Monday, July 11, 2011

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 21 (Vol # 5) Dated 11 July 2011

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 21 (Vol # 5) Dated 11 July 2011

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavaaL of Kanchi Kaamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today we are proceeding from the middle of page No 128 of Vol 5 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein 'man/he' includes 'woman/she' too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated constantly)
70. The Kailasanathar Koil statues are famous for being graphic depictions of PuraNaas, while Vaikunda PerumaaL Koil depictions have historical relevance. After Rajasimha’s tenure full of dramatic events fetching him much name and fame, there was a period of utter confusion prevailing. The Chalukhya King Vikrama Aditya came down south with his armed forces and captured Kanchipuram. Rajasimha’s son was also one Parameswara Varma. He ruled only for a short period and died issueless. As per our ‘Primogeniture’ custom, in the Pallava Lineage the middle clan that went from Simha Varma to Simha Vishnu, till Raja Simha’s son, ended there. Now the elders had to find someone suitable within relations who had the right to the throne as per the pecking order ‘Dayaadi / Gothra’. So HiraNya Varma’s son, also named Parameswara Varma was made the King. He was a trained wrestler (Mallan). He came to be known as Nandi Varma Pallava Mallan. In the temple named after him, ‘Parameswara ViNNagaram’ aka Vaikunda PerumaaL Koil, this information is carved on stone.
71. The historical importance of the Vaikunda PerumaaL temple that I mentioned earlier is due to the fact that, starting from Maha VishNu through Brhma all the stories of all the Kings of the Pallava Dynasty are depicted through sculptures in it, in a special enclosure! In addition to historical importance, the temple has much religious significance too. Here the sanctum sanctorum has been organized in three tiers. In the lower level there is VishNu in a standing posture, in the middle He is seated in a throne and in the upper level He is in prone posture! As per the Aagama rules the temple is supposed to have ‘Ashtaanga Vimaanam’, that is eight levels. To construct a temple in eight layers like this is quite rare indeed. In the Pandya Naadu, the Thirukkottiyur PerumaaL Koil, the Koodal Azhagar Koil in Madurai, Kanchi Vaikunda PerumaaL Koil and the one constructed by this Nandi Varma’s son Thandi Varma’s Sundara Varada PerumaaL Koil in Uttara Merur near Kanchipuram are the only four temples with this ‘Ashtaanga Vimaanam’ arrangement, though the order in which the sitting, standing and prone postures are not exactly the same in all of them between the three tiers/levels. (As per PeriyavaaL’s wish the Mahalakshmi temple in Besant Nagar beach in Adayar, Chennai has also been constructed in ‘Ashtaanga Vimaanam’ style, subsequently.)
72. Nandi Varma Pallavan was a contemporary of Thiru Mangai Aazhvaar, as seen from his Paasuram in which he has made references to that king. From here let us go back that incident I was telling you about how the Guru gave instructions to God to do certain things for the sake of his disciple. I hope that you remember that I was mentioning the Aazhwaar’s name as Thiru Mazhisai Aazhwaar and that he was residing in one of the temples in Kanchipuram. He used to live in one of the 14 Divya Desams known as Thiruvehkaa.
73. Amongst the 14 divya Desams, like Thiruvehka there is another place ThiruthaNka. ‘Kaa’ means forest. While Thiruvehka would mean a very hot forest, ‘ThaNkaa’ would mean the opposite as a cool place. In olden times Rishis searched for such lonely and secluded places to do Tapasya, which in later times became temple towns. So, there are many such place names with the suffix ‘Kaa’ and ‘Kaadu’ such as, Thiruvaanaikkaa, ThiruveNkaadu, Thirukodikkaa, Thiruverkkaadu, Thirumaraikkaadu (VedaaraNyam) etc. ThaNkaa was also known as Thooppul, meaning the place where the pure grass used in rituals known as ‘Darba grass’ was abundant. Amongst the VaiNavaas, you may be aware that there are two sects known as ‘Vadakalai’ and ‘Thenkalai’. The Aachaarya Purusha of Vadakalai VaiNavaas, Vedaanta Desikar was born here in Thooppul that is ThaNkaa.
74. Thirumazhisai Aazhwaar used to live in the temple in Thiruvehkaa. This place was famous as the birth place of Poigai Aazhwaar and it is here that the PerumaaL is known as ‘Yatoktakaari’! Before this name became famous, the presiding deity was known as Bhujanga Sayana PerumaaL. This God is said to be predated to Varada Raja PerumaaL. Because, Brhma did a Yaagam and in that Yaagam Maha Vishnu’s ‘aavirbhava’ (materialisation) took place as Varda Raja, to fulfil Brhma’s wishes. When that Yaagam was being conducted there was a tiff between Brhma and his wife Saraswathi. So he did the Yaagam with Savithri and Gayathri as his Yagna Pathnis. So Saraswathi rushed there in the form of Vegavathi river. To prevent her from flooding and disrupting the conduct of Yaaga, Vishnu physically lied on the way as the Bhujanga Sayana PerumaaL. So he took permanent residence there not only for fulfilling Brhma’s wishes but for all people for eternity!
75. (For the place name Thiruvehkaa, another interpretation is also there in view of the story of Saraswathi rushing there as the river Vegavathi. The rushing river was blocked by PerumaaL lying in the way like a huge dam and so the place got the name ‘Vega Sethu’ which in later years became simply Vehkaa.) The hero of our story, Thirumazhisai Aazhwaar was living in this Bhujanga Sayana PerumaaL Koil or somewhere nearby. It is then that he made the PerumaaL obey his orders thereby getting him to be known as Yatoktakari.
76. Including Varada Raja, in all the PerumaaL temples mostly the posture of the God is ‘Ninra Thirukkolam’ that is the standing one. There may be some who are in the sitting posture. Here in Thiruvehkaa however He is in ‘Kidanda Thirukkolam’ that is the lying posture, like the Sri Ranganatha in Sri Rangam, Padmanabha Swami in Trivandrum and SarngapaaNi PerumaaL in KumbakoNam. This PerumaaL is also famous for one more thing. In all these temples in which the PerumaaL is in the prone position, he would not be looking straight up towards the sky or ceiling. He would be slightly to a side facing the entrance towards the visiting devotees. Sri Ranganatha is facing South with his head in the West and legs towards East. So when we stand before him his head will be on our left and legs on our right. Sri Padmanabha Swami is facing East with his head in the South and legs towards North. Here too as we enter the Sannidy and face him, his head will be on our left and legs on our right, again. So also in KumbakoNam this Aravamudan aka SarngapaaNi is similarly with his head towards our left and legs towards our right.
77. Only in Thiruvehkaa the posture is the exact opposite. Let me explain. Here his head is towards South and legs towards in the North. But he is facing West and so when we stand in front facing East, his left is towards us and his right hand is behind the body. In all other places his ‘Abhaya Hastam’ that is the right hand will be nearer to us but used as a support for his head which would be slightly raised. ‘Abhaya Hastam’ is the right hand of God giving the devotees a message ‘not to worry’ and that He is there to give us solace! If the hand has to be doing its duty of ‘Abhaya Hastam’, it will have to turn around away from the body and be an obstacle in our efforts to look at His face. Also when the camphor is lighted the shadow of the hand will fall and cover the face of the statue! Even in terms of sculpting on the stone it presents certain additional problems. In Thiruvehkaa all this is obviated by the fact that the God’s right hand is behind and nearer the rear wall. His left hand is supporting the head. His right hand the ‘Abhaya Hastam’ is raised straight up giving ‘Aseervaadams and blessings’ to all the devotees! That is how this ‘Yatoktakaari’ is sleeping with His Abhaya Hastam doing its rightful job!
78. KaNi KaNNan – AruL Nenjum and Anjaa Nenjum. (That paragraph heading means, KaNi KaNNan – The Compassionate and Fearless Heart!) Even from before the PerumaaL in Vehkaa got this epithet ‘Yatoktakaari’, our hero Thirumazhisai Aazhwaar was regularly doing pooja, going in to deep samaadhi often and giving Upadesa to his disciples in that place. He had an intimate disciple by the name KaNi KaNNan. The very birth of this boy was his blessings only. His parents did not have any issues for long. They used to come and place some milk in front of Thirumazhisai Aazhwaar as their offering. He used to be deep in samaadhi mostly and open his eyes very rarely. He was not taking any food. On the rare occasions he opened his eyes, he would find some milk in front of him. He would drink some and leave the rest or give the balance to them, if they happen to be standing there. This would be taken by the childless couple as this Swami’s Prasaada. As a blessing of his this child was born. From his childhood this boy became a very intimate disciple of Thirumazhisai Aazhwaar.
(To be continued.)



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