I just came back from a trip to India, and one of the temples I visited was the Madhya Jagannatha Vishnu temple in Thirumazhisai. Most people only know about the Jagannatha temple in Puri (which I discuss here), but there are two other Jagannatha temples in Thirumazhisai and Thirupullani. But my question is about another feature of Thirumazhisai, namely that it's the birthplace of Thirumazhisai Alwar.

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The Alwars (also spelled Azhwars) are a group of 12 ancient Vaishnava saints who lived in Tamil Nadu and are famous for their devotional poetry in praise of Vishnu. The collection of their 4000 poems, known as the Naalayira Divya Prabhandam, is considered by many to be the "Dravida Veda", or South Indian Veda. The Alwars are crucially important figures in the history of Vaishnavism; it's the beliefs and principles embodied in the Alwars' poems that ultimately gave rise to the Sri Vaishnava sect (of which I'm a member).

In any case, as I discuss in this question, one of the Alwars was known as Thirumazhisai Alwar. He was the son of the sage Bhargava, but he was raised by tribal people and became a famous Shaivite poet, before ultimately converting to Vaishnavism. Now given the fact that he was born in Thirumazhisai, I assumed that he would have sung about the Madhya Jagannatha temple in his poems. But it turns out his poems never mention it, and for this reason Thirumazhisai isn't one of the Divya Desams, the 108 sacred places of Vishnu sung about in the Alwars poems which I discuss here.

So my question is, why did Thirumazhisai Alwar never sing about th Vishnu temple in his own home town? Is it because of the fact that he went to Kanchipuram as soon as he converted to Vaishnavism? I find it awfully strange that he would never wouldn't even write a single verse in praise of his birthplace and the great Madhya Jagannatha statue found there.

Do any Sri Vaishnava works shed light on this?

  • The simplest reason is in your question, itself, I suppose. thirumazhisai is not a divya desam, that is why Thirumaiazhisai alwar didn't sing about it. But, it being a famous sthalam like say for that case even Melkote is not part of 108 divya desam, but it is very important to all Vaishnvavas and Sri Vaishnavas in particular. In fact, there is reference to melkote in a Purana is my understanding. But, all the kshetras defined in scriptures are not Divya desams as such. – user808 Dec 29 '15 at 17:42
  • @Krishna I think you're mistaking cause and effect. The notion of the Divya Desams did not exist before the Alwars. The definition of a Divya Desam is a sacred place of Vishnu which was sung about by at least one Alwar. So the Alwars didn't select what places of Vishnu to sing about based on some list; instead the list is based on what the Alwars freely chose to sing about. – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 29 '15 at 17:47
  • @@Keshav - Well, you cannot dismiss of saying that notion of Divya desams doesn't exist prior to Alwars, because there is no way to prove or disprove whether they were categorised prior to existence of alwars as such or not..But, yes the current categorization was done based on the divya stalams on which Always sung. So, thirumaizhisai ksheyra though a famous kshetra is not Divya desam. Hence not sung by the Alwar. – user808 Dec 29 '15 at 17:52
  • @Krishna Well, it's not like the notion of Divya Desams is mentioned in Hindu scripture or anything. In any case, what makes you think that Thirumazhisai Alwar was choosing what places to sing about based on some list? – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 29 '15 at 17:59
  • By the way, have you seen my other question about Thirumazhisai Alwar? hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/9980/36 – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 29 '15 at 18:02

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