For followers of Vishnu, a visit to the 108 Divya Desams is an important aspect of their spiritual growth. Krishnan and I have just started our journey down this path. For all this while, we didn’t realise the importance of visiting temples.
Our core philosophy hasn’t changed which is that Bhagwan is everywhere and in every single thing. So the entire Earth is sacred. The temple ecosystem was an important pillar of sustaining Hinduism and our culture. We would like to participate in these efforts and so have made it a point to visit as many temples as possible during our travels. We have had a lot of learnings which I will share in subsequent blogs.
Alvars – The Poet Saints
There are 12 poet saints who were devoted to Mahavishnu and they penned 4000 songs in his praise. All the 4000 paasurams (songs) that the Alvars have written are compiled as the Naalayira (4000) Divya Prabandham. For Iyengars (Vishnu followers) learning the Naalayira Divya Prabandham is a lifelong mission.
The paasurams are written in Tamil so that the common man could understand and sing along. The songs distil the messages from the Vedas and the Upanishads in everyday language.
Very Important to Note – Except for one Alvar none of them are Brahmins. So much for Brahmin hatred !
Poigai Alvar – Found in a Lotus flower near a small pond in Kanchipuram. No known antecedents.
Bhoothath Alvar – Found in a Liquorice flower in Mahabalipuram.
Pey Alvar – Found in a Lily flower at the Adi Kesava Perumal temple in Mylapore.
Thirumalisai Alvar – Raised by a tribal couple.
Nammalvar – Born in a Shudra family in Alwarthirunagari. He is considered the foremost amongst the Alvars and he has penned 1352 paasurams of the 4000 Divya Prabandham.
Madhurakavi Alvar – Even though he was older than Nammalvar, he was his disciple and recorded all the 1352 paasurams.
Kulasekhara Alvar – A Chera King who became an Alvar !. The Srirangam temple’s prakara was renovated by him and hence called Kulasekhara Thiruvadi.
Periyalvar – Also known as Vishnuchitta, or one who has Vishnu in his mind 24/7. He adopted Vishnucittan Kodhai aka Andal the only female Alvar. Both Periyalvar and Andal are from Srivilliputhur.
Andal – Found under the Tulsi plant by the childless Periyalvar. He adopted her and Andal penned the 30 songs titled Thirupaavai besides the 143 verses of Thirumozhi.
Thondaradippodi Alvar – Also known as Vipra Narayana. He was so devoted to Ranganathar (the reclining form of Mahavishnu) of Sri Rangam that he would worship even the dust at his feet.
Thiruppaan Alvar – Born in the family of Paanars, who are considered “untouchables” as per the modern definition of caste. He was carried on the shoulders of the sage Loka Saranga into the Garba Griha of Srirangam temple.
Thirumangai Alvar – Born in the Kallar community (robbers). His father was a general in the Chola army and became the ruler of a small kingdom gifted by the Chola emperor. Thirumangai Alvar was also a soldier, a king and ofcourse a Vishnu devotee.
Divya Desams – Definition
Divya Desams are those Vishnu temples where one or more of the 12 Alvars have sung in praise of Mahavishnu. The ranking system is loosely based on how many songs have been sung in each of the temples. The temple where all the Alvars have sung is the Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple or hence it is the first Divya Desam.
In Iyengar lingo, we say the Alvars have done “Mangala Saasanam” at these temples. Lovely word !!
Note : In many Divya Desam temples, Bhagwan Shiva is also worshipped. So all this Siva – Vishnu divide is simply a modern day creation to divide Hindus.
Of the 108 Divya Desams, 84 are in TamilNadu. Further, 40 of these temples are in the erstwhile Chola Kingdom the famed Shaivite empire. Yet another fake news busted.
Tiruchirapalli 1. Thiruvarangam (Sri Rangam) – Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple 2. Thirukkozhi (Uraiyur) – Sri Azhagiya Manavala Perumal Temple 3. Thirukkarambanoor – Sri Purushothaman Perumal Temple 4. Thiruvellarai – Sri Pundarikashan Perumal Temple 5. Thiru Anbil – Sri Vadivazhagiya Nambi Perumal Temple 6. Thirupper Nagar – Sri Appakkudathaan Perumal Temple Thanjavur & Kumbakonam 7. Thiru Thanjaimaamani Koil – Sri Neelamega Perumal Temple 8. Thirukkandiyur – Sri Hara Saabha Vimocchana Perumal Temple 9. Thirukkoodaloor – Sri Aaduthurai Perumal Temple 10. Thirukkavithalam (Kabisthalam) – Sri Gajendra Varadha Perumal Temple 11. Thiruppullam Boothankudi – Sri Valvil Ramar Perumal Temple 12. Thiru Aadhanoor – Sri Aandu Alakkum Ayan Perumal Temple 13. Thirukkudanthai – Sri Saarangapani Perumal Temple 14. Thiru Vinnagar – Sri Oppiliappa Perumal Temple 15. Thirunarayoor (Naachchiyaar koil) – Sri Thirunarayoor Nambi Perumal 16. Thiruccherai – Sri Saranathan Perumal Temple 17. Thirukkannamangai – Sri Bhaktavatsala Perumal Temple 18. Thirunandhipura Vinnagaram (Nathan Koil) – Sri Jaganatha Perumal Temple 19. Thiruvelliyankudi – Sri Kola Valvilli Ramar Perumal Temple Mayiladutural or Mayavaram 20. Thiru Indhaloor – Sri Parimala Ranganatha Perumal Temple 21. Thiruvazhunthoor – Sri Devaadi Raja Perumal Temple 22. Thiru Sirupuliyur – Sri Arulmaakadal Perumal Temple 23. Thirukkannapuram – Sri Sowrirajan Neelamega Perumal Temple 24. Thiru Naagai – Sri Soundaryarajan Neelamega Perumal Temple 25. Thirukkannankudi – Sri Loganatha Perumal Temple 26. Thiru Thalaicchanga Naanmathiyam – Sri Naan Madhiya Perumal Temple Sirkazhi 27. Kaazhicheeraama Vinnagaram – Thadalar Seerkazhi Thirivikaraman Perumal 28. Thiruvellakkulam (Annan Kovil) – Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple 29. Thiru Devanaar Thogai – Sri Deiva Naayaga Perumal Temple 30. Thiruvaali Thirunagari – Sri Lakshmi Narashima Perumal Temple 31. Thiru Kavalampaadi – Sri Gopala Krishna Perumal Temple 32. Thiru Manikkoodam – Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple 33. Thiru Paarthanpalli – Sri Thamaraiyal Kelvan Perumal Temple 34. Thiru Manimaada Kovil – Sri Narayana Perumal Temple 35. Thiru Arimeya Vinnagaram – Sri Kuda Maadu Koothan Perumal Temple 36. Thiru Thetri Aambalam – Sri Seganmaal Ranganatha Perumal Temple 37. Thiru Sempon Sei Kovil – Sri Per Arulaalan Perumal Temple 38. Thiru Vann Purushothamam – Sri Purushothama Perumal Temple 39. Thiru VaiKunda Vinnagaram – Sri Vaigundha Nathan Perumal Temple Cuddalore 40. Thiruchitrakootam (Chidambaram) – Sri Govindaraja Perumal Temple 41. Thiruvaheendrapuram (Cuddalore) – Sri Deyva Nayaga Perumal Temple 42. Thirukkoviloor – Sri Thiruvikrama Perumal Temple Kanchipuram 43. Thirukkachchi – Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple 44. Ashtabhuyakaram – Sri Aadhikesava Perumal Temple 45. Thiru Vekka – Sri Yathothakaari Temple 46. Thiru Velukkai – Sri Azhagiya Singar Perumal Temple 47. Thiruthanka – Sri Deepa Prakasar Perumal Temple 48. ThirukKalvanoor – Sri Aadhi Varaha Perumal Temple 49. Thiru Ooragam – Sri Ulagalantha Perumal Temple 50. Thiru Neeragam – Sri Jagadeeshwarar Temple 51. Thiru Kaaragam – Sri Karunakara Perumal Temple 52. Thirukkaar Vaanam – Sri Thirukkaar vaanar Temple 53. Thiruparameshwara Vinnagaram – Sri Vaikunda Perumal Temple 54. Thiru Pavala Vannan – Sri Pavala Vannar Temple 55. Thiru Nilathingal Thundam – Sri Nilathingal Thundathan Perumal Temple 56. Thiru Paadagam – Sri Pandava Thoodhar Temple 57. Thiruputkuzhi – Sri Vijayaraghava Perumal Temple Chennai 58. Thiruvallikkeni – Sri Parthasarathy Temple 59. Thiruneermalai – Sri Neervanna Perumal Temple 60. Thiruvedanthai – Sri Nithya Kalyana Perumal Temple 61. Thiru Kadalmalai (Mahabalipuram) – Sri Sthala Sayana Perumal Temple 62. Thiru Nindravoor (Thirunindravur) – Sri Bhatavatsala Perumal Temple 63. Thiruevvuloor (Tiruvallur) – Sri Veeraraghava Perumal Temple 64. Thirukkatikai (Sholingur) – Sri Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple Madurai 65. Thirukkoodal – Sri Koodal Azhagar Perumal Temple 66. Thiru Moghur – Sri Kaalamegha Perumal Temple 67. Thirumaalirunsolai (Alagar Kovil) – Sri Kallazhagar Perumal Temple 68. Thirukkotiyoor – Sri Uraga Mellanayaan Perumal Temple 69. Thirumeyyam – Sri Sathyagiri Natha Perumal Temple 70. Thiruppullanni (Ramanathapuram) – Sri Kalyana Jagannatha Perumal Temple 71. Thiruthankaal (Sivakasi) – Sri Nindra Narayana Perumal Temple 72. Thiruvilliputtur (Sri Villiputhoor) – Sri Vadabhatra Saayi Perumal Tirunelveli 73. Thiruvaikuntham (Sri Vaikundam) – Sri Vaikundanatha Perumal Temple 74. Thiruvaragunamangai – Sri Vijayaasana Perumal Temple 75. Thiruppulingudu – Sri Kaaichina Vendha Perumal Temple 76. Thirukkulanthai – Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple 77. Thiruttholai Villimangalam (Twin Thirupathis) – Sri Aravindha Lochana 78. Thirupperai – Sri Magara NedungKuzhai Kaathar Perumal Temple 79. Thirukkoloor – Sri Vaitha Maanitha Perumal Temple 80. Thirukkurugur (Alwar Thirunagiri) – Sri Aadhinatha Swamy Temple 81. Thiruvaramangai Vaanamaamalai (Nanguneri) – Sri Thothatrinatha Perumal 82. Thirukkurungudi – Sri Nindra Nambi Perumal Temple 83. Thiruvanparisaaram (Nagercoil) – Sri Kuralappa Perumal Temple 84. Thiru Vattaaru (Marthandam) – Sri Aadhikesava Perumal Temple Kerala(11 Divya Desams) 85. Thiruvananthapuram – Sri Anantha Padmanabhaswamy Temple 86. Thirupuliyoor (Chengannur) – Sri Maayapiran Perumal Temple 87. Thirucchenkundroor (Chengannur) – Sri Imayavarappa Perumal Temple 88. Thiruvaaran Vilai (Aranmulla Temple) – Sri Parthasarathy Perumal Temple 89. Thiruvanvandoor (Chengannur) – Sri Paambanaiyappa Perumal Temple 90. Thiruvalvaazh (Thiruvalla) – Sri Kolapira Perumal Temple 91. Thirukkadithaanam (Changanassery) – Sri Athpudha Narayana Perumal 92. Thirukkaatkarai (Near Ernakulam, Edapally) – Sri Kaatkarai Appa Perumal 93. Thirumoozhikkalam (Near Cochin Int Airport) – Sri Moozhikkalathaan 94. Thiruvithuvakkodu (Near Thrissur, Pattambi) – Sri Uyyavantha Perumal 95. Thiru Naavaay (Near Kuttippuram) – Sri Naavaay Mugundha Perumal Temple Andhra Pradesh (2 Divya Desams) 96. Thirupathi (Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh) – Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple 97. Thiru Singavel Kundram (Ahobilam, Andhra Pradesh) – Sri Nava Narasimhar Gujarat (1 Divya Desam) 98. Thiru Dwaraka (Dwaraka, Gujarat) – Sri Kalyana Narayana Perumal Temple Uttar Pradesh (4 Divya Desams) 99. Thiru Ayodhi (Uttar Pradesh) – Sri Ramar Temple 100. Thiru Naimisaranyam (Uttar Pradesh) – Sri Devaraja Perumal Temple 101. Thiruvaaipadi (Aayarpadi) – Sri Navamohana Krishna Perumal Temple 102. Thiru Vadamathura (Govardhanesan) – Sri Govardhana Nesa Perumal Temple Uttaranchal (3 Divya Desams) 103. Thirukkandam (Devaprayag) – Sri Neelamega Perumal Temple 104. Thiruppirudhi (Joshimutt) – Sri Paramapurusha Perumal Temple 105. Thiruvadhari Ashramam (Badrinath) – Sri Badri Narayana Perumal Temple Nepal(1 Divya Desam) 106. Thiru Salagramam (Mukthinath, Nepal) – Sri Moorthy Perumal Temple Celestial Abodes 107. ThirupPaarkadal (Vyugam) – Celestial Abode 108. ThirupParamapadham (Parathuvam) – Celestial Abode
During this trip to the south and earlier, we have visited a few of the Divya Desams. Will be posting about them in subsequent blogs.
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