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The following article appeared in Sri Nrusimha Priya,

sambutam 53, sancigai 7, bava aippasi (October 94), pp. 32 - 37



-- Dileepan







Sri Adivan Satakopa Yateendra Mahadesika


Place: Kancheepuram, the Kshetra, called the most

important among the seven cities that give liberation.


Time: Just before dawn of the day (A.D. 1398).


Young Srinivasacharya, hardly twenty years of age,

wakes up in an exciting mood. The dream he witnessed

a little while ago is the cause of it. Lord

Lakshmeeharasimha of Ahobilam appeared before him,

commanding him to come to Ahobilam, don the robe of

a sanyasi and be instructed in his future mission of life

there. Could this vision be true, he kept asking himself

again and again. Ahobilam, of course he knew and

worship there is not an unusual occurrence in those days

of pilgrimage; but that God should have chosen HIM of

all people left him amazed. He went about his morning

ablutions as usual but in the same ecstatic mind. He then

hurried to his Guru-the well-known Gatikasatham-n

Ammal-and told him of his vision. The old Master also

known as Varadavishnvacharya told his disciple

Srinivasacharya to obey the mandate. So he wended his

way to Ahobilam. Having arrived there, he climbed the

hill amidst dense forest (which Thirumangai Azhvar

describes as one which none can reach except God), had

a dip in the river Bhavanasini and took up abode in that

wilderness. Meanwhile Mukundaraya, the local

chieftain also reached the, place to receive him on divine

command. Lord Narasimha appeared before

Srinivasacharya in the form of a sanyasi and initiated

him with the "Preshmantra", gave him 'Sanyasa asrama'''

and named him 'Satakopa Jeeyar'. Thus was born Sri

Ahobila Mutt and its First Jeeyar.


This is commemorated in the following 'mangala sloka'


"Abobile Sri Nrisimhah Preshamantram swayam dadou

Yogiroopena yasyasmai Satakopaya mangalam "


This incident can be seen now in the form of images,

carved on a pillar in the Ranga mandapa of the Lower

Ahobilam temple (vide History of the Cult of Narasimha

in Andhra Pradesh by Dr. Madabhoosi



Srinivasacharya, son of Kidambi Kesavacharya was born

on 18th August 1379 AD at Thirunarayanapuram

(Melkote), Karnataka. Being a family of great orthodox

views and of high literary cultural attainments, the boy

showed a remarkable mental grasp and keen perception

and so, his father Kesavacharya, himself a learned man,

decided to send him to Kancheepuram to study at the

feet of Ghatikasatham Ammal, a very great scholar of

those days. The name Ghatikasatham Ammal (grandson

of the famous Nadadoor Ammal) was given to this

learned preceptor in honour of the fact that he could

compose a hundred verses in a Ghatika (Nazhigai). His

school was the most famous and sought after during that

period and no wonder Kesavacharya decided to put his

son Srinivasacharya there so as to make him a brilliant

scholar. Srinivasacharya acquired all the knowledge

when Lord Lakshmeenarasimha ordained him into the

monastic order as mentioned above and gave him the

name 'Satakopa Jeeyar'. The Lord commanded him to

take any one of the 'Utsava' Moorthis and said the

Jeeyar's task henceforth would be, "GO FROM DOOR









The Jeeyar though anxious to start on his mission right

earnestly, could not decide on the 'Utsava' Moorthi he

could take with him. He, therefore, went into a

meditation and prayed that the most suitable Moorthi'

should come and bless him. Immediately the 'Utsava

Moorthi' of Malola Narasimha (Lakshmeenarasimha)

came flying from the temple and seated Himself on the

outstretched hands of the Jeeyar. Mukundaraya on

hearing of this miracle became his disciple and offered

not only arrangements for permanent daily worship but

also gave a palanquin and other paraphernalia to assist

the Jeeyar in his sanchara (tour) along with the 'Malola'

Moorthi. He also gave control of all the temples to this

Jeeyar and henceforth Ahobila Kshetram came under the

direct control of Ahobila Mutt whose pontiffs are even

today the hereditary trustees.


Now a look at the 'Malola' Moorthi will reveal that He

wears a Paduka indicating that He is ready to proceed on

tour and thus both the Jeeyar and his God fully equipped

commenced their historic travel giving spiritual and

material succour to all who prayed in the course of their

travel. Bearing the name Satakopa as he was, it was

natural that this first Jeeyar should be eager to visit

Alwarthirunagari-the holy place sacred to Nammalwar.

Having reached Alwarthirunagari, he found to his

dismay and grief that the temple of Nammalwar was

completely changed to one wherein eleven images of

siva (linga) had been installed and had come to be called

Ekadasarudra Kshetra. The idol of Nammalwar was not

to be found anywhere. Setting up his camp there,

Satakopa Jeeyar went about his routine of preaching the

doctrine of surrender (prapatti) and gradually his fame

spread as a mystic saint of great powers and efficacy.

Distressed at the loss of Nammalwar and his shrine, he

constantly recited Madurakavi's stanzas when

Nammalwar appeared before him in a vision, told him

that his idol lay in the bed of a river adjacent to a ravine

and that the Jeeyar should recover and restore it. It so

happened that the Pandya King of that place was on a

hunting trip around those parts and the Jeeyar's divine

personality instantly attracted him. He fell at the Jeeyar's

feet and solicited to become a convert to Vaishnavism.

Accompanied by this king, the Jeeyar went to the spot of

the difficult terrain and prayed to Nammalwar and lo! the

image slowly emerged from the river bed and settled on

the outstretched arms of the Jeeyar just as 'Malola'

Moorthi had done so earlier!! The King was spellbound

and without hesitation, (on the orders of the Jeeyar), he

straightway removed the saivite images and installed the

Nammalwar's idol in the temple as before with due pomp

and favour thus restoring the temple's pristine

Vaishnavite glory. The British historian Mr. - Sewell's

list. of South Indian Dynasties cull out one Kulasekhara

Pandya as the reigning chief of this period (vide History'

of the Ahobila Mutt by S.N. Venkatesa lyer).


But the fact remains that the Pandya king whoever he

was had built Mandapams etc., at the temple and also

made other arrangements for worship at the instance of

the first Jeeyar. The mandapam and other*structures

stand even today on the banks of the river Tamraparani

as also a shrine for Vedanta Desika constructed by this

saint. The king so adored this Jeeyar that he made a true

image of this Adivan Satakopa Jeeyar and had it duly

installed in the Nammalwar shrine 'in Alwarthirunagari.

Pleased with the loving service of this Jeeyar,

Nammalwar gave him the name Adi (first), Van

(powerful) Satakopa (Nammalwar's own name) by which

the Jeeyar came to be called. Henceforth the successive

Jeeyars have always the prefix "Van Satakopa". Vedanta

Desika for his part gave this Jeeyar the suffix

Mahadesikan as also the various titles (i) Srimat

Vedamarga Pratishtapanacharya, (ii) Paramahamsa

Parivraajaka, (iii) Ubhaya Vedantacharya, (iv)

Sarvatantra Swatantra and (v) Bhagavat Ramanuja

Siddhanta Nirdharana Sarvabhouma. It will be

significant to note that even today, whenever and

wherever the Jeeyars go, the air resounds with the cries

of these names chanted loudly by the followers of the

mutt. Suffice it to say that Yateendra (best of saints)

applied very appropriately not only to this Jeeyar but to

every successive Jeeyars. This term is not applied to any

other holy order of which there are many.


This Pandyan King's incident was heard by King

Mukundadeva Raya of Orissa who was wandering in

wildness, having lost his kingdom to the Muslims.

Keeping himself abreast of the times, the Jeeyar felt it

was expedient to come to the rescue of this exiled

monarch who had sought his help. The Guruparampara

describes the miracle of the pride of lions (Remember

that Man-lion manifestation of God) invaded Orissa and

put to flight the philandering Muslims who in sheer

fright handed back the kingdom to Mukundadeva Raya

and fled never to return. While the Jeeyar was admiring

the ways of his pet God Narasimha, the King fell at the

feet of this Jeeyar in great gratitude and accorded him all

honours befitting the occasion (vide-history of Ahobila

Mutt by S.N. Venkatesa lyer). It is specially mentioned

by the 7th Jeeyar in his famous samskrit drama

'Vasantika Parinayam'. Taking leave of the Orissa King,

the Jeeyar, Sree Adivan Satakopa Yateendra

Mahadesikan then proceeded towards Vijayanagar

Kingdom whose Rajah received him with full honours

and gave him grants and presents. It was at this time that

one Manappakkam Thozhappar became the Jeeyar's

disciple getting Panchasamskara as also expert

knowledge in Sreebhashyam, Bhagawad Vishayam and

Rahasyatrayasaram at the Jeeyar's feet. Marveling at the

wisdom and learning of this Thozhappar, the Jeeyar

asked him to write authoritative text on various Sastras

which Thozhappar did under eight different heads

earning the deserving title 'Vaidika Sarvabhouma'. As

the head of the 74 Simhasanadhipathis, this Jeeyar

Adivan Satakopa then trekked his way to Thirukudantai

(Kumbakonam) to worship Lord Aravamudhan and then

proceeded further south to Nammalwar's place where he

constructed a Mutt with all conveniences for the benefit

of Srivaishnavas. From here the Jeeyar went to

Thirunarayanapuram (Melkote) where after worshipping

Ramanuja, Selva Pillai and Yadugiri Nachiyar, he set up

a camp on the banks of the Kalyani Pushkarani where he

taught Sreebashyam and Rahasyatrayasaram to many

Srivaishnavas.. One day, people beheld the wonder of a

five-headed serpent spreading its hood and listening to

the exposition of the Jeeyar's lucid interpretation of

Ramanuja's philosophy. The class was not perturbed and

at the end of the session, the serpent glided slowly and

disappeared. That Ramanuja was the incarnation of

Adisesha impressed heavily on the audience who with

one voice agreed that Ramanuja Himself gave darsan

now in the guise of a serpent and gave his approval of

Jeeyar's interpretations!


T'he King of those parts sought the Jeeyar's benediction

to get rid of his ailment and lo! his cure came as soon as

he renovated the Rajagopuram of the

Thirunarayanapuram Ternple at the instance of the

Jeeyar, who also installed the Vigraha of Vedanta Desika

there. In fulfillment of the desire in a vision of Lord

Venkatesvara, the Jeeyar then went to T'hirupathi and

camping there for sometime, he built a Mutt both at

Thirumala and Thirupathi, where idols of

Lakshmeenarasimha were consecrated by him. He also

provided steps to climb the Thirumala Hills and

constructed several Mandapams on the way so that the

pilgrims could rest while negotiating the steep climb.

The jiyar then reached Kancheepuram where he built a I

00 pillared Mandapam in the Varadaraaja swami Temple

and even now, one can witness a Lakshmeenarasimha

image in one pillar opposite to which is the figure of the

Jeeyar in another pillar. It is said that this mandapam

was, constructed from out of the wealth surrendered to

the Jeeyar by a scholar by name Udayabhanu Misra who

lost to the former in vedantic debate. It seems this

debate lasted nearly a fortnight when Vedanta Desika

appeared to the Jeeyar in a vision and told him to deal

the matter by referring to his (Desika's) treatise

Sathadooshani, with the result Udhayabhanu accepted

defeat and became a disciple of the Jeeyar, who also

built a frontal Mandapam and temple for Deepa Prakasa

at Thooppul and also a mandapam and Sannidhi for

Vedanta Desika whose idol was also duly installed there.

After all this, the Jeeyar took the road towards Sholingar

visiting Thirupathi on the way again and then proceeded

to Sriperumbudur, the birthplace of Ramanuja. From

there -he found his way straight to Srirangam where he

was received with full honours given to the prince

among ascetics. Never was the reception so spontaneous

as was given here. Staying in this holy city, he

renovated the saptaprakara walls as was done by

Thirumangai Azhwar earlier and Jataavarman

Sundarapandya a little later. At the northern entrance of

the temple, he constructed his mutt wherein the idol of

Lakshmeenarasimha as also his own image were

installed. Then on divine command, he built a frontal

mandapam at Dasavatharam Sannidhi (built by

Thirumangai Azhwar). Again as per Ranganatha's

wishes, he built a Sannidhi for Vedanta Desika in front

of the Srirangam Nachiyar Sannidhi and made

arrangements for the daily worship there. The northern

Gopuram was built at his instance where his image can

be seen even today. He also constructed a mutt at the

eastern gate of the Uttara Street duly consecrating an

icon of Lakshmeenarasimha. Having thus given fixity

and method to the activities, the Jeeyar was called upon

to go to Melkote for the worship of Thirunarayanan.


It is significant after that sixty years of divine service in

his Sanyasa asrama', and at an advanced age, the Jeeyar

should come back to his place of birth where he shed his

mortal frame so as to be in the constant company of

Sreeman Narayana in Sreevaikunta. This happened in

April 1458 A.D. and his Brindavan in Melkote is a bacon

light to his followers even to this, day. He was

succeeded by the eminent Nambakkam Swami - Srivan

Satakopa Sriman Narayana Yateendra Mahadesikan.


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