Mumbai Jottings – 2

Prominent Vaishnava symbols adorned the stately portal of the temple…

Leaving the footwear in the car, we zig-zagged our way between parked vehicles and this and that, and entered the portal. A little office to the left. Walking on, one entered the first enclosure. On one side was a shrine that had the image of the Acharya who built the temple. Having the pontific title of Jagadguru Gaadi Swami, his name was Sri Ananthachariar, and he was the head of the Kanchi Prativadi Bhayankara Mutt.

The temple was built during the period 1920 to 1927.

There was a majestic temple flagstaff (dhwaja stambha) in the inner courtyard. A few steps led to the sanctum. The sanctum of Lord Venkateshwara was curtained off. We enquired from a few folks sitting around and came to know that the curtain would be opened half an hour later, at around 8 AM. When you come to Lord Venkateshwara – you just cant walk in and have a breezy Darshan! (Someone told us later that the best time to visit is around 10 AM. When you can see some special worship and also receive some hot Pongal Prasaada…).

So we strolled around the inner courtyard, looked at the temple tower (Gopuram), the subsidiary shrines, the murals….The entire Bhagavad Gita was etched on the outer wall. Pictures of Lord Vishnu of all 108 Divya Desha (divine abodes of Vishnu), adorned the walls as well.

We sat down in the courtyard to wait for the Darshan. Someone started chanting Purusha Sooktam and a few other hymns from the Vedas – and it was 8 AM pretty quick. Temple musicians played instrumental music. Someone blew a conch. Someone rang the temple bells. And we walked in to the sanctum.

On the left was a shrine that housed icons of Lord Varadaraja (Lord Vishnu as the King who grants boons), Sri Devi, Lakshmi Narsimha, Sudarshana Chakra and sacred stone Shalagramams. On the right was a shrine that housed Lord Krishna, with Satyabhama and Rukmini…and the Rama quartet – Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Anjaneya.

And in front, was the sanctum sanctorum, where stood Lord Venkateshwara – Balaji – in all his majesty. The priests chanted Tamil and Sanskrit hymns, and waved Aarti lights, offered Naivedya Prasaada…The bells rang on….

One of the priests then made kind enquiries…He mentioned the names of some Directors in the Board of our company and our parent company …”They visit often” he said…

And then he enquired about the share market…”What do you feel are the prospects of your company’s shares? Will the market remain down?” he enquired. While we fumbled for an answer, he sympathetically said, “Well,,,I know,,, I know,,. Market is down due to the economic issues in USA…sub-prime crisis….still, it affects here too….i am asking you this to figure out whether it is a good time to buy…”…As we stuttered something, he added a final flourish – “Well…I do have some shares of your company…It’s a top company….But this I must tell you….The performance should have been better….The returns that I have got is just one third of what I expected….”…

With that, he gave us Kalkandu Prasaada, the temple pancangam calendar, and asked us to visit again, every time we came to Mumbai…

Hail Lord Venkateshwara!

Govinda-Go-oooo-vinda!

4 Responses to “Mumbai Jottings – 2”

  1. bala Says:

    so what are you doing about getting the other two thirds of the expected returns by the priest. Did you ask him to pray harder!!!!!

  2. Srinivasa Says:

    Nice article.

    Small correction – Prativadi Bhayankaram is a vamsam name, not the name of a mutt.

    Just yesterday, I was in the ancestral seat of the Prativadi Bhayankaram family (or at least one branch of it) in Kanchipuram below the high perimeter wall of the Varadaraja Perumal temple.

    The exterior of the house is properly painted but inside one can not miss signs of the dust and penury that goes hand in hand in our country with great Sanskrit scholarship. There are still some books that are being reprinted lying in neat bundles by the door. These are naturally much sought after by NRI’s.

    The majority of the books are in the attic which I visited with a very scholarly middle aged daughter of the house. The state of the attic brought tears to my rather unsentimental eyes. Suffice it to say that dust and termites are finishing off today whatever remains of the Kanchipuram scholarly tradition after the benign neglect of yesterday.

  3. Srinivasa Says:

    Since DTEA guys are reading this, I wanted to add the following:

    Sri Prativadi Bhayankaram Ananthacharya Swami wnent to Rajasthan etc in 1920 and did pravachanam there. Prominent Marwari families like the father of G D Somani etc sought refuge with him. This temple in Phanaswadi is in a large measure made possible by the munificence of the philanthropy of the GD Somani family.

    Our own Sri Rama Mandir in Lodi Road was also supported by G D Somani family. When my Mother was struggling to raise funds for the first Andal Kalyana mahotsavam in 1972-74, someone suggested to my Mother that she visit GD Somani in Sundar Nagar. I think it was Kamu Mami, who was famous in Lodi Road for a Thursday evening bhajan. I think she told my Mom,”Mami, neenga vena GD Somani yai paarungo. Avvallam ungadavaa thaan”. My Mom was very encouraged and she immediately went to their house accompanied by the undersigned, then in Class X. Somani gave her a check for Rs 5, 000/- on the spot, then a princely sum.

    The Andal Kalyanam was not only carried out successfully but the temple was subsequently able to set up a corpus fund to carry it out every year.

    Just trying to bring out an (indirect) connection between the Phanaswadi Temple and our Sri Rama Mandir in Lodi Road.

  4. Srinivasa Says:

    Another interesting tidbit about Sri Prativadi Bhayankaram Anantacharya – he is said to have donated a makarakandi (மகரகண்டி) necklace to Swami Varadaraja of Kanchipuram. This is known as the Ananthachar makarakandi (அநந்தாச்சார் மகரகண்டி).

    This makarakandi is not as well known as the Clive makarakandi (கிளைவ் துரை மகரகண்டி) presented by Robert Clive to Lord Varadaraja. This was an emerald makarakandi (பச்சை மகரகண்டி) and said to have very rare workmanship. It is speculated that this makarakandi must have been obtained by Clive as part of loot during the Arcot Wars. In view of the workmanship, some experts think of it as that of Vijayanagara worksmanship, obtained perhaps as spoils of war during the struggles between Vijayanagara and Golconda Nawabs.

    During Garudasevai and other ceremonial processions, the deity is said to turn out in the Clive makarakandi.

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