Navaneetha Krishnan Temple of Thanjavur- lesser known Sri Krishna temple

 Hinduism being a monotheistic religion with  numerous gods and goddesses, the followers of this religion at liberty to worship their favorite deity or deities. Still, Hindus worship numerous gods and goddesses.  The deities in the Hindu pantheon are said to be the manifestations of the Supreme Being or Brahman. Among them,  the Trinity gods are popular. They are:  Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer). The latter two have countless temples  including those built several centuries ago. There are a few temples for Brahma  due to a curse on him by God Shiva.  Among the Trinity gods, only Sri Vishnu has avatars (incarnation) - Dasavatharam (10), each one is an attribute of God Vishnu while God Shiva has no incarnation; he is a sort of yogi in a meditative state. 

When it comes to  avatars of Vishnu, Krishna and Rama  are  quite popular. Worship of sri Krishna is famous in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and  Orissa. As far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, there is no famous Sri Krishna temple like  Guruvayoor in Kerala or Udippi in Karnataka. But there are countless historical temples dedicated to Sri Vishnu and Sri Shiva (in various names) in Tamil Nadu. 

The Tamil Hindus look upon Varadaraja Perumal, Sri Rama, Ranganathar, Uppiliappan, et al as attributes of Vishnu.  Yet another famous deity in Tamil Nadu is God Muruga or Subramaniam, son of God Shiva. Equally famous is God Ganapathi (Pilliyar), quite popular in Maharashtra.   One can see his temple across Tamil Nadu even in the remote hamlet. So is shakthi worship in the form of Mariamman or Durga or Parameswari. Shakthi worship is popular in West Bengal where Durga puja is celebrated on a grand scale.  

Sri vedanarayana temple, Titunlveli,

Above image:  Located in Palayamkottai area of Tirunelveli, it is an old temple. Here the main idol is a large one in sitting posture flanked by  Thayars Vedavalli and Kumudavalli in the garbagriha.     The Utsav Murthy: Sri Rajagopala Swamy also known as 'Mannar'. This shrine also goes by as Azhagiya Mannar Rajagopala Swami Temple. The major festivals are:  Brahmotsavam in Panguni (March-April), Garudaseva on Purattasi Saturdays (September-October) and Vaikunda Ekadasi in December-January.............

As for Sri Krishna temples in Tamil Nadu,  two prominent temples come to my mind one is Rajagopalaswami temple, Mannargudi, Thiruvarur district and  Sri Mannar  Rajagopalaswami temple, Tirunelveli city.  There is a famous but lesser known  temple near Kumbakonam - Kaalinga Narthana Krishna  temple at Oothukadu  village. The latter is gaining popularity and it was renovated in the recent past. There is a 1000 plus year old temple dedicated to Navaneetha Krishnan  at Veerakeralamputhur near Thirunelveli city.

 Kalinga Narthana temple in Oothukadu,

There are four  temples dedicated to Sri Krishna in and around Thanjavur  city - one is  Sri Navaneetha Krishnan kovil on the West Main street (Mela Veethi), just adjacent to famous Bangaru Kamatchi Amman temple, the other  one is  Yadhava Kannan (Venugoplaswamy) temple in Karunthatankudi (Karanthi), the third one is Bhoologa  Krishnan temple on Saganayakan street and  the last one being  Naveetha Krishnan kovil  at the Thittai village, about 10 km from Thanjavur. None of them is a big one. 

This post is about Sri Navaneetha Krishnan temple on West main street, Thanjavur  and about the one at Thittai village.

Navaneetha Krishnan temple (West Main St.)Thanjavur:

Navaneetha Krishnan temple, Thanjavur,

Sri Krishna with his consorts. Thanjavur

Sri Krishna & his consorts. Navaneetha Krishnan

The one at Thanjavur, managed by the Thanjavur Aranmani Devasthanam (under the guidance of the Martha prince), is not a big temple and is  about 200 to 300 years old. Sharing the tall southern  boundary wall with Kamatchi Amman temple, it is located closer to the junction between West and North Main streets. Here,  the main deity in the sanctum - garbagriha  is Sri Krishna with his consorts Radha and Rukmani on either side. The panchaloka idols are  exquisitely made with details and they look as if they were real.  As in other Vishnu shrines, Vishnu's vahana -mount Garuda is facing the sanctum.  There are idols of Vishnu, Lakshmi,  Andal, Rama and Sita.

The main festivals are Sri Krishna Jayanthi, annual Brahmotchavam and Garudasevai. In the last two years Garudasevai  (falls in the month of Panguni) - 86th and 87th  is not held  on account of COVID -19 pandemic. For decades, this temple had participated in the Garudasevai  procession with 24 Garuda Vahana  (from 24 Perumal temples) organized by the Thanjavur Aranmanai Devasthanam in association with  and 'Ramanuja 'Darshana Sabha'.

Sri Vishnu and his consort on Garuda. Thanjavur ethnic

.24 Garudasevai procession, Thanjavur,

Garudasevai will normally begin on the Vennar river banks.  The Utchava idols of Perumal and his consort mounted on Garuda Vahana  will  come one after another  and the  procession along with  accompaniments  will go round all  the four main streets. Following this, a day or two later there will be Vennai Thazhi procession and the idol of Sri Krishna with a small pot containing butter will be taken in a well decorated palanquin. Normally, the idol will be facing the right side  for  darshan. 

At the Naveetha Krishnan Kovil, four kala puja is being followed  and people who have Serpa Dosha  ( as per their horoscope) conduct special puja for remedy.  

This temple has a spacious open yard in the front near the entrance with a large  raised platform. In the 1950s through 1970s, the temple premises was a famous venue for conducting bhajans, devotional consorts and Harikatha Kalashebham (mythological story-telling with songs). With my dad I attended a few of them done by stalwarts like Emmbar Vijayaraghachariyar, Sri Subramania Baghavatar, et al. I also had a rare chance to hear the quite inspiring religious discourse by  doyen Sengalipuram Sri Anaantharama Dikshitar, an erudite  scholar in Tamil and Sanskrit. The literate audience used to sit in the venue spell-bound listening to his torrential flow of  devotional verses, selected episodes from the great epics and their  spiritual and moral significance in day todays' life. His stentorian voice and his commanding presence would enliven the audience. It is quite unfortunate that  such religious discourses and  Harikatha kalashebams that kept the audience enthralled  have become things of the past.  

Thittai Navaneetha Krishnan Kovil:

Thittai Navaneetha Krishnan temple

Thittai Navaneetha Krishnan

There is another lesser known Sri Krishna temple - Navaneetha Krishnan  temple at Thittai village (famous for Gurusthalam) near Thanjavur. The main idol ( East facing Moolavar) in the garbagriha (sanctum or Srikovil)  is an interesting and unique one  The deity is in a dancing posture  holding a ball of butter in his right palm  perfectly balancing his body by placing the left leg with a bend on the pedestal  and the right leg on  the lotus stalk. Casting such a difficult dancing posture is a tough job.  Goddess is  Hemambhuja Valli Thayar. There is a small shrine for Anjanaya Swami. 

Kalinganardhana Krishnan,

As in other  Vishnu temples, Krishna Jayanthi, Hanuman Jayanthi,  Garudasevai (Panguni month), Vaikunta Ekadasi  are celebrated and the villagers in large number participate  in all these festivities. Late T.S  Rajagopala Ayyangar (of Kumbakonam Gokul sandal powder fame), a well-known business man (a native of Thittai) and his family made  valuable service to this temple.