Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Manavala Mamuni temple Kothankulam

Manavala Mamuni spent his early days in Sikkil Kadaram
The house of Tiruvoimozhi Pillai is in a dilapidated condition, while the Thiruvarasu of Koora Kulothuma Dasa is being reconstructed North of the temple
Sikkil Kadaram (now Kothan Kulam) is a small and quiet village located 39kms from Ramanathapuram on the Tuticorin highway. The legend relating to Kotravan Kulam ( Pandya Kings were referred to as Kotravan) dates back to the 13th and 14th Century AD. Tiruvoimozhi Pillai ruled this region for a short period before being initiated into Vaishnavism by Koora Kulothuma Dasa.

It was that Koora Kulothuma Dasa, who on instructions from Pillai Lokacharya, brought Tiruvoimozhi Pillai to Sikkil Kadaram for initiating the latter into Vaishnavism. 

It is also the place where renowned Vaishnavite Saint Manavala Mamuni spent his early childhood days before moving to Azhvaar Tirunagari. Kothan Kulam is the home town of Manavala Mamuni’s mother, who hailed from here. 

The house of  the great Vaishnavite acharya Tiruvoimozhi Pillai, who learnt the 4000sacred verses here at Sikkil Kadaram, still exists here but is now in a dilapidated state and requires immediate attention.

At Sikkil Kadaram, just off the state highway is the over 700years old Sundararaja Perumal temple where Manavala Mamuni is seen in a South facing Sannidhi.

During the Muslim Invasion of Srirangam, Pillai Lokacharya, Koora Kulothuma Dasa and Thiru Kannamangai Aandan are believed to have saved the processional utsava idol of Lord Ranganathaswamy temple from the 8th day Horse Vahana Utsavam near the Panri Azhvaan Varaha Perumal Temple on the banks of Coloroon. They took the idol to several places including Thiru Koshtiyur, Azhagar Koil and Yaanaimalai (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2009/12/veda-narayana-perumal-kodikulam-madurai.html).

Deciding to relinquish his kingdom, the then Pandya King in Madurai handed over the rule to Tiruvoimozhi Pillai, a Brahmin. He also requested him to take care of his wife and son.

Pillai Lokacharya knew the greatness that Tiruvoimozhi Pillai was destined for and directed Koora Kulothuma Dasa to initiate him into Vaishnavism.

However, those were early days yet for Tiruvoimozhi Pillai who was lost in the charms of the kingdom. One day, while he was on a procession on the elephant going around the streets of Madurai, Koora Kulothuma Dasa chanted loudly the Thiruvirutham verses of Nam Azhvaar.

Turning Point in Tiruvoimozhi Pillai's life
Stunned by these beautiful Thiruvirutham verses, he got down from the elephant, called on Koora Kulothuma Dasa and asked him to provide more insights into these songs. It was then that Koora Kulothuma Dasa tried to initiate him with the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham verses.

Though he showed interest initially, Tiruvoimozhi Pillai’s mind was distracted as it went back and forth to the thoughts of his kingdom for he had just then begun to enjoy the power of ruling Madurai. This angered Koora Kulothuma Dasa and he threatened to walk out on the initiation of these sacred verses.

This happened to be the turning point in the life of Tiruvoimozhi Pillai as he decided to hand back the reigns to the son of the original king and surrendered to Koora Kulothuma Dasa requesting him to continue with the initiation of the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham.

As per the direction of Pillai Lokacharya, Koora Kulothuma Dasa brought Tiruvoimozhi Pillai to Sikkil Kadaram (now Kothan Kulam) to initiate him into Vaishnavism and spread the messages of Vaishnavism.

It was also Tiruvoimozhi Pillai who went to Azhvaar Tirunagari and renovated the place from the forest that it was at that time. The descendents of Tiruvoimozhi Pillai continue to live in Azhvaar Tirunagari. Sridhar Tiruvoimozhi Pillai, one such descendent, recently presented the Gajendra Moksham puranam at Thiru Mogur Divya Desam (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2014/03/thiru-mogur-gajendra-moksham-utsavam_23.html).

The Samadhi of Koora Kulothama Dasa who was responsible for bringing Tiruvoimozhi Pillai to Kotravan Kulam (the place of the Pandya King) is here just next to the Sundararaja Perumal Temple.

Manavala Mamuni, who spent his early days here at Sikkil Kadaram later went back to Azhvaar Tirunagari and then to Srirangam, where for a year Lord Ranganatha listened to his Bhagavad Vishaya Kalakshepa explaining the meaning of and providing insights into the Tiruvoimozhi verses.

As Guru Dakshina to Manavala Mamuni, the lord presented the Dhaniyan ‘Srisailesa Dayapatram…’ which to this day is recited at prominent Divya Desams such as Tirumala, Srirangam and Thiruvallikeni.

The Thiruvarasu of Koora Kulothuma Dasa, the house of Manavala Mamuni’s Acharya Tiruvoimozhi Pillai and the house where Manavala Mamuni lived his early years are all in dilapidated condition at Sikkil Kadaram.

Kuro Kulothuma Dasa's Thiruvarasu at Sikkil Kadaram

Given their great contribution to Vaishnavite tradition, initiatives should be taken to make these as historical monuments and should be safeguarded for posterity. Also, the Thiruvarasu of Manavala Mamuni at Srirangam is now in a state of dispute.With the current CM belonging to that constituency, it is hoped that she will immediately direct the authorities to hand over the ancient land/property for the sacred Thiruvarasu to become a guarded monument.

Currently, only the 3day Pavitrotsavam in Aipasi is celebrated.

Quick Facts
Moolavar         : Sundararaja Perumal East Facing Standing Posture
Separate Sannidhi: Manavala Mamuni South Facing Standing Posture
Time                : 7am-12noon and 5pm-7pm
Contact            : 94433 41163
How to reach
From Ramnad, take Tuticorin bound express bus to get down in front of the temple at Kothankulam.
Buses ply every 15minutes on this route. It will take about 45minutes to reach the temple from Ramnad.

Car from Ramnad and back will cost Rs.750.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rama Navami Eri Katha Rama Madurantakam

Rama provides darshan in four different attires on Rama Navami
Presentation of Desigar's Raghuveera Gadyam praising Rama's Qualities

Rama Navami was celebrated in a grand manner at the Chozha Period Eri Kaatha Rama temple in Madurantakam ( http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2008/11/madurantakam-eri-kaatha-raamar.htmlon Wednesday (9 April). On the occasion, Lord Rama, one of the two Utsava deities at the temple, provided darshan in four different attires.

Sankshepa Ramayana Parayanam
The day long celebrations began with Lord Rama providing Vishwaroopa Darshan at 730am in a special Thiru Kolam - ‘Lord with a Plait’. For the next couple of hours, Lord Rama listened to the sweet rendition of 218 verses of Sankshepa Ramayana and Paduka Pattabhishekam led by TE Madhavan, the hereditary Theerthakar at the temple (Interestingly, Madhavan is currently working on his P. HD in Metallurgy at IIT Madras but does not miss the Rama Navami, Brahmotsavam and Adhyayana Utsavam Celebrations).

Following the Ekantha Sevai at 11am, the team of priests led by Seshadri Bhattar performed a special Thirumanjana for over 2hours in front of several hundred devotees who had gathered at the temple on this festive occasion. Lord Rama was smeared with sandalwood paste, honey, and special turmeric powder, among other things. One could see the pleased Lord smiling at his devotees at the end of the holy bath.

Madhavan was back at the end of the Thirumanjana to present Vedantha Desigar’s Gadyam that provide insights into description of the handsome features of the Lord from ‘Head to Toe’. 

Vaira Mudi Sevai
After a couple of hours of rest on the hot Panguni day, Lord Rama was back at 4pm displaying his third attire of the day – Thiru Aabharana Alankara combined with the Vaira Mudi Sevai as part of the Avathara Aradhana. This time, for an hour Lord Rama enjoyed the beautiful Perumal Thirumozhi Divya Prabhandham verses of Kulasekara Azhwar. Following this, Madhavan along with Dharanidharan Bhattar presented in a rapid fast paced style ‘Raghuveera Gadyam’, where Vedanta Desigar praises the ‘Veera’ qualities of Lord Rama.(http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2014/04/raghuveera-gadyam-vedanta-desigar.html)

The celebrations culminated with the much awaited ‘Muthu Kondai’ display. Seated on the Pushpaka Vimana, just after 8pm, Lord Rama, along with Sita and Lakshmana, provided darshan in this fourth and most handsome looking attire during his 3hour procession around the Mada streets and it was 230am when the Lord was finally put to sleep - Sayanam. This is one of the only two occasions in the year that Lord Rama comes out on Street Procession (the other being on the 7th day of Brahmotsavam). It is the other Utsava deity Karunakara Perumal who is the processional idol on all other festive occasions.

Legend has it that Rama landed here with Sita on the Pushpaka Vimana after killing Ravana to fulfil the promise that he had earlier made to Vibandaka Rishi.

The story goes that Vibandaka Rishi’s son Rishya Singar helped King Dasharatha conduct the Putra Kameshti Yaagam which resulted in the birth of Rama. In his search for Sita, Rama and Lakshmana reached Vibandaka Rishi’s ashram here in Madurantakam. The Rishi gave Rama the confidence that he would be able to locate Sita and wanted him to visit this place on his return trip and provide Darshan along with Sita. Hence Rama is seen in a Kalyana Kolam at this temple with him holding the hand of Sita.

On the 3rd day of Thai, Karunakara Perumal goes on a procession to Nyana Giri Parvatham, the hill where Rama is believed to have descended on his Pushpaka Vimana.

No Hanuman inside the temple
A unique feature at this temple is the absence of Hanuman inside the temple. As Rama had sent Hanuman as a messenger to inform Bharata that he was on his way and did not come along with Rama in the Pushpaka Vimana, Hanuman is not seen inside the temple.

Having presented the idol of Lord Ranganatha to the new Lankan king Vibheeshana, Lord Rama is said to have invoked the blessings of Karunakara Perumal who was his aradhana idol.

The meeting of Ramanuja with Periya Nambi 

It was here that Ramanuja met with his Acharya Periya Nambi and was initiated with the Pancha Samskaram. In memory of this special event, one finds a separate Sannidhi for Ramanuja and Periya Nambi. 

Quick Facts
Moolavar         : Kothanda Rama in a Kalyana Kolam
Goddess           : Janaka Valli Thaayar (Separate Sannidhi)
Utsavar           : 1. Karunakara Perumal
                          2. Rama
Temple Time    : 730am-12noon and 430pm-830pm
Contact            :  Seshadri Bhattar @97868 66800

Friday, April 18, 2014

Raghuveera Gadyam Vedanta Desigar

Recital of Mahaveera Vaibhavam is a perfect medicine for relief from life's fears
Desigar's Gadyam showcases Rama's Valour and fearlessness
In 94Gadyams of delightful prose that is to be rendered in a fast paced style, Vedanta Desigar captures the essence of entire Ramayana specifically describing Lord Rama’s valour at different points of his life.  It is believed that reciting this Gadyam is equivalent to an entire Ramayana Parayanam.

Starting with the ease with which Rama broke the bow, as directed by Sage Vishwamitra, to bag Sita’s hand, Desigar takes one through the different phases  of Rama’s life where he, to uphold Dharma, displays his valour to protect people from evil forces.

பரத்வாஜ சாசன பரிக்ருஹீத விசித்ர
 சித்ரகூட கிரி கடக தடா ரம்யா வசத
He describes the way Rama killed Asuras - Karan and Dooshana. Highlighting Rama’s ‘Veera’ Qualities, Desigar describes killing of asuras in the Dhandaka Forest creating for the rishis a path that seemed so full of Parijatha flowers. Having killed 14000asuras, there was nothing Rama could not achieve, praises Desigar. He says that one could almost see on his shoulders the arrow marks of the strikes made by the asuras.

In one Gadyam, Desigar refers to Rama as being a witness to Sabari Moksham.
அவந்த்ய  மஹிம முநிஜந  பஜன முஷித ஹ்ருதய கலுஷ 
சபரி மோக்ஷ  ஸாக்ஷி பூத

Towards the end, Desigar praises Rama saying that even a slight tweaking of the string of his bow sent shock waves across Lanka. He describes the effortless ease with which he defeated the almost invincible Lankan King Ravana.

த்ரேதா யுக ப்ரவர்த்தித கார்த்தயுக வ்ருத்தாந்த ... 
Desigar says that even in the Tretha Yuga, when dharma had slightly weakened, Raghava Simha ruled Ayodhya with the same high Dharmic Principles that was so symbolic of the previous period - the Kretha Yuga.

Desigar ends ‘Mahaveera Vaibhavam’ (another name for Raghuveera Gadyam) directing everyone to recite this as a perfect medicine for relief from any fears of Samsaric life.