Goddess Saraswathi Temple, Koothanur - Legends
Association of Ottakkoothar:
It is learnt, that this place was known as “Ambalpuri”, about a 1000years ago, even before poet Ottakkoothar was born. Goddess Saraswathi did her penance towards Lord Brahma and conferred her blessings on her devotees for ages. Devotees offer their puja with lovely flowers that are known to be acceptable to the Goddess.
In a similar manner, Ottakkoothar, an ordinary mortal, earnestly sought the blessings of the Goddess Saraswathi and Lord Pillayar (Arul Gnana Vinayakar) to grant him the gift of the ability to compose poems. Bathing in the river Arasalaaru daily and by offering floral tributes to the Goddess, he got his boon fulfilled when the Goddess, came in a very beautiful boat in the river, in the form of a lovely woman and gave him to wish.
Along with Goddess Saraswathi, Goddesses Lakshmi and Parvathi too came by in this river and hence we can get the blessings of the basic grace of them all-Adhisakthi. Blessed with the benign looks of Goddess Kalaimagal, and the betel mouth Blessings of “Then Kani vagadevi”, Ottakkoothar became a poet with the ability to compose rhythmic poems.
The populace was enamored of his ability to compose. His fame reached the ears of King Vikrama Chola, who invited him to his court and witnessed the blessed ability of Ottakkoothar.
From the day King Rajaraja Chola (grandson of King Vikrama Chola), gifted this land to Ottakkoothar. This Ambalpuri has come to be known as Koothanur.
Legend holds that, once a dispute arose between Lord Brahma and Saraswathi. The quarrel between both of them worsened and hence to teach them a lesson they were born as siblings in the Earth. When their parents started looking for suitable matches they recalled their original relationship and approached Lord Shiva for the solution. Lord Shiva made Saraswathi as part of the Ganga River and brought her to Koothanur as Arasalaaru River.
She became the Sacred Water for Lord Shiva. She also was blessed with a temple for herself in Koothanur. Lord Shiva also sent Rivers Ganga and Yamuna to converge with Saraswati River in to the Arasalaaru and hence this place being a confluence of 3 holy rivers is called as Dakshina Triveni Sangamam.
Lust of River Yamuna with Krishna:
The story associated with the river Yamuna is that she was tempted by the acts of Lord Krishna with the Gopikas. Subject to a curse she prayed for emancipation and came as a river here.
Play of Saraswathi:
Once upon a time a young devotee desirous of knowledge performed severe penance at the Saraswati shrine seeking the blessings of Saraswati. Saraswati took the form of a courtesan and materialized before him and expressed her desire to bless him. The devotee refused to accept her blessings, not knowing who she was.
Ottakkoothar rushed to the spot upon hearing of this incident, and recognizing the identity of the courtesan, the poet prostrated before her seeking her blessings. Only after this incident, the fame of Ottakkoothar spread throughout the Tamil land. In fact, the name Koothanur derives from the poet’s name Ottakkoothar.