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The meaning of parakaala

From: Srinath Chakravarty (
Date: Thu Aug 30 2001 - 16:55:09 PDT

SrI laXmIhayagrIva parabraHmaNe namaH
SrI brahmatantra swatantra parakAla mahAdeSikAya namaH
SrImad Abhinava RanganAtha parakAla mahAdeSikAya namaH
SrImad Abhinava vAgIsha parakAla swAmine namaH

Dear bhaktas:

On Thursday, July 19 2001 (the eve of Aadi punarvasu
which was the 118th thirunakshatram of 33rd. pattam
SrImad abhinava ranganAtha brahmatantra swatantra
parakAla mahAdeSikan swAmi) - adiyOngaL were in the
Mysore parakAla maTham for SrI laXmihayagrIva archa
and AchAryan sEvippu.  I had written earlier about
our witnessing Anhikam/nityAnusandAnam at the maTham
uLsannidhi, and adiyEn's good fortune to be able to
address certain questions directly with parakAlaswAmi.

In addition to the specifics of parakAla maTha guru
paramparai and questions re: swAmi deSikan's possible
role in maTha sthApanai, there were other interesting
things mentioned by parakAlaswAmi which I would like
to briefly describe.  Again, adiyEn must reiterate
the fact that parakAlaswAmi spoke not with sAtvIka
ahankAram or with the desire to make exalted claims
about the maTham, but with a kalakshepam approach
where HH simply responded to my questions based upon
what has been taught in the parakAlamatha AchArya
paramparai.  And that is exactly the manner in which
we must accept these clarifications.  After all, we
believe numerous other things such as bhAshyakaarar
being the avataaram of AdiSeShan, vedAnta deSikan as
the maNi of thiurvEnkatam udayAn reborn, etc. which
can NEVER be historically or scientifically proven.

In the case of parakAlamaTham/origin, it is even less
mythological.  For, swAmi deSikan did exist, and SrI
brahmatantra swatantrar was his foremost disciple and
first peeThadipati of parakAlamatham.  Therefore, if
there is a kAlakshepam tradition right from the days
of brahmatantra swatantrar which states that deSikar
as prathamAchAryan established parakAlamaTham, and
if prakrtham parakAlaswAmi belongs to such tradition,
should we harbor doubts about it?  Should we doubt
the words of a sanyAsi belonging to bhagavad rAmAnuja
sampradAyam?  You decide.  adiyEn for one, accepts
this kalakshepam tradition as true, and requests all
skeptics to examine the premise of their skepticism.

As a matter of fact, parakAlaswAmi said that although
the historically accepted beginning of parakAlamaTham
is 1368 CE (as an institution), its actual beginnings
were as far back as 1338 CE, when SrI brahmatantra
swatantra swAmi won a major polemical debate against
advaitins in an agrahAram near present-day mElkOte.
I need to verify this fact, but from what I remember
hearing, kumAra varadAchArya was unable to be present
at the agrahAram on that day, and SrI brahmatantra
swatantrar (who normally would NEVER utter a single
word until *after* kumAra varadAchAryar had finished
addressing devotees) - had to break this practice
and meet the challenge.  Learning of brahmatantra
swatantrar's victory in this difficult debate some
time later, swAmi deSikan ensured that his bright
pupil took sanyAsam and became the head of a maTham.
This maTham did not become a *physical* institution
or have a location/place to function from until the
year 1368 CE, when it was established at thooppul.

So how did this maTham gain the prefix "parakaala"?
Is it similar to how SrI ahobila maTham is referred
to as "paraankuSa maTham"; i.e. is there a connection
with kaliyan (thirumangai), just like ahobila maTham
is connected with SatakOpan??  adiyEn asked this
question simply because thirumangai AzhwAr, during
nAyikA bhAvam was parakAla nAyikai.  ParakAlaswAmi
said it was not so.  There is NO connection between
the naming of parakAlamaTham with thirumangai AzhwAr.
Rather, the name "parakaalan" was a title conferred
on brahmatantra swatantrar (parA~nkAla iti parakAlaH
- the one who is the nemesis of opponents in debate)
after his demonstrated prowess in polemics.  It is
therefore, SrI brahmatantra swatantrar, after whom
this maTham is named, not kaliyan.

Further, parakAlaswAmi clarified (in response to
another such question by me) that after the period
of 21st pattam periya parakAla swAmi (chatussAstra
vidwAn and drAvida veda vyAkhyAtA) - there has been
NO *systematic* practice in the study of nAlAyira
divya prabandhams within the maTham.  My question
had been, whether it was indeed true, that studies
in divya prabandham in parakAlamaTham traditionally
began with learning kaliyan's pAsurams... not true,
said parakAlaswAmi.  The only prabandhams that are
studied, are those associated with nityAnusandAnam,
sARRumurai, and deSikar's Tamil compositions.

adiyEn thanked parakAlaswAmi profusely for the time
and patience with which swAmi had answered all of
these questions.  With parakAlaswAmi's permission,
adiyOngaL took leave of the maTham and returned to
Bangalore.  Was a wonderful experience altogether,
being present at Mysore parakAlamaTham and spending
1-2 hours listening to swAmi describe many AchArya
paramparais in ALL of rAmAnujar sampradAyam - and
how several of those originate from parakAlamaTham,
by means of direct guru-shishya paramparA as well
as kAlakshepam.  Prakrtham parakAlaswAmi SrImad
abhinava vageesha parakAla deSikan encourages all
SrIvaishnavas to learn more about this ancient
maTham and to spread its glory.

adiyEn SrIrangapriya mahAgurukkaL thiruvadi,
-Srinath C.

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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