Hailed by the Azhwars

"WHY MY companions do you blame me? It's not my fault that I am in love with him! On seeing my Lord of Thirukurungudi, I think only of His discus, His conch, His lotus eyes and pair of coral hued lips. My heart is mine no longer!Thiruvaimozhi 5.5.1

Going on, Nammazhwar explains in the next 8 stanzas the overriding obsession of Parankusa Naayaki towards the Lord in Thirukurungudi. In what are among the most beautiful paasurams, one hears Parankusa Naayaki replying to her companions and her mother of how the spellbinding beauty and majesty of the Lord has overcome her. She speaks of His hue, His jewels, His weapons, His garlands and begs her friends not to blame her, for her obsession is one that is all consuming and beyond her own control.

Azhwar speaks of palm tree groves and tall mansions. The palm tree groves are intact watered by the Nambiaru but the houses are dwarfed by the majesty of the entrance gopuram.

Although incomplete, even without any tier, it raises over a flight of stairs. The variety of sculptures of Saivite and Vaishnavite themes only gives a sample of what is to come within the 18 acres inside.

Crossing the threshold, Sri Tirunarayanar took a few minutes to explain the working of the 30-ft doors. Crossing in we admired more sculptures on the gopuram including one of Saturn. Passing by this, we went to an intermediary mandapam with eight grand Nayak sculptures.

Climbing up the five-tier gopuram after this, our eyes were subjected to a surfeit of carvings in wood. We went past a smaller mandapam with more Nayak sculptures of a ferocious Narasimha, a gypsy couple kidnapping a prince and princess, the hallmark of Nayak sculptures to the main shrines.

The Lord here is in three separate shrines, standing in one, seated in another and reclining on the third. The images are of stucco beautifully painted. Bhoomi Devi was in a mellow green to depict the greenery of the earth, Sri Devi in a golden yellow. True to his name of Sundaraparipoornan or Vadivazhagiyanambi (one of matchless beauty) the Lord was of breathtaking beauty. Flanked by Brigu and Markandeya, the archakar told how the Lord blessed Kari and Udayanangai with their progeny Nammazhwar. He also told how the Lord appeared to Ramanuja as a disciple and earned the Lord the name Vaishnava Nambi.

Next, we went to the shrine of Mahendranathar, a shrine for Lord Siva in the main temple complex and the beautiful Krishna shrine. "You must visit the Nambi shrine on the Mahendragiri hill and Thiruparkadal Nambi. They are also part of this temple and the former is set in a beautiful forest beside a stream," said Thirunarayanan. The temple has been mentioned in the verses by Periyazhwar and Thirumazhisaipiran. Thirumazhisaipiran in the Thiruchandaviruttam speaks of Kurungudi being a place where the palm fruits roll into the river where cranes and Valai fish abound (verse 62).

Thirumangai Azhwar spent his last days here and appropriately in his song on the temple, he speaks as Parakala Naayaki, "The cool moonlight breeze, laden with His jasmine's fragrance, rips my heart with longing.

Let these bangled sleepers prattle.

But carry me away to my lord in Kurungudi." — Periya Thirumozhi 9.5.2

Ottakoothar, the Chola poet speaks of the temples prosperity and says, "pearls are aplenty in the groves that cranes peck at them and nearly choke in the process!"

Inscriptions are few in number. A unique event in the town is the celebration in song and dance of Nampaduvan a member of the panar community, who redeems a demon from his curse. Kaisika Natakam is on the night of Ekadasi in Karthigai month. The months of Thai and Panguni have other important festivals. The Thirukurungudi temple is administered by the Jeeyar. than anything else.

The visit was unforgettable and we could agree with Nammazhwar who says, "My resplendent Lord of the celestials, lives in Kurungudi and shines like molten gold. How can I ever forget him?"Thiruvaimozhi 1.10.9 The temple is 47 km from Tirunelveli past Nanguneri. Contact for more details: Thirunarayanan, Thirujeeyar Math, Thirukurungudi, Tirunelveli District.

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Kaley | 09 November 2018, 17:22

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