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ThirukkuRungudi& Kaisiki Natakam Revival: Srimathi Anita Rajyalakshmi Rathnams' mahOpakAram : Part I

From: Sadagopan (
Date: Sat Aug 26 2000 - 12:09:28 PDT

Dear BhakthAs : 

Among the 108 dhivya desams dear to Sri VaishNavas,
there is one in Paandya Naadu , which has deep links
to Sri VaishNava sampradhAyam. This dhivya dEsam is
27 miles from ThirunelvEli .It is not far from
AzhwAr Thirunahari ( ThirukkuruhUr ) , where Swami
NammAzhwAr , our Kula Pathy was born and blessed us 
with the four Dhivya prabhandhams . This dhivya dEsam 
is none other than Thirukkurungudi.

The Mahimai of this KshEthram

ThirukkuruhUr SatakOpan was born due to the blessings
of the EmperumAn of this dhivya kshEthram .The parents of
NammAzhwAr (MaaRan and Udaya NangayAr) prayed for 
the blessings of a child and Thirukkurungudi Nampi 
responded to that prayer .Thus incarnated NammAzhwAr.

It is at ThirukkuRungudi , Thirumanagai , who blessed
us wth the six Tamizh VedAnghams for the four Tamizh 
MaRais (VedAs) of Swamy NammAzhwAr  ascended to paramapadham .
Thirumangai blessed us with 25 of the 40 paasurams
associated with ThirukkuRungudi Nampi. Swamy NammAzhwAr
performed MangaLAsAsanam with 13 paasurams. PeriyAzhwAr
and Thirumazhisai blessed us with one paasuram each.

Here came AchArya RaamAnujA for mangaLAsAasanam 
and to enjoy the SubhAsraya ThirumEni of ThirukkuRungudi
Nampi . The Lord of this dhivya dEsam was so pleased that 
He took on the form of Sishyan and approached 
AchArya RaamAnujA for kaalakshEpam on VedanthA
meanings in general and the esoteric meanings
of Thiru AshtAksharam in particular . The stone by 
the river side,where AchArya RaamAnujA sat and 
performed UpadEsam to ThirukkuRungudi Nampi is known 
as Thiruparivattap-PaaRai and it is still there for 
us to touch and have AchArya Sambhandham . ThirukkuRungudi 
Nampi was "initiated into the Sri VaishNava fold" 
by AchArya RaamAnujA himself in the traditional manner
and received the daasya nAmam of VaishNava Nampi
from AchArya RaamAnujA . Mysterious indeed are
the leelais of Sriman NaarAyaNan based on His
Soulabhya GuNam , when it comes to honoring 
the Sri VaishNavite AchAryAs !

The KshEthram Deatails:

There are six sannidhis . PerumAL gives us 
His darsanam as Sri ViashNava Nampi, MalaimEl
Nampi, Iruntha Nampi, Kidantha Nampi , ThiruppARkkadal
Nampi and ThirukkuRungudi Nampi .ThAyAr has
the naamadEyam of KuRungudivalli NaacchiyAr. 
The VimAnam is panchakEtaka Vimanam. The theertham
is panchathuRai .The river is ThiruppARkkadal.
PerumAl stands in NinRa ThirukkOlam and faces
East. He is prathyaksham to Lord Sivan , His
grandson, who is standing nearby. Lord Siva 
as AhirbudhnyA is at His temple between the two temples of
NinRa Nampi and Kidantha Nampi .

The sannidhi for Malai mEl Nampi is at MahEndra Giri,
a hillock, some six miles away from the Main sannidhi.
ThiruppARkkadal Nampi is at His temple on the river bank.
The main temple is a big one with beautiful sculptures.
Untill recently , there was a colony of bats at
the temple and the TVS Family under the leadership of 
Srimathi Anita (Raajyalakshmi) Rathnam drove out 
the bats and the Sannadhi is now free from 
" the bat bhakthAs " who had their own kOlAhalam for 
a few years .

The TVS family 

This family has  been at the forefront of many
Sri VaishNavite philanthropies. The founder of
the TVS Establishment is Sri T.V.Sundaram Iyengar 
who is legendary . His eldest son was SriT.S.Rajam
and his son was Sri T.R.Rathnam and Srimathi Anitha
Ratnam is latter's daughter. Thus Srimathi Ratnam ,
on eof the top exponents of Bahratha Naatyam
and other dance forms is the great grand daughter
of Sri T.V.Sundaram Iyengar of PeriyANDavan
AchArya paramparai. Our family (my father and
grand father) had strong connections to 
Sri TVS family for four decades now. 

Srimathi Anita Ratnam has done a mahOpakAram by
reviving(reconstructing) the ancient dance-drama 
known as Kaiski Natakam . Three years of tireless
work led to ther first performance on the last
Kaisiki natakam (November 19, 1999)based on 
NampAduvAn's unique worship of Thirukkurungudi 
Nampi on Kaisiki Ekadasi day.

In the Varaha PurANam ,  our Lord tells MahA Lakshmi
about His great joy in being worshipped through
dance and music. The Kaisiki Natakam is a dance-
music-drama going back to seven hundred years .
The story of NampAduVan born in a chandaLA caste 
and his promise to the Brahma Raakshasan about
being his food AFTER  the worship of ThirukkuRungudi
Nampi and the happy resolution with the intervention
of the Lord is a pious story that transcends 
the divisions of class and caste, when it comes to 
the BhakthAs of BhagavAn.

The Kaisika EkAdasi is as sacred as Sri Vaikunta
EkAdasi ; AasthikAs fast that day and listen to kaisika 
PurANam being read  at Srirangam or the Kaisika Naatakam 
performed at ThirukkuRungudi and listen to the music
and dance in praise of Nampi PerumAL .There is an
audio casette rendition of this kaisika PurAnam by
the Sri Vaishnavite scholar ,Dr.VenakatakrishNan of 

Since the passing away of Sri T.V.Sundaram Iyengar ,
the Kaisiki Naatakam performance was discontinued and 
in 1999 , after a 44 year hiatus , thanks to the great
efforts of Srimathi Anita Ratnam , this dance drama
has been performed in the Nampi's sannidhi. The scale
of this effort has to be understood and appreciated
in the context of nonavailability in full form ,
the script , music, movement and style. The previous
performers of the old Kaisiki Naatakam group have 
become old and had to be encouraged to come back
on stage and share it with others from TanjAvUr 
as well as those from MelattUr Bhaagavatha Melam
community . 

Srimathi Anita ratnam has written a special article 
on the Novemeber 19,99 Kaisiki Naatakam performance
at ThirukkuRungudi in Sruthi magazine ( July 2000 issue)
and from there ,one can understand the magnitude of 
the effort to reconstrcut the Naatakam after such 
a long time of lapse. There wer 3,000 persons , who enjoyed
the 3 hour and 15 minutes performance with a total
of 22 actors and musicians. The age of the oldest actors 
from previous times was 84 , who took a brief role. 
The reconstruction process continues and Nampi
PerumAl had a preview on November 19, 1999. 
During this year, the next version of Kaisiki
Naatakam will be performed for ThirukkuRungudi
Nampi by Srimathi Anita Ratnam's group. I request
her to let us know of the date of performance for this year
so that BhakthAs traveling from here to India as well
as the BhakthAs in India can join in the celebrations.
Thank you Anita for your marvellous contributions 
to reconstruct this dance-drama !

The great ParAsara Bhattar and Kaisika PurANam

The precocious kumArar of KurEsar ,ParAsara Bhattar
has written a commentary on Kaisika PurAnam , which
forms the 48th chapter of Varaha PurAnam (VAP). 
This section of VarAha purANam celebrates 
the importance of singing the glory of the Lord 
at Brahma MuhUrtham . 

There are 92 slOkAs in the 48th chapter of VAP. 
On one Kaiski EkaAdasi day , ParAsara Bhattar
recited and intrepreted the Kaisiki PurANam before
Lord RanganAtha , who was immensely pleased 
and accorded the honor of Brahma ratham
( Carriage in a palanquin by Brahmins) at 
the end of that recital. This tradition is
carried out at Srirangam temple even today
by the descendants of ParAsara Bhattar.

May this tradition of Bhakthi thrive forever !

Daasan , Oppilaippan Koil VaradAchAri SatakOpan 





           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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