MAHA PERIYAVA AND THANJAVUR DISTRICT
The 68th Pontiff His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamigal Sri Swaminathan (born at Villupuram on 20th May 1894 -Anuradha Star) was taken to Kalavai in his 13th year, when he was studying at Tindivanam, to be initiated into ascetic order and ordained as the 68th Acharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Math. He was given the Sanyasa name Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati. He was affectionately called "Mahaswamigal" and "Walking God". He adorned the Peetam from February 13, 1907. True to the tradition of the Peetam set by Adi Sankara, Mahaswamigal travelled throughout the country by foot or by the traditional palanquin. He also stood by the national sentiments in discarding "foreign cloth" (He immersed them in water instead of setting fire) and started wearing Khadi. He set the trend to create Trusts for achieving the objectives of the Peetham. His foremost concern was preservation of the Vedas, tradition and dharma. He advocated simplicity, shunned pomp, ostentation and extravagance. His exposition of Vedanta, sastras and the dharmic duties attracted scholars and laymen alike, from far and wide, for it has always been rich in values and simple in understanding. Great humorist he had the keen acumen to relate root words of all the languages to Sanskrit highlighting its greatness. He attained moksha at Kancheepuram on 8th January 1994 (Dhanur, Krishna Dwadasi) in his Centenary year.
MAIDEN VISIT TO KUMBAKONAM OF MAHAPERIYAVA
In the eighteenth century, under the rule of Maharashtra kings in Tanjore, the official site of the Kamakoti Peetam was moved temporarily from Kancheepuram to Tanjore owing to the conflicts in the country in that period. This event happened during the 62nd Acharya’s period. He was enroute to Kumbakonam from Kancheepuram, when he was requested by the Lord of Udayarpalayam to stay in their place for sometime. He complied with the Lord’s request and stayed there for sometime as well as in Tanjore. Later, he moved to the mutt building established by then King of Tanjore in the banks of Cauveri. Since that time, Kumbakonam was the temporary place of administrative headquarters of the mutt.
SEMMANGUDI MAHA MARIAMMAN
Semmangudi is a tiny village in the Kodavasl Taluk, on the Kumbakonam-Tiruvarur bus route in the erstwhile Tanjore district and now Tiruvarur. Semmangudi has a higher secondary school, which caters to the educational needs of many surrounding villages, but for which, children from the nearby villages would have had to commute to Kodavasl or Tiruvarur. As you’re aware, Semmangudi has also got one more fame to its credit, being the native village of the well renowned doyen of Carnatic music, Sangeetha Kalanidhi Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Like any other village, Semmangudi village is blessed with 3 temples, dedicated to Lord Shiva, Vishnu, and Sri Maha Mariamman. Of all the three temples, Sri Maha Mariamman Temple has a holy history to cherish, which dates back to 70 years. When HIS HOLINESS SRI CHANDRASEKARENDRA SARASWATHI SWAMIGAL of SRI KANCHI KAMAKODI MUTT was camping in this village, he had developed symptoms of measles. HIS HOLINESS prayed to this Sri Maha Mariamman and soon HIS HOLINESS was relieved of the discomforts. This, the villagers realised, was only to convey how powerful the Deity is. Though, most of the early inhabitants of the village have migrated to different parts of India and also abroad, there has been always consensus in periodical maintenance of the temples; only very recently Vishnu temple was consecrated and a few years back Shiva temple was also renovated , with every time one senior village member taking the responsibility.
VYASA POOJA AND NAVARATHRI POOJA IN THANJAVUR
Swamigal visited several places after Parangipettai and accepting the invitation of the citizens of Tanjore, agreed to observe Chaturmasya at Tanjore. He conducted Vyasa puja in the year 1933 at Tanjore as well as the Navarathri puja that came after. On Friday, 25th of the lunar month of Ani in the year Sri mukham, on the day of Vyasa Purnima,
Swamigal performed Vyasa puja in a big mandap situated in the front of the Tanjore Brahadeeswarar temple. Thousands of people gathered there to witness this puja. He observed the Chaturmasya vratha at Mukasa building situated on the North Street in Tanjore. Every day there was a gathering of scholars and artists in the vidwath sabha and Swamigal blessed and honored those gathered. It is to be noted that Swamigal, during the stay at Tanjore, went to a house in Varadappar Iyer street, in order to have the darshan of the Rama idol that was worshipped by the musical genius, Sri Thyagaraja Swamigal.
Navarathri puja was held in the Co-operative building in the same North Street, Tanjore. The whole building was specially decorated for the sake of the puja. The public came out in thousands everyday to witness Swamigal perform Navarathri puja everyday. On the last day of celebrations, Vijayadasami day, a grand procession was arranged to go
around the four main streets. Swamigal was seated on an ambari (a throne mounted on the elephant) on an elephant and he was followed by the senior prince Rajaraman and his brother in another elephant. Thousands of people walked with our Swamigal immersed in his glowing figure and majestic sight. Scores had gathered around in the balconies of buildings to catch a glimpse. The gas lights were numerous and so shiny to make the
night appear as daytime. The procession included elephants, horses, camels, umbrellas, ‘Pavatta’, nadaswaram groups, band groups, vedic chanting, Thevaram chanting and bhajan groups. It was a sight that was never seen before. All along the way, devotees offered purna kumbam to our Swamigal and showed camphor aarati.
During his stay at Tanjore, people from all walks of life including government officials, lawyers, landlords, businessmen and political leaders participated with enthusiasm in offering their services to our Swamigal.
ESTABLISHMENT OF SANKARA MATAM AT TANJAVUR
For two hundred and fifty years, Acharyas of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam had wished to establish a Sankara mutt at Tanjore, in case the need to stay there arises. Their wishes and efforts came true when our Swamigal returned from his Kashi yatra. The prince of Tanjore Prathapa Simha Raja and T.R.Joshi accomplished this goal in a simple manner.
Both owners of the Mukasa building where Swamigal had stayed earlier, agreed to donate the whole building to the mutt. From that day onward, that building was considered the Sankara mutt. An idol of Adi Sankara has been installed there and daily puja is being performed. Devotees gather there to celebrate religious holidays as well as listen to lectures and musical events. A big picture of our Swamigal was hung there in November,
1946 by T.R.Venkatarama Shastrigal. At this event, he extolled the virtues of our Swamigal, saying it was hard to find such great souls in our lifetime. It is indeed our good fortune that we have such a guru, the public should understand the greatness of our Swamigal; following his words would bring goodness to this world. The chief guest at this event was S.Chandrasekara Iyer, Chief Justice, High Court, Chennai.
Meeting with the British Collector
The office of Tanjore collector was then situated at Vallam. The collector of Tanjore was an Englishman named H.M.Hoot. He was curious about the celebrity for whom a huge celebration and welcome was given and wanted to meet Swamigal himself.He sent his request for an audience through a Hindu friend of his and Swamigal agreed to meet the collector that evening, at the appointed time. The collector's friend translated whatever Swamigal said in Tamil to English for the collector's comprehension. The collector conveyed his government's thanks for the annadhanam provided by Swamigal in Thiruvayar. The collector was immersed in Swamigal's attractive personality and clarity of mind. He had a conversation with Swamigal for close to an hour and spoke about public undertakings, government and mutt undertakings. Later he told Swamigal that he would never forget this visit in his life.
Research about our Culture across the ocean.
Swamigal was involved in various research during his travels. He found that Indian culture and practices were prevalent in Java and Bali islands which are now called Indonesia. Swamigal had previously read about two thousand pages of the book `Raffle's History of Java.' There are temples in Indonesia for Vinayaka, Siva, Ambika and Vishnu, similar to the ones in Tamil Nadu. However, the Saivite and Vaishnavite religions that were prevalent before have disappeared and Islam has become the national religion. Sri Swamigal would enquire about the ancient culture and practices of the South Asian islands with those visiting from there. Twenty years ago, a troupe from Java was visiting Madras. They played scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Swamigal sent gifts portraying Indian culture along with his blessings, to the troupe and to each of its members through the mutt's special representative, K.G.Natesa Shastrigal, teacher at Mylapore Venkataramana Vaidyasala. A picture of Swamigal was also presented to them at their request. The head of the group paid his respects to Swamigal and invited him to visit their country. Swamigal was knowledgeable about each of the historic Hindu and Buddhist sites in their country. The famous travel agency Thomas Cook & Co. came to know about Swamigal's interest in the islands. They sent a brochure and information about the places to the mutt, offered to make arrangements for his travel and stay in case he was planning to visit there.
STHALA POORANAM OF KUMBAKONAM
There are several Siva and Vishnu temples in Kumbakonam. Just before the lastMahapralaya, Brahma went to Parameswara and asked him what to do for the re-creationafter the Mahapralaya. Parameswara asked Brahma to take a large amount of earth soil,make a kumbam out of it by mixing the soil with Amrutham, fill the kumbam with theseeds of all living beings and sprinkle amrutham on them, keep mango leaves in themouth of the kumbam, tightly close it with coconut, then adorn the kumbam with Poonaland Dharbai. He later also instructed Brahma to keep the kumbam on the south side ofthe Meru hill. Brahma made the kumbam as instructed by Siva and kept the kumbam on astand at the Meru hill.When the mahapralaya started, darkness engulfed the world and there were nonstoprains, floods and winds. After the pralaya got over, the sun rose once again and therains and the wind stopped. Brahma’s kumbam moved from the Meru hill and floatedtowards the south. Brahma tried to approach it, but the hot air from the kumbam stoppedhim from touching it. Parameswaran, who was standing aside, took an arrow, aimed it atthe kumbam and split it in half. The places where the kumbam’s neck, mango leaves,coconut, dharbai and poonal fell became holy.The place where the coconut from the kumbam fell became known as the‘Abhimukeswarar temple’ on the south side of the Mahamagam tank. The place wherethe the poonal on the kumbam fell is now called the ‘Gowtameswarar temple’ on thenorth side of the tank. The mango leaves are said to have fallen five miles north ofKumbakonam at ‘Thirupurambiyam’. The mouth of the Kumbam fell ten miles south eastof Kumbakonam at a place named ‘Kudavail’. The place where Parameswaran stoodwhile shooting the arrow is ‘Panathurai’ on the south side of the city. The place wheremost of the kudam fell came to be known as ‘Kudandhai’ or ‘Kudamooku’. Two drops ofamrutham that fell out from the Kumbam became two holy tanks and one of them is nowknown as the Mahamagam tank.Parameswaran came to the place where the kudam fell, made a Sivalingam withthe earth and amrutham from the Kumbam and entered in the sivalingam in the form ofJyothi. That swayambu lingam is ‘Adi Kumbeswarer,’ residing in the center of theKumbakonam city. Brahma celebrated and performed pujas for ten days to theSivalingam that was made by Parameswara himself and in the end, performed AvabruthaSnanam in the maha magam tank. That day is the Mahamagam Poornima day. Based onthese celebrations, Brahmotsavam is celebrated in temples all over Tamil Nadu and otherstates.
1920 – Vyasa Puja at Mayuram
Swamigal performed Vyasa puja of 1920 at Mayuram and stayed there for three months. Veda classes were started for around 300 boys who were brahmacharis and going to school. They all used to take a bath in Cauveri before sun rise, perform their morning sandhyavandanam and then head to a tent in the Rajan Gardens where they offered daily prayers to Agni ( Sammithadhanam) before going for more vedic training. The place was serene and had the appearance of abodes of ancient rishis. On 2nd November, 1920, the head of Dharmapuram Adheenam Srilasri Adheena Karthar visited the mutt and paid their respect to Swamigal.During Swamigal's stay in Mayuram, an elderly Islamic scholar who was well versed in Quran, wanted to converse with Swamigal. He was blind in both eyes and Swamigal asked him to come to the mutt around four pm. At that time, there was a sadas of vidwans who were discussing and explaining Hindu philosophy. The place was also crowded with devotees eager to have darshan of Swamigal. After the discussion of the vidwans was over, Swamigal called the muslim scholar near by and asked him to describe the common practices and philosophies of his religion. He turned towards Swamigal and replied with tears in his eyes, ` What do I have to say in front of great saint as yourself? All religions show the path to God. I am able to see that Godliness in you and feel it in my heart. Wherever there is love, God can be found there too.' All the devotees gathered there were astonished to witness the devotion of that Muslim gentleman.
Mahodaya Day -1920
Swamigal stayed for a week at Vedaranya during the holy time of Mahodaya in the year 1920. He had holy bath at Kodikarai and visited local pilgrimage like Agathiyampalli. Then he left for Nagapatinam where the residents welcomed him and he stayed in Neelayadakshi temple. Nagai G.Sadashivam Pillai welcomed him with five songs that he had composed on Swamigal.
After completing Chaturmasya at Kadiramangalam, Swamigal traveled around Nannilam district. There was a prominent community of Vathimas who lived mainly around some villages in the district. They were known to have supported and patronized Vedic and other scholars. Konairajapuram Sambasiva Iyer, a prominent member of this community, was one of the founder members of Advaita Sabha. He owned SriVidya Press where he printed publications such as Advaithasiddhi, Siddhi Brahmanandheeyam and Siva Philosophy of Appayya Dikshithar. Navarathri celebrations in the year 1921 was held at Vishnupuram.
PARTICIPATION OF SRI MAHA PERIYAVA IN MAHA MAKHAM IN 1921
Swamigal repaired to Patteeswaram, a village some five miles west of Kumbakonam, in March 1921, for the sacred bath in the Mahamagham tank in Kumbakonam, on the Mahamagham day. Since Swamigal, started his journey to Kasi in 1919 itself, he did not go to the Sankara mutt in Kumbakonam. As per tradition,samaradhana to Thepuramal Nallur Sivan took place at the mutt. Swamigal stayed in the mandap situated to the south of the Mahamagham tank and had his bath on the sacred day. Two hundred volunteers from Chennai Young Muslims' associated had come to Kumbakonam to help and serve the pilgrims. Swamigal was very pleased and impressed by the service rendered by these youth who were all less than 22 years old. They were all invited to the camp at Patteeswaram, where they were fed in the mutt. Swamigal spoke to each and every one of them and enquired about their studies, parents, etc. In appreciation of their service to the community, he awarded a silver cup to their organization. There were also another set of volunteers under the guidance of Congress leader Banthulu Iyer. A silver cup was presented to them in appreciation of their service during this event A prominent pilgrim for that year's mahamagham was the patriot, Subramania Sivam. He visited Patteeswaram to obtain darshan of Swamigal. His Holiness spotted the patriot in the crowd and requested his assistants to bring him closer. Sivan was clad in saffron with the goal of obtaining freedom for the country and was moved by Swamigal's grace. He prayed for Swamigal's blessings for this country to attain independence as soon as possible and also prayed for the public to be just and god fearing. Chaturmasya Vratha on that year was celebrated at Kadiramangalam, near Kuthalam. Swamigal spent the next year traveling each and every village in the districts of Seerkazhi, Mayuram, Nannilam and Mannargudi. He visited Saivite and Vaishnavite temples in both sides of the river Cauveri and offered his prayers and respects to the deities. He did not miss even the smallest of temples during his ravel.
ANNA DHANAM DONE BY THEPERUMANALUR SIVAN IN 1933
HISTORY OF SANAKRA MATAM KUMBAKONAM
It has been mentioned before that the 62nd Acharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi Swamigal had moved the mutt premises from Kanchipuram to Kumbakonam due to the Carnatic war happening near Kanchi. Tanjore was then ruled by Maratha kings. King Pratapasimha’s minister Dabeer Bandh built this mutt and four agraharams around it in the south banks of the Cauveri river. There used to be coconut trees in this place, before a skeleton mutt was built in a hurry to accommodate the then Swamigal. In the year 1820, then king Saraboji Maharaja built a sanctum sanctorum for then Swamigal’s puja behind that mutt. The document describing the event can still be found in the left frontal wall. The old buildings grew badly in need of repair with the passing years. Swamigal wished to renovate the mutt after the completion of the Thiruvanaikal mutt in the year 1923. The effort was spearheaded by the then mutt manager and lawyer K.Kuppuswamy Iyer. He was assisted by Theperumalnallur Sivan in this effort. Diwan D.N.Muthiah Chettiar of Pudukottai donated Rs.25,000/- for the renovation. Rs.75,000/- more was funneled from the mutt’s income and directed toward the renovation of the Kumbakonam mutt. The renovation task was completed in the year 1933 under the supervision of Sivan. After six years, more construction was undertaken to a kitchen, a private room for Swamigal and Gosala. The key people involved in completing these tasks were Kumbakonam Dr.R.Mahalinga Iyer’s father Ex-Thasildar Ramamurthy Iyer and Gopala Iyer – son of Deputy Collector A.Krishnaswamy Iyer of Dabeer Road, Kumbakonam. They were able to finish this with the help of donations from various devotees including Ramanathapuram Raja and Kollankodu Rani.
INAGURATION OF PATASHALA BUIDINGS IN RAJA VEDA PATASHALA – KUMBAKONAM
Raja Govinda Dikshithar Patasala On the banks of the river Cauveri, Govinda Dikshithar, a minister for the Tanjore Nayak kings, had built a Veda patasala in Kumbakonam. The patasala was supported by Maratha kings after the Nayaka kings. There are still students at this patasala and it is being administered by the Devasthanam Committee. The chairman of this committee, K.R.M.Singaram Chettiar, took the effort to renovate and build a new building for this patasala. Accepting the invitation of the Devasthanam committee, our Swamigal opened the new building during his visit to Kumbakonam in the year 1933. A welcome speech was given to Swamigal by municipal chairman Muthukumara Chettiar. In his speech, Swamigal said, “A building built on a solid foundation remains strong for a long time. Similarly, this patasala was started four hundred years ago by the great soul Govinda 94 Dikshithar. Even now, the sound of Veda Gosham can be heard from the patashala. Governments may change, but the light lit by that minister is still shining brightly. Any dharma that is being done with good intention will continue for a long time.” On this occasion, N.K.Venkatesa Banthulu, an English Professor at Anantapur government college offered the biography of Govinda Dikshithar written by him , to Swamigal. It should be noted that the principal of the patasala was Mahamahopadhyay Shastra Ratnakaram Yegnaswamy Shastrigal who hailed from the illustrious lineage of Appayya Dikshithar and also happened to be the grandson of Mannargudi Raju Shastrigal.
VISIT TO TIRUVIDAIMARUDUR FOR SHANKARA JAYATHI
Swamigal celebrated this year’s Sankara Jayanthi very elaborately at Thiruvidaimaruthur. He gathered a sabha of vidwans where there were debates and discussions on Vedanta and he also gave lectures. During the five day celebrations, Swamigal gave sermons on how Adi Sankara went around the whole country in his short thirty years of life, his achievements and philosophy of Advaita. On each of the five days, a picture of Adi Sankara was kept on a chariot and brought on a procession around the four streets. In the front of the procession there were five elephants which carried Adi Sankara’s Padukas, his Panchaloka idol and his Bhashyams. There were also horses in this procession. On both sides of the procession were youth carrying umbrellas. Many nadaswaram musicians were fortunate to participate in this procession. Swamigal walked in the procession along with the Tanjore princes. On returning, Swamigal honored the vidwans with gifts.
Darshan to Harijans
During his tour of the Tanjore district, once in the village of Sellur ( enroute from Kudavasal to Koradacheri), Swamigal saw about two hundred harijans including women and children waiting for his darshan after having bathed, putting on clean clothes and wearing vibhuti on their foreheads.Our Swamigal got down from the palanquin and spent some time with them. He made kind enquiries about their welfare and wanted to find out if their landlords were treating them kindly. He asked them questions about their methods of worship at home and requested mutt officials to give them new clothes. The local harijans apologized for retaining Swamigal for a long time, but were very happy and felt blessed by His Holiness. His concern for the poor was great and unlimited and he never failed to exhort the better placed sections of society to go to their account.
MAHA PERIYAVAS VISIT TO THANJAVUR KUMBAKONAM IN 1939
AFTER A LONG GAP ORGANISATION OF SRI MATAM MUDHRADHIKARIGARS WITH THE FOLLOWING OBJECTIVES WHILE IN THANJAVUR
• SOCIAL SERVICE • TEMPLE MAINTANANCE • EKADESI PURANA PATANAM • PROTECTION TO COWS • PLANTING TREES • DIGGING WELLS AND TANKS(POORTHA DHARMAM) • PRACTICING DHARMA SASTRAM ATHITHI SATHKARAM
VYASA POOJA AND NAVARATHRI FESTIVAL AT PATTUKOTAI – 1940
On 19th July,1940 vyasa pooja was held at thuvarankuruchi(Near Pattukottai). There Swamigal stayed for 2 months. Mannangadu viswanatha iyer did the necessary arrangement for swamigal's stay. After that,Swamigal went to the village Sonrakkadu(Aranthanki Taluk) for the Navarathri festival.
VYASA POOJA AT NAGA PATTINAM – 1941
ATHIRUDRAM AT POOVANUR NEAR MANARGUDI – 1942 WITH THE PRAYER OF NEGATING THE ILL EFFECTS OF II WORLD WAR