from the temple every day of the year and the Lord enjoying the festive beats on the streets.

He says that Thiru Naraiyur was a place of ‘endless’ festivals.

வேள்வும் விழவும் வீதியில் என்றும் ஆறாத ஊர்
நாளும் நறையூர் நாம் தொழுதும் ஏழு நெஞ்சமே

                     Vasantha Mandapam - Vasanthotsavam

Lord compared to other temples
He says that he searched for an equivalent of the Lord of Thiru Venkatam and finally found him in Thiru Naraiyur. He is also the one who he had seen earlier at Vayalali. In fact, he refers to seeing the Lord of a number of other temples (divya desams) including Vayalali, Moozhikalam, Kudanthai, Kottiyur, Neer Malai and Meiyam here at this temple. It is probably for this reason that one sees the idols of all the Divya Desams at this temple (near the Moolavar Sannidhi).

Roll on a 1000 years and into the 20th Century
This had been one of the richest temples in the region with over 100 veli of land. Naidus were the ones who managed the temple as trustees prior to the entry of the HR & CE officials in the early part of the 20th century. All the utsavams were conducted by the temple. There was no concept of ubayams and donors. Not one rupee was taken from the donar for the conduct of the festivals. The devotees just had to be part of the festivities and offer their prayers to the Lord and seek his blessings. The trustees acted in a fair and transparent way and there was happiness all around.

Grand Utsavams without the glamour factor!!!
The 2 Brahmotsavams were celebrated in a grand way as were other festivals such as Pavitrotsavam, Adyayana Utsavam and Navarathri. There was one Thiru Kalyana Utsavam in the year. The Theppotsavam in the huge tank North of the temple took place in Margazhi while the Chariot festival took place in Panguni.  There was also a Panch Parva procession every month. Till the middle of the 20th century, the utsavams evoked memories of what Thiru Mangai Azhvaar described in his Periya Thirumozhi verses. The devotees numbered only a 100 or 200 even for the Kal Garuda utsavam but there was extreme devotion. The mada vilagam were strewn with beautiful kolams artistically drawn by the ladies of the household welcoming the Lord into their respective streets. It was all about devotion to the Lord.

The Sirpanthigal carried the Lord on their shoulders on all the street processions where Petromax lights were used. There were 25 of such Sirpanthigal in earlier days. After HR & CE’s entry, this number has now come down to just 6.

Over 25 Vaishnavite families had lived a healthy and satisfactory life before going into financial turmoil from the 1960s. There were over 50 Rayar families and 10 Saivite families in the agraharam/Mada Vilagam. Almost all of them have exited the place since the takeover of control by the HR & CE.

In earlier periods, prior of HR & CE coming into force, they had had the daily share of ‘provisions/ koil thaligai’. And they were a contended and happy lot.

Debt ridden Bhattar Families
And then the traditional Bhattar families at Thiru Naraiyur went into debt and in despair were forced to auction their ancestral house on Sannidhi Street for just Rs. 500. They had no income in the 1960s and 70s. 
61 year old Kannan Bhattar who had started performing temple poojas in the 1960s, first at Nathan Koil and then at Nachiyar Koil faced a tough time. Along with his brothers, he had to take care of 20 members of their joint family. His father was in such dire financial condition that he would wear the same veshti everyday the year. He would wash it each day and then wear it again to the temple the next morning.

A Bullock Cart every morning to perform pooja
Kannan Bhattar’s ancestors also performed kainkaryam at Nathan Koil Divya Desam. His father would come early in the morning on a 10kms bullock cart trip to Nachiyar Koil after finishing pooja at Nathan Koil and would then go back to Nathan Koil after the evening pooja.

In those days, arathanam at temple was considered important. The priests lived in poverty but even in that state did not do anything in expectation of contribution from devotees. Their dedication and devotion was to the Lord.
Daily Thattu Kasu of 25 Paise
Kannan Bhattar and his family spent a life of every day survival. His mother would typically shout out at his father for provisions in the morning. But there was no money. His father would say ‘Do not worry. God would show the way.’ That day some devotee would turn up and present Rs. 2 on the plate. And he would pass it on to his mother. And that day had been survived.   They slogged through the day but barely got anything in return from the HR & CE. There were days when the daily Thattu Kasu was just 25 paise which they had to take back home. There were no holidays for the Bhattars. Through the 60s and 70s, they had to be at the temple through the year without a break awaiting the visit of the unlikely devotee. There were months through those dark decades when Thattu Kasu did not top Rs. 10 in a month. But Bhattars of that generation from Nachiyar Koil did not complain. They related themselves with God and performed the duty to him without fail each day of the year.

Once HR & CE came into being, even the quantity of Thaligai prepared at the madapalli that they banked on for every day survival was dramatically reduced.

Pakshirajan Bhattar ( Kannan Bhattar’s elder brother) who had performed pooja for several decades at Nachiyar Koil and who passed away a few years ago was paid a monthly salary of Rs. 25 by the HR & CE from the 1960s.

Till the 2nd half of the 20th Century, Prabhandham recital was a daily feature at the temple. Smarthas presented Veda Parayanam every evening at Nachiyar Koil. Theerthakars were also present. Now there are just three Adyapakas. There are just a couple of Brahmin families in this once sacred town that had been praised with a century of verses by Thiru Mangai Azhvaar as one that was wealthy and prosperous.

Every ‘Expense’ passed on to ‘Donors’ from the late 80s
From the late 1980s, yet another dramatic negative transformation took place at Nachiyar Koil in the conduct of its daily activities. HR & CE directed the move to ubayams and shifted all the expenses of the temple to the donors.

Today, there is very little coming back into the temple from the HR & CE from the income generated at the temple. Even genuine allocations made towards festivals and daily thaligai are not passed on by the temple authorities to the priests/madapalli.

Gopinathan Bhattar, who has been there for almost the last three decades, is still not a temple staffer and gets no salary from the temple. He has been the most recognizable face for devotees since the turn of the century. He has pooled together devotees from across the country to help the temple survive the HR & CE onslaught. 

It has become customary for even a ‘pay back’ to the ‘authorities’ from the donor contributions to allow the smooth conduct of the festivals and for the officials to grant the permission.

Despite all this, credit should be given to the Bhattars of Nachiyar Koil for having survived the testing times over the last 50 years and for having kept this huge temple in good shape. It is their single minded devotion to the Lord that has helped securing the grandeur of some of the centuries old festivals that are exclusive to this temple.

The huge Nandavanam in the outer prakara that had been in a dilapidated and uncared for state is now being revived once again by Gopinathan Bhattar. The Vasantha Mandapa at the Western End of the temple in the outer prakara too is being revived and one can expect the Vasantha Utsavam to see ‘summer days’ once again.
Today, the income from the temple goes to the HR & CE and the expenses are funded by the devotees. And the temple has survived half a century of tyranny solely due to the efforts of the untiring and devoted Bhattars.  Else, Thaligai would be in minimal quantity, flower garland would be down to a single simple one, musical accompaniments would be out during festive processions.

Without the efforts of these Bhattars, who do not want to let go service that their ancestors had performed selflessly through their lives, it is likely that the vibrant activities at Nachiyar Koil would have been brought to a standstill by the HR & CE like has happened in many remote temples of Tamil Nadu.