Thiru Adhyayana Utsavam is an enlightening festival for all vaishnavas and is an assembly of devotees reciting of Vedic Verses. This divine incident is celebrated as the Thiru Adhyayana Utsavam in all the Sri Vaishnava temples starting on Margazhi Amavasai ( Dec-Jan ) with the Divya Prabhandam pasurams of Thirunedunthandakam (10 days before Vaikunta Ekadashi).
The 4000 Divya Prabandham are the out pouring of the Azhwars who appeared in various divyadesams few thousand year ago as per the divine command of Lord Sriman Narayana and composed the divine pasurams which all srivaishnavas make it a law to recite .
The Divya Prabhandham has 4000 divine verses (Pasurams) and is the Dravida Vedam popularly glorified as “Nalaayiram Divya Prabhandam “ in Tamil. It is also glorified as Dravida Tamil Veda.
Once at Srirangam the capital of Srivaishnavas , the last of twelve Azhwars , Thirumangai Azhwar sang one of his divine prabhanda (Thiru-Nedun-Thaandakam ) glorifying Lord Ranganathar .
Lord was pleased by Azhwar’s recitation and thus granted two boons to Thirumangai Azhwar.
The Azhwar overjoyed , prayed Lord Ranganatha for his grace in giving equal status to the 4000 Divya Prabhandams in terms of authority as Vedas. He also pleaded audience in listening to the divine pasurams of Swami NammAzhwar which was granted .
Azhwar overjoyed with Lord Ranganathar’s command proceeded to Azhwar Thirunagari from Srirangam with his followers on Thirukarthigai in Karthika month(Nov-Dec) to Azhwar Thirunagari to invite Swamy Nammazhwar to srirangam.
It was almost 350 kms travelling from Azhwar Thirunagari (which is in Tirunelveli) to Srirangam .
The day when Thirumangai Azhwar along with Swami Nammazhwar arrived at Sri Rangam was Vaikunta Ekadasi.
Swamy Nammazhwar was received with due honors and was adorned with Muthangi seva and Namperumal with Rathnangi. Thus this divine festival was conducted with pomp and show singing Lord’s kalyana gunas .
Starting from Vaikunta Ekadasi succeeding next nine days, Azhwar along with the devotees recited Swami Nammazhwar’s Thiruvamozhi in the royal presence of Lord Ranganathar. This was followed for several years…
However after Thirumangai Azhwar disappearance , the practice was slowly overlooked .
It was JagathAcharyar Swami Ramanujar, who started the practice once again. And as the practice of welcoming Swami Nammazhwar’s Thirumeni from Azhwar Thirunagari was cumbersome ,
Swamy Nammazhwar Thirumeni ( deity ) was installed with all the purificatory rites at Srirangam itself .
Swamy Ramanujar further advised to glorify Lord’s Kalyana gunas by reciting the entire Naalayirum Divya Prabhandam and hence added ten days before the Ira Paththu and called them Pagal Paththu. These ten days, the divya sukthees of other Azhwars are recited.
As a mark of recognition to Thirumangai Azhwar’s divine service , the day before the Pagal Paththu Uthsavam first day, Namperumal listens to Thirumangai Azhwar’s ThiruNedunthandagam pasurams .
It is also said that Swamy Parasara Bhattar in the process of bringing the great Vedanti Madhavacharyar in srivaishnava fold won a debate and thus convinced him joining our sampradaya by the esoteric truths contained in the thirty verses of Azhvar’s “thirunedundhaaNdhakam”.
Upon Bhattar’ triumphant return to Srirangam, Lord Ranganatha asked Bhattar how he was able to defeat the great scholar . Bhattar explained that it was through the Thirunedundhaandakam.
It happened to be one day before the pagal patthu arambham, and hence in Srirangam, there is a special recitation of the Thirunedundhaandakam before the regular Adhyayana utsavam begins, because of Bhattar’s great service in bringing “Nanjeeyar” to our sampradaya .
The great festival started as ten days festival by Azhwar and was later celebrated as Twenty one day festival (+one day for ThiruNedunthandagam) by Swami Ramanuja.
Unlike other Divyadesams Thiru Adhyayana Utsavam is celebrated for 23 days in Tirumala. This is usually held from the night of AmAvAsya preceding Vaikunta Ekadasi in Dhanurmasa.
In the absence of Swamy Nammalwar’s deity at Tirumala, the vigraha of Nammalwar’s Acharya Sri Senapathi Alwar along with Swamy Ramanuja conduct this festival .
Lord Venkateshwara exclusively listens to Ramanuja Nootrandhadhi on the last day as a mark of respect to the great acharyar who offered Thiru sankhu chakram to the Lord of the Universe and thus re-established sri vaishnavism.
The Lord thus fulfilled Anantazhwan’s, (the dearest disciple of Swamy Ramanuja) desire to have sannidhi for Ramanujar and honour our JagathAcharyar .
To equate the Divya Prabhandams with the Vedas Adhyayana and Anadhyayana kalams are issued as in the Vedas and during a specific period (during a year) they are not chanted and this period is called Anadhyayana kalam .
Also another reason cited by elders is that during Swami Nammazhwar journey from Azhwar Thirunagari to Sri Rangam most of the devotees were in the process of welcoming Nammazhwar and the troupe carrying the Lordships and the euphoria was focused at one place . The devotees of Azhwar Thirunagari waited for Swamy Nammazhwar to return from Srirangam before they resumed the chanting of the divya prabhandam which happened to take some time and when they arrived it was almost one month Thai Hasta Nakshatra the appearance day of the most advanced srivaishnava Acharya Sri Koorathazhwan.
The Anadhyayana kaalam (period of non-recital of prabhandham) is observed from Karthigaiyil Karthikai(from Karthika Pournami) to Thai Hastam(which happens to be Sri Kooratazhwan’s appearance day).
This is observed in houses of all Sri vaishnavas . During the 21 days around Vaikunta Ekadasi, prabhandham is recited in temples only.
During this time, srivaishnavas at home glorify acharyars works like Naalayira Thanians, Desikar prabhandam , upadesarathinamalai , thiruvamozhi nootrandadi, Aarthi prabhandham etc.
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Photos credits : Sri Vakulabharan , Sri kesava bhasyam and other advanced devotees
video credits : with humble obeisances to sri kesavabhashyam