SrImathE Nigamantha Mahadesikaya namah:
SrImAn venkatanAthAryaH kavitArkika kesarI |
vedAntAcArya-varyo me sannidhattAm sadA hRdi ||
At the age of seven, Anantasuri conducted the upanayanam samskara [the investiture of the sacred thread and the initiation into Gayatri mantra] to his son Venkatanatha. From that day, Appullar took charge of educating Venkanatha and began the teaching of the several saasthras. There was no need for the teacher to repeat next day the previous day’s lesson since the pupil was able to grasp and remember it by hearing it just once. Venkatanatha studied all the Vedas with all its six auxiliaries. [siksha-phonetics; Chandhas- Prose; vyAkaraNa- grammar; niruktha- etymology;Jyothis- Astronomy and Kalpa-ritual or ceremonial. The first two are forcorrect pronunciation and recitation of the Vedas; the next two are for understanding them correctly and the last two for their applications] He also studied tarkka, and meemaamsa, and acquired mastery over systems of philosophy Saankhya and Yoga, Dvaita and Advaita, Bhaskara and Pasupatha, Budhha and Jaina.
The following slokas of Saptapati ratnamalika (26-29) give us a detailed list of the saasthras studied and mastered by Sri Venkatanatha.
26. Sri Venkanatha, the Sarvathanthra swathanthrar- and the son of Anantasuri, was like the Sage Vyasa himself in the knowledge of the Vedas with their various methods of recitation like Jata, Varna and Carca and of the Kalpa sutras during the conduct of the rituals.
27. He was an expert in the proper interpretation of the subtle thoughts of the various smrithis written by Sages Bharadwaja, Saandilya, Harita and others. His mastery over the Puranas and the Agamas was unique.
28. He had an extraordinary skill in the sciences of Astrology, Prosody and Grammar and was perfectly acquainted with epic poetry, drama and poetics. He was the creator as it were, of the Karma ? meemaamsa and Brahmma meemaamsa.
29. He was the victor in disputations by refuting the proud arguments of those belonging to the various schools of though like Sankhya and Yoga, Bhatta and Prabhakara, Saiva and Sankara, Yadava and Bhaskara and Buddha and Jaina.
All this Sri Venkatanatha was able to do even before he was twenty years of age as stated by himself in Sankalpa Suryodhaya [1.15]
vimSathyabdE visutha nAnAvidhavidya:
Daily routine of Venkatanatha:
At the end of study- period (Brahmmacharya) Sri Venkatanatha entered into the grahasthasrama [the life of a house holder] by marrying one Thirumangai, suited to him in all respects. He scrupulously observed the duties of that asrama like the dial;y worship of fire [aupasana] at home, visit to the temple of Lord Varadaraja for worship, Bhagavadh Aradahana and athithi pooja, He had a very simple and austere life devoid of all luxury and comfort. Every day after finishing his morning rites, he would go around the temple, along the streets reciting the sthothras and songs of the Lord to do what his known as uncchavritthi (gleaning of the grains). Whatever was offered voluntarily by the residents at Kanchi he gathered and brought it home. His dutiful wife would receive it and prepare a simple food. At noon, he would worship the household deity Varada and offer the food to the Lord. Then he would take it as Prasada [the gift of the gracious God].
Appullar was very much pleased with the qualities and the way of life of Venkatanatha. He wished to widen him knowledge and enrich him. So he initiated him into Vainatheya mantra (Garuda mantra) and advised him to concentrate on the manthra and meditate upon Garuda to acquire his grace.
When he began to think of a suitable place for his meditation on Garuda, it struck him that Aindhai (Thiruvaheendrapuram) would be an ideal place; because there is a river, Garuda nadhi by name as well as a mountain named OushAdhri, both of which have been sanctified by the divine presence of Gaudra himself. He left Kanchi and proceeded to that shrine. There first he bathed in the sacred Garuda nadhi and worshipped Lord Devanatha and His consort Hemambhuja nayika in the temple. Then he went to the top of the Hill, Oushaadhri and chose a lonely place at the foot of a big and shady Asvattha tree. Being seated, he controlled his mind and senses and began to meditate on Garuda. Some days passed in deep meditation. Garuda, the deity who is Veda incarnate, appeared before Venkatanatha and after initiating him in the mantra of Lord Hayagriva, the horse faced Supreme God presiding over all knowledge and instructed him to propitiate that god by meditation. Venkatanatha engaged himself in that act with great perseverance for sometime till Hayagriva was pleased and appeared before him. The Lord bestowed on him the nectar of knowledge flowing from his mouth. The devout Venkatanatha was full of joy with the blessing and at once realized that a complete knowledge of all sciences was at his back and call by the grace of Lord Hayagriva. He prayed that the Lord should be pleased to enthrone himself at the tip of his tongue so that every word of his should be correct and authoritative because of this divine origin and it should be all right-thinking people as such, Here is his prayer to Lord Hayagriva:
Oh Lord! In the assemblies of erudite scholars and in the arena of batches of cleve men, when I begin to speak with a desire to defeat the best of poets and dialecticians, be pleased to take the seat on the throne of the tip of my tongue.
viSEshavith parisadhEshu nATha! vidhagdhagOshti samarAnganEshu |
jigeeshathOmE kavitaarkkakEndrAn JIHVAAGRA SIMHAASANAMABHYUPEYAH ||
The prayer was granted , Venkatanatha realized that deep thoughts and melodious words were raising within him waiting for the suitable time and place to stream forth. He began to compose works in poetry and prose, Sanskrit and Prakrit, in Tamil and manipravala. There are more than 120 compositions to his erudite which came out one after another in the course of his life as occasions arose. Some are in the form of lyrics on God and Goddess; some on their paraphernalia [weapons]; and attendants; some on fundamental doctrine of Ramanuja philosophy. Many are his original works and rare commentaries on the work of earlier acharyas like Sri Yamunacharya and Sri Ramanujacharya.
Sri Venkatanatha was the master of all scriptural texts like the Vedas and the Upanishads, Agamas and Puranas (epics written by sages). He had a perfect knowledge of mantra saasthra (science of mystic syllables). He has incorporated the mantras presided over by several deities in his works for the benefit of seekers. Movement of the divine constellations and geography of the world sculpture and architecture, state craft and sorcery, music and dance, poetry and drama, prosody and poetics, ethics were all at his finger’s ends. He was the writer of an epic poem, a miracle play a dance drama. He was familiar with other literary writes like Kalidasa and Bhasa, Bana, and Bhavabuti. In short there was no branch of knowledge literary or scientific, in which he was not proficient.
[The life history is from the beautiful book “The life and works of Sri Nigamantha Mahadesikan written by Prof A Srinivasaraghavachariar]
The works of Swami Desikan Stone Inscription (Kalvettu) at Thoopul Swami Desikan Avathara Sthalam.
Swamy Desikan ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam
kavi-tArkika-simhAya kalyANa-guNa-SAline |
Srimate venkateSAya vedAntagurave namaH ||
Writeup by : Sri Madhavakannan