Nagareshu Kanchi- Tiruthanka (Thoopul) Part-2 , Swami Desikan temple
Just adjacent to Deepaprakasa temple we have a temple for swami Desikan. Desika means guru but perhaps because he is the greatest of gurus Desikan invariably relates to Thoopul Vedantha Desika. To talk about swami is impossible yet we will be failing in our duty if we forget the ‘One who showed the simple yet lofty saranagathi margam’. As we enter the temple precincts we see to our left a building which is the avathara sthalam kula mani-mandapam constructed in 2002 by the ‘Thoopul Trust’ Chennai. The caretaker opened up the room for us and blessed were we to be at that hallowed spot on that day. Anjali is what we could offer to Swami Desikan as we looked round the room.
We then proceeded to the temple constructed by swami’s tirukumaran Nainarachariar swami who along with Brahmatantra swami were the first disciples. As we entered the sanctum sanctorum we saw Swami Desikan Moolavar and utsavar in irundhatirukolam (seated posture) with right hand in ‘abhaya-hastham’ and left hand holding a manuscript. Next to swami is Laksmi Hayagreeva his aradhya murthi. On swami’s chest we can see a pendant of Ramanuja. Swami Desikan always reminds us that he follows the footsteps of Bhaghavadh Ramanuja.
Thoopul is so called because it used to filled with ‘darbha grass’ which is pavitram(sacred). Descendants of Visvamitra gotram used to live in Thoopul agraharam and darbha grass is also known as Visvamitram. Our acharya belonged to this illustrous gotram or it would be more appropriate to say that swami was a treasure for the gotram. Nainarachariar his tirukumaran had the distinction of being his first shishya and understood the divinity and greatness of his father. In ‘Pillaianthathi’ swami is addressed as ‘Thoopul pillai, Thoopul punithan,Thoopul mapurudan,Thoopul anugan, Thoopul aiyah, Thoopul arputhan, Thoopul devan, Thoopul maley, Thoopul thaai, Thoopul kulavillaku, Thoopul kulathuarasu, Thoopul kulamani and Thoopul vallal’. The importance of Thoopul can be understand by these references. One may stay in several places but the land of birth(avatharam) is vital. Like Ayodhya is for Rama and Mathura is for Krishna Thoopul is sacred for Srivaishnavas. Swami’s “daya” has made him spell without ambiguity the ‘saranagathi-margam’. It is the duty of each one of us to get involved in the temple activities and make it a point to make periodic visits and honour the holy place which gave us the gift of an acharya without a parallel.
The story of swami Desikan is told on the paintings on the temple walls with appropriate titles. Some of them are faded and a face-lift is needed. As we complete the pradakshinam we see a well which says ‘Sri Thoopul’. The holiness of the spot and the satwik vibrations can be felt only by visiting the place. The utsavams are done with great devotion and grandeur and the prasadams offered daily and on special occasions are commendable. On Sravanam purappadu takes place on the Mada veedhis of Varadaraja perumal temple. Thereafter Tirumanjanam takes place and many varieties of prasadams are distributed generously. There are some devoted caretakers for the temple but if women devotees after taking permission from the temple sweep and mop the place it will be their sukrutham. Bhaghavadh Bashyakarar has said that cleaning temples, making kolams, making flower garlands are at par with studying ‘SriBashyam’. Again if more people who are retired take up residence around the temple a lot more can be done. For those who are unable to visit the place , remembering Thoopul and learning and reciting the beautiful stostrams of swami and the Tamil prabhandhams will go a long way. If this is not possible reciting or reading ‘Pillaianthathi’ will destroy our base qualities and make us better ourselves everyday.
May our Thoopul Vallal live a hundred more years!
Video of Swami Desikan Kaingaryam at Thoopul and various Divya desam
For more details on Swami Desikan Kaingaryam at Various Divya Desam visit :
Wall Paintings of Swami Desikan at Thoopul Swami Desikan Sannadhi
Hare Rama Chanting at Swami Desikan Sannadhi
Photos & Videos: Sundararajan
Writeup: Vyjayanthi Rajan