Sowmya Narayana Perumal Temple,Thirukoshtiyur where Sri Ramanuja revealed the sacred mantra to all!!

Sowmya Narayana Perumal Temple,Thirukoshtiyur

 Dedicated to god  Vishnu,  Sowmya Narayana Perumal Temple in Thirukoshtiyur, Tamil Nadu is a popular one among the 108 Divyadesam shrines glorified by the Azhwar saints. Here, god's consort is  Lakshmi as Thirumamagal. The festival idol (5 metal alloy/  panchaloha) is Sowmya Narayana Perumal. This  was the birthplace of Thirukoshtiyur Nambigal, the Guru  of saint Sri Ramanuja who taught him the mystic mantra and strongly advised him not to reveal to others.

Sowmya Narayana Perumal Temple Thirukoshtiyur,

This temple is steeped in the religious history of Vaishnavism because it was here  Sri Ramanuja (c. 1017 CE – 1137), the chief proponent of  Vishishtadvaita philosophy (non-dualistic) preached 
the holy ashtakshra "Ohm Namo Narayana" to all people irrespective of their caste. Sri Ramanuja said, “Repeat, O people, thrice after me,” Ramanuja proclaimed loudly “the mantra that will free you from the tribulations of the world.” 

Thus Sri Ramanuja became the greatest social reformer and revered saint more than 1000 years ago giving importance to social justice and this great gesture earned him the title Emberumanar from his Guru Goshthipurna.  His Guru only on his 18th attempt  taught Ramanuja   the sacred eight-syllable mantra with its mystic meaning, but  warned him not to divulge it to others. Being compassionate, magnanimous and more interested in sharing the joy of this divine mantra with common people, to his Guru's dismay, Ramanuja went back on his promise and revealed the mantra to the multitude of people gathered before him at his request at Thirukoshtiyur.  

This temple that follows Thenkalai tradition / samprathayam  and is being managed by the Sivaganga Devasthanam, the main deity Sowmyanarayana Perumal is believed to have appeared as Narasimha avatar to the celestial deities (devas) before taking the final avatar to kill demon king Hiranyakshipu who troubled the saints and celestial deities. 

This temple that covers a total area of 2 acres with a granite enclosure all around it  has a  central shrine-sanctum with the image of the presiding deity, Uragamellayan Perumal in reclining posture on a coiled snake bed. The garbagriha has the images of god's consorts - Sridevi and Bhudevi. An interesting feature is there are two life size stone images of Narasimha avatar of Vishnu -one  holding the demon Hiranyakshipu and other  slaying him.

Astanga vimanam at Thirukoshtiyur in Sivaganga district.
The Ashtanga  architecture of the temple is a unique one .It is a rare design and is not part of Dravidian style.  Only the Uthiramerur temple, Koodal Azhagar Temple and Cheranmadevi temple. boast of Ashtanga Vimana.  The vimana, the shrine over the sanctum is Ashtanga in architecture which has eight parts: , Adhistana (base), three Padas (struct), Prashthana (limb), Griva (leading struct), Shikara (cylindrical holder) and Stupi (top portion).

Sowmya Narayana Perumal and consorts,Thirukoshtiyur

Various stucco images of Narasimha, sages, Dasavatara and other mythical stories adorn the outer parts of the vimana. The ashtanga vimana over the sanctum raises  to a height of 25 m (82 ft), is taller than the gopuram of the temple. There are separate shrines for the deities and saints.  The shrines of Andal, Narasimha and Manavala Mamunigal are in the first prakara/precinct and those of  Garuda, Anjaneya, Ramanuja, Vedanta Desika and Azhwars are in the second prakara.

At this temple the annual  float festival in the Tamil month of Masi (February–March), Navrathri during September–October and Vaikunta Ekadasi during Margazhi (December–January) are held on a grand scale that attract lots of devotees.