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Sri:


Srimad Azhagiyar Thiruvadi (close up view)
Thaniyan and Meaning

Prakritam (current) Srimad Azhagiyasingar
An Acharya, Friend, Philosopher and Guide
by Sri Anbil Ramaswamy

Birth

Our Swami was born in the Tirumalai Nallan Chakravarti Vamsam which follows in letter and spirit the chores of Oupasanam, Annaroopa Vaiswadevam and are "Brahmavidaam Varishtas" as defined by Bashyakarar.

Sri Narasimha Tatachar and Smt. Ranganayaki Ammal were the blessed parents. Sri Narayanachar, (Swami's elder brother) was born to them as the 2nd son on 15th August 1916 and our Swami was born as the 6th so n to them on 12th December 1926 in azhzveri Taluk, Villivalam village in North Arcot District in the year Akshaya month, Kartigai and in the Uttrattadi Nakshatram.

 Education

           -  He graduated as  "Nyaya Siromani" from the Madras University.  Securing a first class

- While at a junior level, he answered queries set by Tirukoshtiyur Swami for senior level on
   "Yathartha Gnaanam" as per Deepikai and Prakaasikai.

       -  During an inspection, Devanarvilagam Swami was surprised at the precocious
  way he answered questions on "Chaturdasa Lakshana" in Nyaya Grantham.

       -  He earned the appreciation of Uttaradi Mutt Swami when he explained a difficult
  topic on "Pancha Lakshanee".

       -  He studied "Saamaanya Nivritti" under Tirukkallam Krishnamachar Swami and
  Madurantakam Swami.

       -  He studied also under Injimettu Swami, Navalpakkam Ayya Devanatha Swami,
  Mukkur Srinivasachar, and his own elder brother  Narayanachar Swami.

    - Devanarvilagam Swami hailed his essay of just 10 pages on Sribashyam as a
  masterpiece.

    - In the "Malola Vidwat Sadas" at Tiruvallur, he explained Jignanasa Adhikaranana
  Laghu Siddhantam.

 Occupation and Blessings

    - He was Adhyapaka at Madurantakam College for about 6 months Mukkur Azhagiyasinghar appointed
  him as Aasthaana Vidwan

    - Taught at Padur Patasala for sometime.

    - D.T.Tatachar Swami conferred on him the title of "Vidwan Mani" at Sri Vedanta
  Desika Sudha Swaadini Sabha at Tirupati.

    - Uttamur Swami recorded his appreciation of his work as a model for others.

    - Tirukkudanthai Andavan Swami after hearing his exposition at "Paduka Vihara
  Vidwat Sadas" advised that he would make an ideal Sannyasi.

    - Andavan Swami blessed him at “Mannargudi Vidawat Sadas” where our Swami
  expatiated on Vibhishana Saranagathi.

    - Succeeded Tirukkallam Swami  as Associate Editor of Narasimhapriya journal.

    - Has attended numerous Vidwat Sadas at Poundarikapuram Andavan Asramam
  and secured the blessings of successive Pontiffs there like Mannargudi Andavan,
  Vennatrankarai Andavan and Prakritam Paravakkottai Andavan.

    - Wrote "Sri Vaishnava Sadachara Nirnayam"- his magnum opus - a reference
  manual with a commentary on Aasoucha Sathakam by Melpakkam Swami.  

Epoch making events

       Upanayanam : Sri Narayanachar Swami performed his Upanayanam at
Garbhashtamam.

     Samasrayanam: He had his Samasrayanam at the hands of Injimettu
Azhagiyasinghar in 1940

     Marriage: He married at age 18 (1944) the daughter of Vidwan Kaniyambakkam
Srinivasacharya and had a happy married life of 46 years. Has three sons.

     Bharanyasam: He had his Bharanyasam at the hands of Devanarvilagam
Azhagiyasinghar on a Dwadasi day of Panguni month in the year Pingala.

     Presha mantra upadesam: Once, Mukkur Azhagiyasinghar called him for doing
Aradhana while at Ahobilam. When the Swami arrived, he asked our Swami to
take Sannyasa and administered "Presha Mantraas along with his brother Sri
Narayanacharya.. Thus, he had his Presha mantra at Ahobilam where Aadhi Vann
Satakopar had his Presha Mantropadesam.

     12th  october 1991: Mukkur Swami took  ill suddenly when our Swami was at
Tirupati for a discourse. He immediately returned to Srirangam.

     21st  October 1991: Sannyasa Sweekaranam at Srirangam at the hands of Mukkur
Azhagiyasinghar and in the immediate presence and blessings of Paravakkottai

Andavan16th August 1992: Mukkur Azhagiyasinghar attained Paramapadam.

     24th  August 1992: Pattabhishekam of our Swami as 45th Jeeyar duly blessed
with Prokshanam and recitation of Sri Rama Pattbisheka Mantram by his mentor
and Yathisreshtar, Paravakkottai Andavan, Sri Gopala Desika Maha Desikan of
Poundarika Puram Asramam.

 

 

His Dedication to Archamurthis and Aradhana

As one  witnesses  the eye filling atmosphere in which our Swami performs Aradhana and the loving dedication of Upacharas to the Upasana murthis, one cannot fail to  feel palpably  being transported to the very Aprakritaloka, while being in this Prakrita loka itself.

One will be astonished to see how our Swami untiringly observes his Anushtanams, Bhagavad Kainkaryam, and Bhaagavata Kainkaryam in addition to offering impromptu Kalskshepam discourses and writing out deeply researched articles for Narasimhapriya Journal. He spends nearly 20 out of 24 hours with practically no rest and no rest on strict starvation diet.

Looking at all these, we wonder if we have returned to Kritayugam itself transcending the Kaliyugam we are supposed to be in. In fact, it used to be said that within every Yuga an Avaantaram corresponding to 1250 years repeats itself. .By this calculation, we have now crossed the first 5000 years consisting of Krita, Treta, Dwapara and Kaliyuga Avantaras. Thus, we have set foot on the new Kritayuga  Avantara as evidenced by the presence of such great and hoary Acharya Parampara, the diadem of which is our Azhagiyasinghar. We should really be proud that we now coeval with this great  Mahan.

His Respect for Acharyas

None could exemplify the ideal Sishya as per Nyasa Vimsati and Sishyakritya Adhikara of Swami Desikan than our Swami. Whenever he talks about his Poorva Acharyas, you can notice a glint in his eyes blending his Bhakti, Gratitude and joy of nostalgia. I have seen how he used to stand a very personification of utmost humility when he stood before 44th Jeeyar before, during and after becoming the Chinna Jeeyar. While doing Antharanga Kaashaaya Kainkaryam to Injimettu Azhagiya Singhar, he learned all sookshma Anushtanams from him. Indeed, he represented a Triveni Sangamam imbibing in himself all the qualities of head and heart of the three Yathivaras whom he had the privilege to serve Viz. 42nd 43rd and 44th Azhagiya Singhars.

His Respect for Acharyas of other Disciplines

While taking Kalakshepam classes on Divya Prabhandam, he would teach us with the volumes published by Puttur Swami and refer to his works with great respect.He would unfailingly express his admiration of the way in which Velukkudi Swami attained Paramapadam after performing Ghanta Seva at the Sannidhi of Periya Perumal.

His Devotion to Sri Narayanachar Swami

Like Sri Rama's yuvaraja Pattabhishekam could not go on as planned, Sri Narayanachar's nomination to succeed 44th Jeeyar could not be fulfilled; But, Sri Narayanachar lives through his fame - true to the saying "Yasah Kaayena Jeevathi" because his brother assumed his name on acquiring Sannyasa Ashramam. Right from Arulappaadu, all honors are literally addressed to the name of Narayana Yateendra !.  Only the problems of administration have fallen to the lot of our Swami.

Like Bharata who ruled in the name of Sri Rama, our Swami thinks and acts as if he were a regent of his brother. Bharata and Lakshmana were proud to call themselves as brothers of Sri Rama, not as princes in their own right. Similarly, our Swami feels proud  of being the brother of Sri Narayanachar and has never failed to mention this publicly whenever an occasion arose.

During the days when he grew up with his brother, he used to place all Sambhavanas he got at the feet of his brother.

Sri Narayanachar wrote his commentary on Para Matha Bhangam of Swami Desika called "Desikaasaya Prakaasam". It is a rare case of Vairaghyam when he refused to ask anyone for any financial assistance for publishing it. Sri Purisai Swami and others financed the project of releasing the first Part of the book. But, the Swami could not live to see the release of the Second Part. Our Swami, despite several odds, took great pains to get it printed, including proof reading of galley proof to the final one all by himself.

Once an Advaitin (who chanced to peruse the proof that had been proofread by our Swami) challenged him on the use of the word "Prachanna Bouddhas" with reference to Advaitins. Our Swami had to convince him how and why the term was used.

[*  I have with me as a valuable treasure, a copy of this book presented to me by our Swami ]

What an Acharya !

If one needs to know how an ideal Acharya would be , one needs to look at our Acharya. He is a living example of the ideal Acharya as defined in Nyasa Vimsati and Acharyakritya Adhikaram of Swami Desikan.

In a sense our Swami is greater than Bhagavan himself. Do you know why?. Bhagavan knows both Anugraham (Reward)and Nigraham (Punishment). But, our Acharya (like Thaayaar) is "Agnaatha Nigraha" Like Koorathalwan who recommended  Moksham for Naaloor Aachan though the latter  was responsible for the loss of his eyesight, our Swami  knows only Anugraham.

What qualities differentiate an Acharya from the rest? They are Gnaanam+ Aachaaram+ Anushtanam+ Bhakti + Vairaghyam. Our Swami is a personification of all these and more.

Our Swami is special in another sense viz., He takes the 8-lettered Ashtakshara name of Narayana as the 8th Acharya out of the 45 pontiffs adorning the Peetam of Azhagiyasinghars so far. He is Lord Narayana Himself.

I have a photo of Azhagiyasinghar's Mangalasasanam of  Sri Andal taken at Srivilliputtur. Believe it or not, you can see the image of Lord Lakshminrisimha where his shadow is expected to fall on the wall at the Garbagraham. He is indeed Lord Lakshminrisimhar Himself.

His Concern for his Sishyas

The very first question that our Acahrya poses whenever one enters his presence is "Have you taken meals ?"; the first advice he would give is to direct one to go and take food before visiting him again !

Even though he has 1000s of Sishyas, devotees and admirers, he remembers every one of them by name and every detail of their family backgrounds, their occupations, their connections etc with unerring accuracy.  It is astonishing how he updates his database so well that even if one were to meet him once in a blue moon, he can recall to the minutest detail almost instantaneously ! HE IS INDEED A HI-TECH ELECTRONIC ORGANIZER !

His Sishya Vaatsalyam is evident from the way he presents the subjects to them in terms of what Swami Desikan characterizes as "Anreendha Kanrukkirangi Surakkum Dhenuvaip pol" (meaning) like the mother cow that lovingly gives milk to the just born calf.

The way he teaches would confirm his aim to make everyone a Vidwan like himself.

He is honest in his approbation and lavish in his praise for his Sishyas-not that we deserve the same. Imperceptibly, by such praise, he would encourage us to live up to his expectations !

He would cherish  every Sishya as if he were a close friend whose friendship he cannot afford to lose ! Did not Swami Desika describe the Lord as "Saranaagatha Pranaya Bhanga Bheetho Bhavaan"meaning that the Lord appeared as if he was afraid of losing the goodwill of the Saranagatha (one who had surrendered to Him) " ?.

Being an expert in Vyakarana Satra as in every other branch of study, whether in speaking or in writing, there will be no grammatical error in any of his presentations. Indeed, he is like what Kamban described Anjaneya  as "Sollin Selvan". 

Like each of the wives of Sage Soubhari who claimed that the Sage liked her only to the exclusion of all his other wives, every Sishya is made to feel that the Swami is dear to him / her only exclusively.

Also, like each of the Gopis felt the love of Kannan as her own exclusive privilege, every Sishya would feel exclusively close to the Swami. In this connection, it is interesting to note, that though his official name in his Poorvaasramam was Krishnamachari, his pet name at home was "Kannan". No wonder, we feel like Gopis drawn to Kannan ! Such is the feeling of intimacy he instills in anyone who comes into contact with him. What Magic, What Formula, What Charishma  he has to so entice everyone thus is really beyond our comprehension.

I have had several occasions when I asked  him doubts both during Kalakshepams and in private at his home. He has been ever ready and with convincing answers at all times whether orally or in writing. Since, he is on Sancharam nowadays, he has advised  me to send my letters to a camp where he was likely to stay for longer periods, lest my letters should fail to reach him.

In a sense, we are more blessed than our Acharya. Do you know why?  He worships Laksminarasimhan only; But, we are doubly fortunate since we worship not only Lakshmi Narasimhan, the 'Aradhya'  but also our Swami who is the 'Aradhaka' of Lakshmi Nrasimhan !

How Did I Come to Know Him?

It was almost a decade and a half ago, when in one of my visits to the Acahrya of my family, Prakritam pontiff of Poundarikapuram Andavan Swami Ashramam, he advised me to go to one Villivalam Krishnamachar Swami who was delivering Kalakshepams in Adyar area itself and learn the Granta Chatushtayam. Immediately I made a beeline to his home and conveyed the direction of PP Andavan. Our Swami was so pleased that he literally drew up a timetable showing where, at what timings and on what subjects he was giving Kalakshepams.

From that moment onwards I followed him to all the homes- in Adyar, Besant nagar, Nehru nagar, Vannan thurai, Mylapore, Triplicane and so many other locations and at all times whenever and wherever he was handling classes. In short, like a shadow and like Mary's little lamb of the nursery rhyme fame-  "Everywhere that Swami went, I was sure to go".  

In each one of the locations, there would be say 20 to 25 Vidyarthis attending. Our Swami and my humble self were the common factors, he - as the ' Vaktha' and myself - as ' Srotha'. Our Swami, therefore, used to depute me to convey any messages he desired to be conveyed to all his students everywhere.

At one place, he would be teaching Chapter # 1, in another Chapter # 11 and in yet another Chapter # 21 of say RTS, Bhagavad Gita and Tiruvoimozhi.   That is how, I could cover all the above within say 5 or 6 years, what would have taken about 15 + years to cover.  ( I had the opportunity of learning Sribashyam at the feet of Purisai Swami and Anushtanams at the feet of Srivatankachariar Swami. This is besides the courses of Paravakkottai Andavan of Poundarikapuram Asramam which I had the privilege to attend.)

Besides the formal Kalakshepam classes, I had the privilege of visiting his house at West Mambalam frequently to clear my doubts in private.

There was not a single occasion when he was not willing to entertain me, in spite of his busy schedule. And, never was there an occasion when Mami failed to offer me the welcome cup of hot coffee the moment I entered their house.

Such was the affection showered on this worthless soul by my Acharya and his Dharmapatni.

It was because of this overwhelming sense of gratitude that I felt an inner urge to compose and dedicate a "Tanian" long,  long before a formal Tanian was composed at the time of his Sannyasa Sweekaranam.

It reads as follows:

(i)  Vignaatham Aathmaanam Vidyaa Vinaya Vibhooshitham

(ii) Viveka Vairaaghya Anushtaana Soulabhya Suseelam |

(iii) Asmath Darsana Sthaapaka Vyaapakaanaam Varishtam

(iv) Vande Gurum Villivalam Sri Krishnama Aachaarya Siromanim ||

(i) He used to say frequently that "One should know One's self ". Here is one who had known his self. Hence,' Vignaatham Aathmaanam '

(ii) Vidya (Learning) and Vinaya (Humility) rarely go together. Here is one who blends both and blends them so perfectly. Hence, ' Vidyaa Vinaya Vibhooshitham'- Not merely ' Bhooshitham' but ' Vibhooshitham'.

(iii) There may be so many today that seek to establish our Darsana. Here is one who is outstanding among them all. Hence, “Staapaka Vyaapakaanaam Varishtam

(iv) He is a Guru in the sense he dispels the darkness of ignorance. He is Acharya because he throws light on the correct path. Hence, the use of the words ' Guru' and 'Acharya'- Not only that. He is the diadem among Gurus and Acharyas. Hence, ' Choodaamanim'.

This Tanian was submitted at the Sadas held at Prof. V. Ramabadran's house. (Prof. Ramabadran is related to our Ramesh Sarangapani). When it was read out and presented, our Swami was so moved and asked me how it came to be composed.

I just quoted the stanza from Godha Sthuti where Swami Desikan says- '" Mounaan Mukharayanti Gunaah Tvadheeyaah" (meaning) It was his qualities that made even a mute fellow like me to venture to compose.  I also quoted Poet Bharatiyar's words -

"Nidhi Migunthavar Porkuvai Thaareer ,
 Nidhi Kuraindavar Kaasugal Thaareer,
 Adhuvum Arravar Vai Choll Arulveer"

meaning "Those who are wealthy may give their treasures, those who are not so opulent may give smaller denominations and those who do not have anything may at least give some words of praise"- and I was just doing the last direction.

He replied that one cannot win over another by force but he felt bound by love and affection evidenced through this piece. He arranged to have this framed and kept it in his house as a momento.

His Soulabyam

In his "Acceptance Speech" of the Tanian, the Swami exclaimed publicly "Ennaik Kattip Pottu Vitteere!" by way of acknowledging my submission. Can anyone bind him? Out of his Soulabyam the Swami made it appear as if I bound him. I was reminded of Madhurakavi Alwar's "Kanni nunn Siru Thaambinaal kattunnap panniya peru maayan". I felt like swooning overwhelmed by his Soulabyam like  " Uralinodu Inaindhu Irundhu Yengiya Yelivae" (Tiruvoimozhi 1.3.1). What Compassion? What humility? And, to whom? Like "Kurai Onrum Illaatha Govindan" stooping down to bless "Arivu Onrum Illaatha Aaichiyar"!.

Achara and Acharya

The great Maharishis of yore while defining Acharya Lakshanam lay great emphasis on Achara.  

Aachinothi Hi Saastraan Aachaare Sthapayatyapi |
Swayam Aacharate Yasmaath Tasmaath Aachaarya Uchyate ||

Like the bees that collect the quintessence of honey from various flowers, he (Acharya) gains knowledge learning from their Acharyas and other elders, follow the Sastraic disciplines (Achara), stirctly as learned and encourages his disciples to follow him more be practice than by precepts. Only such a one can be an Acharya. This makes it clear that mere Knowledge is not enough. Achara (Conduct) should back it up as the hallmarks of a true Acharya. Our Swami is a perfect example of these twin qualifications.

Srotriya Par Excellence

Manusmriti differentiates the various qualities that go to make a Srotriya thus :

Janmanaa Braahmano Jneyah  Samskaaraih Dvija Uchyatae |
Vidyayaa Yaathi Vipratvam Tribhirethaih Srotriya Uchyatae ||

One may be a Brahmin by birth; with Upanayana Samskaara, one becomes a Dvija (twice born); and by acquiring true knowledge he matures into a Vipra. But, it is the one who has all these is a Srotriya. And, our Swami is a Srotriya par excellence.

His Natural Disposition

There are four qualities that have to be inborn and manifest as natural tendencies. They cannot be acquired by mere effort. They are Daatrutvam (Munificence), Priyavaktrutvam (Pleasant talk), Dheeratvam (Courage) and Uchitajnaanataa (doing what is appropriate) 

Daatrutvam PriyaVaktrutvam Dheeratvam Uchitajnathaa |
Abhyaasena Na Labhyante Chatvaaras Sahajaa Gunaah ||

(i) Datrutvam: In Tamil (Eeagai)The way he welcomed whenever anyone visited his Tirumaaligai during his Poorvasramam was remarkable. Even today, one can feel the warmth of welcome he extends to anyone visiting him, wherever he is.

(ii) Priyavaktrutvam: The smiling face and the comforting words make everyone feel ' at home away from home'- an object lesson on 'Athithi Satkaaram'.

(iii) Dheeratvam: The courage with which he renounced his Grihasta Aasrama of nearly 40 years in which he had a closely knit family consisting of a loving wife and three obedient sons can be appreciated only by those who had moved with this unique family.

The acumen with which he discharges the onerous responsibilities of the great empire he presides over, lifting its finance from a deep  minus to an incredibly plus figure is possible only to one who knows ' to do what is proper at the proper time'.

(iv) Uchitajnaanathaa: Valmiki enquired Sage Narada two questions: "Vidwaan Kah?" and "Kah Samarthah?" Cannot a Vidwan naturally be capable also? Not necessarily. One who is an expert in Vaidika Sastra Gnaana need not necessarily be an able lowkika administrator.

In reply, Narada pointed out Sri Rama as the person who is at once a "Vidwan" and a "Samartha'. This combination is amply evident in our Swami. His knowledge is well matched by his acumen as stated at (iii) above.

Nara and Narayana

It is well known that in the beginning Bhagavan appeared at Badrikasramam as both "Nara" and "Narayana". "Narayana" is understandable. But, why as "Nara"? To show to the world how a Sishya should conduct himself towards his Acharya.  Jayakhya Samhita brings this out - 

Saakshaath Naaraayano Devah Kritvaa Martyamayeem Thanum |
Magnaan Udhvarathe Lokaan Karunayaa Saastra Paaninaa |
Tasmaath Bhaktih Gurou Kaaryam Samsaara Bhaya Bheerunaa ||

Out of extreme compassion, the Lord concealing his Paratvam appeared in human form as Acharya and Sishya wielding Saastra Upadesa as the weapon to lift spiritually the Jeevas enmeshed in the deep mire of Samsara.

Our Swami exemplified the role of a Sishya when he served his three predecessors and today shines in his role as an Acharya for all of us. It, therefore, behoves us to be devoted to our Acharya as our 'Seshi', 'Saranya' and 'Praapya'.

Why should we do this?

Svetaswatara Upanishad answers this question: - 

Yasya Deve Paraa Bhaktih Yathaa Deve Tathaa Gurou |
Tasyaite Kathithaa Hiyarthah Prakaasanthe Mahaatmanah ||

The mystic truths reveal themselves to only one who ha supreme devotion towards God and who has intense devotion towards his Guru in the same way.

There is also a saying- 

Yathaa Mantre Yathaa Vaidye Yathaa Deve Yathaa Gurou |
Yaadrisee Bhaavanaa Yasya Siddhir Bhavati Taadrisee ||

The extent of benefit one derives depends on the extent of faith one has - whether it is Mantra or Doctor or God or Acharya. Therefore, when approaching the Acharya, one should do so with utmost faith and devotion.

Lord Krishna makes it clear that those who do not develop this faith are fools since even in his own case, they mistake him to be ordinary human seeing his physical appearance being very much like their own.

"Avajaananthi Maam Moodaah Maanusheem Tanum Aasritham" 

Also, Sastras declare -

Yo Vishnuor Prathimaakaare Loha Bhaavam Karothi Cha |
Yo Gurou Maanusham Bhaavam Ubhou Naraka Paathinah ||

One who considers the Archa Murthi of Lord Vishnu with reference to the material it is made of and the one who considers the Acharya as a mere human being like himself- Both of them are sure to fall into the worst hells.

Observe Decorum !

When our Swami visited my humble hut for Dolai, he noticed a Sumangali lady wearing a 6 yards saree. He called her up and advised that at least when attending religious functions like this, Grihasta gents should wear the traditional Panchakatcham and Angavastram and the Sumangalis should wear 9 yards saree in the traditional way.

Assuming that you are a Cadet in the military and also personal friend of the President, you cannot insist that because of your closeness with the President you would wear say a Panchakatcham while partaking in the military parade. You have to respect the dress code prescribed for the occasion.  

The same holds good also for those wishing to participate in the Saatrumurai Seva along with the Jeeyar early in the morning at Tirumalai, when they check not only the dress code but also if you do not sport the proscribed sideburns before allowing you to enter the temple.

Don't Play With Fire!

Those desiring to derive warmth in the cold winter light a campfire. One has to be near enough to feel the warmth; One who is far away cannot enjoy the benefit. One cannot go too near the fire, lest it should burn and scald.  Similarly, when approaching the Acharya, one has to maintain the right distance. Going too near, one might commit Apacharams; Remaining too far, one may not derive the benefit of his Upadesam.

A wedding celebrated

My first son, Parthasarathi's wedding was celebrated.  So, what is the big deal about it for mentioning it here?

[May be this is too pesonal. But, it provides a peep into the compassion, Achara and Anushtana etc.of our Swami, which I had the opportunity to observe first hand and at close quarters. I hope you will enjoy his Kalyanagunas as revealed in these events]

Let me explain:

Our Swami who was known never to miss his schedule of Kalakshepams stopped it for 2 days everywhere in order to make himself free to come to Tirupati to perform  Adhyaksham  (i.e. preside over) the  wedding function , which was held at Seetharama Kalyana Mandapam at Tirumalai in July 1991. The Purohits in charge of the ritual were in mortal fear, lest they should make any mistake in the presence of our revered Swami !

Is this not a big deal ? 

Not only that. It was the Tamil month of Aadi.  My would be Sambandis  were so scared to have the wedding as they were told that it was not an auspicious month for wedding. Our Swami personally went through the various Pramanams and Anushtanams and gave the green signal that the wedding could be performed in Aadi.

Is this not a big deal ?

As I was a Vitura (widower), I was not sure if I could do the rituals of Jatakaranam, Namakaranam etc as a prelude to the actual function. Swami volunteered to do these on my behalf. 

Is this not a big deal ?

After personally consulting several authorities, he suggested that only in the case of a bride, all these had to be done by one who is not a Vitura and in the case of the bridegroom since all these Samskaras are already over at the time of Upanayanam  itself,  there was no bar in my doing them. Is this not a big deal? 

Our Swami was accompanied by his wife. As he would not take (Paraannam) food elsewhere,  Mami prepared food for him at Parakala Mutt premises at Tirumalai where we had arranged for their stay. In fact, we took the delicious Prasadam which Mami offered out of what she cooked ! 

Is this not a big deal?

Saptadi Mahotsavam of Poundarikapuram Andavan

March 22, 1991, was a memorable day. That was the Saptadi day of Sri Gopala Desika Maha Desikan, Prakritam Parvakkottai Andavan of Poundarikapuram Swami Asramam.

I had booked two berths by the Rockfort Express for Our Swami and myself for attending the celebrations at Srirangam. Sri Lakshmi Narasimhan, who is an Officer in the State Bank of India, Alwarpet Branch, Madras and the first son of our Swami in his Poorvasramam (whom we call by his pet name Raghu) brought our Swami to Egmore station where I was waiting to receive him as previously arranged.

When during one of his visits to my house (in the interval between two Kalakshepam classes), I expressed my desire to take up some advertisement space in the Saptadi Mahotsava Malar of PP Andavan as a token of dedication to my Acharya.  Our Swami suggested  the passage occurring  as  the Prathama Prasnah in Sikshavalli - Saamhineer Devata Upanishad -  Santhi Paatam of Taittriya Upanishad, which prays for the protection of both the Acharya and Sishya " Sanno Mitras Sam Varunah…Tanmaa Avatu, Tad Vaktaaram  Avatu, Avatu Maam, Avatu Vaktaaram…" as the appropriate wordings to appear. Accordingly, this has appeared in the Saptadi Mahotsava Malar immediately after the conclusion of the article by Sri Ranga Priya Yathi "Sriranga Srees Cha Vardhathaam." That PP Andavan Swami was very pleased to see this needs no mention.

As we arrived at Srirangam, we took an Autorikshaw to the Asramam. Since the Veda Paaraayanam was going on there, Swami told me- "Take Prasadam of Abigamanam at Ahobila Mutt itself; It will be too late for your lunch at the Asramam" How thoughtful and how concerned he was that I should be fed on time!

The Yathi and the Yathi - to - be were closeted for a while discussing some personal matters. I was standing at a respectable distance, lest I should feel an intruder in their conversations. I was thrilled and pleasantly shocked when both of them beckoned me to come near and join them. I still wonder how both the Acharyas deemed me worthy of being invited to the privy of their meeting! And, I still wonder how I deserved this bhagyam! One thing I could understand was that our Swami was seeking guidance on some sensitive issues from, his mentor, the PP Andavan. As the discussions were too private, I am leaving them out here.

Nexus of Ahobila Mutt with  Poundarikapuram Andavan Asramam The nexus that exists between Ahobila Mutt and Poundarikapuram Andavan Asramam is indeed very long standing. The heads of the two institutions have always held each other in very high esteem despite overzealous Sishyas and vested interests outside trying to engineer disaffection between them.   The 42nd Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt, Srivann Satakopa Sri Sriranga Satakopa Yathindra Maha Desikan, otherwise known as Sri Injimettu Azhagiyasinghar whom we celebrate today for founding the Malola Vidwat Sadas, Madurantakam College, Nrisimhapriya monthly journal etc. was initiated into Sannyaasa Asramam by Vennatrankarai Srimad Andavan Srinivasa Maha Desikan of Poundarikapuram Swami Asramam in April 1929 as per the Niyamanam of 41st Jeeyar Sivann Satakopa Lakshmi Narasimha Satakopa Yatindra Maha Desikan of Ahobila Mutt.

The Prakritam Paravakkottai Swami had just then assumed charge as the Pontiff of the PP Asramam when he had not even known personally the Sishyas belonging to the Asramam. Yet, the 44th Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt, Srivann Satakopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yathindra Maha Desikan wanted him to bear the cost of the 12th tier of the Rajagopuram, which was being built by him at Srirangam. Undaunted, Paravakkottai Swami raised almost instantly the funds needed for this and submitted it at the feet of Azhagiyasinghar. Thus, the 12th tier of the Rajagopuram was the Kainkaryam of Prakritam Andavan of Poundarikapuram Asramam.

 When someone went to court to debar Poundarikapuram Andavan from using the honorific " Andavan", the 44th Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt, Srivann Satakopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yathindra Maha Desikan called the litigants and challenged them to dare initiating proceedings first against those outside the pale of Srivaishnavism using the term "Andavan" (like Nagoor Andavan, Meyvazhi Chalai Andavan etc) before seeking PP Asramam Swami to drop the hereditary title successively adorning the Acharyas of Poundarikapuram Asramam It was only when the head of the opposite party was called to take the stand in the Court that they withdrew the case !

During the Sannayasa Sweekaranam and subsequent Pattabhishekam and Peeta Aarohanam of our Prakritam Azhagiyasinghar, 45th Jeeyar of Ahobila mutt, they were performed under the Adhyaksham and immediate presence of Prakritam Andavan of PP Asramam, Paravakkottai Sri Gopala Desika Maha Desikan who sprinkled holy waters uttering the holy Rama Pattabhisheka Slokam"Abhishinchya Nara Vyaagram".

When I went to offer my obeisance to PP Andavan soon after the Sannyasa Sweekaranam, he remarked (albeit  jocularly) " Ungalavar Peeta Adhipathi Aagi Vittaar.  Ungaluku Enna Kuraichal?"Meaning "You have nothing to worry. Your friend has  become the Pontiff of Ahobila Matam" I replied " Swami! Neengal Anuppithaane Antha Swamyidam Kalakshepam Ketkap Ponen". Meaning " Only as per your directions, I went to that Swami to listen to Kalakshepams"

He smiled and agreed. If my Acharya were to say thus, it only shows how much Azhagiyasinghar should have spoken to him affectionately about me. Can there be a greater bhagyam than this?

Azhagiyasinghar's Kalakshepa Vaikhari (His Inimitable Talent in Explaining) Supposing a mother has a number of children. Do you know which child would be dearest to her? On which child would she bestow her utmost concern and best attention? The answer is simple. Naturally, it is on the most handicapped of them all. You will remember my telling that I was a common Srotha in all his Kalakshepam classes. If you wish to award a prize for not the dumb and the dumber but the dumbest, stupidest student in all the classes put together, sure as anything, I would win the first prize. May be, this is the reason why he would not proceed to the next line unless he made sure that I had understood what was being explained (sometimes to the point of annoyance of other brilliant students and everyone else was in this category).

Any explanation of the esoteric involved in the Granthas conveyed in high flying Paribashai would put off lay folks; And, Pundits would feel out of tune with any  simple, straightforward language. Our Swami would present his talks in a happy blend of both so that every segment would find it agreeable to their predilections all at the same time ! This inimitable style comes to him effortlessly like fish taking to water. A rare quality, which others could only envy but would find hard to emulate!

Even as he is talking he would grasp our doubts by merely looking at us and within seconds he would be addressing the precise doubts. Even though he is a ' Param gathah' (one who has mastered), he would tune his presentation to suit even dullest heads and according to the Paripakkuvam of the audience - who would remain still like "Ezhudu Chithiram" (a painted picture) and like calves listening to the flute of Kannan. Indeed, like Sri Rama, he is "Vaagmi Srimaan"(Richly endowed with the gift of expression). What a blend of incompatibles! It is indeed, "Seraatha Serkai", (the reconciliation of incompatible requirements) as Tamil Pundits would put it.

This would be like 'spoon-feeding'; like a mother feeding her baby showing the moon and telling a story that grips the imagination of the baby. The way he can sway your emotions, now hilarious, now sober, now saddening, now consoling can only be imagined. And that way, he will make you appreciate the mood of the context, the Tiru Ullam of the Alwar or Acharya  in any given situation most effectively.

Appropriate quotations from nooks and corners  of the scriptures would flow like flood so effortlessly  that we would be tempted to feel with the students of the Schoolmaster in Oliver Goldsmith's Deserted Village-  " the more we listened, the more our wonder grew  how his small head could contain all that he knew"

He is anxious to give away all that he has learned to those who desire. Did not Saandilya say -?

Paatrastham Aathmajnaanam Kritvaa Pindam Sam Utsrujet |
Naanthardhaaya swayam yaayaath jagad Bheejam Abheejakrit ||

Meaning:

"An Acharya should unreservedly teach all that he has learned to his devoted Sishyas. If he keeps close fisted, the seed of Knowledge will wither away" 

During the Kalakshepam, in order to make us understand better, he would give the exact English equivalents. Not that he does not know English, but to make us feel important, he would pose as if he is not sure of the correct usage and consult us whether his rendering is correct. How clever in making us feel at home! 

His time -keeping, shall I say instinct, is really marvelous. He would start on the dot and finish on the 90th minute, if the lecture were to be for 90 minutes. Even Professors in College need to be reminded by the ringing of the bell. When he starts and when he stops, you can adjust your watch. This razor sharp precision has to be seen to be believed.

Swami's Sense of Humour

Not a day would pass without our Swami narrating some anecdote or other that would help to illustrate, illuminate and sustain interest. Most of them would be garnished with subtle and appropriate humor to drive home the point indelibly. We would therefore, flock looking forward to have a new treat everyday. One remarkable thing is that any such anecdote once told would never be repeated ! You will be surprised at the perennial source of wit and humor punctuating his talks. Let me share with you a few of these.

About astrologers:

An astrologer was approached on behalf of two patients who were terminally ill with a prognosis of certain death. The astrologer gave two pieces of stone chipped out of a rock and asked them to be tied to the wrist of each patient.  

When one of them recovered, the astrologer claimed his prediction that he would recover and stand ' like a rock' had come true; When the other patient died he explained how his prediction that the other patient would die as if 'stoned to death' had also come true.

This is a classic example of quibbles indulged in by these cheats. 

About crossing samsaram: 

There lived in a village an old couple. The wife was a devout Hindu. She used to go to the temple and attend a religious discourse there every night but the man was not so devout and he used to remain at home. One day the lady fell ill and wanted to take rest. She asked her husband to go and listen and report back the gist of that night's lecture. She went to sleep.

But, at dead of night, she suddenly woke up and was startled to find her husband repeatedly jumping over her from one side to the other. She asked him what he was doing. Replied the man "I am sorry that I did not attend the lecture earlier. Tonight, the lecturer said that one can get 'Moksha', if one jumped over 'samsara'".

The word  'Samsara' also means 'Wife' besides its natural meaning of cycle of births and deaths. He mistook the word 'samsara' to mean his wife and was therefore doing the jumping exercise!.

This is definitely not the way to achieve Moksha. Moksha can be reached only when a person is Karmafree (i.e.) when there is no backlog of causes playing into his present state. In principle, that he has learned to attune himself absolutely to the cosmic pattern as it is at that moment so that there is no kind of stress or conflict between what is taking place within his individual monadic field and what is happening in the Universe.

About a foolish king:

Once some thief broke into the house of a villager. The Villager complained to the King. The King ordered an enquiry and wanted to hang the person found guilty.

The thief was caught and brought before the King. But, he pleaded that he did not break into the house. Because the mud with which the house was built had not yet dried up, it fell apart on its own.

The King then called the mason who built the house. He pleaded that because the potter had made the pot bigger than the standard size, it contained more water than was necessary to water the bricks laden with mud.  Then, the King called the Potter. He pleaded that as he was making the pot a lady was going hither and thither distracting his attention and therefore he could not make sure of the correct size. 

The lady pleaded that the washerman to whom she had given her clothes for washing did not return it on time and she had to walk up and down to see him.

The washerman pleaded that when he went to the river, a mendicant was sitting on the stone used for beating clothes and that repeated requests to move away were not heeded by the mendicant. Hence, the delay. 

The mendicant was deaf-mute and therefore could not defend himself.  

So. the king ordered hanging the mendicant!

About monkey and medicine

To illustrate how the more you try consciously to control your mind the more erratic it behaves, the Swami narrated the following: 

Once a doctor gave his patient some medicine for some ailment and cautioned him that there was only one restriction. The patient should not think of monkey while taking the medicine Every time the patient took a dose, the thought of monkey automatically came to his mind! 

About a fake sannyasi: There was a King very devoted to Saints and was prepared to do what it took to please them. A few thieves wanted to cheat the king. They caught hold of an innocent fellow and dressed him up like a Sannyasi and asked him to act like one. instructing him that if the King asked him what he wanted, he should demand half of the kingdom but on one condition - that he should turn over to them half of whatever he got from the King. The poor fellow agreed.  

When he was presented before the King as a great Saint from the Himalayas, the King offered him a royal reception and asked him what he desired. The fellow was so overwhelmed by the Upacharam that he thought  'If even for acting like a Sannyasi, he were to command so much respect, what is it he cannot get if he turned really so'. He replied that he did not desire anything at all and narrated how the thieves were misusing him. The King naturally gave due punishments to them.

About force of habit:

A person was sitting on a pile of stones heaped on the banks of a river. He had heard that in the heap there was a precious gem and he wanted to take hold of the gem. But, he was not sure how to locate the real one from out of the heap. So, he started picking up the stones one by one to examine and when found it was not the right one he threw it away into the waters. When actually the correct gem came into his hands and before he could make a determination he threw that also away involuntarily by force of habit!

About uttanapaadar:

When I mentioned that I was going to America, he visualized two persons one standing In India and the other standing in America. Since the world is round, when the feet of the one in India were down, the feet of the one in America (which is at the other side of the globe) would have to be up. That is probably why, he said, those in America were "Uttanapadas" with reference to those in India and vice versa!

"Seruppu Saadhiyum":

To emphasize how one should concentrate on the Sevai of Perumal while standing at the Garbhagraham and nothing else, he narrated the following.

A person was wearing a new pair of very expensive footwear. As he entered the temple, he had to leave it outside and there was no arrangement for its safekeeping there. While inside the Sanctum Sanctorum, his entire thought was riveted on his footwear. When the Archaka was placing Satari forgot to offer him, he called "Swami! Seruppu Saadhiyum!" instead of saying 'Satari Saadhiyum"!

About the appropriateness of westerners' calendar:

He once remarked "Englishkaaran Romba Gettik Kaaran. Avan Varushathai Devargalin Ushat Kaalamaana Margazhi Maasam Aarambikkiraan" meaning

" Englishmen are really intelligent. See, how they start their year in January which is Margazhi masam deemed to be the dawn for Devas"

NOTE: There are far too numerous instances to relate all of them in this short write up. I will allude to them in future postings as suit the contexts.

Swami's Quiz Sessions

Now and then, our Swami would pose some questions in the course of his Kalakshepams. Maybe to ensure how alert the listeners is; Maybe to ensure a more active listeners' participation; Maybe to illustrate some esoteric underlying the context. Of course, he would finally provide the answers in his own unique style. Like a born teacher, he would use this technique with telling effect.

I will mention a few by way of example. I will also give the answers as stated by our Swami in a subsequent posting. Meanwhile, you may try to figure out the answers. Let me assure you that it is not too difficult to find the answers, though.

Quiz # 1: You are proceeding alone in a dense forest area. It is so dark and there is not a single soul anywhere around who could guide. You do not know the way to your destination. Suddenly you bump on a crossing of four roads. You notice a pole indicating the directions lying on the ground at a distance. How would you determine how to proceed to your destination?

Quiz # 2: A similar one. In the above circumstances, it is time for you to do your Sandya Vandanam. Even stars are not seen on the sky. You do not have any instrument like mariner's compass. You do not see any water anywhere nearby. How will you determine which is east and which is west and what will you do to perform the Nityanushtana, when there is no water?

Quiz # 3: Which is greater of the two? Lord's hands or his feet and why?  

Quiz # 4: You have read in Srimad Valmiki Ramayanam that Lakshmana promised "Aham Sarvam Karishyaami". But, did he really act as promised?

You have also read that when Sri Sita accused Ilayalwar of inappropriate behavior on hearing Maricha's wail aloud in the voice of Rama "Hey! Lakshmana! Hey Sita! He left Sita alone against the orders of Rama to guard her.   

Now, the question is what do you think Nammalwar would have done in similar circumstances instead of Ilayalwar, to ensure obedience to the orders of both Rama and Sita?  

NOTE 1. There are indeed many more such queries but for want of space, I am leaving them out here.

Sannyasa Sweekaranam

The letter that clinched:

About 20 years ago, on the Panguni Dwadasi day in the year Pingala, our Swami had just then returned home after a visit to Melpakkam Swami for consulting him on some doubts on the Ahnika Grantam which he was printing. A telegram followed by a telephone call was received requiring him to come immediately for doing Tiruvaradanai. When our Swami went to pay his respects to the Azhagiyza Singhar, he was asked to give a discourse on Easwara Saadhaka Anumaanam in Sastra Yonitvaadi Adhikaranam of Sribashyam. When after finishing the discourse, our Swami took leave, the Jeeyar asked Natteri Santhanam "Did we call him only to send him off? Bring that letter and give it to him". The letter was from a Tennacharya Swami who had great regard for Sri Sannidhi. He had suggested therein that while he was in good health itself, the Azhagiya Singhar should make arrangements for installing his successor at once,

The order:

On the following Amavasya day, due to sudden illness, the Jeeyar summoned and asked our Swami to do Abigamana Aradanai after which he addressed our Swami that he should henceforth take over the Abigamana Aradanai to Malolan. (Which means he should take over the mantle of the Peetam). When our Swami submitted "Adiyen Asakthan", the Jeeyar ordered in the presence of all and Malolan  "Na Utharam Vaktum Arhasi" (Accept without any pleas to the contrary !).  

Send off by sishyas:

It was a sight for Gods to see when thousands of his Kalakshepa Sishyas thronged at his house at # 5, Srinivasa Iyer Street Extension, West Mambalam to give a historical send off to our Swami from Grihastaasrama to Sannyasaasrama. Our Swami 'appeared' to take it easy in spite of the fact that he had lived an enviably happy married life with a loving wife and three obedient sons and members of the family.  

Send off by his wife:

More than the send off by the Sishyas, it is the one given by Swami's wife who had lived with him devotedly for over 46 years that deserves special mention. Addressing our Swami she said "En Manathaik Kallaakki Konden; Neengalum Ungal Manathaik Kallaakkik Kollungal" meaning "I have made up mind; You make up yours". Listening to these words, our Swami did not look back and left his home finally. The conflict of emotions surging in their hearts and the exemplary way in which both controlled their minds at that momentous moment beggar description. Indeed, Mami was an epitome of composure. But, the Mami who said she had hardened her mind could not bear the separation for long. She attained Paramapadam within a year and a half after our Swami took Sannyasam.  

A prelude to the mega event:

Before the mega event, our Swami,  wanted to visit Desikan Sannidhi at Thoopul and several other Divyadesams like Kanchipuram, Tirupati, Sriperumpudur, Tiruvaheendrapuram etc.  Adiyen had arranged for a van to take the Kalakshepa Goshti members to accompany our Swami in his itenirary -  an unforgettable experience indeed.  

"I surrender at your feet"

On the day he arrived after the visits to various shrines, Srirangam wore a festive look. All the roads from the Rajagopuram to the Ahobila Matam premises were filled with a milling crowd, surging forward to receive our Swami. On reaching the Matam, our Swami paid obeisance to Azhagiya Singhar and told him "Tyaktvaa Putraamscha Dhaaraams Cha Bhavantham Saranam Gatah" - "Leaving wife, family and everything I surrender at your feet"

Jeeva sraddham:

It was a Dwadasi day.  The great day had arrived for performing Jeeva Sraddham. Under the patronage and immediate presence of Paravaakkottai Sri Goplala Desika Maha Desikan of Poundarikapuram Asramam, Ganapadi Vaduvur Desikachariar Swami, Sri Melpaakkam Swami and other Vidwat Sreshtas commenced the preparations from 8 a.m. onwards.  

Around 3.p.m, Our Swami declared raising his hands over his head that from that moment, he had given up everything he deemed his own - wife, children, relatives, wealth (not much of it, though). When he was saying this, one could palpably see the limp in his throat choking his voice but at the same time one could also notice a firm determination to surrender everything at the feet of Malolan. Not a drop of tear from his eyes though tears rolled down from the eyes of the onlookers who were visibly moved.!  

As required, the Swami had to fast and keep awake the whole night. Our Swami kept himself awake listening to the Kalakshepams of other Swamis and chatting with some of us. There were some media people who were asking him several questions like what he proposed to do in his new role. He replied that it would be sufficient if he could preserve the rich heritage bequeathed to him and he did not propose to do anything novel or revolutionary. When another reporter asked what he thought of the Kainkaryams the then Chief Minister was doing for the temples in Tamilnadu, he replied that it was too early to comment.  Thus, was the night spent without rest for him (and for us too)

"Abishinchya nara vyaagram":

Parvaakkottai Sri Gopala Desika Maha Desikan being the Seniormost of the Yathis (next only to 44th Jeeyar) both in point of age as well as date of assuming Sannyasa Asramam is hailed as "Vasishta" by all other Yathis of our Satsampradayam. As such, he had the honor of presiding over the whole function. He blessed our Swami with Vasishta Maharishi's Sri Rama Pattabhisheka Slokam " Abishinchya Nara Vyaagram" and sprinkled holy waters brought from many Punya Theerthams especially for the function.  

Tridandam and kaashaaya dhaaranam

The most important appurtenance for a Sannyasi in our Sampradayam is the holding of Tridandam and donning the ochre robe. Around 12 noon, the Tridandam made of bamboo brought specially from Ahobilam (where Aadhi Vann Satakopar received Tridandam from Lord Nrisimha himself) and Azhagiya Singhar presented the robes to our Swami. Our Swami then proceeded to Kaveri (Kollidam) for Avabruta Snaanam.  

Assuming as chinna jeeyar:

On return from the river, straight our Swami proceeded to where Azhagiya Singhar was lodged and fell at his feet three times. The Azhagiya Singhar took him to the Malolan Sannidhi and called him "Chinna Jeeyar" and presented him to Malolan, like a mother would present her baby to her husband! Thus, knighted as it were the two came to be recognized as "Periya Jeeyar"and ""Chinna Jeeyar". Periya Jeeyar also presented him the Prasadams received from Tiruvallur, Ahobilam and other Divya Desams and told our Swami " From today onwards, you take over the responsibilities of Tiruvaradana Kramams". Thus, from day 1, our Swami assumed full charge of these Kainkaryams. Even Injimettu Azhagiya Singhar had to wait for 12 years from 1929 to 1941 before he could assume the Tiruvaradana Kainkaryam

The grand procession:

With Veda gosham reverberating, with Vaadhyams being played loud and clear, our Swami was taken in procession atop the elephant belonging to the Asramam to the special place allotted for him in the same premises. Thus, started the grand regime of Chinna Azhagiya Singhar with a bang.  

Swami's only regret:

Our Swami confided in a private conversation that he did not mind giving up all else. But, his only regret was that he would be missing the devoted Srothas who were attending his Kalakshepams with such keen interest. He openly expressed " Where will I get such Srothas like you? Even if there are a few, my preoccupations with the affairs of the Matam will not let me take Kalakshepam classes a I have been doing ". But. Today, millions of Sishyas across the world are listening to his Pravachanams through Tele conferences What was our private privilege so far has now become public property and rightly so.

Swami's Tirunakshatram

It was the 65th Tirunakshatram of our Swami on 14th December 1991, the first Tirunakshatram to be celebrated after assuming Sanyaasam. It was celebrated in a grand fashion befitting a Rajarishi he had become. When he heard that I was coming, he wrote a personal letter asking me to come via Madurantakam to bring Melpakkam Swami for the function.

Veena recital by sri srirangam rangarajan

That night, Sri Srirangam Rangarajan who used to render a Veena recital every night to Lord Ranganatha at the temple at the time of Aravanai, gave a special concert in honor of our Swami. During the course of the recital, the Vainika played a song from Vibishana Saranagathi, a kriti by Nerur Srinivasachariar (a disciple of the famous Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar). My father and this Nerur Swami were co-tenants when I was a school boy and therefore, I could identify the Kriti as that of Nerur Swami and asked our Swami about it. Immediately, he pointed to a lady who was sitting nearby and told me that she was the daughter of Nerur Swami, Sriranganayaki by name. We used to call her "Seerangi", whom I had not met for over several decades. She was in her seventies then, but we quickly recognized each other. As I was the General Secretary of "Senior Citizens' Council, Madras", Swami asked me if I could organize a Veena concert of Sri Rangarajan under the auspices of our Council.  

" I want someone like you"

Swami said to me " I want someone like you during my Sancharams to look after the accounts and help me in other matters also. But, I told him that since all my children were settled in USA and being a widower, they would not like me to be alone in India and they insisted on my coming to America, he reluctantly consented. " You may go to America, if that is convenient for you. But, when you go there you should proagate our Siddhantam. I know you will say nothing that is repugnant to doctrines of our Siddhantam". He was so kind as to draft an Introduction to the Astikas here to help me "as a noble service to Ahobila Mutt". This is the Introduction, which has been published in Malolan Net, Bhakti archives and Saranagathi Journal, as all of you know.

Foreword for "Hinduism Rediscovered"

When I wrote my book " Hinduism Rediscovered ", I submitted the manuscripts to our Swami. He had it reviewed by a panel of experts in our Siddhantam and gave a foreword and directed Sri R. Devanathan (in charge of Hyderabad unit of Ahobila Matam and publisher of Telugu edition of Narasimhapriya, and father of our SDDS member, Sri Sriram Devanathan of Iowa) to arrange for its publication in the main Narasimhapriya journal.But, as some serials were being featured and there was acute space constraint, and as some rare works of Poorvacharyas were pending to be reprinted, I was told that it would take quite sometime before this could be taken up and I was asked to wait. I hope someday, the Matam would be able to publish the book. Meanwhile, I had serialized the chapters in the SDDS journal Vols.1 and 2 for the information of our members and for correcting any errors and omissions so that an error free edition could be published when the time comes. I am happy to receive great encouragement from one and all. I am grateful for the valuable suggestions offered by our readers.

As Chinna Jeeyar:

(1) We saw that as Chinna Jeeyar, our Swami had the bhagyam of doing Aradhana to Malolan from Day One. He started doing Samasrayanam and Bharanyasam also from Day One.

(2) Periya Azhagiya Singhar gave him a box and authorized him to keep all Sambhavanais he received as Chinna Jeeyar. Within a short while, our Swami collected 12 lakhs of Rupees and wiped of the entire outstanding debts of the Matam.

(3) One of the most important things he did was to do Achitra Aswamedha Parayanam on the Ekadasi day followed by Kaataka Parayanam on the Dwadasi day. Poundarikapuram Andavan Swami once remarked that the Parayanam has the effect of doing a Aswamedha yagam itself  as indicated by the sloka-   

Japyeneiva Tu Samsidhyeth Braahmanena Atra Na Samsayah |
Kuryaadanyany Vaa Kuryaad Maitro Braahmana Uchyate     ||

 Meaning:

"Whether a Brahmin does or does not perform the relevant Yagnam, the very Parayanam of the Mantras have the effect of giving the fruits of performing the Yagnam". We see how successful our Swami has been and perhaps this Parayanam has ad its effect, apart from his own other qualifications. 

(4)  It is usual for all Sannyasis to start their regime with Kalakshepam on Aahnika Grantham. Having already authored a monumental work on the subject, naturally our Swami also started with Pravachanams on Ahnikam.  

(5) He is the first Chinna Jeeyar to start a Sancharam alone. The maiden Sancharam of our Swami as Chinna Jeeyar was to Tirucherai Samprokshanam to which Periya Azhagiya Singhar deputed him to perform. Periya Azhagiya Singhar's Ascent to Vaikuntam:

On 16th August 1992, the Periya Azhagiya Singhar attained Paramapadam. The whole Srivaishnava Samooham was steeped in grief. Our Swami arranged for the final rites of the Mahan befitting the personality, which towered as high as the Rajagopuram built by him and dedicated to Sri Ranganatha. Our Swami performed the Maha Aradhanam, Parvana Sraddham, Dwadasa Aradhanam etc. in a fitting manner on the 9,10 and 11 of Angirasa Avani for the 44th Pattam Jeeyar.

Pattabhishekam

The Pattabhishekam of our Prakritam Jeeyar 45th Azhagiya Singhar took place on Avani 8th (Monday). After Paanaga Aradhanai at night, at the request of the Sishyas, our Swami ascended the ivory palanquin belonging to the Matam and came round the Chitrai Veedhis and performed "Pattina Pravesam". It was long since a similar Pattina Pravesam had taken place and the people who had thronged the streets felt very much blessed.  

It was on the 12th Avani (28th August 1992) Azhagiya Singhar arranged on a grand scale Saatrumurai with Periya Perumal Periya Goshti. The Iyal Satrumurai Goshti went round the streets of Srirangam and Ijya Aradhanam, Tadheeya Aradhanam and Upanyaasams followed.  

As they hail in England,"The King is dead. Long live the King" a glorious chapter came to a close and another glorious chapter began in the history of Ahobila Matam.

Swami's Sancharams

Once when our Swami came to know that I had the Bhagyam of completing 105 out of the 106 Divya Desams one could visit with this physical body, the solitary one left out at that time was Dwaraka, he remarked " When am I going to visit all the Divyadesams?" Today, he is more than fulfilling his desire.   

Tirumangai Alwar did Mangala Aasaasanam to only 86 out of the 108 Divyadesams. But, our Swami would seem to excel all Alwars. The restless Sancharam he has undertaken during these 7 years is really incredible. It would not be an exaggeration to say that (not only those consecrated by Alwars), but so many Perumals are upgrading the status of their stations to Divyadesams thanks to the Mangala Aasaasanam of our Swami. In fact, a mere listing of the places our Swami visited would become a huge compendium. Therefore, I propose to refer only to a few of these in which I had occasion to pay my obeisance to our Swami mentioning a few incidents that happened and gems that he had uttered on those occasions.

 

No wonder, the 44th Pattam Azhagiya Singhar felt that more than the building of the Rajagopuram, his greatest achievement was nominating our Swami to succeed him. This has been chronicled on page 8 of Narasimhapriya, November 1991 issue (Prajotpatti Kartigai issue)  

Ahobilam March 4th to 9th, 1993:

I had returned from U.S.A. to Madras in March 93. I joined the Vanload of members of Kalakshepa Goshti arranged by Sri Ravindra Kannan (Retd. Judge of Madras High Court and a classmate in the Kalakshepam classes of our Swami) to go to Ahobilam where Our Swami was holding the Serthi Sevai of Malolan Moolavar and Utsavar for the 2nd time. A funny thing happened. I met one of my cousin sisters with whom I had lost contact for over 50 years. It was a thrilling family reunion.

Our Swami was doing Abigamana Aradanam.  He least expected my presence there. Normally, he would not talk to anyone during this event. To the astonishment of everyone around, he asked when I came back from USA and enquired about my family.

Later, when Abigamana Prasadam was served, I was sitting near our Swami. When he noticed the Paricharakar distributing just a little Prasadam in my hands, to my bewilderment, our Swami openly pulled him up saying, " Do you know who he is? He has come all the way from America." and ordered him to offer me more. The Paricharakar gave a big ball of food (like what is given to an elephant!)

At Bangalore ON 5th April 1993:

Our Swami was camping at the home of Sri S.M.S.Chari. Our Swami introduced me to Sri R.K.Swami who had come there and spared me quite a time discussing very many things.  

At Tiruvallikkeni on 20th February 1994:

During the reception accorded to him at the Marina Beach, he said he felt as if he had come back to his "Pirandha Agam" - 'home sweet home'. This was the first time he had returned to Madras after a long Kshetradanam.

At Besantnagar on 8th  and 9th April 1994:

It was an unscheduled visit when he was accorded a reception at the Besantnagar Community hall, on the first day. Not all the members of Kalakshepa Goshti could attend due to short notice. Our Swami Jocularly remarked "Satari Vaithu Enakku Kai Valikkap Pogirathe Enruthaan Rombe per varavillai polirukku" -' Perhaps out of concern that my hand should not get ache by placing Satari, not many have turned up". The next day, the hall was overflowing with his dear Sishyas who had come to know of his arrival.  

At my residence for dolai on 9th April 1994:

Our home was blessed with his "Ponnadi Saathuthal" when he performed Dolai. My 2nd son and his wife had married just a few days earlier. Drawing a parallel from a domestic scene, he advised how for pleasing the husband, a wife was respectful to his parents, the Lord would be more pleased only when respect is accorded to those close to Him (i.e.) Bhagavatas.

At Tirumalai on 15th  March 1997:

He was camping there for the Annamcharya Vardhanti Celebrations. Again, he recognized me and enquired about our activities in America.

At Tirukkallam on 2nd  May 1997:

Sri K.G.Krishnan (father of our Anand) took my sister and me for her Bharanyasam. He gave a talk in which he said the normally people celebrate their birthdays with great eclat, not realizing that one more year had been snatched away from them. But, in his case, he felt as if he should celebrate birthdays more frequently because of the Samarpanai that flows into the coffers for the Kainkaryam of Emperumaan. He also said that though some rates had been fixed for other services like Dolai, no fee was fixed for Bharanyasam because it is the duty of the Acharya NOT to expect a return for this. And, whatever was offered was accepted without question. 

At Tiruvallur on the same evening:

The Swami asked us to follow him to Tiruvallur where he was going to release the Audio Cassette of Sri Veeraraghava Suprabatham". I was pleasantly surprised when he asked someone to fetch me to receive the first copy of the Cassette along with Sri K.G.Krishnan.  

At Bombay on 8th  December 1997:

When I went to India for completing the visit to Nava Dwaraka, the first thing I did was to fly to Bomabay to attend the Tirunakshatram of our Swami at Chembur. Here he presented me a Souvenir titled "AzhagiyaSinghar'sVijaya  Yatra" brought out by Sri K.S. Tirumalai, Secretary, Azhagiya Singhar Reception Committee, New Delhi. (This Tirumalai's wife is also my cousin siter, and sister of the one whom I met during my Ahobilam trip mentioned above and whom I was meeting after about 50 years). I also met at Bombay the mother of our Sri Srinivasa Tanikella.  

Besides these, I had the Bhagyam of offering my "Dandam Samarpithal" on various other occasions and in various places. For want of space, I am omitting these.

Intra city travels:

In a sense, the Sancharams of our Swami had started long before he became Chinna Jeeyar. On a single day, he was delivering Kalakshepams in different places separated far and wide from one end of the city to another or even a suburb, leaving hardly any time to commute. Despite this, he would move with bewildering rapidity and keep up the times scheduled in each place. This, without upsetting his Anushtanams!. I have myself traveled with him on several occasions by Autorikshaws and sometimes by cars provided by one or the other of his numerous Sishyas.   

Now, the role is reversed. When I went to Bombay for his Tirunakshatram in December 1997, he had sent the Matam van to pick us up from the Airport to the Matam at Chembur.  

Inter city travels:

The rapidity with which he hops in his Sancharams nowadays from one city to another is only too well known. Like Trivikrama who measured the three worlds, he seems to measure and fill every nook and corner of Bhartavarsha  to bless us all.

Intercontinental ?

May be, one day, let us hope, that he commutes between different countries because America would certainly have come within the compass of the Lord's measurement. Indeed, he belongs to the entire World and we also desire to enjoy his proximity!

Sri Rama and Swami

Sri Rama was sorry to find the Maharishis walking up to him (Padbhyaam Abhigamaaschaiva) and preferred himself to reach them. Our Swami seems to have this inner urge and Vaatsalyam to reach us all out as evidenced by the excitement he and we experienced during his recent Anugraha Baashanam.  

Kaliyuga Rishyasringar

Like Rishyasringar who brought rains wherever he went, when our Swami went once for delivering a discourse on Virata Parvam, torrential rains lashed the drought affected Tirupati.   

Swami's Administrative Acumen

Financial Control:

The manner in which he manages the affairs of the empire he presides over needs no introduction. In the olden days, accounting of Sambavanais was left in the hands of subordinates. After Swami took over, this is done under his strict personal supervision. Perhaps, Control of finances goes hand in hand with Control of Indriyas in the case of our Swami ! Raising the financial position of the Matam from a deep minus to an incredible plus within such a short period bears ample testimony to this miracle.  

Panchamritam:

In the olden days, subordinates used to handle the fruits and other offerings in kind offered by the Sishyas. Our Swami so vigilantly ensures that whether it is Panchamritam or any other Prasadam, it reaches the very last individual standing at the farthest end of the milling crowd. Such is his concern for the lowliest and the last of his devotees. Srama Dakshinai to Kainkaryaparas:  His raising the Srama Dakshinai (Salary) of Kainkaryaparas when the financial position of the Matam was in doldrums proves not only his concern for them but also his courage and confidence in raising the funds needed. 

Can a Yathi be interested in money / wealth?

No. Why Yathi alone? None should be. Of course, more so in the case of a Sannyasi.  It is not the acquisition itself but the way it is earned and more importantly how it is expended that makes or mars the exercise. Sastras permit both acquisition and expending, if they are done on dharmic lines. This is especially so in the case of a Rajarishi who has to administer an empire.

Mahakavi Kalidasa glorifies Dileepan as a just and fair ruler because like the Sun, which absorbs water from the ocean and showers on parched earth, he levied taxes from 'each according to his capacity' and distributed the wealth to 'each according to his needs'. Similarly, our Swami raises funds from those who can afford and spends on Narasimha Aradhana, Maintenance of Parijanas, Tadheeya Aradhanas, Development of Veda Patasalas, Celebration of the Tirunakshatrams of Alwars and Acharyas, Conduct of Utsavams, Renovation of Temples and Matam premises for the benefit of Sevaarthis and helping those in dire distress who come to him for help - both spiritual and material  and in general welfare of the community.

Kavachams for prahlada varadan

One of the many Kainkaryams our Swami did is the Samarpanam of golden Kavachams for the Abhaya Hastam, Sanku, Chakram, Gadhai and Tiruvadigal for Prahlada Varadan at Ahobilam. Sri Setlur Srivatsankachar comments that Sri Narasimhan should be feeling regret why he displayed only 4 hands. "If as Kaliyan sang "Alli Maathar Pulga Ninra Aayiram Tholudaiyaan", I had displayed 1000 hands and 1000 feet (Sahasrapaad), our Swami would have adorned all of them with golden Kavachams" !.

OUR SWAMI'S ACHIEVEMENTS

Our Swami's achievements within a short span of 7 years are too numerous and too well known to be recounted here. To mention a few:  

       - Removal of illegal occupation of Mutt properties by anti social elements

    - Repurchase of valuable properties sold out earlier almost for a song.

    - SAVE TRUST: (Sahasrabahu Adhyaapaka and Vedic Endowment Trust.

    - SMART TRUST (Sri Malola Academy and Redux Trust)

    - SAMRAT TRUST(Sri Ahobila Mutt's Renovation and Tirunakshatra Foundation

    - SVRC (Sri Visishtadvaita Research Center's Publications).

    - ANNA DHAANA TRUST

    - Sri Nrisimha Priya Trust

    - Malola Vidwat Sadas

    - Kalyana Abhivardhini Sabha at Madurantakam

    - Silver Mandapams

    - Ahobila Ther ( Chariot)

    - Desilting of Pushkarani at Ahobilam and many many more.

 

Thanks to Ahobila Muth Inc. U.S.A

Kindly permit me to place on record my heartfelt thanks to Ahobila Muth Inc. USA for giving me this opportunity to speak on my Acharya, friend, philosopher and guide, our dear Idaaneem Azhagiya Singhar, on this memorable occasion of the 6ooth Anniversary Celebrations of the founding of Ahobila Matam by Aadhi Vann Satakopa.  

What is so special about 600th anniversary?

The Hindu Calendar is designed to cover 60 years in a cycle. Aadhi Vann Satakopar completed 60 Chaturmasyams during his lifetime. Today, we are celebrating the completion of 10 times in respect to the Hindu cycle of Calendar and 10 times in respect to the 60 Chaturmasyams of the founder of this great institution. A rare privilege which none of the other centenaries is endowed with. And, we are blessed to participate in this
ONCE IN A LIFETIME MEGA EVENT!

What is so special about ahobilam?

Another significance relating to the time factor associated with this Kshetram (to which our Matam is connected so intimately) is this:  Narsimha Avatara is known to have taken place in the first of all the yugas- Krita Yuga. Swami Desikan points out in his own unique style how the pillar in the Asura's palace, gave birth to Sriman Narayana in his form as Narasimha and thus became the grandmother of the four faced Brahma himself (who is the son of Perumal, as you all know) "Yaa Kaachit Sahasaa Mahaasura Griha Sthoonaa Pithaamahee Abooth"  The hoary past of this Kshetram can be understood from this. And, our association with our Azhagiyasinghar links us up to this time immemorial.

Kurai onrum illaatha govindanum  Arivu onrum illatha aaichiyarum

It is really foolhardy on my part (Seelam Illa Siriyanand Arivu Onrum Illaatha Aayan) to attempt to talk about one (Kurai Onrum Illaatha Govindan) whose Kalyana Gunas are legion (Asankhyeya). I know that it is an impossible task like the Vedas that attempted to praise the Lord but could not do so and returned crestfallen 

"Yatho Vaachaa Nivartante Apraapya Manasaa Saha".

I admit my incapacity and seek forgiveness from the Acharya for my temerity.

But, why then should I attempt at all?

Like Ilayalwar who pleaded with Lord Rama "Gunair Daasyam Upagathah", I have become a slave to these very Kalyanagunas that I could not resist attempting, though it is like showing "Kalpoora Harathi" to the blazing Sun and like trying to measure the waters of the ocean with just a teaspoon! 

My gratitude to my acharya

Sastras say that one cannot repay the debt of gratitude to one's Acharya. Except for remembering and basking in the memories of his immeasurable Upakaarams in constantly showering his Anugraham on me, without regard to my qualification to deserve it  (like for example, spontaneously offering prayers to Laksminarasimhan and rushing Mantra Akshadai immediately on hearing of my ailment in January 98). 

Your comments, please!

I thank one and all of you, Dear Bhagavatas, for investing your valuable time in reading these posts. I will be grateful if you could favor me with your feedback so that I may know whether I have been able to convey my message effectively. 

Dasoham

Anbil Ramaswamy

E-mail: ramanbil@hotmail.com

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Sri:

Meaning of 45th Azhagiyasingar Thaniyan (Invocatory Verse)
By Sri Karalapakkam Ananthapadmanapan

Thanian

SrImat-ra~nga-SaThAri samyamivarAt(l)-labhda-aagama-anta-dvayam
    SrImat-vIra-raghUtvahAdya-SaThajit-pAdAravinda-aaSrayam |
SrImat-vEda-avatamsa-dESikayatEH kAruNya-vIkshA-aaspadam
    sEvE ra~nga-dhurINa-SAsana-vaSam nArAyaNam yOginam ||

Meaning

My salutations/worship unto nArAyaNa yOgi who

a. Obtained/Learnt ubhaya-vEdAnta from In~jimETTu
    Azhagiyasi~ngar;

b. took refuge at the lotus feet of DEvanArviLAgam Azhagiyasi~ngar;

c. was the recipient of the merciful glances of MukkUr
    Azhagiyasi~ngar;

d. is attracted to the royal command of Lord Ra~nganAtha.


Allied features to be remembered for these four things respectively:

* Ubhaya-VEdAnta kAlakshEpam and also SamASrayaNam under
   In~jimETTu Azhagiyasi~ngar.

* Bhara-nyAsam, apart from Ubhaya-VEdAnta kAlakshEpam too under
   DEvanArviLAgam Azhagiyasi~ngar.

* Nominated as a yati by Mukkur Azhagiyasi~ngar.

* The sannyAsa-Aashrama svIkAram took place at SrI-ra~ngam.


  Notes :

* SaThAri refers to one who his the enemy of SaTha vAyu, which
   actually influences the new born babies to get bounded by
   prakRuti ie.samsAra. Since NammAzhvAr controlled the SaTha-vAyu,
   he is addressed as "SaThAri". SaThakOpa implies a similar
   meaning. SaThajit also refers to the same meaning.
   (ji => To conquer).

* The first AchArya of SrI Ahobila Muth is SrI Aadi-vaN SaThakOpa
   JIyar. Intimate connection got established between this JIyar
   and NammAzhvAr when the former obtained the latter's
   archa-mUrti at AazhvAr thirunagari and re-concecrated it.
   The title "vaN-SaThakOpa" is used for all the JIyars who
   followed this JIyar. Some JIyars had "SaThakOpa" as a part of
   their thirunAmam (name) also. The first JIyar was named as
   "SaThakOpa" Yati by Lord Lakshmi NRusimha.

* ra~nga-SaThAri refers to SrI SrIra~nga SaThakOpa yatIndra -
   mahAdESika, popularly known as In~jimETTu Azhagiyasi~ngar
   (42nd paTTam). yati-indra implies "Prince of Yatis". Originally,
   Bhagavad RAmAnuja was known as "YatIndra" and "YatirAja".
   Many sannyAsis of this sampradAyam do caryy over that title.
   dESika implies "AchArya".

* samyami is same as yati Or SannyAsi. To be more specific,
   it refers to one who has controlled all indriyas and mind,
   for performing yOga/dhyAna on SrIman NArAyaNa,the Para-Bramhan.

* samyamivarAt + labdha = samyamivarAllabdha.

* labh => To obtain.

* aagama-anta-dvayam refers to Ubhaya-VEdAnta. aagama-anta is the
   end of aagama ie.vEdas, which is vEda-anta = vEdAnta.
   Ubhaya-VEdAnta => Twin-VEdAnta, comprising that of Sanskrit as
   well as Tamil (by AzhwArs).

* vIra-raghUtvahAdya-SaThajit : This refers to SrI VIrarAghava
   yatIndra mahAdESika, popularly known as dEvanArviLAgam
   Azhagiyasi~ngar (43rd paTTam). The middle word refers to
   one born in the lineage of King Raghu, implying the name
   Raghava (RAma).

* avatamsa refers to "crown". vEda-avatamsa refers to vEdAnta.

* vEda-avatamsa-dESika-yatEH refers to SrI VEdAnta dESika yatIndra
   mahAdESika, popularly known as MukkUr Azhagiyasi~ngar
  (44th paTTam).

* vIkshA implies seeing,glance.

* dhurINaH implies "Chief" Or "Lord" / "Master". ra~nga-dhurINa
   implies ra~nganAtha.

* SAsanam implies "Royal Command" or "Law".

aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,
anantapadmanAbhan alias Anand
Villivalam Azhagiyasi~ngar thiruvaDi.

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Sri:

Srimad Azhagiyasingar Thiruvadi (close up view)
 

Courtesy: Sri Nrisimha Priya of North America, Vol.5 Issue 4, Nov. 2004

 

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