Varadaraja Perumal temple is on a 22acre temple complex in Chinna (small) Kanchipuram on the Kanchipuram – Chengalpet -Madras road.
There are two big Gopurams – the Eastern Gopuram built by Krishnadeva Raaya and the Western temple tower built by the Pallavas. Later, several rulers contributed to the renovation of this temple. Several beautiful sculptures can be seen at this temple.
Kanchipuram Varadaraja Perumal temple is one of the most sacred places for Vaishnavites.
While Srirangam is referred to as ‘ The Koil’ and Tirupathi as the ‘Malai’ among Divya Desams, Kanchipuram Varadaraja Perumal temple is known as the ‘Perumal Koil’. Varadaraja Perumal is credited with the handing over of Ramanuja to Srirangam.
The story-Brahmma completes Ashwametha Yaagam
Brahmma wanted to see Lord Vishnu, on earth, in his full form. He undertook penance and the Lord appeared in the form of water in Pushkaram and in the form of forest in Naimisarinyam. He was then asked to do Ashwametha Yaagam at ‘Sathya Kshetram’.
It was here in Kanchipuram that Brahmma performed the Ashwametha Yaagam. As seen in the earlier Divya Desam stories (relating to Kanchipuram), Saraswathi was angry that Brahmma undertook the Yaagam without her support and presence and adopted different ways to stop the Yaagam.
Lord Vishnu took different forms to thwart her attempts. At ThiruVekka, he stopped river VegaVathi by sleeping across as a dam, at Ashtabhujam he came with 8 hands to kill the asura and subdue Kaali, at Thiru Thanka, he appeared as a flame to provide light (after Saraswathi had plunged the place into darkness).
Finally, Lord Vishnu is said to have landed here in his Punyakoti Vimaanam and appeared before Brahmma to signal the completion of the Ashwametha Yaagam.
One finds the Azhagiya Singar (Lord Narasimhar) Sannidhi on the way to Varadaraja Perumal Sannidhi. 24 steps from the Eastern side(entrance) leads one to the Prakaram of the Varadaraja Perumal. Once into the Sannidhi, another few steps takes one to the tall standing posture of VaradarajaPerumal, seen facing the West.
Brahmma visits Lord Varadarajan once a year
Belief is that Brahmma comes here once a year on the full moon day in the Tamil month of Chitrai (April-May) -around mid night- for a darshan of Varadarajan. On this day, it is the practice for the priests to place food inside the sanctum and to wait outside for 24 minutes. At the end of this, the food is said to smell sweeter.
Sun’s rays on Lord Varadarajan
For 15 days succeeding this (after the full moon day in Chitrai), Sun’s rays fall directly on Lord Varadarajan at the time of dusk. (At SriVaikuntam- Nava Tirupathi-, Sun’s rays fall directly on Lord Vaikuntanathan on two days (April-May and October-November period) every year.)
On a Trip to Pazhaya Seevaram
During the Muslim invasion, the moolavar deity(Lord Varadarajan) is said to have been damaged. As a damaged deity could not be worshipped, it was immersed in the temple tank. The moolavar that we see today at Kanchipuram was brought from Pazhaya Seevaram, about 20kms from Kanchipuram. In memory of this, the Utsava archa-vigraha of Lord Varadarajan is taken on a procession once a year, during the Tamil month of Thai (Jan-Feb) to Pazhaya Seevaram. Lord Narasimha is also taken on a procession to Keezh Seevaram during the Sankaranthi period (Kanu).
Athi Varadan-The Original Moolavar- once in 40 years
The original moolavar of Lord Varadarajan which was immersed in the temple tank – Athi Varadan- is taken out once in 40 years and placed outside for public worship for a period of 10 days. This event took place last in 1979 and the next one is slated for 2019.
Every Friday, Goddess Perundevi Thaayar goes out on a procession within the prakaram(Goddess does not leave the temple premises). Lord Varadarajan goes on a street procession every month on Pancha Paravam days. When this falls on a Friday, the Lord goes out on a street procession with the Goddess waiting at the Main Gopuram for Lord Varadarajan to return. From the main gopuram, Lord Varadarajan and Perundevi Thaayar come back together and both proceed to the garden behind Sudhasaran sannidhi for the devotees to offer their worship.
The street procession of Lord Varadarajan on Garuda mount in the tamil month of Vaikaasi is one of the most popular festivals here at Kanchipuram.
During winter, Lord Varadarajan wears a sweater to protect him from cold. Sacred bath for the Lord during this period take place with hot water/milk.
On Navarathri(all days) and Theppotsavam festival days, Lord and Goddess are seen together within the temple prakaram.
Two disciples of Gauthama Rishi used to fill water every day for their Guru. One day, to their shock, they found a lizard jumping out when they placed the tumbler in front of their Guru. An angry Rishi cursed the two for their carelessness and they instantly turned into Lizards. The 2 disciples stayed here at Kanchipuram as lizards until Indra came, as Elephant Gajendra, to worship Varadarajan Perumal and relieved them from their curse.
In memory of this, there is a golden lizard and a silver lizard outside the Varadarajan Sannidhi. Belief is that one will be relieved of all diseases if one prays to Lord Varadarajan and touches the Lizard on the way out.
Thirumangai Azhvaar, BhootathAzhvaar and PeyAzhvaar have praised Lord Varadarajan. Kanchipuram is the birth place of Poigai Azhvaar and Vedantha Desigan. It was here that ThirumangaiAzhvaar was given money for the construction/renovation of the Srirangam temple.
“Atthiyuraan, Pullai Oorvaan, Ani Maniyin Thuthiser
Naagathinmel Thuyilvaan, Muthi Marai Aavaan,
MaaKadal Nanju Undaan,
Tanakkum Irai Aavan Engal Piraan” – BhoothathAzhvaar(2277)
Special Privilege to Vedantha Desikar
Vedantha Desikar( of Thoopal) visits Varadaraja Perumal once a year during the month of Puratasi(Sept-Oct). This is the only Divya Desam, where Desikar enters the Sanctum of Lord Varadaraja. No other Azhvaar has this privilege.
A debate took place in the court of the Devas as to which was more worthy – ‘Family life’ or “Life of a Sanyasi’. When they could not come to a conclusive answer, the Devas looked to their preceptor, Brihaspathi for a final decision. Brihaspathi pronounced that Sanyasin was better.
Angered at this decision of not recognizing the difficulty of family life, Indra cursed Brihaspathi to become a poor Brahmin with children. Leading this life, Brihaspathi one day chased away a hungry dog which had come inside his house and was cursed for not providing refuge to a hungry animal. And he was turned into a dog.
The Devas, by now, were feeling the absence of their preceptor. When Indra approached Brahmma to help get Brihaspathi back amongst them, he was asked to accompany Brahmma to ThiruKachi where Brihaspathi was already undertaking a penance before Varadaraja Perumal. Answering their prayers, Lord Varadarajan is said to have given Brihaspathi his original status and form.
As Lord Vishnu accepted requests of everyone and gave what they wanted, he came to be called ‘Varadar’(one who gives).
Lord Varadarajan Saves Ramanuja
The story goes that Ramanuja once lost his way in the Vindhya forest. Lord Varadarajan is said to have appeared as a hunter and carried Ramanuja all the way to Kanchipuram. A tired Varadarajan (the hunter) asked Ramanuja for water. When Ramanuja brought water from the street well, he is said to have seen Lord Varadarajan, along with the Goddess, disappear right in front of him into the temple sannidhi. To this day, sacred water for Lord Varadarajan is brought from this street well from Sevelimedu.
Deity: Lord Varadarajan, Standing Posture facing West
Goddess: Perundevi Thaayar facing East(Separate Sannidhi)
Azhvaar: Thirumangai(4)-1541,2050,2060,2066; BhoothathAzhvaar(2)-2276-77; and PeyAzhvaar(1)-2307
Temple Timing: 6.30 am-12.30 pm and 3.30 pm-8.30 pm
Address: 54/40 South Mada Street, Chinna Kanchipuram 631 501
Festivals: All round the year- well known for Prabandham recital on all festive occasions
How to reach this Divya Desam?
Temple town Kanchipuram is about 75 km from Madras. One can take the Madras- Bangalore highway or Madras-Chengalpet route to reach Kanchipuram. There are 15 Divya Desams (Vaishnavite temples) in Kanchipuram alone.
There is a new railway station in Kanchipuram- the line has been recently converted to broad gauge- with trains running between Chengalpet and Arakkonam. There are also daily local trains between Madras and Kanchipuram via Chengalpet. Kanchipuram is well connected by road with bus facilities to all parts of Tamil Nadu.