Sarangapani Temple is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu located in Kumbakonam Town in Thanjavur District in Tamil Nadu. Presiding Deity is called as Sarangapani / Pallikondaar / Aravamudhan / Utthanasayi / Abayaryaapthamiruthan and Mother is called as Komalavalli Thayar / Padi Thanda Pathini. The temple is one of 5 Vaishnava Temples connected with the Mahamaham festival, which takes place in Kumbakonam every 12 years.The Temple is considered as one of the Pancharanga Kshetrams. The Temple is situated between two rivers, Cauvery and Arasalaru, in the heart of Kumbakonam.
The temple is revered in Divya Prabandham. the 7th — 9th century Vaishnava canon, by Andal in one, Periyalwar in three. Bhoothathalvar in two. Peyalvar in two, Thirumazhisai Alvar in seven. Nammalvar in eleven and Thirumangai Alvar in 25 verses.The temple is classified as a Divyadesam. the 108 Vishnu temples that are revered in the Vaishnava canon, Nalayira Divya Prabandham. Also, after Srirangam (II) and Tirupathy (10), the Sarangapani temple has the maximum number of Azhvaars (7 of them) singing praise of the Lord. The Temple is considered as one of the nine Vaishnava Navagraha Temples of Tamil Nadu and is associated with the planet Sun (Suryan).
Sarangapani Temple Legends
As per legend, there was a dispute among the rishis about the benefactor of Yagna which they were performing. They were confused whom to give more importance among the trinity (Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu).The Rishis could not come to a conclusion. Rishi Bhrigu was unable to decide the benefactor of the Yagna. Rishi Bhrigu was unable to decide the benefactor of the Yagna. Hence, they sent Brighu Maharishi to test theTrinities and select the best one among them.
First, Brighu Maharishi went to Kailasha (abode of Lord Shiva). Nandi is said to have stopped him from going inside because Lord Shiva and Parvati were enjoying their private moment then. Bhrigu loses his temper and curses that Lord Shiva would be worshipped only in Linga form. Next, he went to Brahma Loka (abode of Lord Brahma). Lord Brahma was busy reading the scriptures, in a very arrogant way without bowing.
Lord Brahma paid no attention towards the Bhrigu. Bhrigu was angry with disrespect shown by Lord Brahma, cursed him that no one so forth shall worship Brahma in Kaliyuga. So, angrily he went at last to Vaikunda (abode of Lord Vishnu). Lord Vishnu was fast asleep. Maharishi tried to wake him up, but Lord was in deep sleep. Bhrigu kicked Lord Vishnu extremely hard right on his chest, where goddess Mahalakshmi lives, to trigger him.
Lord Vishnu woke up and immediately touched Bhrigu’s feet enquiring if the sage had hurt his feet while kicking him. Lord Vishnu said that his chest can endure the force but the Bhrigu feet were not so strong and far too delicate. Seeing the decorum of Lord Vishnu, Bhrigu was moved and declared Lord Vishnu to be the greatest. It is said that the mark of Bhrigu’s foot is still visible on Vishnu’s chest known as the Sri Vatsam.
Rishi was impressed by his composure and decided to dedicate the Yagna to Lord Vishnu. However. Goddess Lakshmi was very angry over what occurred and left Vaikuntha to Karavirapura (Kolhapur). She settled in Kolhapur. Maha Lakshmi is said to have observed strict penance in Kolhapur for several years until upon hearing the news of her husband being married to Tirumala Padmavati, another avatar of Mahalaskhmi.
Lord Vishnu had a fight with Padmavathi and once again he was left alone. Mahalakshmi came to know about the news of Lord Srinivasa’s marriage from Naradha. She became very angry and started to search Lord Srinivasa who had fled to Kumbakonam, to escape from Mahalakshmi’s angry.To avoid her anger. Vishnu resided in the underground chamber in the temple as Pathala Srinivasa. Goddess Maha Lakshmi searched Lord Srinivasa everywhere but her effort gave her no fruits.
In the meanwhile, the sage Bhrigu sought his apology and requested Mahalakshmi to be born to him as Komalavalli in his next birth. The sage was born as Hema Rishi and performed penance to attain Mahalakshmi as his daughter. Lord Vishnu was pleased by the penance and he wished the sage to get Lakshmi as his daughter. Lakshmi emerged from the Potramarai tank among thousand lotuses and was thus named Komalavalli (the one who emerged from lotus).
The place thus is revered as the Avatara Sthala (birth place) of Mother Komalavalli (Lakshmi). Brighu Maharishi took rebirth as Hema Maharishi for his sin of kicking Mahalakshmi who resided in Lord Vishnu Chest. He found Komalavalli and started to raise her as his own daughter. When she reached marriageable age, Hema Maharishi performed intense penance and pleaded Lord Vishnu to accept Mahalakshmi. Lord Vishnu granted his wish.
Lord Vishnu emerged out from Vaideeka Vimanam contained in the Pranava Vimana of Sri Rangam on a Makarsankranti day. Lord Vishnu descended to earth as Aravamudhan in a chariot drawn by horses and elephants from his abode Vaikuntha. He stayed in the nearby Someswaran Temple to convince Lakshmi to marry him and the couple eventually got married. As Komalavalli was angry with Lord Srinivasa who has a standing posture to soothe her anger Lord Vishnu now adapted the sleeping posture of Ranganatha of Sri Rangam and became Sarangapani in Kumbakonam.
The name Sarangapani (one who has the bow in his hand) derives from the Tamil word Sarangam meaning bow of Vishnu and Pani meaning hand. As Lord Vishnu came to wed Mother holding a bow (Saranga), he came to be called as Sarangapani. Goddess Mahalakshmi repented for her mistake and from then onwards she took a vow that she would never leave her husband. Hence even today she never leaves out of her chamber. Hence, he came to be called as Padi Thanda Pathini.
Recovery of Nalayira Divya Prabandham by Naehamunigal
Vaishnavite Saint Natha Muni, who lived in Kattumannar Koil, was responsible for bringing back the Nalayira Divya Prabandham that had been previously lost to the world. Veera Narayana Perumal, the presiding deity at Kattumannar Koil, is the Lord who asked Nathamunigal to collect and spread the sacred verses of the Azhwars. The Nalayira Divya Prabandham is a collection of 4,000 Tamil verses composed by the 12 Azhwars. Prominent among them are the 1100+ verses known as the Thiruvaimozhi, composed by Nammazhvar which forms the third portion of the overall Divya Prabandham.
Many modern academics place the Azhwars date between 5th and 10th century CE, however traditionally the Azhwars are considered to have lived between 4200 BCE — 2700 BCE. For a period of several centuries after the last Azhwar, the priceless 4,000 verses were lost without any trace. Then came Nathamunigal during the 9th — 10th centuries (the first of the Acharya Parambara) who was born and lived in Veera Narayanapuram, the present day Kattumannar Koil.
Nathamunigal, who mastered himself in Vedas at a young age. was very attached to Veera Narayana Perumal and spent most of his time performing daily poojas for the Lord here. One day, while he was performing his daily poojas, he heard a set of devotees who had come here from Thiru Narayanapuram of Melkote (Karnataka) reciting the Paasuram of Aaraavamudhe of Nammazhvar which praises the Lord of Kumbakonam.
The recital ended with the mentioning “Aayiraththul 1ppaththu” (these 10 out of the 1000). Captivated by these pasurams, Nathamunigal wanted to know the remaining 990 but they did not know anything about them.A restless Nathamunigal went to Kumbakonam, where Lord Aravamudhan asked him to go to Thiru Kurugur.Thiru Kurugur is the birthplace of Nammazhvar (Kurugur Sadagopan is the birth name of Nammazhvar).
Nathamunigal proceeded to Thirukurugur or Azhwar Thiru Nagari (one of the Nava Thirupathis of Thirunelveli), the birth place of Nammazhvar, seeking the 1,000 verses. The people there also did not know anything, but they told him about “Kanni nun Siruthaambu”. the I I pasurams of Madhurakavi Azhwar, a deep disciple of Nammazhvar. Nathamunigal, then went to Thirukkolur nearby (another Nava Thirupathi of Thirunelveli), the birth place of Madhurakavi Azhwar but again he could not get any clue out from there.
He came back to Thirukurugur and sat under the tamarind tree where Nammazhvar sat from birth to 10+ age without any food and water. Nathamunigal recited the II pasurams 12,000 times. Pleased with his penance, Nammazhvar granted him not only his 1,000 pasurams, but the entire collection of 4.000 pasurams of all the Azhwars.Veera Narayana Perumal then called Nathamunigal back to Kattumannar Koil where the Vaishnavite Savant chanted and shared the Nalayira Divya Prabandham with the world.
Thus, Nathamunigal of Kattu Mannar Koil, was instrumental in bringing back to the world the 4000 verses of the Azhwars. He also initiated the Vaishnava Sampradaya from here. After the period of 12 Azhwars from Poigai Azhwar to Thirumangai Azhwar, the Acharya Parambara starts with Nathamunigal as the Mudhal (first) Acharya. Some of Nathamunigal disciples include Uyyakondan. Thiru Kannamangaiaandan and Deivanayagaandan.
Lord Vishnu Performed Last Rites to his Devotee
A devotee Lakshmi Narayanswami served Lord throughout his life. He is the one who built the Rajagopuram of the temple. But he was childless. He reached the Lotus feet of Lord on a Deepavali day. Anyone having no heir to perform the last rites would go to hell, according to shastras. But Lord cannot ignore his devotee. He performed the last rites for his devotee. Next day, when the temple was opened, people saw him with a wet dhoti and his sacred thread (Poonool in Tamil and Yagnopavita in Sanskrit) changed on the right shoulder, Darba in hands in rite-performing manner. This event is followed in the temple on Deepavali days during the midday puja, but devotees are not allowed to see this puja.
Once,Thirumazhisai Alwar visited this temple to have a dharshan of Aravamudha Perumal. He was very much impressed by his beauty and wanted to have a chat with him. Seeing the sleeping posture of the Lord,Thiru Mazhisai Azhwar questioned if his tiredness was the reason for him to be lying down in his sleeping posture. After hearing this, it is believed that the Lord slightly raised his posture to greet the Azhwar. Feeling the guilt of having caused strain on the Lord, Thiru Mazhisai Azhwar asked him to remain in the same posture. Lord remained in the posture permanently. To this day. one can see the Lord in a slightly raised reclining posture (Uthaana Saayee).
No SwargaVasal in this Temple
Most of the Divya Desa temples have Swarga Vasal (Paramapada Vasal) open on the Vaikuntha Ekadasi day occurring in December-)anuary. But there is no one such in this temple as Lord Vishnu came to this Divya Desa directly from his Vaikunda. The very worship of Perumal Lord Sarangapani would take devotees to salvation. It is also believed that passing through the Uttharayana and Dakshinayana entrances is no different from the SwargaVasal passing.
First preference to Mother
Kumbakonam is the birth place of Mother Komalavalli. After the marriage Lord chose to stay here itself with his consort (i.e. in his mother-in-law’s house). Hence, he is called as Veettodu Mappillai. Hence, Mother is dominant in the temple.The first worship goes to Mother only. As a philosophy, as Mother is first for all respects. to establish this rule, the way to Perumal shrine is also structured accordingly. The Go Puja (puja to cow) is performed in Komalavalli Thayar shrine. Pujas to Lord are offered only then.
As per another legend. during the great deluge, the pot of nectar came down swirling.The pot of nectar fell down into different pieces as Shiva shot his arrow at the pot.The nectar is believed to have relieved lives in the planet.The various places where the nectar spilled are
The Temple is believed to be around 2000 years old. Some portions of the temple is believed to have been built in the 7th Century AD by the famous Pallava King Mahendra Varma. Alwars Peyalvar, Nammalvar, Periyalwar,AndalThirumangai Alwar and Bhoothathalvar had sung about the Lord of this Temple.Thirumazhisai Alwar spent his last years and attained salvation here. It is at this temple that the Vaishnavite Saint Nada Muni, was inspired to compile the works of the Alwars, upon listening to the Tamil hymn Aaraavamudhe composed by Nammalvar.
Nathamuni spent his last years at the Chola capital of Gangaikonda Choleeswaram. Although the temple existed during the Pallava period, the current structure is attributable to the period of Vikrama Chola (1121 CE). Later Cholas built the superstructure of the I I-tiered gopuram, and the tower was actually completed by the Vijayanagar rulers. The temple had been extensively renovated by Medieval Cholas.Vijayanagar Empire and Madurai Nayaks.The Mahasamprokshanam of the temple was held on 13 July 2015.
Sarangapani Temple is the largest Vishnu Temple in Kumbakonam and has the tallest temple tower in the town. The Rajagopuram (the main gateway) has eleven tiers and has a height of 173 ft (53 m). The Rajagopuram has figures depicting stories from Hindu mythology. There are sculptures depicting the Bharata Natya Karanas, as enunciated in the Natya Sastra, on the first tier of the Gopuram. The Temple has the third tallest temple gopuram (173 ft) among the Divya Desams next to Srirangam (236ft) and Srivilliputhur (192 ft).
There are five other smaller gopurams in the temple. The temple is enshrined within a huge wall and the complex enshrines all the water bodies of the temple except the Potramarai tank.There is a four pillared Mandapa in front of the Temple.The Temple is facing towards east.The central shrine (sanctum) of the temple is in the form of a chariot drawn by horses and elephants, with openings on either side, showing the descent of Sarangapani from heaven in the chariot to marry Komalavalli.The wheels of the chariot are of giant size.
The Sanctum is conceived of, as a chariot with wheels drawn by horses and elephants, in a scale grander than that of the Melakadambur temple built by Kulottunga I (early 126 century CE). It is classified as Karakkoil, a temple fashioned after temple chariots which are taken in procession around the temple during festivals.The sanctum is approached via a 100-pillared hall. The inner sanctum in the form of a chariot is guarded by Dwarapalakas facing the outer entrance. From the outer entrance, there is a perforated window axial to the sanctum.
Presiding Deity is called as Sarangapani / Pallikondaar / Aravamudhan / Abayaryaapthamiruthan / Utthanasayi.The Sanctum houses the image of Sarangapani in Pallikonda posture, with his head resting on his right hand. He is facing east. He is in Udhyoga Sayana posture i.e. he appears as if he is getting up from sleeping position. Lord Brahma is above his naval and Sun on the head side. The sculptures of Narasimha Avatar are beautifully set around the sanctum sanctorum. Also. idol of sage Hema Rishi, Lakshmi and festival images enshrined within the sanctum.
Vimana over the sanctum is called as Vaideeka Vimana. The Vaideeka Vimanam of this temple is considered to be an offshoot of the Srirangam Pranava Vimana, which is a replica of the Pushpaka Vimanam (flying chariot from the Ramayana) presented toVibhishana of Sri Lanka by Rama after Ravana was killed. Hence, this temple is considered second only to Srirangam among the Divya Desams.There are two stepped entrances to the sanctum named as Uttharayana Vaasal and Dakshinayana Vaasal, each open for a six-month period, similar to Thiruvellarai Temple.
Uttharayana Vaasal opens for six months on Makara Sankranti and Dakshinaya Vaasal opens for six months on Aadi Perukku, the 18th day of the Tamil month of Aadi. Lord Vishnu usually appears with his discus and conch. Here, the presiding deity and the procession deity of the temple are holding a bow known as Sarangam, Hence, the Lord came to be called as Sarangapani. The bow in the hands of the presiding deity is not visible.
The Utsava Idol. Sarangapani is regarded with the same importance as the presiding deity. In most Divyadesam temples, the presiding deity occupies the highest prominence. All pujas and Alankaras are offered to presiding deity alone. In this temple. such respects are offered to the procession deity as he acts on behalf of the presiding deity. Hence.this temple is revered as Upaya Pradhana Divyadesam with due respect to the procession deity.
There is a beautifully carved out 12 pillared mandapa called Tirumamani mandapam in the Sanctum reminiscent of the similar Mandapa at Sri Vaikuntha and hence it is axiomatic to call this kshetra a Bhuloka Vaikuntha like Sri Rangam. Mother is called as Komalavalli Thayar / Padi Thanda Pathini (Mother would never (leave out) or leave away from her chamber). She is housed in a separate shrine.A set of padukas (footprints) in the outside prakaram (enclosure) are worshipped by the devotees as representative of Vishnu. The shrine for Patala Srinivasa Perumal can be reached by climbing down a few steps.
108 karanas form the basic movements of Bharata Natyam. famous south Indian dance. Some of these karanas are sculpted around the walls of the temple. Similar sculptures are found in the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur and Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram. There is a sculptural representation of the sage Hema Rishi in the western part of the temple. The unique aspect of Sarangapani Temple is that it does not have a Paramapathavasal. (the entrance to Lord Vishnu’s abode, Vaikuntha) which is opened on Vaikuntha Ekadasi, the 1 Ith day after the New Moon in Margazhi (December-January).
Theertham associated with this Temple are Hema Pushkarini (Potramarai Tank). Cauvery River and Arasalaru.The Potramarai tank, the temple tank, is located opposite to the western entrance of the temple.The Potramarai tank has a central hall called Hema Rishi Mandapam. Taking a dip in the Hema Pushkarini Tank next to the temple is considered very auspicious. The temple has two processional chariots carved out of wood stationed outside the Raiavoouram.
The twin temple chariots weigh 300 tones (660,000 lb) each and have been renovated in 2007. The chariots were not drawn for some years during the preceding period.The chariots are next only in size to the ones in Thyagaraja temple in Thiruvarur and Andal Temple in Srivilliputhur. The chariots are pulled by hundreds of devotees across the streets around the temple twice a year, once during the Brahmotsavam during April—May and other during Rathasaptami in January—February.
The festival idols of Sarangapani and Komalavalli are brought to the thermutti (chariot station) after performing the religious rituals.Thirumangai Azhwar’s Thiruvezhukootrirukkai, a single verse in 46 lines, when seen in numerical order, makes the image of a temple chariot.The painting depicting the verse in the chariot form is seen in the temple. It is believed that the first temple chariot of the temple was instituted by Thirumangai Azhwar himself.
Sarangapani Temple Opening Time
The temple remains open from 7.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon and from 4.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m.
Sarangapani Temple Festivals
The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and twelve yearly festivals on its calendar. Akshaya Tritiya – 12 Garuda Sevai Chaitra Brahma Utsavam celebrated during the Tamil month of Chithirai (Apr – May), Vasantotsavam during Vaikasi (May – Jun), Pavitrotsavam – Ekadasi Jyeshotsavam during Adi (Jul – Aug), Sri Jayanthi – Uriyadi Utsavam during Avani (Aug – Sep). Navaratri Utsavam – Saraswathi Puja —Vijayadashami during Purattasi (Sep – Oct), Deepavali – Shraddha of Sri Lakshmi Narayanswami during Aippasi(Oct – Nov). Deepa Utsavam – Oonjal Utsavam during Karthigai (Nov – Dec), Pakal Pattu – Ira Pattu Pongal Sankramana Utsavam during Margazhi (Dec – Jan), Kanu Utsavam — Amavasya – Rathasaptami during Thai (Jan – Feb), Masi Magham – Float Festival during Masi (Feb – Mar) and Brahmotsavam – Thiru Kalyanotsavam during Panguni (Mar – Apr) are the festivals celebrated in the temple.
The temple chariot festival is the most prominent festival of the temple, celebrated during the Tamil month of Chithirai (Mar — Apr).The grand float festival is conducted in Maasi Magam (Feb —Mar) on the Hama Pushkarini (temple tank) in front of the temple.The first day of Uttharayana, January 14th is celebrated with the silver chariot procession in the Sarangapani temple which attracts hundreds of devotees. The twin temple chariots are the third largest in Tamil Nadu, each weighing 300 t (660.000 lb).
Worship Practices & Rituals The temple follows Pancharathra Agama & Vadakalai tradition. The temple priests perform the puja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Vishnu temples of Tamil Nadu. the priests belong to the Brahmin Vaishnavite sect, which is dedicated to Vishnu. The temple rituals are performed six times a day; Thiruvanandhal at 8:00 a.m., Kala Santhi at 9:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 12:30 p.m., Ntiyanusandhanam at 6:00 p.m., Irandam Kalam at 7:30 p.m.and Ardha Jamam at 9:00 p.m.
Each ritual comprises three steps: Alangaram (decoration), naivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Sarangapani and Thayan The worship is held amidst music with Nadaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas (sacred text) read by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast.The foods offering during the six times are curd rice, Ven Pongal, spiced rice, Dosa, Ven Pongal and sugar Pongal respectively.
Prayers A visit to this temple, it is believed. will help get rid of one’s past sins, just as a trip to Kasi in the North. would. It is sacred to bathe in the lotus water bed in the temple tank. Devotees pray here to realize their wishes. It is the belief that the prayer will certainly bring them what they desire and expect. Devotees perform Thirumanjanam to Lord and offer vastras.
How to Reach Sarangapani Temple?
The Temple is located at about 2 Kms from Kumbakonam Railway Station and 2 Kms from Kumbakonam Bus Stand. Kumbakonam is well-connected by road and rail with the rest of India. Kumbakonam is located at about 6 Kms from Thirunageswaram, 8 Kms from Patteeswaram, 9 Kms from Thiruvidaimarudur, 9 Kms from Nachiyar Koil, 15 Kms from Papanasam, 34 Kms from Mayiladuthurai, 35 Kms from Thiruvaiyaru, 40 Kms from Thanjavun 42 Kms from Thiruvarur, 88 Kms from Trichy, 101 Kms from Trichy Airport and 283 Kms from Chennai.
There are regular government and private bus services to Chennai, Thanjavun Mannargudi, Trichy, Chidambaram, Tiruppur, Mayiladuthurai, Nagapattinam, Coimbatore. Palani, Thoothukudi, Madurai, Sivagangai, Puducherry and Tirunelveli. The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operates daily services from Bengaluru and Mysuru to Kumbakonam.