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Friday, December 29, 2017

வைகுண்ட ஏகாதசி ~ celebrating arulicheyal in Athyayanam - Vaikunda Ekadasi

Vaikunda Ekadasi, is a day of supreme significance for all Sri Vaishnavaites.  Today 29th Dec  2017  is the day....

At the Bhooloka Vaikundam : Thiruvarangam Divyadesam, the festivities  begin 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 today, known as Raapathu. The Vaikunta Ekadasi festival is an occasion when the Paramapada vaasal is opened for devotees.   Paramapada Vasal is also colloquially  known as Sorga vaasal is the Gateway to Heaven.
Paramapada vasal at Thiruvallikkeni

இன்று 29.12.2017 வைகுண்ட ஏகாதசி நன்னாள்.   ஸ்ரீவைஷ்ணவ உலகமே கொண்டாடும் ஓர் அற்புத நாள். இன்று முதல் பத்து நாள்கள் அனைத்து கோயில்களிலும் எம்பெருமான்,  சடகோபராகிய நம்மாழ்வார் அருளிய தமிழ் மறையாம்  திருவாய்மொழியை அனுபவித்து பத்தாம் நாள் நம்மாழ்வார் அனுபவித்த பரமபத அனுபவத்தை 'திருவடி தொழல்' எனும் நிகழ்வில் காரிமாறனை திரும்ப அளித்து நமக்கு அருள் செய்வான்.  பத்து நாட்கள் பகல் பத்து உத்சவம் முடிந்து, இன்று முதல் இராப்பத்து.

திருமங்கை ஆழ்வார் ஏற்படுத்திய இந்த உத்சவத்தை, நாம் இன்று குறையில்லாமல் அனுபவிக்க முக்கியமான காரணம் நம் ஆசார்யர் ஸ்வாமி மணவாள மாமுனிகளே! .. அத்யயன உத்சவத்தின் சிறப்பு - எம்பெருமான் முன்பே அனைத்து ஆழ்வார்கள் ஆசார்யர்கள் எழுந்தருளப்பண்ணி அருளிச்செயல் சேவை சாதிப்பதே.

எய்துமவர்க்கு இந்நிலத்தில் அர்ச்சாவதாரம் எளிது என நம் உயர்குரு மணவாள மாமுனிகள் விளம்பியபடி - அர்ச்சாவதாரம் மிக்க சிறப்பு வாய்ந்தது.  ஒரு சமயம்,  நஞ்சீயர் - நம்பிள்ளைக்கு  ‘அர்ச்சாவதாரத்திற்கு பரத்வமுண்டென்று அறிந்த அளவில்’  அதாவது  அர்ச்சை சொரூபம் (விக்ரஹரூபம்) எல்லாவற்றையும் விட சிறந்தது, மேன்மையானது என உபதேசித்தாராம்.  அவ்வளவில் இன்று நம் ஜெகத்ரக்ஷகனான ஸ்ரீ பார்த்தசாரதி திவ்ய மங்கள ஸ்வரூபத்தை சேவித்தவர்கள், அவனிடத்திலே என்றென்றும் ஆட்பட்டு இருப்பர்.

The divine Thirumamani mandapam is representative of the abode of Sriman Maha Vishnu, the “Sri Vaikuntam” itself.  For Sri Vaishanavaites, the ultimate in life is attainment of moksha [salvation] by reaching Vaikuntam, the ultimate destination, the abode of Lord Himself.  This is ‘The place’ of no return and the human soul is free from the ills of the World and gets the supreme opportunity of nithya kainkaryam [daily service] to Lord.

At Thiruvallikkeni divyadesam sung by 3 Alwars (as also in most divyadesams), Uthsavar enters  through the Paramapada vassal in the morning and in the evening in the subsequent nine days.   The   10 days starting from Vaikunda Ekadasi are  celebrated as “Iraapathu uthsavam” in which the hymns of Sri Nammazhwar (Thiruvoimozhi) are chanted. This religious system was started by Thirumangai Azhwar.  Later Acharyan Nathamuni introduced festival of 10 days preceding the Vaikunda Ekadasi, known as Pagal pathu when the rest of  Nalayira divyaprabandham (pasurams of Muthalayiram and Thirumangai mannanin Thirumozhi)  are recited.  In later days especially after the time when Thiruvarangan had to be away from Srirangam and reentered after decades,  our Acaryar Swami Manavalamamunigal ensured that the athyayana uthsava celebrations were continued to be held in a grand manner.

Today, thousands of people throng the temple to have darshan of Sri Venkata Krishnar (Moolavar) and Sri Parthasarathi (Uthsavar). Devotees feel enlightened and blessed, when they  cross the entrance - Vaikunda door ~ the paramapada vasal.  This morning around 0430am Lord Sri Parthasarathi had purappadu inside the temple and with Sri Nammalwar welcoming from  the other side, entered the Paramapada vasal.  Here are some photos of the divine occasion.

திருவல்லிக்கேணி வாருங்கள் ! ஸ்ரீ பார்த்தசாரதி பாதம் பணியுங்கள் !!

adiyen Srinivasadhasan.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Pagal Pathu 2017 @ Vedasreni ~ Velachery Sri Yoga Narasimha Temple

A few centuries ago, the merchants of London had been yearning for a share in the riches of the Indian trade. Throughout the reign of the great Elizabeth, their longing for the gold of Ophir had been stimulated to the highest pitch by the successes of Spain and Portugal.  They went on sailing and exploring and failing too ~ but eventually landed in India in the garb of trade to rule them later.   500 years ago, Sir Thomas Roe was sent as an ambassador from James I to the great Jehangir ; and presented his Imperial Majesty with some English bulldogs, some famous red wine, and some English pictures. History books reveal that Jehangir approved mightily of the bulldogs. He drank so much of the red wine, that in the warmth of his heart he vowed that he would make no distinctions between the merchants, natives and his own people and thus opened the gate way.

India and our classic history existed much before British East India Company rule and much before Jehangir and other invaders ~ back home, sure you would have travelled by MRTS (parakkum rail) that operates from Chennai Beach to Velachery and has been hoping for another extention which would connect it to the Metro and the existing Tambaram – Beach EMU line.  The Velachery MRTS Station, a ground level station on the Chennai MRTS railway line was opened in Nov 2007.

Velachery once a tranquil place has developed so rapidly in the last 2 decades or so.  In earlier days the most famous landmark was the Gurunanak College and now it is Phoenix Mall,  where crowds throng.  Velachery has grown very rapidly and now has big show rooms, malls, inox theatres, eateries, gold shops, textile shops and much more.  Real estate prices have spiralled up ~ the main road and the hundred feet connecting Guindy to the north west are roads that are always choked. This is no post on the suburb or the history but on the beautiful Sri Yoga Narasimhar temple here. 

Legend has it that the chatur Vedas were worshipped here and hence it became Vedasreni, later tongue rolled into ‘Velachery’.  Another version is yagnas (வேள்விகள்) were performed here begetting the name Velachery.  

It is also known as ‘Vedanarayanapuram’ ~ and it houses a beautiful temple dedicate to Lord Narasima as Yoga Narasimha.  His consort is Amirthabalavalli thayar as in Ahobilam.  Uthsavar is Bakthavatsala perumal with ubaya nachimar.   There is Sri Vedanarayana Perumal with prayoga chakkaram, Kothandaramar, Andal, Hanuman, Azhwargal, Sri Ramanujar and Manavala Mamunigal. 

This morning had the fortune of worshipping here and today being day 7 of Pagal pathu uthsavam, Sri Bakthavathsala Perumal had Lakshmi Narayanar sarruppadi with Andal on his lap.  Here are some photos taken this morning.  

கந்த மாமலர் எட்டுமிட்டு நின்காமர்சேவடி கைதொழுதெழும்,
புந்தியேன் மனத்தே புகுந்தாயைப் போகலொட்டேன்,
எம்பெருமானுடைய அழகிய திருவடிகளிலே : கருமுகை, கற்பகம், நாழல், மந்தாரம், ஸௌகந்தி, செங்கழுநீர், தாமரை, தாழை என்பன மணம் மிக்க சிறந்த எட்டு வகைப் பூக்களையும் ஸமர்ப்பித்து, அவனது திருவடி தாளிணைகளை வணங்கி தொழுது  உஜ்ஜீவிக்கவேணுமென்கிற அவசியத்தினை உடைய என்னுடைய நெஞ்சிலே, வந்து புகுந்த எம்பெருமானை   இனி வேறோரிடம் போகவொட்டேன் ~ என  பகர்கிறார்  திருமங்கைமன்னன்.

திருவத்யயன பகல்பத்து உத்சவத்தில் ஏழாம் நாளான இன்று : திருவல்லிக்கேணி மற்றும் திவ்யதேசங்களிலே - கலியனின் பெரிய திருமொழி ~ மூன்று மற்றும் நான்காம் பாத்து அனுசந்திக்கப்பெற்றதுஇன்று காலை வேதச்ரேணி என பெருமை பெற்ற வேளச்சேரியில் உள்ள ஸ்ரீ யோக நரசிம்மர் திருக்கோவிலில் எம்பெருமானை சேவிக்கும் வாய்ப்பு கிடைத்ததுஇன்று அங்கே எம்பெருமானுக்கு 'ஸ்ரீ லட்சுமி நரசிம்ம திருக்கோலம்’  பெருமாள் தனது தொடைகளில் ஆண்டாளை அமர்த்திக்கொண்ட திருக்கோலத்தில்  சேவை சாதித்தார்.

Tailpiece : though the land cost and the apartment costs have shot up, areas nearer MRTS and many other areas of Velachery were badly affected during Chennai rains in 2015; one cannot forget that Velachery virtually sits on many lakes.
Adiyen dhasan – S. Sampathkumar

25th Dec 2017.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Sri Padalathri Narasimhar thirukovil at Singaperumal Koil

வாள்களாகி நாள்கள் செல்ல நோய்மை குன்றி மூப்பெய்தி மாளும் நாள் வருமுன்     என் செய்ய வேண்டும் ??

The founder of Pallava dynasty of Kachi was Simhavishnu also known as Avanisimha ~ he was the first soverign, who extended his influence beyond Kanchipuram.  King Mahendravarman succeeding him inherited the vast kingdom and he perhaps had a long reign of 50 years to account for all his achievements in the novel method of excavating rock-cut shrines.  Stone inscriptions too found their way to appear from his time. 

Tamil Nadu has some beautiful ancient temples and of the many, the earliest extant group belongs to  the Pallavas and the Chalukyas, while the subsequent groups fall into more or less  unbroken lines, with Pallava or Chalukyan characteristics as their basis. The rock-architecture of Pallavas start with their cut-in temples familiarly called the rock-cut cave temples.  These are essentially reproductions of mantaps which as excavations, repeat the interior aspects of  pillared halls housing the sanctum-sanctorum.  Some temples are real marvels exhibiting the contemporary arts and craft workmanship of Pallava days as the ornamental and sculptural decorations of the interiors are exceptional pieces of architecture, considering the hardness and texture of the rocks.

Today is day 5 of Pagal Pathu Uthsavam celebrated at Srivaishnavaite shrines – rendering of Thiruchanda virutham, Thirumalai, Thirupalliyezuchi, Amalanathipiran and Kanninun Siruthampu (muthal ayiram sarrumurai) and this day had the fortune of worshipping at the famed Padalathri Narasimhar Thirukovil at Singaperumal Kovil.  This famous temple is located around 50 km away from Chennai on GST Road, closer to Chingleput and has a Railway station too.  The temple is very well connected and as one gets down from the bus, the temple is around 100 meters away from the main road.

It is a rock-cut temple ~ a beautiful sannathi of Lord Narasimha housed inside the cave and devotees can do circumambulation around the hill housing the Lord.   The temple dates back to 8th Century built by Pallavas.  Patalam means red.  Athri means hill.  As Lord Narasimha appeared here furiously with Red Eyes and huge as a mount, the place came to be known as Patalathri.  The inscriptions on the walls of the temple are from the chola regime during the 10-11th  centuries.

Narasimha appeared here providing darshan for Maharishi Jabali after his intense penance.  Moolavar Ugra Narasimhar gives darshan  in seated posture with his right leg bent – chathur bujam (four hands) – two holding Conch and Chakra; one abaya mudra and other resting on his lap.  Lord has three eyes.  Uthsavar is the pleasing Prahlada Varadhar.  Thayar is  Ahobilavalli having a separate sannathi on the right side of the main sannathi.  There is sannathi for Sri Andal and for Alwar Acaryas.  The temple follows Thenkalai tradition of worship based on Vaikasana Agamic tradition.

வாள்களாகி நாள்கள்  செல்ல நோய்மை குன்றி மூப்பெய்தி*
மாளு நாளதாதலால்  வணங்கி  வாழ்த்தென் நெஞ்சமே*
ஆளதாகு நன்மையென்று நன்குணர்ந்ததன்றியும்*
மீள்விலாதபோகம்  நல்க வேண்டும்  மால பாதமே.  (verse from Thiruchandavirutham)

காலை சூரியன் உதித்து, நாட்பொழுது தீர்ந்து, இரவு வந்து - தினம் கடந்து செல்கிறது.  இப்படி கடக்கும் அனுதினமும், நமக்கு ஒரு தினத்தை கூட்டி, நமது ஆயுளை அறுக்கும் வாள்கள் போன்று கழிய, பலவகை வியாதிகளாலும்  மூப்பாலும்,  உடல் நலம் குன்றி - மனச்சோர்வும்,  ம்ருத்யு பயமும் சேர்ந்து, மரணமடைவதோர் நாள் நெருங்கிவிட்டதாய் மனம் அறிந்து பதைபதைக்கும்.  இவ்வுலக கவலைகளை மறந்து எம்பெருமானான ஸ்ரீமன் நாராயணனுக்கு ஆட்பட்டிருப்பதே நன்மையென்று, நன்கு உணர்ந்து, அவ்வெம்பெருமானைத் தொழுது, மால பாதமெனும், அப்பெருமானுடைய திருவடிகளே, மறுபடி திரும்பி வருதலில்லாத நித்யபோகம் என நல்க வேண்டும் என்பது திருமழிசை பிரானின் வாக்கு.

In this earth,  with dawn of the Sun and  the day passing out days to our life and each day but passes like a hanging saw  as humans struggle with illness and infirmity.  With the day of death approaching for sure, there is only one way – that of worshipping the only savior Sriman Narayana – Praise only thee, do service unto Him, prostrate at His feet and pray for a permanence away from the evils of earth, a life at heavenly abode with no return.

Adiyen Srinivasa dhasan. 

23rd Dec 2017.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Hanumath Jayanthi 2017 ~ Hanuman tok at Gangtok

Today  (17th Dec 2017) is celebrated at Hanuman Jayanthi, the birthday of Lord Aanjaneya.  At Thiruvallikkeni divyadesam, it is celebrated on chathurthasi / Pournami  and would fall on 4th day of Irapathu Uthsavam which is 1st Jan 2018. Think about Hanuman,  what strikes immediately is his unparallelled devotion for Lord Rama and his unrivalled physical strength.  Hanumar, by various names Aanjaneyar, Chiranjeevi, Vayu Puthirar, Anjani Mainthan is associated with celibary, wrestling, physical power, intense concentration, mental toughness, single minded devotion and more.  Hanumar is remembered for his spirit of ‘selfless service’; and is believed to be present wherever, whenever there is recitation of the name of Lord Rama.  Hanumath Jayanthi is celebrated in various time of year in various places. 

There are many famous temples of Hanuman including divyadesam Sholinghur – chinnamalai of Sri Anjaneyar,  Sankatmochan temple in Benares, Namakkal Viswaroopa anjaneyar, Suseendram Hanumar and lakhs of sannathies in every temple especially those of Lord Rama.  This is a post is about another famous one situate at  an altitude of 7,200 ft; more uniquely, the Priest here is uniformed personnel of the Indian Army who give us the holy Theerth and Prasad.

In Periyazhwar Thirumozhi, in the hymns celebrating the power of Govardhana Giri, Azhwar says  that in the Greatly reverred hill, female monkeys in singing lullabies to their kids, mention the heroic deeds of Hanuman, whose valour completely destroyed the city of demons – the  Lanka.  அடங்கச்சென்று இலங்கையையீடழித்த அனுமன் புகழ்பாடித் தம்குட்டன்களை* குடங்கைக் கொண்டு மந்திகள் கண் வளர்த்தும் கோவர்த்தனமென்னும் கொற்றக் குடையே.

India is uniquely diverse and Sikkim is far different and more strategic ~ the only Organic State is a beautiful tourist location and one has to see the cleanliness to believe that a place could be so neat and tidy.  Besides beautiful scenic spots, it also has – ‘Nathula Pass’ located around 56 kms from Gangtok at an altitude of 14450 ft, the road to Nathula passes through the Tsomgo lake. It is one of the highest motorable roads in the world and is richly surrounded by alpine flora. Sikkim, the Organic State, borders China in its north and east, Bhutan in its east, Nepal in its west and West Bengal in its south. Sikkim is also located close to the Siliguri Corridor near Bangladesh. Sikkim is the least populous and second smallest among the Indian states. A part of the Eastern Himalaya, Sikkim is notable for its biodiversity, including alpine and subtropical climates, as well as being a host to Kanchenjunga, the highest peak in India and third highest on Earth.

The Kingdom of Sikkim was founded on the Silk Road by the Namgyal dynasty in the 17th  century. It was ruled by a Buddhist priest-king known as the Chogyal. It became a princely state of British India in 1890. After 1947, Sikkim continued its protectorate status with the republic of India. Gangtok, Sikkim’s capital  is located in the eastern Himalayan range, at an elevation of 1,650 m (5,410 ft).

Up over there at 7200 ft is a small, beautiful, scenic, famous temple of Lord Hanuman.  It is believed  that Lord Hanuman took rest for a moment at this place when he was on his way to Lanka from the Himalayas,  carrying sanjeevani herbs to cure Lakshman. The temple is popularly ‘wish fulfilling’ temple.

A temple has stood here on the mountains for centuries.  A few decades ago, an  officer named Appaji Pant completed the modern structure. This temple  is fondly known as the Hanuma Tok.  It is now maintained by the Units of 17 Mountain Division of the Army. Uniformed personnel of the Indian Army greet those making the trek, guiding them around the temple, distribute Prasad and  holy water.

Here are some photos of the Temple at Gangtok taken during our visit there in June 2017.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

17th Dec 2017.