Day 1: Dawning of Margazhi…

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Srivilliputhur Sri Andal

Translation of Paasuram #1 by Dr. V.K.S.N. Raghavan:

” It is the good full Moon day of the month of Marghazhi. Oh well ornamented maidens ! Those desirous of taking the bath (in the YamunA ) please come. Oh the prosperous young girls of AaypAdi ( Gokulam) that is rich and grand ( in beauty and wealth) ! Lord NaarAyana will surely yield to us alone the drum (paRai). He is the son of King NandagOpa , of cruel deeds (towards the enemies), and holding a sharp spear in his hand always. He (KrishNa) is the young lion-cub of Queen YasOdhA with very charming eyes. He ( Lord NaarAyaNa) has a dark cloud-like divine complexion ,(lotus like) reddish eyes and (lustrous) face (shining) like the bright Sun and Moon. (This Lord NaarAyaNan alone is the Saviour). (Let us ) resort (to Him) performing the Paavai-Nonbhu and get the benefit of praise from the people of the world. {Oh dear friend , may You recite and learn this, knowing the purport of this hymn}.”

The essence according to H.H. Mukkur Azhagiyasingar (44th Jeeyar of Sri Ahobila Matam):

“Whatever act we perform, we should think of it as an auspicious act that is of service to others, that would gladden the heart of Bhagavan, and be noteworthy of celebration by the entire world.”

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Margazhi commences…

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Sri Andal Rangamannar serthi sevai, Srivilliputhur

So, the sacred month of Margazhi (Margasirsha in Sanskrit) begins tomorrow. This month, when the sun dwells in Sagittarius, is particularly revered in south India. People arise early in the morning, bathe, and worship Lord Vishnu, as this is believed to be especially beneficial for spiritual progress. In the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krsna says in verse 10.35 “masanam marga-sirsho ‘ham” “Of months I am Margasirsha.” Srila Prabhupada states in the purport to this verse that this month is a harvest season for south Indians, and naturally, when the harvest is gathered, it is a time for rejoicing in the earth’s bounty, and the Lord’s blessings (much as the Vrajavasis traditionally celebrated their harvests by worshipping Indra, and later Sri Govardhana hill)…

The real meaning of the bountiful harvest is the harvesting of the fruits of bhakti yoga, and the method for this is hidden in the verses of the Thiruppaavai – the 30 Tamil verses rendered by the Alvar Sri Andal. Sri Andal’s appearance has been covered previously in this blog. Being an incarnation of the Lord’s Bhu sakti, She is the very form of mercy to the living entities in this world. Having previously appeared as Bhumi devi in the Lord’s incarnation as Sri Varaha, Bhu devi secured promises for the easy salvation of the living entities. She then descended to show how Lord Krsna could be worshipped simply, making attainment of His lotus feet easy, especially considering the flaws of Kali yuga by offering the Lord poomaalai (flower garlands), and paamaalai (garlands of verses in His praise)… This is nama sankirtana, which is known to be most pleasing to Lord Krsna, and is the best of all religious practices..

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By following the paavai nombu (a vrata executed by the gopis to attain Lord Krsna as their husband, commonly called the Katyayani vrata in north India), Sri Andal sang these 30 flawless songs in praise of Lord Krsna, His consort, the path to Their attainment, and the ultimate goal of endless service to the Divine Couple, life after life…

Heart of hearts, I wish I could post the paasuram (verse) of the Thiruppaavai each day of this sacred month, but time may forbid me from doing. I’ll do my best, and hopefully, the mercy of Sri Andal, and Lord Krsna will rain upon us during this most wonderous month…

Sri Andal thiruvadigale caranam!

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Krsna is the lover of Radha…

[Thanks to Sumati dd for sending me this wonderful video.]

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Sri Thiruppanalwar appears…

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Sri Thiruppanalwar is one of the humblest alwars. Born in a low caste Panar family in Woraiyur (near Sri Rangam), Thiruppanalwar sat on the banks of the Kaveri river, and sang the praises of Lord Ranganatha with his veena. Since he was of low birth, Thiruppanalwar never crossed the Kaveria and stepped onto the hallowed ground of Sri Rangam, feeling that he was unworthy of such an honor.

His devotion for Lord Ranganatha was matchless, and the Lord sought to arrange a situation where his devotee could have His darshan. One day, the Lord’s priest went to the Kaveri to fetch water for the daily poojas. When the priest saw Thiruppanalwar seated in meditation on the river bank, he asked him to move out of the way (touching Thiruppanalwar would have ruined the ritual purity of the water meant for bathing the deity of Lord Ranganatha). Thiruppanalwar moved, realizing that his low birth was an inconvenience to the Lord’s priest. The Lord appeared in the priest’s dream and chastized him for his offense against Thiruppanalwar, and commanded the priest to bring Thiruppanalwar to Sri Rangam for His darshan.

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Sri Ranganatha & Sri Ranganayaki

The priest humbly approached Thiruppanalwar and stated the Lord’s request. Thiruppanalwar still felt unqualified to set foot in Sri Rangam. The priest decided that the only way he could be absolved of his offense, and satisfy the Lord was if he carried Thiruppanalwar on his shoulders. Doing so, the priest and Thiruppanalwar arrived at the sanctum sanctorum of the Sri Rangam temple. Face to face with the Lord of his life, Thiruppanalwar sang 10 verses now called “Amalanathapiraan.” This name comes from “Amalan Athi Piraan” translating to “Spotless One, Primordial Lord.” With the completion of these ten verse, Thiruppanalwar vanished, and is said to have attained the Lord’s lotus feet in Sri Vaikuntam.

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To this day, his ten verses (now part of the 4000 divya prabhandhas of the alwars) are sung for the Lord’s pleasure in all south Indian Vaishnava temples. Thiruppanalwar is shown in his deity form, with folded hands, carrying a veena as this is how he worshipped Lord Ranganatha…

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Sri Thirumangai Alwar appears…

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Sri Thirumangai Alwar

Today is the sacred appearance day of Sri Thirumangai Alwar. This alwar’s exploits are rather vast to enumerate in a tiny blog posting. They include his marrying a Vaishnavi and converting to the faith, serving the Vaishnavas, and even attempting to rob from the Lord Himself in order to feed the Vaishnavas!

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Sri Thirumangai Alwar with his wife, Sri Kumudhavalli

His appearance place is Thiruvali Thirunagari in Tamil Nadu. The following is a video of the abhisheka of the deity of Thirumangai Alwar. In the video, the alwar’s worshippable deity referred to as “sindhannaikkini” are placed in a tray with holes, and the water bathing these deities is used to bathe Thirumangai Alwar on this auspicious day…

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Sri Gita Jayanti

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Arjuna was faced with a terrible quandry – to defend himself and his brothers by fighting his own relatives. The thought of taking aim at his loved ones paralyzed Arjuna. With his hands trembling, his bow Gandiva slipped from his hands, and he sunk to the ground not knowing what else to do…

On this day, thousands of years ago, Lord Krsna spoke the Srimad Bhagavad Gita to His dear friend Arjuna. Lord Krsna had assumed the role of a charioteer to help Arjuna. The Lord not only guided Arjuna’s horses, but He gave Arjuna unfailing spiritual advice. The Gita dhyana states that all the upanishads took on the form of a cow. Lord Krsna, the cowherder milked the cow. The calf, Arjuna drank the milk, and the entire universe benefitted…

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Thirukurungudi Nambi with consorts

Today is also ekadashi, one that is celebrated in south India as Kaisika ekadashi. The story of Kaisika ekadasi is derived from the 48th chapter of the Varaha Purana. The main incindent is of Nambaduvan being confronted by a Brahma rakshasa. This Rakshasa used to be a Brahmin by the name of Soma-Sharma. He committed some grave mistakes during a yajna and was cursed to become a Brahma rakshasa.

On every Kaisika Dwadasi day, Nambaduvan, an ardent devotee of the Lord used to sing for the Lord at Thirukurungudi. One year while on the way to Thirukurungudi, Nambaduvan was confrontated by the Brahma Rakshasa. The dialogue between the two ensued and details how the Rakshasa allows for Nambaduvan to go to sing for the Lord, and then come back, for the Rakshasa. After coming back, Nabaduvan saves the Rakhasa from the curse.

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Sri Parasara Bhattar

After many thousands of years, on a Kaisika dwadasi day Sri Parasara Bhattar (about 900 yrs ago) chanted the Kaisiki Puranam before Lord Ranganatha with his vyakhyanam (explanations). Lord Ranganatha was immensely pleased and this chanting as rendered by Sri Parasara bhattar is the tradition in Srirangam. To this day the direct descendants of Sri Parasara Bhattar Swami
chant Kaisika Puranam on Kaisika dwadasi day to the Lord at Srirangam…

Note: Details about Kaisika ekadasi excerpted from: http://www.ibiblio.org/sripedia/ramanuja/archives/nov04/msg00122.html

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Sri Rangaji Mandir…

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Sri Rangaji Mandir, Sri Vrindavan Dham

Sri Rangaji Mandir is dedicated to Lord Sri Goda-Rangamannar. Goda or Andal as she is popularly known in South India was a famous 8th century Vaishnava saint who had composed “Tiruppuvai” which centers around her love for her beloved Lord Krishna and his leela bhoomi Vrindavan. She pines for him, fasts for him, sings songs in his praise and wants to attain him by marrying him. Lord Ranganatha who is none other than Krsna answers her prayers by becoming her bridegroom. In Sri Rangaji Mandir, Lord Krsna is present as the bridegroom with a walking stick in his hand as is the custom in a traditional south Indian marriage. To His right is Andal and to His left Garuda, the vahana of Lord Krsna (incidentally, the Lord gives this same darshan in Srivilliputhur, the town where Andal appeared). The sacred syllable “Om” composed of “a kara”, “u kara” and “ma kara” appears as Sri Rangamannar (a kara), Andal (u kara), and Garuda representing the jivas (ma kara). Darshan of the Lord in this manner is considered equivalent to having darshan of pranavam “Om” itself.

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Sri Goda- Rangamannar with Sri Garuda

Andal had expressed three wishes in “NachiyarTirumozhi”(143 verses composed by her in praise of Lord Krishna). Her first wish was to spend her life at the feet of Lord Krishna in Vrindavan. Her second wish that Lord Krishna accept her as his bride came true when she married Lord Krishna and the third wish that Lord Ranganatha (Lord Krishna) be offered “Ksheeranna”(dessert made of rice and milk) in a hundred pots was fulfilled by the eleventh century vaishnava saint Sri Ramanujacharya. Her first wish which had not been fulfilled by any of the previous Vaishnava acharyas was fulfilled by Sri Rangadeshik Swamiji by constructing this temple where Sri Goda-Rangamannar reside as divya dampathi (divine couple).

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Sri Ranganatha Sannidhi

SriRangaji temple is one of the largest temple in the whole of North India. Its one of the very few temples in India, where regular festivals are celebrated and all the traditions and rituals are performed according to the prescribed Vedic norms. In SriRangaji temple one would find a unique mixture of both south and north Indian traditions.

In addition to celebrating all the festivals which are part of South Indian SriVaishnava temple tradition, several festivals which are part of the North tradition are also celebrated here. For example its only at SriRangaji temple where devotees can enjoy the pleasure of playing holi with the Lord during Sri Brahmotsav.

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Sri Rangaji in uriyadi alangaram

This temple is constructed in the South Indian Dravidian style. The construction of this temple began in 1845 and was completed in 1851, at the cost of 45 lakhs (4.5 million) rupees. It was built by Seth Radha Krishna and Seth Govindadasa of Chennai (Madras). This is the biggest temple in Vrindavana. The outer wall is 231m (770 ft) by 132m (440 ft). This wall encloses a nice tank and garden. This temple has eight South Indian style gopurams. The main entrance to this temple is the western gate. There is a six-storey (31m or 105 feet) gopuram, which is completely covered by carvings. There is an 18m (60 ft) high flag staff (dhwaja stamba).

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Temple tank

Text and images excerpted from:

http://www.vegetarian-restaurants.net/Vrindavana/Vrindavan/Ranganath-Rangajji.htm

http://www.srirangjimandir.org/

http://picasaweb.google.com/chandras3d/KrishnaAnubhavaYatra#

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