At Tirumala , Lord Sri Venkateshwara’ awakes with Annamayya’s melukolupu, and follows the day’s rituals, ends with the great saint poetess Vengamamba’s Mutyala Harathi
Mutyala Harathi’, is the last ritual performed during ‘Ekantha Seva’ to Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala .This seva is symbolic gesture of the Lord’s love for His devotees.
The ritual was started by saint-poetess Tarigonda Vengamamba and for almost the last three centuries is being performed on par with ‘Lalipata’, ( Lullaby) introduced by another great devotee Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya. Performing both the rituals during ‘Ekantha Seva’ to the Lord is remembering these great devotees who had surrendered to Lord . The speciality of Ekantha seva is glorified as
‘Tallapaka vari Lali, Tarigondavari Harathi’ among the devotees.
The song goes like this ….
JAYA MANGALAM NITYA SHUBA MANGALAM..
JAYA MANGALAM ..NITYA SHUBHA MANGALAM……..
also called as Jaya Mangala Geetam .
The meaning of one verse of the song in English goes like this ..
To HIM who dwells on the Top of the Pannagadri Hills
To HIM who dispels the darkness of sin…
To that LORD and to our dear Alamelu Mangamma ( the goddess) who is ever present with HIM
To the LORD par excellence who grants boons to all those who seek refuge in HIM to Alamelu Mangamma who constantly reminds HIM to bless the devotees
The song has around 12 verses glorifying our Lordships to bestow his grace on devotees
Along with this mangala haarathi , the lullaby song composed by another great devotee Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya is sung which is relished by the LORD before he goes into Yoga Nidra ..
The great devotee Tarigonda Vengamamba appeared at a place near chittoor around the year 1750 and was serving Lord Tarigonda Narasimha Swamy . Their parents admired her faith in Lord but had their own doubts about her future.Days rolled to months and months added to years. The parents had mixed feelings of joy and fear in such situations as her devotion was going in leaps and bounds .
Due to divine will Vengamamba became a child-widow. But with her strong upbringing and spiritual outlook , she considered Lord Venkateswara as her husband and refused to part with the customary beliefs of a married woman (Punya stree ). With the blessings of Lord Narasimha of Tarigonda , she ascends the Tirumala Hills and starts serving the Lordships with utmost devotion .
She stabilised her stay at Tirumala and continued with her divine service to Lord in solitude in the evenings . As per temple legend, on the divine instructions of Goddess Padamavathi Devi, the then In-charge of Hathiramji Mutt, Mahant Sri Atmaramdasji offered a small thatched hut in the present Rambhageecha gardens to Vengamamba. The Saint Poetess used to perform penance under a tamarind tree present opposite her hut.
During every Nrisimha Jayanthi (which usually falls in the month of May) she used to serve mahaprasad to scores of pilgrims who visited Tirumala during this period in the premises of her residence for ten days.Seeing her charitable activity some devotees donated her “Dana Patras” (donations) between 1785 AD to 1812 AD with which she carried out her Annaprasada Vitarana till her last breath. Since then she became popular with the title “Matrusri” since she took care of the visiting pilgrims as a mother.
When she entered Tirumala she initially stayed at Gogarbha Teertham and meditated on Lord . But as flow of people disturbed her spiritual practices , she shifted to Tumbura Teertham and continued her austerity. With constant attention on her devotional practices she moved to Tirumala.
She used to collect flowers and make them as a garland and present it to Lord venkateswara every day . One day as she offered Tulasimala to the deity she was criticized for her offerings by the main priest there (as a widow is not allowed to worship the temple deity those days).
The Priest removes the garland away. But Vengamamba could have darshan of Lord appearing wearing her tulasimala . With all humility she starts composing poems and literary essays on Lords divine leela . Moved by her devotion, it is told that Lord allowed her to enter the temple after temple hours to listen to her poems and songs. Vengamamba used to recite poems in presence of the LORD and offered ‘harati’ to the Lord each night along with pearls as a mark of devotion . Observing the pearls in the sanctum sanctorum over a period of time, the temple priests were agitated . They politely informed that Vengamamba must not be allowed to enter the temple .
She was under exile in a cave at Tumburakona near Tirumala . The legend reveals that LORD out of his love to his devotee created a secret pathway from the cave to the temple which was used by Vengamamba to continue her devotional service in private . The practice of night harati continued for 6 years. Eventually, the priests realized their folly and recognized Vengamamba’s devotion and dedication, and pleaded her to return and allowed to participate in Ekanta seva .
However , the divine services to LORD was generally offered by Mahants and Priests inside the temple . All of them felt that though she was a great devotee , a widow who was excommunicated by her community who doesn’t follow tenants of customs must not be allowed to continue such divine service along with them which is a serious offence . They told her sternly about their unhappiness and polluting the temple .
Vengamamba accepted their decision and continued to serve the LORDSHIPS at her house located in the Mada streets beside Sri Tallapaka Annamacharyas descendant’s house .
The next day happened to be the day of the car festival .
In all the splendour and glory the temple car with the LORDSHIPS moved . However as soon as it reached Vengamambas house it stopped suddenly and any effort to pull the cart was becoming difficult . It was getting delayed .
The Chief Priest understood the main motive of the Lord to ignore their plea . All of them rushed into Vengamambas house and begged repentance for their offence . They requested her to pray LORD for HIS approval . Vengamamba rushed out with tears and all humility offered camphor harathi with devotion .The temple car started moving slowly from then . This camphor offering which was started by Vengamamba has come to be known as Tarigondavari Haarati OR Mutyaala Harathi which is continued even today .
A silver idol of Tarigonda Nrusimha Swami , fixed in a plate made out of an alloy of five metals is decorated with one of the ten incarnations of Mahavishnu with perals mixed with vermillon and rice powder .
A small vessel placed at the middle of the plate with camphor is lighted and offered to the LORD everyday which becomes the last ritual of the day .
Every Car festival the camphor waving would be offered duly that comes as a token of remembrance of the great devotee Tarigonda Vengamamba .
All Glories to Mother Vengamaba.
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
video credits : Shri Ramyagiri, Ravichander Iyer
Photos credits : Google images , Advanced devotee friends