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Recitation of the divya prabandham

From: Vasudha Narayanan (vasu_at_religion.ufl.edu)
Date: Fri Nov 28 1997 - 07:32:49 PST

Respected members of the bhakti group: 
There was a query a few days back about the suspension of the
nityanusandhanam in the month of Karthikai.  Sri Sadagopan had kindly asked
me to answer it.  I apologize for not replying earlier-- I was in San
Francisco for a conference.  It was wonderful going to the Livermore temple;
I also the pleasure of meeting Sri Mani and thanking him for the cyber-space
hospitality he has provided.  
        Perhaps the first thing I should say is that the traditions in
temples differ and this is particularly so for the Andhra region.  Thus,
even something that is fairly commonly accepted in Tamilnadu (ie the
beginning of the Tirumoli tirunal on Margali Amavasai/pratamai) is not
followed in one or two temples in Andhra where they begin it automatically
at the beginning of Margali, ie around the middle of December.  Second, in
order for the festival calendar not to get too much out of line,
*occasionally* in Srirangam (and only there, because of the very, very
crowded festival schedule) they begin the recitation-- the adhyayanotsavam--
one cycle earlier.  This happened in 1995-96 I think-- so the Tiruvaymoli
tirunal began one (waxing) ekadasi cycle before everyone else celebrated
Vaikuntha ekadasi.  I mention these points because (a) the anadyayanam cycle
is connected with the recitation of the entire divya prabandham in the
temple and (b) there is no complete agreement on these subjects.  If I leave
out something vital in this post, please do correct me.
        Briefly put, the suspension of the regular cycle of recitation
*generally* begins on Kaisika ekadasi day in Kartikai.  The regular
recitation schedule resumes after Kurattalvan's tirunakshatram (Tai Hastam).
There are some variations on this, including the stopping of regular
nityanusandhanam in amavasai of Kartikai or beginning of Kartikai itself in
some places and resuming it after the adhyayanotsavam is over.  The general
rationale is that after the proclamation of Namperumal summoning Sri
Nammalvar in the month of Kartikai (in earlier days he was apparently
brought from Alvar Tirunagari until bad weather prevented it once), the
whole of Srirangam temple is in the fervour of preparing for the
recitation/experience of the entire prabandham as enacted by the araiyars.
The prabandham is an anubhava grantham and during the adhyayanotsavam it is
quite something to see it depicted by the araiyars with abhinayam.  The
recitation and visualizing of araiyar sevai begins with the Tirumoli tirunal
(Margali amavasai), reaches a height during the Vaikuntha ekadasi (Mohini
alankaram for Namperumal and the the commencement of the Tiruvaymoli
tirunal), and culminates with the Tiruvaymoli sattumurai, Nammalvar Moksham,
Araiyar brahma-ratham, and the fast paced iyarpa recitation.  Since the joy
and excitement of these days of celebration are overwhelming, the regular
nityanusandhanam is put on hold.
        I have some further details of the recitation schedule in the
extensive interviews I taped between 1986 and 90 but have not had the time
to consult them now.  Some of the salient information from these
conversations are in my book The Vernacular Veda.
        By the way, are there any temples in this country which follow the
entire recitation of the divya prabandham in Margali?  In Atlanta they had
the Gita Jayanti last year (on ekadasi) with overnight recitation of the
Bhagavad gita.  I would be very happy to know where they follow the
traditional schedule of reciting the divya prabandham (there are none as far
as I know).
With best wishes, Vasudha