Tuesday March 19, 2019
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A tale of Faith and Sacrifice: Devotee Srivaishnava Acharyas of Srirangam Temple in Tamil Nadu

Iyppasi sravana is celebrated during the month of October and November as a mark of respect for Acharyar Pillailokacharya’s sacrifice

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Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in srirangam. Image source: www.destinationinfinity.org
  • The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple which is also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati in the south is the abode of  Lord Ranganatha,  the reclining form of Lord Vishnu
  • The historical accounts from the 14th to 17th centuries tell one particular tale about the sacrifice and unwavering devotion of the Sri Vaishnavas
  • About 800 years ago, when the temple was under attack, Swami Pillai Lokacharya led a team to protect the deity and carry the Lord to a safe destination

The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple which is also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati in the south of India, is the abode of  Lord Ranganatha, the reclining form of Lord Vishnu. The Tamil month which occurs during March and April (Panguni) is considered sacred, as it is the time when Lord Ranganatha and Goddess Sri Ranganayaki Thayar appears. “Adi Brahmotsavam”, the major festival which lasts for 10 days of this month and culminates on the day of Panguni Uthiram.

The temple town which is situated on the ethereal island of Srirangam in Trichy, Tamil Nadu has many tales to tell. The historical accounts from the 14th to 17th centuries tell one particular tale about the sacrifice and unwavering devotion of the Sri Vaishnavas.

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About 800 years ago, at the banks of the river Kollidam, a huge gathering of devotees lined up to seek the blessings of their lord, Lord Ranganatha. The stage was set; the atmosphere was brimming with devotion; Vedic chants and prayers echoed all the way into everyone’s hearts. Among the most revered Acharyas, priests and devotees was Jagath Acharyar Swami Pillai Lokacharya.

As the worship and proceedings were being carried out, a man came to the old  Acharyar. He informed him that a large battalion of men with weapons was marching towards their land. The great Acharyar, after hearing this walked majestically towards the deity and prostrated before the lord. He asked the man to continue watching the movement of the invaders and assured him that the lord would take care of them.

Jaganmohana Ranganatha at Shivanasamudra Image Source : Wikipedia Commons
Jaganmohana Ranganatha at Shivanasamudra Image Source : Wikipedia Commons

Swamy Pillai Lokacharyar, Swamy Desikar, Swamy Sudarshana Suri and other Acharyas had a meeting and formulated  a plan to safeguard the Lord and his people from the invaders led by  Ulugh Khan, the army commander sent by Tuglak. They decided to secretly carry the Lordships to the temple without the regular Abhisheka. Their aim was to not confront the enemy but to ensure that their moola virat was not desecrated. Three groups were formed. The one headed by Swamy Pillai Lokachariya was to carry Lord Ranganatha and his concerts securely and proceed southward.  Swamy Sudarshana Suri and team was to erect a stone wall in front of the main sanctorum to  misguide the invaders and the third team was to provide cover for the first team.

To also protect their rich culture and holy knowledge from being oblivious to the next generation, they decided to pass on their manuscripts and texts to Swami Desika who was the youngest among the Acharyas. He was to go with the third party and save himself to protect and preserve Vaishnavism and the teachings of Jagatha Acharya Shri Ramanuja. Also, a work called  Shrutaprakashika, which  was made out of generations of learning’s from Acharyas  and an elaborate commentary on Jagatha Acharyar Swamy Ramanuja’s Sri Bhasyam was also entrusted to him.

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The plight of Srirangam after the invaders marched inside was devastating. The invaders left the place after shedding the blood of 12,000 Sri Vaishnavas. By then, the old Acharyar dutifully carried the Lord’s deity for days until he reached a village called Jyothishkudi.

Surrounded by the Annamalai mountains and covered with dense forests, the place seemed right to rest. The Acharyar realised that it was time for him to leave the mortal world.  Such was his greatness that before he departed, the Acharyar touched all of the ants beside him, for the reason that they also could reach Vaikuntam along with him . (It is believed that any living being touched by the hands of a Sri Vaishnava is assured salvation.)

Swamy Pillai Lokacharya's magnum opus “Sri Vachana Bhushanam” is an ornament of divine outpourings from our revered Poorvavacharyas. Image Source: kmkvaradhan.files.wordpress.com
Swamy Pillai Lokacharya’s magnum opus “Sri Vachana Bhushanam” is an ornament of divine outpourings from our revered Poorvavacharyas. Image Source: kmkvaradhan.files.wordpress.com

The disciples performed his last rites and continued their journey along with Lord Ranganatha towards the south.  It took 48 years for the deity to be restored in the temple. By the time, Kambanna of Vijayanagara Kingdom restored the Lord to the Srirangam temple, the idol had criss-crossed the south, passing through Madurai, Ettayapuram, Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Melkote, Mysore, Satyamangalam forests and Tirumala, in  a place now known as Ranga Mantapam.

Iyppasi sravana is celebrated during the month of October and November as a mark of respect for Acharyar Pillailokacharya’s sacrifice.

– by Ajay Krishna of NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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  • Falcon

    12000 Sri Vaishnavas, I think the eternal HELL is referred and applicable to these moronic moslem uneducated invaders

Next Story

Westerners Adopt Indian Practices, Deny Giving Due Credits

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument.

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Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to protect our own heritage and Dharma. Hindu Council Of Australia

By Shashi Holla (WA) and Surinder Jain

Colonial or a white supremacy mind set may be clever enough to adopt Hindu practices but denies giving credit where it is due. Stealing Hindu Intellectual Property, they do not hesitate to rename and repackage so that they can sell it back to India for immense profits. Off course, they will leave no chance to tell Indians to stop their superstitious ways and to adopt the new scientific knowledge which “they” have “invented”.

Following has been already digested or appropriated by West. Some of the Western academics don’t believe that they belong to India.

Yoga Nidra   AS  Lucid Dreaming

Nadi Shodhana AS Alternate Nostrils Breathing

Vipassana  AS Mindfulness.

The latest addition to this list is

Pranamyam AS Cardiac Coherence Breathing

Several researchers have reported that pranayama techniques are beneficial in treating a range of stress-related disorders.[29] But the latest attempt has taken the appropriation too far. An American magazine “Scientific American” in its article titled “Proper Breathing Brings Better health” termed “Pranayama” as cardiac coherence breathing. (15 January 2019). The article gives us an idea about how West is so sophisticated in stealing knowledge from ancient cultures particularly Hinduism.

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Man doing Yoga. Wikimedia Commons

Prāṇāyāma is mentioned in verse 4.29 of the Bhagavad Gītā.[11] According to Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is, prāṇāyāma is translated to “trance induced by stopping all breathing”, also being made from the two separate Sanskrit words, prāṇa and āyām.[12] Pranayama is the fourth “limb” of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga mentioned in verse 2.29 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[14][15] Patanjali, a Hindu Rishi, discusses his specific approach to pranayama in verses 2.49 through 2.51, and devotes verses 2.52 and 2.53 to explaining the benefits of the practice.[16] Many yoga teachers advise that pranayama should be part of an overall practice that includes the other limbs of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga teachings, especially Yama, Niyama, and Asana.[18]

“Pranayama” a department of Yogic science practiced and documented 5000 years back ( even 15,000 years back) by Rishis is not even acknowledged by the author of the article. If one read the article they vaguely suggest that breathing exercises also existed in China, Hindu and in Greek culture.  This is how appropriation of ancient techniques takes place by West.  As Sankrat Sanu an entrepreneur, researcher and writer put it in his tweet “after erasing the origin they claim it as their own invention, attack original traditions as Superstition”.

As famous Indian American Author Rajiv Malhotra summarizes: “The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”. Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to  protect our own heritage and Dharma.

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The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”.  Pixabay

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument. West has created an eco system and mechanism in which their knowledge system is Well protected and patented by international norms. Unless West does not give a new name and fits into their framework native wisdom is not recognized in academia and media. Whereas Hindus were generous in sharing their health techniques freely from millennium never thought they will struggle in proving things which belong to them. In fact in a westernized framework of Yoga and other techniques Indian scholars, insiders and practitioners are blatantly ignored. So our own knowledge will be repackaged and exported back to us at an extra price and conditions.

Also Read: Climate Change Will Melt Vast Parts of Himalayas: Study

Many of our practices are being called to be Biofeedback systems. According to WikipediaBiofeedback systems have been known in India and some other countries for millennia. Ancient Hindu practices like yoga and Pranayama (breathing techniques) are essentially biofeedback methods. Many yogis and sadhus have been known to exercise control over their physiological processes. In addition to recent research on Yoga, Paul Brunton, the British writer who travelled extensively in India, has written about many cases he has witnessed. (Hindu Council Of Australia)