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Acharya Vamsa Vruksham - 12 (January 15, 2010)

Lineage Tree of Preceptors
Anbil Ramaswamy, U.S.A.

16. Sri Vedantha Desika (Purattaasi-Thiruvonam) – Part - III

Events in the life of Swami Desika:

  • At Thiruvaheendra Puram: On the demise of Appullaar, Swami Desika proceeded to Thiruvaheendra Puram where he climbed the Oushaadri hillock, sat under an Aswatha tree and meditated on the Veda Maya Swaroopa Garuda, the divine bird vehicle of Lord Vishnu reciting the Garuda Manthra taught to him by his Guru. Garuda appeared before him and taught him the Hayagriva Manthra. As he recited it, Lord Hayagriva appeared before him, fed him with the nectar flowing from His mouth and presented an icon of Himself to Desika. Lord Hayagriva took His seat on the tip of the tongue of Swami as prayed by him. Like Rama to whom All Asthras and Susthras became slaves due to the Upadesam of Viswamithra, due to Hayagriva's grace, all Saasthras became slaves to do the bidding of Desika.

    Feeling grateful, Swami composed Hayagriva Sthothram, Garuda Panchaasath, Devanaayaka Panchaasath, Achyutha Sathakam, etc. in Sanskrit and MummanikKovai, Navamani Maalai, etc., in Tamil. There was no branch of knowledge. literary or scientific in which he was not proficient. Of the many deities he sang about, Devanatha of Thiruvaheendra Puram is the only one who has been praised in 3 languages viz. Sanskrit, Praakruth, and Tamil.

    Swami himself catalogues all his works on Devanatha in the 10th verse of Navamani Maalai.

    அந்தமில் சீர் அயிந்தைநகர் அமர்ந்த நாதன்
    அடியிணை மேல் அடியுரையால் ஐம்பதேத்தி
    சிந்தைகவர் பிராகிருதம் நூறு கூறி
    செழுந்தமிழ் மும்மணிக்கோவை செறியச் சேர்த்து
    பந்து கழல் அம்மானை ஊசல் ஏசல்
    பரவு நவமணிமாலை இவையும் சொன்னேன்
    முந்தை மறைமொழிய வழிமொழி நீயென்று
    முகுந்தன் அருள் தந்த பயன் பெற்றேன் நானே.

    But, unfortunately, of the seven Tamil Prabandhams, except MummanikKovai and Navamani Maalai the other five which are in the nature of love lore are lost for us.

  • At Kanchipuram: After returning to Kanchipuram, he performed the Athma Rakshaa Bhara Samarpanam and composed Nyasa Dasakam, Varadaraja Panchasath, etc. in Sanskrit and Adaikkalap-Pathu, Artha Panchakam, etc., in Tamil.

    During his stay in Kanchipuram, Swami took the opportunity to visit several shrines in and near Kanchi and composed lyrics of incomparable beauty on the Lords. They include Sanskrit hymns Saranagathi Deepika on Lord Deepa Prakasa; Kaamaasika Ashatakam on Lord Nrusimha whose temple is on the banks of the river Vegavathi; Ashtabhuja Ashtakam in praise of the eight-armed Lord in Ashtabhuja temple; Vegasethu Sthothra on Lord Yathothakaari; Paramaartha Sthuthi on Lord Vijayaraghava at TirupPut Kuzhi. He also composed Sri Vaishnava Dinasari, Panniru Naamam, Thiru-Chinna Maalai in Tamil; Sampradaaya Parisudhdhi in Manipravaala.

  • A son is born: In 1317, Lord Varadaraja blessed Swami with a son who became as illustrious with the name Varadarya. He followed the footsteps of his great father and shone like a lamp lit from another lamp.

  • At Thirumalai: Later, on way to a pilgrimage to the North, Swami Desika first went to Thirumalai where he composed the famous Daya Sathakam and the Lord conferred on him the honorific of ‘Vedantha Achaarya’ . Swami himself refers elsewhere that it was Lord Ranganatha who conferred the title on him. It must be understood that the Swami did not treat any deity with any partiality but considered as one and the same. He exclaimed “Vedaanta Desika Padhe Vinivesya Baalam” in Daya Sathakam, meaning “Oh ! How the Lord had elevated me a mere boy into a competent Acharya”.

  • Pilgrimage to the North: Swami went on a pilgrimage to several Kshetras like ThirukKadigai, Thiru Ayodhya, Kaasi, Mathura, Avanthi, Badarikaasramam, Puri, Brindavan, Dwaraka, Thriveni, Gaya , Salagramam, Purushothamam, Srikoormam, etc. (as can be seen from his description of these places in Act VI of Sankalpa Suryodhayam). Before returning to Kanchi, he also visited Thiruvallikkeni and Thiruvallur.

  • Back at Kanchi: The Archaa Murthi of Hayagriva which was originally worshipped by Goddess Saraswathi and handed over by her to Bhagavath Ramanuja was being subsequently worshipped by Pillaan and Pundarikaaksha. This Pundarikaaksha was the son-in-law of Appullaar, and was working as the Rajaguru of the Rayar Samasthaanam in the north. As ordered by the Lord, Pundarikaaksha handed over the Murthi to Swami Desika with royal honours.

  • Magician bewildered: This is reported to have happened while the Swami was in Kanchi. A magician confronted him. As the magician drank the water of a pond, Desika's belly bulged filled with water and caused unbearable pain. Desika just scratched a pillar nearby with his fingernail and all the water flowed out there from and Desika's belly regained the normal position. The magician begged to be excused and disappeared but not before Swami thanking him for helping in cleaning the streets of Kanchi without any effort on his part!

  • 'Vairaagya Panchakam' is born: Once, his boyhood friend, Vidyaaranya, a Court official of Vijayanagara kingdom wanted to help Desika financially and invited him to the court for the purpose. But Desika declined and sent him a letter containing his famous 'Vairaagya Panchakam' depicting his renunciation of and detachment from worldly wealth.

  • Impartial ruling: Swami was requested to preside over and moderate in a debate between the Advaita Vidwan Vidyaranyar and Dvaita Vidwan Akshobhya. After hearing the arguments of both he gave a ruling impartially that Akshobhyas views were in accordance with Pramanas and settled the dispute even though Vidyaranya was his boyhood friend.

  • Power of Garuda Manthra: In Kanchipuram, a snake charmer brought a few snakes and asked Desika if he could control them. Desika drew a line on the floor with a piece of chalk. The serpents could not cross the line. But, when a poisonous snake crossed and threateningly advanced towards him, he uttered the Garuda Manthra. Immediately, a Garuda bird appeared and picked up all the serpents and flew away. Deprived of his only means of livelihood, the snake charmer begged to be excused. Desika recited his ‘Garuda Dhandakam’ and the bird brought back the snakes.

  • It rains gold: Some jealous people, with the intention of embarrassing Swami, sent a bachelor to Swami for financial help for his wedding, knowing full well that Swami had no wherewithal. Swami Desika took him to the Sanctum Sanctorum of the divine mother and sang the famous ‘Sri Sthuthi’. Immediately, the sky opened up, as it were, and rained gold coins. Swami asked the bachelor to take them away. And, the mischief makers were aghast at this wonder.

  • Sri Ramanuja’s wish: As ordained by Udaiyavar, Swami composed 15 Vedantha Granthas like Bhagavath Dhyaana Sopaanam, Dasaavathaara Sthothram, Thathva Mukthaa Kalaapam, Sarvaartha Sidhdhi, Nyaaya Parisudhdhi, Nyaaya Sidhdhaanjanam, Seswara Mimaamsa, Thahva Teeka, etc.

  • Works on Prapaththi Saasthras: Periyavaachaan Pillai requested Swami to compose a shorter version explaining the essence of Prapaththi Saasthras. Accordingly, Swami composed Nyaasa Vimsathi, Nyaasa Thilakam and Nyaasa Dasakam.

  • At Sri Perumpudur: Once a band of Maayaa Vaadhis landed in Srirangam for a debate condemning Ramanuja Darsanam. Periyavaachaan Pillai, Pillai Lokaachaarya and others resorted to the Grand old Master Sudarsana Bhattar for advice. Sudarsana Bhattar said that it was only Swami Desika who could save the situation and caused a letter to be sent to Kanchi inviting Thooppul Pillai to face the opponents. Swami immediately set forth to Srirangam but on the way he halted at Sriperumpudur and prayed to Yathiraja and composed the famous Yathiraja Saptathi.

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Next in series: On February 15, 2010.

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The author is President, Swami Desika Darsana Satsangam (SDDS) and Editor,
Sri Ranga Sri (SRS) Electronic Journal, U.S.A.

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www.svdd.com - © Sri Vedantha Desikar Devasthanam, Mylapore, Chennai.