Visit to Sri Sridhara Ayyaval mutt at Thiruvisainallur
Anyone will be amazed to go through some of the documented spiritual incidents of our sacred places/souls that took place in front of many people just a few hundred years back and so also me. To name a few:
- Sir Thomas Munroe talking to Sri Raghavendhra from inside his Moola Brindhavan at Manthralaya
- Bhavani temple incident with the British collector named Garro
- Incidents connected with Sri Bodhendral
- Sri Sridhara Ayyaval bringing ganga river to the well at this house
First let’s read the incident of Sridhara Ayyaval bringing ganga river to a well at his house:
Once Sridhara Ayyaval was preparing to conduct a Srardham for his ancestor. The meal was cooked already and the brahmins were given oil for bath. Sridhar Ayyaval was also returning from Cauvery after his oil bath and saw a person “about to die” because of starvation on the way. In a dire situation, he brought that person to his house and offered the food that was prepared for the Srardham to the dying person. He thought it is a play of the Lord Himself to test him (Normally, on a Srardha day, even the kolams with rice flour will not be put since the pithrus may come in the form ants and eat the rice flour and go away thinking that’s all was prepared for them. Even the remains of vegetable waste will not be put away for the same reason till the Srardham is over).
He then did the cleaning process as per vedic rules, cooked the Srardha meals again and invited the Brahmins. The brahmins who were already very jealous of Sridhar Ayyaval refused to participate in his Srardham and excluded him from the caste (Jathi prashtam). Sridhara Ayyaval, then completed the Sradham by placing the Koorchams in place of the Brahmins (it’s a process allowed when we are not able to get the Brahmins) and completed the Srardham.
When the next year Srardham approached, Sridhara Ayyaval was unable to convince the Brahmins in spite of several requests. Then he asked for some remedy (‘prayachitham’) for his act and the Brahmins suggested to take a bath in Ganga to cleanse himself off from the sin. Since there were only a few days left for the Srardham and also his health didn’t permit, taking a dip at Ganga was an impossible task for him. So he suggested that he will bring the river Ganga to the well at his house itself. The Brahmins yelled at him and expected that he will just take a dip in the well water and say that he Ganga was present in the well. But Sridhara Ayyaval affirmed that he will bring the Ganga to the well to the acceptance and full view of everyone but no one believed. Then Ayyaval went to the well in his house and sang the hymns of “Gangashtakam”. There was no surprise when the Ganaga responded when the avathar of Gangatharan himself called her. The Ganga flowed out from the well as a pravaham to the agaraharam street and the whole village. Sridhara ayyaval told the Brahmins very calmly, “I have already taken the Ganga snan, why not you also? it will take time and money to go to Ganga but now is the chance to take it at your door steps, come on..”. The Brahmins, understanding their mistake and the generated pralayam, apologized to Sri Ayyaval and requested him to stop the Ganga from flowing out immediately. Knowing the pitiful state of the Brahmins, Ayyaval sang a hymn and requested the Ganga to stay in the well permanently for the benefit of the people. This incident took place on the New moon day of the Kartigai month.
Ever since I heard this incident, no wonder, I was longing to visit this place. So when I went for a marriage at Tanjore, I took the opportunity to visit the place, Thiruvisainallur village around 8 kms from Kumbakonam.
The mutt and the agraharam:
The main hall – viswanatha Mandapam:
There is a photo of four saints Sri Sridhara Ayyaval, Sri Bodhendral, Sri Marudhanallur Swamigal and Sri Brahmmendhral on top of the Viswanatha mandapam. All the great four lived in the same period and met each other.
Every year on the New moon day of Karthigai month around 10,000 people throng the madam and take a dip at the well. A grand annadhanam also takes place. A grand 10 day utsav is also being celebrated preceding that New moon day. It was fascinating to imagine for a moment how it will look like when the Ganga flows out from the well through the Agraharam and the whole village. Due to the presence of Ganga, the place is considered like Kasi; the mandapam is called Viswanatha mandapam; the dining hall is called Annapoorna hall etc.,
More on Sridhar Ayyaval:
Sridhar Ayyaval was born at Mysore and his father Sri.Lingaryar was working at the Mysore Samsthan. Due to his intense love to Lord Shiva, Sri Ayyaval did not accept the Diwan post offered by the Samasthan after his father’s death and wanted to undertake a yathra to different sacred spots. So he arrived at Trichy along with his wife and mother and lived there for some time. He was preaching both Saivism without the Vaishnava hatred and Vaishnavism without the Shaiva hatred to the people.
At that time a Vaishanava Naayakkar was ruling Trichy and some Brahmins informed about Sri Ayyaval wrongly to the Maharaja that Sri Ayyaval was preaching Saivism. The King wanted to test it out without hurting Sri Ayyaval. So he dressed up Rockfort Mathrubootheswar as Krishna and arranged for a street procession. Sri Ayyaval on seeing Krishna, was mesmerised and sang the “Krishnathvasa Manchari sthothram” in 12 slokas calling Sri Krishna many times. So Maharaja was very happy with Ayyaval’s vaishnava bakthi also and was happy that he didn’t test such a sacred person in a hurting manner.
On another incident, a Brahmin couple got a child after many years of prayers but it short lived due to the “mantham” disease but as per horoscope the child had a long life. On hearing the bad news, Ayyaval went and got back the life of the child after singing a stotham that contained a “Nakshathra sankyai” called “Tharavali”.
So Ayyaval was becoming more and more popular and the King thought that the presence of such a sacred soul in his kingdom is good for his state and people. He wanted to make his presence permanent and so went to his house and made the appeal. Ayyaval thought that he will be caught in ego by such requests from King himself and should not be locked to that place anymore. So he left Trichy that night itself.
Sri Ayyval travelled to many places like Tanjore, Kumbakonam, Thirubhuvanam, Thirunageswaram and finally reached Thiruvisainallur. At that time, the Tanjore king Shajai Rajan fully knowing about Sri Ayyaval, offered the post of “diwan” in his samsthan and it was accepted also. As Diwan, Sri Ayyaval was offering advices to the King. Once, the King sent his sevak to Sri Ayyaval’s place for some work. Sri Ayyaval was sitting outside and the sevak queried Sri Ayyaval “Is Diwan there?”. Sri Ayyaval wrote “Diwan has died” and sent the message. The King was shocked and came to Sridhra Ayyaval’s place and was happy to see him live. Sridhara Ayyaval explained the reason that he always considered the post of Bhagavathar more important than Diwan. The King accepted Sri Ayyaval’s desire and continued with more respect for Sri Ayyaval.
Sri Bhagawathnama Bodhendral was the 59th Peetathibathi of Kanchi Kamakoti mutt and was instrumental in the Nama Siddhantham in the Dakshina desam. He was on a yathra to Rameswaram and travelled to Palani, Srirangam, Kumbakonam and reached Thiruvidaimaruthur Mahalinga Swamy temple. He saw the Bhagawthnama Keerthana of the people there was very enchanting and was wondering how this place was very unique since he has not seen such a Bhagawthnama Keerthana anywhere else in the Dakshina desam. He then understood that it was due to the presence of Sri Ayyaval in that region and his regular namakeerthanas at the temple during the pradhoshams. He met Sri Ayyaval and they understood each other’s birth reasons. Sri Bodhendral, after returning to Kanchipuram didn’t want to get tied up at Kanchi and so installed his successor, handed over his responsibilities and came to Thirividaimarudhur by walk itself in order to join Sri Ayyaval.
Sri Ayyaval and Sri Bodhendral together then started their yathra. They travelled to village after village without staying permanently in any place. They will chant 1,08,000 nama jabams every day before afternoon and will conduct Nanakeerthanams and upanyasams in the evenings. After completing the yathra, they returned back to Thiruvidaimaruthur and Thiruvisainallur.
Once the Thiruvisainallur brahims conducted the Gokulakshtami utsav. Since more importance was given to glamour and publicity than bakthi, Sr Ayyaval didn’t participate in it in spite of the invitation. When the procession arrived his house, Sri Ayyaval gave his Archanai plate but the Brahmins didn’t accept saying that he is only a saivaite and not a real Krishna baktha. Sri Ayyaval said Krishna only knew whether he is a Krishna baktha or not and sang an enchanting hymn on Krishna and went inside. When the procession reached the next house, the Krishna picture in the framed photo in the procession was not there and only the empty wooden frame with the glass plate was remaining. The Brahmins then quivered and went to Sri Ayyaval’s house to find him doing the Dolothsavam with an alike picture in the swing. The hymns he sang during that time are called “Dolo Navarathna maliha”. The Brahmins then apologised, stayed at his house for the whole night doing namakeerthana and went back only the next day. They realised that Sri Ayyaval was a Saivaite outside with an inner Vaishnava devotion.
One day, Sri Ayyaval went to Madhyarjuneswarar temple at Thiruvidaimaridhur for the Ardhajama (midnight) dharshan along with many devotees as usual. He sang his last hymn with the meaning that in this dramatic world he had taken all possible acts and danced in front of the Lord. Now he is too tired and it’s time for the Lord to say “enough”. After completing this, he ran towards the sanctum sanctorum with the Gurukkal running behind him to stop him but Sri Ayyaval went inside the sanctum sanctorum and embraced Sri Madhyarjuneswar. The linga went jyothiswaroopa in front of everyone. Many danced with the chorus of “Hara Hara” in tears; many fainted.
What a beautiful history it is!
Also, pls read the following article on Sri Ramakrishna Bhagavathar of Sri Ayyaval Mutt:
Note: This year, the Karthigai New moon day comes on Thursday, the 13th Dec 2012 and I’ve already booked my resort at Swamimalai. If Ayyaval willing, I should be there.
Update Dec 2012: Yes, I’ve visited the Ayyaval mutt for the Gangavataranam 2012. Wow, what a celebration and joy! It was a floating crowd of people coming and going. The Poompuhar-Kallanai state highway passes in between Cauvery river and Ayyval mutt. People come in share autos, buses and cars, park their vehicles on the road side, go to cauvery, take bath, worship at the small Vinayagar temple on the bank, come to Ayyaval mutt with the wet dress, take the Gangasnan at the mutt well, change dress inside the mutt, take the Deepa Aradhanai at the main Ayyaval shrine and complete the celebration. All just take about less than an hour. One portion of the mutt hall is being converted for ladies’ dress change; coffee is served free for all; meals are also served free for all by 10:30 AM. Bhajans and Nama sankeerthanam takes place all through the previous night and the morning activities start by 5:30 AM.
What impressed me most was that it was a crowd of all castes. I was told that the majority of the visitors here are the regular visitors coming over for several generations together.
The complete set of Gangavataranam 2012 photos are here.
There are two main sacred Shiva temples within a km vicinity:
- Thiruvisainallur Shiva temple, a special temple for Rishba rasi where there are four Kala Bairavars together
- Sri Karkadeswarar temple at Thirunandhudevankudi, a special temple for Kataka rasi.
Though both the temples open by 7 AM, the main (inner) shrine is being opened only by 9 AM (on a normal day) after the archagar arrives.