To search this blog

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

remembering my thatha ~ Sri Athichozhamangalam Ramanujachar Swami

A decade or so ago, as you passed GST road in Chromepet, one could smell some strong fragrance.  People used to say – it emanates from Pond’s.  .. .. there was another -  Maschmeijer Aromatics India, setup in 1960 in collaboration with the world famous Maschmeijer Aromatics B.V., Amsterdam for the manufacture of musks and fragrances.  It was a modern aroma chemical plant  that was setup in Madras, alongwith a blending unit for fragrances.

Life in a divyadesam is always exhilarating – you get to mingle with so many persons whose life is entwined in service to Emperuman Sriman Narayana.  There would be purappadu on Uthsava kalams and on pancha parvams too.  There are Battacharyars whose exceptional dedication ensures that Emperuman comes out adorning the choicest of flowers, ornaments, dress and more.  There is the  Veda adhyapaka goshti – hundreds of them chant Nalayira divyaprabandham in front of Emperuman on the streets and  chanting Vedam  after the Perumal.   Of the many kainkaryams, Sripadham thangis are  physically associated too and can be very demanding.   

Thiruvallikkeni Veda Adhyapaka goshti is extremely organized ~ doing kainkaryam in exceptionally meritorious manner.  In the present goshti, there are at least 3 who are more than 80+ and they are very regular too.  Divyaprabandha kainkaryam flows from Azhwargal, Acaryas, Swami Ramanujar, our Acaryar Manavala Mamunigal .. .. .. and continues to eternity.  In Triplicane, the Adhyapaka sabai has legal sanctity too. 

My initiation to participating in Nalayira divyaprabandha goshti started in mid 1970s, when a bunch of school going students (close to 100+) were taught Peyalwar’s moonram thiruvanthathi by MA Venkatakrishnan swami, who himself was a college student those days.  To me personally, it flowed through my maternal grandfather Sri Athichozhamangalam Ramanujachar Swami, a tall personality, who was regular in attending to purappadu and was a muraikarar (who had the privilege of starting goshti on the given day of the week).  When I was young – my grandfather and my mother inculcated the habit of going to sandhai, learning divyaprabandham from MAV and attending thiruveethi purappadu without fail.

Those days, chinna mada veethi purappadu would take around 20 minutes and periya mada veethi purappadu approx 45 mins.  As I could remember, the first line was garnished by Sri U.Ve  :  Kavalkazhani Ananthachar swami, Desur Srinivasa iyengar swami, Anantheri Vathiyar, Kanthur vathiyar (fondly kittachi), Kuvalai Ramanujachar, Ashtagothram Parthasarathi Swami,  Athichozhamangalam Ramanujachar (my grand father),Vinjamoor Narasimhachar,  Thirucherai Ramanujachar, Vanamamalai Sampath swami ~  Sri Varadhanarayana iyengar, Vanamamalai Deivanayagam swami, Kooram Bashyam swami .. and more .. .. then there were: Dr VV Ramanujam, Sthalasayanathu Uraiyavar,  Sri Rangarajan,  MA Venkatakrishnan, Vinjamoor Raghavan, Sathish, Rajappa, TR Raghavan,  MS Srinivasan  .. .. ..  and more . .. (and all of them encouraged all the children who enthusiastically came for the purappadu) [obviously there are so many swamins who did great kainkaryam  over the period of time – if I had left out some names, please forgive me or put on the comments, so that I can correct and mention appropriately.]

This is no chronicle of purappadu and divyaprabandha goshti of Thiruvallikkeni – more of my remembrance of grandfather whose annual ceremony took place this day.  On 18.12.1984, early morning @ 3 am, Athichozhamangalam swami, started from home for Danur masa viswaroopam and Thiruppavai sarrumurai.  After viswaroopam, before thiruppavai sarrumurai, he reportedly collapsed – some (could remember VM Soundararajan) took him in a cycle rickshaw – we at home were alerted – went to a 24 hour dispensary (probably all was over by that time) – were directed to Royapettah Hospital, where Doctors stated that he had passed away peacefully sometime earlier. 

A very natural and peaceful passing away, though coming as it, so suddenly – it took us to deep grief.  My grand father Ramanujam – was identified in goshti circles by his native place as ‘Athichozhamangalam Ramanujachariyar’.  He did kainkaryam as  Adhyapakar in Sri Parthasarathi Swami Temple at Thiruvallikkeni for more than two decades.   He was an extremely affable person, tall, well-built, strict disciplinarian with neat disposition.  He was so fond of his children and grand-children.  We have very sweet memories of our sweet thatha.   In his early days, probably in his teens, he moved out of this village to the city of Chennai for greener pastures – when he landed up at Mambalam, it was sort of forest where foxes and snakes were seen..  he worked as an Accountant in Mashmeijer Aromatics and did some part-time job for some advocate in Parrys corner too.  Having lost his father very early in life, he toiled against odds – and ensured that his family was well placed.  He had a son and 3 daughters – now all his grandsons/ granddaughters are well settled by his support and with the grace of our Emperuman. 

This place ‘Athichozhamangalam’ is really a very small tinydot village nearer Thanjavur – Thiruvarur.    Have heard from my family elders that this place is nearer ‘Kodimangalam’ which has a Mariamman temple – known as Thirumathikundram [a Railway station] in the Thanjavur – Tiruvarur route.  A few years ago, explored my way and reached this ancestral village too .. 

The village Athichozhamangalam lies around 2 km away from the Thirumanthikunam railway station.  The village  Athichozhamangalam comes under Block : Koradachery; in the district of Thiruvarur.  When I went there on an evening in 2012, the  fields in tune with Thanjavur / Thiruvarur belt were lush green – not many knew of this place, even when enquired in nearer places.  Travelled from Kumbakobam – on road to Mannarkudi / Alangudi - Needamangalam - Left - Koradacheri - around 7 km - 4 road junction - Right - ONGC - 400m left - Athichozhamangalam - Byepass road - Ammaiyappan - road to Thirukannamangai divyadesam.

There is ONGC exploration on the way and this is a small [really small] village – only fields – no big streets even.  There is a Post Office by the name of the village itself with name board proudly reading:  Athichozhamangalam P.O.  This is not my native village, - it is Mamndur, my father’s ancestral village – the one  identified with the nearest bigger place Dusi Village and known as Dusi Mamandur. 

On this day our family members remember Sri U.Ve. Athichozhamangalam Ramanujachar for all the good things that he has left for us all.  He is proudly remembered for his affection that he showered on us all,  sincerity, authoritativeness without sounding harsh ever, and being punctual in everything he did.  He was never late to goshtis and would spend long hours  inside the temple waiting for the proceedings to take place ~ a trait appreciated by all those who knew him.    He was very friendly to neighbours and other people of the divyaprabandha goshti too.  Remembered as a Man who rose to greater heights starting from a very challenging situation .. .. ..

~ adiyen dhasan S. Sampathkumar.
1st Jan 2019.  (Margazhi 17)


  1. Thanks Sampath. Though I was very young when thatha left us but I very much cherish being his granddaughter and all the sweet memories.

  2. Thank you so much Sampath. Wonderful descriptions and explanations of Goshti and purappadu of those days visualised. Remembering the Goshti by names of those healthy times gives a happy feeling.
    May the blessings of Athishozhamangalam Ramanujachar Thatha (my periappa) be showered on us. He was a dignified and brilliant person respected by everyone.
    I always admire your awesome wordings.
    God bless you Sampath.����������

  3. Thanks Sampath for posting this precious and valuable information..I am proud to be one of his made us to travel to the period we had with our thatha and Akka(patti)..Memorable days are unforgettable days..Mala

  4. Sampathkumar Swamin , well written and thank you posting this about devarir’s thatha