Little-known shrine for famous Acharya

Published by New India Express, 7th May 2019

 

CHENNAI: Kanchipuram has a historic, but not oft-visited temple dedicated to Kuresha or Kurathazhvan, one of the most loyal disciples of the famous Srivaishnava preceptor, Ramanujacharya. Born in Kuram (Kura) village near Kanchipuram, Kuresha studied under Ramanujacharya in Kanchipuram and subsequently followed him to Srirangam.

According to tradition, Ramanujacharya visited Kashmir to procure an important manuscript called Bodayana Vritti, a treatise on the Brahma Sutras. Kuresha accompanied him and committed the entire text to memory which was a boon since they were not allowed to carry the manuscript out of Kashmir by the local scholars.

After returning to Srirangam, it was Kuresha who wrote down the Sri Bhashya, the commentary on the Brahma Sutra as Ramanujacharya was dictating it. On another occasion, Kuresha saved the life of his preceptor by impersonating him in the court of a fanatical king called Krimikanta Chola.

There is a small shrine for Kurattazhvan in Kanchipuram which faces south. The serene precincts of this temple are in stark contrast to the bustle of the busy area outside. The bearded stone image of Kuresha enshrined in the sanctum is in a seated posture with his right hand in the vyakhyana mudra as if expounding the scriptures and his left hand holding manuscripts.

The mandapa in front of the sanctum has pillars of the Vijayanagara style with sculptures of Vishnu, Lakshmi, Narasimha, Rama, and Krishna killing Bhakasura. Carvings of Vaishnava saints and preceptors like Nammazhvar, Tirumangai Azhvar, Ramanujacharya, and Kurattazhvan are also seen here. On the birth asterism (Thai Hastham) of Kurattazhvan, the processional image of Varadaraja Svami from the huge temple in Kanchipuram visits this shine accompanied by the processional image (utsava murti) of Kuresha where the deity is received with due honours and puja is offered here. This temple has a small sanctum for Kurattazhvan’s son Parashara Bhatta, another Vaishnava Acharya.

Not allowed to carry Bodayana Vritti outside Kashmir

According to tradition, Ramanujacharya visited Kashmir to procure an important manuscript called Bodayana Vritti, a treatise on the Brahma Sutras. Kuresha accompanied him and committed the entire text to memory which was a boon since they were not allowed to carry the manuscript out of Kashmir by the local scholars. After returning to Srirangam, it was Kuresha who wrote down the Sri Bhashya, the commentary on the Brahma Sutra as Ramanujacharya was dictating it. On another occasion, Kuresha saved the life of his preceptor by impersonating him in the court of a fanatical king called Krimikanta Chola.

 

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