Once upon a time there lived a saint named Medhavi here in Nachiyar Kovil. He wanted Mahalakshmi to be his daughter so he pleaded Mahavishnu and on an auspicious day under the tree called “Vanjula Maram”, he found a very beautiful girl child. He named her “Vanjulavalli” after the tree from where he found her.
He led a peaceful life then by teaching Gnana to his students. Gradually Vanjulavalli grew up and reached the marriage stage.
One day Lord Narayanan split him into five of his forms:Shankarshanan, Prathyumnan, Anirudhan, Purushothaman and vasudevan and visited saint Medhavi’s Ashram as a Guests.
His students bore the guests a warm welcome and Vagulavalli prepared a delicious meal for them. AFter finishing their meal, all the five went to wash their hands. When Vagulavalli helped them by pouring water, suddenly Vasudevan caught her by hand and immedietely she shouted for help.
Hearing her cries, her father came running for rescue. But before he could catch and curse Vasudevan, all the five guests disappeared to bring forth the original one (ie) Mahavishnu saint Medhavi was spellbound, when Mahavishnu asked his daughters hand for marriage.
Happily, saint Medhavi accepted for marriage. But before that he asked 3 Boons from Mahavishnu 1. He should attain life beyond birth and death (ie) he should attain eternity. 2. All the living beings in Narayur which gave the Lord food and wife, should also attain salvation and 3. His daughter should be given the first place in all the aspects.
Hence from that day, this place is called as Naachiyar kovil, (ie) temple of Mahavishnu’s wife.
As Madurai stands in the name of lordess Meenakshi, the wife of Lord Shiva, Naachiyar Kovil stands in the name of Lord Vishnu’s wife.
Here Lord Vishnu stands in a begging posture seeking Varulambika’s hand from saint Medhavi in the Moolavar Sannadhi. In accordance to the saint’s wish, Thaayar stands a step ahead to perumal.
Shankarshnan, Prathyumnan, Anirudhan and purushothaman too bless us in the Moolavar sannathi by standing a step back to the Narayur Nambi.
Here Stone idol of the bird Garuda, Stands as the Vahanam or Vehicle to Narayur Nambi whereas Annam or the Swan is the Vahanam of the Godess Vagulambika.
Garuda has a separate sannathi in this temple extending about 10 1/2 sq.ft’s. He has beautiful big wings, broad chest and long hair. In tamil month Margazhi and Panguni the festival “Kal Garuda Sevai” (ie) the festival where the idol of Narayur Nambi placed on the stone idol of Garuda and taken out into vibrant procession is taken place every year.
There is a unique speciality regarding the stone idol of Garuda. when taken out for a procession, until a step out fo his sannathi he can be easily carried by 4 persons. Then inside the temple his weight would increase as to be carried by 8 persons, then further outside the praharam he would weigh heavy so that 16 persons are required to carry him. Totally outside the temple not even 32 persons are enough to carry him, he would get heavier and heavier ahead. He would sweat a lot too so that his cloths get drenched in the sweat.
But after the procession is over, while returning to his sannadhi he would start losing his weight (step by step) or (stage by stage). This is a remarkable wounder that takes place only at this place.
This Garuda is treated in equivalence to Lord Vinayaka and so a dish Mothakam named as “Amudha Kalasam” is offered to him.
Also, the slow progress of Lord Narayur Nambi with Garuda reveals his commitments with saint Medhavi indirectly.
As all know, the swan or Anna Patchi is a delicate bird which moves in a slow and delicate manner. But, Garuda is a huge bird which can fly swiftly.
But when both the god and goddess are taken out in a procession, the lord god should lead the procession as he is carried by the bird. But his promise that his wife would have the first place in everything would be broken.
Hence, Garuda becomes heavier and it becomes tough for the devotees to carry him faster than the light weight Annapatchi. So, in this way Perumal fulfills his world.
This place is greatly associated in Thirumangai Alwar’s life. He fell in love with a damsel named Kumudhavalli. She was a devotee of Lord Narayana. So, she ordered Alwar to become a devotee of Lord Narayana by rendering food for 1008 vaishnavites daily and transform himself as a devoted slave of Lord Narayana by performing the ritval “Pancha Samskaram”, taking the 12 divine names of the Lord god to the depth of the soul and imprinting the images of Chakram and Sangu (shell) in both the arms.
As Thirumangaialwar could not find a suitable master to perform the above rituals. He came to Naachiyar kovil and mentally accepted Narayur Nambi as his teacher, he performed all the rites and finally led a happy married life with Kumudhavalli.
So as a reward for the great help rendered by Narayur Nambi. Thirumangaialwar sang totally 118 Paasurams in his ravour of that 40 Paasuram’s is of Siriya Thirumadal where alwar consideres himself as a girl in love of Lord Narayanan and the remaining 78 in the Periya Thirumadal group.
The Narayur Nambi Sannadhi was once called as “Mani Mada kovil”. The Chola King Koshenkannan rendered the money for Temple works. There after Sadavarma sundara pandiyan took over the work and donated lands to the temple. Then Ragunatha naicken of Thanjore constructed a Mandapam for Naachiyar.
There is huge tank of 648 feet length and 225 feet breadth infront of the temple, It has a number of steps in the 3 sides. This tank is like a big pond and so it is called as “Mani Muthaaru”.
There is a beautiful tale behind the name of this pond. Once king of the birds Gauda, took a diamond head ornament to Narayur Nambi from Thiruparkadal. A diamond (Mani) accidentally fell from the ornaments into this pond. As the precious stone fell into the pond degrading it’s status equivalent to ordinary pearl (Muthu) this tank is known as Mani + Muthi + Aaru (tank or pond).
This temple extends its border for about 690×288 feets. As Narayur Nambi is also known as Srinivasan, the Vimaanam of this temple is known as “Srinivasa Vimaanam”.
This place is also called as “Suguntha giri”.
The Thayaar found in this sthalam is Vanjulavalli Naachiyar. She is found next to the Moolavar in Garbhagriham.The Moolavar of this sthalam is Thirunarayur Nambi. Also called as Srinivasan and Vasudevan. The Moolavar is giving his seva in standing posture being ready to marry the Thaayar, facing east (Kalyana thirukkolam). Prathyaksham for Medavi Munivar and Brahma devan.
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