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Acharya Vaibhavam (2nd - 7th Jeeyars)

Having established Sri Ahobila Mutt and having made a dynamic leadership in managing it, the first Jeeyar Sri Adivan Satakopa Yatheendra Mahadesikan made the task easier for his successor to carry on the challenging job of spiritual ennoblement. The fact that the 2nd Jeeyar-Sriman Narayana Yatheendra Mahadesikan was the one chosen, to lead is evident from the title given to him "Shashti Prabhandha Nirmatha" - Author of sixty books, a title given by the first Jeeyar in recognition of his versatility. It is remarkable that like the first Jeeyar, this 2nd Jeeyar's birth star was also Jyeshta. He built a prosperous village called Madhuramangalam and by duly installing the image of his master in the temple of Selvapillai (at the command of that God) and another in the Brindavan of his master at Melkote (again at the command of Sri Lakshminarasimha), the Jeeyar had amply carried out the noble tradition of the first Jeeyar - his Guru. His Sanchara took him to places like Kancheepuram, Sholingapuram, Thirupathi, Ahobilam, Srirangam and Melkote where, after a reigning period of 15 years, he attained Paramapada. His Brindavan is also at Melkote.

Sri Parankusa Yatheendra Mahadesika was the third Jeeyar in line of succession. He spent his days in teaching Sribhashya and Srimath Rahasyathrayasara to numerous disciples Kancheepuram. His contribution was the creation of villages like Neeralur, Uragadam, Nemmily, Kadankarai, Pilaaputh and Kalathur. By a divine command, he went to Srimushna where he was instantly attracted to the Lord there as al Sri Ramanuja whose grace he immensely derived and breathed his last there in tranquil.

The fourth Jeeyar Sri Srinivasa Yatheendra Mahadesika needs special mention because he undertook Padayathra to as places as Ayodhya, Gokul and Brindavan, all in the north before he settled down at Singar Kovil, spreading the message of Ramanuja and Vedantha Desika. He realised his days were drawing near in this world and was in search of a worthy successor. The Lord appeared in his dream saying, 'Sarvathanthra Swathanthra is coming to take the Peetam and hence do not be concerned' where upon the fourth Jeeyar was jubilantly awaiting him. Lakshmeenarasimha similarly appeared in the dream of one Kandalur Swami asking him to proceed immediately to the fourth Jeeyar's camp. They exchanged the substance of their respective dream messages. However, since Kandalur Swami happened to belong to Thankalai sect, the fourth Jeeyar asked him to have his Bharasamarpanam done then and there at his (4th Jeeyar's) feet and having done this, the Sanyasa Asrama was given to him. It is a matter of magnanimity on the part of both the Jeeyars in that while the fifth Jeeyar respected the Vadakalai tradition by having Bharasamarpana at the fourth Jeeyar's feet, the fourth Jeeyar directed that during the time of 5th Jeeyar's reign, both the Sampradayams would be respected. Kandalur Swami was then duly installed as the fifth Jeeyar bearing the Asrama name Sarvathanthra Swathanthra Satakopa Yatheendra Mahadesikan.

The fifth Jeeyar made tours mostly in the north of India and when his period ended, he was laid to rest on the banks of the river Krishna. It is again the magnanimity of this fifth Jeeyar that he in turn gave the Sanyasa Asrama to the famous Shashta Parankusa Swami of the Vadakalai sect.

The reference of this Vadakalai and Thenkalai sects is significant and is mentioned here to set right the record in view of a recent controversy raised in Bhakthi Nivedana (A Vedantha monthly published by Sri T.K. Gopalacharya from Seethanagaram, Guntur Dist) in their January 1992 issue wherein it was erroneously mentioned that the first five Jeeyars of Ahobila Mutt were Thenkalai and that it was converted to Vadakalai from the 6th Jeeyar onwards. This authentic information that only the fifth Jeeyar was Thenkalai is irrefutably made in the Sathsampradaya Mukthavali authored by no less a person than the 33rd Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt.

The sixth Jeeyar: Shashta Parankusa Yathindra Mahadesikan After the first Jeeyar, the 6th Jeeyar Srimath Shashta Parankusa Yatheendra Mahadesikan became equally famous for his spiritual and miraculous powers. Let us see what S.N. Venkatesa Ayyar writes in his 'History of the Ahobila Mutt'. "This Jeeyar," he says," is deservedly considered as one of the most powerful personages that adorned the pontifical seat. Even at the outset, in connection with this Jeeyar we meet with another well known personage Pachamathabhanjanam Tathachariar (sister's son of this Jeeyar in his pre- sanyasin life). This Tathachariar was also noteworthy as being the father of the great Lakshmeekumara Kotikanyakadanam Tathachariar - the famous p-erson who gilded with gold the Varadarajaswami Temple, Kancheepuram. He was a person of great importance and influence - being the Guru of Venkatapathiraya (Venkata 1) 1575 to 1614 C.E. and also of (Venkata 11) 1630 to 1642 C.E. - both Kings of Vijayanagar in its later days of decline. Any student of the Aravedu dynasty of Vijayanagar cannot afford to miss this Tathachariar family as outstanding spiritual teachers of the time. This Lakshmeekumara Tathachariar has claimed himself as having crowned both Venkata the First and Venkata the Second and used the valuable presents given to him by his masters - the Emperors - for gilding the 'Tirupathi and Kancheepuram temples. The sixth Jeeyar with whom we are now particularly concerned was THE GURU and TEACHER of the Tathachariar - the original founder of the family. Inscriptions both at Tirupathi and Kancheepuram state that the sixth Jeeyar founded a settlement at Bhashyapuram in Cuddapah district, on the banks of the north Pennar. He was a very learned man and taught Vedhantha and other philosophies to numerous disciples. The Ahobila Mutt became quite wealthy in his reign, possessing a large number of villages granted in Sarvamanyam, besides numerous heads of cattle, number of elephants, camels and other paraphernalia of a rich Mutt. The sixth Jeeyar travelled upto Badrinath in the Himalayas and visited all the famous Vishnu shrines in India. The modern Vaishnavite Agraharams of Injimedu and Thaiyar trace their origin to this Jeeyar.

Reference is made to this Jeeyar in the History of the Cult of Narasimha in Andhra Pradesh wherein it is said that both during the period of the fifth Jeeyar and the sixth Jeeyar, Ahobila Mutt was the nerve-centre of Srivaishnavism in Andhra Pradesh and brought many influential families as well as masses into its fold. It is stated that the fifth Jeeyar was the spiritual preceptor of the Nandyala Chiefs who were Vijayanagara feudatories. The sixth of the apostolic line of the Ahobila Mutt, Shashta Parankusa, says, Dr. M. Narasimhacharya, was respected by king Mukundadeva of Kalinga and he instituted the worship of Alwars at Purushottham (Puri) which is also known as Jagannatha Shrine. An epigraph of 1555 C.E. during the reign of Sadasiva, mentions that Shashta Parankusa was the trustee of the Ahobila Temple and the agent of Aliya- Ramappadeva Maharaja. This Jeeyar is stated by the 'Sathsampradaya Mukthavali' to be the contemporary of Sadasivaraya for his spiritual leadership. It further says that he (the Jeeyar) cured the Raya's daughter, who had become possessed and that he received from Sadasiva, the village of Bhashyapuram on the banks of the river. He was the author of a number of works including Narasimha-sthava. Tradition has it that this sixth Jeeyar while fervently worshipping at Ahobilam was commanded by Lakshmeenarasimha to be ever present there to do pooja to Him. In order to do that he had disappeared into the cave of Ahobilam which now remains closed. (This place is shown to pilgrims at the Upper Ahobilam Temple where it seems even now early in the morning the peeling bells and chanting can be heard by the devout). He was however never again seen afterwards though we are told, very pathetically that his Shisyas - particularly Tatachariar - stayed outside the cave for several days without meals and water, wept and cried out for him requesting him to come out - but it was all in vain.

7th Jeeyar-Sri Satakopa Yatheendra Mahadesikan Like the first Jeeyar, this seventh Jeeyar also became a Sanyasi at the young age of twentyfive. His scholarship was so high that he earned the title and came also to be known as "Sathalekhi Neelagaanaanuguna Kavithadhurandhara Kavitarika Kanteerava Van Satakopa Swamy." "An inscription of S. 1501 (C.E. 1578-79) from the Lower Ahobilam, records certain stirring political events that happened at the time, on the initiative of Van Satakopa Jeeyangaru, the seventh head of the Mutt of Ahobilam, the recapture of Ahobilam from the Muslims. The Jeeyyangaru approached the King Ranga I of Vijayanagara and appealed to him to recover the temple from the Muslims. As the King had regard for the Jeeyar, he issued orders to his chief, who proceeding with the Jeeyar to Ahobilam, defeated the Muslims, repaired the temple and established the Jeeyar at Ahobilam." Dr. M. Narasimhacharya records further in the 'History of the Cult of Narasimha in Andhra Pradesh' that this is no mean achievement for the Jeeyar, who took the lead to drive away the Muslims from the temple. This Jeeyar was not only famous for this act of resuscitation of Ahobilam temple, but also popular as the author of a Sanskrit Drama "Vasanthika Parinayam." The theme of the drama is the marriage of Lord Narasimha with a Chenchu woman. The importance of his work is that it is the first of its kind in Sanskrit literature, which mentions the association of God Narasimha with Chenchata, a tribal woman. The story of Narasimha and Chenchata became popular not only among the Chenchus but also among the rural folk. It made the Chenchus feel even now that Chenchata is their woman and God Narasimha- is their tutelary deity. Prior to beginning of Brahmothsavam, even today, it is the custom for the, Uthsava Narasirnha to tour several villages around Ahobilam and accept their hospitality. After touring Ahobilam to Srirangam, this seventh Jeeyar found his resting place at Srirangam itself where his Brindhavanam lies now.

The first five stanzas of Vasanthika Parinayam open with an invocation to the first Jeeyar by this seventh Jeeyar. Translation given hereunder speaks of the reverence with which the first Jeeyar is held. "I bow to that Guru who was carried in a palanquin on the shoulders of the Orissa King Mukundade Raya; who consecrated holy images at Puri (Purushotamapuri), (1) and got as presents elephants, horses, diamonds, palanquins, two umbrellas and two chamaras; who thereafter, went to the capital of the Karnatik Kingdom (Vijayanagar) and obtained great success there. (2) This Van Satari was Veda Vyasa reborn, was the second Sukarishi, a rebirth of Pundareeka; a second Prahlada; a great master of penances who by his mantra of Eight Letters (Ahstakshara) increased the riches of Kings by giving them the eight riches (Ashta Aiswarya), the eight enjoyment (bhoghas), and fame in the eight quarters of the earth. (3) The above Guru became the head of the 74 Simhasanapathis (who were the followers of Sri Ramanuja's system) by the command of Lord Sri Lakshmeenarasimha and thus became the first Van Satari (4) The Guru was the great Bhattar (Kumarila) of Poorva Meemamsa, was a veritable Patanjali, was Kannada reborn; the living essence and rejuvenator of Kapila and the embodiment of the Dharma Sastras; was learned in both the Vedas (Ubhaya Vedantha); and a beacon-light to the ways of the Vedas. This great Sanyasin, being a master of all arts and sciences, verily has conquered the world. To such a Divine Being I prostrate." - vide. The History of Ahobila Mutt, by S.N. Venkatesa Ayyar.

Source: Sri Nrusimha Priya, 66 Rangachari Road, Mylapore, Madras 600 018.