According to Hindu philosophy a particular period is ended with the pralaya-deluge. Brahma the creator has the responsibility of recreating the universe again. The present cycle of creation was to be done by Brahma, therefore He had placed the seeds of creation during the last deluge along with Amertha - nectar in a pot called kumbam in Sanskrit. The coconut was placed on the mouth of kumbam and was sanctified with a yagnopavetha before the deluge. During the deluge the kumba had floated from Himalayas down south and settled in a place presently located in Tamil Nadu. Since the kumba had come to rest and the Amertha-nectar had flown through the nostril of the Kumba the location is known as Kumbakonam. In Tamil kumba is known as kudam and nostril as mooku hence the place is known as Kudanthai in Tamil.
According to legend, Lord Shiva in disguise of a hunter came to the location and broke the kumba with the arrow. The Amertha-nectar had fallen on a spot and a water body - tank was created. The tank is known as Mahamaha theertham. Once in twelve years on the particular day (in the solar month of masi - Feb-Mar) it is considered as auspicious to take bath in the tank. People from all over India come to take bath during this time to Kumbakonam.
The place where the kumba came to rest and Lord Shiva appeared to ensure recreation of current cycle of creation is presently where Kumbeswar temple is located. The maha maham tank is just around two kilometers.
A variant to this is that the nectar spill in two places in Kumbakonam, one forming Mahamaha theertham and other Potramarai theertham. The Potramarai theertham tank is just in front of Sri Kumbeswar temple and just back of Sri Sarangapani temple. The Potramarai theertham had been claimed by both Saivets (followers of Lord Shiva) and Sri Vishnavets (followers of Lord Vishnu). On the banks of this theertham there are two beautiful small temples for Lord Anjaneya. The legends of the temples are very interesting.
Sri Vyasaraya who had built 732 temples for Lord Anjaneya had initiated a brilliant young man into sanyasa under the name "Sri Vishnu Tirtha". He was considered as an incarnation of Sri Vibhudendra Tirtha who was Vidya-Guru of Sri Sripadaraja-Sri Madwachariya. This young sanyasi with virtue and master of all the sixty-four arts, had been on pilgrimage and was returning from Rameswaram via Kumbakonam.
The Kumbakonam Mutt was then headed by Sri Surendra Tirtha. Sri Surendra Tirtha, a devoted dwitha philosopher was debating on the dwitha philosophy with one of the scholars. He had the feeling that he was not convincing the scholar with the supremacy of this philosophy. He prayed to the God to give him strength to debate. He was directed to hold the debate next day and ask the new sanyasi coming next day to continue the debate. Next day in the morning Sri Vishnu-Thirtha came to Kumbakonam Mutt on his return from Rameswaram. Sri Surendra Tirtha had told him about the direction of the divine order to continue the debate with the scholar. Accordingly Sri Vishu Tirtha debated with the scholar and won in the debate. Sri Vishnu Tirtha was given the name Sri Vijayindra Tirtha by Sri Surendra Tirtha. Then on Sri Vishnu Tirtha came to be known as Sri Vijayindra Tirtha.
On the request of Sri Surendra Tirtha requested Sri Vyasaraya Tirtha to spare Sri Vijayindra Tirtha to head the Kumbakonam mutt. Accordingly he was made head of the Kumbakonam Mutt. For nearly fifty years in the mid of sixteenth centaury he stayed in Kumbakonam and spread the dwitha philosophy.
The Potramarai theertham had been claimed by both Saivets and Sri Vishnavets. During Sri Vijayindra Tirtha time also there were claims and counter claims as to Potramarai tank belongs to Sri Adhi Kumbeswar temple or Sri Sarangapani temple.
It is said that disciples of Sri Linga Rajendran (a Saivet guru) had claimed that the tank belongs to Sri Adhi Kumbeswar temple as there are many Shiva symbols drowned in tank and the Sri Vishnavets claims are wrong. The news spread and argument ensued and Sri Vijayindra Tirtha was requested to mediate. While it is known that the disciple had been on rage since his guru had been defeated by Sri Vijayindra Tirtha, it was agreed that the next day the "lingas" the Saivet symbols will be fished out from the tank. If any such symbols were to be found the tank will said to be property of Sri Adhi Kumbeswar temple.
To achieve this, the disciple had drowned few vigraha of Nandi and Linga in the tank overnight. Next day in presence of the gentlemen of the Kumbakonam, divers were asked to fish out any symbols they could found in the tank. Before the divers were to plunge into the tank water they took the blessings of the Sri Vijayindra Tirtha. On the first round the divers came out with few saligrams and idols of Lord Anjaneya. Since the disciple had put few Nandi and Linga in the tank previous night, he did not agree at the first and wanted the search to continue. On the second round the divers again came out with some more saligrams and idols of Lord Anjaneya. Now the disciple had no other go but to accept that the tank belongs to Lord Sarangapani temple.
One such vigraha of Lord Anjaneya had been installed by Sri Vijayindra Tirtha in the Northern bank of the Potramarai tank wall. People of Kumbakonam were worshiping this Lord Anjaneya from the day of installation.
Lord Anjaneya vigraha installed by such a great saint, Sri Vijayindra Tirtha who happens to be disciple of great saint Sri Vyasaraja Tirtha, has been now made a temple with the help of philanthropies Sri K.G.Sarangapani Chettier and Sri K.G.Ananthapadmanabha Chettier. Today the temple houses shrines of Lord SriRama, Sri Lakshmana, and Sri Sita also.
The Lord is seen with His right hand raised in Abhaya mudra, left hand is holding the sowgandika flower and resting on the left thigh. The lonkoolam (tail) is raised above the head. The eyes are glowing and bestowing blessings on the devotees.
Though the murthi is small the Lord Anjaneya here sure to energise the devotee with power to win the worldly mighty.
[Ed. July 2007]
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