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A Tribute to PouNDarikapuram ANDavan SwAmi

From: Ram Anbil (
Date: Fri Mar 16 2001 - 15:44:43 PST

A tribute to H.H. Srimad Andavan of Poundarikapuram Ashramam

Dear Bhagavatas:
The Tanian (dedicatory verse) of Prakritam Srimad ParavAkoTTai GOpAla
Desika MahAdEsikan of ANDavan of PounDarikapuram Ashramam, reads as
                 SrivAsa Ranga ParakAla MunitrayAbda LakshmAtma
                 RakshaNa Yathitva YugAga MAntham /
                 AachArya Bhakthi Pari bhootham Anargha Seelam
                 GOpAala Desika MUNIM GURUM AasrayAmah //
"We seek refuge at the sacred feet of our revered AchAryan,
Sri GOpAla MahA Desikan, who received the sacred rites of
SamAsrayaNam , Bhara SamarpaNam, ThurIyAsramam and the wealth of
Ubhaya VedAntham from the three great AchAryAs, Srinivasa MahA
Desikan, Sri RanganAtha MahA Desikan and ParakAla MaTam SwAmi. He
shines with illustrious sadAchAram and is resplendent with his
limitless AachArya Bhakthi"

You will find two very significant words in this Tanian.
Can you guess what?
They are the words "Munim" and "Gurum".
What is so special about this?
The word "Muni" means "a Saint, Sage, Seer, Ascetic, Monk, Devotee,
Hermit (especially one who has taken the vow of silence)" Vide Monier
Williams Sanskrit to English Dictionary (page 823). It is derived
from the root "Mouna" meaning "Silence, Holding one's tongue"(ibid

All the AchAryas of our RamAnuja - Desika SathsampradAyam are
indeed "munis" and "Gurus" in terms of the above definition. Srimad
ANDavan of PounDarikapuram Ashramam is verily a "MunisrEshTa"- a
living example for every definition of the word "muni" as mentioned

He is known not only for his "JnAnam" (Knowledge), "AachAram"
(Cleanliness both physical and personal) and "anushTAnam" (strictest
adherence to the Code of conduct enjoined in the scriptures for the
ascetic order) but also for his conscientious adherence to this
characteristic of a true "muni"

"The acid test of real spiritual leaders is that they never project
themselves as 'somebody', never show off their powers of Siddhis,
never indulge in magic, never seek after disciples and never presume
to indoctrinate others. They withdraw into seclusion, practice their
Dharmic duties unostentatiously in humble dedication to God, shun
publicity and are content to be inconspicuous, selective in choosing
only deserving students who would follow their own code of conduct
before imparting to them the eternal truths. They have to
be 'searched for and sought after' than their 'searching, and
scanning'. They do not hanker after name or fame, are prepared to
pass into oblivion 'Un-sung. Un-honored, Un-wept' by the mere mortals
because their minds and vision are truly fixated on the
transcendental reality".

(Quote from the concluding paragraph of the series "Oh! My God!" now
being serialized in Religious journals in India like "Sri KAnchi
PeraruLALan" and " Nrisimhapriya" diglot edition, published in
Hyderabad from this YugAdhi day).

Our SwAmi answers precisely to the above description:
* To this day, in the matter of discipline, he is absolutely and
  uncompromisingly strict on himself and those who approach him.
* To this day, he has lived almost always in Srirangam;
* To this day, he had never sought after name or fame.
* To this day, he never went out soliciting Sishyas;
* To this day, to genuine seekers who seek his advice
  he has never failed to impart true knowledge
* To this day, he has lived in seclusion SILENTLY meditating on
  the Lord.
* He is blind to others' faults; deaf to scandals; mute in the sense
  of avoiding vain talk.

Living in the 21st century, he still upholds the old-world values.
Strict on himself, he is practical enough to understand the
predicament of common folk like us. He offers sensible and really
"sage" advice on the appropriate "modus operandi" to reconcile the
great time-divide and space-divide to prove how even in the so
called present circumstances and the much touted modern day
compulsions, one can and should practice Srivaishnavam.

He is the one who can advise exactly where "relaxation ends and
where repugnance starts" in observing "anushTAnams" for us (who seek
to excuse ourselves on grounds of being away from our mainland and away from 
the values of yore).

Thus, the words "Muni" and "Guru" just fit him well.

He is the Senior most of all Prakritam yathivaras of Bhagavad
RamAnuja-Swami Desika SathsampradAyam both in point of age and
assumption of the ascetic order (Ashrama sweekaraNam), which latter
is the criterion for determining the seniority among them. He is not
only a fitting successor to the glorious lineage of the
PounDarikapuram Ashramam but also a role model for all other
yathivaras, in the matter of his superb "AtmaguNas".

No wonder, he is hailed verily as "VasishTa" among them and held
in very high esteem by all. The fact that all yathivaras of our
SathsampradAyam are congregating to celebrate his SathAbhishEkam
"speaks" volumes about this "silent" MunisrEshTa.

You will remember that a while ago, I had mentioned about the glory
of "Naitrava KAsyapa" GOtram and how the word "MADabhoosi", became a
variant form of "MAtrubhooshaNam" which the famed "Naitrava KAsyapa"
Rishi was. Every GOtram has its own unique glory.

I have heard in Kalakshepams that the uniqueness of `VAdoola GOtram"
is that those belonging to it are such `Viraktas" that they never ask
for any favors, much less any pecuniary favors from anyone, however
dire their circumstances may be. Their palm when outstretched is
always "down-facing" (signifying giving) and never "up-facing"
(signifying receiving).

I understand that this mahAn belongs to this "VAdoola GOtram".

He never asks for anything either for himself or even for any
kainkaryams he undertakes or even for running the Ashramam. If
Sishyas or AbhimAnis offer any genuine and voluntary help, he accepts
them regarding it as "Bhagavad anugraham". His rectitude can be seen
in how personally and scrupulously he monitors that assistance
received in this manner is spent precisely for the purpose for which
it is received from the donors.

I remember to have read somewhere (but at this point of time, I do not
remember where). When the Lord decided to take His abode between the
two kAvEris (ubhaya kAverI), He did so on a "Panguni ROhiNi" day. Our
SwAmi's Tirunakshatram is also "Panguni ROhiNi". I believe that this
is not a mere coincidence but seems to have a special significance.
When we celebrate his "SathAbhishEkam", we are simultaneously
celebrating this sankalpam of the Lord of "BhoolOka VaikunTam".

In a fund raising appeal, MahAkavi BhArathiyAr said:
   "nidhi migunthavar porkuvai thAreer
    nidhi kuraindhavar kAsugaL thAreer"
"Those who have lots of money, donate pots of gold
Those who do not have enough, give whatever they can, even some coins"

While true to his nature, the AchAryan may not expect, it is our duty
to provide funds for the celebrations and make it a grand success.
May I humbly request you to contribute generously for the 81st
Jayanthi celebration slated for March 24-31, 2001?

Contributions from the USA are tax exempt. Please mail your checks
to: SMSA Inc, c/o Smt. Nagu Satyan, 7821 W Alder Drive Littleton, CO
80128 Please indicate on the memo of your check that your
contribution is for Srimad Poundarikapuram Ashramam.

For those in India, please draw the checks or drafts in favor of
"S.P.A.V Trust, 81st Jayanthi a/c and send to
SrikAryam, Srimad Poundarikapuram Andavan Ashramam,
43- A/13, Asramam Road, Srirangam, TRICHY. PIN 620006, India.

I would request everyone of you to donate whatever you can for this
once-ina lifetime SathAbhishEkam celebrations of this AchAryan
hailed as "God walking on earth" (naDamADum deivam) The celebrations
will start in the next few days. Here is your golden opportunity to
be a part of these celebrations by contributing your mite and receive
the blessings of the Lords of Panguni-RohiNi, the Divyadhampathis of
Srirangam and the Sage of Panguni-ROhiNi, YathisrEshTa of Srirangam.
Anbil Ramaswamy

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