Swamy Mudumbai Nambee Ananthacharya was one amongst the 74 Simhadipathees nominated by Jagathacharyar Swamy Ramanuja .
Swamy Ananthacharyar belonged to the illustrious family of the great srivaishnava stalwarts Swamy Pillai Lokacharyar and Vadakku Thiruvidhi pillai . .
During 1360 , Swamy Ananthacharyar was blessed with a son who was named as Hasthagiri Ananthar Anna being ardent devotees of Lord Varadaraja . ( Lord Varadaraja has been giving darshan to the devotees at this holy place called “Hastha giri”. ‘Hastham’ means elephant and “giri “ means hill) . The young boy was very attractive and devotional right from his childhood .The boy was admitted in to the school of Swamy Nayana varadacharyar , the direct descendent of Swamy Vedanta Desikar . He received the Vedic inputs from his Acharya and progressed in leaps and bounds by his sheer devotion .
During this period , a staunch Advaitin Narasimha Mishra had come to Kancheepuram . He decided to debate with the learned scholars in that area in proving the supremacy of Advaitam and thus convert the opponent and his followers into his fold .
As his mission was incomplete , he invited Swamy Nayana varadacharyar for a debate as was done during those days .The bet was announced that the one who looses will follow others faith along with his followers . Swamy Nayana varadacharyar was not keen to interact with the scholar and not able to decide how to ignore his request too . It was the last day .The young boy could see his Acharyar’s concern . He wanted to somehow make his Acharyar happy . He understood from his senior disciples what made his Acharyar sad . He never wanted the rich heritage of Vishishtadwaitam being taken for a ride by the vedantin .It was a high time to make the world believe the glorious sampradaya Jagathacharyar Swamy Ramanuja had given us . The young boy approached his Acharya and pleaded him to be allowed to take upon the vedantin . Swamy Nayanavaradacharyar was glad that the young boy was also thinking in the same lines .Confident of his victory , he blessed the child with Sri Hayagreeva Upadesa mantra and wished him the best .
The young lad Hasthagiri Anna with the blessings of his Acharyar walked into the debate hall which had revered scholars from different places . The locals also assembled to watch the Vedantins arguments. He looked at the learned scholars and the great vedantin Narasimha Mehta . He was amused with his looks and the arrogance in his speech . The vedantin chuckled at the boys entry for his age and size . He said this boy is of no match to me .Anyway as his guru has sent him on his behalf , let me bundle him up with simple questions !! he thought .
Hasthagiri Anna looked at the vedantin and said .. Hey Vedantin .. Are you going to wage a war against me ? Why does size or stature matter to you .For a person like you I am the best match .Let me not disturb my Gurudeva ..The debate is to convince you and all these so called scholars the illustrious sampradaya of Jagath Acharyar Swamy Ramanuja is supreme .If you have any doubts , questions ask me else accept the sampradaya which will give you moksha .
The Vedantin was surprised with the boys daring words . He decided to quiz him in shastras and then take him on about the sampradaya . The outpouring of Vedic knowledge , apt recitation with intricate meanings made vedantin shocked . The debate was almost looking like a repeat of Swamy Yamunacharya debate with the Vedantin few hundred years ago and Swamy Yamunacharya was glorified as Alavandar the King
Few onlookers rushed to their Acharyar to inform him about Hasthagiri Annas mastery in handling the vedantin with esoteric truths .The Old Acharyar walked along with his disciples to see the brave boy’s confidence . Hasthagiri Anna presented many verses in the Vedic texts to demonstrate the supreme position of Swamy Ramanuja’s Vishishitadwaitam . The debate ended with the vedantin accepting the supremacy of the sampradaya . All the scholars unitedly agreed with jubilations about the young boy defeating the arrogant vedantin in his own den.
Overjoyed the Acharyar hugged Hasthagiri Anna and said henceforth you will be called as Prathivadi bhayanakaram Anna . Meanwhile the Vedantin along with his followers rushed to Anna accepting defeat and pleaded to be taken in their fold . The Acharyar blessed both of the disciples and handed over the reins of the school for him to take over due to his old age .
Swamy Annan was carrying out the Theertha kainkaryam at Kancheepuram as done by our Jagath Acharyar Swamy Ramanuja . One day he took permission from Lord Vardaraja for having darshanam of Lord Sreenivasa at Tirumala after getting immersed in the Nammazhwar’s description of Tirumala and Lord Srinivasa in Thiruvamozhi .
Anna became associated with Swami Ananthanpillai descendants and was engaged in serving Lord Srinivasa by collecting and preparing the water required for His worship every day. One day, while returning from Akasha Ganga after having gathered the holy water to be taken to the Lord, a devotee from Srirangam came across his path. As divine will would have it, they entered into a conversation. The devotee from Srirangam narrated the glories of the revered saint Svami Mamunigal and his extraordinary service in Srirangam. Anna was deeply moved on hearing about Swamy’s devotion to Lordships and the zeal to carry out the mantle of Jagathacharyar Swamy Ramanuja’s philosophy all over . In the process of hearing the satsangath , he completely forgot about the holy water he was supposed to deliver to the Lord.
Having exhausted with their patience, the priests from the temple came out in search of Anna and hurriedly collected the pots of holy water from him and rushed back to the temple to complete the worship according to established protocol . Anna was confused and hence rushed to the temple to inform the priests that he had not yet prepared the water by mixing in it fragrant substances, as was the norms . But as it was too late the worship had already begun and nearing completion . Anna was cursing himself for overlooking the protocol that was followed . He was dejected for not compiling with the procedures thus committing an offence . Standing all alone inside the temple Anna was seeking forgivance .
Lord Srinivasa , all compassionate Lord , broke his silence .There was a divine voice coming from the deity form, addressing him , “Oh My dear Anna! The holy water you delivered today had the best fragrance and quality. I am pleased with your service!” Don’t be dejected !!!
This was a shock to Anna, who had not added any fragrance at all that day. On pondering , Anna realized that the water must have got fragnant by the mere mention of the account of Swami Manavala Mamunigal vaibhavam . Realizing the glory of the saint, Anna took permission from Lord Sreenivasa and left Tirumala heading towards south to srirangam to have Swami manavala maamuni’s darshanam .
On reaching Srirangam , Anna has darshan of the Lordships and goes straight to attend the discourse of Swamy Manavala mamuni which impresses him very much . He waits patiently for having Acharyar’s darshanam . Amongst all the disciples , Swamy Manavala Mamuni calls him and asks Oh! You are that srivaishnava called as Prathivadi Bhayankaran in a lighter vein .
Anna humbly offers obesiances and replies Swamy , that he is Prathivadi Bhayankaran to his opponents and a servant of servants to srivaishnavas . Swamy is pleased with his commitment in protecting our rich sampradaya and honours him with another title “SrIvaishnava dAsan”.
Later , Anna moves to Tirumala for serving Lord Srinivasa . Swamy Manavalamamuni joins him at Tirumala and taken by the glory of Lord Srinivasa, he ordains his disciple Prathivadi Bhayankaram Anna to compose hymns on Lord Srinivasa through which Lord’s glory is well understood and enjoyed by all walks of people. Anna taking his Acharyar’s command composes hymns on LORD that shed light on the greatness of the Lord of the Seven Hills.
Annan, pens the morning song suprabhatham slokas comprising of (29 verses , stotram 11 verses , prapatti 16 verses and mangalam 14 verses) The holy verses has four aspects Suprabhatam, which is the actual awaking of Lordships Sree and Vishnu, Stotram, which is essentially a glorifications and the last Prapatti through Sree and the beautiful Mangalam to Lordships which serves as a conclusion.
These four hymnal renditions of Anna are the hallmark of worship that are conducted in Srivaishnava parlance. The Vaishnava Agamas require the Lord to be worshipped and honoured at least as much as a king is. The Suprabhatam or wishing of an auspicious dawn is not only analogous to the service offered normally to the royalty but also an expression of Mangalasasanam. Mangalasasanam is the highest virtue recognized in Srivaishnavism. It is It is the exalted state of devotion where the devotee is not worried about his own welfare or the welfare of others, but only about the welfare of the Lord (which automatically ensures the well being of everyone and everything else). He serves the Lord, sings His benediction and longs for His auspiciousness always and the Prapatti is another core concept of Srivaishnavism that teaches the complete resignation to the saving grace of the Lord. The final goal of a Srivaishnava is to please the Lord with one’s services. One of the most important forms of service is the service of singing the Lord’s praise. He is sthavapriya: or one who is pleased with stotrams. The Venkatesa Stotram serves this purpose. Through the four works, Anna captures the entire essence of Srivaishnavism as he sings the glory of Lord Venkatesa. The pleased Lord listens to these hymns several times every day during the course of His worship in several temples
Swamy Manavala Mamuni then ordered his disciples , that every day except in the month of Margazhi, these four stotras must be recited at the time of opening of the temple sanctorum in the morning which is being religiously followed till date .
Thus we have an advanced Acharyar Swamy Prativadi Bhayankaram Annan of Tirupati Suprabhatam fame who was a disciple of both Swamy Vedantha Desika’s son and Swamy Manavaala Maamunigal, indicating that there was no remarkable differences in following between the two sects . His treatises establishing the unifying nature of all of our acharyas are a treasure for several generations .
Swamy Prativadi Bhayankaram Annan Thiruadigale sharanam
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Picture credits : Google images/antaryami.org
Video credits : Thallapaka Annamacharyulu garu / Keerthi / Baba and other devotees