Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Periya Vachan Pillai Senganoor

Krishnapremi brings about big Transformation in Senganoor
'Vyakyana Chakravarthi' Periya Vachan Pillai, who was born here, installed the idol of Thiru Venkatamudayan over 8 Centuries ago - The temple reverberates with Divya Prabhandham recital during festivals

The story of Senganoor, a remote village 1km North of Thiru Velliyankudi Divya Desam, dates back to the period of the Saivite Saint Poets to the 7th Century AD. Thiru Gnana Sambanthar visited this place and praised Lord Chandikeswarar giving one a glimpse of the life in Senganoor during that period (to be seen in the next story).

Centuries later, Vaishnavite Acharya Periya Vachan Pillai was born here a few 100 yards South West of the place where the Srinivasa Perumal Temple is now located.There are three beautiful agraharams in his historical village.

Born to Yamunachariar and Nachiyar Ammai, Periya Vachan Pillai would accompany his father everyday to the nearby Kolavilli Rama Divya Desam in Thiru Velliyankudi (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2008/05/thiruvelliyankudi-kola-villi-raama.html), one praised by Thiru Mangai Azhvaar. During these trips, his father initiated the young boy into Nalayira Divya Prabhandham and Ramayana Slokas and got him to recite it the next day. This early episode in his life created special interest in the boy towards the 4000 sacred verses as well as the Ramayana which was to then reflect later on in his life through the extraordinary commentaries that he wrote.

On one of his trips to Thiru Velliyankudi, a learned Brahmin suggested to his father to get the young boy to Srirangam as he seemed destined to make a significant contribution to the devotional world (Years later, he would finally make that trip to Srirangam from where he was to write legendary commentaries) citing the special plantain trees amidst the huge groves as an example of this differentiated personality.

Soon he got married and as was the tradition he, along with his wife, made a trip to his Kula Deivam temple of Thiru Venkatamudayan at Tirupathi. So moved was he with the Lord there that he decided to stay there. While he was anxious at thus being away from his home town and parents, the archaka acting as a messenger of the Lord handed a Saligrama Idol of the Lord and directed him to head back to Senganoor for he was destined for bigger things. He carried the idol in his hand and reached the banks of Coloroon, a few kms North of Senganoor.

Placing the idol on the pure white sand on the river bank, the couple took a sacred bath invoking the blessings of the Lord to relieve them from any sins that they may have committed, as was the tradition.

On return, much to his dismay he found the Lord missing. However, he appeared in his dream providing darshan to him in his full form of Conch and Chakra and directed him to take along the villagers to the river banks to recover the idol. Periya Vachan Pillai installed the idol in the heart of Shenganoor much to the delight of the villagers.

In memory of his contribution to his home town, an idol of Periya Vachan Pillai was installed later inside the temple. The street where the temple is located is now named after him as Periya Vachan Street.
After the death of his parents, Periya Vachan Pillai moved to Srirangam and became a disciple of Nam Pillai. Listening to his acharya and after securing his approval, he wrote commentaries on the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham and the epic Ramayana. Of particular significance is the 24000 Padi, an analytical commentary on Nam Azhvaar’s Tiruvoimozhi.

After the demise of his acharya, he mentored his disciples Vadakku Thiru Veethai Pillai and Azhagiya Manavala Jeer, among others and clarified many of their doubts with confident ease.

பிள்ளான் நஞ்சீயர்  பெரிய வாச்சான் பிள்ளை
தெள்ளார் வடக்கு திரு வீதிப்பிள்ளை
மணவாள யோகி திருவாய்மொழியைக் காத்து
குணவாளரென்று நெஞ்சே கூறு

During that great phase in Srirangam, he wrote 100s of commentaries. However, many of these have been lost to the future generation leaving his analysis and detailed description and explanation of the Divya Prabhandham and Ramayana as his most significant contributions. He is referred to as ‘Vyakyana Chakravarthi’ for his extraordinary commentaries that have stood the test of time and have served as a benchmark in the world of explanation of the Divya Prabhandham. He also wrote commentaries on Rahasya Granthams and Strotras.

He is also one of the few to be credited with the prefix of ‘Periya’ (others being Periya Azhvaar, Periya Jeer and of course Periya Perumal of Srirangam).
Transformative Changes in Senganoor
The ‘Thiru Maligai’ where he was born and lived still exists in the ‘Krishnapremi Swamy Street’ in Senganoor.  One of the heartening features of this remote village is that there are three agraharams that continue to function, housing old style unaltered homes.

The Thiruvenkata Mudayan temple wears a fresh new look. The story of Periya Vachan Pillai is depicted atop the wall on the Western side. There is a separate Sannidhi for the Vyakyana Chakravarthy at the temple.
10day Brahmotsavam is celebrated in Thai in a grand manner
3 day Pavitrotsavam takes place in Avani
Rohini in Avani marking the birthday of Periya Vachan Pillai is a big day at the temple 

First Bank Branch/ New Hospital / A garbage less Village
Krishnapremi Swami, a descendant of Periya Vachan Pillai, has transformed this historical village over the last decade or so. The three agraharams bring refreshing memories of the village in the decades gone by. 

Just last week, the first bank came into the village with City Union Bank opening a branch here. The Government School, near the Perumal Koil has now become a Smart School thanks to the efforts of Krishnapremi. The school is equipped with modern computer systems. English medium is soon to be introduced at the school and the classes will also expand up to 12th.
Even better news awaits the residents of this village praised by Thiru Gnana Sambanthar. A new hospital , the first big one in the region, is likely to come up soon near the temple. Recently, a ‘Naama Dwaar’ has been opened where the villagers congregate every day to chant the name of the Lord.

It is refreshing to find that the entire village is totally clean and one does not find garbage anywhere on the streets. Those original inhabitants that had left the village seeking greener pastures are in the process of building homes here with the possibility of coming back to their home town in the future.

The first of that happened over the last decade when a senior citizen couple returned to perform Kainkaryam at the temple. The lady presents verses from the Divya Prabhandham every morning in front of Lord Thiru Venkatamudayan.
Senganoor is about 4kms South of Thirupananthal and North of Sholapuram off the Kumbakonam- Madras National Highway. Auto from Thirupananthal will cost Rs. 100. The Kola Villi Rama Divya Desam in Thiru Velliyankudi is just over 1km South East of the temple.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Srirangam Krishna Jayanthi

A Two Day Utsavam to celebrate Lord Krishna’s birthday marked by a joint street procession of Namperumal and the ‘Birthday boy’
Favourite Delicacies of Child Krishna presented to him

Unprecedented Devotee Crowd at Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam - The Temple set to rake in over Rs. 1 crore (from Rs. 250 ticket alone) as part of the Cauvery Pushkaram event
Over four decades ago, devotees who visited the Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam were ones who sought Moksham.  As Kulasekara Azhvaar said in his Perumal Thirumozhi praise of the Lord of Srirangam(http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2016/03/kulasekara-azhvaar-srirangam-ranganatha.html), this was the place where one had to finally come to surrender after letting go of all the desires of life. He himself had let go his kingdom before coming to Srirangam.
தேட்டருந்திறல் தேனினைத் தென்னரங்கனை
திருமாதுவாழ் வாட்டமில் வனமாலை மார்வனை
வாழ்த்தி மால்கொள் சிந்தையராய்

ஆட்ட மேவியலந்தழைத்து
அயர் வெய்தும் மெய்யடியார்கள்
தம் ஈட்டம் கண்டிடக் கூடுமேல் 
அது காணும் பயனாவதே
In line with that praise, those that made it to Srirangam, till the 2nd half of the previous century, were those that sought Total Surrender with the Lord.  Hence those with still desirous interests left in life did not make it too often here!!!

In fact till the 1970s and 80s, it was the Mariamman temple in Samayapuram where devotees thronged and the Srirangam temple’s expenses were funded from the collections at the Samayapuram temple, a then sub-temple of the Ranganathaswamy Temple.

Except for a period in the year (Thula Month) when devotees from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka made their way to the temple, the Ranganathaswamy temple was mostly ‘unvisited’ with the local residents constituting over 90% of the devotee crowd through a large part of the year. Unlike the current scenario, one could stand in front of the Moolavar Lord for a long period of time each day and many times a day!!!

What a drastic change it has been this week from those decades gone by in the previous century as the temple saw unprecedented never before seen crowds.

Krishna Jayanthi Celebration
Typically, the two day celebration on the occasion of Krishna Jayanthi attracts only local residents numbering a 100 or so and that’s been the trend over the last several decades. But this year the Utsavam coincided with the Cauvery Pushkaram event and the locals were in for a shock. Just after 5 am on Wednesday morning, over 10000 devotees from the across the country had gathered before the Arya Bhattal Vaasal for a darshan of Moolavar Lord Ranganatha.

Periyazhvaar’s verses on Child Krishna
To mark the occasion of Krishna Jayanthi, the Araiyars of Srirangam presented the favourite ‘Pillai Tamizh’ verses of Periyazhvaar on Krishna at the Pandaram Mandapam. 
Through the verses on Child Krishna, Periyazhvaar in a beautiful poetic expression of the growth of a new born lures every mother to sing for her child. Through these verses, Periyazhvar helps a devotee visualize and enjoy the infant to boyhood stages of Krishna portraying the joyful pleasures of a doting mother with a clever and mischievous child.

வெண்ணெய் அலைந்த குணுங்கும்
விளையாடு புழுதியும் கொண்டு
 .....எண்ணெய் புலிப் பழம் கொண்டு
எத்தனை போதும் இருந்தேன்

The Araiyars also presented the ‘Sacred Oil’ to the Ghosti at the Thirumanjanam.

காயய்சின நீரோடு நெல்லி கடாரத்தில் பூரித்து வைத்தேன்…………………………..
மஞ்சளும் செங்கழுநீரின் வாசிகையும்
நாறு சாந்தும் அஞ்சனமும் கொண்டு வைத்தேன்

Favourite delicacies of Child Krishna
Later in the evening, the favourite delicacies that Krishna used to grab during his childhood pranks were prepared and presented (அப்பம் கலந்த சிற்றுண்டி அக்காரம் பாலிற் கலந்து) referred to as ‘Sangupaal’.

Historical Inscriptions on the Krishna Jayanthi dishes
Historically, these favourite dishes were presented to Lord Krishna at his Sannidhi on the occasion of his birthday, as seen from the inscriptions at this temple dating back a 800 years.

கன்றுகள் ஓடச் செவியில்
கட்டெறும்பு பிடித்து இட்டால்
தென்றிக் கெடும் ஆகில்
வெண்ணெய்  திரட்டி விழங்குமா காண்பன்

Krishna’s Oil Presentation
On Thursday morning, Lord Krishna was scheduled to leave his abode inside the Arya Bhattal Vaasal for his morning procession just after 7am but with the ‘Cauvery Pushkaram’ crowd waiting at the gate in several thousands, it was decided that the Moolavar darshan could not be held up till 730am!!! 
And thus, he began the procession around the four Chitrai streets an hour early catching even the local residents off-guard and by surprise.

A highlight of the hour long procession was the presentation of the ‘Sacred Oil’ that the devotees applied on their head and ‘Mochai Sundal’.

A Joint once in a year Procession
For the only time in the year, Lord Namperumal made his way on a joint procession with Krishna later in the day to the Yadava ‘Uriyadi’ Mandapam on the banks of the Cauvery.

In centuries gone by, at the South Chitrai Street, the descendents of the Yadava clan would climb the tree in the way a young child Krishna would climb trees to pick up his favourite eats. However this has been done away with in recent decades. 
Now as part of the Uriyadi Utsavam, the favourite eats of Krishna are loaded on to pots and placed atop the temporary Panthal. Just after 9pm, watched by a huge crowd at the South Chitra Street Junction, the Yadavas knocked out the pots one by one reminding the devotees of Krishna’s childhood days when he would go out every day and come back with butter spilled all over his body.
எண்ணெய் குடத்தை உருட்டி
இளம்பிள்ளை கில்லி எழுப்பிக் 
கண்ணை புரட்டி விழித்துக் கழகண்டு………………… 
உண்ணக் கனிகள் தருவன்

Krishna takes a fast run back into his abode!!!
The moment the eats are knocked out from the pots, there was no looking back and Krishna in a symbolic gesture, of grabbing his dishes begins a fast paced run to the temple never to look back again till he reached the sanctum inside the Arya Bhattal Vaasal!!!
On the usual festive day, Namperumal makes his way around the four Chitrai streets after the Uriyadi utsavam and the Ghosti is presented with Paanagam, Paruppu and Sandal Paste (however this trip had to be done away with on Thursday evening due to an emergency).

PS: In the first few days of the ‘Cauvery Pushkaram’, the number of devotees having darshan of Lord Ranganatha using the Rs. 250 ticket counter swelled and topped 6000 each day, that’s a mind boggling number. The Rs. 50 ticket has been dispensed with for the fortnight. The 250 rupee ticket counter has been moved to outside the Arya Bhattal Vaasal. The Sri Patham Thangis are working overtime during the fortnight to manage the crowd. The decibel level of the devotees in their eagerness to have a glimpse of the Moolavar Lord, has reached uncontrollable heights. In light of this, the Vishwaroopam darshan has been done away with this week!!

Over the fortnight of this event, the temple is expected to rake in income of over Rs. 1 crore!!! 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Thiru Kurun Thandakam Thirumangai Azhvaar

Through ‘Thought, Word, Deed and Action’, Reach out to the Lord with Love

Try bringing the upper eyelids close to the lower; You will find your heart leading out with Love for the Lord

In 20 verses of Thirukurun Thandakam, one of his six Compositions in the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham, Thiru Mangai Azhvaar presents a realistic route to devotees to reach out to the Lord and to find happiness in life. 
                  Thiru Mangai Azhvaar at Thiruvali Thirunagari

He begins the Thirukurun Thandakam with the promise that he shall never let the Lord go away from his heart 'We are never in a situation in life where we have praised him enough.'

மதியினை மாலை வாழ்த்தி
வணங்கி என் மனத்து வந்த
விதியினைக் கண்டு கொண்ட
தொண்டனேன்  விடுகிலேனே

A Devotee’s Mind
As he moves on in the Shorter Thandakam (he follows this with the bigger one - Thiru Nedunthaandakam), Thiru Mangai Azhvaar portrays the mind of a typical devotee. 

Just like an ant caught between two ends of firewood, our life too is one where the heart wavers all the time first one way and then the other. To help clear ourselves from these wavering thoughts, the Lord is our only refuge.

உள்ளமோ ஒன்றில் நில்லாது
ஓசையில் எரி நின்று உண்ணும்

கொள்ளிமேல் எறும்பு போல
குழையுமால் என் தன் உள்ளம்

Live Life with Pure Thoughts
He asks the devotees to live life in pure thoughts. He says that men spend a lot of their time going behind beautiful women when there is the beautiful Lord (at Thiru Kudanthai) to enjoy. Not only does one become a sinner with such impure thoughts, one also spends life in a lot of misery arising out of such bad thoughts. 

காவியை வென்ற கண்ணார்
கலவியே கருதி
நாளும் பாவியேன் ஆக எண்ணி
அதனுள்ளே பழுத்தொழிந்தேன்

தூவிசேர் அன்னம் மன்னும்
சூழ் புனல் குடந்தையானைப்
பாவியேன் பாவியாது
பாவியேன் ஆயினேனே
Use every moment to reach the Lord
And then Thiru Mangai Azhvaar provides a perfect way to live life that will help each one of us find happiness. 

He says that through thought, word, deed and action, one has to swallow the Lord with Love each moment of our lives. One has to enjoy his presence just like how we enjoy consuming the sweet sugarcane juice.

வாக்கினால் கருமம் தன்னால்
மனத்தினால் சிரத்தை தன்னால் 
வேட்கை மீ தூர வாங்கி
விழுங்கினேற்கு இனியவாறே

Praising Srirangam, he says that the Lord of Srirangam is the salvation not just for now but forever.  Those who worship him and the Lord of Thiruvenkatam will become Masters of this World.

Wasting a Life’s Time
Those of us who have not yet understood the auspicious qualities of the Lord are only wasting the precious time of our lives. And with that we only strengthen the misery of the bodily lives.

மானிடப் பிறவி அந்தோ
மதிக்கிலர் கொள்க தம் தம்
ஊனிடைக் குரம்பை வாழ்க்கைக்கு
உறுதியே வேண்டினாரே

Watch Your Words
Most of the time we are venomous with our words but there is a solution in the offing all the time. The moment we start chanting the Lord's name continuously we will be blessed by him. And soon we would have found him in our heart and will then become fearless for life and much to our surprise the words we utter would have turned pure.

ஆவியை அரங்க மாலை
அழுக்கு உடம்பு எச்சில் வாயால்
தூய்மையில் தொண்டனேன் நான்
சொல்லினேன் தொல்லை நாமம்

பாவியேன் பிழைத்தவாறு என்று
அஞ்சினேற்கு அஞ்சல் என்று
காவிபோல் வண்ணர் வந்து
என்  கண்ணுளே தோன்றினாரே

How can we start this process?
Thiru Mangai Azhvaar offers a practical route to find the Lord. He asks one to bring the upper eyelids close to the lower. As we subdue our five senses, we will automatically fill our heart with love for the Lord. And we will be able to experience the Truth and see the light of the Lord. 

இளைப்பினை இயக்கம் நீக்கி
இருந்து முன் இமையைக் கூட்டி

அளப்பு இல் ஐம்புலன் அடக்கி
அன்பு அவர்கண்ணே வைத்து

துளக்கம் இல் சிந்தை செய்து
தோன்றலும் சுடர்விட்டு

ஆங்கே விளக்கினை விதியின் காண்பார்
மெய்ம்மையைக் காண்கிற் பாரே

Worshipping the Lord who resides at Srirangam, Thiru Meiyyam, Thiruper (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2016/11/thirupper-nagar-koviladi-divya-desam.html) and Kanchipuram, among others, are ways to seek Salvation.

உலகம் ஏத்தும் கண்டியூர் அரங்கம் மெய்யம்
கச்சி பேர் மல்லை என்று  மண்டினார்

உய்யல் அல்லால்
மற்றையார்க்கு உய்யலாமே.

Grab Every Opportunity to Serve the Lord
Thiru Mangai Azhvaar says that one should seek service at the feet of the Lord worshipping him all the time.  We should invoke his blessings to make us his slave and to rid us of this life’s worries.

தொண்டெல்லாம் பரவி நின்னை 
தொழுது அடி பணியுமாறு
கண்டு தான் கவலை தீர்ப்பான் ஆவதே
பணியாய் எந்தாய்

அண்டமாய் என் திசைக்கும் 
ஆதியாய் நீதி ஆன

பண்டமாம் பரம சோதி 
நின்னையே பரவுவேனே