SriKoormam Purushtthamam cha BadariNarayanam Naimisam
Seimad Dwaravati Prayaga Mathura Ayodhya Gaya Pushkaram
Salagrama girim nishevya ramate Ramanujoyam muni:
This sloka tells the places Swami Ramanuja visited and served to do good for the people. Though he visited many Kshetrams, he was born in Sriperumbuthur and for learning various skills he lived in Kanchipuram. We are now in Kanchipuram. It is praised as nagareshu kanchi that is, among cities Kanchipuram is top most. Kanchi is well planned with straight roads and beautiful buildings and temples. Kanchi incorporates many Kshetrams. But we are in the main temple of Sri Varadaraja or Sri Devaraja Perumal [ஸ்ரீ தேவராஜ பெருமாள்/ ஸ்ரீ தேவப்பெருமாள் ].
Srirangamangalanidhim karuna nivasam
Sri Venkatadri shikaralaya kalamakam
Sri Hasthisaila shikarotjvala parijatam
Srisam namami sirasa Yadhusaila deepam.
This sloka salutes Srirangam, Thirumala, Kanchipurama and ThiruNarayanapuram. We note these Four important Kshetrams. The First Three are famous as koil, thirumalai and perumal koil [கோயில், திருமலை, பெருமாள் கோயில்]. Perumal koil indicates Kanchipuram, which is also known as Vishnu Kanchi. It is known as Satyavrata Kshetram. This place got the name Kanchi, because 'ka' indicates lord Brahma, 'anchitam' means worship. So it is the Kshetram worshiped by lord Brahma. Lord Brahma performed Yagam here. The Lord Sri Devaraja was worshiped by lord Brahma. Thus this place got the name Kanchi. It is called Satyavrata Kshetram because, the Lord pledged to appear to lord Brahma. He appears as the embodiment of Satyam or Truth, and so it is Satyavrata Kshetram. We are now entering the temple of Sri Devadiraja [ஸ்ரீ தேவாதி ராஜ] Perumal.
The Lord is facing the West. So we enter the temple from the West gopuram. A very large temple. As we enter, on the left we notice the Nootrukkal [100 pillared] mandapam [நூற்ற்க்கால் மண்டபம்], built by many Kings and devotees. Many of the sculptures in this mandapam belong to Pallava period.
Pallava Kings who ruled in the 7th and 8th Centuries have done enormous works in this temple. We now come to the Pushkarini behind the Nootrukkal mandapam. This pushkarini is called Anantha Pushkarini or Anantha saras.
Anantha means endless; so, a very large pushkarini. Anantha is also the name of Adisesha. So, this pushkarini is named after Adisesha, who worshiped the Lord here. This pushkarini has a unique feature not found in other pushkarinis. Here, the Lord is inside the pushkarini. We might have heard of Sri Atthi Varada [ஸ்ரீ அத்தி வரதர்]. The Lord of this Kshetram was once upon a time made of wood. In Srirangam the Lord is made of sudha [சுதை]. In Thirumala He is of sila [சிலா] idol. Here, the idol of the Lord is dharu [தரு or दारु ], which means wood.
SRI ATTHI VARADAR
But the Lord desired to feel cool in water and wanted the devotees worship His sila roopam. So, He ordained on His devotees to place Him in Ananthasaras; and, further ordered that a new and large sila [stone] idol be prepared for worship. For this, He directed to procure granite from Pazhaya [old] Seevaram [பழைய சீவரம்], village nearby. This happened so many centuries back. Even now, once in every Forty years, Sri Atthi Vardar is brought out of the pond and placed outside, for devotees' worship for one mandalam of 48 days. This happened last in 1979; and, the next such viewing will happen in 2019. Sri Atthi Vardar is placed in a well like construction in the mandapam in the pushkarini. He is guarded by many serpents. This pushkarini has thus a privillege of holding the Lord. There is yet another importance for the pushkarini. When Swami Ramanuja decided to renunciate all worldly relations [துறவறம் மேற்க்கொள்ளல்], he cast away the white robes peculiar for Grahastasrama [ those in household affairs] and took on saffron robes intended for ascetics or sanyasi. He also took the tridandam. This incident took place in the sannidhi of Lord Sri Varaha, on the shore of this pushkarini. On another side of the pushkarini is the sannidhi of Sri Chakkarathazhvar [ஸ்ரீ சக்கரத்தாழ்வார்]. On another side, is the beautiful Dasavatara mandapam [தசாவதார மண்டபம்]. Opposite Sri Varaha sannidhi is Sri Ranganatha sannidhi. Among cities Kanchi has a reputation. Among hillocks, Hasthigiri [elephant hill] has a reputation. We are going to study Gita in this temple for next few days. We will now see sloka 2 of Chapter 11:
bhavapyayau hi bhutanam
srutau vistaraso maya
mahatmyam api cavyayam
"O lotus-eyed one, I have heard from You in detail about the appearance and disappearance of every living entity and have realized Your inexhaustible glories."
Arjuna tells that He learnt about the eminence of the Lord, from Himself. He believed in all. All the worlds are created, sustained and destroyed by Him. Agreeing with what the Lord told, Arjuna speaks. In the sloka 1, Arjuna told that the Lord did him a great favour by explaing matters regarding atman and thereby deleted Arjuna's illusion and confusion. We can ignore Chapter 1, as it was Arjuna's lament and his decision not to kill his kith and kin. From sloka 12 of Chapter 2 till end of Chapter 6, Sri Krishna told about Karma yoga and Gyana yoga. By understanding all those, Arjuna's confusion was removed. In sloka 2 of Chapter 11, Arjuna tells Sri Krishna that what all He told in Chapters 7,8,9 and 10, were understood by Arjuna. Thus by the sloka 1, Arjuna tells he had understood Gita Chapters 1 to 6; and, by sloka 2, Chapters 7 to 10. By Chapters 7.8 and 9, Arjuna understood Sri Krishna's natural Majesty and grandeur. This way he understood Bhakti yoga was the best and learnt how to do. In Chapter 10, Arjuna got a glimpse of the Lord's property listing. He learnt that everything and everybody were in His Command and Control. Bhutanam = all living beings', bhava = [both] origin, appyaya = disappearance, srutau = was heard, vistarasa = in detail, maya = by me [Arjuna], tvatta = by You [Sri Krishna] Yourself. Kamala patraksha = Lotus eyed [Sri Krishna], avyaya = infinite, mahatmyam = eminence. Arjuna tells that everything in this world emanated from Him or get created by Him; and, everything got destroyed by Him or merged with Him. This he learnt from Him; thereby he learnt the limitless eminence of the Lord. In Chapter 7, Sri Krishna told that the Universe originates from Him and ends up in Him. Arjuna addresses the Lord as the Lotus eyed, while talking of creation and destroying. There is a sentence in Upanishad: He is the Creator of the world, Who has Lotus eyes [ kapyasam pundarikamakshinau..] and meditate on Him. Thus Lotus like eyes are an important identity for the Lord. Thus Sri Krishna is the Creator, we search for. The Lord told about His infinite eminence. All the worlds are strung by Him, like a thread strings various pearls. Remembering all these words, Arjuna tells that he is aware of His boundless eminence. Arjuna confirms whatever he heard in Chapters 7,8,9 and 10. We are also at Anantah saras -endless pond!