Thursday, February 11, 2021

Dharapuram Dasa Anjaneya Darisanam - Part 1

 Vyasaraja Theertha Source: Annie Gracy, CC BY-SA 4.0 

Vyasaraja Theertha  was the Rajaguru of the Vijayanagara Kingdom. He was called Vyasaraya initially and after he took over the kingdom from King Krishnadevaraya during the time when he was affected by Kuha Yoga, he came to be called Vyasaraja Theertha. He is believed to be the reincarnation of Prahalada and the previous avatara of Guru Sri Raghavendra Swamy.

As the Rajaguru and as a Dvaita philosopher, he travelled across the country extensively. During these travels, he is said to have created and installed 732 Hanumans in different places. Most of these hanumans are concentrated in South India, where the Vijayanagara rule was in place. With Penukonda having the highest number of Hanumans, the others are spread around in clusters.

It has been my long time desire to visit the Vyasaraja Hanumans and document them. The Hanumans vary in size and form, but most have the common features of a raised right arm, with the left hand holding the rare Sowgandhika flower, the feet are turned sideways, the tail is raised above the head with one or more bells swinging from it. 

The Kongu region was under the Vijayanagara rule in the early 16th century when Dharapuram which had earlier been called Paranthakapuram and Rajarajapuram during the rule of the Cholas, was the capital. Vyasaraja Theertha had travelled to and stayed in this region during which time he has installed multiple Hanuman around here.

Out of these ten have come to be identified by scholars and the first time I saw the map was in  Shri. Amman Sathiyanathan's Raghavendra Mahimai.After planning for years, finally got to visit Dharapuram last week. Prior to my trip, I tried to get help to identify the actual locations of the Hanumans depicted roughly on the map. However, I was not very successful. So I decided to leave to Guru Raghavendra Swamy to guide us and what a trip it was!

1. Sri Kadu Hanumantharaya Swamy Temple

If you are planning to do this trip, then the Kadu Hanumantharaya Swamy temple would be the central point from where the other Hanumans connect. It is also the largest and most popular among the ten Hanuman temples. 

Sri Kadu Hanumantharaya Swamy Temple, Dharapuram

Earlier, most part of today's Dharapuram was enclosed within a fort. There was dense vegetation around the fort and this idol was found in the open here and therefore came to be known as Kadu Hanumantharaya Swamy. It is only in 1810 that the British Collector of Coimbatore District, Deelan, who had been suffering from a disorder called "Rajapilavai" (a huge Carbuncle) worshipped Sri Kadu Hanumanatharaya Swamy and was cured of the same. As a token of gratitude, he built a shrine for the deity. When an attempt was made to cover the ceiling, the Lord appeared in the dream of his devotee, asking for the ceiling to be kept open. To this day, the ceiling has an opening above the deity who is 7.25 feet tall and 3 feet wide, making the sun rays and rain fall on the deity.

Sri Kadu Hanumantharaya Swamy with the opening in the ceiling

The idol falls into the standard description of a Vyasaraja Hanuman, with minor differences. The raised right hand has the thumb folded into it in the form of a Abhaya Hastha. The tail has three bells instead of one. The Sowgandhika flower is held in the left hand and the feet turned sideways.The face of the Hanuman is shaped to resemble Hayagriva. He carries a sword as well as a dagger. His waist band holds the Yali face which is the mudrika of Sri Vyasaraja Theertha.

Utsava Idols made by Sri Vijayendra Theertha

The Utsava Idols of Rama, Sita and Hanuman (no Lakshmana) are those made by hand by Sri Vijayendra Theertha, the successor of Vyasaraja Theertha and the Paramaguru of Sri Raghavendra Swamy. Sri Vijayendra was a exponent of all 64 crafts and was skilled in making panchaloka idols. He is the only person to have been the witness to two avatars of Prahalada - namely Sri Vyasaraja and Sri Raghavendra.

Wooden pillars in the Artha Mandapa

The Artha Mandapa has eight exquisite wooden pillars depicting the Dasavathara. There are cradles hanging in this mandapa bearing testimony to answered prayers of childbirth. To the right of the main sanctum, are two shrines, one that of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha and the other, the Mrithika Brindhavana of Sri Jaya Theertha, also called as Teekacharya for writing commentaries of the works of Sri Madhva. Jaya Theertha was a disciple of Sri Akshobya Theertha, who was a direct disciple and successor of Sri Madhvacharya. 

Interestingly, this temple has the Ishta Devathas of the three avataras of Prahalada - Sri Lakshmi Narasimha, the ishta devata of Prahalada who was found in the confluence of Bhavani and Kaveri rivers, Venugopala Krishna, the Ishta Devata of Sri Vyasaraja Theertha and Sri Rama, the Ishta Devata of Guru Raghavendra Swamy. In addition, there are idols of Sri Prahalada in the Mrithika Brindavana of Sri Raghavendra and Sri Madhva in the Mrithika Brindavana of Jaya Theertha.

Sri Jaya Theertharu Brindavana

There are four Brindavanas of Jaya Theertha with the original one at Malkheda and three Mrithika Brindavanas in this region in Salem, Palladam, Dharapuram and Kovaipudur in Coimbatore. A box in front of the Jaya Theertha Brindavana contains 136 Shalagramas.

The Mrithika Brindavana of Guru Raghavendra Swamy installed by Dwadasi Kattalai Subbarayar has 113 Shalagramas and faces the Rama Shrine which only has Rama with Seetha, and Lakshmana and Hanuman missing.

Sri Raghavendra Mrithika Brindavana

Shalagramas are an important aspect of worship for the Madhwas. Shri Guruprasad, the Chairman of the Kadu Hanumantharaya Swamy Temple has joined us by now and explains the heirarchy of worship in the temple which are based on the guidelines offered by Madhvacharya's Tantra Sara Sankraha subsequently simplified by Sri Jaya Theertha for worship of Salagramas. The first prayers are offered to the Shalagramas, followed by worship for Sri Narasimha, Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Sri Hanuman, Sri Jaya  Theertha and Sri Raghavendra Theertha in that order. He says the rules of worship are strictly followed with poojas happening only once a day.

Sri Venugopalaswamy with Hanuman

The Venugopala Swamy idol found in this temple is unique and has Hanuman at its feet. Now when did Hanuman who was part of Rama Avatara come together with Krishna? Sri Guruprasad narrates an interesting tale from the Mahabharata. Hanuman was invited to support Krishna and Arjuna. However, since he only reported to one Master - Sri Rama, he agreed to be on the flag of Arjuna's chariot. After the war was over, Krishna asked Arjuna to alight from his chariot. Once he did, Krishna too got off from the chariot. Hanuman who had been on the flag flew away and the entire chariot went up in flames. It was Hanuman who had actually held the power of all the weapons and arrows that had been directed at Arjuna's chariot.

Important point to note regarding offerings to Sri Kadu Hanumantharaya Swamy

Shri Guruprasad mentioned a key point with regard to offerings at this temple. The Madhwa philosophies and guidelines are strictly followed here with regard to poojas, worship and offerings. Therefore, Thulasi garlands which are a normal offering in Hanuman temples are not accepted here. Thulasi is seen as a form of Goddess Mahalakshmi and hence considered to be adorned only to Lord Vishnu. The Hanuman can only have it placed on his head as a symbol of respect for Goddess Lakshmi and cannot adorn himself of it. Similarly, other offerings like Vadaimaalai, Betel leaf or Lemon garlands are also not accepted here.

The Brahmotsavam of the temple is celebrated on Vyasa Poornima day and on Narasimha Jayanthi, the Utsavar idols of Lord Rama are taken out in procession. Strict restrictions are currently in place to keep the devotees and archakas safe after the pandemic.

Acknowledgements:

1. Sri Amman Sathiyanathan, Author, Sri Raghavendra Mahimai, Part 6 for the map to visit the ten Vyasaraja Hanumans in Dharapuram

2. Shri Guruprasad, Chairman, Sri Kadu Hanumantharaya Swamy Temple, for his time and patience in sharing valuable information and also accompanying us the Uttara Veeraraghava Swamy Temple.

3. Sri Mohan of Dharapuram, who came forward to help us with locating the Hanumans along Amaravathi river and in the fields.

From here, we will move to the other locations in search of the remaining nine Hanumans in the upcoming posts.

How to reach here:

The Kadu Hanumantharaya Swamy is centrally located and can be easily identified. The GPS coordinates for all ten Hanumans is provided in this map here.

Temple Timings post Corona: 

Morning: 8.30 am to 12 pm

Evening: 5.00 pm to 7.30 pm

Contact: 04258 220749

The second part of this series of articles featuring the two Vyasaraja Hanumans in and around the Uttara Veeraraghava Perumal temple in Dharapuram can be accessed here and the third part comprising of the rest of the Hanumans in Dharapuram can be accessed here

4 comments:

  1. Very detailed post and it's our pleasure to meet you on that day!

    Actually, few weeks ago of this pilgrim, I got a sudden message from one of my Guru and friend ShriKrishna about the Dasa Anjaneya teamples in Dharapuram which is my hometown. I started navigating the route to reach all the temples within a day which is very special as per my Guru and finally I located all the places by almighty's grace and planned to bring my family as a first time and got an opportunity to met you as well.

    Many thanks to the almighty, Shrikrishna and you!

    May the God bless you more strength and wealth in your future endeavors!

    - Mohan

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  2. As you written above, I believe that, only Guru Raghavendra Swamy only helped you all the way in this trip.

    Shri sent me the map --> I started discovering after that --> met you at my final destination on the river bank of Amaravathi. All these are blessed and directed by Guru Shri Raghavendra Swamy.

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  3. Very well written. Hope He calls me soon, want to have darshan after reading this. ����

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  4. God bless you for bringing out such brilliant holy informations. Ramaswamy. 80 years

    ReplyDelete