The Peerless Preceptor Passes Away


His Holiness, the 45th Jeer of Sri Ahobila Muth, Srimathe Sri Lakshminrisimha Divya Paduka Sevaka Srivan Satagopa Sri Narayana Yathindra Maha Desikan, ascended to Paramapadham at 12:05 AM Indian Time, Sunday May 19th 2013 from Srirangam.

An article by Sri Sadagopan Iyengar, Coimbatore:

How do you think the citizens of Ayodhya felt when Sri Rama went away for his vanavaasam? Valmiki waxes eloquent while describing the unfathomable distress and despair Ayodhyavasis felt at the parting. Leave alone human beings, even the flora and fauna of Ayodhya were immensely affected by the going away of Chakravartthi Tirumagan—trees in full bloom suddenly withered away when Sri Rama left the place.

All this reaction was for a temporary parting of 14 years. The citizens of Ayodhya knew well that the Prince would be back in their midst after the stipulated years of vanavaasam.

If such was the emotion displayed at the temporary parting with a monarch, you can very well imagine the depth of distress and despair we feel at the permanent parting with the beloved, venerated and adored Acharya, Sri Narayana Yatindra Mahadesikan, the 45th Pontiff of Sri Ahobila Matam. The disciples’ desolation at the Acharya’s leaving for his eternal abode is immeasurable. Readers may wonder whether Srimad Azhagiasingar can be compared with Sri Rama: you are right:  he should not be: in the words of Swami Desikan, there is no Deity equal or superior to the Acharya—Aachaaryat iha devataam samadhikaam anyaam na manyaamahe.

Literally millions have drawn spiritual solace from this Acharya, whose travels across the length and breadth of India have brought him in close contact with a huge cross section of the populace. He must have blessed innumerable souls with Samshrayanam and Bharasamarpanam, sine qua non for Liberation. Equally legion are the sishyas who must have derived emotional and spiritual support from his discourses delivered at various fora, both in the traditional Kalakshepam mode and in the popular Upanyasam mode. He was not merely an Acharya, catering only to the spiritual welfare of his sishyas: He was a friend, philosopher and guide all rolled into one, besides being one’s father and mother too on occasion—one feels like exclaiming with Azhwar—ennai pettra at taayaai, tandayaai, ariyaadana arivittha Attha! Nee seidana adiyen ariyene. Whenever you either had happy news to share or needed a partner to share the burden of distress at a sad event, you thought of Srimad Azhagiasingar first—he was happier than a father at the attainments of disciples and saddened deeply at their losses. We cannot resist drawing a parallel again with Sri Rama in this regard—vyasaneshu manushyaanaam bhrisam bhavati du:khita: ….piteva paritushyati.

When Emperuman sent Srimad Azhagiasingar to this earth, it was with the primary object of catering to the spiritual welfare of mortals, which he has done beyond expectations. Even people who would look askance if Sri Nrisimha were to manifest Himself before them, were moved beyond measure by Srimad Azhagiasingar’s benignity and boundless affection, to become slaves to the Sri Sampradayam—Maayavane kannura nirkkilum kaanagilla ulagorgal …vandu tondriya appozhude…… Naaranarkku aayinare. Magnificent Prince and penniless pauper alike found the Pontiff equally accessible and adorable.

Exceeding his brief, Srimad Azhagiasingar has taken care not only of the massive flock of devotees entrusted to him, but also of Emperuman Himself. The Pontiff has raised the Sri Matham from the financial abyss into which it had fallen (not due to any financial misadventure, but due to the construction of the magnificent gopuram at the southern entrance to the Srirangam temple) and restored it to the pink of monetary health, with the requirements for daily worship of Sri Malolan and the livelihoods of His devoted band of servitors adequately taken care of. If Sri Ramanuja is acclaimed as Tennarangar selvam muttrum tirutti vaitthaan, Srimad Azhagiasingar’s service in improving Sri Malolan’s bounties is no less. Innumerable are the ornaments he has offered lovingly not only to Sri Malolan, but to Emperumans at several divya desams too. Sri Devadiraja and Sri Perundevi Tayar of Kanchi, Sri Veeraraghavan of Tiruvallur, Sri Prahlada Varadan of Sri Ahobilam, et al all proudly sport beautiful jewels lovingly offered to them by this Azhagiasingar.

Even a casual visitor to the Sri Matham, witnessing the grand Abhigamana Aradhanam performed by Srimad Azhagiasingar, would feel that the Acharya is indeed an avataram of Adisesha, the personification of divine service. This Yati’s maternal love for the Lord was evident from the way he bedecked Sri Malolan lovingly with flowers, natural and golden, just as Sri Periazhwar did. In each upachaaram he offered to Sri Nrsimha, we could find a reflection of Seshatvam. His indefatigable efforts at protecting and preserving Sri Malola and His
ishwaryam, the radiance born of Gnaanam and Vairagyam that He emitted, His intolerance for separation from His Deity- all of these confirm that this mahatma was indeed an avataram of Sri Adisesha, come to emancipate us all through the panacea, Saranagati.

Time was when a visit to the hills of Ahobilam was a daunting task: only the physically very fit ventured there, due to the difficult terrain and lack of accessibility. It was every bit a chendru kaandarkku ariya koil and Deivam allaal chella onnaa Singavel Kundram. It is no mean tribute to Srimad Azhagiasingar’s multifaceted skills that he has transformed this divya desam into an easily accessible shrine, with roads, bridges and pathways paving the way for even a handicapped person to have his eyeful of the Nava Nrisimhas’ splendour. Ahobilam has thus become a Chendru kaandarkku iniya koil, thanks to the tireless efforts of Srimad Azhagiasingar.

One could perhaps go on singing paens of praise to this paragon of virtue, but the realisation that however much one writes and whatever episode one remembers would be totally inadequate in describing the glory of this Peerless Preceptor.

The sorrow at the Periya Azhagiasingar’s deciding to return to Sri Vaikunttam is indeed immeasurable.  A spark of light in the pall of gloom following Srimad Azhagiasingar’s ascent to Sri Vaikunttam is the realisation that we are not totally orphaned by his passing away. With his remarkable foresight, the Acharya has made ample arrangements for carrying on his legacy: he has left us in the safe, able and secure hands of Sri Ranganatha Yatindra Mahadesikan, the 46th Pontiff of Sri Matham, who stands tall like a beacon to guide us safely through the sea of sorrow in which we are floundering now.

Much more than elders like us, it is the vast army of tiny tots and bigger children, who found in Srimad Azhagiasingar an adoring grandfather, who are going to be devastated by his passing away. “Ommaacchi Thatha”, as they affectionately called him, is alas! no more.

Srimate SrivanSatakopa Sri Ranganatha Yatindra Mahadesikaya nama:

 Author: Sri Sadagopan Iyengar, Coimbatore

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  1. Let his sole rest in peace its a greatest loss for the disples of sri akobila mutt his service to the comunity cannot be discribed in words

  2. On hearing the news on His attaining Acharyan Thiruvadi I could not control myself. What a great soul ! Anna dhana prabhu. His permanent contribution to the betterment of Mutt activities, encouraging vedic scholars, vidyarthis will be in our memories for 100s of years. He has landed in the hands of Sri Lakshmi Narasimhan.

  3. The disciple is never separated from the guru. The spiritual master lives forever through his instructions and the disciple lives with him. Nevertheless his passing away is unbearable for the disciple. A very sad day indeed.

  4. Adiyen!! a great article on our acharya shreshtar. Adiyen once went to Sri Mutt and our acharya was in tears that he is not in a position to do aaradhanaa to malolan. Like Azhwars who could not bear the viSlesham (seperation) from Malolan..He cried and said to all sishaayas (naan maalolana thottu aaradhana panni romba naal aaiduthu)… later on a beautifyl day when our acharya could do the aaradhaanaa… We can see a 1000 suns in HH’s thirumugam. Such is our acharyan’s bhakthi (para bhakthi, parama bhakthi we can say) to Malolan. Now our acharya is doing aaradhanaa to Malolan in srivaikuntam :). Dhaasan!


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