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Re: Koil Ozhugu

From: Sadagopan (sgopan_at_computer.net)
Date: Tue Dec 07 1999 - 18:29:34 PST

Dear BhakthAs :

Professor Vasumathi Narayanan of Florida
University is very knowledgable about 
Koil Ozhugu (KO), a document that was assembled over several
centuries and has insertions for periods , when there 
were no records available on temple practises .Hence 
a number of passages there are recognized as interpolations .
Some of the included items are even anachronistic .
KO is OK when we remember the above fact .

Koil Ozhugu literally means the Chronicles of( Srirangam ) 
Koil and is an excellent record of the Koil SamprdhAyams
and especially ThiruadhyayanOthsavam and the procedures
followed on Pahal Patthu , Iraa Patthu , MokshOthsavam 
for NammAzhwAr , the important roles played by the Arayars
representing NammAzhwAr during those days in general
and particularly on the MokshOthsavam day at Srirangam . 

The following two sholarly books by Professor Narayanan 
are quite important for BhakthAs interested in the history
of AdhyayanOthsavam at Srirangam , which is the driver
for all the other AdhyayanOthsavams :

1. The Tamil VedhA : PiLLAn's Interpretation
of ThiruvAimozhi --John Carman & V.NarayaNan
( Very good chapters on Ubhaya Vedaantham , TattvA ,
UpAyaa and PurushArtham as found in NammAzhwAr's
ThiruvAimozhi ).

2. The Vernacular VedhA : Revelation , Recitation and Ritual
By VasudhA NaarAyanan ( This book is most important 
in the context of the AdhyayanOthsavam ).
 
KO deals extensively with the origin of AdhyayanOthsavam 
at Srirangam .There  are references in it to Sri Nathamuni
establishing classes for teaching ThiruvAimozhi at 
Srirangam , when he was in charge of the temple
administration during the 10th Centrury .

Some highlights from Koil Ozhugu are summarized below:

1. KO covers the importance of music in worship of
the Lord up to the fourteenth Century . KO refers to 
the Lord's special affection for the Arayars and relates 
the grace of the Lord as " the Emperor among Musicians /
Gaayaka Saarvabhouman " in awarding special honorific 
titles to ThiruvarangaperumAL Arayar of AchArya RaamAnujA's 
time (11th century ). It is mentioned that the Arayar 
sevai is viewed by the Arayars as Sevai for Namm PerumAL 
(Our Lord) and Namm AzhwAr ( Our AzhwAr) The Koil Ozhugu 
makes reference to the Arayars as the limbs of 
the AzhwAr(s). 

2.Reference is there to the divine command/
invitation of the Lord for NammAzhwAr thru 
the chief of the Temple servants to come to
Srirangam from ThirukkuruhUr for adhyayanOthsavam.
The sampradhAyam of writing , reading aloud 
the invitation and tying that message to the head 
of The Temple KainkaryaparAL to deliver to
AzhwAr and then bringing AzhwAr back to Srirangam
for the AdhyayanOthsvam are mentioned . 

The happenings of the days and nights during 
the AdhyayanOthsavam recorded by KO are throroughly
covered by Professor NarAyaNan under the chapter,
" Recreating Heaven on Earth " .Her description of the 
MokshOthsavam is very poignant .Here is an excerpt 
that describes the event preceding NammAzhwAr's ascent
to Sri Vaikuntam :

The Moksham drama begins , when the Arayars come 
to ThiruvAimozhi 10.9 , which describes the final ascent
of NammAzhwAr to Sri Vaikuntam . The last twenty verses 
TVM: 10.9 and 10.10) are recited twice .The archa of NammAzhwAr 
is carried around the Lord to the accompaniment of
torches , umbrella , fan with reverence . The conclusion 
of the recitation signals the ascent of AzhwAr to
Paramapadham .   

Now NammaazhwAr's head is placed at the feet of 
His Lord and curtains are drawn hiding the Lord and AzhwAr 
from the sight of the audience. few minutes later , there
is a dhIpArAdhanai and we  see AzhwAr now covered totally
by a mound of ThuLasi leaves representing his liberation 
(Moksham ). The last ten verses of TVM is recited and
is followed by the first verse of TVM to complete 
the cycle.

What happens thereafter is described by Prof.NarayaNan:
" A representative of the Sri VaishNavA community then 
goes up and requests the Lord to return NammAzhwAr to them 
and recites verses from SaraNAgathi Gadhyaa ... The Lord's
reply spoken thru a priest , thunders forth: "We give him
back to you ". The request and its affirmation are repeated
three times , at which point the AzhwAr and the Lord are covered 
behind the curtain.The TuLasi leaves are removed and 
when the curtain is pushed aside ,we see NammAzhwAr
returning to humanity as we hear the recitation of
KaNNinuNN SirutthAmpu of Madhura Kavi " . NammAzhwAr 
has now returned to earth to be our PrathamAchAryan .
"while acheiving salvation , he remians as an indispensable
link between humna beings and the Lord. Liberated from
mortal life , he is yet one with the living people ,
drawing them to the feet of the Lord , where he abides.
Through his presence and by the sacred words that 
he spoke --words that are considered divine , yet spoken in 
human voice (thiru vai mozhi) --he binds the devotees of
the Lord and becomes the person in whom the divine
and the human relams intersect ".

This is the central message of the Thriu AdhyayanOthsavam
that will be celebrated at the Sri RanganAthA temple of
North America in a few days time . 

NammAzhwAr ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam ,
V.SadagOpan