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Arayar Sevai , Dance-Abhinayam Tradition in Vaishnavite Rituals : Part 1

From: Sadagopan (sgopan_at_computer.net)
Date: Tue Dec 29 1998 - 20:34:40 PST

Dear BhakthAs : On this Sri Vaikunta EkAdasi day ,
I received TuLasi and Kumkuma PrasAdham form 
ThiruviNNagar ( Oppilaippan Sannidhi ). I thought it 
was a wondeful soochakam form the Divya Dampathis to
do some thing  special with respect to my likitha 
Kaimkaryam . It occured to me that the arayar sEvai 
that is so inricately interwoven with Thiru AdhyayanOthsavam
would be some thing special to reflect upon on this day .
I will write about the importance of Music and Dance
in our Sri VaishNavite tradition from EmperumAn onwards 
through Naatha Muni and today's Arayars over the past
ELEVEN HUNDRED YEARS WITHOUT INTERRUPTION .

Prior to writing about the above topic , I would like to
invite your attention to the plans for this coming weekend at 
Sri RanganAthA temple at Pomona , NY under the leadership
of "ParamiakAnthi Saarvabhouman " Sri Venkat KanumAlA .
Our Sri Venkat Kanumala was given this title by none other than
the Current Ahobila Matam Jeeyar during his First
anugraha BhAshaNam last month . I am looking forward 
to join this Bhagavatha GhOshti to recite the assigned
two hundred ThiruvAi Mozhi paasurams on these two days .
Timings for the recitation/upanyAsam are indicated below .  

Thiruvaaimozhi ThirunALL first day at Sri RanganaathA Temple
**************************************************************
To prepare myself for this day, I recited this evening the first
one hundred paasurams of Swami Sri NammAzhwAr's Thiruvaimozhi on 
this first day of Thiruvaimozhi Uthsavam. BhakthAs of 
Sri RanganathA are reciting the First hundred at 
Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple tonight as part of the Sri Vaikunta 
EkAdasi celebration there . Every day , they plan to
recite one hundred more verses from subsequent patthus 
at NamperumAL's temple on the Hudson as is wont at 
NamperumAL's temple on the Cauvery at Srirangam . 

Please join Sriman Venkat Kanumala , who has been
blessed to lead the way to construct the one and only
temple for Sri KasthUri Rangan and Sri Ranganaayaki
ThAyAr in all of Western hemisphere .BTW , On Jan 2 , H.H. ,
the Poundarikapuram Jeeyar will be speaking to us over  
the Tele-Bridge from Srirangam between 10.30-11.30 A.M. 
After the Sriman NaarAyaNa smaraNam initiated by
H.H. Sri GopAla MahA Desikan of Poundarikapuram
Aasramam , the ThiruvAimozhi ThirunALL function at Pomona
Sri RanganathA temple will start at 3 P.M. 
and conclude at 5.P.M.Same times for Sunday as well .  

I plan to join this devout group and recite with them
both on the fifth and Sixth Thiruvaimozhoi ThirunALL , if 
there is no snow on ground . These two days are Saturday 
( January 2 ) and Sunday ( January 3 ).The recitations
are set for 3 P.M and will last until 5 P.M with
commentaries on the key verses from each of the decads
of the centum on both days . It will be my BhAgyam
to lead the discussions , weather permitting .

The one hundred Thiruvaimozhi to be recited on 
Saturday ( Jan 2 ) is the Fifth Patthu ( KaiyyAr chakkaratthen-
KarumANickkamE --);the centum for Sunday ( Jan 3 )is 
the Sixth patthu ( Vaikal poonkazhi--) . These 200 
verses house the famous SaraNAgathi Verses of 
NammAzhwAr at ThiruviNNagar and at ThiruvEnkatam .
Further , these two centums have the mangaLAsAsanams 
of Thirukkudanthai AarAvamudhan and ThiukkOLUr 
Vaittha Maa Nidhi in addition to the salutations
to the EmperumAns of ThiruvallavAzh and 
Tholaivillimangalam twin Thiruppathis. 

Please start your New Year in the most auspicious way 
through your week-end visit to Sri RanganaathA temple at 
Pomona to join us and receive the Divya Dampathi's blessings 
during this ThiruvAimozhi ThirunALL .With Their 
abundant blessings , we may be able to celebrate
1999-2000 A.D ThiruadhyayanOthsavam at Their own
brand new temple with all the BhagavathAs !    

Music and Dance tradition in Sri VaishNavite Rituals
*****************************************************
Professor VasudhA NaarAyanan has coverd in depth 
the traditons of Music ( Chapter 6 ) and Dance/
performative commentaries by Arayars (Chapter 8)
in her scholarly book entitled "The Vernacular VedA :
Revelation , recitation and Ritual. 

In her book , Professor NaarAyaNan has pointed out
to the importance of ThiruvAi Mozhi as a classic
case of an Anubhava Grantham and has referred to
Swami Sri SatakOpan's niyamanam on how to experience
his Bhagavadh Vishayam ( ThiruvAi Mozhi ). In his 
ThiruvAimozhi Paasuram (9.10.11 ) , the revered 
AzhwAr envisages his Prabhandham as being SUNG AND
DANCED IN FRONT OF THE LORD AT HIS TEMPLE . That 
is exactly what Swami Sri Madhurakavi AzhwAr did :

thEvu maRRaRiyEn KuruhUr nampi 
PAAVINNISAI PAADIT THIRIVENE 
--KaNNInuNN SiRut ThAmpu :Paasuram 2

As the ideal disciple of Swami Sri NammAzhwAr ,
Madhura Kavi followed the precept set by his
ParamAchAryan in ThiruvAimozhi 9.10.11 associated
with AshtAkshara KshEthra EmperumAn at ThirukkaNNapuram :

PaaDu sArA vinai paRRaRa vENDuveer ,
maada Needu KuruhUr SatakOpan soll ,
paadalaana Tamizh Aayiratthulipatthum
PAADIYAADIP, paNiminavan TaaLkaLE 

Professor NaarAyaNan's translation  for this 
key verse ( Pala Sruthi Paasuram ) occuring almost at 
the end of ThiruvAimozhi is as follows :

O you who want to break 
the hold of deeds 
and stop them from coming close ,
worship the feet of the Lord ,
SINGING AND DANCING these ten 
of the thousand Tamil songs 
sung by SatakOpan who hails from KurukUr
  a city with lofty mansions 

Dr.V.N.Vedanatha Desikan's translation of 
this verse in prose is a s follows :

" People who wish to keep all grief at a long distance !
Of the thousand verses of advice tendered by SatakOpA
of ThirukkuruhUr (of tall palatial residences ) , use
this decad to perform reverential worship with flowers ,say ,
at the Lord's feet . WHILE DOING SO , DANCE AND SING IN AN 
ENTHUSIASTIC MANNER ;That would ensure a griefless life ! ".

Swami Sri NammAzhwAr performed upadEsam for 
Sri RangaanAtha Muni of Veera NaarAyana Puram 
at the foot of the tamarind tree at ThirukkuruhUr
and taught him all the 4000 paasrams of
Divya Prabhandham and Yoga rahasyam .
When Naatha Muni (824-924 A.D. )returned from ThirukkuruhUr
to his native Veera NaarayaNa puram , the EmperumAn
of this sthalam instructed Naatha Muni to 
set the divya Prabhandham to music and dance .
Naatha Muni followed the Lord's command 
and set a major portion of the divya Prabhandham
to music (isaippaa ) and left the rest to
be recited ( iyalppaa ). He taught the tunes 
and abhinayam to his two nephews ,
VaradAchAr ( Melai ahatthu AzhwAn ) and 
KrishNamAchAri ( Keezhaai ahatthu AzhwAn ) .
Swami Sri Desikan salutes the MahA Kaimkaryam
of Naatha Muni this way :

kALam valampuriyanna NaRkkathal adiyavarkku
TaaLam vazhangit Thamizh MaRai INNISAI TANTHA VALLAL

Swami states that the deva ghAnam was bequeathed to
us by Naatha Muni ( Tava NeRi mootiya Naatha Muni)
thru his two nephews serving as KaaLam and 
Valampuri vAdhyams.

In the nexst posting , we will cover the ancient 
nature of Dance as evidenced by its origin from the four
Vedams .

DaasAnu Daasan , ThiruviNNagar Sadagopan