By Acarya Dasa
After our month long stay in Mayapur and Trevelli, we regrouped on March 18th to begin our holy walk again. We arrived at Thirukurungudi on March 24th, Ekadasi. The town is located in the Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu and the taluk (administrative district) is Nanguneri. Thirukurungudi is nestled in the foothills of the Western Ghats and is 40 kilometres north of Kanyakumari and 120 kilometres from Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerela. Life there revolves around agriculture and the Nambi Rayar temple. It is also one of the 108 divya desam (premium places) of Vishnu temples mentioned in the works of the Tamil Azhvars (saints). These temples are sacred to all Vaishnavas.
Welcomed by a fellow padayatri
We were met with a grand welcome for Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundar at Thirukurungudi. It was organized by former padayatri, Svanshi Dasa, a disciple of Jayapataka Maharaj. He served Their Lordships as a pujari with all his heart on padayatra for three years. When he was travelling with us he was a brahmacari, and now he is a grhastha living in Thirukurungudi. He was very happy when he heard we would be coming because he always kept padayatra in his heart. Svanshi Dasa is well-versed in padayatra’s schedule and arranged accommodation, provided us with a vehicle and escorted us to different places around the area. Wherever we went he arranged an advance party to make all necessary preparations for our stay and prasadam. He inspired people to serve Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundar and he saw to it that all the villagers attended the program and took part in the sankirtana. While there, we distributed a lot of books and held several small lectures after every sankirtana wherever we went.
Lord Vishnu’s Southern Home
Thirukurungudi is referred to by the Vaishnava sampradaya as the ‘Southern home’ of Lord Vishnu. There are five nambis there; nambi in the Tamil language means ‘personification of all virtuous and righteous qualities blended with beauty and grace’. It is used to describe these five sacred places of Lord Vishnu. The first is the ‘Ninra Nambi’ where Lord Vishnu is in a standing position, the second is the ‘Irundha Nambi’ where Lord Vishnu is in a seated posture, the third is the ‘Kidandha Nambi’ with Lord Vishnu in a sleeping position and the fourth and fifth are the Thiruparkadal Nambi and the Thirumalai Nambi. The Thiruparkadal Nambi Temple is very close to the Nambiyaru river and is about one kilometre away from the main temple. The Thirumalai Nambi Temple is situated in the hills on top of Mahendragiri Mountain about eight kilometres away from the main temple. Our padayatra party took darsana of all five nambis and coincidently there was a rathotsava (chariot festival) going on while we there too. We joined in with our padayatra ratha (chariot or cart) and walked alongside the other rathas. It was a marvellous procession.
Malai Nambi Koil
The next day we went to ‘Malai Nambi Koil’, a beautiful, small mountain, eight kilometres away from Thirukurungudi village. At the foot of the mountain you can hire automatic two wheelers to travel with. There is also a staircase leading to the temple entrance and a small waterfall nearby which, our padayatris visited to refresh themselves before going to the temple. The temple houses the deities of Lord Nambi, Bhoo Devi and Sri Devi in a standing position–They showed Their grace to all the devotees present.
That evening we travelled to Mahendragiri mountain near Tirukurungudi. This mountain is mentioned in the first chapter of the Srimad Valmiki ‘Ramayanam Sundara Kandam’. It states that when Hanuman was making his way to Sri Lanka in search of mother Sita he stopped on this mountain before resuming his travels by flight. There are many Siddha Purushas (perfected beings) living on this mountain who are observing penance. It was a wonderful experience being there, we remembered Hanumanji and asked him to bless us to eternally serve Guru and Gauranga.
On March 26th we started for our next destination, the district of Kerala.