Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sri Adhi Kesava Perumal Temple - Sriperumbudur

 Srimad Ramanuja

    




On the way to Kanchipuram one can see a huge arch with an inscription “Bhagavat Ramanujar Avatharitha Sriperumbudur” i.e. Birthplace of Srimad Ramanuja 

Sri Adhi Kesava Perumal Temple - Sriperumbudur

Sriperumbudur which is located on the Chennai – Bangalore Highway (NH 4) about 40 Kilometers South-West of Chennai. This is the birth place of Saint Ramanuja, great Philosopher of Vaishnavism. The town hosts Sri Adi Kesava Perumal Temple which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu in the standing posture here is known as Sri Adhikesava Perumal with his consorts Shreedevi and Bhoodevi bestows his abundant grace on his devotees. The divine mother [Thayar] is known as “Sri Yatirajanathavalli Thayar” meaning she is the consort of the master to Yathiraja i.e. Ramanuja. This is the only temple where Goddess Lakshmi has a name attributed to a devotee of the Lord. She is a varaprasadi who grants all wishes. The temple is in the south Indian style of temple architecture with feature of both Chola and Vijayanagara periods. It was constructed in the later Chola and Vijayanagara period. There is an inscription dated 1572 which mentions Srirangaraya I of the Vijayanagara period. Vijayanagara sources mention that in 1556 during the reign of Rama Raya a gift of 31 villages was made at the request of one Sadasiva to maintain this temple. The temple has a golden vimana with Sri Ramanuja’s image etched on it. This is the first golden vimana erected in the year 1912. To the right of the sanctum sanctorum is the Sannathi of Saint Ramanuja. Other deities like Rama, Andal, Udayavar, Desikan, and Alavandhar are enshrined in this temple complex.

Legends associated with the Temple

Legend has it that the builders of the temple tried to erect the pillars but owing to their excessive size and weight they failed and gave up the endeavor at nightfall. The next morning to their utter surprise they found the pillars duly installed. The people concluded that only giants or bhootas could have accomplished this. This is why the place came to be called Sri Perum Budur (great town of giants).
Another legend is that one day Lord Shiva started dancing in Kailash as if he was obsessed. Lord Shiva’s attendants known as Bhuta Ganas who were residing at Kailash seeing this strange behavior of their Master were amused and started laughing. Enraged, Shiva cursed them to be born on Earth. To get rid of the Shiva’s curse Bootha Ganas did penance here and Lord Shiva forgave them. He asked the divine architect Anantha to build a pond and when Bootha Ganas bathed in it, they could wash away their sins. This pond is called ‘Anantha Saras’ and in accordance with the wishes of the Devas, the Lord built a city called ‘Bootha Puri’, now called Sriperumbudur.

According to another legend, King Ambarisha was on a hunting expedition, when he spotted a tiger attacking a cow. In order to save the cow, he killed the tiger, but the cow also died in the process. He was grief-stricken and then a heavenly voice, asked him to go to Sriperumbudur, bathe in ‘Anantha Saras’ and then pray to Lord Narayana who would forgive his sins. The King dutifully obeyed the instructions. Then Lord appeared before him and told him that Adi Sesha would be born in his lineage and so asked him to build a temple. True to the Lord's words, after many years, Adi Sesha was born to a devout Brahmin Vaishnavite couple, Asuri and Kesavacharya, in Sriperumbudur and was named Ramanuja.

Than Ukantha Thirumeni

Sriperumbudur is the birth place of Saint Ramanuja the great philosopher of Vaishnavism. It was the presence of Mahavishnu as Adhikesava Perumal here made Asuri Kesavacharya father of Ramanuja settle here. Ramanuja was born in the year 1017 AD on the 12th day of the month of Chithirai under the star Thiruvadirai. There are three main Ramanuja Idols which are referred and located as given below.
Thamar Ugantha Thirumeni (Image dear to devotees) at Melkotte/Thirunarayana Puram

Than Ugantha Thirumeni (Image sanctified by Ramanuja himself) at Sriperumbudur
Than Ana Thirumeni (Original boday of Saint Ramanuja still preserved) at Srirangam
The Ramanuja Vigraha was made when the Acharya was living and it is said Ramanuja hugged it and passed on all his powers to this Vigraha which is known as “Than Ugantha Thirumeni” i.e. the body touched by him. It is said when the Stapathi opened the eye of the vigraha with the chisel, blood came out of the eyes of the teacher, who was then residing far away at Srirangam. When asked why, the preceptor explained that it was because the idol was "himself". After the vigraha was sanctified, Ramanuja became weak and shuffled off his mortal coil in a fortnight. This is interpreted as his prana coming to abide in the vigraha at Sriperumbudur. The idol here is believed to be very powerful and worshipping it will confer all benefits, including Moksha. There is a strong belief and fact of course, that if we drink Thirumanjana (Abiseka) milk of Sri Ramanujacharya , all sickness will be cured. In fact, in Sriperumbudur, Ramanuja is addressed as "Swamy'. On the festival day, the idol is bejewelled, dressed in glittering robes and carrying a sword, indicating Ramanuja's status as the king of saints i.e. Yathi Raja.

Vishishtadvaita Philosophy profounded by Saint Ramanuja

The Vishistadvaita Philosophy is a sub-school of the Vedanta school of Hindu Philosophy. The other school of thoughts being Advaita and Dwaita. Vishistadvaita philosophy was propogated by Saint Ramanuja. Vishistadvaita i.e. Vishita + Advaita literally means Qualified Advaita Philosophy.

In Advaita philosophy the Soul (i.e. Atma) is identified with Brahman.
Dwaita stresses a strict distinction between the God and the individual souls. (Jiva).
In Vishitadvaita – Brahman alone exists but is characterized by multiplicity.
Bhakti Yoga is the sole means of liberation in Visishtadvaita. Through Bhakti (devotion), a Jiva ascends to the realm of the Lord, where it continues to delight in His service. Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga are natural outcomes of Bhakti, total surrender, as the devotee acquires the knowledge that the Lord is the inner self. A devotee realizes his own state as dependent on, and supported by, and being led by the Lord, who is the Master. One is to lead a life as an instrument of the Lord, offering all his thought, word, and deed to the feet of the Lord. One is to see the Lord in everything and everything in Him. This is the unity in diversity achieved through devotion.
Sri Vaishnavism

Ramanujacharya puts forth the view that both the Supreme Goddess Lakshmi and Supreme God Narayana together constitute Brahman - the Absolute. Sri Lakshmi is the female personification of Brahman and Narayana is the male personification of Brahman, but they are both inseparable, co-eternal, co-absolute and are always substantially one. Thus, in reference to these dual aspects of Brahman, the Supreme is referred to in the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya as Sriman Narayana.
Please visit the temple and get the blessings of Adikesava Perumal, Yathirajanathavalli and Ramanuja!

Bibliography/Reference

Temples of South India – Smt Ambujam Anantharaman Power of Guru – from the glorious life of Sri Ramanuja Acharya – Dr. G.R. Vijayakumar Ramanuja Vaibhavam - Sri Ananthapadmanabhaachariyar Sriperumbudur – Wikipedia Advaita/Dvaita/Vishitadvaita Philosophies - Wikipedia

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