Where Adisesha was granted refuge
The utsavar idols at the Thiruchirupuliyur temple. In the background is the moolavar, Arulmaakadal, in the Balasayanam pose. Pic. by M. N. Srinivasan
THERE ARE many holy places like Srirangam, Thirumeyyam, Srivilliputtur, Thiruvallur, Thiruppulingudi, Thiruvaattaru and Thiruvananthapuram, where the idol of the Lord reclining on Adisesha, are really imposing and gigantic but equally important are His comparatively smaller idols in lying posture, known as "Balasayanam." The place famous for this pose of the Lord is Thiruchirupuliyur or Chirupuliyur, 16 km south of Mayiladuthurai. Situated on the banks of Arisilaru on the Mayuram-Thiruvarur bus route, two kilometres northeast of Kollumangudi, the place is linked with a popular legend. There was a dispute between Adisesha and Garuda as to who was greater of the two and Garuda chased Adisesha all over the universe. The latter, after going to many places, came to Chirupuliyur and did penance on the banks of a holy water source seeking the Lord's protection. The Lord appeared before Adisesha and granted him refuge. He reclined on Adisesha as "Balasayana Perumal." Garuda who came to Chirupuliyur, saw the Lord lying on Adisesha and backed out. Another legend links the name Chirupuliyur to Sage Vyagrapada, also known as "Pulikkaal Munivar" and "Bala Munivar." The sage sought the tiger's legs so that he could leap high and pluck flowers early in the morning, before honeybees touched them, for performing "Sivapooja" in the Chidambaram Nataraja temple. Such an ardent devotee of Lord Siva once prayed to Him to grant him salvation. But the Lord told him that only Lord Narayana could grant it.
As per Lord Siva's directive, the sage came to Chirupuliyur and did penance here praying to Lord Narayana to grant him eternal bliss. The Lord obliged and the place was named after the sage (Pulikkaal Munivar) as Chirupuliyur.
The idol of Sage Vyagrapadar is found along with that of Kanvar in the sanctum sanctorum All episodes connected with this place are found in the fourth chapter of the Brahmanda Puranam. Saint Thirumangai Azhwar's visit to Chirupuliyur was not incident-free. He was not satisfied with the Lord's image of "Balasayanam" and requested Him to show His gigantic pose. The Lord asked the saint to go to Thirukkannamangai to witness his Viswaroopam, according to preceptors. The Lord at Chirupuliyur is also known by the saint in his Periya Thirumozhi verse.
The Lord's Sanskrit name is Kripasamudra Perumal. He is also known as "Saranagatha Rakshaka Perumal," by which name the preceptors have addressed Lord Aamaruviyappan in Therazhundur.
The five-tier Rajagopuram is at the main entrance and a three-tier tower is at the entrance of the second Prakaram. Ardhamandapam and Mahamandapam lead to the sanctum sanctorum where the Lord, like Ranganatha of Srirangam is found lying, facing the south. At His feet are Sages Kanvar and Vyagrapadar. The Moolavar is known as Arulmaakadal.
The Goddess known as Dayanayaki and Thirumamagal, is worshipped in a separate shrine facing the east on the northern side of the second Prakaram. There are two holy water sources Anantha Pushkarani on the western side of the temple and Manasa Pushkarani on the eastern side. The Lord is lying under Nandavardhana Vimanam. The holy Vilvam tree, found generally in Siva temples, is the "Sthala Vriksham" here. On the banks of the Anantha Pushkarani is the shrine of Anantha or Adiseshan. People afflicated by "Naga Dosha" and those seeking progeny frequent this shrine. The (Brahmotsavam) main festival is celebrated in the month of Vaikasi and other important festivals are the Thiruvadyayana Utsavam in Margazhi, Ananthan festival in Masi and the Aippasi Moolam festival for Manavala- mamunigal.
T. A. SRINIVASAN
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