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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

the Holy Tirumala Tirupathi ..... minimum time to reach Tirumala from Alipiri

For Sri Vaishnavaites, the word Kovil, Thirumalai, Perumal Kovil would refer to “Sri Rangam, Thirumala Tirupathi and Kanchipuram” respectively. The sacred and most reverred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak – Venkatachala hill of Tirumala.  The Lord stands tall as bestower of all boons and lakhs of people reach here to have a glimpse – a few seconds darshan of the Lord.  This beautiful temple in its present form owes a lot to the works of the greatest Vaishnava Acharya – Sri Ramanujar.  The very thought of Tirumala and chanting the name of Lord of Seven Hills would cleanse our souls.

பாருநீரெரிகாற்றினொடு ஆகாசமுமிவையாயினான்*
பேருமாயிரம் பேச நின்ற பிறப்பிலி பெருகுமிடம்*
காரும்வார்ப்பனி நீள்விசும்பிடைச் சோருமாமுகில் தோய்தர*
சேரும்வார்ப்பொழில்சூழ்  எழில் திருவேங்கடமடைநெஞ்சமே*

Thirumangai Mannan exalts the Lord of Tirumala as the One – who embodies all the five elements of nature; one who is praised by thousands of names; the One who is not bound by earthly birth ‘ the blemishless Lord who stands at a place where the railwater and dew combine as dark clouds to shower ensuring abundance of fruit bearing trees ~ the most beautiful paradise situate on hills known as holy Tirumala …..

Thirumala has existed for Centuries and Lord Venkateshwara will provide all riches, all wealth and all goodness to all His believers. Thiruvengadam, the abode of Lord Balaji is the  ‘Thilakam’ the shining glory of the whole Earth.  All that we need to do is to pray towards the Greatest Lord of Universe from wherever we are, think of HIM always and do good to humanity in Thy Name.

Lakhs of devotees of all ages, from all over the Country and from other parts of the World throng to the hills, by walk, by vehicles of various hues and wait in the queue for hours to have a glimpse of the Lord. There will seldom be a day in Thirumala when crowds are lean – it is getting more and more crowdy.   To his bakthas, a few minutes of darshan is worthy as they undergo all ordeals, often having to stand in the Queue for long hours.  Many undertake hardships to fulfill their vows, and at every single crisis, they pray to Lord Balaji to bestow His kindness upon them and set upon pilgrimmage at every possible opportunity.

Tuesday 17th of Dec 2013 provided me another opportunity of having darshan at the holy Tirumala.   For us the very sighting of huge Garuda at the entrance of Alipiri mettu – the originating point of the Holy Hills where people start ascending the 11 kilometer stretch raises the spiritual happiness.  For ages there was only one route – now we are fortunate enough to have two routes – one for ascending and the other used for descending…….. and to think that our Acharyar Sri Ramanujar ascended the hills crawling on all fours unwilling to tread upon the holy body of Adisesha instills awful reverence to the place. 

You would have driven your own (new) vehicle on the hill route to reach Tirumala and have darshan and sure would have overtaken slower moving vehicles……… this time – saw Audi, Mercedes, Volkswagon, Innovas, Jeeps, Scorpios and many more ….. not speeding but seemingly going slow on the route….. if you wonder how could all the drivers suddenly become so self-disciplined….. it is all due to the time-bound traffic management plan put in place on the Tirumala ghat roads.

Apart from the no. of APSRTC buses, there are lot of private jeeps ferrying passengers ~ these vehicle hurtle down at great speed not caring for traffic rules, threatening the other users too in the process.  During May this year a speeding jeep lost control at the 26th turn on the ghat road due to over speeding and the vehicle fell into the gorge. Four passengers perished in the accident and nine more suffered injuries. Following the incident, Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam  organized a meeting with the members of TTD Engineering, transport, vigilance departments, local police and the RTA. After an elaborate brainstorming session, decided that over speeding is the main reason for the accidents and has now implemented ‘ the travel time limit on both the routes to reduce number of fatal accidents.’

Now one can cite boards cautioning that ‘Minimum time for ascending ’ by 4 wheelers  is 28 minutes and similarly  for descending from Ghat point till Alipiri it is ’40 minutes’……….  It is the Minimum Time  - it is 40 minutes on the exit route to reduce the speed of journey because there are 56 deep curves in the road.  Ever since implementation of the rule, the compliance of  travel time is being strictly monitored by the Vigilance and Security wing sleuths. 

The authorities claim that they are imposing penalties on those drivers who violate the time limit and come early………… some motorists could be seen stopping at intermediary places to ensure that they do not turn up before the time………..

Here are photos of Alipiri, scanned copy of vehicle token, and code-read image of ticket on their device

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

18th Dec 2013.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sri Nampillai sarrumurai at Thiruvallikkeni

Today ~ 15th Dec 2013 (karthigai nakshathiram in the month of Karthigai) marks the birth of ‘Thirumangai Mannan’..... it is also the day of our Acharyar – Nampillai.
தெள்ளியதா நம்பிள்ளை செப்புநெறி தன்னை
வள்ளல் வடக்குத் திருவீதிப் பிள்ளை இந்த
நாடறிய மாறன் மறைப்பொருளை நன்குரைத்தது
ஈடு முப்பத்தி ஆறாயிரம்
(words from Upadesa Rathinamalai of Swami Manavala Mamunigal)

Strictly following the clear and profound kalakshepams of Sri Nampillai, his student, the generous Vadakku Thiruveethi Pillai rendered to the whole World – the insights of Swami Nammazhwar’s Thiruvaimozhi in what is known as “Eedu Muppathu Aarayiram”.  Sri Nampillai,  in the Sri Vaishnava  Acharya paramparai is known for his scholastic excellence. He was the disciple of Sri Nanjeeyar and acharyar of Vadakku Thiruveethipillai. His commentary on Thiruvoimozhi known as Muppathu Aarayira(m)ppadi -  is considered as the best amongst the vyakyanams; considered equivalent to Thiruvoimozhi itself and  is celebrated as “Eedu” .

Swami was born as “Varadhacharyar” in the year Prabhva, 4249 kaliyugadi, in Krithikai Month in Krithikai Nakshatra. He lived a life of 105 years in this world. His period is 1147 AD – 1252AD.    Nampillai discoursed the lectures of Parasara Bhattar to his disciples Periavachaan Pillai and Vadakku Thiruveedi Pillai. who in turn employed them in their respective commentaries. “Muppathu aarayirappadi” of Vadakku thiruveethipillai based on the discourses of Swami Nampillai is considered the best.

Sri Namperumalum Nampillaiyum....

Nampillai of this fame has a sannadhi at Triplicane, situate at the front of Sri Bhandaram Committee place commonly known as “Komutti bungalow”.  This one created by  Yogi Parthasarathi Iyengar and his wife was Yogi Singamma, primarily for publishing the great granthams of our Vaishnavaite mahans houses Nampillai sannathi and the idol of Lord Namperumal.

On the occasion of Sarrumurai vaibhavam, this morning there was ‘Upadesa Rathinamalai and Thiruvaimozhi Noorranthathi’ goshti at Numpillai sannathi. Here are some photos taken during the function.

Adiyen Srinivasadhasan.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

“Kaisika Dwadasi” ~ significance and greatness of 'Kaisika puranam" - Thiruvallikkeni

"ஊன் மல்கி மோடு பருத்தவனுக்கும்..... நினைந்து,  நினைந்து  உள்கரைந்துருகி இளைத்தவனுக்கும்' நடந்த சத்திய போராட்டம் “கைசிக புராண மகாத்மியம்.”

(the battle of wits beween a Rakshas who got fat eating meat and the baktha who became leaner living  thinking, and singing paeans of God all the time)

Today [14th Dec 2013   is an all important day for Srivaishnavaites– ‘shukla paksha’ dwadasi of the month of Karthigai.  [shukla paksham is the waxing phase of Moon and dwadasi is the 12th day – the day following Ekadasi].  Today is “Kaisika Dwadasi”.  In Divyadesams, most importantly at Thirukurungudi, Thiruvarangam and in Thiruvallikkeni – ‘kaisika puranam’ is read before the Lord.  ~ if you wondering of the significance of ThirukKurungudi…. Do read on ….

சங்கினோடும் நேமியோடும் தாமரைக் கண்களொடும்;
செங்கனி வாயொன்றினொடும் செல்கின்ற தென்நெஞ்சமே.

Swami Nammalwar describes this Divyadesa Emperuman thus – that upon seeing His most beautiful thirumeni,  Azhwar’s thoughts are with the Emperuman and he cannot think of anything else…..  it is the divyadesam hailed as most proximate to Lord Mahavishnu’s abode of Sri Vaikundam [~calling distance from here~] – the most sacred place located around 40 kms from Thirunelveli…… 11 km from the seat for Thennacharya Sampradhayam “Nankuneri aka Vanamamalai – Thirusirivaramangai” and on the other side lying closer is another divyadesam called ‘ThiruvanParisaram [Thirupathisaram]’.

It is “ThirukKurungudi” located on the  foot of the Mahendra Hill on the Western Ghat. Here is the most majestic temple of Azhagiya Nambirayar Thirukovil  ~ sung by Periyazhwar,  Thirumazhisaippiran, Thirumangai Azhwar and Swami Nammazhwar.   The famous ‘Kaisika puranam’ is associated with this temple and is read on ‘shukla paksha’ dwadasi of the month of Karthigai, known as ‘Kaisika Dwadasi.   

The World exists on promises and fulfillment of them and the story of Nam Paduvaan only describes the greatest virtues of those devoted and committed to the kanikaryam (service) to Lord.  The ardent devotees of Sriman Narayana will never err or sin in life.   There cannot be a better example than that of ‘Nampaduvaan’.  The story of Num Paduvaan can be best summarised as “the fight between ‘Padi Ilaithavan and Pasiyale Ilaithavan’ [one who leaned by fasting in the vratha of Singing paeans and one who was starved off food].  Legend has it  that on every Kaisika Ekadasi day, Nampaduvaan, an ardent devotee of the Lord Maha Vishnu  used to do Namasankeerthanam for Emperuman at Thirukurungudi.  This Nampaduvan Charithram was narrated by Sri Varaha Perumal to Bhoomi Pirarttiyar in Varaha puranam.

The gist of the story as heard from Sampradhaya Periyarvargal and as heard at Thiruvallikkeni divyadesam (read out by Dr MA Venkatakrishnan) is given here :

Nampaduvaan, a great bhagavatha at Thirukurungudi used to observe ‘jakratha vratham’ without sleeping full night singing the glory of the Lord and thinking only about Him. ‘Ninainthu nainthu ul karainthu urugi’ ena he keeps singing the glory of Lord Sriman Narayana.  This went on for many more years…..

One particular  year while on the way to the temple of  Thirukurungudi, (Malai Nambi sannathi atop Mahendra parvatham),  situate on the hills in dense forestry; where even today ordinary mortals find it somewhat difficult to access, Nampaduvan was confronted by a Brahma Rakshas. This Rakshas who has been starved off food, tells Nampaaduvaan that he would devour him. Nampaduvan humbly requests that he has the duty of nama sankeerthanam. Nampaduvan pleads with the rakshas that he would return back after his vratham and darshan of Kurungudi Nambi. The rakshas naturally was not prepared to believe  and asks whether in this material World  would  come back as food ‘when death is certain’  and asks : is there any possibility that a deer could escape after it was caught up by a lion ? 

Nampaduvan has nothing else in life but his sincere devotion to Lord Nambi. He promises that he would indeed return; he mentions of the various sins that he would get, if he were not to return.  He tells the Rakshas that the World revolves on Sathya, the truth and if he were to act against his dharma, he would be getting the results of worst sins; some of which are stated to be : ‘taking food without taking bath on important days such as Sashti, Amasvayai, Chathurthasi’;  ‘reclaiming the land donated’; ‘to differentiate between self and the visitor when eating food’; ‘chasing away the herd of cows when they are thirsty’ ~~.. and more….

When he says that he has been rendering this for 10 years, the brahmarakshas says that it had been without food for 10 days and is so hungry that it immediately wants to devour the flesh and blood of the devotee.  Nampaduvaan finally convinces the rakshas to release him for a while.  With intent will, he goes straight  to Thirukurungudi temple renders pasurams on Sri Vadivazhagiya Nambi; Kaisikam is a kind of music composition (called பண் in tamil)

Completing his vratham with the singular determination,  he returns as stated back to Brahmarakshas.   While returning Nampaduvan is interrupted by Thiruk Kurungudi Nambi Himself in the disguise of an old man advising him to take alternate route escaping the rakshas.  Nampaduvan firmly tells that he will keep his promise, would stand by his dharma and would go back to the rakshas.  He even says that if the rakshas is not found in the appointed place, he would further go in search of the rakshas.  Such is his commitment that he indeed fulfills his vow and presents himself  before the Brahma rakshas.

The Brahma rakshas is startled by the return of Nampaduvaan and offers to free him,  if he were to transfer the fruits of his dharma;  Nampaduvaan retaliates saying that he had agreed to offer himself and is for the taking.  Awe struck the rakshas asked for the palan(fruit) of the pasurams Nampaduvan had rendered; then least the fruits of song rendered during one yamam [a measure of time]  and in the series of discussions that went on rakshas wanted at least the palan of the last kaisika pan.

It gets  revealed that the Brahmarakshas was a vidwan by name Soma Sharma who was cursed by Devas arising out of his ahankaram.  He also incurs soola dosham as he dies without completing a yagna. Despite all this, the palan of pun (the song) relieves him of the curse.   This occurred thousands of years ago and few hundred years ago,  on Kaisika Dwadasi day, Sri Parasara Bhattar chanted kaisika puranam before Lord Ranganatha;  a tradition continuing till date with the descendants of Bhattar remndering  the puranam on kaisika dwadasi day at Srirangam.

This morning it was read out in characteristic manner by Sri U.Ve M. A. Venkadakrishnan Swami at Sri Parthasarathi Swami temple.   It is stated that the story of Nampaduvaan is in the 48th chapter of Sri Varaha Puranam,;  explains and emphasizes the importance of singing the glory of Lord Sriman Narayana.     Sri Varaha Purana is considered one of the major eighteen Mahapuranas. 

It is believed that those who go to temple on this holy Kaisika Dwadasi day and read ‘kaisika purana’ will be showered with  munificence of Lord…. For us hearing the Kaisika puranam in Divyadesam nearer will give us all benefits of a good pure happy life ; those who hear ‘kaisika purana’ will get His choicest blessings and perhaps all of us who read and think of Nampaduvaan and Lord would also be getting the bountiful blessings of Lord Sriman Narayana,

A few years ago, Sri Parthasarathi Perumal used to visit Vasantha Uthsava Bungalow as it was ‘Vana Bojana Uthsavam’….. now the Bungalow is not there ~ so also the Uthsavam.  There was periya mada veethi purappadu in which ‘Sthothra Padam’ – Thadi Panchakam (of Sri Kurathazhwan); Stothra Rathnam (Sri Alavanthar); Yathiraja Vimsathi (Swami Manavalamamunigal),  Purva Dinasarya (Sri Erumbiappa) were rendered.  Varthamana  Sri Mudaliandan Swami - Sri U.Ve.K.K.V.A.Ramanujam Swamy embellished the goshti.  Here are some photos of Lord Parthasarathi taken on Kaisika Dwadasi Purappadu at Thiruvallikkeni, today i.e., 14th Dec 2013. 

Azhwar Emperumanaar Jeeyar Thiruvadigale Saranam. 

Adiyen Srinivasadhasan.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Thiruvallikkeni Kaisika Ekadasi Purappadu 2013

Today,   13th Dec 2013 is Kaisika Ekadasi…… this evening Sri Parthasarathi had purappadu.

As this is during ‘anadhyayanam’ – it was ‘Upadesa Rathinamalai’ goshti.  Here are some photos taken during today’s purappadu

Adiyen Srinivasadhasan.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thiru Padagam Divyadesam ~ Sri Arulala Perumal Emperumanaar

In the beautiful kingdom of Kanchi, there are so many temples ~ among which there are many Divyadesams…. One such is ‘Thiru Padagam” – sung by Thirumazhisai Piran, Thirumangai Mannan, Boothathazhwar and Peyalwar.

The essence of the greatest epic “Mahabaratham” – is the story of ‘The Man who went as Ambassador ” (Thoothu sendravan Aerram) …. ~ and the presiding deity at this Divyadesam is Lord Krishna Himself as “Pandava Thoothar” – in a sitting posture, gigantic, imposing with ornately carved dress.   Legend has it that King Janamejayan listened to the epic Mahabarat from Sage Vaisambhayana and got enlightened by the event of Lord Krishna going as emissary to the Rajyasabha of Gauvaras  ~ the King upon doing penance and Aswamedha yaga, had Viswaroopa darshan of Lord here. 

The Presiding deity is Pandava Thoothar in sitting posture with Rukmini and Sathyabhama nachiyars.   The temple is quite ancient and is believed to have been built by King Rajakesari Varman.  This temple is nearer the big Ekambareswarar temple, in the vicinity of Sankara Mutt and Gangai Kondan Mandapam.

In the sannadhi, there is (besides our Acharyar Sri Ramanuja) – Arulalap Perumal Emperumanaar also.  Known earlier as Yagna Murthi, he was a great scholar who defeated many people with his ‘tarkha vatham’ i.e., Tarkham (logic).  It is a great study involving analytics and more.   Those who were defeated in the defeat had to embrace the Advaitha philosophy.   Yagya Murthy was travelling far and wide, defeating many noted scholars and the wins were getting on to his head making him haughty.  He had to be defeated and be convinced of the greatness of Lord Sriman Narayana and Vishisthadvaita principles.

It reportedly was a very grand debate between Yagna Murthi and our great Acharyar Sri Ramanujar – the battle of words raged for days together and appeared as if it would never end.  On a particular day, when Sri Ramanujacharya could not conclusively respond on a particular point and had to retire for the day, Swami  prayed to his "Aaradhana Perumal – Sri Perarulalar [Kachi Varadarajan aka Devathirajar]  ~ with the divine blessings of the Lord Himself, Udayavar referred to the  excerpts from  Swami Alavandar's Sidhithrayam. Yagna Murthi was defeated and he bowed before Udayavar who was shining in resplendent splendour wearing 12  urdhva pundrams. He was to become an ardent disciple of Ramanujar from then on.

The disciple of Udayavar was now known as Arulala Perumal Emperumanaar – as Swami Udayavar conjoined his name with that of Sri Per Arulalar.  During the time of Sri Ramanujar a separate mutt for AruLaLa Perumal Emberumanar was also established.  It is told by our Sampradhaya vidwans that once there were some strangers who wanted to visit Swami Ramanujar's madam. Since they were new to the place, they asked one of the locals "Where is Emperunaar's mutt?". Immediately, the local person replied them, "which Emberumaanar mutt are you looking for? -  Is it the one of Swami Ramanujar (Ethirajar) or that of Swami Arulala Perumal Emperumanaar ?   Swami Arulala Perumal Emperumanar who was immersed in his bakthi, on hearing this – wept thinking of the confusion of comparison with the Lokacharyar.  

He said, in Srivaishnavic parlance, "Swami", can refer to one and only Sri Ramanujar and closed down the mutt then and there – such was his devotion and attachment.  Num Swami Udayavar gave various kainkaryams to his disciples – from Sri Mudali Andan to Sri Koorathazhwan and others……  Arulala Perumal Emperumanar was assigned the task of ‘nithya thiruvaradhanam’ to Sri PerArulalan.  AruLaLa Perumal Emberumanar wrote two wonderful Tamil granthams called "Gnyana Saaram" and "Prameya Saaram".Sri Manavala MamunigaL has written vyakhyanam for these granthams.

AruLaLa Perumal Emperumanar's thirunakshathiram is Karthigai Bharani, which was celebrated recently and here are some photos of the grand Uthsavam. [photos courtesy : Sri VN Kesava Bashyam Swami].

Adiyen Srinivasadhasan.

Above - view of Vimanam and Prakaram

Divyaprabandha goshti 

Sri Arulala Perumal Emperumanar

Sri Pandava Thoothar ~ Thayar and Arulala Perumal Emperumanar

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Restoring and renovating Sri Manavala Mamunigal Thiruvarasu at Thiruvarangam

It is possible that you would have seen posters in Thiruvallikkeni today…… there are posters and there are rare ones like these…. ~ it is about a meeting at Nampillai Sannathi at Peyalwar Kovil Street – a meeting organized by Hindu Makkal Katchi (Sri Arjun Sampath) and Divyadesa Parampariya Padukappu Peravai [Protection Force for the  traditions in Sri Vaishnava Divyadesams]….. somehow cannot understand it happening on Monday morning ~ anyway, it is not about the numbers or the groups – more about the noble aim … and significance for us (all Sri Vaishnavaites)

For a Srivaishnavaite, Kainkaryam is essential; Selfless and unconditional „kainkarya cleanses the soul of the performer. One must adore and be attached to their Acharyan and only the direction of Acharyar will lift us from all earthly evils.   ~ and everyday we must think of our Greatest Acharyar – Periya Jeeyar - Saint Vara Vara Muni, the last of the ‘Poorvacharyars’ in the grand galaxy of preceptors, known as Alagiya Manavala Nayanar, before he was ordained the holy order of  Sanyasa.  It is none other than our most adored Acharyar  “Swami Manavala Mamunigal” - the reincarnation of Sri Ramanuja who was himself an incarnation of Adisesha.
Thiruvallikkeni Mamunigal Sarrumurai purappadu.

It will be too rudimentary to write of the details of our Swami Maamunigal  - known as  ‘Yathindra Pravanar’ arising out of his irresistible attachment to the lotus feet of Sri Ramanujar known as ‘Yatheendrar’.  Sri  Manavala Mamunigal was born in Alwar Thirunagari, Tamilnadu in AD 1370.  At birth he was known as ‘Azhagiya Manavala Perumal Nayanaar’.  Later he was hailed in very many names such as ‘Yatheendra Pravanar’, Ramyajamathru, Saumyajamatru, Visada-Vak-Sikhamani  Varayogi, varavaramuni. He lived for 73 years on this earth performing many Kaimkaryams  at Sri Rangam and undertook many pilgrimages to many  Sri Vaishnava Divyadesams.

Of the many works, ‘Upadesa Rathinamalai’ is one which all of us should know and recite regularly.  There are 73 paasurams + thanian given  by Kovil Kandadai annan and another one to complete rendered by Erumbiappa. Upadesa Rathina Malai is a legendary work which provide complete details of month of the birth of Azhwars, the constellation in ascendance at the time of birth , the avathAra sthalams and the unique glories of each of them.  

The Jeeyar who established our Thennacharya Sampradhayam believed and practised the tenet of following the words of early Acharyars as they are [munnor mozhintha murai thappamal kettu]. Mamunigal’s commentaries are characterised by great clearness and completeness of exposition.  He had 8 famous disciples known as Ashtadig Gajas who were to take over the mantle and spread Sampradhayam for posterity.

More than hailing  the greatness of our Acharyar, there is some tinge of sadness to this post….

From inscriptions, books like Yathindra Pravana Prabhavam and the like, it is learnt that hundreds of years ago – there was the temple known as Adhi Kesava Perumal in Thiruvarangam to the east of  Adaiyavalainthan Street  ~ nearer this temple, our Great Acharyar after he left for heavenly abode of Paramapadam – his mortal remains were laid to rest [Thirupalli paduthutal].  This is Sri Mamunigal Thiruvarasu…

Over the years arising out of floods and natural happenings – the temple of Adhi Kesava Perumal and the thiruvarasu of Sri Manavala Mamunigal lost their sheen and were not properly taken care of. Places where musical notes and divyaprabandhams reverberated have fallen in to oblivion…

For sure, ‘Thiruvarasu’ is not any ordinary structure …… it is embodiment of our Acharyar and we need to transform it and restore to be the place where all Sri Vaishnavaites will rededicate to the cause of Sri Vaishnavism – doing kainkaryam to the Lord and to his devotees.   Thiruvarasu should be nerve cente for realization of our glorious Acharyar’s ideals – preaching and practicing what He taught us. 

The immediate need is to stand-by those who fight for our Cause and be with them in restoring our glory.  We must rise above all petty differences to ensure that our Sampradhayam flourishes and we sing the glory of our Acharyars and Arangan daily throughout the day…

If we ponder -  we  realise having  lost many things……… and mostly all these are due to our generations not properly adhering to the customs and rituals prescribed to our Sampradhayam by our elders and our Acharyars ~ there is no purpose blaming outsiders for the mess.

At least from now, let us try to live our lives as pious Sri Vaishnavaites – ever singing the glory of Sriman Narayana, practicing our sampradhayam and preaching the glory of our Emperuman, Emperumanaar and other Acharyars.  Let us learn our treasure of Divyaprabandham and other Grandhams – and ensure that our children also learn these and do not get away from the mainstream.  We must go to temple daily – support our sampradhaya activities.  We must visit Divyadesams and all other important places associated with our Acharyars and ensure that they are maintained properly and in this ….. we have to support – those who have been wedded to the ideals of our sampradhayam and maintaining our culture by doing yeoman service to Lord and to our culture, foregoing earthly material benefits for which many of us crave. 

Let us unite and be united all the time – with ill-will / hatred towards none …. and devotion to Acharyas and Sriman Narayana.

Srimathe Ramanujaya Namaha:
Sri Vara Vara Munayeh Namaha:
Azhwar, Emperumanaar, Jeeyar Thiruvadigale Saranam.
Adiyargal Vazha, Arangana Nagar vazha.......
Sri Manavala Mamunigale – innum pala noorrandu irum..
Adiyen Srinivasadhasan.

7th Dec. 2013.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thiru Mandangudi.... Avatharasthalam of Sri Thondaradipodi Azhwar

An ordinary sunny day – turned a great day of significance for I had the fortune of worshipping of some divyadesams and thence this temple of Sri Ranganayaki Sametha Sri Renganathar….. there are so many temples of Lord Ranganatha ~ almost all of them have the Lord in reclining posture….~ this was different and has the added significance too.  It is a place in Chozha Nadu nearer Thanjai / Kumbakonam.

After having darshan at Kabisthalam Sri Gajendra Varadhar, travelled via Umayalpuram took a left turn in around 2 kilometers – sugar of mill of Thiru Aarooran Sugars (around 10 kms from Kabisthalam) and less than than from Swami Malai – there are two other divyadesams of Thiru Adhanur and Thiru Pullam Poothamgudi nearer…….. it is known as Mandangudi…

“ “ – Sun is seen arriving atop the Eastern mountain and has dispelled the darkness of dreams ~ it is the beautiful early morning – honey is oozing out of the great fragrant flowers; those from Heaven – Devas, Kings have all lined up – the high and mighty of the land are lined up on opposite rows – there is the elephant, drums making pleasant sound – the sounds reverberate as if the mighty ocean is churning ” ”  ~ and all these for the Lord of Greatest Him at Thiruvarangam to wake up…..

We adore and love our Lord so much that we see Him the way the ordinary mortals do ~ though the Supreme is above everything and can never be estimated or understood – but is the lovely blind faith and love unto Him that made Azhwargal and Acharyars to initiate the Uthsavams and other rituals to the Supreme Lord – in the manner that we want Him to have.  We have the system of sending Lord to sleep and waking Him up with Suprabatham / Thiru Palli Ezhuchi.  ~ and this Mandangudi gave us the Azhwar who rendered the poems in praise of Lord Thiruvarangar and  waking  Him up every day

The great saint by name Vipra Narayanar was born at Thirumandankudi in Kettai Nakshathiram in the month of Margazhi – 218 years after the birth of Kali Yuga in a Brahmin household. His father ‘Veda Visaradhar’ belonged to "Kudumi Sozhiyap Brahmanar" community also called as "Vipra" people, whose routine work is to sing paeans in  praise of  Sriman Maha Vishnu. As per lore, Vishwaksena, the commander-in-chief of Sri Vishnu's troop, once descended to earth and revealed to Vipranarayanar,  the reason for his birth and what needs to be done to attain Mukti.

This Azhwar also known as Bhaktanghri renu later came to be hailed as  ‘Thondaradippodi Alvar’ due to his devotion to the devotees of Lord.   

சோழநாட்டில் திருமண்டங்குடி என்ற சிற்றூரில் மன்னிய சீர் மார்கழியில் கேட்டை திருநட்சத்திரம்,   பெருமானின் வைஜயந்தி வனமாலையின் அம்சமாகக் கருதப்படும்  தொண்டரடிப்பொடி ஆழ்வார்  அவதரித்த தினம்.

Azhwar in his early days started doing pushpa kainkaryam by maintaining a Nandavanam.  In between was attracted by worldly pleasures, started following a woman Devadevi by name – only to realize the lotus feet of Lord as nonpareil and surrendered himself to Him and to His service.  He was attached to the Lord that he found the soil at the feets of Srivaishnavas as the best one to be liked and hence regarded Bagavathas of Emperuman as serving to Thyself.  He preferred calling himself ‘Thondaradippodi’ – the loose soil at the feet of those serving the Lord.

At this place of Thondaradi Podi Azhvaar i.e., Mandangudi, Lord Ranganatha is seen in a rare standing posture.  Azhwar dedicated himself to serving the God at Thiruvarangam and sought darshan of the Supreme Lord Ranganatha – who yielded by providing him a special standing darshan.  It would appear that the same Lord Ranganatha of Sri Rangam has just stood up to provide darshan to His devotees here.  Here at Mandangudi, we have Lord Ranganatha in a standing posture alongwith Sridevi and Bhumadevi.  The Uthsavar is Azhagiya Manavalar. There is separate sannadhi for the Thayar also.

Just before the Perumal sannathi, there is the sannadhi of Azhwar.  Here Thondaradip Podiazhwar is seen alongside Thirupathi Balaji and Thirumalirumcholai Azhagar. 

Thondaradipodi rendered 55 verses in praise of Lord Ranganatha – 10 verses of Thiru Palli Yezhuchi and 45verses of Thiru Maalai. Thirupalli ezhuchi is recited in every temple to wake up the Lord and rendered during Kalasandhi in the morning.   Thondaradipodi Azhvaar courageously declares  that he does not desire another birth for:  in the 100years that one is granted, half the time is spent sleeping. The balance time is wasted away in Childhood and adolescence (when we are clueless on what we do), disease and hunger and later old age.

வேதநூல்  பிராயம் நூறு மனிசர்தாம் புகுவரேலும் *
பாதியும் உறங்கிப்போகும் நின்றதில்  பதினையாண்டு*
பேதைபாலகன் அதாகும்  பிணிபசி மூப்புத்துன்பம்*
ஆதலால் பிறவிவேண்டேன் அரங்கமா நகருளானே !

His clarion call to people spells -  none of us
 would do mistakes, if  one is humble and realize that ‘life on earth is short’ and can come to an end very suddenly.   புரளும்போது அறியமாட்டீர்- இந்த சரீரமானது எப்போது நிலத்தில் சாயும் என்ற சமயத்தை அறிந்தவர் அல்லீர் 

Azhwar describes himself as a person standing before the Lord with the flower container [pook koodai] in his shoulders and neatly strung ‘Thiruthuzhai maalai’ on his hands waiting for the benevolence of Lord Ranganathar and gives darshan in the same manner aptly described.

***தொடையொத்த துளவமும் கூடையும் பொலிந்து தோன்றிய தோள் தொண்டரடிப்பொடி என்னும் அடியனை அளியனென்றருளி உன்னடியார்க்கு ஆட்படுத்தாய் பள்ளி எழுந்தரு ளாயே!!

Here are some photos taken at Mandangudi.  The lineage of Azhwar – Swami Sampathkumar [Hereditary trustee] ripe in his nineties (or late 80s) so passionately described the Sthala puranam, took us to every sannadhi and made us : - have good darshan, realize the importance of bakthi and the greatness of Thondaradipodigal. The photos inside the Temple were taken with his permission.  A photo of this great kainkaryabarar is also in this post. There are still people like him – serving the Lord with passion.  Those who are doing yeoman service to the Lord and to our Sampradhayam needs to be reverred and supported in all possible means by us – who shirk all our responsibilities in the garb of work pressure and lack of time. Let us pray to all those great Sri Vaishnavaites and to Lord Himself to guide us in the right path and make us realize that Service to Lord and to His Bhagavathas are the only true things in life.

In the last century there were Cinemas based on puranas and in Dec 1938 came the film titled “Vipra Narayana” – directed by A. Narayanan; dialogue – Somayajulu; Songs – Narayanan Vathiyar; Actors : Kothamangalam Seenu, D Suryakumar, TV Rajasundari, Ds Krishnaveni and others.  One cannot think of such films in the era where they parody Gods and take films like ‘Navina Saraswathi sabatham’. Let us shun such people and never encourage such things.

Adiyen Srinivasa dhasan. 

Thayar sannadhi

 Uthsavar Azhagiya Manvalar with Ranganayaki thayar and Andal

Thondaradipodigal sannadhi
Azhwar moolavar with Thirumalirumsolainambi and Thiruvengadathan

 Thondaradipodigal flanked by Vishwaksenar and Udayavar

Thondaradipodigal above  (see the pook koodai in hand)
Azhwar with Udayavar and Mamunigal 

The great Kainkaryabarar Battacharyar taking care of 
the temple strong at heart and kind in disposition.