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Re: Srirangam IS No. 1

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_best.com)
Date: Tue Aug 25 1998 - 11:38:57 PDT

T.V. Venkat wrote:
> Thirumalai became one of the most well
> known divya dEsam to all other people, apart from SriVaishnavites, only
> after Arangan reached there. Till then it was a known place to only the Sri
> Vaishnavites and some Smarthas. 

Actually, Tirumalai / Tiruvenkatam was well-known, particularly
to Tamils even then.  Recall that in those days, Tiruvenkatam
was in the northern part of the Tamil-speaking area.  Old Tamil
literature such as Ilango AdigaL's "silappadigAram" mentions
Tirumalai prominently as a temple to Tirumaal.

However, pilgrimage to this place was attempted only by
the adventurous few; there were no busses, no tourist taxis,
not even a well-marked path up the hill in those days.
The hill was full of monkeys, tigers, and other animals
that made a trek to the summit rather treacherous.

There were occasional utsavams, as is the practice in any
temple.  However, it was only till Ranganatha's presence
on the Malai was established, and the corresponding lack
of utsavams in Srirangam due to the destruction of that
kshetram, that Tirumalai also started to have regular
utsavams in the grant Pancaratra style (the priests of
Tirumalai are and have always been followers of the
Vaikhanasa Agama, which differs in many signficant
ways from the Pancaratra Agama.  For example, Vaikhanasa
priests are not, strictly speaking, members of Sri Ramanuja
Sampradaya. They do not venerate the Alvars, and have
a slightly different philosophy.  Even today, the saaRRumuRai
sEvai is led by the Tirupati Jeeyar, a Sri Vaishnava svAmi,
and the Vaikhanasa priests do not participate).

But it is true that only after these grand utsavams
started did Tirumalai start getting the grand fame that
it now enjoys.

> But when did Arangan reach Thirumalai? Not
> before 50 years after He left Srirangam. Actually, Arangan was lost in the
> Chandragiri forest in the foothills of Thirumalai for a period of 40 years.
> Only after 40 years, with the help of a General from Vijayanagar Kingdom,
> Arangan was found in the forest and taken up the hill to Thirumalai ...

This is why they say no one has suffered like namperumaaL has
suffered.  One should hear devotees of Arangan recount this tragic
story -- how Arangan's centuries old palace was destroyed,
how he was forced to wander with his loyal protectors for years
in the forests, how he had to undergo all sorts of hardships
before setting at Tirumalai. It truly brings one to tears.

Mani