Thirukodithanam Arpuda Narayana Swamy Temple

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By P.R.Ramachander


Thirukodithanam Arputha Narayanaswamy temple is one among the few temples in Kerala which is considered as a divya desam of Vaishnavas. This means that the glory of this temple has been sung by one of the 12 Azhwars, the minstrels of Vaishnavism of Tamil Nadu. In fact Nammazhwar one of the greatest saints in this pantheon has sung about this temple.

This temple is about 3 km from Changanaseery town, which is near Kottayam. The deity in this temple is called Arpuda Narayana (Narayana of wonder) or amrutha Narayana(Narayana who is nectar)).It is believed that the deity in this temple was consecrated by Sahadeva, the youngest of the Pandavas. Sahadeva wanted to build a temple for Lord Vishnu here but since he was unable to find a proper idol, he decided to self immolate in a ceremonial fire. However,when he entered the 'agni kundam' he obtained the present idol of Lord Vishnu. Since it was a great surprise he preferred to call it Arpuda Narayana. It is believed that every 60 years this idol gains extra power and at the beginning of the deluge, this idol would transform itself into light and merge with Mahavishnu.

The God in this temple is in a standing pose and has four hands. The goddess is called Karpaga Valli. There is also a temple for Lord Narasimha, which is possibly a later addition. On the southern part of the temple there are two more temples, one for Lord Dakshinamurthy and the other for Lord Ganapathi. Both these temples do not have doors.

Normally Pal Payasam (milk Kheer) is daily offered to Lord Narasimha. It is believed that this is being done to reduce his fierceness.

This temple also has sub temples for Lord Subrahmanya, Nagar (snake), Lord Ayyappa and Goddess Kali. The Dasavathars are carved in this temple wall.

It is believed that King Rukmangadha used to rule over this place. The story goes that he used to maintain a magnificent flower garden from which the Devas used to steal flowers to take them to heaven. When the king’s soldiers caught them, they apparently, lost their power to return to heaven. They then requested King Rukmangada to transfer to them the good effects of observation of Ekadasi by the King. When he gave it to them, they were able to go back to heaven.

There is grand ten day festival in the month of Vruschigam(November-December).During this time 1008 lamps are lit in this temple. Once lit, these lamps burn all night.

The reason why Karthigai festival is celebrated in a Vishnu temple is as follows. Once Lord Shiva appeared before Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma as a ball of fire. Unable to bear the heat, they prayed to Lord Shiva. On Karthigai day, Lord Shiva transformed himself in to a small lamp. There are Tamil inscriptions in this temple indicating the fact that once upon a time, this place was ruled by Tamil kings. This place is described in these inscriptions as “Nandru Uzhaitha Nadu(The country which worked hard).”

It is also believed that Kunti the mother of Pandavas died in this place. There is a custom of lighting lamps in the corner where this happened.

Records indicate that this place was a Gadiga Sthana where Vedas were taught to people. The present name must have derived out of Gadika.

The boundary walls surrounding this temple are famous since they are supposed to have been built by celestial beings. These walls are made up of huge stones arranged without using any mortar or other cementing material. Even today,these have not developed any damage or displacement.