SrImathE Nigamantha Mahadesikaya namah:
SrImAn venkatanAthAryaH kavitArkika kesarI |
vedAntAcArya-varyo me sannidhattAm sadA hRdi ||
Sri Vedanta Desika at Kanchi
On the advice of his uncle and master appuLLAr, Sri Vedanta Desika entered the grahasthasrama and began to serve the duties of a house holder with his pious and devout wife, Kanakavalli by name. He did not seek service under any one and earn money but lived on whatever he got by unchavritthi [grains offered voluntarily by the pious people as he strode the streets of Kanchi] reciting the hymns that eulogize the Lord. Whatever was got in this way, he gave it to his wife who prepared a simple food. He offered the food first to the Lord- to his deity in the daily worship and then had his food as Bhagavadh prasadham. He taught the holy texts in Sanskrit and Tamil to those who came to learn. In the afternoon, he would himself read the puranas and the epics enjoying the qualities and exploits of the Lord portrayed therein. Thus the whole day was spent in the observance of daily rites and teaching, worship and meditation on the Lord.
Lord Varadaraja blessed Sri Vedanta Desika in 1317 CE with the birth of a son who was given the name of Varadaarya. Sri Desika invested the son in the proper age with the sacred thread and initiated him in the Gayatri mantra. In due course, he taught him all saasthras who learnt them with love, respect and became equally proficient. The reverence that Varadarya had for his father is declared by himself in a hymn as follows: all the saasthras were learnt by me from my own father Sri Venkatanatha and not from anyone else, Hail to him, who is my father, the initiator in the Brahman [by his brahmmOpadEsam during upanayanam] my acharya, the goal and the means’.
Yasmaad eva mayaasarvam saasthra agraahi naanyatha:
pithrObrahmmOpadhEshtrE mE guravE daivathAya cha
prApyAya prApakAyAthu vEnkatEsAya mangaLam
During his stay at Kanchi, Sri Vedanta Desika visited the various shrines in and around Kanchi and extolled the deities in melodious lyrics the captivating forms and auspicious qualities of the Lords in those temples there. He composed the lyric Saranagati Deepika on the Lord Deepaprakasa of Himavana [viLakkoLi Empiraan of ThirutthaNkaa] , KaamaasikAshtakam on Lord Nrusimhan in the temple on the bank of Vegavathi river, ashtabhujAshtakam on the eight armed deity in Ashtabhusha shrine, vegasEthu sthOthram on Lord YathOthakAri, Paramaarttha sthuthi on Lord Thiruputkuzhi Vijayaraghava PerumAL; Adiakkalappatthu, Arttha panchakam, Sri Vaishnava dinasari, Panniru namam sthOthram, Thiruucchinna maalai, Meyviradha maanmiyam – all of them in Sweet Tamil verse form, Sampradaya parisuddhi and other works in maNipravALam (Sanskrit mixed Tamil prose) and Nyasa dasakam in Sanskrit- these verses are some of Desika’s works written by him at Kanchi
Sri Vedanta Desika wanted to get himself blessed by making a pilgrimage in the holy cities in North India which were sanctified by the birth and acts of Rama and Krishna and by bathing in the sacred rivers like the Ganges and the Yamuna. When he started from Kanchi, he was drawn towards Tirumala, his mind was filled with the thoughts about the parama krupa [greatest mercy] of the Lord Venkatesa on him; – who brought Desika to this world and made him pious and great. By the Lord’s grace hundred verses flowed from him in praise of this quality of the Lord i.e. dayA- mercy, as being superior to all other qualities of the Lord and of creation, salvation, protection and even destruction. This hymn goes by the name of daya sathakam. Towards the end Swamy Desika says in all humility that he was the lyre on which the head of Venkatesa hills played and sang this song of dayaa [mercy].
Sri Vedanta Desika then proceeded to Utthara Bharat and visited many holy cities Ayodhya, Mathura, Avanthi, Kasi, Badavi, Puri, Brindhavan, Dwaraka, Triveni, Gaya etc.. Thus Sri Desika had seen these shrines and enjoyed them can be inferred from the graphic description that we find in Act of his drama Sankalpa Sooryodhaya of the whole of Bharat from the Himalayas in the North to the extreme South. Of course it is only secondary evidence. After this pilgrimage, Sri Desika came back to Kanchi and continued his daily routine as before.
Swamy Desikan ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam
kavi-tArkika-simhAya kalyANa-guNa-SAline |
Srimate venkateSAya vedAntagurave namaH ||
Writeup by : Sri Madhavakannan