Saturday, September 8, 2012

History behind Azhagar Malai (azhagar koil)

Azhagar koil is one among the 108 Divya desam's of Lord Vishnu..

Alagar Koil is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is situated at a distance of 21 km from Madurai, on foot of Alagar hills, amongst the natural beauty of the woods. The Vaishnavite temple is famous for its beautiful sculptures and exquisite 'mandapams'. It is believed that pilgrims visited Azhgar Kovil even in the early days of the Sangam age. According to Hindu Mythology, Lord Vishnu came to this place from his heavenly abode to give away Goddess Meenakshi in marriage to Lord Sundareswarer.

The splendid main tower at the entrance is believed to have been built by the Pandyan Kings. According to the historical background of the place, Malayadhwaja Pandyan, son of Kulasekhara Pandyan, was the earliest known monarch to patronize the temple. Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan beautified the 'vimana' of the shrine with gold plates. After the Pandya rule, the Nayakas patronized the deity.

The main deity of this temple is called Paramaswamy and the processional idol is called Alagar or Sundararajan. The stunning idol is made of pure gold and is an exquisite example of craftsmanship. There is shrine of Kalyana Sundaravalli, the divine consort of Alagar, in the southern enclosure. There is another shrine in the north dedicated to Andal. Other important shrines are of Sudarshanar and Yoga Narasimha. 

There is another shrine nearby, dedicated to Karuppannaswamy, the God of Kallars. There are finely carved eighteen steps, which are an object of both worship and amazement by the devotees. It is claimed that nobody dares to tell a lie at this spot. The place is also known for its holy springs called Silamboru and Noopura Gangai. According to local tradition, these springs originated from the anklets of Maha Vishnu during His incarnation as Trivikrama.

The legend has it that sage Suthapas (Munivar) was bathing in Nupura Gangai at Alagar Hill and did not pay heed to Durvasar Maharishi, who was passing by. The enraged Durvasar cursed Suthapas that he would turn into a frog until he is redeemed of his curse by Lord Sundararajar, who is also known as Kallazhagar.

The Suthapas Maharishi, who is named as ‘Mandooga’ munivar because of his frog status, performed ‘thapas’ (prayer) on the banks of river Vaigai, which is otherwise known as Vegavathi, at Thenur. The Lord Kallazhagar comes from his abode in Alagar Hill to redeem Mandooga Maharishi of his curse, when he is praying.

Since days unknown, it is believed that the lord Kallazhagar comes to Thenur via Malaipatti, Alanganallur and Vayalur. In Thenur Mandap, the lord redeems the sage of his curse and leaves for his abode.

“During Thirumalai Nayak regime (1623 to 1659 AD), in 1653 the Mandooga Maharishi relieving ritual was shifted to Vandiyur village where the event is performed at Thennur Mandapam, built by Thirumalai Nayak himself.

Other names of Azhagar malai :

* Thirumalirunsolai
* Uthiyaanasylam
* Solaimalai
* Maalirunkundrum
* Irunkundrum
* Vanagiri
* Virushapaathiri

Alagar kovil (Alagar malai or hill) is situated at the north of Madurai (Tamilnadu,India), away from 20 k.m. The other names of this are 'Thirumalirunsolai, Uthiyaanasylam, Solaimalai, Maalirunkundrum, Irunkundrum, Vanagiri, Virushapaathiri' etc. It is 18 k.m long in east west direction and 320 meters of height, in dimension. Some small hills are diverted from here,going towards all directions. This hill is fully enriched with a lot of vegetation, herbs, fruits and springs etc. Here the residing deity is called as Alagar, Kallalagar and Sundaraja perumal . The origin of this isthalam (place) could not be judged clearly.

Moorthy, Isthalam and Theertham of this temple had been described in Varaaga puraanam, Pramaanda puraanam, Vaamana puraanam, and Angneya puraanam clearly. The compilation of all these at in one form named as Virushapathiri mahathmium found in Hindi language. Among the 108 Dhivyadeshams of lord Vishnu, the name 'Sundaraja perumal' has come in as common in the following three Isthalams, namely Anbil, Thirunaagai (Nagappattinam), and Koodal nagar (Madurai).

Alagar malai had been highlighted in the Vaalmigi's Raamaayanam, Veda Viyasar's Mahabharatham and Sugar's Maha Bharatham. Viyaasar quoted in His Mahabharatham, that Yuthistran (Tharuman) came here, when they had been experiencing the forest life for 12 years. Again in Sugar's Bhagavatham, Balaraman, the incarnation of lord Vishnu, had reached the Virushapathiri (Alagar malai), and had gone to Sethu (Rameshwaram), when on His pilgrimage.

In Silappathikaram (one of the five maha Kaapiams of Tamil language), also the glory of this hill had been highlighted, that one brahmanan (one who learn the veda and Upanishath etc.) had told Kovalan (hero of the kaapium),Kannagi (Heroin) and gownthiadigal (a jain guru), when approached Madurai for their survival, that they should visit "Thirumalirunkundrum", which is on the way to Madurai,and there they could capable of finding three holy Theerthaas namely, Siravanam, Bawahaaruni, and Istasiddhi, provided if they could fulfill some rituals there, which had been very difficult to follow.Otherwise, they simply worship the feet of the lord Thirumal (lord Vishnu) and could get the moksha definitely. But the sign of those three theerthas has not been here, only Nooburagangai or Silambaaru is the only theertham seen nowadays.It has been there under the shrine of Goddess "Sri Raakachi amman".

A lot of sages belonged to various religion like Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism had been there at the caves found in the hill.

The various era involved in the history of Alagar kovil

The Aalwars period

Aalwars are the 12 persons of fierce disciples of lord Vishnu, belonged to 8 th century. Among them, some body belonged to the 5 th century. On those days, they praised this hill and it's wealth, and described this as the "South Thirupathi". In their hymns called "Paasurams", they had praised the isthalam, Moorthy and the Theertham. They had done "Mangalasaasanam" on this Isthalam. Out of this 12 Aalwars, six of them namely, Periyaalwar, Aandal, Thirumangaiyaalwar, Bootathaalwar, Paeyaalwar, nammaalwar had praised the hill and the lord Alagar in their 128 paasurams. All these paasuramshave been compiled and called in the name of " Naalaayira thivya prapantham ", which has been called as the Veda of the vaishnavites.

Periyaalwar and Aandal

Aandal is the incarnation of the goddess Sri "Maha lakshmi", the consort of lord Vishnu, who had been the one of the 12 Aalwars. She wanted to mary lord Sri Renga (lord Vishnu), with out knowing the birth secret of Her incarnation. She had been also called as the other name "Soodi kodutha sudarkodi", that every day, She had made the garland for the lord Vishnu and had garlanded Him with the flowers and songs in the name of paasurams. She and Her father Periyaalwar (also one of the 12 Aalwars) often visited Alagar kovil and had sung paasurams about the hill and Alagar. Atlast She got married with Alagar in the form of lord sri Renganatha.

Historical period

Apart from puraana times, coming into the historical era, when the origin of pandyan kingdom there had been the Alagar kovil and the Alagapuri also there .This temple had been situated within the castle wall of Alagapuri. Both the temple and the Alagapuri were once considered as the same in social & religious life. At first both of these were said to be constructed by the deity of justice and the Viswakarmaa, the celestial architect of heaven, then were renovated by the pandyan king "Malaithuvaja pandyan", who was the son of the founder of the pandyan kingdom, Kulasekara pandyan.

In the Periyaalwar puraanam, when quoting about the temple, there said to be a big wall around the temple, and nowadays, we can see the destructed parts of the remaining big wall here ans there.The circumference of the wall was said to be more than 1.5 k.m , and had been constructed by the stones and bricks. Apart from the pandyan kings, the other kings of cholas, Sri lanka's, Vaanar's, hoisaalar's and the vijanagara's Ambassadors, who were said to be Naayaks were also engaged themselves in the religious services. Atlast the patronage was handed over to the east Indian company of the British government on 1785.

The pandyan kings were having their flags embedded with the monogram of Fish, which would have been the first incarnation of lord Vishnu, the "Machha Avataar", since they were the followersof the vaishnavam.

Vijayanagara kingdom

Pandyan king Jadaavarman Sundarapandiyan (1251 - 1270) had done a lot of religious services to Alagar kovil, like one of them was the golden layer work of the tower of the temple. After the pandyan kingdom, the kings of vijayanagara had the direct supervision over the pandyan kingdom,allowing the pandya kings as only their representatives. One of the kings in the line, named "Thirumaalirunsolai nindran magapali vaanaathiraayan urangaa villithaasan", which had been in scripted on those time. From the name itself, we can able to understand that he had immense devotion towards the lord Alagar perumaan. He had done a lot to the welfare of this temple by registering the lands and assets to the temple. He also made this as his capital and fort. His successors are the persons who had built the big towers of goddess Sri Meenakshi amman, which are seen nowadays.

In 1565, the last king of vijayanagar had been defeated by the Mohammedans, in the war of "Thalaikottai", the ambassadors of the pandyan kingdom became liberated and declared as they were the kings of those regions. Among the Vijayanagara's kings, the very noted person was "Krishna devaraya", who had immense devotion towards Alagar and the temple. He, then gave two villages called "Samaya nallur" and "Sattha mangalam" to the temple. This news had been in scripted in a stone, near the tower of the lord "Pathinetaamm padi Karuppu".From the revenue collected from those two villages, during the festivals on the Tamil month of Aadi, some 'Thaanams" (free meals and gift etc.) were given to the public.

The king Krishna devaraya with his warriors, had come to Alagar kovil and had been halted for three days. The last ambassador of the vijayanagar, Viswanatha nayak had also done a lot of well fares to this temple, which had been in-scripted,near the western side of the tower of "Pathinettaampadi karuppu". Afetr his reign only, the Naayak's ruling on Madurai, individually had began.

During the reign of Thirumalai nayak (1623 - 1659), Madurai had been on it's peak of prosperity. He had done a lot of religious services to the Alagar kovil, like the construction and renovation of yaaga salai, palliyarai, thantha vimaanam, thantha pallakku, abisheka mantapam etc. He also built a palace in Thirmalirunsolai (Alagar kovil).

The power of ruling Madurai had been changed over to "Aarkattu Nawaab" from the last naayak's queen , called Meenakshi ammal, on 1736.That time all the temples in Madurai had been at deep trouble. In 1757, the Mohammedan king 'Hither ali' had conquered Madurai, and robbed the wealth, surrounding Madurai and destroyed the sculptures in the marriage hall of the temple. He also destroyed the city Alagapuri and the surrounding walls of Alagar kovil. Now we can see the remaining destructed parts of the wall, which had been destroyed by Hytherali, near the temple premises.He also broke down the palace and it's surroundings inside the castle.

A great Mohammedan warrior called Yusuf khan defeated Hitherali, and sent him back to Dindigul on 1758, and also on the same year, he returned back the robbed wealth of Hytherali, to the alagar kovil temple. Due to conspiracy, Yusuf khan had been killed and again chaos had been there at Madurai. atlast, on 1785, Madurai had been handed over to the east Indian company of British kingdom.

British reign in Madurai - In 1801, the first British collector,Hardis ,had taken as the in charge of the Alagar kovil temple's trust. He however rectified the management of the temple premises. The reforms he had done with the the temple's management had been called as the authentic- belongings of the temple. Then, on 1817, the management had been handed over to the Board of revenue and at last on 1863, the "committee for governing the religious activities" had taken the in charge of this temple. This committee had done a blunder mistake of registering the rights of having the power of attorney not to the temple, instead it registered it to the name of the persons who managed the temple. Due to this activities, again there were confusion on maintaining the temple management. Some other people,had been enjoying the benefits ans a lot of assets had been lost to the temple. The daily routine works of the temple had met out trouble due to the scarcity of the funds.Now, the only asset to the temple is the land surrounding the temple only. Finally, on 1929, a new department namely, "Hindu Religious and endowment board" had taken in charge of the ancient temples. Now a lot of temples are under the control of this board, and been maintained properly.

Periyaalwar and Thirumalirunsolai

He described the beauty of this hill by comparing it with the north Vengadam as like it, here also there were seven hills as follows:-

1) Alangaaran malai (here malai means hill)

2) Kula malai

3) Kola malai

4) Kulir maamalai

5) kottra malai

6) Nila malai

7)Neenda malai

In these seven hills, there were rivers, springs and fountains, which were described by Periyaalwar in his paarurams.

Arangan Vs Alagar

When Sri Rangam ( one of the 108 Divya Dhesams of lord Vishnu, which is in Trichy, in Tamilnadu) had been looted by the Mohammedans, in order to save the sculpture of the Lord Vishnu, a fierce devotee, called Pillai Logaachariyaar had taken the sculpture in a "Pallaakku" (in which one can sit and travel, which is carried on the shoulders of the carrying people) and traveled to a safe place towards the south direction. On their way of traveling, Pillai Logaachariyaar had died at the place called Jodishkudi. His followers, with out gave up this effort, taken the idol safely to Thirmalirunsolai (Alagar kovil) and had dug a well and named it as Alagiya Manavaalan Thirukinaru, and kept the idol safely in the well and had done all poojaas to the well. Thus for more than a year, Thiru Arangan (idol of lord Vishnu) had stayed in Alagar malai. Here after the idol of Thiru Arangan had been taken to some other places in Kerela (then called as Malayaala desham), and at last after passing 60 years, on 1370, the idol had come back to Sri Rangam safely.

All these news have been collected and compiled from the book called "Etheenthra pranavap prabhavam"done by Pillai logamzeeyar.

1 comment:

  1. Can You Inquire Me These Two;

    1] When The Pathinettam Padi Practice Came Into Vogue; From When They Are Following This 18 Steps Practice; Means - The Year From which We Have This Practice

    2] From Which Year; Sri Azhagar Is Visiting The Vaigai On His Horse; And - Possible; From which year The Sri Meenakshi Kalyanam Is Performed In The Temple