Sri Senkamalavalli Thayar Sannidhi
Sri Andal Sannidhi
We are in the beginning of Sri Krishnaaranya Kshetram. Krishnaaranyam means Forest of Sri Krishna. On both banks of Kaveri, Sri Krishnaaranya Kshetrams are abundant. Therazhundur is counted as the beginning of such Kshetrams. Known also as Rathamagnapuram, the Lord graces as Sri Devadi Raja. Thirumangai Alwar, while singing in praise of the Lord, tells that he did not know of any other refuge. He is Chandokya Upanishad. He is Sama Veda, He is Brahadaranya Upanishad, He is Thaitriya Upanishad, and He knows all these; Thirumangai Alwar thus praising says, He knows how to protect His devotees. Moolavar is gracing as a large idol and as Sri Devadi Raja, with Conch and Discus. Normally, in many temples His Consorts will be by His side; but here there is a variation. On HIs left is Garuda and on His right Prahalada, are standing. Beyond Garuda on the left, Sri Kaveri Thayar is seated. Beyond Prahlada on the right is sage Markandeya, standing with folded hands. All of them are gracing in the garbha gruha. Once Indra gave Garuda, a Vimanam and a Crown, requesting him to present them to the Lord appropriate for them. Garuda searched for suitable Lord and found the Diamond Crown [Vairamudi] fitted perfectly on Sri Sampathkumara or Sri Selvappillai, the Lord of Melkote or Thirunarayanapuram, near Mysore, in Karnataka. The place is also known as Yadavadri or Gyana mantap. After presenting the Crown to the Lord there, Garuda searched suitable place for the Vimanam. He found the temple here suitable and presented the Vimanam to the Lord Devadi Raja here and so the Vimanam here is called Gaaruda Vimanam. In all temples Garuda sannidhi will be opposite to the Lord's sannidhi; but here it is not so. In Swami Alavandar's words He treats His devotees as friend and so Garuda is by His side. If we fall at His feet, He does not treat us as slaves but as friends. In Krutha yug, Prahalada pointed a pillar and from that Sri Narasimha emerged. Seeing Prahalada slightly scared, the Lord took a pleasing [sowmya] form and graced the Child devotee, Prahalada. Worshiping such a form of the Lord, we can see Prahalada here. Therazhundur is the birth place of Kambar, considered in Tamil literature as the monarch among poets. In his Ramayana epic, based on Valmiki's Srimad Ramayanam, Kambar has sung the episode of Prahalada and is titled Hiranya vadai padalam [Chapter on killing of Hiranya]. Though Valmiki Ramayana does not contain Sri Narasimha avatara episode, how in Kamba Ramayana, based on Valmiki's, this episode came about? Since Kambar hailed from this place where in the temple Prahalada graces along with the Lord, Kambar could not sing his epic without Prahalada. Since Lord Sri Narasimha emerged from a pillar [Tamil - kambam and Sanskrit -sthamba], He is called Sri Kambar, in Tamil. Utsava moorthy is Sri Aamaruviappan, standing with a cow and calf. Thayar is Sri Senkamalavalli Nachiyar. When we see the enchanting beauty of Sri Aamaruviappan, we pray that this scene should be permanently in our memory. But we realize some obstacles preventing us from this. Arjuna asked what those obstacles were and Sri Krishna replies. We have to see the 14th sloka now:
daivi hy esa guna-mayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te
"This divine creation of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it."
This prakruti with the three qualities, obstruct our vision of the Lord. To get this obstruction removed, there is no other way, but to surrender unto Him and hold on to His feet steadfastly. Thirumangai Alwar says that he was in great danger, as the five sense organs pounced on him and caused unthinkable problems. But once he surrendered to this Lord here, facing West, all his miseries vanished. In the first half of the sloka, the Lord says none can cross this samsaram with the three qualities, created by Him. But that is not the end. He gives an escape route in the next line of the sloka. Surrender unto Him will enable us to cross. Mama = My [Sri Krishna's], gunamayi = filled with [three] qualities, esa = this, maya = prakruti [Universe], duratyaya = can not be crossed. This Universe with all its contents, filled with the three qualities, is preventing from realization. From countless time, with births and taking various bodies, atman is having the karma due to papa and punya. These are all the transformations of the Moolaprakruti. Daivi = Godly [Sri Krishna], has created all these. One can not easily come out of this bond He has made. Swami Pillai Thirunaraiyur Arayar told that we can not even unwind the nest of a tailor bird; how can we unravel the Mystery of this Universe and God's creations? Maya does not mean magic or falsifying. It is called vichitra karya kari - that is we can not even imagine the complications and the mystery involved in His creations. Every happening is mysterious and mind boggling. Mysterious births and mysterious behavior of various living beings, all beyond our imagination. What we regard as permanent is changed and what we thought is always changing remains steady. Knowing very well that our body is changing, we are deluded to believe, body is permanent and we never even care about atman which is constant and everlasting. Prakruti is called maya and the Creator as Maayi. Why should He create confusion in us? Why not take all to Vaikuntam and keep us happy? Reason is not Him, but we. He has given a good body with intellect and other comforts in life; He has provided organs to acquire knowledge; He has provided Acharyas, Vedas, etc; despite all these if we go in our own way, how can He be faulted? He is trying His best to see that we eradicate our past karma and resort to His feet. To encourage Arjuna, the Lord then says there are ways by which one could cross these obstructions. By oneself, one can not cross these, but by holding on to His Divine feet, very easily, obstacles can be jumped over. Te = They , mayam = mysterious samsaram, taranti = cross. Who are they? Those blessed ones have,prabadyante = surrendered unto, mam eva = Me [Sri Krishna] and only Me [Sri Krishna]. Swami Ramanuja gives a beautiful interpretation for the word 'mam': He, Sri Krishna, as satya sankalpa [ He is the Creator and so He knows all the Mystery and He will keep up His word] , parama kaarunika [ boundless merciful], loka sharanyan[ all to surrender]. Swami Vedanta Desika in his Tatparya Chandrika says He alone with the unlimited Gyana, Strength, Power and Wealth can redeem us from this samsaram. But all these qualities will be of no use to us if the Lord did not have Mercy. In Dayasathakam sthothram, Swami Desika says that but for His quality of Mercy, all His other qualities such as Power, Strength, etc., would have been our adversaries. He has been merciful to very low flower vendor or elephant. So, surrender unto Him, will ensure crossing of the ocean of prakruti.