Monday, July 3, 2017

Thiru Mogur Kalamegha Perumal

Financial Insecurities of the 20th Century leads the 'NextGen' Bhattars into the Corporate World

The Traditional daily 'Nadaswaram' becomes a thing of the Past in this ancient Divya Desam
The financial challenges of the 70s and 80s led a priest’s family to instill in the minds of the NextGen an urge to become academically proficient and to look for a life away from temple service after having performed over 80 years of service at the ancient Kaalamegha Perumal Divya Desam in Thiru Mogur (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2007/12/thirumogur-kaalamegha-perumal.html) that Nam Azhvaar in his Thiruvoimozhi praised as a place that was full of vedic seers and learned scholars.

நலம் கொள் நான்மறை வாணர்கள் வாழ் திருமோகூர்

And a place where the Lord in a sleeping posture was amidst Red Lotus flowers that bloomed all around all through the year. Quite unlike his praise of other Divya Desams, he began the praise of Thiru Mogur with a description of the Red Lotus flowers that he saw in the many lakes and tanks around the Lord.

தாள தாமரை தடம் அணி வயல் திருமோகூர்
நாளும் மேவி நன்கு அமர்ந்து நின்று அசுரரைத் தகர்க்கும்

தோளும் நான்கு உடைச் சரி கமலக் கண் கனி வாய்க்
காளமேகத்தை அன்றி மற்றொன்று இலம் கதியே

As he turned around and looked, he found Sugarcane and Paddy fields all around the Lord that brought certain vibrancy to the Life at Thiru Mogur. The tank on the Northern side now looks dirty and has gone dry.

என் திசையும் ஈன கரும்பொடு பெரும் செந்நெல் விளைய
கொண்ட கோயிலை வலஞ்செய்து இங்கு ஆடும் கூத்தே

The two sons of Ramakrishna Bhattar of Thiru Mogur have found their way into the IT world and merged into the lifestyle of a city.

Just as a paradox, over the last decade or so, the Kalamegha Perumal Divya Desam in Thiru Mogur has revived, financially, beyond recognition. Promotion of Chakkarathazhavar as a financially life saving deity led to huge devotee crowd at the temple on certain days in the week. Money has also poured into the temple as part of the fund collection exercise during the previous renovation through the marketing of the temple. And the lot of the priests is far better now as compared to the decades in the 60s and 70s.

Through the tough times at Thiru Mogur Divya Desam
Belonging to Azhvaar Tirunagari, Ramakrishnan, a young teenaged boy came to Thiru Mogur Divya Desam in 1975 after having undergone Vedic Education in the Maaran Ubaya Veda Patshala in Thiru Kurugur. Srinivasa Bhattar was a ‘30 day’ archakar at Thiru Mogur but he had no descendents. He roped the young boy and initiated him into Divya Desam service. Ramakrishnan learnt the Pancharatra Agama from Srinivasa Bhattar.  In 1976, Srinivasa Bhattar passed on the ‘Mirasu’ rights to Ramakrishnan. 
Since then for the last 41 years, Ramakrishna Bhattar has been taking care of the service to the Lord. He has over these four decades ensured that the 6 time pooja Kaalam took place each day. During the first couple of decades of his life at Thiru Mogur , there was hardly any income. Only those whose intention it was to complete the Divya Desam ‘count’ came to this temple. The temple presented him with around 3 Katti of prasadam every day.

There was a time in that phase when the Tirupathi Chinna Jeer used to visit Thiru Mogur for the Seva Kalam service during the annual Brahmotsavam, before he became the Jeer. Soon after he became the head, his special to the Lord of Thiru Mogur led him to build a mutt here in the agraharam. He also organized people for Prabhandham Ghosti ensuring a fair Sambhavanai. However, once he passed away, this too stopped. While Brahmotsavam continued to be celebrated, there were no devotees around. The Veda Parayanam and Prabhandham Ghosti became a thing of the past.

Never saw a ‘Rupee’ Note
In that early phase of Ramakrishnan Bhattar’s stint at this temple, the maximum Thattu Kaasu was 2-3paise. He never saw a ‘rupee’ note. Typical of people of those days, he lived within his means and led a contended life.  However, this did not go down well with his family.

Consistently during the period, he would hear whispers from his family members to his two young sons not to get into temple service. It had been a financial struggle for the family and the members throughout the childhood of the two sons sent out the message of staying away from archaka service. This constant initiation of ‘temple service does not help in a secure life’ in the young minds led them away from temples into the IT field and thus two Vaishnavites who should have had leanings to Kalamegha Perumal have been lost to the Corporate world.
               
Daily Nadaswaram too a thing of the past
Not only has the Divya Desam lost out on the descendents of the Bhattar, it has also lost out on the famous Nadaswaram Vidwan. Through the 2nd half of the previous century, Nadaswaram was an integral part of everyday pooja at this temple. The renowned Nadaswaram Vidwan Kannan had performed here for over 25 years. Prior to that, his father had performed every day for over four decades at this Divya Desam.

While there was no financial remuneration for their presentation, they were given farming lands several decades ago. However, this was sold away and Nadaswaram Kannan lost out on the land and the income arising from that.

He approached the HR & CE for either the return of the land or a salary for his service through the year. With no reply forthcoming from the HR & CE and pending this long standing petition, Nadaswaram Kannan decided that it would no longer be possible to present through the year without any financial returns.

Nadaswaram Kannan says with a lot of sadness as to how the HR & CE would invite him just ahead of the visit of top officials or VIPs to present on the day to make it seem that everything was normal at the temple and that the traditional practices were being still being followed. He says that he had presented for decades without income from the temple and just received the prasadam but when in dire straits, his petition has remained unanswered. Having learnt Nadaswaram from the age of five and not knowing much else in life having quit school in class V, he is fully dependent on playing the Nadaswaram for his livelihood.
    
Thus the temple has lost out on the historic tunes played out during the pooja occasions each day of the year. He is ‘hired’ only for the annual Brahmotsavam and his team plays those traditional tunes only on select days in the year.

The festivals too have been revived with funds pouring into the temple. In Maasi, the Utsava deity goes to Yaanai Malai (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2009/12/yoga-narasimha-narasingam-madurai.html) for the enactment of the Gajendra Moksham episode 
Past 60, Ramakrishnan Bhattar continues his service to the Lord. He is financially well off now with the temple having turned around but decades of standing in different Sannidhis for long hours have taken a physical toll on him. The physical strength in his legs is gone, though he still manages to perform the service to the Lord with the same devotion that he has shown in the decades gone by. However, the not so good news is that his sons have been lost to the temple as a result of what the family had gone through in those decades earlier.

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