Below the vimanam the Lord is gracing as Sri Sthalasayana Perumal and Sri Ulaguyya Ninran Perumal [ஸ்ரீ ஸ்தல ஸயந பெருமாள் and ஸ்ரீ உலகுய்ய நின்றான் பெருமாள்]. But before worshiping the Lord we have to worship Sri Thayar. Today's [8th December 2008] lecture is from Sri Thayar sannidhi.
While the Lord's name is in Sanskrit, Sri Thayar's name is the same in Tamil -Sri Nilamangai Thayar [ஸ்ரீ நிலமங்கைத் தாயார்]. Sthalam in Sanskrit and Nilam in Tamil indicate ground. Nila mangai also indicates Sri Bhudevi. While Sri Thayar is Sri Mahalakshmi, She is with the noble and divine quality of Sri Bhudevi - Patience [பொறுமை]. The Lord graces alsong with Sri Thayar.
Thirumangai Alwar has composed 20 pasurams on this Kshetram. These are engraved on stones here. From those, we understand that the Alwar christened the Lord as Sri Ulaguyya Ninran. The Lord has redeemed this world as Sri Varaha, as Sri Rama and as Sri Krishna. We have already seen that the Moolavar is in reclining pose. Utsavar is in standing pose. The Utsavar, though small, is very beautiful. Right arm is showing abhaya and allays the fears of devotees. If we carefully look at the Lord we can obsereve a flower held by the Lord between the thumb and index finger in the right palm. This is one of the lotus flowers offered by sage Pundarika. It is indicating, perhaps, that the Lord likes devotees with such blossomed mind, with bhakti. Or, like the lotus expects Sun for blossoming, devotee eagerly awaits the grace of the Lord. The holding of lotus in the Lord's hand is like one lotus holding another! The left arm is in kati bhava and is placed below His waist. Those who cling to His lotus like feet, are assured of reduction of the sufferings of samsaram to knee level. There are important festivals celebrated. Festival of Sri Thayar is for 10 days during Panguni Utthiram [பங்குனி உத்திரம்]. Like the Lord graced sage Pundarika on the sea shore, the Lord graces devotees with Theerthavari utsavam [தீர்த்தவாரி உத்சவம்]on the sea shore.
During that festival, the Lord mounts on Garuda and after procession in various streets reaches sea shore. There the Lord observes holy bath [திருமஞ்சனம்].
During Thirumanjanam, the Lord removes all ornaments and graces the devotees with His bare Divine body. He graces with ordinary cotton yellow ochre cloth. All these tell us that the Lord wants to grace the devotees. Though He is not bound to grace like this, why does He do all these? Only for the Bhakti or devotion of the devotees, He mercifully reveals Himself to us. Nothing else can show Him. This is what the Lord has been telling in Chapter 11. In sloka 53 we are to see, the Lord emphasizes that nothing other than Bhakti can ever reach Him. Slokas 53 and 54 are conveying this message. In sloka 53, the Lord says which all will not reveal the Lord:
naham vedair na tapasa
na danena na cejyaya
sakya evam-vidho drastum
drstavan asi mam yatha
"The form you are seeing with your transcendental eyes cannot be understood simply by studying the Vedas, nor by undergoing serious penances, nor by charity, nor by worship. It is not by these means that one can see Me as I am."
Mam = I [ Sri Krishna, Who revealed Viswaroopam], yatha = how, drstavan asi = [you, Arjuna] having seen, sakya = possible, evam-vidho = and understood. In the same way none can see or understand the Lord by all the methods He is to tell. Arjuna might be under the impression, that what he saw could be seen by other methods also, like by going to temples frequently or by meditation or by gifts or by vedas. No, none of them could ever reveal Him. We should realize that all those methods, by which the Lord could not be realized, are unknown to us, yet we easily can view Sri Sthala sayana Perumal. Aham = I [Sri Krishna], na sakhya = can not, vedair vidho = by chanting Vedas or learning Vedas, na tapasa = not by meditation [ undergoing sufferings of the body and eating only very little of roots, etc.,], na danena = not by liberal largesse, na cejyaya = not also by yagnas, drastum = can be seen or realized. Arjuna was able to see the Lord quite easily; but this could not be acieved by chanting Vedas, nor by severe meditation, nor by generous largesse, nor by yagnas. But we are able to see the Lord easily at this Kshetram. Pondering over this, we can imagine the huge crowd that visits Mahabalipuram for seeing the ocean, the sculptures and other picnic spots. How amny of them come to see the Lord? Very little, perhaps less than 0.1 %. That shows we are not ready to view the Lord, Who is ever ready to reveal Himself. Is it with Bhakti we realize Him or after seeing Him we get Bhakti? If Bhakti were there, we would have come to see the Lord in Mahabalipuram. Should we not go and visit such a great Person waiting to reveal Himself for us? The Lord here had abandoned all His comforts just to reveal Himself to a sage. Therefore, it is requested that while coming to Mahabalipuram for our recreations, we should also visit Bhotatalwar and the Lord here. If we have a will we can do it and that will refine our mind to satva quality. That will induce Bhakti, and our life will be fruitful. Does the Lord mean that it is waste to learn Vedas, or to meditate, or to be philonthropic or to perform yagna? What the Lord means is that without Bhakti all these actions are waste. All these actions should have the objective that our destination is the Lord. Bhakti is the single important aspect to reach the Lord. But, Bhakti has many obstacles and disturbances. To overcome these, rituals are prescribed. These rituals, like chanting Vedas or performing yagnas, focus our mind in the Lord. Such focussed mind will obtain Bhakti and raise our level. Thus both Bhakti and rituals are important and have to be observed as complimentary to each other.