Sri Subrahmanya Swami Devasthanam, Tiruchendur, South India

Temple Tiruppanis (Temple Builders -- Part One)

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Śrī Desikamurti Tambiran
Śrī Desikamurti Tambiran of Tiruvavaduthurai Adheenam, original Temple Tiruppani and builder of the Mela-gopuram

The work of Desikamurti Swami, one of the Tambirans of Tiruvavaduthurai Mutt, has been referred to. This great South Indian Saiva mutt had been associated with the Tiruppani of this temple for over 300 years, as is to be seen from the construction of the principal gopuram by one of its disciples.

The tradition states that the Swamin had actually a divine call to attend to this construction, and that he was subjected to various trials in the actual carrying out of his mission. He had not the means to pay for the work, and, it is said the problem was solved by a miracle of converting sacred-ashes into coin as already referred to.

This was not to continue for long. As the Gopuram progressed to a height of the sixth storey, the miracle did not work. The Swamin was sorely affected. The Lord however directed him to a neighboring patron of letters, Seethakkathi of Kayalpattanam. The Swamin was presented with a basket of salt. The salt was accepted, and when brought in, the contents were changed overnight into gold coins.

The Gopuram was completed. But the Lord did not want him to stay and conduct the kumbhabisheka, the crowning act of his labours. He was directed to leave the place and stay at Kantheeswaram (the island temple of Śrī Ekanta Lingeswara Swami surrounded on all sides by the river Tambraparani which branches round the temple and is located opposite to Azhwartirunagari, 17 miles from Tiruchendur, a famous Vaishnavite centre and the birthplace of Saint Nammazhwar and Saint Manavalamamuni containing one of the largest temples in the district, dedicated to Vishnu as Śrī Adināthaswāmi).

The Gopura Kumbhabhishekam was duly performed in its time, and the tradition has it that the Swami was seen entering into the portals of the newly constructed Gopuram though at the time of the Kumbhabhishekam he was actually miles away. His spirit seems to have been present though not his body!

The Tambiran's mortal remains lie in samadhi in a building to the north of the Śrī Ekantalingeswara temple at Kantheeswaram amongst a forest of acacias. There is a Dharmapuram Mutt building near the temple wherein he appears to have stayed for a while. The samadhi has since fallen into disrepairs during the great Tambraparani floods in 1924, and requires urgent renovation. A Saivite Vellala is performing puja for the samadhi, and is paid for his service by the Tiruvavaduthurai Mutt.

The figure of a tall-lean bearded figure with a characteristic turban of a Tambiran, sculptured on the nearest pillar to the Valli Amman shrine in the second prakara of the temple is pointed out as the figure of Desika Mūrti as also another of the like description, done in stucco to the left of the outer entrance, on the first storey of the second inner gopuram.

The Tiruvavaduthurai Tiruppani Madam now seen on the way to the main temple, near the Thoondukai Vinayagar Temple, was the place wherein Desika Mūrti Swami lived during his stay at Tiruchendur. The special honours bestowed on him in his time continues to this day to be offered to the successive Kattalai Tambirans of the Mutt. The honor of the first ubaya kattalai, and pattukkattuthal to the Adheena Tambiran during the kodiyētram (flag-hoisting) of every one of the annual festivals is theirs by right. The Mutt bears the special honour of bedecking the Kreedom of the Lord at the Pillayyan's mandapa before He sets out of it on the seventh day of the Masi and Avani festivals. The Tambiram is also taken to the temple every evening for worship with temple honours: and on a ashta-kona-pallakku during the Vijayadasami for ambu pôduthal on the Vannikasura.

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