History

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Sri Perumal Koyil Vadikesari Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar Mutt is an important institution in our sampradayam, which was established by Periya Jeeyar Koyil Selva Manavala Mamunigal Himself, and succeeded by His prashishya ‘Vadikesari Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar’ (shishya of Paravastu Pattarpiran Jeeyar – who was, in turn, one of the ashta diggajas of Mamunigal). It is located in Chinna Kanchipuram, right behind Perumal Koyil – opposite to the Eastern Rajagopuram (the regular entrance to Varadarajar Koyil is on the western side).

The mutt has had a jubilant history with many learned scholars donning the Acharya Peetam, including the mAthAmahar (maternal grandfather) of Kanchi Mahavidwan Sri U.Ve.PB Annangaracharya swami (popularly called ‘shashti jeeyar swami’). Historians have shown with ample proof that the jeeyar swamis in the lineage of this mutt have carried out many great kainkaryams in the divyadesams in and around Kanchipuram, including Tooppul, Tirupputkuzhi, etc. The jeeyar swamis of this mutt have also been the ‘Koyil kelvi’s (chief administrators of the temple) at Perumal Koyil for a long period. The mutt also boasts of many shishyas from places far and wide.

It is said that when Manavala Mamunigal visited Kanchipuram for the second time in 1420 A.D. after taking to Sanyasam – in order to discourse on Sri Bhashyam, He needed a mutt to stay. That is when this glorious mutt was built. Later, Manavala Mamunigal appointed one of His prashishyas (disciple of His disciple) as the caretaker of the mutt, who was later to become the “kelviyappan” of Perumal Koyil. That happened to be Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar, who was the disciple of Paravastu Pattarpiran Jeeyar. The Acharya in this peetam was later awarded with the title ‘Vadikesari’ (probably due to His debating skills), which has been traditionally affixed to the names of the Jeeyar swamis down the generations. Thus, the glorious Acharya lineage in the mutt began with the auspices of none other than Manavala Mamunigal Himself!

Many people think that Sri Vadikesari Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar – the first Peethadhipati of the mutt – was same as the shishya of Periyavacchan Pillai (who was also named Vadikesari Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar). However, the records of mutt show that the mUlapurushar here was different, and lived in the 15th century, contemporary to Manavala Mamunigal Himself (as against the author of 12000 padi, who lived in the 13th century), as said above.

The Kainkaryam of all the Acharyas in the mutt’s lineage to Perarulalan have thence continued till date, beginning right from the 1st Jeeyar swami who built the third prakaram wall in Kanchi temple about 500 years ago up to the 19th pattam Jeeyar swami who renovated the Eastern rajagopuram as recently as about 5-10 years back.

The Acharyas in the lineage of Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar Mutt have done tremendous kainkaryams to Devaperumal and Perundevi Tayar of Kanchipuram. Historians have also shown that some jeeyar swamis in this lineage have also contributed liberally for the development of other divyadesams in and around Kanchipuram as well (famously counted as 18 in number).

The wall on the third prakaram of Perumal Koyil was built by Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar. In addition to it, many more structures within the temple such as 100 pillared mantapam, the mantapam in front of Thayar sannidhi (called ‘mahanavami mantapam’), the extension on the western side of Abhisheka mantapam, etc. are also said to have been built by this jeeyar swami. To commemorate such divine kainkaryams, a statue of this jeeyar swami has been carved on pillars in the temple in various places such as in Mahanavami mantapam, Tayar sannidhi (oonjal mantapam), 100 pillared mantapam, etc.

Historic records show that the jeeyar swamis in this lineage have donated many lands/villages for the income of the temple in order to conduct the various utsavams regularly, as early as in the 14th to 16th centuries. One such village that was donated to the temple was in the name of the Jeeyar Himself, called ‘Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar Puram’ in those days. Nowadays it seems to be called ‘Pogaipakkam’ (near Arakkonam).

Temple inscriptions in Kanchi also show that the shishyas of Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar have built certain mantapams and prakaras in Deepaprakasar sannidhi and Marakatavalli Tayar sannidhi at Tooppul at the behest of the Jeeyar swami.

The jeeyar swami who held the peetam during the 16th century is also said to have donated a certain ornament to Devapperumal, called ‘neela vandu padakkam’. Also, a person by name ‘Venaktadhvari’ seems to have donated diamond studded crowns called ‘venkatadri (venkatadhvari) kondai’ to Namperumal of Srirangam and Devaperumal of Kanchipuram. This Venkatadhvari is said to be the shishya of Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar. Even to this day, one can see the room where he lived within Devaperumal temple to conduct his kainkaryams (right next to Senai mudaliyar sannidhi). It was somewhere around that time (around the late 15th or early 16th century) that the Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar swamis in the lineage are said to have been appointed as ‘Koyil kelvi’s for Perumal Koyil.

A certain stone inscription from the 16th century seems to indicate that the chariot of Varadaraja Perumal was donated to the temple by the famous ruler Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara Empire. There, he is said to have consulted Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar for His opinions and suggestions on the route that should be taken by the chariot. The shishyas of the mutt seem to have served in various capacities in the courts of Vijayanagar and Mysore kingdoms. The jeeyar swamis themselves are also said to have guided the rulers as their ‘rajaguru’s for some time.

In earlier days, Devaperumal seemed to travel all the way to Mahabalipuram for the Parvettai utsavam. Since that was quite far from the temple, and also due to the fear of dacoits at later dates, Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar – who was the Koyil kelviyappan – decided to change the destination. He then identified a village close to Kanchi, which was only about 15km away from the temple, on the banks of Palar River (near thiru-mukkoodal). Inscriptions show that this place was hence called ‘Jeeyar puram’, which later came to be called ‘cheevaram’. Today, it seems to be called ‘pazhaiya seevaram’. Jeeyar swami is said to have built a mantapam atop a hillock in this village. Even to this day, Devaperumal goes to this mantapam for Parvettai and returns. This happens in January every year (kanu parvettai utsavam).

The jeeyar swamis in the lineage of this mutt are said to have been highly learned scholars in both Sanskrit and Tamil Vedantas. One jeeyar swami in this lineage is said to have compared the similarities in the tenets expounded in Sri Bhashya of Swami (Emperumanar) and the first two tiruvaimozhis of Nammazhwar (Uyarvara and Veedumin dashakams), and composed a grantham named “Sribhashya-dramidaugha-aadya-dashakadvaya-aikakanthyam”. Even the grandfather (mAthAmahar) of Kanchi Mahavidwan Sri U Ve Prativadi Bhayankaram Annangarachariar Swami is said to have donned the Acharya peetam in this lineage. He was popularly called ‘Shashti Jeeyar Swami’. Sri PBA swami is said to have mastered all commentaries of purvacharyas from shashti jeeyar swami in his early years.

Some of the well-known jeeyar swamis in this lineage (as noted in a book called ‘Sri Kanchi Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar Madattin Varalaaru’) are: Echambadi Ramanuja Jeeyar swami – who is said to have given 18 temples in and around Kanchi a facelift, Tirunarayanapuram Anantanpillai Akkarakkani Ramanuja Jeeyar Swami, Chinna Vinjimoor Swami – known for His expertise in Sri Vachana Bhushanam, Periya Vinjimoor Swami – who is said to have envisioned Ubhaya Vedantam in His dream, and Shashti Jeeyar Swami – a scholar par excellence and the grandfather of Sri PBA swami – among others.

This mutt is said to have had branches in some of the major Divyadesams such as Srirangam, Azhwar Tirunagari, Tirumalai, Tiruvallikkeni, and Tirunarayanapuram among others. But most of them have gone unidentifiable, except for Tiruvallikkeni (near Telliya singar sannidhi) and Tirunarayanapuram (on the banks of Kalyani teertham).

Apart from these, there is also a branch at Bangalore near Seegehalli on Magadi main road.

2 thoughts on “History

  1. A.K Mythili

    A highly commendable move this is & a Great service to poorvacharyars to highlight their history, their style of living in abject surrender to their preceding Acharyas& their great sampradayic works of literature. Thanks for such uploads cast towards inspiring laymen like me to a great thinking.
    Arasanipalai Kandhadai Mythili
    Sr

    Reply

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