Worthy of worship by kings - KUZHANDHAI AANANDHA MAHA SWAMIGAL (MEENAKSHI MAINDHAN)
Across from Lord Hanuman, at the western end of the herbal garden, is the idol of Kuzhandhai Meenakshi Swamigal or Kuzhandhai Aanandhar.
There is a fascinating story attached to this avadootar.
In Madurai lived a couple who yearned for but had no children. They followed all the suggestions of well-intentioned neighbours, friends, relatives and various astrologers, but to no avail. Finally they went to the Madurai Meenakshi temple. As we said earlier, in India we tend to have conversations with our Gods. We believe we get responses. Goddess Meenakshi queried the couple, "Why are you going all over when I am here, at your doorstep?" The woman begged forgiveness and stated her wish, to which the Goddess replied: "I will give you a child." Thrilled at this, the couple offered the Goddess their first born if they were blessed with more than one child.
In due course, divine-looking twins were born to them. They called them Rama and Lakshmana. To fulfil their promise to Goddess Meenakshi, the parents went to the temple. The pujari, however, refused to take the child, saying this was a temple not an orphanage. The couple then went to the Board of Trustees to plead their case, saying it was a vow they did not want to dishonour. The Board proposed that the baby be left overnight at Goddess Meenakshi's sanctum sanctorum, and if he were alive in the morning, they would accept the baby to be brought up in the temple.
The couple agreed and the baby was left inside the sanctum sanctorum.
The next morning, the pujari opened the doors to find neither the baby nor the Meenakshi idol! There was great panic, and everyone tried to locate the baby and the idol. In the theppa kulam, they saw a child walking on the waters, his hand held out, as if someone were leading the child by the hand, showing him around. A little later, Meenakshi's idol was found elsewhere and restored to the sanctum. Pujas were conducted to reinstall her, and the baby was accepted to be brought up in the temple. This child came to be known as Kuzhandhai Aanandhar.
The child grew up to be an avadootar and people claim to have seen him attain samadhi in four places, one of them being Nepal. The idol here sports a cherubic face, and has Mother Meenakshi carved on his chest.
Meenakshi Kuzhandhai Aanandhar is the guru of the much-revered Seshadri Swamigal.
A visitor to the Peedam narrated the following story: "While we were at the peedam we met a couple of siblings from Chennai whose grandfather, Parasurama Iyer, was a prime disciple of Kuzhandhai Aanandhar. Their mother had narrated to them a family lore, of how Kuzhandhai Aanandhar took on her father's malignant external cyst and attained samadhi three days later. The grandfather survived, disease-free."