As per the divine order of JagathAcharyar Swamy Ramanuja his disciple Swamy Anathazhwan served LORD VENKATESHWARA at Tirumala hills . He maintained a garden and was offering fragrant flowers to LORD daily .The beautiful garden was planted with flower bearing plants such as vakula , patala , punnaga , shenbaga and other fragrant trees .
The bunches of freshly grown flowers hanging from the branches were grand to look . The ears of pilgrims walking around the garden had strains of music poured forth by bees and all kinds of plumage birds , humming bees , cuckoos and the chirping of birds made the garden a perfect place for divinity . Nammazhwar’s hymns referring to the Lord as residing in flower bedecked ThiruVenkata Hills ( Sindhupoo maghizhum Thiruvengadam) was aptly reverberating .
KANCHIPURAM, popularly known as “ Temple town” is situated 70 kms to the southwest of Chennai -30 kms from Arakkonam and about 25 kms from Sriperumbudur-the birth place of Swamy Ramanujar. It takes about 2 hours to reach this place from Guindy, Chennai (subject to traffic) and about 1 hour from Arakkonam .
Plenty of buses ply from Chennai at frequent intervals to this place. It takes about one and half hours by car from Chennai Airport. Cab charges from Arakonam to Kanchi is fixed as RS.1,200/-. whereas from Chennai Airport it is about Rs.1000/-app.
As Brahma (KA) worshipped Vishnu in this place, it is known as KANCHI.
Kancheepuram is the only mukti kshetram located in South India out of the seven mukthi kshetrams, the others being Ayodhya, Mathura , Maya, Kasi, Avanthi, Dwaraka which are located in the NOrthern India.
SRIRANGA MANGALA NIDHIM KARUNA NIVAASAM
SRI VENKATADRI SHIKARALAYA KALAMEGHAM
SRI HASTHISAILA SIKORAJWALA PARIJATHAM
SRISAN NAMAAMI YADHUSAILA DEEPAM
The above famous sloka refers to the four most important Vishnu shrines-namely Srirangam(also known as “Bhoga Mandapam”),
Venkatadri(Tirumala)( “Pushpa Mandapam”),
Srihasthisailam(Kanchi)(“Thyaga mandapam”) and
Yadhusailam(Melkote) (known as “Jnana Mandapam”).
The above Perumals were worshipped by famous devotees in the four yugas.
Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam (known as “Kovil”) was worshipped by Lord Rama who later presented HIM to Vibhishana in Treta yuga
Lord Thirunarayanan of Melkote was worshipped by Lord Krishna in Dwapara yuga,
Lord Venkateswara of Tirupati (known as “Malai”) is being worshipped by Adisesha and us in Kali yuga whereas
Lord Varadarajar in Kanchipuram (Perumal kovil) is being worshipped in all the four yugas-
by Brahma in Satya yuga,
by Mahashaantan Maharishi who asssumed the form of Gajendran in TReta yuga
by Devaguru Brihaspathi in Dwapara yuga
by Ananatazhwan(Adisesha) in Kali yuga
The sthalavaralaaru mentions that Adisesha (the serpent on which Lord Vishnu eternally resides) emerged from Patala to worship the Lord. This place is now known as “Ananta saras” pushkarini where Lord Athi Varadar resides in water. There is a snake pit(putru) near Nammazhwar sannidhi in the temple premises which is considered to be Adiseshan’s dwelling place.
Ananta saras is the only temple pushkarini in the world which has association with Lord always as HE dwells in the sacred waters of the pushkarini. In all other temples, LOrd visits the pushkarini only for theerthavari and in most of the cases it is the Sudarshana chakram which has holy dip in theerthams.
Brahma-the lotus born who emerged from Lord Vishnu’s naval at the time of creation desired to have darshan of Lord Vishnu and undertook penance. Lord appeared in the form of water at Pushkar in Rajasthan and later in the form of forest at Naimisaranyam near Lucknow. He wished to have darshan of the Lord with chathurbhujam and was advised by an asareeri to perform 100 Aswamedha yagams. AS he felt he was incompetent to perform 100 yagams, he was advised to perform one aswamedha yagam at Sathyavratha kshetram as any act done at this holy place would reap 100 times benefit.
Brahma brought athi (“Dhaaru”-a rare type of wood) known as “DHEVA UDUMBARAM” from DEvalokam on an elephant and Viswakarma -the divine architect carved out Vishnu murthi holding sankhu , chakram, gadam and right hand in abhaya hastham. He installed this murthi and started Aswamedha yagam. The speciality of this wood is it gains lustre when in contact with water unlike normal wood which gets spoilt quickly when kept in water. By placing a piece of wood in a tree trunk, the tree would start growing. This tree can be found only in two places -Athiyur(kanchi) and Gaya. (There are very few temples like Thirukovalur, Thiruvellarai, Puri and Kanchi where the Lord made of wood is worshipped which adheres to agama sastras)
This place came to be known as “Kanchi” as “KA”(Brahma) worshipped Vishnu here. He begun the yagna alone with the help of SAvitri and Gayatri (his other consorts), without his main consort Sri Saraswati.(It may be recalled that in Pushkar also, Brahma did penance without Saraswati’s presence. this can be observed in the Brahma temple. )
Angered by this negligence, Saraswati decided to stop the yaga ( A divine play by LORD) . First, she put the entire world in darkness. The Lord out of abundant compassion to Brahma appeared as Sri Deepaprakasa on Chitra Revati ( Now glorified as DeepaPraksha temple ) . Darkness was driven out. On the auspicious day in the month of Chitra(Apr- May) on Revati star day which is considered as the appearance day of Lord Deepaprakasar , Perumal along with Swami Vedanta Desikar visit Varadaraja temple .
Again when Brahma wanted to start the yagna, Saraswati sent a demon with bird and beast features to stop the yagna. Immediately, the Lord appeared with Eight arms –Sri Ashtabuja Perumal This place is in another separate Kshetram within Kanchipuram. This happened in Chitra Rohini . The demon was driven away and lord Brahma restarted the yagna . Not to rely on others to stop the yagna, then Saraswati decided to stop the yagna herself and took the form of a rushing river – Vegavati .
The Lord now took the reclining pose and as a bridge stopped the flow of the river. This happened in Vekkha and thus the Lord is Sri Yatothkari . This wonderful incident happened on Chitra Punarvasu day . Thus the Lord appeared in Three forms in the month of Chitra in Revati, Rohini and Punarvasu as Sri Deepaprakasa, Sri Ashtabuja Perumal and Sri Yatoktakari. ( One must have darshan of the Lordships in these temples which is very near to Main temple ) .
At conclusion of yaga, Lord Varadarajan emerged out of the scared fire pleased with Brahma’s devotion, in Punyakoti vimanam on the northern banks of River Vegavati.
As Perumal ( Utsava Moorthy ) appeared from fire, the marks on caused due to heat in the form of many small dots can be seen on utsavar’s Thirumugam ( divine face ) . Perumal gave darshan with chathurbhujam holding sankhu, chakram, gadam with HIS lower left hand and lower right hand in .abhaya hastam on Chithirai month chathurdashi thithi on Hastham star. “Ka” – means Brahma and “Anjitham” – means who was worshipped.
As Perumal granted all the boons of Devas, He is known as “Varadar” meaning “giver of boons”. As He is very compassionate, He is known as “Perarulalan.
As He is the master of Devas, He is Devadirajan,
as he resides at Attiyur (this place was once surrounded by Athi maram),
He is known as Attiyuran,
Hastagirinathan as He resides in Hastagiri. Airavatam-the celestial elephant on which Brahma brought the diety assumed the form of a hill to shelter the Lord. Hence , the hillock is known as Hastagiri. (Indra who was cursed by Mahalakshmi to become an elephant prayed at this place and was redeemed from curse.
As the Lord is bestower of boons to , HE is known as “Varadan”
Athivaradar carved out and worshipped by Brahma was the presiding diety whom Azhwars and Acharyars have glorified. The deity of Lord Varadarajar glorified as Athiyuran was the main deity in the Garbagraha of this temple until 15th Century. But as per the stone inscriptions in Thayar sannidhi, in 1487 , the murthi was replaced with shila murthi by Virupakshanayakan (a local king) under the rule of Narasinarayar of Vijayanagar empire.
During the Muslim invasion, in 1687 A.D.,the main deity (Lord Varadarajan) is said to have been under threat by the invaders. The mughals eyed on temples to plunder the abundant wealth kept in the temples . In order to preserve the deity and to avoid desecration of the Lordships, the elders constructed a mandapam inside the tank and placed Athivaradan (moolavar diety) secretly in a silver casket and immersed in the temple tank- Anantha saras . (As per Dr.M.A.Venkatakrishnan, the deity is placed in the tank without silver casket. ). To protect the deity from floating, statues of eight naagas considered to be Adisesha swaroopam were installed around the diety for protection.
The utsava murthi of LOrd Varadarajan and Perundevi Thayar were shifted to Udayarpalayam near Trichy. The temple was in a deserted condition for 22 years. After peace was restored, an advanced devotee named Sri. Aathan Jeeyar who was the guru for Thodamal-the army chief of Arcot king (whose statue can be seen inside Tirumala temple) arranged to restore the utsava murthis in 1711 . AS they could not trace the whereabouts about Moolavar as most of the elders had migrated from Kanchi or left the world, there was none to reveal the whereabouts . It was decided to install a new Moolavirat from a rock in Pazhaya seevaram (a small hillock)-about 15 kms from Kanchipuram. . A replica of Athivaradar was thus carved out and consecrated as per vedic injunctions which we worship today. To mark this incident , every year during Thai maasam(Jan-Feb) , the utsava murthi Varadarajan visits Pazhaya seevaram. The newly consecrated idol was being worshipped along with the utsava murthis.
(After 40 years, due to divine will , when the temple tank Ananta saras got dried up (either due to drought or for cleaning purpose), the Lord revealed HIMSELF in the pushkarini. The Lord was placed in a nearby mantapam for worship as there was already a moolavar inside the temple.
(As per stone inscriptions in the temple, Athivaradar was found in the temple tank in 1781 on July 30th on saturday dasami thithi . )
Later, Lord appeared in a temple priest’s dream commanding him to put back the Lord in the cool waters of Ananta saras as HE was still experiencing the heat generated during Brahma’s yagam. Lord conceded to the devotees’ request to give darshan once in 40 years for a period of 48 days. Thus the practice of taking out the Lord from Ananta saras approximately once in 40 years for a period of 48 days begun. (As per records, it was taken out in 1892,then after 45 years in 1937, later after 42 years in 1979 and now after 40 years in 2019.)
Lord is placed in two postures -lying posture and standing posture . (As per Dr.Venkatakrishnan, the water from the puskarini is completely drained out and on an auspicious day during JUly-Aug when there are not many utsavams, the Lord is taken out carefully from Anantasaras, given holy bath and decorated .NO preservatives are used for protecting the divine form of the Lord. The Lord is placed only to have darshan, six times pooja as per Pancharatra agamasastras are not performed.
Ananta saras is the most sacred temple tank in the whole world because of its association with the LOrd of Universe always. Sprinkling holy water from this pushkarini redeems us of all the innumerable accumulated sins . In all other temples, either the utsava murthi of Perumal or ” sataari ” is dipped in the temple puskarini during culmination of brahmotsavam usually once in a year whereas in Ananta saras, the Lord dwells eternally.
It was Lord Varadar in the form of hunter couple who saved Ilayazzhwan(Swamy Ramanujar) from Yadavaprakasa who had planned to kill him. The most compassionate Lord VAradar along with HIS consort Perundevi Thayar disguised as hunter couple accompanied Ramanujar on the dark night in the forests near Vindhya mountains when Ilayazwan had lost way. Overnight, he was transported to Kanchipuram. When Ilayazhwan went to fetch water to quench the hunter-lady;s thirst, the Lord disappeared .When the perplexed Ilayazwan enquired about the whereabouts , he was pointed towards “Punyakoti vimanam”. Ilayazhwan realized that it was Lord Varadarajan who escorted him to this place and continued to stay here doing theertha kainkaryam. Also, Swamy Ramanujan embraced Sanyasam as per the Lord;s instructions by having a holy dip in the Ananta saras and was given orange robes by the Lord HIMSELF. Swamy Ramanujar did theertha kainkaryam to the Lord until he was ordered to shift to Srirangam to fulfill Thiruvaranga araiyar’s boon bestowed by Lord Varadar who was immensely pleased with Araiyar sevai performed by him.
Another interesting incident:-when Ramanujar ordered Kooratazhwan who became blind while trying to save him ordered him to prayto Varadar, Kooratazhwan composed VAradaraja stavam comprising of 102 slokas in praise of this Lord. When Lord asked him for a boon, he prayed that he should be given vision to see the holy form of the Lord and his acharyar only. He didn’t want to see the material world.
Like Puri Rathyatra performed 10 days prior to Aashada Ekadasi, the Annual Garuda seva performed on the third day during Vaigasi Brahmotsavam (May-June) especially attracts huge crowds from near and far. The streets are very wide like in Puri.
Another similarity between Puri and Kanchi temples is the dieties are made of wood . IN Puri Jaganath temple, once in 12 years, the moolavar dieties of Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Baladeva are replaced whereas in Kanchi Varadar temple, Athivaradar-the Lord carved out from athi wood by Brahma is preserved inside the temple tank and is taken out for worship once in 40 years.
This town is sanctified with many Acharayas -Sri Thirukachinambigal, Sri Ramanujar, Sri Desikar, Sri Sankaracharyar to name a few. Also , this is the headquarters for many religious peetams like Kanchi Kamakoti peetam, Sri Mudaliandan swamy Thirumaligai, Sri Appan Swamy Thirumaligai and other associate maaligas of Sri Ramanujar’s sishyas. One of the shatberams(6 utsava murthis) was given by the LOrd HIMSELF to our acharyar-Sri Mudaliandan Thirumaligai.
VAradaraja Sthavam by Kooratazhwan, Varadaraja Panchasat by VEdanta Desikar, Devaraja Ashtakam by Thirukachi nambigal are few famous renderings on this Lord. Thyagaraja has also composed a beautiful kirtan on this Lord.
Our poorvacharyars attribute the word “amararukku athipathi ” of the first pasuram in Nammazhwar Thiruvaimozhi to this Perumal.
SRI VARADARAJAR, PERARULALAN, DEVADIRAJAN, DEVAPPERUMAL, ATTIYURAN
This temple town is dotted with many temples of which there are 14 important shrines dedicated to Lord Vishnu and 13 temples for Parama Shivan. The sthalapuranam for all the Vishnu temples is inter connected with Brahma’s penance. Brahma who started Aswamedha yaga without his wife SAraswathi had to face many hurdles and everytime Lord Vishnu appeared in various forms to encounter SAraswati’s obstacles until Brahma successfully completed the yaga.
The temples are located in Little Kanchi and Big Kanchi. Out of 22 divya desams in Thondai naadu, 14 are in Kanchipuram itself and another at Thiruputkuzhi, the details of which are briefly given:-
Sri Nilathingal thundathan Perumal, (in Ekambareswarar temple)
Sri Ulagalandha Perumal , Ooragham
Sri Jagadeeswara Perumal, Neeragam in Ulagalandha Perumal temple prakaram
Sri Karunakara Perumal, Kaaragam in Ulagalandha Perumal temple prakaram
Sri Kaarvannan (Kalva) Perumal, Thirukaarvanam in Ulagalandha Perumal temple prakaram(all these temples are in Ulagalandha Perumal kovil itself)
Sri Aadivaraha Perumal, Thirukalvanur (in Kamakshi temple)
Sri Vaikuntanatha Perumal, Thiruparameswara vinnagaram
Sri Pandava dhootha Perumal, Thirupadagam
Sri Pavalavannan Perumal, Thirupavazhavannam(also,Perumal gives darshan as Pachaivarnan beside this temple)
Sri Varadaraja Swamy temple, Thirukachi
Sri Ashtabuja Perumal, Thiruattabuyakaram
Sri Deepaprakasa temple, Thiruthanka
Sri Azhagia Singar temple, ThiruVelukkai
Sri Yathothkari temple, Thiruvekha
With Kanchipuram as base town , devotees can also have darshan of Thiruputkuzhi Divya desam (1 hour drive from Kanchi). If you start early, you can finish visiting Kanchi temples by noon. Thiruputkuzhi, Sriperumbudur, Kooram can be visited in the second half of the day.
Check out the divine pastime in the appended blog post. Click the link
Of these, Sri Varadarajar temple with its imposing towers , Sri Kamakshi temple, Sri Ekambareswar temples attract many pilgrims including foreign tourists daily.
The famous Lord Varadarajar temple wears festive look daily .
Around 280 Utsavams happen in this temple all around the year
Lord Devaraja has captivating beauty and it is said that Swami Ramanuja was totally attracted by His shoulders
Perundevi Thayar, the consort of Devadirajan does not come out of the garbagriham like SriRanganayaki. Even the utsava murthi of the Thayar is not taken out for procession beyond the four walls of the temple. Whenever Perumal is taken out in procession inside the temple, HE is accompanied by Perundevi Thayar .
The Theppam (float festival) is celebrated in Anantasaras tank. The temple pond known as Anantha Saras /Amrutha saras never dries up , the Vimanam is known as Punyakoti Vimanam.
Every Friday , Thayar comes in a procession within the 4 walls of the temple. Almost 280 utsavams are performed to Lord whole year . Brahma in Kreta Yuga, Gajendran, the elephant in Tretha yuga, Brihaspathi in Dwarpara yuga and Adiseshan in Kaliyuga offered their prayers to Lord here .
The wonderful temple is located on a 23-acre complex and has 3 outer precincts (prakaram) namely Azhwar Prakaram, Madai Palli Prakaram and Thiru Malai Prakaram. The main sanctum faces west and can be entered through a 130 feet tall, 7-tiered rajagopuram (main gateway tower).
The eastern gopuram is taller than the western gopuram, which is contrasting to large temples where the rajagopuram is the tallest one. There is a 100 pillared hall has sculptures depicting Ramayana and Mahabaratha .The main shrine of Varadarajaswamy is on a small hillock 10m tall and a fleet of 24 steps, termed “Hasthagiri..
The temple has 5 prakarams. The first prakara which is on the Hastagiri hill houses the garbagriha and the pradakshinam path. The garbagriham is known as “Vayya maligai” – earthly mansion of the Lord(Leela Vibhuti) .
A flight of steps from the lower hill, known as Varanagiri which houses Narasimhar, leads us to the garbagriha where we can have darshan the Lord in His pristine glory.
The second prakaram is known as Thirumalai pradakshinam as it runs round the hill.
The third prakara known as Madapalli prakaram/ Alavandar prakaram houses the temple kitchen, numerous shrines and mantapams for Garuda, Adisesha, Perundevi Thayar, the abhsiheka mantapam where the utsava murthis are given abhishekam, pavitrotsava mantapam where the Lord’s vaahanams are kept, the unjal mandapam etc.
The fourth prakaram known as Azhwar Thiruveedi houses the vigrahams of all Azhwars , Acharyars, Krishna, Varaha, Sri Ranganathar etc and the Anantasaras tank.
The fifth prakaram is known as “Mada veethi “ and it was here that Sri Alavandar first saw Sri Ramanujar and blessed him that he would be the foremost for propagating Vaishnavism by declaring “Aam invan mudhalvan” meaning yes, he is the foremost.
As mentioned earlier, the Garbagriham is located on top of Hastagiri hill with enclosures on all sides. However on one particular day after 15 days from Chithira Pournami, the sunrays fall directly on Moolavar’s Thirumugam . (Similarly in Vaikunta Perumal kovil(popularly known as Kallapiran) in Pandya naadu, the sunrays fall on the moolavar’s thirumugam twice in a year)
Even the stones on the compound wall are 24. The pushkarini also has 24 steps. Gayatri mantra has 24 syllables. Therefore, it is no wonder that the Lord, Who has Gayatri as His body, has everything, around number 24. Apart from this, according to Visishtadvaita philosophy, achit entities are 24. That is inanimate entities are 24. When we cross the 24 steps we land on the top floor and that is the 25th entity, Jeevatman. From this floor we have to climb some more steps to reach the garbha gruham of Lord Devaraja Perumal. We come to the corridor on the floor and we go round that. One end of the corridor is famous for two things.
One of the ancestors of Lord Rama named Asmanjhan and his wife who were cursed to become lizards were redeemed from their curse at this place by the Lord. Hence, it is believed that touching the golden and silver lizards would cure us of all ailments. Crowds throng to touch these lizards for getting rid from material ailments forgetting that the Lord of the UNiverse standing as Varadarajan saves us from this “Samsaram” and gives “MOKSHAM”
Another adjoining mandapam, Kachhikku vaithan mandapam follows the corridor . Every evening the Lord would arrives at this mandapam, and Swami Thirukacchi Nambi would start his fanning service Thirukachi nambigal, the great Vaishnavite saint had the bhaagyam of conversing with this Perumal while fanning the Lord(Alavatta kainkaryam). This is beside the “lizard mantapam”
It is believed that Brahma comes here once a year on the full moon day in the Tamil month of Chitrai (April-May) around mid night, for a darshan of Lord Varadarajan. On this day, it is the practice for the priests to place food inside the sanctum and to wait outside for 24 minutes. At the end of this, the food is said to smell sweeter.
It was thus decided by Elders that LORD has to be taken out from the temple tank once in 40 years and various pooja shall be performed for 48 days and then kept in the bed of the Pushkarini for the next 40 years.
The 96th Pasuram of Irandam thiruvanthathi glorifies LORD as
Bhoodathazhwar addresses the Lord as “athiyooran” who is fond of garuda seva(pullai oorvan -pul =bird. Kanchi Garuda seva is world famous.
Thus Lord Athi Varadhar gives His darshan to the devotees only once in 40 years and that too for a period of 48 days.
The Rising of Athi Varadhar” happened in the years 1739, 1779, 1819, 1859, 1939, 1979 and Now in the year 2019 and fortunate are those who are having darshan .
Athi Varadar thus graces the devotees once in 40 years . Lord arrives from the Anantha saras and alights outside for public worship for a period of 48 days. This event took place last in 1979 and now in 2019 darshan has already commenced now . Lord gives darshan in reclining posture during the first 24 days and later gives darshan in standing posture for the remaining 24 days.
Vendittrellaam tarum vallal Manivannan” is how our Nammazhwar describes the Lord. Whatever we ask, the Lord is ready to give us the same and much more, however exalted be the boon we seek.
Check out the url links below on abundant mercy of the Lord of the Lords ..
Once the revered Acharyar Nadathoor Azhwan was on the way to a nearby temple . He met a learned srivaishnava friend who had come to accompany Azhwan upto the temple . En route they were discussing the divine experiences of Azhwars and Poorvacharyas .
Suddenly they came across another srivaishnava with Tilak but was belonging to a lower caste . As was the custom those days on seing the two revered Acharyas he moved to another side of the road and waited obediently for them to leave .
The learned vaishnava friend who was accompanying Azhwan looked at the passerby and started shouting at him for trespassing …….. and was too harsh on him …..
Nadadoor Azhwan who heard his shouts , fell down in a swoon . He was brought back to consciousness . The learned Vaishnava asked Azhwan If his health was fine and why did he swoon ?
JagathAcharyar Swamy Ramanuja happened to pass by the banks of the river .
One curious boy noticed the smiling swamin from a long distance
He informed the other kids and all wished to have Acharyas appreciation .
A divine pastime happened few hundreds year ago near the banks of Cauvery river. One sunny day few srivaishnava boys were playing on the banks of Cauvery river .
As they inherited their parents daily rituals , the boys smartly erected a small temple and installed an idol out of the Cauvery mud from the banks of the river . Each of them had some little contribution in bringing mud , pebbles , leaves , flowers etc .
As a part of the religious code as observed at their homes , they adorned themselves with the Urdhvapundra ( Tilak ) and were completely dissolved in devotion assuming it to be the real Periya Perumal Temple .
Few began chanting (glorification verses) Thirupallandu pasuram verses innocently but it was divine feeling for the crowd .
They offered Theertha prasada readily available from the banks of the river.
King Thondaman Chakravarthy was a great devotee of Lord Venkateshwara .He was ruling the region of Tamil Nadu including Tirumala several hundred years ago . The King used to speak to Lord and by the mercy of LORD he was ruling the kingdom to the satisfaction of the people by all means .
During this period an Asura Simhada started torturing the people which made the king upset .No amount of resistance could drive out this Asura .The unusual happenings in the kingdom was causing fear among the people . The King was annoyed and hence surrendered to Lord Venkateswara to save the people from the calamity .
The Lord out of compassion to the King appeared to him and lent his ThiruSankha and Sri Chakra and commanded the King to vanquish the enemy with the divine weapons . The King obediently followed the Lord’s…
Swamy Mudumbai Nambee Ananthacharya was one amongst the 74 Simhadipathees nominated by Jagathacharyar Swamy Ramanuja .
Swamy Ananthacharyar belonged to the illustrious family of the great srivaishnava stalwarts Swamy Pillai Lokacharyar and Vadakku Thiruvidhi pillai . .
During 1360 , Swamy Ananthacharyar was blessed with a son who was named as Hasthagiri Ananthar Anna being ardent devotees of Lord Varadaraja . ( Lord Varadaraja has been giving darshan to the devotees at this holy place called “Hasthi giri”. ‘Hasthi’ means elephant and “giri “ means hill) .
The young boy was very attractive and devotional right from his childhood .The boy was admitted in to the school of Swamy Nayana varadacharyar , the direct descendent of Swamy Vedanta Desikar . He received the Vedic inputs from his Acharya and progressed in leaps and bounds by his sheer devotion .
During this period , a staunch Advaitin Narasimha Mishra had come to Kancheepuram . He decided to debate with the learned scholars in that area in proving the supremacy of Advaitam and thus convert the opponent and his followers into his fold .
As his mission was incomplete , he invited Swamy Nayana varadacharyar for a debate as was done during those days .The bet was announced that the one who looses will follow others faith along with his followers . Swamy Nayana varadacharyar was not keen to interact with the scholar and not able to decide how to ignore his request too . It was the last day .The young boy could see his Acharyar’s concern .
He wanted to somehow make his Acharyar happy . He understood from his senior disciples what made his Acharyar sad . He never wanted the rich heritage of Vishishtadwaitam being taken for a ride by the vedantin .It was a high time to make the world believe the glorious sampradaya Jagathacharyar Swamy Ramanuja had given us . The young boy approached his Acharya and pleaded him to be allowed to take upon the vedantin . Swamy Nayanavaradacharyar was glad that the young boy was also thinking in the same lines .Confident of his victory , he blessed the child with Sri Hayagreeva Upadesa mantra and wished him the best .
The young lad Hasthagiri Anna with the blessings of his Acharyar walked into the debate hall which had revered scholars from different places . The locals also assembled to watch the Vedantins arguments. He looked at the learned scholars and the great vedantin Narasimha Mehta . He was amused with his looks and the arrogance in his speech . The vedantin chuckled at the boys entry for his age and size . He said this boy is of no match to me .Anyway as his guru has sent him on his behalf , let me bundle him up with simple questions !! he thought .
Hasthagiri Anna looked at the vedantin and said .. Hey Vedantin .. Are you going to wage a war against me ? Why does size or stature matter to you .For a person like you I am the best match .Let me not disturb my Gurudeva ..The debate is to convince you and all these so called scholars the illustrious sampradaya of Jagath Acharyar Swamy Ramanuja is supreme .If you have any doubts , questions ask me else accept the sampradaya which will give you moksha .
The Vedantin was surprised with the boys daring words . He decided to quiz him in shastras and then take him on about the sampradaya . The outpouring of Vedic knowledge , apt recitation with intricate meanings made vedantin shocked . The debate was almost looking like a repeat of Swamy Yamunacharya debate with the Vedantin few hundred years ago and Swamy Yamunacharya was glorified as Alavandar the King…
Few onlookers rushed to their Acharyar to inform him about Hasthagiri Annas mastery in handling the vedantin with esoteric truths .The Old Acharyar walked along with his disciples to see the brave boy’s confidence . Hasthagiri Anna presented many verses in the Vedic texts to demonstrate the supreme position of Swamy Ramanuja’s Vishishitadwaitam . The debate ended with the vedantin accepting the supremacy of the sampradaya . All the scholars unitedly agreed with jubilations about the young boy defeating the arrogant vedantin in his own den.
Overjoyed the Acharyar hugged Hasthagiri Anna and said henceforth you will be called as Prathivadi bhayanakaram Anna . Meanwhile the Vedantin along with his followers rushed to Anna accepting defeat and pleaded to be taken in their fold . The Acharyar blessed both of the disciples and handed over the reins of the school for him to take over due to his old age .
Swamy Annan was carrying out the Theertha kainkaryam at Kancheepuram as done by our Jagath Acharyar Swamy Ramanuja . One day he took permission from Lord Vardaraja for having darshanam of Lord Sreenivasa at Tirumala after getting immersed in the Nammazhwar’s description of Tirumala and Lord Srinivasa in Thiruvamozhi .
Anna became associated with Swami Ananthanpillai descendants and was engaged in serving Lord Srinivasa by collecting and preparing the water required for His worship every day.
One day, while returning from Akasha Ganga after having gathered the holy water to be taken to the Lord, a devotee from Srirangam came across his path. As divine will would have it, they entered into a conversation. The devotee from Srirangam narrated the glories of the revered saint Svami Mamunigal and his extraordinary service in Srirangam. Anna was deeply moved on hearing about Swamy’s devotion to Lordships and the zeal to carry out the mantle of Jagathacharyar Swamy Ramanuja’s philosophy all over . In the process of hearing the satsangath , he completely forgot about the holy water he was supposed to deliver to the Lord.
Having exhausted with their patience, the priests from the temple came out in search of Anna and hurriedly collected the pots of holy water from him and rushed back to the temple to complete the worship according to established protocol . Anna was confused and hence rushed to the temple to inform the priests that he had not yet prepared the water by mixing in it fragrant substances, as was the norms . But as it was too late the worship had already begun and nearing completion . Anna was cursing himself for overlooking the protocol that was followed . He was dejected for not compiling with the procedures thus committing an offence . Standing all alone inside the temple Anna was seeking forgivance .
Lord Srinivasa , all compassionate Lord , broke his silence .There was a divine voice coming from the deity form, addressing him , “Oh My dear Anna! The holy water you delivered today had the best fragrance and quality. I am pleased with your service!” Don’t be dejected !!!
This was a shock to Anna, who had not added any fragrance at all that day. On pondering , Anna realized that the water must have got fragnant by the mere mention of the account of Swami Manavala Mamunigal vaibhavam . Realizing the glory of the saint, Anna took permission from Lord Sreenivasa and left Tirumala heading towards south to srirangam to have Swami manavala maamuni’s darshanam .
On reaching Srirangam , Anna has darshan of the Lordships and goes straight to attend the discourse of Swamy Manavala mamuni which impresses him very much . He waits patiently for having Acharyar’s darshanam . Amongst all the disciples , Swamy Manavala Mamuni calls him and asks Oh! You are that srivaishnava called as Prathivadi Bhayankaran in a lighter vein .
Anna humbly offers obesiances and replies Swamy , that he is Prathivadi Bhayankaran to his opponents and a servant of servants to srivaishnavas . Swamy is pleased with his commitment in protecting our rich sampradaya and honours him with another title “SrIvaishnava dAsan”.
Later , Anna moves to Tirumala for serving Lord Srinivasa . Swamy Manavalamamuni joins him at Tirumala and taken by the glory of Lord Srinivasa, he ordains his disciple Prathivadi Bhayankaram Anna to compose hymns on Lord Srinivasa through which Lord’s glory is well understood and enjoyed by all walks of people. Anna taking his Acharyar’s command composes hymns on LORD that shed light on the greatness of the Lord of the Seven Hills.
Annan, pens the morning song suprabhatham slokas comprising of (29 verses , stotram 11 verses , prapatti 16 verses and mangalam 14 verses) The holy verses has four aspects Suprabhatam, which is the actual awaking of Lordships Sree and Vishnu, Stotram, which is essentially a glorifications and the last Prapatti through Sree and the beautiful Mangalam to Lordships which serves as a conclusion.
These four hymnal renditions of Anna are the hallmark of worship that are conducted in Srivaishnava parlance. The Vaishnava Agamas require the Lord to be worshipped and honoured at least as much as a king is. The Suprabhatam or wishing of an auspicious dawn is not only analogous to the service offered normally to the royalty but also an expression of Mangalasasanam. Mangalasasanam is the highest virtue recognized in Srivaishnavism.
It is It is the exalted state of devotion where the devotee is not worried about his own welfare or the welfare of others, but only about the welfare of the Lord (which automatically ensures the well being of everyone and everything else). He serves the Lord, sings His benediction and longs for His auspiciousness always and the Prapatti is another core concept of Srivaishnavism that teaches the complete resignation to the saving grace of the Lord. The final goal of a Srivaishnava is to please the Lord with one’s services. One of the most important forms of service is the service of singing the Lord’s praise. He is sthavapriya: or one who is pleased with stotrams. The Venkatesa Stotram serves this purpose. Through the four works, Anna captures the entire essence of Srivaishnavism as he sings the glory of Lord Venkatesa. The pleased Lord listens to these hymns several times every day during the course of His worship in several temples…
Swamy Manavala Mamuni then ordered his disciples , that every day except in the month of Margazhi, these four stotras must be recited at the time of opening of the temple sanctorum in the morning which is being religiously followed till date .
Thus we have an advanced Acharyar Swamy Prativadi Bhayankaram Annan of Tirupati Suprabhatam fame who was a disciple of both Swamy Vedantha Desika’s son and Swamy Manavaala Maamunigal, indicating that there was no remarkable differences in following between the two sects .
His treatises establishing the unifying nature of all of our acharyas are a treasure for several generations .
A detailed description of THIRUMANJANA SEVA at Tirumala is appended in the below linked post