Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Prasanna Venkatachalapati||Ambal / Thayar:||–|
|Vriksham:||Teertham:||Kaveri river, Papavinasam Teertham|
|Agamam:||Age (years):||Timing:||6.30 to 12.30 & 4 to 8.30||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Abhimana sthalam||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Gunaseelam||District:||Tiruchirappalli|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Tiruchirappalli (22 km)||Perambalur (63 km)|
|Karur (66 km)||Namakkal (69 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
This temple is extremely ancient, and is even referred to in the Bhavishya puranam. While not a Divya Desam temple, this is one of the Abhimana Sthalams in Vaishnavite culture.
Sage Thaalpiya had a disciple named Gunaseelar. Once, the sage and his disciples went to the Himalayas on a pilgrimage, and on their return, worshipped Srinivasa Perumal (Venkatachalapati) at Tirupati. Gunaseelar became so attached to the Lord there that he requested Him to come to his ashram at Gneelivanam. The Lord replied that He had committed to staying at Tirupati till the end of the kalpam as he had to repay his debt to Kubera, and that Gunaseelar should ask his guru for advice, and continue to worship at his own ashram. Sage Thaalpiya told him that all of this was pre-ordained, and Venkatamudaiyan would indeed come to the north bank of the Kaveri river, near Gunaseelar’s ashram, along with Sridevi and Bhudevi.
Gunaseelar returned to his ashram and undertook extreme penance, which shocked even the Devas. Fearing for his post, Indra let loose various natural calamities, but none of these were able to shake Gunaseelar’s resolve. Upon consulting Brahma, Indra and Devas were told not to fear, since Gunaseelar’s objective was solely to have Vishnu come to his ashram. Pleased with Gunaseelar’s devotion, Vaikuntavasa Perumal came to the ashram as Prasanna Venkatachalapati, along with Sridevi and Bhudevi, giving the sage immense satisfaction. Gunaseelar welcomed the Lord with all the offerings as per the scriptures laid down by Sage Vikhanasar (which is called the Vaikhanasa agamam).
Later, at the end of Dwapara Yugam, Sage Thaalpiya wanted Gunaseelar to go to Naimisaranyam, but Gunaseelar was so attached to Perumal here, that he wasn’t able to decide what to do, and so left it to the Lord’s wishes. Promising to stay here till the end of the kalpam, Vishnu told Gunaseelar to go to Naimisaranyam. So Gunaseelar told his disciple to perform daily worship, and left for Naimisaranyam with his Guru. In the meantime, due to trouble caused by the animals around the ashram as well as the frequent flooding of the Kaveri river, the disciple could no longer manage the worship procedures, and left the place. Over time, the murti of the deity got buried under the earth.
Several centuries later, a Chola king named Gnanavarman ruled the region with his capital at Uraiyur, and would get milk from this place (Gunaseelam) in many pots. One day, the milk in the pots suddenly vanished, and a celestial voice told the king to pour the milk at a specified place. When this was done, Perumal appeared from under the earth, and promised to remain here till the end of Kali yugam. The king built a temple for the Lord here, as per the Vaikhanasa agamam.
(The above is a summarized version of the Gunaseelam Mahatmiyam, which is also available online in Tamil, here.)
Sage Gunaseelar prayed to Vishnu that those who worship here should be freed of all illusions and maya, and be blessed with mental clarity. Therefore, over time, this temple has become a prarthana sthalam for those affected by various mental illnesses. It is believed that such patients should stay and worship the Lord here, and have the abhishekam water sprinkled on them for 48 days, after which period they will be cured.
Since sage Gunaseelar originally wished Venkatachalapati of Tirupati to come here, this place is considered equivalent of Tirupati. Some even say that this Perumal is elder to Srinvasa Perumal at Tirupati.
When king Gnanavarman unearthed the murti of Venkatesa Perumal, the Lord told him that worshiping on Saturdays here would be highly auspicious. Therefore, even today, worship here on a Saturday is considered special, and crowds throng the place for darsanam of the Lord here.
The temple also has some really amazing architecture and carvings on the inner walls and pillars.
Other information for your visit
It struck me only during my visit to this temple, that the lead character of the eponymous Tamil film Guna is named so due to the association of his mental illness with this place!
Phone: 94863 04251