The month of ( March – April ) in tamil (Panguni ) is sacred as it is the appearance month of – Lord Ranganatha on Revathi star and Goddess Sri Ranganayaki Thayar on Uthiram star both occur during the same month. The most important and the oldest festival called as “Adi Brahmotsavam” is performed during this month for 10 days and culminates on the day of Panguni Uthiram . About 800 years ago an unusual incident occurred which has remained as one of the most cherished brave effort by our Acharyas for protecting and leaving us the legacy of our great srivaishnava sampradaya and our Lordships.
Almost 800 years ago , the festive mood was vibrating with splendor. At the banks of Kollidam river preparations were being made for Lord’s arrival with pomp and show . The stage was decorated with wonderful flowers and the best decorative lamps . A huge golden throne decked with diamonds and costly jewels, attracted the venue. The devotees were discussing.. Who else except Lord of the Lords is going to preside now. Devotees from far off arrived in large numbers to attend the great festival .It was a darshanam not to be missed .
It was customary for the Lord to alight and have Abhishekam done amongst the huge gathering of devotees . The entire stage was decorated. Milk , Curd , Honey, Coconut water , Rose water , sandal oil , various types of perfumes , flowers , holy basil leaves garlands was set in order for the Lords ceremonial bath .The feast for the eyes was about to begin …
Finally the time arrived …amongst the mangala Nadaswaram and the priests chanting Azhwars prabhandams Lord of Lords arrived in majestic style . The great Acharya Swamy Desikan , Swamy Sudarshana suri along with several disciples accompanied the Lordships and were guiding the priests in conducting the rituals . Mangala haarathee was offered amongst the huge crowd .All the devotees in one voice chanted loudly clasping their hands on their heads …..
G O V I N D A ….. G O V I N D A G O V I N D A ….G O V I N D A……RANGA
Among the most revered Acharyas , Priests and devotees , a distinguished very old devotee aging around 85 years or more ,was contemplating on the various divine pastimes of the great devotees who had served Lord in all aspects , even sacrificing their lives for the Lordships . Silently glorifying the great Jatayu who served Lord Rama , and Lord Rama performing funeral rites for Jatayu , Lord Krishna preferring to dine with Sri Vidura even though he had the option of dining with exalted elders such as Drona or Bheeshma. the episode of ThiruppAN azhvar, LOkasAranga Munithe the great kulasekhara azhwar attachment to Lord , Sri Periya Nambi and his attachment to Sri MaranEri Nambi, Swami Ramanuja and his deep devotion to Sri Thirukachchi Nambi he was silently cherishing … His thoughts were with pure devotion overflowing ….What have I done for the Lord ??? for his mercy in being among this august gathering . His face exuded serenity and was in total peace. Caught up in these devotional thoughts and having darshanam of Lord Ranganatha he was lost in a different world full of bliss .He had slowly forgotten the world around him. That great personality was none other than our Jagath Acharyar Swami Pillai Lokacharya .
The proceedings were being conducted smoothly .All of a sudden among the august gathering a person rushed to the old Acharyar . He was sweating . He took courage and said … Acharya , I was washing clothes on the banks of Cauvery river when my donkeys ran away suddenly hearing some unusual noise . I attempted to find what was the reason . Slowly I climbed a small hillock to see what was that frightening my donkeys . Much to my surprise I noticed a large battalion of men on horses with ammunition marching towards our direction .With their attire I guess they should be the moslem invaders . I am told by my relatives that many temples around us were being looted and desecrated by these invaders. Acharya , I am scared .. What would happen to our temple and our Lord Ranganatha . I am afraid for our families .Please do something .. Swamy Lokacharya was taken aback . He closed his eyes and said ..Don’t worry ..Our Lord will take care .. He got up majestically and walked towards the deities . Prostrating to Lord seeking his grace He looked at that man and said … Just go and continue with your routine work . But ! Just keep watching the invaders movements and inform as soon as possible
Swamy Desikar , Swamy Sudarshana suri and other Acharyas assembled and met Swamy Pillai Lokacharyar and concluded it was Ulugh Khan the army commander sent by Tuglak . They had to take a quick decision . All of them informed the priests for staying beside the deities at all cost , and gave some important tasks to be completed without any delay . They briefed them about the unexpected calamity that may take place any time and hence instructed the priests to secretly carry the Lordships to the temple without the regular Abhisheka . The devotees who had assembled were slowly coming to know about the sudden change in the programme as the news spread like fire . All the assembled devotees silently marched back to their respective homes cursing the enemies who created this unholy trouble. The Lordships were silently taken back inside the temple . Swamy Lokacharyar called the Chieftain and the Elders of the temple and advised them what could be the steps that may have to take facing the invader.
The objective was not to confront the enemy but to focus their efforts to ensure that the moola virat was not desecrated. All of them decided that they shall form three groups . One group shall be headed by the eldest Swamy Pillai Lokachariya, who shall carry the deities of Lord Ranganatha and His concerts in a covered palanquin and proceed southward with few disciples . Swamy Sudarshana suri took up the task of erecting a stone wall in front of the main sanctorum to misguide the invaders . A stone wall was constructed with support of many disciples in a short time The third team was to provide cover for the team lead by Swamy Pillai Lokachariya [the team with the deities of our lord and his consorts so that swami had enough time to maintain safe distance from the enemy.
Swami Desika who was the youngest among the Acharyas was requested by Shri Sudarsana suri to go with the third party and somehow save himself so that he at least might be left to propound Sri Vaishnavism and the teachings of Jagatha Acharya Shri Ramanuja. Shrutaprakashika was the work that was made out of generations of learning’s from Acharyas and an elaborate commentary on JagathaAcharyar Swamy Ramanuja’s Sri Bhasyam . Sudharsana Suri entrusted his two young sons and manuscript “SrutaprakaasikA” to Swami Desika Swami Desika had an earnest desire that this great work must at any cost be saved . Swami as instructed immediately took up the directions from Sudharsana Suri and was about to leave towards northward with the little boys . At the temple town , all of them decided in one voice that they will not oppose the army , but behave as if nothing is so serious .. There was a regular update about the Invaders who were approaching . The people were in two moods whether they should remain in town or flee. Who was to decide and advise them? The people were utterly confused .They decided to take counsel from Lord Ranganatha himself then decided to appeal to the LORD Himself . They all dropped chits (Tiru Ulla seettu) expressing their opinion and with devotion they drew up one chit which said that all could remain at Srirangam itself. They decided in was the Lord’s order and remained facing the situation bravely.
The same evening, the invaders marched inside the Srirangam town from Samayavaram . Thousands of the town’s citizens were harassed and injured .The terror in which the enemy looted the prosperous town speaks about the bravery of the srivaishnavas there .It was a very sad plight and the bloodbath that followed who resisted will make one cry for our great forefathers who sacrificed their lives . This had been recorded in the History of Srirangam Temple known as Koil-Ozhugu . The great bloodshed of 12,000 Sri Vaishnavas at Sri Varahaswamy Sannidhi makes it the worst day in the temple town . Inside the Hall , Swamy saw heaps of corpses lying around . He somehow braved the boys to lie down unnoticed to give an impression that no one survived . The little boys stretched underneath along with some of them and our dear Swami also lay down next to them along with the holy book. Swamy Desikar thus concealed the two boys and himself amidst a heap of corpses and passed the night with caution . The enemy troops assumed that they were corpses and did not bother to probe. Observing the enemy troops moving away , Swamy slowly took the frightened boys before dawn unnoticed in North-Westerly direction towards Satyamangalam . He was completely exhausted and was worried with LORD and the other revered Acharyas .
At the other side of the temple , while the enemy was invading the town, the old Acharyar dutifully carried the Lord’s deity with a small group of disciples with utmost caution braving the worst scenarios of terror with fear . Leaving Srirangam, he had to suffer many hardships during the journey. He had to be wary of the enemy attack while he also had to protect himself and his party from robbers.
He was constantly praying LORD for his mercy and keeping his disciples motivated with LORD’s divya charitam . All of them decided that whatever sufferings may befall them, Lord Ranganatha’s should not face any danger or desecration. After an arduous trek, they reached Jyothishkudi near Madurai. Lokacharya was a man strictly adhering to religious modes of conduct and manners. He was finding itdifficult to secure accommodation and catering facilities on the way. These troubles were common to people in those days but the Acharya had to face more severe hardships as he had to carry Lord Ranganatha without any hardships to the Lord . All through the journey, they had to pass through possible attacks from invaders and thieves. They had to trek hundreds of miles on foot. In spite of all kinds of hardships, the Acharya carefully kept the Lord Ranganatha in his
He was particular that the traditional daily worship of Lord Ranganatha should not be missed and therefore carried the deity himself with greatest care and devotion and proceeded towards the south. Trekking several miles with constant fear of the enemy lack of food and rest had adversely affected the Acharya’s health. Also enroute , he had to face the enemies wrath some occasions injuring him too .Swamy Pillai Lokacharyar accepted all the sufferings for our LORD .He was mentally distressed about the future . His mind refused to continue living on this earth seeing the tragic state in which Ranganatha had to be kept often hiding here and there . He wept several times with the unexpected turn of events . It was like Jatayu the great devotee of Lord Rama injured by Ravana while the latter was carrying away mother Sita, he wept helplessly.
He proceeded to a village called jyothishkudi, which was surrounded by the Anamalai
mountains adjoining thick, dense forests. They found a dilapidated mandapam (ceremonial hall), and decided to retire for the night.
He was exhausted and came to know it was time for him to leave his body. He was surrounded by his great disciples . Looking at LORD sweating , he said to his disciples , Please fan the Lord as he is also tired coming along with us . The disciples were sad to see their Acharyar completely exhausted and had tears watching the scene when he was fanning the Lord with those injuries in his body ..There was a pin drop silence ..With tears He meditated on his Acharyar and father, Swami vadakku thiruveedhip piLLai , pleaded them to forgive him as He could not able to protect Lord Ranganatha .
He could see numerous ants in the small place . He touched all of them, for the reason they also would be in srivaikuntam along with him . as it is believed that any living being touched by the hands of a Sri vaishnavA is assured mOksha . He was always pining, ‘Let this body and soul of mine be sacrificed for Lords sake!’ and had his wish fulfilled. He sought nothing for himself, amassed no earthly riches, and laid down his life for a Noble cause and became Lokacharyar .
He once again justified his name as the universal guru, for he delivered even ants and insects until his last moment!! The most amazing incident was when we can observe millions of ants in that region even this day who could be the descendants of the ants that Swami delivered by his touch.
Lokacharya was one of our esteemed teachers and philosophers who preached equality of men irrespective of caste, place of residence, etc. After the disappearance of Pillailokacharya the disciples performed the last rites and continued their journey along with Lord Ranganatha towards south passing through a very long route covering Thirukoshtiyur ,Jyotishkudi .Srivalliputhur ,Calicut , Gundulpet , Chittoor Melkote , Sathyamangalam and finally Tirumala in the present Sriranganatha Mandapam where LORD stayed for 60 years .
The great Iyppasi sravana ( October –November ) festival is celebrated as a mark of respect for Acharyar Pillailokacharya’s sacrifice even today .
He attained the lotus feet of his Acharyar in the tamil month of Adi, on the dwAdasi day. On reading this wonderful divine pastime we need to believe that
May be our LORD wanted to see himself being protected by his devotees and glorify our respectful Acharyas who had done everything as HIS kainkaryam ..
Who or How else can we explain the need to “save” our Lord!!! who is beyond every thing .
All glories to Swamy Pillai LokaAcharyar
All glories to Swamy Sudarshan suri
All glories to Swamy Desikar…………
“shrImAn venkaTa-nAthAryaH kavitArkika-kesari |
vedAntAcharya-varyo me sannidhattAm sadA hridi |
kavithArkika simhAya kalyANa guNa Saline
Srimathe vEnkateSAya vEdhAntha guravE namaha
lOkAchAryAya guravE krushNapAdaSya SUnavE |
SamSArabhOgiSandashta jIvajIvAtavE nama: ||
aththigiri aruLALar anumathiyOn vAzhiyE
aippasiyil thiruvONaththavathariththAn vAzhiyE
muththi neRi maRaith thamizhAl mozhintharuLvOn vAzhiyE
niththiyam nampiLLai patham nenjchil vaippOn vAzhiyE
nIL vachana bUdaNaththil niyamiththAn vAzhiyE
uththamamAm mudumbai nagar uthiththa vaLLal vAzhiyE
ulagAriyan pathangkaL UzhithoRum vAzhiyE
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
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