Once Narada prayed to Brahma to enlighten him on the history and greatness of the holy Markandeya kshetra that will also be for the benefit of humanity. On hearing this, Brahma gladly started narrating the greatness of Tiruvinnagar and its presiding deity. whose glory can not be described even by Adisesha with his 1000 tongues.
Tulasi’s Prayer to God
Once Tulasidevi who was born along with nectar (amrita), while churning the milky-ocean, begged Lord Narayana that she also be adorned by Him on His chest like Mahalakshmi.
Lord’s Boon to Tulasi
Thereupon, the Lord said that Lakshmi did very severe penance to gain a place on His chest. The Lord further said that Lakshmi would appear as Bhoomidevi at a holy place near Kumbakonam, to the south of Kaveri and would be brought up by sage Markandeya as his daughter. Tulasi should go there earlier and be in the form of lovely Tulasi plant at the sage’s hermitage. Then Lakshmi would appear under the Tulasi plant as Bhoomidevi. Later on Lord Narayana would come and marry Bhoomidevi and live there forever. Then the glory of Tulasi will become known to all.
The Lord further said that those who worship Him with petals of tulasi, shall attain all prosperity in the world and also the benefit of performing ‘Asvamedha yaga’. All those who reside in this holy place will attain Sri Vaikunta at the end of their lives. From then onwards, Tulasi lived in this holy place, which therefore came to be known as Tulasi Vana (Tulasi forest).
Sage Mrikandu’s son Markandeya, after touring many holy places and bathing in sacred waters, finally reached this holy place. He was so enchanted by the congenial surroundings here that he decided to stay here permanently. Wishing to get a daughter who would be given in marriage to the Lord Himself, he started doing severe penance to achieve his objective.
Narayana’s Instructions to Lakshmi
Lord Narayana was pleased by his penance and resolved to bless him. He asked Lakshmi to appear as a small child in the tulasi forest, to be brought up by sage Markandeya and given in marriage to the Lord.
Goddess Lakshmi accordingly appeared as a small child in the tulasi forest and was found by sage Markandeya. With immense pleasure he lifted the divine child Lakshmi from the ground, fondled her and asked about her parentage. For this the child replied that she did not know who her parents were and that Markandaya was everything to her. Thrilled beyond words, he named her as Bhoomidevi, as she was found on earth.
Markandeya’s Concern and Worry
The Sage brought her up lovingly and as she grew up, he was very much worried about her marriage. He was in frantic search for a suitable bridegroom. At this stage Lord Narayana decided to play some mischief with the sage. So He appeared before the sage, in the guise of an old brahmin, clad in torn clothes and with a walking stick in hand, on the day of Panguni Sravanam at noon.
Markandeya welcoming the Old Man
Markandeya, without realising that the old man who was coughing incessantly was Sriman Narayana Himself, received Him with due reverence and respectfully proceeded to serve Him, attending to His needs like washing His fleet and so on.The sage then reverentially asked the old man the purpose of His visit. The visitor then proceeded to state that He was on the look – out for a suitable bride, as He wished to marry and settle down in life and beget good sons. He therefore sought the hand of Bhoomidevi in marriage to enable Him to attain His objective.
Sage and Old Man – Dialogue
On hearing the strange request of the old man(Narayana), Markandeya was non-plussed and did not know what to do. He then started explaining to the old man that Bhoomidevi was very young and was too tender in age to run a family. Moreover the age disparity between the old man and the young girl was too much. He requested the old man to drop His idea. The old man would hear none of it. He threatened to commit suicide if the young girl was not given in marriage to Him.
The sage Markandeya did not know what to do. He tried all methods to dissuade the old man from insisting upon marrying the young girl. The sage told the old man that his daughter was too young and did not even know how to cook properly. She might even forget to put salt in the eatables, which may result in the old man getting angry and cursing her. Finding the old man still stubborn and unrelenting, the sage silently prayed to Lord Narayana for guidance.
The sage also sought his foster- daughter’s views in the matter and asked her whether she was willing to marry the old man. She threatened to commit suicide, if she was forced to marry the old man, much against her wishes.
Sage Markandeya was caught between the old man who threatened to commit suicide,is the girl was not given if she was given in marriage to the old man. He fervently prayed to the Lord to show him a way out of the piquant situation.
After prayers to God for a long time, the sage opened his eyes and there he found before him Lord Narayana in all splendour and glory, in the place of the old man. Realising that the Lord had played a practical joke on him, the sage danced and cried in ecstasy. The Lord, blessing the sage Markandeya, said that He will marry Bhoomidevi and will take only saltless offerings in this temple. Anyone who brings salt inside the temple will go to hell.
Sage’s Prayer for Boon
Overwheimed with joy, Markandeya readily agreed for the marriage and prayed for 3 boons:
The Lord, after marrying Bhoomidevi, Should Stay in this place for ever.
The holy place should be known in his name as Markandeya Kshetra.
Saltless offerings in this temple should also be relished by the devotees.
He should also be granted moksha. The Lord gladly granted the boons as prayed for and further blessed that the place will be known as “Tiruvinnagar” and “Tulasivana Markandeya kshetra” and stated the marriage would be held in the month of Aippasi on Sravanam day. At the request of the sage, the Lord also agreed to make all arrangements for the marriage.
Garuda in the Service of the Lord
The Lord Himself wrote out the marriage invitation and instructed His vehicle Garuda to hand over the invitations to Brahma and all devas and further help Him in conducting the marriage on the day of sravanam in the month of Aippasi.
The joy of Brahma and other devas knew no bounds on hearing the happy news of the divine wedding and they all duly came with their wives to attend and worship the divine couple at their marriage. The holy wedding of the Lord and Bhoomadevi was duly conducted on a grand scale according to Vaikhanasa Agamas Then onwards, the Lord continues to reside in this temple, along with His consort Bhoomadevi, blessing His devotees and granting them, their desires.
Performance of Brahmotsavam
After invoking the grace of the Lord and obtaining His permission, Brahma performed the ‘Utsavam’ (and hence called Brahmostsavam) for a period of 9 days in the month of Panguni, In accordance with Vaikhanasa Agamas, with the chariot festival on the 9th day, coinciding with Sravanam.
Holy Waters (Pushkarini)
The pushkarini (temple Tank) here is known as ‘Ahoratra pushkarini” , meaning that bathing is specially permissible here both during day and night. Normally according to sastras, bathing in holy waters is not permitted during nights. But nowadays bathing is permitted here, only when the temple is kept open for dharsan.
Once a learned brahmin by name Devasarma was overcome by passion and had a forceful union with the daughter of Jaimini rishi. On her tearful complaint to her father, the rishi cursed him to become a krauncha bird.
It-was then the sinner repented and begging pardon, requested the stage not to impose the curse. The sage relented and advised that while he could not withdraw the curse already pronounced, as a bird he might live in the branch of a tree overlooking the holy pushkarini at this place. A cyclone would blow and break the branch of the tree, which would, along with the bird, fall into the holy waters. Due to the bird’s contact with the holy waters, he will be released from the curse and regained his original form. Not only that, he was also escorted to Sri Vaikuntam in a divine chariot. Then the messengers of Varuna stopped him and demanded justification for going to Vaikuntam, since he had committed a further sin by dipping in the holy waters during the night, which is forbidden by the sastras. At this, the messenger from Vaikuntam intervened and clarified that this was an exception and bathing was specially permitted in the pushkarini at this holy place, both during day and night and the pushkarini at this holy place, both during day and night and the pushkarini was herefore named as Ahoratra pushkarini meaning “Day and Night Holy Tank”. Thus saying, th Lord’s messengers took the brahmin to Sri Vaikuntam. Anyone who bathes in the pushkarini acquires a lot of merit ( punya).
There are other holy tanks as well, outside the temple. Sarnga tank to the south-west of the temple is consiered holier than Dhanushkodi. Surya tank to the west of the temple has an interesting legend. Siva once plucked one of the heads of Brahma (who had five heads earlier) and to get rid of the sin, he bathed in the holy waters of Ahoratra Pushkarini and is still doing penance here. Since Surya(Sun) repaired this tank, it is called Surya tank.
In the north-east of the temple is indra tirtha (tank), so named because Indra washed off his sin of molesting Ahalya, by bathing in these holy wateers. To the south of this is Brahma tirtha, so named because Brahma bathed in this tank and did penance, because of which he became what he was (Brahma).
All these tanks outside the temple do not exist now. Either they have become completely dry or they could not be located.
To the south of the temple run three holy rivers, even now:-
Dakshina Ganga (ganga of the south), now named as Nattaru.
Dakshina Yamuna, now known as Arasalar.
Dakshina Godavari, now known as Kirtiman river.
It is said those who worship the Lord with tulasi leaves shall get the fruits of Aswamedha yaga. One who donates even a small piece of land to the temple, shall attain moksha. One who offers sandal paste, Kumkum and flowers to the Lord shall get purified from all sins. Similarly, one who does other similar services to the Lord and temple will get rid of all heinous sins committed by him. when even one who comes from outside and worships the Lord, easily attains moksha, It is needless to say that those who reside in this holy place itself and serve the Lord do attain moksha, by God’s grace.
Even those who read this holy history of this temple, or those who hear the same, will achieve all 32 benefits and all desires and obtain the supreme grace of the Lord. Even the house, where this book is kept, becomes holy.
Narada was grateful to Brahma for narrating the divine glory of the temple and the Lord and visited the temple at Tiruvinnagar for worshipful prayers and doing penance.
Uppiliappan Temple Structure
It is named as Suddhananda, meaning “pure happiness” . Devotees who worship this vimana(tower) derive immence and unalloyed happiness. Note that the vimana in Tirumala Tirupati is named as Ananda vimana, whereas here it is Suddhananda Vimana.
Desika’s sannidhi is located near the sancturn sanctorum. On the sides of the inner-prakara (Corridor), Anjaneya is on the south, and Alwars’ and Sri Rama’s sannidhis are located on the northern side. On the eastern side is Sri Ramanuja.
Outside the main temple, on the southern side is the shrine for Lord Maniappan and on the northern side is Ennappan and also the holy birth spot (avatara sthala) of Bhoomidevi. Garuda’s shrine is located right opposite the main temple. Just on the southern side of the main entrance, dancing Krishna in a niche welcomes us all with a bewitching smile.
Various other Mandapas in Uppiliappan Temple
One beautiful marble mandapa is located on the western side in the inner prakaram, where the deities rest for a while, before coming out during pancha-parva utsavam. Another marble mandapa is located on the northern side where dolotsavam is performed for the deities. Adjoining this is a shrine for Rama, Lakshmana, site and Hanuman, and then comes the sacred bed chamber (Tiruppalliarai), full of beautiful mirrors, where during festivals, the Lord and His consort rest during nights.
During the two Brahmotsavams in Panguni (March-April) and Purattasi (Sept-Oct), it is a divine sight to watch and worship the god and goddess in this room full of mirrors. One Yaga-sala for performing religious rituals is also provided. The temple includes avahana mandapa and a library, and another mandapa with 8 carved pillars on the banks of the pushkarini (holy-tank), where the annual float-festival takes place during Jan-Feb. To the south of the Garuda shrine is the huge, spacious Kotimanadapa, used for several holy purposes. The annual Kalyana Utsavam is performed here, followed by music and dance programmes. Prarthana Kalyana Utsavams are also performed here.
Two huge marriage halls belonging to the temple, are available in front, where marriages tec., can be conducted for a nominal fee. There is also a rest – house containing 5 rooms, which is available for use by pilgrims at cheap rent. There are 2 mandapas at the end of the Sannidhi street. One houses a small chariot and the other for use during the big chariot festival.
There is a small garden by the side of the outer prakara of the temple. There is also a much bigger garden about 1/2 km to the south of the temple, where tulasi and flowers are grown in abundance for weaving garlands daily for the deities. A big mandapa is located in this garden, where deities rest during the day in summer, during the Vasantotsavam celebrated for 6 days in May-June every year.
Uppiliappan Temple Festivals
On the specific requests of the devotees, in fulfilment of their vow, Kalyana utsavam, Garuda Sevai, Golden chariot, Brahmotsavam, Dolotsavam, Nityaaradhana, mirror-room seva,and Darbar seva are performed at the appropriate timings. Besides, Ttirrumanjanam (holy bathing) of the Moolavar deity, Utsavar deity, Rama etc., is also done on requestsfropm devotees. The relevant fees and timings for these various prathana festivals are given at page 5 in this book. Further details can be had from the authorities of the temple.
Sri Ramanavami is celebrated for 10 days on a grand scale at this temple, with music and dance performance. ON the concluding day, kanakabhishekam and Rama Pattabhishekam are conducted on a grand and majestic scale, attended by thousands of devotees.
Information about the UTSAVAS
1. Vaikasi (May-June)
Vasanta Utsavam or the spring festival for 6 days at the Nandavanam (garden), culminating on sravanam day.
2. Avani (Aug – Sep)
Pavitrotsavam (Purifying festival) for 5 days, ending on Sravanam day, when there is early morning garuda save of the Lord.
3. Purattasi (Sept – Oct)
Brahmotsavam for 9 days. Little Chariot (Goratham) on the last day. Sravanam.
Kalyana Utsavam for 12 days commencing from Sravanam, when the holy marriage of god and goddess is celebrated.
5. Margazhi (Dec-Jan)
Adhyayana Utsavam. Day Utsavam for 10 days. Night Utsavam for 10 days. Plus 2 days. Total 22 day festival.
6.Thai(Jan – Feb)
Float festival for 5 days culminating on Sravanam.
7. Panguni (March-April)
Brahmotsavam for 9 days with Big chariot festival on the 9th-Day Sravanam. Lord Narayana readily granted the boons. The lord appeared in this place in Panguni sravanam and married Bhoomi Devi in Aippasi Sravanam and every year, these are celebrated as grand festivals.
Saravan Deepam and Sravana Vratam
Every month, Sravanam day is celebrated in a grand manner in this temple, when thousands of devotees congregate and worship the Lord. The Sravana Deepam function, Which is held at about 11 a.m. on that day is a big event that atracts pilgrims from all over the country and abroad. Taking only saltless food on that day is regarded as Sravana Vratam.
Nammazhvar exclaims in his verse, singing the glory of this Lord, that he has no equal and so, the deity here is called “Oppiliappan”.
The Pushkarini (Temple Tank) here is known as “Ahoratra Pushkarini”, meaning that bathing is specially permissible here, both during day and night. The vimana, meaning ” pure happiness “.
The Lord here graciously grants all desires of His devotees, like long life, sound health, abundant wealth, successful marriage and pleasing progeny. As a token of their abundant gratitude to the beneolent Lord, the devotees offer several things in cash or kind and conduct various prarthana festivals.
Uppiliappan Temple Pooja Timing
Thiruvaradhanam Nithiyapadi Pooja
Uchi Kaala Pooja
Thiruvaradhanam Nithiyapadi Pooja
How to Reach Uppiliappan Temple?
The Oppiliappan Koil (TiruvNNagaram) is located at Thiru Nageswaram near Kumbakonam in the Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. The easiest approach is by a taxi, auto, or bus from from Kumbakonam town which is about 4 miles from here. Kumbakonam can be reached from different parts of Tamil Nadu by bus or train.