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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

"Geethacharyan" magazine enters 41st year ~ hailing Dr MA Venkatakrishnan Swami

Sri Kachi Swami, Chandilyan, Deepam Na Parthasarathi, Kannadasan, Sujatha .. ..  the list of writers ..  awe-inspiring !

Festival of Lights – ‘Deepavali’ is around the corner ~ a decade or so ago, people bought crackers, new clothes and had them stitched with tailors, made sweets at home, visited relatives – and read magazines at home.  ‘Deepavali special’ of Kalaimagal, Anandavikadan, Kalki, Vijayabaratham – all sold like hot cakes .. ..

Deepavali 2018 could be far different – with so much impositions from Apex Court on crackers and .. .. less of newspapers - “WHO KILLED THE newspaper?” ~ was the question posed on the cover of The Economist in 2006. It was, perhaps, a little premature. But there is no doubt that newspapers in many parts of the world are having a hard time.  Alongside magazines too have suffered – for sure Kumudam,  vikadan, Kalki do not possess the same volume of sales as they did earlier.  There are variety of reasons, internet is one among them.   The advent of television news,  cable television, lastly smart mobiles, android and  web on mobiles lured readers and advertisers away. The modern day youngster would spend time in social media while the utopian old timer would love reading the print edition.  In between competition war has hotted up, revenues have nose-dived. This is no debate on impact or future  of print-media, but thoughts pondered at the difficulty of running a magazine for Sampradhayam.

You are looking at  Mar 1979  issue of Geethacharyan that had Sri PB Annangarachariyar on its front page.  Geethacharyan is a prominent sampradhaya magazine [Sri Vaishnava Sampradhaya book] started in the year 1978 and continuing in its own way for more than four decades now. Dr M.A. Venkatakrishnan Swami (Popularly MAV) is its editor.   MAV’s regard for Kachi Swami is too pronounced ~ as we enter his house, there is a beautiful portrait of Swami artistically made in Tirupathi, way back in 1950.

The Triplicane of mid 1970s was different – MAV was a bubbly youngster, studying in Vivekananda college –  completing to become a Sanskrit  lecturer in the same college (remember seeing him wearing spotless white shirt and white pant with stylish flowing cropped hair). We fondly watched him drive two wheelers fast – simply adored whatever he did, for we had the fortune of meeting him daily in the morning.  At a time, when youngsters had all time for all material pleasure, MAV had different ideas.  His days started early, his house was used to the fullest extent as he devoted time and energy for large group of school going kids. There were times when more than 100 such students assembled daily at his house around 05.45 am; people changed, the numbers did not dwindle. I was happy to be one among them alongside PS Lakshmi Narasimhan (Sekar), Murali, PR Ravi Sundar, S. Sundararajan, TA Bakthisaran, TA Govindachari, TA Sampathkumar, KS Venkatakrishnan (Govar), KS Gopalakrishnan (Rajathi), Veeraraghavan, Raman, Lakshmanan, Ramesh,  Govindan, Kesavan, Sadagopan, Pattabhi, Srivathsan .... to name a few.

He encouraged us to attend ‘Thiruveethi purappadu’ without fail and in Thiruvallikkeni, when one learns Sri Peyalwar’s Moondram Thiruvanthathi, one can attend so many goshtis.  We were first habituated to coming to Temple and partaking in goshtis; we did that as ordained by the master and the pride gained here, made us feel confident.  Our attitude in life changed and reflected the newly found respectability, rather forced on us by the untiring efforts of MAV.  If today, we can recite Divyaprabandham and know something about our Sampradhayam, of our Azhwargal and Acharyar, it is fully due to MAV’s resolve. 

We saw our role model graduate from a student to a lecturer, and more was to come.  He was strongly associated with the great scholar Sri Mahamahimopadhyaya Prathivathi Bayankaram Annangarachar swami (popularly Kachi swami) who has written hundreds of books – and under his tutelage he started ‘Geetacharyan’ ~ a fully devoted sampradhayic monthly magazine.  To bring out a newsletter of 4 pages itself is a formidable challenge – to keep writing a monthly magazine containing only Srivaishnavism is Himalayan challenge.  One recalls with awe that Kachi Swami ran magazine ‘Sri Ramanujan’ from 1948.

The challenge of publishing a magazine,  was not confined to economies – of generating enough revenue to sustain – be it in the form of advertisements and subscribership – printing of those days posed even greater challenge.  Those were the days when printer would compose print-heads, have the matter printed laboriously, then Editor had to sit and weed out ‘printer’s devils’ – those mistakes that would creep in.  The process would be drawn for more than a week, then have photo composed at a different lab, have them together – then mundane but tougher job of packing, pasting labels and handing them over at Post Office within the prescribed dates, if not, they cannot be posted as ‘book-post’.  The last journey of the book from the publishers to readers was on bicycle to Post Office.  The woes of an Editor are manifold – and it was the passion to write, that sustained and took young MAV to greater heights.  Those were the days of Guru Achagam, Enenjay printers and more . ..

Geethacharyan had a more or less uniform pattern – cover photo and cover article on a divyadesam or an Acaryar or something connected to Srivaishnavism.  MAV himself is a great orator and exceptional writer – the editorials would dwell on all sampradhayam related issues, without getting into any controversies.  The task of collecting articles from great persons – Swami Annangarachar swami and other noted personalities of Srivaishnavism, other famous writers like Kavignar Kannadasan,  Chandilyan, Deepam Na Parthasarathi, & our all time favourite Sujatha .. ..

Geethacharyan has flourished over 4 decades ~ it is actually for people like us to have a resolve to buy sampradha magazines and support those who put enormous efforts in publishing them.  .    It enters its 41st year now !!

MAV is a tremendous personality - in the lineage of   Mandayam Ananthanpillai family,   a descendant of Anandalwan,     a disciple of Sri Ramanuja.  Having happily retired as Professor and Head of Department of Vaishnavism, University of Madras, having shaped many students inculcating the finer aspects of bakthi and Srivaishnavism, this 64 year old youth  has printed several unpublished palm-leaf manuscripts for the first time. He has published many books including : Jijnasadhikarana of Sri Bhashya - A Study, Tattvasara of Vatsya Varadacharya (with English Translation), Thirupplallandu with the commentary of Periyavachan Pillai and easy Tamil rendering;   Vainava Acharyargalin Vazhvum Vakkum (Detailed exposition of Aithihyas & Nirvahas - 832 pages); Tattvaviveka (a Sanskrit work of Pillai Lokacharya publised for the first time from a Palm-leaf manuscript.); Thiruvaradhanakramam of Manavala Mamunigal (with easy Tamil rendering).

Dr. MAV has been delivering discourses on various topics of SriVaishnava philosophy and is now infact training  youngsters in this line too.  He is at the centre in all thiruveethi purappadu at Thiruvallikkeni divyadesam, with his trademark Urthvapundram [12 Thiruman]

Looking back – I vividly launching the magazine, the 1st year anniversaryon 5.3.1980 when the book was released by the then Governor of Tamil Nadu, Hon’ble Sri Prabhudass Patwari, being received by Nathella Adikesavalu Gupta, meeting presided by Sri U Ve Mahavidwan PB Annangarachariyar swami – Chandilyan & Deepam Na Parthasarathi being the speakers – the magazine has progressed all through enabling Thennacharya sampradhaya flourish.

Pranams to my Guru who initiated us in to divine way.  Wishing Geethacharyan magazine Golden jubilee and centenary .. ..

With great reverence to our Master – We, the students of MAV Swami
~ adiyen Srinivasa dhasan (Mamandur Srinivasan Sampathkumar)
30th Oct 2018.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Celebrating birth of Sri Bootath Azhwar ~ பெருந்தமிழன் பூதத்தாழ்வார்

ரொம்ப பெருமையாக இருக்கு !  ~  மேடைகளில் பங்குகொள்போர் அடிக்கடி உபயோகிக்கும் ஒரு சொல் !!  ~  before proceeding,  have you had darshan at Thirukkadanmallai (most probably you had visited this place as a tourist); in case, you had darshan, have you travelled to this place with the prime purpose of worshipping Emperuman at this divyadesam  and the Azhwar who was born at this sthalam  ??

நாம் எதற்கெல்லாம் பெருமை கொள்வோம் ??  ~  பட்டியல் நீளலாம்.. ..  .. தம்மைப் போல் தவம் செய்தவர் யாரும் இல்லையென்று பெருமை கொண்டவர் நம் நாயகன் .. .. பெருமானின் இணையடிகளுக்குப் பெருமை வாய்ந்த தமிழால் தொடுத்த மாலையை அணிவித்தமையால் தாம் பெருந்தமிழனான பெருமையினை உடையவன் - : "பெருந்தமிழன் நல்லேன் பெரிது" என்றும்  பெருமிதம் அடைந்தவர் இவர் .. ..
முதலாழ்வார் மூவருள் இரண்டாம் இடம் வகிப்பவர் நம் பூதத்தாழ்வார். இவரும் தொண்டை நாட்டில் பிறந்தவரே. கடல்மல்லை ஸ்தலத்தில் ல், ஒரு குருக்கத்திப் பந்தலில், ஒரு குருக்கத்தி மலரில் ஐப்பசித் திங்களில் அவிட்ட நட்சரத்திலே, எம்பெருமானின்  கதையின் திருவம்சமமாய்  அவதரித்தவர். 

Sri Sthalasayana Perumal Thirukovil is at Thirukkadanmallai ~ in case the name does not ring a bell – it is more famously known as Mahabalipuram (simply Mamallapuram) known for its great architecture.   It is at this divyadesam our Boothathazhwar was born.  Thiru thiruvavathara uthsavam of Bootath Alwar gets celebrated in the month of Aippasi (Oct-Nov).  The temple is one of the 32 Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram that are declared as UN world heritage sites, but unlike others that are maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, the temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

During the rule of Mahendravarman I (600 CE – 630 CE), Mahablipuram started to flourish as a centre of art and culture. His patronage helped the creation of a number of the city’s most iconic landmarks. This period of artistic excellence was duly continued by his son Narasimhavarman I (630 CE – 680 CE) and subsequent Pallava kings. Mahabalipuram was already a thriving sea port on the Bay of Bengal before this time. A significant amount of coins and other artefacts excavated from this region also indicate a pre-existing trade relation with the Romans even before it became a part of the Pallava Empire.   Constructed with formidable finesse by the Great Pallavas in 7th century BC, Mahabalipuram symbolises the confluence of Indian history, geography and ancient Indian economy. Historical relevance of Mahabalipuram dates back to the ancient days of Sangam literature and Bhakti movement that flourished here, eventually contributing to the development of Dravidian architecture in Tamil Nadu.

                           ஐப்பசியில் ஓணம் அவிட்டம் சதயம் இவை - ஒப்பிலவா நாள்கள் உலகத்தீர் - என ஸ்ரீமணவாள மாமுனிகள் தமது 'உபதேச ரத்தினமாலையில்'  எப்புவியும் பேசு புகழ் "பொய்கையார், பூதத்தார், பேயாழ்வார்' - வந்துதித்த நாள்களை சிறப்பித்தார்.  பகவானின் குணங்களில் ஆழ்ந்து ஈடுபடுபவர்கள் தாம்  ஆழ்வார்கள் என்று சொல்வர்கள். ஸ்ரீமன் நாராயணன் மட்டுமே தனி தெய்வம் என்று  எம்பெருமானிடத்திலே அடிமை செய்து இருந்தவர்கள், மயர்வற மதிநலம் அருள்பெற்ற ஆழ்வார்கள்.  இவர்களில் பொய்கை, பூதம், பேய் எனும் மூவர் முதல் ஆழ்வார்கள் என போற்றப்படுவர்கள்.  இவர்கள் சம காலத்தவர் ~ மூவரும் மதிட்கோவல்  இடைகழி என திருக்கோவலூரிலே ஒரு மழை காலத்திலே இருந்து, எம்பெருமானது பரம போக்கியதாலே அவனை போற்றி மூன்று திருவந்தாதிகளை நமக்கு அளித்தனர்.

                            வடமொழியில் பூ என்பது ஓர் அடிச் சொல். அதன் அடியாகப் பிறந்ததே  பூதம் என்னும் சொல். இதற்குச் சத்து (அறிவு) என்று பொருள். எம் பெருமானின் திருக்குணங்களை அனுபவித்தே சத்தைப் பெற்றார் ஆதலால் பூதத்தாழ்வார் எனப்பட்டார் எனவும்   பூதம் என்பது இவ்வுலகிலே நிலைத்து இருக்கக் கூடிய பொருள்களைக் குறிப்பது.  அதாவது  பகவத் பக்தி, பகவத் ஞானம், பரம பக்தி என எம்பெருமானை  தவிர வேறு ஒன்றும் இல்லை எனும் வைராக்கியம். அவ்வாறு எம்பெருமானிடத்திலே, அவனது கல்யாண குணங்களில் அடிமைசெய்யப்பெற்றவராதலால் பூதத்தாழ்வார் எனப்பட்டார் எனவும் நம் ஸம்ப்ரதாய பெரியவர்கள் வாக்கு. இவரின் மறு பெயர்கள் பூதஹ்வயர் மற்றும் மல்லாபுரவராதீசர் ஆகியவை.

The muthalazhwargal vaibhavam is a very interesting one… the divine  trio came together for the first time at Thirukkovalur on a rainy day when there was lightning accompanied by thunders – in the front passage [idai kazhi] of a house referred as ‘dehali or rezhi’……….. the place being very small – it was good enough for Poigai Azhwar to lie down; when Boothathazhwar joined him, they were able to sit ~ and then came Peyalwar who was invited to their fold saying that ‘one can lie; two can sit while there is sufficient place for all the three to stand’……. After Poigai alwar’s Muthal thiruvanthathi,   Sri Boothathalwar followed – making ‘love as the lamp; eagerness as the oil – the endearing thoughts as the wick to the lamp and the lit the lamp of wisdom’ – Sri Peyalwar having had the benefit of these lights rendered his ‘Moondram Thiruvanthathi’. 

 “Muthal Azhwars (the first among the Azhwars), were born in the month of “Aippasi: in the thirunakshathirams of ‘Thiruvonam, Avittam, Sathayam’ respectively.  Though necessarily in that order – most years, it would be ‘Poigai azhvar sarrumurai (also of Acaryar Pillai Ulagariyar); next day that of Boothath Azhwar and thence Sri Peyalwar.  This year 2018 it is different – Thiruvonam & Avittam occur twice in the month of Aippaisi ~ Poigaiyar sarrumurai would be on Nov 14th; Sri Boothathazhwar’s would be on Nov. 16th (3oth of Aippaisi).

Here are some photos of Azhwar at Thirukkadanmallai divyadesam taken during last year’s sarrumurai on 29th Oct 2017.

~ adiyen Srinivasadhasan
28th Oct 2018.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Jai Sriman Narayana !~ Changu Narayan Temple at Nepal

ஸ்ரீமன் நாராயணன் எங்கும் வியாபித்துள்ளவன். ** மதுசூதனையன்றி மற்றிலேனென்று - எத்தாலும்கருமமின்றி **   ( மது என்ற கொடிய அரக்கனை முடித்த எம்பெருமானைத்தவிர வேறு எந்த   பற்றுடையேனல்லேன் என்று அநுஸந்தித்து வேறு எந்த பொருளையும் நினையாதோர்) ~  என நம் எம்பெருமானுடைய திவ்யதேசங்களை தேடி ஓடும் பாகவதர்களுக்கு  இனிமையாய் பல பலன்கள் கிட்டும்.  

Those pursuing to have darshan at the holy divyadesam ‘Salagramam’ – (mukthinath) at Nepal, mostly would land at its capital Kathmandu .. .. and if you are in Nepal, do not forget to collect a few 10 rupee Nepalese currency as a souvenir. 

தொண்டாமினமுமிமையோரும் துணை நூல் மார்பினந்தணரும்,
அண்டாவெமக்கேயருளாயென்று  அணயும் கோயிலருகெல்லாம்,
வண்டார்ப்பொழிலின்  பழனத்து   வயலினயலே  கயல்பாய,

தண்டாமரைகள்  முகமலர்த்தும் சாளக்கிராமமடை  நெஞ்சே.

இதுவே நம் பிறவிப்பணி என ஸ்ரீமன் நாராயணனிடத்திலே எப்போதும் தொண்டு செய்பவர்களான பாகவதர்களும், இமையோர் எனும் நித்யஸூரிகளும், யஜ்ஞோபவீதத்தை  தங்கள் மார்பினிலே அணிந்த பிராமணர்களும்,  எங்கள் திவ்யதேவனே,  எங்களுக்கே அருள் புரிய வேணும்’ என்று கூவிக்கூவி தொழும் அழகான திருக்கோவில், சுற்றுப்பிரதேசங்களெங்கும் வண்டுகள் நிறைந்திருக்கப்பெற்ற சோலைகளிலுண்டான நீர்நிலங்களில் கழனிகளிடத்துள்ள கயல் மீன்கள்  துள்ளுவதினால்  குளிர்ந்ததாமரை மொக்குகள் முகம் அலரும் சாளக்கிராமம் எனும் அற்புத திவ்யதேசத்தை சென்றடைந்து அவனிடத்திலே சரணாகதி செய் என்கிறார் சுவாமி நம்மாழ்வார்

For a Srivaishnavaite, the purpose of life is to do kainkaryam to Sriman Narayana and His devotees ~ in that pursuit, we visit various Divyadesams associated with Emperuman and that way, those 108 holy shrines sung by Alwars hold a predominant place.  Here is something enjoyed during our trip to the   Holy Mukthinath (Salagrammam divyadesam) in May 2018.

It is unique – a divyadesam outside Bharatha kandam – situate at an altitude of 3,710 meters (12,172 feet)  at the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass (part of the Himalayas) in Mustang, Nepal.  Swami Nammalwar advises the Heart to go Unto that Lord at Saligram to whom, bands of devotees, even those from the sky kingdom of Sriman Narayana, those wearing the holy thread – the Brahmanas – all assembling at the Temple surrounded by bee-humming groves and waterbodies rich in kayal (type of carp fishes) and where Lotus blooms with cheerful faces ..

As we plan our trip to the holy Chalagramam, life offers some interesting things and at the outskirts of Kathmandu less than 20 km east stands this beautiful temple of ‘Changu Narayan’ 1541 metres above sea level.  This hill is famously known as dolagiri, dopalarvat, Dolasikhari – the above of Hari Hari vahan lokeshwor, a World Heritage site listed by UNESCO. The pagoda style temple has several masterpieces dating back to 5th and later 12th century Nepalese art.

The temple legend puts its age to 325 A.D. the times  of King Licchavi King Hari Datta Verma. There is a stone pillar inscription of great importance recording the military exploits of King Man Deva who reigned from 496 A.D. to 524 A.D.

The ancient beautiful temple of ‘Shangu Narayan’ is on a hilltop, known as Changu or dolagiri.  The temple was surrounded by champak tree forest and a small village known as Changu. The temple is located in Bhaktapur District of  Nepal. The Manahara River flows beside the hill. This temple is considered to be the oldest temple in the history of Nepal.  The Temple legend has it that in  ancient times, a Gwala, or cow herder, brought a cow from a Brahmin named Sudarshan. The cow was known for producing large quantities of milk. The Gwala used to take the cow to Changu for grazing. At that time Changu was a forest of Champak trees. While grazing, the cow always went to the shade of a particular tree.  Lord Krishna used to drink milk from the milk in that champak forest.  The modern day priests are reputed to be descendants of Sudarshan.

The holy Changu Narayan temple is a  milestone in Nepali temple architecture with rich embossed works. The two-storey roofed temple stands on a high plinth of stone. The temple is surrounded by sculptures and arts related to Lord Vishnu. There are also temples of  Lord Shiva, Ashta Matrika, Chhinnamasta, Kileshwor and Krishna inside the courtyard of the main temple. There are four entrances to the temple and these gates are guarded by life-size pairs of animals such as lions, sarabhas, griffins and elephants on each side of the entrances. The ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu (dasavatharas)  and the other idols are carved in the struts, which support the roof. On the main entrance gate (i.e. western entrance gate), one gets to see  Chakra, Sankha, Kamal, and Khadga all at the top of a stone pillar. These stone pillars have an inscription in Sanskrit. This inscription is considered to be the oldest inscription of Nepal and the stone inscription pillar was erected by Licchavi (kingdom) King Manadeva.

The image of Sreedhara Vishna is an amazing work – there are also the statues of Bhupatendra Malla, king of Kantipur and his wife who renovated the temple in 17th century.  This place too was devastated by earthquake of 2015 but has slowly been reconstructed.  Here are some photos taken by me during our visit.

** the note featured at the start as could be observed has Chanda Narayan, a brilliant image of Lord Sriman NaRayana atop Garuda.  This statue dates back to the periods of Lichhavi kings. 

 ~ adiyen Srinivasa dhasan
25th Oct 2018

PS :  some of the photos not bearing ‘Kairavini Karaiyinile’ watermark  belong to the FB page of Changutemple and acknowledge credits to them.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Sri Peyalwar Gandhapodi Uthsavam #Thiruvallikkeni - 2018

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.  Though necessarily in that order – most years, it would be ‘Poigai azhvar sarrumurai (also of Acaryar Pillai Ulagariyar); next day that of Boothath Azhwar and thence Sri Peyalwar.

This year 2018 it is different – Thiruvonam & Avittam occur twice in the month of Aippaisi ~ Poigaiyar sarrumurai would be on Nov 14th; Sri Boothathazhwar’s would be on Nov. 16th (3oth of Aippaisi).

The Uthsavams and the celebrations commemorating birth of Azhwars are for 10 days – for Sri Peyalwar, after Sarrumurai – on 21st Oct 2018 is was ‘Gandhapodi uthsavam’ – when Peyalwar did mangalasasanam for all Emperumans inside Sri Parthasarathi temple.  Around 08.45 am, there was chinna mada veethi purappadu of Alwar back to his temple.. .. 

பேயாழ்வாரின் பக்தி சுரக்கும் வார்த்தைகளில் இங்கே இன்னொரு பாசுரம் :
பொலிந்திருண்ட கார்வானில் மின்னேபோல் தோன்றி,*
மலிந்து திருவிருந்த மார்வன், - பொலிந்த*
கருடன்மேல் கொண்ட கரியான் கழலே, *
தெருடன்மேல் கண்டாய் தெளி.*

Azhwar likens the lightning appearing clear on dark rain cloud – with the appearance of Sriman Narayana with Sri Lakshmi on His chest, seated resplendently on Garuda as mount.  Having seen the lotus feet through knowledge Alwar directs our hearts to fall and follow those divine feet, which alone can lead us to salvation. 

 ~ adiyen Srinivasa dhasan