Of the many identities of the Lord, Consort of Sri [Maha Lakshmi], is a special identity. Names of the Lord like Lakshmipathi, Sriyapathi, Sripathi, Sridharan, Madhavan, Srivallabhan, etc., are based on the glory of Sri Thayar! In Gita we have been studying Purushottama Vidya. Being Sripathi [Consort of Sri] is an important identity for Purushottama! To worship Sri Sripathi, we have arrived at Thiruvallavazh [திருவல்லவாழ்], popularly known as Thiruvalla [திருவல்லா]. Nammalwar calls this Kshetram as Thiruvallavazh! Nammalwar has dedicated entire decade of 11 pasurams in Thiruvaimozhi 5.9, to the Lord of this Kshetram! The Lord is called Sri Vallabha [ஸ்ரீ வல்லபன் श्री वल्लभ] here. This place is also called Vallabha Kshetram, which is understood by many. As we enter this Kshetram, we notice many surprises. This is the only Kshetram, where Nammalwar, performed saranagati or surrendered to the Lord, in the guise of a woman!
A very large sannidhi. The majestic gopuram welcomes us. At the base there is a picture of Garuda and the idol of Garuda is on the top. Garuda is in ever ready pose to carry the Lord, and fly! Then we see the Dwajasthambam.
The tall dwajasthambam, declares the presence of the Lord inside, to the outside World! Then we see the large Balipeetam. Then we see Mukha mandapam, in which none is allowed. Further inside we see the garbha gruha, where the Lor id gracing. Let us see the sthala puranam [temple history]. Thousands of years back, there lived a chaste woman [pativrata பதிவ்ரதை] Mangalatthamma [மங்களத்தம்மா]. She had no children and used to observe Ekadasi fasting severely. On the following Dwadasi day, she would offer food to a brahmin, and then used to take food. This she was doing for many years. There lived a demon, Tholakasura, who tried to wreck her fasting many times. But she used to pray to the Lord for protection. Once the Lord decided to finish off Tholakasura, on the ensuing Ekadasi day. The Lord came in the guise of a Brahmachari [Bachelor], covering His body with deer skin, and started fighting with Tholakasura! The Lord's weapon, Sudarsana discus, cut off the demon's head, hands and legs! Even today we can see various spots nearby, where the demon's limbs and head fell! The Lord got the discus washed and sent the discus to its place. He then adjusted the deer skin and came near the house of the woman. She also, on hearing the news that the demon had been killed, wanted to invite the Brahmachari and so came out of the house. As soon as she came out, she saw the Brahmachari and noticed Sri Thayar Sri Lakshmi, on His chest, as He was adjusting deer skin! She invited the Brahmachari and requested Him to show His chest. The Lord agreed and the woman was able to worship Sri Maha Lakshmi! Thus this place got the name Thiru Vallabha vaazh or Lord in Whom, Sri Lakshmi lives! The Lord is gracing inside as a large idol! The Brahmachari was fed with Dhadhiyodanam [curd rice], with uppu mangai [உப்பு மாங்காய் - salted mango], in pakku mattai [பாக்கு மட்டை - areca nut palm tree bark ], by the woman. The Lord is offered even now this type of prasadam! Not only that, the Lord is offered, after offering the prasadam to a brahmin! This practice is continued even now! In this temple, Sri Sudarsana has a separte sannidhi. Now we will see the last sloka, 20, of Chapter 15:
iti guhyatamaṃ śāstram idam uktaṃ mayānagha
etat buddhvā buddhimān syāt kṛtakṛtyaś ca bhārata 15.20
Bharata = Arjuna [of Bharata dynasty], iti = thus, guhya tamam = most important secret. Arjuna by being born in a great dynasty, was fortunate to listen to Purushottama vidya, which is considered as the most important secret to be learnt. Sastram = science or branch of knowledge, idam = this way, maya = by Me [Sri Krishna], uktam = explained. Such a valuable science of Purushottama vidya was explained to Arjuna, by Sri Purushottama, the Lord Himself. Anagha = blemishless [Arjuna]. This valuable knowledge was explained in an unprecedented way to Arjuna. Every word in this sloka contains selective words to describe the glory of Purushottama! Etat buddhva = thus learnt [Purushottama vidya], buddhiman syat = [one] becomes great scholar, krtakrtyas ca = and accomplishes [all those to be] accomplished. By using the word, iti [thus], the Lord implies that never had anyone explained Purushottama Vidya like the way the Lord did to Arjuna! This valuable knowledge was hidden in Upanishads and were kept as secret by great sages. Now only, Arjuna was fortunate to learn it from the Lord Himself [from the horse's mouth!]. Why the Lord is calling this as most important secret is that this should not be taught to unqualified and undeserving persons. Deserving persons should know this science. We find Alwar in the guise of a woman, pines for the Lord. Some might ridicule this as mere romantic scenes! Such people should be considered as ignorant of atman and Paramatma. They would never understand Alwar's pasurams. What is the use of giving them these noble ideas? It amounts to waste of precious knowledge! Persons, who realize the Lord as the Supreme or Purushottama, should be taught this secret. Those eager to learn this science should be taught. It is said that there is no science [to be learned], superior to Vedas nor [anyone] superior to Kesava [Vedas shastram param naasti na daivam kesavat param वेदास्शास्त्रम परम नास्ति, न दैवं केशवात परम्]. One need not learn Vedas and perform all prescribed vidyas to have a glimpse of the Lord; but, by understanding Purushottama as described in Vedas and in Gita, one can get the same result. The Lord had explained Arjuna the science about Purushottama, so that he can also have the benefit. By understanding the real meaning of Purushottama, all the objectives specified in Bhakti marga are achieved. And, that too this science was explained by Sri Purushottama Himself! The Lord did not preach to divert anybody's attention. He had preached out of compassion and mercy. The Lord is going to tell later that this art should not be taught to those undevoted to Him, jealous of Him, fostering hatred in Him. Arjuna did not have any of these blemishes and so he was a recipient of this science! While all should learn, the Lord says that only by learning this, anyone became learned! First Arjuna should become a scholar by learning this. In Vishnu Purana, sage Parashara tells, ' tat karma ennabhandhaya sa vidya ya vimokshaye' - that is good action [karma] which releases from bondage [of samsaram], that is learning which shows us the path for liberation [Moksham]. What we are doing and learning daily, therefore, are totally useless! Knowledge other than learning Purushottama, is Agyana!