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Rama Paduka, Nandigram, Ayodhya - Sri Ramanin Padhayil

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Below is the verse from Paadhuka Sahasrama:

Bharataya Param Namostu Tasmai Prathamodaharanaya Bhakti Bhajam
Yadupajnyamasheshata: Pruthivyam Prathito Raghavapadukaprabhava:

Meaning: I pay my homage to that great pioneer, Bharata, who was the 1st example for proclaiming the greatness of the Paaduka of Sri Rama in this world. (My homage is also due to Sri Nathamuni, who was a Bharata to Sri Nammazhvar, as Bharata was to the Raghava Paaduka. And Nathamuni-indeed Ranganathamuni-propagated Azhvar's work by singing with tala and abhinaya, that is with Bhava, Raga, and Tala, which is what the Bharatamuni did for the fine art of dance).

In the beginning verse of Paadhuka Sahasramam, Desikan speaks on greatness of Bharata. Bharata is the greatest bhakta of Sri Rama. Bharata never ruled the kingdom, from Ayodhya. He went to Chitrakoot and requested Sri Rama to return and rule the Kingdom; but Sri Rama declined and gave His Padukas [sandals] to Bharata. Bharata carried the sandals on his head and came near Ayodhya. Because of Bharata, the world came to know the significance of Paduka. Vedanta Desikan says that the Padugai and Nammalvar are the same. Nammalvar, an important and foremost considered among the 12 alwars in Sri Vaishnavam. He was born in Thirukkurugoor, Alwar Thirunagari Village in the banks of River Thamirabarani.

In all Sri Vaishnava temples, Shatari has a special position. The devotees feel an ecstatic pleasure and enjoy the divine grace when Shatari is placed on their head by the head priest or the Acharya.

Sri Nammazhwar stayed on this planet till he turned 32 and the Lord Himself came to take him to Vaikuntha. Nammalwar has compiled 1,296 hymns during his lifetime. As Nammalwar had expressed his intense desire to dwell under the lotus feet of the Lord, a crown which symbolizes Nammalwar’s head, with the lotus feet of the Lord on the top of it is kept in the Vaishnava temples. That crown is called Shatari, which is one of the names of Nammalwar, and is symbolically placed on the heads of the devotees who visit the temple to indicate the Lordship of the Supreme Lord and our position as the servants of His lotus feet.

Interestingly, the Satari or the crown taken from the feet of the lord and placed by a priest on the head of a devotee for blessings, is none other than Sadagopan himself. Sri Nammazhwar is called Sadagopan. ‘Satari’ is derived from ‘Sadagopan’. Sri Nammazhwar decided to remain at the feet of the lord, hence eulogised (in the physical world) in the form of a crown placed at the feet of Sriman Narayana.

In the Sri Satari, we can find the thiruvadis (two feet at the top of the Satari), which are said to be the feet of Sriman Narayanan and this says that Sri Nammalwar is holding the Thiruvadi of Sriman Narayanan on his head. Sri Nammazhwar is considered to be the Lotus Feet of Sriman Narayanan.

In this kali yuga, Sri Sriman Narayana's Holy Feet is the only visible and tangible object for surrender and consecration. To constantly aspire for His Grace by consecrating our small selves by offering our every living moment, to reject unwanted distractions of this mundane world and to totally surrender all our being always to Him and Satari helps us by putting our heads in the right place - under His Feet. Finally, we saw that even the saints plead to Him at His Feet.

Shatari eliminates all the wicked thoughts from our mind. Similarly, Paduka Sahasram will make us sacred, and wise. Nammalwar performed his first Saranagati to Vanamamalai Perumal. This is the ONLY Divya Desam where Nammalwar's Vigragam can be found on the Sri Satari. Nammalwar clearly showed the Visishtadvaita Sidhdhantham (philosophy) of Surrender or Saranagati as the only easiest route to Thirunadu (moksha) in the very first pasuram on this Perumal.

Swami Desikan compares Rama to a lion, Paadhuka to a lioness and Bharatha to the lion cub. Swamy says: "When RaamA, the Lion entered the forest to kill Raavana, You, the lioness out of great concern for the well being of your cub Bharatha, returned to Ayodhya, the cave of Kosala kingdom. There, you waited for Your Lord to return after 14 years and took good care of Bharatha entrusted to you.

Kamba Ramayana Parayanam at Nandigram: Below are the verses from Kamba Ramayana - Yutha Kandam - Meetchi Padalam

துன்பு உருக்கவும், சுற்றி உருக்க ஒணா
என்பு உருக்கும் தகைமையின் இட்டது ஆய்,
முன்பு உருக் கொண்டு ஒரு வழி முற்றுறா
அன்பு உருக் கொண்டது ஆம் எனல் ஆகுவான்

....Kamba Ramayana - Yutha Kandam 41 - Meetchi Padalam 47

தொழுது நின்ற தன் தம்பியை, தோய் கணீர்
எழுது மார்பத்து இறுகத் தழுவினான்,
அழுது, 'வேண்டுவது உண்டு, ஐய! அவ் வரம்,
பழுது இல் வாய்மையினாய்! தரற்பாற்று' என்றான்

....Kamba Ramayana - Yutha Kandam 41 - Meetchi Padalam 60

கான் ஆள நிலமகளைக் கைவிட்டுப் போனானைக் காத்து, பின்பு
போனானும் ஒரு தம்பி; "போனவன் தான் வரும் அவதி போயிற்று" என்னா,
ஆனாத உயிர் விட என்று அமைவானும் ஒரு தம்பி; அயலே நாணாது,
யானாம் இவ் அரசு ஆள்வென்? என்னே, இவ் அரசாட்சி! இனிதே அம்மா!

....Kamba Ramayana - Yutha Kandam 41 - Meetchi Padalam 64

எண் இல் கோடி இராமர்கள் என்னினும்,
அண்ணல் நின் அருளுக்கு அருகு ஆவரோ?
புண்ணியம் எனும் நின் உயிர் போயினால்,
மண்ணும் வானும் உயிர்களும் வாழுமோ?

....Kamba Ramayana - Yutha Kandam 41 - Meetchi Padalam 73

Bharata with many a sob requested Rama to give him his Padukas-the wooden shoes that he wore — as he would rule the land in the name of these sacred shoes only as the symbol of Rama's personal authority ; and Rama gave them — those shoes that give temporal as well as spiritual salvation to those that worship them in faith and love. And placing them upon his head and shedding tears profusely at the thought of separation from Rama, Bharata at length took his leave with all his host and returned home. But he would not enter Ayodhya, for, was not Rama an exile there from? He therefore stopped at Nandigram, placed the Padukas on the throne, and conducted the affairs of the state as their vice-regent, himself living the life of an anchorite!

And how he did pass the fourteen years of Rama's exile !

Not a day passed without his doing worship to the Padukas of his brother. He lived with his senses absolutely restrained, a very picture of tenderness and love. Tears would gush forth from his eyes at the very thought of his brother. Although he lived in the midst of plenty, he would eat nothing but roots and wild berries, the produce of the wild country. He would be constantly looking towards the south, the direction from which Rama should return, repeating to himself with tears and sobs, 'he would not belie his word, he will come, he will come.'

At length the day dawned on which Rama was due to arrive in Ayodhya and still there were no signs of his arriving. The anguish of Bharata's heart and his tears increased a hundredfold and he said to himself :

' He wouldn't forget the day agreed with me ?
Nor be unmindful of his mother's love
Or anguish mine, and overstay his time.
I fear some evil has befallen him ! '

Soon he recovered his poise, saying :

' But who can stand before my hero brother ?
Nor gods, nor man, nor beings of the world
Beyond, nor e'en the Three Supreme could win
If him they faced in war ! '

But other doubts soon upset him and he resolved to die in the fire as he had declared to his brother at the time of parting from him in the forest. He said :

' But may it be He thinks I might desire the crown, and stays Away in the wilderness so that I might Enjoy the throne in peace? But now the time Is past that I should think and hesitate : I can my torture bear no more, I'll die And end my anguish with my life ! '

He, therefore, had a big rolling fire lighted on the fields and walked towards it But, in the meantime, the whole city got to know of the matter, and everybody rushed to the field of fire, preceded by Kausalya, the mother of Rama, who hurried towards him weeping and sobbing. When he saw her, Bharata was taken aback and he saluted her falling at her feet. She took him up and embraced him and chid him and nobly lauded him in the following words :

' This destiny, my son, that dove thy brother And father to their several fates ; but what Is it that thou'rt about, O child ? It is A thoughtless deed ; for if thou end thy life, Our chiefs and people and thy mothers all Will feed the fire and end themselves. Will Dharma Itself remain alive? The very world Will from its orbit swerve and come to an end ! Thou knowest not thy greatness, Bharata ! We have not seen a higher righteousness With these our eyes than thy own holy life. Can e'er thy glory fade e'en when the worlds Dissolve ? Ten million million Ramas ev'n Can never approach the love immaculate That burns within thy soul ! If thou should't die That art but Dharma's other self, can earth And heaven and all that breathes remain alive ? If this day tarries Ram, tomorrow he Is sure to come. Think not he'd break the word He himself gave to thee. Tomorrow if We see him not, be sure he has ceased to live ! But grieving for the death of one, my child, Wilt thou destroy great Surya's race itself Up to its very roots ? And thou art Dharma Itself in flesh and blood ! '

So spoke the grand-souled Kausalya forgetting even her grief for the delay of Rama in the sight of the immaculate Bharata. She could contemplate the death of Rama without swooning — so much had the sacrifice of Bharata endeared him to her heart. How then could she look on and allow him to fall into the fire-in a mistaken sense of sin ?

But Bharata would not listen to her. He said,

' Say not, O mother, that thy son has ceased T' obey thy word. I will no more preserve My life and risk th' unduteous violation Of my father's words and all traditions old Of our race. I'll stand by the oath I made, and keep My word. I'll also give my life for truth. And go to heaven. As Rama is the son And heir, the duty's his alone to save The state. "Tis wrong for others to wear the crown. Besides, obedience to the father's words And mother's, and the trampling down of tenderness And love do appertain to Ram alone. They are impossible for me, my mother ! And I shall die and prove my innocence.'

So saying, he walked round the fire in worship as a preliminary to falling into it. All the people sobbed aloud. But just at that moment Hanuman who had been sent to Bharata by the considerate Rama appeared shouting,

' My Lord is come, the noble hero's come ! Can he survive if thou shouldst take thy life? '

and with his mighty paws extinguished the fire.

And then saying that Rama was being entertained by Bharadwaja, and that that was the reason of the delay of Rama in coming over to where he was, Hanuman showed to Bharata the Signet ring of Rama which he brought with him as evidence of the genuineness of his message. Bharata's joy at its sight was not one whit less than that of Sita when she saw it in Lanka. He kissed it, embraced it, and pressed it into his eyes. His emaciated body grew to itself again at the touch of the beloved jewel. He laughed and wept, saluted and embraced Hanuman again and again, fell at his feet, and leaped with excess of joy.

And then,

The tongues that had been crying for grief, began To shout for joy ; all eyes began to dry, And heads that ploughed the ground were lifted up, And all did clasp in worship Hanuman's feet.

Bharata did all honours to Hanuman, gave orders to make all arrangements for a fitting reception to the hero of heroes, and when everything was complete, started with an immense multitude for the ashram of Bharadwaja. On the way Hanuman told him all that had happened after Rama went away South, in the midst of which account he gave him the welcome news that Dasharatha had come down on earth at the time of Sita's ordeal and withdrawn the curse against himself and his mother.

Bharata grieved that it was not given to him to help Rama like Lakshmana in the destruction of Ravana. But all the grief and sorrow melted away the moment he saw Rama coming in the aerial chariot towards Ayodhya. He then felt as if he saw his father himself returned to life. He fell at Rama's feet and Rama took him up, and, unable to utter a word in the intensity of his grief and joy, embraced him till their very souls touched. Tears flowed unceasingly from Rama's eyes at the sight of the twisted knot of hair on the head of Bharata which had never been untied all these fourteen years. These tears and the love of Rama's heart, which was like that of the cow for its calf, were enough compensation to the heart of Bharata for the untold mental anguish that he had been suffering from the 'moment that he had heard of Rama's exile. And Lakshmana, who had misunderstood him in the early days of the exile, 'clasped his feet in loving worship. The tortured heart of Bharata had at length found its balsam, and fluttering with joy he took his brother and the Vanara host to Ayodhya and crowned Rama to the delight of himself and that of the whole world. And never did he feel so much joy as. when at the time of the coronation he held the white umbrella, the symbol of victory and unstinting liberality, over the head of his brother.


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