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Thirukachi Athigiri Divya Desam - Varadaraja Perumal Temple

Sri VishnuMeditation: I meditate on Sri Varadaraja Perumal and Sri Perundevi Thayar in Thirukachi Athigiri Divya Desam.

Greatness: Thirukachi Athigiri is a Divya Desam. It is the 43rd Divya Desam and is located in Thondai Nadu. This place in ancient times was known as Athiyur either because it was filled with Athi (Udumbara) trees or / and due to the presence of the image of Athi Varadar. This place is also known as known as Satyavrata Kshetram. The name Kanchi is said to be derived from Ka (Brahma) and Anchi (worshipped). Brahma worshipped Lord Vishnu in this place and got the darshan of the Lord. The Lord here is known as Varadaraja. Vara means Boon, Da means giver and Raja means King. This is the form of the Lord as the giver of boons.
- Perumal is in Standing posture facing West.
- Pratyaksham: Bhrigu, Naradar, Adiseshan, Brahma, Gajendran
- Mangalasasanam: Bhoothath Alvar, Peyalvar, Thirumangai Alvar, Nammalvar (7 Pasurams)
- Vimanam: Punyakoti Vimanam
- Pushkarini: Vegavati, Anantasaras, Sesha Teertham, Varaha Teertham, Brahma Teertham, Padma Teertham, Agni Teertham

Puranic Events:

1. Lord Vishnu & Brahma: Lord Brahma performed penance here in Satya Yuga and got the darshan of the Lord Vishnu in his resplendent form.
- Brief story: In Satya Yuga, Lord Brahma performed a penance to have the darshan of Lord Vishnu in his Chaturbhuja form (form with four arms). Lord Vishnu first appeared in the form of a Teertha or Sacred Water. Lord Brahma continued his penance. Thereafter the Lord appeared in the form of a Forest. Lord Brahma continued his penance further. Then he heard a divine voice instructing him to perform one hundred Ashvamedha Yagnas. Lord Brahma conveyed his inability to undertake one hundred Ashvamedha Yagnas. Finally the Lord told him to perform one Ashvamedha Yagna at the Satyavrata Kshetram which will be equal to hundred Ashvamedha Yagnas. Lord Brahma performed one Ashvamedha Yagna here and got the darshan of Lord Vishnu in his resplendent form of Varada (giver of boons). Lord Brahma requested the Lord to permanently abide in that place. The name of the place Kanchi itself is said to be derived from this incident as Ka (Brahma) and Anchi (worshipped).
- Note: The original Image of the temple is made of Athi wood and is known as Athi Varadar. It is said to be consecrated by Lord Brahma himself. It is kept in a casket within the Ananthasaras tank and is taken out once in forty years. The Ananthasaras tank is situated in the fourth Prakara of the temple. The Image of Sri Varadaraja is in Standing Posture facing West. He is having four hands which are holding Shankha (Conch), Chakra (Discus), Gada (Mace) and showing the Abhaya Mudra. The Goddess is depicted on his chest. On the request of Lord Brahma, Lord Varadaraja permanently abided here on the Hastigiri Hill. The garbhagriha of the temple is located on the first Prakara on the Hastigiri Hill.

2. Lord Vishnu & Gajendra: Gajendra worshipped the Lord here in Treta Yuga. So the hill is also known as Hastigiri or Gajendragiri.
- Note: The Hastigiri or Gajendragiri Hill is located on the first Prakara of the temple complex on which the garbhagriha of the temple is situated. The second Prakara of the temple is the Pradakshina path around the Hastigiri Hill. It is known as Thirumalai Pradakshinam.

3. Lord Vishnu & Brihaspati: Brihaspati worshipping the Lord here in Dvapara Yuga.

4. Lord Vishnu & Adisesha: Adisesha worshipped the Lord here in Kali Yuga.
- Note: The Temple has an Image of Adisesha in a separate shrine on the third Prakara which is known as Madapalli Prakara or the Prakara having the Temple Kitchen.

5. Lord Vishnu & Thirumangai Alvar: Lord saved Thirumangai Alvar from imprisonment of king.
- Brief story: Thirumangai Alvar after spending a large sum of money in celebrating the worship of Lord Varadaraja was left with no money to pay the tax. So he was imprisoned by the king. The Lord appeared in the dream of the king and told him the place where the money was kept on the bank of Vegavati river. The king found the money and realised the devotion of Thirumangai Alvar. He set him free.
- Note: The Temple has the Images of Alvars in the Alvar shrines located in the fourth Prakara of the temple known as Alvar Thiruveedi.

6. Lord Vishnu & Thirukachi Nambi: Lord bestowed grace on Sri Thirukachi Nambi (the power to converse with him).
- Brief story: Thirukachi Nambi maintained a flower garden near Kanchipuram exclusively for the Lord. Everyday he would string a garland with the flowers and walk to Kanchipuram to adorn the Lord. During his old age he could not walk to the temple. Then he took up the service of fanning the Lord (Alavatta Kainkaryam) by staying in Kanchipuram itself. The Lord bestowed him the power to converse with him (through which later Sri Ramanuja got direct instructions from the Lord).

7. Lord Vishnu & Ramanuja: Lord saved Sri Ramanuja from Yadavaprakasha.
- Brief story: When Ramanuja became the disciple of Yadavaprakasha of Kanchipuram, Yadavaprakasha became jealous of him due to his superiority and decided to end his life. For that he planned a pilgrimage to Varanasi with his disciples. Ramanuja got an uneasy feeling during the journey and broke from the group. He lost his way in the Vindhya mountains and prayed to Lord Varadaraja. Lord Varadaraja and Perundevi Thayar came in the form of a hunter couple and showed him the way to Kanchipuram. The couple also showed him a well from where to get water for the holy bath of Lord Varadaraja. From that day Ramanuja continued to perform the bathing of the Lord (Teertha Kainkaryam) with water from that well.
- Note: Sevilimedu is the place around 7 km from Kanchipuram which has the well (Salai Kinaru) from where Sri Ramanuja drew water to perform the Teertha Kainkaryam of Sri Varadaraja.

8. Lord Vishnu & Ramanuja: Lord bestowed the tenets of Vaishnavism to Sri Ramanuja.
- Brief story: Sri Ramanuja discussed the principles of Vaishnavism with Thirukachi Nambiar and requested him to verify them while conversing with the Lord. During this conversation, Lord Varadaraja revealed six famous sayings to Ramanuja which forms the tenets of Vaishnavism.
- Six famous sayings: The six famous sayings are:
1. Lord Narayana is the Paramatman (Absolute Brahman) and the cause of Prakriti.
2. Jivatmas (Individual souls) are separate but part of Paramatma.
3. Prapatti (Surrender) is the only means to attain Moksha (Liberation).
4. For the devotees the remembrance of the Lord during the time of death is not necessary.
5. The devotees attain salvation when they give up their mortal body.
6. Choose Mahapurna as your spiritual teacher.

9. Lord Vishnu & Doddacharya: Lord bestowed grace on Sri Doddacharya to have his darshan from Sholinghur.
- Brief story: Sri Doddacharya used to visit Kanchipuram from Sholinghur every year to attend the Brahmotsavam festival. During his old age when he was unable to do so, one day he was standing on the bank of Thankankulam tank of Sholinghur during the Brahmotsavam festival. Lord Varadaraja during the Garudaseva procession, made the priests hold the umbrellas in a slanting position to enable Doddacharya to have the darshan of the Utsavar image from Sholinghur.
- Note: During Brahmotsavam the custom of slanting the umbrella is followed even today, to remind the devotees of this incident.

10. Devi Lakshmi & Vedanta Desika: Goddess bestowed grace on Sri Vedanta Desika.
- Brief story: Vedanta Desika was a great devotee of Lord Varadaraja and resided near Kanchipuram in a place called Thoopul. Once a poor brahmachari came to him to seek for financial help. Sri Desikar sincerely prayed to goddess Perundevi. The goddess was pleased and there was a shower of gold coins.
- Note: The above famous stotra of Vedanta Desika is known as Sri Stuti. The Image of Perundevi Thayar is located in the Thayar Shrine in the third Prakara of the temple complex (known as Madapalli Prakara or the Prakara having the Temple Kitchen).

- Varadaraja Perumal: The Image of Sri Varadaraja in Standing posture facing West. The Lord is having four arms (Caturbhuja form). The upper arms are holding the Sankha (Conch) and the Chakra (Disc). The lower left hand is holding the Gada (Mace) and the lower right hand is showing the Abhaya mudra (gesture of giving fearless).
- Athi Varadar: The original Image of Sri Varadaraja consecrated by Lord Brahma is made of Udumbara wood and is known as Sri Athi Varadar. It is kept in a silver casket inside the temple tank and is taken out only once in 40 years for a period of one mandalam (around 45 days). It was last taken out in 1979 and 2019.
- Perundevi Thayar: The Image of Sri Perundevi Thayar in the Thayar Shrine.

Five Prakaras of the Temple: The Temple has five prakaras or circumambulation paths.
1. The first prakara is on the Hastigiri hill which has the garbagiha and the pradakshina path. It is known as Vayya Maligai or the earthly mansion of the Lord.
2. The second prakara is the pradakshina path around the hill which is known as Thirumalai Pradakshinam.
3. The third prakara houses the temple kitchen and is therefore known as Madapalli prakara It also has the shrines of Perundevi Thayar, Adisesha and Garuda. The temple vahanas are kept here. It also has the Unjal Mandapam. This prakara is also known as Alavandar prakara as Sri Alavandar first met Ramanuja in this prakara.
4. The fourth prakara has the images of the Alvars and hence it is known as Alvar Thiruveedi. It also has the images of the Acharayas, Sri Krishna, Sri Varaha and Sri Ranganathar. The temple tank is also situated in this prakara.
5. The fifth prakara is known as Mada Veethi.

Sacred Geography:
- Athi Forest: Thirukachi is the ancient Athiyur which was a holy place filled with Athi trees. Athi (in Tamil) or Udumbara (in Sanskrit) is a tree sacred to Lord Vishnu. One of the name of the Lord in Vishnu Sahasranama is Udumbara.
- Hastigiri Hill: Thirukachi Athigiri Divya Desam is located on the Hastigiri or Gajendragiri Hill which is said to be the hill where elephant Gajendra worshipped Lord Vishnu.
- Vegavati Nadi: The river associated with the legend of the temple.
- Anantasaras: The Pushkarini of the temple where the Image of Athi Varadar is kept. It is located in the fourth Prakara of the temple complex.
- Brahma Teertham: Pushkarini of the temple.
- Sesha Teertham: Pushkarini of the temple.
- Varaha Teertham: Pushkarini of the temple.
- Padma Teertham: Pushkarini of the temple.
- Agni Teertham: Pushkarini of the temple.

Location: Thirukachi Athigiri is located in Kanchipuram in the Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu. This is in Thondai Nadu. The temple can be visited from Kanchipuram (within Kanchipuram city).

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Last updated on Apr-2022

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