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AthivaN satakOpa jeer

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Date: Fri Sep 22 1995 - 13:06:50 PDT

The following article appeared in Sri Nrusimha Priya,
sambutam 53, sancigai 7, bava aippasi (October 94), pp. 32 - 37

-- Dileepan


Sri Adivan Satakopa Yateendra Mahadesika

Place: Kancheepuram, the Kshetra, called the most
important among the seven cities that give liberation.

Time:     Just before dawn of the day (A.D. 1398).

Young Srinivasacharya, hardly twenty years of age,
wakes up in an exciting mood.  The dream he witnessed
a little while ago is the cause of it.  Lord
Lakshmeeharasimha of Ahobilam appeared before him,
commanding him to come to Ahobilam, don the robe of
a sanyasi and be instructed in his future mission of life
there.  Could this vision be true, he kept asking himself
again and again.  Ahobilam, of course he knew and
worship there is not an unusual occurrence in those days
of pilgrimage; but that God should have chosen HIM of
all people left him amazed.  He went about his morning
ablutions as usual but in the same ecstatic mind.  He then
hurried to his Guru-the well-known Gatikasatham-n
Ammal-and told him of his vision.  The old Master also
known as Varadavishnvacharya told his disciple
Srinivasacharya to obey the mandate.  So he wended his
way to Ahobilam.  Having arrived there, he climbed the
hill amidst dense forest (which Thirumangai Azhvar
describes as one which none can reach except God), had
a dip in the river Bhavanasini and took up abode in that
wilderness.  Meanwhile Mukundaraya, the local
chieftain also reached the, place to receive him on divine
command.  Lord Narasimha appeared before
Srinivasacharya in the form of a sanyasi and initiated
him with the "Preshmantra", gave him 'Sanyasa asrama'''
and named him 'Satakopa Jeeyar'.  Thus was born Sri
Ahobila Mutt and its First Jeeyar.

This is commemorated in the following 'mangala sloka'

"Abobile Sri Nrisimhah Preshamantram swayam dadou
Yogiroopena yasyasmai Satakopaya mangalam "

This incident can be seen now in the form of images,
carved on a pillar in the Ranga mandapa of the Lower
Ahobilam temple (vide History of the Cult of Narasimha
in Andhra Pradesh by Dr. Madabhoosi

Srinivasacharya, son of Kidambi Kesavacharya was born
on 18th August 1379 AD at Thirunarayanapuram
(Melkote), Karnataka.  Being a family of great orthodox
views and of high literary cultural attainments, the boy
showed a remarkable mental grasp and keen perception
and so, his father Kesavacharya, himself a learned man,
decided to send him to Kancheepuram to study at the
feet of Ghatikasatham Ammal, a very great scholar of
those days.  The name Ghatikasatham Ammal (grandson
of the famous Nadadoor Ammal) was given to this
learned preceptor in honour of the fact that he could
compose a hundred verses in a Ghatika (Nazhigai).  His
school was the most famous and sought after during that
period and no wonder Kesavacharya decided to put his
son Srinivasacharya there so as to make him a brilliant
scholar.  Srinivasacharya acquired all the knowledge
when Lord Lakshmeenarasimha ordained him into the
monastic order as mentioned above and gave him the
name 'Satakopa Jeeyar'.  The Lord commanded him to
take any one of the 'Utsava' Moorthis and said the
Jeeyar's task henceforth would be, "GO FROM DOOR

The Jeeyar though anxious to start on his mission right
earnestly, could not decide on the 'Utsava' Moorthi he
could take with him.  He, therefore, went into a
meditation and prayed that the most suitable Moorthi'
should come and bless him.  Immediately the 'Utsava
Moorthi' of Malola Narasimha (Lakshmeenarasimha)
came flying from the temple and seated Himself on the
outstretched hands of the Jeeyar.  Mukundaraya on
hearing of this miracle became his disciple and offered
not only arrangements for permanent daily worship but
also gave a palanquin and other paraphernalia to assist
the Jeeyar in his sanchara (tour) along with the 'Malola'
Moorthi.  He also gave control of all the temples to this
Jeeyar and henceforth Ahobila Kshetram came under the
direct control of Ahobila Mutt whose pontiffs are even
today the hereditary trustees.

Now a look at the 'Malola' Moorthi will reveal that He
wears a Paduka indicating that He is ready to proceed on
tour and thus both the Jeeyar and his God fully equipped
commenced their historic travel giving spiritual and
material succour to all who prayed in the course of their
travel.  Bearing the name Satakopa as he was, it was
natural that this first Jeeyar should be eager to visit
Alwarthirunagari-the holy place sacred to Nammalwar.
Having reached Alwarthirunagari, he found to his
dismay and grief that the temple of Nammalwar was
completely changed to one wherein eleven images of
siva (linga) had been installed and had come to be called
Ekadasarudra Kshetra.  The idol of Nammalwar was not
to be found anywhere.  Setting up his camp there,
Satakopa Jeeyar went about his routine of preaching the
doctrine of surrender (prapatti) and gradually his fame
spread as a mystic saint of great powers and efficacy.
Distressed at the loss of Nammalwar and his shrine, he
constantly recited Madurakavi's stanzas when
Nammalwar appeared before him in a vision, told him
that his idol lay in the bed of a river adjacent to a ravine
and that the Jeeyar should recover and restore it.  It so
happened that the Pandya King of that place was on a
hunting trip around those parts and the Jeeyar's divine
personality instantly attracted him.  He fell at the Jeeyar's
feet and solicited to become a convert to Vaishnavism.
Accompanied by this king, the Jeeyar went to the spot of
the difficult terrain and prayed to Nammalwar and lo! the
image slowly emerged from the river bed and settled on
the outstretched arms of the Jeeyar just as 'Malola'
Moorthi had done so earlier!!  The King was spellbound
and without hesitation, (on the orders of the Jeeyar), he
straightway removed the saivite images and installed the
Nammalwar's idol in the temple as before with due pomp
and favour thus restoring the temple's pristine
Vaishnavite glory. The British historian Mr. - Sewell's
list. of South Indian Dynasties cull out one Kulasekhara
Pandya as the reigning chief of this period (vide History'
of the Ahobila Mutt by S.N. Venkatesa lyer).

But the fact remains that the Pandya king whoever he
was had built Mandapams etc., at the temple and also
made other arrangements for worship at the instance of
the first Jeeyar.  The mandapam and other*structures
stand even today on the banks of the river Tamraparani
as also a shrine for Vedanta Desika constructed by this
saint.  The king so adored this Jeeyar that he made a true
image of this Adivan Satakopa Jeeyar and had it duly
installed in the Nammalwar shrine 'in Alwarthirunagari.
Pleased with the loving service of this Jeeyar,
Nammalwar gave him the name Adi (first), Van
(powerful) Satakopa (Nammalwar's own name) by which
the Jeeyar came to be called.  Henceforth the successive
Jeeyars have always the prefix "Van Satakopa".  Vedanta
Desika for his part gave this Jeeyar the suffix
Mahadesikan as also the various titles (i) Srimat
Vedamarga Pratishtapanacharya, (ii) Paramahamsa
Parivraajaka, (iii) Ubhaya Vedantacharya, (iv)
Sarvatantra Swatantra and (v) Bhagavat Ramanuja
Siddhanta Nirdharana Sarvabhouma.  It will be
significant to note that even today, whenever and
wherever the Jeeyars go, the air resounds with the cries
of these names chanted loudly by the followers of the
mutt.  Suffice it to say that Yateendra (best of saints)
applied very appropriately not only to this Jeeyar but to
every successive Jeeyars.  This term is not applied to any
other holy order of which there are many.

This Pandyan King's incident was heard by King
Mukundadeva Raya of Orissa who was wandering in
wildness, having lost his kingdom to the Muslims.
Keeping himself abreast of the times, the Jeeyar felt it
was expedient to come to the rescue of this exiled
monarch who had sought his help.  The Guruparampara
describes the miracle of the pride of lions (Remember
that Man-lion manifestation of God) invaded Orissa and
put to flight the philandering Muslims who in sheer
fright handed back the kingdom to Mukundadeva Raya
and fled never to return.  While the Jeeyar was admiring
the ways of his pet God Narasimha, the King fell at the
feet of this Jeeyar in great gratitude and accorded him all
honours befitting the occasion (vide-history of Ahobila
Mutt by S.N. Venkatesa lyer).  It is specially mentioned
by the 7th Jeeyar in his famous samskrit drama
'Vasantika Parinayam'.  Taking leave of the Orissa King,
the Jeeyar, Sree Adivan Satakopa Yateendra
Mahadesikan then proceeded towards Vijayanagar
Kingdom whose Rajah received him with full honours
and gave him grants and presents.  It was at this time that
one Manappakkam Thozhappar became the Jeeyar's
disciple getting Panchasamskara as also expert
knowledge in Sreebhashyam, Bhagawad Vishayam and
Rahasyatrayasaram at the Jeeyar's feet.  Marveling at the
wisdom and learning of this Thozhappar, the Jeeyar
asked him to write authoritative text on various Sastras
which Thozhappar did under eight different heads
earning the deserving title 'Vaidika Sarvabhouma'.  As
the head of the 74 Simhasanadhipathis, this Jeeyar
Adivan Satakopa then trekked his way to Thirukudantai
(Kumbakonam) to worship Lord Aravamudhan and then
proceeded further south to Nammalwar's place where he
constructed a Mutt with all conveniences for the benefit
of Srivaishnavas.  From here the Jeeyar went to
Thirunarayanapuram (Melkote) where after worshipping
Ramanuja, Selva Pillai and Yadugiri Nachiyar, he set up
a camp on the banks of the Kalyani Pushkarani where he
taught Sreebashyam and Rahasyatrayasaram to many
Srivaishnavas.. One day, people beheld the wonder of a
five-headed serpent spreading its hood and listening to
the exposition of the Jeeyar's lucid interpretation of
Ramanuja's philosophy.  The class was not perturbed and
at the end of the session, the serpent glided slowly and
disappeared.  That Ramanuja was the incarnation of
Adisesha impressed heavily on the audience who with
one voice agreed that Ramanuja Himself gave darsan
now in the guise of a serpent and gave his approval of
Jeeyar's interpretations!

T'he King of those parts sought the Jeeyar's benediction
to get rid of his ailment and lo! his cure came as soon as
he renovated the Rajagopuram of the
Thirunarayanapuram Ternple at the instance of the
Jeeyar, who also installed the Vigraha of Vedanta Desika
there.  In fulfillment of the desire in a vision of Lord
Venkatesvara, the Jeeyar then went to T'hirupathi and
camping there for sometime, he built a Mutt both at
Thirumala and Thirupathi, where idols of
Lakshmeenarasimha were consecrated by him.  He also
provided steps to climb the Thirumala Hills and
constructed several Mandapams on the way so that the
pilgrims could rest while negotiating the steep climb.
The jiyar then reached Kancheepuram where he built a I
00 pillared Mandapam in the Varadaraaja swami Temple
and even now, one can witness a Lakshmeenarasimha
image in one pillar opposite to which is the figure of the
Jeeyar in another pillar.  It is said that this mandapam
was, constructed from out of the wealth surrendered to
the Jeeyar by a scholar by name Udayabhanu Misra who
lost to the former in vedantic debate.  It seems this
debate lasted nearly a fortnight when Vedanta Desika
appeared to the Jeeyar in a vision and told him to deal
the matter by referring to his (Desika's) treatise
Sathadooshani, with the result Udhayabhanu accepted
defeat and became a disciple of the Jeeyar, who also
built a frontal Mandapam and temple for Deepa Prakasa
at Thooppul and also a mandapam and Sannidhi for
Vedanta Desika whose idol was also duly installed there.
After all this, the Jeeyar took the road towards Sholingar
visiting Thirupathi on the way again and then proceeded
to Sriperumbudur, the birthplace of Ramanuja.  From
there -he found his way straight to Srirangam where he
was received with full honours given to the prince
among ascetics.  Never was the reception so spontaneous
as was given here.  Staying in this holy city, he
renovated the saptaprakara walls as was done by
Thirumangai Azhwar earlier and Jataavarman
Sundarapandya a little later.  At the northern entrance of
the temple, he constructed his mutt wherein the idol of
Lakshmeenarasimha as also his own image were
installed.  Then on divine command, he built a frontal
mandapam at Dasavatharam Sannidhi (built by
Thirumangai Azhwar).  Again as per Ranganatha's
wishes, he built a Sannidhi for Vedanta Desika in front
of the Srirangam Nachiyar Sannidhi and made
arrangements for the daily worship there.  The northern
Gopuram was built at his instance where his image can
be seen even today.  He also constructed a mutt at the
eastern gate of the Uttara Street duly consecrating an
icon of Lakshmeenarasimha.  Having thus given fixity
and method to the activities, the Jeeyar was called upon
to go to Melkote for the worship of Thirunarayanan.

It is significant after that sixty years of divine service in
his Sanyasa asrama', and at an advanced age, the Jeeyar
should come back to his place of birth where he shed his
mortal frame so as to be in the constant company of
Sreeman Narayana in Sreevaikunta.  This happened in
April 1458 A.D. and his Brindavan in Melkote is a bacon
light to his followers even to this, day.  He was
succeeded by the eminent Nambakkam Swami - Srivan
Satakopa Sriman Narayana Yateendra Mahadesikan.