At Sri Saranatha temple in Tirucherai is under way.
“The Lord who creates the worlds, galaxies and the universe from ‘nothingness,’ protects and saves them, and later brings about destruction of His own creations – to re-create them, as part of His endless games is our supreme leader. We surrender unto Him” says Kambar in his first verse of Kamba Ramayanam ‘Ulagam Yaavaiyum Thaamulavaakalum.’
As part of His creation and re-creation process Lord Vishnu, at the end of the Tretha yugam asked Brahma to make a pot and put the quintessential and the eternal Vedas and sastras into it and carry them forward to the next yuga. However much he tried Brahma couldn’t make the pot with mud from any place. At that juncture Lord Vishnu advised Brahma to take mud from Sarapushkarani of Thirucherai to make the pot. Lord Brahma was successful and hence this kshetra has played the vital part in transporting knowledge, tradition and culture to the future generations. Since the mud (cheru) was instrumental in the continuation of the holy vedas, the place is known as Thirucherai (cheru has become cherai/saram).
Pancha sara kshetram
This is a pancha sara kshetram: Kshetram – Sarakshetram; Temple tank – Sarapushkarni; Vimanam – Saravimanam; Lord – Saranatha; Goddess – Saranayaki. Saram in Tamil means ‘essence’ or ‘concentrate,’ thus denoting that this place and the Lord here is the crux of everything – from known to the unknown. The Lord here was worshipped by Brahma in Kritha yuga, by saints in Tretha yuga, by Garuda in Dwapara yuga and by Mother Cauvery in Kaliyuga.
Pleased with the penance of Mother Cauvery, the Lord appears as a child and then with His five consorts - Sridevi, Bhoodevi, Neeladevi, Mahalakshmi and Saranayaki.
It was a Thursday, a full moon day in the month of Thai and the star was Poosam. He grants her three boons – Cauvery shall be holier than Ganga; He shall always grant His devotees their wishes, and those who bathe in the Sarapushkarni and offer prayers to Mother Cauvery shall attain salvation. Among all the Vaishnavite divyadesams it is only here that the car festival is celebrated on the Thai Poosam day.
It is believed that couples praying and holding the graceful Santanakrishnan on the Adiseshan will be granted the biggest boon of parenthood. Inside the sanctum sanctorum one may worship Mother Cauvery and Rishi Markandeya (this is his mukthi kshetra).
This divyadesam is the centre point of the holy trinity – kudavasal, Thirucherai and Kumbakonam – associated with the holy pot. (kudavasal indicates mouth of the pot, kumbakonam the angle and thirucherai the content)
Thirumangai Azhwar in his verse says that he would hold the feet of Sri Saranatha’s devotees on his head.
This ancient temple was renovated by Narasa Bhoopalan, a minister in the court of Azhagiya Manavala Naicker. The minister, who, on his way to carry out the renovation work of Sri Rajagopalaswamy temple at Mannargudi, saw Sri Sarantha Perumal and used some of the stone slabs that he was carrying to Mannargudi temple for renovating this temple without the knowledge of the king. On learning about this, the king came there for an inquiry. But when he saw the idol of Sri Saranatha Perumal it appeared to him as Sri Rajagopalaswamy of Mannargudi. Through this incident, he understood the Lord’s message and renovated this shrine alongside the Mannargudi temple.
This temple is situated 15 km from Kumbakonam on the Kumbakonam – Tiruvarur stretch. This temple measures 116 m in length and 72 m in breadth and the tank in front of the temple is of the same length and breadth as that of the temple. The rajagopuram is 22 m high and there are two large prakarams in the temple. On the banks of the temple there is a separate sannidhi for Mother Cauvery.
Renovation work is under way at the temple and contributions towards the same are solicited. For details contact Dr. T.R. Srinivasan (0435-2468626/94433 80246).