Friday, December 9, 2011

Kaisika Ekadesi 2011 in Srirangam

Parasara Bhattar took the story of a complex Kaisika Purana (in Sanskrit), dissected it and composed and created the Vyakyaana in a simple and easily understandable language, which was hitherto non-existent. He made it more interesting by analysing the different Avataras of Lord Vishnu and showcasing Varaha Avatara as the best and the purest, despite the Lord taking the form of a pig. Kaisika Purana is a part of Varaha Puraana and comprises several hundred songs- all in small stanzas- showing Lord Narayana as the ultimate supreme force

The Story of Kaisika Purana
Kaisika Purana is the story of Nambaduvan, a low caste person and his love for the Lord Nambi of Thiru Kurungudi. Nambaduvan was a ‘Jaagrutha Vrathan’, one who came out when all others were sleeping. Embarrassed to enter the temple during the day, he would walk several miles every night and stand outside the Thiru Kurungudi temple and sing praise of Lord Nambi.

On the Kaisika Ekadesi night, Nambaduvan made 18 promises to a Brahmma Raakshash who wanted to consume him while he was making his daily night trip to sing praise of Lord Nambi, requesting the Rakshash to allow him to visit the Nambi temple one last time.

In the 18th promise, which is the essence of the Kaisika Purana and the reason why Kaisika Ekadesi and Kaisika Purana are most important to a Vaishnavite, Nambaaduvan says “If one ever tries equating Lord Narayana to anyone else in this world, I will be a party to the biggest sin in the world. And I will never get Moksham from the cycle of births.”

Through these 18 promises narrated in the Kaisika Purana, we are made aware of the different sins we commit every day in our lives as a result of not fulfilling some of the basic things we should do.

Nambaduvan made his way back as promised to the hungry Rakshasha after singing praise of Lord Nambi. His philosophy was that he would rather give up his life than going back on a promise even if it meant that he would be prey of the Rakshash. Stunned at the sincerity of Nambaduvan, Brahmma Rakshash requested him to share the Kaisika Ekadesi night’s praise of Lord Nambi so the Rakshash could be relieved of his previous birth’s curse and secure Vaikunta Moksham.

Namperumal’s procession to Arjuna Mandapa

This Tuesday (6 December) evening, on the occasion of Kaisika Ekadesi Celebrations at the Lord Ranganatha Swamy temple in Srirangam, a beautifully decorated Namperumal, the utsava deity, came out on a palanquin at 830pm on his second procession of the day, having made one earlier in the morning. Making his way through the Kili Mandapa, he positioned himself at Arjuna Mandapa.

365dresses for Namperumal
To start the celebration, 365 dresses were draped around NamPerumal (one for each day of the year) to make up for not giving him enough new dresses throughout the year.

Araiyar’s Periya Thirumozhi and Thiruvoimozhi presentation

Beginning 10pm for almost two hours, Namperumal, along with several hundreds of his devotees, watched Six Araiyars of Srirangam led by Araiyar Ramanujacharya and Araiyar Sampath Kumar present 20verses in praise of Thirukurungudi Nambi from the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham including Vyakyanam and Abhinaya of Thirumangai Azhwar’s Periya Thirumozhi verse Akkum Puliyin and NamAzhwar’s Thiruvoimozhi verse Enganeyo Annaimeerkal through their song and dance enactment. While one Araiyar narrated a verse, another explained its meaning and one other Araiyar enacted the story through the Abhinaya, a unique art/dance performance with their hands and legs.

Throughout his passionate presentation, Araiyar Sampath Kumar had tears rolling down as he sung praise of Lord Nambi of Thiru Kurungudi.

Kaisika Purana Recital and Vaikunta Moksham

Following the Araiyar Sevai and well after mid night, 62 year Parasara Rangaraja Bhattar standing in front of Namperumal at the Arjuna Mandapa presented a non-stop two hour recital without any pause. His presentation of over a 100 verses from the Kaisika Purana with his brother Parasara Azhagiya Singa Bhatter holding the Kaisika Purana scriptures in his hand, through a narration of the entire discussion that panned out between Nambaduvan and Brahmma Rakshash brought out the significance of this simple yet great composition and why it is relevant even today, thousand years after it was composed.

It is believed that anyone who recites/reads or listens to the Kaisika Purana will get Vaikunta Moksham in this birth just in the way Brahmma Rakshasha secured listening to Nambaduvan’s verses.

Karpoora Padi Etra Seva
After a long and eventful night, NamPerumal was allowed only a couple of hours of rest as he was woken up at 5am on Kaisika Dwadasi (Wednesday) morning for his alankara. Having spent over 8hours at the Arjuna Mandapa providing night long darshan to his devotees, Namperumal started on his return trip at 5.15am with two Araiyars leading him all the way to the Santanu Mandapa.

As a thanking gesture for having stayed up late into the night watching the enactment of the Kaisika Ekadesi celebrations, Namperumal was showered with camphor powder, as he made his entry up the steps into the Santanu Mandapa, an event that spread a special fragrance around Him. This special seva is referred to as ‘Karpoora Padi Etra Seva’. With this, Namperumal made his way back to his abode at 545am bringing to end the Kaisika Ekadesi Celebrations.

Historical Event at Srirangam
The Telugu ruler Vijayaranga Sokka Nathan was eager to witness the Kaisika Ekadesi Celebrations in Srirangam, especially this morning event of ‘Karpoora Padi Etra Seva’ (showering of camphor powder). Unfortunately, when he reached the temple with his family, the Lord had already entered the Santanu Mandapa. Having come from far just to witness this event, the king requested the Lord to provide a replay as he could not go back without being part of the event. However, the Lord refused to accept this request stating that he was always on time and does not wait for anyone.

NamPerumal asked the king to be back on the same day next year. But so upset was the king that he decided to stay put outside the Sannidhi for one more year. In memory of this event and to mark the King Vijaya Ranga Sokka Nathan’s unflinching devotion, the idol of the king along with his family can be seen even today outside the Sannidhi on the Western side.

( A version of this story featured today in The Hindu Friday Review)

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