On the eve of the Thirunakshatram of Villivalam Srimad Azhagiasingar, I would like to offer this little piece at His lotus feet. I cannot but help recollect how joyfully his last tirunakshatram was celebrated and the tinge of sorrow that inevitably laces the current year’s festivities, due to his absence. I am sure however that Srimad Azhagiasingar, constantly mindful of the welfare of disciples, continues to shower his blessings on us from above. The following article (written in 2000) forms the leading piece of my book The Choice is Yours, which was personally released by Srimad Azhagiasingar at Kanchi on a Nrisimha Jayanti day and continues to be as relevant today as it was then.
From time immemorial,the Megham (cloud) has been an object of irresistible fascination for our Azhwars, Acharyas and great poets like Sri Valmiki and Kalidasa. When I was on a flight of fancy, it struck me as to what a lot of similarities the cloud had with our Acharya and I ventured to put this down to paper (or the Word Pad-in modern idiom) and offer it to Bhagavatas.
Swami Desikan, in Sri Guruparampara Saram ,says Meghangal samudra jalatthai vaangi sarvopajeevyamaana thanneeraaga umizhumaap pole. How well this description suits our Srimad Azhagiasingar – for He, through constant toil ,imbibes the scriptures in all their multitude and gives us the essence, in a highly palatable manner. This simile is fitting in more than one way-
1. The boundless body of scriptural wisdom (comprised of the Shrutis, smritis, ithihasas, puranas and dharma shastras) is akin to an ocean. It is impossible for human beings with limited faculties like us to master all these, for the time available is short (alpascha kaala:) and the impediments to learning , many (bahavascha vighnaa:). Further, often conflicting and varying concepts may emerge from an untutored perusal of Shastras (shastra gnaanam bahu klesam, buddhe: chalana kaaranam). It is here that Srimad Azhagiasingar comes to the rescue of mithapragyas like me. He absorbs, like a cloud from the ocean, all that is of the essence (sArabhootam) and delivers it to us in an easily digestible capsule form. One who has heard His upanyasams or read His arulmozhis, would definitely agree with me that each of them incorporates the quintessence of sampradayic scholarship absorbed by Him through decades of hard toil and sincere service to Acharyas, which we are able to obtain second hand, without undergoing any difficulty whatsoever. So much so, that the tribute to Swami Desikan–Orondru thaane amayaatho thaaraniyil vaazhvaarkku vaanerap pomalavum vaazhvu-can be equally well applied to our Azhagiasingar’s inspired outpourings.
2. Further, as clouds absorb sea water, and deliver it in the form of rain to the crops and to quench people’s thirst, Srimad Azhagiasingar has tapped the ocean of riches in the possession of various philanthropists and carried out several bhagawat, bhaagavata kainkaryams with the funds so obtained. While rain water provides external cooling, a darshan of Sri Veeraraghavan or Sri Prahlada Varadan in their new glittering new ornaments (lovingly submitted by Srimad Azhagiasingar) provides relief from the heat of Samsaram—taapa traya shanthi.
3. Emperuman is described by several poorvacharyas as an ocean of virtues (samastha kalyaana guna amrutodadhi:, asankhyeya kalyaana guna ganougha mahaarnavam, aparimita guna saagaram, karunaa varunaalayam etc.) Each of these divine traits is immeasurable, so much so that the vedas themselves, engaged in such an endeavour, return thoroughly vanquished (yatho vaacho nivartante ,apraapya manasaa saha).Our Achaarya delves deep into the ocean of divine virtues and encapsulates the auspicious traits in a manner which is extremely enjoyable for us. His scintillating work, Eraar Gunangalum Ezhil Uruvum, brings before our eyes the glorious form of the Lord and His innumerable auspicious attributes.
4. Dark, rain-bearing clouds are the darling of peacocks, which dance with their beautiful plumes spread out wide. Similarly, the very sight of Srimad Azhagiasingar is enough to provide immeasurable bliss to ordinary disciples and scholars alike, bringing forth the best in them.
5. Carrying the analogy further, clouds never stay in the same place in the sky and are always on the move. Our Acharya is also constantly on the move (sancharam), as ordained by Sri Malolan.
6. Just as clouds are propelled far and wide by winds, our Srimad Azhagiasingar is impelled by his boundless love for his disciples. It is this which has made him traverse the entire Bharaa Desam, from Tiruppullani at the southern tip to Badrinath in the distant Himalayas, not once, but thrice, unmindful of his health and personal inconveniences, driven solely by his eternal search of souls to be saved through Pancha Samskaaram, Bharanyasam and sadupadesam.
One feels, as Sri Madhurakavi did, that the mere mention of Srimad Azhagiasingar’s haloed name and singing His praises bring eternal bliss to our tongue (annikkum amudhoorum en naavukke). One also feels like exclaiming, with Ilayaperumal, Gunair daasyam upaagatha: It was not the mere position of being an Acharya that earned Him the undying affection and boundless love of people—it was his sterling qualities—wisdom of the highest order, extreme accessibility to all disciples irrespective of their economic or social status, the genuine concern he displayed for sishyas’ welfare and His attachment beyond measure to Malolan—it was these superb traits that made Him the ever-shining flame lighting up the souls of everyone He encountered—right from babes in arms to doddering old people, from the unlettered disciple to the erudite scholar, from the penniless pauper to kings with crowns.
Etri manatthu ezhil gnaana vilakkai irulanaitthum
Maatrinavarkku oru kaimmaau Maayanum kaanagillaan
Potri ugappadum pundiyil kolvathum pongu pugazh
Chaatri valarppathum chatrallavo munnam petratharkke.
Srimate Srivan Satakopa Sri Ranganatha Yatindra Mahadesikaya nama:
Article by Sri Sadagopan Iyengar Swami, Coimbatore