THIRUKKURUNGUDI AND KAISIKI NATAKAM REVIVAL
by Daasan, Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari Satakopan
e-mail: sgopan@computer.net


Nov 2001
Among the 108 dhivya desams dear to Sri Vaishnavas, there is one in Paandya Naadu , which has deep links to Sri Vaishnava sampradhayam. This dhivya desam is 27 miles from Thirunelveli. It is not far from Azhwar Thirunahari (Thirukkuruhur), where Swami Nammazhwar, our Kulapathy was born and blessed us with the four Dhivya prabhandhams. This dhivya desam is none other than Thirukkurungudi.

The Mahimai of this Kshethram
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Thirukkuruhur Satakopan was born due to the blessings of the Emperuman of this dhivya kshethram. The parents of Nammazhwar (Maaran and Udaya Nangayar) prayed for the blessings of a child and Thirukkurungudi Nampi responded to that prayer. Thus incarnated Nammazhwar.

It is at Thirukkurungudi, Thirumangai who blessed us with the six Tamizh Vedanghams for the four Tamizh Marais (Vedas) of Swamy Nammazhwar ascended to paramapadham. Thirumangai blessed us with 25 of the 40 paasurams associated with Thirukkurungudi Nampi. Swamy Nammazhwar performed Mangalasasanam with 13 paasurams. Periyazhwar and Thirumazhisai blessed us with one paasuram each.

Here came Acharya Raamanuja for 'mangalasaasanam' and to enjoy the Subhasraya Thirumeni of Thirukkurrungudi Nampi. The Lord of this 'dhivya desam' was so pleased that He took on the form of 'Sishyan' and approached Acharya Raamanuja for kaalakshepam on Vedantha meanings in general and the esoteric meanings of 'Thiru Ashtaksharam' in particular. The stone by the river side, where Acharya Raamanuja sat and performed 'Upadesam' to Thirukkurungudi Nampi is known as Thiruparivattap-Paarai and it is still there for us to touch and have 'Acharya Sambhandham'. Thirukkurungudi Nampi was "initiated into the Sri Vaishnava fold" by Acharya Raamanuja himself in the traditional manner and received the daasya namam of Vaishnava Nampi from Acharya Raamanuja.

The Kshethram Details:
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There are six sannidhis. Perumal gives us His darsanam as Sri Vaishnava Nampi, Malaimel Nampi, Iruntha Nampi, Kidantha Nampi, Thirupparkkadal Nampi and Thirukkurungudi Nampi. Thayar has the naamadeyam of Kurungudivalli Naacchiyar. Lord Siva as Ahirbudhnya is at His temple between the two temples of Ninra Nampi and Kidantha Nampi .

The sannidhi for Malaimel Nampi is at Mahendra Giri, a hillock, some six miles away from the main sannidhi. Thirupparkkadal Nampi is at His temple on the riverbank. The main temple is a big one with beautiful sculptures. Until recently, there was a colony of bats at the temple and the TVS Family under the leadership of Sri Venu Srinivasan, Sri Suresh Krishna and Srimati Anita (Raajyalakshmi) Ratnam drove out the bats with a newly discovered sonic sound system. The cleansing took a full three years to accomplish and the Sannadhi is now free from " the bat bhakthas " who had their own kalahalam for a few years.

Anita Ratnam has done a 'mahapakaram' by reviving (reconstructing) the ancient dance-drama known as Kaisiki Natakam . Three years of tireless work led to her first performance on the last Kaisiki Natakam (November 19, 1999) based on Nampaduvan's unique worship of Thirukkurungudi Nampi on Kaisiki Ekadasi day.

In the Varaha Puranam, Perumal tells Mahalakshmi about His great joy in being worshipped through dance and music. The Kaisiki Natakam is a dance - music- drama going back to seven hundred years. The story of Nampaduvan born in a chandala caste and his promise to the Brahma Raakshasan about being his food after the worship of Thirukkurungudi Nampi and the happy resolution with the intervention of the Lord is a pious story that transcends the divisions of class and caste, when it comes to the Bhakthas of Bhagavan.

The Kaisiki Ekadasi is as sacred as Sri Vaikunta Ekadasi; Aasthikas fast that day and listen to Kaisiki Puranam being read at Srirangam or the Kaisiki Natakam performed at Thirukkurungudi and listen to the music and dance in praise of Nampi Perumal .There is an audio cassette rendition of this Kaisiki Puranam by the Sri Vaishnavite scholar Dr.Venkatakrishnan of Thiruvallikkeni.

Since the passing away of Sri T.V.Sundaram Iyengar, the Kaisiki Natakam performance was discontinued and in 1999, after a 44-year hiatus, thanks to the efforts of Anita Ratnam, this dance drama has been performed in the Nampi's sannidhi from 1999.

The scale of this effort has to be understood and appreciated in the context of non -availability in full form, the script, music, movement and style. The previous performers of the old Kaisiki Natakam group have become old and had to be encouraged to come back on stage and share it with others from Tanjavur as well as those from Melattur Bhaagavatha Melam community.

Anita Ratnam has written a special article on the November 19, '99 Kaisiki Naatakam performance at Thirukkurungudi in Sruti magazine (July 2000 issue) and from there, one can understand the magnitude of the effort to reconstruct the Natakam after such a long time of lapse. There were 3,000 persons, who enjoyed the 3 hour and 15 minutes performance with a total of 22 actors and musicians. The age of the oldest actors from previous times was 84, who took a brief role.

The reconstruction process continues and Nampi Perumal had a preview on November 19, 1999. The second performance was on December 7, 2000 and this year the KAISIKI NATAKAM will be staged at the temple on NOVEMBER 26, 2001. Before the start of the NATAKAM, Anita Ratnam and her troupe of talented dancers make an offering to Perumal through dance in an hour long NATYA ARADHANA. It is only after the performance that the KAISIKI NATAKAM begins around 10:30pm.

It is my sincere hope that this information is available to Bhaktas all over India and around the world so that they may be able to travel to this 'dhivya desam' and obtain the blissful 'punyam' that awaits all who sit in the presence of Perumal on the night of Kaisiki Ekadasi. Thank you Anita for your marvelous contributions to reconstruct this dance-drama!

Note: KAISIKI NATAKAM will be performed on November 26, 2001 at Tirukurungudi. For further information contact arangham@gmail.com