Verse on Thirukurungudi Nambi by Swamy Nammalwar:
ENNANEYO ANNAIMIRKAL ! ENNAI MUNIVATHU NEER ?
NANKAL KOLAT THIRUKURUNGUDI NAMBIIYAI NAAN KANDA PIN
CANKINOTUM NEMIYOTUM, TAMARAYAK KANGALODUM
CENKANI VAY ONTRINODUM, CELKINRATU EN NENCAME.
Verse from Tiruvaimozhi of Nammazhwar - Centum : 7-5:
karpaar iraama piraanai allaal* marrum karparo?,*
purpaa muthalaap* pullerumpaathi onrinriye,
narpaal ayoththiyil vaazum* charaacharam murravum,
narpaalukku uyththanan* naanmuka nnaar_perra naattule
Verse from Upadesa Rathinamaalai:
undo vaikasi visakaththukku opporu naL
undo satakoparkku opporuvar – undo
thiruvaimozhikku oppu thenkurugaikku undo
oru par thanil okkum oor
Located about 30 kms East of Tirunelveli on the Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur highway, Aathi Naathan Temple in Azhvaar Tirunagari is one of the Nava Tirupathi temples on either side of Taamaraibarani. This place is also referred to as Aathi Kshetram, Varaaha Kshetram, Theertha Kshetram, Thaantha Kshetram and Sesha Kshetram and is also called Thiru Kurugur. There are a number of inscriptions here that date back a 1000years.
There is a separate Sannidhi for NammAzhvaar said to be more significant than the main Sannidhi itself for it was here that he spent 16 years in silence. This is the only Divya Desam to have the name of the Azhvaar. A special feature at the Aathi Nathan temple at Azhvaar Thirunagari is the stone nadaswaram that is several centuries old.
The Prime Deity Aathippiraan faces east in standing posture. The image is a swayambu (manifested) and is believed that the feet of the Prime Deity are under the earth. The Lords Spouses, Aathinathanayaki and Thirukkurukoornayaki dwell in separate shrines. This place is also known as Thirukkurukoor because
(i) once Lord Brahma received mantropadesam (teaching of mantra) from Lord Vishnu in appreciation of his tapasaya. Since the Lord became Guru, the place was called kurukoor.
(ii) Nammalvars ancestor, a chieftain by name Kurukan had this place as his capitol; hence the name kurukoor.
(iii) The Tamil word kuruku means stork, hen and conch. The conch or kuruku attained moksha in this place and so the name kurukoor. Nammalvars shrine is more famous than the Lords and so the city came to be known as Alwarthirunagari. Kambar in his work Satagoparanthaathi uses the name kurukoor only. This sacred place is also known as Dhantha Kshetram, Varaha Kshetram, Thirtha Kshetram and Sesha Kshetram, each one has a legend of its own to gain such an identity.
The nine Vaishnava holy places are considered as related to the Navagrahas (Nine Planets) and worshipped. The deities themselves are taken to be the Navagrahas and prayed. To a Vaishnavite, the term ‘Alvar’ signifies Nammalvar who has rendered in Tamil Thiruvaaymoli, considered to be the essence of Vedas. He had not visited any divyadesam and remaining in the tree-hole, he sang of all the deities in the different divyadesams. It is believed that all these deities rushed to Kurukoor, sat in the branches of the tamarind tree and requested Nammalvar to hail them! Madhurakavi Alvar, born in Thirukkolur (Navathiruppathi for Mars), saw a blazing light from the south when he was journeying in the north, came to Kurukkor following the light. He saw Nammalvar sitting in Yoga in the tree-hole, understood that he was his Guru and declared in his 11 pasurams, commencing with the phrase “kanninun cirutthaambu” that there cannot be a God other than Kurukoor Nambi (Nammalvar). He then compiled the Thiruvaaymoli. Nammalvar alone has consecrated this deity in 11 pasurams.
Dhantha Kshetram: Manthan, a Brahmin boy having abused the Vedas, incurred the wrath of his master who cursed him to be born in a low-caste in his next birth. He was born Dhanthan, led a disciplined life and came to Kurukoor to worship Aathippiraan. The high-caste priests drove him away; but Dhanthan made a sand-image of the Lord at the banks of River Thaamiraparani and carried on his worship. The high-caste-priests suddenly lost their eyesight and when they surrendered to the Lord to find out the reason, a voice from the sky directed them to ask pardon to Dhanthan. So did the priests and retrieved their lost eyesight. Dhanthan had the beatific vision of the Lord with His Spouse. We can see the image of Dhanthan sculpted in the first step of the ardha mantapam; where he worshipped Aadhinathan is known as Appan Koil or Chemponmaada Tirukkurukoor.
Varaha Kshetram: Some sages of the yore desired to see the Varaha avatar (Boar incarnation) of the Lord and so conducted a rigorous tapasya at this sacred place. The Lord in Varaha form with Bhoomadevi on His lap appeared before them and blessed them. Hence, this is Varaha Kshetram. The Lord is hailed as Jnanappiran.
Thirtha Kshetram: Shankan, a sage was carrying on a tapasya with an intention of becoming one of the guards of eight directions of the universe. Narada advised him to do the tapasya towards Lord Narayana who would grant him moksha. When Shankan asked about the way to achieve it, Narada told him that he should be born as a conch (Chanku) in the sea where River Thaamiraparani merges and worship Aathinaathan for 1000 years. Shankan by becoming so worshipped first the Lord established by Dhanthan and later, instructed by Narada prayed Aathippiran in the morning as a human being and in the night went to the sea as a conch. Once when he was coming with his crew to have his daily worship, a whale stopped his progress and Shankan prayed intensely to Aaathippiran. At that time, a man appeared in the sea and swallowed the whale. Shankan and his crew, thereafter, happily carried on their prayer. After 1000 years, the Lord with His Devis on His Garuda Vahanam revealed Himself to Shankan and his fellows and granted them moksha. The wharf where Shankan and his crew entered is known as Thirucchankaniturai even today. Since it was entry through water, this holy place has gained the name Thirtha Kshetram.
Sesha Kshetram: This legend is related to Ramayana and subsequently to Nammalvar, because of whom this holy city is called Alwarthirunagari. Three days before the cessation of Ramavataram, Lord Yama (God of Death) came to see Lord Rama, who instructed his brother Lakshmana not to allow anybody thereafter. Sage Dhurvaasa desiring to see Lord Rama before the completion of incarnation came and Lakshmana, afraid of incurring his wrath and curse, did not stop him. But, the displeased Rama cursed his brother to become a tree, as he did not respect his order. Lakshmana cried and asked pardon that he could not live without him. Rama then said that he himself had to be like a statue for 16 years, for committing the sin of sending Sita to the forest and that he would sit in the hole of the tree at that time. Lakshmana would become a tamarind tree at the Varaha Kshetram. Sage Kashyapa and his wife, born as Kaari and Utaya Nangai would come to Kurukoor praying for a child. The Lord would be born as Maran (Nammalvar) and as a baby he would crawl to the hole in the tamarind tree and sit motionless for 16 years. After this Yoga, he would do the Vedas in Tamil and pave way for bhakti. Lord Rama gave his ring to his brother and said that Lakshmana would be a tamarind tree where the ring dropped. Lakshmana, the incarnation of Adisesha stands as the tamarind tree in this holy temple. So the place is appropriately called Sesha Kshetram.
An important festival at this temple is Vaikasi Utsavam, when the deities from all the Nava Tirupathi temples congregate here on the occasion of Garuda Sevai to listen to the Paasurams with Nammazhvaar seated on the Hamsa Vaahanam.