Oppiliappan Temple and Story of Uppiliappan


Story of Lord Uppiliappan is very interesting. It teaches us the best practices to ensure a happy married life.

Lakshmi Devi incarnates as Markandeya’s Daughter

Namazhvar narrates a great pastime of the Lord through his Paushurams (Poetic descriptions of the Lord’s pastimes).

Once the great devotee Markandeya arrived at the holy spot of Thiruvinnagaram (திருவிண்ணகரம் The Land of the Lord). He undertook a severe penance to have one of his spiritual desires fulfilled. He wanted Sri Laxmi as his daughter and the Supreme Lord Vishnu as his son-in-law.

What other desire could a devotee such as the sage Markandeya have?  As he meditated, Markandeya could feel that Sri Laxmi had incarnated as his daughter. He opened his eyes to see the baby form of the Divine mother.

Happy with the fulfillment of a part of his wish, he happily settled in the same town and raised the baby-girl.

Story of Uppiliappan

The Old Man proposes to Lakshmi Devi

Soon, the girl grew up and reached a marriageable age. So, the great Lord Vishnu, took the form of a very old man. He came to the sage’s hermitage to ask for his young daughter’s hand. Markandeya was surprised.

However, he wanted to be courteous and desired to amicably bid farewell to the old hag.

Markandeya said “This girl of mine does not know to add proper salt in the food.”

Pat came the reply when the old man said “If the girl cannot cook with salt, that food is nectar to me. From now on, I shall only have food without salt. But, I will wed her alone.”

Now Sage Markandeya was in a fix.

He closed his eyes and prayed deeply to Lord Vishnu, only to realize that the old man is his Ishta Deva Vishnu.

His joy knew no bounds. He opened his eyes to see the four-handed form of Sri Vishnu with Shankh (conch), Chakra (Sudarshan Disc), Gada (mace) and Padma (Lotus).

He did Dandavat Pranaam to the Lord and gave his daughter Laxmi, in marriage, to Him.

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Message of Lord Uppiliappan

Since, the Lord decided to have food without salt as a condition for marriage, that image of the Lord in the Divya Desham ( திவ்ய தேசம் holy site ) of Thiruvinnagaram is known as Uppiliappan (ஒப்பிலியப்பன் one who is offered food without salt).

This form of the Lord demonstrated the secret of married life.

In the life of a couple the greatest challenge is adjustment between the two partners. However, the secret of a happy married life is that each of the partner must have the capacity to let go of things, to sacrifice.

For example the Lord balanced the weakness of his wife, as expressed by her father, Sage Markandeya. When the great Sage said: “My girl does not know how to use salt in food.”

The point of balance that the Lord rendered was: “I will let go of salt just to be with her.”

This is a lesson of adjustment, we should try and incorporate in our married life.

Sacrifice is the Key

Instead of finding fault with the other, if married couples let go of their rigidities, only happiness shall prevail. We must learn to adjust to the other, proactively by reducing our expectations.

Even in times of challenge, the married couple will have each other for company. The irony of marriage these days is that, since expectations out of the spouse if high, couples become alienated from each other. They become lonelier than they were, before marriage.

Couples have to unite and become each other’s strength and not weakness. This is the great lesson that the Lord gives to us through His form as Uppiliappan.

Oppiliappan temple

The presiding deity is Lord Uppiliappan (Sri Vishnu) and Bhoomidevi. The beautiful temple is located in the Tanjavur districts of Tamil Nadu, in Thirunageswaram. It is an ancient temple built during the reign of the Cholas, in the 8th century.

Along with the main alter, devotees visit shrines of Maniappan, Enappan, the Azhwars, Sri Ramanuja, Birthplace of Bhoomidevi, Shrine of Anjaneya (Hanumanji) and Sri Garuda. These are spots of worship. By visiting these fully potent shrines, one is blessed with spiritual power and sanity.

The specialty of the Prasadam offered in this temple is that it is saltless. It has no salt.

One of the great moods in Bhakti is that, food becomes Prasadam (ப்ரசாதம் food, after being offered to the Lord) when offered it with love.

Devotees partake the nectar of Prasadam. They do not consume any edible substance like onions, garlic, or non-veg as they are rejected from being offered to Bhagawan.

Prasadam: An offering to God

Some Vaishnavas never taste food before it is offered to the Lord. They cannot dream of having their meals, before the Lord.

Humans are prone to make errors. If a devotee forgets to add salt, spice or any ingredient in the offerings made to the Lord, then that Prasadam is had with those very deficiencies.

The devotee does not alter the taste of the Prasadam because his dear Lord had the same food.

How could he offer food to the Lord without spice or salt and then alter it to suit his taste? Can this qualify as Love for the Lord?

It certainly does not. This is a sweet transaction of love between Bhagawan and his devotees.

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