Swami Ramanuja and Kanchipuram are intimately connected. Today's [13th October 2008] lecture is from a spot exhibiting one such connection. This place is called anushtana kulam [அனுஷ்டான குளம் ] and salai kinaru [சாலைக் கிணறு]. For many days Swami Ramanuja carried water from this well to Sri Devaraja Perumal and served. That is why it is called salai kinaru. We had seen that Swami Ramnuja, in his young days, was learning from Swami Yadavaprakasa. But Swami Yadava Prakasa did not like some of the very ingenious and noble interpretations of Swami Ramanuja and wanted to finish off Swami Ramanuja. With this in mind he planned for a tour to North India. He had shemed with his other disciples to finish off Swami Ramanuja in river Ganges. Fortunately, Swami Ramanuja's close relative Swami Govinda Perumal, aka Swami Embar [in later years], came to know of the scheme and so he cautioned Swami Ramanuja, when he could meet him alone in the tour. He further requested Swami Ramanuja to escape from the group and go Southwards to reach Kanchi. Swami Ramanuja accepted and ran away from the tour. He proceeded Southward in the unknown jungles. In the jungles of Vindhya forest area, he was bewildered and did not know where to proceed. But, the Lord and Sri Perundevi Thayar, in order to help him, met him in the guise of a Hunter and His Wife. Swami Ramanuja unaware of the Divine Couple in guise, accompanied them as they said they were also going South. Night came and all the Three decided to rest somewhere. While it was still dark, the Hunter's Wife asked for water. The Hunter said it was dark and so He would not venture to fetch water. But Swami Ramanuja felt that it was his duty to fetch water, for the help they were doing. So, he searched and from a nearby pool, he brought water and gave it to Them. But instantly, the Couple disappeared and Swami Ramanuja was perplexed and since it was dawn, he enquired a passer by, as to what part of the country he was standing. The passerby, asked whether he was not aware of the place and directed him to look at the near by Punyakoti vimanam of Sri Devaraja temple, and confirmed that Swami Ramanuja was in Kanchi. It was a wonder to Swami Ramanuja as to how he could come overnight to Kanchi. He realized that the Hunter Couple was none other than the Divine Couple. From that day, he decided to fetch water from the well here, to the temple.
Swami Ramanuja's maternal uncle was Swami Thirumalai Nambi, who fetched water from Akash Ganga to Sri Venkatesa temple in Thirumala. The nephew similarly served the Lord at Kanchi, by fetching water from salai kinaru. From this spot one can see the temple gopuram, about 3 KM away. Salai kinaru is in a place called Sevilimedu [செவிலிமேடு]. One can reach in about 15 minutes this place from the temple. Swami Ramnuja did his daily ablutions [anushtanam அனுஷ்டானம் ] in the pond nearby and it is called Anushtana kulam [அனுஷ்டான குளம்].
Nearby there is a sannidhi for Swami Ramanuja. We can worship that also.
This place reveals the relationship between Swami Ramnuja and Sri Devaraja Perumal. we will now see sloka 11 of Chapter 11. Viswaroopam was seen by Arjuna in the battle field; while Sanjaya viewed it in the palace of Dridarashtra. In sloka 10, Sanjaya told the many faces, eyes, ornaments, weapons and the celestial body seen by him. Sanjaya further says in sloka 11:
He wore celestial garlands and garments, and many divine scents were smeared over His body. All was wondrous, brilliant, unlimited, all-expanding."
Divya = divine or celestial or heavenly or aprakrutham [अप्राकृतम], malya = [many] garlands like Vanamala,etc., ambaradharam = [many] robes worn, gandha = fragrant, anulepanam = smeared sandal paste, etc., sarva = everything, ascarya mayam= full of wonder, devam = on His brilliant body. Whatever wonderful and brilliant things were known, were all on His body. Devam means radiating body, normally can not be seen by ordinary eyes; but with the divine eyes gifted by the Lord, Arjuna could see; and, gifted by sage Vyasa, Sanjaya could see. Anantam = endless. Not limited by time and space. Vishvato-mukham = spread out on all directions. The Lord's faces were seen in all directions. Divyam is repeated at many places. We exclaim 'divyam' when we are served good food. But that is in a very ordinary context. Divyam has two meanings. Divi means in the sky. But that is not the meaning here. Devas are in sky [above], and so we can apply that meaning. But the Lord is Omni present. Prakrutham means Worldly. The materials we see are all prakrutham. Whatever have originated or based on this world, are all prakrutam. This applies to all the Universe and the 14 Worlds. All of them have originated from the Moola prakruti. One example of aprakrutam is our soul or atman. Atman is never created and so is not created from prakruti. We have seen in Chapter Two, that atman is eternal. Atman is not a material cause, unlike the materials we see. Thus, anything not originated from prakruti is called aprakrutam. The Body of the Lord seen by Arjuna is aprakrutam. The Five graet elements -pritvi, apu, tejas, vayu and akash - are all material cause of prakruti and so our body made from the Five great elements is prakrutam. The Lord's body is not like ours. It was told that the Lord was wearing many garlands, ornaments, garments and holding many weapons. What are they made of? Gold, silver, etc., are all available in this earth. So, are all the ornaments and others, prakrutam? We should clearly note that whether the body of the Lord or the garlands, ornaments, etc., He iswearing, are all aprakrutam. That is why Sanjaya is mentioning divyam repeatedly for every item he is seeing. Similarly, even the idol in the temples, though made of metals or stones, are aprakrutam, once the Lord is inducted in them by mantras. To know whether an item we are seeing is prakrutam or aprakrutam, there is a simple test. By viewing, if our gyana or knowledge expands, it is aprakrutam; and if our gyana diminishes, then it is prakrutam. The Lord has garlands Vanamala and Vaijayantimala. The garment the Lord is wearing is very beautiful. Swami Kooratalwan says that the Lord with Pitambaram looks like a dark blue mountain with the foot hills are all golden! All wonderful things are all displayed in His body. Everything is radiating with brilliance. The body is infinite and unlimited by time and space. Sanjaya sees the Lord in all directions -up, down and sides. We could visualise the splendour of the Lord, thanks to Swami Kooratalwan and Swami Vedanta Desika, who have admired at the beauty of the Lord.
Before we take leave of Sri Vardaraja temple, we should remember one great Acharya. He is Kanchi Prativadi Bhayankaram Swami Annangaracharya.
He was famous and one would bow head in reverence, when his name is mentioned. He has written many books, and propogated the greatness of this Kshetram. We take leave of this Kshetram, but not Kanchi, which has many more Divya desam.