SrImathE Nigamantha Mahadesikaya namah:
SrImAn venkatanAthAryaH kavitArkika kesarI |
vedAntAcArya-varyo me sannidhattAm sadA hRdi ||
In or about 1327 CE, there was an invasion to Sirangam by Malik Kafir the general of Alauddin, the Sultan of Delhi. Srivaishnavas could not defend the city against powerful muslims. The Acharyas gathered and discussed and arrived at an unanimous decision to divide into three groups and act secretly. One groups under the leadership of Sri Pillailokacharya, most advanced in age was to take the deity of Lord Ranganatha (NamperumAL) and His divine consorts [ubhaya naachimaars] in a covered palanquin and proceed south ward after crossing the river Cauveri. Another party under Sri Sudarsana suri and others was to stay at Srirangam, erect a stone wall in front of the sanctum sanctorum to save the city from devastation at the hands of the enemy even at the cost of their lives. The third group was to corss the river kollidam and go northward to prevent the quick march of the infidels so that the first party with deities can get away comfortably. Sri Vedanta Desika, who was the youngest, among the Acharyas was persuaded by Sri Sudarsana suri to go with third group and somehow save himself so that he at least might be leftto propound the Srivaishnava doctrine and the teaching of Sri Ramanuja. Sri Sudarsanasuri entrusted hs two sons, who were very young with Swamy Desikan as well as the very valuable and only manuscript “Srutha prakaasika” head and recorded from the Acharyas in unbroken tradition and lineage of Acharyas. [Srutha prakAsikA, an elaborate commentary on Sri Bhashyam of Sri Ramanuja on the Brahmma sUthras]. His earnest desire was that it must be saved for the benefit of future generations. Swamy Desika agreed and proceeded northward with a number of Srivaishnavas. The Muslim army which was in Samayavaram, a village few miles away from Srirangam, attacked them and killed many of them. Swamy Desika concealed the two sons and himself amidst huge heap of corpses and passed the night. Before dawn, he took the boys and moved away unnoticed in North-western direction. After a journey of several days, they reached Sathyakalam, a remote and lonely village in the Karnataka region, where he stayed for several years.
Tradition says that Swamy Desika composed Abheethi sthavam [lyric for the repulsion of fear] a sthOthra on Lord Ranganathan himself praying with devotion that the army of the muslims and Yavanas should be drive out from Srirangam and the Lord should return to His place of residence for the relief of devotes in distress. He often repeated this and prayed to invoke the mercy of the Lord.
In Sathyakalam village there is a small temple of the Local deity Sri Varadaraja in which there is a small shrine for Swamy Desika. Swamy Desika thought this is the place for him to stay and live for sometime. Sathyakala lies about ten kilometers south of Kollegal on the trunk Road from Bangalore. Probably the village attrached him since it was situated on the bank of the ever flowing river Kaveri and there was a small temple in which the replica of Lord Varadaraja of Kanchi was there. There are separate shrines in the temple for Sri Mahalakshmi as well the first three Alwars [Poigai, Bhootha and PeyAzhwAr] and for Sri Ramanujacharya and Swamy Desika. Sri Desika took his daily bath in the cool and clear waters of the sacred river Kaveri flowing gracefully through the hills around and taking his seat under the aswattha tree on the bank on the Koormaasana ( a big tortoise shaped slab) did his japam and meditation. It is said that several works were written by Swamy Desika when he was in the calm and peaceful at village. He also composed several works in tamil and Sanskrit and propounded them to the devout disciples and thus spent his last days at Srirangam. [Devotees having close connection with this place are of firm conviction that it was at this village and have highest respect from Swamy Desikan who lived here for so many years. They name one of their male children in each family as Desikachar. Sathyakal Desikachar is very common household name.]
Generally the deity of Swamy Desika in all temples is in sitting posture with the symbol of teaching in the right hand [jnAna mudhrA] and the form of Srutha prakAsikA manuscript in the left. In Sathyakalam, Swamy Desika is in standing posture reminiscent of his readiness in rush to Srirangam on receipt of the happy news of the return of the Lord Ranganatha to His place. After a stay for some years in Sathyakalam, Sri Vedanta Desika went to ThirunArAyaNapuram [the modern melkote] a shrine that was very hallowed by the Lord who is affectionately known as by the name of Selva PiLLai and who was, as it were the pet child of Sri Ramanujacharya, to leave Srirangam because of the persecution of Srivaishnavas by KirumikaNta chOzhan.
Sri Vedanta Desika also lived in the peaceful and devotional city of Thirunarayanapuram for several years engaging himself in the propagation of the teaching of Sri Ramanujacharya and worship the Lord. One day the long awaited news arrived that one Gopannarya, the chieftain of Gingi fort in South India had driven away the Muslim infidels from Srirangam brought the deities of Lord Ranganatha and His five consorts and reinstalled Them in the temple there. Swamy desika heaved a sign of great relief and at once rushed to Srirangam to worship of the Lord in the company of devoted Srivaishnavas and begin a fresh lease of life in peace.
Sri Vedanta Desika was so much pleased with this glorious act of the chieftain Gopannarya that he composed two verses in Sanskrit to commemorate his services to the casue of Srivaishnavam. The slokas have been inscribed on the eastern side of the outer wall of the sanctum sanctorum and can be seen even today. The slokas are:
AnIya neelasrnga dhyuthirachithajagadhranjanAdh anjanAdhrE:
samstThApyAm sarOjOdhbhava iva kuruthE sAdhuCharyAm saparyAm
GopannAryA, the mirror of reputation, brought back Ranganatha from the Anjana mountain [Tirupathi Hills] which describes the world with the charm of the blue mountain peaks, worshipped him.Sri Vedanta Desika lived in peace in Srirangam for several years.
Swamy Desikan ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam
kavi-tArkika-simhAya kalyANa-guNa-SAline |
Srimate venkateSAya vedAntagurave namaH ||
Writeup by : Sri Madhavakannan