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About my piligrimage to Thiruvahindrapuram!

From: smitha ajay (smitha_ajay_at_hotmail.com)
Date: Tue Apr 13 1999 - 20:19:18 PDT

Shrimathe Sri Ramanujaya Namaha

Dear devotees ,

I returned today from the piligrimage to Thiruvahindrapuram-undoubtly 
one to 
be cherished and a very memorable experience.I would indeed consider 
it my 
priviledge to share with all of you my experiences and additional 
information 
pertaining to the details of the journey to the above place which I 
hope 
will inspire and also benifit anyone intending to obtain the darshan 
of Lord
Devanatha and his divine consort Sri Hema Ambujavalli or Shengamala 
Thayar
in Tamil.


 Due to HIS  divine grace on us ,we never at all felt the travel unto 
this 
place irksome or tideous at all.A nights journey to Cuddalore coupled 
with 
the bus journey to Thiruvahindrapuram(which is exactly 10 kms away) 
was 
very smooth.There are buses from 6.00am from Cuddalre to 
Thiruvahindrapuram in the morning and every 20mins
 hence until late evening - bus fare = Rs 1.75/.The 6.00am bus will 
enable you to witness the 
Viswaroopa sevai which we missed much to our dismay.
The temple is open until 12.00-12.15 noon after which it reopens at 
5.00 in the 
till The Lord retires which is around 9.00-9.30 in the night.
However for a detailed and descriptive study of the temple,I would 
suggest
one reach the temple latest by 6.45 in the morning and remain there 
till
12.00 pm minimum;an interested person may also interact with the 
bhattars who are
ever so ready to explain the sthala puranams and show you throughout
the temple with quotes from Swami Desikar's slokas outpouring from 
their mouths.

My heartfelt thanks to Shri Sudarshan Madabushi who gave me the name 
of 
Shri Neelamegha Bhattar and not to mention the reference made to his 
elder
brother Shri Ramaswamy Bhattachar ,an octogenerian and brahmachari,who 
is involved in the service of the Lord and Goddess since 5-6 decades.
It was he ,despite his failing stamina who opened for us some 
sannidhis
and explained the necessary incidents concerning the same.

Beginning with a detailed description of the temple,I would like to 
start 
with the Sthala puranas as was explined to us ,which I noted down.
There are many stories governing the origin of this place of which the 
bhattar 
explained a few .There are many more as I gathered
by reading the book on 108 divya Desams published by TTD Devasthanams 
by 
Miss.S.Ramesh.I shall relate as many as possible.

1)
    Once upon a time ,in Thirupapuliyur,Lord Shiva was praying to Lord 
Devanatha when 
an asareeri advised him to proceed to Garuda nadi and continue his 
penence.
Lord Shiva followed the asereeri,and within short time Lord Devanatha 
appeared before him and 
he granted the help as requested by Shiva to kill the asura 
Triprasuras.
With Lord Brahma = Sarathi,Mt Meru=Dhanus,Bhoomi=ratham,Chandra 
+Surya=wheels,
Vasuki=bow string rope,4 oceans=quiver,vedas=horses,Lord Vishnu=arrow 
that would
be loose from Lord Shiva's bow.
(Such a mighty war is surely beyond our contemplation-both the world 
wars 
fall cheaply behind,no nuclear weapons can ever result in a battle of 
such fury
and might!)

The fierce battle resulted in the asuras being vanquished while at the 
same time 
Lord Shiva was being swept away by the river which was in spate.As 
always, our
Lord Devanatha came to the rescue by playing the divine flute on the 
river banks-
the result;Samudraraja was pacified,lord Shiva was back on the shores 
safe and sound.
Even to this day on Masi Pournami the Theerthavari utsavam is 
celebrated 
wherin Lord Siva of Thirupapuliyur and Lord Devanatha gets into the 
sea.
Swami Desikan refers to this in his Desika Sukti - 'masi kadal adi 
mazhindu varu
vare',i.e.have a sea bath in Masi and be happy.

2)Concering the revealation of Lord Vishnu as the Trinity:
   Yet another battle between the devas and the asuras with the former 
being helped
by our Lord  Vishnu and the latter by Lord Shiva.Chakrattalwar was 
asked to 
destroy the enemies and return victorious.In fact Lord Siva's 3rd eye 
also
was no match at all to the dazzle of our Chakrattalwar-it seems it was 
like like lighting a candle in broad
daylight.Lord Vishnu had enough of the war when he recalled Sudarshana 
Alwar and 
pacifying him by revealing himself in his beautiful form.
It was at this juncture that the Trinity form was seen by Lord Shiva.
Our Perumal's Trinity form had both Shankara and his consort Parvati 
as a part,
Goddess Lakshmi was seated on His chest while Lord Brahma arose from 
his navel.
The devas and brahmins were seen on his face ,kings on his 
hands,vysyas on his thighs
and the shudras on His legs.In addition ,in his body, God revealed the 
Ekadasa
Rudras i.e.manifestation of Lord Shiva in 11 forms.

Lord Shiva requested Lord Devanatha to stay at Thiruvahindrapuram and 
also to permit him to
stay at Thirupapuliyur-both these wishes were granted by Lord 
Narayana.

3)The Lord felt thirsty after this fierce batle and hence sent both 
Garuda and Adishesha to fetch water
to quench his thirst.Adishesha hit into the earth and water came 
gushing out.He took that water to Perumal 
who was v.pleased and said that the water would be reffered to as 
Shesha Theertham.Meanwhile,Garuda who had
gone to collect water from Viraja Nadhi entered Madhu vanam where a 
rishi was engrossed in deep penance.The 
muni had in his kamandalam the Viraja Thirtham seeing which Garuda 
automatically tilted the same and diverted the
water inside towards Oushada giri where the Lord was waiting to quench 
his
thirst.But Garuda became crestfallen on realising that Adishesha had 
already obtained water for the Lord.
 Our Lord who cheers up one and all ,found an appropriate solution by 
declaring
that henceforth Shesha theertham would fulfill the wishes of all 
people and will grant Moksha
to all people who bathe in it while the river brought by Garuda would 
be known as Garuda Nadhi and will 
be considered equivalent to the Holy Ganges.
  It is believed that the water brought by Adishesha was Patala Ganga 
theertham.Even till this day
the Shesha theertam is located in the premises of the temple and the 
Madapalli(temple kitchen)
uses this water to prepare all the neivedhyams for the Lord.
  Another noteworthy point is that in this divya desam,the practice of 
pouring milk 
to the ant hills is done by puring the milk directly into the Shesha 
Thirtham.

4)Another story related to the temple goes thus:
  Brighu maharshi found a girl child on a lotus whom he reared with 
love and affection.
He named the child as Bharghavi(daughter of Brighu). Note that there 
are only 2 places
where the Thayar is named Bharghavi-Thiruvahindrapuram and at 
Adanoor.The Thayar 
was also called Hemambujanayaki(which stays on as the official 
name!)as she was found
on a golden lotus. From childhood,the girl was always thinking of her 
Lord and finally
Lord Narayana himself came to Brighu Maharishi for permission to marry 
Bharghavi.To save 
Brighu from the sadness of saperation from his foster daughter the 
Lord permitted
him to continue to stay at that place with Perumal and his daughter 
which is why in
Thiruvahindrapuram Bhrighu maharishi is seen to the left of Lord 
Devanatha in the Garbagriha.

5)The bhattar also told us as to why the Thayar is known by the name 
Tharanga Mukha Nayaki-
Thayar as a girl was very fond of going to the seashore and watch the 
waves 
always and hence the name for her fondness towards the sea.

6)Further the bhattar went on to explain that the herbs found on 
Oushadagiri are indeed 
medicinal owing to the fact that when Anjaneya was on his way to Lanka 
carrying the
Sanjeevani Hill,some herbs  dropped down onto Oushadagiri.

Proceeding the desribe the various sannidhis here,

1)We are greeted by the magnificient and tall dwajasthambam-I would be 
glad if any of you 
can explain the significance of the dwajathambham and why we offer 
pranams to that.
After offering our pranams,we went in pradhakshinam to the Thayar 
sannidhi.The Thayar is
v.beautiful with long eyes-Ramaswamy bhattar said that the Thayar 
often comes to his
dreams and advises him.We could see that he was sincere and there 
seemed to be no
question of doubt or sincerity in what he said.

2)To the right of the main sannidhi is Lord Rama's sannidhi;where the 
"Kathora Sukumara" Raghuveeragadyam was composed .The way Ramaswamy 
Bhattar explained 
-"It was this Lord Rama whom Swami Desika extolled as -Jaya Jaya 
Mahavira,Mahadhira Ghoureya" and pointing to Goddess
Sita he quoted "Maithila Nagara Sulochana Lochana Chakora 
Chandra....".The beauty of Rama with the arrow in his 
hand resting on the ground,while that of Lakshmana's arrow held 
upright by him as though
ready to protect Rama and Sita from any danger and Goddess Sita with 
her serene and calm face is all
to be seen and experienced.It indeed requires the bhakti and poetic 
excellence of Swami Desika to
express further in words.
One interesting feature is that Lord Anjaneya is not in his customary 
posture of folded hands or kneeling down,
but his fingers are touching his nose(as we stand when we approach our 
Acharyan!),which the bhattar explained
was the indication of ready inclination to fulfill any work assigned 
to him by Lord Rama.

3)It is not known to many that the Lord in Thiruvahindrapuram is found 
in all
the 3 thirukolam(postures ) namely standing(Lord 
DEvanatha),sitting(Lord Ahindrapuranathan)
and the lying down posture as in the mighty causal ocean(Lord 
Ranganatha).
Of course,the standing posture of the Lord is of maximum prominence 
here in the form
of Lord Devanatha.The other 2 thirukolams of the Lord are less 
prominent and especially
Lord Ahindrapuranatha is small in stature.
 The main facets of Lord Devanatha (moolavar and utsavar) have already 
been presented 
by Shri Mani in his site and I have no extra details to add in this 
regard except that I was not fortunate to see the 
thiruvadi or the bottom half of the Lord as it was covered and the 
covering would be 
removed only 15 days hence.
 The beauty of the utsavar really leaves you in tears and spellbound.I 
could realise the 
truth in Sri Desikar's words,"Nin Vadivazagu maravadar Piravadare".It 
is to be experienced.

4)On the side opposite to the main sannidhi are the sannidhis of Lord 
Ahindrapuranatha with 
Adishesha howering over his head,sannidhi of Bhasyakaran,Kulashekara 
Alwar,Thirupan Alwar
and Thirukachinambigal.(Could anyone tell me about him?)

5)On the other adjoining side  of the main sannidhi and the above 
sannidhis is Swami Deshikar's sannidhi
to the left of him are Lord ranganathar sannidhi,Andal and the 
sannidhi of the Alwars.

6)We then climbed the Oushadagiri(73 steps to be precise which are 
quite very easy to climb
unlike the steep and uneven steps to Lord Yoga Narasimha at Melkote) 
to obtain the
blessings of Lord Lakshmi Hayagrivar.

 When we came down,the bhattar told us to witness the thirumanjanam of 
Swami Desika.
While the Shatumorai(I again do not know what this is exactly except 
that I am familiar with the word 
and that it is carried out in all our temples!) was going on for Swami 
Desikan,the Bhattar was kind
enough to explain the title of Sarva Tantra Swatantran being 
associated with Desikar
after he built a well with his own hands and also his idol (present in 
his sannidhi)which he himself made.
Further Swami Desika is seated on a peetam which was made by an 
opponent who lost to Desikar in a debate.


  I will not be wrong in saying that the thirumanjanam performed to 
Swami Desika by Shri Ramaswamy Bhattar was the magnum opus
of the entire piligrimage. 
Milk,followed by curds,oil-it was as though rubbing oil over a small 
child's head and body;it was done with such
care,affection and reverence to Swami Desika which filled your 
eyes.After oil it was honey,tender coconut,
lemon (was squeezed on him),sandal water(paste also was applied on 
him),turmeric water and finally water.

After the detailed thirumanjanam,Swami Desika was decorated with a new 
silk dhothi and
a beautiful,flowing red rose garland -he was all ready for the night's 
procession and the 
idol was kept in a room of mirrors(It was the kannadi arai sevai)-can 
you
 imagine the beauty of Swamy Desika?Is it not but right to say that 
Swami Desika is revered 
as equivalent to God? Wow,it was something;a treat to our eyes!

Well,not to leave out the most important of all; guess what-Lord's 
prasadam;we
were famished and hungry and the Lord decieded to not send us hungry 
from his 
place- Venn Pongal and Curd Rice.

After satifying our hunger,we thanked Ramaswamy bhattar for taking 
interest in  
showing us around and explaining about the temple.We asked him if he 
could recite
the Gopala Vimshati as pointed by Shri Sudarshan Madabhushi but he 
politely refused
due to his tiredness and persistent cough.

 I hope all of you do visit this temple whenever you get an 
opportunity to 
do so;I would like to happily point out that this is one of the few 
temples where
the bhattars are sincere and not polluted by the material wealth of 
the poeple who
visit the temple. 

 Any other information you would like to know about visiting this 
place 
or anything pertaining to this,I would be glad to help if I am aware 
of the same.
Do not hesitate to write to me- My e-mail address is 
<smitha_ajay@hotmail.com> .

Thanking you,
With due regards,
Smitha Ajay.




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