வெள்ளி, 3 மார்ச், 2017

Udayavar’s pan-India influence


He systemised the worship, rituals and administration in various Vaishnavite shrines.

After winning an epic battle with Mandana Mishra, Adi Sankara set out to establish the Sarada Peetam. He had already visited Gokarna, Srisaila, Tirupathi, Srirangam, Puri, Dwaraka, etc. He established the four maths - Badrinath, Ramnath, Dwarakanath and Jagannath - constituting the char dham. Even today, Badrinath has a Namboodri Brahmin as the High Priest as ordained by Adi Sankara. He had composed slokas in praise of Siva, Vishnu, Ambal, Ganesha and Subramanya. He believed in the Vedic maxim:
Aakasath Pathitham Thoyam, Yatha Gacchati Sagaram
Sarva Deva Namaskaram, Keshavam Prathi Gaachati
(Just as all the rivers ultimately lead to the sea, all paths of devotion lead only to the ultimate reality).

For Ramanuja the Agama tradition meant everything. He chose to follow both the Vaikanasa and Pancharathra agamas. The Brahman has a divine form while being formless. The Brahman has five different manifestations – Para - the transcendent, (Parama Padam), yuha - Emanating (Ksheerabdhi), Vibhava - the incarnations (like Rama and Krishna), Antaryami - the immanent and Archavatara, the form of the consecrated image, which is said to be present to offer help in all situations.

Boothaka Jalam Polae Antaryamithvam ( like the water under the ground)

Abarana jalam polae parathvam ( like the water in the space beyond)

Paarkadal polae vyuham (Ksheerabdhi is like the ocean)

Perukku polae vibhavangal (like rivers in spate).

They will be of no use for a man in thirst.

Thengina Madukkal Polae Archavatara (like the water stored in lakes and tanks).

Ramanuja drew much influence from the Azhwars, who had sung the praise of 106 holy Kshetras, leaving out Ksheerabdhi and Paramapadam. With Srirangam as the prime centre, he organised and systemised the worship and administration there. ‘Veda Vinnappam Seivaar’ were to play the veena at dawn in the Azhagiya Manavala Mandapam. The Naalayiram of the Azhwars would be enacted with gestures during the Thirumozhi and Thiruvaimozhi festivals.

Garudavahana Panditha will lead with Rig Vedas; Periya Nambi with Yajur and Sama veda; Thiruppani Seivar - the Atharva veda; Koorathazhwan, Amudhanar, Embar and Achan will lead the itihasa puranas and other Vedic texts. All of them will be honoured like the Araiyar with theertham and prasadam . Temple servants were appointed to take care of the granary. The potters, the carpenters and the Emberumaan adiyaar, otherwise known as brides of gods or dancers, were all attached to the temple. The temple became a social hub. It was Ramanuja who reorganised the Adyayana Utsava by installing the image of Nammazhwar in Srirangam instead of bringing it all the way from Alwar Thirunagari. In the same way he organised the mode of worship in Tirupati. The idol of Lord Govindaraja was installed by him and the town was named by him as Tirupati. The Institution of Jeers in Tirumala Hills was his brainchild, to ensure worship as per Srivaishnavite traditions.

Ramanuja had undertaken pilgrimage from the deep South to the North. Parasara Bhattar epitomises Ramanuja’s Bharath Yatra as under:
Srirangam Karisailam Anjana Girim,
Dakshatri Simhachalau Sri Kurmam Purushottamancha,
Badari Narayanam Naimisam
Srimath Dwaravati Prayaga Madura Ayodhya Gaya Pushkaram
Salagramagirim Nishevya Ramathe Ramanujeyam Munih
His influence was spread all over India. Eastern India has a place known as Ramanuja Kunj. The Acharya did attempt many times to convert temples away from south India into the Pancharatra style of worship. At Puri Jagannath, he found the priests woefully inadequate in knowledge of the Vedas. The priest was chanting ‘mara prabhu’ for the word ‘amara prabhu’ mentioned in the Sahasranama: Aprameyo Rishikesho, Padmnanabho Amara Prabhu. Ramanuja was aghast. He ordered the temple to be shifted to the Pancharatra Agama tradition. Lord Jagannath will have none of it. He preferred the muda bhakthi of the priest to the wisdom of Ramanuja. That night in sleep, Ramanuja was transported from Puri to Srikurmam. Ramanuja woke up in shock and realised that the Lord did not like his approach. He organised the Srikurmam temple with worship for Sri Kurmavatara.

Ramanuja attempted a similar venture in Trivandrum. The Pothys and Nambudris at the Ananthapadmanabhaswamy temple will not bow to the dictates of Ramanuja. Again, in the night Ramanuja is transported to Thirukurungudi, Thiruvattapaarai on the bank of the river, with Vaduganambi to do service. He goes to the temple to worship Nambi when the Lord asks him, “In several avatars, I tried to teach the World and nobody responded to my teachings, but when you teach, people listen. What is the secret?” (Thiruvaimozhi 3-10-1). Ramanuja answers Him: “Put the question in the proper form and address.”

The Lord gets down from his peetam and bows in front of Ramanuja and makes the devotee sit on the special Ratnakamblam (silk carpet). Ramanuja gives him the Dwaya Mantra and names him Srivaishnava Nambi and prays ‘Abacharan Imaan Sarvan Kshamasva Purushottama.’

While all the 108 Divya Desams are held sacred, Ramanuja ordained that Vaishnavites should think of the four prime Divya Desams in their everyday prayers:
Sriranga Mangalanidhim Karuna Nivasam
Sri Venkatadri Sigaralaya Kalamegam
Sri Hasthisaila Sigarojhvala Parijatham
Srisam Namami Sirasa Yathusaila deepam
(Obeisance to Srirangam, Tirumala, Kanchi and Thirunarayanapuram.)
The temple tradition as organised by Ramanuja got engrained in the Vaishnava style of worship. Vidyaranya of Vijayanagar sent a palanquin with gold and silver coins to Vedanta Desika in Thoopul in Kanchi, requesting him to come to Vijayanagar as asthana vidwan. Vedanta Desika declines and writes back: “I have no ancestral wealth to boast of. The only ancestral wealth I have is Lord Varadaraja of Hasthigiri. I refuse to budge from Kanchi for any type of honour.”
Na Me Pitraarjitam Kinchit Na Mayaa Kinchidaarjitam |
Asti Me Hastishailaagre Vastu Paitaamaham Dhanam ||


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