Thursday, December 24, 2009


Dear Members

From Jan 2010 all my postings will be shifted to the following site

Happy Blogging and New Year


A.V. Devan
eamil :

Friday, November 27, 2009

Abhang Mela @ Nanganallur

I was at Nanganallur last Sunday (22nd Nov 2009) to attend an Abhang Mela, thanks to my friend Pammal Subbu who made me to attend this programme. The Abhang mela is all about singing the abhangs throughout the day from dawn to dusk. The programme was performed by leading singers like Smt. Kalyani Margabanthu (Sister of Swami Haridas Giri), Sri. Kadayanallur Rajagopal Bhagavathar, Sri. O.S. Sundar Bhagavathar and Sri Kadalur Gopi Bhagavathar. When I reached the venue the bhajan session by Sriman Kadayanallur Rajagopal Bhagavathar was in progress. He made the session very lively and made everyone participated in the bhajan by repeating the Bhagavan Namas and made everyone to do pradakshina around Vittala and Rukumabhai deities. My two sons enjoyed the bhajan and were dancing. Please read on to know more about Abhangs and Sri Kadayanallur Rajagopal.


The devotional poems composed by the Maharashtrian saint-poets like Tukaram, Jnanadev, Eknath and Namdev are known as Abhangs, that is, A+Bhang meaning those compositions that would never be wiped off the face of the earth. The abhang is a form of devotional poetry sung in praise of Lord Krishna also known as Vittala and Vithoba in Maharashtra. Rendering of abhangs attaches great importance to the lyrics, correct diction, chorus singing and most importantly the bhakti aspect. The rhythm (beat) is also specific with a Tod finale (Tirmanam). About eight hundred years ago, there were a number of God realised souls in Maharashtra who initiated the Bhakti Sampradaya and Nama Sankirtana Sampradaya.

The Bhakti Sampradaya was a mode of worship that was easily adopted and practiced by even the unlettered masses and thus the Nama Sankirtana cult and Varkari Sampradaya came into existence. The Varkari tradition underlines bhakti and spirituality. The Varkaris can be categorised as Vaishnavite saints from Maharashtra like Dhyaneshwar, Namdev, Tukaram and many others. The Varkaris go on a pilgrimage to Pandharpur twice a year. They walk all the way from their native places with the palkis of the saints. Individual sacrifice, non-violence, compassion, peaceful co-existence were the values they underlined. The saints of this lineage wrote booklets of verses in praise of the Almighty in simple language known as Haripath. This work united people of all castes and creeds. The annual pilgrimage to the shrine of Lord Vithal in Pandharpur is accompanied by dynamic singing of abhangs.

Kadayanallur Rajagopal

Kadayanallur is a small town in the Tirunelveli District of the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. The name Kadayanallur comes from "Kadaikaleeswara", the name of the presiding deity of Kadaikaleeswarar kovil, a Hindu temple located in Kadayanallur. It is located in the foothills of the Western Ghats near the kuttralam Waterfalls and Tenkasi. Kadayanallur has produced many musicians famous of which is Shri.Kadayanallur Venkataraman who has set the tune for songs made popular by M.S. Subbulakshmi, like Kuraionrum illai, Sreeman Narayana, Bhavayami, Gopalabaalam, Jo Achyutananda, and Kandu kandu, which have captured the hearts of listeners with their lilt and melody. The Famous Abhang Chakravarthy Shri.Tukaram Ganapathy Maharaj also hails from this very small town of Kadayanallur. Comming from this very small town of Tamil Nadu is Sri.Kadyanallur S Rajagopal, the younger generation of the Kadayanallur Sampradaya Bhajan Family.

His grandfather, Father and his uncles were staunch followers of Shri Gopalakrishna Baghavathar (lovingly known as "Thatha") and Shri. Sanjeevi Baghavathar the Siants of Sampradya Bhajans. Sri Kadayanallur S Rajagopal under the instructions of Shri.Krishna Premi Swamigal lovingly known as "Anna" took to Spreading the Smapradhaya Bhajan's his ancestors were promoting. His melodious voice takes you through to God's abode. "Divyanama Chakravarthy" as he is known, he conducts "Radha Kalyanam" in "Pudukottai Sampradayam Bhajan Style".

Kadayanallur Rajagopal Bhagavathar has the blessings of "Kadaikaleeswarar" the presiding diety of Kadayanallur. With ardant devotion to music and inclination to "Sampradhaya Bhanjans" he learned the bhajan sampradaya from his "Guru" and father Sri.R.Seetharama Bhagavathar. For four generations their family has been devoting themselves to "Sampradhaya Bhajans". Since the age of five Sri.Kadayanallur Rajagopal Bhagavathar has been accompanying his father and grandfather Sri.T.S.Ramachandra Bhagavathar for various bhajan performances. At an age when youngsters are going around enjoying their lives, Rajagopal has exhibited abundant interest in "South Indian Sampradaya Bhajans", going around singing the praise of the "Lord". He is well conversant with musical instruments like Harmonium, Mridangam, Dolak, Tabla, Ganjira etc. He has taken painstaking efforts to establish a niche in the widely accepted bhajan form.Sri.Kadayanallur Rajagopal's "Divyanama" concerts have immense capacity to draw crowds to feel the divine embrace of the "Lord" himself.

Jai Panduranga Vittala!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sri Sreedhara Venkatesa Ayyaval

Today is the Aradhana of Sri Sreedhara Venkatesa Ayyaval, who is one of the three Gurus in the Dakshina Bhajana Sampradaya. THE ARADHANA of Sreedhara Venkatesa Ayyaval, a votary of "Nama Siddhanta", and a trendsetter in the field of bhajan and Nama sankeertanam, is celebrated in a village called “Tiruvisainallur”, near to Thiruvidaimaruthur between the Kumbakonam and Aaduthurai Highway.

Tiruvisainallur nestling on the bank of the River Cauvery in Thanjavur district, where Ayyaval stayed celebrates the event with great fanfare. The utsavam lasts for ten days ending on the New Moon day in the Tamil month of Karthigai. On all these days people from various places converge on Tiruvisainallur to worship Ayyaval. Especially on New Moon day, the crowd swells to take a bath in the well of the Ayyaval Math. It is said, Goddess Ganga manifested Herself on this day nearly 300 years ago to enable the great Siva devotee to bathe in the waters of the Ganga and thus pay off the penalty prescribed by the villagers for his act of having fed a harijan on his father's "sraddha" day. On all the ten days, exponents of "Harikatha" and Carnatic music render concerts. Please read on to know more about Sri Ayyaval.

Ayyaval, an erudite Karnataka smartha Brahmin, having spurned the ministerial offer made to him by the then ruler of Mysore, embarked upon a kshetradanam (pilgrimage) of the south along with his wife, Sundari Ammal, and settled down in the village of Tiruvisainallur. The place was then known as Shajirajapuram since it was gifted by Shaji II to 45 pandits well versed in the Vedas (1685 A.D. - 1712 A.D.). In fact, the sign board carrying the name of the village as Shajirajapuram was seen at the entrance to the village on the Veppathur-Kumbakonam road till 1950, and it was an "inam" village up to 1952. Ayyaval's profound scholarship in Sanskrit, and above all his devotion to Lord Siva attracted the notice of Shaji II. The fact that Shaji II was close to Ayyaval is revealed in Ayyaval's work, "Sahendra Vilasa", comprising eight sargams, on the king's expedition to Rameswaram.

Ayyaval was an ardent devotee of Mahalingaswamy at Tiruvidaimarudhur, also known as Madhyarjunam. Not a day passed without Ayyaval visiting the great shrine. Ayyaval spoke to God, and God spoke to him, and his life was replete with miracles. His work, "Taravali Stuthi" comprising 29 hymns on Siva has a story behind it. When he was in Thanjavur, Ayyaval is said to have brought back to life a boy who died of cobra bite. On this occasion, the above work was composed. It is the author's confirmed belief that by reciting these hymns sincerely one can save the life of his near and dear ones, whose hopes of survival are next to nothing.

Ayyaval lived during the period of Sadasiva Brahmendra and Bhodhendra Swamigal. And several incidents are cited to underline the strength of his bhakti which helped him to communicate with God. A few samples: During Krishna Jayanti, Krishna's portrait was decorated and taken in a procession along the streets of Tiruvisainallur. Some brahmins of the village heckled at Ayyaval and went away without stopping in front of his house. When the procession reached the next house, the portrait of Krishna had disappeared. It was being worshipped by Ayyaval in his house and the brahmins realised the greatness of Ayyaval who composed "Dola Navaratnamalika" then.

Some of his other compositions are Dayasathakam, Bhagavannama Bhushanam, Agyashasthi, Mathrubhuta Sathakam, Stuthi Padhathi, Siva Bhakti Kalpalatha, Sivabhaktha Lakshanam, Dharavali Stothram, Aarthihara Stothram, Kuleerashtakam, Jambunatha Ashtakam, Dosha Parikarashtakam, Krishnadwadasa Manjari, Achuthashtakam, Namamrutha Rasayanam - which speak only of the greatness of Siva and Vishnu namas. Tiruvisainallur and its surrounding areas suffered for want of rains for a long period. Moved by the hardship faced by the people, Ayyaval composed the stotram "Gulirashtakam" in the name of the local presiding deity Garkateswarar after which there was copious rain.

One day, Ayyaval wanted to cross the Cauvery to reach Tiruvidaimarudur on the other bank, but the river was in spate. Praying to Lord Siva, he composed Arthihara Stotram. Lord Siva, in the disguise of a temple priest (at Tiruvidaimarudur) came and offered the prasadam to Ayyaval and disappeared. He realised that it was none else than Madhyarjunar Himself!

Ayyaval's catholicity of outlook and humaneness are well brought out in his act of feeding a harijan on the sraddha day of his father. For the sraddha, Ayyaval had invited a few Brahmins of the village to conduct the rituals. He went to the Cauvery to have a bath and on his way back noticed a harijan lying on the side of the lane, weak from hunger and thirst. In a spontaneous gesture, Ayyaval quenched the harijan's thirst with the water in his kamandalam, and then fed him with the preparations made for the sraddha. The above act of Ayyaval caused a flutter and the priests abruptly left his house without completing the rituals connected with the ceremony. It is said that his house was bolted from the outside, to prevent the entry of any purohit to help Ayyaval complete the ceremony, and guards were posted. But to the surprise of everyone the chanting of mantras was heard.

It is said that those who helped Ayyaval complete the ceremony were none other than Lord Vigneswara and Subramanya. However, the villagers prescribed the penalty of taking a bath in the River Ganges on Ayyaval for his act. He prayed to his "Ishta Devata", Lord Siva to come to his rescue. It is said that the Goddess assured him that she would manifest Herself in the well in his house on New Moon day of Karthigai month. Just like Valmiki, he composed "Gangashtaka", and recited it in front of the well on the appointed day. The Ganges gushed out of the well and flooded the whole village. Even today, there is a place called Gangaikanda Thidal in Tiruvisainallur.

As stated by Ayyaval in Dayasatakam, man's miseries today are due to his deviating from the path of dharma laid down by the Vedas. The way Ayyaval attained "mukti" is again another mysterious event. His wife predeceased him. One day he went to the temple of Mahalingaswamy as usual; but did not return. He mingled with the eternal effulgence of Mahalingaswamy. Only a few days earlier he had informed his disciples of his end.

Reference :

The Hindu – “Ayyaval - embodiment of humaneness” by Sri R. Krishnamurthy & “A devout savant” by Sri N.V.R. Swamy

Friday, October 23, 2009

Skanda Sashti Festival

Today the surasamhara festival is being celebrated at Tiruchendur. Thought of sharing the details about the Skanda Sashti Festival. Please read on to know more…

The Tiruchendur Temple is the celebrated seashore temple of Lord Subrahmanya. It is situated in the Tiruchendur taluk of the TiruneIveli District. The distance from Madras is about 443 miles. The temple is on the shore of the Gulf of Mannar. The surging cool tides of the sea wash the foot of the temple. There is no other shrine in Tamil Nadu with such a beautiful natural setting. The Gulf of Mannar is shallow and is safe for sea bath.

Before entering the temple pilgrims either wash their feet or take a bath in the sea. The bathing that contains nine teerthams according to the sthalapuranam. A bath in any of these teerthams is believed to confer miraculous benefits on a devotee. It is said that once, when Brahma lost one of his five heads due to the anger of Siva, he came to this teertha, took a holy dip in it and had his head restored. Similarly one Angasundari, a Pandyan princess born with the face of a horse, was blessed with a beautiful face after a bath at Vathararamba Teertham.

Nazhi Kinaru

About 200 yards south of this temple, at the seashore, there is a rare natural phenomenon inside a square. It is a well 14 sq. feet in area and with a flight of 34 steps. Inside this well, there is another small well, one square foot in extent and seven feet deep. The water in the smaller well is crystal clear and sweet to taste whereas that in the bigger well is highly sulphurous in smell and brackish. It is said that when Shanmukha’s troops returned to the shore after vanquishing Surapadman at Mahendragiri, they felt thirsty and wanted fresh water. To quench their thirst, Shanmukha planted his Vel on this spot and caused fresh water to gush out.

Skanda Sashti Festival

The advent of Shanmukha and the chastisement of the asura in his three manifestations of Surapatuman, Singha-mukhan and Târakan, which are but the three evils in man Anava, Mâyâ, and Kanma and the extermination of these evil forces is yearly celebrated by the Skanda Shasti festival in the month of Aippasi in October-November. The festival at Tiruchendur is of six days, commencing on the sixth day of the waning moon of the month, as in every celebration of it in the Tamil land.

The events leading to the vanquishment of Surapatuma are demonstrated on the seashore on the evening of the Sashti-day by actual representations of the several transformations of the asura and of his defeat every time. Senthil Nâyakar the processional deity officiates for Arumukha-Nainar in this festival, and receives worship at the Tiruvâvaduthurai Skanda Sashti Mantapa.

The annual Tirukkalyâna festival to Teyvayânai is celebrated the next day after the Soora Samhara in the Tirukkalyapa Mantapa of the Melagopuram. On such occasions, the people fast for all the six days and the Skanda Puranam is read and explained with solemnity, in temples and also at times in private houses. Such reading is deemed efficacious, apart from spiritual benefits, in warding off or alleviating disease and danger and bringing good fortune to the bhaktas of Muruga is general.

The Puranic Account

Muruga, the earliest and sublimest Tamilian concept of Godhead has been as long cherished and venerated in the Tamil land as its Sanskritised concept Subrahmanyam, which means “the all pervading spirit of the Universe, the essence from which all things are evolved, by which they are sustained and into which they are involved.” He, in gracious pity for humanity takes form sometimes as the youthful God of Wisdom—Swâminâtha; God also of war when wicked Asuras have to be destroyed: Kârttikeya; sometimes as the holy child Muruga, the type of perennial tender beauty, always and everywhere at the service of his devotees.

The puranic account runs thus: The Devas were hard pressed by the asuras Surapatuma and his brothers. Siva in Mount Kailâsa was appealed to by the Devas for deliverance. Six sparks of fire issued from the frontal eye of Siva and answered their prayers. These divine sparks of grace were received by Agni, the God of fire, and cast into Ganges from which they passed into the Himalayan lake Saravana. Here they were transformed into six babes. These were suckled by the six Krittikâ nymphs of the constellation Pleiades, and, became one by name Skanda; on being fondly clasped into one by Pârvati, the divine inseparable sakti of Siva. He came to be called Shadânana, Shanmukha, and Arumukha as being six faced, and on account of his youthfulness, beauty and godliness.

As the Warlord of the Gods, as became his divine commission, he was known as Kârttikeya. He then proceeded from Kailâsa to the South on his mission of subduing the Asuras, and freeing the Devas from their cruel bondage. At Tiruchendur, He and his hosts encamped. Kârttikeya desired a shrine of Siva for his worship. Mayan the celestial architect constructed the shrine for Siva at this sea-front.

Kârttikeya, as the son of the supreme Siva Mahadeva, then led his hosts and proceeded with the war against the asuras. For five days Surapatuma's sons, brothers, and their mighty hosts gave battle on land, under the sea, and in the air and most of them perished. On the sixth day, Surapatuma alone survived. The Lord's last bid to show the asura His grace was His Visvarûpa darshan. The asura realised Whom he was fighting but his pride prevailed. He would not give in and be subdued. He still gave battle from region to region.

Kârttikeya now took Indra as his charger in the form of a peacock; and his lance, the Vel sought the foe out in his hiding in the ocean. Surapatuma rose at last out of his island fortress 'Vîra-mahendram,' as a frightful and enchanted mango tree and attacked him. The lance pierced the tree and broke it in twain. The broken pieces instantly transformed themselves into a mighty peacock and a chanticleer (rooster). The former attacked Indra who was serving as the Lord's bearer. The asura had spurned his last chance for submission!

Shanmukha's grace however prevailed. As an act of forgiveness, he took the peacock as his permanent charger (relieving Indra) and the chanticleer on his banner. The story goes that the two (cêvalum mayilum) live in His presence ever after. Shanmukha's mission was now fulfilled, and the Devas were freed. He turned again to Tiruchendur, halted and worshipped Siva at the shrine Mayan had built for Him.

“The events leading to the vanquishment of Surapatuma, with the moral significance of the expiation of sin are yearly celebrated by festivals and feasts in Tamil land in the month of Aippasi (October-November) ending on Skanda Shashti the sixth day of the waxing moon. On such occasions, the Kanda Purânam is read and expounded with solemnity; also at times in private houses such readings are deemed efficacious, apart from spiritual benefits, in warding off or alleviating disease and danger and bringing good fortune.”


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Divine Grace of Mahaperiyava

Today is “Anusham” our Paramacharya’s birth star. The article is presented as an offering to our Paramacharya. A real life incident of a devotee and Paramacharya’s teachings is enclosed.

One day evening when Kanchi Mahaperiyava was giving darshan at the Kamakoti Peetam in Kancheepuram an old couple came there to have darshan and get the blessings of our beloved Paramacharya. The couples who were wearing new dresses came in front of our Acharya and offered their pranams / namaskaram to Acharya. Mahaperiyava then asked “Did everything went on well?”. The old lady was in tears. Periyava then asked them to sit there and started conversing with them. Though he was talking to them he started making garlands and finally prepared two garlands and then asked the couple to exchange the garlands. Also the Vedic Scholars who were present there started chanting the Vedic Mantras upon being asked by our Paramacharya. The old lady was murmuring “Sarveshwara Sarveshwara” all the time and was in tears. Mahaperiyava later blessed them and gave his send off.

Some of the devotees who congregated there were curious to know the reason as to why Paramacharya himself made two garlands and blessed them. One of the devotees approached the couple who told them that they belong to Bangalore and that day morning they celebrated “Bheemaratha Santhi” i.e. a function celebrated upon completion of seventy years and they were returning to Bangalore in the afternoon. The old lady expressed her desire to see our Paramacharya on the way and get his blessings but that her son replied that since he is having an urgent work the next day at Bangalore he cannot take her that day but will send her to Kanchi after couple of days. The old lady had no other option but to only mentally think and pray.

The entire family started in two cars from Chennai. They reached Vellore and when they are about to take a diversion one of the car’s axle broken down and the driver informed them it will take minimum two hours to get it repaired. The old lady then asked his son since Kancheepuram is nearby whether they can go and have darshan of our Paramacharya and return before the car got repaired. Her son also didn’t object to this idea. The couple then took one of the Car and reached Kancheepuram and we know what the special gift they got! How lucky they were to get the garland woven by Paramacharya himself.

This is one more incident of how Mahaperiyava showers his divine grace to his devotees.

“Deivathin Kural” (Sayings of Kanchi Paramacharya)

The Vedas are eternal and the source of all creations and their greatness is to be known in many different ways. As I have already stated, their sound produces in our nadis as well as in the atmosphere vibrations that are salutary not only to our own Self but to the entire world. Here we must understand "lokakshema" or our welfare of the world to mean the good of mankind as well as of all other creatures. This concern for all creation that finds expression in the Vedas is not shared by any other religion. "Sanno astu dvipadesancatuspade"-- this occurs in a mantra: the Vedas pray for the good of all creatures including bipeds, quadrupeds etc. Even grass, shrubs, trees, mountains and the rivers are not excluded from their benign purview. The happy state of all these sentient creatures and inert objects is brought about through the special quality of the Vedas.

The noble character of their sound apart, the Vedas are also notable for the lofty truths that find expression in the mantras. The tenets of these scriptures have aroused the wonder of the people of other lands, of other faiths. They are moved by the poetic beauty of the hymns, the subtle manner in which principles of social life are dealt with them, the metaphysical truths embedded and expounded in them, and the moral instruction as well as scientific truths contained in them.
Not all mantras that create benign vibrations are necessarily meaningful. In this context we have the example of the music. The alapana of a raga (the elaboration of a musical mode) is "pure" sound, that is, it has no words, but it is still is capable of producing emotions like joy, sorrow, etc. During the researches conducted by a university team, it was discovered that the vibrations created by the instrumental music quickened the growth of the plants and resulted in a higher yield. Here is a proof that the sound has the power of creation. Also to be noted is the fact that the instrumental music played to the plant does not obviously have any verbal contact--- this establishes that the sound has its own power.

The remarkable thing about the Vedas is that they are of immeasurable value as much for their sound as for their verbal content. While the sound has its creative power, the words are notable for the exalted character of the meaning they convey. There are Tamil hymns of a very high order. To read them is to be moved by them; they touch our hearts with their intense devotion. But we have recourse only to a few of them for repeated incantation to expel a poison or to cure a disease. The authors of these hymns like Nakkirar, Arunagirinadhar and Sambandamurti have composed poems that are more moving and beautiful. But the sound of the hymns chosen for repeated incantation are potent like mantras. Among our Acharya's works are the Saundaryalahari and the Sivanandalahari. the recitation of each stanza of the Saundaryalahari brings in a specific benefit. The same is not said about the Sivanandalahari. The reason is the special mantrik power (of the sound) of the former.

There are mantras that are specially valuable for their sound but are otherwise meaningless. Similarly there are works pregnant with meaning but with no mantrik power. The glory of the Vedas is that they are a collection of mantras that are at once notable as much for the energising character of their sound as for the lofty truths they proclaim. A medicine, though bitter, does the body good, while some types of food, though delicious, do harm. Are we not delighted to have something like kusmanda-lehya, which is sweet to taste and is at the same time nourishing to the body? Similarly, the Vedas serve a two fold purpose: while they have the mantrik power to do immense good to each one of us and too the world, they also contain teachings embodying great metaphysical truths. It must here be emphasised that on the doctrinal level the Vedas deal both with worldly life and the inner life of the Self. They teach how to conduct ourselves in such a manner as to create Atmic well-being. And their concern is not with the liberation of the individual alone; they speak about the ideals of social life and about the duties of the public. How the Brahmin ought to lead his life and how the king must rule his subjects and what ideals women are to follow: an answer to these-stated in the form of laws-is to be found in these scriptures. The Vedas indeed constitute the apex of our law-books.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Samartha Ramadass

I recently attended a discourse on “Samartha Ramadass” by Sri Ranganji. During the period of Samartha Ramadass the country was plundered by Muslim Rulers who were very cruel and unjust and tried to demolish and destroy various Hindu Temples. The ignorant and poor Hindu womens were spoiled by the invaders. There was nothing but darkness. People had to face all such cruelty helplessly. They were so poor and weak that they were quite unable to raise their heads and hands to protest it. Sri Samartha Ramadass had closely observed it and decided to increase their physical power by way of unity and also the importance of trust on Lord Ram. He established many temples for Maruthi/Hanuman. He was also the Guru for Chatrapathi Shivaji. Please read on to know more about Samartha Ramadass.

Early Life

Ramadas was one of the greatest saints of the world. He was the inspirer of Shivaji. He was born of Suryaji Panth and Renuka Bai in Jamb, Maharashtra, in 1608 A.D. His original name was Narain. Ramdas was a contemporary of Sant Tukaram. He was a great devotee of Hanuman and Lord Rama. He had Darshan of Lord Rama even when he was a boy. Lord Rama Himself initiated him. As a boy, Ramdas acquired some knowledge of the Hindu scriptures and developed a liking for meditation and religious study. One day he shut himself in a room and began to meditate on God. When his mother asked him what he was doing, Ramdas replied that he was meditating and praying for the good of the world. His mother was surprised at the precocious religious inclination of the boy and felt happy. When Ramdas was twelve years of age, all arrangements were made for his marriage. He sat in front of the bride. There was a screen between the bridegroom and the bride. When the priests chanted "Sawadhan!' (be alert), Ramdas bolted away from the place and disappeared within the twinkling of an eye.

Studies and Penances

For twelve years Ramdas stayed at Nasik on the banks of the Godavari. He used to get up very early in the morning, go into the Godavari river, and with his body half-immersed in water, recite the sacred Gayatri Mantra till about noon. Then he would go round for alms. He first offered the collected food to his Deity Sri Rama and then took it as Prasad. After resting a while, he used to attend religious discourses in the various temples of Nasik and Panchavati. Ramdas also studied Sanskrit and copied in his own hand the Ramayana of Valmiki. This manuscript is still preserved in the collection of Sri S.S. Dev of Dhubliah. Ramdas did Purascharana of the Rama Mantra of thirteen letters Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram thirteen lakhs of times at Tafali, near Nasik, on the banks of the Godavari. After the Purascharana was over, once again Ramdas had Darshan of Lord Rama. It is said that Ramachandra ordered Ramdas to visit holy places such as Nasik, Haridwar, Kasi, etc. Ramdas sprinkled over a dead body holy water uttering the name of Rama and the dead body was restored to life. Ramdas had to do this, because he had blessed a woman who had just lost her husband.


Ramdas was an Advaitin and a Bhakta in one. He had this very noble quality that he never hated any religion or nation. His main object was to spread the Hindu religion throughout India. Ramdas had not visited Pandharpur, as he had not known the existence of this holy place. One day, the tradition says, Lord Panduranga Vittal, in the form of a Brahmin, with a batch of three hundred pilgrims, appeared before Ramdas and asked him whether he had any objection to see Lord Krishna. Ramdas replied in the negative. Panduranga then took Ramdas to Pandharpur, and when the Bhaktas approached the temple, the Brahmin disappeared. Ramdas then knew that it was none other than the Lord that had brought him to that holy place. He entered the temple, and to his great surprise, found Sri Rama standing alone on a brick.

Ramdas addressed the Deity thus: "O Lord, what are You doing here alone? Where is Your brother Lakshmana and Your consort Sita Mata? Where is Maruti and where are the monkey hordes?". On hearing these words, the image at once transformed itself into Sri Pandarinath. Ramdas then praised Panduranga for His kindness, prostrated before Him and sang songs of joy for getting His rare Darshan. Ramdas now felt doubly convinced that the several incarnations of the Lord were but His several forms and preached that everyone should respect and worship the One who took care of one and all in the world. Ramdas then worshipped Panduranga to his heart's content and became a frequent visitor and Bhakta of Panduranga Vittal also. In Pandharpur, Ramdas came in contact with Tukaram and other saints of Pandharpur. In his pilgrimages, Ramdas observed and studied the social, political and economic conditions of Indians and their utter helplessness in life.

Temples for Maruti (Hanuman)

During his journey he setup nearly 1100 Maruti-temples. He established eleven principal seats of Maruti which emphasized the importance of physical development. These are the centers where people come together. He also appointed his devotees to look after these temples. This planning clears his foresight. Through Ramopasana and balopasana he wanted to build well-cultured and healthy society. It was his real dream. He installed the shrines of Sri Ramachandra at Champavati and introduced Sri Rama Navami Mahotsava and the procession of Sri Rama's chariot.

Meeting his Mother

Ramdas spent several years in visiting holy places of pilgrimage. He erected several Hanuman temples in Maharashtra. When he returned from his pilgrimage, somebody told Ramdas that his mother was pining for him, and that she had lost her eyesight on account of extreme sorrow arising out of his separation. Ramdas immediately went to see his mother. He made prostrations to his mother. His mother was exceedingly pleased to meet her son after an absence of many years. Ramdas touched the eyes of his mother. She got back her lost eyesight through the Yogic power of her son.

Chatrapathi Shivaji

At this time Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had started establishing his political power. Samartha was bringing religious and national awareness while Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was trying to establish Hindu-swaraj. Now fame of Samarth reached far and wide. Shivaji Maharaj was very keen to meet him. But unfortunately he could not see him at Masur. So he went back to Pratapgad. One day Shivaji Maharaja saw Samarth’s divine appearance in the night. When Shivaji Maharaja woke up in the morning he found a coconut which was given to him by Samartha as a token of blessings. So King Shivaji came to Mahuli to see Samartha. At the same time a disciple came from Samartha with a letter for King Shivaji. Samarth had praised Shivaji Maharaj in this letter. King Shivaji in his reply letter expressed his strong desire to see Samarth. King Shivaji presented himself at Masur. When he heard that Samartha was at Shinganwadi, he went there. Here met the two great personalities of different fields, different aims and of different dreams, in 1649. This was their first meeting. Here Samartha gave him ‘Anugraha’. Here onwards their relations became closer, loving and respectful. Shivaji placed the sandals of his Guru on the throne and acted as regent of the kingdom under the orders and guidance of his Guru and adopted as ensign the flag of orange colour.

His Preachings and Literary Works

Ramdas's ways were very peculiar. He appeared to the outside world as a mad man. He had a small bow. He used to have, by his side, a large number of stones with which he pelted every object he saw. To men really interested in his teachings, he gave the Mantra Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram. Ramdas had eleven hundred disciples, of whom three hundred were women. The women disciples were also expert preachers and were virtuous. Ramdas sent his disciples to all parts of India to spread the Hindu religion. His disciples and Mutts in the North directly or indirectly helped Shivaji and his work. Ramdas's organisation in the South, round about Thanjavur, helped Shivaji's son Rajaram to go to Jinji and carry on the Twenty Years' War with Aurangazeb. When Ramdas visited Thanjavur, Venkoji, who was the step-brother of Shivaji, became his disciple. Ramdas appointed Bhimaswami, his direct disciple, as the Mahant of the Thanjavur Mutt. The literary works of Ramdas such as Dasabodh, Manache Shlok (verse addressed to the mind), Karunashtakas (hymns to God) and Ramayana (describing only the conquest of Lanka by Sri Rama and the vanquishing of Ravana) are very popular.

Last Days

Ramdas generally preferred to live in the forest, where he would say, he had better meditation. In his last days, Ramdas devoted his time partly to literary activities and partly to the systematic building up of his disciples and Mutts, both in the North and in the South. It was as a tribute to Ramdas's extraordinary patience and determination in rehabilitating the Hindu religion in India that people named him Samartha (all-powerful) Ramdas, a name which he richly deserved.

King Shivaji Maharaj requested Samartha to live at Rajgad, Pratapgad or on the fort of Parali. As per King King Shivaji’s request Samarth Ramdas came to Parali in 1676. From that time onwards the fort was recognized and known as ‘Sajjangad’. Samartha set up the idol of goddess Mahishasurmardini at the eastern side of the Sajjangad which was found in the pond at Angapur and was named ‘Angai’ or ‘Anglai’. He also set up the idol of Maruti at the west to protect the Sajjangad and this ‘Maruti’ is known as ‘Dhabyacha Maruti’. While he was living on Sajjangad, Chatrapti Shivaji Maharaj left this world for ever. He left this world in 1680. Samartha became very sad. This great Guru of Maharashtra breathed his last in 1682 at Sajjangad Ramdas repeated the Rama Mantra with his last breath. At the time of his departure from the world, a dazzling light emanated from his body and Ramdas was absorbed in the image of Lord Rama.
The last instructions of Ramdas to his disciples were: "Do not think much of your bodily wants. Have Satsang with devotees. Keep the image of Lord Rama in your heart. Repeat the name of Lord Rama always. Annihilate lust, greed, anger, hatred and egoism. See Lord Rama in all creatures. Love all. Feel His presence everywhere. Live for Him alone. Serve Him in all beings. Make total and unreserved surrender unto Him. You will always live in Him alone. You will attain immortality and eternal bliss".


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Paramacharya as HR Consultant!!!

Today is “Anusham” (Anuradha) the birth star of our Paramacharya. Thought of sharing some incidences happened in his divine presence and also some of his teachings. Thanks to my friends V. Ramachandran and Major Narayanan for sending the articles.

One day morning a young man came to Kanchi Mutt and went straight to see our Paramacharya. When he saw our Mahaperiyava he started sobbing. When Periyava asked as to why is crying he replied that he had finished his studies and he could able to get a job for the last two years. Everyone in the house looking me as a stranger and especially my father always scolds me as ‘Thandam’. (‘Thandam’ in tamil means a waste i.e. which is not useful). I am very much pained that’s why I thought of coming here and get myself relieved of my sufferings.

Mahaperiyava quiety heard all of this and told him sit aside as he has to finish all the anushtanas meant for the Sanyasis. Later Mahaperiyava sat to give darshan for his devotees. At that time there was a Government Engineer who came there to have the darshan of Mahaperiyava.

Mahaperiyava then asked the Engineer what is the name of the Staff which he is holding. (The Sanyasis are given a Dhanda when they take initiation from a Guru. The Dhanda is made of thin bamboo stick tied with sacred thread with a flag which symbolizes purity). The Engineer who was confused told Periyava “It is called as ‘Thandam’ (meaning Staff in Tamil).

Periyava then asked the Engineer can you give a job for this? showing his Dhanda/Staff to him. The Engineer became even more confused and told periyava that he could not understand anything. Mahaperiyava then called the chap whom he asked to wait and showed him to the Engineer asking him can he arrange to give a job for him as in his house he is being referred as “Thandam” (meaning waste in tamil).

The Engineer was very much moved by the request of our Paramacharya and immediately told periyava that he will do it as per the command of the periyava. Mahaperiyava then told the gathering that the Dhanda or Staff which is being used a word for waste is the one which protects the Sanyasis and the Staff of the King is so powerful to make everyone abide by its rules. Hence in this world everything is useful and nothing is waste or thandam.

Saying so he told, “Oru Thandathukku Velli Kedachachu athanale innorru thandathukku velai mudinchiduthu” (i.e. The person who was referred as waste (thandam) has got the job and hence the job for the other thandam (staff) is over) and retired to his room.

The Cure for the Disease called Modern Civilisation
People are caught between two groups holding opposing views. On the one side they feel the pull of individuals like us who maintain that they must take to the path shown by the sastras; on the other they find themselves drawn in the opposite direction by the reformers who want these sastras to be changed. From a youthful age people nowadays are used to reading reports extolling the changes that go by the name of reforms. It is all due to the influence of modern education. All this notwithstanding, people have not altogether given up the old customs. A fraction of the dharmas laid down in the sastras and followed for ages is still to be seen in our domestic and social life. On the one hand, there is the habit formed by custom and, on the other, the habit now being learned through the new system of education.

It is universally recognised that contentment is lacking in the modern way of life. People don't dispute the fact that the peace that once existed in the previous generations no longer obtains today. They have more money now -or that at any rate is the belief. But are they yet free from poverty? The claim is made that everything is in abundance, that we grow more food than what is needed. Yet there is anxiety everywhere about the supply of essentials.

In the place of the old thatched hut or modest titled house now stands a multistory building. Then we had just four or five utensils to cook, a basket made of palm-fronds, containers made of gourd shells. Now the house is crammed with all sorts of articles and gadgets that are part of today's "civilized" life. People enjoy new comforts and make new acquisitions, yet they are not as happy and contented as were their forefathers.

Even now there are people who at heart long for a life of peace lived according to the old tradition. But they do not have the courage to give up either the trammels of modern life or the feeling of pride in the changes effected under the reformist movement. They are in an awkward predicament because they are not fully committed either to the traditional way of life or to the new. Let me tell you how people cannot decide for themselves-how they are neither here nor there. In most homes you will see Gandhiji's portrait and mine. Now Gandhiji advocated widow marriage-and I ask people to wear a sikha. Those who respect Gandhiji do not, however, have the courage to marry widows nor do they have the courage to wear a sikha. Poor people, they have no moorings and keep swinging between one set of beliefs and another. We must have the courage of our convictions and unflinching faith in the sastras.

If we start making small compromises in our adherence to the sastras, it will eventually mean following only such scriptural practices as we find convenient in our everyday life. Some people tell me with all good intentions: "The dharmasastras are the creation of rsis. You are like a rsi. You must make changes in the sastras in keeping with the times. “Their view is that just as we remove weeds from the fields we must change our customs and duties according to our times. If I take out some rites and observances from sastras now, thinking them to be "weeds", later another man will turn up and remove for the same reason. At this rate, a time will come when we will not be able to distinguish the weed from the crop and the entire field will become barren.
It is important to realise that if we are to remain true to the sastras it is not because they represent the views of the seers but because they contain the rules founded on the Vedas which are nothing but what Isvara has ordained. That is the reason why we must follow them. It is my duty to see that the sastras are preserved as they are. I have no authority to change them.

We must not give up the sastric way of life thinking it to be difficult to follow. If we are not carried away by the glitter of modern mundane life, if we reduce our wants and do not run after money, there will be no need to abandon the customs and rites laid down by our canonical texts. If we are not obsessed with making money there will be plenty of time to think of the Lord. And peace, contentment and happiness will reign.

Money is not essential to the performance of the rites enjoyed by the sastras, nor is pomp and circumstance essential to worship. Even dried tulasi and bilva leaves are enough to perform puja. The rice we cook for ourselves will do as the naivedya. "Marriage is also a sastric ceremony. We spend a lot of money on it. What about such expenses? “it is asked. All the lavish display we see at weddings today are unnecessary and do not have the sanction of the scriptures. Specifically, the dowry that forms such a substantial part of the marriage expenses has no scriptural sanction at all. If money were important to the performance of the rites enjoyed by our canonical texts it would mean that our religion is meant for rich people. In truth it is not so.

Of the four aims of life - dharma, material acquisitions, desire and liberation - we seek gratification of kama alone (in the form of pleasure, love, etc.). And to have our desires satisfied we keep struggling to acquire material things. Our efforts must be directed towards obtaining liberation through the practice of dharma. All that we need to do for this ideal is to resolve to live a simple life. There should then be no compulsion to run after money and other material goods and other. It would naturally become easier for us to practice dharma and reap the ultimate fruit, that is eternal bliss.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sri Bodendra Saraswathi Swamigal

Sri Bodendral (pronounced Bodendraal) was born in 1610 AD in Kanva Gotram and given the namam of Purushothaman by his parents, Sri Kesava Panduranga Yogi and Srimati Suguna Bai. Early on, Sri Purushothaman came under the grace of the then Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam Acharyal, Sri Athma Bodendra Saraswathi (or Athma Bodendraal), to whom his parents were devoted. Eventually, he was anointed the 59th Acharyal of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam in 1638 AD. Sri Bodendral was on the forefront of establishing Nama Siddhantam. He was the first Guru in Bhajana Sampradhayam. Sri Bodendral was the contemporary of Sri Sridhara Venkatesa Ayyaval of Tiruvisanallur and Sri Sadasiva Brahmendral.

Sri Bodendral achieved Jeevan Mukthi on the banks of River Kaveri in 1692 AD. For a while, this place was lost and forgotten. In 1803, Sri Maruthanallur Sadguru Swamigal discovered the place after hearing Rama namam emanating from water here and had his Shishya, King Sarabhoji divert the river. Even now, there are reports of devotees hearing Rama namam in Sri Bodendral's Adhishtanam in Govindapuram, Tamil Nadu. Sri Bodendral is Sri Guru of Sri Sri Anna

Childhood to Sanyasam

Sri Kesava Panduranga Yogi and his wife Srimati Suguna Bai settled in Tamil Nadu, though originally they hailed from Maharashtra. They lived in Mandana Misra Agraharam in Kanchipuram, serving Sri Atma Bodendra Saraswathi Swamigal, the 58th Acharyal of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. They named their son as Purushothaman, in accordance with the wishes of Sri Atma Bodendral. Purushothaman became a good friend of Jnanasagaran, born 18 months earlier, who came to Kanchi Matam as an orphan when he was an infant. Both Jnanasagaran and Purushothaman were the darlings of Sri Atma Bodendral. Jnanasagaran was destined to be a Jnani.

Sri Atma Bodendral sent Jnanasagaran and Purushothaman to Srimad Kirvanendra Saraswathi Swamigal to learn Advaitist works. Later, Purushothaman who became Sri Bhagavan Nama Bodendral, attributed his works to both Sri Kirvanendra Saraswathi Swamigal and Sri Atma Bodendral. When Sri Atma Bodendral departed for Kashi, he left Jnanasagaran and Purushothaman behind in Kanchi. Soon after, Purushothaman lost both his parents. Now Purushothaman left for Kashi to meet Sri Atma Bodendral, with his closest friend Jnanasagaran. Near Narmada river, Jnanasagaran fell ill and passed away. The distraught Purushothaman buried Jnanasagaran in Narmada and owed to die in Ganga on reaching Kashi.

On the banks of Ganga, Purushothaman received Taraka Mantra Dikshai from Sri Atma Bodendral and then attempted to drown in the river, but Purushothaman survived with Guru Krupa. Sri Atma Bodendral initiated Purushothaman into asceticism, which is considered a rebirth for the person, thereby letting Purushothaman keep his promise to Jnanasagaran on his death bed. Thus Sri Bodendral obtained asceticism in Kashi, a rare event in Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Purushothaman was christened Bhagavan Nama Boda by his Guru. As all Acharyal from Kanchi Peetam have Indra Saraswathi suffix, he came to be known as Bhagavan Nama Bodendra Saraswathi Swamigal. Sri Atma Bodendral commanded Sri Bodendral to spread Bhagavan Namam, following the footsteps of Kabirdas, Tulasidas, Mira Bai, Sri Krishna Chitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Nama Deva, Sri Eknath and Sri Samartha Ramadas.

Nama Kaumudi

After instructing Sri Bodendral to proceed to Kanchi from Puri, Sri Atma Bodendral remained in Kashi. As his Guru commanded, Sri Bodendral proceeded to Puri Jagannath to obtain Nama Kaumudi, a masterly work written by Lakshmidhara Kavi, which propounded that Nama Japam and Bhajan were in accordance with Vedic scriptures. Kaumudi means Moon. Sri Atma Bodendral asked Sri Bodendral to use Nama Kaumudi to ward off resistance from conservatives, who would claim Nama Siddhantam was contrary to Vedic tradition. Later, Sri Bodendral would use Nama Kaumudi as foundation for many of his own works. Independently, Sri Ananda Deva had written a vyakyanam on Nama Kaumudi called Prakasham.

Sri Bodendral had Darshan of Lords Balarama, Subadra and Jagannath in Puri till the temple closed at night, chanting Govinda Namam. To avoid disturbing anyone late at night, he decided to spend the night outside a house unobtrusively.

Sri Bodendral woke up on hearing a Brahmin banging the door of the house at night, but decided to watch the event from darkness. The Brahmin was accompanied by a Muslim lady covered in veil. When the house-owner opened the door, the Brahmin started narrating his tale in tears: The lady in veil was his wife, although disguised in Islamic outfit. They left Tamil Nadu for Kashi, but were waylaid in Bamani Kingdom. The lady was dishonored and disfigured by Muslim extremists, but she managed to escape the terror and joined her husband months later. When they decided to take their lives, an elderly person advised them to approach Lakshmi Kanth, son of Lakshmidhara Kavi, for purification instead. Thus Sri Bodendral ended up at the right place to seek Nama Kaumudi, by Lord Jagannath's grace.

Per Lakshmi Kanth's advise, the Brahmin couple came to Chandan Talab lake the next day. While everyone was watching, the lady entered the lake and chanted Rama Rama Rama with devotion. When she emerged out of water, her disfiguration and Islamic outfit were gone and she came out as a traditional Brahmin lady exuding saintliness. This miracle established the effectiveness of Rama Namam in popular mind and later Sri Bodendral took the couple with him to Kanchi as living proof for Nama Siddhanta. When Sri Bodendral informed his intent to Lakshmi Kanth, he was given Nama Kaumudi. Its author Lakshmidhara Kavi had instructed his wife before his death to preserve Nama Kaumudi and pass it on to a saint from South India who would approach her years later.

Works of Sri Bodendral

Per his Guru's wishes, Sri Bodendral devoted his life to preach the importance of Nama Japam and Bhajan. Sri Bodendral elaborated Nama Kaumudi and composed 8 books: Namamrutha Rasodayam, Nama Rasayanam, Nama Suryodayam, Nama Tharangam, Namarnavam, Hari Hara Beda Thikaram, Hari Harardvaida Bhooshanam, Murtha Brahma Vivekam. These were dedicated to his Gurus Sri Kirvanendra Swamigal and Sri Atma Bodendral. These books conclusively established Nama Siddhanta. Sri Bodendral gave Rama Nama dikshai to individuals, while asking them to chant Govinda and Hara Namam as groups.

Sri Bodendral ascended Kanchi Peetam

Sri Atma Bodendral returned from Kashi to Kanchi. To complete Kashi Yatra in the traditional manner, he left for Rameswaram with Sri Bodendral. On the way, near Villupuram, in VadaVambalam village, Sri Atma Bodendral passed away, chanting SadaSivom SadaSivom. Thus in 1638, Sri Bodendral ascended Kanchi Peetam. Sri Bodendral continued with his journey to Rameswaram and Dhanushkoti in Tamil Nadu. As an interesting aside, Sri Atma Bodendral's Adhishtanam was unknown till it was dramatically discovered by Sri Kanchi Paramacharyal in 1927. Tanjore King Shahaji became a devotee of Sri Bodendral. In 1677, Tanasha, Nawab of Golconda, paid tributes to Sri Bodendral. Among the miracles attributed to Sri Bodendral, he made a dumb boy chant Bhagavan Namam and he cured a Brahma Rakshas by chanting Rama Namam.

Sri Bodendral met Sri Sridhara Ayyaval

Sri Bodendral had great respect and affection for Sri Ayyaval, who reciprocated the emotion. In his works Namamrutha Rasodayam and Nama Rasayanam, Sri Bodendral had quoted Sri Ayyaval's Bhagavan Nama Bhushanam as reference, even before they met. Sri Bodendral met Sri Ayyaval in Tanjavur province. Sri Bodendral even composed a song for his disciples to worship Sri Ayyaval, who was elder to him. This verse thus ended: "Obeisance to Sri Venkatasa Guru, who is Shiva Incarnate" or "Tam Vande Nara Roopam Andakaripum Sri Venkatesam Gurum". Sri Ayyaval worshipped Sri Bodendral thus: "Yasya Smarana Matrena Nama Bhakthi Prayajathe; Tam Namami Yathi Sreshtam Bodendram Jagatham Gurum".

Sri Bodendral retired to Govindapuram

Sri Bodendral nominated Sri Advaitatma Prakasendra Saraswati Swamigal to succeed him for Kanchi Peetam. In 1685, after leading Kanchi Peetam for 48 years, Sri Bodendral left it to his successor and departed for Govindapuram, a village named after Sri Govinda Dikshithar, a minister in Nayak dynasty. Sri Kanchi Paramacharyal speculated that Sri Bodendral started wearing Vaishnava symbol of Urdhva Pundram instead of the traditional Saivite symbol of Vibhooti during this phase. Per Sri Premika Vijayam, Sri Krishna Premi Swamigal had a darshan of Sri Bodendral wearing Urdhva Pundram. Sri Premika Vijayam also recounts a remarkable vision where Sri Bodendral took Sri Krishna Premi Swamigal to a pond where frogs were croaking 'Hara Hara Hara Hara' and assured that even the frogs were guaranteed Moksham. Such is the power of Nama Siddhantam.

As Sri Bodendral called his successor Govinda on occasions, Sri Advitatma Swamigal was also called Govinda Samyami. In 1692 AD Prajotpathi year Purattasi month full moon day, Sri Bodendral, treating himself as consort to Lord Rama, achieved Jeevan Mukthi, by burying himself in ground, just like Sita Devi had done ages back. Over 100 years later, when Sri Maruthanallur Sadguru Swamigal discovered the location where Sri Bodendral had attained Jeevan Mukthi, he also found Nama Kaumudi, that Sri Bodendral had carried with him all along.

Reference based on the book “Kamakoti Ramakoti” by Ra. Ganapathy

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Importance of Vishnu Sahasranamam

The Vishnu Sahasranamam is found in the Mahabharatha. Literally translated this means thousand names of Vishnu. This is found in the Anushasanika Parvam (chapter relating to orders or rules to the kings) of Mahabharatha. Bheeshma Pitamaha was defeated and grievously wounded by Arjuna. But since he could choose the time of his death as per the boons received by him, he chose to die in Uttarayana and was waiting for the auspicious time. Meanwhile the war was over leading to death of all those male members in his family except the Pancha Pandavas and the unborn child of Abhimanyu. Yudishtra the eldest of the Pandavas became the King of Hasthinapura and went to Bheeshma the great for the advice and asked the following questions:

“Kimekam Daivatham Loke kim vapyegam parayanam Sthuvantha Kam Kamarchanda Prapnuyur Manava Shubham. Ko Dharma Sarva Dharmanam Paramo Matha Kim Japan Muchyathe Jandur Janma Samsara Bhandana”

  • Who is the One Supreme Deity?

  • What is the highest goal of life?

  • By praising which Deity's auspicious qualities will human beings attain prosperity in this world as well as bliss in the next?

  • By reciting which mantra will man be released from the bondage of the cycle of birth and death?

  • Of the three means referred to above (i.e., recitation, praise or archana, and meditation), which is the best means for attaining the grace of the Supreme Deity based on your vast experience and knowledge?

Bhishma's response to the above questions follows in the next ten stanzas. In his considered opinion, a person tides over all the sorrows in this world by reciting with undiluted devotion the Thousand Names of the Eternal Person, worshiping Him always with devotion, meditating upon Him, glorifying Him, saluting Him by prostrating before Him, and adoring Him (dhyayan, stuvan, namasyamsca, yajamanas tameva ca).

Bhishma adds that of all the dharmas, the dharma or practice involving service done to the Lotus-eyed Lord Krishna, without any desire for benefit, through worship (archana) and hymnal praise (stava), is the best dharma. Note that praising is easy, involving only speech, and does not involve any material sacrifice or bodily exertion. It is open to all, and does not need help from, or dependence on, others. Other kinds of worship might require money or other resources to perform the worship, or the need to impose on other people for their involvement (e.g., a priest to give instructions on the method of worship etc.).

For the purpose of chanting the name of God, there is also no constraint on the asrama (i.e., brahmacharya, grihasta, etc.) to which a person belongs, unlike, for example, the constraints that the vedas place in performing the ceremonial rites with sacrificial fire. There is also no requirement regarding time, place, status of purity, etc., for the chanting of the stotram. The key element of the act of chanting as a means to attain the Lord's grace is the sincerity and purity of mind, and there is no other constraint or consideration.

In summary, Yudhishthira asks Bhishma: "Given my despair and sorrowful state of mind, I want to expend the least effort and get the most benefit out of it, viz. relief from my despair. Please tell me the means for this." And Bhishma's response is "Chant the thousand names of Lord Krishna WITH DEVOTION. This does not require any effort other than the willingness to chant. This is the best way to get relief from all miseries, sorrows, and sins".

The Thousand Names

The word sahasra in the title of the Stotram means "one thousand". The main body of Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram consists of 107 stanzas which contain the thousand names of Sri Maha Vishnu. Every one of the Thousand Names in Vishnu Sahasranamam is full of significance in that it refers to one particular quality, guna, characteristic or attribute of Paramatma. (yani namani gaunani, where the emphasis is that each name is indicative of a guna of Vishnu).

One could legitimately ask the question: Why were these 1000 names chosen? Does the Parama Purusha get absolutely defined by these thousand names? The obvious answer is that God is Infinite and Indescribable, and can only be experienced, but cannot be translated into words and communicated from one to another. The vedas conclude that God is neither accessible to words nor to mind (yato vacho nivartante aprapya manasa saha - Taittiriya Upanishad).

In Isavasya Upanishad, it is said that you cannot reach (understand) the Paramatma with the human mind (reasoning) alone even if you spend all your life. This holds true even though mind can travel (think) faster than anything known to us, including the speed of light (anejadekam manaso javiyo..). Given this Infinite nature of the Paramatma who is not governed or constrained by any of the physical laws as we know them, the choice of a thousand names of Vishnu by Bhishma should be recognized as a representation of some of the better-known qualities of Sriman Narayana that are repeatedly described in our great epics, vedas, puranas, etc., and sung by the devout sages repeatedly.

As was indicated earlier, the thousand names are strung together in a poetic form by Sri Vedavyasa. While identifying the thousand names of Narayana from this poetic composition describing the qualities of the Infinite Paramatma, the different revered acharyas have come up with slightly differing sets of thousand names. This is partly because of the ability of these great acharyas to be able to enjoy the indescribable Parama Purusha in their own ways, based on the unique philosophies which they have propounded.

Of the thousand names, some are repeated for example, in Sri Parasara Bhattar's choice of the thousand names, two names occur four times, 12 names occur three times, and 82 names occur twice. When a name occurs more than once, the revered commentators have interpreted the meaning of the name differently in each instance depending on the context in which the name occurs. They have also quoted extensive evidence from ancient scriptures in support of their interpretation. The commentators have emphasized that the recurrence is not the result of a dosha (deficiency of being repetitive) in the composition.

Importance of Chanting

Some might say that they do not understand the meaning of the Sanskrit words in the stotram and therefore do not feel comfortable chanting it. Sri Chandrasekhara andrasekhara Saraswathi Swami has given us his guidance on this issue in one of his discourses. He advises us that learning the chanting of prayers even without knowing the meaning is a worthwhile act, and can be compared to finding a box of treasure without the key. As long as we have the box, we can open it whenever we get the key of knowledge later, but the treasure will be already there.

The Benefits

As was pointed out earlier, traditionally our prayers end with a phala sruti - a section on the benefits of reciting the prayer. The Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram is no exception. The necessity of cleansing our body regularly to maintain our physical hygiene and good health is recognized by every one. But perhaps because we do not "see" our mind the same way as we see our body (i.e., as an externally visible entity), the necessity of keeping our minds clean is not as clearly recognized. However, those who do not "cleanse" their mind on a regular basis become "mentally" sick over a period of time, just as they become physically sick if they do not cleanse their body on a regular basis. Prayers are a means to mental cleansing when they are chanted with sincerity and devotion. This aspect of the usefulness of prayers in everyone's life is common to all prayers.

The importance of Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram is that the deity being worshipped is none other than Vasudeva (Sri Maha vishnuh paramatma sriman narayano devata; saktir devaki nandanah; itidam kirtaniyasya kesavasya mahatmanah namnam sahasram divyanam aseshena prakirtitam; sahasram vasudevasya namnam etat prakirtayet, etc.). Sri Vyasa points out that it is by the power and command of Vasudeva that the sun, the moon, the stars, the world, and the oceans are controlled (sa chandrarka nakshatra kham diso bhur mahodadhih vasudevasya viryena vidhrtani mahatmanah). The whole universe of the Gods, Asuras, Gandharvas, etc., is under the sway of Lord Krishna (sasurasura gandharvam ....). In Bhishma's expert judgment, chanting Vasudeva's name with devotion and sincerity will ensure relief from sorrows and bondage. This in a nutshell is the phala sruti or the benefit of chanting Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Saptaaham on Mahaperiyava

I recently attended a Unique Saptaaham (meaning Seven day discourse). Generally the Saptaahams are conducted only for Puranas like Srimad Bhagavatham but this Saptaaham is about a person. Saptaaham for an individual who lived among us is very unique and rare. The Sapataaham is about none other than our Mahaperiyava, Paramacharya Pujyashri Sri Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi Swamigal, who was referred as “Nadamadum Theivam” or Walking God who have uplifted our society from the clutches of the Maya. The entire credit for the Saptaaham goes to Sri Ganesha Sarma whose way of speech is very natural like an ordinary person but the content of his discourse is very rich. Please read on to know more about the Saptaaham.

How the idea of a Saptaaham was conceived

MahaPeriyava Divya Charitram took shape as Saptaham-a seven day discourse like the Bhagavata Saptaham-without any of those involved in it i.e. members of the SSSMM TRUST or the Upanyasaka himself being conscious of it, so to say! One afternoon, a Trustee was asking Sri Ganesa Sarma whether he could devote himself to writing an authentic, factual account of every fact that went into the birth of the SSSMM Trust and the subsequent events to that day that account for the slow but steady progress of the Satabdhi ManiMantapam in Orirukkai by His Grace so that it can be compiled as a Sthala Purana for record.

As one in the know of things and also a devotee of Pradosham Mama, he is eminently suited to do it - he also readily agreed to carry it out. Another Trustee who is devoting all his attention to plans for the preservation of our Vedic heritage joined Sri Ganesa Sarma enthusiastically to help him in the task but when both of them got to work together, most unexpectedly the idea of these Saptaham discourses came to them. In hindsight, the whole thing looks like entirely Divinely inspired and nothing less! The visible impact Sri Ganesa Sarma makes on his listeners is testimony enough to the Divine inspiration of these Saptaham Discourses.

TAFE Sri Ganesha Sarma

Sri Ganesha Sarma (45) B.A., M.B.A from Madras University has about 21 years of Service in the accounts department of Tractors and Farm Equipments of India Ltd (TAFE). A native of Kumbakonam, he was inducted into the activities of the Kanchi Mutt by his father. Since then he has been an ardent devotee of our MahaPeriyava. He is a Sri Vidya Upasaka who can also render many Sanskrit and Tamil hymns combining melody with meaning.

These Saptaham discourses have earned him the hearty blessings of both Their Holinesses Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal and Sri Vijayendra Saraswati Swamigal who do not conceal their admiration for the manner in which he narrates the true story of Sri Kanchi MahaSwami. Sri Ganesha Sarma was fully trained by Sri Pradosam Mama. Late Venkatrama Iyer popularly known as PRADOSAM MAMA, himself soaked in Bakthi of Sri Mahaswami was instrumental in inducting many good souls in the path of Bakthi. His vision of constructing a Mani Mandapam for Sri Mahaswami and propogating Veda resulted in the formation of the SSSMM Trust.

A brief outline of the Saptaaham

The discourse lasts 7 days and contains 7 Kandams.

Avathara Kandam tells the story of MahaPeriyava's early years from the moment of Jayanti.
Vijaya Yatra Kandam is an engaging travelogue of the decades of His pilgrimage on foot across the Bharat Varsha
Arpudha Kandam is a narration of true stories which qualify themselves to be called miracles but which MahaPeriyava would never own as such.

Upadesa Kandam - Not a single day has gone without MahaPeriyava discoursing on some topic or other (as Ra.Ganapati's 7 volumes of Deivathin Kural reveal)-Upadesa Kandam dwells a little on it.

Anugraha Kandam - Countless are the devotees in India and abroad, who have been benefitted by His Grace to this day. Anugraha Kandam gives a glimpse of that marvel to us.
Sarvagna Kandam - Sarvagna Peetam was the name for the sacred Kamakoti Peetam when Adi Sankara Bhagavadpada ascended that Peetam in Kancheepuram as its very first Acharya. Omniscience is what is conveyed by it-how many have experienced it - Sarvagna Kandam gives a brief profile of Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamigal as a Sarvagnya.
Smarana Kandam is meant to explain why we we should adore our MahaPeriyava day in and day out and, incidentally one of the ways to keep that sacred memory alive and glowing in our hearts is to participate in the making of the Manimantapam in Orirukkai. Sri Ganesha Sarma concludes the Saptaham memorably with this Smarana Kandam.

If you get a chance to attend please don’t miss it!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Retta Vada Sangili

Today is “Anusham” the Star of our Paramacharya. This article is being presented as humble offering to our beloved Guru.

Once in Kanchipuram there was an old lady by name Meenakshi Patti who was taking care of her grand daughter “Kamakshi” who had lost her parents in an early age. At the old age Meenakshi Patti want her grand daughter to get married soon so that she can be relieved of her responsibility. However with her little income she some how managed to accumulate a sum of rupees five thousand and two golden bangles for the marriage. But there came a good proposal and the groom was working as a Teacher in a Kanchipuram itself at a salary of Rs. Sixty. The horoscopes were matched perfect. However the groom’s mother was demanding for Golden Chain with 64 grams “Ettu Pavnula Retta Vada Sangili.”
Meenakshi Patti who was an ardent devotee of Mahaperiyava (she goes to Kanchi Mutt daily carrying Parijatha flowers for the puja) was perplexed as to what to do next and decided to go to Mahaperiyava and told Mahaperiyava in short everything and she needed the help of Periyava to carryout her grand daughter’s marriage.
Paramacharya after hearing requested her to carryout “Pancha Sankya Upacharam” i.e. doing circumambulation or pradakshina for five times and then five namaskarams (falling in front of the deity) consecutively five days for Goddess Kamakshi and told her that Ambal will answer her prayers.
On the fifth day morning there was one lady by name Ambujam visited Kanchi Mutt and was visibly happy came with lot of offerings/prasadams for the Acharya and she was telling our Paramacharya that as directed by him she carried out the “Pancha Sankya Upacharam” for Kamakshi Ambal i.e. five pradakshina, five namaskara for five consecutive days and her daughter who was left by her husband due to some misunderstanding and was working in TATA Steel in Jamshedpur came back and took her daughter back and she is very much relieved now and going to Kamakshi Amman Temple to complete her vow.

Meanwhile Meenakshi Patti and her grand daughter were completing the final day final pradakshina on the prakaram and suddenly Kamakshi found a golden chain and showed it her grandma and Meenakshi Patti felt that this is the prasada offered by Goddess Kamakshi herself and secretly kept the Golden Chain with herself and went to the Mahaperiyava without even completing the pradakshina in full.

Mahaperiyava was sitting quietly when Meenakshi patti came and Periyava knowing everything told her that “You have forget to finish your vow simply because you got the golden chain in the prakara are u not feeling bad to take somebody’s property?” while they were discussing Ambujam Mami who was visibly happy in the morning was rushing towards Acharaya with her face very tensed and told Mahaperiyava that she had a vow that if her daughter’s problem got resolved she would offer a Golden Chain to Goddess Kamashi and she could not able to complete as she missed her golden chain while doing the pradakshina.

Acharya listened everything Ambujam told and then smilingly kept quiet. Meenakshi Patti who was there along with Mahaperiyava upon hearing this told the entire story to Ambujam and gave her back the Golden Chain.

Ambujam after hearing this promised in front of the Acharya to Meenakshi Patti not to worry about her grand daughter’s marriage as this Golden Chain belongs to Kamakshi Ambal she will buy a fresh set of Golden Chain (“Ettu Pavnula Retta Vada Sangili) and in addition will give five thousand rupees for the marriage.

In the end both Meenakshi Patti and Ambujam were relieved and paid obeisance to our Mahaperiyava. Mahaperiyava who was by then also requested Meenakshi Patti to complete the Five Pradakshina and Five namaskara to Goddess Kamakshi in the evening along with her grand daughter.

No words are there to express the joy in the face of Meenkashi Patti and her grand daughter!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Radha Ashtami

Radha Ashtami is being celebrated tomorrow (27th August 2009). Radhashtami is a Hindu festival celebrated as the birthday of Srimati Radha, the principal devotee and divine consort of Lord Krishna. Radha Astami is celebrated on Ashtami thithi (eighth day) in Shukla Paksh during the month of Bhadrapad (August – September). Radha Ashtami falls 15 days after Sri Krishna Jayanati.

History of Radha Ashtami Festival

According to Vaishnava tradition, Radha Rani was born in village Barsana (or Rawal) situated 8 km from Vrindavan. Raja Vrishabhano, the king of cowherds, and Rani Kirati (or Kalavati) are the parents of Radha. Legend has it that Raja Vrsabhanu and Kalavati were the partial incarnations of Lord Narayana and Goddess Lakshmi. Radha Rani’s worship is of much importance in Vrindavan (or Brindavan) situated about 15 km from Mathura where Lord Krishna took birth and lived for over 5000 years ago. Vrindavan houses hundreds of temples dedicated to Radha and Krishna. Radha devi is also known by other names as Radharani (Radha Rani), Radhika, Srimati, Gandharvi, Krishnamayi, Vrndavaneshvari, Vrajrani, and Gokula Taruni. Radha Rani is one of the main incarnations of Goddess Lakshmi.

Radha Ashtami Rituals & Celebrations

On Radhastami day, Sri Radha Krishna deities are beautifully decorated with flowers and devotees worship Radha along with Lord Krishna. It must be noted that this is the only day devotees may receive the auspicious darshan of Radha’s lotus feet. All other days Radha Rani’s feet remain covered.Radha Ashtami festival is popular in North Indian states and is celebrated mainly by Vaishnava sect. Devotees fast on this day, recite Radha Stuthi, and sing Hindu devotional songs of Lord Krishna and Radha. In some places, a feast is also severed which includes the famous Radha Red Plum Chutney (a spicy and delicious chutney).

More about Sri Radha…

The divine counterpart of Sri Krishna is known as Sri Radha. Together, according to the ancient Vaishnava tradition, this dual-gendered divinity is God-male and female dimensions of the Absolute Truth. Sri Radha is the complete energy, and Sri Krishna is the complete energetic source. They are non-different from each other, just as musk and its scent are forever merged, or as fire and heat are inseparable.

Radha and Krishna are one, yet They have assumed two separate forms to enjoy loving pastimes. Numerous theological texts explain how this is so, but most thorough are the writings of Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami and Rupa Gosvami, great masters in the Vaishnava tradition whose books have been translated and commented upon by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. To understand Sri Radha, then, English readers would do well to turn to Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Sri Radha in Literature

Historically, the ancient Puranas reveal much about Sri Radha’s manifest pastimes, even if the Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.30.28), the cream of all such Puranic literature, mentions Her name only once-with the indirect anayaradhitah, indicating that She is “the one who worships Krishna best.” Both the Padma Purana and the Brahma-vaivarta Purana, on the other hand, elaborate on Her pastimes of love with Krishna and reveal how the divine couple is the source of all that is. The Brahma-vaivarta Purana, in fact, reveals an esoteric creation story in which Radha co-creates the material world with Krishna.

Sri Radha’s dominance in Vaishnava theology did not come to light until the twelfth century, when the saintly poet Jayadeva Gosvami wrote his famous Sanskrit work Gita Govinda. Krishna’s spiritual love then became a celebrated theme throughout India, colorfully conveyed in festivals and the arts, with the personality of Radha sometimes eclipsing even Krishna.

It is important to point out that Jayadeva understood the spiritual nature of Radha and Krishna’s love. He knew that people could easily misconstrue it as mundane, comparing his work to erotic love poetry (as many still do). Anticipating this misconception, he commenced his Gita Govinda with a section called Dasha-avatara, in which he clearly outlines Krishna’s divine nature, listing and glorifying His transcendental descents as incarnations (avatara). With this as a preface, it becomes obvious that the loving affairs to follow-the affairs of this same divine Krishna, who incarnates as so many avataras-are not ordinary. Indeed, they represent the zenith of spiritual love.

This love was expressed more fully after Jayadeva’s time. In the fifteenth century, two Bengali poets, Chandidasa and Vidyapati, wrote beautiful Bengali verse about the divine couple. In the sixteenth century, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu-the combined form of Radha and Krishna, in the guise of Their devotee-relished this poetry, along with Jayadeva’s breakthrough Sanskrit work. He also enjoyed hearing the story of Radha and Krishna as expressed in the ancient work of Bilvamangala Thakura, Sri Krishna-karnamrita, and in a contemporary poem, Ramananda Raya’s Jagannatha-vallabha-natakam.

Sri Chaitanya’s followers were quick to add their own realizations and insights based squarely on the earlier literature. Two outstanding examples are the Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi-stotram, composed by Prabhodananda Sarasvati, and Radha-Krishna-ganoddesha-dipika, by Rupa Gosvami, the latter of which is easily the most detailed exposition of Sri Radha’s divine personality ever published.

Her Divine Pastimes

How does Radha’s story unfold in the world of three dimensions? Though there are many versions of this story, the most gripping is found in the Padma Purana (Patala-khanda, Chapter 71): Early one morning, in the country atmosphere of Vraja (ninety miles south of present-day Delhi) some fifty centuries ago, Vrishabhanu Maharaja was taking his morning bath in the holy Yamuna River. Just then, a beautiful baby girl floated by, lying on a radiant and fully blossomed lotus. With intense glee, he embraced the divine infant and carried Her off to his queen, Kirtida Devi.

When Kirtida saw her husband with this magnificent child, she ran over and showered little Radha with unrelenting affection. But the king and queen quickly noticed that the baby’s eyes did not open. This naturally broke their hearts, and they prayed that God might bless Her with the power of sight.

Soon, Nanda Maharaja’s wife, Yashoda Devi, arrived from Gokula, holding young Sri Krishna in her arms. Vrishabhanu and Kirtida, now the parents of Sri Radha, greeted her with due honor, but Yashoda could not take her eyes off the newborn baby girl resting in Kirtida Devi’s arms.
Yashoda drew closer with baby Krishna, and as soon as Krishna came face to face with the baby girl, She opened Her eyes for the first time. Appropriately, Her first sight was the moonlike face of Her beloved Sri Krishna, and She paused as She gazed upon His lovely form. Krishna too was overwhelmed with love as He saw before Him His eternal consort, in the guise of a baby.

In this way, the scriptures relate how the eternal divine couple go about “meeting” each other as They appear, time and again, in the material world. As They “grow in years,” They play with loving friends, swim in the Yamuna, graze their cows, and relish each other’s loving embrace. Sacred texts and the realizations of the sages elaborate on the details, establishing narratives that serve as virtual magnets, attracting all who hear them back to the spiritual realm.

The Circle Dance of Love

Of all such narratives, the rasa-lila, the circular dance of love described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, is in many ways the most important. The divine dance takes place one moonlit autumn night when the cowherd maidens (gopis) of Vrindavana, upon hearing the sound of Krishna’s flute, sneak away from their families to be with Him. The rasa-lila is considered one of the highest and most esoteric of Krishna’s revealed pastimes, and it should never be confused with mundane pastimes of prurient interest. Accordingly, Vaishnava commentators make one thing perfectly clear: romantic love between human beings is a diminished, compromised reflection of the soul’s original, ecstatic love for Krishna, God, in the spiritual world. Studying the rasa-lila under a bona fide spiritual master allows one to realize this as a tangible truth. It also allows one to develop love for God, just as the gopis do in their dance of love.

Radha’s Mercy

In short, the theology of Sri Radha is deep. The scriptures describe that one must go through many lives of pious acts, religious rituals, and yogic perfection before attaining the mercy of Sri Radha. And when one does, Krishna is not far off. In fact, it is through Sri Radha’s mercy that Krishna becomes attainable.

Radha is Krishna’s mercy incarnation, and through Her one can attain the culmination of the spiritual pursuit. Srila Prabhupada sums this up as follows: “Radharani, You are so dear to Krishna. So we offer our respectful obeisances unto You.” Radharani is hari-priya: “very dear to Krishna.” Through the mercy of Radharani we can easily approach Krishna. If Radharani recommends, “This devotee is very nice,” then Krishna immediately accepts me, however great a fool I may be. Because I am recommended by Radharani, Krishna accepts me. Therefore in Vrindavana you’ll find all the devotees chanting Radharani’s name more than Krishna’s. Wherever you’ll go, you’ll find the devotees greeting one another, “Jaya Radhe!” You’ll find this still in Vrindavana. The devotees are glorifying Radharani.

If you go by the speculative process to understand Krishna, it will take many, many lives. But if you take to devotional service and just try to please Radharani, Krishna will be gotten very easily. Radharani can deliver Krishna. She is so great a devotee, the emblem of maha-bhagavata. Even Krishna cannot understand the quality of Radharani’s devotion. Although Krishna says vedaham samatitani-“I know everything”-He fails to understand Radharani. She is so great.
It is in pursuit of these truths that Radha and Krishna descend as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, for in that form They taste the highest mercy and bestow it on others. The chief manifestation of that mercy is the holy name in the form of the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In this mantra both Radha and Krishna are fully manifest. A prayer to Sri Radha (Hare is the vocative form of Hara, another name for Radharani), it beseeches Krishna to be engaged in devotional service, the highest form of yoga. Radha is the medium through which such service is enacted, for She is the embodiment of devotion, the essence of love for Krishna.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sengalipuram Brahmasri Anantharama Deekshitar

I recently bought an audio CD having a discourse by Sengalipuram Brahmasri Anantarama Dikshitar on “Vishnu Sahasranamam”. The voice of the Dikshitar is so divine and powerful which makes the audience immediately appreciate is way of presentation. The sloka recitation style is too good and one can realize only by hearing. I strongly recommend people to buy this CD pack. Thought of sharing info about Sri Dikshitar.

Anantarama Dikshitar was born on 2nd July 1903. He was a Srauti scholar and also was a great exponent of the art of upanyasas on various subjects in Hinduism. Born in the Thanjavur district as the first son to Sri Subramanya Dikshithar, Anantharaman was initiated into the learning of the Vedas under his father Subramanya Dikshithar, who was also known as chinna Muthannaval. His brother of Sengalipuram Vaidhyanatha Dikshithar was Periya Muthannaval. Anantharama Dikshithar had his Aksharabyasam from Paruthiyur Krishna Sastri. Then he further studied other Shastras and Vedangas from eminent scholars of repute including Kadalangudi Natesa Sastrigal who also was his father in law. He had his course on Tarka Saastra from Sri Vishnupuram Swaminatha Sastrigal who also taught it to Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal (Sri Paramacharyal) of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt. Apart from complete knowledge of Saastra, Vedas and Astrology, He mastered our Puranas. In giving discourse he utilized it mainly to propogate Vaidika Dharma and the cult of Bhakthi.

On the divine wishes and direction of Sri Guruvayurappan the presiding deity, He has performed many Srimadh Bhagavatha Saptaahams at Guruvayur. The Sringeri Sankaracharya Sri Abhinava Vidya Teertha Swamigal too eagerly participated in the Navaaham conducted at Tiruprayar (Near Guruvayoor) Sri Rama Temple at Kerala as this was performed as ordered by the presiding deity Sri Rama Himself. In fact every one was thrilled to know the personal involvement of the Lord in the Navaaham. His discourse attracted tens of thousands of apt listeners. His propogation of Srimad Narayaneeyam of Meppattur Narayana Bhattathiri and the glory of Sri Guruvayurappan continues to draw lakhs of devotees to Guruvayoor.

Sri Anantharama Dikshitar also had composed a Sanskrit sloka on Lord Guruvayurappan known as “Guruvaatapurisha Pancharatnam”. This sloka had come to Dikshitar’s mind while having darshan of the Lord and later he told to his disciples that this sloka when properly learnt and chanted will give peace of mind and eternal prosperity. There was a small boy who was born in Poongunnam in a very good and God loving family. But he was suffering from constant headache which he thought was incurable. All the medicines that he took were of no use. So his Grandfather took him to Guruvayur and both of them stayed there for three days and prayed. Everyday they recited this slokam and he was cured of the terrible headache like magic.

The available portions of the recordings of His discourses rendered in public were brought out as cassettes and CDs as per the gracious directions of Sri Kanchi Paramacharya. The proceeds are to be used for Sri Adhishtaanam of Sri Deekshithar who attained Sidhi on 30-10-1969, after taking Sanyasa. Daily poojas are performed at Sri Adhistaanam at Chinnathirupathi, Salem Town. His divine presence is still felt there where He answers the prayers of devotees.

He has been conferred the following Titles:

· Amrutha Vaakvarshi
· Upanyasa Chakravarthi
· Vaidheeka Dharma Samrakshaka
· Pravachana Dhureena
· Vedha Yaaga Paripaalaka
· Raamayana Thathvopadesaka
· Ramaayana Kesari
· Bharatha Simham
· Pravachana Vaakeesa
· Sruthi Saakaram

Available Upanyasams (Cassettes & CDs)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Request of a Sanyasi

Today is Paramacharya’s birth star "Anusham" thought of sharing some of the devotees experience with our Jagadguru. Any body who goes to Mahaperiyava will get a solution. This is one more real life incident which proves it. Please read on to cherish.

One day at around 8.30 pm when Mahaperiyava was about to wind up his regular darshan there entered a couple along with their daughter and gave their offerings like dry fruits etc as a token of respect to the Jagadguru. Mahaperiyava upon seeing the person, “Oh is it Viswanathan from America, nice to see you with family, I Hope you have come here to tell your daughter’s wedding? I could able to see only the dry fruits which you have brought to me, I am not seeing the wedding invitation, where is it?” Viswanathan replied, “Mahaperiyava we are seeking the alliance since she was 17 years and now she is 25 years, all our previous attempts in coming to India and staying here for two months for seeking the alliance had failed and we are very much concerned about her marriage” and viswanathan became emotional which made his wife and daughter crying.

It was around 9.30 p.m. and mahaperiyava could able to feel the pain and tried to console the family, “Ok please sit down here and I know that you are doing lot of good things to temples and poor people, ok tell me how many years now since you went to the US.” Viswanathan replied, “it is now twenty years since I settled in US”. Acharaya then asked “Hope she is your only daughter and what is her name”, Viswanathan replied, “yes she is the only daughter and her name is Aparna”. Mahaperiyava then raised the doubt, “Have you shown her Horoscope (Jathagam) to the Astrologer?” “Yes I have shown to many astrologers and done lots of parikarams” “what are parikarams you have done?” “In Rameshwaram have done pithru dhosha parikaram with thila homam, In Kanjanoor “Sukra Preethi”, in Thiru nageswaram have done the “raghu preethi”, In alangudi did “Guru preethi”, in Thirumanancheri near kuthalam have done “special pooja” , In Thirunallar have completed Sani Preethi with nala theertha snanam…” Mahaperiyava interrupted,” only the “bhala prapthi” i.e. the result is missing”, by looking at Viswanathans wife “have you kept ready the gold and jewellery items?. For that viswanathan replied that, “we have about 30 sovereigns and in addition we have two 20 sovereigns kept separately”. Periyava interestingly enquired, “what for this additional set of 20 sovereigns?” He replied, “We have kept a vow to carryout marriage for two needful ladies if our daughter’s marriage is fixed but even that is not happening. “how many days you need to stay in India” viswanathan replied, “twenty days periyava”, periyava then asked the Mutt cook what is available the cook told, “Arisi Upma and Poosanikai Sambar” Periyava then asked the family to have their dinner in the mutt itself.

After the dinner mahaperiyava told,”Viswanatha you are good hearted person in addition to your daughters you want to help two more poor ladies in their marriage don’t worry goddess kamakshi will help you. I suggest you go to Thiruvanaikka (near trichy) and make your daughter see the Thadangam (Golden Ear Ring) of Goddess Akilandeswari and ask her to sincerely pray. Once you finish the darshan proceed to Tirupathi and perform a Kalyana uthsavam to srinivasa perumal” (marriage for the Lord Srinivasan and Padmavathi) Viswanathan replied “whenever we come to India we have done the kalyana uthsavam to Lord Srinivasa at Tirupathi and I have done eight times so far but not result”. For that Mahaperiyava replied,"sari viswanatha athanala enna korranjura porathu? Intha sanyasi solrathukaka ompathavathu thadavaiya nadathi vaiyen" (ok viswanatha please do it for the nineth time for the request of this sanyasi?!)

Viswanathan then took his family to Thiruvanaikka and had thadanga (Goddess Golden Ear Ring) darshan of Goddess akilandeswari and then came to Tirupathi. In Tirupathi that day many people had given their offerings for the Thiru Kalyanam to the Lord and Viswanathan family also were witnessing the wedding celebration of Srinivasan and Alamelumanaga and Viswanathan’s mind was thinking, “every day you are getting married gorgeously see my status is it fair on your part?” and felt very emotional by shedding his tears in front of the Lord and upon seeing this his wife and daughter were also started weeping.

All this was noticed by a person nearby for quite some time and atlast he decided to enquire and went nearby, “I am Vaidyanthan from Madras am observing you and your family for quite some time, when you are supposed to enjoy the celestial wedding of the God you and your family is in grief which you should not do” Viswanathan then told his pathetic condition to the person who was enquiring him. Vaidyanathan then asked Viswanathan “what is your gothram?” Viswanathan replied “Vathulam” “Nanga Srivathsam .. ok what is your daughter’s age? “twenty five.. why are you asking all these details?” Vaidyanthan then replied that he will inform after the function.

Once the function was over Vaidyanathan took the family of Viswanathan and told, “We hail from Melatoor near Tanjore and I have a son by name Srinivasan who is currently working in US at Ford Motor Co., and he his coming to India tomorrow, and we are seeking alliance for him for the past three years and nothing has progressed” “ we are also devotees of Kanchi Periyava and when we visited the Kanchi Mutt some three months before Mahaperiyava requested us to perform Kalyana Utsavam at Tirupathi and hence we are here and if Mahaperiyava’s blessings is there your daughter can become our daughter-in-law.”

Then both the family exchanged the horoscope and went straight to an astrologer in Tirumala itself. To everyone’s surprise the horoscope matching was perfect. The next day Srinivasan reached India from America and pen parkum padalam took place and finally both liked each other. Within fifteen days they fixed the marriage and even finalized the marriage hall i.e. Raja Rajeswari Kalyana Mandapam. After that both families decided to visit Kanchi Mutt to get the blessings of Maha Periyava. They reached Kanchi Mutt and by the time they had Periyava's darshan it was 9 pm.

Viswanathan then transpired what happened since he left Kanchi Mutt and told that they had darshan in Thiruvanaika and had Thadanga darshan and later went to Tirupathi to perform Kalyana Utsavam for the Lord of Seven Hills and how the marriage got fixed. Mahaperiyava was very happy and told him that since he felt that her daughter might have the “Vivaha prabandiga dosham” he then asked them to go have darshan of Goddesss Akilandeswari’s Thadanga which will ward off the dosha. Then he enquired about who is the groom, Vaidyanthan who was standing behind came in front of Mahaperiyava told “I am going to be his sambanthi I came to you three months before when you have told us to perform the Srinivasa kalyanam at Tirupathi” We both performed the Kalyana Utsavam on the same day and become sambanthis by your grace. Acharya blessed them and told them “please have your dinner in the Mutt and the cook was telling me that today’s menu is “Arisi Upma and Poosanikai Sambar” and then blessed them and went to his room.