Reflections on Sravanam Days in Oppiliappan Koil
By Thirukkudanthai Sampath Rengarajan (email@example.com)
(The BhakthAs of Sri Bhumi Devi sametha Sri Oppiliappan are all invited to participate in the ongoing SravaNa Dina Anna DhAnam kaimkaryam and obtain the blessings of the Lord.)
It is the most wonderful day to begin with. Nothing can go wrong on this day. Whatever happens on this day, such is happening for the good only. The huge "nilai maalais" or long garlands arrives the previous night from swami malai at our house . The garland maker has been doing this routinely for the last 15 years now. He will receive a post card from my dad about the sravanam date. Thats all. He will be there the previous evening with all the maalais. He had not seen our Lord Sri Oppiliappan even once so far. But he had been making the "nilai maalai" all the time that fits HIM very well. He brings "maalais" for thaayaar and uthsavars as well. At 5:40 AM , we leave the house by our usual auto or taxi and arrive at 6:00AM at the sannithi. The viswa roopam is just about to begin sometime or it is over. Couple of brisk Ushers whisk us through the special entrance whispering " PerumAL is waiting for your maalai!". Looking at the PerumaaL, it looks as though PerumaaL could not hide HIS happiness and rushes in sporting a broad smile seeing the "nila maalai". The bhattars are obviously elated and immediately get to work and adorn the "nila maalai". The "gambeeram" of the PerumaaL takes the centre stage now with the adorning of the "nilai maalai". Not that our PerumaaL is not posing gambeeram without the "maalai", but the sight of Sravana Oppiliappan with the "nilai maalai" brings joy and tears in everyone's eyes. Several years ago during one sravanam it was seen that Sri Oppiliappan did not have this "nilai maalai" and we felt very very bad to see him like that. At the same time the sravana Oppliappan deepam swAmin garlanded my parents with His own maalai during deepam and many sEvaarthis began falling at the feet of adiyEn's parents for blessing on this occassion. Ever since adiyEn took the vow to garland HIM with "nilai maalai" every sravanam rain or shine and adiyEn's parents are executing it for several years now.
Several people do "anga pradhakshinam" and the Sravanam goes on. The Ursava moorthis move to the kalyaana mandapam so that archanaas can be facilitated there. Now the moolavar and thaayaar Sri MarkandEyar are all seen in full view. On important Sravanam days (like Panguni, Aipasi, Maargazhi, Thai etc) several such nilai maalais are garlanded subsequently. But for all the other Sravanams He is sported with only one "nilai maalai". Around 11:00 AM Our Deepam swamins, Sri Srinivasa Gopalan (Ney deepam of Sri Oppiliappan) from Kodai vaasal (now in Srirangam) and City Union bank Sri Ravi from Kumbakonam (his father used to do the "vaal deepam" that he now does) goes into the garba gruham. At this time no public is allowed inside. After prayers and lighting of the deepam they come out fully charged. There are lots of people gathered near the entrance at the "UL praahaaram" and they throng to these deepam swAmins and seek their guidance and blessings. They shout "Oppilaippaa, Oppiliappaa" on seeing them and tries to go near them. First the traditional Naadaswaram and mElam leads them in procession as similar to PerumaaL purappaadu. We always pray to them that these Perumaals bless as many people as possible and that everyone's reasonable dreams come true through Sri Oppiliappan. The swamins go around once in the "uL praakaaram" and then on to the outer praakaaram. It is notable that the "ney deepam" (Sri Oppiliapan Deepam) swamin walks merely on his two toes only sometime. It is like a Raaja nadai. No science can explain this. One has to see this and expereince themselves. The "thEjas" in their face as reflected by the rays of the deepam are remarkably great.
adiyEn was asked by Sri Oppiliappan deepam Swamin when adiyEn met him during Srimadh Poudnrika puram Vinnaarrangari Andavan and Sri Andal sannithi prathista at Srirangam last year that adiyEn be present during Sravana deepam. adiyEn and our family usually goes back home after our morning darshan and nila maalai samarppaNam. This time, adiyEn came back again for deepam. Swamin spotted adiyen and asked adiyEn to come along. adiyEn went with Him in the inner circle. At the end of the inner circle , adiyEn moved away so that so many persons who were thronging to have his dharshan and "aruL vaaku" to get a chanceto approach him When Swamin came near the perfect completion of inner suRRu, just oppsite to Sri Oppiliappan between Sri Ramar aand Sri Hanumaan sannithis, called for adiyEn by using signs. Since adiyEN was far way , adiyEn struggled to reach. Swamin asked everyone to give way so that adiyEN can go near. Swamin grabbed adiyEn's hand firm with the thulasi from his maalai soaked in ghee and said "dEvareer kanikaryangalai naam vERRi karamaaga nadatthik koduppOm". adiyEn was moved. adiyEn had in mind atlaest 1 major kainkaryam for Sri Oppiliappan that time. Usually Swamin never "talks" in His aruL vaakku. He only conveys by "signs". adiyEn was thrilled that swAmin talked real words to adiyEn this time during his "aruL vaakku". This swAmin had predicted about very important happenings in the past. This swAmin later mentioned to adiyEn that it was predicted during one of the sravanams earlier about acharyaas adorning the peetam etc as well.
There are totally three deepams. The "vaal deepam" burns so tall (to 3 feet !!) and Sri Ravi hold it up on His shoulders. With this deepam on his hands and shoulders He also gives "aruL vaakku" to many. The third deepam is the "satti deepam" where the fire is in the solid form ("thaNal").
Both these swAmins are the living examples of vairaagyam that swami desikan had explained in VairAgya Panchakam. adiyEN does not know much about the other deepam swamin). They never asked for any help ! Only the officials in the temple and well wishers asked adiyEn to help them. But even before they asked, adiyEn already had in mind to help them on this anna dhaanam scheme.
They have been doing anna dhaanam for decades on Sravanam dates!!! In addition they both have their own ubhayams in the temple in a very large scale (pushpa yaagam, mega thirumanchanam etc). adiyEn talked to Sri Ravi swAmin first and requested him to give an estimate of the cost. adiyEN also requested the temple authorities that the ParichArakAs who cook and take prasaadhams to the Lord must have shikaas. They said they will issue a notice to that effect. Both these swamins are equally sharing the costs of anna dhaanam so far. So, whatever one wants to give towards sravana anna dhaaanam must be shared between them. Once aidyEn had the estimate , adiyEn offered to pay them the same as long as aidyEn could either personally or through friends.
adiyEn wants to make a few notes here about anna dhaanam. The anna dhaanam is "Sravana anna dhaanam" done by the two deepam swamins. No matter who gives money , adiyEn still wants this to be in the two swAmin's name only for two strong reasons. We are simply helping them in their offerings and we thank the Lord for providing an oppurtunity for the same. No individual shall seek recognition for this effort. They have been doing this for a very long time like their own ubhayam and they will continue to do it in their name ONLY. There were times when they took personal and bank loans to facilitate this. We can not act like usurpers . adiyEN is playing a role only now. No matter, anyone wants to accept these terms or not adiyEn shall always support them as long as adiyEn could, in these terms.
Second thing is that, the State Govt in Tamil Nadu under the CM Chi. Jayalalitha's scheme, are offering anna dhaanam in various select temples and Sri Oppiliappan kOil is one of them. These temples have a hundi for anna dhaanam as well (including Sri Oppiliappan kOil). To the best of adiyEn's understanding, adiyEn believes that no one can solicit donations for anna dhaanam for any of these temples including Sri Oppiliappan temple when Government is doing such a scheme. Such action may land everyone in legal trouble. So adiyEN does not want anyone to get confused over the two different schemes. No one reading these appeals in the net or web, should be confused with the "Sravana dina anna dhaanam" that these two swamins had been doing for several years even before the Govt sponsored anna dhnaanam scheme came into existence. We very much thank the Govt., the CM and the temple authorities for doing that scheme very well. But the sravana anna dhaanam is a very massive private project that is organised by these two deepam swamins only. adiyEn does not want to involve them or adiyEn in any competing efforts of anna dhanam with the temple and Govt. by making this appeal as a very general appeal. This anna dhaanam is very specific. adiyEn had been holding it tight and asking only a very few so far. Sri Sadagopan swAmin felt that members of Sri Oppiliappan list may be given a chance to participate in this kainkaryam and hence his appeal.
adiyEn began chipping from aippasi sravanam. adiyEn already have undertaken to do it (for three full months) from adiYen's own for aippasi (Sri Oppiliappan thiru kalayaanam) and thai (Sri Oppiliappan's leela vibhuthi i.e thoppam incidentally adiyEn's birth day) and Panguni Sravanams (Sri Oppiliappan's vivAham and thEr festival). In addition adiyEn will also cover up for any shortage anytime so that they are supported for all the Sravanams as long as adiyEn could. We have so far helped them continuously in the last 8 sravanams. 6 sEvarrthis from USA have helped for 5 sravanams and adiyEn has filled in the remaining. None of them have ever asked for any recognition of any kind so far. adiYen is also sure that none of those who had currently come forward to contribute seek any recognition of any sort so far. On the floor, the anna dhaanam will be done by the two swAmins only and all the recogntion goes to these two swAmins only all the time. adiyEn will continue to do the same as long as adiyEn can. They do not have a tax deductible account so far. adiyEn is releasing money from adiyEn's own account in India so far. Sri Sadagopan had agreed to spilt one sponsorship for maasi and purattaasi sravanams.
Finally when Sri Krishna bhattar asked adiyEn during sankalpam in front of the Lord, he was replied that "loka shEmatthukkaaga nallaa mazhai peyyanum". Swamin replied "kodiyilai oru prArtthanai ithu athanaala swAmiyOda viNNappatthai Oppiliappan kattaayam niRai vERRuvaar".(Concluded.)
Last modified on Tuesday, May 10, 2004