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Desika Darsanam - 17. Sri Dehaleesa Sthuthi
Natteri P. Srihari (a) Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar, Chennai.

Desika DarsanamThe birth place of Divya Prabandham and a sky-scraping Lord raising the 'wrong' leg and flaunting His 'dexterity' (with the Chakra and the Sankha interchanged). The setting could not have been more inspiring to Swami Desika. The result is Sri Dehaleesa Sthuthi, a delectable hymn of 28 slokas on Lord Thrivikrama, also called Dehaleesa, of ThirukKovalur. 'Dehalee' refers to a vestibule or verandah (இடைகழி, now known as ரேழி) and 'Eesa' means god.

"கோவலூர் மன்னும் இடைகழி எம்மாயவனை"
                                          (பெரிய திருமடல் - 66)

Thirumangai Azhwar, in his Periya Thirumadal, describes Him as "the wonder Lord who appeared in a vestibule in Kovalur."

ThirukKovalur is referred to in the hymn as 'Gopa Pura' and the river Pennar on whose banks it is located is mentioned as 'Panna'. The town is situated on the railway line between the Katpadi and Villupuram junctions and the temple, 3 kilometres from the station.

It is essential to learn/recite this sthothra keeping a few anecdotes in mind. As opposed to the normal posture in which the Lord holds the Chakra in His right and the Conch in His left hand, the Emperuman here carries the Conch in His right and the Disc in His left, in deference to the wish of Sage Mrukandu. The legend goes like this: The sage observed a severe penance seeking direct vision of Lord Vishnu and a pleased Lord appeared before him and offered a boon. The sage responded by asking for the unique posture, which was granted. Not only that; Lord Thrivikrama here raises His right foot to measure the sky instead of the left.

ThirukKovalur is one of the five Krishnaaranya Kshethras, the others being ThirukKanna Puram, ThirukKanna Mangai, ThirukKannangudi and Aatrankarai (Kapisthalam). The Uthsavar here is known as Aayanaar or Kovalan/Gopalan.

Thus declares Kaliyan in his Periya Thirumozhi: "Here, at ThirukKovalur, stands the Lord who protected the cows in Gokulam by holding aloft Mount Govardhana against hailstorm and the one who tamed seven raging bulls,"

"குடையா வரையால் நிரைமுன் காத்த பெருமான் மருவாத
விடை தான் ஏழும் வென்றான் கோவல் நின்றான்" (பெரிய திருமொழி 6-10-5)

Swami Desika, in this sthothra, frequently refers to the famous incident involving the three 'Mudhal Azhwargal' and the origination of Divya Prabandham. According to the tradition, it was Poigai Azhwar who first went to ThirukKovalur to worship the Lord on what turned out to be a rainy night. So he took shelter in the verandah of a small house and thinking that he would worship the Lord on the morrow, he lay down there. After some time, Bhuthath-Azhwar, with the rain intensifying, reached the same place and since there was just enough space for two to sit, they both sat there. Then entered Pey Azhwar, fully drenched, and the three could barely stand there. Amidst thunder and lightning and under pitch-dark condition, they felt that they were being pressed hard against as someone else was (apparently) trying to squeeze himself in.

They understood through their insight that the 'imposing' fourth person was none other than the Lord Himself. Their joy knew no bounds and they burst into rapturous verses on His greatness.

First, Poigai Azhwar sang his Mudhal Thiruvantaadhi, with the Sun as the lamp and then Boothath-Azhwar recited his Irandaam Thiruvantaadhi, with knowledge as the lamp, in quest of a vision of the Lord. The darkness having been wiped out completely, Pey Azhwar had a wonderful vision of the Lord and His consort on His frame, launched into his Moonraam Thiruvantaadhi, starting with "ThirukKanden, Ponmeni Kanden".

The sthothra starts with the author invoking the Lord thus. "May that Supreme Ruler of Gopa Pura be my saviour; He, who scaled all the worlds and conquered them, He, who is the root cause of the entire universe, and He, who bestows on His devotees all their wishes."

The sthothra is replete with references to various anecdotes as also narrative nuances. Some of the highlights are enlisted below with the sloka number in parentheses:

From the signature part in the final sloka meant for phala sruti, it is evident that this is another sthothra named by Swami Desika himself. He avers that the hymn, considering the nature of its addressee, is totally devoid of falsehood and those who recite this will be blessed with all the desired fruits.

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Next in series: 18. Sri Sthuthi, on October 28, 2007.

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