Sri Sridhara Ayyaval Mutt, Thiruvisanallur, TN - Karthigai Ammavaya day 2021

Saint Sridhra Ayyaval of Thiruvisanallur, TN,

Centuries ago in the  propagation of Bhakti  through sangeetha (Bhajana) Samprathaya in the delta and adjacent districts of Tamil Nadu   three great holy persons come to our mind.  They are Sri Sridhara Venkatesha Ayyaval, Sri Bhagavannama Bodhendra swamigal and Sri Marudanallur Sadguru swamigal.  Sridhara Ayyaval, among them, gave much emphasis to  Naama-prachaara' movement.  As a matter of fact he  holds  an immortal  status in ''Dakshina Sampradaya Nama Sankirthanam.''  Sadashiva Brahmendra's   song ''Tunga Tarange Gange'' was written on Ayyaval who brought the Ganges to his place.  Sadashiva Brahmendral, was  the 59th pontiff of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham.  His  ''Athishtanam'' is in  Govindapuram village  near Aduthurai and is being visited by lots of devotees.   The Bhakti movement  through songs and prayer empowered  every body regardless of caste  to  engage in  Bhakti  and   provided  needed impetus for its  growth.  Indirectly it saw the growth  of vernacular literature covering various forms of devotional hymns.

Bodhendral, Ayyaval and

Native  of  Thiruvisanallur village , close  to  Veepathur village  and Karuppur, 10 km from the temple city of Kumbakonam, Sri Ayyval, as he was called  respectfully,  resided in an Agraharam established by the then Maratha ruler Shahuji. His devotion  was so overwhelming and profound, devotees here told me on my last visit several years ago that ''every inch of this place where  Ayyaval had set his holy feet is sanctified''.

The small mutt established here  long  ago has grown fairly big through the kaingarya of many patrons who never fail to visit this quiet  village close to the Cauvery river  when they chance  to visit  Kumbakonam.  The mutt run by a charitable trust is managing  the religious  activities. 

The holy mutt  is abuzz with daily (nithya) pujas, Naama Sankeertanam, Paaraayanam, etc.   Apart from  routine daily activities like  Prabodhanam,  Paaraayanam,  Nitya Pooja, Naama Sankeertanam & Dolotsavam.  There are monthly functions like  Sri Mahanyasa Rudrabhishekam on Amavasyas,   the Ekadashi Divyanamam Bhajan, etc. The former gains much importance in  the Tamil month of Karthikai. 

Thiruvisanallur yoganadeswar temple,

Above image: In the Yoganandeswarar temple at Thiruvisanallur Shiva is in the form of a lingam and his consort Parvati is depicted as Mangala Nayagi. The presiding deity is glorified in  Tamil cannonical devotional work Tevaram (7th Century) in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil Saivite saints  Tamil poet saints Nayanars. Hence it a  Paadal Petra Sthalam...................

Miracle well and Thiruvisanallu.

Gangavataranam is a 10- day  utsavam celebrated during the Tamil month of Karthikai (November-December). It ends on  Karthikai  Amavasya day when   thousands of devotes descend on this place to get blessed by saint Ayyaval. They bathe in the near-by Cauvery river  and then go the mutt and take a head bath in the water drawn up from the holy well by special attendants who do this kainkarya for the devotees. Legend has it  upon his sincere payer to Goddess Ganga by chanting ''Gangashtakam  slooga,  Ganga water  had begun to flow out of the holy  well  continuously flooding the village.  At last  Sri Ayyval  was able to contain it to save the village. 

.Location Thiruvisanallur, near Kumbakonam, TN

On Kathkai Ammavasya day the mutt offers free food Annadhanam to thousand of devotees irrespective of caste creed, etc., a tradition that must be appreciated.  

It is said in the later years  Sri Ayyaval  visited the near-by Mahalingeswarar Kovil, Thiruvidaimaruthoor   where he merged  with the lord in the garbagriha/srikovil.  Nowadays on this day  unmanageable devotees visit this holy place on the Karthkai Ammayasya day.  However, I understand,  in the last two years precautions are taken against  COVID -19 pandemic  and  people are strictly advised to follow the safety protocol issued by the government.

Generally, in the Mutt  puja and monthly rituals are conducted with religious fervor and intense devotion, thus keeping the long-held traditions of this old mutt alive.  Sri Ayyaval  had realized the God in a different  way and  seen  the almighty in every living thing including small creature.

''He who beholds with affection the eternal Lord Vaasudeva, pervading all living beings, is the best among bhaagavatas" (Vaishnava Samhitaa of Sri Krishnapremi Swamigal, Chap 13, Shloka 1).

On this day every  true devotee is under a bounden duty to remember this great soul  who considered all humans are the children of god and must be given equal respect without giving room to ego and arrogance.