Friday, July 6, 2018

Srirangam Madapalli Transformation

From IT in the US to Madapalli in Srirangam
The Madapalli at the Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam is currently witnessing one of the biggest transformational changes in temples in Tamil Nadu in recent decades. Two software professionals have quit high paying jobs in the corporate world and have joined the Madapalli in an endeavour to dedicate their lifetime to the service of Lord Ranganatha and with a vision to restore the Madapalli to its ancient glory.

40 year old V. Lakshmi Narasimhan had been in a plump job in the IT industry for close to two decades serving as a software architect in top tier 1 Companies. All his life he has been a multi faceted personality. As a student of the Hindu School, Triplicane, he won the budding mathematician award. He was also a poetry writer, violinist and a school topper in Table Tennis. His father Venkatapathy was proficient in the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham and an expert in Sri Bashyam and initiated him into these. But computers dragged him away into the IT world in the late 1990s. During this period in the IT industry, he has been associated with social and religious service organizations and has contributed to charities to propagate the service minded approach of Vaishnavite Saint Ramanuja.

The Big Call – From IT to Madapalli
He had always cherished a dream to perform service at the Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam.
During the time, he was contemplating a move back to his roots in Srirangam, he came to know through Vaishnavasri Krishnamachari, publisher of Vaishnava Sampradayam books based in Srirangam that the temple was looking for devoted personnel at the Madapalli. After quitting his job in the IT industry last year, Lakshmi Narasimhan spent time at two ancient Divya Desams – Ahobilam and Badrinath to try and explore divinity. The period there gave him a lot of clarity and refinement on his way forward in life. And he took up the big call to move away from the corporate world to perform service at the madapalli and to propagate the Ramanuja Sampradayam.

When Pon Jayaraman, JC of the temple took charge at the temple a few years ago, he felt a shortage of quality people to run the Madapalli in the traditional way. The Madapalli staff did not even sport the traditional attire while at work inside the temple. He was keen and determined to restore the Madapalli to its ancient glory days but found committed people not easily forthcoming to take up service at the Madapalli.

And when he sent out word that he was looking for devoted people to perform service in a traditional way, Sri Vaishnavasri Krishnamachari managed to elicit a positive response from C.L. Srivatsan, a Post Graduate from NIT Trichy. He was just 31years old and had worked at reputed firms such as Cognizant and IISC, Bangalore. Excited at the opportunity to perform service at the feet of the Lord of Srirangam, Srivatsan quit his high profile job, packed his bags and headed to Srirangam last year along with his pregnant wife. 
Months after Srivatsan joined, Lakshmi Narasimhan took the call to move away from the corporate world and he too has now been serving at the madapalli for since the beginning of this year. 

Securing the IT Professionals for the Srirangam Madapalli
Sri Vaishnavasri Krishnamachari who assisted the temple in roping in these two, has always been a strong advocate for the traditional way of service at the temple “Madapalli is a highly sacred place and there is a certain tradition in the way things are done at the Srirangam temple including the attire - sporting 12 Thiruman, wearing Panchakacham and having a tuft. For decades, the personnel at the temple have disobeyed even the basic tradition."
"Both Lakshmi Narasimhan and Srivatsan were highly qualified professionally and were drawing big salaries. They have sacrificed everything, let go of the financial interests and entered the Madapalli as a cook with a service motive.  There are thousands of Vaishnavites to talk and give speeches on idealism but very few when it comes to practical living and execution. This is particularly visible in the temple Madapalli. There is an opportunity for Vaishnavites to serve the Lord but no one is eager to come forward. Lakshmi Narasimhan is a benchmark for Temple Madapalli across the state. He lives by the tradition. A few more of his clone is required to help in the transformation process at the Srirangam temple.”

Financially Lakshmi Narasimhan, who has also been mentoring Srivatsan, younger to him by almost a decade, does not even get 5% of what he received in his last job in IT. However serving the Lord and performing service in the way Ramanuja wanted has been a truly fulfilling experience for him. In the few months that he has been here, he has received backing from the JC for this traditional way of service ‘The greatest support has come from the JC. He has empowered me to do the right thing in the right way at the Madapalli without fear of opposition.”

Initiating the Transformational Process
Both Lakshmi Narasimhan and Srivatsan have embarked on a number of initiatives that is slowly helping the revival of the Madapalli back to its traditional days.  Cleaning of the sacred well, using organic vegetables and the traditional earthen pots for cooking have been a few.

The two of them have been bestowed with the responsibility of preparing the Periya Avasaram (full meals), Sheeranam, Sthala Samba and Aravanai. They are also initiating the process of introducing the traditional ten vegetables for the Periya Avasaram for the Periya Perumal. Both of them also recite the Ramanuja Nootranthathi while performing their service at the Madapalli.

The feedback even at this early stage has been very positive. The quality of food has been like never before in recent decades. 
Lakshmi Narasimhan says that while money is essential for basic living, it also poses as a hurdle for Wisdom.  He firmly believes that God would do wonders when one offers complete surrender and is looking forward to this new journey of ‘Sastras’ based life. He is of the view that sacred food presented with sincere devotion to the Lord can transform people.

A Life Defining Change
Madapalli was an unexpected opportunity that came his way and Lakshmi Narasimhan has grabbed it with both hands letting go of everything else in life. He works through the day and night by the fire, bathes in well water, eats just once a day in the traditional way like his ancestors and walks bare foot most of the time. Having dedicated everything to the Lord, he is suddenly feeling a sense of stress free life. If the Lord wills, he does not want to leave the Madapalli at Srirangam in this life time. He is hoping that more like minded people will join him soon in this devotional transformation journey.

Only time will tell.

PS: A version of this story featured in today's The Hindu Friday Review 


Anonymous said...

Dear Prabhu Swamin,

Adiyen just forwarded photograph version of this brilliant article to all my contacts in WhatsApp.

Congratulations. Yet another masterpiece from your side.

Adiyen Ramanuja Dasan,

Anonymous said...

Adiyen, very well chosen words, carefully constructed statements and excellent drafting.

markiv said...

Simply Great , I was hearing this on Tweets now I have read it in detail and believe. Thanks

Rajan G said...

Dear mr.prabhu,
We are planning to visit the following temples
1.oppiliappan koil
And other near by temples. We will be reaching on 24 july morn.from chennai.
and take a train on the same night.
Kindly advise the best plan to visit the abave temples by car.
Advise taxi driver mobile number and approximate cost of the tour .
With regards,

PRabhu S said...

please contact saravanan cab 9994546416 and he will take care.



Adiyen bow down my head worship the holy feet of both.

Both were bestowed with wisdom by arangan himself.

Both have clearly understood the reasons of their birth.

I feel proud of them.

My humble pranams to their parents who are gifted such mahathmas as their sons