Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Saint Sridhara Ayyaval and the miracle well

Miracle well,Sridhara Ayyaval.Thiruvisanallur flickrhivemind.net

Sridhara Ayyaval(1635–1720). flickrhivemind.net

When lots of people, with singular mind, are chasing money in this mad, mad world now,  there lived in those days centuries ago scores of holy people of different religious faiths, who led a humble life, dedicating their entire life in the service of God. Particularly, in Hinduism, such people led a highly principled moral life of dedication to god and service to people. To them the splendor of riches was  nothing before the divine blessings of God. 

Sridhara Venkatesa Dikshitar (13-8-1635–1720), also known as Sridhara Ayyaval,  a native of  Thiruvisanallur village (in the then Thanjavur Maratha kingdom) about 12 km from the temple city of  Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu  was  an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He used to visit the near-by  Mahalingeswarar temple, a huge ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva at Thiruvidaimaruthur. He was a pious Hindu Brahmin saint, dedicated  his life to  the spread  of  devotion to  god  through '' Nama Sankirthanam''  singing divine songs  and conducting  Bhajans.  He was also a composer of  numerous  divine  songs in Sanskrit and lived in the Agraharam - a traditional  place  where  Brahmins live.

Srihadara Ayyaval, Miracle well, temple.dinamalar.com

Above image: Saint Srihadara Ayyavall (1635–1720). Miracle well in Thruvisanallur, near Kumbakonam, T+amil Nadu. Ganges water springing from the 

About   Ayyaval's ancestry,  very little information is available and  is subject to debate. His father  Sridhara Lingarayar settled in Thiruvisanallur  village during reign of Shahuji I, local rulerSome  accounts mention that his father held a senior position in the Mysore kingdom and upon his death,  the same post  was offered to Ayyaval. However.  Ayyaval did not take the post. Interested in the service of God,  he moved over to the delta region of  Thanjavur  to be near  the Saivite temples  there.  Upon his arrival, the local Maratha ruler gave him assistance and patronized him. Soon he moved over to the Agraharam in Thiruvisainallur and settled down there along with his wife.

On the day of giving Thithi/ Shrardham (death anniversary) to his parents,  Ayyaval, being humane, fed  some hungry Dalits. who approached him for food. People doing pthroo karyam were not allowed to feed outsiders. This paricular act was a taboo in those days.The food was specifically cooked at home for the 'Pithrukaryam'(ancestors).  Upon knowing this, the  priests/pundits refused to conduct the ceremony and the local orthodox Brahmins  chastised him and  insisted on his going to Kasi (Varanasi now in UP), thousands of miles away to take a bath in the Ganges to wash off sins. Legend has it, Ayyaval, having abiding faith in Easwara, prayed to him to get him out of this predicament. No sooner had he finished   reciting the Gangashtakam  slooga, invoking Ganga than water from the holy Ganges river flowed out of the well in his house. The water began to flood the village. Later  Ayyaval managed to contain the water in the well in his house.


This miracle happened on the Karthigai Ammavasai day and since then, to commemorate this event, every  year on this day, thousands  of devotees from Tamil Nadu  and  neighboring  states go to  the house of  Ayyaval  to  bathe  in  the  holy  waters  of the miracle well, where the Ganges sprang. This year this event called 'Gangashtakam  Mahotsavam' took place on the 11th of December, 2015.

Ayyaval  is believed to have died in 1720 at the age of 85. Some accounts claim that  he disappeared mysteriously while on a visit to the Mahalingeswarar Temple, his soul left his body and entered the idol of Easwara, and became one with him.

Sridhara Ayyaval, his  contemporary Sri Bodhendra Saraswathi and  Sri  Maruthanallur Sadguru Swamigal form the trinity and popularized 'Nama Pracharam,'  singing holy hymns and bhajans. Ayyaval  hold an important status in ''Dakshina Sampradaya Nama Sankirthanam.'' Sadashiva Brahmendra's song ''Tunga Tarange Gange'' was written on Ayyaval who brought the Ganges to his place.