Friday, March 17, 2023

Royal devotee

The Vaishnavite tradition of south India has 12 Azhwars, saints whose poetic works were laced with ecstatic devotion to Vishnu. It is believed that these Azhwars are human manifestations - avatars, if you will - of various people or objects beloved of Vishnu. Traditionally, Azhwars are thought to have lived between the 5th and the 3rd century BCE, but the spoilsport of science puts their works as having emerged between the 8th and 9th century CE. 

One such Azhwar was born into a royal family of Cheraman Perumal lineage and ruled as Sthanu Ravi Varma between 844 and 870 CE. Abdicating his kingdom after that long reign, during which his devotion to Vishnu was clearly evident, he composed Perumal Tirumozhi in Tamizh and Mukundamala in Sanskrit. 

This building is a shrine to Venkatesa Perumal, and it was established by the Srimath Kulasekara Azhwar Sabha. Maybe they did not want wild speculation about when the Sabha was formed, and that is why the name board of this Sabha, wedged under the centre gable, says clearly they have been around since 1904!


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