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Sunday, August 7, 2022

Acarya Thirumalai Ananthazhwan uthsavam at Avathara sthalam 2022

We read about British history, that of Mughals and something of Chera, Chozha, Pandiyas .. .. there is another Empire remembered  for its temple architecture.  There are over hundred temples from this era still standing in various parts of Karnataka – and it is that of Hoysalas ! 

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 śeula paagala 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.  This post would try to link the holy Thirumala, the abode of Lord Srinivasa (Thiruvengadam aka Thirumalai) to a small village miles away nearer Mysore.  

Most great civilizations grew on river beds.  The sacred Cauvery from its source to its union with Sea makes flourish thousands of miles and there are many holy bathing ghats too.   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 here in this  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  Thirumalai Ananthanpillai’ 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.  

ஸ்ரீரங்கபட்டணத்தில் தமிழ் பொன்னி என்று நாம் கொண்டாடும் 'காவிரி' அகண்டு பிரம்மாண்டமாய் பிரவகிக்கிறாள். இங்கே கங்கையில் புனிதமாய காவிரியில் ஆனந்த நீராடி, ஸ்ரீரங்கபட்டணத்து ஆதி ரங்கனை தரிசித்து 'சிறுபுத்தூர்  ` ஹலே  கிரங்கூரு' எனும் கிராமம் சென்றடைந்தோம்.   இது நம் ஆசார்யர்  திருமலை அனந்தான் பிள்ளையின் அவதார ஸ்தலம். பல சக்கரை ஆலைகள் உள்ளதனால் லாரிகளில் கரும்பு எடுத்துச்  சென்றுகொண்டு இருந்த  அந்த பிரதான சாலையில் பயணித்தவர்கள், திவ்யப்ரபந்தம் செவியால் கேட்கும் பாக்கியம் பெற்றார்கள்.  ஸ்ரீபெரியாழ்வாரின் பக்தி மணம் கமழும் வரிகள் இங்கே :  

உன்னுடைய விக்கிரமம் ஒன்றொழியாமல்  எல்லாம்**

என்னுடைய நெஞ்சகம்பால் சுவர்வழி எழுதிக்கொண்டேன்**

மன்னடங்க மழுவலங்கைக் கொண்ட இராமநம்பீ ! **

என்னிடைவந்து எம்பெருமான் இனியெங்குப் போகின்றதே.  

"  மன் அடங்க "  -  துஷ்ட குணங்கள் கொண்ட ஆள்பவர்கள் அழியும்படி, மழு என்னும் ஆயுதத்தை  தமது வலக்கையில் கொண்ட ஸ்ரீமன் நாராயணன்,  பாசுராமனாய்த் திருவவதரித்த ராமநம்பீ.. .. அத்தகைய எம்பெருமானின் வீரச் செயல்களை  ஒன்று   தப்பாமல்,  ஆழ்மனம் தனிலே, சுவரில் சித்திரமெழுதுவதுபோல எழுதிக்கொண்டேன்;  எங்களாயர்  தலைமகனே தாமே என்னிடத்தில் வந்து வேறு எங்கும் செல்லாமல் என்மனம் தனிலே நிலைத்திரும் என்கிறார் ஆழ்வார்.  

For the past few years, anniversary of avathara Uthsavam of Sri Ananthazhwaan is being celebrated at his place at Thirumala.  His descendants thought it fit to organize one at his birth place too and this year on 23rd July 2022   -  his Thirunakshithiram was grandly celebrated at his avatharasthalam at Kiranganur. Understand that till a few years ago, other than a slab nothing existed here ~ now it is a beautifully constructed place having a temple  tank, a Sannadhi where Thiruvengadam Udaiyan, Sri Andal, Sri Mathurakavigal,  Sri Ramanujar and Sri Thirumalai Ananthanpillai, Swami Manavala mamunigal  are worshipped.   

This year by rotation, it was Iyarpa m rendered by close to hundred Sri Vaishnavaites comprising of Adhyapakars from  Perumal Kovil, Thiruvallikkeni and other places and of course from ThiruNarayanapuram.  It was divine leisurely rendering of Thiruvanthathis, Thiruviruthatham, Thiruvasiriyam, Thiruvezhukoorrirukkai, Thirumadals -  rendering  that extended for hours.  

The function was grandiosely well organized thanks to the untiring efforts of Swamis like Sri U Ve Selvanarayanan Swami  from  Melkote,  [unfortunately I am missing out the details of the names of those Organisers  who did untiring work as they remained in the background  ~ a visitor like me was awe-struck seeing the spirit, enthusiasm and ease of people who visibly were Septuagenarians or perhaps easily more.  One needs to see their high energy levels; their knowledge, humility, culinary skills total devotion to Sriman Narayana].  They offered so many varieties of prasadams (so many sweets) to Perumal during Divyaprabandha sevakalam.  My Pranams to those Organisers and thanks to  Dr. MA Venkatakrishnan swami [& MA Madhusudhanan]  and other organizers Kannamani, TA Bakthisaran  among others  who took care of the group so well]  for taking us there.   His Holiness Sree Dhanurdasa Ramanuja Jeeyar Swamy blessed us all during the sarrumurai.  This young sanyasi after kainkaryam at Acarya avathara sthalam, is presently doing kainkaryam at Mirle Saligramam associated with Ramanujar, Mudaliandan and .. . Vaduga nimbi.   Towards the end, Ananthazhwan vamsathinar were honoured.  MA Madusudanan – highlighted the activities, elaborated on the kainkaryam done by sthalathars,  thanked those who had travelled down here for the kainkaryam and profusely thanked Melukote swamis for hosting in such a great manner.                

                               A  few years earlier,  a branch of the divine Magizhamaram from Thirumala [‘Puraisaivari Thottam’] planted here, has now grown well thanks to the divine grace and pervading fragrance.  Let us worship the feet of ThirumalaiAnanthalwar renowned for his knowledge, devotion, steadfastness and more good qualities. Some photos taken at his avathara sthalam are here.  

adiyen Srinivasadhasan. [Mamandur Veeravalli  Srinivasan Sampathkumar]
7th  Aug 2018.  

PS:  Three of the most well-known Hoysala Temples are the Kesava Temple at Somanathapura, Chennakesava Temple at Belur and Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu. The figurine representing Sala attacking the tiger became the emblem of this royal family and can be seen in almost every temple built by the Hoysalas.  The Hoysalas ruled a large part of modern day Karnataka and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu from the 10th to the 14th century. In the late 1100s, King Vishnuvardhana Raya’s grandson, Veera Ballala II freed the Hoysalas from the Chalukya subordination and established an independent kingdom. Kannada folklore suggests that he founded the city of Bangalore. He was succeeded by his son; Narasimha II who in turn was succeeded by his son, Vira Someshwara.    

Historians consider them to have been natives of the Malnad region in Karnataka but inscriptions also point towards connections with the Yadavas from North India. The Hoysala Empire was founded by King Nripa Kama II who is remembered to having built an alliance with the Western Ganga dynasty. He was succeeded by his son Vinayaditya who was followed by his son and their sons until Veera Ballala I who died childless and was succeeded by his younger brother Vishnuvardhana Raya.  In the history of Hoysalas the name, Vishnuvardhana Raya holds great importance. It was under King Vishnuvardhana Raya that the kingdom achieved political prominence. Of his many military conquests, he is best known for winning the Gangawadi area from the Cholas in 1116.  It was also under his reign that the influence of Swami Ramanujacharya  spread in the Karnataka region and Srivaishnavism grew in popularity. Vishnuvardhana Raya himself was originally known as Bittideva later fell at the feet of Udayavar and embraced Srivaishnavism.  

Here are some photos taken by me during the recent visit on 23rd July 2022. 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Swami Ramanujar at Melukote Thirunarayanapuram 2022

 Yathirajar Swami Ramanujar at Melukote Thirunarayanapuram – adorning a beautiful flower on the crown, beautiful diamonds in karna pathakkam,  Seetha Rama lakshmana pathakkam at Anjali hastham and Sri Lakshmi Nrusimha pathakkam on chest

Monday, July 25, 2022

Melukote Sri Cheluvanaranana Swami Krishna Rajamudi

 'செல்வநாரணன் என்ற சொல் கேட்டலும்' 

-the most beautiful *Cheluvanarana Swami* at Melukote Thirunarayanapuram adorning *Krishna Rajamudi*

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Vanna kolangal, vanna kolangal !! - Murali bagavathar

A few decades, ago, there were not many options.  Doordarshan Tamil later known as Podhigai Channel would on Sundays air Tamil dramas and people were glued to them.  SV Shekhar’s ‘Vanna Kolangal’ [colourful drawings!] was a great hit.   

Life in Corporate World can change too suddenly – often there are people rising to higher echelons while many remain low … a ‘glass ceiling’ is a metaphor – of the unseen, yet unbreakable barrier that stops people from rising to upper rungs, despite possessing qualification and capability. 

Glass ceiling refers to the fact that a qualified person wishing to advance within the hierarchy of his/her organization is stopped at a lower level due to a discrimination most often based on sexism or racism. The glass ceiling refers thus to vertical discrimination most frequently against women in companies. Though there could be no final definition, based on several studies, the glass ceiling can be defined as subtle but persistent barriers/obstacles, underpinned by discriminatory, conscious and unconscious practices, and attitudes that hinder access to top/senior management positions . .. .. 

Uthsavams are festivities ~ at Thiruvallikkeni divyadesam, there are so many Uthsavams and purappadus.  Primordial among them is the 10 day long annual  Brahmothsavam, initiated by Brahma himself at Thirukachi.  At Thiruvallikkeni it is Chithirai Brahmothsavam for Sri Parthasarathi and Aani brahmothsavam for Sri Thelliya Singar.  This year we had two more brahmotsavams !! 

The streets are clean and tidy – before every purappadu – beautiful kolams are drawn.  Kolam (கோலம்) is a form drawn by using rice flour.  Theoretically, it is a geometrical line drawing composed of curved loops, drawn around a grid pattern of dots – in effect, they are passionately put on the street as offering to Lord.  Kolams are thought to bring prosperity to homes. Every morning devout  women draw kolams on the ground with white rice flour.  The floor is readied by cleaning with water and in earlier days cow dung was used.    The rice powder also invites birds and other small creatures to eat it, thus welcoming other beings into one's home and everyday life: a daily tribute to harmonious co-existence. 

Many beautiful kolams are seen all over the mada veethis, before the purappadu of Perumal – welcoming Him.  During all uthsavams, Mrs Aravindhakrishna and her group draws beautiful kolams in front of Nammalwar sannathi / vahana mantapam.  There are more of such beautiful kolams .. .. and this colourful one (literally one with multi-colours) would take a pride of place – as it is drawn by a man – yes – Sri Murali bagavathar, who is an expert in kolams and the vahana bommais that add to the beauty. Apparently, there are many more such experts – and everyone of them is binded by the fact that such kolams are not mere artistic expressions but done with devotion to Emperuman. 

Here are some photos of  his kolam taken during the recent Aani brahmothsavam of Sri Azhagiya Singar.  Many days they are much more grand too !!


adiyen Srinivasa dhasan
Mamandur Veeravalli Srinivasan Sampathkumar
15th July 2022.