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My visit to AYODHYA

From: I.V.K. CHARY (ivkchary_at_yahoo.co.uk)
Date: Tue May 08 2001 - 22:42:23 PDT

Srimathe Ramanujaya Namaha 

During my recent visit to India, I had the good fortune of visiting one
of the the Saptha Mukthi Kshethrams, known as AYODHYA. I am just
venturing to write about my experience during this recent pilgrimage. 
This being my maiden attempt to write in this list, I may please be
forgiven for any errors.

The place I stayed in Ayodhya is known as AMMAJI MANDIR or DIVYADESA
MANDIR. This Mandir is dedicated to Sri Rama and is like any other
Divyadesam in Tamilnadu. The temple structure,the Archamoorthys and
the mode of worship are all as per Bhagavad Ramanuja Sampradaya
Srivaishnava tradition. 

I am just trying to present, in brief, the history of this temple
as given in a temple pamphlet. This temple is, to be precise, 97
years old and located close to the banks of the river Sarayu. This
temple came into existence by the efforts of a noble soul by name Yogi
Sri Parthasarathy Ayyangar. This temple exists at the very site where a
temple for Sri Ranganatha was there in the past. The main shrine
is for Sri Rama with Seetha piratti and Lakshmana on both sides.
There are separate shrines for Sri Ranganatha, Hanuman and Azhvar
Acharyas represented by Sri Satagopa, Sri Ramanuja and Sri Manavala
Mamunigal. The temple worship is according to Pancharathra Agama. 

The founder of this temple, Sri Yogi Parthasarathy Iyyangar was known
to possess in-depth knowledge in Hindu religious scriptures,
theology, and traditions with versatility in Sanskrit, Tamil,Telugu
and Kannada languages. He was responsible for bringing out
publication of various Hindu religious texts. He was invited to
participate in the World Congress of Religions held in Chicago in
1893. His thesis, the Science of Religion, was taken up for
discussion at this Congress and received all round approbations. Yogi
Sri Parthasarathy was a Member of the Group, which was responsible
for identifying Swami Vivekananda to the whole world.  

He created a trust by name Sri Sarasvathi Bhandar and donated all his
wealth to the Trust for the purpose of maintaining this Ram Temple in
Ayodhya. Even today, this temple is run on the income derived from
the properties left over by the Yogi. 

There is an interesting story about the beginnings of this temple. On
one night, when Yogi Smt. Singaramma, the wife of Yogi Sri
Parathasarathy, was fast asleep, in her dream she found the Uthsava
Vigrahas of Sri Rama and Seetha buried in a dilapidated temple in the
village known as Thiruppullani(Dharbasayanam) in Ramanathapuram
District of Tamilnadu.. The couple went there looking for it. Her
dream turned out to be true as they found the dilapidated temple as
well as the Sri moorthys. With the assistance of their friends and
relatives, they met the King of Ramanathapuram and took his
permission for taking these Vigrahas with them. After that, they have
decided to shift to Ayodhya and build a temple for Sri Rama and install
the Vigrahas in that temple. With the passing away of Yogi Sri
Parthasarathy within a few years after moving into Ayodhya, his wife
took up the responsibility of completing the temple and organizing
Nithya Aradhanams, Uthsavams etc. Since she played a very
significant role in bringing up this temple, the shrine itself is
popularly known as AMMAJI MANDIR. There is also a stone inscription in
the temple proclaiming the temple as SETHU RAMA MANDIR identifying
its origins. Sri Ramanavami Uthsavam is being celebrated every year
for 5 days. A team of Archakas, Paricharakas, Adhyapaka and
Vedaparayana goshti from Triplicane goes to Ayodhya to perform this 5
day Uthsavam. The Moola and Uthsava moorthys are simply beautiful and
a treat to watch them unendingly. 

One Sriman Srinivasa Ramanujachariar presently manages this temple.
He looks like a Sadhu himself. He is a retired person and is not in
need to earn for supporting a family. He has dedicated his time and
energy for this temple and spends all the 24 hours in the temple
itself. A very kind, hospitable and pleasant soul always ready to
welcome visitors and help them in whatever way possible to make their
stay in Ayodhya memorable. The temple has dormitory type
accommodation available for pilgrims to stay. It has all modern
facilities like tap water, toilet, bathroom, etc. One can get our own
food (the typical south Indian) in the temple as Bhagavath Prasadam if
we indicate our desire for it. Besides him, there is one more dedicated
young Kainkaryapara in this temple by name Sriman Murali. He helps
Sriman Srinivasan in all respects, right from preparing food offerings,
performing Bhagavadharadhanam, attending to lowkeeka vishayams, etc.
and more importantly to help Sriman Srinivasan in making the Sevaarthis
visiting or staying in the temple feel at home. 

Sriman Srinivasan took us to places of importance in Ayodhya and acted
as a guide. He volunteered himself for this purpose. In a place where
we are not conversant with the language, it is like a boon to have him
for sight seeing. Both of them are absolutely selfless and are not
after seeking money for their personal use. Whatever that has been
given is again pumped into the maintenance of the temple itself.  

Dear Bhagavathaas, if any of you are planning to visit Ayodhya, do
include this temple in your list and visit it. I am giving below the
address and location details for your information: 

Dharbasayana Sethuramar temple

AMMAJI MANDIR,
5/3/59, near Nirmochan Chow Rastha,
Kolaghat Road,
AYODHYA – 224123
Telephone: +5278 33087

Whilst in Ayodhya, Sriman Srinivasan took us to some of the important
places.  

MAKHOTA 

This is a village about 15 kms from Ayodhya. This place is stated to
be the site where Dasaratha Chakravathy performed Puthrakaameshti
Yaga on the banks of the river MANORAMA. This river is now looks like
a small stream with water being absolutely pure and sweet. At this
site there is a shrine where one can find a small plaque notifying the
significance of the place. 

GUPTHAR GHAT 

As the very name suggests, this is on the banks of the river Sarayu
in the cantonment town of Faizabad. There is a well laid bathing
ghat. According to the legend, Rama and Lakshmana entered into the
River Sarayu at this spot to ascend to their abode, Sri Vaikuntam,
after the completion of their Avathaara Karyam.  

At this ghat there is a temple dedicated to Guptha Hari and Chakra
Hari. The shrine of Guptha Hari is in the ground floor whereas Sri
Charka Hari is in the first floor. The deity of Guptha Hari is
identified by Thiruvadis. As per the Sthala Purana narrated by the
priest, Guptha Hari existed even prior to Threthaa Yuga, i.e., even
prior to Rama Avathara. Sri Chakra Hari is a saligrama moorthy (like
moolavar in our temples) with his Discus in Prayoga chakra form. A huge
collection of Saligramams is kept in the Chakra Hari shrine. These
shrines are of typical North Indian style. With no patronage from
devotees, these shrines are difficult to identify unless someone of a
local origin takes you there. An old sadhu has been looking after this
temple for the past 45 years, according to Sriman Srinivasan. 

NANDHI GRAM 

As you all know, this place has been referred to in the epic, Srimad
Ramayana, where Bharatha was doing penance, waiting for Rama, Seetha
and Lakshmana to return from their Vanavasa. According to
the epic, Rama sent Hanuman in advance to notify his arrival in order
to prevent Bharatha from performing Praayopavesa. This place is on
the outskirts of Ayodhya. There is a beautiful shrine for Bharatha
and Hanuman both embracing each other. The marble stone idol of both
Bharatha and Hanuman in embracing pose is an excellent piece of art,
even for art-lovers.

Besides the above three, the other popular places of importance which I
could visit in the Ayodhya town are, the (in)famous Babri Masjid/Ram
Janmabhoomi Mandir, Kanak Bhavan, known to be the royal palace of Sita
Piratti, Valmiki Bhavan, Hanuman Gaddhi etc. There are other places,
which I could not visit due to paucity of time. Hence, please do not
assume that these are the only places to be visited.  

One great thing about Ayodhya is that the place always reverberates
with the divine bhajan SIYARAM all through 24 hours, day and night,
365 days uninterruptedly. There appears to be hundreds of temples,
mutts, etc. in Ayodhya. Every door seems to be an entrance to a Sri
Rama’s shrine. Such is the dedication of Sadhus who live there. There
is no dearth to the feeding activity of Sadhus. No one needs to skip
his/her lunch or dinner for want of food, as long as he is ready to
join the SIYARAM bhajan. A shrine just opposite to Valmiki Bhavan
houses a huge kitchen with most modern facilities to prepare food for
thousands at a time. Everyday thousands of people partake food in
that shrine after Bhajan. There are any numbers of trusts,
philanthropists who come forward to finance these activities. 

As this write-up has already become long, I now conclude it. 

Sri Seetha Lakshmana Bharatha Sathrughna Hanumath Sametha Sri
Ramachandra Parabhrahmane Namaha. 

Dasan 

I.V.K. CHARY


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