You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : July 1997

A SanyAsi ascends the Peetam :Part 2

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sat Jul 05 1997 - 19:51:15 PDT

Dear Divya MaNi paadhukha SevakAs : 

I will cover in this posting the sacred Divya Desam
of AhObilam , the murthys there and the life of Adhi vaNN 
SatakOpa MahA Desikan , the first AchAryA to ascend the
Ahobila Mata peetam and the Paasurams of Thirumangai
AzhwAr , who performed mangaLAsAsanam of Sri Lakshmi
Narasimhan of this most sacred kshEthram .. 


Sri Dileepan had posted earlier a detailed describtion 
of this sthalam and has followed it up with a special feature
on the 108 Divya Desam CD ROM Project archives with 
lovely images . I will therefore add complimentary information
on this sthalam and include the meanings of the paasurams of 
Thirumangai on Sri Lakshmi Narasimhan , the presiding deity 
of this ancient Divya Desam .

I will start this posting with a slokam from 
Sri Lakshmi NarasimhAshtakam composed by 
Sri Vaadhikesari Azhagiya MaNavALa Jeeyar before
summarizing the meanings of the ten paasurams of 
Thirumangai AzhwAr on Ahobila KshEthram . The Jeeyar's 
slOkam begs the paripoorNa, parisuddha, lustorous moorthy , 
Narasimhan , to rescue him from the ocean of SamsAram , 
where he( the Jeeyar ) is immersed and is sinking fast : 

Srimadh akalanga paripoorNa sasikOti 
   Sridhara ManOhara satApatalakaantha 
paalaya krupAlaya bhavAmbhudhi nimagnam 
    daithyavarakAla Narasimha Narasimha 

Thirumangai AzhwAr's paasurams on AhObilam 

Sri Sampath Rengarajan and Sri Dileepan have 
encoded the Tamil paasurams from NaalAyira
divya prabhandham in Sri VaishNavA home page
maintained by Sri MaNi VaradarAjan . Hence , I will
confine my kaimkaryam  to giving the meaning of the ten
awe-inspiring paasurams of AzhwAr here.These 
pasurams are found in between the AzhwAr's Periya 
Thirumozhi (PTM) paasurams on NaimisAraNyam
( PTM 1. 6)  and Thiruvenkatam ( PTM 1.8) . The almost
intimidating beauty of this Kshethram and the difficulties
in getting there are described by the AzhwAr in his 
paasurams . These paasurams are set by the AzhwAr 
as conversations with his mind ( Maanasa Sambhodhanam) .  

Paasuram 1( AnkaN yjAlam anja --) 

O My mind ! Let us offer our salutations to the Lord ,
who appeared as Narasinghan out of the pillar that 
the egotistic HiraNyan stuck with his fist . Our Lord had a
form at that time , which was half-lion and half-man . 
That Nara-Simha roopam frightened all the denizens of 
this earth known for its beautiful places . The rising 
fury of Lord Narasimhan impelled Him to tear with His sharp 
nails , the body of HiraNyan , who offended the parama
bhagavathA , PrahlAdhan , who was His dear devotee. 

At this sacred kshEthram , the lions of the forest with eyes 
red from their anger pull apart the ivory tusks of the green-eyed
elephants and hasten to Lord NarasimhA's sannidhi and 
present those tusks to Him out of their bhakthi and salute Him .
Oh, my mind ! let us offer our salutations to the Lord at this
AhObila KshEthram .

The asurA king , HiraNyan , was bloated with pride about his
valor . When his son , PrahlAdA , asserted that the Lord is 
everywhere ( Hari yengum uLan ) , HiraNyan disputed that 
statement of his son and challenged his son to show that 
the Lord was inside the sthampam (pillar ) that he hit with
his fist . The word Hari (ari inTamil ) means lion and 
uLan refers to Parama Purushan , who is pervasively 
present everywhere. The Lord did not want to make the 
words , " ari yengum uLan " false and he appeared out
of the pillar to validate His devotee's statement . The ear
shattering sound associated with His avathAram frightened 
all the jeevans and the devAs of the world . They feared for
their own lives . The Lord's fury was focussed however on 
the offending asurA king . 

This paasuram states that the lions from the forests surrounding
Ahobilam came to the temple to honor their kula naathan , who
presided over their land . They came with upahArams of their
own choice (viz) ., the precious ivory tusks for use in the service
to the Lord . Just as their Lord had the combination of ugram
(ferocity displayed at HiraNyan) and Vaatsalyam ( affection for His 
devotee , PrahlAdan ) , the lions of the forest had the simultaneous 
display of anger at the elephants and affection for their Lord .
The lions killed the elephants and pulled out their valuable 
tusks , cleaned them and brought them to the sannidhi of the Lord 
as kaaNikkai to demonstrate their reverence .

Thirumangai's mangaLAsAsanam celebrates this kshEthram 
as " SingaveL kunram "  . SingavEL has been intrepreted by
Sri Utthamoor SwamigaL as " SingavEzh kunram " . He intreprets
the meaning two ways . In one intrepretation , the Singha + Yezh
(SingavEzh ) means the seven peaks just as in thriupathi (Yezhu
malai ); in another intrepretation , " yEzh " refers to the ascending
peak hititng the sky as Giri Raajan . 

Paasuram 2 ( Alaittha pEzh vaai---) 

The  ferocious form of the HiraNya SamhAra Murthy is
visualized by the AzhwAr in this paasuram . He salutes 
this kshEthram as the place of residence of the Lord .
AzhwAr has the darsanam of the Lord with His mouth 
as big as a  deep cave ( pEzh vaai ) and there he witnesses 
the gigantic tongue moving from side to side inside that mouth .
the AzhwAr sees the  brillantly shining teeth of the Lord 
in that mouth . He has the anubhavam of the Lord 
chasing HiraNyan with His majestic gait and 
witensses the Lord piercing the chest cavity of the mighty
HiraNyan with His sharp nails . The AzhwAr reminds 
himself that Ahobilam is indeed the HiraNya SamhAra 

Here , the AzhwAr experiences other commotions during 
his visit . He describes that scene as well to his mind .
He says : ' Oh, my mind ! Please offer your worship to
the Lord of this divya desam , where the hunting tribes 
of Ahobilam with their bows , arrows and snare drums 
fight noisily with the groups of pilgrims climbing the hills 
to have the darsanam of their Lord " . The AzhwAr suggests 
that the enduring affection and bhakthi of the pilgrims ,
who overcome their fear of the natives , who wish to protect 
their territory from " invading tribes " and save the Lord ,
the one who married one of their daughters , chenju Lakshmi ,
from any harm that may befall Him.The hunters try to scare 
the groups of pilgrims , but do not succeed . The courage 
of the pilgrims to brave the dangers on the road to Ahobilam 
overpowers their fears and they undertake their pilgrimages .

Paasuram 3 : (yEndha pEzh vaai ---) 

Here , the AzhwAr describes the perils that the pilgrims
encounter on their journey to this divya desam besides 
those caused by the members of the local hunting tribes.
There are lions , tigers , wild elephants and other dangerous
animals in the forests surrounding the narrow and rock-strewn 
path up the hill to the temple. The time is mid-day ,when the Sun
is shining fiercely and the heat is setting fire to the dry bamboo 
trees in the forest adjoining the pilgrim's path. Dark smoke and 
loud noise from exploding bamboo trees accompany the fire. 
The animals of the forest are lying low . The grass under feet is 
smoldering from the forest fire.  The heat from the fire is 
shattering the stones on the road and the stones are cracking 
and flying apart .
Inspite of these dangers and obstacles , the pilgrims proceed
with their determined journey up the hills to have the darsanam of 
the majestic Narasimha moorthy who has the giant jaws 
that match one another in their strength , a cave-like mouth 
and frightening cannine teeth jutting out of that mouth . 

The devout pilgrims recognize this Narasimhan as the Lord 
of this KshEthram and as the one , who tore apart the mighty 
HiraNyan's body with His sharp nails alone . They salute this 
kshEthra nAthan as the Veda Purushan , who never lets down 
His dear devotees and punishes the wicked , who harm 
His bhakthAs .  

Paasuram 4 : ( yevvam vevvEl---)
Here , Thirumangai through a series of frightening 
and evocative images reminds us that this KshEthram 
is not easy to travel to by AvaishNavAs ( avaishNavAnAm
aprApyam ) . Just as parama padham is hard to reach by 
those , who do not have the spiritual riches (avaishNavAs ) ,
AhObilam is not easy to reach by any one , who does not 
have the depth of devotion to the Lord . Those , who have that 
wealth of Bhakthi are guided and  protected by the Lord of 
AhObilam to climb up and reach His sannidhi . 

The kshEthram is described as generally accessible only
to the DevAs and people with deep devotion to the Lord . Here ,
the Lord tore into pieces the body of HiraNyan sporting a 
sharp spear in his hand and waving it at the Lord rushing at him .
The Lord got hold of him and kicked the spear off and placed 
him in His lap and cleaved the asurA's chest and destroyed 
him for his offense against His Bhakthan , PrahlAdhan . 

The AzhwAr describes a scene on the way up the hill 
during his pilgrimage to remind us of the terrors of the 
journey to the inaccessible place of residence of the Lord.
The time is midday. The heat is scorching. People are 
staggering in that heat and  fall down on the road side. 
The waiting dogs and the vultures lunge at them . Only 
those with Bahgavadh katAksham proceed further .
Rest of the avaishNavAs do not make progress in
their efforts to complete their pilgrimage to this
awesome kshEthram . Only those with a pure mind 
filled with devotion for the Lord complete their pilgrimage
to this "unreachable " kshEthram and others have many 
obstacles that interfere with their plans .

Paasuram 5 : ( Menra pEzh vaai --) 
Here , AzhwAr dwells further  on the unapproachability 
of the temple , where the Lord presides . He states that in 
this KshEthram, where the Narasimha Moorthy with mighty
jaws and sharp, shining teeth destroyed the AvaishNavA ,
HiraNyA , the climbing flames of the wild fire reach skyward
and the powerful wind spreads the heat and smoke 
all around and makes it extremely difficult to find one's path 
under one's feet to continue with the pilgrimage.

Even today , it is not easy to make a journey up the hills 
unless one is accompanied by a group of like-minded 
devotees. AzhwAr's determination to reach ' unreachable"
places is well known . Once , he stayed for six months at 
the foot hills of  Thiruneermalai for the surrounding floods to
subside and then he ascended the hill to perform 
the mangaLAsAsanam for the Lord of Thiruneermalai .

( to be continued )