Here’s a story of a famous incident in the line of spiritual masters coming down from Sri Ramanujacaraya whose life is celebrated today.
Yesterday was the disappearance day of Sri Madhvacarya (1238-1317), and today the disappearance day of Sri Ramanujacarya (1017-1137, two very important Vaishnava saints who took birth in the south of India. Although they missed each other by 100 years and a few hundred miles, their teachings kept the Vaishnava tradition strongly preserved for centuries.
I fasted yesterday morning, and it just so happened that a friend returned from Udupi, Karnataka around midday. Udupi is the place of Madhva, where Lord Krishna has been worshipped for the past 800 years. My friend was able to bring me up to date with what was happening in the town as well as his own travels.
Later on in the day I dropped a line to another Vaishnava who lives there. So although very distant I felt a little closer through first hearing, then writing.
When I returned home I discovered that my Nrisimhapriya magazine had arrived in the post from Chennai, the city formerly known as Madras. Every enthusiast should have their own magazine, I think, so this is a magazine for Sri Nrsimhadeva enthusiasts. Its published by the Vaishnavas in the line of Ramanujacarya.
Sri Ramanujacarya had a younger sister who married one of his disciples named Nadadoor Ammal. This devoted disciple helped to write down the acarya’s famous commentary on the Bhagavad-gita.
Nadadoor Ammal’s great grandson was Ghatikashatam Ammal, so named because he could compose 100 verses in praise of Lord Vishnu in just one ghatika or 24 minutes.
His disciple was Adivan Shatakopan who was visited in a dream by Lakshmi and Nrisimhadeva and was presented with a beautiful murti of their divine forms. They told him that the murti was to be taken on tour to uplift and enliven the devotees. He installed the deities in a temple and began the then unusual tradition of taking them periodically on preaching tours.
In effect, he was the first in a long line of spiritual masters who have worshipped Malola-Nrisimha and toured with them. Now the line of preceptors has its 45th ‘pontiff’, Srimad Azhagiya Singar who, at the age of 86, keeps travelling and preaching the message of devotion.
So my magazine keeps me in touch with another group of Vaishnavas which is keeping mediaeval traditions alive and relevant in a contemporary world.
Below: Srimad Azhagiya Singar at Ahobilam, the place of Lord Nrsimhadeva, and (bottom) worshipping the Lord in His golden shrine.