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Ganesh @ vishnu temple ?

From: Tirumanjanam Sundara Rajan (surangam_at_tr.dot.net.in)
Date: Sun Jun 10 2001 - 23:02:24 PDT

The following verses are recited to pray for smooth and hurdle-free
observance of 'vaidika' rites:-

"SuklAm/bara-dharam vishNum, SaSi-vaRNam chatur-bhujam
prasanna-vadanam dhyAyEt, sarva-vighnO/pa-SAntayE." (padma-purANam).

[Lord Vishnu is to be meditated upon for warding off of all kinds of
mis-haps.   (The meditation will visualise  Him as)
**donning white robes ~~ instead of the usual ochre ones, peetAmbaram,
**with the glow of the moon ~~ instead of His characteristic lustre of
dark-sapphire, 'karu-maNi',
**four-armed,
**of his naturally beneficent visage.]

"yasya-dvirada-vaktrAdyA:, pArishadyA: paraS-Satam
vighnam nighnanti satatam, vishvak-sEnam tam ASrayE." 
(parASara-smr*ti ?)

[I seek the shelter of Lord Vishvak-sena, 'sEnai-mudaliyAr', who ever
destroys obstructions. He is the one who holds court with hundreds of
personages like the elephant-faced one.]

It is thus an elephant-faced deity is found in the tiru-viN-Azhi
pradakshiNam around Sriranga-vimAnam.   And hence the following from the
parama-prAmANika, Sri parASara bhaTTa :- 

"vidadhatu sukham vishvak-sEnasya tE prathamE bhaTAh
kari-mukha-jayat-sEnau kAlAhva-simha-mukhau cha nah
jagati bhajatAm tat-tat pratyooha-toola-davAnalAh
diSi diSi divA-rAtram Sriranga-pAlana-karmaThAh."
(Sriranga-rAja-stavam I:52).

[ May the principal minions of Sri vishvak-sEna / sEnai-mudaliyAr grant
our well-being.  These are named the elephant-faced one (kari-mukha),
jayat-sEna, kAla, and the lion-faced (simha-mukha).   They burn up, like
so much cotton-wool, the malefic influences charging the 'prapanna'.
These are the ones who, day and night, hold the vigil over the city of
Srirangam. ]

The exchange of postings on this issue (extracts reproduced below) 
indicates a sad distortion and tampering that has taken place in the
kAnchi dEva-p-perumAL sannidhi.

Since the Saiva cult-image of 'piLLaiyAr' keeps receiving the widest
media hype, it does create a confusion of identity as between the
original vaishNava divinity of dvirada-vaktra and the later-day Saiva
cult-image of 'piLLaiyAr'.

I accordingly reproduce at the end (an updated version of) my original
posting on the subject, extracted from the Bhakti List archives of the
year 1997. 

aDiyEn rAmAnuja-dAsan
T.S. Sundara Rajan @ Srirangam.

=========
 Date: Mon, 4 Jun 2001 19:11:51 +0530
 From: "nvaradar" <nvaradar@icicibank.com>
   To: <vitesse_iyengar@yahoo.co.in>, <bhakti-list@yahoogroups.com>

We often find in Vishnu Temples a SanNadhi for Lord Vinayaka and he
is referred to as ThuMbikkai AzWar by Vaishnavites.
There is a SanNadhi at Sri Varadaraja Perumal temple at Kancheepuram
also for Him    AdiYen, Varadaraja Dasan.
=========
Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2001 09:54:11 -0700 (PDT)
From: suderson <suderson@yahoo.com>
     
<<But the vinayaka sannidhi in kanchipuram was installed recently, about
3 decades back by sri chandrashekarendra saraswati swamigal of kanchi
kamakoti peetham. The idol in that sannidhi does not have oordhva pundra
vinayaka but a vibhuthi dhara ganesha. It may not be propoer to call him
thumbikkai azhwar(vishvaksena).dAsan Suderson.>>
=========
Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2001 21:01:19 +0800
From: "B.Haresh" <hareshb@pacific.net.sg>
  To: <srirangan@earthlink.net>  CC: <bhakti-list@yahoogroups.com>

Dear Sri Ranganathan,

Vishvaksena is represented as a four armed deity in seated posture with
Shanku and Chakram and is considered to be the "alter ego" of Lord
Narayana,In Both Vaikhanasa and Pancharatra Agamam Sri Vishvaksena is
invoked at the start of any auspicious event and most prominently before
the commencement of Brahmotsavam.  He drives away all dhushta devatas
before Perumal comes on procession.   Also in Thiruvaradhanam there are
upacharams paid to Vishvaksena   

It is important to note that he does not have an elephant face. 
Vishvaksena can be seen here on TTD homepage :

 http://www.tirumala.org/tempmap_vishwaksena_p7.htm

The image you are referring to is that of Sri Gajanana Azhvan who is
also a Nitya Suri under the command of Vishvaksena and in the acharya
parampara he is associated with Nathamunigal.
You may wish to clarify with the many elders on this list.
Adiyen, Haresh.
==================================================================
FROM BHAKTI LIST ARCHIVES.
"piLLaiyAr"  ~~  From: usdeiva (usdeiva@ix.netcom.com) 
Date: Tue Sep 09 1997 - 21:27:53 PDT 
  
Shri Mani Varadarajan wrote:

>Sri Vaishnavas generally do not do pUja to lesser divinities such as Ganesha.... 
>As part of our "paramaikaantika dharma" (extreme focus of mind), we worship only God, and God's intimate associates. 

Reacting to this, Shri Raja Krishnaswamy remarks:

>I take pride in calling myself an iyengar belonging to the vadagalai sampradhAyam and my kula dheivam is shrI BhUmi dEvi samEdha shrI uppili appan of thiru viNNagar near KumbakONam.  
>I however can not call other divinities as a "lesser God".

==============================-o0o-===================================

[A CLARIFICATION] - by T.S. Sundara Rajan.

There is no religion [living or defunct] but proposes a hierarchy of
divinities.   SrIvaishNavam simply happens to lodge in the core
monotheistic religion of the 'vEda', despite that the early western
Indologists assumed that the vEda represented a pantheistic-polytheistic
religion; this was because the vEda names of a multiplicity of
divinities personifying 'nature elements'.    The vEda nevertheless does
identify the Supreme and Transcendent  by the name of
SrIman-nArAyaNa/vishNu.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Several of the 'upanishad' have very un-ambiguous affirmations: ~~
following quotes from memory ~~

"agnir-dEvAnam avamah, vishNuh parah"     [agni is the least of the
divinities;   vishNu the Supreme];
"vishNu-mukhA vai dEvAh"     [the divinities look to vishNu];
"harim harantam-anuyanti dEvAh,  viSvasyESAnam vr*shabham matInAm"
[the divinities follow hari,the One that draws forth; He regulates the
universe; He is the (strident) master of (our) thoughts];
"nArAyaNah param brahma, tatvam nArAyaNah parah"
[nArAyaNa the 'para-brahma';  nArayaNa the Truth Transcendent];
"sarvE vEdAh yat-padam Amananti...    tat-tE padam sangrahENa bravImi,
Om ityEtat...  yastu vijnAnavAn bhavati sa-manaskas-sadA-Suchih,   sa-tu
tat-padam-ApnOti yasmAd bhUyO na jAyatE, vijnAna-sArathir-yastu
manah-pragrahavAn narah,   sO/dhvanah pAram-ApnOti tad-vishNOh paramam
padam"
   [I shall briefly speak to you of the post which is hymned by the
entirety of the vEda; it is Om... He who becomes the Knower, in his 
mind and in his purity, verily does he reach  that post from where he 
does not return ; the man who is piloted by Knowing and reins in  his
mind, he gets across the limbo region; there unto the Supreme Abode,
which is of vishNu.]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The 'sahasra-nAma-mahA-mantram' occurred in answer to yudhishThira's
clear queries: 
"kim Ekam dAivatam lOkE ? kim vA api Ekam parAyaNam ?"
["Which is the One God of the scripture?"  ~~ 'lOkah' is 'scripture', as
is 'the world';  here I remember kAnchi SrI prativAdi-bhayankaram
aNNangarAchArya svAmi who gave the etymology.  
"And, which verily the unique shelter?"]

SrI-bhIshmAchArya responds with equal directness:
"vishNum sarva-lOka-mahESvaram...dAivatam-dAivatAnAm"
["vishNu the Supreme Lord of the entirety of worlds/scriptures,  God
among divinities"].  
This very attribute "dAivatam-dAivatAnAm" has been dedicated
to 'periya-perumAL' in SrIrangam by svAmi-dESika in the first SlOkam of
'bhagavad-dhyAna-sOpAnam' ~~ 
"antar-jyOtih...dIna/nAtha-vyasana-Samanam  dAivatam-dAivatAnAm".

The skanda-purANam proposes a four-tier hierarchy of divinities:-

"ArOgyam bhAskarAt iCChEt, dhanam iCChEt hutASanAt,
 ISAnAt jnAnam anviCChEt, mOksham iCChEt janArdanAt."

[Seek health from the sun, wealth from agni,  realisation from ISAna,
and deliverance from janArdana.]

The elephant-faced deity of the Saiva pantheon is singularly missing in
the works of even the great poet, kAlidAsa, who is identified as
Saiva;   not to mention the Tamil sangham classics which are the best
bet there be for textual integrity, and which contain several hymns to
vedic rudra, subsequently transmogrified into Siva.  
 
The skanda purANam (more than the innovative upa-purANam of gANapatyam)
contains the basic genesis and profile of the deity 'piLLaiyAr' (itself
a later-day Tamil lingo-ism) fusing into vighnESvara, proposing that he
be propitiated in order that he withholds troubles and impediments.  
The primitive concept of God incorporates inter alia a fear-driven
attitude.  

nArAyaNa as the One God is essentially described as the One who cares
per se for his creatures ["rakshAika-dikshE", as in the invocation to
SrIbhAshyam], eliminates fear ['bhaya-nASanah'], bestows Grace
['su-prasAdah'], and runs obstacles down.   This is why the padma-purANa
SlOkam ==

"SuklAmbara-dharam vishNum SaSi-varNam chatur-bhujam
 prasanna-vadanam dhyAyEt sarva-vighnOpa-SAntayE",

is recited at the commencement of any auspicious rite, vaidika-kriya, as
invoking vishNu as 'vighna-hartA', to quell the impediments.  

It is curious that Sri SEnkAlipuram ananta-rAma dIkshitar, as well as
the Ramakrishna Mission, have carried this SlOkam in their publications,
but constantly translating 'vishNu' into Tamil as 'piLLaiyAr'.    This
unethical newspeak has become so prevalent that Sri Krishna Premi svami
was obliged to clarify in Srirangam (in his current series of lectures
on 'tiru-c-chhanda-viruttam') on Saturday (June 9 2001) that 'vishNu'
occurring in the dhyAna-SlOkam "SuklAmbara-dharam vishNum" stands for
'vishNu' and not for (the later-day Saiva cultist) 'piLLaiyAr'.

This strategy of disinformation extended to appropriating for later-day
icons the role-names ["nAmAni gauNAni...mahAtmanah, r*shibhih
parigItAni"] of the One God drawn from ancient texts 
['gaNAnAm tvA gaNapatim', 'vishvak-sEnO', 'SastA' etc], and hurriedly
putting together a kitsch-n-pastiche mythology to 'enhance' such icons. 

It is a sad irony that the SrIvaishNava community had neglected to know
about the 'prasthAna-traya bhAshyam' of SrI Sankara-bhagavat-pAdAh;  SrI
Sankara is indeed a beacon-light of vaishNava religion.  The AchArya
propounded 'advaitam' and remained a profound vaishNava;  for that
matter, krshNa-miSra the author of the 
allegory play 'prabOdha-chandrOdayam', and mahApurush SrI SankaradEva of
Assam, were also vaishNava and advaiti-dialecticians at the same time.  

Some of our outstanding literary figures who were professed Saiva, 
such as kAlidAsa, or bANa-bhaTTa (author of 'kAdambarI'), or leelASuka
have paid natural high tributes in ample measure to the theme of vishNu
'paratvam'.   SrI leelASuka says ~~ 

"SaivA vayam na khalu tad vichAraNIyam,   
panchAksharI japa-parAh nitarAm tathA/pi, 
chEtO madIyam atasI-kusumAva-bhAsam,   
smErAnanam smarati gOpavadhU-kiSOram."

    [We are Saiva, and no questions about it;  we constantly recite the
five-syllabled 'mantra' ~~ namah SivAya. 
This despite, my heart dwells on the blue lotus, that is the dear visage
of the infant of the gOpa lady ~~ yaSOdA.]
     
To identify the philosophy of 'advaitam' with Saiva sect is entirely
unwarranted;  this would yield the corollary that 'vaishNava' should
include 'smArta' who, however, have their own practices and mode of
worship, but with a basic fidelity to the vEda, same as the vaishNava.  

No SrIvaishNava would denigrate other beliefs, other practices, others'
gods;  even in instances when a caprice generates a cult, a cult grows
into a religion with its own 'prophet' and protocol;  such (morbid and)
closed systems are aplenty in India, as in the US.  It is each
individual, ultimately, to his own god and diversions (and identifiable
orgies).  However, when issues of fact are raised about a particular
scripture, then one cannot brandish such personal opinion, but has to
produce the evidences.  

Even if a motivated synthesising of religion is granted simply as
something that goes on, the SrIvaishNava need not be on the defensive,
but can be expected to:-

     (A) expose blatant inroads into vaishNava institutions [like
tiru-vem-pAvai conferences populistically and insidiously clubbed with
established tiru-p-pAvai recitation/exposition in vishNu temples, or use
of 'kAli' mask in 1996 over the visage of alamElu-mangai tAyAr in
tiruc-chAnUr.]    While on a visit to vaDuvUr near tanjAvUr in Jan'97, I
noticed huge chalk-sketches of 'aiyappA' and 'piLLaiyAr' drawn on the
flag-stone 'parikrama' of SrIrAma temple there.
     (B) challenge the distortion of historic facts, and the deliberate
corruption of religious and other relevant texts.
[To cite an instance, the kAmakOTi SankarAchArya-svami of recent memory,
had once taken it upon himself to announce to his wide following that an
expression in the 'tiruppAvai' verse 'vAiyattu' was denigrative of the
aphoristic classic 'tiru-k-kuraL';    it said 'tIkkuraLai', the 'vile
kuraL' ~~ so went the commentary of the learned preceptor! 
It was kAnchi SrI prativAdi-bhayankaram aNNangarAchArya svAmi who
pointed out that 'tIkkuraLai' was in nominal case,
prathama-vibhakti/vERRumai, and meant 'foul language', as a thing to
abjure especially during austerities;   this was NOT the objective case,
dvitIya-vibhakti, of the word 'kuraL', and hence would in no way 
denote or denigrate the classic of that name, as made out by the
kAmakOTi-svami.  
       "bibhEt-yalpa-SrutAd-vEdO mAmayam pratarishyati", [the vEda
winces that the man of little learning would subvert it!]       
Also, "apriyasya tu pathyasya vaktA SrOtA cha durlabhah".
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

aDiyEn rAmAnuja-dAsan, T.S. Sundara Rajan.

--------------------------------------------------------------
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