Thiruvali - Thirunagari Temples are paired Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu located 10 km away from Sirkali, Tamil Nadu, India and 5 km away from each other. It is one of the "Divya Desams", the 108 temples of Vishnu revered by the 12 poet saints, or Alwars. Unlike other Divyadesams where a single shrine is referred, this pair of temples is referred together in all the 41 paasurams. These temples follow Thenkalai mode of worship.
The history of the temple is based on the Thirumangai Alwar. Thirumangai Alwar,whose original name was "Neelan", was born near the Thirunagari. He was the army chief of the king Chola. As a tribute to Alwar, the Chola king made him as the king of a small state "Aaali Nadu", whose capital was "Thirumangai". Sumangali was the head of the young ladies of heaven , and she was involved in the job of fanning the Lord using the "Samaram".
Once while saint Kabila was preeching the qualities of Lord Narayana, Sumangali distracted him by making an odd remark. So he cursed her to go to earth and take birth. Due to the curse, she was born on the earth on a lilly flower and was named as "Kumudhavalli". Thirumangai Alwar was attracted by her beauty and liked to marry her. When he approached Kumudhavalli, she ordered him to become a Sri vaishnavite.
He went straight to Thirunarayur and asked the Lord to be his Guru and transform him into a pure Vaishnavite. But Kumudavalli placed another condition for marriage. She ordered him to give food for 1008 Brahmans daily and fill his stomach by accepting the remaining food kept by the Brahmans and drink the water used to wash their lotus feets. Thirumangai Alwar accepted these condition and married her. Due to the extreme love for his wife, he faced a critical position of finding the enormous money needed for the second condition. He even used the money intended to pay the revenue to the Chola king.
The king ordered him to pay the revenue, but Thirumangai was unable to repay the revenue. So. king ordered to put him in jail. He spent 3 days in the jail without eating food for he took a vow of eating food only after giving food to the Brahmans. Varadharaja perumal of Kanchipuram came into his dreams and asked him to come to the Vegavathi river bank, to collect the required money. Along with his ministers, he came to Kanchi under a tight security and amazingly he found the required money. But, as the day passed on, he spent all the money he had and was not sufficient to spend. He had no money for the further expenses, so he made up his mind to rob money from rich people. So he planned to start robbery from rich men.
Once Lord Narayana and Periya Piratti passed along the forest, dressed as a newly married couple. While they were passing, people around them sang lots of marriage related songs and on hearing this, Thirumangai Mannan was so happy that he could get lots of ornaments from them. He stopped them and asked for all of their belongings and took away all of their jewels from the marriage party but could not get the precious ring of the groom. Finally, he took the ring by biting the groom's finger. Then he asked his servants to lift.
But the parcel was too heavy even to Thirumangai alwar. He scolded the groom in suscipion of chanting mantra against him. The groom asked Alwar to come near him, to know the mantra he chanted and he preached Alwar the most powerful "Ashtakshara Mantra - Om Namo Narayanaya" and granted dharsan to him in his original form. Thiruvaali and Thirunagari are both within 3 miles from each other are realted to the history of Thirumangai Alwar.
He is the only Alwar, who takes all the honours along with his beloved wife Kumudhavalli. The name Nammalwar was rendered to Nammalwar by his devotee Madurakavi Alwar, who considered Nammalwar as equivalent to god. ie The term Nam - our was given to him by his followers. But the title "Namkaliyan" was rewarded to Thirumangai Alwar, by the Lord himself. ie he was so close to God that the Lord proved it by accepting the self - praising terms of Alwar in paasurams as the terms praising Lord Narayana himelf. Touching and performing pooja to the Lord by the devotees is a North Indian practice. He brought this concept to South India by hugging the idol of Lakshmi Narashima at Thiruvaali. Aali is the term equivalent to Alinganam ie hugging as Alwar hugged the Lord at that place, it was named Thiruvaali. Also, the name "Vayalaali Manavalan" too has a special meaning. Vayal means fields.
Thirumangai Alwar made the pure souls of all the devotees as fields which cultivate Bhakti without any weeds. Vayalaali means the owner of such Bhakti cultivating lands ie Thirumangai Alwar. As Alwar hugged Lord Lakshmi Narashima, he gained the name "Vayalaai Manavalan" . Thirumangai Alwar worshipped five Narashima idols througout his life. Out of that 2 idols of Narashima and one small Utsavar idol of 'Lord Sinthaiku eniyan' are presented at Thirunagari even today.
At Thirunagari, Alwar poses as a hunter involved in robbery. It has been said that at Devarajapuram, half a mile away from Thirunagari, only Alwar robbed Lord Narayana. Today as a token of rememberence, a function called "Vedupari Utsavam" is conducted on the Panguni uthiram day. As the Lord posed as groom and bride, the utsavar at Thirunagari is named as Kalyana Ranganathan . and moolavar Devarajan and Vayalaali Manavalan.
The vimaana is named Ashtakshara vimaana, for this Mantra only changed Alwar’s life course. Thirumangai alwar attained mukthi at Thirukurunkudi of Pandya Kingdom.
While Thirumangai Alwar's idol is taken out for procession he is armed with a diamond studded knife. As a Homage to his practice of giving food to Brahmans, even today 10 Brahmans get food from his temple. In the Utsavar idol of Thirumangai Alwar, Namalwar is in his heart and the great sage Ramanuja, following the footsteps of Alwars. Thiruvaali has a special credit of having Mangalasasanam by two great kings - Thirumangai Alwar and Kulasekara Alwar.
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