About the temple

SRI VARADRAJA PERUMAL DEVASTHANAM
Ganpatganj, Supoul ( Bihar )

UTSAVA OF THE TEMPLE

This temple, Sri Varadraja Perumal Devasthanam or Vishnu Dham is strongly adhered to Sri Ramanuja Sampraday of Vaishnava theology wich is based on vaishnava agams(Panchratra and Vaikhanas) agams and nurtured by vaishnava saints ( Alvars - which are 12 in nos.) and further supported and expounded by vaishnava acharyas. The sampraday which was following the visistadwait ( specified nondualism ) was given a high pedestal by Sri Ramanuja by writing a master piece commentary over Bramhasutra ( uttar mimansa or sarirakmimansa of Badarayan). The sampraday was further nurtured and supported by post Ramanuja Acharyas. The temple closely follows the tradition and philosophy of Ramanuja Sampraday. Here the summerised description of the alvars and acharyas is given below.

ALVARS :
  1. POIGAI ALVAR :
   
  • Birth : Tiruvekkaa (near Kanchipuram); in _ 7th century CE; in Aiypassee month
  • Nakshatram : Thiruvonam (Sravana)
  • Avatar of Panchajanya
  • Other names : Saro yogi, Kaasaara yogi, Poigai piraan, Padma muni
  • Composed Mudhal Thiruvandhadhi which contains 100 verses
  2. BHOOTHATH ALVAR :
 
  • Birth : Mahabalipuram; in _ 7th century CE; in Aiypassee month
  • Nakshatram : Avittam (Dhanishta)
  • Avatar of Kaumodakee
  • Composed Mudhal Thiruvandhadhi which contains 100 verses
  3. PEY ALVAR :
 
  • Birth : Mylapore; in _ 7th century CE; in Aiypassee month
  • Nakshatram : Sadayam (Satabhishak)
  • Avatar of Nandaka
  • Composed Moondram Thiruvandhadhi which contains 100 verses
  4. THIRUMAZHISAI ALVAR :
 
  • Birth : Thondai Naadu (parts of Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur); in _ 7th century CE; in Thai month
  • Nakshatram : Magam
  • Avatar of Sudarshan chakra
  • He composed _ 216 paasurams in the Divya Prabhandham. His prominent works are Thiruchchanda Viruththam and Naanmugan Thiruvandhadhi.
  5. NAMMALVAR ALVAR :
 
  • Lived between 5th to 9th century CE
  • Birth : Vellalar tribe in Alwarthirunagiri (near Tirunelveli); in Vaikasi month
  • Nakshatram : Vishaakam
  • Avatar of Vishwaksena
  • Nammalvar is also known as Maran and Sadagopan. Some of his prominent works are Thiruvaymozhi, Thiruviruttam, Thiru Vaasiriam, and Periya Thiruvanthadi.
  6. MADHURAKAVI ALVAR :
 
  • Lived between 6th to 9th century CE
  • Birth : Thirukkolur; in Chitthirai month
  • Nakshatram : Chithra
  • Avatar of Garuda
  • Though Madhurkavi was born before Nammalvar, he accepted Nammalvar as his guru. He is supposed to have been very gifted in music and is said to have set Nammalvar's compositions to music. He composed Kanninun Siruthambu, 11 paasurams, and emphasised on aacharya bhakti.
  7. KULASHEKHARA ALVAR :
 
  • Lived in early 9th century CE
  • Birth : Thiruvanchikkulam; in Maasee month
  • Nakshatram : Punarvasu
  • Avatar of Kausthuba
  • Kulashekhara Varman was a king of Chera dynasty in South India. He is said to have renounced the crown to become a sanyasi to serve Lord Ranganatha at Srirangam. He was also a great devotee of Lord Rama. His prominent compositions are Mukundamala and Perumal Thirumozhi.
  8. PERIYALVAR ALVAR :
 
  • Lived in 6th or 9th century CE
  • Birth : Srivilliputhur; in Aani month
  • Nakshatram : Swathi
  • Avatar of Garuda
  • Periyalvar is also known as Vishnuchitta. He was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. His prominent works are Periyalvar Thirumozhi and Tirupallandu.
  9. ANDAL ALVAR :
 
  • Lived in 8th century CE or earlier
  • Birth : Srivilliputhur; in Aadi month
  • Nakshatram : Pooram
  • Avatar of Bhoodevi
  • Andal was adopted daughter of Periyalvar, who found her under a tulsi plant. She was given the name Kodhai, which later became known as Goda. Her prominent works are Thiruppavai and Nachiar Tirumozhi.
  10. THONDARADIPPODI ALVAR :
 
  • Lived in 8th century CE
  • Birth : Thirumandangudi; in Margazhi month
  • Nakshatram : Kettai (Jyeshta)
  • Avatar of Vanamaalai
  • Thondaradippodi Alvar's prominent works are Tirumaalai (45 paasuram) and Tiruppalliezuchi (10 paasuram). He is also known as Bhaktanghri renu swami and Vipra Narayanar.
  11. THIRUPPAAN ALVAR :
 
  • Lived in 8th or 9th century CE
  • Birth : Alagapuri (a village near Srirangam); in Karthigai month
  • Nakshatram : Rohinee
  • Avatar of Srivatsam
  • Thiruppaan Alvar was born in Paanar community, which was a community of musicians. He is also known as Paanar perumal and Munivaahanar. His prominent work is Amalannadhipiraan, containing 10 verses.
  12. THIRUMANGAI ALVAR :
 
  • Lived in 8th century CE
  • Birth : Thirukurayalur; in Kaarthigai month
  • Nakshatram : Krithika
  • Avatar of Saranga
  • Thirumangai Alvar's real name was Kaliyan/Kalikanti. He was initially a miltary commander under the Chola king, and was given the title of Parakala for his valour. He is considered one of the most learned alvars. He was given the title of Narkavi Perumal as he was a great poet. Some of his prominent works are Periya Thirumozhi, Thiru Vezhukootru irukkai, Thiru Kurun Thandagam, and Thiru Nedun Thandagam. He composed about 1361 verses in the Divya Prabhandham - the most for any alvar.
 

Acharyas :

  1. Nathamuni :
 
  • Born in Viranarayana Puram
  • Supposed to have lived in late 9th century CE.
  • Natharmuni is credited with restories the Nalayira Divyaprabandham(collection of 4000 hymns) of the Alwars. He belonged to the Shadamarsha gothra. He was the grandfather of Yamunacharya. Sine if his famous works include Nayaaya-tattva, Purusa ninnaya and Yoga rahasya.
  2. Yamunacharya :
 
  • Birth : 916 CE at Kattu Mannargudi in Tamil Nadu;in Aadi month.
  • Thiru Nakshatram : Utthiradam.
  • Yamunacharya (also known as Alavandar) Was the son of Ishwara Bhatta and grandson of Nathamuni. Some of his famous works are Chatushloki 9poem in praise of Goddess Lakshmi), Storraratnam ( Prayars in praise of Narayana), Agatna Pramnya(text which stated the authority of Pancharatnam Aganna) Siddhitrayam(consisting of Atma Sidhi Iswara Sidhi) Gitarha Sangraha (a commentary on Bhagwata Gita).
  3. Periya Nambi :
 
  • Birth : 997 CE : in Margazhi month.
  • Other Names : Mahapurana Parankusa Daasar.
  • Periya Nambi was one of the prominent disciples of Shri Alvandar. He was also the primary acharya of Shri Ramanuja.
  4. Yajnamurti :
 
  • Yajnamurti is also known as Arulalap Perumal Emperumanar. He was originally an expert Advaita sanyasin. After being defeated in a debate with shri Ramanuja. Which went on for 18 days he became Ramanuja disciple. His famous works include jnyana Saram and Prameya Saram.
  5. Kuresan :
 
  • Birth : 1000 CE at Kooram (near Kancheepuram); in Thai month.
  • Thirn Nkshatram : Hastam
  • Other Names : KOORATHAXHAWAN Azhwan. Pavithram of Shri Ramanuja
  • Kuresan was born in the rich landlord clan of Harita and was extremely philanthropic. He was a disciple of Shri ramanuja's during latteer time in Kancheepuram. He was also a great devotee of Lord vardaraja Perumal. He soon renouneced his wealth and joined shri Ramanuja's in srirangam with his wife Andlamma. Kuresan helped shri Ramanuja in composing shri Bhasya by travelling.with him to Kashmir so that they could refer to Bodhyan Vritti. Kuresan memoriesed the entire Vritti which helped shri Ramanuja in completing his treatise on Vyasa's Brahma Sutra. Kuresan also wrote Pancastavee comprising 5 Storrsa: sri vaikuntha stavam Athimanushastavam Sundarabahustavam varadrajast avam and shri stavam. He was the father of Parasar Bhattar.
  5. Kuresan :
 
  • Birth : 1000 CE at Kooram (near Kancheepuram); in Thai month.
  • Thirn Nkshatram : Hastam
  • Other Names : KOORATHAXHAWAN Azhwan. Pavithram of Shri Ramanuja
  • Kuresan was born in the rich landlord clan of Harita and was extremely philanthropic. He was a disciple of Shri ramanuja's during latteer time in Kancheepuram. He was also a great devotee of Lord vardaraja Perumal. He soon renouneced his wealth and joined shri Ramanuja's in srirangam with his wife Andlamma. Kuresan helped shri Ramanuja in composing shri Bhasya by travelling.with him to Kashmir so that they could refer to Bodhyan Vritti. Kuresan memoriesed the entire Vritti which helped shri Ramanuja in completing his treatise on Vyasa's Brahma Sutra. Kuresan also wrote Pancastavee comprising 5 Storrsa: sri vaikuntha stavam Athimanushastavam Sundarabahustavam varadrajast avam and shri stavam. He was the father of Parasar Bhattar.
  6. Mudaliandan :
 
  • Birth : 1027 CE at pacai varana puram sannidhi(now Nazareth Pettai). In chithirai month .
  • Thiru Nakshatram : Punarpoosam
  • Parents : Shri Anantha narayana Dheekshidar and Nachiyarammal.
  • Other Names : Dasarathi(given byparents). Yathiraja's paduks (meaning shri Ramanuja's lotus feet), Aandan Tridandam Nam Vadhoola Desikan Vaishnavsiro Bushaa sri Vaishnava dasar.
  • Swami Mudaliandan was Shri Ramanauja sister's son. He is said to be an avatar of Lord Rama himself ( hence the name dasarathi- referring to son of dasaratha)who wanted to sarva Adisheshan of who Ramanuja was an avatar) because he was pleaded by Adisheshan's services in previous avatars. He was the first shishya of sri Ramanuja who gave him the name.Mudaliandan. Under shri Ramanuja guidance he also oraganised the administration of shri Ranganathaswamy temple.
  7. Parasar Bhattar:
 
  • Birth : 1122 CE.
  • Parasar Bhattar was the son of Kuresan. He is supposed to have lived from 1122-1174 CE he is considered to the next spiritual leader afrer shri Ramanuja. Some of his prominent works include Astasloki Srirangarajastavam Kaisikamahatmya( a commentary on Kaisika Purana) and Bhagavad Guna Darpanam( a commentary on the Vishnu sahasranamam).
  8. Pillai Lokacharya:
 
  • Birth 1205 CE at Sritangam in Aippasi month.
  • Thiru Nakshatram : Thiruvonani.
  • Other names : Ulagasiriyar Lokacharyar.
  • Pillai Lokacharya authored 18 Ragasya Granthas( collectively known as Astandasa ragasya) of which the srivachanabhushan the Tattvatraya and the Mumukshuppadi are most important. He os commonly regarded as the founder of Tengalai sect of Shri vaishnavism.
  9. Vadanta Desika :
 
  • Birth 1208 CE at Thooppul ( near Kancheepuram) in Purattaasi month.
  • Thiru Nakshatram : Sravanam.
  • Parents : shri Ananthasuri and Smt Thothaaramba.
  • Vadanta Desika studied shastras under KidambiAppulllaar,also known as atreya ramanuja. He rose to the status of acharya by the age of 27. He is believed to be the incarnation of thr bell of the Lord venkateswara of tirupati.Vadanta dwsika was a dedicated devotee of Hayagreeva Perumal. He was given the title of title "kaci Tarkika Simha" or lion among poets and debaters. He is the author of many famous works including" Paaduka Saltasram" -1008 Verses on the Sandals of the Lord: He died in 1370 CE.

 

BELOW, IS GIVEN A BRIEF CLASSIFICATION OF DIVYA PRABANDHA GIVEN OUT SPONTANEOUSLY BY ALVARS.

1. CLASSIFICATION OF THE DIVYA PRABANDHAM

BOOK 1 : MUDALAYIRAM / The First Thousand
  1. Tiruppallandu / Glorybe of Peryalvar / Vishnuchitta or Pattarbiran. 2  
  2. Periyalvar Tirumoli / The Sacred works of Sri Vishnuchitta or Pattarbiran 5  
  3. Tiruppavai / the Maiden's Vow of Andal or Goda 92  
  4. Nacchiyar Tirumoli / Poems of the Lord's Bride of Andal or Goda 102  
  5. Perumal Tirumoli / The Sacred Works of Kulasekara Perumal 128  
  6. Tirucchanda Viruttam / The Easy Canter Chant of Tirumalisai Piran 151  
  7. Tirumalai / The Song Garland of Tondaradip-Podi 175  
  8. Tiruppalli Elucchi / The Sacred Revellie of Todaradip Podi 183  
  9. Amalanadipiran / The Perfect-First-Lord of Tiruppan-Alvar 186  
  10. Kanninun Siruttambu / The Leash of Spinous Rope of Madurakavi 188  
BOOK 2 : IRANDAM AYIRAM / The Second Thousand
  11. Periya Tirumoli / The Big Work of Tirumangai Alvar 193  
  12. Tirukkuruntandakam / The Shorter Tandakam of Tirumangai Alvar 422  
  13. Tiruneduntandakam / The Longer Tandakam of Tirumangai Alvar 426  
BOOK 3 : MUNRAM AYIRAM / The Third Thousand
  14. Tiruvaimoli / The Revelation of Nammalvar or Kurugur Satakopan 437  
BOOK 4 : IYARPPA / The Prose Works
  15. Mudal Tiruvandadi / The First Andadi of Poygai Alvar 621  
  16. Irandam Tiruvandadi / The Second Andadi of Butatt-Alvar 637  
  17. Munram Tiruvandadi / The Third Andadi of Pey Alvar 652  
  18. Nanmukan Tiruvandadi / The Maker-Andadi of Tirumalisai Alvar 667  
  19. Tiruviruttam / The Tryst of Nammalvar 682  
  20. Tiruvasiriyam / The Advice of Nammalvar 702  
  21. Periya Tiruvandadi / The Big Andadi of Nammalvar 704  
  22. Tiruvelukkutrirukkai / The Seven Tiered Structure Poem of Tirumangai Alvar 718  
  23. Siriya Tirumadal / The Shorter Madal of Tirumangai Alvar 720  
  24. Periya Tirumadal / The longer Madal of Tirumangai Alvar 728  
  25. Ramanuja Nutrandadi / Ode to Ramanuja of Tiruvarangattamudanar 741  
    Appendix 761  
 
2. CLASSIFICATION OF THE DIVYA PRABANDHAM
  (Stanza nos., Selected for Nityanusandhanam shown in second column printed in different colour)
 
  The first aayiram consists of First column Second column
1. Thiruppallaandu 12 12
2. Periyazhwar Thirumozhi 461  
3. Thiruppaavai 30 30
4. Naachiyar Thirumozhi (6th chapter Varanamayiram) 143 11
5. Perumal Thirumozhi 105  
6. Thiruchandha Virutham 120  
7. Thirumaalai 45  
8. Thiruppalli Ezhuchi 10 10
9. Amalanaadipiraan 10 10
10. Kanninun Siruthaambhu 11 11
    947 84
  The second aayiram consists of    
  Periya Thirumozhi 1134  
  The third "Iyarpa" 817  
  The fourth "Thiruvaimozhi" 1102  
  Pasurams (Stanzas) 4000  
  Koil Thiruvaimozhi (Selection from Thiruvaimozhi) 480 143
  Raamaanuja Nootrndhaadhi 544 108
  Upadesa Rathinamaalai 604 74
  Pasurams (Stanzas)   409
       
Stanzas with mark to be chanted twice.
These has to be pronounced as in FLUTE
 
 
NITHYAANUSANDHAANAM

In Visishtadwaitha Philosophy established by Sri Ramanuja all the Prabandhas are in Tamizh language and are called Tamizh Vedas or Divya Prabandha. Out of this Tamizh Veda a few important stanzas were selected and compiled for "Nithyaanusandhanam" (for daily use) and there cannot be a Vaishnava who is not familiar with these.

All the twelve Aazhwars were born in South India and they delved deep into the gunanubhava and auspicious qualities of the Lord and their mystic experiences became Prababandhas. Since it is not possible to recite all the four thousand stanzas of the Divya Prabandha every day,our elders have selected the important and juicy pasurams (Stanzas) and compiled as "Nithyanusandhanam" for every day recitation.

1. THIRU PALLAANDU : Just as "PRANAVA" is the beginning for Veda paaraayana 'THIRU PALLAANDU' is for "NITHYAANUSANDHAANAM" This comprises twelve verses and was given out by Sri Periyaazhawar of Srivilliputhur, hailing the Lord's glory and wishing the Lord, His consort and His weapons safety and longevity for ever and ever.

2. THIRUPPALLIEZHUCHI : This comprises ten stanzas, sung by Sri Thondaradippodi Aazhwar, to awaken the Lord of Srirangam (Suprabhatha).

3. THIRUPPAAVAI : This comprises thirty lovely verses sung by Sri Aandaal, the foster daughter of Sri Periyazhwar of Srivilliputhur, seeking union with Lord Krishna.

4. NEERAATTAM

5. POOCHOOTTAL

6. KAAPPIDAL

7. SENNIYONGU

Each of the above comprises ten stanzas given out by Sri Periyazhwar assuming himself as Sri Yasodha Devi. He reenacts the plight experienced by Sri Yasoda Devi cajoling Sri Krishna her son to come and have bath, get adorned with flowers, have the protective mark and to have the harathi (lighted lamp) to ward off evils.

In Senniyongu the Aazhwar refers to the benevolence of Lord Thiruvaengadamudayaan in protecting those who surrender unto the feet of the Lord.

8. AMALANAATHIPIRAAN : This comprises ten verses sung by Sri Thiruppaanaazhwar of Woraiyur, immersed in the exceptional beaukty of Lord Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam after wholly perceiving Him and renouncing the world and all other objects in preference ot the bewitching eyes of the great Lord.

9. VAARANAMAAYIRAM : This comprises ten verses sung by Sri Andal narrating to her maid in detail the dream experience she had of her wedding with Lord Krishna.

10. KANNINUNSIRUTHAAMBU : This comprises ten verses sung by Sri Madhura kavi Aazhawar praising the greatness of his preceptor Sri Nammaazhawar of Thirunagari and expressing his own preference for his guru's feet to the Lord's.

11. KOYIL THIRUVAIMOZHI : Extracts from the Bhagavd Vishaya of Sri Nammaazhawar of Thirunagari, mainly to be chanted during Anadhyayana period.

12. RAAMAANUJA NOOTRNADHAADHI : This comprises 108 stanzas given out by Sri Thiruvarangathu Amudhanaar of Mungil, praising the glories and greatness of Sri Raamaanuja.

13. UPADESARATHINAMAALAI : This comprises seventy four verses given out by Sri Manavaala Maamuni describing the greatness and grace of Aazhwars and Aachaaryaas and affirming that following their preachings is the means to liberation. To be4 chanted during Anadhyayana period from Thiru Karthigai to Koorathazhwar chatthu.

 

Temple worship is guided by the respective agams of that particular by the sect. Here we are giving a brief description of the vaishnava agams. The temple follows closely the Padmasanhita of Pancharatraagams.

Broadly speaking, there are three divisions among them viz. The Sakta, The Saiva and The Vaisnava agamas, with each of these group of agamas regarding Sakti, Siva and Visnu respectively as the Supreme Deity to be worshipped to attain salvation. The agamas are regarded by some as divine in origin as God Himself revealed their contents to certain select rsis. The agamas are however different from the Vedas in as much as they are the words of the Lord whereas the Vedas are impersonal (Apauruseya).

Broadly the agamas deal with the matter in four sections viz.,

1. Jnanapada (or kanda) : This deals with the knowledge of God, creation of the Universe, etc.

2. Kriyapada : This deals with the method to be adopted for building temples, sculpting images, installation of the idols, etc.

3. Caryapada : This deals with the various rituals to be performed in the temple.

4. Yogapada : This deals with the yoga method of concentration on God.

 

To sum up, first and foremost, the Vaikhanasa philosophy is Vaidika as it is purely based on Vedic rituals and Vedic mantras. That is why it is also known as mantrika. Secondly, Vaikhanasa philosophy demands 'adhikara' for Vaidika- siksa, thus laying stress upon being born as a Brahmin and having undergone other samskaras as prescribed in the Kalpasutras to be eligible for offering worship. Thirdly, the Vaikhanasa system of worship is described as peaceful (saumya). Fourthly, the Vaikhanasas regard Visnu as Adipurusa, the Supreme Brahman, Who has other forms viz. Purusa, Satya, Acyuta and aniruddha. Fifthly, the Vaikhanasas believe in the pancabera-theory and correlate it with the vyuha-forms of Vishnu. Sixthly, the Vaikhanasas do not believe in parivaradevatas or worship of Alvars and acaryas. Seventhly the Vaikhanasas do not believe in the pancasamskara because they propogate the garbhasamskara concept.

The Vaikhanasas say that the individual soul (jiva) when it frees itself from the mortal body enters into Vaisnavanda in four stages. Each stage referred to has a distinct phase of Visnu-experience (Visnuloka). The first stage is Amoda where the presiding aspect of God os called Visnu and the individual soul which reaches that world and resides with God is said to have achieved salokya. The next stage is Pramoda where Mahavisnu presides ;and the individual soul residing with God there is said to experience samipya. The next stage os Sammoda where the presiding Godhead os Sadavisnu and the individual soul's experience of God is referred to as srupya. The next and the highest stage is Vaikunthaloka where Vyapinarayana presides and the experience of the individual soul is sayujya i.e. union with God. The four aspects of Visnu in these four Andas or stages are referred to as Purusa, Satya, Acyuta and Aniruddha respectively. The dominant and divine trait of these different Aspects of Visnu in each stage is different. The first stage viz., Purusa is distinguished by virtue (dharma) : in the second, viz., Satya it is wisdom (jnana), in the third viz. Acyuta, it is sovereignity (aisvarya) and in the last stage viz., Anurudha it is dispassion (vairagya). Eaaaaaaaaaaach plane of Visnu-experience i. e. Visnuloka is regarded as a quarter (pada) of Brahman. Thus Amoda represents one quarter of Brahman, Pramoda one half, Sammoda and Vaikuntha represents the full Brahman, which is what is referred to as Tad Visnoh Paramam padam. (Rgveda I.22.20)

In the temple worship in the Vaikhanasa system, the four aspects of Visnu are represented as four forms located around Visnu viz. Purusa to the East, Satya to the South, Acyuta to the West and Aniruddha to the North.

The word Pancaratra is a very old one. It finds mention for the first time in the Satapatha Brahamana (Ch.XIII.6.1) where Purusa Narayana is said to have conceived the Pancaratra Sattra which was a continual sacrifice conducted for five days as a means of achieving control and suzerainty over all beings . The Chandogya Upanisad (VII.I) makes use of the term 'Ekayana' which is taken to refer to Pancaratra . The Mahabharata and the Ramayana also refer to the word 'Pancaratra'. In the former this word is used in the sense of a cult and a doctrine. In the Santi Prvan (218, 12) it is said that Pancasikha visited the court of Janaka in Mithila and that he was an expert in Pancaratra. In the Mahabharata in another place the word pancaratra is used as defining the doctrine of the Ekantins i.e. Bhagavatas who are devoted exclusively to the worship of Narayana (348, 81-82). The Narayaniya section of the Santi Parvan uses this word and says that the Pancaratra doctrines were prevalent in the Sveta Dvipa which was visited by Narada. Its antiquity is also clearly borne out by literary evidences. Bana , the author of Harsa Carita is the earliest Saanskrit poet who mentions Pancaratra as the followers of the Pancaratra system. The Brahmasutras also have a section on the Pancaratra, thus making it evident that this system existed even then. Sankara (c.800) is the earliest commentator on the Brahmasutras who criticizes the Pancaratra doctrines. Evidence of the existence of this system of worship in South India is to be had in the 'Paripadal', an early literary work of the Sangam period where is a reference to Garudadhvaja and to the four vyuhas.

The Pancaratra literature is broadly divided into three groups viz. Divya (of divine origin). Muniprokta (given by the sages), Manusa(of human origin). To the Divya group belong the Sattava Samhita, Pauskara Samhita and Jayakhya Samhita. These three are known as Ratnatraya. The Muniprokta Pancaratra texts are further subdivided as (a) Sattvika (b) Rajasa and (c) Tamasa. Isvara Samhita, Paramesvara Samhita and Jayottara Samhita belong to the group of the Sattvika Samhits. To the Rajasa group belong Sanatkumara Samhita, Padmodbhava Samhita, Satya Samhita etc. To the Tamasa group belong the PancaPrasna Samhita and Suka Prasna Samhita. The Manusa (Paurusa) Pancaratra texts are ,as their very name indicates the least authoritative.

 

The basic tenets of the Pancaratra philosophy may briefly be stated as follows:

The Pancaratra is said to be tantrika. It prescribes diksasuch as tapa (marking fo the conch and the disc) pundra (wearing of the caste mark), getting a nama, initiation in a mantra and the performance of the yoga which is of the nature of surrender. The Pancaratra regard para Vasudeva as the highest Purusa and Vasudev, sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha as His four vyuha forms.

The Pancaratra philosophy is one of Bhakti or devotion. It propounds nyasa or surrender to God as a certain way to attain redemption or moksa. According to them, moksa refers to return to Godhead and not a state of identity with God. In brief, therefore,the Pancaratra philosophy claims that religion as opposed to philosophy is adequate by itself; also that bhakti or devotion, with an emphasis on the ritualistic worship of idols and sacred objects is convenient and wholly effective as an aid to spiritual progress and moksa or release". Thus the Pancaratra philosophy is more catholic in its outlook than the Vaikhanasa system.

 
The basic differences between Pancaratra and Vaikhanasa agamas

Very often it is said that the rituals and practices followed in a Vaikhanasa temple are different from those followed in the temples observing the Pancaratra system. They even go to the extent of saying that a Pancaratra priest should not act as a priest in a Vaikhanasa temple and that the Pancaratra rituals should not be adopted in the Vaikhanasa temples. If any mixing up of these two traditions occurs(siddhanta sankaryam) prayascitta - rituals have to be observed before worship is restarted in a temple following a particular system. Such mixing up is believed to spell disaster and ruin for the ruler and people. All the agamas are quite specific in their caution against such practice of sankarya. However, in practice today in almost all the Vaikhanasa temples in the South, some one or the other Pancaratra practices have crept in viz. as for example, the reception of the Divya prabandha. But still it is seen that in the temples following Vaikhanasa tradition the main priest who can touch the mulavigraha and offer worship will be only a Vaikhanasa by birth. Even the Divyaprabandha recitation is done outside the sanctum sanctorum, when they are filling up the gaps as time is taken to either decorate the idol or perform other rituals in the garbhagrha.It is as if there is an unwritten law that in a Vaikhanasa temple Pancaratra practices are suffered, not accepted in toto even if it be a very minor one.

However, it will be of academic interest to briefly summarise the differences in the modes of worship and prescribed rituals etc. between the Vaikhanasa and Pancaratra Temples. No doubt some of these differences have been brought out in this chapter while dealing with the basic of Vaikhanasa Philosophy. It is now proposed to recapitulate and present the differences in a succinct manner in one place, in the following tabular statement.

  Vaikhanasa   Pancaratra
1. Founder is Brahma incarnated as Vikhanas.   Founder is Visnu as Kesava or Vasudeva.
2. Sirya (Sun God) is regarded as the deity who is deemed as important for worship.   Agni (Fire God) is regarded as deity who is deemed as important for worship.
3. The four rsis who are regarded as the main propounders are Marici,Atri, Bhrgu and Kasyapa.   The main rsis regarded as founders are Bharadvaja, Aupagayana, Kasyapa, Maunjyayana, Sandilya and Narada.
4. Believes in the Pancaberas. Forms are identified with the 5 ritual fires, 5 primary elements and 5 vital currents.   The five Believes in Caturberas (four beras).
5. The iconography of the idols in the Vaikhanasa system usually presents the left hand in the katyavalambita pose with the palm resting on the thigh or near the hip or the gajahasta or the simhakarna or karaputa pose while the right hand has the Varada, Abhaya, tarjani(with the fore finger pointing up or jnana pose).   Generally the idol is presented with the lefthand holding the club and the right hand in the abhaya pose.
6. The five forms of Visnu are Adimurti Purusa, Satya,Acyuta and Aniruddha.   The vyuha forms of Visnu are Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Anirudha.
7. The deities worshipped by Vaikhanasas on the Dhvajastambha in a temple are the five idols within the sanctum Sanctorum plus the five forms viz. Krsna Balarama Pradyumna,Aniruddha and Samba.   The deities worshipped by the Pancaratrins on the Dhvajstambha in the temple are the idols in the sanctum sanctorum plus the four vyuha forms viz. Vasudeva sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha.
8. The Vaikhanasas do not worship the Alvars in the form of images. However this rule is not being very strictly adhered to in the present times though it is to be noted that in the temple at Tirumala, there is no idol of any Alvar.   Most of the Pancaratra temples worship the Alvars and acaryas in the form of images.
9. The Vaikhanasa form of worship and Rituals has more basis on Vedic Prescriptions and is regarded as Vedic.   Pacaratra practices are not that heavily based on vedic hymns and are regarded as Tantrik.
10. The Vaikhanasas believe that only those who are born as Vaikhanasa can be the priests in their temples. Investiture with the secred thread is the the only quilification. Formal initiation into priesthood is normally of three kinds : Mental (following purification of the mental constitution); vocal (following recitation of appropriate mantras in mystic arenas like Cakrabja-mandala) and physical (consequent upon ceremonial branding of God’s emblems on the arms by a (Guru). Vaikhanasas recognize the first Two steps but reject the third step. The Vaikhanasas berate those who take Up the profession of worshipping of Gods only to eke out a living, as devalakas. The person who is qualified to worship God in a temple is called an 'acarya'. He has to follow the Vaikhanasa sutra and has to be a grhastha with a wife and children. He must be trained in the Vedas and Srauta rites. He should also do worship in his house.   The Pancaratrins believe that all are qualifyed to offer worship,there being no restrictions based on caste, age, sex or learning provided they are made to undergo branding with the Vaisnavite symbols of the wheel and the conch and undergo diksa. Thus women also are eligible for initiation. The Pancaratra texts also say that while all are eligible to offer worship in the house after initiation, only Brahmins are eligible to offer worship to the deity in a temple.

The acarya as per Pancaratra texts may be a Brahmacarin, Grhastha or Vanaprastha. He should not be a samnyasin. He may even be a 'Vatu' (less than 16 years) or middle aged or old.
11. Mostly the Vaikhanasa temples are built in towns and villages.   Mostly the Pancaratra temples are built on river banks and mountain tops.
12. There are not many mudras in the vaikhanasa form of worship, To illustrate: while offering naivedya only Dhenumudra is used and Surabhimudra while offering Dipa.   The Pancaratra form of worship has numerous mudras.
13. Even prostration by the priest before god after mantrasana is different from the way Pancaratrins do it. The vaikhanasa system speaks of mas-Tiska, samputa, prahavanga, pancanga and dandanga.   The Pancaratra system refers only to the astanga- variety of prostration.
14. In the Vaikhanasa temple the balipitha Comes first (as one enters the temple) Then the Dhvajastambha and then the Sannidhi for Garuda.   In Pancaratra temple as one enters the temple Dhvajastambha will come first, followed by balipitha and then Garuda Sannidhi.
15. In the Vaikhanasa temple the outer Rampart walls will have Simha or Garuda in the corner meeting point of Two walls.   In the Pancaratra temple only Garuda will be kept on the outer walls.

To conclude in the words of S. K. Ramachandra Rao : " Vaikhanasas are distinguished by their acceptance of Visnu (in His Vedic context) alone as the object of worship.. There is no room for the adoration of the Bhasyakara or the Alvars and there is no sequence in which the Prabandha passages are recited.... The worship is conducted entirely with the hymns selected from Rgveda and Yajur Veda and with the accompaniment of the fire rituals prescribed in the Brahmana texts belonging mostly to the Krsna division of Yajurveda. The tantric involvements like internal worship (antaryaga) the employment of seed syllables (bijaksara) and the sequence of projection of the deity from one's heart on to the icon are conspicuous by their absence in the Vaikhanasa worship."

 
Classification of the Divya Desas as per agamic practices

Having presented the particular characteristics of Vaikhanasa and Pancaratra agamas, it is now proposed to classify the 108 Vaisnavite divyadesas according to the agamic practices they follow. A divyadesa is one which has been visited by the Alvars (Vaisnavasaints) who have sung the praise of the presiding deity in that temple. Of the 108 divyadesas two are not in this world viz. vaikuntha and Ksirabdhi. Obviously, these being the residences of God Himself, there is no specific agamic practice to be observed. In the balance if 106 divyadesas, the following 22 divyadesas located in Nepal, Uttarpradesh, Gujarat, Kerela and Tamil Nadu States follow the Tantra type of agama practices.

 
  • Devapryag
  • Dvaraka
  • Naimisaranyam
  • Joshimath
  • Mathura (Govardhan)
  • Badarinath
  • Ayodhya
  • Gokulam
  • Salagramam
  • Tirukkattittanam
  • Tirkkatkarai
  • Tiruccengunruru (Tiruccitraru)
  • Tirunavai
  • Tiruppuliyur (Kuttanadu)
  • Tirumuzhikkalam
  • Tiruvanparisaram
  • Tiruvanvandur
  • Tiruvallava (Tiruvella)
  • Tiruvanantapuram (Trivandrum)
  • Tiruvattaru
  • Tiruvaranvilai (Aramula)
  • Tiruvittuvakkodu

Two more of the divyadesas viz. tirukalvanur and Tirunilattingaltundam are actually sannidhis located in the famous temples for Goddess Kamaksi and Lord Ekamharesvara respectively at Kanchipuram. As such in these two sannidhis, no Vaisnavite ritual is observed as they are under the overall control of the main temple administration which follows the Saiva agama. This leaves a balance of 82 divyadesas. The following table classifies these balance of temple into two viz. those following the Vaikhanasa and those following the Pancaratra agama i.e. 39 and 43 temples respectively.

VAIKHANASA TEMPLES
Cola nadu
  1. Tiru Adanur
  2. Tirukkandiyur
  3. Tirukkannangudi
  4. Tirukkannamangai
  5. Tirukkannapuram
  6. Tirukkapisthalam
  7. Kazhiccirama vinnagaram (Sirkali)
  8. Tirukkarambanur
  9. Tirukkudalur
  10. Tillai Tiruccitrakutam (Chidambaram)
  11. Tiru Tanjai Mamanikkoil
  12. Tiru Nandipura Vinnagaram
  13. Tiru Naraiyur (Nacciyar koil)
  14. Therzhundur
  15. Tiruvali and Tirunagari
  16. Tiruvinnagaram (Oppiliappan koil)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nadu nadu
  17. Tirukkoilur (Tirukkovalur)
  18. Tiruvahindrapuram
Tondai nadu
  19. Tiruvidavendai
  20. Tirukkadihai (Sholinghur)
  21. Tiruttanha
  22. Tirunirmalai
  23. Tirupparamesvara vennagaram
  24. Tiruvallikkeni
  25. Mahabalipuram (Tirukkadal mallai)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pandya nadu
  26. Tirukkulandai (Perunkulam)
  27. Tirukkurungudi
  28. Tirukkudal
  29. Tirukkottiyur
  30. Tirukkolur
  31. Tiruttankal
  32. Tiruppullani
  33. Tirumalirunjolai
  34. Tirumaiyyam
  35. Srivilliputtur
  36. Tirusirivaramangai (Vanamamalai, Nanguneri, totadri)
  37. Tiruttolaivilli mangalam
  38. Tiruppulingudi
Vada nadu
  39. Tiruvengadam
 
PANCARATRA TEMPLES
Cola nadu
  1. Srirangam
  2. Tiru Arimeya vinngaram
  3. Tiru Anbil
  4. Tiru Indalur
  5. Tirukkavalambadi
  6. Tirukkudantai (Kumbakonam)
  7. Tirukkozhi (Woraiyur)
  8. Tirusiruppuliyur
  9. Tirusemponsey koil
  10. Tiruccerai
  11. Tiruthalaiccangananmadiam
  12. Tiruttetriambalam
  13. Tiru Devanar togai
  14. Tiru Nagai
  15. Tirupparttanpalli
  16. Tiruppullambhudangudi
  17. Tiruppernagar (Koiladi)
  18. Tirumanikkudam
  19. Tirumani Madakkoil
  20. Tiruvanpurusottamam (Tirunangur)
  21. Tiruvellakkulam (Annan koil)
  22. Tiruvellarai
  23. Tiruvelliankudi
  24. Tiru Vaikuntha vinnagaram
Nadu nadu
 
 
Tondai nadu
  25. Tiru Astabhujakaram
  26. Tiru oragam
  27. Tiruvellore
  28. Kanci- Attigiri (Kancipuram)
  29. Tirukkaragam (Kanci)
  30. Tirukkarvanam (Kanci)
  31. Tiruninravur
  32. Tiruniragam (Kanci)
  33. Tiruppavalavannan (Kanci)
  34. Tiruppadagam (Kanci)
  35. Tirupputkuzhi
  36. Tiruvehka
  37. Tiruvelukkai (Kanci)
Pandya nadu
  38. Tirukkurugur (Alvar Tirunagari)
  39. Tirupperai
  40. Tirumogur
  41. Tiruvaragunamangai
  42. Srivaikuntham
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vada nadu
  43. Tirusingavelkunram ( Ahobilam )

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