(Last Updated on : 23/01/2009)
Sri Kurattazhvan Temple is one of the significant temples of Kanchipuram. The significance of the temple is associated with the legendary story associated with the temple. Kuresha or Kurattazhvan was one of the most loyal and important disciples of the paramount Srivaishnava preceptor, Ramanuja. He was born into a wealthy family in Kuram (Kura) village near Kanchipuram. Kuresha studied under Ramanuja in Kanchipuram and later after the latter left for Sriranga, his faithful pupil also followed him there, forsaking all his property and wealth.
According to legends described in the Vaishnava literary composition, Ramanuja decided to visit Kashmir to study an ancient manuscript called Bodhayana Vritti. The Bodhayana Vritti is a treatise on the Brahma Sutras, which was said to be available only there. Kuresha was accompanied by some of his disciples on the long journey to this mountain kingdom of Kashmir. Although the Pundits of Kashmir tried to thwart Ramanuja's endeavor to study the treatise Bodhayana Vritti, the king of Kashmir, impressed with his profound scholarship. He allowed him to see the article and later even permitted him to take it to Srirangam. However, on his return journey, some of the Pundits who followed Ramanuja took the manuscripts of the entire treatise back. Fortunately, Kuresha who had studied the text in Kashmir had memorized the entire work of Bodhayana Vritti and there was no cause for Ramanuja to worry.
After their return to the temple-town of Srirangam, it was Kuresha who compiled a treatise called Sri Bhashya, the commentary on the Brahma Sutras as Ramanuja was dictating it. But he stopped writing and disagreed with a statement in the interpretation. However the great preceptor agreed with his scholarly disciple, Ramanuja.
But several problems are likely to arise when King Krimikanta Chola wanted Ramanuja, the leader of the Vaishnavas to accept that Siva as the supreme God. He was ordered to go to the court of the king at his capital. However, sensing the possible danger in this visit, Kuresha decided to imitate Ramanuja and went to see the Chola king along with Periya Nambi, another devoted disciple. In this course of time their preceptor escaped from the Chola country to the Mysore region. On Kuresha's refusal to sign a document to the effect that there is no God higher than Siva, the king became exasperated. He ordered that the two Vaishnavites be blinded. Consequently Kuresha pulled out his own eyes and Periya Nambi was blinded by the king's men. The latter, being aged, died as a consequence of this torture. Later Kuresha returned to Srirangam.
After the death of this orthodox Shaiva Chola king, and the accession of a tolerant ruler to the Chola throne, Ramanuja returned to Srirangam and met Kuresha. Together they visited Kanchipuram to pray to Varadaraja Perumal. Ramanuja at that time was keen on his disciple getting back his eyesight with the blessings of the Lord. When Varadarajasvami granted him a boon, the kind-hearted and compassionate Kuresha asked that Naluran, the person who had betrayed him to the Chola king, be the object of His Grace. On Ramanuja's insistence that he should pray to get back his power of vision, Kuresha prostrated to Varadaraja Perumal and requested that he get back his eyesight but only to see His Form and his prayer was immediately fulfilled.
According to tradition, Kuresha's wife, Andal was a scholarly lady. Their two sons were Parashara Bhatta and Veda Vyasa (alias Srirama Pillai). The former was a great scholar and wrote a commentary on the Vishnu Sahasranama and also composed the Sri Ranganatha Stotram in Sanskrit. He is believed to have succeeded Ramanuja in the pontifical seat at Srirangam.
Kurattazhvan or Kuresha was a great devotee of Lord Varadarajasvami of Kanchipuram. He composed the Sanskrit work Panchasthavam one of which is the famous Varadarajasthavam. The work is a string of hundred beautiful verses in praise of Lord Varadarajasvami which is recited in the Varadaraja Perumal temple on certain important occasions. Kurattazhvan enjoys a privileged place in this temple on account of his close association with Lord Varadaraja and his icon is found in this temple along with those of other eminent Vaishnava preceptors (Acharyas). An inscription dated 1555 A.D. of the Vijayanagara period found in this temple mentions that offerings were made on Kurattazhvan's birth-star (tirunakshatram) Hastam in the Tamil month of Thai (January-February) in this temple.
The Kurattazhvan temple is one of the significant Vishnu Temple of Kanchipuram. Since the shrine is too small it cannot achieve thriving prosperity and popularity like the other contemporary Vishnu Temple.
The temple of Kurattazhvan is located on T.K.Nambi road in Chinna Kanchi about a kilometer west of the Varadarajasvami temple on the way to Periya Kanchi. The green and serene premises of this temple are in stark contrast to the bustle of the busy area outside. Thus the temple itself is the symbol of serenity.
The temple for Kurattazhvan faces south. The bearded stone image of Kuresha enshrined in the sanctum is in a seated posture with his right hand in the vyakhyana mudra. The posture is significant according to the Vaishnava scriptures. In the posture he is seen to hold manuscripts in his left hand. The processional image of Kurattazhvan is kept in the Varadarajasvami temple near the image of his preceptor Ramanuja. This is the significant image of the temple and also is considered as the chief attraction.
The mandapa in front of the sanctum has many pillars depicted in a Vijayanagara style with beautiful sculptures of deities like Vishnu and Lakshmi, Narasimha, Rama with bow and arrow and Krishna killing Bakasura. Carvings and architectural trappings of Vaishnava saints and preceptors like Nammazhvar, Tirumangai Azhvar, Ramanuja and Kurattazhvan are also seen here.
The idols housed in the Kurattazhvan temple signify the historical event. On the occasion of birth asterism (Thai Hastam) of Kurattazhvan, Lord Varadarajasvami visits this shrine accompanied by the processional image (utsava murti) of Kuresha where He is received with due honours and Puja is offered here.
Adjacent to the Kurattazhvan shrine is a small sanctum for his son Parashara Bhatta. In this shrine at Kanchipuram, the image of Parashara Bhatta is seen in a sitting posture facing east with his right hand in vyakhyana mudra and left hand holding manuscripts.
Another ancient temple for Kuresha is located at his birth-place Kuram which is near Kanchipuram.
Since the temple is not so big and located in an interior place, it is far from being attaining enough popularity.