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Temple on land with unique distinction

Sanctified by saints, Acharyapurushas and scholars, and constructed about 400 years ago, the Venkata Varadaraja Perumal temple at Perumbakkam, is being renovated. K. S. VARADA DESIKAN writes...

Venkata Varadaraja Perumal with His consorts.

THERE ARE innumerable temples in several villages and towns sanctified by saints, Acharyapurushas and scholars. One such temple, constructed about 400 years ago, is that of Sri Venkata Varadaraja Perumal, with His Consorts, in `Nadu Naadu' at Perumbakkam Village, 7 km from Villupuram on the Villupuram-Thirukovilur Highway. The village is on the highway and the temple is just 100 metres from the main road, which can be easily reached by town buses plying every five minutes from Villupuram.

According to legend, Lord Varadaraja appeared in the dream of a Vedic scholar of Athreya Gothram, residing at Perumbakkam and directed him to retrieve the idols buried in his land called `Thoramaniam' and build a temple for Him and His Consorts. He had also said that itshould be called Venkata Varadaraja Perumal temple. Accordingly, the scholar and other Srivaishnava devotees of the village dug up the land, found the idols of Venkata Varadaraja Perumal with Sridevi and Bhoodevi, retrieved them, and then apprised the local chieftain, who offered all support for constructing the temple. The main shrine of Sri Venkata Varadaraja Perumal with His Consorts was built with special granite brought from `Kalpattu', as per Agama sastras, with ardhamandapam, mahamandapam, etc., in the year 1605 A.D., according to the inscriptions found in the temple. Subsequently, a separate shrine for Perundevi Thayar and a sannidhi for Andal were built. Other sannidhis for Bashyakarar, Nammazhwar and Vedantha Desikar, with a front mandapam, were added on. Later, a separate sannidhi with mandapam was built for Adivann Satakopa Yathindra Maha Desikan, the founder and the first Jeeyar of Sri Ahobila Mutt.

A grand festival is being conducted every year in the Tamil month of Purattasi, for 10 days, which culminates in Sathumarai on `Kettai' star day, the Thirunakshatram of the Acharya. Besides, on `Panguni Uthiram,' the celestial wedding of Perundevi Thayar with Lord Varadaraja is celebrated with gaiety. Perumbakkam has the unique distinction and honour of being the venue for choosing the 37th Peetathipathi of Sri Ahobila Math, by convening a sadas. The 36th Jeeyar, Srivann Satakopa Sri Srinivasa Yathindra Mahadesikan, camped here for nearly one year and performedMangalasasanam to Sri Venkata Varadaraja Perumal. He passed away without nominating a successor, on December 27, 1898.

At that time, U. V. Gopalacharya Swami, a Vairagya Seelar of Pillaipakkam was doing Aradhana Kainkaryam at Sri Matam. He was very devoted and sincere in his duties but was unwilling to take up sanyasasramam as he felt it would hinder his aradhana duties at the math. On January 24, 1899, the Srivaishnavas of Perumbakkam convened a sadas to discuss the issue and requested U. V. Gopalacharya Swami to accept the post. After much persuasion, he accepted the offer and His Peetarohanam was celebrated immediately.

The swami is the author of several Vedantic works. He assumed the thirunamam, Srivann Satakopa Sri Veeraraghava Satakopa Yathindra Maha Desikan. A staunch devotee of Sri Venkata Varadaraja Perumal, he adored Him as the replica of Kanchi Sri Varadaraja, on whom he has composed several slokas. Even though this Jeeyar adorned the peetam for only 11 months, he stayed in the village and worshipped Sri Venkata Varadaraja Perumal. It was during the period of the 36th and 37th Jeeyars that Perumbakkam devotees developed Sri Adivann SatakopaYathindra Mahadesikan Sannidhi and started celebrating a 10-day festival `Thirukettai' Sathumarai in Purattasi. The practice continues even today.

Sri Injimedu Azhagiyasingar, the 42nd Jeeyar, has proclaimed this village as Dakshina Ahobilam. The temple is thus associated with several Jeeyar swamis of the Ahobila Mutt. The 400 year-old temple is in a dilapidated condition due to lack of income from temple property and even samprokshanam has not been performed for nearly 100 years now. The devotees of the village have now taken up extensive renovation of the temple. Contributions may be sent in the form of crossed cheque favouring "SVVPS Perumbakkam" to 89, Luz Avenue, Mylapore, Chennai-600 004 (Ph: 2499 6856).

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