Atmaanam rathinam viddhi shareeram rathamevatu
Buddhim tu saarathim viddhi manah pragrahameva cha
The Rath yatra on June 20 2023 …..
The body is the Chariot and the soul is the deity installed in the chariot. The wisdom acts as the charioteer to control the mind and thoughts. Rath Yatra is celebrated in Puri in the month of Aashadam(June-July) on the second day of the waxing moon (After Amavasya) in Sukla paksham with great pomp.
All Merciful “Lord Sriman Narayana” appears in five different forms as para, vyuha, vibhava, archai and antaryAmi . To uplift the fallen souls Lord advises the Nityasurees to incarnate in the mortal world and spread the message of divine love and true knowledge for a common man to come back to God head .
Thus Azhwars were the incarnations of of Lord Sriman Narayana’s divine weapons and ornaments (“Azhwar” in Tamil means ‘one who is immersed’). Since the advanced saints were always immersed in the Lord and His qualities, they were glorified as Azhwars and the places which was glorified by Azhwars are earmarked as Divya desams . Out of the 12 azhwars, 4 Azhwars appeared towards the end of Dwapara yuga and Eight Azhwars appeared during Kali yuga.
Poigai Azhwar – Panchajanya ( Lord Krishna’s conch)
Bhootha Azhwar – Kaumodakee (Lord Maha Vishnu’s Mace/Club)
Pey Azhwar – Nandaka ( Lord Maha Vishnu’s sword)
Tirumazhisai Azhwar – Sudarshanam ( Lord Maha Vishnu’s discus)
Nammazhwar – Vishvaksena ( Lord Maha Vishnu’s commander)
Madhurakavi Azhwar – Vainatheya ( Lord Maha Vishnu’s , Garuda)
Kulasekara Azhwar – Kaustubha ( Lord MahaVishnu’s necklace)
PeriyaAzhwar – Garuda ( Lord Maha Vishnu’s eagle
Andal – Bhoodevi
Thondaradippodi Azhwar – Vanamaalai ( Lord Maha Vishnu’s garland)
Tiruppaan Azhwar- Srivatsa (An auspicious mark on Lord Maha Vishnu’s chest)
TirumangaiAzhwar – Sharanga ( Lord Rama’s bow)
The Srivaishnava Divyadesams are the temples glorified by 12 azhwars. Among the 108 Divyadesams, 105 temples are located in India and one in Nepal. The remaining two temples are in the celestial world glorified as Sri Vaikuntam and ThiruParamapadham.The 106 temples are classified into six divisions –
Chozha Nadu divya desam – 40 temples situated in Central Tamilnadu around Trichy,Kumbakonam,Mayavaram, Srikazhi,Nagapatinam
Pandya Nadu divya desams– 18 temples situated in southern part of Tamilnadu around Madurai,Tirunelveli, Ramnathapuram, Sivakasi
Nadu nadu divya desams – 2 temples in the northern part of Tamilnadu located near Virudhunagar and Cuddalore
Thondai nadu divya desams -22 temples in the northern part of Tamilnadu located in and around Chennai(4),Kanchipuram (15), Arakonam(3)
Malai nadu divya desams – 13 temples out of which 2 are in Southern tip of tamilnadu and the rest 11 temples are in Kerala scattered around Trivandrum,Chenganoor, Ernakulam, Thrissur
Vada nadu divya desams – 11 temples out of which 2 are in Andhra Pradesh, 1 in Gujarat, 4 in Uttar Pradesh, 3 in Uttaranchal and 1 in Muktinath.
The 4000 Divya Prabandham(Naalayira Divyaprabhandham) also known as “Dravida Vedas” are the out pouring of the Azhwars who appeared in Southern India few thousand year ago as per the divine commands of Lord Sriman Narayana to uplift the humankind and thus composed the divine pasurams which all the vaishnavas make it a law to recite . In Srimad Bhagavatam, Lord declares that HIS devotees would be born in Kaliyuga around the banks of Tambaraparani ,Cauvery rivers. As the recitation of vedas is restricted tto only few (women and low caste are not allowed to recite them), the compassionate Lord made azhwars appear on the earth for the upliftment of one and all and compose the pasurams in nectarian Tamil so that it could be relished by all.
Thirumangai Azhwar, the last among all the Azhwars was the only Azhwar who has glorified the maximum number of temples -86 divya desams and he alone has the credit of glorifying 47 divya desams exclusively.
Azhwar appeared on the 397th year after the advent of Kaliyuga as per “Guru Parampara prabhavam” composed by Sri.Pinbhagzhagiya Perumal Jeeyar a disciple of Swamy Nampillai,
Neelan as he was called appeared on a bright Thursday in Nala varushey(year name), Karthigai maasey (karthigai month as per tamil calender[Nov-Dec])on Krithikai star on Pournami in Kallar kulam at Thirukuraiyalur – a small village near Thirunangoor about one hour drive from Sirkazhi
His parents –Aaliaaduudaiyaar(father) and Vallithiru (mother) named him as “Neelan” as he was Neelavarnan . He had various other names which he himself mentions in the last verse of his works (pasuram) dedicated to Sirkazhi Perumal as “Aali naadan”, “Arulmaari”, “Aratamukki”, “mangai vendhan”, “parakaalan”, “kaliyan”,”thirumangai mannan”, “Naalukavi Perumal). Lord (Perumal) addressed him as “kaliyano??” .
As he was like kaalan for people who refuted “paran”(perumal), he came to be known as “Parakaalan”. He was an expert in composing different types of poems in different meters as per Tamil grammar which earned him the name “Naalu Kavi Perumal”.
In thanian ( Introductory verses ) for Peria Thirumozhi, Swamy Embaar says “Engal gathiye Ramanusa muniye…..mangaiyar kon eendha marai aayiram anaithum thangumanam enaku thaa” which means Swamy Embaar submits to Swamy Ramanuja grace for remembering the 1000 pasurams sung by the famous Thirumangai Azhwar and hence the Sattaree is “Ramanuja Padhuka” who in turn is considered as “Thirumangai Azhwar’s padhuka” at Tirunagari divya desam
Swamy Manavala Maamunigal in the ninth verse (pasuram) of the great work Upadesaratnamalai glorifies the appearance day of Thirumangai Azhwar as “VEERUDAYA KARTHIGAIYIL KAARTHIGAI NAAL”as this azhwar exhibited his veeram (valour) in getting Perumal’s anugraham.
Its a great day as Azhwar , Acharyar Nampillai and Asmath acharyar-Sri Kumara Venkatacharyar( descendant of Swamy MudaliAndaan ) also appeared on the same day
Three important festivities are celebrated grandly in this village.
(1) Thai Amavaasai for 3 days (Jan-Feb)
(2)Thiruvedupari utsavam on Panguni-Pooram (March-April)
(3)Thiru avataara utsavam-10 day utsavam during Karthigai month culminating on Karthigaiyil Karthigai
Neelan was very valiant and brave which earned him a position as army chief in Chola kingdom . He was later elevated to the position of a king for a small territory named “Aalinaadu” . Thus we have “Thirumangai mannan” who had that power , fame , position which took him to material pleasures like any human . The possessions and power engulfed him . Blinded by daring heroism, Neelan was indulged in sensual pleasures
(Azhwar himself admits in his pasurams that he was behind dove-eyed beautiful women).
By Perumal’s nirukethu sankalpam, he happened to meet Kumudavalli daughter of a physician in Thiruvellakulam who played a vital role in transforming Neelan into Azhwar. Her appearance also was a divine plan to correct Neelan in the right path …
Kumudhavalli a damsel (apsaras) who was named Thirumaamagal/Sumangalai along with her friends descended on Himalayan forests mocked at a siddhar who was being imparted knowledge by Kapila maharishi. The infuriated rishi cursed her to descend to earth and get married to a human being .
When she repented for her mistake and asked for a means to go back to the heavenly planet, the sage advised her to transform Neelan(an amsam of Saarangam) and make him a great devotee and get married to him.
After accomplishing her mission, he blessed her that she would be able to get back to her heavenly abode. Thus , she appeared as a small girl on the banks of Swetha Pushkarini(Thiru vella kulam) in front of Srinivasar Kovil in Thirunangoor.
A physician who happened to pass by was attracted to the small kid. He learnt from her about the cause of her appearance and adopted her as his daughter. As he was childless for a long time, he considered to be Lord Srinivasar’s blessings .As she was seen holding Kumudha flower, he named her as Kumudavalli.
Once Neelan , the ruler of the province around Thirunangoor happened to come to Thiruvellakulam. He was mesmerized by Kumudavalli’s beauty and expressed his ardent desire to marry her. He approached her parents and expressed hos desire .
The Parents were overjoyed as the King was at their doorstep . However , Kumudavalli expressed her desire “to marry only to a person who sported Thiruman kaapu ( Tilak ) on his forehead and got pancha samskaaram ( initiation ) done”.
Immediately Neelan set out in search of an Acharya to get initiated (pancha samskaaram in srivaishnava sampradaya) done.
No one dared to initiate him considering his qualities.
The ever compassionate Lord Srinivasar of Thirunaraiyur appeared before him as a Priest and did panchasamskaaram to Neelan. Later, Thirukannapuram Lord Sowriraja Perumal imparted the intricate meanings of Ashtakshari to him. Hence, these two Lordships are considered as “Acharyar” for Azhwar.
Having fulfilled her condition, Neelan approached Kumudavalli . She replied
Oh Prince ! Am glad with your desire in entering a relationship with me .But please understand as your better half I have another condition . I wish you undertake to carry out the bhaagavatha dhadhiaaradanam to 1000 people for one year which gives me immense satisfaction.
Neelan accepts the condition with a smile as she would be his queen soon .
Now , the couple did dhadhiyaaradhanam for one year and continued with the kainkaryam later. The place where he did dhadhiyaaradhanai kainkaryam is known as “Mangai maadam”.
It was a grand feast every day . A vast area was covered with pandals .for devotees thronging daily . It became a sacred shrine with hundred of devotees gathering daily with vaishnava tilaks and glorifying Lordships with songs . Few were discussing the greatness of Neelan and kumudha .Filled with bhagavathas , the place became more vibrant with devotion.
Neelan loved the new role. He never questioned the spending even the coffers of Thirumangai was coming to a stock out position . The Ministers whispered about the coffers getting emptied , but he continued the services selling his jewellary and other precious things .
The news reached the chozha king. He summoned Neelan to return the entire money or face repercussion. As Neelan didn’t oblige, the king had to send an army . Neelan defeated the army with ease . Shocked , the king came in person to wage a war.
Knowing Neelan’s might, the king with the help of his minister, conspired a plan to trick Neelan and arrested him.
Neelan was locked up in a temple for 3 days without food and water.(very similar to bhakta Ramadasar). The ever compassionate Lord Varadarajar of Kanchipuram appeared in Neelan’s dream informing that he could use the wealth lying on the banks of Vegavati river in Kanchipuram to clear the king’s dues.
The next day , Neelan informed the king that he would return the entire money given a chance . The King sent Neelan along with his soldiers to the banks of Vegavati river.
The search could not find any wealth . The Soldiers were instructed to harm Neelan If the search was untrue.
Lord appeared in Neelan’s dream again and informed him the exact location of the wealth. Neelan , overjoyed once again marched to the river and thus found the wealth. He cleared the king’s dues and kept the balance with him for continuing the bhagavatha kainkaryam which he got infected to.
The greedy king along with few others who realized that Neelan had wealth , claimed that their dues were not fully settled and asked for more wealth.
Neelan prayed to Lordships to help him out . The Compassionate Lord asked him to measure the sand on the banks of Vegavati river using “marakkal”( a measure) and settle the dues.
Obediently , Neelan accordingly collected the sand and handed over the same in gunny bags. This infuriated the king that Neelan was giving them sand instead of wealth.
But as the soldier who was trying to put the same in treasury , it turned into gold dust. The king realized that Neelan was not an ordinary person. He begged forgivance and after rewarding him sumptuously , released him forever,
It was a home coming . Neelan resigned from the king’s service and dedicated his full time for bhaagavatha kainkaryam. To continue the kainkaryam, Neelan resorted to looting wealth from the rich peasants who were egoistic selfish and greedy .
He did that by waylaying with the help of his four friends -Neermel nadappan(one who could walk across water), nizhalil odhunguvaan(one who was an expert in following a person’s shadow), thaaaludhuvaan (one who could open any lock without key), tholavazhakkan(one who could not be defeated in any argument).
As the looting expedition was also getting a bad name to Neelan who was doing a great kainkaryam ( service ) Lordships of Thiruvaali divyadesam along with Thaayar had to intervene.
The Lordships appeared as a newly wed couple fully bedecked with costly jewels and set out on a closed palanquin to Thiruvaali .
Neelan’s friends who came to know of this, informed Neelan that if the bridal party is looted, they would have enough wealth to support lifelong bhagavatha kainkaryam. Neelan was very pleased . He immediately galloped on his horse(Aadalmaa) followed by his thief-friends and reached the place which is presently known as “Thirumanan kollai”.
On reaching the place, Neelan threatened the couple to part with their entire jewellery. Accordingly , the couple surrendered all their jewellery except the toe ring on the bride as it could not be removed.
Though Neelan had the entire loot , Lord veiled a maya on him which made him to lure for the toe ring too which was very attractive. Neelan himself bent down to remove the ring but as his efforts were futile, he tried to remove the ring with the help of his teeth by his mouth.
Unknowingly, he surrendered to Thayar’s lotus feet for the material wealth .But , by coming into contact with Goddess (Thayar’s) lotus feet, wisdom dawned on him. He was mesmerized and choked with no words . He attempted to move quickly and thus bundled the entire loot in a big cloth. Looking at the divine couple , he tried to lift the baggage but for its weight .
Shocked that the small booty could not be lifted , Neelan thought that the bridegroom must have cast a spell on the bundle . He wanted to frighten the bridegroom now . He threatened them with a dagger to reveal the secret which made that booty so heavy that he couldnt lift it .
The mischievous bridegroom smiled and agreed to share the secret with him . He advised him to purify himself in the nearby stream and wait under the banyan tree (arasa maram).
Neelan did as advised and the bride groom uttered the sacred Ashtakshari mantram on Neelan’s right ear.
Wisdom dawned on Neelan and there was an instant flash …. he repented for all his deeds. He understood his real purpose of his birth . The divine couple appeared as Lord Lakshmi-Narayanan on Garuda vahanam and blessed their child .
Lord addressed him as Thirumangai mannan as he had the blessing of Thiru (Thayar first).
Now the jeevatma “Thirumangai mannan” in ecstasy repenting for all his misdeeds outpours torrential verses instantaneously in presence of Divyadampathigal starting with the most beautiful verse ….
“vaadinen vaadi varundhinene manathaal……”
concluding each phrase glorifying “Narayana” naamam…..
The name N A R A Y A Y A N A itself can give stature and wealth. The name destroys miseries .This Holy name gives a seat in heaven a seat in Paramapadam .It will give you strength It will give you everything .This lovely name will give more that what a loving mother can give …And thus Azhwar reveals saying ..
.I have found such a good word in HIS holy name….
This wonderful incident is recapitulated every year in the holy place and is celebrated grandly as “Thiru vedupari utsavam” on the night preceding Panguni Uthiram in the month of March-April . As part of 10 day brahmotsava celebrations at Thiruvaali, on the sixth day, Lord (Perumal ) arrives to wed Goddess ( Thayar ) and set out on a “moodu pallaku”. The divine wedding (thirukalyanam) takes place in the afternoon and saatrumarai goshti gets over by 9 p.m .
Later the divine couple set out on a palanquin slowly and head toward Thirumangai maadam and rest in a mandapam. Azhwar sets out from Thirunagari temple at midnight and swiftly reaches the mantapam and goes round the couple thrice.
A screen is drawn and it is presumed that all the ornaments are removed. Lord gets ready to give darshan on Garuda vahanam along with Thayar. Meanwhile Thirumangai mannan is taken to a nearby mandapam where thousands of devotees throng to have the beautiful sight of Azhwar riding on the horse for about an hour.
Later Azhwar is taken towards Perumal who imparts the Eight syllable mantra “Ashtakshari. The bhog is offered to the Lordship. Azhwar circumblates around Lordships with benevolence.
Lord blesses Thirumangai Azhwar with prasadam, maalai, parivattam. The assembled goshti start reciting “Vaadinen vaadi….” slowly and after completing of the first 10 pasurams, mangalaaarthi is given to both Perumal and Azhwar.
This incident happens around early hours 2-3 a.m. The entire group return to Thiruvaali temple and on the way , the entire Peria Thirumozhi ( the compositions of Thirumangai Azhwar ) is recited by the goshti.
One devotee relished his experience that when the azhwar sets out from the temple to loot the Lord, his valour ,pride ,strength ,determination can be seen on Azhwar’s thirumugam and when he returns after having Perumal’s darsanam, Azhwar’s speed is reduced as he becomes submissive having shed away his pride and takes about 4 hours to reach the temple as the procession moves slowly.
Coming back to the divine incident , Neelan who becomes transformed to Thirumangai Azhwar decides to visit all the holy shrines and glorify the Lordships .
Lord captivated his attention by giving HIM beautiful darshan in all the temples. In his divine pasurams, he vividly describes the Lord, location of the holy place , surroundings and the opulence .
Azhwar , personally visits the divya desams beginning with the Northern side temples starting at Thirupiridhi ( JoshirMutt ) and submits his glorifications to the Lord . Every verse he puts before LORD moves the person with tears reciting them .
The struggle of a jiva in this material world seeking true knowledge with stiff opposition of maya draws comparision with all of us .
Thirumangai Azhwar composed six prabhandhams which are treasures .He stands second to Swamy Nammazhwar in the contributions to Divya Prabhandam.
Thirumangai Azhwar’s six prabhandhams are the six angams for Maaran’s four works (Nammazhwar’s four prabhandhams-
Azhwar’s compositions are:
Peria Thirumozhi comprising of 1084 pasurams
Thirukurunthandakam comprising of 20 pasurams
Thirunedunthandakam comprising of 30 pasurams
Thiruvezhukootruirukai comprising of 1 pasuram
Siriya Thirumadal consisting of 155 lines considered as 1 pasuram
Peria Thirumadal consisting of 297 lines considered as 1 pasuram
Details of 86 temples glorified by Azhwar starting from Srirangam with PRABHANDHAM reference are given below:
CHOLA NADU DIVYA DESAMS (Trichy,Kumbakonam,Thanjavur,Mayavaram ,Sirkazhi)
Srirangam – 73 (PT, TKD, TND, STM, PTM)
Thirukozhi(Uraiyur) -Uraiyur near Trichy – 01 (PT)
Thirukarambanur(Uttamar kovil) – 01 (PT)
Thiruvellarai -13 (PT,STM, PTM)
Thirupernagar -19 (PT,TKD,TND, STM,PTM)
Thirukandiyur – 01 (TKD)
Thirukoodalur -10 (PT)
Thirupullamboothangudi -10 (PT)
Thiruaadhanoor -01 (PTM)
Thirukudandhai -25 (PT,TKD,TND,STM, PTM, TVKT)-only Perumal who was referred to in all the 6 prabhandams
Thiruvinnagar -34 (PT,TND,STM,PTM)
Thirunaraiyur -110 (PT, TND,STM, PTM)
Thirucherai -13 (PT,STM, PTM)
Thirukannamangai -14 (PT,STM,PTM)
Thirukannapuram -104 (PT, TND, STM,PTM)
Thirukannangudi -10 (PT)
Tirunaagai – 10 (PT)
Thiruthanjhaimaamanikovil – 03 (PT)
Thirunandipuravinnagaram – 10 (PT)
Thiruvelliangudi – 10 (PT)
Thiruvazhundur -45 (PT, TND,STM,PTM)
Thirusirupuliyur – 10 (PT)
Thiruthalaisanganaanmadiyam – 02 (PT)
Thiruindhalur -11 (PT,PTM)
Thirukaavalampaadi – 10 (PT)
Thirukaazhiseerama vinagaram – 10(PT)
Thiruarimeya vinnagaram – 10 (PT)
Thiruvanpurudothamam – 10 (PT)
Thirusemponseikovil -10 (PT)
Thirumanimadakovil -12 (PT,PTM)
Thiruvaikuntavinnagaram – 10 (PT)
Thiruvaali Tirunagari – 41 (PT, TND,STM,PTM)
Thirudevanaar thogai -10 (PT)
Thiruthetriambalam -10 (PT)
Thirumanikoodam -10 (PT)
Thiruvellakulam -10 (PT)
Thirupaarthanpalli – 10 (PT)
Thiruchitrakoodam – 21(PT,PTM)
NADU NADU DIVYA DESAMS(near Cuddalore,Vizhupuram)
Thiruvahindrapuram – 10(PT)
Thirukovalur – 18 (PT, TND, STM,PTM)
THONDAI NADU DIVYA DESAMS(in and around Kanchi, Arakonam,Chennai)
Thirukachi athigiri – 04 (PT,TKD, TND)
Thiruashtabuyakaram – 11(PT, PTM)
Thiruthankaa -02 (PT,TND)
Thiruvellukai – 01 (PTM)
Thiruneeragam – 01 (TND)
Thirupaadagam -02 (PT, PTM)
Thirunilathingalthundam – 01 (TND)
Thiruooragam – 04 (TND, STM, PTM)
Thiruvekka – 06 (PT,TND,STM,PTM)
Thirukaaragam – 01 (TND)
Thirukaarvaanam – 01 (TND)
Thirukalvanoor – 01 (TND)
Thirupavazhavannam – 01 (TND)
Thiruparameswara vinnagaram -10 (PT)
Thiruputkuzhi – 02 (PT, PTM)
Thirunindravoor -02 (PT)
Thiruevvul – 11 (PT, PTM)
Thiruallikeni -10 (PT)
Thiruneermalai -19 (PT, TND,STM,PTM)
Thiruidavendhai -13 (PT,STM,PTM)
Thirukadalmallai -26 (PT,TKD,STM,PTM)
Thirukadigai -03 (PT,STM)
VADA NADU DIVYA DESAMS(Andhra,Gujarat,Uttar Pradesh,Uttaranchal,Nepal)
Thiruayodhi – 01(PT)
Thirunaimisaranyam -10 (PT)
Thirupiridhi -10 (PT)
Thiruvadhariasramam -21 (PT, STM)
Thirusalagraamam -10 (PT)
Thiruvadamadurai -04 (PT, STM)
Thiruvaayarpaadi -07 (PT, STM)
Thirudwaarakai -02 (PT)
Thirusingavelkundram -10 (PT)
Thiruvenkatam -61 (PT, TKD,TND,STM,PTM)
MALAI NADU DIVYA DESAMS(Kerala)
Thirunaavai – 02(PT)
Thirumoozhikalam – 03(PT,TND,PTM)
Thiruvallavaazh -11 (PT,PTM)
Thirupuliyur -01 (STM)
PANDYA NADU DIVYA DESAMS(near Madurai,Tirunelveli,Sivakasi,Ramnad,Trichy)
Thirukurungudi -25 (PT,TND, PTM)
Thiruthankaal -04 (PT,TND, STM, PTM)
Thirukoodal – 01 (PT)
Thirumaliruncholai – 33(PT, TKD,STM,PTM)
Thirumoghur -01 (STM)
Thirugoshtiyur – 13 (PT,PTM)
Thirupullani – 21 (PT, PTM)
Thirumeyyam – 09 (PT, TKD,PTM)
DIVYA DESAMS NOT IN THIS WORLD
Thirupaarkadal – 11 (PT, TND)
Thiruparamapadam – 01 (TKD)
As per the great compositions of “Peria Thirumozhi” Azhwar started from north, has sung ranging from minimum 10 pasurams to 100 pasurams . Azhwar’s pasurams details the geographical locations . Peria Thirumozhi is divided into 10 hundreds and in each of the 10 pasurams, Ahwar glorifies only that particular divya desa Perumal. ONly in the 10th hundred pasurams, azhwar has sung pasurams on multiple divyadesams. IN Peria Thirumozhi, azhwar eloborates about 50 divya desams and the remaining 36 divya desams(out of 86 glorified by him) have been referred to in other prabhandhams.
While one recites them, the ambience feeling and the quench to have darshan of the Divya dampathees draws us closer and gives the soul to rejoice in bliss knowing its identity in seeking our loving Lord….
Divya desams as per Peria Thirumozhi are given below:-
VADA NADU DIVYA DESAMS
Thirupiridhi (10) – Joshirmutt in Uttaranchal
Thiruvadhiri (20) — Badrikasramam in Uttaranchal
Thirusaalagramam (10) — Muktinath in Nepal
Naimisaaranyam (10) — near Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh
Singavelkundram (10) — Ahobilam in Andhra Pradesh
Thiruvengadam (61) — Tirumala Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh
THONDAI NADU DIVYA DESAMS
Thiruevvul (11) — Thiruvallur near Arakonam in Tamil nadu
Thiruvellikeni (10) — Triplicane in Chennai
Thiruneermalai (19) –Pallavaram in Chennai
Thirukadalmallai (26) –Mahabalipuram near Chennai
Thiruvidandhai (13) — near Mahabalipuram
Thiruvattabuyakaran (11) — Ashtabhuja perumal in Kanchipuram
Thiruparameswara vinnagaram (10) — In Kanchipuram
NADU NADU DIVYA DESAMS
Thirukovalur (18) – in Vizhupuram-Thiruvannamalai route
Thirukoodalur (10) -Kumbakonam –tanjavur route near thiruvaiyaaru
Thiruvellarai (13) -20 kms from Trichy near Thuraiyur
Thiruvarangam (73) -Srirangam -12 kms from Trichy
Thirunandhipuravinnagaram ( 10) – Nathan kovil-4 kms south of Kumbakonam
Thiruvinnagar (34) -Oppiliappan kovil -7 kms from Kumbakonam
Thirunaraiyur (110) – 9 kms from Kumbakonam enroute to Thiruvaarur
Thirucherai (13) – 24 kms in Kumbakonam-Thiruvaarur route
Therazhundhur (45) -21 kms from mayavaram enroute to Komal
Sirupuliyur (10) -3 kms from Kollumangudi station-
in Mayavaram-thirvarur route
Thirukannamangai (14) – 7 kms from Thiruvaarur
Thirukannapuram (104) – 2 kms from Thirupugalur on Nagapatinam-
Thirukannangudi (10) – 1 km from Aazhiyur on Nagapatinam route
Thirunaagai (10) – Nagapatinam
PANDYA NADU DIVYA DESAMS
Thirupullani (21) -near Ramnathapuram
Thirukurungudi (25) -12 kms from Nanguneri near Tirunelveli
Tirumaliruncholai (33) -20 kms from Madurai
Thirugoshtiyur (13) – near Karaikudi
MALAI NADU DIVYA DESAMS
Thiruvallavaazh (11) -Tiruvalla on Ernakulam-Kollam route
In most of the pasurams , Azhwar repents starting with “vaadinen vaadi….” and claims that he has got everything now with the great Narayana thirunaamam.
He confesses to Lord Srinivasar at Tirumala for all his misdeeds and praises his mind for having resorted to the Lord’s holy feet.He says that he was under the illusion that his parents,wife etc are everything -did many mistakes when he was in youth,later he strived hard for serving his family and now with repentance approached the Lord like a dog and prays to Lord to accept him. (Azhwar who is an amsam of Lord couldn’t have been so but just to uplift us, he demeans himself)
In pasurams dedicated to Lord Narasimhar of Ahobilam, the place is only accessible to devas.
IN the pasurams dedicated to Naimisaranyam, he surrenders to the Lord Devarajan for upliftment. He addresses the Lord as “mother-Naimisaaranyathul enthaai…” .
He addresses all the five forms of the Lord at Thiruvellikeni-Parthasarathy, Thelliya singam, Gajendra Varadar,Ramar,Ranganathar.
During his course of enlightened journey the Divya dampathees ( Lordships in the temples ) were eager to meet their child which can be authenticated by citing a divine incident. During his journey Azhwar by oversight skipped Thirunindravoor near chennai and after doing mangalasaasanam at Thiru-evvul, he directly proceeds to Thiruvellikeni and in due course reached Mahabalipuram.
Goddess Sudhavalli Thayar-the divine consort of Lord Bhaktavatsalan persuades Lord to invite Azhwar as he had missed them by oversight. . Lord appeared at his next destination Thirukadalmallai and while glorifying the Lordships at Thirukadalmallai, Lord Bhaktavatsalan gave a vision to azhwar which made him take HIS name.
In the course of his travel, Azhwar glorified (mangalasaasanam) at 86 divya desams and finally reached Srirangam and undertook various construction and renovation activities.
However, Lord commanded to continue his services as HE wanted to relish the nectarine outpourings of Azhwar. (Very similar to Annamacharyar’s life)
Later he composed Thirukurunthandakam comprising of 20 pasurams where he begs Lord (Perumal) expressing his craving to have HIS darshan (as Perumal wanted him to reach the highest transcendental bliss)
Thirunedunthandakam comprising of 30 pasurams(in the first set of 10 pasurams, Azhwar sings with his own identity , in the 2nd set of 10 pasurams, azhwar assumes the role of a mother expressing her daughter’s plight and in the last set of 10 pasurams , donning the role of a girl expresses her desire to attain Perumal to her friend ) .
Our most revered Acharyar Swamy Parasara bhattar used to always contemplate on this prabhandham and thus invited Nanjeeyar into Srivaishnavism by a debate based on this lovely prabhandham. During Adhyayana utsavam , this is recited on the first day and the goshti is honoured with medicated oil to be smeared on the vaishnavas neck who would recite as a honrarium.
Thiruezhukootruirukkai comprising of one pasuram glorifies Lord Aaravamudhan of Thirukudandhai.
In Siriya Thirumadal Azhwar assumes the role of a lovelorn lady who suffers pangs of separation from her lover-. She holds his picture in her hand, longing for her lover’s association. She contemplates on how to defame the various archa murthis but faith prevails upon her which makes her restrain from doing so. She waits patiently and with confidence that her Lord would come to take her. The emotional outpourings takes us to transcendental heights.He composed both the madals at Thirunaraiyur as the Lord of Thirunariayur is considered as the acharyar for him.
In Peria thirumadal, Azhwar becomes restless for poor response from the Lordships. He starts lamenting how the Lord who had taken various forms and resides in various divyadesams didn’t concede her request even after repeated pleading . Realising that the Lord cannot be confronted in commanding , he decides by just surrendering to HIM he would be pleased and respond.
Thirumangai Azhwar personally visited all the above holy shrines on his courageous horse “aadalma”.
He has done mangalasaasanam (glorified) to 86 divyadesams and has the special honor of glorifying the Lord exclusively in 47 divya desams. The 47 divyadesams which was glorified by Thirumangai Azhwar alone are as follows ….
He was more inclined to have darshan of Archa Moorthy at the holy shrines on the earth rather than the Lord in Paramapadam. Azhwar’s pasurams serve as a guide for visiting various divya desams.
Azhwar continued with his divine services in various divya desams especially at Srirangam.
His ardent desire to construct vimanam, mandapam, big walls around Srirangam, gopuram, kitchen etc. for Srirangam temple needed financial support .
Azhwar priorities was service to Perumal and HIS children for which he went to any extent of getting wealth by looting, robbery etc. Coming to know about the golden Buddha vigraham at Nagapatinam from a passerby , he decided to try his skills to possess it . He was informed that the vigraham was being protected by a revolving wheel.
He managed to pick the golden Buddha idol from Nagapatinam to construct the compound walls of Srirangam temple . On follow ups from them, he issued a promissory note to the Buddhists saying he would return even the little finger unscathed and after one year, he just gave them the little finger and won them by argument.
After the completion of the projects , he did not have sufficient money to pay them . Still he assured all of them that they would be paid for their divine deed . The laborers who were travelling by a boat got drowned due to some imbalance in the middle of the river.
Unknowingly , the kith and kin of the laborers approached the Azhwar. Azhwar cooly replied everything that has happened was with Lord’s will .To reveal their state he advised them to come the next day.
Lord Ranganathar with abundant mercy appeared in Azhwar’s dream and advised him to ask the relatives of the deceased to enter into Srirangam temple after taking a dip in Kaveri. On reaching the temple, Lord Ranganathar made them have a vision of not only their deceased ones but also their great ancestors.
The muktas applauded Azhwar’s contributions and felt fortunate to be associated with him. They advised their kith and kin that they would attain the highest position by serving Azhwar who was performing devotional service which would assure them salvation.
Extremely pleased with Azhwar’s services one day Lord Ranganathar called Azhwar and asked him to choose a boon.
Azhwar expressed his deep desire to have darshan of the dasa avataarams of Lord. Lord Ranganathar fulfilled his desire immediately .
Thanking Lord , Azhwar requested Lordships to honour Swamy Nammazhwar’s Thiruvaimozhi for 10 days starting from Vaikunta Ekadasi which was immediately accepted . The grand “Thiruvadhyayana utsavam” at Srirangam was started by Thirumangai Azhwar. Azhwar arranged to get Nammazhwar’s idol from Azhwar Thirunagari and in the presence of Namperumal in the newly constructed mandapam, Azhwar arranged for recitation of Nammazhwar’s Thiruvaimozhi for 10 days. Initially, Adhyayana utsavam was celebrated for 10 days during azhwar’s time. Later Nathamunigal arranged for 21 day festival by including recitation of the entire divyaprabhandam by dividing it as “Pagal pathu” and “Raa pathu ” utsavams.
As per Lord’s instructions, Thirumangai Azhwar constructed a mandapam for Namperumal to listen to Nammazhwar’s nectarian Thiruvaimozhi.
Lord also blessed Azhwar that whoever reads the six prabhandams composed by Tirumangai Azhwar considered as the six angams for Swamy Nammazhwar’s works will be blessed with salvation.
As a mark of confirmation ,Lord commands Azhwar to throw his Vel ( spear) assuring that the entire place where the spear falls, if a person’s last rites are performed , he would be liberated .
This special place is on the northern banks of Kaveri. ( “Paadiya vaalan Padithurai” where last rites are performed for the departed even today).
As days passed one day Azhwar requested Lord to liberate him from this samsara . Lord out of abundant compassion advised Azhwar to go to Thirukurungudi a holy divya desam which is known as “Siriya Veedu”to serve MalaiNambee perumal .
Azhwar overjoyed leaves Srirangam. Like a newly wedded girl who before leaving for her inlaws place bids goodbye to her relatives, Azhwar recollects Lordships at various divya desams .
Thirumangai Azhwar reaches Thirukurungudi and continues his services at this temple On a Vaikunta Ekadasi day with Lord’s mercy he attained salvation . Even today we can have darshan of this holy place which is about 3 kms from Thirukurungudi temple
Azhwar doesn’t have a spear and is seen with folded hands along with Kumudavalli Naachiyar.
After few years , Swamy Manavala maamunigal visited Thirunagari to have darsanam of Azhwar. He was in ecstasy and composed “Vadivazhagu Choornikai “-a beautiful poem vividly describing the beauty of Azhwar.
This deity of Azhwar was installed by Tirumangai Azhwar’s brother in law as per Lord Ranganathar’s instructions in Thirunagari temple at Tirunangoor – a small village near Sirkazhi and is being worshipped since time immemorial.
He glorifies further about Thirumannankollai-the place where Perumal ( Lord) imparted ashtakshari –how he threatened Lakshmi’s husband with a knife forcing him to reveal the spell and how Lord gave the precious mantra extolled by the vedas to him and having received the mantra how realisation dawned on him and he got transformed into a devotee and humbly stood in front of the Lord with folded hands .
Swamy concludes that his eyes are blessed to see the broad chest holding the spear, one who utters the eight lettered mantra , the beautiful face and the holy feet.
Azhwar proceeded to Thiruvali his native place .Overjoyed to see the wonderful lushy green fields and the magnetic aroma of divinity sang several verses on the Lordships of Thirunangoor. He proceeded to Thiruvindaloor . Lord mischievously disaaperaed after appearing for few seconds sending Azhwar into grief . He recited the nectarine pasuram …. Vasi vallir Indaloor Vazhude pom Nire … and Lords heart melted .He reappeared and gave a graceful darshan relishing the nectarine pasuram. Proceeding further worshipping the Lordships he finally reached Srirangam. With the deep gratitude for the Supreme Lord Azhwar recited several glorification verses . The Supreme Lord was pleased and appeared . Lord with abundant mercy spoke , My dear son you have glorified us by going all along the borders and we bless you and the verses with effulgence in awakening pure love towards us . It is too tiring too for you travelling so long . We advise you to stay with us and take part in strengthening our temple by providing means for the bhagavathas to be taken care with ramparts corridors, splendid towers aisles and other structures for the benefit of the devotees and recesses to our holy premises
Azhwar was overjoyed for the kainkaryam ( services ) Lord bestowed on him . He invited all his friends to discuss the means to achieve this gigantic task in re modeling the temple . One relative who was his own brother in law Yatirasan suggested for visiting Nagapatnam for he heard that there was a priceless golden idol of Buddha . The information was welcomed with absolute joy and all accepted in one tone to proceed to Nagapatinam . Arriving at Nagapatinam Azhwar set about to enquire about the place . Fortunately a goodly woman made him understand it was a secret and she was told by her moher in law the whereabouts of the place but it had such secret passages and mechanical contrivances which was difficult for strangers to reach. However the architect lived out in the sea in a small island . Azhwar along with his men took a boat and proceeded to the shores of the island and discovered the Architects residence . Azhwar planned something different to extract more about that dwelling . Azhwar along with his men would loiter near his house as if way farers met and exchanged intelligence of other countries and ensured the architect was listening . They would wait for him to dine and stroll for a walk . Looking at him , they started …Oh my friends !! what afate has has fallen on Nagapatinam. What a fall of gloom over the temple… You know the temple has been reduced to dust by the invading mighty Turks. And that golden Buddha has been stolen by those ruffians . How sad …. And am afraid what is more to come ..
This information was heard by the Archiect . The Archiect was shell shocked .He never expected this calamity . He shed tears and came running and said ..It cannot be possible ..Is it that easy to move that whirling wheel at the main entrance … and that secret chain hanging from that top of the tower and invisible where a pin is hidden under the stone pavement under which that Go mukhee waters drop ? Impossible ..It was my design …How can that be possible to enter the temple which has zig zaw entrances bringing the person to confusion except for the one who takes the path which is circular and has a underground entrance seeming to look like a pavement ..and he went On… even If he enters how will he walk into those invisible stairs looking like a painting …he lamented …. The Azhwars detectives learnt all the clues looking at each other secretly and laughing in their sleeves as their project was opening up with more information . They thanked internally for his lamentation and approached him . Take heart Oh good soul they consoled him ..Why must you cry over the spoilt milk .. Be cool ..Go home and relax .. We bid good bye to you ..Thank you and take care said the detectives of Azhwar ….
Azhwar was briefed and they chalked a strategy . They arrived at the sea shore and saw a huge ship laden with areca nuts about to be displaced to Nagapatinam . A merchant was busy weighing the loads . Dressed as mendicants they approached him , blessed him and asked to give them a passage without any fare . He gladly accepted . En route on their travelling , Azhwar who was seated near the loads of Areca nut . Azhwar took a full nut , cut into two halves and dropping one half said to the merchant who was watching .. Sir .. Will you let me have my half the nut on arrival of destination ? Certainly said the Merchant .Azhwar smiled and said .. Please give me a written chit what you said . The chit HALF the nut is yours … was handed over to Azhwar .
On arrivingat the harbor at Nagapatinam , Azhwar claimed half the load of areca nuts. The merchant remonstrated but Azhwar challenged .An appeal was put .But the elders seeing the chit as promised by the merchant to Azhwar favoured Azhwar was right . Very puzzled the merchant had to give half the ship load to Azhwar as agreed on the paper . The merchant presumed it was some pre natal debt with them . He consoled himself and proceeded . Azhwar blessed the merchant and entered Nagapatinam ,
They all hid themselves inside the temple enclosure . At midnight they slowly came out for conducting the plan . The heavy pavement stone was located .Slowly they lifted and found the secret pin and walked towards the zig zag raods and reached that invisible steps . They slowly looked down and released the chain . As they mounted over the tower the cap of which to which the chain was fastened was now freee . Slowly they opened and looking down could see the dazzling gold idol of Buddha almost shining like the sun .. Azhwar seeing the idol exclaimed .. Will Buddha who renunciated everything will be happy to be made in Gold ? Foolish fellows … saying he watched closely . There was a teethed whirling wheel which was preventing in approaching the golden idol
Foolish fellows … saying he watched closely . There was a teethed whirling wheel which was preventing in approaching the golden idol.They brought a number of plantain trunks and cast one after another at the wheel. The bark sticking to the teeth of the wheel got tangled and stopped the movement . Azhwar was looking for a person who can dare to go in and complete the formalities but must be quick . His brotherin law volunteered to get in . Yatiraja got down and when he put his hands on the idol it escaped and ran in circular motion . Yatirasan was sweating and he some how managed to drop his sweat on the idol thus polluting the idols mantra siddhee. The mantra power that gave the idol this motion vanished with Yatirajan throwing his sweat over the idol.
He clutched the idol and hoisted it up in the aperture for Azhwar to pick it up easily from the gopuram tower. Azhar lifted the idol and next pulled up Yathirajan ..But low… he couldn’t pass through that hole as it was too small . But in the process , put his head and the rest part of the body was hooked into the aperture as the hole was too small.
Azhwar was confused . Oh Rangaaaaaa
He said.. my dear what Am I supposed to do know …you are stuck inthis hole ..Though mission is accomplished cant leave you like his … And how will I go without you?
But I must go and must serve Lord Ranga as per HIS command … but at what cost?
Rangaaa.. What is this litmus test ??
Yatiraja saw his brother in law. And said. Please don’t forget the divine command …Have you forgotten your mission on earth And is not our life in earth for lightining duration Is not the divine service our only purpose of life … Is not this body perishable , subject to hunger disease and a series of calamities ? Is it not but a stinking mixture of flesh and nerve and blood and bones. My time has come to pass out of this dismal prison of urine and feces and pass in with a spiritual body to serve the eternal .. Please don’t worry ..My savior over there will take care . Please don’t feel pity . Please make me HIS victim in this mission . Am I not worth HIS service .. Please ..In this norrow pass please cut this head of mine once for all and let the mission be accomplished and escape the discovery of this event .
Azhwar with heavy heart says ..Oh Yathiraja …What will I tell my sister …This is a big test for me …
Holy saint …Please extend your vision beyong matter and all temporal interests … Please cut my head off once for all ..It is dawning already ..We may be noticed … Let me be off to HIS eternal world …
Ehirajan began to cry with a sense of love to Saint ….The litmus test was being watched by all the great souls …and that moment was nearing …. Repeatedly praying Lord Ranganatha to forgive him … took superhuman courage and with tears said … Oh My yathiraajaa if any one deserves heaven Its You and you only and Invoking Rangaa…with his humble heart to come out of this divine ordeal …he said …Oh Rangaa in thy name I do this ….he flashed his sword and in one stroke took Yathiraajas head off..
Merciful heaven …This scenean unparalled martyrdom for the cause of LORD…. All the above was being watched by the gods of blue celestium . Azhwar quickly came down with yathirajans head and the golden budha. The party now laid yathirajans head on stretcher covered it as a corpse and ranging themselves into funeral procession with a fire pot wood and sobblings sliiped into he Nagapatinam town as if nothing was noticed . Going far away beyond human sight they deposited yathirajans head safely in a thicket and carrying the gold idol proceeded their journey
Our Divine mother mercy Incarnate who stands as light to sun and scent to flower .. Our Sri Ranganayakee the mercy unlimited was embittered in her heart that one of her brave son should meet such a horrible death .. She marched to the chamber of Lord Ranganatha and expostulated with concern… Swamy How can you be so cruel watching silently such things happening ? Have your omniscience and omnipotence taken leave of you ? Swamy Should I remind your valour bringing back all the vanaras of Sugriva camp after they were dead in the war due to Indrajits high handedness
And did you not bring back your Guru Sandipanis sons from the ocean? Like our Gajendra and Vibhishina my Yathirajan had no selfish motto except your glory and hence sacrificed his life . Strange indeed are your ways ..Am heartbroken seeing all this …And I cannot accept this and I can accept my child Andal to be made a widow …. I plead I pray grant his life Oh Lord …
The Lord became affected on hearing the pleadings of his tender hearted consort and summoning Garuda bid him to go to the tower of Budhas temple at once and rescue the trunk of Yathirajans body join it with his head and breathe life into it and review their journey .
Garuda was overjoyed to take up the service as he was going to see a martyr for LORDS cause . He atonce flew to the tower reverently lifted the trunk lying there and carrying it to where the head lay ..united them and breathed life …
Yathirajaa opened his eyes out of a shock and seing the feathered GarudaAzhwar promptly fell at his feet and learning from him all the events which led to his rebirth …
With tears filed eyes … He said what a sinful creature I am … I have been denied heaven now …. Sobbing uncontrollable he thanked LORD for his abundant mercy … Gardaazhwar simply lifted him and took him near Azhwar and safely dropped him and returned to Srirangam to give a full account to the Supreme Lord
Azhwars joy knew no bounds seing his brother in law . He and his men embraced him . They kissed him , wept with tears of joy and danced with him …
Our Azhwar said …. What is celestial joy after all joy of serving the Supreme Lord right here in this land of darkness … Our Royalty is here ..Our life is for HIM and HIM only ..No force can sop us from our service to HIM …Maddened with outflush of divine enthusiasm they minded for the night and rose for the next day chanting Rangaaaaa…..
To be continued....
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Pictures credits: Google images Uploaded by advanced devotees
Swamy Nampillai the great Acharyar appeared in Krithikai Month on Krithikai Nakshatra
Swamy Nampillai was a disciple of Swamy Nanjeeyar who in turn was the disciple of Parasarar bhattar , son of Koorathazhwar. Swamy wrote commentaries for the great works Kanninunsirutthambu, Thiruviruttam, and Thiruvoimozhi, all belonged to and included in the collection of works “Nalayira Divya Prabandam”. His commentary on Thiruvoimozhi is glorified known as Edu.
Swamy Nampillai discoursed the lectures of Parasara Bhattar to his disciples Periyavachaan Pillai and Vadakku Thiruveedi Pillai who in turn employed them in their respective commentaries..
An interesting incident happened when Swamy Nampillai should have been 25 years old and his teacher, Nanjeeyar should have been in his early fifties.
One sunny day Pillaiathan approached Swamy Nanjeeyar . He was about forty years old. He prostrated at the lotus feet of Swamy Nanjeeyar and requested him to teach any one padhikam (a set of eleven songs) of Thiruvaimozhi. The Sacred hymns “Thiruvaimozhi “written by a great Azwar Sri Nammazhwar which consists of 100 padhikams.
Swamy Nanjeeyar was busy in some service to the Supreme Lord He told Pillaiathan, “I am a little busy now. The best person to teach you Thiruvaimozhi is my disciple Swamy Nampillai. Please go to him.” I will advise him to teach you . Pillaithan was not interested as he was elder to Nampillai .. He said … “But Swami, there is a delicate problem in that.” “What’s the problem?”
“Our sasthras dictate that a student should prostrate at the feet of his master. You see I am a forty year old man. I can fall at your feet because you are a sanyasi and you are older than me. But Nampillai is much younger to me. And he is a householder. How do you expect somebody of my stature to fall at his feet?
Swamy ”Nanjeeyar now knew where exactly the problem was .Oh !!
“That’s not an issue.
Our sasthras allow us to waive that condition in exceptional cases.
Any way Your case appears to be quite exceptional. I will advise Nampillai not to expect the usual formality of the disciple falling at his Guru’s feet.
You may start the classes from tomorrow.
”Pillaiathan went back happily.
Nanjeeyar called Nampillai and reported the conversation verbatim. “My dear boy, Nampillai, we have a moral responsibility for the long-term welfare of our disciples. I have told you what is there in his mind. It is up to you to make him realize what is right and what is wrong. I am sure you will teach him the lessons in his expectations
Swamy Nampillai replied “As you wish, Acharya.” Next day Pillaiathan went to Nampillai’s house.
Nampillai had already made the seating arrangements for the classes.
A seat was placed two steps above the ground level. Another seat was placed at the ground level.
Pillaiathan now knew the trick. He thought: ‘This boy is offended because I won’t prostrate before him. That’s why he has made a high seat for himself.
What a pride! I should make it a point to tell this to Nanjeeyar.’
Mean time , to his surprise , Nampillai came near Pillaiathan, took his hand in his and led him to the high seat over his . He made Pillaiathan sit there and he sat at the ground level. That was probably the only one-to-one class in the whole world where the teacher sat at a lower level than his student.
‘What a nice boy! He has given me the proper seat respecting my age, erudition and my position in the society.’ A teacher’s role is not just to fan the ego of his student.
Nampillai remembered his Guru’s words. I have told you what is there in his mind. It is up to you to make him realize what is right and what is wrong. I am sure you will teach him without hurting him.”
The lessons started. Nampillai had cleverly chosen the 27th prose in which Nammazhwar talks about his love for the devotees of the Supreme Lord. In the third verse in that paasuram , Nammazhwar melts; The heaven and the earth always sing praises about the Supreme Lord, Sriman Narayana, the one who loves Tulsi leaves. The Lord has a shining golden disc about him and he is more than a father to me. Many fall at the feet of that kind Lord. Even greater are those who fall at the feet of those who worship that Great Lord.
And I am a slave to those who worship the devotees of our Lord.
I am a slave to them not only in this birth, but all my births to follow. As Nampillai was quoting from the scriptures, from Ramayana, from many religious texts and emphasizing the importance of selfless love and the total absence of pride, Pillaiathan was transported to a different world.
He now realized his mistake of refusing to prostrate at the feet of this great man. He started crying for what he had done. He could not sit in the high chair any longer looking down on one of the greatest teachers of his time, of all times.
He stood up from his place. Nampillai misunderstood the meaning of that gesture. “I know Pillaiathan, that you are a true devotee of God.
Now come and stand here facing East.
Let me fall at your feet and get your blessings.” As Nampillai prepared to prostrate at his feet, Pillaiathan prevented it with all his might. “Swami, you are my Acharya.
You have made me realize the dangers of pride.
I had never known about this padhikam of Namazhwar. By deciding to teach me this, you have reformed me. Now please stand there. Let me fall at your feet. Please forgive me, Swami.” Now it was Nampillai’s turn to block his move. “Pillaiathan, my Acharyar , Nanjeeyar has clearly told me that you will not prostrate at my feet. I am a householder and I am younger to you.” “Oh, Swami, please do not kill me with my own words.” “No, Pillaiathan I wont let you worship me. It’s against the orders of my Acharyar
.” “Ok, Swami. Then grant me a favour. Please come with me.” Pillaiathan did not even wait for Nampillai’s answer.
He grabbed him by his hand and walked out of the house.
He virtually dragged Nampillai to Nanjeeyar’s place. Nanjeeyar was taking classes at that time.
There were more than fifty students in the class.
Pillaiathan begged Nanjeeyar to stop teaching for a while.
He then told him what had happened.He fell at Nanjeeyar’s feet. He stood up and amidst tears begged him, “Swami, please instruct your disciple Nampillai to accept me as his disciple.
Please tell him that I am going to fall at his feet in your presence and that he should accept and bless me.” Nanjeeyar was very happy with his disciple.
He then nodded to Nampillai.
Pillaiathan then fell at Nampillai’s feet in the presence of Nanjeeyar and all the students in his class.
Nampillai lifted him up and hugged him.
Thereafter Pillaiathan learned the entire Thiruvaimozhi from Nampillai.
At the beginning and at the end of every class he would fall at his young teacher’s feet.
All glories to our Swamy Nampillai
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Pictures/Videos : Courtesy Google images and uploaded by many devotees in social media
The whole Brajbhoomi vibrates with the name “Radhey Radhey”. Radharani, the dearest gopi of Krishna is “personification of bhakti”. To attain Krishna’s lotus feet, one must pray to RAdharani for HER divine intervention and grace. She alone is capable of uniting us with Lord Krishna.
Srimati Radharani, the personification of bhakti and the foremost dearest gopi of Lord Krishna appeared on a lotus in a pond at a place presently known as Rawal to Vrishabanu.
She was affectionately brought up by King Vrishabanu and Kirti Devi at Barsana . When Mother Yasodha along with child Krishna visited Vrishnabanu’s palace, little Krishna went to Radharani and touched her. Due to SriKrishna’s sparsham, the little girl opened her eyes and saw Krishna. From that moment, they became inseparable . It may be recalled that in Kaliyugam, our Kodhai nachiyar(Andal) also appeared near a Tulasi plant and was brought up affectionately by Periazhwar. Like Radharani, Kodhai was also immersed in Krishna bhakti and was enthralled by Gopika bhakti that SHE chose to be one of the gopis in Vrindavan and did paavai nombu for attaining Krishna.!! Finally, she was successful.
At the same time, Vrishnabanu’s brother was blessed with a girl named Chandravalli at Rittora. Chandravali attained Krishna by her own means .
Radharani was always surrounded and served by her thousands of gopi-friends out of which eight of them are very prominent and are collectively known as Ashta sakhis. They are Lalitha , Vishaka, Tungadevi, Rangadevi, Indulekha, Chitralekha, Sudevi and Champakalatha. These sakhis appeared in different villages around Barsana.
alitha at Ucchagaon, Visakha at Kamaai, Champakalatha at Karela, Tungavidya devi at Dabaara, Rangadevi at Raakoli, Sudevi at Sunera, Chitradevi at Chiksoli, Indulekha at Anjhanak.
These sakhis individually had many assistants under them for serving Radha Krishna. Few of them are elder to Radharani and others are younger to Radha. The appearance days of all these sakhis coincide with RAdhastami- Radharani’s appearance day which is celebrated after Sri Krishna Janmashtami. Starting from Sashti thithi upto Pournami, the appearance days of these ashta sakhis are celebrated and Radharani’s appearance day celebrated on RAdhashtami that happens to be today
The temple of Radharani is located on a small hill in Barsana . There are four paths leading to the temple. Devotees have darshan of Sri Krishna and Radharani all through the day. On Radhashtami, ( Abhishekham ) thirumanjanam is performed to deity of Radharani which had appeared under a tree.
As per scriptures, there were about 5 lakh gopikas in Vrindavan during Krishnavataaram. All these gopikas were immersed in Krishna bhakti. All the gopis were elder to our little Krishna. Our Krishna stayed in Vrindavan till HE was 10 years old. The exchange of love between our chinni Krishna and gopikas is transcendal and great sages swoon away when they remember the rasa kreeda performed by Krishna with the gopis. It may be noted that Krishnavataram took some 5200 years ago and due to passage of time, all the places related to the divine pastimes of Lord Krishna disappeared. Just about 500 years ago, Krishna and Radha appeared as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Mayapur to revive the Madhurya bhakti . When Mahaprabhu arrived in Braj bhoomi, he went into ecstasy and by the will of Providence, discovered all the places related to Lord Krishna. Before I proceed further, I offer my humble obeisances to VEdavyasar who wrote the Srimad Bhagavatham, Sukar who expounded it to Parikshit Maharaj, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who discovered the transcendental places, the six Goswamis of Vrindavan who revived all those places and to all other devotees like Krishna Premi Swamigal, ISKCON etc for propagating the importance of these places.
All these temples are around Barsana and can be covered within half a day by car if we start early.
Early morning , after having darshan of Radharani at Barsana, proceed to Chitra sakhi temple at Chiksoli, from there drive to Tungadevi sakhi temple at Dabaara, from there drive to Rangadevi sakhi temple at Raakoli,return to Barsana. Take Delhi route ,drive for about 5 kms to Indulekha sakhi temple at Anjhanak and return to Barsana. Take different route to go to Lalitha sakhi temple at Ucchagaon, proceed to Sudevi temple at Sunera and return to Barsana. Take Rajasthan route to go to visit Champakalatha sakhi temple at Karela and another route to go to Visakha sakhi temple at Kamai. The services rendered by these ashta sakhis as per Gaudiya Sampradayam differs with Nimbarka and Vallabhacharya sampradayas. We need to realise that these sakhis rendered service to the lotus feet of Radha and Krishna and attained eternal bliss.
In all the temples, we find Radha and Krishna in the centre, the sakhi who appeared at that place is usually seen on right side and another sakhi is on the left side.
Puranas reveal that out of many thousands of gopis, sixteen thousand are predominant and among them 108 gopis are very close , eight are still more prominent . Radharani and Candravalli are very prominent and Srimathi Radharani is the most prominent. Because Radharani possesses all the charm and sweetness to attract Lord Krishna .The Eight Gopis who are the foremost, dearest and most beloved friends of Shri Shri Radharani are glorified as Asta-sakhis Gopis .Their names are Lalita, Visakha, Chitralekha, Champakalata, Tungavidya, Indulekha, Rangadevi and Sudevi. check the appended blog post for more details
Many years ago there was a severe drought in melnadu located near present coimbatore The drought continued for almost 12 long years . An old couple who were living there decided to leave to the banks of cauvery and reside near the holy Sri Ranga Kshetra .
They shifted their camp near to the Lord’s temple . Good or bad is Lords divine will .They surrendered to the Lordships and managed their daily lives .
One day they observed huge number of srivaishnavaites following Swamy Ramanuja to the banks of cauvery . Curious to know about the following , they followed Swamy Ramanuja and found the entire place were his followers .
The elderly lady was charmed by the divine tejas of Swamy Ramanuja . She walked near the banks and asked the villagers ,Who the revered swami was and those followers .
The group replied that Swamy Ramanuja was the king of Ascetics and he moves along with 700 ascetics 74 Acharya Purushas , 1200 Ekangees and 300 kotti ammai .
Several kings and sattadars are his disciples . You are blessed to have his darshan remarked a old man .
She liked the place and the vibrations .She used to observe Swamy Ramanuja completing his temple duties and entering seven houses daily for alms . She tried her best to have an audience with the great seer but was unsuccessful .
One day as she waited she saw Swamy entering her house . She offered obeisance’s and with all humility spoke to him .
Oh Revered Swamin … please listen to my prayer …. You are a sanyasi who had given up everything in life and there are no possibility for having wealth , gold , jewels , mansions or any other worldly prosperity. You just have a saffron cloth , a Tridanda and Bikshu .When that is the case how was that so many people are following you all the time ? and landlords , kings fall at your lotus feet ,and whereas you are living on biksha only. what is that you can give to so many followers who are with you . What is the secret behind all these disciples as I don’t find any difference between a King and you . You are truly YathiRaja..
Swamy Ramanuja with abundant compassion told the old lady , Mother ! I don not have any wealth to share but I give them bits of information about Lordships and have a mantra that will cut the bonds of samsara which is full of worldly cares and that as a result of this they would get grace of the LORD which would confer eternal bliss in the form of their attaining to the presence of Lord Vaikuntanatha .
The lady was quick to request Acharyar for the mantra for her upliftment as she was in a pitiable condition . She fell at Swamys feet and shed copious tears , in great distress crying all the while that Swamy must grace her . Swamy Ramanuja looking at her supreme devotion informed the disciples to help her in her endeavor . They guided her to be at ashram for the initiation ceremony and succeeded in becoming Swamy Ramanujas disciple .With great mercy he asked her to repeat the Guruparampara verses and later initiated her with the sacred ashtakshari mantra .
Swamy Ramanuja performed Panchasanksaram, did Mantra Upadesam and the lady got a Dasya Name as “Kongil Periya Piraattiyaar”. The old lady was overjoyed and offered her obeisances to the revered saint with all humility .
After few months , the situation in Karnataka was better and the old day decided it was time to leave Srirangam . Kongil Piratti went to Swamy Ramanuja’s mutt and seeking Swamys blessings informed about her leaving Srirangam . She longed to have something special to remember her Acharyar forever and hence pleaded Swamy Ramanujar to bless her with Swamys Padukas . Swamy Ramanuja gave his pair of divine sandals (Padhukas) on the request of his disciple . With much relief and joy, she returned back to her native place.
Years rolled by, By divine will Swamy Ramanuja had to leave Srirangam for some time . After few days of trekking though the Nilagiri hills and the dense forests , Swamy along with his disciples saw few tribal people nearby . Looking at the srivaishnava marks and the aura they came near them and inquired about their well being .
On knowing they were from Srirangam , they inquired about Swamy Ramanuja well being . They could not identify Swamy Ramanuja among them due to the white dress worn by the Holy seer . The tribals lead them to the heart of Nilagiris with utmost caution as it was dark and the weather was too chilly . Trekking almost for many hours they reached the Chiefs house . The Chief had gone on hunting rounds .
They requested the chiefs wife to take care of the sri vaishnavas with due respects as they were disciples of Swamy Ramanuja and their Guru Nallan Chakravarthy had commanded them to accept Swamy Ramanuja as their Maha guru .Touched by the august presence of almost 50 disciples the Chief offered fruits and honey .
He knew the brahmanas will not eat at their place .He commanded his men to go to the neighboring village to the house of a brahmana by name Kattalai vari along with abundant provisions to honor the revered guests with food without any delay . The wife of Kattalai Vari was our KONGIL PIRATTI also called as Chelanchalamba .
Now , the disciples along with Swamy Ramanuja reached Kongil Pirattis hut . She was overjoyed to have darshan of so many sri vaishnavas in the remote forest . She offered her humble obeisance and prostrated them . She pleaded them to honor the food at her place . The disciples were keen to know her discipleship for entertaining her in cooking for them . She politely replied she was a disciple of Swamy Ramanuja and requested them to reveal their Acharyars name . When the disciples echoed it was Swamy Ramanuja she happily said that It was a great honor to cook for them and hence allow her to cook food for them .
Swamy Ramanuja who was in white dress was overhearing the discussion between the disciples and Kongil Piratti . He called one of the disciple and asked him to observe Kongil Piratti while cooking . Kongil Piratti in turn went to her hut , cleaned the entire place with cow dung and water . She had a bath , brought new pots and entered the kitchen chanting
Srimathey Ramanujaya namah :
Srimathey Ramanujaya namah :
All the time ,while she was cooking , the chanting of her Acharyar Thirunamam was going on . She also recited few Prabhandam pasurams . After completing her cooking , she took all the dishes in a clean basket into the chapel . She offered her obeisances to the sandals that was given by Swamy Ramanuja .
She offered the dishes to the Padukas and mentally chanted few slokas . Once done , she went to the srivaishnavas and asked them to honor the maha prasada. The diciple who was observing the scene went to Swamy Ramanuja and informed how exactly Kongil Pirattis was cooking in the kitchen . The disciple said as it was dark in the chapel and he couldn’t really see whom the dishes were being offered .
Though Swamy Ramanuja knew whose sandals they were , he called Kongil Piratti and said , my mother ! can we see the sandals whom you are worshipping . Kongil Piratti without any inhibition brought the sandals among the disciples . The disciples informed her Swamy Ramanuja was amongst them .Immediately she offered the sandals and when Swamy decorated himself with the sandals , her joy touched new heights .She was ecstatic and felt overjoyed . Offering obeisances and washing the lotus feet she apologized that she couldn’t recognize as Swamy Ramanujar was wearing white dress .
Out of abundant mercy Swamy Ramanuja said , Lord Krishna dined with Vidura , Lord Rama had fruits from Sabari and all of you shall honor the prasada served by our Kongil Piratti .
( Swamy Ramanuja did not partake the food as it was offered to his sandals)
Kongil Piratti humbly submitted , Acharya please have some fruits from us . Acharyar with compassion partook few fruits and blessed her . Kongil piratti served the prasada to all the disciples and took the remnants along with the Sripada water to her husband . She woke him up and said , My dear please have this nectar which we are so fortunate to have . The husband looking at her Acharyar bhakthee asked her why she was fasting ?
She replied , My Acharyar had just fruits and remember he is on a fast since one week .What is store for me .. But !!! Promise me you will surrender to asmath Acharyar for initiation tomorrow . The husband readily agreed .The next day Kongil Piratti humbly surrendered to Acharyar along with her husband . She requested Swamy to initiate him into Srivaishnava fold . Swamy Ramanujar initiated him with Panchasamskara and blessed him . After this, memorable incident , Swamy Ramanuja proceeded towards Melkote where he lived for about 20 years.
In SrimadRamayana, Bharatha got the divine sandals of Lord Rama and as a servant to Sri Rama’s Padhukas, he ruled Ayodhya for nearly 14 years.
In the second instance, Kongu Piraatti got the Padukas of her Acharya Swamy Ramanuja, worshipped them and was performing Poojas daily .
Kongu Piraatti’s husband Sri Kongilachan was 24th among the 74 Simhasanadhipathis who propagated Srivaishnavism.
The Appearance day of the great Acharya is being celebrated this year at Srirangam on September 4th 2022 in a grand manner .
All devotees are requested to participate in the satsangha .The Varthaman Acharyar can be contacted on the below Mobile number 99445 48161
Contribution to this divine service may be done in this Account
Swamy Mudali Andan was the foremost disciple of Jagatha Acharyar Swamy Ramanuja . AndAn was sad that he did not have a male heir to continue the kainkaryam of Lord Ranganathar at Srirangam.
Lord out of abundant mercy enacted a divine play . Inside the temple at the same time , Swamy Ramanuja received prasadam from the temple priest which was covered with a garment (Kandadai- Kandal Gandam + aadai – a piece of cloth with fragrance) worn by Lord ( Lordships ).
Swamy Ramanuja indicated to Andaan about the auspicious happening and told him he will be blessed with a son soon. As per the divine will , during the tamil Masi Month , Poonarvasu thirunakshatram , Swamy Mudali AndAn was blessed with a child with divya thEjas.
Mudaliandan took the young boy wrapped in the cloth that was used to dry periya perumal after his ritual bath . The torn cloth was smelling of gandham ( sandal ) . Swamy Ramanuja took the little boy and blessed him . and said he came in a torn cloth, but he shall be with a golden heart and spread Sriman narayana’s moola mantram to the world and hence will be called Kandhadai .
Years passed , the child grew up and came to be known as KanthAdai AndAn . KanthAdai AndAn was just 28 years old when his father Swamy MudaliAndaan reached Srivaikuntam .
Swamy Ramanujar consoled him, took him to NamperumAls Sannidhi and gave him the duties and responsibilities performed by his father Mudali AndAn .
KanthAdai AndAn also discharged the responsibilities like his father . Among this great lineage another great Acharyar Swamy Appachiaranna appeared .
Swamy Appachiaranna was the direct descendant of Swamy Mudaliandan Swami and occupies the nineth (9) position in the legacy .
Appachiaranna was addresed by Swami Manavala Mamunigal as “Nam Appachiarannao”. Swamy Manavala mamunigal out of abundant compassion gifted two similar deities of himself to Appachiaranna (one for the worship of Sri Appachiaranna Swamy himself and the other for Swamy Vanamamalai jeer Swami, the Acharya of Appachiaranna) , made from the theerthapathram used by Swamy Ramanujar received by Swamy manavala mamunigal which was in a poor condition and later named as ‘RAMANUJAN’.
Swamy Manavala Mamunigal also gave Appachiaranna the deity of ” Lord Teemanam Keduthar”, the Perumal worshipped by Sri Atkondavilli Jeer.
As directed by Swami Manavala Mamunigal, Appachiaranna lived at Kancheepuram at Swamy Mudaliandan thirumaligai performing Nithya Thiruvaradhanam to “Sri Azhaithu Vazhivithavar” (the Lordships given to kandhadai thozzappar by ( Lord Varadarajar) Perulala perumal himself) one among the shad bheras of Kanchi Perarulalan .
In the foot steps of Swami Ramanuja, Appachiaranna also spent his life time doing the Salaikinaru Kainkaryam for the ( Abhishekam ) thirumanjanam of Perarulalan and Perundevi Thayar.
Swamy Appachiaranna’s thirunakshatram is Avani Hastham falls on 16 th of September 2023
This grand festival is being celebrated for 5 days at Sri Sri Mudaliandan Swami Thirumaligai , Singaperumal Koil, Thirunarayanapuram & Srirangam .
On this grand occasion, Chellapillai Perumal and Swami Ramanujar grace Swamy Mudaliandan Thirumaligai at Thirunarayapuram ( Melkote) to bless all Sishyas and abhimanis. This grand festival is taking place for many years as practiced by our Poorvacharya’s.
Mother Yasodha was on lookout for her little naughty child Krishna .She was worried about his pranks. He was not seen in his usual place where he used to play. The kitchen, cow sheds, porch and the huge storage room for curds and yogurts.
The little fellow dark as the clouds had unusual craving for the yummy curds, butter and yoghurt especially in their colony milk maid’s houses and he ensured he tastes their curds more frequently.
She recollected the little fella’s pranks and guessed that he was into some mischief. She called him loudly much to the surprise of the cattle around. The name was so sweet to call and sweeter to hear.
Krishnaaa ..Kanna … where are you. .I am tired searching for you … The calves looked around with curiosity .
Suddenly at the entrance there was a commotion. All the milkmaids from the colonies assembled and called names. Oh Yasodha ! Your son has done his part once again. He has robbed all the pots full of butter that was in the kitchen. Am done.
I guess whether you are really feeding the poor child as much he wants. There words were pungent and piercing.
Yasodha was upset. She could not accept the comment.
She decided to punish the little one. She ran like a girl of twelve searching for the little master.
In the process she reached at a place surrounded by a pond. The calves and cows were grazing peacefully .The Peacocks were on the trees making noise .It was a pleasant site. Far away over a small hillock she saw the dark child climbing over few small pots to reach the bigger pot with care .He somehow managed to put his tiny hands on the large pot that had yummy butter. Yasodha was surprised how the little fella could carry that huge pot which a fully grown adult also cannot do it alone. He took the yummy butter and blabbered …now you come … show me your hand …. And this is how you must eat …
Yasodha was curious to find who he was feeding… She slowly marched behind the hillock to see. She was amazed to see little monkeys were standing in a row to collect the butter.
She shooed away all the monkeys and approached the little one. She knew he must have brought all those pots from the milkmaid’s house.
The sight was a feast to watch. But the anger was not subsiding. She grabbed him and started dragging him away carrying him briskly saying he deserved a punishment. The little fella was watching his mother innocently thinking what mistake he had done by serving those little monkeys. The cattle were watching the drama patiently.
Yasodha now reached her home. She saw a stone mortar lying near to a cow shed. AH! Yes I must bind him here. She saw a rope around. Yes Imprisonment to this little fella is the best punishment .She brought the rope and started tying him to the mortar .But she couldn’t as the rope was short .She looked around, there was another piece of rope lying. She brought the same and made a knot and once again tied the rope to the child. But even then the rope was not fitting his little size. She looked around and found heap of tiny ropes lying that was used to tie the cattle. She made knots with the ropes and said now this length will be enough to bind him. Somehow once again the rope fell short to bind him. The kid was watching innocently the daring moments and thought why mother was so angry.
Yasodha looked at the child and saw those dark eyes that can dissolve even a huge whale. A tear stain on his cheeks was something strange. The sun light reflecting on the tear showed a huge rainbow. She could not resist in hugging the child, but was firm. He needs to be punished. She looked at the sky and prayed the Supreme Lord to help her in tying the kid.
The lord of the high skies, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient being bound by an ordinary, illiterate milk maid who was standing before her like an innocent kid was blinded by that pure love .
And yes the Lord reciprocated by getting binded to the mortar to teach the world what love is….The Supreme one who can be blinded with love and only pure love …
Not for grand sacrifices or great rituals. And any day you will prefer the tear stained cheeks to the grand mansions and other material comforts.
And the Lord not only obeyed his mother for her prayer, but proved the world by bearing the marks of this rope on his waist all the time. When Lord gave us the greatest philosophy in the battle field, those rope marks made him remember the mothers love.
And when Lord laid down in this kaliyuga as a statue in Srirangam , he made those ropes impressions visible to all the man kind to proclaim his abundant love for all the mothers and his own children making this world full of unconditional love ….
The indulgent smile of little Krishna made everyone faint ..
This whole world is moving according to the plan of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is a specific plan being carried out in this material world. What is this plan? The cosmic manifestation is a chance for the elevated souls to go back to Godhead. By the imperceptible power of time, the greatest of Himalayan Mountains will become dust, the great oceans will dry up, and the stars in the sky will perish – what to speak of our lifetime in comparison to those objects within the creation. Nothing can alter the influence of time even for a moment. Conquerors cannot defeat it. Beauty queens cannot seduce it. Billionaires cannot bribe it. Scientists cannot manipulate it. Champions cannot win over it. Geniuses cannot trick it. Military arsenals cannot stop it. A time piece may stop but time won’t, as the saying goes, “Time and tide wait for none.” When bored, we want to kill time but no one can do so. It is Kaala purushaa ( TIME ) who kills all without discrimination
Bhagavad Gita refers TIME as a power that pervades the entire creation – like a commanding force pushing us ever forward. Young people often find it a difficult task to grasp the concept of devouring nature of time. They are impatient and always looking for the opportunities in the future. First, when will I grow up and go to school? And then, when will I ride my bicycle? While in school, when will I get vacations so that I can play cricket like all these other big people? After growing up and entering a college, when will I graduate so that I can develop a career? And then, they are waiting to get married – all the while longing for the watch to speed up so that they can enjoy life. But by the invincible power of time, they grow old if they are fortunate (because some people never make it that long in the world.) While in old age, they are inclined to think of the past: what I used to do and how was life in those days. The good old days! Those expectations and mysteries do not stand any longer in front of them. They become apprehensive and nervous while the old age creeps in – making things worse.
Staring into their eyes, death begins to approach rapidly. We could drive for a long time recollecting and seeing all the old photographs and those memories . It will look impressive, but on closer examination we see it’s a sad reflection of the real world — devoid of all its glamour and glitz. A dead person is cremated and few customs bury them in an attractive casket. Then, there is the tombstone which is made of granite or marble. All are there inside the same soil few cremated and few buried with luxury of their tomb stones and the dates of birth and death are written on the tombstone along with a message.
A few friends drop by for a few years to remember the dead person. Although the body is buried seven feet below the ground, still the insects feast on the casket and the body. There’s nothing in the cemetery except for the name and the years of our life. We thus become an insignificant statistic after a few years, lost in the teeming crowd of millions who are wandering in this material world. Our life in this world is as brief as a flash of lightening in comparison to the sky of eternity.
The first fundamental principle of Bhagavad Gita is that the soul is beyond time. The body is always changing from childhood to youth to old age, but the soul remains the same. For the soul, there is neither birth nor death. True wisdom is to appreciate the potential of every moment by grounding ourselves in the reality of the timeless soul.
Now the important question of ourselves. From Albert Einstein to Stephen Hawkings all modern physicists have been confronted by common questions about evolution, existence and sustenance of human life on planet earth. Doctors of medical science often wonder what death is, and why it should be inevitable.
Modern Science, despite its great advancements in many fields has been unable to answer some of these questions most satisfactorily.
Who am I? (My nature) Who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead? What is the purpose/s of human life on earth?) How can I achieve this goal or life purpose? What are my obstacles to achieving this goal or life purpose?
The most revered Srivaishanava LokaAcharyar H H Swami Pillai Lokarcharyar answers the above questions in his great work “Artha Panchakam”
Who am I? “I” refers to the Jeevatma (Soul) that owns this physical human body.
Jeevatmas ( Souls) are classified into five sects Nityar – Jeevatmas (Souls) who live eternally in the Lord’s kingdom serving HIM.
They include our Adisesha , Garudar , Vishvaksenar, and all the Nitya soories . Muktar: (Souls) Jeevatmas who have reached the Supreme Lord’s kingdom having attained salvation (Moksha) from cycles of birth and death Baddhar: (Souls) Jeevatmas who are born on earth and continue to live through the cycles of birth and death (this includes those born as human beings, animals, plants etc.) Kevalar: (Souls) Jeevatmas stuck in “self-experience” of the Atma Mumukshu: (Souls) Jeevatmas presently born as Baddhar but strive in achieving ( Salvation )Moksha and graduating to the Lord’s kingdom as soon as possibleto join Nityar.
To be continued………….in detail
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Pictures Courtesy Google images and Social media ….
Millions of devotees all over the world gather at Pandharpur on the eleventh day of the waxing moon in June -July ( Aashaada Suddha Ekadasi) and in October -November ( Karthik Suddha Ekadasi ) . The lovely devotees mostly are Varkaris . Kari means one who undertakes .. Vari means periodical piligrimage ..
Varkaris are advance devotees of Lord Vittala . The devotees form society ( mandalies) for spreading the love of Lord among the people by story telling , singing devotional songs and preaching Holy name . Walking in groups accompany the palanquin in which are placed the silver paadukaas of the liberated saints on their Annual piligrimage . Trekking on foot for almost 41 days helping each other , singing together , Singing Kirtans and dancing together repeating ………………………….. Vithobaaa.. Rakhumai .. Jai Jai Rama Krishna Hari …. making the place Golokaa…
Fortunate souls get this oppurtunity to serve the Lordships amongst the advanced devotees .
The annual Pandharpur yatra to the famous Vithoba temple at Pandharpur in Maharashtra culminates on this auspicious Aashada Ekadasi day ( Apperance day of Lord Vittala) on June 29 , 2023
. A vast sea of humanity seeking the Supreme Lord is seen at this holy place . The saints have shown their merciful favor. Several devotees and several saints have given us a path for devotion and surrender which takes us out of the material world which is temporary .
Santh Gynandeva laid the foundation and erected the temple of devotion . Santh Namadeva built the wall surrounding . Santh Ekanath erected the pillar in the form of commentary on Srimad Bhagavatha Purana . Santh Tukaram became its pinnacle . Now the worship in this temple should be our goal .
Few hundred years back , there lived a devotee Kurmadas in a village called Paithan . about 450 kms away from Pandharpur . He desired to have darsanam of the Lord on HIS appearance day-Aashada Ekadasi.
As he had tiny limbs, he couldn’t walk . But the strong desire to have darshan was making him anxious . Whoever he met , he used to ask the form and beauty of Lord Vittala . He wished to join few devotees to have darshan . But was feeling shy to ask them as his trekking along with them would delay their yatra .His prayers was sincere . Repeatedly thinking of the beautiful form of the Supreme Lord the desire to have darshan became more and more serious . He decided he would make it If Lord wishes . He took leave of family and undertook his pilgrimage by literally crawling .
Many villagers discouraged him and mocked at him for this tedious task. But he was firm in his devotion, he started off thinking of the Supreme Lord . Every day, he could crawl for few kms and take rest.
Every step was filled with the chant Jai Jai Ramakrishna Hari ….filled with unconditional love to Lord . Many watching him crawl laughed at his movements .
Lord appeared before him in the guise of a business man and asked, ‘
My dear friend , where are you going?
Isn’t it difficult for you to crawl thus without feet?’
When he heard about his mission, the business man said, ‘Oh! That’s fine. I too am proceeding to Pandharpur.
I am a business man there. My name is Vitobha. We make good company.’
Kurmadas laughed and said Sir How can we make good company?
You can walk very fast, while I cannot even walk.
Vitobha assured him, ‘Don’t you worry. I’ll take care of you.
So saying he provided him food, clothing and shelter for the night. Next morning Vitobha asked Kurmadas to proceed slowly. He said he would wait for him in the next village with food and shelter.’ I serve the poor pilgrims on their way to Pandharpur. That is my duty he added.
Kurmadas with great difficulty reached nearby village by evening.
Vitobha used to eagerly wait like a affectionate mother for her child . He used to make delicious food and served him food . Later he would make a nice bed for him sleep to comfortably for the night there. This practice continued for nearly four months. His food and accommodation was taken care of all throughout the journey. If there was no village en route by the evening Lord created one for him to make his stay comfortable.
Kurmadasa crawled like a lizard on the road continuously for four months … Finally , he reached a village called Laul which is 5 kms from a town kuruduwadi . By then, his body was totally scratched with blood oozing out everywhere. He couldn’t move an inch any more. Totally exhausted and understanding he cannot make it any more to Pandharpur , he mentally offered his prayers with tears saying he could not make it for Aashadaa Ekadasee.
He stayed back at the village Laul . He called few varkaris and sent a word to Lord Panduranga Vittala about his pitiable condition . They were touched by his pathetic story and offered to convey his message specially . Will Lord be unmindful of such staunch devotees?
When his devotee could not reach him, Lord reached him.
He went personally to Laul accompanied by three more devotees Jnanadev, Namadev and Savithamali.
Lord appeared in the same form he was meditating . Lord’s eyes were long like petals of a blooming lotus, and His charming lotus-like face made all the more charming by His extremely beautiful and sweet, nectarous smiles. His profuse curling hairs , the golden flute in his hand, and his blue-colored skin glowing with innumerable moons around ….
Can words describe the joy of Kurmadas on seeing his Lord Vittala with his close devotees, come down to personally bless him?
Tears gushed from his eyes like torrent ….
Oh My Lord !!!!! my life purpose is fulfilled. Your divine darsan liberates me from the cycle of life and death.
Oh Lord …Sorry for this trouble …Kurmadas was crying like a small child for disturbing the Lord Of Lords ..
Oh Lord !!! Instead of me reaching your lotus feet …You have walked down to see this sinner
He was uncontrollable .
Lord Vittala was moved by the Ananya Bhakti of his devotee. He embraced his devotee like a mother and behold the child regained his arms and limbs
Lord looked at him with bewitching smile and wanted to grace him further .. He asks him , my child I want to give you anything you wish …..
‘Oh My saviour ..Vittala..Vittala
! Why do you divert my attention? Why do you want to tempt me with desires?
You have imbibed in me that desires lead to sorrow.
Desires arise out of ignorance Do you want me to fall a prey to them once again ?
Oh My Lord , I do not seek any thing ,,anything
My mind has become blank. My senses have come to a stand still. My eyes which are blessed with the sight of your celestial divine beauty will not be compromised for any lesser beauty. My ears which were blessed with the nectar like sounds emanated from you are deaf to any other sound, however interesting it may be.
A honeybee, if it is dropped into a big vessel of honey, enjoys the honey to its maximum and remains there itself. Presently, I am like that. I am dead for the rest of the world. I have a new birth into your Kingdom my Supreme Lord . I don’t have any more desire! My life’s purpose is completed.
All the same, I can’t deny your grant of wish. It is not fair on my part to refuse a boon offered by you in the presence of my manasika gurus . Let me seek a small favor from you. There may be many more crippled and handicapped people like me who may not be able to have darshan of Pandharapur where you reside . Kindly stay back here in this village for many many souls to have your darshan
. As per his wish, Lord Vittala turned out to be an deity there and disappeared with his three saints .
Even today, this holy place where LORD personally visited is treated on par with Pandharpur. The devotees who go to Pandharpur in Ashad and Kartik months go for darshan at this place after the special festival at Pandharpur .
Jai Jai Bhaktha Kurmadasa
All glories to the great saints and the devotees
Your servant offers countless dandaavats pranaams to the mahasants who were able to please the LORD to remain here in the wonderful dhaam .and
All glories to the devotees who are in Pandharpur dhaam serving the Supreme Lord
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Pics & Videos : Courtesy from afvance devotees who have uploaded in social web sites
Sri Rakumaayi sametha Sri Panduranga parabrahmane namah
Srimathey Ramanujaya namah
Jai Jai Ramakrishna Hari
Pilgrimage to Pandharpur near Sholapur in Maharashtra and having darshan of Lord Vittal is incomplete without having the darshan of the great saints Sri Bhanudasar, Sri Janardhan Swamy, Eknath Maharaj, Jnaneswar, Tukaram Maharaj, Namdev, Chokamela,Sakkubai, Jaanabai, Gora Kumbar, Kurmadasar, Sant Savanta Mali and many many more …The craving to visit all these holy places finally fructified few years ago Reading “Maha Bhakta Vijayam” –a compilation of divine pastimes of various devotees ,especially Lord Pandurangan devotees was a regular thing and we used to cherish the divine pastimes . His Holiness Sri Sri Muralidhar Swamy who personally visited all the places and telecasted the same in Vijay T.V. as “Veedu Thedi Varuvan Vittalan” was the Inspiration .All glories to His Holiness Sri Sri Muralidhar Swamy for the wonderful journey and instilling bhakthi to zillions of devotees .
Adiyen with family planned to first take the blessings of the great saints and devotees of Lord Pandurangan popularly known as Lord Vittaljee in Maharashtra before having HIS darshan at Pandharapur.
The moment one thinks of Vittala..the devotees the kirtan and the yatra is cherished ..
watch the clip …..
We proceeded to Aurangabad from Secunderabad by Narsapur-Nagersol Express in the late hours and reached Aurangabad at 6.30 A.M. next day morning.
Keeping Aurangabad as base, our itinary was to visit the great santh Sri Sri Janardhana Swami mandir in Dhaulagiri, Santh Eknath temple in Soolipanjan where he meditated for 12 years, then proceed to Prathistanapuram(Paithan) and visit Eknath Maharaj’s house, his Divya Samadhi mandir on the banks of River Godavari, Naag ghat where Santh Jnaneshwar Maharaj made a buffalo recite Vedas, visit Aape Gaon-the birth place of Santh Jnaneswar and Nevasa-where Santh Jnaneswar wrote Bhaavartha Deepika-the Marathi translation of Srimad Bhagavad Gita.
These places are in different routes.
Dhaulagiri, Grushneshwar and Soolipanjan are in “Aurangabad-Dhauladabad” route, Paithan is on the southern side of Aurangabad, Aape gaon and Nevasa are in “Aurangabad-Pune” route. To visit all these places and to be dropped at Nevasa bus stop, we had finalized a cab Indica for Rs.3000/- by contacting Mr.Mahender(07387900950) who operates M/s Sai Baba Travels in Aurangabad .
Mandir up the hill and finally the Samadhi (resting place ) of Sri Janardhana Swamy at the mountain peak.
The driver who was ready to pick us up from Aurangabad station took us to a nearby hotel for refreshing ourselves. The lodge charged 300/- for one hour and Rs.50/- for providing hot water. Mr.Mahender called up saying that he would arrange a devotee-driver who was very familiar with all these places.
Aurangabad is a tourist centre with more monuments and sight seeing and so the drivers are familiar with only such places. We need to ensure that we get a good devotee driver who is aware of the temples in Paitan, Dhauladabad, Nevasa, Aape Gaon. Somehow Vittaljee took care of our itenary in HIS divine way ..
We proceeded chanting the juicy mantra JAI JAI RAMAKRISHNA HARI …All through the drive, we were listening to Vittal’jees abhangs and bhajans . The driver first took us to Dauladabad which is about 12 kms from Aurangabad. The holy footprints of Sri Janardhana Swami who was Eknath Maharaj’s guru is here up above the hill . Dauladabad Fort is a heritage monument and attracts many tourists everyday. The entrance ticket is Rs.5/- per person. We can see cannons and other military equipments, the fortress which guarded the kingdom, Bharat Mata temple, Chand Minar, Ganesh mandir.DEVAGIRI (DAULADABAD FORT)
SHRI JANARDHAN SWAMYS DARSHAN AT DAULATABAD FORT TOP
This fort has a sad past about the glorious Hindu kings .However we walked through the pavement surrounded by gardens for about 10 minutes and reached the foot of the hill which is like an entrance. From here, the ascent to the hill starts. Initially, the pathway is quite broad with big boulders on the way, we need to cross a narrow wooden bridge to gain entry into another hill.
There are about 510 steep steps to ascend to the hill. At some places, the steps are very broad and at some places, there are steep steps about 2 feet high. The ascent is challenging especially when we have to enter into a pitch-dark caves where the path is very narrow ,uneven and the steps are very steep. This itself is known as “Andheri gate”. We were groping in the dark unable to find the way. Luckily, the flashlight in my daughter’s cell came handy and we managed to find our way. After crossing this, the ascent is comparatively easier with the roof open to the sky.
Most of the tourists picnic here. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach the hill. On the way, there is a small temple for Vinayaka (Ganesh mandir). A lady who was taking care of the temple said that the cave we were seeking is very far and as we were totally exhausted, we half –heartedly decided to return. Suddenly an elderly person who was climbing very fast offered us help saying that he was also going to have darshan of Sri Janardhan Swami and encouraged us by sharing the pastimes. He said that it would take only 20 minutes from Ganesh mandir to reach the temple.
This boosted our energy levels and continued our journey. Beyond Ganesh mandir, a flight of steps leads us to a mantapam from where we can have a bird’s view of the entire city.
The cool breeze is soothing for the stress undertaken by us. Further ascent of about 20 steep uneven steps leads us to the mountain peak.
We have to get down about 5 steps to enter into the cave where Sri Janardhana Swamy used to meditate daily and finally took Samadhi. At the entrance , we find the words “Sri Janardhana Swami Samadhi” painted on the cave.A VIEW OF DAULADABAD FROM DEVAGIRI MOUNTAIN PEAK
Eknath Maharaj, one of the foremost devotees of Pandurangan who is known for “Guru bhakti” served Sri Janardhana Swamy at this place for 8 years without expecting anything in return. The guru pleased with his services blessed him to have his diety, Sri Dattatareya’s darshan. While Eknath was returning from Godavari, Lord Dattatareyar (the embodiment of the Trinities-Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva who is seen holding the divine weapons and with 4 vedas as four dogs and dharma devathai as ) gave darshan .
Eknath paid obeisances to the God and was as usual serving his guru with unperturbed mind and dedication. When questioned by his guru, he replied that his guru was “everything for him” and hence not excited having Dattatareya’s darshan.
We entered the dark cave and on the left most corner , we can find the footprints of Sri Janardhana Swami. We Offered dry fruits to him and placing few Tulasi leaves prayed to him to bestow bhakti in us and bless to serve our acharyar forever. Profusely thanked the elderly person who guided us all through the trek, ( Was it Vittaljees leela ) especially the return trip when adiyen could not cope up with my daughter’s speed and had to cross the dark cave.
It was as if Lord Pandurangan HIMSELF came to my rescue as I was all alone. That devotee patiently accompanied me all through the trek. Adiyen was amazed to note that I didn’t have the nagging knee pain which I usually get even if I ascend about 20 steps and was still energetic. While returning, we visited Ganesh mandir and finally reached the foot of the hills at about 11.30 a.m.
That elderly person guided me till I reached the foot of the hill and went away. The compassion of the Lord cannot be described in words. This incident enhanced my faith in the Lord manifold times . The Supreme Lord once again proved that HE is “bhakta vatsalan “ and “”aapath bhandhavan” . That person advised us to visit Grushneshwar-one of the 12 jyotirlingas before the temple is closed in the afternoon and then proceed to Soolipanjan which is about 10 kms from Grushneshwar.
Grushneshwar is about 12 kms from Dauladabad Fort and about 4 kms from Ellora caves. After replenishing ourselves with sugarcane juice, we drove to Grushneshwar. Being Pournami, the temple was open and continuous abhishekam to ParamaShiva amidst chanting of Rudram and chamakam was pleasing . We offered bilva leaves, flowers, sweets to Lord Shiva -the foremost devotee of Lord Vishnu while few devotees were personally pouring milk and water on the Shiva lingam .
Despite asking the driver to take us to Soolipanjan, he straightaway drove to Paithan which is about 84 kms from Grushneshwar and 60 kms from Aurangabad station saying that while returning we would be visiting Soolipanjan. We drove for about an hour and reached Paithan at about 4 p.m.
Finding Eknath Maharaj’s Samadhi mandir was not difficult. There are two entrances to the temple known as “Datta mandir” and another “Godavari darshan”.ENTRANCE TO EKNATH SAMADHI
This holy dhaam is on the banks of River Godavari. It is advisable to do purification (prokshanam) of the holy river (sprinkling water) on the head instead of a holy bath. Few shops sell puja articles and sweets at the entrance.
Eknath Maharaj lived for about 64 years in this world. He along with his wife took “jala Samadhi”(they walked into Godavari river) and disappeared informing his followers that on the third day, they would find a banyan leaf and a Tulasi leaf floating on the river and advised them to build a Samadhi for him at the place where the leaves float. A beautiful Samadhi with his footprints enshrined with silver is constructed.EKNATH MAHARAJ’S SAMADHI
A big hall for accommodating devotees to perform NAMA SANKIRTANA (bhajan) is also present inside the mandir.
An elderly pujari was continuously reading “Nath Bhagavatham” while another pujari was offering the holy water to the devotees. Beautiful pictures of Eknath Maharaj in deep meditation, the picture of Lord Dattatareya in the centre along with Sri Janardhana Swami and Eknath Maharaj on either sides, a beautiful picture of Lord Vijaya Pandurangan, a rare picture of Bhakti devi and the ways of attaining the Lord through bhakti devi-the nava vidha bhaktis namely sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam, paadha sevanam, daasyam,sakhyam, atma nivedanam on the left side of the Samadhi decorate the walls of the temple.SRI DATTATAREYAR (CENTRE), SRI JANARDHANA SWAMI(LEFT), EKNATH MAHARAJ(RIGHT)
On either sides of Eknath Maharaj’s Samadhi, we can find small samadhis of his father and his son. We were lost in the thoughts of Eknath Maharaj’s vaibhavam and were doing bhajan for about half an hour. The elderly priest who initially was not ready to open the grilled gate, opened it later to enable us to take photographs and videos of the Samadhi. WE thought that it was Eknath Maharaj sankalpam to bless us with a clear view of his charan padukas.
The priest removed the flowers to enable us to have clear darshan of the holy feet and showed us the water which oozes from the Samadhi continously.EKNATH MAHARAJ’S THIRUVADI(FEET) AT HIS SAMADHI
He gave a coconut and few flowers and tulasi leaves as prasadam. The elderly priest with tears welling up his eyes narrated Eknath Maharaj’s vaibhavam in detail :
Jnaneswar was born as Eknath and his brother, Nivrutti deva who was Jnaneswar Maharaj’s guru was reborn as Janardhana Swami. As Jnaneswar lived for only 21 years and didn’t get enough time to save his gurudeva, he appeared as Eknath Maharaj and served his guru for 12 years. Lord Vittal pleased with Eknath’s guru bhakti served him as “Kandiya Krishnan” for 12 years. (This once again endorses our Vaishnava philosophy that we should serve the bhagavathas (devotees) to attain God. Adiyen recollected Thiruvaimozhi 8-10 “ Nedumaarku adimai….” wherein Swamy Nammazhwar emphasizes service to devotees.)
Eknath’s bheej (disappearance day) falls on sashti thithi after Holi Pournami. All the important incidents related to Eknath Maharaj like his birth, guru upadesam, Lord’s darsanam, his disappearance day happened on Sashti thithi.
Four days prior to Eknath’s bheej (disappearance day) i.e. on Dwaidyai thithi which coincides with Tukaram’s Bheej ,devotees bring water and pour in the well. On Sashti thithi, when the Lord HIMSELF pours water into the well, it gets filled up and starts overflowing. The water from the well is then distributed as Eknath’s prasadam. Thousands of devotees assemble at the Samadhi mandir on Sashti thithi and continuously do kirtan.
Eknath Maharaj was an embodiment of patience, compassion, universal love. He used to see Vittal in everyone. He never used to get angry for all the inflictions caused to him by the people around. The priest narrated an incident when a person tried to provoke Eknatha Maharaj by spitting on him several times until he got exhausted. Eknath used to patiently used to take a dip in Godavari to clean this.
Lord Pandurangan used to assist Eknath in performing aaradhana daily by bringing flowers, grinding sandal paste, keeping the altar ready and used to assist Eknath’s wife in buying groceries and vegetables, cutting vegetables and doing all household chores. The utensils used by the Lord, the grinding stone etc can be seen even today. The Lord used to fan Eknath . There are two red painted pillars in Eknath’s house. Eknath used to lean on the left pillar while Lord Pandurangan as Kandiya Krishnan used to lean on the right side pillar and fan him.
Lord Krishna used to fetch water from Godavari and store it in a small well inside the house. This can be seen even today.
THE PLACE WHERE KANDIYA KRISHNAN USED TO FILL WATER IN EKNATH MAHARAJ’S HOUSE
Once while Eknath Maharaj was making preparations for performing shraddham (yearly puja done for departed souls), a low caste lady who was passing by expressed her desire to taste the food as the aroma was irresistible. Eknath immediately invited them to his house and fed them . The other Brahmins got infuriated with this action and decided to stay away from participating in the ceremony and ensured that no one from neighbouring villages would attend. Eknath Maharaj invoked the Lord, and Lord Panduranga along with Brahma and the pithru devatas came ,completed the rituals and partook the food offerings.
Like Kooratathzhwan, Eknath Maharaj used to do dhadhiyaaradhanai kainkaryam(feeding devotees daily ) in huge numbers. That place can be seen in Eknath Maharaj’s house.
Eknath is personification of “Acharyar Bhakti” like Madurakavi Azhwar, Anantazhwan.
All the Gods were pleased with Eknath Maharaj. Lord Dattatareya appeared before him and gave darshan. Lord Dattatareya stood guard at Eknath Maharaj’s house entrance. We can find the pictures of Garudan and Dattatareyar at the entrance on either sides. Durga devi used to do the cleaning work while Lord Krishna left Dwaraka and served him for 12 years as “Kandiya Krishnan”. Lord Triyambakeswar advised a devotee who was suffering from leprosy to partake the sripadha theertham(water used for washing feet) of Eknath Maharaj and he was cured.
A poor lady who desired to feed 1000 people was advised by the mahants to invite Eknath Maharaj for lunch as it was equal to feeding 1000 people. The lady informed this to Eknath Maharaj and requested him to accept her invite. Evknath’s son who was present there was wondering how it could be equal to feeding 1000 people. After Eknath honoured prasadam served by the lady, he asked his son to remove the banana leaf and clean the place. The son was perplexed as he had to remove 1000 leaves.
A rich person made a beautiful vigraham of Pandurangan to be worshipped by him in his house. The Lord repeatedly appeared in that person’s dream and expressed HIS desire to stay in Eknath’s house. Finally, the rich person came to Eknath’s house, informed him about his dream and handed over the diety to Eknath amidst assembled devotees. Eknath was overwhelmed at the Lord’s compassion and offered HIM butter. Immediately, to everyone’s surprise, the Lord removed HIS hand from HIS right waist and lent forward to accept the butter. Hence, we can find Lord Vijaya Pandurangan with HIS left hand on HIS waist and HIS right palm forward. This diety is in Eknath Maharaj’s house and is being worshipped by his descendants. Only at the time of abhishekam, we can have the darshan of the hand when all the floral decorations are removed.
EKNAATH MAHARAJS HOUSE AND LORDS SERVICES AT HIS PLACE
We requested a vendor outside the Samadhi mandir to accompany us to Santh Eknath’s house and Naag ghat who could speak in Hindi. Most of the residents speak in Marathi and we were finding it difficult to converse with them. Luckily, we found this person who was willing to guide us. The temple pujari informed that they also reside in that place . This is about 2 kilometres from the Samadhi. Eknath’s forefather, Sri Bhanudasar also lived in this place. Driving past narrow,unleveled,hilly roads , we reached the temple. Renovation work is going on in the temple. At the entrance, we can find the pictures of Garudan and Dattatareyar as guards.
As mentioned earlier, the Lord out of HIS own free will, appeared here . We were told that the grinding stone used for making sandal paste was inside the garbagriham and as no one was around, we couldn’t have darshan of the same. We were fortunate to touch the two pillars in front of the garbagriham on which Eknath and Lord Krishna used to lean. To distinguish , these two pillars are painted in red. We circumbulated and touched the pillars and prayed for enhancement of bhakti and left the place.
From here, we proceeded to Naag ghat which is nearby. This is on the banks of Godavari. As the name suggests, a big snake painted on the wall draws our attention. There is a small naagam where devotees assemble to please the snake-god. We can find a stone-laid mantapam in an open space on the banks of Godavari which used to be the seat of the learned pundits in Prathistanapuram. The pundits used to give their verdict in the assembly at this place. This place is related to an important incident in Jnaneswar Maharaj’s life which is mentioned below.
Santh Jnaneswar Maharaj’s pastimes
Vittal Pant who was not interested in leading a family life renounced his wife Rukmini and took sanyas from a guru in Varanasi without his wife’s knowledge. During one of his teertha yatras, the guru visits Aape gaon and blesses Vittal Pant’s wife,Rukmini with children. Rukmini informs him that her husband had taken sanyas from the guru . The guru orders Vittal Pant to return to the village and lead a householder’s life. Being guru’s orders, Vittal Pant returns and in due course is blessed with 4 children who were the amsams of the Trinities. Nivrutti was Shiva’s amsam, Sopan ws Brahma’s , Jnaneswar was Vishnu’s amsam and Muktabai was Durga’s amsam.
The family was banished from the village because VittalPant had returned to family life after sanyasam. When Vittal Pant and Rukmini along with their children approached Prathistanapuram for requesting the learned pundits to perform thread ceremony for their children , they refused to do so and as a prayachitham ordered them to end their lives in Ganges.
Accordingly, Jnaneswar’s parents went to Triveni Sangamam and got themselves drowned because they were more interested in their children’s welfare. The children once again approached the pundits and informed about their parents act and requested them to perform thread ceremony. The learned pundits mocked at them about their interest to learn the sacred books.
This was only a ritual. The trinities, especially Jnaneswar who was an embodiment of knowledge didn’t require all the rituals but had approached the pundits to satisfy their parent’s desire. When the pundits were thus insulting them, Jnaneswar said that anyone could recite the Vedas. The pundits pointed out to a buffalo which was gazing nearby and asked whether it could recite. Jnaneswar immediately ordered the buffalo to recite the Vedas and the buffalo did so.
The shocked pundits sought apology and realized Jnanadev’s greatness. To recapitulate this incident, we find the buffalo temple here. This incident is painted on the wall. Opposite to this, we find Ganesh mandir and further down towards Godavari, we find Siddeshwar sannidhi.
This buffalo followed Jnanadev till its end. Infact, this buffalo used to nod its head in acceptance while Jnaneswar was expounding commentary on Bhagavad Gita.
We dropped the vendor back at Eknath Samadhi with some dakshina and proceeded on our journey. It was already 6 p.m.. and hence we had to surrender to the mahaans at Soolipanjan in our minds itself.
However as it was too late we had to surrender to the santh at Aape Gaon on the way to Nevasa. Though the Kalleshwar temple in Nevasa was about 7 kms from the highway we had to pray from the bus stop itself . A local person informed that within 30 minutes, we could visit the temple and also informed that Shirdi was about 1 hour from this place and we could stay there and go to Pune the next day.
This meant that we would be reaching Pune only by noon . As we were running short of time, we decided to proceed to Pune even if it meant night journey by road with kids . The manager of Ahobila Mutt,Pune was glad to know that we are Sri Mudaliandan swamy’s sishyas and agreed to accommodate us in the mutt and provide prasadam.
………….Reaching Nagar to take a bus to Pune
We waited for about half an hour and to our dismay , no bus turned up.
WE saw many non-stop buses from Aurangabad to Pune and cursed ourselves for listening to the driver. We dispensed the driver by paying 3200/- (including his tip) and were left stranded in the night on the highway.
The person with whom I was conversing arranged for a jeep for all 10 of us waiting for the bus to go to Nagar which is about 40 kms from Nevasa. Ahmed Nagar popularly known as “Nagar” is an important route from where buses to various towns are available . We reached Nagar at 9 p.m. and had to wait for solid one hour to board Pune bus. Luckily we got AC bus to Pune. The bus fare is 335/- per person . It is about 3.5 hours drive from Nagar to Pune.
We called up Ahobila Mutt Manager, Sri Rangachary that we would be reaching Pune at about 1 a.m. The Manager was kind enough to remain awake and was giving directions to reach Ahobila Mutt . He had kept 3 packets of Pongal, water,beds ready for us. Ahobila Mutt is popularly known as “Pashan Balaji Mandir” and has kalyana mantapam in the first floor with rooms for the bride and groom parties. We were ushered into a room with all provisions. We are greatly indebted to him for his services. Paid 300/- to the auto driver and retired for the night after partaking prasadam and thanked the manager profusely. We later learnt that despite his ill health , he remained awake for our sake. Our obeisances to the great devotee who gave us shelter.
After a long journey, we curdled in the divine lap of LAKSHMI NARASIMHAR and SRINIVASAR.
On 7th morning, we participated in the Saatrumarai seva in Balaji mandir at 9 a.m. After partaking the curd rice prasadam, we left for Dehu. We engaged a car through Ola Cabs to visit Dehu and Alandi for which we paid Rs.1300/-. The car picked us up at 10.10 a.m. and reached Dehu at 11 a.m. Dehu is about 41 kms from Ahobila Mutt. At the entrance, a beautiful arc mentioning Sant Tukaram’s birthplace with Tamburas on either side welcomes us. This comes under Military area. There was a heavy influx of pilgrims on that day as it was Tukaram’s Bheej (disappearance day).
We could drive for about one kilometer only and all the vehicles had to be parked there itself. From the parking area, the Samadhi temple is about 3-4 kilometres. WE were charged up seeing the devotion of the pilgrims singing bhajans holding Tulasi pots on their hand, some were playing tambura , kartaal etc. This was an experience to be cherished. It is the usual practice of the devotees to fast on that day and have prasadam only after taking Tukaram’s blessings.
The shopkeeper from whom we purchased water informed that the tree under which Tukaram left for Vaikuntam was about 3 kms and we had to walk. My wife approached a driver for help stating that I had just recovered from a fracture and would not be able to walk the distance.
He immediately stopped a bus which was coming from the opposite direction and asked us to get in. Along with us, other devotees joined and within no time, the bus was jam packed. The bus was however parked at a distance of about one kilometer. The entire place was charged up in devotional fervor.
This reminded us of the festivities during Thiruvedupari utsavam in Thirunangoor where the otherwise sleepy village comes to life with lots of activities. A typical Indian village fare selling ice creams, snacks, tulasi beads ,fruits, juices were seen.ADIYEN AT DEHU PARTICIPATING IN TUKARAM BHEEJ
We could hear Tukaram’s abhangs being played everywhere through the sound systems. There is another arc with the beautiful words “ JNAN,BHAKTI,VAIRAGYA TUKARAM”. The crowd reminded us of Brahmotsava celebrations in Tirumala. WE were amidst “jana samudram”. Atleast a lakh of devotees were present at that time on that day to witness a miracle which happens every year at noon. Our ears were drawn to the melodious kirtan by Srila Prabhupada singing the Maha mantram. A big cut-out of Lord Pandurangan from a distance attracted everyone’s attention.
Few ISKCON volunteers from Pune centre were doing yomen service of book distribution. We purchased a beautiful and informative book on Tukaram by Shri.Radhanath Maharaj at ISKCON shop. They were glad to note that we are life members and requested us to honour prasadam on the way back. We found nearly 5 groups of ISKCON volunteers following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions of book distribution.
On the way, we could have sparsham of Tukaram’s padhukas which were placed in a palanquin. Unmindful of the scorching heat and clasping each other’s hands we proceeded to Tukaram’s Samadhi mandir. On the left side, we find Indrani river which was witness to the various incidents in Tukaram’s life flowing peacefully. Many pilgrims were purifying themselves in the water. This river which flows past Alandi, brings Jnanadev’s blessings too along with her to this place. Pilgrims who have a holy dip are benefitted with Jnanadev and Tukaram Maharaj’s grace.TUKARAM MAHARAJ TEMPLE IN PANDHARPUR
Sant Tukaram like Nammazhwar was the only person who left for Vaikuntam with this mortal body. Lord sent Garuda vahanam and singing the praises of the Lord , while everyone was watching, Sant Tukaram embarked on the Garuda vahanam and ascended to Srivaikuntam. He promised his followers that on every disappearance day which falls on the second day after Holi ,popularly known as Bheej, he would come from Vaikuntam exactly at noon in the form of a gentle breeze to this place and bless the devotees. Because of the gentle breeze, the leaves of the tree which was a witness to the incident gently move and the leaves fall.
To enable the assembled devotees who stand far away from the tree, the temple authorities have tied a red flag as an indication. When the breeze gently blows, the red flag moves which can be witnessed by everyone.
The assembled devotees continuously sing the abhangs and as noon approaches, the fervor and intensity of the bhajans increases. Words cannot describe the sight. One has to personally witness this incident. Because of the heavy rush, we could not go very near the temple and had to miss Bandaara hills which is about 8 kms from this place. The heat was unbearable and as were running short of time, we prayed for Punar darsanam at this place. WE were content of having the most desirable darshan on the auspicious day.
The ISKCON volunteers whom we met earlier ushered us to a building under construction and served pooris,curry, rice,dal ,kesari as prasadam. We learnt that there is an ISKCON centre at this place. So, we were confident that during our next visit to Dehu which should happen with Sant Tukaram’s grace, we can stay in ISKCON and relish Sant Tukaram’s pastimes. We paid Rs.10/- per head for the bus to drop us at the parking lot .
From Dehu, we proceeded to Alandi. Actually the distance from Dehu to Alandi via “Alandi-Dehu road” is about 25 kms but we learnt that due to heavy crowd, the road was closed. So, we had to go via Pune. These two places are in perpendicular directions.
Alandi, the most frequented place by devotees is the place where Jnaneswar Maharaj, popularly known as “Jnanadev”/”Mouli” took jiva Samadhi. Sri Jnaneswar Maharaj took Samadhi at the age of 21 under the rare tree known as “Ajaana vruskh” which cannot be found anywhere. Being weekend , there was heavy rush of pilgrims. The simple, bhakti fervor of the Maharashtrians can be seen at these religious places. The Samadhi mandir is on the banks of Indrani river. On either sides, we can find shops selling all types of puja items, refreshments . It was 3 p.m. when we reached this place .Devotees were waiting in the serpentine queues seeing which I guessed would take easily one hour to have darshan. In the temples which we visited, I found that there is no “paid ticket queues”- no seegra darshan.
Everyone has to go in a single queue. Devotees standing in the queue were sining bhajans which I guess must be the abhangs written by Jnaneswar maharaj. Unmindful of the hot breeze and the rush, devotees were immersed in the prayers. My wife approached a security person and requested him to help us out as adiyen couldn’t stand for long. The security ushered us directly into the Samadhi through the exit door. Within minutes, we could have darshanam of the Samadhi.
A black stone is laid at the place where Jnaneswar took Samadhi, Devotees were offering flowers and sweets to the Samadhi. Everyone is allowed to have sparsham of the Samadhi(touch the Samadhi). Even today ,Jnaneswar Maharaj responds to the devotees’ prayers from the Samadhi and many incidents prove this. Behind the Samadhi, Lord Pandurangan along with Rakumaayi(Rukmini) gives darshan with HIS ever benevolent smile and grace.( It was as if Lord was mocking at me for approaching touts (as is our usual practice in Tirumala) for darshan!!!)
On the outer wall of the Samadhi temple, a big photograph of Sant Jnaneswar with Vittal gracing him from behind draws our attention. Opposite to this is Muktabai’s sannidhi. When we come in circumbulation, we can have darsanam of the banyan tree. Rukmini-Jnaneswar’s mother used to circumbulate this tree 1008 times daily as she considered that to be her “daily Pandharpur yatra”. Beside this , we find Ajaanavruksh tree which is worshipped by all the devotees. We came across devotees sitting and reading Bhaavartha Deepika near the tree.
It was under this tree that Jnaneswar took jiva Samadhi. Later a temple was constructed at this place but we find the tree spreading its branches over the Samadhi even now. Descending two steps from the tree, we enter into a mandapam which has been constructed for the devotees to recite Bhavaartha Deepika. In this mantapam, we can find the images of Lord Vittalan with Rakumaayi and the silver palanquin which is used to carry Jnaneswar’s padhukas to Pandharpur from Alandi.
Jnaneswar was the founder of Varkaari sampradayam- they emphasise more on bhajans and abhangs. Aashada Ekadasi is the most important festival in Pandharpur because this is the appearance day of LORD KRISHNA as PANDURANGAN to Pundalikan. Every Ekadasi is important but Aashada and Karthika Ekadasis are the most important festivals for varkaaris and in Pandirpur. Aashada Ekadasi is also known as ‘Sayana Ekadasi” when Lord Jagannath goes to sleep for four months at the onset of Chaathur maas. It is also known as “tholi Ekadasi” for Telugus because it marks the beginning of festivals after a gap of about 3-4 months. In Tamilnadu, in almost all the temples, during this period, Jyestabhishekam is performed to the deities. So, this month is important for all the Hindus.
Back to Aashada Ekadasi celebrations, thousands of devotees gather at Alandi and Dehu. In Alandi, the assembled devotees place the padhukas of Jnaneswar in the palanquin (“paalki’) and continuously do bhajan until they get consent from Jnaneswar for the yaatra to begin. The bell on the Samadhi of Jnaneswar rings, leaves fall from Ajaana vruksham and there is a drizzle. Only when all these three things happen, it is treated as Sant Jnaneswar’s consent and the procession starts. The procession takes about 15-20 days to reach Pandharpur. All through the paada-yaatra, devotees keep singing abhangs, they carry tulasi pots , and partake prasadam with everyone.
We reached Swaargate bus stop in Pune at about 5 p.m. intending to take Satara bus. Initailly, we planned to go to Satara ,stay in the ISKCON centre (we never knew that ISKCON has a centre there but the devotees in Dehu provided us with the number and asked us to contact them (08806619098) for prashadam and accommodation. We planned to stay there for the night and go to Sajjan gad which is about 18 kms south of Satara and visit Samartha Ramdas Samadhi mandir on the hill.
There was communication gap with the ISKCON person and hence we could not get confirmation about the stay. Maybe it was Lord’s will to fulfill our desire of having Mahalakshmi darsanam at Kolhapur . We found a bus which was ready to leave for Kolhapur . Purchased tickets and reached Kolhapur at 10 p.m. The Kolhapur Mahalakshmi temple is about 8 kms away from the bus stop. We hired an auto for Rs.70/- who dropped us in Venkateswara Lodge for Rs.1000/- room rent. We had spoken to one of the priests of Kolhapur temple who advised us to be at the temple entrance by 7.30 a.m. to participate in Abhishekam for Thayar.
HOW THE DIVYA DAMPATHIS MAHAVISHNU AND MAHALAKSHMI DESCENDED ON EARTH FOR GRACING US IN KALIYUGA..
It may be recollected that Bhrigu rishi was assigned the task of finding out the most tolerant and compassionate God among the Trinities who could be worshipped by the fallen souls like us in Kali Yuga. When Bhrigu rishi reached Satyalokam, Brahma was lost in meditation while Saraswathi was playing the veena. As Brahma didn’t welcome the rishi, he got angry and left the place cursing that Brahma would not be worshipped on earth.(an exception to this are the temples at Pushkar and Bittoor).Bhrigu rishi proceeded to Mount Kailash where he found Shiva and Parvathi performing thandaavam (a dance type) and didn’t greet him. The offended rishi cursed Shiva that he would not be worshipped in his original form and people would only worship him as “linga”. Bhrigu rishi was totally infuriated at the behavior of Brahma and Shiva and angrily proceeded to Vaikuntam. He presumed that Vishnu who was lying on the cosmic ocean would also extend the same treatment . Without following any decorum, he straight away went to the Paarkadal and seeing Perumal in yoga nidra and Thayar pressing the Lord’s holy feet, he committed an unpardonable offence by kicking Perumal on HIS holy chest which is the vaasasthalam (residing place) of Jaganmatha, Sri Mahalakshmi.
Perumal who was pretending to be asleep immediately got up seeking forgiveness from the rishi. Perumal seated the rishi on a throne and started pressing the rishi’s legs for the pain that would have arisen due to the offence. The moment Perumal’s sparsham was felt by the rishi, he calmed down and realized his mistake. While Perumal was pressing the rishi’s legs, he gradually pressed the third eye under the rishi’s feet which was the cause of anger in the rishi. Rishis who have mastered their senses ought to be calm and forgiving whereas this rishi despite doing tapas for hundreds of years failed to master his senses.
All the evil got accumulated in his third eye which was the cause for his temperament. The rishi realized his mistake and begged for forgiveness. He praised Perumal that HE is the most compassionate God to be worshipped and left the place. Mahalakshmi Thayar who always resides in Perumal’s chest who is never inseperable from Perumal (as Nammazhwar says “Agalagillene Iraiyum endru alarmel mangai urai maarbha) was offended by this act of Perumal. She couldn’t accept Lords’s compassion on a sinner who desecrated her place. The Vedas identify Perumal as the “one who has Sridevi on HIS chest”. Lord is known as “SRI-NIVASAN” meaning the abode of Sri (Lakshmi).
Pey Azhwar endorses this in Moondram Thiruvandhadhi as “THIRU KANDENE, PON MENI KANDENE…..” meaning that he first saw “Thiru”(Lakshmi) and because of HER luster, he could see the golden luster on Perumal’s body.. . Our poorvacharyars vouch for Thayar and clearly emphasise HER importance as SHE alone acts as Purushakaaram(bridge between Jivatma and Paramatma) and prevail upon the Lord’s will to grant moksham (freedom from rebirth) on our behalf.
That is why ,Swamy Ramanujar chose the holy day of Panguni Uthiram and sought refuge at Ranganayaki Thayar’s holy feet to intervene on our behalf and grant moksham. Our poorvacharyars say that one can count the innumerable qualities of Perumal whereas it is just not possible to count Thayar’s qualities.
Swami Desikan prays to Thayar to intervene on our behalf and ensure that Perumal does not punish for our various uncountable sins.
Annamacharyar first sang 100 songs on Thayar and only later he started singing for Perumal. Thyagarajar says “Nannu Bhrova mani cheppave, Sitamma thalli….), Ramdas in his outpourings sings “Yey theeruguna dhaya …..” .
On a day prior to Vaikunta Ekadasi in Srirangam, when Namperumal dressed as Mohini by wearing Thayar’s costumes appeared in front of Parasara Bhattar asking him to comment, Sri Parasara Bhattar commented that even though Perumal dressed up like nachiyar, HIS eyes which always wander to punish the sinner cannot be compared with Thayar’s benovolent compassion. Thayar’s kataksham is always cool and forgiving whereas Perumal always tries to punish us when we deviate from dharma. Such is the vaibhavam of Mahalakshmi Thayar whom Bhrigu rishi insulted. Thayar who could not bear this humiliation and left Vaikuntam and landed in this bhooloka at Karaveerapuram for doing penance.
The moment Thayar left Vaikuntam, Vaikuntam lost all its splendour and Mahavishnu also set out for Bhooloka in search of Thayar. The Lord ascended at Tirumala Hills and later on married Padmavathi who was an amsam ofBhoo devi and who played a vital role in Ramayanam as mentioned in “Sri Venkateswara Mahatyam”. Mahalakshmi Thayar who was doing penance was informed by Narada rishi about these developments and SHE came to Tirumala and participated in the wedding. Thayar once again occupied HER original place in Perumal’s chest and resides forever.
A beautiful temple is constructed at the place where Thayar did penance. Mahalakshmi Thayar is in standing posture, Mahavishnu and Mahalakshmi have blessed this place by staying here forever. In this temple, everyday Thirumanjanam is performed to Thayar’s sataari (holy feet) in HER presence.
On 8th morning, adiyongal met the temple priest at South gate. There are four entrances to the temple. Kolhapur previously known as “Karaveera puram” is the place where Goddess Mahalakshmi first placed HER holy feet on earth.
ABHISHEKAM BEING PERFORMED FOR MAHALAKSHMI AT KOLHAPUR
This seva is performed in the mornings from 5 a.m. at hourly slots. For this purpose, there are two sataris. One of the priests ask us to do sankalpam and after this is over, the devotees are involved in all the sevas. A priest hands over a bowl of holy milk mixed with water,cur,turmeric,honey to be poured on one sataari and this is done by all the assembled gents devotees.
During Thirumanjanam, Sri Sooktam was being chanted. Dhoopam, deepam, flowers, neivedyam are separately passed on to all the devotees who individually offer it to the satari from their place . Later, another pujari while reciting Lakshmi archana, gives us some kumkum to be offered to the second sataari. After this, the devotees are sent for darshanam from close quarters. While we were performing Thirumanjanam, we observed that a priest was patiently adorning the main diety ,Moolavar with all the sarees offered by devotees. At a time, Thayar is draped in 10 sets of sarees in everyone’s presence.
Later after giving haarthi and sweet offerings, these were removed. It is usual practice for the devotees who visit this temple to offer bangles, sarees, blouse pieces, kumkum etc. to the Thayar. All the shops near the entrances sell these items. Moolavar’s thirumanjanam also was performed in everyone’s presence. The priest anointed some oil on Thayar’s thirumugam(face) and all over the body. Later abhishekam was performed using water and milk. This process is not that elaborate as we find in Southern temples. Thayar was once again dressed in new sarees. Dakshina of Rs.350/- towards Thirumanjanam charges are to be given to the head priest . These amounts are later distributed amongst all the pandas/pujaris. We were lucky to be in Thayar’s presence for nearly an hour .Our hearts were filled with HER benevolent grace. Karaveerapuram is also connected with Sakku Bai, one of the great devotees of Pandurangan. Sakkubai hailed from a nearby village in Pandirpur but was living with her inlaws at Karaveerapuram, the present Kolhapur. To enable Sakkubai to have HIS darshan on Aashada Ekadasi, Lord assumed her form and lived in Karaveerapuram serving her inlaws and husband doing all menial jobs. So, we wanted to visit this place. But unfortunately, no one was able to guide us. So, we had to satisfy ourselves by thinking of the Lord’s pastimes and her bhakti.
We left the temple at about 9.30 a.m. and checked out of the lodge at about 10.30 a.m. Boarded Pandharpur bus from Kolhapur bus stand at 11 a.m. and reached Pandharpur around 4 p.m. Took an auto for Rs.100/- to go to ISKCON, Pandharpur . Being life members, we had made advance reservation of our accommodation and the manager, Sri Praveen Prabhu was kind enough to keep some prashadam for us. After refreshing ourselves, we first had Sri Radha Pandirnath darshan in ISKCON and after honouring prasadam, went to Chandrabhaga river and sprinkled the holy water on us. Construction of ghat as desired by Srila Prabhupada has commenced at this place with the support of volunteers.
We participated in the evening aarthi in ISKCON at 7 p.m. Shri Praveen prabhu had arranged for an auto for us to go to the temple.
ONLINE DARSHAN FACILITY FOR PILGRIMS VISITING PANDHARPUR
To have a hassle-free darshan in Pandharpur avoiding long queues, the temple authorities have started “online booking” scheme. We need to log on to http://www.vitthalrukminimandir.org/onlineDarshan.html and choose the date and time slot. Book the darshan ticket online by uploading your photo and filling up the application.
We booked our darshan for 7p.m. to 8p.m. slot and so left for the temple at 7.30p.m. after the kirtan. The temple is about 10 minutes drive from ISKCON. The darshan is free of cost.VITTAL TEMPLE,PANDHARPUR
The security at the entrance ushered us to go to a nearby office near Tukaram dwaar to get our tickets stamped. Once this is over, we can straight away enter the temple for darshan. We first had darshan of Chokamela’s Samadhi near the entrance. Offering obeisances to Namdev at Namdev Pairi, we entered the temple singing songs on Panduranga including few abhangs. Lord Panduranga was very kind to us. He gave darshan from the closest quarters and allowed us to have HIS PAADHA SPARSHAM (touching the holy feet) which is done only in Pandirpur. The Supreme Personality was dressed in white dhoti with big green borders (typical South Indian dhoti) .We felt that the Lord was pleased with us because we had darshan of his devotees and then approached HIM. The blessings of HIS dear devotees shielded our shortcomings enabling the Lord to pour HIS BENOVOLENT GRACE ON US. The Lord also gave us a bonus by allowing us to watch HIS THIRUMANJANA SEVA ( ABHISHEKAM ) on the next day.SRI RAKUMAAYI SAMETHA SRI PANDURANGAN
An ISKCON devotee who was introduced to us by Praveen prabhu advised us to be at the Mahadwaar by 2 a.m. Only 30-40 devotees are allowed inside to have darshan of the Thirumanjana seva. But as advised by the auto driver, we ensured to be present at mahadwaar by 1 a.m. The auto driver arrived at ISKCON during the wee hours and dropped us at Vittal temple. Handing over the mobile to him and requesting him to come at 6 a.m. for picking us up, adiyen accompanied by my wife, joined the queue outside the mahadwaar. Luckily, only two devotees were present. Chanting on our beads , we waited till 4 a.m. for the gates to open.
The security organized everything nicely. The ladies were first allowed to get inside the temple first and were made to sit in front of the garbagriham in the big hall which is about 12-15 feet away from the main deity. The gents were allowed later and had to stand/sit behind the ladies. We recollected our past two sevas few years back when the pandas used to take us from some other entrance other than the maha dwaar , make the gents sit and the ladies used to stand behind. The pandas also used to charge exhorbitantly ranging from Rs.2000-5000 based on the number of persons. But after the Endowment department has taken charge, things have been simplified for the benefit of devotees. There is no charge for any seva. Hope all the Endowment managed temples in our country follow this system.
ABHISHEKAM TO LORD PANDURANGAN IN PANDHARPUR
After about half an hour, the rituals started. The pujari first removed the tulasi leaves which were placed on the Lord’s holy feet the previous night and distributed it amongst the assembled devotees. There were about 6 priests engaged in the service of bringing holy water, milk, sugar, flowers , chandan paste etc. A male devotee in his late fifties helped in cleaning the inner halls while a lady who seemed to be an advanced devotee was cleaning the thresholds with water and decorating with kolams. All through her activities, she was happily singing aloud songs on Vittal .
The songs by the pure devotee was nectarian. As we were not familiar with the language, we could only guess from few Hindi words that she was singing appropriate songs for the sevas. While the Lord was awakened, she sang a nice song. While offering milk , we guessed she was singing in Yashoda bhaavam, during Thirumanjanam and haarthi, she was outpouring the divine nectarian songs. She reminded us of the great devotee, Jaana bai who used to sing beautiful abhangs on Lord Vittalan while discharging her duties. The Lord was so pleased with her abhangs that he used to remember and relish her sweet outpourings.ABHISHEKAM WITH MILK PERFORMED FOR LORD PANDURANGAN
The milk which was offered to the Lord was distributed amongst all of us. The diety was now ready for Thirumanjanam. The pujaris kept two pots in front of the Lord containing milk and water and did sankalpam. Inside the garbagriham, the priests were chanting Purusha suktam while this lady along with the elderly person was singing abhangs. Lord was given holy bath with water, milk, chandan, sugar . Sugar was applied on the Lord’s pavazhavaai(mouth) and on HIS holy feet. The Lord’s divya mangala swaroopam can be clearly seen during Thirumanjanam. The Lord has a lingam on HIS head (Mastaka lingam), the Lord places HIS palms on HIS hips. The Lord is seen holding sankhu in HIS left palm and HIS right hand rests on the hip. Lord’s dress and the sweat on HIS divine face can be seen clearly. The brick on which the Lord places HIS holy feet can also be seen. Indra, the king of devas, to atone for the sin of killing Viratasuran, a Brahmin was afflicted with bhrama hathi dosham. To atone for this sin, Indra assumed the form of a brick and requested Srihari to purify him by placing HIS divine feet. Haarthi was given to the Lord while the lady was clapping. First, the golden crown was placed on the Lord’s Head. The Lord was clad in white silk clothes and with a white velvet cloth as the upper garment. The lady was singing a song referring to the various days and the colour of dresses adorned by Vittalan. The Lord was bedecked with a floral garland and a Tulasi garland. Chandanam was applied on the Lord’s forehead in an “inverted leaf” form and a black Tilak was applied in the centre.
The Lord’s beauty was very captivating..No wonder, so many devotees attained HIM. The moment abhishekam got over, the lady left the place to do some other service. How fortunate she is to do kainkaryam right in front of Perumal, sit in front of HIM and sing for HIM. WE were mesmerized by her unflinched devotion to Vittalan. After archana, the Lord was offered bhog. Later we were all ushered in to have close darshan. The ladies were allowed first and the gents followed suit. Adiyen with my wife who was waiting in the queue had darshan of Vittalan in close quarters and fell at HIS holy feet. May the Lord bless us with PREMA BHAKTI. After having darsanam of Rakumaayi, Subhadra, Radharani, Balaji and after circumbulating the holy tree we cherished our memories sitting in the temple.
KAANGOPATRA CHARITAM- THE GREAT DEVOTEE WHO BECAME ONE WITH THE LORD
Kaangopaatra who lived in Mangalvedha was a very pious,devoted,beautiful lady who was always lost in Vittalan’s thoughts. The king ordered her to be brought to his presence forcibly. On the way, she requested the soldiers to allow her to have darsanam of Pandurangan for the last time who obliged to her request.
She ran inside the temple and crying piteously falling at the feet of Pandurangan, she gave up her life. The priests hid her body behind the temple and immediately a big tree grew in that place. This is the holy tree inside the temple which is worshipped by the devotees. When the king who didn’t believe the preists’ version personally came, he was shocked to see the upper cloth worn by Kaangopatra now decorating the Lord. WE later learnt from the car driver that Narasing Mehta’s Samadhi mandir is in Mangalvedha.
WE returned to ISKCON and after taking rest for some time, honoured prasadam and went to visit other important places by auto in Pandirpur. We first went to Pundalikan Samadhi located on the banks of Chandrabhaga. This temple is visible from ISKCON.
“PUNDALIKA VARADHEY HARI VITTALA “ is the most often heard word amongst Vittalan devotees and in Pandirpuram. Pleased with the services of Pundalikan to his parents, the Supreme Lord appeared in this tiny village to bless him and gives darshan to everyone till date. Another speciality is the Lord’s sowlabhyam to his devotees. Everyone irrespective of caste,creed,gender is allowed to touch the Holy feet of the Lord. In Pandirpuram, we can have the darshan of the MOST COMPASSIONATE LORD who mingled with all the devotees and assumed various forms like a cobbler, barber, servant, potter, and always assisted his devotees right from helping them in household chores and encouraged them to do bhajan. Lord Pandurangan is pleased with bhajans only.PUNDALIKAN SAMADHI ON THE BANKS OF RIVER CHANDRABHAGA
“CHANDRABHAAGE SNANA THEERTHA PUNDALIKA KSHETRA PAALA…” is the famous abhang which not only Maharashtrians but also South Indians know….
THE DEVOTEE FOR WHOM LORD VITTAL’S APPEARED IN PANDHARPUR
Pilgrimage to Pandharpur and Vittal darshan is incomplete without mentioning Pundalikan. PUndalaikan who hailed from south India along with his parents, wife and children undertook a yatra to Kasi. As his parents couldn’t withstand the long journey, they stayed on the banks of Bhima river in the present Pandharpur. Pundalikan changed the course of river so that it would pass by his hut to enable his parents for bathing. The shape was in the shape of crescent and hence the river came to be known as “Chandrabhaga” river.
Lord Krishna who was then ruling Dwaraka,learnt from Narada about Pundalikan who was serving his parents and personally visited his hut to bless him. Pundalikan could not immediately get up and receive the Lord because his parents were resting on his lap. When Lord Krishna called him, Pundalikan replied that he couldn’t come and receive the Lord of the Universe and requested the Lord to wait for him till he finished. He requested the Lord to stand on a brick which was laying nearby. Indra to atone for his brahmahathi dosham took the form of brick and was eagerly awaiting Lord’s arrival so that the Lord would place HIS holy feet.
As the Lord was waiting for long time outside his house, HE slowly put HIS hands on the waist and was observing Pundalikan’s activities. Pundalikan was happy to see the Lord and prayed to HIM to stay there forever. Rukmini ,SAtyabhama who came in search of the Lord were happy to see the form of the Lord , assumed the same posture and blessed Pundalikan. AT the behest of Pundalikan, Lord resides here and gives darshan. As Lord stands on Vittu(brick) , HE is known as Vittalan.
The place where the Lord stands is the present temple. Pundalikan and his parents attained Lord’s feet and their samadhis were constructed on the banks of Chandrabhaga river. There are two samadhis- one is of Pundalikan where a copper image of Pundalikan’s face is worshipped on the Samadhi. Behind is his parents’ Samadhi. The beautiful painting of Lord Vittalan carrying Namdev and Jnaneswar on HIS shoulders and other devotees clinging to the Lord attracts everyone’s attention. Few photographers have kept small vigrahams of Vittal-Rakumayi and the devotees take photo along with them.PUNDALIKAN SAMADHI ON THE BANKS OF CHANDRABHAGA RIVER
The main entrance to the temple is known as “Namdev pairi”. This is the place where the great bhakta Namdev, who could converse and play with the Lord attained Samadhi. A vigraham of Namdev’s face is placed at this place. Along with Namdev, 14 of his family members attained Samadhi at this place whose names are mentioned on the nearby wall.
THE DEVOTEE WITH WHOM LORD WOULD CONVERSE DAILY AND HAD PRASADAM ON A DWADASI DAY-
Near the entrance to the temple, we can find Chokamela’s Samadhi facing the temple. Chokamela was an outcaste whom Lord loved and would personally go to his house after the temple doors closed after sayana aarthi. Chokamela like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu always used to be in ecstasy singing, dancing, clapping hands, crying, and was always immersed in Lord’s thoughts. As the Lord was invisible to others, seeing Chokamela’s acts, the people branded him “mad”. The Lord would happily converse with Chokamela. (This reminds us of the great bhakta, Haathiraam Bhabha in Tirumala with whom Lord Srinivasa used to play dice every night after Ekantha seva and return to temple during Suprabhatam). Once Chokamela desired to see Lord’s house . The Lord took him inside the garbagriham with his maya after the temple was closed. They spent the whole night conversing with each other and when the temple doors were opened the next morning, the pujaries were shocked to see Chokamela inside the garbagriham. The priests informed that the mad person had now entered the temple premises to the king who ordered him to leave the place and never to enter the temple again. Chokamela was not at all disturbed with this order and moved along with his wife to the other bank of Chandrabhaga . The Lord continued to visit him daily. Fasting on Ekadasi is followed by all the Vaishnavas as per shastras .
On Dwadasi, the vaishnava has to feed someone and then break the fast. In Pandirpur, Ekadasi vrutham is observed by everyone and they follow this practice of feeding someone on Dwadasi. On one occasion, Chokamela desired to feed Krishna on Dwadasi day . The Lord immediately accepted his request and visited his house on the following day along with Rukmini , Namdev and Indran. Chokamela’s wife was serving the guests with the prasadam when accidentally curd pot fell down spilling over Lord’s peethambaram. Chokamela chastised his wife for this behavior while the Lord simply smiled. The Lord wanted to show the world Chokamela’s bhakti. At the same time, mid-day neivedyam was being offered to the deity in the temple when the priests were shocked to see curd on Lord’s peethambaram. Few people who happened to converse with Chokamela learnt from him that Lord HIMSELF had come for partaking lunch in his house and about the curd incident. They informed the priests about the incident who immediately approached Chokamela’s house and begged for forgiveness. This incident in the form of photograph is hung in Chokamela’s Samadhi. Chokamela was always immersed in devotion to such an extent that when he left his mortal body, Lord ordered Namdev to perform the last rites. When the remnants of the burnt body along with the bones were brought by Chokamela’s relatives, they observed that the burnt bones danced hearing Hari Naama sankeertana. Lord instructed the ashes and the bones to be kept in a Samadhi facing HIM so that Chokamela’s remnants could always have Vittal’s darsanam.
NARAHARI SONA- LORD GAVE DARSHAN AS VISHNU AND SHIVA
On the left side towards Namdev Dwaar, the main entrance to the temple, we find Narahari Sona’s Samadhi and opposite is the Mallikarjuneswar’s sannidhi. Narahari Sona ,a goldsmith by profession was a staunch Siva devotee differentiated the forms of Vishnu and Shiva. He was against worshipping/ thinking/ hearing about the presiding diety. Lord, who is Jagan naataka Sootradhaari, has HIS own way of bringing everyone to HIS holy feet. Lord wanted to remove his illusion and enacted a divine leela.NARAHARI SONA
A rich person in the neighbouring village who was childless prayed to Pandurangan for progeny promising the Lord that he would offer a golden kavacham for Lord Vittalan. In due course, the rich man’s wish was fulfilled and he wanted to fulfill his wish. Everyone referred to Narahari Sona, the goldsmith living in Pandirpur as he was an expert. Due to the divine intervention, Narahari Sona accepted the order but after learning that it was for the Lord whom he hated , he was hesitant. Lord prevailed upon the rich person luring him that with the huge fee which he would get, he could renovate the Mallikarjuneswara Swamy temple . Sona felt that his long cherished desire of renovating his God’s templke could be fulfilled and ceepted. He finally relented to the rich person with a condition that someone has to get the Lord’s measurements as he would not enter the temple. The rich person agreed to this and the measurements were given to Sona who made a wonderful kavacham for the Lord. The rich man on an auspicious day offered it to Lord but when the priests adorned, it did not fit correctly and was big for the diety. The richman asked Sona to make the necessary changes and tthis time the kavacham didn’t fit the diety. The rich man started abusing Sona who was now forced to personally take the measurements. As he had taken a vow not to place his feet inside the temple and also see the Lord, the richman ordered 2 persons to carry Narahari Sona inside the temple with blindfolded eyes. When Narahari Sona started measuring the dhivya mangala thirumeni of the archa murthi, he suddenly felt naagam on the neck, tiger skin on the body, rudraksham on the neck. As these things are adorned by Shiva, he felt that the vigrham was that of Shiva and opened his eyes. Immediately, the Lord gave darshan as Pandurangan. Looking at Pandurangan, he immediately closed his eyes and once again attempted to take the measurements. This leela was repeated. With closed eyes, he could visualize Shiva and with eyes open, he had Pandurangan darshan. Thus his ignorance was removed by the all-compassionate Lord and he became a great devotee of the Lord.
JAANABAI- LORD HELPED HER IN HOUSEHOLD CHORES
We then drove to Gopalpuri which is about 6 kms from Pandirpur. The house turned temple is situated on a small hillock. The inmates sitting in the various sannidhis force us for money. So, we need to be careful. Here the vessels used by Janabai in Namdev’s house which had Lord Vittalan’s karana sparasham(touched by Lord’s hands) , the stone grinder etc can be seen. Janabai who had come to Pandirpur with her parents lost them in the crowd when she was a small child. Seeing the crying child, Namdev gave shelter to her. Namdev was an embodiment of bhakti who could see and converse with Vittalan. Vittalan used to visit him daily. In that conducive environment, Janabai’s bhakti developed. She always used to sing the Lord’s beauty while doing work. Lord used to help her in cooking and used to grind flour for her in the stone mortar while she would be lost singing HIS divine beauty.
LORD VITTALAN HELPING JAANABAI
This incident in the form of a picture is hung on the wall. Janabai’s bhakti was like that of Andal and Mirabai. Lord always used to relish and recap her abhangs .
In the same premises, a few steep steps inside a cave leads us to a small place where the idols of Vittalan and Sakkubai are kept. Sakkubai with folded hands and Vittalan give darshan. Rs.5/- per head is charged for entry into this.SAKKUBAI SANNIDHI AT GOPAL PURI
SAKKUBAI- LORD ASSUMED HER FORM AND SERVED IN HER HOUSE FOR MANY MONTHS
While Sakkubai was still a child, a senior devotee who was going to Pandirpur handed over a tambura to her and gave her mantra which she used to always contemplate upon. She always desired to go to Pandirpuram to have Vittalan’s darshan. In due course, she was married to a person and started to live in Karaveerapuram, the present Kolhapur serving her inlaws and husband. She was always lost in thought of Pandurangan and was not at all interested in material life. Unmindful of the inflictions by her atheist inlaws, she used to discharge all her household duties while thinking of Pandurangan always. Once when she went to the river to fetch water, she saw a bhajan group proceeding to Pandirpur. The group was led by the devotee who had earlier given Tambura to her. Lost in the thoughts of Pandurangan, she joined the group and reached Pandirpur.
Meanwhile, Pandurangan assumed her form and did all the chores at Karaveerapuram. Noone could guess that it was the Lord in the form of Sakkubai who was with them and served for many months. She was in ecstasy looking at the divine form of the Lord and gave up her body. Rukmini devi, the divine consort of the Lord was perplexed at this incident. She ordered Sakkubai’s body to be brought to her and the Jagan Maatha , the Universal Mother gave life to Sakkubai. Rukmini Devi revealed about the Lord’s act to Sakkubai and advised her to return to her village so that the Lord could come back to Pandirpur and give darsanam. Sakkubai obeyed Mother Rukmini’s orders. The original Sakkubai met the Lord on the banks of the same river where she left earlier and sought forgiveness for the trouble. Lord gave her darshan in HIS Resplendant form and blessing her left the place. In our trip, we went to Kolhapur to visit this place. No one whom we enquired could guide us and so had to remember her in Mahalakshmi Thayar’s presence.
While returning to Pandirpur, we first visited Gora Kumbar Samadhi mandir in a small lane. In the big hall in front of the Samadhi, we can find beautiful pictures of Vittalan and HIS various leelas.
GORA KUMBAR- THE POTTER TO WHOM LORD WORKED AS AN ASSISTANT
In front of the Samadhi, on the left side, we find a beautiful picture of Gorakumbar singing in ecstasy while stamping the clay and his child clinging to his feet. Opposite to him, we find Gorakumbar’s wife. Inside the altar , we find the Samadhi of Gorakumbar with a copper head being worshipped and images of Pandurangan,Rakumayi.GORA KUMBAR ENGROSSED IN KIRTAN WHILE HIS INFANT SON IS CLINGING TO HIS FEET
Gora Kumbar , a potter by profession lived in Teri village in Osmanabad district along with his wife Tulasi and child-Hari. He used to be so immersed in bhakti that he would not know what was happening around . Once it so happened that his wife went outside to fetch some ghee for the infant and left the child in Gorakumbar’s custody. While stamping the clay for uniform consistency to make pots, dark clouds formed in the sky seeing which Gora Kumbar was lost in Krishna’s beauty and was singing in ecstasy. The lighting and the downpour startled the little child who crawled and clasped Gora kumbar’s feet. While mixing the clay with his feet, Gora Kumbar was completely lost in Lord’s thoughts with his hands raised above his head and was visualizing Vittal everywhere. Unknowingly, the child got caught in between his legs and in due course was crushed to death. Gorakumbar’s wife who returned after the rain subsided was searching for the child and to her dismay saw the remains of the child mixed in the clay. She shouted at Gorakumbar and brought him to senses. Angered by the thought that because of Lord Pandurangan, her husband was lost in devotion, she proceeded to hit Vittalan. Gorakumbar attacked his wife to stop her from doing apachaaram and was about to hit her. To save herself, she proclaimed promise on Vittalan that he should not touch her. Gorakumbar refrained from this act and tried to pacify her .
As the child’s memories haunted her, Tulasi literally became mad. Gora sent her to her father’s place for a change. Gora was continuing his sadhana. Tulasi repented for her act and wanted to have a child’s presence in their house so that the old memories would slowly fade away. She prevailed upon her father to give her sister in marriage to Gora. As Gora was basically a nice person, her father too agreed and the wedding was solemnized in Vittalan’s presence .He requested Gora to take care of the new bride like his first wife. Gora treated the second wife also like Tulasi and abstained from maintaining any contact with them. Gora never used to touch the food prepared by his wives and did everything immediately. Once when his wives forcibly served him, he repented that the promise on Pandurangan had broken and immediately chopped off both his hands. Now, the sole bread earner of the family was handicapped and thus could not continue his profession. The ever compassionate Lord Vittalan who could not bear his devotee suffering, reached Gora Kumbar’s house and as a small boy served him. The Lord used to make pottery and sell , he would do all sorts of services to Gora Kumbar right from bathing him, washing his clothes, helping him in worship, cooking and serving all three of them
A devotee who came to have darsanam in Pandirpur observed that there was no saanidhyam (presence of the Lord) in the temple. Only the idol was there. He contemplated on Lord to reveal HIS presence and learnt that the Lord was in Gora Kumbar’s house serving him. He immediately rushed to Gora’s house for having darsanam of the Lord. Through him, Gora learnt that the boy who was serving him was none other than the “BHAKTA VATSALAN PANDURANGAN”. The boy had disappeared from the house. Gora went in search of the Lord to Pandaripuram along with his family and pleaded the Lord to give him darshan. With HIS cool benevolent grace, the Lord not only gave him darshan but also revived his dead son and Gora’s arms. Such is the soulabhyam of Lord Pandurangan. Gorakumbar stayed in Pandirpur composing abhangs and involving in devotional service and finally attained the Lotus feet of the Lord at Pandirpuram. This Samadhi mandir is situated in a small lane and is easily accessible.GORA KUMBAR SANNIDHI IN PANDHARPUR
Contemplating on Gora’s bhakti , we proceeded to the next lane to have darsanam of Namdev, another foremost devotee.
NAAMDEV- LORD’S BEST FRIEND NAMDEV SANNIDHI AT PANDHARPUR
Namdev mandir is close to Gorakumbar’s mandir. Namdev was a child prodigy. Right from his birth, he was always immersed in Bhakti. At the tender age of five, he invoked Lord Vittalaan to come personally and honour the food offerings made by him. The Lord had a special liking for Namdev and used to spend entire time with Namdev. All his family members were devotees of Vittalan. While so many bhaktas used to visit HIM daily, the Lord preferred to go to Namdev’s house and mingle with everyone. Janabai who was brought up by Namdev excelled in prema bhakti towards the Lord. In one of her abhangs, she sings “NAAMDEV KAREY KIRTAN, NAACHEY PANDURANGA…”
While Namdev does kirtan, Pandurangan used to dance. Once when there was a heavy downpour in Pandirpur, Namdev’s old dilapidated roof was giving way. To save HIS devotee from getting drenched, Pandurangan’s sudarshana chakram acted like an umbrella under the roof and the Lord HIMSELF was holding the walls from giving way thereby getting drenched. Jaana bai was perplexed and fortunate to see the Lord’s act.LORD PANDURANGAN SANNIDHI IN NAMDEV’S HOUSE,PANDHARPUR
Presently, Namdev’s house is a two storey building and in the ground floor, we can darsanam of Pandurangan. Every day, devotees assemble in the big hall and do kirtan. The inmates informed us that Namdev invited Pandurangan to have lunch on a Diwali and the Lord had “sweet puris” in their house. At the entrance, there is a separate sannidhi for Namdev holding Tambura.NAAMDEV HOLDING TAMBURA AT NAMDEV’S HOUSE, PANDHARPUR
We then proceeded to Tukaram mandir. Sant Tukaram lived in Dehu and left for Vaikuntam from Dehu. As mentioned earlier, we were lucky to have darsanam of Tukaram at Dehu on his disappearance day celebrated as “Tukaram Beej”. Tukaram’s vigraham is being worshipped here . The caretaker informed us that during AAshada Yatra, the pilgrims who carry Tukaram’s paalki from Dehu reach this place and stay here to have darshan. In the big hall in front of the sannidhi, devotees gather everyday to do kirtan and sing Tukaram’s abhangs.
The holy mantra “ JAI JAI RAMAKRISHNA HARI” which Tukaram Maharaj always used to meditate upon was softly being played in music system.
Few devotees holding Tambura and standing in the hall were softly singing the abhangs.SANT TUKARAM SANNIDHI IN PANDHARPUR
After having darshan of the important places, we returned to ISKCON at about 1300 hours .The Lord once again graced us as we were fortunate to have “Rajbhog prashadam” of nearly 15 items -rice,rotis, 5 types of vegetables, sweets, payasam ,curd etc which is otherwise not given.
We learnt from the auto driver that Kurmadasar’s Samadhi at Laul and Sant Savantamaali’s Samadhi at Aaran were on the way to Kurduwadi. Kurduwadi is about 1 hour journey from Pandirpur but to visit Laul and Aaran, we need to go by vehicle.
Initially, we had booked our return train ticket from Solapur to Secunderabad . The tickets were waitlisted and we were not sure whether the train originating from Mumbai would have enough quota for the tickets to get confirmed. Just 3 days ahead of our trip, a divine will from our Perumal sannidhi prevailed upon to check ticket availability from Kurduwadi. And lo! Confirmed tickets were available. Now we realized the divine plan of the Lord. It may be noted that Pandirpur is about 80 kms from Solapur and about 41 kms from Kurduwadi. As we were familiar with Solapur, we initially booked ticket from that place . Who can understand Lord’s playing. Lord wanted us to have darsanam of another two great bhaktas and enacted this plan.
WE checked out at 1430 hours. Thanking Praveen prabhu who made all arrangements for us during our stay and giving some donation for cow and ghat construction, we left by car arranged by Praveen prabhu for Rs.1600/-
Reached Aaran , the place where a gardener by name ,Sant Savanta Maali was granted darsanam by Vittalan. This place is about 32 kms from Pandirpur on the way to Kurduwadi. This incident is always referred along with Kurmadasar.
LORD VITTALAN SERVED THIS DEVOTEE DURING HIS YATRA TO PANDHARPUR AND SAVANTA MAALI-THE GARDENER WHO DID PUSHPA KAINKARYAM TO THE LORD
Kurmadasar, another devotee of Pandurangan who lived in Paitan(Prathistanapuram) about 450 kms away from Pandirpur desired to have darsanam of the Lord on HIS appearance day-Aashada Ekadasi. As he had tiny limbs, he couldn’t walk and used to literally crawl. One year before Aashada Ekadasi, he undertook the yatra. Many discouraged him and mocked at him for this tedious task. But as he was firm in his devotion, he started off on Pandirpur yaatra. Every day, he could crawl for about only 7-8 kms and take rest. Lord Pandurangan was moved by his act and personally came to serve him. The Lord used to accompany Kurmadasar and help him in his journey, cook food for him, wash clothes, make all necessary arrangements for rest and would leave him. Next day, HE would again reach the place where Kurmadasar was halting and do all the services including pressing his legs. In this way, Kurmadasar took almost a year to come upto Laul. He was now totally exhausted and couldn’t move even an inch. He cried piteously watching the varkaaris go to Pandirpur for having darshan on the following day, Aashada Ekadasi. The plight of Kurmadasar was too much for the Lord to bear. The Lord alongwith Namdev and Jnaneswar set out of the temple to give darsanam.
When the trio reached AAran, the Lord suddenly disappeared from Namdev and Jnaneswar and approached SavantA maali, the gardener who was making garland for Vittalan .
The Lord requested SAvanta Maali, who was a great devotee to protect HIM from two thieves-Namdev and Jnaneswar. Savanta maali who understood that it was the Lord, put the garland on Vittan and requested HIM to occupy his heart which was the darkest place. Lord entered Savant Maali’s heart . Namdev and Jnaneswar entered the garden in search of the Lord. Looking at Savanta Maali’s face which was glowing, Jnaneswar understood the Lord’s whereabouts and prayed. Thus, Vittalan gave darsanam to this gardener. Lord gave darshan to Savant Maali who attained the Lord’s lotus feet. A beautiful temple has been constructed here which was once a garden. In the sannidhi, we can find Savantamaali’s face on the Samadhi and Panduranga-Rakumayi’s vigraham behind. Pictures of Savanta Maali with the Lord in his heart can be seen.
Drove to Laul which is about 5 kms from Kurduwadi and about 14 kms from AAran. The location of Aaran,Laul and Kurduwadi are in triangular shape.
We reached Kurmadasar’s sannidhi at about 4 P.M. After giving darshan to Savant maali, the Lord along with Namdev and Jnaneswar proceeded to the place where Kurmadasar was suffering with pain. This place is at Laul. The compassionate Lord took Kurmadasar on HIS lap (like how Lord Rama put Jatayu on HIS lap at Taket) and caressed him. By having darsan of the Lord, Kurmadasar was relieved of all his bodily inflictions and prayed to God to give him moksha at this place.
When we visited this place, a marriage party were just leaving the temple. This Samadhi mandir is very different from what we had seen earlier. On the walls of the big hall in front of the Samadhi, Krishna leelas and Vittalan leelas are painted.
The Samadhi mandir is very dark inside. There is a narrow,small entrance to the sannidhi and one has to completely bend down to get inside. We can find vigrahams of Pandurangan and Rakumayi and in front of them, we find the Samadhi. Unlike other temples where the face of the devotee is worshipped,here we do not find any such thing. What we find is a small bund covered with a green cloth like a tortoise shell similar to the ones which we see in Muslim dhargaas) .
A devotee informed us that this place was like a forest and during Muslim rule, a sepoy who was passing by suddenly saw a light from this place. He attained tranquility at this place and as a thanks-giving, covered the Samadhi with a cloth .
It is believed that Kurmadasar’s presence at this place can be felt by the devouts even today. Later a temple was constructed and once again stands as a proof for Hindu-Muslim unity. A very small siva lingam and Hanuman are kept in the hall.
This marks the end of our Bhajey Panduranga Bhaagavatha yaatra.
All glories to the Spiritual masters .
.All glories to the holy dhaam .
.All glories to the varkarees
All glories to the devotees who have read this post and got blessed by HIS mercy
JAI JAI RAMAKRISHNA HARI
BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE PLACES:
With Aurangabad as base, we can visit the following places in one day
Paitan (Prathisthanapuram) 60 kms from Aurangabad:- Bhanudasar’s and Eknath Maharaj’s residence which is about 2 kms from samadhi, Eknath’s Samadhi, Naag ghat where Jnaneswar made buffalo recite vedas, Godavari river
Devagiri mountain in Dauladabad Fort –about 12 kms from Aurangabad:- Sri Janardhan Swami’s Samadhi popularly known as Janardhan Swamy’s charan paadhuka
Grushneshwar:- about 4 kms from Ellora caves-one of the 12 jyotirlinga considered to be the last jyotirlinga
Soolipanjan:- 10 kms beyond Grushneshwar- a small hillock which was Eknath’s meditation place, temple of Dattatareyar, Janardhana Swami and Eknath, the musical rock .
Aape Gaon :- on the way to Nevasa from Aurangabad-Jnaneswar’s birth place- the wall which moved due to Jnaneswar’s mahima can be seen
Nevasa:- known as “Nevasa Phata” is about 65 kms frim Aurangabad on Pune highway. The Kalleshwar mandir at Nevasa is about 7 kms from the bus stop. Here the pillar which served Jnaneswar as support while he was giving commentary on Bhagavad Gita known as “Bhaavartha Deepika” is worshipped along with the Siva lingam. The commentaries given by Jnaneswar Maharaj popularly known as “Mouli” here was penned down by his disciple Sachidanandam and the buffalo which recited the Vedas in Paithan used to nod its head.
Triyambakeswar:- 30 kms from nasik-one of the 12 jyotir lingas. About 2 kms from this Shiva temple on the way to Godavari origin, a small temple for Nivrutti where he attained Samadhi is there. As we didn’t know the exact location, we skipped this. This was informed by a devotee. (From Aurangabad, we can take a train to Nasik, visit Triyambakeswar and then proceed to Pune.
Dehu,Alandi,Saswad, Triyambakeswar, Sajjangad are all around Pune but in different directions. ISKCON’S new centre NVC which is about 18 kms from the city and Ahobila Mutt more popularly known as “Balaji Mandir,Pashaan can also be visited)
(From Aurangabad via Nevasa,Ahmednagar(popularly known as Nagar) take bus to Pune which is about 7 hours journey) (In case you are engaging a car from Aurangabad to Pune, the route would be:-
Alandi:- samadhi mandir of the most renowned Maharashtrain saint ,Sant Jnaneswar Maharaj is about 22 kms north of In the huge temple complex, we can have darshan of the samadhis of Jnaneswar Maharaj, buffalo, the rare tree known as “Ajanavruksh” under which he took Samadhi, the banyan tree which Jnaneswar’s mother used to circumbulate 1008 times daily, the palanquin on which Jnaneswar’s padhukas are placed which is used by the varkaris for going to Pandirpur for Aashada Ekadasi, the beautiful vigrahams of Rakumayi-Pandurangan, Muktabai sannidhi, Siddheshwar sannidhi. Devotees sit in the big hall outside the Samadhi mandir and keep on reciting Bhaavartha Deepika.
Dehu:- about 30 kms north of Pune(slightly on the north-western side) . Through Dehu-Alandi road, we can commute to both the places which is about 25 kms . However, this route is closed on busy days like Tukaram Beej. All the places here are connected to Tukaram Maharaj. We can have darshan of his house, the place from where he left for Vaikuntam, Bandaara Hills which is about 8 kms from this place where he used to often meditate.
Saswad:- about 30 kms south of Pune on Pune-Pandharpur road. Muktabai attained Samadhi here. This was informed by a devotee. As we didn’t know about this, we didn’t visit this place..
Keeping Satara as base, we can visit Sajjan gad and Uttara Chidambaram temple. ISKCON has its centre here (contact:- 08806619098/09881252581) for any information. There are guest houses near Uttara Chidambaram temple.
Sajjan gad :- about 130 kms south of Pune and about 20 kms from Satara. Nearest town is Satara. It takes about 3 hours from Pune to reach SAtara because the vehicle has to travel through ghat roads. In Sajjangad, we can find Samartha Ramdas Samadhi, Sriram mandir, the articles used by the great saint who was an incarnation of Hanuman. The temple is situated on a hill and we need to ascend about 100+ steps . Dolis are also available.
Pandirpur:-In Pandirpur,Chandrabhaga river, Pundalikan’s and his parents Samadhi on the banks of Chandrabhaga, Pundalikans’ house which is the present Vittal mandir, at the entrance, we can find the samadhis of Chokamela, Namdev along with his 14 family members, Kaangopatra who assumed the form of a tree is in the temple premises, Namdev’s house which houses a beautiful vigraham of Pandurangam and a separate sannidhi for Namdev, Gora Kumbar’s Samadhi temple , Narahari Sona’s Samadhi on the way to temple, Mallikarjuneshwar Swamy’s temple opposite to Narahari sona’s Samadhi, Tukaram temple where there is a beautiful sannidhi for Tukaram. The varkaris from Dehu along with Tukaram’s palanquin stay here during Aashada Ekadasi, Jnaneswar mandir where the varkaris with Jnaneswar’s palanquin from Alandi reach Pandirpur and stay, Kabirdas’ house and his son Kamaal’s Samadhi, Sakkubai and Janabai temples in Gopalpuri and of course, ISKCON Radha Pandirnath temple which has guest house accommodation.Decent accomodation is also available at Gajanand Ashram near the temple. ISKCON is located on the other side of Chandrabhaga river .Autos charge about Rs.90/- to Vittal temple from ISKCON. ISKCON helps us in making vehicle arrangement even during odd hours.
Aaran:- On the way to Kurduwadi from Pandirpur with a slight left turn after driving for about 9 kms from Pandharpur, we find the Samadhi mandir of Sant Savant Maali .this is about 32 kms from ISKCON Pandirpur.
Laul:- 14 kms from Aaran , we find the Samadhi mandir of Kurmadasar. Kurduwadi is about 11 kms from Laul (pronounced as “LA VUL”)
Mangalvedha:- about 25 kms from Pandharpur and 56 kms from Solapur- Kaangopatra lived here. There is the Samadhi mandir of Narasing Mehta
All glories to the great saints and the devotees
Adiyen offers countless dandaavats to the mahasants who were able to please the LORD to remain here in the wonderful dhaam .
The black and white pics have been borrowed from the paintings of the great Painter – Mr . Raghuveer Mulgaonkar ( Thank you very much Sir )
It is said that Swamy Ramanujar visited the temple during his Orissa visit. Swamy was delighted to have darshanam of chaturbhuja ( four armed) Lord Sri Maha Vishnu, with conch, discus, mace and lotus flower. It is also believed by the locals that he glorified the deity as ‘Sri Alwarnath’ or the ‘lord of the alwars’ giving the message of Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya. The place which housed Lord Alwarnath hence also came to be known as Alwarpur. And today the words have been shortened with passing time, the temple known as Sri ‘Alarnath’ or ‘Alalanath’ and the place called ‘Alarpur’ .Sri Ramanujar established the Embar Mutt at Puri.
On reaching Puri, Swamy Ramanujar began to interact with the local priests and scholars. His divya tejas attracted people and soon he found many devotees submitting to the legendary sampradaya .
Swamy decided to establish a monastery to be headed by Sri Govinda . Govinda was also fondly called Embar , hence the mutt came to be known as ‘Embar mutt’.. This Embar mutt is located right outside the Puri Jagannath temple.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to stay at Alarnath during anavasara period of Lord Jagannath.
anavasara is the two weeks period when Lord Jagannatha take rest in isolation from the rest of the world , post the annual bathing festival (Snana Yatra). ( another divine leela ) .
After Snana Poornima, ritualistic bathing of the idols of Jagannath, there is a popular belief that the deities get fever. For a period of 15 day the deities do not appear before public. The deities remain in the Anasar house and appear a day before Puri Rath Yatra ……
On the day and post Snana Purnima in Jyeshta month (May – June), there is no darshan of Lord Jagannath and other deities at the Puri JagannathTemple for 15 days.
This 15-day period of Anavasara (no darshan) at Puri JagannathTemple happens before the Rath Yatra. There is a popular belief that Lord Jagannath during this period manifests as Alarnath Dev at AlarnathTemple in Brahmagiri, which is about 23 km from Puri. During these 15 days, devotees visit the Alarnath temple at Brahmagiri in large numbers.
Legend has it that Lord Jagannath manifests into the Alarnath Dev during the fortnight.
Sri Chaitanya maha prabhu visualised the appearance of Lord Jagannath in Alarnath and spent a long period in worshipping the lordships here.
It is believed that those who cannot worship Lord Jagannath during his stay in the sick chamber can get the blessings of Lord Alarnathjee if they visit this temple. During this period the temple servitors offered holy rice porridge, known as ‘Kheer’ ( Akkaraadisil ) in local language, to the lord. During the present anavasara period of every year thousands of devotees visit this temple to get the blessings of Lord Alarnath and to taste the mahaprasad ( famous holy ‘Kheer’).
Here one can have darshan of LORD with chaturbhuja .Lord holds chakra in his upper right hand, Lotus in his lower right hand, Conch in his upper left hand and club in his lower left hand. Garudazhwan , kneels at the feet of the deity with his hands folded in prayer position.
Lord Krishna’s queens Rukmini and Satyabhama also give darshan inside the temple. The Deity of Sri Chaitanya mahaprabhu also gives darshan to the devotees .
There is a stone slab before the LORD which bears impressions from Sri Chaitanya’s body.
When Sri Chaitanya mahaprabhu first lay in full respect in front of Lord Alarnath, the stone below Sri Chaitanya maha prabhu melted from His blissful touch.
Photos : Courtesy : Googleimages Srimathey Ramanujaya namah JAI JAI JAI JAGGANATHA
Please check the travel details of Jagganath Puri dhaam in this link
In Srimad Bhagavatha Mahapurana as part of a discussion between King Nimi and sage Karabhajana the advent of the Srivaishnava Azhwars appearance in the Kali age is revealed . ” In the Kali age men devoted to Lord Sriman Narayana will be born in large numbers near the Dravida territory where in the rivers Tamaraparni, Vaigai , Paalaar the most sacred Kaaveri flows .” True to the epic , both Swamy Namaazhwar and Madhurakavi Azhwar appeared on the banks of Tambaraparni river . It is said that just after 40 years of the disappearance of Lord Krishna , Nammazhwar appeared . Periyazhwar and Sri Andal appeared in a place close to river Vaigai , the Mudal Azhwars and Thirumazhisai Azhwar appeared near Paalaar and Thodaradippodi Azhwar, Thiruppaanaazhwar and Thirumangai Azhwar appeared near river Kaaveri.The most holy place Thirukurugur “Alwar Tirunagari” is about 30kms east of Tirunelveli on the Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur highway off the Southern banks of Tamaraparani .
Check this post for more details :
https://kmkvaradhan.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/the-glory-of-thirukkolur/Thirukurugur Vaishnava divyadesam is located on the banks of the river Tamaraparani and is one of the 108 divya desams in Pandiya Nadu. This was later known as Alwar thirunagari after the great Nammazhwar’s appearance . Legends reveal there lived a pious devotee Kaariyaar an advanced bhaktha who was serving the devotees from his agriculture earnings . Udaiya Nankaiyar from Thiruvanparisaram was his wife who was equally pious and served the devotees with all dedication . They had no progeny for a long time .Their prayers were answered by the mercy of Lord of Thirukurungudi . Udaiya Nankai gave birth to a male child on Vaikasi month in Visakam star( who is considered to be the incarnation of Senai Mudaliyar the commander in chief of Lord Sriman Narayana) . His parents named him Maran ( being different from others ) and he also had other names Parankusa and Satakopan .
The boy was not an ordinary kid nor did he have an ordinary life . He displayed none of the usual characteristics of a baby, neither would he cry nor attempt to drink milk. Looking at the strange behaviour of the divine child, the parents went to the temple for divine interference. All of a sudden the child crawled and went under a tamarind tree inside the temple where he remained almost for sixteen years in yogic trance under the trunk . The divine incident became the talk of the town.
After many years one day a elder Vaishnava who was on a pilgrimage to Ayodhya observed a shining light emanating from a far off place .He followed the light and reached Thurukurugoor.
As he enquired around the place , he was directed into the temple . He was surprised looking at the divine aura being emitted from the young boy and attempted to go near him .
More details of Madhurakavi Azhwar can be read in this appended linked post
He approached the divine boy who was meditating deeply with his legs crossed and hands in chin mudrai pose. Madhurakavi thought that the boy could be deaf and dumb. To draw his attention ,he took a small stone and threw it in the lotus pond nearby.
Lo presto ! the boy opened his eyes and Madhurakavi could see the divinity in his eyes with golden hue.
Madhurakavi wanted to test the boy further whether he could reply.
The answer to his question made the madhurakavi ponder about the divine presence of the boy and the esoteric reply.
The peripheral meaning of the question…
“If a small one is born into a dead thing, what will it do ? and where will it be”?
The reply was “It will eat that and stay there”.
Nothing could be understood if not for our great achaaryas who had provided us with the inner meaning of this important quote
The inner meaning of the question:
“Seththadhu” – body,
“siru kutti” – soul.
“vayiru” – stomach.
The inner meaning mentions that when a soul enters a body, the body gets life and the soul forgets its true nature , thus thinks that the body is everything The soul enjoys and suffers everything through the body.
It eats and lives on whatever the body earns as sin and virtues . Once the body is dead, the soul departs. Till the time the soul is present, it has to suffer and enjoy all the feelings of the body.
But once the soul realizes its true nature that it is the servant of Lord Sriman Narayanan and surrenders , the soul gets liberated from the cycle of births and deaths.
Swami Madhurakavi azhwar was amazed by azhwar’s knowledge and fell at his feet and pleaded him to accept him as his disciple. Azhwar agreed and asked him to help him in composing his divine works. Thus came out the fountain of divine out pouring of Lord’s kalyanagunas . Madurakavi Azwar wrote all of them in Palm leaves which were called ‘ pattolai. The divine out pourings were
Thiruviruttam (100 verses)
Thiruvasiriyam (7 verses)
Periya ThiruvandhAdhi (87 verses)
Thiruvamozhi (1102 verses )
A grand festival is celebrated for ten days marking the appearance day of Azhwar at this holy place every year ending with a holy bath ( Abhishekam ) and ‘Theertha vari’ on Vaikasi Visakam day .
The Vaikasi Visakam celebrations are being held past 500 years or more .
The temple at Thirukkurugoor was under the direct administration of our revered Acharyar Swamy Manavala Mamunigal.
Adiyen is recollecting the wonderful darshan we had few years back at Azhwar Thirunagari
The most important day for Srivaishnavas is Swami Nammazhwars Thirunakshatram ( Apperance day ) which happens to be on June 2nd ,2023 this year .
Nava Tirupathi is a cluster of Nine temples of Lord Sriman Narayana.
Nava Tirupathi is part of the 108 Divya Desam temples .
Located around the banks of the River Thamarap arani, the 9 temples of Nava Tirupathi are Thiruvaikundam,
North & South temples of Thirutholaivillimangalam,
This otherwise a calm village is overcrowded with devotees for the 10 day grand festival.
Almost all the chathirams, Ramanujar koodams and houses were packed with devotees who come to witness the Nava garuda sevai from long distances .
A big mandapam in front of the main temple known as ‘PANDAL MANDAPAM” is decorated for the grand festival to happen . This pandal was built by an ardent devotee Sri Pandala Ramaswamy Nayaakar during 1807 .
He took initiative in starting this wonderful Nava garuda Sevai utsavam and made arrangements for the mandapam and other paraphernalia . In honour of his devotional service the mandapam is named Pandal Mandapam.
All the Perumals ( Lordships ) of the Nava Tirupatis come to
Thirunagari to grace our most beloved Nammazhwar .
Swamy Nammazhwar had darshanam of all the 108 Divya
desam perumal staying in Azhwar Thirunagari itself .
In the pandal “ Abhishekam for Azhwar is done with due honours by the recitation of vedic hymns being watched by a large groups of devotees .
Meanwhile ,there was an alert by the bhagavathas that the Nava Tirupathigal Perumal have already started from their temples “ Thirukolams “and after crossing the beautiful Tambaraparani River are arriving at Pandal Mandapam.
We rejoiced to see Perumals coming from different directions with a troupe of Nadaswaram goshti and the recitation of pasurams by Elders.
All Perumal started arriving to Pandal Mandapam. Every Divyadesam Perumal arrive in a well decorated palanquin with full temple honours.
Here Azhwar receives the Perumal and does Pradakshinam to Perumal thrice. Azhwar is then blessed with satari, peedambaram and prasadam which were offered to the Perumal.
After this, managala haarathi is given to Perumal and Azhwar and Perumal enter the main temple. This procedure is followed for all the Perumals. This function takes place for about 2 to 3 hours.
All the Perumals alight inside a huge mandapam inside the temple. Parallel arrangements like decorating Peria Thiruvadi ( Garudazhwan ) for the evening function is done for the Garuda sevai.
The villagers share a wonderful hospitality inquiring about the details of stay, food etc of all the visitors . Most of the Thirumalagais are eager to serve the devotees with Prasadam.
The same evening around 5 P.M., Thirumanjanam ( Abhishekam ) would start for all the Perumals. Several groups of devotees coming from far off places assemble and chant azhwar pasurams with music. At 5 P.M the Vedic Pundits carrying silver kudams filled with holy water arrive . The water for Neeratam is brought from the river Thamparaparani with full honours (an umbrella, Nadaswaram)
The holy abhishekam “ Thirumanjanam” for all the Perumals are performed at the same time. Thirumanjanam is performed for all the Perumals inside the mandapam. It takes about 2 to 3 hours for the alankaranam to get completed.
Around 8 P.M. the much awaited garuda sevai starts
In the Nava Garuda Sevai, the lordships ( Perumals ) are seated on Garuda vaahanam. Azhwar is seated on a Hamsa vaahanam and his dearest devotee, Madurakavi Azhwar is seated on Pirangi Naarkaali (a chair)
Azhwar waits just outside the Maha dwaaram of the temple to receive the Perumals from all the Nine Divya desams .
The temple doors are closed and Azhwar along with his favourite devotee Madurakavi Alwar wait for the Garudaseva Utsavam to happen.The Mahadwaram doors are opened amidst the mangala Nadaswarams .
Azhwar is the first to have darsanam of Perumal. Perumal is given Mangala karpoora aarthi and managalasaasanam done to the particular Perumal by the Azhwar . The recitation of the Mangalaasanams with the divyadesam pasurams by Elders drives one to spiritual ecstasy. Similar to Srirangam, Araiyar sevai is followed tradition here
The sevai is a special treat to the eyes and fill LORDs grace unlimited . And being among-st our Azhwars and the advanced srivaishnavas its sheer bliss
The order in which the Perumals appear in Garuda vaahanam along with the paasuram number is mentioned for devotees sung by Azhwar is given below:
PERUMAL PASURAM NOS.
1) Sri Adinatha Perumal of Thirukurugoor 3106,3116 2) Sri Vaikuntanatha Perumal of Srivaikuntam 3571,3575 3) Sri Vijayasanar Perumal of Natham (varagunamangai) 3571 4) Sri Kaichinavendan of Thirupulingudi 3473,3568-78 5) Sri Mayakoothan of Perungulam(Thiuukulandhai) 3561 6) Sri Devapiran of Irattai Tirupati } 7) Sri Aravinda Lochanan of Irattai Tirupati } 3271-3281 8) Sri Bhoomipalar of Then Thirupperai 3359-3369 9) Sri Vaithamanidhi of Thirukolur along with Madurakavi Azhwar 3293-3303,3473
After this, neivedyam is offered to Perumal, Azhwar and Madurakavi Azhwar and Perumal leaves the place . All the Perumals assemble at East Mada street and from here all the Nava tirupathi Perumal are taken in procession in the 4 mada streets of Thirunagari with the Nadaswaram troups for each perumal , Veda goshti .
The devotees burst crackers and lit the roads with dazzling light. The local residents receive Perumal by sweeping the roads and decorating the roads with kollams etc.The zeal in their offering fruits and karpooram at the time of Perumal’s oorvalam is a great blessing. Almost the entire village are well versed with Perumals arrival. This procedure of waiting near the entrance, offering karpoora aarthi and rendering mangalasaasanam on that particular Perumal is followed for all the Perumals.
By the time the ninth Perumal Sri Vaithamanidhi of Thirukolur leaves the place, Adinatha Perumal of Thirukurugoor who left first comes back to the temple. After all the nine Perumals assemble, Azhwar pays his deep respects to all the Perumals and all the Perumals get inside the mandapam. Madurakavi Azhwar who has organized this function, payshis respects to Nammazwar who is pleased with his disciple.
The function concludes around 4 A.M. The next day morning, all the Perumals leave to their respective temples gracing all the devotees and Nammazwar accompanies them till the entrance of the temple as a Royal guest . Nammazwar ‘s hamsa vaahanam is placed in such a manner that he looks at the proceedings until Perumal leaves the temple street
Distance from SriVaikuntam
Aravinason Chenthamarai Kannan
Maharenedun Kuzhaikaathar Niharilmukil vannan
Kuzhaikaathu valli Thiruperal Nachiyar
Kumuthavalli Kollor Valli
The Perumals leave the Mandapam around 7.00 –7.30 AM . Only after the sight of Perumal completely disappears, Nammazhwar leaves inside a bit sad due to the departure of the perumals to their respective divyadesams.
All glories to the devotees who are at Thirukurogoor seeking the grace of Azhwar and Perumal ….
Prostrating vaishnavas ,Azhwar and Lordships for their abundant grace adiyen silently walk behind Azhwars Palanquin asking for forgiveness and his grace in attending many more Satsangs…
Thirukannapuram Divyadesam Sowriraja Perumal Temple is located 30 KM from Kumbakonam on the way to Thiruvarur, Tanjore District, Tamilnadu which is one among the Five Krishraranya Kshetrams.
The Main Deity is glorified as Thiru Neelamega perumal along with Sridevi and Bhoodevi Thayar . The Processional deity is worshipped as Lord Sowriraja perumal. Lord Sowriraja perumal is seen with prayoga chakkra in his hands. The place is considered as Bhoolokha vaikundam. This Vaishnava Divya desam temple is located on the Kumbakonam / Mayavaram-Nannilam-Nagapattinam route.
One has to get down at Thiru Pugalur and take auto (2kms). The temple can also be reached directly from Thiruvarur.
The temple has a 7-tier rajagopuram and a vast temple complex.
The Nithya pushkarini just in front of the Temple is so vast that it looks more like a large lake
As we go around the main sanctum we can have darshanam of Thirumangai Azhwar, Vibishanan, and Lord Sri Raman sanctum. sanctorium
There is a separate sanctum for Swamy Ramanujar to north side of Pushkarani.
There is an interesting pastime related to this wonderful Srivaishnava divyadesam related to the ‘savuri’ ( hair grown to the deity ).
It so happened , once the temple priest presented a garland that was offered to the Lordships to a women who had come there to have darshan of Lord .
( This was a regular practice of the temple ). The Chola king who was passing by unexpectedly visited the temple. The Priest was worried and somehow managed to get the garland given to the women for presenting the same to the King .
The king who received the garland , to his surprise noticed a strand of hair in the garland and became furious. To escape from his anger and further wrath, the priest humbly submitted to the king that the Lord had a tuft of hair and that strand of hair was from the tuft.
The King forced the priest to prove his innocence .
Terrified with the Kings roar , the priest rushed into the sanctum and prayed LORD to rescue him from the Kings temper and save his life .
To save the priest, the Lord out of abundant mercy , gave darshan with a black ‘savuri’ in to the king. From that day on, He has been known as ‘Sowriraja Perumal’.
As Tirupati is famous for ‘laddu’ prasad , Srirangam for ‘payasam’, Thirukannapuram is famous for ‘muniyodharan pongal’.
The origin of this prasad is also interesting which has the name Munayadarayan .
There was a chieftain, Munayadarayan by name, who was ruling this Nagapattinam region .
He used to honor his food only after praying to Lord Sowri Raja Perumal of Thirukannapuram and due to his devotion he spent all his wealth in the service of the Lord .
For defaulting tax payment to the king, he was arrested. The Lord appeared in the dream of the king and ordered him to release Munayadarayan immediately.
When the chieftain returned from the custody at night, his wife served him Pongal . As usual he offered it to the Lord at the temple .But the temple doors were closed .He became sad and so he offered the prasadam through his manasika pooja and then honored the prasadam.
Next day, when the priest opened the temple, they found to their surprise the pudding was seen on the lips of the Lord Sowri Raja Perumal. . The king also was surprised to see the Lord accepting the Pongal offered by the chieftain.
Since then , Pongal is offered to the Lord during the night puja and this is called Munayadarayan Pongal.
Once a year, on the occasion of Maasi Magam, the Lord is taken on a procession to the sea shore near Karaikal, about 20 kms from here.
This is the temple where the Lord graced Vibheeshana, brother of demon king Ravana, his walking beauty.
After seeing the sleeping beauty of Vishnu as Lord Ranganatha at Srirangam, Vibheeshna wanted to see the walking beauty of the Lord, upon which he was directed by the Lord to his “Keezh(akku) Veedu’ (Eastern Gateway of the Lord).
It is believed that Lord Vishnu displayed his ‘walking beauty’ to Vibheeshana here on the new moon day.
To mark this event, on every Amavasya day at 12noon, Lord SowriRajan is carried out of the Sanctum and walks to the Vibheeshna Sannidhi.
There is no ‘Swarga Vasal’ for this temple as they say that one can reach ‘Vaikunta’ if they just step on this soil and worship the LORD here .
It is believed that there is a ‘pulling power’ in the sanctum of this temple and even to this day, one can feel and experience this effect
One more legend speaks about the greatness of this holy dhaam. Once , Garuda was returning from the milky ocean carrying the nectar for his mother as promised With pride ,he flew with the nectar that was not available to all.
While flying over this place , he lost his power and fell in the nearby ocean. Realizing that he had committed a sin, he performed penance here and begged pardon of the Lord.
The Lord out of compassion graced him and took him as his vehicle. As the reminder of this event , every Feb- March ( tamil month ) Masi Magam, the lord goes to the seashore and blesses all his devotees there.
Hence the devotees greet the Lord calling him as Mappillai – son-in-law.
On the 7th day of ( April- May ) Vaikasi, Lord gives darshan in (TriMoorthy Swaroopam)- Maha Vishnu in the day, Brahmaa in the night at around 11pm and Lord Shiva early next morning..
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Photos : Google images
Videos : Thanks to Sri Muniswamy , Sri Rangapadmanabhan & Sri Ranganathan
The holy place where LORD NARSINGHA BHAGAVAN incarnated for Prahlada Maharaj ..
Please read the vaibhavams of the Nava Narasingh bhagavan .
The holy place is situated 25 Km from Arlagadda in Kurnool district can also be approached via Cuddapah district, Andhra Pradesh ,India.
The most sacred shrine of Lord Narasimhar at Ahobilam is located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh in the hills of the eastern ghat.
The temple consists of nine shrines to Lord Narisimha located around a 5 KM circle.
The shtala Purana states that PakshiRajar Garuda prayed for a vision of Lord Narisimha . Garuda commended his penance near to Srisaila Kshetra .
MORE ABOUT NAVA NARASIMHA KSHETRAM ————————————————————————– There are 9 shrines dedicated to nine forms of Narasimhar
Out of this Prahalada varada Narasimhar is in Lower Ahobilam, Ugra Narasimhar, who is a swayambhu and is treated as the divya desa Perumal is seen in Upper Ahobilam. The other shrines are scattered all over the hills.
Apart from the nava Narasimha shrines, “Prahalada padi” where Prahalada studied and “Ugra Sthambam” from where Perumal emerged are usually visited by pilgrims.
There are number of Theerthas in this shrine.
A few like Lanjekonneru near Bhargava Narasimhar , Ramatheertha near Lower Ahobilam and Raktha Kundam near Jwala Narasimhar , Bhavanaasini near Ugra Narasimhar which flows through both the mountains are a few to name.
PRAHALADA VARADA NARASIMHA SWAMY
Situated at the foot of the hills known as Lower Ahobilam, this temple can be visited by one and all. Usually all homams and yagams are performed here.
Here Perumal is seen along with Thayar blessing Prahalada.
Hence, Perumal is known as “Prahalada Varadar”.The utsava vigrahams of all the Narasimhars except Malola Narasimhar areoffered nitya thiruvaadhanai here.
To the left of Perumal, utsava vigraham of Pavana Narasimhar can be seen majestically .
In front of the Lord, the utsava idols of Prahalada varada Narasimhar along with Sridevi and Bhoodevi grace us .
The processional deity of Jwala Narasimhar along with His consorts is also seen in the garbagriham . The deity is superbly carved and on request , the archakar removes the alankaranam and performs Aaarathi to the idol.
Lord has 10 arms and Hiranya vadham (killing) is beautifully depicted.
There is also a small deity of the first Ahobila Mutt Jeeyar facing south.
The temple is a huge one and many monkeys can be seen here.
The walls of the temple depict sthalasthala puranam briefly.
There is a Thayar Sannidhi to the right of the temple.
2) BHARGAVA NARASIMHA SWAMi:
This temple is situated two kilometres from Lower Ahobilam on a small hillock and can be approached by foot. As Bhargava(Parasurama) did penance here, the Lord is thus known. It is easily approachable.
3) YOGANANDA NARASIMHA SWAMI:
Situated at a distance of 3 kilometres from Lower Ahobilam, this can be approached by foot. It was here that Prahalada mastered the art of yoga from Perumal Himself.
The divya mangalaswaroopam of the Lord is eye captivating. Perumal is seen alone in Yogaasanam.
4) CHATRAVATA NARASIMHA SWAMI
This is situated at a distance of nearly 3kms from Ahobilam on a different route also reachable on foot . As Perumal is seated alone under a peepul tree which protects Perumal like an umbrella, He is known as Chatravata Narasimhar.
This Perumal is fond of music played by Gandharvas. It looks as if the Lord is deeply engrossed in music by clasping His hands. We were told that He is fond of Adi Thalam. Reptiles keep moving in this place but they don’t harm the devotees. One has to take care of these.
5) UGRA NARASIMHAR SANNIDHI:-
This is in Upper Ahobilam. There is a narrow bus route and it takes about 40 minutes to reach this place from Lower Ahobilam.
This is considered as the divya desa temple. Usually, pilgrims have bath in Bhavanaasini or Paavanaasini (a spring which flows from the top of the hill) and then have Perumal’s darsanam.
A dip in Paavanaasini absolves all the sins committed.
Though there are no proper bathing ghats, still we can see hundreds of devotees having holy dip unmindful of their surroundings. The sannidhi is located inside a cave .
Perumal along with Thayar is seen in Veetruirundha Thirukkolam .
Opposite to Perumal, there is an idol of Prahalada. There is a dark room on the other side of the cave which is believed to be the place where Chenchulakshmi resides .
Recently, under the supervision of Jeer, a bridge across Paavanasini river has been constructed which facilitates the pilgrims to go to Varahanarasimhar temple (Krodha Narasimhar)
One kilometer further from Upppper Ahobilam leads to the shrine of Krodha Narasimhar. He is also known as Varaha Narasimhar as His Thirumukam resembles a varaham (a boar).
Any japam done here elevates one spirtually. Especially, Narayana Sadakshara Japam from Varaha Kanda bestows manifold benefits as told by Archakar Swamin..
KARANJA NARASIMHAR SHRINE :
This temple is situated between Upper Ahobilam and Lower Ahobilam..
As the divya mangala moorthi is installed under Karanja vruksham, the deity has been named so. Perumal is seen in Veetruirundha Kolam and is holding Sarngam (bow), dhanus (arrow) and chakram .
Adisesha acts as “Kudai”(refer Irundhal Kudaiyam…) and is protecting. The theertham here is known as Bhairava kundam. Hanumar who visited this place was a staunch Rama bhakta .
Lord Narasimhar appeared to Hanumar, who was a staunch Ramabhakta, with bow and arrow thus showing that He is Lord Rama Himself. This Lord is in Padmasaanam pose. One can have darshan of Hanumar also. We are reminded of Sholangur .
6) MALOLA NARASIMHAR:
This shrine is situated two kilometres away from Upper Ahobilam. Perumal came in search of Mahalakshmi Thayar who was doing penance here and placed Her on His lap. Hence, Perumal seen along with Thayar has a somya (graceful) form. Due to Thayar’s presence, Perumal graces even the worst sinner .
Azhwar refers to this Perumal in pasuram no. 1016 (Peria Thirumozhi) when he says that bhaktas are always protected by Perumal and only the wicked have to fear .
This Lord gives abhayam to His devotees and Thayar bestows Asthaaiswaryam and grants the wishes of the devotees.
There is a vigraham of Thirumangai Azhwar in the sanctum . Outside the temple, there is a small pillar with murthis. Those who are not able to go to Ugra sthambam can prostrate this pillar.
7) JWALA NARASIMHAR:-
This temple is located at a higher altitude may be around 2800 feet. And can be approached from Malola Narasimhar shrine.
It takes about 2 hours to reach this temple from Upper Ahobilam. The path is slippery and as mentioned care has to be taken.
It was here that Perumal killed Hiranyakasipu by tearing his stomach with his spear like nails.
The idol with 10 hands which is approximately 3 feet high and is scaring to look at. Beside this shrine, there is a small pond known as “Raktha Kundam” where the Lord is believed to have washed His blood-stained hands .
The water is reddish in colour and this was the explanation given by the guide to us. Recently, a temple has been constructed for this Lord and a archakar is appointed to perform Nitya Thiruvaaradhanai.
8) PAVANA NARASIMHAR:
It is situated six kilometres away from Upper Ahobilam towards north east on the banks of River Pavana. It is difficult to approach this temple as wild animals keep roaming. If one wishes to visit this temple, he must do so during daytime with the help of a guide. The path is too narrow, the trek amidst cluster of rocks is strenuous .
It takes about 45 minutes for trekking. One can view Malola Narasimhar shrine and few water falls on the way on the other side of the mountain.
Forest fire is very common in this place and this helps in one way to ward off wild animals. It is believed that devas offer worship to this Lord. The Lord is seen along with Thayar .
The local tribals usually observe fast on Saturdays and offer flowers, honey, fruits, rice, jaggery etc. to the Lord.
The general notion that “bali” (sacrifice) is done here was rebuked by the priest. He said that the sacrifice would be done elsewhere in the jungles .
He also added that wild animals do not roam near the temple and only during severe summer, they come to the river bank to quench their thirst.
They usually do not hurt any one. Besides the above shrines, other place of interest are Prahalada Padi or Prahalada Mettu (Mettu in Telugu and Padi in Tamil means “step”) and Ukku sthambam.
is the place where Prahalada had his vidyabhyaasam from Sukracharya’s sons. The way to Prahalada padi though tough is breathtakingly beautiful with river flowing on one side and with various water falls amidst a huge valley.
This reminds me of the route to Badrinath. The temple is in a small cave and one has to crawl to enter inside the cave. Only 4 persons can be accommodated inside at a time.
Mountain lizards and bats move freely here.
It was here that the child started propogating Lord’s qualities. Prahalada used to resort to this place for meditating upon the Lord. There is a vigraham of Narasimhar in centre . to its right, there is an idol of Chakaratazhwar and to the left , there is a vigraham of Lord Vishnu.
which is situated at a distance of 8 kms from Upper Ahobilam is the pillar from which the Lord emerged . The pillar which is situated at the edge the cliff is split into two as a proof that Lord appeared from this pillar.
Pilgrim usually give their offerings here. It is very difficult to reach this place which is at a highest altitude .Doing pradakshinam around this pillar is even more difficult as it is in the cliff. Near the ukku sthambham (iron pillar) as the Telugus call, there is Perumal’s Thiruvadi.
The climb is very difficult . Only with His grace can one visit this place. One has to have a sharp vision and a flexible body to bend, crawl etc.
This can be approached from Prahalada padi on the way to Jwala Narasimhar shrine. While describing this pillar, Sri Mukkur Swamy says that the entire world is still pregnant with Narasimhar inside except this because Perumal has come out of it.
The symbols of Vishnu, namely, Sankhu, Chakram, Naamam are carved on the face of the hill. One can have a bird’s eyeview of the entire Ahobilam from this place.
The atmosphere is calm and serene . Various waterfalls all around looking like thin streams makes us wonder and appreciate the nature and Lord’s creation.
It’s a best place to meditate the cliff is split into two as a proof that Lord appeared from this pillar. Lets glorify our LORD singing HIS praises…..
The most sacred shrine of Lord Narasimhar at Ahobilam is located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh in the hills of the eastern ghat.
The temple consists of nine shrines to Lord Narisimha located around a 5 KM circle. The shtala Purana states that PakshiRajar Garuda prayed for a vision of Lord Narisimha . Garuda commended his penance near to Srisaila Kshetra .
After long years of penance Lord manifested Himself in the cave of a mountain.
Few miles to the north east of the holy mountains where Garuda was performing penance a vision of HIS manifestation was granted to Garuda………………..
who after obtaining as sign of location of the mountain cave gladly traveled to the holy spot and was blessed to be graced by Satswaroopa , Mahapurusha , Lord Jwala Narasimhar not easy accessible to common people those days
Garuda worshipped the Lord and glorified LORD as Ahobilam is Mahabhalam .
The Lord was worshiped with glorious verses by Garuda …..
The mountain on which Garuda performed tapas became famous as Garudachala . In the days of yore when truth and dharma prevailed , great heat was observable near the mountain cave of Ahobilam , according to legend when green grass was put in the cave , it would catch fire and smoke would be emitted .
There are nine Narasimha Kshetras ..
Paavana Nava Moorthayaha
The uniqueness of Narasimhaavatara has been extolled by many a devotee .
LORD appeared out of a Pillar neither man nor beast and yet both man and lion..
His very appearance bespeaks HIS supremacy and transcendence .
Among the distinguished disciples of Swamy Vedanta Desikar was brahmatantra Swantantra Jeeyar Swamy who had a illustrious disciple Ghatikastam Ammal .
He was grandson of the great Acharyar Swamy Nadaadooor Ammal the chief disciple and successor of Engal Azhwar . Sreenivasacharyar was his disciple and was studying under his holiness .
He was well versed in the ancient lore and was very knowledgeable in Swamy Ramanuja sampradaya right from his boyhood.
One day the Supreme Lord Narasimha dev appeared in his dream and beckoned him to Ahobilam located in the Nallamallai Hills .
Could this vision be true ? he kept asking himself again and again ..
He hurried to meet his Acharyar and told him about his dream .
The old Acharyar was pleased with the direction of Lord .He asked him to obey the mandate.
Sreenivasacharya proceeded to Ahobilam as per Lord’s command .
He had to climb the hills amidst dense forests. Recollecting the divine dream he passed on the deep jungles with ease …
He had a dip in the Bhavanasini river , and took up abode in that wilderness .
As LORD always takes care of HIS devotee , Mukundaraya, the local chieftain also reached the holy place to receive our Acharyar as per divine command.
On proceeding further he could see the tribals worshipping Lord Narasimha .
They believed LORD had married their foster daughter of a Chenchu Chief .
And since they became His votaries .
They called him Obelessuddu …
They used to celebrate Annual festival by presenting clothes , honey fruits and all the beautiful things .
Srinivasacharya along with few locals entered the forest . After he finished his many chores , a yati beckoned him and administered the Preshamantra after ordaining him into the ascetic order .
Lord addressed him as Sri Satakopa Yati and then revealed his real form of LORD NARASIMHA
He directed the yati to be the Chief Aaaradhaka thus going to villages ministering to the spiritual well being of all his disciples .
Be their Acharya …..
purify them …
with the emblems of Conch and Discuss instruct them into the mysteries of the creed…….
He was the first Jeeyar who received the charter from LORD himself.
This happened on the fifth lunar day of of bright fortnight in the year 1320 the appearance day of Lord srinivas ( Purattasi sravanam )
As Lord disappeared the deity of Lord Lakshmi Narasimha had landed into his hands .
Our dear Lord Malola Murthy wears a paduka indicating he is ever ready to proceed to shower HIS mercy on devotees.
A palanquin and other paraphernalia was offered to the Supreme LORD…..
And thus LORD has graced to accompany the Ahobilam Jeeyars past 700 years .
It was during this time the great King Prataapa Rudrudu was ruling Andhra pradesh. Once while returning from Srisailam after his worship to Paramasivan , Prataparudra stopped and camped at Ahobilam .
He used to worship Paramasiva daily . Everyday he used to mould a linga roopa in gold and worship .He used to offer the worshiped Linga to a brahmin before he partook food .It was a daily routine.
The next morning he was eagerly waiting for his goldsmith to bring the molded linga for worship. It was getting delayed and hence he himself approached the tent where the gold smith was molding the linga . To his surprise he could see the molded gold was taking shape of Lakshmi Narasimha instead of Linga roopa .
Suddenly he heard vedic mantras .
He looked around and was attracted to divine chants near by . He asked his ministers to find out the details . He approached the vaishnavas who were radiating with opulence and requested them to introduce themselves .
The King was led into the Ashram where our First Jeeyar Sri Sri Sri Adivan Satakopan was worshiping the great LORD .
The King was overjoyed to see the holy abode of Lord Narasimha .
He liked the pious atmosphere around with greenery everywhere .
His holiness Sri Adivan Satakopa Yatheendra Mahadesikar was radiating with divinity . The King fell at the lotus feet of the Jeeyar and offered repeated obeisances . He explained the miracle of the molded gold turning into Lord Lakshmi Narasimhar deity instead of Linga roopa .
The Jeeyar was pleased and blessed him .
The King offered the Suvarna Lakshmee Narasimhar to Jeeyar and asked for his benediction .He directed his ministers to provide all financial and labor support for Jeeyar in propagating the path the Supreme Lord had desired .
The King got converted to srivaishnavism and played a role in the Jeeyars journey of propagating the sampradaya.
Thus one would be very fortunate to have darshan of Jeeyar and the Lordships who accompany the Ahobilam Jeeyars .
The divine world Jeeyar accompanies all compassionate our Lord Maalola Narasimhar , Suvarna Narasimhar Mangalagiri Panaka Narasimhar who arrived and joined 42nd Jeeyar Lord Krishna who enjoys Dolotsavam . Lord Ranganathar reclining on Adhishesha with Goddess Mahalakshmi ,Lord Athagiri Varadar worshipped by the great Acharyar Nadathur Ammal . Lord Sreenivasar with Alamelumanga thaayar Sampath kumaran with Yadhugiri Nachiyar Parimalarangan with Goddess Sridevi and Bhudevi , Lakshmi varahan, Bhuvarahan , Adhikesavar with goddesses , Sudarshana Azhwar, Sri Seetha Rama , Lakshmana perumal Lord Aaravamudham , Hayagreevar Sri Andal ,Lord Rangamannar and Saaligrama Moorthies .
The divine world showers divinity all around .Great Acharyars Vishwaksenar Swamy Nammazhwar , Thirumangai Azhwar shower opulence on the lucky ones who have darshan …
Jai Jai Lakshmee Narasimha
All glories to His holiness Sri Sri Sri Adivan Satakopa Yatheendra Mahadesikar
All glories to Lord Narasinga devotees
All glories to Ahobilam Kshetra
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Pics Credits : Google images and various social media shared by several advanced devotees
Swami Alavandar is universally considered to be the Acharyar of Sri Ramanujacharya, though he had never spoken once to Swami Ramanuja till he lived. Whatever he taught Ramanuja he did it only through his disciples. Alavandar’s disciples were priceless gems. Perianambi, Thirukoshtiyur Nambi, Thirumaalaiyaandan and Peria Thirumalai Nambi were the chief disciples.
Of these Perianambi personally taught swami Ramanuja and it was Thirukoshtiyur Nambi who made swamy Ramanuja walk to his place 18 times to learn the meaning of LORD’S name.
Alavandar had another disciple by name Maraneri Nambi. The other disciples were all high-caste Brahmans whereas Maraneri Nambi belonged to a caste which was in the lowest rung of the social ladder during those period.Alavandar did not discriminate between his disciples and he loved Maraneri Nambi more than the other disciples.
Peria Nambi and Maraneri Nambi were of the same age. They became close friends. They would discuss their teacher’s words and each friend would contribute to the other’s learning. Once Alavandar was suffering from a painful disease called the carbuncle. Carbuncle, known as the King of Boils, Rajapilavai, in Tamil, is caused due to inflammation of tissues in the back and neck.
The shooting pain emanating from the fast-spreading boil would be unbearable. Antibiotics and painkillers were unknown in those days and it is difficult for us even to imagine the kind of pain the disease inflicted on its victims.
Swamy Alavandar was suffering silently. He did not even let his disciples know about the disease lest they should be worried. Perianambi and Thirukoshtiyur Nambi alone knew.
One day Maraneri Nambi went to Alavandar’s house. He insisted that he should see his Guru. Alavandar was hesitant. But Maraneri was adamant. So he was let in. Alavandar tried to cover his pain and welcomed him with a smile.
He thought that Maraneri had come there to clear his doubts in his lessons. The best way out was to dispose Maraneri as early as possible without letting him find out his disease. Maraneri came into the room and prostrated at his Acharya’s feet.
“May you be blessed, Maraneri Nambi.
Please get up. You see I have a lot of things to do today.
Please tell me your doubts fast. We don’t have much time.” “Gurudeva, I have been your disciple for decades. Have I asked anything from you?”
“No.” “Today I have come to you with a desire. I have set my mind on that object.
And I can’t live without that. You have that with you. Can you give that to me?”
“It’s yours Maraneri. Whatever it is.”
Maraneri ran out to fetch a silver vessel containing the holy water.
Alavandar was puzzled.
“Please Gurudeva show me your hands.”
“What for, Maraneri?”
“When you gift a piece of land you need to solemnize the gift with the holy water, right?”
“Yes, you are right. You want the mutt’s land near the river kaveri .Well, it’s yours.
“Please repeat whatever I am going to say..
“I, Yamunaithuraivar alias Alavandar, do hereby gift to my disciple Maraneri Nambi, the Rajapilavai disease which I have now, along with the pain, the suffering and all the after-effects.”
“What the hell you are doing Nambee ? This is not a game.
This water is holy. And if I repeat whatever you said, then you will have the disease, you moron. Don’t ever say the words again.
“You are one of the greatest Acharyas, the world has ever seen.
You have promised to give whatever I want…….
How can you go back on your word, Gurudeva?”
“But that’s ridiculous, Nambi.”“What is ridiculous, Acharya?
You are our Guru. You have a hundred disciples.
A thousand people come to you every day to listen to your words.
Even the Lord who sleeps forever in the temple is looking forward to see you every day.“How can you afford to be confined to your bed? And by your kind, wise words you are removing our pains. Pains which have been following us for millions of births. How can you suffer in pain, Acharya?
“I am a low-born worm, Gurudeva. By accepting me as your disciple you made a gift to me which is worth more than the whole universe.
“Now, Gurudeva, please.. I beg of you.. please allow me to do my part.
If you refuse to give your disease then I will have no option than to die at your feet. It’s your call.” Alavandar melted. He poured the water on his hand and chanted the appropriate mantra.
“Please bear with me, Gurudeva. I have one more request.”
Alavandar looked at his disciple through a screen of tears.
“Let this transaction be not known to anybody else in the world.”
Alavandar was happy and sad at the same time.
Happy that he had such a loving disciple and sad because he was forced to give so much of pain and suffering to such a nice man.
Maraneri Nambi went out as a happy man.
Peria Nambi met him outside the room.
“Why are you so happy, my friend?”
“After many decades of discipleship it was only today that our Guru was kind enough to give me a precious prasadam.
And that too only after I compelled him to do so.”
Perianambi did not understand a word of what his friend said. Alavandar’s recovery was quite dramatic after that day.
A week later Maraneri Nambi was down with carbuncle. It is said that he suffered for three months from shooting pain. Whenever he was in pain he would only chant the name of his Gurudeva.