Situated in Chinna Kanchipuram 2 kms west of Varadaraja Perumal Koil, Sonna Vannam Seitha Perumal gets one thinking. As one enters the Sannidhi, one feels that there is something wrong, something different, that one is not normally used to seeing in Vishnu temples.
It takes a little time for one to realize that Lord Vishnu, here at ThiruVekka, is seen in a different sleeping posture from right to left (Maaru Sayanam) with his head resting on the left hand. In all other Divya Desams, where the Lord is represented in a sleeping posture, he can be seen sleeping from left to right with his head resting on his right hand.
Porupidaiye Ninrum, Punal Kulithum
Ainthu Neripidaye Nirkavum, Neer Venda Viruppu
Udaya Vekkaave Serthaanai, Meim Malar Thooik Thozhuthaal
Akkaave Theevinaigal Aainthu- PeyAzhvaar(2357)
பொருப்பிடையே நின்றும், புனல் குளித்தும், ஐந்து
நெருப்பிடையே நிற்கவும் நீர் வேண்டா; விருப்பு உடைய
வெஃகாவே சேர்ந்தானை மெய்ம் மலர் தூய்க் கைதொழுதால்,
அஃகாவே தீவினைகள், ஆய்ந்து?
Such is the fame of the Lord here that PeyAzhvaar in this Paasuram says “There is no need to stand on mountain tops or in neck deep water or in the midst of five fires to penance. Just worship Lord Vishnu at ThiruVekka with flowers and a sincere heart. And all Karmaas will go away”.
5 temples in Chinna Kanchipuram have stories relating to Brahmma’s Ashwamedha yaagam and Saraswathi’s anger at being ignored for the Yagam.
To prove a point to Brahmma that a yaagam cannot be successful without her presence, Saraswathi tries many different ways to stop the yaagam.
In the story relating to ThiruVekka, she takes the form of a fast flowing river (VEGAVATHI) and tries to flood the place. Brahmma looks up to Lord Vishnu to help him with the smooth and safe conduct of the Yaagam.
Vishnu, this time, sleeps across the river as a dam, thus stopping the flow of the river. With the river being blocked, Lord Vishnu, along with MahaLakshmi provides darshan to Brahmma, who then continues his Yaagam.
ThirumazhisaiAzhvaar and the Lord Leaving this Place
Once ThirumazhisaiAzhvaar’s disciple KaniKannan was heard singing praise of the Lord. Pleased with his voice, the king ordered that KaniKannan sing praise of him too. KaniKannan refused stating that he would sing praise only of the Lord and not of others.
An upset king banished him from the kingdom. KanniKannan narrated the happening to his guru Thirumazhisai Azhvaar who decided to accompany him out of the kingdom.
Thirumazhisai Azhvaar went up to the Lord and requested him too to join them on their journey.
KaniKannan Poginraan Kaamaruppoon
Kachi ManiVannaa Nee Kidakka Vendaam
Thunivudaya Sennaapulavanum Poginren
Neeyum Unrun Pai Naagaapaai Surutikol — ThirumazhisaiAzhvaar
கணிகண்ணன் போகின்றான் காமரு பூங்கச்சி
மணிவண்ணா நீ கிடக்க வேண்டா – துணிவுடைய
செந்நாப் புலவன் யான் செல்கின்றேன் நீயும் உன்தன்
பைந்நாகப் பாய்சுருட்டிக் கொள் — திருமழிசை ஆழ்வார்
And the three left the place- This action plunged the entire kingdom into darkness.
Realizing his mistake, the king reached out to Thirumazhisai Azhvaar and requested that the three of them come back to the kingdom. Thirumazhisai Azhvaar asked the Lord to return to his residing place.
கனிகண்ணன் போக்கொழிந்தான் காமருபூங் காஞ்சி
மணிவண்ணா! நீ கிடக்க வேண்டும் – துணிவுடைய
நீயும் உன்றன் பைந்நாகப் பாய்படுத்துக் கொள் — திருமழிசை ஆழ்வார்
The Lord is said to have followed this instruction immediately and in this hurried return is said to have slept in the opposite direction.
In memory of the event marking Thirumazhisai Azhvaar leaving the place, the Lord along with the archa-vigraha of Thirumazhisai Azhvaar is taken in a procession to the nearby river Vegavathi, every year during the Tamil Calendar month of ‘Thai’(Jan-Feb),
Other Reasons for Maaru Sayanam
Two other reasons are also stated for Lord’s opposite sleeping posture. Since he left his residing place and later returned, he is said to have slept in the opposite direction as proof that he had left the place once.
Legend also has it that, as Lord Vishnu came in a tearing hurry, on Brahmma’s request, to block River VegaVathi ( Saraswathi), he is said to have slept in the opposite direction.
Name of the Lord
As the Lord listened, in strict obedience, to the instructions of Thirumazhisai Azhvaar and did as the Azhvaar wanted, he is called ‘Sonna Vannam Seitha Perumal’.
5 Azhvaars have sung praise of the Lord- Poigai, PeyAzhvaar, NammAzhvaar, Thirumangai and Thirumazhisai Azhvaar. This is also the birth place of Poigai Azhvaar.
In early days of Vaishnavism, this temple was referred to as the Lord representing ‘Sleeping Posture’ as can be seen from the songs of the Azhvaars.
“Isaintha Varavamum Verpungh Kadalum
Pasaithang Amuthu Padappa
Asainthu Kadaintha Varuthamo
Kachi Vekkavil Kidanthirunthu Ninrathu Mangu”…… PeyAzhvaar(2345)
Deity : YaaThotha Gaari Perumal- Sonna Vannam Seitha Perumal
Posture : Sleeping in opposite direction from Right to Left
Goddess : Komalavalli Thaayar
Birth place : Poigai Azhvaar
Timing : 8am-11am, 5pm-8pm