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One of the most famous temples of Tamil Nadu is Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai. It is the abode of Goddess Meenakshi, and avatara of Devi Parvati and her consort, Lord Sundareshvara, an avatara of Lord Shiva. The divine couple married each other in the Tamil Month of Chitthirai (Sanskrit: Chaitra), and their marriage festival is celebrated grandly till date as the Chittirai Thiruvizha.

In a work called Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam by Paranjothi Munivar, are described 64 Divine Leelas of Lord Sundareshvara, from the time he ruled the city of Madurai and the Leelas he subsequently enacted for his descendants. These Leelas describe a series of Kings who ruled Madurai and performed heroic acts, including conquering Indra himself.

Devi Meenakshi's father was King Malayadhvaja of the Pandya Dynasty. Incidentally, there are references in the Mahabharata that King Malayadhvaja fought in the Battle of Kurukshetra, including this chapter from the Drona Parva which describes the valour of King Malayadhvaja. This would place the Leelas of Meenakshi-Sundareshvara in the early Kaliyuga.

But in Srimad Bhagavatam, Dasama Skandha, Chapter 79, Lord Balarama's pilgrimage is described, and in the 15th verse, it is said, "Dakshinam Mathuram Tatha", or that Lord Balarama visited Southern Mathura (Madurai). So is this a reference to the temple of Meenakshi Devi (thereby placing her further back in time) or is it a reference to Lord Kallazhagar (Lord Vishnu and the brother of Devi Meenakshi), who resides near Madurai?

And would the above information mean that the Pandya Kings who succeeded Sundareshvarar were contemporaries of the Azhvars, who also lived during that period?

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  • No, I don't think Balarama was visiting the Madurai Minakshi temple. There weren't really many temples in the Dwapara Yuga; Archa Avataram is special for the Kali Yuga. Balarama was pretty much just visiting sacred places. In any case Kalazhagar only came to Madurai after Minakshi's wedding with Sundareshwarar, so Balarama wouldn't have gone there to worship him. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 25 '16 at 17:20
  • In any case, I'm really interested in finding a scriptural basis for the story of Minakshi, because I just went to the Madurai Minakshi temple in my recent trip to India. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 25 '16 at 17:22
  • @Keshav Kallazhagar was there before the birth of Meenakshi; In fact Malayadhwaja built the temple of Kallazhagar, which is one of the reasons he is considered Meenakshi's brother. (Or are you referring only to the City of Madurai?) – Surya Apr 25 '16 at 17:54
  • Oh, I hadn't heard of Malayadhvaja building the temple. What I heard is that Vishnu, since he is always considered Parvati's brother, came from Sri Rangam or somewhere to attend Minakshi's wedding, but he came there late because he kept making stops to give Darshan to devotees along his journey. (I saw one of the stops of his journey.) Because he was so late, they started the wedding ceremony without him, and when he heard he got angry and went to a nearby mountain (the site of the Kalazhagar temple). Then Minakshi and Sundareshwarar reconciled with him and they had the wedding. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 25 '16 at 18:12
  • @Keshav Apart from the Ranganatha thing, you are right. Kallazhagar as Meenakshi's brother was coming to Madurai and on the way stopped to bless Manduka Maharshi; Since the Vaigai began to flood he was unable to cross and reach on time. – Surya Apr 25 '16 at 18:30

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