Yātrā Unto Paramātmā

The offering of 4000 Divya Prabandhaṁ by the Maṅgalaṣāsana Gośṭi of the Tirumalagiri Temple at the 108 Divya Desaṁ-s.

“The Maṅgalaṣāsana Gośṭi functions with the JP Nagar Tirumalagiri Sri Lakshmi Venkateśvarasvāmi Perumāl Temple as the fulcrum. Gopal Iyengar has been the coordinator since 2006. My parents, Srinivasaraghavan and Saroja were part of this Gośṭi (group). Amma used to be greatly devoted to the Lord in this temple. She used to visit the temple every day and recite the ‘Divya Prabandhaṁ’ (4000 verses of devotional poetry rendered by 12 devotees known as 'Āzhvār-s' at 108 of the most important shrines of Lord Viṣṇu). Amma would get things done for the temple and this included the temple bell. She was inspired by the legend connected with the offering of 100 Thaḍā-s of Akkāravaḍisal to the Lord. Thereafter, she made the Akkāravaḍisal at home and bought 100 bronze containers to offer them to Tirumalagiri Perumāl. These 100 Thaḍā-s (100 containers) were given to the devotees later. Amma had the complete Anugrahaṁ (grace) of Goddess Mahālakṣmī. She was drawn to Perumāl just as how Āṇḍāl was drawn towards him," stated Kidambi Vasudevan of Navo, a digital transformation company known for raising business efficiencies. Vasudevan spends time in between the Middle East and his work involves driving business efficiency, revenue, and profitability of his clients.

About 30 members formed part of this Gośṭi and about 15 of them were active. These Bhagavatā-s (devotees of Lord Nārāyaṇa) used to congregate at the newly built Tirumalagiri Perumāl temple and recite verses from the sacred ‘Divya Prabandhaṁ’ every day. Most of the Gośṭi members had visited the Divya Desaṁ-s (the temples which had received the sacred ‘Divya Prabandhaṁ’ from the 12 Āzhvār-s) already. It occurred to them that they should visit the 106 Divya Desaṁ-s on earth (the balance is the ‘Tiruppārkaḍal’ or milk ocean and Tiruparamapadaṁ/the home of Lord Viṣṇu in Heaven) and recite the 4000 verses contained in the ‘Divya Prabandhaṁ’ in each one of these sacred temples.

The Gośṭi decided to cover the more difficult and distant ones first (since most of the members were senior citizens). They were particular to complete the ‘Divya Prabandhaṁ’ pilgrimage while they were in good health. The entire trip was done by train and bus. They used the helicopter only while traveling to Muktināth in Nepal. The Gośṭi faced numerous difficulties. A landslide stopped their vehicle, and they recited the verses despite this adversity. Extreme weather conditions did not deter them from reciting the verses. Their mission had become their heart and soul. The group began at Śrīraṅgaṃ and completed at Tirupārtanpalli in the Thirunangur region near Mayiladuthurai in Tamil Nadu.

Each one of the team members carried minimum clothing and had their own copy of the ‘Divya Prabandhaṁ’ . Some of them had copies which had the verses in the Kannada script (transliteration). Saroja was always known to eat all times at home. Therefore, she carried provisions, a stove etc., and vegetables would be purchased locally. She cooked and ate her own food in all the Divya Desaṁ-s. On some days, she just had fruits. She had done all the 16 Dhānaṁ-s (charities given as part of a person's memorial service) during her active lifetime itself. Saroja was completely devoted to Perumāl (Lord Viṣṇu) and visiting his shrines had been her only mission.

Saroja was often accompanied by her daughter, Rohini Kannan. Both mother and daughter used to read the verses from ‘Divya Prabandhaṁ’ with utmost devotion. Some from the Gośṭi members would drop out once in a way due to personal reasons and only four of them completed the recitations clubbed with visits over a decade or so. Rohini Kannan herself had visited about 70 of the shrines. It would take about three to four days to fully recite the ‘Divya Prabandhaṁ’ in every Divya Desaṁ. The Bhagavatā-s would render the verses in complete faith. They had become evolved souls over time and their pilgrimage had become one of its kind. The commitment of the devotees became common knowledge among the people who visited the Tirumalagiri Sri Lakshmi Venkateśvarasvāmi Temple.

The pilgrims wore their clothes in the traditional style. Women adorned themselves with Vaishnaivaite symbols and wore the saree in the Maḍisār style while the men sported Nāmaṃ-s (Vaishnavite markings on the person) and wore dhotis in the Pañcagajaṃ fashion. The group recited the Pāsuraṁ (verse) ‘Porul Enrivulagam’ from the ‘Thiruvaimozhi’ and septuagenarian Saroja Srinivasaraghavan passed away in the Tiruchiṭṭrāru Divya Desaṁ (shrine of Imayavarappan - Kerala) suddenly. She was 73 years of age, and it was her 73rd temple as per the program. In fact, Saroja had been the Secretary all along. She would plan the visit, food, location, mode of travel etc., The lady had done so for about 7 years. She would chalk out the details and create the momentum. Her mini cooker, small white cubes which helped her sustain the cooking fire, a small stove made her easily identifiable. Two people could get Upma from her cooking. Her attainment of Paramapadaṁ (passing away) suddenly put a temporary halt to the sojourn of her husband Srinivasaraghavan and daughter Rohini Kannan.

Gopal Iyengar continued with the original plan, and he completed the visit by completing the recitation at the Divya Desaṁ - Tirupārtanpalli by the year 2016. He had recited the 4000 verses in 106 Divya Desaṁ-s. Since the other two were promised by Perumāl for the ones who had visited the 106, Gopal Iyengar recited the verses in front of the two images of Perumāl from his residence. Kidambi Vasudevan had offered the two silver portraits of the Perumāl s who reside in the 107th (Tiruppārkaḍal - Pārkadalvaṇṇaṇ) and 108th (Tiruparamapadaṁ - Paramapadanātan) Divya Desaṁ-s to Gopal Iyengar at Tirupārtanpalli (shrine of Tāmaraiyāzha Kelvan) on his successful completion of the Divya Prabandhaṁ Pilgrimages. He had gotten it specially made from Rajesh Govindarajulu (Chief Curator, www.theverandahclub.com) Of the P. A. Raju Chettiar Jewellers family (Coimbatore).

Srinivasaraghavan completed his pilgrimage by 2018 and two more pilgrims, Devapriyan and Vidya completed their mission by 2021. Kidambi Vasudevan and his sister Rohini Kannan accompanied their father to the Divya Desaṁ-s that had been left out due to the sudden passing away of their mother, Saroja. Rohini, Vidya (Chinna) and Mohana decided to recite the 4000 verses in front of each of the 108 Divya Desaṁ Perumāl-s as a group from Bengaluru itself. They have successfully completed the Mānasīga (mind travel) yatra recently.

Kidambi Vasudevan has made an offer to the members of the Maṅgalaṣāsana Gośṭi which congregates at the JP Nagar Tirumalagiri Sri Lakshmi Venkateśvarasvāmi Temple. “I am keen to offer the 107th and 108th Perumāl-s engraved in silver to each of the members of the Gośṭi who have recited the 4000 verses in each of the Divya Desaṁ-s. They are also welcomed to complete the recitation (108 times) from their respective homes too by undertaking a Mānasīga Yātrā to each one of them. I earnestly hope to see devotees visit the Divya Desaṁ-s and recite the 4000 ‘Divya Prabandhaṁ,” smiled Kidambi Vasudevan.

Keen Vaishnavites (devotees of Lord Nārāyaṇa) are ever ready to visit the Divya Desaṁ-s and they consider it to be their life's mission. Enthusiasts who have heard about the devotional exploits of the Tirumalagiri Temple Maṅgalaṣāsana Gośṭi have suggested a home shrine for ardent devotees of Lord Viṣṇu. They suggested that a tiny shrine (that can be offered prayers from one's home) with the silver icons of the 108 deities found in Divya Desaṁ-s along with that of the Āzhvār-s, Ācāryā-s, Garuḍa, and Hanumān should be promoted to celebrate the Divya Prabandhaṁ Pilgrimage of the Maṅgalaṣāsana Gośṭi.

The Tirumalagiri Sri Lakshmi Venkateśvarasvāmi Temple Maṅgalaṣāsana Gośṭi has made history and many other Bhagavatā-s will emulate their act of devotion during the times to come.

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