Wish to experience the extreme Bliss ! ~ even as you start feeling the chillness, most likely the mellifluous song of Sri Annamacharya would pervade you….
adivo alladivo śrī hari vāsamu ** padivela śeṣula paḍagala mayamu ||
even to those who may not know or understand Telugu – it is divine, it is the sankeerthana about the most sacred Seven Hills, the abode of Supreme Lord. Sure you would have visited the holy Thirumala, many a times, next time, take a leisurely stroll on the Mada veethis of the holy hill and feel Him fully.
The Lord Srinivasa [Elumalai vasa,, Govindha, Venkata ramana, Venkatesa, Thirumalesa, Seshadri, Bhaktavatsala, Bhagavatapriya, Nityanirmala, Neelameghasyama, Nandanandana, Navaneeta Chora, Papavimochana, Durita Nivarana….. Sri Balaji] is likened to the exceptionally shining divine lamp – He is primordial; He is the fullest nectar gotten from all the divine Vedas; He is be blemishless Lord of Thiruvengadam – Thiruvengadam Udaiyaan Srinivasar.
Miles away, Hoysala empire ruled between the 10th & the 14th centuries. The capital of the Hoysalas was initially located at Belur but was later moved to Halebidu. Art, architecture, Kannada & Sanskrit literature and Vaishnavism flourished during their reign. On way to Mysore from Bangalore lies Mandya district, region purportedly getting its name, meaning a habitat preceding a civilization or roughly an ancient abode. Then there is - 'Pandavapura' which literally means "Town of Pandavas". Legend has it that the Pandavas during their period of exile stayed here for sometime, and Kunthi, mother of the Pandavas, liked the hillock so much that it became one of her favorite haunts. The town has historic relevance also as it was used as the camping ground by the French army. There are many jaggery manufacturing units too adding sweetness to the town which has Cauvery water flowing through Visweswarayya Canal ~ and there is some connection of this place to Thirumala.
To us, devout Sri Vaishnavaites, this place – to be specific a small village known as Siruputhur ‘Kiranganoor’ [Hale Kiranguru] in Srirangapatna taluk is of significance for its association with one of our Acharyars. Sri Ananthazhwaan was born in year 1053 near Mysore in a village called ‘siruputhoor’ ~ now called Hale Kiranguru in Srirangapatna Taluk - 571807 situate on Pandavapura Station High Road. When Udayavar was rendering kalakshepam on Thiruvaimozhi, (the verse – sindhu poo magizhumThiruvengadathu – meaning the place replete with flowers), Udayavar asked whether anybody would do the pushpa kainkaryam at Thirumala. Remember, Tirupathi was a very dense jungle ridden with wild animals with adverse weather. Ananthazhwaan readily came forward and said that he would go, if Udayavar so desires. Udayavar was so elated that he praised Ananthazhwaan as the real man and till date, his descendents have the name ‘ThirumalaiAnanthanpillai’ meaning manly.
Thirumalai Ananthazhwaan continued his floral and other services to Lord Srinivasar for many years. He was so devoted in his service ordained by Ramanujacharya that for him, it was service that was of primary importance, even when compared to God. The Vigraham of Sri Ramanujar that we worship inside the Sri Vari Temple was installed by him. ‘Sri Venkatesa Ithihasamaala’ is considered the best amongst the many works of Thirumalai Ananthazhwaan. Here is some history of Thirumalai Ananthalwan for those who do not know .. .. :
As ordained by Swami Ramanujacharya, Thirumalai Ananthalwan, did devoted service for Thiruvengadamudayan, about 1000 years ago. Sure you would have had darshan of Lord Venkateswara – Tirupathi Balaji so many times – have you not noticed the ‘crowbar’ kept at the Main entrance to the temple and do you know it's legend. If not, do observe and bow obeisance the next time, you enter the Holy entrance at Thirumala.
Acharyar Ananthazhwaan was organizing ‘a flower garden’ – he was constructing a lake for supply of water on the hills – an extremely arduous work. The pond replete with water is a modern day wonder – imagine a water body on top of that hill ! .. .. .. Lord Balaji in one of His Thiruvilayadals, came to the place and tried helping him. Wrongly assuming the person as hindering the work, Ananthazhwaan threw the crowbar at the Lord (without knowing Him); later realised his folly and got the Divine Blessings of Lord. This crowbar is now seen at the entrance of the Temple of Supreme Lord Thiruvengadam Udaiyaan. Thirumalai Ananthazhwaan continued his floral and other services to Lord Srinivasar for many years. He was so devoted in his service ordained by Ramanujacharya that for him, it was service that was of primary importance, even when compared to God. In the holy shrine of Thirumala, there is the beautiful sannathi of Sri Ramanujacharya. The Vigraham of Sri Ramanujar that we worship inside the Sri Vari Temple was given by Udayavar himself and installed by Ananthalwar.
The garden created by Ananthazhwaan is now known as ‘Puraisaivari Thottam’. It lies on the back side of the temple near Chinna Jeeyar Mutt and one can reach this place through the Thirumala Museum also. Now there is a beautiful brindavanam at this place maintained by the descendents of Thirumalai Ananthazhwaan. The lake created by him now stands majestically as ‘Ramanuja lake” replete with water on the hill !! Twice in a year, Sri Malayappar visits this place [Baag Savari] and honours Ananthazhwaan now in the form of Magizha maram. ‘Sri Venkatesa Ithihasa maala’ is considered the best amongst the many works of Thirumalai Ananthazhwaan
For the past few years, anniversary Uthsavam of Sri Ananthazhwaan is being celebrated at his garden where he rests in magizha tree at Thirumala. This year is special as it marks the completion of 963 years of his birth anniversary and more importantly – the Sahasrabdi [Thousand years] of our Greatest Acharyar Swami Ramanujar. It is being organized by his descendents, well supported by Thirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam, through its ‘Alwar Divya Prabandha Project’. Almost a decade back, when it was organized for the first time, the place wore not so great looks, but over the years has been improved and maintained so well that it is a fitting tribute to Thirumalai Ananthazhwaan who did yeoman service to Lord Srinivasar.
His Holiness Thirumalai Periya Kelviappan Sri Satakopa Ramanuja Periya Jeeyar Swami, His Holiness Thirumalai Ilaiya Kelviappan Sri Govinda Ramanuja Chinna Jeeyar Swami, His Holiness Sri Vathikesari Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar, blessed the celebrations. There were scores of Kalakshepa Athigarigal, Athyapakars from various divyadesams, Ubaya Vedantha periyavargal and many youngsters who participated in the rendering of Nalayira Divyaprabandham. It started with Iyarpa, followed by Muthal Ayiram, Thirumozhi and ‘Thiruvaimozhi Goshti’. There were kalakshepams by renowned scholars too.
Let us worship the feets of Thirumalai Ananthazhwaan who was renowned for his knowledge, devotion, steadfastness and more good qualities. Some photos taken during the celebrations are here :
Adiyen Srinivasa dhasan.
5th Mar 2017.