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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Adhyayana Uthsavam at Thiruvarangam and other Divyadesams

Generally, people get excited about Vaikunda Ekadasi and ‘Paramapada  Vasal’ ……… they are part of the Adhyayana Uthsavam beginning with Pagal Pathu, Irapathu – concluding with Thiruvadi Thozhuthal and Iyarpa Sarrumurai.  Legend has it that this Uthsavam hailing the significance of ‘Thiruvaimozhi’ of Nammazhwar, known as ‘Thiruvaimozhi Thirunaal’ was being celebrated right from the times of Thirumangai Mannan to Nathamunigal.  The Pagal pathu uthsavam is now on at Sri Vaishnava Divyadesams.

At the Bhooloka Vaikundam of Srirangam Divyadesam, it begins from Suklapaksha Ekadasi and celebrated for 23 days whence Namperumal listens to the vedas and Nammazhvar's Thiruvaimozhi as rendered by the Araiyars. The festival is divided into two parts, ten days before Vaikunda Ekadasi known as Pagalpathu  and  10 days from Vaikunda Ekadasi  known as Raapathu. 

In life there are moments, when you feel extremely elated ~ one explicable moment is when you are at Thiruvarangam soil and  have darshan of Nam Perumal … as one travels with the purpose of worshipping at Booloka Vaikuntham [the heavenly abode of Lord Maha Vishnu on this earth] – one’s heart jumps with joy….. as you get closer in physical proximity, you start thinking and looking for the view of Raja Gopuram….. for some the expectations start even as the train traverses Ariyalur, Lalgudi etc., ~ had the pleasure of worshipping Lord Ranganathar and Ranganayaki Thayar recently…..   the great place described by Thondaradipodigal as
கங்கையில் புனித மாய காவிரி நடுவு பாட்டு *  பொங்குநீர் பரந்து பாயும் பூம்பொழிலரங்கந்தன்னுள்*

-           This place  surrounded by river Kaveri  is considered more sacred than the most sacred Ganges; the place that flourishes with the new waters of Kaveri has beautiful orchards and abundance of greenery.  In this Arangam is situated the greatest Temple for the Lord in reclining posture; the one who is most benevolent and most affectionate to his Bakthas – Lord Ranganatha; a mere glimpse of His Lord would ensure that the devotee would never would want to be away from this holy land. 

It is a city by itself …. The glorious Thiruvarangam… 21 Gopurams – 7 prakarams …. ~reverred as ‘The Kovil’ by all Sri Vaishnavaites – it is  ‘Thiruvarangam (Srirangam)’ an island created by Coleroon [kollidam] and Kaveri.  The Sanctity of a Temple is accorded on the basis of its threefold popularity of the Presiding Deity, the quality of the holy waters and its religiously significant  past. So many acharyas have lived here dedicating themselves in the service of the Lord. A temple sung by 11 Azhwars [mangalasasanam], this temple occupies an area of 156 acres making it the largest temple in India.  Lush green mango groves, banana gardens, Coconut groves, tall fortified walls – all add colour and bring glory  to the island.

The temple of Sri Ranganathaswami at Srirangam boasts an historic past of great kingdom and a civilization thousands of years old. It has flourished through various dynasties though the invasion of Malikapur was a dark era.  The Rajagopuram is 236 feet height with its 13 tiers with gopuram's base measuring  166 feet by 97 feet ~ a great engineering marvel of recent times.   The massive Rajagopuram can be seen and worshipped from every nook and corner of Thiruvarangam and beyond.  

Now there is renovation activity (actually it is not even repairs but efforts to restore the looks of ancient days!). Had the fortune of darshan at Thiruvarangam on 26th Dec 2014 – there were swelling crowds – yet a very joyous occasion for any baktha.

Adiyen Srinivasa dhasan.
 the Rajagopuram as seen now and 
a photo taken sometime back !

 dwajasthambam above
and the activity below

 chandra pushkarini
the most beautiful Nam Perumal - Thiruvarangar

work at Sri Ramanujar sannathi.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Thirumayilai Sri Adhi Kesava Perumal Trustees go to Court to recover lands ...

Sri Adhi Kesava Perumal Devasthanam popularly  ‘Kesava Perumal Kovil’ is near Mylai Kapaleeswarar Temple. The temple tank is Chandra pushkarini (sarva theertham) popularly known as Chithirai kulam.  The presiding deity here is Sri Adhi Kesava Perumal and thayar is Mayuravalli – the place itself was historically known as ‘Mayurapuri’. The temple is quite ancient and dates back to centuries. During Ekkattu Thangal Purappadu, Sri Parthasarathi Perumal visits this Temple and has mandagapadi here. (the photo below was taken in the early morning around 3 am during Sri Parthasarathi Perumal digvijayam)

Among the 12 Azhwaars of Srivaishanva Tradition, Poigai Azhwar, Boothath Azhwar and Peyazhwar – were the ones to have descended on this Earth earlier.  They were contemporaries and are praised as “Muthal Azhwars (the first among the Azhwars).  They were born in the month of “Aippasi: in the thirunakshathirams of ‘Thiruvonam, Avittam, Sathayam’ respectively. Sri Peyalwar was born in a tank in Mylapore (thence known as Mylai Thiruvallikkeni).  His birthplace is in the present day Arundel Street in Mylapore.   Thirumazhisai  Azhwar’s mangalasasanam mentions ‘ Neelotham vanthalaikkum Mamayilai Mavellikkeniyaan’ and Kalyian calls ‘Mada Mamayilai Thiruvallikkeni kandene’ – perhaps Mylai & Thiruvallikkeni were conjoint those days. 

I had earlier posted about  Sri Aadhi Kesava Perumal purappadu to Thiruvallikkeni and having  ‘vana bojana uthsavam’ performed at Thiruvallikkeni [photos above].  Today’s Times of India has a report titled “Temple moves HC to recover its land worth Rs.600 Crore”.  Here is the report reproduced  : []

An ancient temple in Mylapore has started a legal battle to recover prime pieces of land belonging to it, totally measuring about 150 grounds (one ground is 2,400 sqft) and worth more than `600 crore, from their long-time occupants.

Sri Adi Kesava Perumal Peyalwar Devasthanam, represented by its chairman of board of trustees of board of trustees N C Sridhar, has filed a petition in the Madras high court to restrain the present occupants from transferring pattas in their names. The occupants built pucca structures on the lands in the Mylapore-Mandaveli re gion and were in volved in sale-lease transactions, the pet ition said. ition said. Justice V Ramasubramanian before whom the matter came up for admission on Thursday , issued notices to the Chennai district administration and the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department.

According to Maylai Sathya, counsel for the temple, six cawnies (a cawnie is an obsolete unit of land used in Madras and equalling 1.322 acres), six grounds and 63 sq ft (more than 150 grounds in all) stands in the name of the temple. Admitting that the temple didn't have original deeds owing to frequent changes in composition of the board and other reasons, he said the land was now occupied by several people who had built pucca structures.

“Persons in unlawful occupation have been allowed to put up constructions, and there were also attempts to transfer pattas without the consent of the temple,“ he said. Sathya referred to another batch of petitions filed by the occupants, and said that in the guise of seeking basic amenities, they were attempting to obtain water and electricity connections without any legal right or authority . Though municipal and government authorities have enough powers to evict them or even demolish buildings standing on the land, they have not done anything so far, he said.

The petition wanted the court to restrain the authorities from proceeding any further with patta applications filed by the occupants.

This is the sad plight of land and property of many Temples – people trying to usurp temple land and authorities not properly fighting it out; not evicting illegal occupants.  The lands donated to Temple by devotees have been illegally taken over and Temples deprived the revenue –  defeating the very purpose for which such donations were made.  We appreciate the efforts of honest trustees like Sri NC Sridhar and fervently hope that their efforts fructify.

Adiyen Srinivasadhasan.
19th Dec 2014.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Thirup Paanazhwar Sarrumurai - [கார்த்திகையில் ரோஹிணி நாள் – திருப்பாண் ஆழ்வார் சாற்றுமுறை]

River Cauvery is considered most sacred ~ in the words of Thondaradipodi Azhwar – ‘more sacred than the Sacred Ganges’…. ~ and in that beautiful island formed by Cauvery [Kaveri and Kollidam] reclines Lord Ranganathar.  Azhwars, many sages and saints have left a rich treasure for posterity, in the form of classics containing all information about God and how He is ready to respond to the devotees' sincere pleas. 

The sacred Cauvery flowing across enriched all areas on its banks ~ the Chozha empire flourished due to that.  Historically, Uraiyur [also spelt Woraiyoor] was  the capital of the Empire at some point time  – it  had big palatial buildings and bigger choultries feeding the poor all the time.   Woraiyur figures prominently in the Sangam works like Pattinapalai and Purananuru. According to the former, Karikala Cholan beautified its fortifications, gateways, tall mansions and temples.  Uraiyur over the period is known by various names such as ‘Thirukkozhi, Nikalaapuri, Uranthai, and Kozhiyur’. The word Urayur in Tamil literally means "the residence" ~ perhaps meant to be the abode of the Lord Himself.  Legend has it that ‘cock attacked the elephant of the king’ and realizing the valour, the place came to be known as ‘Kozhiyoor’ too.  ~ it is here Thiru PaanAzhwar was born…

ஆபாதசூடம்  ~ from the feet to the crown, perhaps was his resolve when he started singing, but he cannot take his eyes off the Thiruvadi.   Such was his bakthi – it Sri Thirup Paanazhwar whose thirunakshathiram “ Rohini in Karthigai month” – that we are celebrating today (6th Dec 2014).   In thondai mandalam, the moolavar will be anointed with ennai kappu from  Tthiru karthigai day and there will not be purappadu after. Hence generally, there will not be sathrumurai purappadu for Thiru Panazhwar. This year, Karthikai was celebrated yesterday and  today is the  Purappadu of “Panar” with Sri Parthasarathi perumal.  The Azhwar,  an amsam - Sri Vatsa of Sriman Narayana was born at Uraiyur and brought up by Panars who sung mellifluous paeans in praise of Lord.  Such was his blemishless devotion to Lord Aranganathar that he claimed that he does not want to see anything else with his eyes that saw the most benevolent Lord Arangar. ~ அண்டர் கோன் அணியரங்கன் என்னமுதினைக் கண்ட கண்கள் மற்றொன்றினைக் காணாவே.

Thirupanalwar used to come to the banks of Cauvery, deeply imbued in bakthi he would sing with deep anubhavam about the kalyana gunams of the Lord every morning. In the divine Naalayira Divya prabandham, his contribution is Amalanadhipiraan – ten in number. His prabhandham is different from the rest in a way that it does not contain any upadesams or anything else but only hymns in praise of Lord Ranganatha alone. Those well versed in sampradhaya state that these are aanandha-lahari (limitless outpourings of the bliss of aanandham) at the anubhavam of the Soundharyam of Arangar. Thirupaan azhwar.

Here is  one of his immortal verses:
அமலனாதிபிரான் அடியார்க்கென்னை ஆட்படுத்த*
விமலன் விண்ணவர்கோன் விரையார் பொழில் வேங்கடவன்*
நிமலன் நின்மலன் நீதிவானவன் நீள்மதிள் அரங்கத்தம்மான்*
திருக்கமலபாதம் வந்து  என்கண்ணினுள்ளன ஓக்கின்றதே.

Azhwar totally immersed with bakthi, refers to the Lord as Vimalan, glorifying His blemishlessness and magnanimity.  The immaculate  Lord Ranganatha [Arangathamman]  cleanses the massive dirt of ignorance of the worshippers and imparts purity to them. Indeed He is the purest of the pure and the most auspicious among the auspicious.   The Lord “Nimalan” is the one who bestows boons on his devotees even unasked and unsolicited, enhancing His greatness still further. And when someone thinks of such magnanimous Lord – the Lotus feet – the very thought gets ingrained in the eyes of Azhwar who could see nothing else and melts with the benevolence of Lord Ranganatha. 

Here are some photos of Thirupanazhwar with Sri Parthasarathi taken during the purappadu – also some photos of the ‘chokkapanai’ being lit for the Karthigai deepam.  It is the day for us to fall at the glorious Lotus feet of Sriman Narayana,  get rid of our sins and concentrate on doing kainkaryam to the Lord and his devotees. கார்த்திகையில் ரோஹிணி நாள் – திருப்பாணன் பொற்பதங்கள் செகதலத்தில் வாழியே.

Adiyen Srinivasadhasan.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

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

"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)

Tomorrow [3rd  Dec 2014]   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 Ekadasi”.  In Divyadesams, most importantly at Thirukurungudi, Thiruvarangam, Thirukachi  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 on earlier occasions  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)

ThirukKurungudi Malai Mael Nambi sannathi

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.

Every year on the Kaisika Dwadasi day the puranam is  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 will be  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) would be rendered.  This year I am away planning a visit to another Divyadesam.  Sharing my happiness on the ‘Kaisika Dwadasi’ day with all my near in this post embedded with a great photo of Thirukurungudi Nambi here :

..and here is a photo of Sri Parthasarathi Perumal ‘kaisika dwadasi’ purappadu taken a couple of years ago.

Azhwar Emperumanaar Jeeyar Thiruvadigale Saranam. 

Adiyen Srinivasadhasan.