- Thirukurungudi is located about 40 kms from Tirunelveli (and about 15 kms from Nanguneri) off the Nagercoil highway at the foot of the Mahendra hill.
- At Badrinath, Lord Narayana instructed Sripad Ramanujacharya. Here, at Thirukurungkudi, He took the role of a disciple and obtained vaishnava initiation from Ramanuja. Hence, the Lord here is called Vaishnava Nambi (disciple).
- Thirukurungudi is also known as Kuranga-kshetram. Kuranga is the name of Bhoomi (earth) devi who performed penance for the Lord in this holy place. This is considered to be amongst 108 divya-deshams to be visited by Shri vaishnavas.
It is said that Ramanujacharya came here and prayed to the Lord. The Supreme Lord in His Deity form asked Ramanujacharya about his secret in successfully preaching Vaishnavism. He also asked about the mantra that he taught which got him such a high success rate. Understanding the Lord’s mood, Shripad Ramanujacharya replied to the Lord that the mantra can only be given to someone when one agrees to become a disciple and subordinates himself. Immediately, the lord took the form of a young boy and became a disciple of His own devotee. Thus, the Deity here is also called Vaishnava Nambi (meaning “disciple” or “small”).
The Shri Vaishnava acharyas mention that the mountain ranges behind this temple are the famous Mahendra mountain, mentioned in Ramayan, wherefrom Hanuman leapt across the ocean to search for Sita devi in Lanka.
Another importance about this temple is about its connection to one of the Alvars. It was here at this temple that a Vaishnava couple Kari and Udayanangai got a benediction to have a divine personality as their son. This personality was later famous as Shri Namma Alvar , one of the foremost alvars. The place of his appearance Thiru Alvar Nagari located at Tirunelveli is about a 1-hour ride from this place.
Ramanuja, during his stay at Thirukurungudi made trips to other divya-deshams such as Thiruvattar (Adikeshav temple), Thiruvan Parisaram and also Anantha Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram. At Thiruvananthapuram, Ramanujacharya got delayed and the Lord asked Garuda to carry Ramanujacharya back to Thirukurungudi the same night. To Ramanuja’s utter surprise, he was on top of a rock at Thirukurungudi in the blink of an eye. It is said that this is the reason that we do not find Garuda in the Ananthapadmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram.
Thirumangai Alvar, who built the huge walls of Srirangam was directed by the Supreme Lord Ranganath to visit this place. Thirumangai composed the last of his Paasurams (bhajans) here at this temple and is believed to have returned back to His Lord from here.
THIRUKURUNGUDI AND KAISHIKA EKADASHI
Just as Shrirangam is known for its celebration of Vaikuntha Ekadasi, Thiru Kurungkudi is famous for its celebration of Kaishika Ekadashi. This occasion is celebrated in the Tamil month of Karthigai (Kartik) and precedes Vaikuntha Ekadashi. It is believed that those who undertake fasting and singing and/or listening to the Kaishika Puraanam on the Kaisika Ekadashi day will attain to Vaikunta to serve their Lord.
THE STORY OF KAISHIKA PURAANAM
Kaishika Puraanam is the story of Great devotee Nampaadduvaan, a low-caste by birth and his love for Thirukurungudi Nambi. Embarrassed to enter the temple during the day as he belonged to a lower caste, he would walk several miles in the night to the Thirukurungudi Nambi temple and would, for hours together, stand before Lord with a veena (stringed instrument) and sing praises of the Lord. To ensure that no one took notice of his presence, Nampaadduvaan would return to his place before daylight. One night, on his way to the temple, Nampaadduvaan was stopped by a brahma-raakshasa (a ferocious, man-eating demon) who wanted to consume Nampaadduvaan for dinner.
Unable to convince the demon that he would return after visiting Lord Nambi one last time, Nampaadduvaan related the essence of sathya-sankalpam (power of fulfilling one’s promise) to the raakshasa. He told him—the world was created through sathya-sankalpam of the lord and continues to exist as a result of the promises. He mentions that the world experiences peace only because of the Lord’s sathya-sankalpam.
ESSENCE OF KAISHIKA PURAANAM
Nampaadduvaan makes 18 promises that night to the rakshasa and states that if he fails even in one of those 18 promises, he will be a party to 18 sins. The 18th promise of Nampaadduvaan is the essence of the Kaisika Puraanam.
Nampaadduvaan says that the sin of anyone trying to equate Lord Narayana to anyone else in this world is the greatest and that he will be a party to that sin if he did not come back to the demon after meeting the Lord. If Nampaadduvaan does that then he will never get liberation from this cycle of birth and death. This promise convinced the rakshasa that Nampaadduvaan would return and he let him go. Nampaadduvaan spent the entire night at the Thirukurungkudi Nambi temple and then made his way back to the Rakshasha as promised.
As Nampaadduvaan is returning back to the rakshasa, the Lord disguised Himself as an old brahmin and stopped Nampaadduvaan and asked him the reason for rushing back quick, much in contrast to his usually slow and thoughtful walk. Nampaadduvaan explains his situation to the brahmin, who condemns him as a fool and offers protection from the rakshasa. Nampaadduvaan rejects this offer stating his promise to return as quickly as possible. He informs the Brahmin that he will not hesitate to give up his own life if he has to but he will never go back on his word. He gave the demon a promise and he has to fulfil it. He has to go back to the rakshasa and become his meal.
By the Lords grace, the rakshasa changed his mind by the time Nampaadduvaan reached the spot and he no longer wanted to feast on Nampaadduvaan. Shri Vaishnav acharyas mention that the change was due to small fraction of association with the great devotee Nampaadduvaan. It is said in the scriptures—lava matra sadhu sanga sarva siddhi haya. With a completely changed mind, the rakshasa now asked for the fruits of all the praise that Nampaadduvaan had sung in glorification of the Lord Thirukurungudi Nambi during his visits to the temple every night.
As an act of mercy, Nampaadduvaan shared with the rakshasa the Kaishika Puraanam—the songs which he had sung that very night in front of Lord Nambi of ThiruKurungkudi. Thus, Nampaadduvaan helped secure entry into Vaikuntha for the rakshasa. It is believed that anyone who recites/reads or listens to the Kaishika Puraanam will attain Vaikuntha within this very life.
The Lord here is in three separate shrines, standing in one, seated in another and reclining on the third. Bhoomi Devi is in a mellow green to depict the greenery of the earth, Shri Devi is in a golden yellow. True to His name of Sundara pari poornam or Vadivalhagiya nambi (the One with matchless beauty) the Lord here is of breath-taking beauty. Flanked by other great sages on either side of the Lord, are sages like Bhrigu and Markandeya.
Temple Timing: 8am-12noon and 5pm-9pm