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Vangipuram Navaneetham Sri Srirama DesikaachAr

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sun Feb 16 1997 - 16:40:02 PST

Dear Members of the Prapatthi Group :

Here are my " musings " on the subject 
of Vangipuram and Navaneetham .

For some time now , I was interested 
to know the location of the geographical location of 
Vangipuram and the reason why the Middle name of 
Navaneetham has been aded to this Acharya Paramparai.

For Background , Vangipuram Navaneetham Swamigal
is  a neighbor of mine in the sannithi street in Oppiliappan Koil
and this family has been involved with Ubhaya Vedantha Kaimkaryam
for The Divya Dampathis at this Kshethram for many generations .

The son of Sri Srirama DesikAchAr is Sri Vangipuram Navaneetham
Gopala Desikan , a class mate of mine and a retired  official of the
Southern Railway . He has taken the seat of his father and
grand father at the lotus feet of the Lord of ThiruviNNagaram and 
performs today Thiruvaimozhi Kaimkaryam and writes regularly in
Nrusimha PriyA . His contributions on Srivaishnavism in the form
of Q&A s as well as his monographs on Sri Bhagavadh GitA 
are great contributions fitting the tradition of this illustrious
family. His cousin is Dr. Vangipuram Navaneetham Vedantha Desikan,
who was my senior at Annamalai University  in the Chemistry Department 
and is the author of the most informative and scholarly book 
published by VishitAdvaitha Research center under the title of
"AzhwAr ThiruvuLLam " , a comparative study of the many 
commentaries of our PurvAcharyArs on Thiruvaimozhi .

Coming back to the Names , Vangipuram Nambi and Navaneetham ,
this is what my class mate Sri V.N.Gopala Desikan passed on to me
on this subject :

Vangipuram is the name derived from a village called
VEngipuram near VizhagapattiNam . Vangipuram Nambi ,
one of the 74  SimhAsanAdhipathis(?) appointed by Acharya RamAnujA 
came from here. My class mate's family is connected to that 
of Vangipuram Nambi.

Navaneetham was a name given by Sarabhoji Raja of Tanjore ,
when the great , great , grand father of Sri V.N.Gopala Desikan 
had kalakshepams at the royal court on ChAndhogya Upanishad. 
The Maratta King was so moved by the clarity and sweetnes of the 
presentation that he compard the lectures to Navaneetham ( Butter mixed with 
sugar ) , a favorite food of Lord KrishNA. The king Conferred the title
of Navaneetham on the Scholar and that title is carried even today
by the male members of the family. 

I recall that Srimathi Manjula Sriram asked me about the origin 
of the name "Vangipuram " many weeks ago , since she has the prename
of Vangipuram . I recall also that her mother tongue is Telegu ,
the language spoken in VizhagapattiNam . 

During the unsettling times of Muslim invasion of the south,
many AndhrA families left for the safety of villages in Cauvery 
DeltA or Kanchipuram area. Saint ThyagarAja "s family ,
is a classic example of  such migration . Sri  Mutthuswami
Dikshithar's family came from Virichipuram ,
a village enar Kanchipuram. Ultimately they settled down 
in ThiruvAroor in Cauvery delta . It is amazing to not ehow all
the thre eof our KarnAtic Music trinity were born 
In ThiruvAroor around the middle of the 18th century.
The families of NaarayaNa Theetha , Kshethrakj~na
also hailed from Andhra Desam and they as NaadhOpasakAs
have deep connection to the cauvery delata . 

Coming back to the subject of  Vangipuram ,  Nambi must have moved from 
his home town to Srirangam during the time of Acharya RamAnujA 
and settled down in Tamil country. Our Vangipuram navaneetham 
Family descends from this illustrious MahAn. 

ShyAmA sastrigaL's family had moved to Kanchipuram  earlier .
A Member of the Shyama Sastrigal's family
was  hand picked by Adi SankarA to perform pujA for Sri KamAkshi
Devi of Kanchi after the Acharya had reduced the Ugra Kalai 
of the Devi , had Sri Chakra Prathishtai and made Her 
appropriate for worship in the SowmyA form 
celebrated in the many verses of His Sowndarya Lahari .
Adi SankarA  chose the ancestor of ShayAmA saastrigaL 
because of his  devoutness and Yajur Vedic scholarship.
Even to day , Andhra Desam is the seat of many Yajur 
Vedic Scholars. Since that time , the eldest son of this  family 
became KamAkshi Bhattar . During one of the Muslim invasions,
the descendants of the KamAkshi Paramparai Archakar and his 
relatives carried the Svarna Vigrahm of KamAkshi at the Kaanchi temple 
and hid the AabharaNams of AmbhAL in the koil drum
(MatthaLam )  and travelled at night to deflect attention and 
finally settled in Tanjore after years of wandering towards 
choLa desam  that took them to many cities of Tamil Naadu 
including UdayAr PaaLayam .

That is how , ShyamA SastrigaL , the first son of the Archakar 
of BangAru kamAkshi at Tanjore's west raja Veedhi  
became the archakar of BangAru KaamAkshi at Tanjore. BangAru
KaamAkshi is made of pure gold (Aparanji Thangam ) like KallAzhagar
and Thiruvananthapuram PadmanAbha Swamy uthsavar . SaastrigAL
composed his immortal krithis on AmbhAL at this BangAru kamAkshi 
Amman Temple at Tanjore. Even today , it is  a delight to see a member of this
family do archanA for Sri KamAkshi and to hear the Vedam being recitted 
by little boys , who are members of  the neighboring Veda PatasaalA . 
As in Thirumalai , you can hear this Veda recitation 
in the prakAram of the AmbhAL's temple at Tanjore .