Nagareshu Kanchi- Tiruthanka (Thoopul) Part-1- The Lord as Light (Deepaprakasar – Vilakoli Perumal)
Many divyadesams in Kanchi arose because of Brahma’s ashvamedha yaagam which was disrupted by Saraswathi who was angered by Brahma’s performance of the yaagam without her. Everytime there was a threat, Perumal – The Protector assumed different Forms. He assumed eight Hands and became Ashtabhuja Perumal, He assumed The Nrisimha Form at Tiruvellukai, He became a Dam at Tiruvehkha and when darkness enveloped Kanchi mahanagaram and Brahma panicked He became Deepaprakasa and lit the whole place. He pacified Saraswathi and the yaagam was completed without further disturbances. The lighting of a simple lamp puts an end to the entire darkness in a room. Imagine the emergence of ‘The One who is brighter than a thousand suns!’ ‘This is Deepaprakasa whom Swami Desikan – a walking encylopedia calls ‘adwithiya’ (One without a second). If Perumal is the Light, Thayar is the ‘Prakasham’ (the brightness). If dwaya mantram were to be given a Form we see it as Maragathavalli and Deepaprakasar.
This temple can be reached from Varadaraja Perumal temple by auto (autos charge about Rs.50), share autos stop at Rangaswami kulam or one can take public buses. It is about 3km from here. If pilgrims are visiting in the morning it is a good idea to visit Thoopul around 10 0’clock and participate in the morning sattrumurai. One feels homely at this temple and the bhattar swami is friendly. Since acharya shows us Perumal we first pray at Swami Desikan sannidhi and then proceed to Vilakoli Perumal temple. After offering prostrations at the dwajasthambam we offer anjali to Garudazhwar and turn right to worship Thayar. Maragathavalli is Her name and She arose out of the lotus filled waters near Vegavathi and embraced Deepa Prakasar, thus making Him glow even more. Maragathavalli is in seated posture facing east. The Theertham here goes by the name ‘Sri Lakshmi Saras’. After worshipping Her we went to Deepaprakasar sannidhi which is under the Srikara vimanam. We saw Samudramanthanam depicted on the gopuram entrance and remembered how Perumal got amrutham for the gods and ‘Penamrutham’ Lakshmi for Himself. As we moved in we noticed to our left Ananthazhwan, Vishvaksenar, Poigai azhwar, Nammazhwar, Tirumangaiazhwar, Alavandar and Ramanujar. As we proceeded to the sanctum sanctorum we had darshan of Vilakoli Perumal in ninratirukolam with Sriya and Vasudha facing west. This then was the Perumal worshipped by Swami Desikan from childhood. It is noteworthy that while swami Desikan eulogises Sri Rama, Krishna, Sri Devanatha, Sri Varadaraja etc, in different stotras the stotram offered to Deepaprakasar bears the name ‘Saranagathi-Deepika’. Sarangathi is the lamp which destroys agnana and leads us to moksha. The identity of the Lord, the means to attain Him, the angams of prappathi, the post-prappathi period, The Pancharaatra and Vaikanasa modes of worship and the archiraddhi margam are described in this outpouring of 59 verses. Swami Desikan describes Prappathi as the marriage of jeevatma (the bride) with Paramatma (the bridegroom) and acharyan is the bride’s father. As Vijayamani bhattar swami says the fact that there is no second temple to Deepaprakasar reveals His Uniqueness and every srivaishnava must make it a mission to worship Deepaprakasar and swami Desikan at Thoopul.
After offering our prayers at His sannidhi we came out and visited the sannidhi of Andal who is in ninratirukolam facing east. She was the one to declare in the very first pasuram of Tiruppavai itself that Sriman Narayana alone will give us moksham. After worshipping Her we did pradakshinam and saw to our left Sri Saraswathi pushkarni. Last year because of copious rains theppa utsavam was done in the month of Maasi. As we moved along we saw jasmine, parijatha and other flowering plants. As we turned right there was a cow and a calf and a whole mound of hay. The smell of fresh cowdung was holy and the shed was maintained clean. As we moved along we noticed mango trees and vakula (mazhiampoo) among others. The place was homely and made one want to sit around for some time. We visited this temple several times and noticed that two kinds of prasadams were distributed in the morning and three varieties in the evening. We were told that this has been possible because of ‘Thoopul Trust’. Banana leaves cut into small bits are scattered around the place and everyone present gets prasadam. On one occasion there were several ISCKON devotees and the priest distributed prasadam to everyone. The quality of the prasadam is good too. If more people stayed around and participated in the upkeep of the temple it would be nice. Just adjacent to the temple is the temple for swami Desikan which will be covered in the next part of the travelogue.
Temple Timings-8.30 a.m-11.30 a.m. and 5.30 p.m.-7.30 p.m.
Important Festivals at the temple-
1. Chitra Revathi- Avathara utsavam
2. Oonjal utsavam for Thayar on Aadi Fridays
3. Aadi Pooram-Tirukalyana utsavam
4. Avani Sravam-Perumal Purappadu with swami Desikan Srijayanthi and uriyadi utsavam
5. Purattasi Navarathri utsavam
Swami Desikan Purattasi Tiruvonam-11 day festival in different vahanams, mangalasasnams at Vilakoli and Sri Varadaraja Perumal temple, Special maryadhai, showering of flowers etc. An utsavam not to be missed.
6. Aippasi-Diwali Tirumanjanam
8. Margazhi-Vaikunta ekadasi-Garuda sevai
9. Panguni utthiram-Thayar Tirukalyana utsavam
10. Chitrai- Sri Ramanavami- Hanumantha vahanam
Every month there is
Tirumanjanam for Perumal(Moolavar and utsavar) on Revathi.
Tirumanjanam for Thayar on Utthiram
Tirumanjanam for Perumal, Sri Hayagreevan and swami Desikan on Tiruvonam
Purappadu for swami Desikan on Tiruvonam.
Photos & Videos: Sundararajan
Write up: Vyjayanthi