Tag Archive: Sri Vaishnava


Sometimes in life (or even often) there seems to be a dearth of time or energy to do anything apart from the usual. There are so many day-to-day obligations. But just once adiyen decided to take some time out to do a small little task for my dear lord.

In celebration of Andal’s birthday (Thiruvadipooram falling this year on 26th July, 2017), Sri Adi Kesava Perumal temple (Mylapore) has had a 10 day festival marking the same.

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Today (25th July) was Thiruther – a holy chariot procession. On the ther was seated Sri Adi Kesava Perumal and Sri Andal, to bless everyone as they took a divine ride. Adiyen had not been able to go to the temple in a long time, so immediately jumped to the occasion! The last time I had such a blessing was during the birth celebrations of my dearest Emperumanar.

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Sri Adi Kesava Perumal – Sri Andal thiruther (Sri Adi Kesava Perumal temple, Mylapore) 

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Sri Adi Kesava Perumal – Sri Andal seated to bless one and all

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The adorably awesome Andal with the kind and charismatic Kesava Perumal! (Pic Courtesy: Thamizhthalaivan Adiyar Whatsapp group) 

Adiyen would usually feel extremely exhausted just within 5 minutes of stepping into the sweltering heat and high humidity. But don’t know why, when it is something for Perumal-Thaayar and devotees, any task in bad weather just feels like ultimate joy! Blessed are these hands to have pulled the chariot of Sri Andal and Her Krishna…Kesava!

If adiyen were given a choice of a typical Sri Vaishnava name, I think I would love to be called – ‘Therizhuthaan’ (the one who pulled the ther)! 🙂 If only… if only dear Perumal, I could be reborn as a person who does just that, carries your vehicles on his shoulders, it would be a privilege! Well, this is just in case adiyen has to be born again without reaching your lotus feet in this birth itself. 😦

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Thought I would mention a word about the Sri Paadam thangigal (palanquin bearers of the lord). They have both an enviable and unenviable task. The enviable part – the sheer honour of carrying the lord on various vahanams, pulling the chariots of the lord! What a blessing to be so near the lord and so often.

But there’s an unenviable part – bearing with the heavy weight of the chariots/palanquins even in uncomfortable weather, making sure the road is clear of vehicles and people in the path of the lord. This part is tricky too, with some last minute tough decisions to be taken… for example, today there were few cable wires getting in the way of the top part of the ther’s umbrella. Some wires were lifted up by the bearers, but some were simply cut and snapped! :O Fair warning to people who live near temples: make sure your cable wires are fixed at a higher level! Do not make the lord wait on the road. 🙂

Meanwhile adiyen needs to learn much more about Sri Andal. I do not know enough. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to personally witness the life of the Azhwars as it would have unravelled. In the absence of that, adiyen can only read about/listen to talks about them and experience it all with my emotions.

Srimathe Ramanujaya Namah l

Srimathe Narayanaya Namah l

Adiyen Ramanuja Dasyai

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In the auspicious month of Margazhi, a month blessed by Sri Andal, adiyen is happy to present a new video about Andal’s father… Sri Periyazhwar… the Azhwar who composed the ever-famous, the one and only, Thiruppallandu! The incessant flow of care, affection, motherly love for Perumal expressed by Periyazhwar opens ones eyes to true devotion, of a type that is unconditional. Often we forget to stop asking Perumal for boons to be granted. We even forget about showing him any kind of affection! And Sri Periyazhwar’s pasurams show us the way.

The story of Sri Periyazhwar was long overdue, simply because of lack of time as adiyen got tied up in responsibilities of this samsaara!

Adiyen prefers to create ad-free videos as this is not being done for any monetary purposes. It took a while to choose copyright-free music, but somehow managed to put it together. Due credit to all the artists has been given, mentioned in the video description.

One slide I wasn’t able to include in the video is the following, about a temple in the hometown of Sri Selva Nambi – a scholar mentioned in the Thiruppallandu pasuram ‘Alvazhakkonnum illaa anikottiyar kon, abhimaana thungan Selvanaip pola…’.

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This Varadaraja Perumal temple at Perunkarunai was lying in ruins until recent times. I’m sure it is still in need of funds, so any contribution should be welcome.

Srimathe Narayanaya Namah l

Srimather Ramanujaaya Namah l

Dear Perumale,

The lord who slayed Narakasura and destroyed the evil within us…

Sri Krishna rescues 16,100 women abducted by Narakasura!

 

The lord who returned to Ayodhya after having destroyed the ten-headed Ravana and thus the 10 forms of vices…

Lord Sri Rama returns to Ayodhya with Seeta and Lakshmana

We observed these events and paid respect to the lord this Deepavali on the 26th of October, 2011.

It is believed that this is also the period during which Sri Maha Lakshmi emerged during the churning of the milky ocean when the Kurma avatar of the lord had descended. Adiyen’s respects on the appearance of mother Lakshmi.

Mahalakshmi - the benevolent Goddess and consort of Sriman Narayana, appears from the churning of the ocean

Srimathe Narayanaaya Namah l

Srimathe Ramanujaya Namah l

Dear Perumale,

There are a lot of posts due from my side despite the pre-occupation with the festive season over the last month. Was wondering where to begin… why not Navaratri! 🙂

I have been thinking about the Sri Vaishnava significance of the Dussehra festival, also observed as Navaratri celebrated by people who follow Sanatana Dharma. This festival for 2011 was observed between September 28 – October 7. I have realised this year, the beauty of the number of significant events which are observed from a Sri Vaishnava perspective as follows…

1) 9-day worship of the mother Goddess:

The most popular form of celebration across people in various sub-groups is the respect given to the mother Goddess during the 9 days observed as the Navaratri festival. The most popular type of prayers is to dedicate three days each to Durga (strength), Lakshmi(wealth) and Saraswathi(knowledge) respectively. For Sri Vaishnavas, this would imply paying respects to our dear Maha Lakshmi thaayar, the divine consort of Sriman Narayana.

Why only Maha Lakshmi? When our hearts are dedicated to the lotus feet of Vishnu, we would realise that the Goddess ‘Sri’ He shelters in His right chest would encompass all the auspiciousness one prays for during this period. This has also been represented by the ‘Ashtalakshmi’ or 8 forms of the mother Goddess.

(a) During the first 3 days of Navaratri, we would pay our respects to the powers of strength and courage.

DHAIRYA LAKSHMI is the form of Lakshmi as the Goddess of courage.

(b) During the next 3 days of Navaratri, we would pay our respects to the divine representation of wealth and prosperity.

ADI LAKSHMI (The primordial Goddess), DHANA LAKSHMI (The Goddess of wealth), DHAANYA LAKSHMI (The Goddess of food grains), GAJALAKSHMI (The Goddess of auspiciousness and prosperity), SANTHAANA LAKSHMI (The Goddess who blesses one with off-springs) are the forms which are to be worshipped.

(c) During the final 3 days of Navaratri, we pay our respects to the divine representation of knowledge.

VIDHYA LAKSHMI (the Goddess of knowledge and wisdom) and VIJAYA LAKSHMI (The Goddess of victory and success) are to be worshipped.

Maha Lakshmi thaayar - Golu bommai/doll

There is a tendency among devotees to worship deities in elaborate rituals for personal gains, while rest of the year any kind of worship might be neglected! 🙂 A better spiritual practice would be to worship these forms of MahaLakshmi for the most basic aspect of thanking Her and respecting a mother for Her powers, rather than for gaining any personal material benefits. Selflessness in worship is most beneficial to the jeevatma.

2) 9th day (Maha Navami) – Worship of Lord Hayagriva:

During the 9th day, we worship the God of  instruments, knowledge and wisdom. Along with Vidhya Lakshmi, Sri Hayagrivar is to be honoured. Sriman Narayana in the form of Hayagrivar rescued the Vedas and imparted the knowledge of the holy verses to Saraswathi. On this day we should also respect Saraswathi, especially her divine association and role in honouring Sri Ramanujacharya with the title of ‘Bhashya Kaara’.

3) 10th day (Vijaya Dasami) – Worship of Lord Rama:

Apart from being an auspicious day to learn something new, this day is very significant for the event of our dear lord Sri Rama destroying evil in the embodiment of Ravana.
Dassehra is also considered to be a ten-day battle between lord Sri Ram and the asura Ravana. Sri Rama destroyed the ten heads of Ravana (Dasa-hara). The ten heads also symbolise ten evils within all jeevatmas such as kama (lust), krodha (anger), moha (delusion), lobha (greed), mada (excessive pride), ahankaara (arrogance/egoism), matsarya (jealousy), manas (mind), buddhi (intellect) and chitta (will). On all the days of Navaratri devotees read the Ramayana, especially the Sundara Kandam, with great Bhakti towards the supreme ideal king – lord Sri Ram.

Sri Rama set - Golu display

For the Vadakalai sampradaya, this day is also celebrated as the birthday of Sri Vedanta Desikar.

4) Brahmotsavam at Tirumala:

Special vahanas carry the most beautiful lord, Srinivasa, during the Brahmotsavam festival observed during Navaratri.

Lord Srinivasa adorned in various Saathupadis (Alankaras) riding all His majestic, beautiful vahanas … be it chariots or the divine nitya suris who serve Him. I managed to capture some of the pictures through the SVBC-TTD channel in the form of screen shots. They did present a beautiful coverage, or perhaps the lord by Himself was just so glorious that the telecast looked good! It was a pleasure watching the lord during this utsavam.

Here are some screen captures from the telecast.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

5) Golu – the doll arrangement:

For those observing the Golu/Kolu doll arrangement, this is to depict the various facets of life and for honouring the deities. A special respect is given to the depiction of agriculture and food procurement. It is believed that in ancient times to encourage farming and de-silting of irrigation canals, excess clay was used to make dolls.

Farmers and vendors at work - Golu Display

The golu pandigai (festival) is more a socio-cultural practice than a religious one in the strict sense.

Okay, this turned out to be a really long post. But I wanted to list out the significant events which take place during Navaratri festival from a Sri Vaishnavite perspective. Hope adiyen was able to do justice!

Srimathe Narayanaaya Namah l

Srimathe Ramanujaya Namah l

Some useful sources used for this post:

(a)http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SriRangaSri/message/12936
(b)http://www.ramanuja.org/sv/bhakti/archives/oct2001/0201.html36
(c)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vijayadashami

Sri Jayanthi or Gokulashtami?

Adiyen Ramanuja Dasan!

Back on this blog dear Perumale, to pen my thoughts on the birthday celebrations of our beloved Sri Krishna. This avatar let us have a darshan of an adorable, lovable child who’s stories would be told to kids for several thousands of years to come! And as an adult, Sri Krishna Perumal gave us the Bhagavad Gita, the treasure of spiritual knowledge. Soup for the soul. More than that, eternal wisdom for the soul.

There seems to be some difference among communities on the day observed as the birth of Sri Krishna. Most people observe ‘thithi’ – the ashtami (eighth day of the month) of the month Shravan/Avani. But there are separate groups of people who observe the birth star for the month of Avani, which is Rohini nakshatram. Adiyen would refer to a difference in the nomenclature depending on when the special day is celebrated. If it celebrated on ashtami, it would fit in with the terms – Gokulashtami or Janmashtami. Adiyen’s ancestors always celebrated it on the Rohini star-day – therefore that would be Krishna Jayanthi for me, or simply Sri Jayanthi. ‘Sri Jayanthi’ or even the shorter version, ‘Jayanthi’ are words unique to the Sri Vaishnava community used with reference to the birth day of the lord.

Anyway, what does one do when most of the country observes it on one day, and another group celebrates it on the other? Adiyen celebrated it on both days! Gokulashtami was celebrated as half my family observe it on the ashtami day. Sri Jayanthi was celebrated on the next day as it has always been special to me being Rohini nakshatram.

SRI JAYANTHI AND GOKULASHTAMI!

For Gokulashtami, adiyen did pooja to the Krishnar padam (photo of the lord), with flowers and slokas. 

Sri Krishna with pasu maadu (cow)

Udipi Sri Krishna

Radhey Shyam

Sri Jayanthi was extra special. For the Rohini nakshatra thirunaal,  adiyen made a special crib to symbolise Sri Krishna’s childhood days. Fruits were also hung in the cradle in typical Karnataka style (I thank my father for bringing me up with this unique practice).

Thavazhara Krishnar - Here Sri Krishna, in the Koil Azhwar, is on a silver swing (oonjal), which rests on a wooden swing!

Makhan Chor! - Vennalainda Krishnar in a cradle represented by a chapparam (structure found in temples), with the fruits for His delight!

Happy birthday, oh darling of the gopikas! We adore You!

Dear Krishna… ashtami or not, I have got your back covered (celebrations met) for both days! 🙂 You can count on me for that!

Srimathe Ramanujasya Charanau Sharanam Prapadye l

Srimathe Narayanaya Namah l

Koil Azhwar

Dear Perumale,

‘Koil Azhwar’. I had heard this term when much younger, and had not given too much of a thought to it. Then one day when adiyen started realising about the divinity of the 12 Sri Vaishnava azhwars, the aspect of the Koil/Kovil Azhwar came into deeper thought.

The term ‘azhwar/alwar’ in Sri Vaishnavite terms has been used to indicate the deep bhakti, those completely immersed in devotion. Thus apart from the 12 azhwars who were divine saintly poets, there are others who are also referred to as ‘azhwar’.

One such entity would be the ‘Koil Azhwar’. The Koil Azhwar is the name given to the holy place which enshrines the lord in Bhuloka. For example, the Tirupati mandapam would be called the Koil Azhwar. If one were to think of why it is called an azhwar, it would be reasonable to think how holy and deep in devotion an entity must be, in order to ‘shelter’ the lord!! The Koil Azhwar is also found in most Sri Vaishnavite homes – especially those with kutti thavazhara krishnar vigraham (crawling baby Krishna idol) and/or a Salagramam.

The first time adiyen heard this term was when my grandfather used to stand in front of the mandapam at home for hours together, reciting the Divya Prabandam and other slokas. The Koil Azhwar at home is a representative of the temple at a real Divya Kshetram, which houses the lord. Thus, the azhwar has to be treated in the same manner in which the priests take care of the house of the lord.

The Koil Azhwar is crafted in wood (dark teak wood is generally preferred). It is usually supported by four sculpted legs holding up a room representing the sanctum sanctorum.  There is a porch in front where an oonjal (swing) can be attached so that Sri Krishna can come out to swing on occasions.

There is a double door to this room. The one at adiyen’s place represents Jayan-Vijayan, the Dwara Palakas (temple guards of the entrance) who are usually found in any Sri Vaishnava temple. It is said that one should enter a temple only after asking the permission of Jayan-Vijayan!

At home, the doors of the Kovil Azhwar have to be opened early in the morning, after a ritual – clapping the hands and waking the lord before the doors are opened up for Him to give us a glance of His beauty. The various idols have to be adorned with flowers and other rituals performed. The lamps should also be lit.

Speaking of lamps, modern Kovil Azhwars have an electrical bulb fitted into the sanctum sanctorum for better view. This would be useful in places where the Pooja/Perumal rooms are not well lit. Adiyen has retained my grandfather’s Kovil Azhwar without adding any bulb, to retain the natural look. The reason why Archakas at temple light the camphor for the lord is because there was no electricity before, and this was the only way one could see the lord! In a lot of temples in Kerala, they have still chosen to give us a glimpse of the lord only through natural light.

Above the room is the gopuram (temple top with sulptures). Most of the Kovil Azhwars also have the Sri Vaishnava insignia represented on top, in front of the gopuram.

The Kovil Azhwar’s doors, just as is done at the temple, should be closed periodically to give the lord a rest. The doors at home are usually closed in the afternoon (after the food has been offered to Him), and in the night when the lord rests for the day. The doors are opened during the evenings when the lamps are lit again.

To the extent adiyen understands, the Kovil Azhwar at home is representative of a real temple. Few procedures are followed at home in order to inculcate the sense of holiness and depth of bhakti one experiences in a Divya Kshetra. But the Kovil Azhwar is not to be treated as less important than an actual abode of the lord, as the deity inside is as real as the one in the temple. And as the one in Sri Vaikuntam!

Adiyen’s apologies for any factual errors.

Srimathe Ramanujasya Charanau Sharanam Prapadye l

Srimathe Narayanaya Namah ll

On the 27th of May, 2010 was the Birthday of Sri Nammazhwar. Also known as Sadagopan, he was the most important of all Azhwars. He was a powerfully gifted Azhwar who could compose pasurams about the Divya Desams without having physically visited the temples. It is said that the lords of the temples appeared before him and personally gave him a Darshan. Nammazhwar merely wrote about what he had observed and deeply experienced from his divine powers of vision and wisdom.

Sri Nammazhwar, Sadagopan.

Interestingly, the Satari or the crown taken from the feet of the lord and placed by a priest on the head of a devotee for blessings, is none other than Sadagopan himself. ‘Satari’ is derived from ‘Sadagopan’. Sri Nammazhwar decided to remain at the feet of the lord, hence eulogised (in the physical world) in the form of a crown placed at the feet of Sriman Narayana.

In the story of Sri Nammazhwar, it has been seen that the infant grew into a young man without much food or water. He stayed sitting under a tree all the time, deep in thought but spoke not much. Until Madhura Kavi Azhwar came along, a Nammazhwar spoke for the first time. As there is something to always learn from the life of Azhwars, adiyen feels that from Nammazhwar’s life we can see that we don’t ACTUALLY require anything from the material world, but only the devotion to Sriman Narayana. This is not to be taken in the literal sense that we should not drink water or eat food. But it is only to illustrate that we need not indulge in these material things in excess for merriment. The good lord’s grace and blessings are more than sufficient to give us inner bliss.

Azhwar Thiruvadigale Sharanam.

Harihara Puthran…?

Perumale,

Adiyen leaves today for participation this weekend, in an Ayyappan pooja.  I am doing this to respect the wishes of the elders who invited me.

Ayyappan, also known as Hariharan, is supposed to be the son of lord Siva and Sriman Narayana, when Perumal was in Mohini avataram. I wonder if there is truth behind such a legend. The legend of Ayyappa, or Manikanthan, the story of a powerful warrior of the Kerala belt may be true. The fact that Ayyappan was a local lord may be true. The fact that he remained a bachelor for life and disappeared may be true. But whether there was a son borne by the powerful Siva and the supreme being Sriman Narayana? Debatable. I wonder whether that is true. Lord Sriman Narayana took Mohini avataram for a specific purpose when the nectar of the ocean was churned. Not to create a son with Siva! And Siva has a beautiful goddess in the form of Parvati present with him. Why should be resort to Sriman Narayana to produce a child? Yes, there is a story of a powerful demon who could not be killed by Siva or Maha Vishnu, hence the need for a combination of both in the form of another person. But then Devi or someone else from among the existing deities could have been sent.

The legend of Ayyappa is quite recent, and not one from the puranas (perhaps Skanda Purana has a mention). There is no need to dispute the divinity of someone worshipped by hundreds of people, but adiyen would dispute the origin of the birth as Sriman Narayana has time and again single-handedly saved his devotess, on their beck and call. Adiyen feels it is unfair to attach unverified stories to His name.

Found this entry on an ISKCON-based website:

“Sri Ayyappa is the mental son (manasa-putra) of Lord Shiva. When Lord Shiva saw Mohini, Ayyappa was born from his mind. There was never any contact between Mohini and Lord Shiva. This story occurs in Skanda Purana. There are many exagerations about this story that say Lord Shiva and Mohini together produced this child. They are not true. Ayyappa lives in Kailasha along with Lord Shiva, Ganesha and Kartikeya (Skanda). The pastimes of Ayyappa and the muslim named Vavar occured when Ayyappa descended to earth, which occurred in recent times (the present yuga). Similarly Skanda also appeared in the recent history in Tamil Nadu.”

Anyway, adiyen shall always consider Sriman Narayana as antaryami in everything. Afterall,  He did come out of even a pillar!

Apologies for any mistakes or offences.

Srimathe Narayanaya Namah ll

Ramanujasya Charanau Sharanam Prapadye ll