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The details on what happened in Srirangam

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Sun Mar 11 2001 - 11:34:43 PST

>From our old friend Sri T.A. Varadhan, now resident 
in Chennai.

> 
> the whole controversy started when the sthapathi, 
> stated that he wanted to make a triangular shaped
> symbol on perumAL's thirumARbu - 
> 
> all the stahalththArs objected to this - stating
> that there was nothing of that sort on periya 
> perumAL's thirumEni before. gaNapathi sthapathi
> apparently quoted from some scriptures/AgamAs 
> re: the presence of the triangular shaped symbol 
> on perumAL's thirumArbu. 
> 
> [Some people say that the real intentions of the
> sthapathi was to inscribe the thiru maRu (srIvatsa) 
> on perumAL's chest - this maRu is a standard feature
> of many perumALs {thillai gOvindarAjan,thirukkOshtiyUr
> etc..}. maRu is the mark on perumAL's chest that was
> created because of brughu maharishi kicking him
> - since perumAL is soulabhyam/kAruNyam/dOsha bOghyan
> personified, the maRu has becaome an adornment to
> Him} - However the way it was put by the sthapathi
> resulted in sthalaththArs understanding the intentions
> differently {i.e. tantric symbol etc..}]
> 
> At this time, the sthalaththArs, {srIranga nAraNa 
> jIyar, parAsara bhattar svAmi, uttama nambi svAmi,
> among others} and the local srIvaishNavA leaders
> {srIvaishNava srI KrishnamAchAri svAmi, tirumanjanam
> sundararAjan svAmi, thirukkOshtiyUr mAdhavan
> svAmi among others} objected to the triangular mark
> & suggested that the  image of mahAlakshmi be restored
> on perumAL's thirumArbu.
> 
> At this juncture, there were objections from
> many quarters about restoring pirAtti's image. The
> issue went up to the commissioner of HR&CE to 
> decide & multiple petitions were sent across to the
> CM, to the HR&CE department & to the press.
> 
> The commissioner of HR&Ce, srI. sAvarkAr had not made
> any decisions yet, as the caretaker of all temples in 
> tamizhnAdu. Meetings were set up for all parties to
> present their case.
> 
> Prior to this, the HR&CE folks made some inquiries
> aout
> the presence of mahAlakshmi on perumAL. some archakAs
> of the temple denied any such existense and were 
> of the opinion that since no mahAlakshmi existed on 
> perumAL's chest, no new image be created of Her on
> perumAL's chest. 
> 
> The sthalattArs and srIvaishNavAs gathered evidence
> for the presence of mahAlakshmi on perumAL's chest -
> 
> 1. during the fire accident of 1959, it is entirely
> possible that the image of mahAlakshmi also damaged
> and when the subsequent cleaning of perumAL's image
> was done, the mahAlakshmi image could have completely
> disappeared.
> 
> 2. perumAL is suthai thirumEni {suNNAmbu kalavai
> etc..} - thailak kAppu is done every friday to
> perumAL - over a period of time, the thailak kAppu
> makes the features indistinguishable - in fact, the
> fire accident happened because the thailak kAppu was
> inches thick & since it is oil, at some local pocket,
> the thailak kAppu exploded and the fire spread.
> 
> 3. The current archakAs had not performed kainkaryam
> to perumAL before the fire accident in 1959.
> 
> 4. The sthalaththArs obtained statements from
> (a) archakAs who have performed kainkaryam before 1959
> (b) archakas from other temples that helped in
>  restoring periya perumAL in 1959
> 
> 5. An old photo of the mUlavar was also
> produced - the image of mahAlakshmi is faintly visible
> on this photo.
> 
> 6. quotes from the divyaprabhandham was taken & 
> AchAryAs' vyAkhyAnams were used to prove the presence
> of mahAlakshmi on perumAL's chest. The key quotes
> were "agalakillEn" from thiru vAymozhi and "thiru Ara
> mArbu adhu aNrO" fromn amalanAdhi pirAn. The
> commentary of svAmi periya vAccAn piLLai was used to
> illustrate the meaning of thiru Ara mArbu adhuanrO -
> thiruvukku aaram pOlE irukkum...
> 
> 7. srIranga nAraNa jIyar played a very important role 
> in making everyone come together and get the
> discussions going. The final decision was made in a
> meeting at His maTam.
> 
> 8. once the facts were presented, the commmissioner
> made the only decision that is right - i.e. the image
> of mahAlakshmi should be restored.
> 
> I would be remiss if I did not mention about srI.
> sAvarkAr and his excellent service as the HR&CE 
> commissioner. He took it upon himself to be in
> srIrangam for 10 days till the samprOkahaNam to
> ensure proper supervision. He arranged a seminar on
> "AzvArgaL kaNda perumAL" today (saturday)
> and he himself spoke on "ANdAL kaNda perumAL" - 
> He is a really efficient commissioner that tries 
> to understand the tradition of the temple concerned,
> and respects the opinion of elders. He makes his
> decisions with utmost sincerity, giving equal hearing
> to all parties concerned and finally making the
> decision that is in accordance with the scriptures
> and tradition.
> 
> The wonderful cooperation between the local 
> administration of srIrangam (collector office,
> municipality), the temple administration and the
> local srIVaishNava community led by the jIyar
> and sthalattArs is something that needs to be
> duplicated in every temple town.
> 
> adiyEn madhurakavi dAsan,
> Varadhan
> 
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