Saturday, June 21, 2008

Presiding Deities and our Acharya

Sri Ahobila Mutt, Chembur

Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha [Centre]
Sri Lakshmi Narayana [Right]
Sri Lakshmi Hayagriva [Left]

Sri Maha Lakshmi Thayar

Our Acharya:
Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha Divya Paduka Sevaka Srivan Satakopa Sri Narayana Yatheendra Maha Desikan

Welcome to Sri Ahobila Mutt

His Holiness, the 44th Azhagiyasingar took personal interest to have Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha, Sri Lakshmi Narayana, Sri Lakshmi Hayagriva temple Complex constructed at Chembur, Mumbai. He raised a substantial amount needed for the construction of Sri Ahobila Mutt, Chembur and gave a fillip to the fast construction of the Temple and the adjoining Marriage Hall complex. His Holiness had his Chaturmasya Vratam in Mumbai in the year 1968 and personally supervised the completion of the Temple and its consecration on August 25, 1968.

Our Temple is located in a central place in Chembur, near 'Diamond Garden' and the street is known as 'Ahobila Mutt Marg'.

The temple has sannadhis for Perumal, Thayar, Sri Garudan, Sri Hanuman. Arond ul prakaram we have sannadhis for Sri Srinivasar, Sri Jwala Nrisimhar, Sri Guruvayurappan and Sri Suriya Narayanan and Gajanan.In Perumal sannidhi ,Moolavars are Sri Lakshmi Nrisimhar(middle), to his left Sri Lakshmi Narayana and to his right Sri Lakshmi Hayagriva.Sri Garudan is at tiruvadi of Sri Lakshmi Nrisimhan. Moolavars wear Gold Kavacham everyday. Muthangi kavacham to moolavars on special occasions.

Apart from Sri Prahladavarada and Ubhaya Nachimars, the other deities in perumal sannidhi are Sri Andal ,Sri Visvakshenar, Sri Jwala Nrisimhar,Sri Sudarshanan, Salagramams, Azwars and Sri Ahobila Matam Acharyans.

Location of the temple is known as " Ramanuja Shetram". Vimanam is called " Vijayadwaja vimanam ".

The temple is open at from 6 AM to 11 AM on week days and upto 12 noon on Fridays to Sundays.Evening timings are 5 PM to 9 PM.

At the time of first Samprokshanam Utsavar was brought by the 44th Srimad Azaghiyasingar( who built Srirangam Gopuram) Sri Vedanta Mahadesikan. The first samprokshanam took place on 25 Aug 1968 in the august presence of Srimad Azaghiyasingar.

Second samprokshnam took place on 11 July 2005 in the presence of 45th Azaghiyasingar Sri Naarayana Yatindra Mahadesikan

A seperate Thayar Mahalakshmi ( Utsavar Sri Chenchulakshmi ) sannidhi was constructed and Samprokshanam took place on 9 Feb 2007 in the presence of 45th Srimad Azaghiyasingar.

Perumal Sannidhi, Thayar Mahalakshmi sannidhi ,and main door /entrance of the temple all have " Gold doors ".

Swathi Homam is held on Swathi Nakshtram in the presence of Sri Jwala Nrisiman. Srisooktha Homam is also held every month ( on Uttiram ) in the presence of Utsavar Thayar Sri Chenchulakshmi.

Dolothsavam to Sri Chenchulakshmi Thayar is held on all Fridays.
" Swarna Pushpa Sahasranama Archanai " to Thayar Moolavar Sri Mahalaksmi is held on all Sundays.

On Ekadesi day, ' Achitparayanam' takes palace by vidwans. Annadanam,known as 'Dwadsai paranai' ( sponsored by devotees ) is held on all Dwadasi thithi.

A seperate hall exists where regular upanyasams by Vidwans are hosted by the temple.A spacious marriage hall is also located in the temple premises.

The temple office can be contacted on 022 2528 7183 / 2528 0249.
e mail id ;
Temple address; Sri Ahobila mutt, Chembur, Mumbai 400 071.

The temple publishes a monthly News Letter for free issue to the devotees wherein programme for the month is included.

Photos of various utsavams of temple are regularly made available at website ( maintained by Sri R. Veeraraghavan).

Questions and Answers

These days the youth have many questions about our religion and philosophy. It is incumbent on our part to answer those questions so that our younger generation undersands the value of our traditions and heritage.

Here are a few Frequently asked Questions and Answers thereto. This has been designed as a discussion between a youth and an old man:

Q.1 If the God is Omnipresent, why should we go to Temples?

The old man who was posed this question, responded as under:

We are living in India under the Indian Government. In this vast land of India, our Government is present everywhere, say omnipresent. Wherever we live or wherever we go, we are under watch by the Government and the moment, we commit any offence, the Government takes appropriate action on us.

Despite the fact that the Government is omnipresent, in case we need the help of the Government, it is not sufficient if we appeal to Government on the bank of a river. To make our appeal to the Government, we need to approach the designated office of the Government and make our prayer to be heard.

Similarly, Temples are offices of God which are meant to receive and hear people. The God is ready to receive you and hear your grievances in these temples.

In addition, Temples have been playing a major role in promoting & maintaining humanity, peace, divinity, spirituality, religion, health and harmony among the people. Temples have been the place for Law and Justice. Besides, Temples have been promoting art and architecture over centuries. Beyond all the above, Temples have been places of learning.

Temples have been playing a crucial role in preserving and promoting mental health of people. Any person who is in a depressed state, can easily come out of his negative state if only he visits a temple, for there he receives Hope, Solace and Mental Strength to carry on. No where else one can redeem his mental health than in a temple. Thus if one desires to keep his personal life healthy, he needs to make Temples a part of his daily routine.

The youth then asked his next question,

Q.2 “What does a religion expect from us? Does it want us to abandon this life and become ‘other-worldly’?

The answer is a clear ‘NO’. The very fact that our religion has provided for “Grahastha Ashrama’, is a clear indication that we should have a family and work for the progress and prosperity of the family and to enjoy the legitimate pleasures of life. Religion recognizes the need to earn wealth to quench the legitimate appetites. Religion does permit seeking wealth and happiness, i.e. Artha and Kaama. What the Religion has done is only to add one key word before the words Artha and Kaama, and that key word is “Dharma”.

“Dharmaarthakaama”, i.e. Dharma, Artha and Kaama is the combined password to spirituality. The Religion only says that Dharma should always be associated with any effort towards acquiring wealth and happiness. In other words, Dharma should come first in earning wealth and enjoying life.

One day I spotted one of my friends speaking untruth to a third party to get things done. Later when we were alone, I reminded my friend that he spoke untruth and that was not correct. My friend told me that these days, speaking truth may put us in disadvantage and hence speaking untruth is a necessity.

Then I asked my friend, ‘how would he like if his child were to tell lies to him or his subordinate in office being untruthful to him’ He immediately said that was not acceptable.

We all know that Dharma is nothing but honesty and purity of mind. We all expect others to transact with us honestly. And that is exactly the same thing that Dharma expects from us also. It simply tells us “Do anything you want, but do it with Dharma”.

The Youth then asked his next question

Q.3 “Whether Dharma would keep us happy?”

He was responded to by the old man as under:

“Before telling you whether Dharma would keep us happy, I need first tell you what exactly is Dharma. The most important element of Dharma is Ahimsa. “Ahimsa Paramo Dharmaha” is the famous saying. Many think eating vegetarian food and avoiding violence in life is Ahimsa. Yes, they are. But that is not the end.

Our elders respected trees, rivers, etc. Trees such as Peepal tree were respected and they used to go round them and pray. It may appear to be a superstition. But by this act, they did something which is known in modern days as “Chipko Andolan”. Similarly all tanks and rivers were considered sacred and worshiped. These attitudes helped in preventing misuses of tanks and rivers and saved us from pollution of water and protected our water resources. If only Dharma had been followed we don’t have to spend crores on cleaning Ganga and that money would be available to us for other welfare programmes. Similarly, if Dharma had been associated with chasing wealth, there would be not scams, scandals, black markets and black money.

Thus Dharma has a direct relevance to our lives and only Dharma can keep us happy. All the ills we are facing in Society and the Nation today are directly the result of non-observance of Dharma in people’s lives. Hence the need for all people is to observe Dharma in day to day life so that our lives are problem free and happy.”

The Youth asked his next question.

Q.4: “Sir, please tell me whether it is rational to worship a stone as God?”

The old man replied as under:

“My dear young man, think of the National Flag. The same cloth which we use in our day to day lives for different purposes becomes highly respectable and salutable when it takes the form of a National Flag.

Next, consider Books. There are books of many kinds like novels, stories, etc. While they are not respectable, the books giving us knowledge and wisdom are highly respected.

In the same way, stones also are used for different purposes. But the ones that take such a shape and conform to the forms of God becomes highly respectable.

As for the deities in our temples, they are not mere stones. By invocation of God’s power in them through various Mantras, they become Gods themselves.

Have you known the Homeopathy pills? They are mere sugar pills, but potentised with various processes they acquire the power of curing illnesses. Thus every material we have around us can be put to either ordinary use or turned into a noble one. And once they are given the form of nobility, they become highly respectable.

The youth then asked his next question. While agreeing with the fact that the Dieties are highly divine, his concern was on the financial angle. He asked

Q. 5 "Whether it is justified to spend so much money on Deities in Temples."

The old man responded as under:

“My dear young man, you were already informed about ordinary cloth taking the form of National Flag and getting the respect of one and all at the National level. Just think as to how much money we do spend on Independence Day and Republic Day every year throughout the country just to salute this National Flag? Can any one claim that this is waste of money? Such celebrations are necessary to arouse and renew national and patriotic feelings in the citizens. Similarly, we do celebrate many festivals in our Temples and even spend money so that people turn religious and pious and of course ultimately turn spiritual.

Even if you consider the monetary aspect alone, you should take into account the economic law of circulation of wealth. When one Republic Day is celebrated, so many poor artisans make flags and sell them. When the buyers make the purchases, they may be spending money, but it goes to support many families. Take the festival of Deepavali and examine how many crores of rupees are burnt into ashes in a matter of few hours. But still, no Government has banned it, because the money spent on the festival directly supports many families. Similarly, when money is spent on temple festivals, we should take into account the number of families such as flower vendors, decorators, electricians, etc. who earn their livelihood, through such festivals.”

The youth then asked his next question:

Q 6: “Sir, is it true that there is a God?”

“Wow! It is a Great Question” said the old man whom the young man asked his above question.

The old man asked the youth “What do you think?” The young man replied, “Sir, I thought about it again and again. But I am not clear.”

The old man said, “True, there are many people who tell us not to blindly accept anything that is told to us. They say that before you accept any thing, first think and do research to know whether what is told to you is right….and then only accept. Thus people are asked to think about a matter first and if found agreeable, accept. But then, do you know Andal, I mean have you heard of Andal?” he asked.

“Yes, sir, I know Andal who had sung Thiruppavai”.

“Yeh, she had said in her Pasuram Mayanai Mannu Vada Madurai Mainthani, something different. In that Pasuram, she asks us to

“Thoomalar Thoovi Thozhu, Vayinal padi and
………….Manathinal sinthikka”.

In effect she asks us to first accept and then think.

In fact in her every Pasuram she says “Elor Empavai”. The word that she constantly uses in every Pasuram is “Elor”. This expression “Elor” consists of two words El and Or. El means Accept and Or means “and then Think”.

You know, that is the right way of doing things. In fact that is what all parents have been doing with their children. In all families, parents demand their children to obey first and after obeying ask any questions if they want. By demanding such unquestioned obedience, what the elders convey is that they had already thought about the matter exhaustively and arrived at conclusions and there is no need for our children to waste their time and energy in analyzing what the parents had asked them to do, before doing the same.

Not only in families. Even in Schools, the same sequence is demanded. Teachers impart education to our children. They ask children to accept new words, new formulas, etc. without questioning. No child can ask why 2+2=4 and why not 3? No teacher can try to prove to the children why it is not 3 and is only 4. They cannot ask why “tion” should be pronounced as “shun”. What is told by elders must be first be accepted and there is no need to do research on that and no need to waste time on reinventing the wheel.

Andal recognized that it is very difficult to make people re-understand the proven truth if they were allowed to think and research before they accept. You should know, there are certain realities which have already been analysed sufficiently and our elders have come to the conclusion that they are facts.

Thus First Accept what our elders have said over centuries that there is God. Every generation has no need to re-research on the same before accepting! There is no need for reinventing the wheel.

Then the Youth asked his next question:

Q 7: “Sir, our religion has been telling us about Paramapadam, also called Moksham or Sri Vaikuntam and that our Acharyas and Family elders are still living there. Sir, is it true that there really is a Sri Vaikuntam and our ancestors are living there still?”

The old man pondered over the question asked to him. Then he said, “Well, my dear Young man, I would tell you a story which might answer your question on Sri Vaikuntam. Here is the story”, he said.

Once upon a time, a mother conceived a twin. Weeks passed and the twins developed. As their awareness grew, the twins explored their life. They found their mother's cord that gave them life. The first child said to the other, "How great our mother's love is, that she has given us our lives!" The second child responded, “How do you know, we have a Mother? Have you ever seen our mother?" “No” said the first child. "Maybe she only lives in our minds." The first child had no reply.

More time passed. In a few months, the twins noticed how much each was changing. "What does this mean?" the second child asked. "It means our stay in this world is drawing to an end." said the first child.

"But I don't want to go," said the second child. "I want to stay here always." "We have no choice," said the first child. "Maybe there is life after exit", he continued.

"But how can there be?" responded the second child. "If there is life after exit, no one who had exited before us has returned to tell us there is life after leaving this world. I think once we exit this place, we do not live any more”.

So the last days in the womb were filled with deep questioning and fear.

Finally, the moment of exit from their world arrived. When the twins had passed from their world, they fell into an altogether new world. They opened their eyes and cried with joy - for what they saw exceeded their fondest dreams. What a great fantastic new world it is, in comparison with the one they lived before!!

There is life after birth……...
And similarly there is life after death.
Believe, our Poorvacharyas and our beloved family elders continue to live in a happier world, even today!!

The Youth then asked his next question.

Q 8: “Sir, if God resides in Sri Vaikuntam, what is the sanctity of idols in our Temples?”

The old man replied, “My dear Young man, you see God lives in different forms.

The form in which He lives in Sri Vaikuntam is called ‘Param’. The form in which He lives In the Milky ocean is called ‘Vyuham’, The form in which He took birth in this world in ten Avataras is called ’Vibhavam’.

Then the old man asked the young man, “Have you ever been to the sea shore and heard the noise of the sea?”

Yes, of course”, the young man said.

“And have you ever put the sea shell on your ears?”

“Yes, I had done that at home in my childhood and listened to the noise of the Sea coming from within the sea shell”.

“Yes, just like the noise of the sea resides in each and every sea shell, the God resides in the heart of each and every one of us. And this form is called ‘Antaryami’. And it is this Antaryami that guides you in your day to activities…...Well, have you ever felt your inner voice that said NO when you were out to do something wrong?

“Yes sir, I had felt this inner voice.”

“And this is Antaryami—God speaking to you and guiding you.”

And now to the form of God in our Temples. This form is called the ‘Archa’.

Thus God has different forms and we can worship Him in every form. “

The old man then asked, “Well, are there photographs of yourself in your house?”

“Yes sir, there are”, the young man replied.

“How many of your photographs are there in your house?”

“Six or seven”, the young man said.

“Well, there must be different photographs of yours, as a baby, as a child, as a teenager and as you are today. Isn’t ? In these photographs of yourself, you may be in different forms, but all of them are only YOU. Am I right”

“Yes sir”

“Thus, God may be in different forms, but they are all ONE “, he concluded.

After knowing that there are many Roopas i.e. different forms of Lord, the Youth asked his next question. He now asked a very fundamental question.

Q 9. He innocently asked, “Sir, please tell me what does God do to us?”

The old man was flabbergasted. He never thought that the Youth would ask this very basic question. Then he remembered about a poem that he read sometime earlier. He got up, went to his book shelf, picked up the relevant book and opened the pages. After finding the poem he handed the book to the Youth and asked him to read the same to know what God has done to us. The poem was as under:

All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens
Each little bird that sings
He made their glowing colours
He made their tiny wings.

The purple headed mountain
The river running by
The sunset and the morning
That brightens up the sky

The cold wind in the winter
The pleasant summer sun
The ripe fruits in the garden
He made them every one.

He gave us eyes to see them
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty
Who has made all things well !

The youth was impressed with the poem on God’s Contribution to humanity. But then he posed his next question.

Q 10. “Sir, if the God is so merciful as explained in the poem, can you please tell me as to why there is so much of suffering in this world and why God allows many people to suffer?”

The old man replied. “My dear Young Man, you know that of the many creations God made, the humans are special. No other creature was given the wisdom and ability that the man was conferred. The man was the only creature that was gifted with a Mind and the Free Will. With these gifts the man is able to read, write, speak, paint, work, invent and achieve many things.”

“But, you see, with this Free Will, the man could do anything—good or bad.”

“The Divine rule is that if the man does good, he would get good results and if he does bad, he would get bad results. This is called the Law of Karma, the law of cause and effect. It only means ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’. You cannot sow thorns and reap mangoes. So, please understand that people who suffer are those people who had committed wrong and thus suffer the consequence”, the old man concluded.

The youth then asked, “Sir, there are many people, who had committed wrong but still they are leading a happy life. What do you say for this?”

The old man replied, “My dear young man, you do not really know the personal life of those people whom you say, have done wrong and are leading happy life. We all have problems, but in public we maintain a happy face. So when you say, I am leading a happy life, that is your perception and you do not really know what is happening in my life.”

The old man continued. “And then, there are some causes that produce their effect immediately and there are other causes that produce their effect after a long time. “

“If you over eat, there is immediate effect, of indigestion. But then if you smoke, you find the ill effects over a period of time. “

“Thus people suffer because of their own doing out of their free will. It is this reason, even within the same family one may be rich and another poor; one may be healthy and another sick. All this, good or bad, is the result of one’s karma and God cannot be blamed for one’s suffering.”

Thus the Youth was told that God cannot be blamed for the problems of human beings and that all problems that we face are our own creations.

The Youth then asked his next question.

Q. 11 He said, “Sir, many times when we are in trouble we make prayers to God to help us. But majority of times we do not receive any help and we fail in our endeavors. Sir, Please tell me why God does not answer our prayers many times?”

The old man said, “My dear young man, you have asked a very good question. You must understand that God answers all your prayers. Only you may not hear His voice.

May be He answers our prayers sometimes with a NO, sometimes with YES and some other times with an answer which is neither YES or NO.

But then, think what a catastrophe it would be if God answered every prayer of every one? Terrorists may be praying for the worst for the world. What would happen if God grants their prayer? May be an incompetent student prays for 1st rank. What would happen if God grants his prayer?

Thus God cannot grant everyone’s prayer every time. He has to be choosy in granting our prayers.

There is also another angle to it. If God were to concede every one’s prayer every time, He would become our servant. Suddenly, He would be working for us instead of us working for God! Thus, be aware that God knows when to grant our Prayers.

Let me explain you further.

When your idea is not right, God says NO.
NO when your idea is not the best
NO when your idea is absolutely wrong
NO when though it may help you, it could create problems for some one else.

When the time is not right, God says SLOW.

When you are not right, God says GROW. The selfish person has to grow in unselfishness. The timid person has to grow in confidence. The dominating person has to grow in sensitivity. The critical person must grow in tolerance. The negative person has to grow positive. The pleasure seeking person has to grow in compassion for the suffering people

But, when everything is alright, God says GO. The door to your dream suddenly swings open and there stands God saying “Proceed” !!

Well, the youth was told as to why God cannot grant all our wishes all the time. He was further told that God has given us a thinking brain which he has not given to other creatures. This means that God wants us to think for ourselves and steer out of problems.

Here was his next question.

Q. 12

Panguni Uttiram and Prapatti

Every year we celebrate the Festival Panguni Uttiram Festival. It would of great value to know the significance of this very important festival for Sri Vaishnavas.

Firstly, this is the Avathara Dinam of Sri Mahalakshmi from the Milky Ocean during the churning for nectar, i.e. during Amritha Mathanam. As Sri Maha Vishnu had taken different Avatars from time to time, Sri Mahalakshmi’s Avatharam as part of Amruta Mathanam as mentioned in Puranas, is celebrated today.

Secondly, this is also the day of Establishment of Srirangam Temple, the Srivaishnava Capital. We all know already that Vibheeshana was installed as the King of Sri Lanka by Lord Sri Rama after the demise of his elder brothers. Sometime afterwards, Vibheeshana started for Ayodhya along with the Archa Moorthy of Lord Sri Ranganatha gifted to him by Lord Sri Rama. When he reached the island of Srirangam between the holy rivers of Cauvery and Kollidam, Vibheeshana performed Pujas to Lord Sri Ranganatha at the island. After the Pooja when he started, the Archa moorthy of Lord Sri Ranganatha could not be lifted. According to Acharyas, this is a predesigned act of Lord to make Srirangam as His Eternal Abode to bless the Bhaktas. Thus on this day, the Lord Sri Ranganatha had made Srirangam as His permanent Abode, the Bhooloka Vaikuntam. This is the reason that the Bramhotsavam at Sri Rangam takes place in the Tamil month of Panguni and on the concluding day of this Brahmotsavam, Lord Azhagiya manavala Perumal, i.e. Sri Ranganatha is seated on the same throne pedestal as the Goddess Ranganayaki in the Kalyana Mantapam of the Goddess. This Serthi seva is a very rare Darshan occurring only once in a year.

Centuries later, it was on this auspicious Panguni Uthiram Day, Swami Ramanuja, did Saranagathi at the Feet of Divya Dhampathis, Sri Ranga Nachiyar and Lord Sri Ranganatha , when they were together in the Serthi and composed and recited the famous "Gadhya Thrayam", an unparalleled work on SARANAGATHI - Total Surrender. Through this great composition, Acharya Ramanuja showed us the way to perform Saranagathi to the Dhivya Dampathis for gaining Nitya Kainkaryam at Sri Vaikuntam. .

As Lord Ranganatha sat in court with Sri Ranga Nachiar on His divine throne, SrI Ramanuja stood before Them, surrendered himself and all his belongings to the divine and begged that all his earthly sins be pardoned and that he be accepted in the service of the Divine couple. Swami Ramanuja, also out of overwhelming compassion for the humanity en-shackled by this Samsara, poured out his heart to The Divine Couple seeking deliverance to all the Bhaktas. The outcome is this nectar Saranagathi Gadya delivered for the sake of our deliverance. This is in the form of a conversation between Swami Ramanuja and The Divine Couple. The shorter SrIranga Gadyam is an abridged version of Saranagathi gadyam, a personal exposition. The ultimate goal, reward, that is purusharta for every Prapanna, in eternal service in Sri Vaikuntam is contained in SrI Vaikunta Gadyam.

The Divya Dhampathis Blessed Swami Ramanuja and accepted  Swami Ramanuja's Prapatti. Not only this, the Divya Dampathis also Blessed all those who follow the foot steps of Swami Ramanuja with an assurance that all his spiritual protégés would be accorded what was assured to him – Ref: Piratti's assurance “Asthu the, Tayaiva SARVAM Sampathsyathe”.

Thus, the assurance of acceptance was not in isolation to Swami Ramanuja alone, but to all his spiritual progeny who surrender to God and perform Prapatti. It is on behalf of all humanity that Acharya Ramanuja pleaded and we, as His spiritual heirs, can feel assured of the Lord's grace.

Thus the Day of Panguni Uttiram is the Day of Celebration of “Saranagathi / Prapatti” that was performed for us all by our Acharya Sri Ramanuja.

It is indeed a thrilling event, something out of this world, an opportunity afforded to the fortunate few, to watch hundreds of ardent Sri Vaishnava bhAgavathas recite these sacred Gadyas around midnight, in unison at SrI Rangam temple even today on Panguni Uttiram day, an event commemorating the magnificent, compassionate, uplifting vision of swami Ramanuja for all of humanity.

In celebration of the above holy events we celebrate this Grand Festival in every Sri Vaishnava Temples all over the world.

Bhaktas of Mumbai are requested to participate in large numbers on all the three days of this Grand Festival. More especially, let us all make sure we recite Gadya Trayam before the Divya Dampathis and renew our Prapatti request before the Lord.

And those who are desirous of making their contribution towards 108 Kalasa Thirumanjanam, Sri Sooktha Homam, Kalyana Utsavam, Thiruveedi Purappadu or Serthi Sevai, are requested to get in touch with the Temple office for making their Ubhayams.

Having seen the significance of Panguni Uttiram and its relevance to Prapatti, we now can, with advantage, understand what is Prapatti.

First Step to Prapatti:

We all know “Prapatti” is total surrender to God. There are many among us who have already done Prapatti to God through our Acharyas. And beyond that, every time our Acharyas visit our Temple, we see many Bhaktas coming to Acharyas seeking Samashrayanam and Bharasamarpanam for themselves. And on this holy occasion of Panguni Uttiram, which is the day of “Saranagathi” performed for us all by Acharya Sri Ramanuja, it would be very appropriate for us all to know more about this Prapatti.

Prapatti is not a simple subject that can be covered in one column of this small News Letter. The subject needs to be dealt with in its many facets. But as a first step, let us all know about the First step to Prapatti.

Simply stated, the First step to Prapatti is to acquire the Sambandha Gyanam, i.e. the knowledge on the relationship we have with Lord Sriman Narayana.

We had a very interesting write up on Cricket in the last News Letter, which indicated as to how Jeevatma and Paramatma are linked in the game of life on this earth. Here let us have another very interesting story explaining the “Sambandam” between Jeevatma and Paramatma, written by Prakritam Srimad Azhagiyasingar in an article that appeared in June 2006 issue of Sri Nrisimhapriya. Here goes the story.

In the ancient days there was a businessman in a village. He used to travel extensively, even abroad pursuing his business. Once this businessman left his village and went abroad did not return for years.

This businessman had a small child when he left home. In these long years, the child grew up to become a handsome lad, inherited his father’s property and started doing business himself. As the years passed by, once this young man also went abroad pursuing his business.

At one port, the young man purchased huge amount of goods and he approached a cloak room nearby to store his materials. There he found another old man staying with his goods in the cloak room. The young man felt there was not adequate space to accommodate the goods of both the persons. So, the young man tried to push out the old man. But the old man advised that with some adjustment, both can get accommodated. But the young man was not willing and was particular that the old man must quit.

Now in the mean time, there came a third person, who identified both the young man and the old man . He told the young person to recognise his father in the old man. The young man was taken aback in this sudden revelation and fell at the feet of the old man who was all willing to accommodate the young man.

Continuing this story, Srimad Azhagiyasingar comes forward to give names to the father and son in this story.

According to Srimad Azhagiyasingar, the Father was the Paramatma and the son was the Jeevathma. Just like the father and the son having come and stayed under one roof in this story, both the Jeevathma and Paramatma come and stay in a cloak room called our body. Thus our body is a cloak room which offers both the Jeevathma and Paramatma a place for temporary stay.

In the first instance, the Jeevatma has no knowledge that the other resident inside the body is the Paramatma. Even when Paramatma offers to accommodate him inside the cloak room, the Jeevathma refuses to deposit his hard earned materials to the care of Paramatma. Even that the Jeevatma wanted the Paramatma to get out of his way and allow him to have a free space. Now at this stage, the third person enters the scene and he is none other than the Acharya.

It is Acharya who helps the Jeevathma to recognise the Paramatma. The Acharya then tells the Jeevathma that both he and his materials actually belong to the Paramatma and that the Jeevathma has no independent entity in this world without Paramatma and that the Paramatma is the real Owner of all. With these words, the Acharya asks the Jeevatma to surrender to Paramatma and serve Him.

Having been awakened and obtained the “Sambandha Gyanam”, the Jeevathma begs pardon from Paramatma and seeks the continuous company of Paramatma in the remaining years of his life. Now, the Paramatma who was already too willing to accommodate the Jeevathma, was very glad that His son had identified Him with the help of Acharya and embraces the Jeevathma with all the affection and goodwill. Thus the first step to Prapatti is to acquire the “Sambandha Gyanam” between us and the Emperuman.

And then what are the subsequent steps?

The 2nd Step:

In the last issue, we had known the first step to Prapatti, i.e. “Sambandha Gyanam”, i.e.
We know that our father is Lord Sriman Narayan Himself and that we are all his children.
We accept the fact that all that we have in this world belongs to Him and that there is nothing that can be called as our own.

Now, after having acquired this Sambandha Gyanam, we need to proceed to the second step. The Second step to Prapatti is Aanukoolya Sankalpam. This Aanukoolya Sankalpam can be explained thus:

In the first step, we have known our Father and we have the realisation that all that we have belongs to Him. Having realised this, the next step is to obey Him. Obeying Him means, obeying His orders.

Our religion is presently known as Hindu Religion. But that is the real name of our Religion. There was a time when there was no other religion than our religion. But later on may new religions came into being after the name of the person who founded it. They were Buddhism, Christianity, etc. Thus when more religions came into existence, our own religion was identified by a name and that name was Hindu Religion.

Our religion is a way of a life. This way of life was prescribed by the Vedas. Hence the ancient name of our Religion is Vedic Religion. And these Vedas were not written by any human being. They were handed over by Lord Sriman Narayana Himself to Sri Bramha. In these Vedas the Lord Himself has prescribed the way of life we should lead. Thus every person doing Prapatti should understand that the orders of our Father, i.e. the Shaastraas are contained in the Vedas. The Lord says:

Shrutihi Smritihi mamaivaagya; Yasyamullanghya vartate
Agyanacchedi mamadrohi; Madbhakto api vaishnavaha

Meaning, “The Shrutis and Smritis convey my commands and whoever violates them goes against spiritual dictates. Even if he is my devotee, by no means he is a Vaishnava.

Thus obeying the Lord means obeying the Shaastraas. Having understood this, the term Aanukoolya Sankalpam means making a promise that we would conduct our lives in accordance with the Shaastraas. Thus promising to obey the Shaastraas is the second step to Prapatti.

The 3rd Step:

The third step to Prapatti is simple. It is yet another promise by us not to do anything which is prohibited in the Shaastraas. And this is called “Praathikoolya Varjanam”, i.e. not to do what is prohibited by our Father, as revealed in the Shaastraas.

Thus for every one who is desirous of doing Prapatti, the important thing is to know what the Shaastras are all about.

Thus, the right way to get initiated to Prapatti is after [1] undergoing the religious teachings, [2] internalising the principles of our Religion and [3] adopting the religious way of life in day to day living. If this [1], [2] and [3] route is adopted, it would ensure that there is Aanukoolya Sankalpam and Praathikoolya Varjanam by the Prapanna, i.e. who had done Prapatti.

Here lies the importance of Upanayanam and Samaasrayanam. The Upanayanam initiates the person to Nithya Karmas and Aanhikam, the Daily Discipline. Please refer to the Book on Aanhikam written by HH 45th Azhagiyasingar available in our Mutt. The Samaasrayanam [Sam Aasrayanam, i.e. effective refuge], on the other hand, initiates us to Mantropadesam, Bhagavad Aaradhanam and to the Rahasyas. Both these together make us ready to meet the standards prescribed for Saranagathi, viz. the Aanukoolya Sankalpam and Praathikoolya Varjanam.

The Shaastras containing the Dos and Don’t’s can be categorized into Saamaanya Saastras and Visesha Shaastras. One may perhaps not be able to master the Visesha Shaastras. But the Samanya Shaastras are very simple and cover the Nitya Karmas which give us the discipline and regularity necessary for spiritual evolution. Similar to the routine exercises like drills and other practices that have nothing to do with war are insisted upon in the Defence Sevices to keep up the fitness of military personnel, in the same way, the Nitya Karmas make us fit for spiritual service. Hence, the minimum Aanukoolya Sankalpam that Prapannas need to do is to do Nithya Karmas like Sandhya Vandanam and Thiru Aaradhanam without fail.

Well, we have so far known the first three steps to Prapatti.

1. The first step was “Sambandha Gyanam” and understanding God as our Father
2. The second step was “Aanukoolya Sankalpam”, i.e. promising to obey the Father
3. The third step was “Praatikoolya Varjanam”, i.e. not to do things prohibited by Father

We also discussed that the dictates of God are contained in Vedas. These were codified as Dharma Shaastraas written by our ancient Sages like Manu, Apasthamba. Gautama and Yagnavalkya. Thus these Dharma Shaastraas prescribe the DO s and DON’T s for all of us to follow. And Lord Krishna, in Bhagavat Gita endorsed these Shaastras by saying “Tasmaat shaastram pramaanam the kaaryaakaarya vyavasthithou”.

In the olden days, in Gurukulas, the Teachers used to teach the students all these Dos and Don’ts and with this learning, people used to adhere to a value based life. And this type of Gurukula Education continued for a long time. All our Purvacharyas were Gifts of this Gurukula system to our Religion. Even when the country suffered at the hands of invaders, while the whole society suffered, still the Gurukula system continued. Our Acharyas like Sri Ramanuja and Sri Vedanta Desika led a value based life even during the peak of invasion, popularly called Kalaapa Kaalam.

But the whole system of education changed with the arrival of British. The Britishers changed our Value Based Education System and replaced it with modern education system. And with the introduction of this modern education system we lost touch with our Shaastraas, and resultantly with Value Based system of Life.

In this background, there is a definite need for us to know what are the Dos and Don’ts prescribed by our sages. We shall try to bring out the Dharma Shaastras, the religious Dos and Don’ts, one by one, from the next issue of this News letter.

And now, let us get on with the subject of Prapatti and let us proceed with the next step i.e. the 4th step to Prapatti.

4th Step to Prapatti—Aakinchanyam

Sri Alavandar in his Stotra Ratnam says:
Na dharma nishtosmi; Na cha aatma vedi; Na bhaktimaan twat charanaravinde
Akinchano ananya gati: sharanya  Tawat paada moolam sharanam prapadye

He says:
I am not good in Karma Yoga; I am not good in Gyana Yoga;  Nor I am good in Bhakti Yoga. Thus having no other means to attaining Lord I surrender myself at your lotus feet in the act of saranagati.

Thus Aakinchanyam is saying, “I am a simple person and I am not good in Karma, Gyana, Bhati Yogas. Not having any other means to attain Lord [Ananya Sadatvam], I perform Prapatti.

Aakinchanyam finds a mention in Tiruvaimozhi also. Swami Nammalwar says :Notra nonbilen; Nunnarivilen”. Sri Bhattar also says in Sri Rangaraja Stavam, “Gyana Kriya Bhajana sampat akinchanoham”, i.e. I am very poor in Gyana, Karma and Bhakti Yogas.

When Acharyas themselves have pleaded Aakinchanyam saying that they are poor in Karma, Gyana and Bhakti Yogas and have opted for Prapatti, we also need plead Aakinchanyam and do Prapatti. 

While discussing Aakinchanyam,  we recalled our inability to pursue the difficult path of Karma yoga. As for Gyana Yoga, we know very well our incompetency to comprehend the correct meanings of the Vedas and perform the Karmas ordained by the Vedas. Thus we recognized that it is not only difficult to practice such Karmas like Pancha Yagnas in these days but also it would be equally impossible to perform them in the future. There we also found ourselves totally insufficient to follow the difficult Bhakthi yoga as an upayam for Moksham.

At a time when we were bewildered as to what could be the easy route for Moksha Anugraham, our Acharyas tell us that there is a simpler route (viz)., the easy to practise Upayam, i.e. Saranagathy at the sacred feet of Sriman Narayana to accomplish the same goal of attaining Moksha. Thus our Acharyas have opened this path of Saranagathi for people like us who suffer total insufficiency, i.e. Aakinchanyam.

5th Step: Maha Viswaasam

Now before we plunge ourselves into the act of Saranagathi, we have to cross the next step to it. This step, the fifth step to Prapatti, is Maha Viswaasam, i.e. an unwavering faith that the Lord endeared by our performance of Prapatthi will overlook all our deficiencies and will protect us without fail. This Maha Viswaasam assures that we are eligible for the bliss of Moksham that is normally gained through giganctic penance i.e. Bhakthi Yogam of great sages. Our Maha Viswaasam should be such that even if our blemishes would normally disqualify us for Moksham, our Prapatthi has equal power to gain the hard-earned Moksham by the adoption of the tough-to-practise Bhakthi yogam .

In fact this Maha Viswaasam should be the power behind us to make Prapatti to the exclusion of Karma, Gyana, Bhkti Yogas. This Maha Viswaasam makes us totally rely on Sriman Narayana’s souseelya gunam. Our Poorvacharyas have explained that Lord’s Souseelya Guna grants the ease of access to Him by one and all, independent of one's status , Thus we become the object of protection by the Sarvaloka Saranyan , who is bound by our Maha Viswaasam
in Him.

In this context, it would be of interest to read about the Maha Viswaasam expressed in Saint Thyagaraja’s Kritis. In his Kritis, Saint Thyagaraja says:

"I have reposed my faith ENTIRELY in You and You alone. ...I have never asked for gold or wealth for me, for I have always cherished You in my mind as my family Treasure ( kula Dhanam ).I meditate on You and have selected You alone as my object of worship . I can not bring myself to approach any others for blessing me and granting me Moksham. The people of the world think that I am a destitute and an orphan because I have no support of men . I am protected by You , the Supreme One. Who else do I need for  protection , when You are protecting me ? I have Maha Visvasam in You and stay in a state of fearlessness. I am proud that there is no one equal or greater than You. Unlike the common folk , who fail to develop faith (viswaasam ) in You due to their ignorance about Your greatness, I have fully understood Your limitless and unparalleled Mahimai . I have accordingly sought refuge in You so that You can take me in Your hand and bless me. I have always firmly believed that You are the friend of the distressed (dhinaas) and have constantly prayed to You. You alone are the God , whom I want to see. WHO IS THERE WHO COULD LIVE WITHOUT YOUR GRACE? I concede that the greatest of happiness consists in seeing You taking residence in my heart cavity."

Here we need also study Sri Vedanta Desika’s Maha Viswasam on Lord Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha from his stotra “Kamasikashtakam”. In verse 8 of this stotra he says:

Tvayi Rakshathi Rakshakai: Kimanyai:   tvayi charakshathi Rakshakai: kimnayai:
Ithi niscchitha dhee: srayami nithyam   Nruhare VegavathI tatasrayam thvam

Here it has also to be noted that a Saranagathy performed without the Maha Viswaasam would not be fruitful. Thus please understand that performing Prapatthi should be with unflinching/unwavering Faith in Him as our Protector at all times .

Sixth Step to Prapatti

The sixth step to Prapatti is known as “Goptrutva Varanam”. Before proceeding with this important step to Prapatti, let us revisit the story of Gajendra Moksham and its analysis written by Dr. V. Sadagopan of USA, a very learned Sishya of Srimad Azhagiyasingar.

In this well known story, the elephant Gajendra went into a pond to gather flowers for the Lord's worship. At that time, his leg was suddenly grasped underwater by a crocodile. The struggle between Gajendra and the crocodile continued for 50 years and beyond. And despite maximum struggle, the elephant could not free itself from the crocodile's mighty teeth. Then he appealed to the Lord to save him. The God immediately arrived at the scene, killed the crocodile and saved Gajendra. This simple story known to us for long time is the classic example of Goptrutva Varanam. How?

The above story tells us that Gajendra was battling the crocodile for over fifty years. During these years, the elephant gained the upper hand at times and the crocodile at other times. This went on and on, at the end of which Gajendra appealed to the Lord for succour and was duly saved.  The question is, why didn't Gajendra seek the Lord's protection earlier? When he could do it at the end of fifty years and after fighting a losing battle, he could have done it pretty early on, avoiding all the pain and wasted effort!

We cannot blame the elephant Gajendra for delaying the Call to Lord, when we are doing the same thing. We labour under the mistaken notion that it is we who protect ourselves. We valiantly battle against our numerous enemies, external and internal, for a lifetime of sixty, seventy and eighty years, without realising, like Gajendra, that we are doomed to failure.

Like us, Gajendra was confident in the early years of the struggle that his own strength will pull him out of trouble. It was only when the concerted effort failed to have any effect, that he realised the impossibility of the situation and decided to appeal to the Lord for saving him. And the moment he performed Saranagati, Emperuman descended from the heavens to save him.

Here is the next aspect of this story. In this story, we are told that during the entire fifty years that he was struggling for his life and limb, the Lord did not act till the animal's cry for protection reached the Lord. Then He rushed in and saved the elephant. The question is if the Lord has boundless affection for His devotees, should He not rush to their aid the moment they are in trouble, rather than waiting for an SOS call from the afflicted person? How can the Lord callously witness all their suffering and then save them at the very end, like the policemen in cinemas who rush in after the hero has successfully battled with the gangsters?

 The answer to this lies in the following Ahirbudhnya Samhita sloka:

"Sarvagyopi hi Visvesa: sada kaarunikopi san;
Samsara tantra vaahitvaat raksha apeksham pratIkshate"

Though infinitely powerful, omniscient and merciful, the Lord, because He had given a freewill to the humans to act as the way they want, He waits for a word, just a word from the devotee, seeking His help and assistance, before rushing to his aid. That the Lord protects only those who apply to Him is further confirmed by a sloka in LakshmI Tantram:

"Aprartthito na gopayet iti tat prartthana mati:
Gopayita bhavet Evam Goptrutva varanam smritam"

The specific request to the Lord to save us, known as "Goptrutva Varanam", is one of the important elements of Saranagati, without which the Lord protects us NOT. This concept is like this. We have Supreme Court, High Court, etc. which exist to protect us from troubles. But they do not come to our rescue on their own, unless we move an application before them. And this Moving of an Application is Goptrutva Varanam in the context of Prapatti. Thus the 6th step to Prapatti is the actual Act of Saranagati before Emperuman,

Sri Andal's Thiruppavai and Prapatti

we had so far covered the Prapatti in six steps. It is to be noted that the previous first five steps are Angams to the sixth step, the actual final act of doing Saranagathi. On this holy occasion of Thiru Aadipooram, in this News letter, we shall see the guidance to Prapatti that Sri Andal gives us in Her Thiruppavai.

We can observe that in most verses of Thiruppavai, Sri Andal goes about the streets of Srivilliputthur to wake up Her friends so that all of them can approach the mansion of Nandagopa [Thiru Koil] where the Lord is engaged in Yoga nidra. The message here is that all the Bhagavathas / Bhaktas should get together and engage themselves in the worship of Lord Sriman Narayana at his Temple. Sri Andal further says that this worship should be in the form of Prapatti. And she further elaborates, thus:

1. Aanukoolya Sankalpam:

Mella Ezhundu - Ari enra Per aravam ullam pugundu - kulinrndu
Get up in the morning, allow God’s name to enter in you, feel divine
Natkale neeradi - Thooyomai vandu
Take Bath, get pure
Kallam thirandu kalandu - Ellarum Pondu
Remove all evil thoughts, Mix with other Bhagavathas; Go together to the temple
Devadi Devanai chenru sevittu
Go and prostrate before the Supreme Lord
Manathukkiniyanai paada vai thirandu - Uttaman Per paadi - Paraman adi paadi
Potri Pugazhndu - Adi Potri; Thiral potri; pugaz potri; Gunam potri
Vaayinal paadi ; Thoomalar Thoovi Thozhudu ; Manatthinal sindithu,
Pray, Sing His praise, Do archana, Meditate on Him
Varuttamum theerndu - Magizhndu
Let go of all your personal worries, Be happy and confident
Aiyamum pichaium andanaiyum kai kaati
Do Charity;

2. Praatikoolya Varjanam

Seyyadana Seyyom
We shall not do anything unbecoming

3. Maha Viswasam:

Naarayanane namakke parai [Moksham] Tharuvan –
Narayanane tharuvan; No other can give

4. Goptrutva Varanam:

Sengan Siruchiride Enmel vizhiyavo ; Kan irandum kondu engal mel nokkudiyel
- Oh Lord, Please bless us with your Kripa Drishti
Engalmel chaapam izhindu - Please remove all our sins
Yam vanda kaariyam aarayndu, aruli - Please consider our prayers, please bless us
Unnai Archithu vandom, parai tharudiyaagil—We had prayed you for Grant of Moksham

5. Visualize Sriman Narayana coming to you:
Seeriyasingam theevzhithu - veri mayirponga eppadum perndudari
moori nimirndu, muzhangi purappatu podaruma pole
Visualize that Lord Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha comes down and blesses you

6. Then do Saranagati and Pray:

Siru kale vandu; unnai sevitthu; un potramarai adiye potrum porul kelai
We came in the morning and prayed at your lotus feet, please know our purpose.
Kutreval engali kollamal pogade - All we request is: Please accept our Kainkaryams
Etraikkum, Ezezhpiravikkum unthannodu utrome yavom
Please bless us to have uninterrupted and permanent relationship with You
Unakke Nam aatcheyvom
We shall serve you and you alone
Matrai nam kamangal matru
Please banish all other desires in us for material objects

Thus Thiruppavai is a simple enactment of Saranagathi with detailed instructions for our benefit by Sri Andal.

In conclusion, let us listen to Sri Vedanta Desika

We all know that Prapatti has to be done through our Acharyas. Therefore, no discussion on Prapatti can be complete without prostrating before our Acharyas and listening to them as to how to do Prapatti. In this context, I bring to the readers of Ahobila Vaani the guidelines of Swamy Vedanta Desika as to How to do Prapatti.

Swamy Desika mentions Prapatti as “Nyasam” and he has written a number of Granthams on Nyasa. The shortest among these is Nyasa Dasakam consisting of only 10 slokas. Let us briefly go through these 10 Slokas and benefit from the advice of Sri Vedanta Desika on How to do Prapatti.

Sloka 7:
Swamin, I realise that all that I have so far considered as mine, are actually Yours. Please therefore accept me, mine and my Kainkaryams with Your full kind heart. I have nothing more to place at your disposal since all are already Yours. ………...[ The 1st step to Prapatti]

Sloka 1:
I surrender myself at the lotus feet of Emperuman. I recognise that I am subservient to Lord. I Surrender the responsibilities for my protection to the Lord. I also surrender whatever benefits that arise because of my existence in this world to the Lord.

Sloka 2:
Swamin, I am incapable of observing any other path for Moksha and therefore I surrender before You. [Aakinchanyam] All I will say is I would perform only those duties that pleases you [Anukulya Sankalpam] and I will not violate the codes of conduct prescribed by you [Pratikulya varjanam]. I have total faith in You [Maha viswasam] and I surrender at Your lotus feet the total responsibilities for my protection with this Prayer [Goptrutva Varanam].

Sloka 3:
Swamin, You have blessed me with the Knowledge that I am now under complete protection of Sriman Narayana and You have relieved me of any worries about my protection. Swamin, You are my Lord. Whatever knowledge I have, whatever I do, whatever result they produce are all Yours and Your acts. [This is Karthrutva thyagam, mamata tyagam and phala tyagam].

Sloka 9:
I had been leading a life of sins so far. I had not been doing the Karmas prescribed for me and had been transgressing the Saastras by doing prohibited acts so far. Swamin, the power of Pardon from You alone can destroy my accumulated sins.

Sloka 8:
Swamin, You are my only protector from now on. Out of your compassion, please destroy all my accumulated sins and guide me not to commit any sin any more.

Sloka 6:
Swamin, all that I want to do from now on is flawless Kainkaryam to You in a manner that would please the Divya Dampathis.

Sloka 5:
Swamin, please guide me from now on that I do not indulge in any act that is against Saastras and also guide me to spend rest of my life doing uninterrupted service to You . Let me give up all those acts that benefit myself. Let my only goal from now on be to attain You.

Sloka 4:
Swamin, I have performed my Bhara Nyasam at Your sacred feet. Please grant me the boon of reaching Sri Vaikuntam at the end of my stay in this world so that I can move over there and do my uninterrupted Nitya Kainkaryam to You daily.

Sloka 10:
Swamin, You have Yourself caused the execution of Bhara Nyasam for me at Your sacred feet. You have now accepted the responsibilities of my protection. I am therefore freed of any worries about my protection. I will therefore lead a life of Prapanna from now onwards with all peace of mind and tranquillity. Relieved of the cycle of Samsara, I will now devote myself to the Bliss of Kainkaryam to the Divya Dampathis.

In Conclusion:

Let us all recite the above “Nyasa Dasakam” written so briefly for us by Sri Vedanta Desika, in our Daily Prayers so that we remind ourselves of the Spirit of Bhara Nyasam daily and live our lives in the same spirit daily.

Know about Alwars

Sri Nammalwar and Sri Nathamunigal

Swamy Nammalwar was born on the 43rd day of kali yuga, on Vaikasi Visakam in Thiru kurugoor. Since the current year is 5108th year of Kaliyuga, Swamy Nammalwar was born 5108 years before. The new born child was totally different from general human nature. It did not open its eyes, did not cry and did not eat. The distressed parents took the child to the Temple and surrendered to God. The child grew in years but did not speak to any one and sat motion– less under a Tamarind Tree in the Temple.
All these 16 years, Swamy Nammalwar was doing penance and finally Vishwaksenar from Sri Vaikuntam appeared before him and initiated him through Pancha Samskaram and gifted him with Sacred Mantras.
Swamy Nammalwar then made his profound writings and composed the following:
1.Thiruviruttam— as the essence of Rig Veda
2.ThiruvAsiriyam— as the essence of Yajur Veda
3.Periya ThiruvandhAdhi as the essence of Atharva Veda
4.ThiruvAimozhi— as the essence of Sama Veda

Swamy Nammalwar is also known as Satagopa. Sata is said to be the Maya that engulfs every human being immediately after one’s birth. Sri Nammalwar resisted the Sata and hence is called Satagopa.

After living for 35 years, Swamy Nammalwar wished to reach the Abode of Sriman Narayana and before the eyes of his discipline, Sri Madhurakavi, he became one with God.

From the History, we know that new religions were born and Emperors like Ashoka propagated these new religions and Sanatana Dharma was not patronized. Later with foreign invasions taking place, many of our Granthas were lost to us and even the 4000 Divya Prabandhams were lost to us. In 9th Century AD, Sri Nathamunigal did penance invoking Swami Nammalwar and Swami Nammalwar appeared before him and gave Upadesam of all the 4000 Divya Prabandhams. Thus for the Tamil Vedam we have today, we have to be very grateful to Swamy Nammalwar and Sri Nathamunigal.
The Thirunakshatram of Sri Nammalwar is celebrated on the day of Visakam in every Vaikasi Month. A grand 10 day festival is celebrated in Alwar Thirunagari which every Srivaishna must attend at least once in a life time. The speciality of this festival is :

Alwar Thirunagari is surrounded by Nava Thiruppathis, i.e. Nine Divya Desams. On the fifth day of this Festival, Emperumans from all the 9 Thiruppathis arrive at Alwar Thirunagar and are received by Swami Nammalwar. And on that day, every Emperumal is seen on Garuda Vahana and you will have the rare Darshan of 9 Garuda Sevai with Swami Nammalwar in Hamsa Vahanam and Sri Madhurakavi Alwar in Pallakku. A rare event for any Sri Vaishnava, indeed.

Sri Peria Alwar

King Vallabha deva was the Pandian king who was ruling the country with headquarters at Madurai. He used to take inspection rounds in the night. During one of his rounds, he saw a Brahmin sitting in a Mandap. He enquired who he was and wherefrom he had come, etc. When he came to know that he was a scholar, the king asked him to share with him a worthy philosophy. The scholar said :

To be comfortable in the night we earn during the day. To be comfortable in the old age, we earn during youth. To be comfortable in the future, we earn during the present. To be comfortable in the other world what are we doing in this world?

This question made the king to ponder. He shared his thoughts with his ministers. During discussions, the subject matter shifted to the question as to whom we should worship now to give us everlasting happiness in Moksha. One of his counsellers, Selva Nambi, suggested to the King to congregate Scholars from all philosophies and determine as to who is the Supreme God. The king agreed to the suggestion and ordered that due announcements may be made inviting learned people to attend the congregation and participate in the debate. The king also offered a bag containing gold coins as reward to the winner.

Vishnu Chitta was the fifth son of his parents – Mukunda and Padma. He was leading a simple life in Srivilliputhur plucking flowers and making garlands for the daily worship of Sri Vatapatra sayee, the presiding deity of the Temple. One day, he had a dream in which Sri Vatapatra sayee appeared and ordered him to proceed to Madurai to participate in the debate announced by the King Vallabha Deva.

Obeying the divine orders, Vishnu Chitta proceeded to Madurai and participated in the debate. The debate began, As Vishnu Chitta started speaking, the fundamental vedantic philosophy floated out of his lips due to the divine inspiration. Vishnu Chitta explained to the august assembly that Vishnu is Narayana and that He is the Parabrahma, the beginning and end of all creation, He proved to the satisfaction of every one in the assembly that one can attain Moksha only with the Krupa / Blessing of Sriman Narayana. Right at that time, the bag containing the gold coins which was hung atop the Hall, fell on the lap of Vishnu Chitta signifying the correctness of the statement made by him in the congregation. This miracle occurred to prove that Vishnu Chitta was the undoubted victor. The entire assembly stood up in reverential devotion and threw themselves at the feet of Vishnu Chitta.

The King celebrated this event by taking a procession in the streets of Madurai with Perialwar on the Royal elephant. Lord Sriman Narayana wanted to witness this event personally and so He appeared on the skies with His Consorts, on Garuda. Just as a mother would like to protect her beautiful child from the Dhrushti of people around, Perialwar, was afraid that all people's Dhrushti might affect the Lord appearing brilliantly on the skies, He immediately burst out singing Pallandu, Pallandu.., using the bells on the elephant for metre, blessing the Lord. This is the famous Thiruppallandu.

Vishnu Chitta was the only Alwar who sang blessing the God Himself. Because of his Parental affection on God, Lord chose him to be His father in law, by marrying his daughter Andal. Hence among all Alwars, he is known as Peria Alwar.

Sri Andal

Though most of us know the Andal Vaibhavam, may be it is time to make the young people know about Sri Andal. Here is a brief narrative about Sri Andal for their information.

As Sita was found by king Janaka while tilling the land for doing yagna, Vishnuchitha found the divine girl child under a Tulasi plant while he was tending his nandavana(garden) in Srivilliputhur. Sri Vishnuchitha, a great vedic scholar, poet, a Vishnu devotee and also known as Periyazhvar brought her up in simple and godly surroundings natural to a pious, vedic Brahmin. The child prodigy thus fostered lovingly grew into a beautiful maiden and became an embodiment of love for Sri Krishna.

Being a devotee of Lord Vishnu, Vishnuchitha would weave a garland of tulasi leaves daily and keep it sacredly rolled in a flower basket so that he may, after attending to his other course, take the garland later to the temple for offering to the lord. The child Andal in her profound innocence would take out the garland daily without her father's knowledge, adorn herself and look into the mirror to satisfy herself whether she was suitable bride to the lord and then would remove the garland and place it in the basket in its original form. This was going on for days and without actually knowing that his daughter had adorned the garland around herself, Vishnuchitha would offer this to the deity who wore it beatifically.

One day to his surprise, Vishnucitha saw the child wearing the garland before he could take it to the temple. He was shocked for he considered this as a great defilement. He remonstrated her for this act. He fasted that day and did not offer the garland to the Lord and remained all repentant.

But lo! What a surprise? At night, the Lord appearing in dreams asked Vishnuchitha, why he did not offer the Tulasi Garland at the Temple that day? The Lord said to Vishnuchitha that he was ever eager to have the Garland touched by His devotee. He said “Think not Andal to be a mere mortal.” To his wonder Vishnuchitha found that the Tulasi mala worn on the previous day by Andal had not faded, but was fresher than a freshly made garland. Thereafter, he offered the garland to the deity after being worn by Andal. And this is the reason why Sri Andal is also respectfully remembered as Soodi Kodutha Nachiar. Sri Andal is also called “Kodai” in Tamil, meaning, “Sweet Garland”.

Thirumangai Alwar

The star Krittikai in the month of Kaarttikai is an auspicious day for all Sri Vaishnavas for it is the birth star of one of their most revered saints, Tirumangai Alvar. He is the second most prolific author among the 12 Alvars, next only to Nammalvar.

In his early days Thirumangai Mannan, a small king himself, was a man of the sword, At that time Lord Narayana was far from his thoughts. His spiritual journey started with a commitment he made to his sweetheart Kumudavalli in exchange for her hand in marriage. While most women may have asked for her lover’s everlasting love, or a diamond ring, or a gold bangle, all that lady Kumudavalli sought from Tirumangai was that he must wear the marks of Sri Vaishnava and serve food for 1,000 Vaishnavas everyday for a period of one year. This service, initiated as a price for love, turned into a divine love towards the devotees of Lord Narayana. Days rolled by. Tirumangai spent all his wealth in the service of Vaishnavas. With his coffers empty, Tirumangai could not continue the service. That made him take to robbery.

Now Lord Narayana decided to intervene and turn Tirumangai away from the evil ways of robbery. He and Mahalakshmi appeared before Tirumangai as a newly wed couple bedecked with priceless ornaments. Tirumangai stopped the couple and forcibly relieved them of all the jewelry. But, there was one piece on our Lord's toe that wouldn't come off however much Tirumangai tried. In frustration Tirumangai put his head on the lotus feet of our Lord with the intention of biting the ring off. At that moment Tirumangai was drawn in by the beauty of the lotus feet and realized the true nature of the couple standing in front of him. The Lord then taught him the meaning of "Tirumanthram". Thus Tirumangai Mannan had his Acharya in Lord Narayana Himself!

Tirumangai immediately went on to sing the poem ``Periya Tirumozhi'' consisting of 1,084 verses. In these Pasurams, our Alwar declares that he was free from all the sins and felt assured of the ever lasting bliss at the lotus feet of Sriman Narayana. The first ten of these verses are dedicated to the name ``Narayana''. These first 10 emotional verses even today have the power of those who strayed in their youth. Tirumangai in his Pasurams comes down hard on himself with intense self criticism for the violence he had caused and for having squandered his days on mundane pursuits. He ends each of the ten verses with a celebration of the divine name Narayana, These verses will bring emotional tears of longing for the lotus feet of Lord Narayana in the eyes of any Vaishnava.

Thirumangai Alwar visited various Divya Desams and offered his Mangalasaasanam. In particular he offered his Mangalasaasanam before Lord Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha at Sri Ahobilam.

History of Srivaishnavism

Swamy Nammalwar’s Thirunakshatram falls on 19.5.08 and Sri Ramanuja Jayanthi falls on May 9, 2008. On this auspicious occasion we need know that Swamy Nammalwar is the Kootasthar, i.e. Head of Sri Vaishnavism and Sri Ramanuja was the Sthapaka of our Srivaishnava Siddhantam. In this article let us learn about the History of Sri Srivaishnava Siddhantam.

Swamy Nammalwar was born on the 42nd day of Kaliyuga, just missing Sri Krishna by 42 days. He did penance, had the Darshan of Vishwaksena, gifted us with his Pasurams in praise of Lord and conveyed to us the Glory of Sriman Narayana.

Swami Nammalwar was followed by other Alwars who also sang in praise of Lord. But then all these treasures were being passed on from one generation to another by word of mouth and through palm leaves. And over centuries most of these were lost.

824 AD: In this Scenario, our Poorvacharya, Sri Nathamuni went on a long pilgrimage. In one Divya Desam he met some Sri Vaishnavas who were reciting some Paasurams composed by Swamy Nammazhvar. He heard the 11th paasuram ending with "orayirathhul ippathum….". This meant "these ten poems out of the one thousand composed by Sadakopan of Kurugoor” Then Sri Nathamuni asked those Srivaishnavas whether they knew the rest of the thousand paasurams. They answered with a "No". In search of the remaining poems, Sri Nathamuni went to Kurugoor and enquired about the remaining Poems. Not able to make much headway, he did severe Tapasya praying Swamy Nammalwar. As a result of this Tapasya, Sri Nathamuni not only got the 1000 verses composed by Sri Nammalwar, but also received the entire Divya Prabandham composed by other Alwars. Sri Nathamuni then compiled all these Prabandhams together and made arrangements for these hymns to be sung in the temples as Tamil Veda.

This Srivaishnavite treasure passed hands from Sriman Nathamunigal to his Sishya, Shri Uyyakondar. Then to his Sishya, Sri Manakkal Nambi. Then it was passed on to Sri Nathamuni’s Grand son, Sri Alavandar. Sri Alavandar was teaching these to his Sishyas Peria Nambi and others at Srirangam.

1017 AD -- Sri Ramanuja was born. He was born during a time when Sankara's Advaita was the dominant philosophical force. Sri Ramanuja received his primary education from the Advaita teacher, Sri Yadava Prakasa. During the course of Education, Sri Ramanuja was more influenced by Sri Vaishnava Siddhantam and often disagreed with his Advaita Teacher Sri Yadava Prakasa over interpretation of various principles. The differences between them became so intense that both parted ways.

During this period, Sri Alavandar visited Kanchi and was impressed by the Sri Ramanuja’s knowledge, eminence and his daily service to Lord Sri Varadaraja. Later, in Srirangam, when Alavandar fell ill and he asked Periyanambi to go to Kancheepuram and bring Ramanuja to pass on his heritage.

Perianambi met Sri Ramanuja at Madhurantakam on way to Kancheepuram. At Madurantakam the two learned men met and had discussions. Sri Ramanuja was impressed with the erudite knowledge of Sri Peria Nambi and requested him to do Samasrayanam to him. Thereafter, both reached Srirangam. But as fate would have it, Sri Alavandar died before Ramanuja could reach Srirangam.

Sri Ramanuja promised to the departed soul that he would fulfill his wishes of carrying forward the Srivaishnava Philosophy.

This point in Ramanuja's life is really the beginning of his long life as a philosopher and preacher within the school of Sri Vaisnavism. He was now 40 years old and he decided to spend the remaining years of his life studying, writing and preaching Sri Vaisnava philosophy.

Sri Ramanuja settled in Srirangam and started writing and preaching. Daily hundreds of people flocked to him to hear his lectures. Slowly he had a following of thousands of followers, who revered him as their Guru. Ramanuja's fame quickly spread far and wide. He had converted thousands of people to the path of devotion. And he was now seventy years old.

What would have been the end of a long career for most people was just the beginning for Sri Ramanuja. He was destined to live for many more years.

Sri Ramanuja completed is famous Sri Bhashya and established the Vishishtadvaita principles of Sri Vaisnavism. He proclaimed to the people the doctrines of devotion and surrender, Bhakti and Prapatti to God.

Sri Ramanuja continued his work for many more years and made several religious works. His works include Vedanta Sangraha; · Sri Bashyam ; · Gita Bashyam ; · Vedanata Dipa ; Vedanta Sara ; Saranagathi Gadya ; Sriranga Gadya ‘ · Srivaikunta Gadya ; and Nitya Granta .

At his advanced age, he traveled far and wide up to Kashmir and appointed 74 Simhasanadhipatis to propagate the principles of Vishishtadvaita. He finally closed his long career after attaining the remarkable age of 120 years.

The story of Ramanujacharya is actually the story Sri Vaisnavism. The Sri Vaishnavite world is very much indebted to Sri Ramanuja. And in our Temple, we are celebrating the Annual Thirunakshatram of Sri Ramanuja over a period of 5 days starting from 5.5.08. There would be Sevakalam every day in honour of our Acharya.

In reverence to our Great Acharya, please make it a point to associate yourself in this Great Celebration of Thirunakshatram of our Greatest Acharya on 9.5.2008.

And in another 9 years, we would be celebrating the 1000th Thirunakshatram of Sri Ramanuja. And with the Blessings of Sri Prahlada Varada, Sri Mahalakshmi, Sri Ramanuja and Srimad Azhagiyasingar, we all are sure to be participating in the Grand 1000th Thirunakshatram Festival of Sri Ramanuja in the year 2017.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Know about Srimad Azhagiyasingars

Sri Adivan Satakopan

Sri Kidambi Srinivasacharya was born on Purattasi Kettai in 1379 at Thirunarayanapuram [Melkote], near Mysore. He had his initial learning and Pancha Samskaram from his illustrious father Sri Srinivasacharya. He studied Sastras and Vedanta under the Great Teacher Ghatikasatam Ammal at Kanchipuram. By the age of 20, he became a scholar and won fame as a great exponent of Ramanuja Darsana, i.e. Visishtadvaita Philosophy.

One day Sri Kidambi Srinivasacharya had a dream in which Lord Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha appeared and invited him to come to Ahobilam. Considering the Dream as call of Divine , he directly proceeded to Ahobilam and worshipped before the Divya Moorthi of Lord Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha. While he was praying before the Lord, suddenly he saw an old Sanyasi before him with a Divya Jyothi on his face. Sri Kidambi Srinivasacharya was attracted by the Divya Jyothi of the Great Sanyasi and prostrated before him.

The Divine Sanyasi then initiated Sri Kidambi Srinivasacharya into the ascetic order and gave him the religious name of Satakopa Yatindra Mahadesikan. He then asked him to take with him the Divya Moorthi of Sri Malola from the Temple and travel throughout India and propagate Vishistadvaita School of Philosophy as propounded by Swami Alavandar, Sri Ramanuja and Sri Vedanta Desika. Sri Satakopa Yatindra Mahadesikan now prayed before Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha for further orders. And to the astonishment of Sri Satakopa Yatindra Mahadesikan, Sri Malola Moorthi of Ahobilam suddenly appeared on his hands.

With this divine incident, he knew his further duties. He decided to undertake his Pada yatra traveling all over India with Sri Malola Murthy for propagating Vishistadvaita Philosophy. Before commencing his Divine duties, Sri Satakopa Yatindra Mahadesikan, carrying the idol of Sri Malola first went to Alwar Thirunagari to have the blessings of our first earthly Acharya, Sri Swamy Nammalwar. There he received the Title “Adivan” and from then on, he was known as Adivan Satakopa Yatindra Mahadesikan.

The religious order founded by Sri Adivan Satakopa Yatindra Mahadesikan is known as Sri Ahobila Mutt and Sri Adivan Satakopa Yatindra Mahadesikan is the founder of Sri Ahobila Mutt, being its first Azhagiasingar. Thus, this itinerant temple on the move, Sri Ahobila Mutt was born on Bahudhanya Year on Shukla Panchami day corresponding to a Thursday in September 1398. Having started functioning in the year 1398, the Mutt has been functioning for over 600 years now.

And over the ages, Sri Ahobila Mutt has been presided over by 45 Matadhipatis so far, each one of them revered as Azhagiasingar.

The present Pontiff, His Holiness the 45th Azhagiasingar is “Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha Divya Paduka Sevaka Srivan Satakopa Sri Narayana Yathidra Mahadesikan”, a great proponent of Vishistadvaita Philosophy.

Srimad Adivan Satakopan ensured that the following were carried out during his time:

Writing of Books on many topics including those titled Pitru Medha Saram, Dasa Nirnayam, Aasoucha satakam, Aasoucha Nirnayam, Kanta Bhushanam, etc.

Establishment of Sri Nigamantha Maha Desikan Temple at Thooppul and Consecration of Swami Desika’s Idol there.

Establishment of Ahobila Mutts at Thirunarayanapuram, Srirangam, Azwar Thirunagari, etc.

Construction of Gopurams, Mandapams, etc. in Temples such as Thirunarayanapuram, Srirangam, etc.

It is said that Sri Manavala Mamunigal obtained Presha Mantra Upadesam and Sanyasa Ashramam from Sri Adivan Satakopan .

Srimad Adivan Satakopan lived for 79 years. After being as Azhagiyasingar for 59 years 7 months, he attained the lotus feet of Sriman Narayana in April 1458, i.e. in the Month of Chittirai, Krishna Paksha, Ekadasi that fell on a Saturday.

The Brindavanam of Srimad Adivan Satakopan is in Thirunarayanapuram / Melkote and the same is under renovation now.

2nd Azhagiyasingar

Sri Swamy, who succeeded Sri Adivan Satakopan in the year 1458 was Sri Thirumalai Nampakkam Krishnamacharyar Swami who on his becoming Azhagiyasingar, took the name of Srivan Satakopa Sriman Narayana Yateendra Mahadesikan.

He was born on Avani Kettai, but the exact year of birth is not known. He wrote about sixty Books, some of which are: Thiru Aaradhana Kramam, Nyasa Dasaka Vyakhyanam, Sandhya Bhashyam, etc. He also did the Prathishta of the Vigraham of Sri Adivan Satakopan in the Thirunarayanapuram Temple at Melkote.

In those days of no mechanical means of transportation, he also extensively traveled and propagated the Visishtadvaita Siddhantam of Sri Ramanuja and Sri Vedanta Desika.

Fourteen years and eleven months after he became the 2nd Azhagiyasingar, Srivan Satakopa Sriman Narayana Yateendra Mahadesikan, attained Acharyan Thiruvadi on a Krishna Dwiteeyai in the month of Panguni in the year 1473.

The Brindavanam of this Azhagiyasingar also is at Thirunarayanapuram.

3rd Azhagiyasingar

Sri Kanthadai Krishna Yajwa of Malayankolattur became the third Jeer in March 1473 and took the name of Sri Parankusa Yatheendra Mahadesikan. His Thirunakshatram falls on Thiruivonam of Thai month.

He spent his days in teaching Sribhashya and Srimath Rahasyathrayasara to numerous disciples at Kancheepuram. His contribution was the creation of Srivaishna Agraharams at Neeralur, Uragadam, Nemmily, Kadankarai, Pilaaputh and Kalathur. He attained Acharyan Thiruvadi at Srimushnam in January 1485 after serving Lord Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha for 11 years and 10 months.

4th Azhagiyasingar

The fourth Jeeyar Sri Srinivasa Yatheendra Mahadesika who became Azhagiyasingar in January 1485 needs special mention as he was the first to undertake Padayathra to far away places in the North, such as Ayodhya, Gokul and Brindavan. He settled down at Singar Kovil spreading the message of Ramanuja and Vedantha Desika. His Thirunakshatram falls on Chitra star in the month of Margazhi.

As he was attaining old age, one day, the Lord appeared in his dream saying, 'Sarvathanthra Swathanthra’ would be his successor. Sri Lakshmeenarasimha similarly appeared in the dream of one Kandalur Swami asking him to proceed immediately to the fourth Jeer's camp. They exchanged the substance of their respective dream messages and the Sanyasa Asrama was given to him. Kandalur Swami was then duly installed as the fifth Jeer bearing the Asrama name Sarvathanthra Swathanthra Satakopa Yatheendra Mahadesikan.

The brevity of the above narrations is due to the fact that we are unable to access centuries old records and I humbly seek pardon of our Purvacharyas for not placing here their life history in greater detail.

5th Azagiyasingar:

Sarvathanthra Swathanthra Yatindra Mahadesikan was the 5th Azhagiyasingar. He was born in Kandalur in the Karthikai month on the day of Krittika Star. This is the Thirunakshatram Day of Thirumangai Alwar. He was an erudite person with Pandityam in all Shastras and he was popularly known as “Sarvathanthra Swatantrar” even among Vidwans of the day. He became Azhagiyasingar in April 1493 and he was greatly influencing the Bhagavathas in those days by his Scholarly Discourses on Sri Bhashyam and other religious Scriptures. He did Mangalasasanam in many of the Divya Desams in the south and traveled to North via Tirupati. But when he was spending his time on the shores of Krishna River, he attained Paramapadam in January 1499.

6th Azhagiyasingar:

Sri Vidwan Vankeepuram Venkatacharya Swamy took his birth in Karalappakkam Agraharam near Tiruvellore in Thai Poorattadi. He ascended the Throne of Azhagiyasingar in January 1499. This Azhagiyasingar is very popularly known as Shashta Parankusa Yateendra Mahadesikan. Many learned personalities of those years became Sishyas of this Great Acharya who traveled extensively doing Mangalasaasanam in many Divya Desams and propagating Sri Ramanuja Darshanam among the masses through his discourses. He was the first Azhagiyasingar to do Mangalasaasanam at Badarikasramam.

On one night Lord Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha appeared in the Dream of this Azhagiyasingar and ordered that he come over and stay in the Bilam [Cave] where the Lord Himself lives and do the Nithya Aaradhana to Him. Accordingly, Sri Shashta Parankusa Swamy gave the Sanyasa Ashrama to Ilangadu Kavitha Saarvabhouma Sikamani and entered the Caves in February 1513. It is said that this Acharya is still alive and is doing the Nithya Aaradhana of Lord Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha till date in that Cave.

7th Azagiyasingar:

Born on the Tirunakshatram of Sri Nammalwar, i.e. Vaikasi Visakam, this Acharya became Azhagiyasingar in the young age of 25. He travelled widely propagating the Visishtadvaita Siddhanta and he worte the very famous “Vasantika Parinayam”, copies of which were recently republished by Sri Ahobila Mutt. A few copies of this Book are also available in our Temple. This Acharya was such a great personality that he was titled “Satalekhini Lekhanuguna Kavita Durandhara Kavitaarkikakhanteerava Srivan Satakopa Sri Satakopa Yateendra Maha Desikan”. He attained Paramapadam in April 1522.

8th Azhagiyasingar:

Sri Parankusa Yateendra Maha Desikan was our 8th Azhagiyasingar. He became Azhagiyasingar in April 1522. He generally stayed in Srirangam and did Mangalasaasanam of Lord Sri Ranganatha daily. He propagated the Ramanuja Siddhanta by rendering Nitya Kaalakshepam on Sri Bhashya and other Sri Vaishnava Granthas among Sishyas. He was Azhagiyasingar for more than 15 years .

9th Azhagiyasingar:

Sriman Narayana Yateendra Maha Desikan was the 9th Azhagiyasingar . He ascended the throne on the Poornima Day in January 1538. He did Mangalasaasanam in various Divya Desams and delivered discourses at these Places for the benefit of Sishyas and Aasthikas. He also did the Kainkaryam of constructing various facilities in the Temples he visited. He attained Paramapadam in July 1542.

10th Azagiyasingar:

Similar to 7th Azhagiyasingar, this Azhagiyasingar too was born on the Tirunakshatram of Sri Nammalwar, i.e. Vaikasi Visakam. He came to Asthanam in July 1542 and took the name of Sri Satakopa Yateendra Maha Desikan. After ascending the Throne, he traveled to Thiru Venkatam [Thirupathi] and did Mangalasaasanam at the temple of Lord Srinivasa. From there he traveled to Tiruvellore, Kanchipuram and Srirangam and worshipped the Divyadesa Emperumans at the respective Temples. After spreading the message of Sri Ramanuja Darsanam at various places, he traveled to Thirunarayanapuram and stayed there for a number of years giving discourses. While at Thirunarayanapuram, he attained Paramapadam in July 1559.

11th Azagiyasingar:

Our 11th Azhagiyasingar, Sri Srinivasa Yateendra Mahadesikan, hailed from Thiruvallore. He ascended the throne in the month of July 1559. He started his Vijaya Yatra from Thirunarayanapuram to Srirangam performing Mangalasaasanam enroute at various Divyadesams such as Tirupati, Kanchipuram etc. He stayed in Srirangam and spent a few years imparting religious education to many Asthikas and Sishyas. After a few years of stay in Srirangam, he again undertook Vijya Yatra and visited many Divyadesams . He remained Azhagiyasingar for more than 38 years and travelled across the country spreading the message of Sri Ramanuja Sidhanta among the masses. He attained Paramapadam in April, 1958 in Srirangam.

12th Azhagiyasingar :

Sriman Narayana Yateendra Mahadesikan was our 12th Azhagiyasingar. He hailed from Tiruvallore. This Azhagiyasingar ascended the throne in April 1598 at Srirangam. As in the case of many of his predecessor, this Azhagiyasingar too visited Thirunarayanapuram. There he stayed in the Brindavanam of Sri Adivan Satakopan for many years teaching his disciples the various Vedanta Granthas. Though he too traveled in between, to various Divya Kshetrams, he returned back to Thirunarayanapuram and attained Paramapadam there in September 1632.

13th Azhagiyasingar :

His Holiness Sri Veeraraghava Yatindra Mahadesikan was our 13th Azagiya singar. He was born in Tiruvellore. He became Azhagiyasingar in September 1632. After ascending the throne in Thirunarayanapuram, as per the tradition, he traveled to various Divya Desams including Srirangam. He stayed at Thirumal Irum Solai for a considerable time. When he was in Alwar Thirunagari, he had a Dream in which Sri Nammalwar appeared and desired that he may teach Bhagavad Vishayam to Sri Vaishnavas. In response to this divine desire, Srimad Azhagiyasingar stayed in Alwar Thirunagari for more than a year imparting religious education to many Sri Vaishnavas on Bhagavad Vishayam. He attained Paramapadam in the year 1676 in Srirangam after doing religious service for over 44 years.

14th Azhagiyasingar :

His Holiness Sriman Narayana Yatindra Mahadesikan is our 14th Azhagiya singar. He was born in Pullaboothangudi near Kumbakonam. He became Azhagiyasingar in October 1676. While he too traveled widely similar to his predecessors and did Mangalasaasanam at various Divya Kshetras, one of the most valuable gifts he left behind for all of us is his Kriti titled Acharya Gunaadarsam. In this Book, Srimad Azhagiyasingar extensively explained for our knowledge about our Guru Parampara and its richness in terms of their holy contribution to our Siddhanta. After doing his holy religious service for nearly 10 years, He attained Paramapadam in the year 1686 in Thirukkandiyur.

15th Azhagiyasingar :

The fifteenth Azhagiyasingar was born on Thai Chitra Star at Esanur Agraharam near Kanchipuram. He was a very great Pandita in those days with large following even in his Poorvashramam. When the 14th Azhagiyasingar attained Paramapadam in the year 1686, this Acharya was requested to become the next Azhagiyasingar. Thus in August 1686, this Azhagiyasingar came to the pattam in Thirukkandiyur and assumed the name of Sri Kalyana Veeraraghava Yatindra Mahadesikan. He started his Vijaya Yatra from Thirukkandiyur and visited many Divya Desams propagating the Visishtadvaita Siddhanta. Having been already a great Bhakta of Varadaraja Perumal at Kanchipuram, he stayed in Kanchipuram for a few years and was giving Kalakshepam. And there he attained Paramapadam in the year 1694 after adorning the throne of Srimad Azhagiyasingar for more than 8 years.

16th Azhagiyasingar :

Sri Satakopa Yateendra Mahadesikan was our 16th Azhagiyasingar. He was born in the Sokattur Agraharam in the neighborhood of Kanchipuram. He ascended the throne of Srimad Azhagiyasingar in the year 1694. This Azhagiyasingar was a Parangatha in many Dharmasastras and Darshana literature. Many learned and highly respected personalities became Sishyas of this Azhagiyasingar and learned our Sidhanta anew. In the August 2007 issue of this Newsletter, we carried an article under the title “Unbelievable Feat” about a book titled “Raghava Yadaveeyam” written by one Sri Arasanipalai Venkatadhwari Swami. Even this erudite scholar became the Sishya of this Azhagiyasingar and studied under his guidance many Darshana Granthas. This Scholarly Azhagiyasingar after reinvigorating the Asthikas, attained Paramapadam in the year 1698.

44th Azhagiyasingar

Under Sri Devanarvilagam Alagiasingar - 43rd in this illustrious line - Sri Rajagopala Ayyangar was serving as the Asthana Vidwan. He accompanied the Jeeyar on his tour of the North. The Jeeyar observed his 'Chaturmasya Sankalpam' at Risikesh. Soon after, the Jeeyar fell ill and passed away on 24.11.1957 at Naimisaranyam. At this critical moment in Math's history,

Sri Rajagopala Ayyangar swami assumed the Sanyasasrama in the asterism in November 1957 - and was installed on 6.12.1957 at Naimisaranya as the 44th Jeeyar. He assumed the name - Sri Vedanta Desika Yatheendra Mahadesikan.

Like Sri Vedanta Desika, Srimad Azhagiyasingar composed several works of great merit. Some of them are "Dayasagarasataka, Panchamrita Stotra, Brahmasootra Vivarana (565 slokas), Tiruppavai Subodhini, Lakshmeenrishimha Mangalam, Lakshmeenrisimha Karavalambam, Dwadasa Stotram, Karana Samarpana Santhanam, Injimedu Alagiasingar Mangalam and Sadhupadesa. Under his stewardship, Sri Ahobila Mutt witnesses spectacular growth.

The 44th Swami constructed Brindavan in Naimisaranya for his predecessor, built a rest house and renovated the Rajagopurams of Upper Ahobilam and Adanoor. The Samprokshanam at Upper Ahobilam was performed on 30th June 1978. During his time, several shrines were spruced up, viz. Mukkur Temple, Kanchi Nammalvar sannidhi - Thayar Sannidhi at Injimedu Temple, Chaitra Brahmotsava mandapa, the tank at Tiruvellore, Tiruvaheendrapuram Ahobila Math and Pullabhoothangudi Temple. The Sannidhi of Perumal, Sri Rama, Andal, Selvar at Trivellore were given facelift. A mirror room was also built and the Moolavar and Utsavar were adorned with costly jewellery like Muthangi and Ratnangi. The Sanskrit college at Madhurantakam- was provided with a first floor.

In 1979, the Jeeyar returned to Srirangam saying that he had been commissioned by Lord Ranganatha in a dream to complete the construction of the Rajagopuram in the Southern entrance. The structure known as 'Mottai Gopuram' had long remained incomplete. But due to his great efforts, today, the Southern Rajagopuram, attracts the viewers by its sheer size and grandeur. For ages to come, this will stand as a fitting monument to the memory of the indefatigable Jeeyar. The Swami made Srirangam his headquarters and stayed at Dasavatara Sannidhi - built by Tirumangai Alvar himself. In fact, the Jeeyar was also instrumental in founding the colony known as 'Dasavatara Nagar'.

The Jeeyar lived a full span of life. Except for a few weeks before his sad demise on the 16th August 1992 at the ripe age of 97, he was performing the aradhana himself and looking after the affairs of the math.

We Need to Nnow

1. Importance of Maha Pradosham

Evening is the time of day when the hot Sun is on the wane. A pleasant twilight envelops everything creating a reddish-golden color all around. The wind picks up the fragrance of flowers. That is the time when the chirping and tweeting birds return to their nests for a reunion with their little ones after a day in search of food. The Evening, therefore, appears to be the best part of the day, providing a great time for peace and tranquility for every one.
Peace and tranquility can occur only when human beings could observe silence. If Speech is silver, silence in golden, says the adage. The value of silence need not be over-emphasised. Generally, our tongues are continually engaged in vocalisation of some thought or the other, with scarce consideration for whether or not the listener really wants to hear it all. Sometimes, words unpalatable to others, invective, innuendos and worthless gossip also comes out of speaking. What better atonement could there be for such offences, than to refrain absolutely from talking. at least for some time? And the beneficial effects of absolute silence, if observed in all sincerity, could result in a rejuvenation of the spirit and even a communion with the God.

It is with this in view that the Shrutis enjoin upon us to devote the glorious Evening to absolute silence, to contemplation of God in blissful quiet. The Vedas tell us to practice silence daily with devotion, at sundown. Thus the Evening represents a welcome change from the constant sounds of the day to be spent in blissful contemplation of the Almighty, with all faculties focusing on Him, with the silence prescribed by the Shruti. And in these Shrutis every evening is called ‘Pradosham”.

As far as we, the Sri Vaishnavas are concerned, the Evenings have special significance. While every evening is a Pradosham, the time for silence, devotion and worship as aforesaid, there are Great Evenings that occur every fortnight, viz. “Maha Pradosham” on Thrayodasi Evening. This was the time chosen by the Lord to manifest Himself as the man-lion Nrisimha. Every evening is a glorious reminder to us of this spontaneous avatara that the Lord assumed. It was to confirm Sri Prahlada’s golden words that Hari was present everywhere, be it a blade of grass or a pillar of stone, that Sri Nrsimha popped out of a column in Hiranyakasipu’s palace, on this evening. It is to commemorate this Great Event that evenings in general [Pradosham] and Thrayadasi Evenings in particular [Maha Pradosham] are prescribed as an ideal period for the worship of our Adhbuta KesarI, Lord Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha.

All the Bhaktas are requested not to miss the Evening Worship in our Temple and more particularly, make it a point to have the Evening Darshan of Lord Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha on every Maha Pradosham Day.

2. What is Adhyayanotsavam?

We all know that we have many Sri Vaishnava temples in India. All these temples are called “Koil” in Tamil. Among all these “Koil”s, we have one “Peria Koil”, the Temple of Lord Sri Ranganatha at Srirangam, the Srivaishnavite Capital. The Lord Sri Ranganatha, the “Peria Perumal is the most sung “Perumal” by almost all Alwars and the procedures adopted in this Temple serve as the Temple Guide for all Srivaishnava Temples in the country.

Moved by the Great Kritis made by the earlier Alwars, Tirumanagai Alwar initiated the recital of the Pasurams of All Alwars then known, which convey their great Bhavad Anubhavams. He commenced this festival on Vaikunta Ekadasi and had the rendition of Pasurams of all Alwars for ten days. In his days, he made arrangements for bringing the Moorthy of Swamy Nammalwar from Alwar Thirunagari to Srirangam for rendering the Divya Prabandhams in the presence of both Swamy Nammalwar and Lord Sri Ranganatha. He concluded this festival with the “Thiruvadi Thozhudal” by Nammalwar when Emperumal would bless Alwar with Moksham.

Centuries later, Swami Alavandar made this festival to last for 20 days and called the first ten days as ‘Pagal Pattu’ and the next days as ‘Rappattu’ and included the Great Pasurams of Thirumangai Alwar also. In the later years, Acharya Sri Ramanuja codified the Peria Koil temple systems, rituals and festivals and gave special importance for conduct of this festival.

The Mogul invasion in the south in later years disturbed the Temple activities and caused the discontinuance of this festival. But after the year 1360, when the Mugal invaders were driven away, Sri Vedanta Desika re-established the Adyayanotsavam in the Temples. From then on, the Adhyayanotsavam is being celebrated in all our Sri Vaishnava Temples where all the 4000 Divya Prabandhams, Alwar’s Anubhava Grantham, is sung in the Presence of Presiding Deities.

The Divya Prabandhams composed by Alwars are the emotional outpourings, meant to be sung, not merely recited. If we refer to books on Divya Prabandham published in olden days, one would see that they were set to tunes and beats appropriate to the emotional content of each pasuram. Sri Nathamuni, our Great Acharya appears to have set the prabandas to evocative music and popularized their recital through his disciples. Swami Desikan confirms this-“Talam vazhangi Tamizh marai innisai tanda vallal”. The Lord’s preference to songs vis-à-vis prose is evident in Lord Krishna’s declaration “Vedanam Sama Vedosmi”, conveying his preference to the musical Sama Veda, to the other Vedas.

Keeping this in view, in the Peria Koil, the decendents of Sriman Nathamuni, called Araiyars, even today, “Sing” the Pasurams of Divya Prabandhams and re-enact the personal Divya Anubhavams of Alwars during this 20 day festival and the Peria Perumal sits there to attentively listen and enjoy the “Anubhavams” of Alwars. Thus this is the festival, when Emperuman takes time to sit and attentively listen to the rendering of the Alwar Pasurams.

The Vedas are like the Government Gazette. They are couched in the language of commandments, such as “Satyam vada” ; “Dharmam chara” etc., and demand implicit obedience. Divya Prabandams, on the other hand, reflect the same ideas in much softer terminology, as the Azhwars, many of them having gone through the reformation process themselves, understand our constraints and compulsions much better and speak to us in the language of love, as a mother would, to her errant child.

The Divya Prabandhams are the divine material gifted to us by God Himself. The Azhwars are the Lord’s own avataras, “Abhinava Dasavataram” in the words of Swami Desikan, coming down to the earth to reform the errant humanity. Possibly, the Lord found that His own ten Avataras had failed to have the desired impact on the defiant mortals and therefore tried next to transform the human beings by taking birth as Alwars who were apparently part of the errant humanity. Thus the Divya Prabandhams being recited during Adyayanotsavam have the Divine content written by the Divine composers to make the errant humans into Divine personalities. The Adhyayanotsavam thus is a festival essentially meant for spreading the message of Alwars.

3. What is Kaisika Ekadasi?

The significance of Kaisika Ekadasi arises out of Kaisikapuranam consisting of 82 slokas, which is a story told by Sri Varaha Perumal to Bhoodevi. The story told by Emperuman to Bhoodevi is as under:

On every Kaisika Ekadasi day, Nampaduvan, an ardent devotee of the Lord used to do Namasankeerthanam for Emperuman at Thirukurungudi. One year while on the way to Thirukurungudi, Nampaduvan was confronted by a Rakshas. This Rakshas told Nampaaduvaan that he is going to eat him. But Nampaduvan humbly said that he has to finish his duty of nama sankeerthanam and he will finish that and then come back to the Rakshas for whatever he wanted to do with him. Though initially the Rakshas did not agree, later he let Nampaduvan go. And Nampaduvan, after doing Namasankeerthanam, came back and surrendered himself to the Rakshas. Impressed by this honesty the Rakshas requested Nampaduvan to give the fruits of his Nama Sankeerthanam to the Rakshas so that he can get rid of his Rakshasa Janma and attain Heaven. Nampaduvan agreed to give the Rakshas the fruits of Namasankeerthanam as requested. Because of this, Emperuman told Bhudevi that the Rakshas attained the Heaven.

[The moral of the story is that Nama Sankeerthanam of Lord alone can help us attain Heaven].

After many thousands of years, on the Kaisika Dwadasi day Sri Parasara Bhattar who lived about 900 yrs ago chanted the Kaisika Puranam before Lord Ranganatha and the Lord was immensely pleased. To this day the descendants of Sri Parasara Bhattar chant Kaisika Puranam on Kaisika Dwadasi day to the Lord at Srirangam.

Though similar rendition is done in every temple on Kaisika Dwadasi Day, it is always a special day in the Temple at Thirukkurungudi where only the whole incident of Nampaduvan took place.

The prescribed way to celebrate Kaisika Ekadasi is to observe Fast on this day and to do Nama sankeerthanam [in Kaisika Raga which we call today as Bhairavi Raga] and read Kaisika Puraanam on the Kaisika Dwadasi day. This Puranam is the 48th chapter in Sri Varaha Puranam.

4. What is Karthigai Festival?

Karthigai Festival is also called as "the Festival of Lights". This falls in the Tamil month of Karthigai when the star Krithigai is on the ascendant which usually occurs on full moon day.

This festival is considered as the extension of the Deepavali festival. In the olden days, the people used to double the number of lamps every day from the day of Deepavali and this way, they end up with a number of lamps on the day of Karthigai Deepam.

Karthigai Deepam is the oldest festival celebrated by Tamils. Evidence from Tamil literature lets us know that this festival is one of the oldest. The oldest available Tamil Literature is Tolkappiyam dating back to 2500 BC and this Tholkappiyam gives a concise account of Karthigai festival.

Other Tamil Literatures like “Agananuuru”, "Jeevakachintamani" , 'Karnarpadu', 'Kalavazhi Narpadu' etc. of the Sangam period also carry vivid description of this festival. In "Karnarpadu", the poet describes how in the Tamil month of Karthigai, the lamps lit by people blossomed on earth, bringing rain in its wake.

On this day, people clean their houses and draw 'Kolams' (Rangoli) in front of the house and also place some lamps on it. First, they place the lamps in the puja room and light them. After the 'Deeparadhana' the lamps are moved to the different locations in the house including on the streets. Thus the lamps lit by all houses glow all over the streets.

In commemoration of this festival, at the sunset time, there would be Deeparadhana and Maha Aarti in all Temples followed by Bonfire in front of the Temple.

5. Significance of Vaikunta Ekadasi?

Vaikunta Ekadasi is a great day for Srivaishnavas who desire to reach Paramapadam. On this day, in all Srivaishnava Temples, the Paramapadavaasal is opened for the Bhaktas to enter. The most important aspect to be taken note of is that the Lord Himself leads the way through Paramapada Vasal to enter Sri Vaikuntam and the Bhaktas have to merely follow the Lord and enter the Paramapada Vaasal.

The meaning of the above is that the Lord Himself takes the role of Mumukshu, i.e. the one who desires to enter Sri Vaikuntam and leads the way to Bhaktas to follow Him.

At one time, two Rakshasas named Lokan and Kantan were rewarded for their obeying the Lord by making them Nitya Suris in Sri Vaikuntam. At that time, Lokan and Kantan pleaded to the Lord and said :

" Oh Sriman Naarayana! We have had Your blessings that made it possible for us to reside in Sri Vaikuntam and to perform nithya kaimkaryam to You. You let us in to Sri Vaikuntam by opening the northern gates of Your divine citadel on this Dhanur maasa sukla Paksha Ekadasi day. We beg you to give us another boon. Please make it possible for all the people who enter the Northern gates at all of Your consecrated temples on Earth to reach Sri Vaikuntam , at the end of their sojourn on Your earth. After reaching Your Kingdom of Sri Vaikuntam, they should also be blessed with Nithya seva Kaimkaryam like us and all other Nithya suris. ”

"Uttara Dwara Margena pravisanthi cha ye hare:
The vaikuntam imam prapya modantaam nityasoorivath"

Bhagavan Sriman Naarayana offered them this boon and also decided to show the way to Bhaktas. From that day onward , Sri Vaikunta Ekadasi Uthsavam is celebrated to help Bhakthas to enter northern gate of His temples to have the Blessings to reach Srivaikuntam at the end of one’s earthly residence.

6. Understanding Mahalayam

It is said that there are three debts to be liquidated by each one of us. They are our debts to Rishis, Devas and Pithrus.

Our debt to Rishis is to be discharged by us during Bramhacharya when one is required to study Vedas. The second debt to the Devas is discharged in Grahastha Ashrama by performing Agni Karyams through Homams prescribed for various Samskaras.

Regarding Pitru Runam, debt to Pithrus, the same gets discharged by doing Sraadham and Tarpanam. One whose parents are no more, is required to perform such rituals every year. They are: Pratyabdika Shradham, Shradhanga Parehani Tarpanam, Amavasya Tarpanam, Sankramana [Masa Pirappu] Tarpanam, Upakarma Tharpanam, Grahana Tarpanam as may occur, and Mahalaya Tarpanam, Ashtaka and Anvashtaka.

As we all know, in the current month Purattasi, we have the Mahalaya Paksham. During the Mahalaya Paksham, our Pitrus are said to descend on earth to receive the Pindam and Tilodakam being given by their descendents. When our Pitrus are here on the earth, our earth becomes a Maha Aalayam, a Great Temple for us. Hence the name Mahalayam. Our Pitrus are said to arrive here with great expectations that their children would perform the Shradhas and they could receive Tilodakas.

So, it is very necessary for every son whose parents are not alive, to perform the Mahalaya Shradham without fail. A Father performs various Samskaras for his child after he is born. At the time a son is born, the Father does the Jatakarma, etc. saying the Sankalpam as “Mama Kumaarasya…” Even when the son is getting married, at the Vratam, Fathers do the Sankalpam by saying “Mama Maanavakasya…” A son becomes eligible to be called as “Putra” only when he does the Pitru Karyam sincerely. Therefore, it is the duty of every son whose parents had left this earth, to perform all the Shraddhas, and more particularly the Mahalaya Shradham without fail because the parents are said to arrive at his Home to receive the oblations.

Those who are at places where there are no Bruhaspatis to help performance of Mahalaya Tarpanam and who want to know the procedure of performing the same are advised to look up to for detailed Mantras and Procedures.

7. Thada Festival

Margazhi is the month of Sri Andal. Sri Andal composed two works in her short life. Both are unique in their literary, philosophical, religious, and artistic content. Her contribution is even more remarkable considering that she was a teenage girl when she composed these poems, at a time when there is no other record of Tamil women composing poetry. Far from being the writings of a youngster, Sri Andal's verses display a literary and religious maturity far beyond her years.

In the month of Margazhi, Sri Andal is more remembered for her first work Thiruppavai and every day of Margazhi is identified by one of Thiruppavai Pasurams. On the 27th day of Margazhi, which is identified as the day “Koodarai”, her second work Nachiar Thirumozhi is also remembered. In her Nachiar Thirumozhi, Sri Andal said:

“Nooru Thada Nirainda Akkaravadisal sonnen
Eru Thiruvudaiyan inru vandu ivai kollumkolo!!”

This Poem of Nachiar Thirumozhi reflects the same sentiments in “Koodarai” Pasuram of Thiruppavai where Sri Andal says:

“Paal soru, Mooda Nei peidu muzhangai vazhivaara…”

In both the poems, Sri Andal presents Emperuman with Sweet rice Pongal, made from Milk, i.e. Ksheerannam. In the Poem of Nachiar Thirumozhi, above cited, Sri Andal was dreaming of presenting Ksheerannam in 100 silver vessels to the Lord of Thirumal Irum Solai i.e. to the Lord of Madurai Azhagar Koil.

Later in the year 1097, at the age of 80, Sri Ramanuja decided the fulfill the dreams of Sri Andal and he visited Azhagar Koil with Kuresar to present 100 vessels of Akkara Vadisil.

Keeping this tradition in view, the Akkaravadisil Utsavam is celebrated in a grand manner even today in Sri Alagar Koil at Thirumal Irum Solai near Madurai. At Srivilliputtur, Sri Andal comes out of Garbhagraham to Ardha Mantapam to greet Sri Ramanuja to let him know how very much she appreciated his Kainkaryam at Azhagar Koil.

What Sri Ramanuja did on this day at AlagarKoil, Madurai was a message to all Sri Vaishnavas that it is our duty to fulfill the dreams of Sri Andal and on the day of “Koodarai”, we must all present 100 Vessels of Akkara Vadisil to Emperuman in all our Temples.

Following the footsteps of Sri Ramanuja, our Acharys have also been offering 100 Thadas of Akkaravadisil on this day. Thus this Festival is known as Thada Festival.

8. Understanding Gadya Thrayam

We know already that Acharya Sri Ramanuja had made his prayer in the form of three Gadyas, i.e. composed in Prose form. These three Gadyas are popularly called Gadya Thrayam. These Three Gadyas are:

Sriranga Gadyam;
Saranagathi Gadyam and
Vaikunta Gadyam.

1. When we recite the Sriranga Gadyam:

We first adore the qualities of Sriman Narayana, such as Gyanam, Balam, Aiswaryam, Veeryam, Shakti, Tejas, Souseelyam, Maardavam, Vaatsalyam, Souhardam, Kaarunyam, Gaambheeryam, Audaaryam, Chaaturyam, Dhairyam, Souryam, Parakramam, Sathyasankalpam, etc. and convey the tremendous happiness, bliss and Peraanandam we experience in offering our services to the Lord.

We then submit that we are in deep ocean of sins and bound by the rope of Karma accumulated over so many births and we do not know how to overcome this bondage of Samsara.

We then declare that Lord Sriman Narayana and Sri Maha
lakshmi are the only means of emancipation and we surrender ourselves before Them seeking Their protection.

We then affirm that we shall always be eager to render all forms and all kinds of service under all conditions and pray: "Sriman Narayana, please grant me the service to You.”

2. When we recite Saranagathi Gadyam:

We surrender at the lotus feet of Sriman Narayana explaining our deficiencies and seeking pardon. There we do Prapatti, the total surrender declaring

“From time immemorial I have committed so many mistakes, blunders and apachaarams to the Lord and to the Bhaagavathaas which are unforgivable and unpardonable. O Lord, Please show mercy on me and forgive me for my such mistakes.

Many times, I had been attracted by worldly things and misconceptions. Please forgive me for them also and request You to remove the "maya" from my mind.

Please make me a Real Gyani, that I always think of you and be dearest to you. With that Gyana alone I will get Bhagavad anubhavam and will get ‘Nitya Kainkaryam’ to You.

You are my mother; my father; my relative; my Guru; my knowledge; my matter; my every thing”

and prostrate at the Lotus feet of Sriman Narayana.

In the Gadyam, Emperuman responds by saying

“Keep this attitude. Keep reciting Dwaya Mantra and its meaning to get over all the hurdles. Live like that till your body is worn out.

When your body falls down, you will see my Darshan; you will shine bright by My Grace and you will reach Me to serve Me. Have No Doubts about this.”

3. When we recite Vaikunta Gadyam, we are helped to visualise Srivaikuntam before our eyes and experience the Anubhavam of Sri Vaikuntam, the abode of Sriman Narayana, in all its splendour .

9. Understanding Holi Festival

Do you know that killing Hiranykashyapu by Lord Sri Narasimha is related with Holi Festival ?

You know Hiranyakashipu tried to kill Prahlada in many ways. Having not succeeded, Hiranyakasipu called upon his sister Holika for help. Holika had a special gift that prevented her from being harmed by fire. She suggested that let Prahlad sit on her lap and they both be put on fire. As she might come out unharmed and Prahlad may die, people would believe that Prahlada was evil. This plan was carried out. Sitting on the pyre, Prahlada chanted Vishnu's name and in the battle of good against evil, Holika was burnt down but nothing happened to Prahlada. The burning of Holika is celebrated as the Holi festival. And since Hiranya Kasipu was killed by the Lord sometime later, the festival of Sri Nrisimha Jayanthi, always comes after the Holi festival.

10. Understanding the Panchang

The New Year has arrived. Now it is time we start consulting the New Panchang for our day to day religious activities.

When we talk of Panchangam, we need know that there are two type of Panchangams, viz. Vakya Panchangam or Thiru Kanitha Panchangam.

The Vakya Panchangams are computed based on Slokas or Vakyas known to those who compose the Panchang. Beyond the Slokas, there are also Sutras which help to make simple additions and subtractions. Thus the Slokas and Sutras together provide the formulas required for the preparation of the Vakya Panchangam. Vakya Panchangams are Shastra based and accordingly have provisions to decide a ritual according to shastraas. Thus, to check on Ekadasi, Dwadasi and such other things for Anushtanam, Vakya Panchangams are sufficient.

On the contrary, the Thirukkanita Panjangam are prepared with complex calculations of cosmic positions of various Planets. These calculations are made with two to eight decimals to get the value of fractions. Thus they are more exact in comparison to Vakya Panchangams. Astrologers who need to work on cosmic position based astrological predictions, would always consult Thiru Kanitha Panchangam.

Since the two Panchangams are prepared through different routes as above, there could be minor differences in Nazhigai of certain Thithis or Stars. But that should not matter much for day to day rituals.

Panchangam represents Pancha Angam of the day, i.e. Thithi, Vaaram, Nakshatram, Yogam and Karanam.

Thithi, we all know. Prathama to Amavasya or Pournami are Thithis.
Vaaram are Sunday to Saturday
Nakshatrams are Aswini to Revathi
Yogams are Siddha Yogam, Subha Yogam, Marana Yogam, etc. [Star + Day]
Karanams are combination of Thithi + Day - not in observance.

The Thithis, Nakshatrams and Yogams are indicated in Nazhigais in the Panchang. When you convert the number of Nazhigais indicated against a particular Thithi etc into hours and minutes you would know how long [from sun rise] the particular Thithi etc. is present on the day. For converting Nazhigai into time, consider one Nazhigai is 24 minutes.