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Muslim Invasion& Abhithi Stavam

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Tue Feb 06 1996 - 05:07:49 PST

Dear Memebrs of the Prapatti Group:

On htis Birth day of Thirumazhisai Azhwar, I 
wish  to share  some thoughts on Abhithi Sthavam
and the circumstances underwhich it was 
composed by Swami Desikan.

 Recent postings covered
 the events associated with 
the creation of Abhithi Stavam by Swami Desikan. I 
wish to add a few more Information points on that 
Topic from a  different perspective.. As a reference time frame,
 Swami Desikan"s 
period on this earth is 1268  to 1369 AD. He lived the 
proverbial 100 plus  Veda Praayam . He witnessed 
many historical events and contributed 
enormously to the sustenance and growth of Sri
Bhagavad Ramanuja Siddhantham. One of the most important
events in his life crowned with accomplishments 
as a "vEDANTHAACHARYA" a name given to him by 
Sri Ranganatha and as "Sarvatantra Swatantar" , a 
title bestowed on him by Sri Ranganayaki, is connected
with Muslim Invasion of Srirangam and the creation of 
Abhithi Stavam. 
Muslim Invasions: The first of the invasions took 
place in the year 1311 , when Swami was 43 years old.
It was headed by Malik Kafur, who was  a general 
in Allaudin Khilji"s court. He was a converted Hindu from Gujerat
and had fierce ambitions to please his master. He 
was feared widely. He hit hard, plundered and 
went back with his loot. The fear created by
him lasted.

Another invasion by Ulugh Khan followed  during 
1323 Ad, when our Acharya was 55 Years old. He was by that
time,one of the most revered Vaishanva Acharyas.
 He had composed many granthams at the command 
of Sri Ramanuja , who appeared in his dream .
 He was deeply absorbed in the 
Kainkaryam of the Divya Dampathis and Ubhaya Vedantha 
Kalakshepam  to advance the glorious tenets of Ramanuja..

 A disturbing incident happened 
that had influence on his choice of 
Satyamangalam as a place
where he stayed during the  invasion by 
Ulugh Khan.The background is as follows:
A learned scholar by the name of Kanthaadai Lakshmanaacchaar 
committed Apachara to the Swami and fell ill. It made Swami very
unhappy. Few days later , Kanthaadai sincerely regretted his 
trespass and sought Swami"s pardon . He became cured and he 
ingested Swami"s Sri Paada Theertham and was blessed with 
a child . The father named the child Theertha Pillai inview of 
the blessings caused by the Sree Paada Theertham of Swami Desikan.
Our Acharya was disturbed by htese  events and decided to go
away  from Srirangam for  awhile and travelled to Satyamangalam 
with his family and disciples and continued his Pravachanam and 
worship of the Divya Dampathis from a distance .After  few months,
he could not stay away from the Srirangam Divya dampathis and 
he returned to Srirangam.This was his introduction to Satyamangalam,
which will again host him duringthe time of the second Muslim 

The second invasion news spread as Ulug Khan torched his way south 
towards Srirangam. The residents of Srirangam including  Swami Desikan and
Sudarsana Bhattar worried about the calamities that could 
ensue. Sudarsana Bhattar was the author of  Srutha Prakasikai ,
 the commentary on Sri Bhashyam following strictly the Sri Bhashyam of Ramanuja 
as preserved by his disciples. Sudarsana Bhattar had two young sons .
He w as also the chief priest at Srirangam temple. Both the Bhattar 
and the key people involved with the temple wanted to move 
the Archa Murthys of Srirangam away  and sit out the invasion at a safe
distqance. They raised a stone wall to hide the Moolavar and transported 
Sri Ranganatha and Sri Ranganayaki in special boxes and left at the
middle of night.With difficult travel, they reached Thirumalai and 
conducted the daily Aradhanam for the Divine couple there without
attracting too much attention. Swami Desikan could not stay behind, once 
The Divya Dampathis had left Srirangam. He joined Sudarsana Bhattar
in Thiruppatthi hills . There  Sudarsana Bhattar pleaded with Swami
Desikan to protect Srutha Prakasikai and his two sons and stay
somewehre deep beyond reach of the Muslim invaders, who might 
track down those , who removed Sri Ranganatha from Srirangam.
Out of his great  affection for Sri Bhashyam, Swami agreed and left for 
the peace and quiet of Satyamangalam, where he was welcomed earlier
 by the residents with great affection .He gave pravachanams on Srutha Prakasika
raised the two sons of the Bhattar as his own. He left from  Satyamangalam for
Thirunarayanapuram to offer his worship to Sri Ramanuja and Selva Pillai.
There he composed Yatiraja Sapthathi. There he suffered from separation
from Sri Ranganatha and composed Abhithi Stavam in the stavam style of
Kuresa , the author of five stavams. He recited many times his stavam on
Ranganatha and peace returned to Srirangam as a result of the victory 
of Chenji king Koppanaaryan. The Chenji king went to Thirupathi and 
brought Sri Ranganatha Back to Srirangam after a breif sojourn at 

Swami Desikan heard about  the good news and returned to Srirangam 
and regained his mental peace through reunion with the Divya Dampathis.
He started the Margazhi Adhyayana Utsavam , which had been halted during
 the turbulent   period of invasion and argued with those , who objected to 
the celebration of the works of Azhwaars , who were born in dfferent 
Varnaas. He won in the debates and asserted the holiness of the 
works of Azhwaars as divine works that have a status similar to
Arya Vedams. Sri Ranganatha like Sri Varadaraja before was pleased
with Swami's defense and instruced that the invocatory verse 
"Ramanuja Dayaapathram---" be recited first by Prabhanda
Ghoshtis at tthe beginning of their recitations of Divya
Prabhandham. This Invocatory verse was composed by 
BrahmaTantra Swatantra Swamy (BTST) , a key disciple of Swami
and  was the founder of the Parakala Matam, where Hayagreevan 
is the Araadhana Murthy.  BTST had composed it during the 
occasion of his Acharya's pravachanam on Aaraayirappati ,
which later was released as Nigama Parimalam by the 
Acharya. There Swami Desikan covered the Vedic similarity of 
Azhwaar's work and showed the roots of The Azhwaar's work as 
 originating from Veda Samhitas and Upanishads.That Invocatory 
work was the one chosen by Sri Ranganatha to honor the 
service of Swami Desikan. Ramanuja Dayaapathram was 
composed in Satyamangalam, a plac elinked with Acharya"s
stay duringthe invasion of Srirangam.

In the next posting, I will share with you.some of the special 
features of Abhithi Stavam.

Achaaryaar, Azhwaar Thiruvadigaleh Saranam,
Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari Sadagopan

Thirumazhisai Janma Nakshtra Dinam,1996. 
Sri Bhashyam commentaries that