Thanks to Sri. Sarathy Thothathri Swami for this eye opener article.
This article is a humble effort in highlighting the importance of nithya thiruvArAdhanam at srivaishnava homes. This process (along with other vaidhiha anushtanams such as sandhya vandhanam) is slowly losing importance amongst srivaishnavas who are meant followers of sanAtana dharma, accepting vEdAs as top most authority and emperumAn as the only achievable goal. adiyEn is simply not qualified to write this article - neither has the jnAnam nor has the anushtAnam, but still writing this out of confidence/faith in many upanyAsams/kAlakshepams heard many AchAyAs/vidhwAns - hoping this to be an eye opener to all of us (including myself).
Srivaishanava Thiruvaradhanam (Deity worship at home)
As part of becoming a srivaishnava, we undergo pancha samskAramgal (samAsrayanam as generally known) under an AchArya. Samskara means purificatory process - a process which converts an unqualified entity to be qualified to perform a particular task.
pramANa vAkyam for pancha samskaram is "thApa: pundra: tathA nAma: mantrO yAgas cha panchama:". The five activities which happen during the pancha samskAra are:
- thApa (austerity) - sanka chakra lAnchanam - heated impression of sanka and chakra on our shoulders.
- punDra (symbol) - dwAdasa urdhva pundra dhAranam - wearing of Urdhva pundram (Thiruman and SriChUrnam).
- nAma (name) - dAsya namam - a new name given by the AchAraya (rAmAnuja dAsan, madhurakavi dAsan, srivaishnava dAsan).
- mantra - mantrOpadesam - learning the secret mantra from the acharyan; mantra - that which relieves the chanter from grief - thirumanthiram, dwayam and charamaslokam which releases us from samsara.
- yAga - dEva pUja - learning the thiruvArAdhanam process.
As it is explained by our pUrvAchAryAs, the goal of of pancha samskAra is two fold:
- As sAstrAs say, tattva JnAnAn mOksha lAbha: - by gaining knowledge about the brahmam, one gets mOKsha. By getting valuable knowledge from an AchAryA in artha panchakam (brahmam - God, jIva - soul, upAyam - means to attain God, upEyam - the result, virOdhi - hurdles which are stopping souls from getting the result) which is part of the mantrOpadesam, we become eligible to secure the ultimate goal - performing kainkaryam in nitya vibhUthi to Sriyapathi.
- While in the current life, performing kainkaryam to our AchAryan and Srivaishnavas (by doing in many possible ways) and ArchAvatAra emperumAn - through thiruvArAdhanam at home and divya dEsa kainkaryam.
In this article, we will go through various pramAnams to highlight the importance of daily thiruvArAdhanam at each srivaishnava thirumAligai (home).
Reason for this article:
Current (and sad) situation is - the daily thiruvArAdhanam is rarely happening in many srivaishnava homes. Even though there may be thIrtha EmperumAn (sAlagrAma emperumAn/sri mUrthy), often times they are ignored completely. Everyone is busy in their lives that we have even forgotten the ultimate act of EmperumAn's soulabyam - that is - coming into each of our homes and residing there (no matter what AchAram/anushtAnam are followed in that home).
The reasons for not performing thiruvArAdhahnam is mostly out of lack of proper understanding of the thiruvArAdhanam process and why it is very important for a srivaishanva.
In the following sections, we will see the importance of thiruvArAdhanam as observed in various pramAnAs viz vEdam, ithihAsa/purANangal, bhagavad gItA, arulicheyal, pUrvAchArya anushtAnangal/upadEsangal/ithihangal and finally rahasya granthangal.
Vaidhiha - one who accepts vEdAs as sAstra/authority:
One who accepts vedas as sAstra/authority must try to follow the instructions in vedas as much as possible. In this day and age, we have pretty much lost majority of AchArams/anushtAnams (except for a rare few who may be conscious of it and attempting to follow them). But if we look at vedAs, all vaidhihAs are called panch kAla parAyanAs. This means vaidhihAs have a routine for the five parts of the day.
The five parts are focussed on the middle part which is thiruvArAdhanam. They are:
- abhigamanam - waking up (before brahma muhurtham) and preparing ourselves - by doing all morning anushtAnams.
- upAdhAnam - collecting raw materials.
- ijjA (yAgam) - Use the raw materials in the process of thiruvArAdhanam - this is suppose to be done just after (ucchi kAlam) noon at home.
- svAdhyAyam - learning and teaching sAstrAs.
- yOgam - leaving our consciousness to brahmam through meditation (technically it is not our sleep).
Here, ijja is the process of deva pUja and srivaishnavas are suppose to perform thiruvArAdhanam to their personal deities at home and all other tasks are focussed on the emperumAn's guNAnubhavam, etc.
Only after going through the pancha samskAramgal, one is allowed to perform the thiruvArAdhanam, since that is the purificatory step which prepares us to carry on our duty through out our current life.
It is interesting to note that Swamy periavAchAn pillai in Perumal Thirumozhi vyAkyAnam, 1st thirumozhi 7th pAsuram - "maram thigazhum...", for iru-muppozhudhu (2 + 3) - he identifies that as "pancha kAlangal".
ithihAsAs/purAnas - upa brahmaNAs - through which we can understand vedAs:
In Sri RAmayanam, sri RAma himself performs thiruvArAdhanam to his kula dhanam/dhaivam - Sri Ranganathan (Naraynan) - who was even worshipped by brahmA, all raghu vamsa kings (starting from ikshvAku until RAma). The famous slokam "saha pathniyA visAlAkshyA nArayanam upAgamathu" even shows how Sita also accompanied/helped sri RAma in the thiruvArAdhanam.
In purAnAs also, the importance of thiruvArAdhanam is shown in several places.
The famous verse in Sri BhAgavatam - instruction of Sri Prahalad AzhwAn:
Sravanam kIrtanam visnO: smaranam pAdasEvanam
archanam vandanam dAsyam sakhyam AthmanivEdanam
explains the various ways to worship emperumAn. In this, all of the tasks, directly relate to various angas (parts) of thiruvArAdhanam process.
In gAruda purAnam, while explaining the eight qualities of his bhakta, emperumAn himself says,
mad bhaktha jana vAtsalyam, puJAyAm anumOdhanam, svayam api archanam chaiva ....
The two important points here are puJAyAm anumOdhanam - one who supports/feels happy when someone else worship me and svayam api archanam - one who himself worships me. This is quoted by swAmy manavAla mAmunigal in AchArya hrudhayam vyAkyAnam 85th chUrnai.
There are many other such incidents recorded in various purAnAs and ithihAsAs.
Bhagavad gitA - direct words of Sri Krishna
In many slokAs Krishna himself stresses the importance of thiruvArAdhanam.
Twice he says "man-manA bhava mad-bhakta: mad-yAji mAm namaskuru" - indicating the need for us to always be engaged in worshipping him.
Our purvacharyas also identify "yE yatA mAm prapdyante tAms tataiva bhajami aham" verse to archA avataram. This slOkam indicates that emperumAn takes whatever form in which the devotee desires to worship him - same meaning as in "thamar uganthathu evvuruvam avvuruvam thAne" (Mudhal thiruvandhAdhi).
In "patram pushpam palam thOyam yo me bhakthyA prayachathi ..." verse, krishna says one should offer leaf (tulasi), flower, fruits and water which are all part of our thiruvArAdhanam process.
He further says in "yajna sistasinah..." (3.13), that any food that is cooked for the pleasure of the individual without being offered to emperumAn first, by eating that food, they are just eating sin. He clearly states that we should only eat prasadam and nothing but prasadam. This eating of prasadham is called anuyAgam, since yAgam is thiruvArAdhanam where we offer the food to emperumAn.
arulicheyal (parama pramAnam for us):
In arulicheyal, there are many pAsurams which directly/indirectly talk about the thiruvArAdhanam process - in general worshipping emperumAn.
soottu nan maalaigal - nithya surigal thiruvaaradhanam
In thiruvirutham, nammAzhwAr vividly describes the thiruvArAdhanam performed by nityasUrigal in paramapadam.In this pAsruam, he says, when nityasUrigal offer dhoopam, when emperumAn is covered in the smoke, he takes the opportunity to slip away,
- comes to leela vibhUti as krishnan,
- engages in stealing the butter and eating it as much as possible and
- kills 7 bulls to marry nappinnai pirAtti.
- dances his favourite kuda koothu (dancing with pots in hands, head, and a drum in the waist).
- comes back to paramapadam when the smoke clears and sits there as if nothing happened.
parivathil Isan paadi
In thiruvAimozhi, nammazhwar explains the svAradhanathvam (easily worshippable) quality of emperumAn. In eedu vyaakyaanam, nampillai brings out some excellent points such as the conversation between bhattar and nanjeeyar, where bhattar says any flower can be offered to emperumAn. He even says in one place that bring some leaves and burn it, emperumAn will accept it as wonderful fragrance.
Another important point is also brought out here, unlike other devathas which asks - Attai aruthu thA (offer me a goat), pillai kari thA (offer me your child), etc., our emperumAn just asks for the love of his bhakthas.
therithu ezhudhi vassithum kettum vanangi vazhipattum poosithum
This is called as thirumazhisai AzhwAr's dhina chariyai (daily routine). He himself says how he spends his day - learn, write, read, offer obeisance and perform pooja to emperumAn.
Many AcharyAs have themselves performed thiruvArAdhanam to divya desa emperumAn/AzhwArs/AchAryAs even beyond their worship at their own thirumAligais.
- nAthamunigal - In kAttu mannAr kOil, it is said that nAdhamunigal himself was performing thiruvArAdhanam to mannanAr.
- arula perumAl emperumAnAr given the task of performing thiruvArAdhanam to pErarulAlan (emperumAnAr's personal deities) by emperumAnAr himself.
- thiruvAimozhi pillai and manavAla mAmunigal both performing thiruvaaradhanam for bhavishyadAchAriar (emperumAnAr) in AzhwArthirunagari.
- emperumAnAr wrote nithya grantham (Sanskrit) explaining the thiruvArAdhanam process in a very detailed manner. This is one of his nava rathnam (each grantham of swAmy is a rathnam and this was the last one).
- manavAla mAmunigal wrote jeeyar padi (Tamil) thiruvArAdhana kramam which is a little bit shorter than emperumAnAr's grantham.
As we can see from both anushtAnangal and upadEsangal, it is meant for us - srivaishnavAs - that this process has been established by pUrvAchAryas.
There are many instances where pUrvAcharyas demonstrated the practice and importance of thiruvArAdhanam.
emperumAnAr - mAruthi siriAndAn
Once when mAruthi siriAndan asks swAmy to teach thiruvArAdhana kramam swAmy says he will teach later, but forgets about it. But in the mean time another sishyA requests the same and swAmy is teaching the thriuvArAdhana kramam to that sishya and that time mAruti siriyAndAn enters the room. At that time swAmy is feeling awkward and he says he feared to look at mAruti siriyAndan since he did not fulfill his request. When asked how swAmy can fear his sishyA, swAmy takes the example of krishna fearing yasOda out of love, even though krishna is supreme, just like that, swAmy is also fearing his sishya for not fulfilling the promise.
bhattar - somAsiyAndAn
sOmAsiyAndAn asks bhattar to teach the thiruvArAdhana kramam, and bhattar teaches him a very elaborate process. But when one day sOmAsiyAndAn comes to bhattar thirumAligai, bhattar is ready to eat and after everything is served for him on his plantain leaf, bhattar asks one of his sishya to bring his thiruvArAdhana perumal and offers the food right there and starts eating. When asked by sOmAsiyAndan, bhattar says for him even this is elaborate and for sOmAsiyAndAn whatever taught to him was small. The inner meaning is bhattar for his state of mind, if he starts the real thiruvArAdhanam he will melt, but sOmAsiyAndAn (being a sOma yAji - performer of sOma yAghams) whatever (elaborately) was taught to him was small since he was used to long yAghams.
erumbiappA - manavAla mAmunigal
- When erumbiappA comes to visit srirangam to take shelter of swAmy, at that time, he listens to the great kAlakshepam, etc., but leaves to his home town without taking the prasadam of swAmy. When he goes to his thirumAligai, the next day morning, his thirvArAdhana perumal (Sri rAman) does not let him open the doorof the kOil AzhwAr and orders him to go back to manavAla mAmunigal.
- In pUrva/uttara dina chariyai (daily routine of mAmunigal) grantham, erumbiappA also shows mAmunigal's thirvArAdhanam in his daily routine.
There are many places that talk about archA avatAram specifically in rahasya granthams. We will look at a couple of important ones:
dvaya prakaranam - sUtram 141 - ivayellAm namakku namperumAl pakkalilE kAnalAm - In the vyAkyAnam, mAmunigal says, for the one who desires, we can see all of these (divine qualities vAtsalya, swAmitva, souseelya, soulabhya, jnana, sakthi, etc) in our perumAl.
Note: While namperumAl generally refers to ranganAthan, in this context it refers to all archAvatAra emperumAn, including the ones at our own homes.
mudhal prakaranam - chUrnikai 75 - vIttinbavinba pAkkalil dravya bAshA nirupaNa samam inbamAriyil ArAichi - In the vyAkyAnam, mAmunigal says, vIttinbam - archAvatAra emperuman in the homes of those heart and thoughts are situated in emperumAn fully. This is specific reference to the greatness of gruha archAvatara mUrthy.
From all of the above we can clearly see the imporatance given for thiruvArAdhanam in vEdas, purAna/ithihAsAs, arulicheyal, pUrvachArya anushtAnam/upadEsam/ithiham and finally rahasya granthangal. It is the duty of every srivaishnava to atleast spend some time in performing thiruvArAdhanam of the emperumAns at their homes and partake in the prasadam (and prasadam only) after the process.
It is recommended by our pUrvAchAryAs that this thiruvArAdhana kramam must be learnt from an AchAryan properly. There are many books that are available nowadays which explains the thiruvArAdhana kramam in a simple way.
Doing the thiruvArAdhanam daily with love is one way we can reciprocate the same (if not in the same quantity/quality atleast to some extent) to the emperumAn who is showing his soulabhyam by entering our home.
It is also customary in the olden days that every day once the thiruvArAdhanam is complete to emperumAn, the prasadam is offered to bhAgavathAs as thadhiyArAdhanam. People who goes on yAtrAs depend on these thadhiyArAdhanam and they were readily offered by srivaishnavAs at home on a daily basis. It is also considered as an important aspect in our life. But nowadays we can hardly see this happening. We can also try to practice this whenever possible. Whatever adiyEn has written in this article is based on adiyEn's very limited knowledge, if there is anything valuable it is by the grace of asmadAchAryan and all the mistakes are due to adiyEn's ignorance only.
Annexure: Quick guide/steps for thiruvArAdhanam
- Head bath.
- Urdhva pundra dhAraNam (chant guruparampara slOkam, AchAryan thanian, dwAdasa nAma mantram for both perumAl and pirAtti).
- Sandhya vandhanam.
- mAdhyaniham (depending on the time of the day) - Ideally thiruvArAdhanam should be done around noon time, but it may not be practical for most of us nowadays. All we can do is we can try our best to follow sAstrAs and wherever we cannot, we can ask for forgiveness from emperumAn.
- Preparation of pancha pAtram (utensils), dhoopam, dheepam, thiruvilakku, pushpam, thIrtham, thIrtha parimaLam (Elakkai/krAmbu powder), etc.
- Others at home (including women) can participate in the thiruvArAdhanam in various ways such as - preparing flowers, cleaning the place where thiruvArAdhanam is done, preparing the bhOgam, chanting arulicheyal, sAtrumurai, etc.
The following steps show a brief and somewhat simplified version. This may not be complete and it may be different for each thirumAzhigai, family, divya dEsam, etc. Please enquire with the elders on the proper steps. But these give a brief idea of the general thiruvArAdhana kramam that can be followed by any one who is eligible to do so.
- Get thiruthuzhAi after offering respects, chant "thulasiamruthi janmAsi..."
- Light the thiruvilakku - chant srisailEsa dhayApAthram, vayam thagaliyA, anbe thakaliyA, thirukkandEn pAsurams.
- Set up pancha pAtram.
- Add thIrtham to thirukkAveri (main thIrtham utensil).
- Chant uttara vAkyam of dvayam (srImathe nArAyanAya nama:) - 5 or 7 times with thIrtham and thiruthuzhAi and purify all materials (vattils, flowers, etc) by sprinkling thIrtham on them.
- Add thIrtham to various vattils (kinnams/utensils).
- Open the kOil AzhwAr door by chanting nAyakanAi ninra nandhagopanudaya, mari malai muzhainjil, anru ivvulagam azhandhan and anganmA jyAlathu arasar pasurangal
- perform sAshtAnga pranAmam.
mantrAsanam - inviting emperumAn to accept the thiruvArAdhanam
- remove flowers from the previous day - chant uduthu kazhalindha pAsuram.
- offer arghya, pAdhya, Achamanam to emperumAn - while offering chant Om arghyam samarpayAmi, Om pAdhyam samarpayAmi, Om Achamaniyam samarpayAmi respectively or chant arghyam kandarula vEndum, pAdhyam kandarula vEndum, Achamaniyam kandarula vEndum respectively.
- invite all emperumAns - 108 divya dEsa emperumAns to accept the thiruvArAdhanam
- Emphasise that the thiruvArAdhanam is done by one's own AchAryan and us being the hands of the AchAryan.
snAnAsanam - bathing the emperumAn
- place the sAlagrama emperumAns into a suitable place (thirumanjana vEdhikai or a plate).
- offer arghya, pAdhya, Achamanam.
- offer snAnIyam - Om snAnIyam samarpayAmi or snAnIyam kandarula vEndum.
- perform thirumanjanam - chant purusa sUktham, nArAyana sUktham, vishnu sUktham, srI suktham, bhU sUktham, nIla sUktham - as much as time permitting. finish off with vennai azhaintha kunugum pathigam and additionalthirumanjana kAla pAsurams.
- offer arghya, pAdhya, Achamanam, dhUpam, dhIpam, warm milk and/or fruits (whatever possible).
- empty all the thIrtham into the padikkam (utensil to collect all offered water).
alankArAsanam - decorating emperumAn
- place the sAlagrama emperumAns into their original place.
- offer sAthupadi (chandanam) and flowers - chant gandhathvArAm durAdharsham slOkam and pUsum sAndhennenjamE pAsuram. Note: Generally thiruman kAppu is not applied for sAlagrama emperumAn - only chandana kAppu.
- offer arghya, pAdhya, Achamanam.
- offer dhoopam (chant dhoorvasya ...), dhIpam (chant udh dhIpyasya slOkam).
- mantra pushpam, vedhArambam.
- dvAdasa nAma archanai.
podhu thanians starting from srisailEsa dhayapAtram...., thiruppallAndu, thiruppallieluchi, thiruppAvai, amalan Adi piran, sthala paatu (divya desam where you are from or where you are staying now), kanninun chiruthAmbu, koil thirvAimozhi, rAmAnusa nUtrandhAdhi, updadEsa rathina mAlai, etc. - depending on the available time chant as much as possible.
Note: rAmAnusa nUtrandhAdhi is called prapanna gAyatri/sAvitri - it is mentioned by our elders that just like gAyatri mantram is chanted daily without fail by a brAhmaNan, a prapannan should atleast chant rAmAnusa nUtrandhAdhi once.
Prepare bhOgam (food) in the mean time. We should use separate utensils/vessels for preparing the bhOgam. Also bhOgam should not be offered in the same vessel it was cooked - it should always be transferred to a different vessel. We should not use these vessels for our personal use, that should be exclusively kept for emperumAn.
bhOjyAsanam - offering food
- offer arghya, pAdhya, Achamanam.
- place the bhOgam in front of emperumAn.
- sprinkle thIrtham and spread some thiruthuzhAi over the bhOgam.
- offer the bhOgam to emperumAn chanting kUdArai vellum sIr, nAru narumpozhil, ulagamunda peruvAyA pAsurams and yA prIthir vidhurArpithE slOkam.
- offer surulamudhu, sAthupadi (vetrilai, pAkku, chandanam) to emperumAn.
- now bhOgam has become prasAdham and can be taken away.
punar mantrAsanam - mangalAsAsanam/sAtrumurai
- offer arghya, pAdhya, Achamanam.
- offer dhUpam - chant tat visnOr paramam padam....
- mangalam for kOil (lakshmi saranalAnka...), thirumalai, perumAl kOil, chella pillai, jagannAthan, perumAl (sri rAman), pArthasArathy, AndAl, nammAzhwAr, kaliyan, emperumAnAr, manavAla mAmunigal, all AchAryAs (managalAsAsana parair mathAchArya...).
- chant the sAtrumurai pAsurams, thiruppallandu pAsuram, vAzhi thirunAmam, etc. The whole family can join in for sAtrumurai.
- thIrtham can be distributed to one and all by the person who is doing thiruvArAdhanam.
- chant vAzhi thirunAmam of the particular AzhwAr/AchAryan thirunakshatram for that particular day.
paryankAsanam - requesting emperumAn to go to rest
- perform sAshtAnga pranAmam, chant upachArApadEsEna slOkam (asking for forgiveness for mistakes committed during the thiruvArAdhanam)
- close the door of kOil AzhwAr - chant uragal uragal uragal, panikkadalil paLLi kOLai pazhagavittu, pasurangal.