Sunday, July 9, 2017

Kannamangai Perum Pura Kadal Divya Desam

81 year old Ramaswamy Bhattachar has performed service at this Divya Desam for almost six decades having once upon a time struggled to even pay a house rent of Rs. 5
After 60 years, his monthly salary has now risen to Rs. 1500 !!!!
In 1959, a vacancy arose for a Vaikanasa Agama Archakar at the Bhaktavatsala Perumal Divya Desam in Thiru Kannamangai (, then a remote location about 7kms North of Thiruvarur on the Kumbakonam highway.

Kuppuswamy Bhattar had been performing aradhana at their home town of Pazhakudi near Peralam. His son  PK Ramaswamy had passed Class VIII  but had learnt Vaikanasa Agama initially from the then revered scholar Mudikondan Ramaswamy Bhattar and later at the Sirkazhi and Tirupathi Patshala.

The father asked his son to apply for this post and thus PK Ramaswamy, just out of his teens, came to Thiru Kannamangai Divya Desam as the Bhattachar. He was also given 1 ½ Padi rice every day as part of his remuneration. Since then, he has been performing service here for almost six decades. Over this long period, his monthly salary has risen to just Rs. 1500/- !!! During his life time at this Divya Desam, he has personally performed three Samprokshanams but in those early decades of his service at this Divya Desam, he lived in a rented house in the agraharam on the South Street but did not even have the money to even pay the monthly rent of Rs. 5.
Rs. 2 was a rarity!!!
In those days, he would be delighted to receive Rs. 2 at the end of a day but for the most part that remained an unlikely occurrence through that period for rarely did devotees visit this Divya Desam. Paying Rs. 10, he would cycle once in a while all the way to bigger town of Thiruvarur to get provisions.

Back in those days, the four streets around the temple were full of Brahmins comprising of 100s of Vadakalai and Thenkalai Iyengars as well as Smarthas. Ramaswamy Bhattachar was truly devoted to the Lord and nothing else mattered to him.

This is a Prarthana temple for fulfilment of marriage wishes, this having been a place of the wedding of the Lord and Thayar. Those who offer their prayers here to Garuda are believed to be relieved from all doshams. 

He was a very strict archakar and laid clear rules for the conduct of the devotees at the temple. Over the period of his service, he has helped fulfilled the wedding prayers of over 500 devotees at this temple through his sincere aradhana to Garudaazhvaar.

Go to Kanna Mangai for the Lord's Full Version
When Thiru Mangai Azhvaar came to Chozha region and moved from one temple to another seeking darshan of the Lord in a full and gigantic posture, he was directed to Thiru Kannamangai. Ramaswamy Bhattachar considers it a great blessing to have been serving such a ‘wholesome’ Lord  for the best part of 60 years.

எங்களுக்கு அருள் செய்கின்ற  ஈசனை
வாச வார் குழலாள் மலை மங்கை தன் பங்கனைப்
 பங்கில் வைத்து உகந்தான் தன்னை

பான்மையை, பனி மா மதியம் தவழ் மன்குலை
கடரை வட மா மலை உச்சியை
நச்சி நாம் வணங்கப்படும் கங்குலை
பகவைச் சென்று நாடி
கண்ணமங்கையுள் கண்டு கொண்டேனே – Periya Thirumozhi 7-10-3

Celebration of Kanna Mangai Andan’s Birthday
Aani Shravanam (falls next Tuesday – July 11) has been a special occasion at the temple for several decades. The birthday of Thiru Kannamangai Andan, the revered acharya who was born here, is celebrated in a grand manner at this temple. 
On this day, Thirukovilur Emberumanar Jeer, who has supported this temple over a long period of time, is personally present for the Seva Kalam and Satru Murai.

Revival of the Brahmotsavam
The Brahmotsavam in Chitrai had come to a halt in the 1950s and 60s. It was PK Ramaswamy Bhattachar who helped revive the annual utsavam.  His two sons support him at the temple but for the major utsavams, he took the help of Sowri Raja Bhattar of Thiru Kannapuram for almost two decades. Once upon a time several decades ago, the Uriyadi Utsavam was celebrated in a mandapa North of the temple, near the tank but that is in a dilapidated condition now.
Maintained Good Relations with the Vadakalai Archakar
Thiru Kannamangai is not necessarily known for the unity of the Thenkalaiyars and Vadakalaiyars. In fact, Ramaswamy Bhattachar has seen aggressive combats between the two sects at this Divya Desam.  However, his own relationship with them has been very good.

Roja Poo Brihaspathi Iyengar took care of the Vedanta Desikar Sannidhi at the temple.  Whenever he went out of town for a function, he would hand over the keys of the Sannidhi to Ramaswamy Bhattachar. When he came back from the function, he would hand over any of his income from the function to the Bhattachar in recognition of him having taken care of the Sannidhi. Such was the camaraderie between the two in the decades gone by. 

For the first time in his six decades of service, the temple tank has gone completely dry this year and that saddens him a lot.
80+ and still going strong
With age catching up with him, he is hard of hearing but makes it to the temple every morning and stays there till 12.30pm. Till date, he has not watched a single minute of TV. Neither has he drunk a single cup of coffee all his life. A few years ago, he received the Best Vaikanasa Agama expert award from the Tiruvarur Aanmeega Sangam for his long years of selfless service at this Divya Desam.

Ramaswamy Bhattachar is still seen by his contemporaries as a stickler for perfection in the conduct of the poojas. In this changing world, with impatience being a stand out feature and with everyone looking at finishing things quickly, he remains a traditionalist and does not make compromises in the way temple service is to be performed. He has been looking to pass the baton to his two sons but they have made it clear that he is the ‘Boss’ at the temple and have refused transfer of employment. Thus past 80, Ramaswamy Bhattachar continues an extended engagement with the Lord and he is grateful to be serving the Lord each day even at this age when most others would have opted for the comfort of their homes.

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