Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Saint Sridhara Ayyaval and the miracle well, Thiruvisanallur near Kumbakonam, TN

Miracle wellSridhara Ayyaval. Thiruvisanallur, Kumbakonam, TN. flickrhivemind.net

Sridhara Ayyaval(1635–1720). flickrhivemind.net

When now lots of people with  a singular mind are chasing money in this mad, mad world,  in India there lived centuries ago scores of holy people of different religious faiths, who led a humble  and self-contended life, dedicating their entire lives  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, Taamil Nadu. Ganges water springing from the  well...............

About   Ayyaval's ancestry,  very little information is available and  is subject to debate. His father  Sridhara Lingarayar settled in Thiruvisanallur  village during the reign of  Thanjavur Maratha ruler Shahuji ISome  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  who was known for his charity and munificence,  gave him assistance and patronized him. Soon he moved over to the Agraharam in Thiruvisainallur and settled down there along with his wife. 

Thiruvisanallur, near Kumbakonam,TN.Tamil.nativeplanet.com

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 - those from other castes. This particular act was a taboo in those days among the Hindus, especially Brahmins.  The food was specifically cooked in an orthodox way at home for the 'Pithrukaryam'(ancestors) and the priests (prohits) had to be fed that day.  Upon knowing Ayyaval's  act of breaking the long  held tradition, 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 and was nonstop able.. Later  Ayyaval managed to contain the water in the well in his house.


his 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 have visited  the house of  Ayyaval  to  bathe  in  the  holy  waters  of the miracle well, where the Ganges sprang up. This year this event called 'Gangashtakam  Mahotsavam' took place on the 11th of December, 2015. In the past on a couple of occasions I visited the serene  place with my family  and took bath in the near-by Cauvery river. It was an exhilarating experience for me,  my wife and children.  During my late childhood my uncles used to visit this holy place very year from near-by Veppathur village.

Ayyaval  is believed to have died in 1720 at the age of 85 and 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 in the garbagriha (sanctum), and became one with him.

Sridhara Ayyaval Mutt. shanthiraju.wordpress.com

Sridhara Ayyaval Mutt,Thiruvisanallur,T.N.flickriver.com

Sridhara Ayyaval, his  contemporary Sri Bodhendra Saraswathi ( the 59th pontiff of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham.; his  ''Athishtanam'' is in Govindapuram village  near Aduthurai on the way to Mayavaram) and  Sri  Maruthanallur Sadguru Swamigal (widely travelled, he compiled compositions by famous saints) 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. To  Sri Bodhendra Saraswathi 'chanting Rama Nama' is the way to attain purity of mind in Kali Yuga.
Bodhendral, Ayyaval and Sadguruswamigal.satguruseva.org

.Above image: Sri Bodhendra Saraswathi Swamigal (left), Sri Sridhara Ayyaval Swamigal (middle), Sri Marudhanallur Sadguru Swamigal (right). Sri Sridhara Venkatesha Ayyaval,  a highly respected  saint in the bhajana sampradaya of South India,  is one of the three acharyas who pioneered  'Naama-prachaara' movement in the south, along with Sri Bhagavannama Bodhendra swamigal and Sri Marudanallur Sadguru swamigal.


Kanchi Acharya at themiracle well,Thrivisanallur.twitter.com

Above image: H Pujyashri Shankaracharya Swamigal visited the house of Saint Sridhara ayyaval   on 15 March-2021. Sri Ayyaval lived here in the 1600s. .......

Nama Japam or Nama Sankeertanam, a sort of  japa (meditation) or Sankirtana of nama (name) of the Almighty is a way of expression of devotion to god. The devotee  has to choose   Ishta-deva or Ishta devata (Sanskrit iṣṭa-deva(tā), meaning "cherished  or desired divinity" or deva "deity") and repeatedly chant the name  vocally or in the mind any time, anywhere while at rest or on the move.  Like-minded  devotees can form a group and  engage in sankeertanam or singing with devotion and dedication focusing on  the Almighty. Adi Sankaracharya, the Advaita philosopher and theologian in  the verse 27 of his hymn, Bhaja Govindam,  mentioned that  the Gita and Vishnu sahasranama should be chanted and the form of the Lord of Lakshmi-Narayana should always be meditated on.   Bhishma, one of the five Pandava brothers in the Mahabharata, expressed his view chanting of the Vishnu sahasranama is the best and easiest of all dharmas; one of the ways to attain salvation (relief from all bondage and cycles of birth and death).