The ambassador – Thirupadagam Pandavadoota Perumal Kovil

Located in the temple town of Kanchipuram in the part of “Vishnu kanchi” is the temple of The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sree Pandava-doota Perumal, locally known as Thirupadagam Temple.

The legend

The pastime and the form of the Supreme lord in this temple has got everything to do with the “Shanti Parva” of Mahabharata where Krishna goes to Hastinapura on behalf of Pandavas as “shanti doot” or peace messenger. Lord went to the court of Dhratarashtra with sathyaki and kritavarma, Lord Sri Krishna then addressed Dhratarashtra as follows in a voice that was loud enough for everyone to hear: "My dear king of the Kuru dynasty, I have come to Hastinapura for the purpose of establishing peace between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The Kuru dynasty has a history of spotless glory, and all of its descendants have been great kings who are worthy of their legendary fame. Now, it would be a shame if you were to perform some act which is not at all befitting your great kuru dynasty. "Maharaja Dhratarashtra, you should restrain your selfish son, for he is acting most abominably toward his cousins. The blame for the present danger rests entirely upon the shoulders of you if not your sons, and a great slaughter will happen if you do not accept a peaceful settlement. However, we can still rectify everything, for if you bring your sons into extend friendship with Pandavas, then I will pacify the Pandavas. "oh Maharaja, don't you see what a glorious position you would be in if you had both the Pandavas and your sons at your side? You would securely control the kingdom of the entire earth, and thus you would live very peacefully and happily. On the other band, how can you expect to become happy by allowing either your sons or the Pandavas to be killed in battle? You should avoid mass destruction by establishing peaceful relations with the sons of Pandu. Now, I shall repeat the message which the Pandavas send to you:

05 the main santum sanctorum of the temple

01 festival deity of pandava doota perumal

Yudhistira, the eldest of Pandavas says 'O venerable uncle, we have successfully completed our term of exile which we underwent at your command. Now, you should keep your part of the agreement by giving us back our kingdom. We assure you that if you do so, then we shall always remain very obedient toward you”

Lord Sri Krishna then appealed to the entire assembly by saying, "My dear respected kings, I urge all of you to follow the virtuous path after considering what is justly deserved by the Pandavas." Turning once again to Dhratarashtra, Lord Sri Krishna then concluded, "O descendent of king Bharath, you must remember how, after your sons had tried to burn the Pandavas to death, they had still returned to Hastinapura and placed their full trust in you as if nothing had ever happened. O Maharaja!, I desire the welfare of both your sons and those of your brother, Pandu. The Pandavas are prepared to either serve you or fight against your sons, and so it is now up to you to adopt whichever path you feel." All of the assembled kings applauded Lord Sri Krishna’s reasonable words, but still, no one dared to speak out against Duryodhana in his presence for they know the anger of Duryodhana.

Narada Muni then informed Duryodhana, "O descendent of Bharat Maharaja, the difficulties which were experienced by Yayati, was due to obstinacy and pride. Therefore, you should be intelligent enough to avoid unnecessary suffering by discarding these two faults and giving up all enmity toward the Pandavas."

Duryodhana replied, "O Narada, I fully appreciate the value of your words, But unfortunately, it is not within my power to follow such good instructions." Dhratarashtra then said to Sri Krishna, "My dear Lord, O best in Yadu kula, You have come here to offer us advice which is fraught with wisdom and virtue, and Your intention is certainly to benefit both my sons and the sons of Pandu. Still, because my son Duryodhana is not cooperative, I am not free to implement Your proposals. Therefore, please try to persuade my wicked son that he should obey my commands and listen to the advice of his elders such as Vidura, Bhishma, and his mother Gandhari." Lord Sri Krishna then turned to Duryodhana and, addressing him in a very sweet voice, He said, "O Prince Duryodhana, you should avail yourself of the opportunity to take the virtuous path by making peace with the Pandavas. I am sure that even you will admit that there is a distinction between noble and abominable behaviour. It is My duty to warn you that you are leading yourself toward destruction. Can't you see how you are foolishly discarding the advice of wise and elderly persons and instead, taking the council of wicked and inferior men? Those who actually know their self-interest, strive for dharma. Just remember what happened to all of the Kurus when they attempted to attack Virata's kingdom. I can assure you that Arjuna is capable of killing all of the Kauravas, and thus you are simply hoping for victory. Only by making peace with the Pandavas will you be able to enjoy the prosperity which you will highly cherish. On the other hand, if you fight with the Pandavas, then you will reap the infamous reputation of being the destroyer of the Kuru dynasty."

03 an artistic depiction of pandava dootha perumal

Bhishma then said, "O Duryodhana, you should follow Lord Sri Krishna’s advice and cast off your anger and malice. Only by doing so can you avoid causing the extermination of your race and thus plunging your poor father into grief." Drona then added, "O prince, you can rest assured that what Lord Sri Krishna and Bhishma are saying is for your benefit. Therefore, please give up your stubbornness and follow their good advice." Vidura then commented, "O Duryodhana, I do not grieve for you as much as I do for your elderly parents, for, after the annihilation of all their sons, they will be without protectors."

Dhratarashtra then said, "My dear son, you should accept Lord Sri Krishna’s advice and make friends with the Pandavas. Otherwise, if you fight with them, neither victory or happiness shall ever be yours." Bhishma and Drona then once again spoke, urging Duryodhana to go and embrace Maharaja Yudhistira while there was still time. However, all of these words were very disagreeable to the son of Dhratarashtra, who then replied, "O Sri Krishna, you are unnecessarily finding fault with me alone. I do not see that I have ever done anything wrong. Did not the Pandavas willingly gamble at dice? Now, they have become very weak, and they are devoid of allies. Therefore, I shall never bow down to Yudhistira simply on the basis of threats or strong words. I am confident that even the great demigods cannot defeat Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, and Karna. And, besides, even if all of the Kurus are killed in battle, that is also glorious, for such a heroic death on the battlefield awards one eternal residence in heaven. It is the duty of a kshatriya to lay down his life on the battlefield rather than bow down to his enemies.

The half of the Kuru kingdom that was formerly given to the Pandavas by my father will never be returned by me for as long as I live! Indeed, I am not even willing to give the Pandavas the amount of land which can be pierced by the sharp point of a needle!"

After this arrogant statement, there was a tense silence in the royal assembly. Lord Sri Krishna, His eyes distinctly red with anger, then replied, "Duryodhana, I can positively assure you that all of the Kurus will very soon lay down their lives in battle. You claim that you are faultless, but it was due to enviousness of the Pandavas' superior prosperity that you conspired with Shakuni to cheat them out of their kingdom. Don't you remember how you had Draupadi dragged out into the assembly of Kurus so that she could be abused with such vile and cruel language? The words which you spoke at that time were only capable of being uttered by a person who is totally despicable and heartless. Don't you remember how you repeatedly tried to murder the Pandavas in your youth? You may not be willing to voluntarily give the sons of Pandu back their rightful share of the kingdom, but you will be forced to do so anyway when you lie down dead on the battlefield!" At this point, Dushyasana spoke up, saying, "My dear elder brother, if you do not voluntarily make peace with the Pandavas, then all of the elderly Kurus will surely bind you up and hand you over for necessary action!" Duryodhana was already breathing very heavily due to his repressed anger. Duryodhana ordered the soldiers to arrest Sri Krishna!.

02 the gopuram of pandava doota perumal temple

Dhratarashtra was very angry at Duryodhana, and so he chastised him with strong words as follows: "My son, you are a most sinful wretch, and you are surrounded by the most despicable and evil-minded councilors. How can you dare to even think of harming Lord Sri Krishna, Who is unconquerable even by the greatest demigods? You are Infamy personified, having appeared in our dynasty, for only you would stoop so low as to attempt such a dastardly act. Indeed, you are not only wicked, but you are also the greatest fool, for you are trying to accomplish the impossible, like a child attempting to catch the moon." Vidura then said, "O Duryodhana, you should consider how Lord Sri Krishna has already killed so many demons. Sri Krishna also defeated all of the combined demigods at the time when He forcibly took away the parijatha flower from heaven for the satisfaction of Satyabhama. Are you actually so stupid that you cannot see how you will also be vanquished if you go ahead and try to capture Him?" Lord Sri Krishna then said, "My dear Duryodhana, due to gross ignorance, you think that I am alone, and for this reason you dare to contemplate taking Me captive." Then, with an outburst of laughter, Lord Sri Krishna declared, "It is I Who am the complete whole, and all of the demigods, demons, the Pandavas, and even yourselves are My separated parts and parcels!" While Lord Sri Krishna was thus speaking, innumerable manifestations of demigods suddenly streamed forth from His body with blazing splendour. Indeed, Brahma came out from Lord Sri Krishna’s forehead, and Rudra appeared from His chest. Agni blazed forth from His mouth as did limitless Vasus, Adityas, Sadhyas, Marutis, Yakshas, Gandharvas, and Rakshasas. Balarama appeared from Lord Sri Krishna’s left arm, bearing His plow weapon, and Arjuna came out from His right arm, holding the Gandiva bow. The other Pandavas were situated behind Lord Sri Krishna and the Yadus, headed by Pradyumna, were in front. All of these myriad forms were splendorous and multi-coloured, and they were beautifully dressed and decorated with ornaments and garlands. Then, while expanding Himself greatly, Lord Sri Krishna exhibited numberless arms, each of which held a different weapon; and from His eyes, ears, and other bodily parts, issued forth sparks and smoke. Indeed, from every pore of Lord Sri Krishna’s body, flames and sparks emanated like brilliant sun rays, and when the assembled kings saw this most wondrous manifestation, they closed their eyes out of fear. Only Bhishma, Drona, Vidura, Sanjaya, could bear to behold this dazzlingly effulgent form because Lord Sri Krishna had blessed them with divine vision for the occasion. Drums were then heard beating in heaven, and flowers showered down from above as the entire earth trembled and the seas became highly agitated. Thereafter, Lord Sri Krishna withdrew His universal form while all of the assembled kings remained standing like statues, being struck with wonder. Lord Sri Krishna then took permission from the rishis and left the hall.

07 krishna in the court of hastinapur, a painting by Raja Ravi Varma

This vision of the supreme lord was described to janamanjeya, the son of Parikshit. Janamanjeya was eager to see this form of the lord and he came down upon the advise of sukamuni, to Kanchipuram, which is one of the 7 moksha sthalams, and did penance for the darshan of the lord as “shanti-doot” or pandava-doot” or messenger of Pandavas, The supreme lord explained to janamanjeya that he wouldn’t be able to bear the sight of virat roopa of the lord, but promised to give darshan a miniature form of the same which he can worship in his palace, thus appeared the deity of tirupadagam, the virat rupa of Krishna.

The temple

The main entrance of the temple faces east and the temple has a rectangular plan. The temple has a four-tiered rajagopuram and a single prakaram enclosed in the walls. The Maha mandapa is believed to have been built by the Cholas, while the adjacent hall during the period of Vijayanagara Empire. The central shrine of the temple has a large transcendental deity of the presiding deity Pandava Thoothar, the deity is about 8 meters high in sitting form!. Such a large historical deity of Krishna is one of its kind and worshipped by janamanjeya. The deity is seen seated in Arda Padmasana posture with his right leg bent to the basement. Since Krishna appeared in his 2 handed form in the court of Hastinapura, there are only two hands to the deity, unlike other temples, where the presiding deities have four or more hands. The right palm depicts the Abhaya Mudra for protection and the left arm depicts Varada Mudra for giving boon. The shrine faces east and the vimana of the temple is called Bhadra Vimana. The preceding hall to the main sanctum, Mukha Mandapa, has adorns the stage for the festival deities of the temple and Azhwars. The most prominent of them is of Arulala Permula Emburamanar, the disciple of Ramanuja, whose image is rarely found in other Vishnu temples. The Shrine of Rukmini is located to the south of the main shrine and has the image of Rukmini. There are modern additions like Chakrathazhwar with an image of Narasimha on it reverse located behind the main shrine. Matsya Theertham, the temple tank, is located on the northeastern side of the temple.

Festivals

The major festival of the temple is Krishna Janmasthami, celebrated during the Tamil month of Aavani (August – September). The other major festival of the temple celebrated during Bharani of Karthigai (November–December) in honour of Arulala Perumal Emperumanar.

Arulala Perumal Emperumanar Jeeyar

Born in vinjimur in Andhra Pradesh), he was originally known as yagya murthy and was an mayavada follower. He once goes to ganges for pilgrimage and wins many scholars there and becomes a mayavada sanyasi. Due to his vast knowledge in sasthras he had acquired great fame and many disciples. Hearing about Ramanujacharya’s glories, yagya murthy desires to debate with him. He prepares many books and have them carried by his many disciples and arrives at srirangam to meet Ramanujacharya.

Ramanuja welcomes yagya murthy and they make an arrangement to debate for 18 days. yagya murthy declares that if he is defeated he will change his name to reflect Ramanuja’s name, carry the sandals of Ramanuja on his head and become a disciple of Ramanuja. Meanwhile Ramanuja declared that if he is defeated he will give up touching any vedic scriptures.

The debate starts and goes on for 16 days in Tirupadagam divya desam. Both of them debate eloquently and furiously like two elephants fighting each other. On the 17th day, it appears that yagya murthy is gaining an upper hand. Ramanuja becomes a bit worried and leaves to his mutt at the end. In the night, he meditates on Varadaraja perumal (his personal worshiping deity the lord of Kanchipuram) and asks the supreme lord if he will end up losing the debate which will lead to the downfall of the great Vaishnava theology which was nourished by great Vaishnava acharyas. He also worries that he becomes the reason for such downfall. Varadaraja perumal appears in Ramanuja’s dream subsequently and tells him not to worry. He tells him that this was a divine pastime to bring a great scholar like Yagna murty to Ramanuja who is adequately intelligent and brilliant. He instructs Ramanuja to use Yamunacharya‘s refutations for mayavada philosophy and defeat yagya murthy in the debate. Ramanuja realises the greatness of Varadaraja perumal and continues to recite Krishnas’s holy names until early morning, performs his japa and deity worship and arrives for the debate for the last (18th) day majestically, yagya murthy, being an intellectual, right away recognises the lusture and knowledge in Ramanuja, falls at his lotus feet, keeps ramanujas’sandals on his head and accepts his defeat. When Ramanuja asks if he wants to debate further, yagya murthy says “no need to debate further”.

But Ramanuja out of his mercy, still explains the srivaishnava philoscophy. yagya murthy requests Ramanuja to give him proper sanyasi. Ramanuja obliges and gave him the tridanda and names him arualala perumal emperumanar in memory of the favours done by Arulala perumal, another name for Varadharaja perumal. Later on he became a very close disciple of Ramanuja and his specific duty was to arrange all things necessary to perform the daily worship of Ramanuja. This Thirupadagam happens to be the place where the great mayavada sanyasi was converted to srivaishnava sanyasi by Ramanujacharya.

Peyalvar, Bhoothathazhwar, Thirumazhisai Aazhwar, Nammazhwar and Thirumangai alvar have sung praise on the different forms of Pandava doota perumal in their “prabandams”