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Noble Personages

From: usdeiva (usdeiva_at_ix.netcom.com)
Date: Sat Jul 12 1997 - 05:53:37 PDT

“The days to remember”

All days are blessed days.   There are some who believe that the days  
make  men, and there are others who ask, What is it that men make of
their days?   The two statements would indicate that astrology and
astronomy have parted their ways.   The five elements (‘panchAngam’)
of the Indian calendar constitute an intricate mindscape of calculations 
and beliefs, but the vaishNava faith holds all of the five elements as 
vishNu Himself: 
         “tithi-r vishNu-s tathA vArO nakshatram vishNurEva cha
           yOgaScha karaNam chaiva sarvam vishNu-mayam jagat”.
(vishNu is the date of the month, and vishNu the day of the week;  the
asterism is vishNu as well;  so is the yOgam, so the karaNam.)

The next week has some very interesting postings in the ‘SRIRANGAM kOil
vAkya panchAngam’ for the current year Isvara:
________________________________________________________________________
Jly 13 = Ani (mithunam) 29 = Sunday = chitrA.nakshatram
(tiruvAzhi-                                                             
AzhvAn).                                                                         
    14 =                30 = Mon.   = svAti (periAzhvAr,
and                                                        
azhagia-Singar).                                           
    15 =                31 = Tues. = viSAkham (mithuna Sukla
EkAdasI).                                                                                     
    16 =                32 = Wednes = Sayana-EkAdasI; SrI nAthamunigaL.
                                                                                                             
dAkshiNAyana puNyakAlam.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
‘tiru-Azhi-AzhvAn’ is, of course, the sudarSana-chakram of
SrIman-nArAyana;  the most excellent of weapons (‘hEtirAja’).   The
‘tirup-pallANDu’ profiles  the SrIvaishNava identity as “being stamped
by the glowing Azhi, generation after generation”.   [The ‘sudarsana’
seal had been in use for several purposes of public administration;  the
land boundaries were marked by ‘tiruvAzhik-kal’, and the ‘AzhvAr
tIrtham’ tank at the foothills of tirumalai-tiruvEnkatam is so named
after the stone engraving of chakrattAzhvAr which stands there even
to-day.   It is a different story that this tank had been renamed
‘kapila-tIrtham’ in recent unrecorded history.]     Even someone like
me, though utterly unlettered in ‘astrology’, cannot fail to notice that
the ‘tiru-nakshatram’ (chitrA) of ‘chakrattAzhvAr’ (sudarSanam), and
(svAti for) ‘azhagia-Singar’ (SrInrsimha),  occur  on successive
days.    This ‘togetherness’  occurs also in the tiruppallANDu  ~~
“antiam-pOdil ari uruvAgi” (for SrInrsimha) and “tiruc-chakkarattin
kOyir-poriyAlE” (for sudarSanam).     The mUla-mUrti iconography of
chakrattAzhvAr and  SrInrsimha depicts each  in frieze (‘ardha-Sila’),
on either side  of each other.    This togetherness seems to originate
from the nrsimha-tApanIya upanishat (which, incidentally, is cited by
SrISankara-bhagavat-pAdAh in his sahasranAma-bhAshyam).      

On the poignant  theme of Srinrsimha-avatAram, no single writer, let
alone a dilettante essayist like me, can do justice to it.   I however
had executed an exciting assignment in this respect:     some years
back, SrI mukkUr lakshmI-narasimhAchar decided on one of his serial
nrsimha-yajna in New Delhi, and I was asked by the yajna-organiser SrI
sAranAthan to compile the material on Srinrsimha (as much as I could lay
hands on), for publishing in the yajna-souvenir.   SrI ‘anbil’
SrInivAsan and I went about this quite happily ~~ how much and from how
many languages did we collect!   Our reward was not that we compiled so
much for the souvenir (which we joyfully offered as a modest attempt
towards a future nrsimha encyclopaedia) , but that we realised how much
more remained to compile.    The exercise gave me a thought:  we should
veer off the common pagan-like worship of  SrInrsimha as Terror God, and
consider this manifestation as epiphany of ‘pratyaksham’ and
‘saulabhyam’ ~~ cf. “engum uLan kaNNan enRa makanaik-kAindu...”   

Ani-svAti is common to periAzhvAr and SrInrsimha.   The best tribute to
periAzhvAr is in the upadESa-ratna-mAlai lines:

“mangaLASAsanattil...pongum parivAlE...    periAzhvAr ennum peyar.”   
“uNDo tiruppallANDukku oppadOr kalai tAn
    uNDo periAzhvArkku opporuvar?” 

The ‘sayana-EkAdasI’ is among the most precious EkAdasI of the annual
cycle, but this year it coincides with the tirunakshatram of SrI
nAthamunigaL who started the  historic part of our  ‘guru-paramparA’ ~~
“nAtha-yAmuna-madhyamAm etc”.    He is commemorated in the ‘ALavandAr
stOtram’ in emotionally rich terms:  “...jnAna-vairAgya-rASayE, nAthAya
munayE agAdha-bhagavad-bhakti-sindhavE”.    SrInAthamunigal is the
sacred memory which should sustain our spiritual career.

On July 15 occurs the ‘mithuna Sukla-EkAdasI’ which is the
‘tiru-adhyayana-tithi’ of SrI kAnchi prativAdi-bhayankaram
aNNangarAchArya svAmi (1891-1983) of blessed memory.   He was born on
‘mIna-viSAkham of year vikrti’, in SrIvatsa gOtram, of the noble
‘muDumbai’ descent, same as SrI piLLai-lOkAchArya and his brother SrI
azhagia-maNavALa-perumAL nAyanAr.   The title ‘prativAdi-bhayankaram’
was given to his ancestor SrI-hastigiri-aNNA, by no less than Srivarada
nAyanAcharya, the son of svAmi vEdAntadESikan.    This PB ‘mUla-purusha’
became one of the chosen ‘ashTa-dig-gaja’ disciples of SrI-maNavALa
mAmunigaL.    Thus, the PB lineage represents the confluence of two
eminent AchArya, viz., svAmi-dESikan and SrI mAmunigaL.   Hence the PB
‘tanian’:

“vEdAnta-dESika-kaTAksha-vivrddha-bOdham
         kAntOpayantr-yaminah karuNaika-pAtram
  vatsAnvavAyam anavadya-guNai: upEtam
         bhaktyA bhajAmi paravAdi-bhayankarAryam.”

prativAdi-bhayankaram aNNangarAchArya-svAmi is remembered in Srirangam
simply as the ‘kAnchi-svAmi’.  His education commenced under his own
father, PB SrI-rangAcharya who, in the short span of his life, had had
such distinguished disciples as jagad-guru gAdhi anantAchArya-svAmi who
later established the tiruvEnkatam-uDaiyAn sannidhi in FanasvADi,
Mumbai.    The education continued under his maternal grandfather (later
the azhagia-maNavALa jIyar alias chatus-shashTi-kalA jIyar) and  gAdhi
svAmi himself, giving him an academic pedigree no university could ever
match. 

In the world of letters, religion and philosophy, kAnchisvAmi was truly
a Renaissance kind of figure.   He was a ‘prAtah-smaraNIyah’ (one to
remember at sunrise) to anyone who  had had the fortune to meet him, or
even to look at him from a way off, or had read any of his works, or had
attended his discourse.   His life, centred in dEvaperumAL
(SrIvaradarAja perumAL) as it was,  wrote itself as a commentary on
SrIkrshna’s exhortation, 
  “tasmAt sarvEshu kAlEshu mAm anusmara yudhya cha
    mayyarpita-mano-buddhih mAm Eva Eshyasi asamSayah”.
                                 (SrImad-bhagavad-gItA 8:7)

His first publication was the title ‘divyaprabandha-vaibhava-vivEkah’
written in Sanskrit to establish the canonical status of AzhvAr
‘aruLiccheyal’ as equal to the ‘gIrvANa vEdam’.   His monumental work
consisted of the first-ever publication of the complete works of
svAmidEsikan, SrIrAmAnuja, and maNavALA-mAmunigaL;     his own Sanskrit
translation of the divyaprabandham and of the ‘rahasya’ (esoteric)
classics ‘mumukshuppaDi’, ‘tatva-trayam’ and ‘SrIvachana-bhUshaNam’; 
and his own Tamil commentary ‘divyArtha-dIpika’ on the entirety of
divya-prabandham, SrIvachana-bhUshaNam and AchArya-hrdayam.   His
‘vEda-lakshana’ works are original investigations into vedic grammar and
semantics, and have not been duplicated.

His annual ‘tiruppAvai’ discourses in Madras (now Chennai) city
constituted his most visible service to the ‘sampradAyam’, and these
gave a festive look to the city environs themselves.    Besides the
dEvaperumAL ‘adhyApaka-gOshTHI’ in kAnchIpuram, he also adorned
namperumAL gOshTHI as its centrepiece whenever he visited Srirangam.  
The ‘iyal-SAttu’ has the verse “Uzhi-torum...nUl Odi, vIthi vAzhi ena
varum tiraLai vAzhttuvAr tam malar aDi en Sennikku malarnda pUvE” 
(Watch the devotees in formation walking the streets and reciting the
divya-prabandham;  and there be those that bless this ‘gOshThI’, and I
shall carry their sacred feet as a flower of decoration on my
forehead.)    This was the very sentiment evoked by kAnchisvAmi’s
gOshThI.

He passed away on (June 21 1983) ‘mithuna Sukla EkAdaSI’, the day of
‘Ani-garuDan’ marking periAzhvAr Sattumurai.    I had never ceased to
wonder that kAnchisvAmi’s kind of accomplishments were at all possible
in a lifetime.   All excellence partakes of divinity (yad-yad vibhUtimat
sarvam:  SrImad bhagavad-gItA 10:41), and this is how we are to
understand of  the kAnchisvAmi.    It is a memory that purifies.

aDiyEn rAmAnujadAsan, T.S. Sundara Rajan.