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DehaLeesa sthuthi& Mudal AzhwArs : Part 1--Introduction

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sun Aug 03 1997 - 19:03:52 PDT

Dear Members of the Prapatthi group : 

It is  a great bhAgyam to write about the Divya Desam of 
ThirukkOvalUr and the three Thiruvanthadhis of the mudal
AzhwArs that have their origin at this divya desam  .

Swami Desikan and ThirukkOvalUr 

This is where Swami Desikan composed 
DehaLeesa Sthuthi , a sthOthram in praise of Trivikramn ,
the presiding deity of this nadu naadu divya desam .
He had stayed in the other Nadu naadu divya desam 
( Thiruvaheendrapuram ) form many years . On his way 
to Kanchipuram to have the darsanam of his beloved 
VaradarAjan, he visited ThirukkOvalUr .  

He was moved by the symbolism of the Lord of this 
divya desam carrying SankhA and ChakrA on the right
and left hands respectively ; normally Sriman NaarAyaNA 
carries Sudarsana ( ChakrathAzhwAr) on his right hand 
and His divine conch , Paanchajanyam , on His left hand . 
In this sthalam , this traditional order is reversed .

Swami Desikan was inspired by the special symbolism 
indicated by Trivikraman ( UlagaLandhAn ) at this divya desam 
and celebrated it by giving us his  blessed work known as 
Sri Saccharithra RakshA . More about this work later .

Sri DehaLeesa Sthuthi is a beautiful eulogy of Trivikraman 
and salutes the special experience of the three "Mudal AzhwArs "
at this divya desam . It has 28 slokAs set in the Vasantha tilakA 
and Maalini metres . The first 26 slOkams of this sthOthram are 
in Vasantha TilakA metre and the last two are set in the Maalini 
metre . 

DehaLi means a  threshhold . DehaLeesa means 
the Lord of  DehaLi or the Lord of Threshhold . DeahaLi in Tamil
means the the narrow portion of the house that connects the front
door to the inner chambers of the house . The names of DehaLi 
in Tamil are " rEzhi , idaikkazhi and Nadai " . The leelAs of the Lord 
of ThirukkOvalUr in the DehaLi of Mrugandu Maharishi's house 
resulted in us being blessed with with the "advent " of the three 
thiruvanthAdhis associated withtb he three mudal azhwArs . Hence 
the exploits of Sri Dehaleesan are an appropriate subject for
Swami Desikan's eulogy and our adoration of his sthOthram . 

I mentioned earlier that Saccharithra RakshA was composed by 
Swami Desikan at this divya dEsam after the inspiring darsanam  
of Trivikramn (mulavar ) with the divine conch on His right  hand 
and the Sudarsanam on His left hand . This composition deals 
with certain religious practises of SrivaishNavAs . Swami Desikan 
explained to us the significance of samAsrayaNam ( taptha mudra 
dhAraNam ) or the wearing of the VishNu chinnams of Chakram and
sankham on the upper arms of SrivaishNavAs in the first chapter of
this work ; The second chapter deals with the meaning of 
Urdhva Pundra DhAraNam ( wearing of the 12 pundrams on
one's upper torso ) . The third chapter covers Bhagavath prapatthi and 
BhagavAn-niveditOpayOgA . The grantham of Saccharithra RakshA 
explains the significance for SrivaishNavAs of following the tradition 
of the above sacred rites with many quotations from scriptures .
Some thirty years ago  , UttamUr SwamigaL has a written a 139 page 
commentary on this RakshAgrantham . 

Divya Desam and its particulars

This kshethram is known as ThirukkOvalUr or ThirukkOilUr
or Gopapuri . BhagavAn's nAmadEyam is Trivikraman ,
AayAnAr , DehaLeesan and Gopanagareesan . ThAyAr's name 
is PoomkOval NaacchiyAr . The vimanam where  Trivikramn 
stands  facing east is known as Srikara VimAnam . 
The theertham of this sthalam is KrishNa theertham 
and fits well with one of the names of the Lord here (viz) .,
AayanAr or Kovalan or the cowherd Lord . He is Prathyaksham 
to mahA Bali chakravarthi , Mrigandu rishi and the three mudal
AazhwArs , who sang about their experience of having the darsana
sowbhAgyam of the Lord and sang about it in three hundred verses 
in the anthAdhi fashion . This type of composition poured out of 
AzhwArs , when they had dhruva smrithi or uninterrupted 
meditation and enjoyment of the Lord . The three AzhwArs 
stayed for many years at this divya desam and ascended 
to parama padham from here .

Besides the reversed sanga -chakrams , this kshEthram is known 
for another uniqueness (viz) ., the existence of a shrine for DurgA 
Devi within the ardha mantapam of this temple. VishNu Durgai 
is regualrly worshipped here and protects the kshEthram from 
inauspicousnes of all sorts . 

There are 23 specific paasurams associated  with the three
AzhwArs (viz) ., Poygai , Bhoothm and Thrumangai . Although all
the 300 verses of the three thiruvanthAdhis are about 
the EmperumAn of ThirukkOvalUr , the following specific ones 
add to the count of 23 :

Poygai : Mudal ThiruvanthAdhi --77 & 86 : (2 )

BHootham : IrandAm ThiruvanthAdhi --70 (1)

Thirumangai : Periya Thirumozhi -- 2.4.1 , 5.6.7,
6.10.5 , 7.3.2 , 7.10.4 and the entire decad of 2.10 (15 in all )

ThirunedumthAndakam : 6, 7 , 17 (3)

Siriya Thirumadal : 39 (1)

Periya Thirumadal : 60 (1)

Swami Desikan wove into his DehaLeesa sthuthi 
the rich meanings of the Paasurams of the four 
AzhwArs .

The origin of the three AnthAdhi Prabhandhams at ThirukkOvalUr 

Among the three Mudal AzhwArs , Poygai is the first to be born .
He incarnated as the amsam of Paanchajanyam in the month
of Iyppasi and SravaNa nakshathram in a golden lotus 
in the pushkaraNi of the temple of YathOkthakAri ( ThiruvehhA )
at Kanchi . Since this AzhwAr appeared on the lotus flower of 
a poygai ( tank or pushkaraNi ) , he is revered as Poygai AzhwAr .

BhoothathAzhwAr incarnated next as the amsam of GowmEdhaki ,
the mace of the Lord in Thirukkadanmallai divya desam ( modern
day MahA Balipuram ) in a Kurukkatthi flower ( Maadhavi flower ) .
His asterism is Avittam . He considerd himself as one of 
the bhootham ( servant ) of the Lord and hence was known as 
BhoothatthAzhwAr .

PEy AzhwAr or the God-Intoxicated AzhwAr took his avathAram 
in Mylapore .  He is the amsam of the sword of the Lord ( nandakam ) .
He incarnated on a red lilly that blososmed inside the well of
the temple of Adhi Kesava PerumAL of Mylaopore . He was born 
in Iypaasi Sathaya Nakshathram . He declared his status as
" pEyanAi ozhindEn yen pirAnukkE " ( I have remained as the 
intoxicated one of my Lord's anatha kalyANa guNAs ) and 
hence was known as pEyAzhwAr . 

The three azhwArs were endowed with superlative qualities of 
Bhakthi and VairAgyam and wandered over the land singing 
the praise  of Sriman NArAyaNA . One day , The Lord wanted 
to help the samsAris banish their false knowledge ( aj~nAnam )
and tApa trayams and for that purpose brought his three wandering 
ministrels to the asramam of His parama bhakthan , Sage MrugaNdu .
The time was night and the season was that of monsoon .
There was a torential downpour . The AzhwArs sought shelter 
at the small dehaLi of the sage's house . The space there was just 
enough for one to lie down , two to sit and three to stand . Being three
in number , the azhwArs stood in a huddled manner . Suddenly ,
they felt the pressure form some one else cramping  them 
in their tight shelter. They did not see anyone enter thru the front
door and did not see anyone passing thru the dehaLi into the inner
chamber of the house. They were intrigued about the new arrival.

Poygai composed 100 verses that served to remove the external
darkness ( Mudal ThiruvanthAdhi ) ; Bhotham composed another
one hundred verses in search of the one that cramped them 
( second ThiruvanthAdhi ) that removed the internal darkness;
At the conclusion of the two hundred verses sung by the first
two aazhwArs , the third AzhwAr burst into song recording what 
he saw when the two kinds of darknesses were dispelled . 
He declared that he has seen now the fourth person , who crowded 
them and described Him as Sriman NaarAyaNA with MahA Lakshmi
on His chest and sanka -chakrams on His hands . 

The God-realization of the three aazhwArs introduced a new 
and welcome era of worship of Sriman NaarAyaNA . Since 
these incidents happened in a dehaLi and the Lord was 
instrumental for these happenings , Swami Desikan gave 
Him the name of DehaLeesan . He also took the cue from 
Thirumangai , who had saluted AayanAr of this KshEthram as 
" MathiL koval idai kazhi aayan " earlier . Swami Desiakn went on to
salute Lord DehaLeesan through 28 bhakthi -laden
slOkams that makes abundant references to the three
anthAdhis of the Mudal AzhwArs .

Let us seek Swami Desikan's blessings to understand the 
depth of meaning of his eulogy of Sri DehaLeesan .

AzhwAr AchAryAL , Sri AayanAr ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam
Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan