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Tirunakshatram of H.H. Poundarikapuram Andavan Swami

From: muralidhar rangaswamy (rangaswamy_m_at_hotmail.com)
Date: Tue Mar 23 1999 - 06:37:51 PST

Sri:

Dear Bhaktas,

On this blessed day, Srimans Madhavakannan Swamin and Anbil Swamin 
have paid eloquent tributes to Acharya Sarvabhouman Sri Paravakottai 
Andavan Swami, the present pontiff of Srimad Poundarikapuram Ashramam. 
Adiyen's greatest blessing is to have this great Yativara as his 
Acharya. Adiyen wishes to share the following write up from the 
Veda Malar and Saptati Malar

(THE PRESENT PONTIFF)

PARAVAKKOTTAI SRI GOPALA DESIKA MAHA DESIKAN (Panguni- Rohini)

" Born in the year Roudri on the 2nd day of Panguni under the star of 
Rohini, corresponding to 17th March 1921 in the
Mazhaiyur village as the son of Sri Venkatachar Swami and Janaki Ammaal, 
the daughter of Puraanam Vidwan Sri
Kuppuswami Iyengar Swami. The village was gifted to the forefathers of 
this family about 6 generations earlier. From that time
onwards the further generations of the family had been living there.

Srimad Andavan was named Rajagopalan after the presiding deity of 
Mannargudi temple which at the time of his birth was
celebrating the Tiru Ther (car) festival. Paravakkottai Sri 
Venkatachariar Swami was a pious scholar belonging to Vadhula
Gotram Kandaadaiyar family who fashioned his life strictly according to 
the prescribed rules for a Sri Vaishnava. He had
received instruction in Rahasya Traya Sara at the feet of Poundarika 
Puram Srimad Andavan. His elder brother, Sri
Chakravarthi Aachariar, also had been performing Biksha services to 
Srimad Andavan.

When child Rajagopalan was 2 ˝ years old, his mother died and two aunts 
from Thillaiambur came to look after the child.
After the Upanayana Samskara, Sri Rajagopalan was placed under 
Mannargudi Sri Srinivasa Gopalachariar for Vedic
instruction.

Later, he joined K.R.M. Estate Paatasaala and studied Sanskrit poetry 
under a distinguished Vidwan Peruga Vaazhndaan Sri
Krishnamachariar Swami. Owing to the hard discipline of the teacher, the 
pupil was able to acquire proficiency in Sanskrit.

Subsequently, the boy was admitted into the Sanskrit college at Sholinga 
Puram by Sri A.R.Krishnamachariar Swami who also
instructed him in Champu literature. Because of the boy’s proficiency in 
Sanskrit, in 1936, he was admitted into the 3rd Year
class in the Sanskrit College, Tirupathi, in which he studied hard for 6 
years. When he returned to Thillaiambur, during the
summer holidays, he did not waste a single moment; he used the occasion 
to study Granthas under Vidwan Sri Venkatachariar
Swami.

During his stay at the Sanskrit college, he had as class mates or 
College mates some of the distinguished scholars of the present
time, such as PURISAI KRISHNAMA CHARIAR Swami, the Editor of 
Nrisimhapriya, VILLIVALAM SRI NARAYANA
CHARIAR SWAMI a great scholar and brother of the present 45th Pontiff of 
Ahobila Mutt and Mylapore Sri
Srinivasachariar who later set up a Publishing house ‘Sarasa Kala 
Nilayam’ solely for the purpose of printing and publishing the
works of our great Acharyas like Melpakkam Narasimhachariar, Marudur 
A.R. Krishnama chariar. Sri Rajagopalan moved
with these persons intimately, true to the saying " Birds of the same 
feather flock together".

When he was just 12 years old, he had his Samasrayanam and Bharanyasam 
done by the Great Poundarikapuram Andavan
himself. Having lost the mother at a tender age, child Rajagopalan had 
to perform the mother’s annual Sraddha. He lived such
a pure and disciplined life in strict conformity with Sri Vaishnava 
tradition as to win the awe and regard of the learned
Srivaishnavas of Thillaiambur. They regarded him as another VASISHTA and 
would not do or say anything unorthodox during
the Sraddha. He would never take Paraannam (food outside) even from his 
childhood.

Two days before Rajagopalan’s father attained the lotus feet of the 
Lord, he had advised his son to do Vedaanta
Kalakshepam under the feet of the Jeeyar of Parakaala Mutt. An obedient 
son that he was, Sri Rajagopalan went to Mysore
and studied under Srimad Abhinava Ranganatha Parakaala Swami such 
branches of knowledge as Grantha Chatushtayam.

Later, he learnt under Deekshachar Swami, Nyaya Siddhanjanam, Tattva 
Muktaa Kalaapam and Nyaaya Parisuddhi and
returned to Thillaiambur in 1947.

The Swami Participated in six examinations in Vedantha Sastras conducted 
by "Vedaanta Desika Vichaara Sadas" under the
direction of the Jeeyar of Parakaala Mutt. He also passed the Purva and 
Uttara parts of our Vedanta in the examination
conducted by "Mysore Maharaja Vidwat Pariksha".

Later, he entered Grihastaasramam marrying Lakshmi, the eldest daughter 
of Tiruk Kudanthai Aarupaathi Setlur Sri
Srinivasachariar Swami, who was a strict follower of Vaishnava Aachaaram 
and had done Vedantha Kalakshepam. The
couple was blessed with five sons and a daughter.

After getting employed as a Sanskrit Pandit at Musiri, Sri 
Rajagopalachariar Swami used to visit Srirangam in connection with
the affairs of the Asramam, which was always uppermost in his mind. On 
such occasions he would call on Sri Madurantakam
Vira Ragahavachariar Swami and cultivate his acquaintance. Whenever he 
prostrated at the feet of Madurantakam Swami, the
latter would do ‘Prathivandanam’. Our Swami felt embarrassed and hit up 
on a plan to stop the ‘Prathivandanam’. So, he
submitted that that he had not been initiated into Vaisvadevam and 
requested Madurantakam Swami to initiate him. This done,
the Madurantakam Swami had become his Acharyan also and there was no way 
for him to do ‘Prathivandanam’ anymore!

At the age 59, Sri Rajagopalachariar Swami accompanied by his family 
proceeded to Kshetraadanam bathing in the Narmada,
Ganga, Triveni Confluence and afterwards offered worship at Gaya, 
Haridwar and Bhadarikasramam. Then he went to
Ahobilam where he participated in the 10 days Utsavam of Lord Nrisimha 
and returned to Musiri.

TAKING HOLY ORDER

Srimad Vennatrankarai Andavan was keen and anxious to nominate a 
successor so that the Muni Traya Munirupa tradition
could be continued without break in the Acharya line. He used to sound 
the Srikaryam Sri Rajagopala Iyengar about this and
persuaded him to assume the Sannyasa Asrama. One day, on the spur of the 
moment, he called the Srikaryam and
administered Presha Mantram, Prapatti Yogam, Sannyasa Anushtaana Kramam 
and Ashrama Sweekaara-Kramam. The day
before he merged with Jyoti, he called Sri Rajagopala Swami and gave him 
the ochre robes, (Avakundanam, Jala Pavitram,
Sikhyam, Kavacha Vastrams etc.) and staff as well as the keys of the 
Asramam and commanded that he should assume the
role of the Acharya in a year or two. And, for more than a year and a 
half the Ashramam remained without an Acharya. 

Owing to the appeal and entreaties of many eminent persons such as the 
late lamented 44th Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt, Ubhaya
Vedaanta NAVANEETHAM RAMA DESIKA CHARIAR SWAMI, MADURANTAKAM SRI VEERA
RAGHAVACHARIAR SWAMI, (Mannargudi M.S. Rangachariar Swami, 
Vennatrankarai Velaamur Sowriraja Iyengar) and
a host of others, the Srikaryam Sri Rajagopala Swami occupied the Peetam 
of the Acharya in a picturesque ceremony held at
Vennar Bank, Thanjavur. The place appropriately chosen for this solemn 
purpose is twice- blessed. Three of the 108 Divya
Desas lie here close to each other; it is the native place of Vennatran 
Karai Srimad Andavan and the resting place of
Veliyanallur Srimad Andavan; it is further sanctified by its association 
with three of our Purvaacharyas- Sri Nainar Acharya,
Brahma Tantra Swatantra Swami and Saakshaat Swami. The Asrama 
Sweekaranam took place on 20th February 1982,
Dwadasi day of Masi month in the cyclic year Dunmathi, when he assumed 
the new name " SRIMAD GOPALA DESIKA
MAHA DESIKAN". 

On the previous day, on Ekaadasi day, he performed JEEVA SRAADDHA as 
ANNA SRAADDHA. As many as 16
scholars participated in the Nimantrana like U.V. Madurantakam Vidwan 
Veeraraghavachariar Swami, Vidwan Villupuram
Madhavachariar Swami, AHOBILA MATAM SRIKARYAM SWAMI, PERIYAASRAMAM U.V 
PADUKAA SWAMI,
Vaduvoor Salakshana Ganapaadigal who acted as Brihaspathi, Bangalore 
Veda Vidwan Swachannam Anantachariar who
acted as Brahma.

Throughout the night, he kept awake along with others when Madurantakam 
Swami delivered discourses on Satkatha and
Vedantas. 

NEVER BEFORE IN THE ANNALS OF ANY MATAM OR ASRAMAM WAS SUCH A 
JEEVASRAADDHAM HAD
BEEN PERFORMED. The Parakaala Mutt Swami presented as Hayagriva Prasadam 
a Kamandalu and Kaashaayam.

SRIMAD ANDAVAN’S MANY-SIDED SERVICES TO RELIGION 

Shortly after taking charge of the Asramam, Srimad Andavan who had spent 
long and laborious years in "collecting" Vedantic
knowledge, was now called upon by the 44th Jeeyer of Ahobila Mutt, to 
collect big sum of money to meet the expenses for
the construction of the 12th tier of the Raja gopuram of Srirangam 
temple. Undaunted, Srimad Andavan through the active
help and cooperation of his disciples like Tirumalaikattam Villankuppam 
P.A.Ranganatha Tatachariar Swami of Shenoynagar
Amuda Mukunda Kalyana Mandapam was able to collect a sum of 
Rs.3,43,000/- which was presented to Srimad Azhagiya
Singhar.

Srimad Andavan’s devotion to his and our Purvaacharyas is too apparent 
to need any special mention. He renovated the
Brindavanam of Velianallur Sriman Narayana Maha Desikan at Vennar Bank, 
erecting of four pillared Mantapam and installing
the idol of the Acharya. He also raised a compound wall and an iron 
fence all around the Mandapam.

In 1989, the Swami visited Vennatrankarai, where the local host, Sri 
Sowriraja Iyengar honored him with Poornakumbham
and a heavy garland that adorned Neelameghap Perumal. It was a sight for 
Gods to see!

Under Srimad Andavan’s direction, Swami Desikar’s shrine in East Uttara 
Street was completely renovated. The Utsava idol
of Lord Hayagriva, previously worshipped by one Amma Sathram 
Seshachariar Swami was handed over to the Asramam by
his grandsons on June 13,1990. This idol as well as idols of Ashtabujan 
and Vaikuntanathan were installed in the shrine. The
Asramam building as well as the Pushkarani were renovated at a cost of 
Rs. 1.5 lakhs. 

Under the patronage and Presidentship of the Acharya, the " Sat 
Sampradaaya Samrakshana Sabha"- registered as a Society
was founded in 1986 to foster FREE Sanskrit education and offer FREE 
instruction in the Vedas, Prabhandas and other
Grantha Chatushtayams.

The Nitya Aradhana plan to provide uninterrupted Aradhana in the Asramam 
was created with a deposit of Rs.1,000
collected from each disciple. The amount donated under the head has been 
deposited in the Bank and the accruing interest is
being utilized for the administration of the Asramam.

A revised edition of Rahasya Traya Sara was published in 1990. Chillarai 
Rahasyangals of Swami Desika have also been
published by the Swami - in three parts. Srimad Andavan has been 
imparting instruction to the disciples through
Kalakshepams. On such occasions, the disciples have highly benefited by 
Srimad Andavan’s approach, his mastery of the
subject, the clarity of thought and the ease with which he reduces any 
complicated concept in philosophy or theology into
simple and clear terms." His Tanian reads as follows:

Srivaasa Ranga Parakaala Munitrayaapta Lakshmaatma Rakshana Yathitva 
Yugaaga Maantham Achaarya Bhakthi Paripootham Anargha Seelam Gopaala 
Desika Munim Aasrayaamah 

Source Material for the write up: 
[1] Veda malar issued on the occasion of Centenary Celebrations of 
Vennatrankarai Swami :
[2] Saptadi Mahotsava Malar issued on tne occasion of 70th 
Tirunakshatram Celebrations of Paravaakkottai Swami. 

Narayana, Narayana,

Muralidhar Rangaswamy
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