Sri Yathothkari Perumal Temple is ascribed to Sri Ranganatha Swamy, one of the manifestations of Sri Maha Vishnu. The temple is situated in Kanchipuram. It is one of the three oldest temples in Kanchipuram. The other two are Sri Ulagalanda Perumal Temple and Sri Pandava Dutha Perumal Temple.
Sri Yathothkari Perumal Temple is one of the 108 Divya Desam Temples. The features and importance of this temple are said to be glorified in Divya Prabhandam. This is also the birth place of Sri Poigai Alwar.
Sri Yathothkari Perumal Temple is also called as Thiruvekka Temple and Sonna Vannam Seitha Perumal Temple. The consort of Sri Ranganatha is Sri Komala Valli Thayar.
Table of Contents
- Sri Yathothkari Perumal Temple – Origin
- Sri Yathothkari Perumal Temple – Legend
- Sri Yathothkari Perumal Temple – Structure
- Sri Yathothkari Perumal Temple – Rituals and festivals
Sri Yathothkari Perumal Temple – Origin
It is believed that the temple was built by the Pallava Kings in 8th Century AD. Later, it is believed to be improved in the era of Medieval Cholas and Vijayanagara Kings. Inscriptions pertaining to the contributions of Kulothunga Chola and Rajadhi Raja Chola Kings are available in the temple. The temple is built as per Dravidian style architecture.
The temple tank is said to be place of birth of Sri Poigai Alwar.
Sri Yathothkari Perumal Temple – Legend
There are a few legends associated with the temple.
Once there was a feud between Sri Lakshmi and Sri Saraswathi as to who was better. They went to Lord Indra for an announcement on the matter. Indra had said that Sri Lakshmi was superior. Peeved with the observation of Indra, Sri Saraswathi asked Sri Brahma. He too pronounced Sri Lakshmi as superior.
Angered at the verdict of Sri Brahma, Sri Sarawathi left Him. Though Brahma kept calling Her back, She did not relent.
Sri Brahma performed an Yagna invoking Sri Maha Vishnu. As per custom, it was necessary to do the Yagna with the consort only. As Saraswathi refused to join Him, He did the Yagna with His other wives.
Some of the Asuras wanted to disrupt the Yagna. They cunningly wanted to exploit the estrangement of Sri Saraswathi.
They went to Sri Saraswathi and told Her about Brahma’s Yagna. She was aghast that Sri Brahma had chosen to do the Yagna without Her. In order to disrupt the Yagna, She flew fiercely as River Vegavathi.
But Sri Maha Vishnu had stalled Her efforts by lying across the river on Adi Sesha. On seeing Sri Maha Vishnu, She had accepted Her defeat.
Hence this place was called Vegavani which later became Vegannai and then Vekka. Hence this temple is also called as Thiruvekka.
The temple is also associated with the life of Sri Thirumazhisai Alwar.
Once Sage Bhargava and the celestial dancer Kanakangi were blessed with a male child. It was a under grown baby. There was no movement. The dancer had left the baby near a bush and went back to the celestial world.
However, the baby was born as an incarnation of Sri Sudarshan Chakra, the holy wheel of Sri Maha Vishnu. With the blessings of Sri Vishnu and Sri Lakshmi, the Child started crying.
Hearing the crying sound, a farmer couple who were going in that side took the baby. They were childless. The had decided to adopt the baby as their own. The named the child as Siva Vakiyar.
When Siva Vakkiyar grew up, he was confused about what to choose, Shaivism or Vaishnavism. He went in for a debate with Pey Alwar on this issue. Pey Alwar defeated Siva Vakkiyar and made him his disciple. Siva Vakkiyar was then renamed as Bhakthi Sarar and then as Thirumazhisai Alwar.
A dasi woman used to clean the temple premises. She did a selfless service. Out of kindness, Thirumazhisai Alwar blessed her to be a beautiful woman. The King had fallen for her beauty and married her. He had learned about the glory of Thirumazhisai Alwar.
Thirumazhisai Alwar had a disciple named Kani Kannan. The King ordered Kani Kannan to be present in his Court. When he saw Kani Kannan, he asked him to persuade Thirumazhisai Alwar to sing hymns in praise of him (the King).
Kani Kannan told the King that Thirumazhisai Alwar would not praise any person other than Sri Maha Vishnu. The King offered Kani Kannan gold and money to make him persuade Thirumazhisai Alwar. Kani Kannan flatly refused.
The King then expelled Kani Kannan from Kanchi. Kani Kannan duly informed his Guru about the expulsion. Thirumazhisai Alwar also wanted to accompany his disciple. Before leaving, he had praised Sri Ranganatha with songs. He prayed Him to help them in leaving the city.
Lord Ranganatha did not want to stay in the city from which His ardent devotees were banished. Hence He also joined them. The trio went out of Kanchipuram.
Once they left, the City plunged into darkness. The King realized the enormity of his mistakes. He begged Kani Kannan and Thirumazhisai Alwar to return to the city. Thirumazhisai Alwar in turn sung a song praising the Lord to return to the temple. The Lord did as prayed by His devotee.
“Yathothkari” means “the person who does as requested”. Sri Perumal here adheres to the sincere desires and requests of His devotees. Hence, He is called as Yathothkari Perumal.
As per the legend, it is believed that Sri Manavala Maamunigal had explained his “Sri Bhashyam” to the World only in this temple premises.
Sri Yathothkari Perumal Temple – Structure
The main gateway, Rajaopuram is five tiered.
The main sanctum is approached via Dwajasthambam.
The two mandapams named as Ardha Mandapam and Maha Mandapam are to be passed through to reach the main sanctum. The Mandapams are pillared.
The main Deity is Sri Ranganatha facing west. He is in the reclined position. The specialty is that Sri Ranganatha is reclining on the left-hand side (Maaru Sayanam) unlike other Ranganatha temples where he is reclining on the right-hand side.
It is believed that earlier, Sri Ranganatha was right recumbent only. On hearing the hymns of Thirumazhisai Alwar, He had changed his recumbent position to the left.
Maaru Sayanam – Legends
As Sri Perumal had returned after leaving the city to accompany His devotee Thirumazhisai Alwar, His changed position is said to indicate that He had left earlier.
Further, as Sri Perumal came rushing to block Vegavathi river, He had reclined in the unusual position.
It is believed that Sri Ranganathar had given darshan to Sri Saraswathi and Thirumazhisai Alwar here. Perumal is also referred as Vega Sethu, Pujanga Sayana Perumal and Sonna vannam seitha Perumal.
Sri Saraswathi’s prayer to Sri Maha Vishnu is depicted in the sanctum. The roof of the sanctum is as per Vedasara Vimana structure. It has five Kalasams and various depictions.
The Sanctum of His consort Sri Komala Valli Thayar is in the eastern side of the temple facing the main Sanctum.
The Shrine for Poigai Alwar is in the northside of the Dwajasthambam.
There is a separate shrine for Sri Rama, Sri Seetha and Sri Hanumar.
Sri Yathothkari Perumal Temple – Rituals and festivals
Pooja rituals are done six times a day. They are Ushath Kalam at 7 A.M, Kalasanthi at 8 A.M, Uchikalam at 12 Noon, Sayarakshai at 6 P.M, Irandamkalam at 7 P.M and Ardha Jamam at 10 P.M. Each of the rituals has the three basic steps of Alankaram, Neivedyam and Deepa Arathana. The rituals are followed for both Sri Perumal and Sri Thayar.
The major festivals observed in the temple are Panguni Brahmotsavam in April – May and Poigai Alwar Avatar dhinotsav on Aippasi Thiruvonam.
For indicating the legend of Kani Kannan, the procession Deities of Sri Perumal, Thirumazhisai Alwar and Kani Kannan are taken to the village named Orikkai for a short stay. This is observed in Thai (January – February) month.[Note: The dates and the name of the patrons are referred from