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Bringing the 24 avatars of Vishnu to the masses

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Staff Reporter

Research scholar brings out "Kattu Pookkal"

PUDUCHERRY: Deepavali has just passed by and the fervour is yet to die down. The festival, as is known, is linked to the myths related to the various incarnations of Lord Mahavishnu - Lord Rama and Lord Krishna.

The incarnations of Lord Narayana, as is known, are 10 - Dasavathara - Mathsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasim ha, Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, Balarama, Krishna and Kalki.

However, is anyone aware that according to the Srimad Bhagavatham, there were 24 avatars or incarnations of the Lord? They include Hayagriva, Narada, Kapilar, Rishabar, Vyasa, Dhanvanthri, Dattathreya and Mohini.

Veeravalli. R. Varadadesikachariar, a research scholar in Vaishanvism at the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient (EFEO) in Puducherry, has thrown light on this in his recent publication, "Kattu Pookkal".

The book contains 13 chapters - five on the incarnations of Sriman Narayan, five on his benedictions and three on the sacred places, interpretations and the summary of the Sribhashyam.

The book was released recently at the Varadaraja Perumal Temple to mark the completion of the 100th year of its Sri Vedantha Desika Sabha.

Dharanidharan, Head of the Department of Sanskrit, presided over the function. Tamil scholar Gopala Iyer, also of the EFEO, explained how the author dealt with the 18 different meanings about the duality of the Lord based on a verse from Thirumangai Alwar's Thirunedunthandakam where the Alwar takes on the traditional Nayaki Bhava and imagines the Lord to be the Nayaka. "Iruvaraai Vandhaar is just a phrase in that verse but the author has given simplified meanings to what has been given in the commentaries.

Vijayavenugopal, a research scholar at the EFEO, said the Vedantha Desika Sabha must involve youngsters in the study of the ancient treasures like the works of the Alwars. "These are flowers of the divine trees. Several fragrant flowers bloom in the jungle. However, they wither away, their precious existence without being useful to others. The Acharyas have also left behind several such fragrant flowers.

"Only a few enjoy and benefit from their fragrance. This book is a compilation of such flowers. The Naalayira Divyaprabandam sung by the Alwars and the commentaries on those verses are in `manipravalam' (a mixture of Tamil and Sanskrit) so the common man cannot read and enjoy them, which is why I wrote this book in spoken Tamil to reach the masses," said Mr. Varadadesikachariar. The author has been with the EFEO since 1968 and has also taught oriental languages (Tamil, Sanskrit, Hindi) in Kanchipuram. For the EFEO, he has translated many Vaishanava and Sangam literatures and hymns of Alwars.

He is presently working on a book called Thirumaalai. Copies of the book can be had from 79, Perumal Koil Street, Puducherry.

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