Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Garudan as Acharyan

Garuda has another important role, in our sampradayam, in addition to acting as Emperuman's vehicle. He is considered as one our foremost acharyan.

Garudan was the archaryan to Swami Desikan. Swami Desikan prayed to Garudan in Aushada giri in Thiruvendhipuran, who gave the Swami the moola mantharam and the idol of Laxmi Hayagrivar.

One devotee by the name Doddacharya lived in the temple town of Sholingar, about 450 years ago, and was engaged in performing kainkaryam to Lord Narashima. He was very attached to Lord Varadarajan of Kanchipuram. He never used to miss the Garuda sevai of Varadarajan during the Brahma utsavam (held during the tamil month of vaikasi, mid May to mid June). One year due to advanced age was not able to make the trip to Kanchipuram. He was distribuded and on the day of the Garuda sevai got up early in the morning (as the Garuda sevai leaves the temple gates at 5:00 in the morning) and had his bath in Thattan Kulam (local pond in Sholingar) and the acharya expressed his inability standing on the banks of Thakkankulam and visualised the Lord appearing in Kancheepuram on Garuda Vahanam in all His glory. In five Sanskrit verses, known as Devaraja Panchakam he describes how the Lord, carried by the son of Vinathai (Garuda), would appear at the entrance of the huge tower of the Kancheepuram temple, in all elegance and eagerness to protect His true devotees.

It was Garuda Seva time in Kancheepuram and the temple priest received a divine message that He would disappear from their midst for a few minutes to appear before Doddacharya in Sholingar and He did so. To commemorate this unique event, the Lord's idol, during the Garuda Sevai, is hidden from public view with two huge umbrellas for a few minutes and they are removed after camphor is lit and Harathi is performed to the Lord.

Later on a temple for Kanchi Varadarajar was built on the banks of the pond, about 400 years ago. The moolavar of this temple is Varadarajar in Garuda sevai. It was and is being looked after by the descendants of Doddacharya. Other than this temple Varadarajar can be seen riding on Garuda in Parthasarathy temple. For more details on Parthasarathy temple please follow the link

Generally in Garuda vahanam, Emperuman would rest both his foot in Garudan’s hands. The Garudan in moolavar, in this temple, is quite unique as Emperuman is seen resting his right leg on the shoulders of Garudan and the right hand of the Garudan is in chin mudra. As per the current Doddacharya of the 23rd generation, H.H. K.K.C. Singarachari, the reason for this mudra is to realize the lord one has to be guided by an acharyan and in the case of Doddacharya it was Garudan who was the acharyan for Doddarcharya.
Location : Sholingar is about 120 Kms from Chennai. The best route to reach this temple frm chennai would be to via Thiruvallur, Thrutani, along the Chennai - Thirupathi - Chitoor route. Past Thirutanni one takes a detour to Sholingur. Approximate travel time would be 3.5 to 4 hrs. from Chennai.