Thursday, December 28, 2006

Philosophical Periazhwar!

After quite sometime, a writeup about the great Periazhwar in the month of Margazhi would be more appropriate as it is the season famous for all Vaishnavaites. Periazhwar, also called Vishnu Siddhar, Battarpiraan, Pattanaadan, Srivillipuththooraar, is one of the most revered Azhwars. Azhwar means one who goes deep especially in devotion. And this "Azhwar" adornment is given to the persons in deep devotion to Lord Vishnu. There are 12 such "Azhwars", who devoted their entire life just for the devotion to Lord Vishnu. The Azhwars have sung so many songs, called Paasurams, in praise of Lord Vishnu and those songs are collectively called "Naalayira Dhivya Prabandham" meaning "Four Thousand Divine Relations/Connections(through songs)". Nowadays, devotees who do Godly services in Vishnu Temples are also called Azhwars.

So what is the speciality of Periazhwar, that he is one of the most revered of Azhwars.

  • First, he has sung great songs in praise of Lord Vishnu
  • Second, he found Aandaal, Goddess Lakshmi incarnate, as a child in the garden and brought her up. Aandaal is the only female Azhwar.
  • Third, As a result of giving his daughter Aandaal in marriage to Lord Ranganathar at Srirangam, he became the father-in-law for Lord Vishnu, which no other Azhwar has attained.
  • He was the reason for the practice of submitting yearly accounts of Srirangam temple to Srivillipuththoor temple. This is as if Lord Vishnu showing the expenses to his wife Aandaal and the Srivillipuththoor temple. Even today, it is celebrated as a festival.

Now lets get into his songs. So whats, special about his songs? If you read the other Azhwars' songs, all of them would have sung the songs in praise of the Lord. But Periazhwar goes one step further and bless Lord Vishnu. Here goes his Pasurams.

"Pallaandu Pallaandu Pallaayirathaandu
Palakodi Nooraayiram
Mallaanda ThinnThol Manivanna Unn
Saevadi Sevvi Thirukkaapu"

meaning, Long live Lord Vishnu for many crores and hundreds of thousands of years. And the Lotus feet shine and be protected for the above mentioned years of the great person with mighty and powerful shoulders.

Pallaandu - Many years
Pallayiram - Many thousands
Aandu - Years
Palakodi - Many Crores
Nooraayiram - 100,000
Mallaanda - Wrestling
ThinnThol - Strong and might shoulders
Manivanna - another name of Lord Vishnu
Saevadi - Lotus Feet
Sevvi - Shine, being red in colour
Thiru - Divine
Kaapu - Protection

"Adiyodum Ninnodum Pirivindri
Aayiram Pallaandu
Vadivaai Ninnvala Maarbinil Vaazhkindra
Mangayum Pallaandu
Vadivaar Jodhi Valaththuraiyum
Sudaraazhiyum Pallaandu
Padaipore Pukku Muzhangum
Appaancha Channiyamum Pallaandae"

meaning, Let me stay at Your Lotus feet, with You and without separation for Thousands of years. Thousands of years to Goddess Lakshmi who resides in right side of your chest. Thousands of years to the Sudharshana Chakra (Sakkarathaazhwar) who resides on Your right shoulder. Thousands of years to the Panchachanniyam (Conch), that sounds when You go into battles.

The above songs are a proof of why Periazhwar is venerated so much. No other azhwar has attempted or even thought of blessing The Lord himself. By doing so he positions himself as a parent, which apparently he became after giving his daughter in marriage to the Lord. There are 12 such blessings Paasurams. These Paasurams are being sung as a hymn in all Vaishnavaite temples during the Vaigunda Yaegaadhasi, Bramhothsavam and other auspicious events.

Another masterpiece of Periazhwar are the Paasurams that is believed to cure any disease when sung regularly.

"Neikudathai Patri Yaerum Yerumbugal
Pol Nirandhu Yengum
Kaikondu Nirkindra Noigaal
Kaalam Pera Uyiaa Pomin
Meikondu Vandhu Pugundhu
Vedha Piraanaar Kidandhaar
Paikkonda Paambanai Yodum
Pandandru Pattinam Kaapae"

meaning, To all the diseases that crowd my body as the ants (as a colony) that climb and cover the ghee pot and be spread all over it. If you want to survive, get out of my body immediately. The Lord of the Vedhas has entered my body bringing with Him the Truth and is residing in my body. The Lord inhabiting my body with his snake bed, makes my body like a fortified city. So all diseases get out of my body.

This way, he warns, intimidates and even pleads the disease to leave the body. People believe and have even said that they got their diseases cured on chanting the Paasurams.

Periazhwar, as his name suggests, is a great man who has won the heart of the God himself, by his devotion and his Paasurams and of course bringing up a child who also became an Azhwar. That is simply a great achievement. His works will live Pallaandu till time and space exist.

More to come, until then...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Awe-Inspiring Darasuram

Darasuram - an exquisite place that takes you back in time to enjoy all the beauty and richness of art. I was fortunate that I went to the temple to be awe-inspired by the creative beauty and the hardwork that was put up by our ancestors. The Airawadheswarar (Lord Shiva) temple was built during the 11th Century by King Rajendra Cholan, son of King RajaRaja - The Great! Airawadham means the elephant that Lord Indra has. The temple is full of great sculptures that you lose yourself in the beauty and the delicate artwork. The sculptures are so fine and minute that you can even feel the hair in the tail of a bull that is in the size of the match box sculpted in one of the 108 pillars in the main mandapam (hall). The temple is built with that concept that it is on top of an open Lotus flower, and if it rains in that place, rain water stays and gives an appearance that the temple is floating on the lotus flower. Another interesting thing about this temple is that when the temple has been built in such a way that there always a flow of water in the moat at the entrance of the temple, so that anyone entering the temple would wash their feet and go in clean. However, there is no water nowadays in the moat. The temple is maintained by the Archaelogical Society of India (ASI) and is declared as a heritage site by the UNESCO. Enjoy some pictures of the great temple.

Gopuram at Darasuram - Entrance to the Great Temple

Gopuram - Another view

Gopuram - Another view

Nandhi in front of the Gopuram
Behind the Nandhi is a staircase (that is now covered and protected) and is made of rock that each step will sound each of the seven swaras in order.

The outer wall of the temple and its Gopuram- now in desolate ruins

The view of the temple main mandapam
Designed as a chariot being pulled by horses
This mandapam host 108 pillars in which different epics and legends are carved to their minute details. An exquisite and a awesome work by the sculptor.

The Vimanam (tower) of the temple. An awesome piece of work!

A pillar in the main mandapam, carved out a single stone!

The front view of one of the pillars. Five animals combined into one
(Elephant -Trunk, Goat - Horn, Horse - Ears, Lion - Boday, Tiger - Legs and Paws)

Another view of the Airawadheshwarar temple vimanam

Dheiva Nayaki Amman Temple
(Temple beside the Airawadeshwarar Temple)

Dheiva Nayaki Amman Temple - Another view
(Temple beside the Airawadeshwarar Temple)

Dheiva Nayaki Amman Temple - Front View
(Temple beside the Airawadeshwarar Temple)

A sculpture at Airawadeshwarar Temple, that is a gestalt of dancing ladies. Just look into the red box, you could see three dancers with one head. You have to cover the other two to see one lady in a dancing pose. The artist's imagination is simply out of this world

The images of the 63 Nayanmars carved out in a stretch

Airawadeshwarar Temple - View from North East

Airawadeshwarar Temple and its main mandapam- View from North East

Airawadeshwarar Temple and its main mandapam- Another View from North East (In the picture - Vijayendran and Pradeep)

It is not just the stones here that fascinate, but the hardwork and the masterminds that made this happen. And of course, the grace of God (Lord Shiva) to have a temple built for Him . We should be really proud of our ancestors and ourselves. More high resolution pictures here. The temple is just 3 kms from Kumbakonam, a place near Tiruchirapalli (Trichy).

More to come, until then...