Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Life Saviour Sundara Kanda










From Editors Desk


The Ramayana written by Sage Valmiki is one of the greatest and matchless epics of India which was, is being and will be, recited to eternity. Such is the greatness of the epic that it not only elevates one’s level of Bhakti but also saves one’s very life. Life is not always a smooth journey whoever he may be or however great he may be. However there is one exception to this rule i.e. for those who surrender unto the holy feet of the Lord this rule just doesn’t touch them. The bhakta can effortlessly cross the perilous tides of samsara by merely holding onto His feet. It is said if a Bhakta or Devotee chants His holy name by lying in the bed Bhagavan listens to him sitting next to him, if that Bhakta sits and chants Bhagavan stands and listens, and if the Bhakta stands and chants Bhagavan starts dancing and if the Bhakta starts dancing Bhagavan surrenders to that Bhakta and enters in his heart. One such epic which enables one to cross the difficult times of the world is the sacred Ramayana.

Among all the episodes of Ramayana recitation of Sundara Kanda has been recommended by Rishis and our forefathers for the simple reason that it eradicates the evil effects, gives strength and generates hope. Being in touch with Sundara Kanda either through chanting, hearing or merely placing a copy in the puja altar would remove all hurdles and usher in good tidings to everyone.

I used to read Sundara Kanda (LIFCO publication) regularly and have experienced a lot of miracles by the grace of Hanuman who has helped me overcome many hindrances and obstacles in my life. I strongly urge my readers to get a copy of Sundara Kanda, read, experience the effect and see their problems melting away as if by miracle.

I hereby sincerely thank Sri (Major) V. Venkata Narayanan who painstakingly did the job of proof reading the article.

Please read on to know more about importance of Sundara Kanda and how it can become one’s life saviour.

Happy Reading!

Warm Regards

A.V. Devan
Chennai - 28/12/2010


Life saviour “Sundara Kanda”


Valmiki in his early life was a hunter and for maintaining his family became a robber. However by the grace of Sage Narada the hunter started chanting “MARA MARA” as he could not pronounce RAMA and later became a great devotee of Rama and wrote the epic nonpareil. The sacred Gayathri Mantra contains 24 syllables. Sage Valmiki set the Gayathri letters one by one as the starting letter of slokas in a uniform interval of 1000 verses. Thus Ramayana has 24,000 verses or slokas spread across seven Kandas or episodes namely Bala Kanda, Ayodhya Kanda, Aranya Kanda, Kishkinda Kanda, Sundara Kanda, Yuddha Kanda and Uttara Kanda.

Bala Kanda describes the birth of Rama, His childhood and marriage to Sita. The Ayodhya Kanda describes the preparations for Rama’s coronation and His exile into the forest. The Aranya Kanda describes the forest life of Rama and kidnapping of Sita by the demon King Ravana. The Kishkinda Kanda describes the meeting of Hanuman with Rama, the destruction of Vanara King Vali and coronation of his younger brother Sugriva to the throne of the Kingdom of Kishkindha. The Sundara Kanda narrates the heroism of Hanuman, his flight to lanka and meeting with Sita. The Yuddha Kanda describes the battle between Rama’s and Ravana’s armies. The last episode Uttara Kanda describes the birth of Lava and Kusha and their coronation to the throne of Ayodhya.

The Sundara Kanda forms the heart of Valimiki’s Ramayana. You will be surprised to find that the naming of this episode by Valmiki was a special one as he has named it as the Beautiful One (Sundara meaning beautiful). It needs mention that he has not given this title even to Rama, who is the hero of the epic. The Sundara Kanda narrates in vivid detail the exploits and adventures of Hanuman’s wherein he plays a crucial role in finding the whereabouts of Sita by employing his valor and wisdom.

Sundara Kanda – A brief summary

Sugriva deputed his army in search of Sita. While on their search they could not find Sita and finally Hanuman along with Jambavan (King of Bear) met Sambathi the elder brother of Jatayu (Garuda, The Eagle). Sambathi then told them the location of Lanka where Sita was captivated. To reach Lanka one has to cross the ocean. Jambavan then told the assembled army that only Hanuman can cross the ocean. Jambavan further told them it was Hanuman who as a young boy mistook the Sun to be a ball and darted to catch it and only Hanuman can execute this mighty task. Hanuman does not even know his infinite strength and latent power. Upon Jambavan’s narration, he readily ventured to the task of finding Sita by attempting to cross the Ocean.

Hanuman instantly assumes a gigantic form and makes a colossal leap across the ocean towards Lanka. On his way he was requested by Mount Mainaka to take rest and proceed as a token of gratitude towards his father Vayu, the wind God who helped the mountains find their place in the Ocean. However Hanuman rejected to rest as he was proceeding on Rama’s mission which needs to be accomplished soon. Hanuman then was intercepted by Surasa, mother of Nagas who told that she will not let anyone go past her without passing through her mouth. Hanuman then started growing big and Surasa also proportionately opened her mouth wide. Intelligently Hanuman reduced himself to a smaller size, and in a jiffy, entered and came out of her big mouth in a fraction of a second. Later he was accosted by another demon by name Simhika who can catch people from their shadow. Hanuman then entered her mouth and tore her heart and kills the demon. After crossing the ocean Hanuman landed in Lanka in darkness. The guardian demoness of lanka called Lankini prevented Hanuman from entering the city but he overcame Langini by giving her a punch with his left arm and entered the city of Lanka.

Hanuman then reduced himself to a smaller size and searched everywhere. He scoured the imperial palace and every nook and corner of the city of Lanka but could not find Sita. He then remembered that he had not paid his obeisance to Lord Rama, Sita, Devathas, Marut Ganas and other celestial beings. He then offered prayers to them. While looking around suddenly he saw a small forest which was full of Asoka trees. He entered the Asoka forest and finds a lady under a Simsubha tree with luster but her clothes were torn and her face was dim. Then Hanuman saw a person advance menacingly towards Sita and asking her to marry him. Sita took a dried grass (darba) placed it in front of him and by looking at the darba told him that his end is nearing. The person was none other than the demon King Ravana who gave her an ultimatum to marry her within a month otherwise she will be killed. Sita was in tears and was about to end her life by hanging her long hair to the tree.

Hanuman sensing danger did not know how to convey the message to Sita that he was the messenger from Ram, as she may suspect him being a Vanara. Hanuman then started chanting the Ramayana and narrated the episode till the point of abduction of Sita. He futher said that Rama had taken the help of Vanara King Sugriva and his minister Hanuman has come to Lanka to save her. Sita’s left eye started blinking fast which is a sign of good omen for ladies. Sita then looked around from where the voice was coming and found a monkey sitting above the same very tree where whe was resting. She got frightened and suspected whether Ravan himself had come in the form of a Monkey. Hanuman then told Sita that he is the minister of King Sugriva whose help Rama had taken and as a token of evidence hands over the Ring of Rama (Kanaiyazhi). Sita upon seeing the ring believes in Hanuman and her joy found no bounds. Hanuman then told Sita that he is ready to take her to Rama but Sita told she would prefer to get rescued by Rama after defeating Ravan.

Hanuman then decided to feel the pulse of his enemy and started destroying the Asoka forest where Sita was imprisoned. The news of destruction by a monkey reached the court of Ravana who deputed his warriors to attack and capture Hanuman. The furious Hanuman then killed all the warriors one by one. Later Indrajit son of Ravan deploys Brahma Astra which alone can make Hanuman to abide and that too for a brief while. However the Brahmastra’s powers were nullified by the soldiers of Indarajit as they tied rope above the Brahmastra which released Hanuman. However Hanuman decided to see Ravana and kept silent and did not move his limbs. He was then taken to Ravana’s court and was made to stand in front of Ravan like a prisoner. Hanuman then made a big coiled seat out of his own tail and sat higher than Ravana. Hanuman then informed Ravana that he was the messenger of Rama and advised him to release Sita otherwise he will be killed by Rama. Ravana being impervious and unreceptive, ordered asuras to kill Hanuman.

However it was Vibishana who informed Ravana that it is a practice of dharma that a King should not kill a messenger of another King and requested him to release Hanuman. However Ravana decided to punish Hanuman and asked his soldiers to set his tail ablaze. Heat and fire did nothing to Hanuman who used the same fire in his tail to set ablaze the entire Lanka into flames. He then extinguished the fire but feared whether the Asoka forest where Sita was staying would have also caught fire and went there to find Sita. Despite the fire Sita was safe. He then realized it was the power of prayer and the pativratatva of Sita which saved Him from getting engulfed by fire. He then receives an ornament (Soodamani) from Sita as a token of meeting Her and promises that he will return along with Rama to save Her and returns to the base camp where Sugriva's warriors were staying. Later the entire team celebrated the good news by treating themselves by entering the Madhuvan of Sugriva. Hanuman then met Rama and told that he saw Sita (Kanden Seethayai) in Lanka and narrated all the incidents and gave the Sita’s ornament (Soodamani) to Him. Rama was delighted on seeing the ornament of Sita and was reduced to tears. Here ends the Sundara Kanda.

Significance of Sundara Kanda

In Sundara Kanda Hanuman paves the way for reunion of the divine couple Rama and Sita. Similarly if we worship Hanuman by reciting the Sundara Kanda he helps a devotee by taking him near the Lord. Kanchi Mahaperiyava used to tell that Lord Hanuman or Anjaneya is an embodiment of all auspicious qualities which are very rare to find. He excelled in Intellect, Valor, Courage, Wisdom, Fearlessness and Bhakti. It is very rare to find such great trength in one person. Hanuman is also a very learned one and is referred as Nava Vyakarna Panditha. He is very very humble to Lord Rama and at the same time showed his prowess to demon Ravana by setting ablaze the entire Lanka. When Rama returned to Ayodhya along with Sita there was the coronation ceremony and while parting, Rama gave gifts to all attendees. When it was Hanuman’s turn Rama told him that He cannot give him anything better than Himself and thus gave himself to Hanuman and hugged him. Hanuman also said he is interested in receiving nothing but kainkaryam, i.e. doing service to Him. Even when Rama had departed from this mortal world to his heavenly abode Hanuman refused to accompany Him since he cannot hear Ramayana in Vaikunta and decided to stay back in this world to hear Ramayana. He told Rama that wherever and whenever Ramayana is recited (Yatra Yatra raghu natha keerthanam, tatra tatra krida masta kanchalim, pashpavari pari poorna lochanam) he will be there to listen and dance in ecstacy with tears flowing. Hence a devotee can feel the presence of Hanuman if he recites Ramayana even in his house.

Miracles experienced on reciting Sundara Kanda

I am quoting an incident which I heard in an audio CD as told by Brahmashri Senkalipuram Anantharama Dikshitar. Once Anantharama Dikshitar was in Calcutta and completed writing a book on Sundara Kanda. An old man came to Dikshitar and asked for blessings. Dikshitar blessed and gave a copy of Sundara Kanda and the old man returned home happily. Within a few days an incident took place in his home. His grandson who was a small boy was alone in his home when his parents and the old man had gone out for a brief period.

A stranger entered their house and told the boy that he is the friend of his father and asked the boy to take out the cash from the almirah and come along with him so that together they can go and meet his father. The boy who was so innocent took the cash from the almirah and followed the stranger. The stranger then snatched the cash from the boy and cunningly took him to the railway station. He then boarded a train along with the boy and vanished. The parents returned and found their son and cash were missing and were collapsed. The old man also returned home to find his son and daughter in law were in tears. He then consoled them and asked them not to worry and started chanting Sundara Kanda (the book given by Anantharama Dikshitar) the whole night.

The next day early morning somebody was knocking at the door and they were surprised to find the boy with the cash bag standing along with a railway official. The boy then narrated what happened and said while in the train in the midnight he sensed something wrong. The stranger was sleeping in the train and when the train stopped in a station the boy took the cash bag from the sleeping man, came out of the coach, went to the station master and informed what had happened. The Station Master then alerted the railway police who caught the stranger who was fast asleep and arrested him. The railway authorities then brought the boy to their house based on the address given by him. The parents were in joy and tears to see their son back and felt the prayers of their father (old man) who read the entire Sundara Kanda the whole night were answered by bringing back their lost son and money.

The above incident is only a tip of the ice berg and there are many many such real life incidents which have taken place in the lives of innumerable devotees who have been saved miraculously by reading Sundara Kanda. In the preface to Sundara Kanda one can find what chapter one has to read for various material and spiritual pursuits. All the needs of a human being are achieved by reading respecitive chapters of Sundara Kanda. Mere keeping a copy of the Sundara Kanda in our home will ward off all the problems and give immense benefits. Such is the greatness of Sundara Kanda.

Sundara Kanda a spiritual solace

If the Bhagavad Gita is taken as a philosophical guide, the Sundara Kanda in the Ramayana is often sought for spiritual solace. The mere contact of Sundara Kanda either through chanting, hearing or by merely placing a copy would remove all the hurdles and bring in good tidings to everyone. The LIFCO has published a good book on Sundara Kanda. Sundara Kanda of Brahmasri Anantharama Dikshitar and by other leading publications is also available aplenty in leading bookstores. Please get a copy and keep it in your puja room. One will be immensely fortunate even he or she reads atleast one sloka a day from Sundara Kanda. Miracles apart, the very nature of Sundara Kanda inculcates fortitude and generates hope in one and all. Mother Sita who was on the verge of death overcame Her despair to see life in a new light because of Hanuman.

It was the Hanuman’s Odyssey which paved the way for Rama to resue His kidnapped wife. Hanuman is Chiranjeevi i.e. an eternally living person. Wherever someone is singing the glory of Sri Rama, there Hanuman is said to be present with folded palms, and eyes profusely shedding tears of joy. He is said to live at the bottom of the celestial Paarijaatha tree. He is Vaayu puthra (son of Wind God). He is the son of glorious Anjana Devi. He removed the grief of Seetha by handing over the ring from Rama as a symbol of hope. It is said that if one constantly prays to Hanuman, he gives boons such as - Intelligence, strength, name & fame, courage, good health, longevity, skill in speech, absence from laziness, wards off sluggishness and gets blissful and contented.

Let us all worship Hanuman by reading Sundara Kanda and get His blessings.

Jai Hanuman / Jai Maruti / Jai Sita Ram

Acknowledgements

I hereby thank Sri (Major) V. Venkata Narayanan who painstakily did the proof reading of the article.

Bibliography/Reference

Sundara Kandam – Lifco Publications, Chennai
Sundara Kandam & Ramayana – Wikipedia
Sundara Kanda – Hanuman’s Odyssey – Sri B.S. Murthy

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bhagavad Gita - Issue # 2












Dear Readers


Am happy to present the Bhagavad Gita – Issue # 2.



Adisankara says in his “Bajagovindam”






Bhagavad Gita Kinchita Theertha Ganga Jalalapi Kanika Peetha
Sakruthapi Yena Murari Samarcha Kriyathe Thasya Yamenana Charcha

If a person reads a little from Bhagavad Gita, Drinks a sip of water from Ganges. Worships Murari (Krishna) for a little moment, for them there is no arguments with Yama, [the lord of death]. Adisankara further says:

Geyam Gita Nama Sahasram
Dhyeyam Shripati Rupamajashram

One should read Bhagavad Gita and Chant Vishnu Sahasranamam
One should meditate upon Shripati i.e. Lord Vishnu

The Baja Govindam further states

Mayamayam Idam akilam hitva
Brahmapadam tvam pravisha vidhitva

Leaving this world which is illusory and by knowing the state of Brahman enter into it.

This state of Brahman is explained in Chapter 2 , Verses 11 to 20 of Bhagavad Gita. The same was explained by Krishna when Arjuna said he cannot fight as by engaging in the war he needs to kill all his kin.

Happy Reading!
Warm Regards
A.V. Devan
Chennai-12/12/2010



Srimad Bhagavat Gita



Chapter – 2 // Verses 11 to 20


After Arjuna tells Krishna that he could not fight against his relatives Lord Krishna spoke the following words to Arjuna :






Chapter 2 Text 11



asocyan anvasocas tvam prajna-vadams ca bhasase gatasun agatasums ca nanusocanti panditah






Meaning



“While speaking wisely you are grieving for what is not worthy of grief. The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead.”






Chapter 2 Text 12



na tv evaham jatu nasam na tvam neme janadhipah na caiva na bhavisyamah sarve vayam atah param






Meaning



“Never was a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these Kings, nor in the future shall any of will cease to be.”






Chapter 2 Text 13



dehino 'smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati



Meaning



“Just as the embodied soul passes through childhood, youth and old age in this body, so does it pass into another body; the wise person is not grieved by such a change.”






Chapter 2 Text 14

matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah agamapayino 'nityas tams titiksasva bharata



Meaning






“Happiness and distress are similar to winter and summer seasons which come and go. They arise from sense perception which one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.”



Chapter 2 Text 15






yam hi na vyathayanty ete purusam purusarsabha sama-duhkha-sukham dhiram so 'mrtatvaya kalpate



Meaning






The person who is not disturbed by sorrow and happiness and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation.”

Chapter 2 Text 16



nasato vidyate bhavo nabhavo vidyate satah ubhayor api drsto 'ntas tv anayos tattva-darsibhih



Meaning



“The unreal has no existence and for the eternal there is no change. The truth about these indeed has been seen by the seers of the truth.”



Chapter 2 Text 17






avinasi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idam tatam vinasam avyayasyasya na kascit kartum arhati



Meaning






“Know indeed that which pervades everywhere is indestructible and no one can cause the destruction of this imperishable.”



Chapter 2 Text 18






antavanta ime deha nityasyoktah saririnah anasino 'prameyasya tasmad yudhyasva bharata



Meaning






“The material bodies of the embodied which is eternal, indestructible and immeasurable are said to have an end. Therefore fight O Arujna.” [2.18]



Chapter 2 Text 19






ya enam vetti hantaram yas cainam manyate hatam ubhau tau na vijanito nayam hanti na hanyate



Meaning






“He who regards this as a slayer and he who thinks this is slain, both of them are ignorant. This neither slays nor is slain.”



Chapter 2 Text 20






na jayate mriyate va kadacin nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah ajo nityah sasvato 'yam purano na hanyate hanyamane sarire



Meaning






“For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. The soul has not come into being nor will it ever again cease to be, It is unborn, eternal, changeless, ancient. It is not killed when the body is killed.”


Explanation / Purport [Chapter 2 Texts 11 to 20]



The qualities of the soul or atman were explained by Krishna. The soul is eternal and it migrates from one body to another like we change our dress. The material body passes through from child hood to old age while the soul remains the same. The atman is nothing but the all pervading Brahman. The Brahman exists as the substratum of the world. The worlds of waking, dream and deep sleep arise out of Brahman they exist in Brahman and finally merge with Brahman. The worlds come and go but Brahman is imperishable and nothing can cause the destruction of the Brahman.






The atman or Brahman lies beyond the limitations of the language. Words can only define some aspects of the atman. The characteristics of the soul or atman or Brahman whichever way we try to interpret have the following qualities:



Ajah : Unborn






Atman is not born when we are born. It does not die when we die. It always was, it is now and it will ever be. Any being that has been born must necessarily die. It is therefore finite. Atman, unborn and not subject to death is infinite.



Nityah : Eternal






Atman is everlasting. It may be compared to the ocean and living beings to waves in the ocean. Waves are born, they exist for a while and they die. But the ocean never ceases to exist. Similarly beings are born they exist for a while and they die. But Atman exists eternally.

Sasvatah : Changeless



Atman is the one changeless entity, with reference to which all changes take place. Birth and death bring about change. The man passes through from childhood to youth then to manhood and then moves to old age and then dies. In this chain of birth and death the body undergoes the change however the atman remains the same.






Thus Krishna advises Arjuna that the Atman never dies when the body dies and hence Arjuna should not grieve for the same and he has to fight which is a duty to a Kshatriya.



Bibliography/Reference

Bhagavad Gita As It is – Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Bhagavad Gita – Swami A. Parthasarathy (Vedanta Cultural Foundation)
http://www.asitis.com/
http://www.vedantaworld.org/

Friday, November 19, 2010

Guru Samarpanam - Issue # 6









Dear Readers!

I am happy to present the Guru Samarpanam – Issue # 6. The article dwells on the Biography, Teachings of Kanchi Paramacharya. The article also has the details of miracles experienced by devotees of Kanchi Paramacharya or often referred as Periyava. Though Periyava never boasted his spiritual power and declared himself an ordinary person. However whoever get in touch with Periyava felt his divine powers.

In this issue in the biographical column we will come to know how by the divine will young Swaminathan of just 13 years old became Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati Swamigal, 68th Pontiff (Peetathipathi) of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. You will be thrilled to read Acharya’s own narration about the circumstances that led to his Pontification. In the teachings of Periyava we can see the prescription for removing our sorrow which is aptly titled as antidote to sorrow. In that Periyava clearly says it is by our own deeds alone we experience joy and sorrow and he prescribe the remedies for our sufferings. In the Miracle section we will come to know how Periyava due to his divine power found the Adishtanam of the Sri Atma Bhodendral who was the 58th Peetathipathi of Kanchi Mutt and who was also the Guru to Sri Bhagavan Nama Bhodendral of Govindapuram at Vadavambalam near Vizhuppuram way back in 1926.

The objective of this article is by knowing something about Periyava we will know more about Vedic dharma which will enable us to improve our life. When we learn the values everything else follow suit including material benefits. Kanchi Periyava once told if we tread our path is dharmic way the material benefits will automatically come to us even if we don’t want that. Hence our purpose is only to follow the path laid down by Kanchi Paramacharya. Whoever got in touch with Mahaperiyava have benefited immensely by simply following just taking up one activity prescribed by Periyava like performing nitya karmas like Sandhyavandanam, reading of Vishnu Sahasranamam, performing Kalayana Utsavam at Tirumala etc., based on the request of the devotees and problems faced by them.

Let that divine power Kanchi Acharya guide us in our path also!

Happy Reading!

Warm Regards!

A.V. Devan
Chennai-19.11.2010




1. Biography

Renunciation – Pontification

In the first week of February in 1907, Sri Subramania Shastrigal’s house received a telegram from the Sri Mutt camp. The telegram requested Shastrigal to come to the mutt immediately along with Swaminathan. However Sri Subramania Shastrigal had gone to Tiruchi on official work at that time. Assuming that the Acharya must have summoned him for some important purpose, Sri Subramania Shastrigal’s friends arranged for Swaminathan to travel by steam engine to Kanchipuram along with his Mother. The Acharya was camped at Kalavai, which was 30 miles from Kanchipuram, the mutt officials without divulging any information to Swaminathan’s mother, immediately took Swaminathan in a separate horse cart and headed straight out to Kalavai. When the telegram was sent to Tindivanam, the Acharya Swamiji’s health was in decline. Believing that his time was limited, the Acharya had sent the summons to Tindivanam with the intention of installing Swaminathan as the next Acharya. However the 66th Acharya unexpectedly attained siddhi on Maha Krishna Ashtami in the Prabhava year, well before Swaminathan’s arrival. Before attaining siddhi he initiated an eighteen year old Brahmachari Sri Lakshmikanthan who was well versed in Rig Veda and was staying in the mutt serving him as his sishya. It is the tradition of the Kamakoti Acharya Parampara that they are Rig Vedics who take sannyas from the brahmacharya ashram itself.

The 67th Acharya adorned the Sri Kamakoti Peetam for seven days. Having served his Guru during his illness, he unexpectedly contracted the illness as well and attained siddhi after seven days. Before attaining siddhi, in accordance with his Guru’s wishes he took a mental sankalpa appointing young Swaminathan as the next Peetathipathi. Swaminathan was later formally initiated into the sanyas ashram. This holy event took place on the second Wednesday of the lunar month of Maasi in the Prabhava year (February 13, 1907) when he was just 13 years old. He took the name of Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswathi and became the 68th Shankaracharya to grace the Sri Kamakoti Peetam. An incident happened before Swamigal took sanyas which was an unforgettable and heart warming in nature. It is not an ordinary task to take upon one self the discipline of an ascetic with restrictions on food, rigors of religious schedule, daily pujas and meditation at such an early age of 13. The mother and father could not bear to let ther most lovable son take up grueling lifestyle of a sannyasi nor could they bear to part him. On the other hand, the mutt’s administrators were persuading them to give their permission saying “When you have three other sons, what is your hesitation to give up one son for the sake of goodness of this world and to bless the devotees and followers of this mutt? They were perturbed and could not come to a conclusion immediately. At this time, Swaminathan prostrated to them and politely said “Please do not hesitate. I have the complete blessing of my Gurunathar and I will preserve this. Please give your permissions wholeheartedly”.

There is no doubt that his words melted his parents hearts and made them give their approval for the change but never saw him again. Swaminathan who was transformed to appear like Adi Sankara with shaved head, kamandalu, saffron robes and staff was never seen by his parents. Traditionally relatives keep their distances from sannyasis as they are required to give up all emotional attachments. We wonder if our Swamigal’s parents were proud of their son for taking up the task of eradicating the sorrows of the people of this world or if they were miserable that they cannot see their own son while the rest of the world praises and adores him. But one thing was certain. In future, whenever somebody came up to them and enquired about Swamigal, both of maintained silence.

An excerpt of how he became the 68th Pontiff was best told by Acharya himself and published in Bhavan’s Journal, Bombay :

In the beginning of the year 1907, when I was studying in a Christian Mission School at Tindivanam a town in South Arcot District, I heard one day that the Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam who was amidst us in our town in the previous year attained siddhi at Kalavai a village about 10 miles from Arcot and 25 miles from Kancheepuram. Information was received that a maternal cousin of mine who after some study in Rig Veda had joined the camp of the Acharya offering his services to him was intalled on the Peetam. He was the only son of the widowed and destitute sister of my mother and there was not a soul in the camp to console her. At this juncture, my father who was a supervisor of schools in the Tindivanam Taluk planned to proceed with his family to Kalavai, some 60 miles from Tindivanam in his own bullock cart. But on account of an educational conference at Tiruchirapalli he cancelled the programme.

My mother with myself and other children started to Kalavai to console her sister on her son assuming sanyas ashram. We travelled by rail to Kanchipuram and halted at Sankaracharya Mutt there. I had my ablutions at the Kumara-Kosa Thirtha. A carriage of the Mutt had come there from Kalavai with persons to buy articles for the Maha Pooja on the 10th day after the passing away of the late Acharya Paramaguru. But one of them, a hereditary Maistri of the Mutt, asked me to accompany him. A separate cart was engaged for the rest of the family to follow me. During our journey, the maistri hinted to me that I might not return home and that the rest of my life might have to be spent in the mutt itself. At first I thought that my elder cousin having become the head of the mutt, it might have been his wish that I was to live with him. I was then only 13 years of age and so I wondered as to what use I might be to him in the institution.

But the maistri gradually began to clarify as miles rolled on that the Acharya, my cousin in the poorvashram had fever which developed into delirium and that was why I was being separated from the family to be quickly taken to Kalavai. He told me that he was commissioned to go to Tindivanam and fetch me, but he was able to meet me at Kanchipuram itself. I was stunned by this unexpected turn of events. I lay in a kneeling posture in the cart itself, shocked as I was, repeating Rama Nama, the only spiritual prayer I knew, during the rest of the journey. My mother and other children came some time later only to find that instead of her mission of consoling her sister, she herself was placed in the state of having to be consoled by someone else. My robes of Sannyas were not the result of any renunciation on my part nor had I the advantage of living under a Guru for any length of time. I was surrounded from the very first day of sannyas by all the comforts and responsibilites of a gorgeous court.”

2. Voice of the God – Teachings of Mahaperiyava

"The Antidote to Sorrow”

If a person falls sick different persons give different reasons for the same. The Ayurvedha doctor would say it is due to imbalance of the elements in the body. The Allopathic doctor would give another reason. Contrary to all this, the psychologist who is prominent these days, would see some other reason. Those who practice cures through manthra would say that it is because of some offence has been caused to a particular god. The astrologer would say that it is due to a particular position of the planet. Those well versed in Dharma Shastras realize that the disease is on account of deeds of the previous births (Karma).

It is not only in regard to a disease but in regard to all kinds of joy and sorrow several reasons are mentioned. We get confused if several reasons are attributed to a simple thing. Are the planets the cause of our joys and sorrows? Or as the ‘manthra cure’ man says is it due to an offense caused to the family deity or the village deity? Is such a god to be propitiated suitably? When it is a question of sickness and disease are we not to go for medical treatment also? If, as some say, it is all the result of the deeds of the previous birth, is one to keep quiet thinking that it will get cured in its own time? Such confusion arise.


If we think deeply about the several reasons we may find that all of them are true. It is certain that the original cause is only the deeds of our previous birth. That alone brings about several results. Rain is only one but how many things result from it. The earth becomes wet, small insects start flying. The frogs start making noise. Some plants took more green and show fresh life, while some others perish. All these follow from one thing i.e. rain. In the same manner, Karma is the cause for the disease which has to be cured by chanting of manthras or through astrological remedies or through medical science. In life there are several other problems apart from disease. Problems which have to be tackled with money power or official status or physical strength by using intelligence etc., are countless. The cause for these problems and sufferings is only karma. According to science any effect must have a cause.

The entire universe is subject to the law of cause and effect and action and reaction. Entire physics explains only this truth. Because the insentient and sentient world came from the same source, the law applicable to the universe would also be applicable to human beings. Our deeds certainly have reactions. The cause for our joys and sorrows is our good and bad acts in the previous birth or in the past life. Sometimes it used to be said that apart from the effects of our own good and bad deeds, such deeds of particular other persons also affect us. For example, if a child becomes sick, it is said that it is the result of the bad deeds of the parents. When it is seen how they constantly nurse the child and how they undergo mental suffering due to the child, this view seems to have merit. Another thing also comes to my mind – if we meet with something bad it is the result of enemy’s good deeds.

For all the occurrences in the universe the only cause is the Great Power (Parashakthi). It is according to the directions of the Lord that the world operates. He creates a relationship between several things. Nothing occurs in this world which is totally unrelated to something. What appears to us to be unrelated are intrinsically related by the Lord, who then enjoys just looking on. The deed of a person and its effect are the prime reason for the joys and sufferings of human life. The movement of planets, offence to gods, diseases etc., are secondary reasons. One may seek remedy through horoscope or magical chants or through medical treatment. When the effect of the past deeds gets exhausted then these remedies will give the beneficial effect.

If one has attained spiritual maturity and leaves everything to God and dedicates everything to God and keeps quiet, that is more beneficial than other remedies. That is a great remedy, the true remedy. Whatever course the deeds of previous births may take it is important to ensure that we do not further add to the load of Karma. More than seeking remedy for the past, seeking the Lord’s help in avoiding further loads of sins is important. The remedy for the sorrow that has resulted from the past deeds is only meditation on the Lord. The means to avoid sowing the seeds for further sorrow is also meditation on the Lord. The ultimate remedy is the realization of the adhvaithic state in which there is no second thing to cause sorrow. In that state there is neither joy nor sorrow. The truth which is the base for both will be self-effulgent.


3. Mahaperiyava Miracles


Discovery of Atma-bhodendral Adhistanam by Mahaperiyva

Before we read the miracle we should know about who is Atma Bodhendral. The details of which are given below.

Sri Atma Bodhendra Saraswati (1586 – 1638)

Sri Atma Bodhendra Saraswati , the 58th Acharya of Sri Kanchi kamakoti Peetam, was a native of Vruddhachalam, Tamilandu and born in the year 1586. His pre-sanyasa name was Visvesvara. He toured extensively and stayed at Benares for a long time. He wrote a Bhasya on the Sri Rudram. It was Atma Bodha who directed Sadasiva Brahmendra to write the Gururatna Malika. Atma Bodhendra was the Guru of Bhagavan Nama Bhodhendra who instructed Bodendral to spread Bhagavan Namam. Baghavan Nama Bhodendral who later retired to Govindapuram to establish Nama Sidantha and spread bagavan nama. Sri Atma Bodhendra Saraswathi Swamiji attained mukti on the banks of the river South Pinakini, known in Tamil as Then Pennai on Krishna Ashtami in the month of Tula of the cyclic year Eswara (1638 AD). The Adhistanam of Sri Atma Bodhendra Saraswathi Swamiji is located at the place, now known as Vadavambalam, near Panrutti. The Adhistanam was discovered by the directions of His Holiness Pujyasri Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati or Mahaperiyava (details of which are painted on the walls of the adhistanam) and was consecrated on 17 January 1927.

Discovery of Atma-bhodendral Adhistanam

In the year 1926 while on padayatra Mahaperiyava was crossing Vizhupuram. Periyava got a divine call and suddenly entered a Village called “Vadavambalam” along with his sishyas. Mahaperiyava then enquired the elderly people in that village whether they know about any Sannyasi who lived in that village? Unfortunately no one was aware of any such sannyasi. However one old person in the crowd came forward and told Periyava that he heard that some few hundred years back there lived a Sannyasi who later attained samadhi in that Village but unfortunately there is no trace available currently about the exact place where the Sannyasi attained Samadhi.

Paramachrya realized that is the place, where the 58th Pontiff of Kanchi Kama Koti Peetam Sri Atma Bodhendra Saraswati who was the Guru of Bhodendra Saraswati Swamigal of Govindapuram, must have attained samadhi. He then wandered the entire village and while crossing a plaintain field He sensed some thing different and told one of his sishya who accompanied him to dig one particular spot.

One Kumaramangalam Sambamoorthy Shastrigal was supervising the activity. When the digging was in progress suddenly there was a huge crying voice from Sambamoorthy Shastrigal “Don’t Dig…. Don’t Dig” and fell unconscious on the filed. The sishya who was was digging shocked and stopped digging. He then gave water to Shastrigal who woke up to reality after a long gap. Shastrigal then told the following which is breathtaking.

“ I saw one Sannyasi in front of me. He was standing from earth to sky wearing rudraksha, having kamandal in his hands, wearing saffron dress, wearing vibhuthi in his forehead and about thousands of vedic brahmins were chanting vedas, then that Sannyasi uttered “Don’t dig, Don’t Dig” and then that big figure reduced to a small size and vanished. Later I heard somebody chanting “Sadasivam! Sadasivam!”. Then I don’t know what happened to me”. Hearing above Mahaperiyva confirmed is guess that is place where Sri Atma Bhodendra Saraswati would have attained Samadhi. Later in the year 1927 on January 17th Periyava conscreated a Shivaling on the Spot and constructed a Brindhavana to Atma Bhodendral. Now the aradhana to atma bhodendral happens every year there in Vadavambalam near Vizhupuram. Let us workship Mahaperiyva and Atmabhodendral who initiated bhodendral to establish nama siddantha!

Bibliography/Reference

· Pujyasri Mahaswamy Divya Charitram – Sri Sambamoorthi Sastrigal, Sri Kuppuswamy Iyer, Sollin Selvan “P.N. Parasuraman”
· Kanchimahanin Karunai Nizhalil – Ananda Vikadan Publications
· Voice of God – Volume – 1 – Kanchi Mahaswami Peetarohana Shatabdi Trust

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sridhara! Gangadhara!!







Hello readers,


The Vedic scriputures like Srimad Bhagavadam and Upanishads says in this age of kali the path to salvation is “Nama Sankeerthanam” i.e. chanting the divine and holy names of the Lord. Lord Krishna Chaitanya pioneered the movement of Hari Nama Sankeerthan in the Kali Yuga. In this article we are going to dwell about Sri Sridhara Venkatesa Ayyaval who was a pioneer in propogation of Nama Sankeerthan in South India. We would have heard of music ‘Trinity’ (i.e. Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Deekshitar and Syama Shastri) who are composers of carnatic music. Many of us would not have heard of another ‘Trinity’ i.e. Bodhendral, Sridhara Venkatesa Ayyaval and Marudhanallur Sadhguru Swamigal who are considered as the primordial acharyas in the “Dakshina Sampradaya Bhajana Padathi”. Bodhendral who was the Acharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam renounced his position to propogate Bagavan Nama and established the Bagavan Nama Siddantham. Bhodendral’s contemporary was Sridhara Venkatesa Ayyaval who had spurned his ministerial post to dedicate his life for propagating Bhagavan Nama. Marudhanallur Sadguru Swamigal who travelled far and wide to collect various compositions and prepared the format for performing the Sampradaya Bhajan starting from Thodaka Mangalam, Guru Keertan, Abhangs, Music of Trinity, Dolotsavam, Ashtapadi, Radha Kalyanam and finally ending with Anjaneya Utsavam. Currently various Bhagavatars are doing the yeomen service of rendering Bagavan Nama Sankeerthanam which eradicates the evil effects of Kali or current situation. Bagavathars like Pudukottai Sanjeevi Bagavathar, Haridoss Giri Swamigal in recent years have contributed significantly towards the development of this tradition, which has produced lots and lots of Bhagavatars. Any one who attends the Sampradaya Bhajans, Radha Kalyanam, Seetha Kalyanam etc., will definitely attain peace and happiness. Music CDs on Sampradhaya Bhajas are also available aplenty now in leading music stores. One can take the first step in eradicating all the evil effects which are washed away by simply hearing these Bhajans which are fraught with the divine names of the Lord. Sravanam (Hearing) and Keertanam (Singing or Chanting) are the first step of devotion or bhakti towards the Lord…Please teake the first step……..


Happy Reading! & Warm Regards …… A.V. Devan


Sridhara!! Gangadhara!!

India is land of Saints. Mother India has given birth to countless saints. Srimad Bhagavatham proclaims that Lord would incarnate in this land in this age of Kali in the form of Saints. The Saints have blessed this land with the touch of their feet and have spread the divine names of the Lord. Not stopping with just immersing themselves in this bliss of chanting the divine names these selfless souls strived to take this simple and sweet message to the masses. One such divine person who spread the message of divine name is Sri Sridhara Venkatesa Ayyaval who was an epitome of compassion and love.

Early life

In the Court of King of Mysore there was a noble minister whose belonged to Karnataka Smartha Brahmin community by name Lingaraya. He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He was a person of good repute owing to his learning and wisdom. Lingaraya married to a girl who came from a very noble family. To this illustrious couple was born Sridhara Venkatesa. Sridhara grew up to be a very pleasant young boy and at an early age was already well versed in Shaastras and the Vedas. In due course of time Srdihara was married to Sowbagyavathi Lakshmi. Soon after his marriage Sridhara’s father attained heavenly abode. Sridhara Venkatesa performed all the rites as mentioned in the Vedas to his father for a full year.

Wealthy to Unchavrithy

The Maharaja of Mysore who was aware of Sridhara Venkatesa’s knowledge and capabilities offered him the post of ‘Dewan’ of Mysore. However he declined the offer. He did not have any attachment to either his ancestral property or even the wealth that his father had left for him. He preferred to rather go around singing the names of the lord and lead a simple life by taking “Unchavritti” (i.e. engaging oneself in singing the divine names of the Lord and living through alms without attachment towards wealth). He could easily sense the divine call guiding him to move around the world and spread the divine message of true devotion and nama mahima. When he conveyed his decision to his mother and wife they were too happy to follow him. On knowing his decision the King and people of Mysore gathered at his door step and pleaded them to stay back. Sridhara Venkatesa said, “These riches belong to me no more anyone can walk in and take whatever they want without any restrictions” and left his mansion followed by his devoted wife and loving mother while the King and the people watched on helplessly.

Spreading the divine name

After leaving the city of Mysore, Sridhara Venkatesa Ayyaval passed through many cities and villages singing the divine names of the Lord and preaching the Kali Yuga Dharma i.e. Nama Sankeertan, accepting things offered as alms. After winning the hearts of the people there and hearing them chant with devotion he would continue his journey. He also visited temples along the way and spent considerable time in reading scriptures. In every place he visited he preached in simple language about importance of chanting the divine names of the Lord. His discourses emphasized devotion towards both Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva without bias. Thus moving places Ayyaval reached the town of Tiruchirapalli in Tamilnadu and stayed there for some time. The local King came to know about Ayyaval and became his devotee.

Why Nama Sankeerthanam?

The Yuga dharma for this age as mentioned in various scriptures is Nama Sankeerthanam. Nama Sankeerthanam is singing the divine names and glories of the Lord. To perform Nama Japa is very easy which is very much suitable for this fast world where every one is busy day and night. We get only the time to sleep that is also getting reduced. Hence any one can chant while he is bathing, eating, travelling, working or even in sleep. There are no rules and regulations for chanting the divine name of the Lord. A person can choose any name to chant Shiva, Krishna, Muruga, Rama etc., and keep onself engaged in chanting even though he is engaged in all activities of the material world. Chanting helps a person to be always in touch with the God. Please see the following quotes from various scriptures which tells the importance of chanting the divine names of the Lord.

Hari and Hara

While Ayyawal was staying in Trichy some greedy neighbours voiced their opinion to the King that Ayyawal was more leaning towards Lord Shiva than Lord Vishnu and he should be put to test. The King who was a great devotee of Ayyaval did not like the idea of testing the saint. However the desire to know the heart of the saint sprouted in him and hence he decided to test Ayyaval without malice and hit upon a plan. He ordered the priests to dress up Sri Mathrubhuteshwara Lord Shiva in Tiruchirapalli as Lord Krishna and take him in procession. He thought that Sridhara Ayyaval’s reaction would indicate his bias. When the procession passed through the home of Ayyaval he was meditating on Lord Shiva. Upon hearing that the procession is nearing his house he came out to see the Lord and found Mathrubuteshwara in the form of Krishna. Upon seeing this Ayyaval spontaneously poured out and started praising Lord Krishna through his divine composition known as “Krishna Dwadasa Manjari comprising of twelve verses and in one of the verse he asks , “Oh! Lord Krishna! When will I spend every moment of my life in meditating on your Lotus Feet by reminding myself of the transitory nature of this world, being humble, knowing my deficiencies, turning blind to other’s faults, being compassionate towards all living beings, being a servant of the devotees of the Lord and eyeing both joy and sorrow alike?” The King was taken aback on this and all his greedy neighbours fell at the feet of Sridhara Ayyaval and apologized for their ignorance. The King then requested Ayyaval to stay back in Trichy. However Ayyaval politely declinded the offer as that will stop his mission of spreading the divine message to the world.

Tiruvisainallur

After leaving Tiruchirapalli Ayyaval reached the City of Tanjavur. During the course of his journey his mother attained the Feet of the Lord. The King of Tanjavur Shahaji hearing the scholarship and devotion of Sridhara Ayyaval visited him and blessed by his darshan. Ayyaval was not very much interested in staying in a city and was looking for a calm and serene place to setlle down. When he reached the village of Tiruvisainallu he realized he had found the place he had desired and decided to reside there. Tiruvisainallur (a.k.a Tiruvisalur) is a small village situated about ten kilo meters from the City of Kumbakonam in Tamilnadu. This is the birth place of Marudhanallur Sadhguru Swamigal. This is also the place where Bhodendral, Ayyaval and Sadasiva Brahmendral congregated to spread the divine message of Bhagavan Nama. This is the place where Sadasiva Brahmendral had studied Vedas. This is birth place to many saints like Sri Ramabadra Deekshitar, Mamahopadyaya Ramasubba Shastrigal and many more divine personalities. A visit to this place will wash away once accumulated papas and vasanas. Among all the great scholars who lived Ayyaval is the most accomplished and revered.

Association with Bhodendral

Ayyaval was contemporary to Bhodendra Saraswathi Swamigal (1610 to 1692) or Bhodendral. Bhodendral was the 59th Pontiff of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Bhodendral renounced his peetam to spread the message of Nama Siddantham. Sri Bodendral had deep reverence for Sridhara Ayyaval. They used to meet often and enjoy the bliss of talking about the glory of the Lord. Ayyaval loved to chant the holy name of Shiva whereas Bhodendral loved the name of Rama. When Bodendral read the Ayyaval’s work “Aakya Shasti” which talked about the greatness of Lord Shiva’s name is 60 verses, he commented that Ayyaval could have named the work as “Shivaakya Shasti” instead of “Aakya Shasti”.

Bhodendral then asked is he not interested in chanting the holy name of Rama? Ayyaval replied that “While Lord Shiva, the glory of whose name I have sung in these sixty verses, himself does not cease to chant the divine name of Rama even for a moment out of such taste and love for that name, how can I dare to describe the beauty and glory of the divine name of Rama?”. Hearing this Bhodendral shed tears of joy. Sri Bodendral had great respect and affection for Sri Ayyaval, who reciprocated the emotion. In his works Namamrutha Rasodayam and Nama Rasayanam, Sri Bodendral had quoted Sri Ayyaval's Bhagavan Nama Bhushanam as reference, even before they met. Sri Bodendral met Sri Ayyaval in Tanjavur province. Sri Bodendral even composed a song for his disciples to worship Sri Ayyaval, who was elder to him. This verse thus ended: "Obeisance to Sri Venkatasa Guru, who is Shiva Incarnate" or "Tam Vande Nara Roopam Andakaripum Sri Venkatesam Gurum". Sri Ayyaval worshipped Sri Bodendral thus: "Yasya Smarana Matrena Nama Bhakthi Prayajathe; Tam Namami Yathi Sreshtam Bodendram Jagatham Gurum".

Works of Ayyaval

Ayyaval composed many literary works which includes, Bhagavan Nama Bhooshanam, Aakya Shasti, Dayasatakam, Ramamrutha Rasayanam, Stuti Paddathi, Shiva Bhakti Kalpalatha, Shiva Bhakta Lakshanam, Achyutaashtakam, Dola Navaratna Malika, Padamani Manjari, Gangashtakam, Navaratnamalika, etc., All his wokrs mainly talks about the greatness and glory of the divine names of the Lord.


Thiru-Idai-Maruthur Mahalingaswamy temple

Ayyval used to visit the Mahalingaswamy temple (Lord Shiva) situated at Thiruvidaimarudur near to Thiruvisainallur. The name is derived from the tamil word Idai meaning middle and marudur is derived from the Maruda tree. The Stala Vriksha of Mahalingaswamy (Lord Shiva) temple here is Mardua Tree. The talai or top temple having mardua tree as the stala vriksha is Malligarjuna temple in Sri Sailam (Andhra Pradesh), Madhyaruja is Idai Maruthur (near Kumbakonam) and Kadai or bottom one Sputarjuna i.e. Thiruppudai Marudur in Ambasamundram (Thirunelveli Dist). This is one of the Panchakrosha Sthalas. The Ambal here is Brihat Sundara Gujaambika is one of the Sakthi Peeta. The temple deity has been sung by Appar, Sundarar, Manickkavasagar, Sambandar, Pattinathar and Karuvoor Thevar. Brahma-hathi i.e. sin caused by killing a brahmana is found in the south wall with head disheveled and face immersed between the knees. King Varaguna Pandia’s horse accidentally crushed a Brahmin and killed him. The sin followed wherever he went. The King came to this temple. The Brahmahathi could not enter and waited outside. The King went out by another entrance. The Brahmahathi is waiting outside still. The King was relieved of his sin. People inflicted with mental disorders go round the circumambulatory path and get redress.

Divine grace of Mahalinga!

Ayyaval used to visit the temple of Mahalinga on a daily basis as a routine to have the darshan of the Lord Mahalinga. He loved the deity very much that rain or shine he would not miss visiting the temple. To reach the temple he used to cross River Kaveri. One particular day there was a huge rain and the river kaveri was flooded. The boatmen refused to ferry the boat to cross the river. Ayyaval was saddened as he could not visit the temple that day and gazing the tower of the temple on the other shore Ayyaval stood with tear-filled eyes. He went back home and composed a soulful prayer “Aarthi Hara Stotra”. Later that day the priest of the Shiva temple visited his house and gave the sacred ash “Vibhuthi” prasada. Ayyaval felt it was Lord Shiva himself had come in the guise of the priest. Overwhelmed he then composed “Dayasathakam” i.e. 100 verses glorifying the compassion of the Lord.

From Sridhara to Gangadhara

Once Ayyaval had to perfom his father’s annual Shraddha Ceremony. He made all arrangements for the ceremony and invited the Vedic Purohits to perform the ceremony. On the shradda day Ayyaval was on his way to Rivery Kaveri to take his moning bath, he was a low caste man fallen on the ground suffering from hunger. Ayyaval an epitome of compassion could not bear the pain rushed back home and brought the food prepare for the shradda ceremony and offered it to the poor man. Later he went back home and again started cooking afresh for the ceremony. However the orthodox Brahmins were of the opinion that Ayyaval’s act is agains the vedic rituals and rites and they cannot perfrom the ceremony and went back. Ayyaval had no other option but to perform on his own. Sri Iyyavaal conducted the cermony by putting darba instead of brahmins. When he uttered the mantras invoking his ancestor s Bhahma, Vishnu, and Siva came and sat as Brahmins. The ceremony was thus completed that year. Later Sri Iyyavaal told the orthodox Brahmins and said that he was willing to do any purifing act ordained by them for removing the sin incurred by his act. The Brahmins informed ayyaval to take the Holy dip in the river Ganges as remedy. Sri Iyyavaal told them that since his physical condition was not favourable for under taking such a journey told he would rather invite the sacred Ganges to his place and bathe in it. Saying so Ayyaval sincerely prayed Mother Ganges and composed “Gangaashtakam”. Moved by the devotion Mother Ganges gushed out from the House-Well of Ayyaval and started flooding the entire village.


The Brahmins congregated there were awe-struck realized that Ayyaval was none other than Lord Shiva who carries River Ganga in his head. The Brahmins later apologized to him and prayed ayyaval to stop the floods. Ayyaval then prayed to Mother Ganges to stay in his well in the backyard of his home forever. The Holy River Ganag paid heed to his prayer and subsided into the well. This incident occurred on the New Moon day in the tamil month of “Karthigai”. Even today many pilgrims travel to Tiruvisainallur to take a dip in this well every year. This year the annual “Ganga Aakarshana” celebration commences on 24th November and concludes on 5th December 2010. On the last day all the devotees take bath in this well which is equivalent of taking bath at River Ganges. [The Ganga-Avadharana-Mahotsva Patrika of 2010 is enclosed herewith for the benefit of the devotees]

Merging with Mahaling Swamy

One day when Ayyaval was singing songs on Lord Shiva at the Tiruvudaimaruthur temple with prema bhakti. Suddenly he ran into the Sanctum Sanctorum and embraced and merged with the Lord Mahalingaswamy. Bhaktas fainted and all were loudly uttering “Hara Hara Mahadev” “Gangadhara” and danced in ecstasy with tears in their eyes!
Lets workship the divine feet of Sreedhara Ayyaval and get his divine grace!


Bibliography/Reference

Sri Sridhara Venkatesa Ayyaval – Sriayyaval.Org
Sridhara Venkatesa Ayyaval – Namadwaar.Org
Sridhara Venkatesa Ayyaval – Namasankeerthanam.Com
Nama Sankeerthanam An introduction – Namasankeerthanam.Com
Nama Siddantham – Paranur.Org
Why Nama Sankirtan? – Namadwaar.Org
Ayyaval an embodiment of humaneness (R. Krishnamurhty) – THE HINDU
A devout savant (N.V.R. Swamy) – THE HINDU

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lord Sankara Vs Adi Sankara







Hello readers,


We hear lot of arguments in our homes, office etc., most of them are rubbish which needs to be trashed. However when we hear an argument between a Chandala (the low caste) and a Sanyasi (highly learned Jnani) what will be the result? We definitely get enlightened by listening to them.

Adi Sankara along with his Sishyas at Varanasi (Kasi) after taking bath at River Ganges (Ganga) was on his way towards Kasi Viswanatha Temple saw a Chandala (dog eater) coming towards them. Lord Siva is said to have come in the disguise of that Chandala. Sankara then uttered “Gacha Gacha” i.e. Move away, Move away.

Now the Chandala posed a few questions to Acharya who was dazed and was taken aback upon hearing his highly enlightened question. Sankara then replied his questions more philosophically. The answers are in the form of a small treatise by Adi Sankara is what is known as “Maneesha Panchakam”.

The word Maneesha meaning “conviction” appear in last line of all the five verse. Adisankara firmly tells and conveys in this sloka that a realized Brahma Jnanai is indeed Guru to him irrespective whether he is a low-caste chandala or a highly learned brahmana. Finally Acharya concludes such a realized person is none other Brahman himself whose feet are fit to be worshipped by Indira. That is the firm conviction of the Acharya.

To get that conviction please read on the complete dialogues….

Happy Realization!

Om Tat Sat!



A.V. Devan
Chennai
29-10-2010
-------------------------------------
Lord Sankara Vs Adi Sankara

Adi Sankara – Brief Biography


In a village called Kaladi in Kerala there was a devout couple by name Sivaguru and Aryambal. They were issue less for long and went to Trichur Vadakunnathan (Lord Shiva) Temple and performed puja for 48 days and with the grace of Shiva they were blessed with a son who was born in the “Thiruvathirai” Star. The Child was named Sankara means one who gives prosperity. It was a divine call in the form of Crocodile which helped Sankara to adopt Sanyasa at an early age so as to propagate the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. He was given Sanyas by his Guru Govinda Bagavatpada who taught Vedas and Advaita Vedanta to Sankara. He advised Sri Sankara to go out in the world and spread this truth throughout the country. Sankara later travelled the length and breadth of the country visiting holy cities and temples and established firmly the advaita philosophy. Sankara was also known as Shanmata Stapakacharya i.e. one who established the Worship of all the six main deities i.e. Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, Ganesha, Surya and Skanda.

Adisankara also established Peethams or Religious Seats to spread the message of Advaita at Sringeri (Sri Sharada Peetham), Puri (Govardhan Peetham) , Dwaraka (Kalika Peetham), Badrinath (Jyotir Peetham) and at Kanchipuram (Sri Kamakoti Peetham), Adi Sankara’s works includes Bhasya or Commentary on Brahma Sutra, Bhagavad Gita and ten major Upanishads. He had written Prakarana Grantha or Philosophical Treatise like Upadesha Sahasri, Viveka Chudamani etc. Sankara had also written many Stotras or devotional hymns like Soundarya Lahari, Bhaja Govindam, Annapurna ashtakam, Mahishasuramardhini, Subramanya Bujangam etc. Sankara though lived in this mortal world only for 32 year his contribution to the society is of immense by protecting the Vedic Culture and lifted the spirits of humanity which is thriving even today. He is Sankara himself who came to protect the Hindu Religion which is based on the Vedas.

Advaita Philosophy

Advaita Vedanta is based on Scriptures (Sastra), Reason (Yukti) and Experience (Anubhava) and aided by Spiritual Practices (karmas). This philosophy provides a clear-cut way of life to be followed. Starting from childhood, when learning has to start, the philosophy has to be realised in practice throughout one's life, even up to death. This is the reason why this philosophy is called an experiential philosophy. The underlying tenet being "That thou art", meaning that ultimately there is no difference between the experiencer and the experienced (the world) as well as the universal spirit (Brahman). Among the followers of Advaita, as well those of other doctrines, there are believed to have appeared Jivanmuktas, ones liberated while alive. These individuals (commonly called Mahatmas, great souls, among Hindus) are those who realised the oneness of their self and the universal spirit called Brahman.

Lord Sankara Vs Adi Sankara

On a hot summer noon once Jagadguru Adi Sankaracharya at Varanasi along with his disciples went to the sacred river Ganga to perform the mid-day rituals. After completing the rituals they were on their way proceeding towards the temple of Lord Viswanath. On their way the Great Acharya of Advaita saw a Chandala (an outcaste) along with his wife surrounded by four dogs came in front of them. Since they have already taken bath and were proceeding towards the temple the Acharya uttered the Chandala “Gacha Gacha” i.e. move away move away. Now the Chandala encountered Jagad Guru Adi Sankara by cross questioning “By asking to Move Away do you want the body which is made of food to move away from another body which is also made up of food? Or do you want consciousness to move away from consciousness?” These innocent looking remarks led to an unexpected questioning from the Chandala and caused Sankara to give out to the world an immortal poem called “Maneesha Panchakam” which elaborated the Vedantic ideas and brought into focus that even a person belonging to a low caste could rekindle the light of wisdom in the greatest among the great teachers. Sri Sankara’s encounter and the dialogue with the outcaste on the streets of Varanasi were of immense and eternal significance. The Chandala posed two questions to Sankara and Sankara replied in five verses. These five verses have been collectively given the name “Maneesha Panchakam”. The word “Maneesha” means “Conviction” and Panchakam means five verses. The word “Maneesha” appears in the last line in all the five verses.

Maneesha Panchakam in essence captures the Mahavakyas of all the four Vedas.

Prajanam BrahmaConsciouness is Brahman – Aitareya Upanishad – Rig Veda
Aham Brahmasmi I am Brahman – Brhadaranyaka Upanishad – Yajur Veda
Tat Tvam AsiYou are that – Chandogya Upanishad – Sama Veda
Ayam Atma BrahmaThis Self is Brahman – Mandukya Upanishad – Atharva Veda

Maneesha Panchakam

Chandala’s Questions

O Great among the twice born! What is that you want to move away by saying, “Move Away, Move Away”? Do you want the body made up of food to move away from another body made up of food? Or do you want consciousness to move away from consciousness?

Is there any difference between the reflection of the Sun in the waters of the Ganga and its reflection in the water in a gutter in the quarters of the outcastes? Is there any difference between the space in a Gold Pot and in a Mud Pot? What is this illusion of difference in the form, “This is a Brahmana and this is an Outcaste? in the indwelling self which is the ripple-free ocean of bliss and pure consciousness?

Sankara’s Answers

Verse 1

If a person has attained the firm knowledge that he is not an object of perception, but is that pure consciousness which shines clearly in the states of waking, dream and deep sleep and which as the witness of the whole universe dwells in all bodies from that of creator Brahma to that of an ant, then He is my Guru irrespective of whether he is an outcaste or a Brahmana. This is my conviction.


Verse 2

“I am Brahman (Pure Consciousness). It is pure consciousness that appears as this Universe. All this is only something conjured up by me because of avidya (nescience) which is composed of the three gunas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas). One who has attained this definite realization about Brahman which is bliss itself, eternal, supreme and pure, is my Guru, whether he is an outcaste or a Brahmana. This is my conviction.


Verse 3

Having come to the definite conclusion, under the instructions of his Guru, that the entire Universe is always perishable, he who, with a calm and pure mind constantly meditates on Brahman and who has burnt his past and future sins in the fire of knowledge, submits his present body to the operation of his praarabdha karma. This is my conviction.


Verse 4

The Self or Pure Consciousness is experienced clearly within by animals, men and gods as ‘I’. It is by the reflection of this pure consciousness that the mind, senses and body which are all insentient appear to be sentient. External objects are perceived only because of this consciousness. This Self is however, concealed by the very mind, senses and body which are illumined by it, just as the sun is concealed by clouds. The yogi who with a calm mind always meditates on this Self is my Guru. This is my conviction.

Verse 5


The Self, which is Brahman, is the eternal ocean of supreme bliss. A minute fraction of that bliss is enough to satisfy Indra and other Gods. By meditating on the Self with a perfectly calm mind the sage experiences fulfillment. The person whose mind has become identified with this Self is not a mere knower of Brahman, but Brahman himself. Such a person, whoever he may be, is one whose feet are fit to be worshipped by Indra himself. This is my definite conviction.
After hearing the above replies Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati who were in the disguise of Chandala showed their real form to Adi Sankara blessed him and disappeared miraculously. It is said the Lords came there to test the depth of Sri Sankara’s spiritual understanding.

Lets worship the Lotus feet of Sankara to realize and experience the Brahman within ourself and attain the state of Jivan Muktas.

Jaya Jaya Sankara!!
Hara Hara Sankara!!

Bibliography/Reference

Adi Sankaracharya’s Maneesha Panchakam – Translated by S.N. Sastri (Vedanta Spiritual Library) (celextel.org)
An encounter between the Holy and the lowly – Adi Sankara’s Maneesha Panchakam – T.N. Sethuraman – esamskriti.com
Manisha Panchakam – Wikipedia

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Temple Visit - Sriperumbudur





From Editor’s Desk

Hello readers,

Everytime while on my way to Kanchipuram I used to see a huge arch with an inscription “Bhagavat Ramanujar Avatharitha Sriperumbudur” i.e. Birthplace of Srimad Ramanuja kindling my interest to visit but never attempted. This time I need to go to Kanchipuram to get the blessings of Kanchi Acharya for my Son’s Upanayanam, I decided to visit the temple first and then proceed to Kanchipuram. Mine and my Sister’s family started from Chennai and proceeded on the Chennai-Bangalore Highway. After crossing Poonthamalli we fuelled our cars. The road was excellent and within a hour we reached Sriperumbudur. While entering the rajagopuram the Jeer of Sriperumbudur was coming out and we paid our obeisance to the revered Jeer and got the blessings. We then had nice darshan of the Lord Adikesavaperumal, Yathirajanathavalli Thayar and Srimad Ramanuja.

We then drove to the main road and parked our vehicles outside Shri Rajeev Gandhi Memorial Site to have our breakfast. My better half had prepared Idlis dipped with Mollagapoddi for all of us and we took our breakfast on the bylane just opposite to the Memorial site. This is the place where Rajeev Gandhi was assassinated while on his election campaign in the year 1991. The memorial is beautifully constructed and well maintained. After finishing our breakfast we then proceeded to Kanchipuram. We had the darshan of both the Kanchi Acharyas i.e. Jayenthra Saraswati Swamigal and Vijeyandra Saraswati Swamigal. Nadu periyava called us and blessed everyone with Mantrakshatai and sanctified the invitation card and subsequently we also got the blessings from Balaperiyava. We then placed the invitation card at Mahaperiyava adhistanam where the Pundit read the invitation card to Periyava and placed the card in the hands of Mahaperiyava Deity which is placed below the adhistanam. Mahaperiyava showered his blessings such that the Upanayam went of very well. Please read on the article to know more about Sriperumbudur Adikesava Perumal temple.

Happy Reading!

A.V. Devan
Chennai
20-10-2010

Temple Visit – Sri Adhi Kesava Perumal Temple - Sriperumbudur

Sriperumbudur which is located on the Chennai – Bangalore Highway (NH 4) about 40 Kilometers South-West of Chennai. This is the birth place of Saint Ramanuja, great Philosopher of Vaishnavism. The town hosts Sri Adi Kesava Perumal Temple which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu in the standing posture here is known as Sri Adhikesava Perumal with his consorts Shreedevi and Bhoodevi bestows his abundant grace on his devotees. The divine mother [Thayar] is known as “Sri Yatirajanathavalli Thayar” meaning she is the consort of the master to Yathiraja i.e. Ramanuja. This is the only temple where Goddess Lakshmi has a name attributed to a devotee of the Lord. She is a varaprasadi who grants all wishes. The temple is in the south Indian style of temple architecture with feature of both Chola and Vijayanagara periods. It was constructed in the later Chola and Vijayanagara period. There is an inscription dated 1572 which mentions Srirangaraya I of the Vijayanagara period. Vijayanagara sources mention that in 1556 during the reign of Rama Raya a gift of 31 villages was made at the request of one Sadasiva to maintain this temple. The temple has a golden vimana with Sri Ramanuja’s image etched on it. This is the first golden vimana erected in the year 1912. To the right of the sanctum sanctorum is the Sannathi of Saint Ramanuja. Other deities like Rama, Andal, Udayavar, Desikan, and Alavandhar are enshrined in this temple complex.

Legends associated with the Temple

Legend has it that the builders of the temple tried to erect the pillars but owing to their excessive size and weight they failed and gave up the endeavor at nightfall. The next morning to their utter surprise they found the pillars duly installed. The people concluded that only giants or bhootas could have accomplished this. This is why the place came to be called Sri Perum Budur (great town of giants).

Another legend is that one day Lord Shiva started dancing in Kailash as if he was obsessed. Lord Shiva’s attendants known as Bhuta Ganas who were residing at Kailash seeing this strange behavior of their Master were amused and started laughing. Enraged, Shiva cursed them to be born on Earth. To get rid of the Shiva’s curse Bootha Ganas did penance here and Lord Shiva forgave them. He asked the divine architect Anantha to build a pond and when Bootha Ganas bathed in it, they could wash away their sins. This pond is called ‘Anantha Saras’ and in accordance with the wishes of the Devas, the Lord built a city called ‘Bootha Puri’, now called Sriperumbudur.

According to another legend, King Ambarisha was on a hunting expedition, when he spotted a tiger attacking a cow. In order to save the cow, he killed the tiger, but the cow also died in the process. He was grief-stricken and then a heavenly voice, asked him to go to Sriperumbudur, bathe in ‘Anantha Saras’ and then pray to Lord Narayana who would forgive his sins. The King dutifully obeyed the instructions. Then Lord appeared before him and told him that Adi Sesha would be born in his lineage and so asked him to build a temple. True to the Lord's words, after many years, Adi Sesha was born to a devout Brahmin Vaishnavite couple, Asuri and Kesavacharya, in Sriperumbudur and was named Ramanuja.
Than Ukantha Thirumeni

Sriperumbudur is the birth place of Saint Ramanuja the great philosopher of Vaishnavism. It was the presence of Mahavishnu as Adhikesava Perumal here made Asuri Kesavacharya father of Ramanuja settle here. Ramanuja was born in the year 1017 AD on the 12th day of the month of Chithirai under the star Thiruvadirai. There are three main Ramanuja Idols which are referred and located as given below.

Thamar Ugantha Thirumeni (Image dear to devotees) at Melkotte/Thirunarayana Puram
Than Ugantha Thirumeni (Image sanctified by Ramanuja himself) at Sriperumbudur
Than Ana Thirumeni (Original boday of Saint Ramanuja still preserved) at Srirangam

The Ramanuja Vigraha was made when the Acharya was living and it is said Ramanuja hugged it and passed on all his powers to this Vigraha which is known as “Than Ugantha Thirumeni” i.e. the body touched by him. It is said when the Stapathi opened the eye of the vigraha with the chisel, blood came out of the eyes of the teacher, who was then residing far away at Srirangam. When asked why, the preceptor explained that it was because the idol was "himself". After the vigraha was sanctified, Ramanuja became weak and shuffled off his mortal coil in a fortnight. This is interpreted as his prana coming to abide in the vigraha at Sriperumbudur. The idol here is believed to be very powerful and worshipping it will confer all benefits, including Moksha. There is a strong belief and fact of course, that if we drink Thirumanjana (Abiseka) milk of Sri Ramanujacharya , all sickness will be cured. In fact, in Sriperumbudur, Ramanuja is addressed as "Swamy'. On the festival day, the idol is bejewelled, dressed in glittering robes and carrying a sword, indicating Ramanuja's status as the king of saints i.e. Yathi Raja.
Vishishtadvaita Philosophy profounded by Saint Ramanuja

The Vishistadvaita Philosophy is a sub-school of the Vedanta school of Hindu Philosophy. The other school of thoughts being Advaita and Dwaita. Vishistadvaita philosophy was propogated by Saint Ramanuja. Vishistadvaita i.e. Vishita + Advaita literally means Qualified Advaita Philosophy.
In Advaita philosophy the Soul (i.e. Atma) is identified with Brhman.
Dwaita stresses a strict distinction between the God and the individual souls. (Jiva).
In Vishitadvaita – Brahman alone exists but is characterized by multiplicity.
Bhakti Yoga is the sole means of liberation in Visishtadvaita. Through Bhakti (devotion), a Jiva ascends to the realm of the Lord, where it continues to delight in His service. Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga are natural outcomes of Bhakti, total surrender, as the devotee acquires the knowledge that the Lord is the inner self. A devotee realizes his own state as dependent on, and supported by, and being led by the Lord, who is the Master. One is to lead a life as an instrument of the Lord, offering all his thought, word, and deed to the feet of the Lord. One is to see the Lord in everything and everything in Him. This is the unity in diversity achieved through devotion.
Sri Vaishnavism
Ramanujacharya puts forth the view that both the Supreme Goddess Lakshmi and Supreme God Narayana together constitute Brahman - the Absolute. Sri Lakshmi is the female personification of Brahman and Narayana is the male personification of Brahman, but they are both inseparable, co-eternal, co-absolute and are always substantially one. Thus, in reference to these dual aspects of Brahman, the Supreme is referred to in the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya as Sriman Narayana.

Please visit the temple and get the blessings of Adikesava Perumal, Yathirajanathavalli and Ramanuja!

Bibliography/Reference

Temples of South India – Smt Ambujam Anantharaman
Power of Guru – from the glorious life of Sri Ramanuja Acharya – Dr. G.R. Vijayakumar
Ramanuja Vaibhavam - Sri Ananthapadmanabhaachariyar
Sriperumbudur – Wikipedia
Vishitadvaitam/Dvaitam/Advaita - Wikipedia

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Narayana Or Nayantara?









Hello readers,

The most expressive feature in our face is the eye. Eyes are non-verbal communicators and convey our moods. The word ‘Nayan’ means ‘eye’ ‘Tara’ means ‘star’. Nayantara means one whose eye shines like a star. We are going to read an incident about a person who loved a lady whose eyes were dazzling like a star.

Sorry Guys! we are not going to read about Tamil film stars Prabhudeva and Nayantara love story in this article, rather we are going to know about an ordinary couple who later through the divine grace became great Shri Vaishnavas by the divine grace of Saint Ramanuja and Lord Ranganatha.

This article will definitely help us to know the real and eternal beauty which we should love so as to cross nescience. Saint Ramanuja who live some thousand year before was devoted to the service of God and Mankind. The physical limitations and the social taboos were washed away by the flood of Ramanuja’s divine love.


Srirangam is known as “Bulokha Vaikundam” i.e. Heaven on earth where you can feel the presence of the Lord. Lord Ranganatha has been extolled by Azhwars and sung by music trinity Tyagaraja and Muthuswamy Deekshitar. Such is the divinity you will experience if you have darshan of Lord Ranganatha!


Please read on to know more about real beauty and the greatness of Saint Ramanuja and the divine presence of Lord Ranganatha.


Let us all behold his form!


Adiyen Ramanuja Dasan



Narayana Or Nayantara?


Urangavilli & Ponnachiyar

Woraiyur or Urayur is located near the city of Tiruchirapalli or Trichy on the southern bank of river Kavery in Tamilnadu. It has a history dating back as early as 272 – 232 BC and was the capital of Chola Kings. In the Chola Kingdom there was a King by name Akalangan who was ruling the Urayur region. The Kings court there was a Royal Wrestler by name Urangavilli. Urangavilli was married to a beautiful lady by name Ponnachiyar. The word ‘Pon’ in tamil means gold and she was also glittering like a gold and had very beautiful and dazzling eyes. You just cannot take your eyes off once you see her beauty, such is the charm of her eyes (Aishwarya Rai?!). There is a saying in Tamil “Mogam Mupathu Naal and Aasai Aruvathu Naal” i.e. you will be obsessed with your wife for 30 days and affection for 60 days after that scuffle starts between the couple. However for Urangavillli the ‘mogam’ [love] continued forever and his love towards her turned into madness such that he use to carry an umbrella behind her to protect her beauty!


Once Urangavilli along with Ponnachiyar was attending the temple Chithirai festival. In the festivals the Utsavar is taken out of the temple for procession for the benefit of people so that people can have the darshan of the Lord. When the procession was going on Urangavilli instead of witnessing the Lord was as usual was carrying the umbrella behind his wife so as to protect her from the sun rays to preserve the lady’s beauty.

At this point in time the great Vaishnava Acharya Saint Ramanuja along with his disciples was passing through that area and saw this bizarre scene where Urangavilli carrying the umbrella without even bothering about others and was also not witnessing the God’s procession. One of the disciple of Ramanuja laughed and made mockery of him and muttered that he is crazy about his wife. The other sishyas also joined in making fun of him. However Ramanuja intervened and told them not to ridicule at him and told them his act indeed shows how much love he his having towards his wife. He then asked them to bring Urangavilli to him. Some of his disciples approached Urangavilli and informed that their Acharya wants to meet him. Urangavilli would have done lot of penance otherwise how an Acharya like Ramanuja would call him. Such is the mercy of great Acharyas who guides the ignorant people voluntarily out of compassion towards all.


Ramanuja then asked Urangavilli instead of seeing the God’s procession why he was seeing her wife and was he not ashamed for that?. Urangavilli replied that his wife is the most beautiful in the world and he is a slave for her beauty and hence was not bothered how others think of him. Ramanuja listened quietly and then asked him if he shows a Personality who is even more beautiful than his wife will he become the slave of that person? Urangavilli immediately agreed for this. Ramanuja then took Urangavilli inside the Srirangam temple and asked the Bhattar to show the deepa aradhana to the Lord Ranganatha who was in the reclining posture. Ramanuja asked the Bhattar to show the deepam near the Lords eyes and asked Urangavilli to have darshan of the eyes of Lord Ranganatha.

Azhwars have sung in the Nalayira Divya Prabandham that after seeing Lord Ranganatha they are overpowered by his beauty and after seeing Ranganatha they don’t want to see anything else and they are also not interested in taking up anything else even if they are offered to rule the Indira Loka. Such is the devotion of the Azhwars. See the two poems (Pasurams) from Prabandham as given below.



Kondal vannanai kovalanai
Venai undavayan En ullam kavarnthanai
Andar kon ani arangan
En amudhanai kanda kangal matrodrinai kanave

Pachai mamalai pol meni pavala vai kamala senkan
Achuta amararere ayar tham kozhute ennum !
Echsuvai thavera yan poi indiranlogam alum
Achsuvai perinum vendean aranga ma nagarulanea !!




It is not a surprise that after witnessing the beauty of the Lord’s lots eyes Urangavilli was taken by the divine beauty of the Lord which cannot be equated with the mortal beauty. Urangavilli was totally mesmerized. He immediately fell at the feet of Ramanuja. Later he along with his wife became great devotees of the Lord Ranganatha and were involved in serving Saint Ramanuja’s mission.



Akalanga to Akalanga Naataazhvan


Urangavilli then used to spend his free time in the service of Ramanuja. He also liberally donated his salary to the Mutt. Upon seeing the change in Urangavilli King Akalanga told him that he can spend full time for the service of Ramanuja and even asked him to get his salary from the court. However Ramanuja disagreed for this and told that one should not get the salary without working and asked Urangavilli to return it to the King. Akalanga was surprised over Ramanuja’s attitude and immediately met Ramanuja. Ramanuja then instructed Akalanga about Vaishnava Dharma. Later King Akalanga became Akalanga Naataazhvan and was given incharge for running the Srirangam Temple.


Greatness of Urangavilli & Ponnachi


Ramanuja lived in this mortal world for 120 years. During his later years when he was in Srirangam, used to take bath in the River Kavery and while walking back to his ashram he used to lean on the shoulders of his Brahmin disciples, Kuresa [Kurathazhwan] and Mudaliyandan. After Urangavilli joined Ramanuja took the help of Urangavilli also while returning from Kaveri and used to lean on the shoulders of Urangavilli. Some of his greedy brahmin disciples were not readily accepting his gesture and asked him how he could touch Urangavilli who is not a Brahmin. Sri Ramanuja said that it was a recognition of merit rather than an act of indulgence. Urangavilli had no egotism in him and no attachment and had given up all his belongings to join the Dasas, the Acharya explained.

He created an incident to prove his statement. He instructed through one of his disciple to tear the dhotis of the greedy disciples who were opposed to Urangavilli without knowing them. The next day when those greedy disciples came to know their dhotis were torn they abused and were quarrelling with each other. Few days later days Ramanuja asked Urangavilli to stay in the Mutt and instructed one of his disciple to go and steal the golden earring of Ponnachiyar. When the disciples went to steal the golden earring Ponnachiyar realized that the disciples have come to steal and acted as if she is sleeping so that they can remove her earrings. When they removed the earring from one side she was about to turn the other side so as to enable them to take the other ear ring also. However the disciples misunderstood that she has woken up and ran from that place.


The next day Ramanuja instructed those disciples who were earlier opposing Urangavilli to go and witness what is happening in Urangavilli’s house. Urangavilli returned the next day and when he came to know about the incident questioned Ponnachiyar why she had not given them the second ring also. She replied that she was about to turn the other side they misunderstood and left the place. Both Urangavilli and Ponnachiyar were lamenting for not giving the second ring also to the disciples of Ramanuja. The disciples heard the entire conversation of them and then went to Ramanuja to pardon them for their discrimination towards Urangavilli. Thus Ramanuja made them realize the greatness of Urangavilli and Ponnachaiyar.


Let us all pray to Ramauja and Ranganatha that let noble thought pervade and enlighten us at all times!

Bibliography/Reference

The bewitching Lotus eyes – The Hindu religion column
Mahan Ramanujar – Sri Lakshmi Narasimhan – Vikadan Prasuram
Sri Ramanujar – Sri T.N. Suki Subramaniam – Prema Prasuram
Ramanuja Vaibhavam MP3 Recording by Sri Ananthapadmanabhaachariyar
Urayur – Wikipedia