Faith

Songs for salvation

Parasara Rangaraja Bhattar. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Listening to Parasara Bhattar unravel Kaisika Purana (in Sanskrit) was a new experience. He spoke in simple style making the narration interesting by analysing the different Avataras of Lord Vishnu, showcasing Varaha as the best and the purest, despite the Lord taking the form of a pig.

Kaisika Purana is a part of Varaha Purana and comprises several hundred songs, all in small stanzas. Kaisika Purana is the story of Nampaduvan, a low caste person and his love for the Lord Nambi of Tirukurungudi. He was a ‘Jaagrutha Vrathan,’ one who came out when all others were sleeping. Embarrassed to enter the temple during the day, he would walk several miles every night and stand outside the Tirukurungudi temple and sing in praise of Lord Nambi.

On Kaisika Ekadasi night, Nambaduvan made 18 promises to a demon that wanted to eat him up. In return the monster should allow him to visit the temple one last time.

In the 18th promise, which is the essence of the Kaisika Purana and the reason why Kaisika Ekadesi and Kaisika Purana are most important to a Vaishnavite, Nampaaduvan says, “If one ever tries equating Lord Narayana to anyone else in this world, I will be a party to the biggest sin in the world. And I will never get salvation (from the cycle of births).”

The minstrel returns to the demon, who is stunned by the man’s sincerity and requests him to share the positive results that accrue from singing on Kaisika Ekadasi night. Thus he could get rid of the this obnoxious form and attain salvation. Nampaduvan obliges.

On Tuesday last (December 6), on the occasion of Kaisika Ekadasi celebrations at the Lord Ranganatha Swamy temple in Srirangam, a beautifully decorated Namperumal, the utsava deity, came out on a palanquin at 8.30 p.m. on his second procession of the day, having made one earlier in the morning. Making his way through the Kili Mandapa, he positioned himself at Arjuna Mandapa.

To start the celebration, 365 dresses were draped around Namperumal (one for each day of the year) to make up for not giving him enough new dresses throughout the year.

The highlight of the evening that began at 10 p.m., was the singing of 20 verses from Nalayira Divya Prabhandham including Vyakyanam and Abhinaya of Thirumangai Azhwar’s Periya Thirumozhi verse ‘Akkum Puliyin’ and Nammazhwar’s Thiruvoimozhi verse ‘Enganeyo Annaimeerkal’ through their song and dance enactment. While one Araiyar narrated a verse, another explained its meaning yet another enacting the story through Abhinaya, a unique art/dance performance with their hands and legs.

Throughout his passionate presentation, Araiyar Sampath Kumar had tears rolling down as he sung the praise of Lord Nambi of Thiru Kurungudi.

Following the Araiyar Sevai and well after mid-night, 62-year Parasara Rangaraja Bhattar standing in front of Namperumal at the Arjuna Mandapa presented a two-hour recital without any pause. His sang 100 verses from the Kaisika Purana with his brother Parasara Azhagiya Singa Bhatter holding the Kaisika Purana scriptures in his hand, tracing the dialogue between Nambaduvan and Brahma Rakshash.

Karpoora Padi Etra Seva

After a long and eventful night, NamPerumal was allowed only a couple of hours of rest as he was woken up at 5 a.m. on Kaisika Dwadasi (Wednesday) morning for his alankara. Having spent over eight hours at the Arjuna Mandapa providing night long darshan to his devotees, Namperumal started on his return trip at 5.15 a..m with two Araiyars leading him all the way to the Santanu Mandapa.

As a thanking gesture Namperumal was showered with camphor powder, as he made his entry up the steps into the Santanu Mandapa, an event that spread a special fragrance around Him. This special seva is referred to as ‘Karpoora Padi Etra Seva.’

Historical Event at Srirangam

The Telugu ruler Vijayaranga Sokka Nathan was eager to witness the Kaisika Ekadesi Celebrations in Srirangam, especially this morning event of ‘Karpoora Padi Etra Seva’ (showering of camphor powder). Unfortunately, when he reached the temple with his family, the Lord had already entered the Santanu Mandapa. Having come from far just to witness this event, the king requested the Lord to provide a replay as he could not go back without being part of the event. However, the Lord refused to accept this request stating that he was always on time and does not wait for anyone.

NamPerumal asked the king to be back on the same day next year. But so upset was the king that he decided to stay put outside the Sannidhi for one more year. In memory of this event and to mark the King Vijaya Ranga Sokka Nathan’s unflinching devotion, the idol of the king along with his family can be seen even today outside the shrine on the Western side.

Highlights of Kaisika Ekadesi Festival in Srirangam

Namperumal draped in 365 dresses

Araiyar Seva of Thirukurungudi Pasurams

Recital of the Kaisika Purana by the descendant of Parasara Bhattar

Showering of camphor on the Lord on Kaisika Dwadasi morning

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 7:07:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/religion/songs-for-salvation/article2698214.ece

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