Gorgeous outfit for deity
The deity adorned with the Ratnangi.
ONE OF the more popular Divyadesas in the South is Thiru-aheendrapuram, situated 3 km west of Cuddalore on the banks of the holy Garudanadi (now called Gadilam) and at the foot of the Oushadhadri Hill. It has been praised by Thirumangai Azhwar in one decad in Periya Thirumozhi (III-1).
The Sthalapurana is in 14 chapters. It presaged the arrival of a great sage as a human incarnation of the Lord's Ghanta (bell) who would attain fulfilment in his penance carried out on the Hill (it implies Sri Vedanta Desika). When he was about 20 years old and had mastered all Sastras, he came to this place, worshipped Sri Nrisimha at the hill, prayed to Garuda who appeared before him and initiated him in Hayagriva Upasana which helped Desika attain religious knowledge to its greatest depths.
A golden moment of glory arrived on September 16 at Thiru-aheendrapuram, when the presiding Deity, Sri Devanatha was adorned with Ratnangi crafted embedding precious gems in gold, thanks to the devotional fervour of Bhaktas all over the country as well as from across the seas.
The divine form of the Lord had captivated Sri Vedanta Desika (1268-1369) so much so that he composed three works in praise and honour of the Lord. He says in Verse 14 of Sri Devanayaka Panchasat, "the effulgence, radiated by your Form and Divine Limbs, highly pleasing to the Devis, who would envision you without a wink, confers on the jewels and the weapons an additional charm; indeed they cannot enhance your charm by any stretch of imagination. I can never experience a sense of satiation even by perennially looking at your charming Form." Who will ever attempt to decorate what is a personification of charm already?
The Lords of the places like Tirumalai, Kanchipuram, Thiru-aheendrapuram and Srirangam are dear to those who reside in these places. Swami Desikan's compositions in praise of these deities are well-known but devotees of every holy place delight in fancying that Swami Desikan was preferentially attached only to the Lord of their place.
Of the many deities, Lord Devanatha is the only one who has been the subject of Sri Vedanta Desika's devotional compassion in three languages Sanskrit, Prakrit (a dialect of Sanskrit) and Tamil. Sri Devanayaka Panchasat dwells on the greatness of the Lord as creator and protector and also describes His charming form from head to toe.
Sri Achyuta Satakam of 101 verses in Prakrit takes the form of an effusion in the character of a Nayaki-Nayaka bhava and yet reveals profound Vedic truths and declares the basic doctrines of the Visishtadvaita philosophy.
Sri Desika who has the particular ornament for himself and sports it during his festivals, rightly reputed for their pomp and paraphernalia, commensurate with his greatness and services to the divine cause, would have had indeed wished for a similar outfit for His much-loved favourite deity as well.
Services rendered in this connection by the two office-bearers of Sri Devanthan Ratnangi Kainkaryam Committee deserve special mention.
They are Dr. V. Sadagopan, a patron of religious causes and a discerning scholar on spirituality, religion, music and temple culture and his sister, Padma Veeraraghavan, who has organised women groups in choral singing in the Lord's service and has accomplished services to deities in Srivilliputhur, Oppiliappan Koil and Nanganallur.
As the devotee worships Sri Devanayaka decked up in the radiant Ratnangi , reciting the mellifluous Prakrit verses of Achyuta Satakam, he would find himself engulfed by the power of Sri Desika's utter simplicity, austere detachment and abiding devotion to the auspicious form of the Lord.
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