Sri Vaishnavism is one of the Vaishnava sects of Hinduism. The philosophy of sri vaishnavism is known as Visishtadvaitam. Sri vaishnavism denotes the religious aspect whereas the visishtadvaitam is the philosophy follow by a srivaishnavan. Lord Sriman Narayana or Maha Vishnu is the Supreme deity. He protects his Bhaktha’s out of compassion and mercy. He is the embodiment of infinite mercy, infinite blissfulness, infinite supremacy, infinite grace, and infinite of infinity. Vishnu Means, one who is all-pervading, one who is a well-wisher, one who release us from the cluthes of Maya and one who is present in all objects. Sri Vaishnavism is based on the principle of Pure bhakthi to Lord Vishnu and Prapatti( complete surrender to Him). Azhwars, who were the personification of various weapons of Lord Sriman Narayana, lead there life’s upon these principles. The Acharya – Sishya (Teacher - Student) relationship has a prime importance in Sri vaishnavism. Be it the most learned, scholarly or the worst sinful person, should always be under the guidance of an Acharya. Lord Sriman Narayana is considered the foremost Acharya. His consort Sri Mahalakshmi, who is ever present with him(agalagillen AlarmElmangai urai mArba), is next in the lineage, she in turn instucted Vivakshena(a Commander-in-chief), who is a Nityasuri in his abode of Paramapadam, then Sri Satakopan (a) Nammalvar, who bestowed his knowledge upon Nathamunigal, who then instructed Yamunachari (a) Alavandar(grandson of Nathamunigal), he to Sri Ramanujar who passed it on to his sishyas and so on, the hierarchy of acharyas continues till date with various braches. The doctrine of Prapatti or Saranagathi is the manifestation of the Pathivratha Dharmam( that is, a wow of a wife to her husband to serve him with loyalty and honesty). The Bhagavatha’s are called Prapanna’s when they practice Prapatti. They also do not desire any one else as their means to attain the desired, though they do not desire anything of materialistic possessions or worldly desires. They surrender themselves to God, by devoting their life to perform the daily duties of : 1.Abhgamana – Morning prayers 2.Upadana – Collecting material for his worship 3.Ijya – Formal worship 4.Swadhyayam – Recitation and study of various scriptures 5. Yogam – contemplation of God The distinction of caste, creed or color has no bearing on Sri Vaishnavism. A person, who is a devotee of vishnu is called a Vaishnavan. There are pUrvAcharyas, who were from lower castes, but completely surrendered at the Lotus Feet of Sriman Narayana. 1 . Not all azhwars were Srivaishnavite by birth. ThirupAnAzhwar, who was from a pAnAr sect, sung in praise of Lord Ranganthan standing on the opposite banks of River Kaveri, since harijans were not allowed into the temple. But Lord, who is ever merciful, wanted our azhwar to come into the temple and get his dharshan to his heart’s content.So, he ordered one of his priest to bring Azhwar inside. 2. One of the Acharya’s of Swamy Ramanuja, Thirukachi Nambigal was from a lower caste, but Swamy Ramanujar, wanted to eat the left over’s of his food and considered it as Prasadam. 3. The muslim invaders in Sri Rangam took over the idol of Lord Ranganatha. The idol was with a daughter of one of the then Delhi muslim king. She grew attached to Him. When srivaishnavites recaptured Sri rangam, Lord idol was brought from Delhi to be installed again. But the daughter, who could not bear the seperation from Lord Ranganatha, coalesced with him, and was later called as Thuluka Nachiyar. The same incident occurred when Swamy Ramanuja went to Delhi, to get his Chellapillai. And hence a Thuluka Nachiyar in Melkote Thirunarayanapuram. Divya Desam – An introduction There are various forms of worship. One which was followed by our pUrvAcharyAs is “Idol Worship” or Archai. Lord Sriman Narayana, incarnated himself in this world to protect the Mother Earth in various time periods. We, as a normal human, do not have the access to his various incarnation. So, Lord ever merciful, took the form of archai, where anybody can see and realise him with his naked eyes. Its with his infinte grace that we are blessed to enjoy and dwell in His archa thirumeni. These archai’s are the life-line in this Kali yuga for the bhakthas. Our Azhwars, has sung in praise of these archa forms, and hence they are called Divya Desams. Lord positions himself in three type of postures in these divya desams, Sitting posture(amarntha thirukOlam), Reclining posture(sayana thirukOlam), Standing posture(nindra thirukOlam). For blessing the bhaktha’s with His dharshan He takes His abode in five different places, Param, Vyuham, Vibavam, Antharyamithvam, Archai. 1. Param In Paramapadam Sriman Narayana is with his consorts, Maha Lakshmi, bhUma Devi and Neela Devi. This place is devoid of emotions, happiness, sorrow or any other earthly human feelings and emoitons. Lord Sriman Narayana is ever surrounded by Nityasuri(permanent resident of Paramapada) in his sitting posture. The nithya suris are always engaged in singing praise of the Divya Thampathis 2. Vyuham He comes to this abode, which is called Ksherabthi or Parkadal(Milky Ocean). He is in a reclining posture,lying on Adiseshan, with his consorts Sri devi and Bhu devi. Vyuham means to expand. He expands himself in the eastern side with his ever smiling face of Vasudevan, in southern side with simha mukham of Shankarshanan, in north with the form of varaha mukham of Prathyumnan, and in the west with rudra mukham of Aniruddhan. During the time of pralayam(destruction of the world), these five forms coalesce with Vasudeva Vyuham. 3. Vibavam Vibavam means to come down. Lord Vishnu incarnated himslf on earth in various forms. The are three types of forms are, Poornavatar – Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Parasuram, Kapilar, all are poornavatar where he took the form of humans. Amsavatar-matsya, kurma, varaha, vamana, where he incarnated as animal forms. Avesa avatar- narasimha avatar. He made himself easy to attain by incarnating on earth. A mother, when a toddler falls into a puddle, will not hesitate to pull herself into the puddle to pick the child. Bhagavan, who too like a Mother, came down on earth to help his children from the turbulent waters of life. 4. Antharyamithvam He is the inner soul of both sentient and insentient. He resides in the heart of every being and guides us through his compasion and love. The soul is eternally attached to the Paramatma. 5. Archai Archavataram is the form of idol worship. The other abodes of Sriman Narayana are not easily attained by a human. MukthAtmas and nithyasuris worships the Lord in Paramapadam, other DevathAs like Indra, Agni etc worship him in Vyhuham, in vibavam only those who took birth during his avatara period enjoyed Emperuma’s Leelas. But, to the people of kaliyuga, he took the form of Archai to bless us with his ever pleasing divya mangala vigraham. The metaphysical abode of Paramapadam is reached through the worship of archa murthys. The azhwars(12 in number) who immersed themselves in the kainkaryam to bhagavan, sung in praise of Lord’s divya mangala vigraham. Those passionate hymns sung by azhwars are called Divya Prabandams. The corpora of these hyms were lost and was retrieved by the scholarly sri vaishnavite Nathamunigal, who collected and organised them in the form of 4000 Divya prabandam. And from then on, it was passed on from acharya to sishya in the guru parampara hierarchy. The 108 divya desams about which azhwars sung are spread throughout the India and these divya desams each have their vaibavams for their origination. In these divya desams we can see various forms of Vimanam(vimanam is the temple dome which is above the sanctum sanctorum , garbhagraham of the temple). The vimanams are of many types. The 20 most important are pranavAkruti vimanam, suddhAsthva vimanam, vimalAkruti, thAraka, sukanAkruti, vaidhika, uthbala, soundarya, pushkalAvartha, vEdachakra, sanjeevi vigraha, ashtAnga, punyakOti, srIkara, ramya, mukuntha, vijayakOti, simmAgra, thapakAnchana and hEmakuda. These vimAnams are built according to the standards of the shilpa shastra. All temples throughout India are catogorized as Aarsham – Those temples which were created by the great sages. PourAnikam – These are stalams(places) that are mentioned in the Puranas. Svayamvyaktham – The temples that are self- manifested and formed by its own-accord. Daivam – These temples are formed by the yagas and homams performed by Brahma and other devathas. Manavam – These are created by great Kings and Bhakthas Abhimana Stalams – They are thaose temples which are close to heart for our azhwars and acharyas. In the divya desams(DD) emperumAn can be seen in either of the three postures of nindran, kidanthan and veetrirundhan. In DD, 67 are standing posute, 17 are sitting posture, 24 in reclining posture. Of the reclining posture there are 10 types of sayana thirukOlam, Jala sayanam, sEsha sayanam, uthiyOga sayanam, bOga sayanam, tharpa sayanam, vEra sayanam, bhathra sayanam, mAnikka syanam, utthAna sayanam. Let us see the vaibhavams of each divya desams from next post.