Vaisnava Divya Desam Stories - Sri Naan Madhiya Perumal - the saviour of the moon

Located near Seerkazhi (12 kms to the east), off the entrance to Poompuhar, on the Nagapattinam Route in Tamil Nadu, is the temple to Sri Naan Madhiya Perumal. This sacred place is one of the 108 Vaisnava Divya Desams and is located in the Chozha Nadu region. The temple is close enough to Mayavaram (c. 16-20 kms). Locally, the place is known as Thalachangadu. The main deity, Moolavar, in the temple is, of course, Sri Naan Madhiya Perumal, and the deity brought out for worship outside the sanctum sanctorum, the Urchavar, or the Utsavar, is Sri Vensudhar Perumal or Vyomajoyipiran. Similarly, the Thayar, or Amman (= the aspect of Mahalakshmi as consort to Shri Vishnu), at the temple is Sree Thalaichanga Nachiar and the Utsava Thayar is Sree Sengamalavalli. There is also an exquisite depiction of the goddess Sree Andal in the temple.

Copyright with the original photographer only 

Since ancient times, this sacred divya desam temple located in the current Nagapattinam district, Tamil Nadu, has been known as the Thalaichanga Nanmathiyam Temple, and thereby the name of the place, Thalachangadu. The known history is for at least 1000 years with links to the Sri Ranganatha temple at Srirangam and Thiru Indalur temple. Rulers like Para Kesari Varma, Raja Raja Chola and Rajendra Chola were closely linked to this temple.

However, the story of Chandra (= the moon), getting protection at the sacred pond, theertham, is much older. And thereby, the theertham is known by the story, and recognised as the Chandra theertham.

There are two stories that mention about the birth of Chandra. In the great churning of the oceans between the devas and the asuras, Chandra is born after Sree Mahalakshmi, and is known as her elder brother. Later, in Hindu astrology, Chandra or Moon, is placed second to the Surya, or Sun. The other story is that Chandra was born to the Maharshi Athiri and his wife, Anusuya.

The temple is known from  the story of the liberation of Chandra from the curse cast upon him. Chandra was a disciple of the great teacher of the gods, Brihaspati. During those times, it is said that Chandra attempted to woo Tara, Brihaspati's second wife. Tara, fell in love with Chandra who looked exceedingly beautiful. Tara deserted Brihaspati and started living with Chandra. Insulted, Brihaspati, the teacher of the gods, asked Tara to return, and she refused.

Not able to take this insult, Brihaspati called upon the support of the devas to war against Chandra. Knowing this to be an appropriate opportunity, the great teacher of the asuras, Sukracharya, decided to give support Chandra. The battle between the devas and the asuras, on behalf of Brihaspati and Chandra, is known as the Tarakaamayam. Being aware that if this war would be fought for a long period of time, it could destroy the world as it was then, Brahma intervened and stopped the battle.

Upon Brahma's advice and guidance, Tara left Chandra and went back to Brihaspati. Later, she gave birth to a beautiful lad, Budha, known to us as Mercury, or the Planet Budha, in Hindu astrology. A new argument began, and both Brihaspati and Chandra claimed that they were the father. Wanting to know the truth, Budha asked Tara, and she replied that Chandra was the father.

Chandra requested two of his wives, Rohini and Krittika, daughters of Daksha, to take care of Budha during his childhood. Later, on knowing the truth about his birth, Budha left his home and traveled to the Himalayas to meditate upon Vishnu.

One version of the story is that the angry Brihaspati cursed Chandra with a disease-ridden and ugly body. One story depicts the disease as leprosy.

Another story is that Daksha Prajapati, father of many daughters, had given them in marriage to Chandra in appreciation of his beautiful body and handsome looks. However, Chandra remained in love only with Rohini and was not respectful of the others. This made Daksha Prajapati very angry with Chandra and decided to punish his arrogance with the curse that he would lose his beautiful body and handsome looks.

Chandra sought help from Vishnu for liberation from the curse. Vishnu instructed Chandra about the tremendous effort that he would have to undertake in order to regain his wonderful looks. Accordingly, Chandra bathed and presented all the sacred tasks (= kainkaryam) at Srirangam for nearly fifteen years and got to be liberated from the curse. Subsequently, Chandra traveled to Thiru Indalur and presented his worship to Sri Parimala Rangan, and was able to get his sins reduced.

The place later came to be known as Indhunna and this is a name that is recognised to denote Chandra. Therefore, the place began to be known as Chandra Kshetra. Subsequently and finally, Chandra came to the Thalaichangadu Kshetram, bathed in the temple pond and began his penance in worship to Vishnu.

The Lord, along with Sree Mahalakshmi, arrived at the place in the Chandra Vimaanam (= the aerial craft of Vishnu and Mahalakshmi). In appreciation of Chandra's devotion, Vishnu liberated him of all his curses. Therefore, this place came to be known as Chandra Saabhaharan. The belief is that if one bathes at the temples of Srirangam, Thiru Indalur and Thalaichangadu, one could be cured of leprosy.

In gratitude, and in order to share the blessings, Chandra requested Vishnu to continue to reside at the place, and receive his devotees at the temple. Therefore, this temple came to be known as Sri Naan Madhiya Perumal.

The great saint-poet, Thirumangai Alwar, in his compositions, one among them, the Siriya Thiru Madal, referred to the sacred waters of the temple pond, in praise, and said -

Mannum mani mada koil, manaalana nanneer,
Thalai changa naan madiyanaai

It is said that the sacred waters of the temple pond does taste differently here.

In an unique aspect, Vishnu and Shiva are depicted together in diverse aspects. While Perumal appears with the crescent moon on his head, it is Shiva who is facing east and is standing. 

Contact Address:
Sri Naanmadhia Perumal Temple,
Thalaichanga Naanmadhiam (Thalachangadu) 609107
Nagapattinam District, Tamil Nadu

Aerial view of the Sri Naanmadhia Perumal Temple and the 
Chandran Teertham, the temple pond,
near the Chennai Nagapattinam highway. 
Copyright - Google Maps. 

Aerial view of the Sri Naanmadhia Perumal temple and the 
Thalachangadu township along the Chennai Nagapattinam Highway.
Copyright - Google Maps.

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