108 Divya Desams

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

Alvars Divya Desams
Alvar Divya Desams

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.

#108DivyaDesam #HinduTraditions

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