Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thiru Ezhu Kootrirukkai

A 47 line composition offering absolute surrender to Lord Aravamudhan

In this Pictorial Poem on Thiru Kudanthai, Thiru Mangai Azhvaar invokes the blessings of Lord Aravamuthan to get rid of one’s past karmas and to bring an end to this worldly life

Classical Description: Mounted the ‘Four Feathered’ Garuda to save the ‘Four Legged- Three Ichored-Two Eared’ Gajendra


In the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham, Thiru Mangai Azhvaar composed a unique one of its kind pictorial poem, Thiru Vezhukootrirukkai dedicated to Lord Aravamudhan of Thiru Kudanthai (Sarangapani Temple). 

As the name (Thiru- Ezhu- Kootriru-Kai) suggests, this composition has been created in a 7 tiered structure and is in the form of a chariot. One can arrange the contents of the composition in line with this structure.

It is only a small 47 line composition but is very significant for it is here that Thiru Mangai Azhvaar offers his absolute surrender to Lord Aravamudhan stating that he has had enough of worldly life and seeks refuge in the Lord.

In this composition, he praises the many great qualities of the Lord from his various Avataras.

 He describes the Lord’s achievements in his Vamana Avatara, showcases the Gajendra Moksham episode providing relief to the struggling elephant and praises the Lord as the one who conquered the seven bulls to save Nappinnai. He also refers to the Lord as the one who controls the pair of opposites like Joy and Sorrow.

A beautiful description of an Elephant
Thiru Mangai Azhvaar provides a beautiful description of the Lord mounted on the Garuda to save the elephant.  He praises the Lord as being so powerful that when he rode on the ‘Five Feathered’ Garuda to save the ‘Four Legged- Three Ichored-Two Eared’ unique elephant Gajendra one day in the 200 cubit deep water, the four quarters trembled in fear.

நால் திசை நடுங்க  அம் சிறைப் பறவை ஏறி
நால் வாய் மும் மதத்து இரு செவி
ஒரு தனி  வேழத்து அரந்தையை
ஒரு நாள் இரு நீர்மடுவுள் தீர்த்தனை

In the last ten lines of this pictorial composition, Thiru Mangai Azhvaar specifically showers praise on Lord Aravamudhan of Thiru Kudanthai. He gives us a glimpse of what Kudanthai looked like during his time.

குன்றா மது மலர்ச் சோலை வண்கொடிப் படப்பை
வரு புனல் பொன்னி மா மணி அலைக்கும்

செந்நெல் ஒண்  கழனித் திகழ் வனம் உடுத்த
கற்போர் புரிசைக் கனக மாளிகை
நிமிர் கொடி விசும்பில் இளம் பிறை துவக்கும்

Referring to the reclining posture of the Lord, he says that the temple was surrounded by huge flower groves that seemed to give out nectar. There were betel creepers that through the year seemed to produce a special fragrance thanks largely to being watered by the sacred Cauvery.

செல்வம் மல்கு தென் திருக்குடந்தை
அந்தணர் மந்திர மொழியுடன் வணங்க

ஆடு அரவு அமளியில் அறிதுயில்
அமர்ந்த பரம

Also the lands in Thiru Kudanthai were fertile with greenery all around. The entire place was filled with Vedic Seers and recital of Vedas was a regular feature here. It seemed to have a reverberating positive effect on the people.

Thiru Mangai Azhvaar also praises Thiru Kudanthai as a place that had high mansions and it looked as though they were touching the moon.
நின் ஆதி இணை பணிவன்
வரும் இடர் அகல மாற்றோ வினையே


In conclusion, he invokes the blessings of Lord Aravamuthan to get rid of his past karmas and to bring an end to his worldly life and praises the Lord as the only one who can do this. He asks for permission to perform daily service to the Lord here at Thiru Kudanthai.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Somanathaswamy Temple Pazhayarai

Birth Place of Mangayakarasi, one of the 63 Nayanmars
Several beautiful sculptures of Narasimha and Prahalada depicting legendary tales

Located 3kms East of Patteeswaram and half a km West of Nathan Koil Divya Desam is the several centuries old Somanathaswamy Temple in Pazhaiyarai, a location whose legend dates back to the Pallava period. In different period of time, this place has come to be referred to as Mudikonda Chozha Puram, Aagavamalla Kulakaala Puram and Raja Raja Puram. The temple complex housing Lord Someswarar has been constructed in a way that horses are driving the Lord on a wheeled chariot. 


Nandi undertook Penance - Nandipuram
Legend has it that Nandi, the vehicle of Shiva, wanted to meet Lord Vishnu at Vaikuntam and in his eagerness to meet entered without securing the permission of the security guards (Dwarapalakas). This angered the Dwarapaalakaas who cursed the Nandi who then looked up to Lord Shiva for solution. As per his directions, Nandi undertake penance at this place and was relieved from the curse at this place. In memory of this legendary episode, this region came to be known as Nandipuram. 

In each of his 10 verses of praise on Nathan KoilVaishnavite Saint Poet Thiru Mangai Azhvaar refers to this place as Nandipura Vinnagram.  Nandipuram served as the capital of this region during the Chozha Period. 

In the Thevaram verses, this place was referred to as Palasai, Pazhaiyaarai and just simply as Aarai.
Thiru Gnana Sambanthar's in his verses of praise on Patteeswaram temple makes a reference to this place in two of his verses. 
Moon God's Pooja
It is believed the Moon God invoked the blessings of the Lord at this place. Hence the Lord is referred to as ‘Soma’ Nathaswamy. 

Birth Place of Mangayakarasi
This is the birth place of one of the 63 Nayanmars Mangayakarasi who later went on to marry a Pandya King. She promoted Saivism in great style in this region.

Komali (Cow) performed pooja at this temple. Hence the Ambal is referred to as Soma Kamalambigai. Another cow ‘Vimali’ performed pooja in the nearby Nurayur where there is another ancient Saivite temple dedicated to Nayaki Dharmapureeswarar.
Architecture
The temple tower is entirely of brick construction similar to the one at Gopinatha Swamy temple West of Patteeswaram. Similar to that temple, the temple tower here too is in dilapidated state and has remained half complete. While the outer Gopuram is a brick construction, the entire temple complex inside is of a strong granite structure and looks strong even today. 

Pundarikakshan Temple in Thiru Vellarai near Srirangam also has a temple tower similar to the one here in Pazhayarai.
Inside the temple one finds several exquisite sculptures depicting legendary tales including those relating to Narasimha and Prahalada and the Lord’s fight with the asura. There is a stone carving of Lankan king Ravana lifting the Mount Kailasa.
There were also several inscriptions inside the temple dating back to the Chozhas that provided insights into Rajendra Chozha’s directions on contributions relating to temples. Many of these have been erased with the passing of time. 
During the Chozha rule, there was a majestic palace in Pazhaiyaarai and was referred to as Madurantakan Thiru Maaligai. There was also a reference to Rajendra Chozha Mandapa within the Palace here at this place.

Near to this temple is another Saivite temple in Panchavan Maha Deveeswaram, one dedicated by Rajendra Chozha to his mother Panchavan Maha Devi. 
A Kumbabhishekam was performed last year after a  gap of almost 400 years along with the Kumbabhishekam of the Patteeswaram temple. 

There is a Veera Durgai Sannidhi on the Northern corner of the temple.

Festivals
Lord Nataraja is taken out on a procession on the occasion of Aruthra in Margazhi.
On Chitrai Rohini, the birthday of Mangayakarasi, a special abhishekam is performed with a procession accompanied by the recital of the sacred songs.

In decades gone by, Brahmotsvam used to be celebrated in a grand manner with street processions  but today the temple wears a deserted look. The priest  who comes from Patteeswaram performs a one-time pooja and it is the security who takes care of the temple for the rest of the day.
The temple is open between 6am- 1pm and 6pm-8pm.  

Contact Sabesa Gurukkal @ 99525 30576 / Balakrishnan Security @ 95007 18152 / Balaguru @ 96554 80486 (a long time resident of Pazhayarai)

How to reach
An auto from Patteeswaram will cost Rs. 75. One can reach also reach Pazhayarai from Kumbakonam via Korukkai.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Venkatramana M

The First Test Cricketer from Madurai was given a raw deal with the Indian team 
Compared with Prasanna for his natural flight and arc in the late 1980s, he was alongside two other spin legends on his two overseas tours but played just the one test in his career!!!
Yet another case of cricketing talent from TN that was not nurtured, protected and grown

Ramana sorely missed a mentor and Godfather!!! - R Dinesh 
(JMD, TVS & Sons), the man who spotted him in Madurai
In a matter of 3-4 years in the late 1980s, a young cricketer from Madurai had shot into prominence at the National Level, this after he gave up Basketball for cricket earlier in the decade. Everything seemed to be going in the right direction for the shy non English conversant man from the districts. M Venkatramana had a remarkable debut season in Ranji Trophy with 35 wickets, one that earned him an immediate test call. 

His Alwarpet and TVS teammate, K Srikkanth was alongside him on his first overseas tour to the West Indies. Legendary S Venkataraghavan was his cricket manager on that tour. On his 2nd overseas tour, another of the famous Spin quartet, BS Bedi was the coach. In between he was remarked as a probable successor to another of the spin greats Erapalli Prasanna, for his flight, arc, bounce and turn.  No other off spinner since Prasanna had shown that amount of natural zip off the wicket in India. It would have seemed a dream come true for any youngster to have had some sort of association with three of the spin greats.

But his confidence was shattered as quickly as it rose. And yet another talent had been sacrificed even before the bud was allowed to bloom.

Venkatramana was a high flying Basketball player at school and led the Madurai U 16 team and it seemed likely that he pursue that sport till the time R Dinesh, Joint Managing Director, TVS and Sons spotted him in a practice session and later watched him bowl against his team.

Venkatramana also played cricket for his school - the not so renowned (for cricket) Madura College Matriculation School. For the first time in its history, the off spinner led his team to victory against the fancied TVS School. 

From Basketball to Cricket- The Transformation
Dinesh was introduced to Venkatramana in a practice session way back when he was in his mid teens. He remembers that first encounter against the young offie in a match ‘He bowled very well against us, was very accurate and showed a lot of promise. I could see that he an ability to take wickets.’ Watching Venkatramana in action, it struck Dinesh that this teenager had it in him to play for Tamil Nadu, at the least. 
Finding his potential, TVS School immediately roped him in for class XI and XII.  Dinesh was also looking for a good off-spinner for TVS Cricket Club, his league team in Madurai. Having been impressed with Venkatramana’s potential, it was Dinesh who recommended to the team’s Coach to rope him in ( He was playing for Majestic CC at that time and had previously started off his Club cricket in Madurai with Jolly Rovers).  

Dinesh was a senior at school. He was so impressed with Venkatramana’s talent that he would pick him up for all the matches in those early years, discussing about cricket while travelling together. It was those inspirational daily chats with Dinesh that led Venkatramana to quit basketball for cricket. It was one of the first transformational moments in Venkatramana’s life. Dinesh mentored Venkatramana over the next few years. 

TVS had a philosophy of ensuring that cricketers had enough time to scale up and practice their game rather than worry about money in a professional job.  Venkataramana was one of those from Madurai chosen to be supported by the Group.

‘Once we realised his capabilities and he started integrating into the team, he not only built up his game, but also became a key player by representing our teams in Chennai as well, and we decided to support him financially.’ 

It was Dinesh and TVS that opened the doors for more opportunities in cricket for Venkatramana. Immediately after his graduation from Madura College, Dinesh provided him with the much needed job security at TVS and Sons, Madurai.

Dinesh remembers Venkatramana from those days in the early 80s as a well mannered and tenacious cricketer, not necessarily aggressive. ‘He became a little more ambitious as he grew up and once he started tasting success.’

It was at the TVS Club that Venkatramana also came under the watchful eyes of PK Dharmalingam who coached TVS (both in Madurai and Madras) that decade. The coach would coach the TVS team in Madurai through the week from Monday to Friday  and return for the weekend to Madras to coach Alwarpet. 
Dharmalingam was closely associated with Venkatramana during his teenage days. He saw a lot of potential in Venkatramana ‘He was very sincere and hard working. Throughout that period, Venkatramana did not miss a single session. May be he was not all that ambitious but he was a totally committed boy wanting to give his best all the time. He had long fingers and used his height well to gain extra bounce.’ 

Dharmalingam suggested to K Srikkanth in Madurai during an inter TVS Club (Madras vs Madurai) to pick him up for Alwarpet in the first division league in Madras.

Srikkanth's role 
Srikkanth instilled the sense of aggression in Venkatramana not seen much in an off spinner in the state in the decades earlier. He attacked and went for wickets unmindful of giving away runs. It was thanks to Srikkanth that he remained an attacking bowler throughout his career with sole focus on disturbing the batsmen with bounce and turn. 
Within a year at Alwarpet, he was in the State U22 and U25 squad. Strong performances in the next couple of years in the first division league, age group tournaments as well as Buchi Babu tournament earned him a place in the TN Ranji Squad in 1987-88. 

'You will go places' - Kripal Singh
After watching him bowl, AG Kripal Singh, the then Chairman of TN Selection committee called him one day and told him that he saw great potential in the off spinner and that he would go places. 

A dream debut season
What a debut season he had in Ranji Trophy in 87-88 as he played a stellar role in TN lifting the trophy topping the wickets tally nationally with 35 wickets including three five wicket hauls under the guidance of S Vasudevan. 

In January 1988, in the final league match, he had his first big moment in the Ranji Trophy. Against a strong Karnataka team comprising of GR Vishwanath and Brijesh Patel, Venkatramana picked up his first five wicket haul. In the very next match, the quarter final against UP, he grabbed headlines again with another five wicket haul. He played another crucial role in the Semi Final win as well. Up against a rampant Sidhu at Chepauk, Tamil Nadu was in a spot of bother despite amassing a 600+ score. It was Venkatramana’s double blow including dismissing Sidhu that swung the match decisively in Tamil Nadu’s favour to take them through to the final. And he ended the season with 80 wickets in the final against Railways. 

An year with Vasudevan
Spending his entire debut year alongside S Vasudevan was a great learning experience for Venkatramana as he learnt further the nuances of spin bowling. Like in international cricket, where he missed Srikkanth's presence, here at the domestic level, Vasudevan made a surprise retirement announcement ( to provide opportunities for the upcoming Sunil Subramaniam) after lifting the Ranji Trophy. And that was a big blow to Venkatramana as the presence of Vasudevan for the next couple of years would have helped him sharpen his 'spinning' skills.
Vasudevan saw great potential in Venkatramana and believed he had it in him to scale the peak ‘Ramana was a very good off-spinner with high-arm action and was able to get a good bounce & turn that got him a lot of wickets. He was one of best offies in India in the late 80s and early 90s.’

The best compliment of his life
The then Chairman of National Selection committee Raj Singh Dungarpur too was excited after watching Venkatramana bowl. In an unforgettable moment for Venkatramana, Raj Singh came up to him and told him that he saw Prasanna in this young off spinner and that he had never before been this excited at the prospect of watching an off spinner bowl. It was probably the biggest compliment Venkatramana could have received at that point in his career. 

Alongside Srikkanth and Venkat in WI
It seemed at that time that all was going his way. His performances in the Ranji season coupled with TN lifting the Trophy earned him instant recognition. That same year, he was picked in the squad for the Bombay test against New Zealand but he did not play in the XI. Later that season, he was picked to go on a long trip to the West Indies alongside his club captain K Srikkanth and TN team mate Robin Singh. Venkataraghavan was the team manager on that tour. Everything was adding up nicely for Venkatramana in that phase. 

But how soon all that changed!!! Srikkanth received a terrible blow in his hand just ahead of the first test ( in the final one dayer) and had to return home. That was a major blow to Venkatramana for Srikkanth was a senior and influential member of the Indian team in that phase. He probably knew Venkatramana and his potential the best. 

Venkatramana had Venkataraghavan by his side throughout that tour but for a shy youngster from the districts who was not conversant with the English language, it was not easy to approach the legendary off spinner. 
While Venkatramana seemed to bowl reasonably well in the tour games, he did not get to play till the final test of the series - end of April 1989 - that had gone so drastically wrong for India.  The morale was generally low on tour with India having been beaten soundly in the one dayers and not having performed creditably in the earlier tests. Even that opportunity rose after an injury to a fast bowler and Venkatramana was informed only an hour ahead of start that he was playing. The pitch at Sabina Park was not made for spinners and Venkatramana did not get to bowl much. In the second innings, he picked up Desmond Haynes as his only test wicket - that in the last over of the series!!!

Left out of the Pak tour under Srikkanth
India toured Pakistan next in November 1989 but Venkatramana was told by the selection committee that he was being protected from that tour as it was expected to be a fast bowling dominated tour. Srikkanth was the captain on that tour but Venkatramana once again missed out on an opportunity to be alongside his club captain (India performed creditably on that tour with Manoj Prabhakar and Kapil Dev shining with the ball but off field controversies led to Srikkanth losing his captaincy).

Venkatramana continued to perform well with the ball in the domestic tournaments. In the final of the Duleep Trophy he picked up 6 wickets against West Zone to help South Zone lift the trophy. 

Shattering Experience in New Zealand
He earned a recall for the three test tour to New Zealand in early 1990 alongside TN team mate VB Chandrasekar (who had struck back to back centuries in the Duleep Trophy).  But it turned out to be the most shattering experience of his cricketing career, one that set him back by a year or two. 

Legendary spinner BS Bedi was the coach on tour.  He tried to modify Venkatramana something that did not quite suit him. Worst still, the training regime on that tour was the worst he encountered in his career. It was unsystematic, tiresome and completely burnt him out, more so that he didn’t play in any of the tests on that tour and was generally warming the benches at different venues. 

He lost his rhythm on that tour and returned with fatigue, both physical and mental. His bowling had deteriorated after being restricted to bowling in the nets day in day out on that tour. 

VB Chandrasekar, for whom too this was the last international series, had told me way back in 1998 about the trauma he had undergone in New Zealand having been made to run up the hill repeatedly on that tour as part of a supposed fitness regime.  It was not something Indians were used to – to run 10-15kms up and down the hill every day of a cricket tour (VBC had had a great tour opener with strong knocks in both the innings and yet the man from TN was overlooked for the tests when by all counts he would have merited a test place on that tour). 

Post retirement, Bedi was keen on keeping himself fit. As a youngster and especially being part of the spin fraternity, Venkatramana was susceptible to ‘crude’ lessons, became an easy bunny and never quite recovered from that experience.

Former Ranji and India team mate WV Raman, who too was on both those tours and watched him closely says with a tinge of sadness that 'Venkatramana was unlucky not to get the right breaks.'

Tormenting Times
Returning after that tour and with confidence low of having sat out most of the time on the international arena, he was caught in that typical indecisive zone - should he get into the corporate world to try and work his way up the ladder or should he focus on cricket and try and regain his place in the national squad. He opted for the latter and kept pegging on at the state level at a time when there was little money on offer for state cricketers. 

Five years later, he earned a call with the India A team that comprised of Ganguly and Dravid among others for a tour to Sharjah, thus opening the doors for him to press his claims once again. For the third overseas tour in succession, he did not get the chances he merited. He was the only player in the entire squad not to play a single match on tour. He was not even allowed an opportunity to ‘fail’. It was a tormenting feeling to be sitting outside on three big tours. Many a time he felt it was better for him to not be there (playing cricket). In those dark days, sleep often deserted him as he was left wondering if he would ever get an opportunity to bowl. 

When he was overlooked for every single game for India A, he saw it as the final nail in his ‘cricketing’ coffin and he could bear it no longer. He went seeking greener pastures in the UK where he played league cricket. It was also the beginning of his move from a player to a coach. He played there for 5 English summers, something that was to pave the way for his coaching stint in Singapore. He was the head coach of the Singapore National team for many years from 2005. Surprisingly for someone not too conversant in English, his coaching career has been far more satisfying than his playing days. 

A dozen years with the State had fetched him close to 250 wickets but really he had the potential to have done a lot better. 

Vasudevan who himself was undone by lack of opportunities even at the Zonal level during his playing days feels sad even today at the lack of opportunities for this talented off spinner ‘For some unknown reasons, he could not get the right opportunities to prove himself and play longer in the National Team.’
Dinesh is even more specific and forthright in his views on the 'Madurai Man' missing out ‘In those days, you needed a ‘Godfather’ to support you by making sure the selectors recognised you.’ Venkatramana did not have one to push his ‘justified’ case. 

Venkatramana looks back at those early days as one of ‘innocence’. While in the West Indies, he was far too scared to go Venkataraghavan, the one in New Zealand was an experience of being under a ‘dictator’. He was just far too subdued and the time just passed sitting on the sidelines. While the selectors backed him on two tours, the team management kept him away restricting him to nets sessions and tour games. ‘It never occurred to me that I was being unfairly treated. I thought this was the way it was and kept pegging at it. Only on reflection, does it now seem that it could have been so much better if I had been given chances on the field of play.’ 

Having seen him emerge into a competent cricketer after discarding Basketball, Dinesh thinks that ‘Ramana definitely did well (more than what had been in my dreams when I first met with him) for himself.’  But, by the same token he regrets that it could have been better if he had been mentored extensively with the intention of becoming an international cricketer ‘Venkatramana missed a mentor who could have helped him build his capability as a bowler and may be further sharpen his off-spin skills. If that had happened, it is likely he would have scaled greater heights and played significantly for India.’

2nd phase of his cricketing life - Coaching Stint
Last year, Venkatramana was appointed as the head coach of Dindigul Dragons, a team in the TNPL that in some sense took him back to his roots in the districts down South.

Off Spinner VDS Guru Kedarnath, who also plays league cricket in Australia, was one of the beneficiaries at Dindigul Dragons. He made an important contribution as the Dindigul Dragons impressed for a major part of the tournament.
Kedar credits Venkatramana for his creditable performances in the TNPL last year "He helped me improve my action with subtle adjustment to get more alignment in my action that resulted in more body into the ball.'


Venkatramana too had tactical understanding of both the bowler as well as the match situations and provided several important inputs to Kedar that included bowling to different players,situations,field setting and surfaces.

Like  Venkatramana in his playing days, one found Kedar bowling with an attacking mindset through the tournament. Bowling most of the time in the power play, he tempted the batsmen to go over the top by having a sweeper and deep mid wicket and without deep fielders in the straight field, thus creating a wicket taking option early on!

In the last few years, Venkatramana has also been associated with the BCCI performing coaching duties at the NCA. Just past 50, he is finally reaping some kind of financial rewards for his 3+ decades in cricket, albeit through coaching.
But really his has been a story on yet another great talent going amiss due to the callous attitude of the powers that be in not taking care to nurture, protect and grow a youngster in his prime. It showcases to the cricketing world the fickleness of the sport - as to how one’s confidence can shoot up like a meteor and fall at just the same speed never to rise again.

Being a top wicket-taker in the Indian domestic season in a debut season is something rare. And to follow that with match winning performances in Duleep Trophy, one sensed that a genuine off spinner had come to stay. But neither at the State level nor at the national stage did anyone come forward to take care of such a rare talent from the districts. By the turn of the decade, he wore a shattered look.

There were no video analysts in those days. The ball wasn’t coming out of his hand in the way he would have liked after that NZ tour but he was left to fight his own battle. 

It was all fluid for him in that phase in the early 90s. But he had stuck his neck out far too much into cricket for him to look beyond. For a TN cricketer it was yet another case of ‘what might have been’. He was undone by lack of opportunities at his prime. 

The first cricketer from Madurai to play test cricket, Venkatramana had it in him to contribute a lot more to Indian Cricket. But it was not to be. Despite having legendary spinners on both his international tours, this talented off spinner from Madurai ended up playing just one test and mostly warmed the bench and faded into oblivion much sooner than one expected.

He has dreams of coaching the State. It is hoped that his coaching stint will be lot more successful and that he is provided with the opportunities to scale to the highest level in this 2nd phase of his cricketing life. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Mahavira Vaibhavam Aranya Kaandam

In these 13 churnikas of Aranya Kaandam, Vedanta Desikar praises Rama's valour and sets the stage for the sad phase in his life of being separated from Sita 
Sees Jatayu as his 2nd father, performs obsequies for the valiant battle that the Eagle bird fought
Demon Kabhandha's directs Rama to seek Sugriva's friendship - a turning point in this episode

விராத ஹரிண ஷார்துல 
விளுளித பஹுபல மக களம ரஜனிகர 
ம்றக மர்கயாரம்ப சம்ப்ருத சீற ப்ருதநுரோத 

Having promised Sage Atri to protect all the sages in the forest from the demons, Rama began his task starting with Viraatha (Tumburu), who was earlier an assistant of Kubera. Once he was lost in thoughts with damsel Rambha, thus angering his boss Kubera, who cursed him along with Rambha to become a demon (Celestials Tumburu and Rambha are referred in Periyazhvaar’s Thirumozhi http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2015/09/krishna-plays-flute.html as well as well as in Kulasekara  Azhvaar’s Perumal Thirumozhi http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2016/04/thiruvenkatam-kulasekara-azhvaar.html ).

One day in the Dhandaka forest, Rama was intercepted by this ugly figure. Lured by the beautiful looking Sita, he picked her up and flew away only to be knocked down by Rama’s arrows. He then turned his attention on the two brothers whom he lifted with his two hands. After a long tussle, Rama chopped off his two arms and the huge demon fell down on the ground. He then gained his original form of Tumburu and flew skywards praising Rama as a ‘Tiger’.

It is in this context that Desikar refers to Rama as the Tiger who laid low the deer (Viraatha). Rama thus killed many demons that disturbed the peace of the Sages.

த்ரிஷிரஷிஷிரஸ்ட்ரிதய திமிர நிராச வாஸர கர 

Having protected Sage Sutikshana, Rama moved on in the forest to another location where he met Agastya. From there, he moved to Panchavati.  It was here that demoness Surpanaka set her sights on the handsome Rama. Turning herself into a beautiful maiden, she approached him. When he rejected her offer, she struck at Sita seeing her as the stumbling block. And immediately Lakshmana, on instruction from Rama, lashed out at her.  She rushed to her brother Khara for help. He assigned the task of taking on Rama to the three headed Trisaras.

Desikar refers to this asura as an embodiment of darkness that could only be dispelled by the rays of the Sun. Thus he refers to Rama as the bright Sun who brought back light by killing the asura.

தூஷண ஜலநிதி ஷோஷண தோஷித
ருசி கண கோஷித விஜய கோஷண  
Following the death of Trisaras, Desikar moved on to the episode relating to the death of Dooshana who was assigned the task of killing Rama. He came with a large army, but Rama deprived him of the chariot, bow, arrows and then while on the ground chopped off his arms. And finally killed him much to the delight of Agastya. Desikar refers to this approach as that of an ocean.

கரதர கரதரு கண்டன சண்ட பவன 

Khara himself came forward to try and fulfil his promise to Surpanaka. And he too fell down in a trance unable to match the strength of the arrows that came in his direction.

 த்விசப்த ரக்சஸ்சாஹர நலவன விலோலன மஹாகலப 
அஸஹாய ஷூர ....... அநபாய சாஹச 

Along with the three asuras, he also destroyed their contingent of 14000 demons. Swami Desikar compares this episode to a young elephant that would crush the sticks on the ground.

This seemed like a battle of unequals. Rama directed Lakshmana to take care of Sita and ventured out to take on the army of 14000 demons leaving the celestials anxious of the likely outcome. Desikar praises Rama as one who could vanquish the opponent without any support. Unmindful of the size of the opposition, Rama went to the battlefield with confidence as he was determined to fulfil his promise to the Sages. Desikar attributed this confidence to his commitment to protect those that had approached him for help.

Desikar specifically refers to 'Saahasa' thus bringing to one’s attention the situation around Rama as he faced 14000 fierce warriors and this scenario of taking them on single handedly was fraught with risk and there was a likelihood of a failure.

மஹித மஹாம்ருத தர்ஷன முதித மைதிலி 
ட்ருட தர பறிறம்பன  விபவ விரோபித விகட வீர வ்ருந  
When Rama came back victorious Sita held him in a tight embrace that relieved him of all the pains of and injuries from the battle. 

The episode leading to the separation

மாரீச மாயா ம்ருக சர்ம பரிகர்மித நீர்பர தர்பாஸ்தரன 

Desikar moves on to the episode of Maaricha disguising himself as a golden deer and luring Sita with his rare never before seen look. When Rama earlier killed three demons one of the assistants Akampana escaped and reported the series of events to Ravana. Praising Rama’s strengths Akampana told Ravana that not even he could enter the forest and fight Rama and that the only way to lie him low was to take away his beautiful wife.

When Ravana approached his uncle Maricha, he was warned to let go off this idea, for Maricha had already experienced the might of Rama (earlier churnika http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2017/01/vedantha-desikar-mahaveera-vaibhavam.html).

Ravana trusted his uncle’s words and went back to Lanka. However when his sister Soorpanaka came back disfigured, Ravana’s anger knew no bounds. Lured by her description of Sita’s beauty, the desire rose and he once again reached out to his uncle for help. When he threatened Maricha with death if he refused, the latter who knew his time had come believed that it was better to die killed by Rama than Ravana.

And when Maricha took the form of the deer, Sita, as expected, fell for this rare beauty and thus Maricha took Rama far away into the forest before finally falling to Rama’s arrow. 

In this churnika, Desikar hints at this killing by referring to Rama acquiring the skin of the deer to serve as his seat. (Sita had suggested to Rama that even if he is not able to catch the deer alive, Just the skin would do)

விக்ரம யஷோ லாப விக்ரித ஜீவித 
கிருதராஜா தேஹ திதஷா 
லக்ஷிதா பக்த ஜன தாக்ஷிண்ய 

Jatayu just stays alive to inform Rama

Desikar narrates the events surrounding the death of Jatayu and thus points to the abduction of Sita. When Maricha was struck by Rama’s arrow, he shouted ‘Sita, Lakshmana’ thus creating doubts in Sita’s mind about the safety of her husband. She ordered Lakshmana to track Rama. On his refusal she accused him and finally forced him to go in search of her husband.

Following this, Ravana appeared in an ascetic form. Sita welcomed him.  Once near, he cast off the disguise and snatched her away.

It was then that the old eagle bird, hearing the cries of Sita, fought a determined battle before his wings were cut off.  He kept himself alive just to inform Rama of the developments.

Away from this last battle of Jatayu, Rama rushed back to find that his worst fears had come true. Sita wasn’t to be found and it was during his search that he came across Jatayu. While recounting the tale of his last fight, Jatayu breathed his last.

As Jatayu had mentioned that he was an old friend of King Dasaratha, Rama who was unable to perform the final rites of his father performed obsequies for the eagle bird as if he was his second father.

Kabhandha directs Rama to seek Sugriva's help

கல்பித விபுத பாவ கபந்தாபிணந்தித 

They continued their search in the forest and encountered Demon Kabhandha, who with his long arms dragged both Rama and Lakshmana. When his arms were cut off, he requested Rama to dig a pit and burn him. He had once robbed Sage Sthulasiras of his daily provisions and was cursed to remain a demon till Rama was to relieve him from the curse.

And once relieved of the curse, he had the unique ability to foretell events. In a transformative event in the Ramayana, it was here that Kabhandha on his death bed directed Rama to go westwards and seek the friendship of Sugriva, who he suggested would help him locate Sita. Thus Rama moved on to the next phase with the single minded focus on attaining Sugriva's friendship. 

Though Kabhandha was not a celestial, he acquired the divine form on his death, thanks to Rama’s touch.

The episode of Sabari Moksham
அவந்த்ய மஹிம முநிஜந பஜண  முசித ஹ்ருதய 
கலுஷ சபரீ  மோக்ஷ சாட்சிபூத 

Rama proceeded west wards and reached Matanga’s ashrama. Every one there had reached the heavenly abode except a lady who even though was from a lower caste was taught yoga based on her committed service to her leader.  Sabari sought his help to rid her from this life and lit a pyre and gave her life by jumping into the sacrificial fire. 

With this ends Aranya Kaandam and Desikar then moves on to Kishkandha Kaandam in the next set of Churnikas