Lakshmi Kumara Thathachariar
|Sri Lakshmi Kumara Thatha Desikan|
|Lakshmi Kumara Thathachariar|
Sri Thathachariar(Centre) with His Consort (Extreme Right) and Swamy Vedantha Desikan (Extreme Left) as in Kanchipuram
1572 A.D in the Tamil month of Karthikai in the Star of Anusham (03/Dec/1572)
Kumbakonam, Thanjavur District, Tamil Nadu, India
|Died||1632 A.D (Day before Sri Rama Navami)(28/March/1632)
|Guru||Sri Pancha Matha Bhanjana Thathachariar|
|Literary works||Srimath Hanumath Vimsathi, Nikama Parimalam, Lakshmi Niyudam, Panchagranthi Nipaharam, Satvika Brahmana Vidya Vilasa Parijata Apaharana, Sri Desika Prabandha Eedu|
|Honors||Thatha Desikan in Sanskrit, meaning "Holy Father – Guru"|
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Sri Lakshmi Kumara Thatha Desikan (Sanskrit: श्री लक्ष्मी कुमार ताता देसिकन, Tamil: ஸ்ரீ லக்ஷ்மி குமார தாத தேசிகன்) (1572–1632) was a prominent Vaishnava saint and Guru in the Hindu tradition in Vaishnavism, India. Sri Lakshmi Kumara Thatha Desikan was a devotee of Lord Narayana specially Lord Rama and the Vaishnava Guru /acharya Swamy Vedanta Desika. His birth name was Sri Abharyapthamrudhan. He has the title Kottikannikadhana Thirumalai Edur Immadi Royadurgam Sri Lakshmi Kumara Thatha Desikan. He was the Royal Preceptor "Raja Guru" and Chief Minister of Vijayanagar Empire. He was the "Manager-General" of the Divya Desam Temples including Sri Rangam, Kanchipuram, Tirumala, Melkote, Srivilliputtur, He is recorded as one of the greatest Aacharyas in the lineage of Sri Ramanuja's Vaishnavism.
Sri Thatha Desika was the adopted son of the famous Sri Pancha Madha Bandhana Thatha Desikan (his paternal uncle), a learned scholar and most revered aacharya of the Indian Philosophy and Sri Ramanujacharya's "Visishtadvaita".
Sri Thatha Desikan
Taking the roots from Sri Satamarshana maharishi in Krutha Yuga Satya Yuga, the first among the yugas, Sri Thatha Desikan hails from a very glorious acharya lineage with the hereditary relations from various Aacharyas of Sri Vaishnava philosophy like Sriman Natha Munigal (Nathamuni), Sri Alavandhar, Sri Thirumalai Nambigal (who is believed to be called by the Lord of Seven Hills, Tirumala Tirupati Sri Balaji as "Thathah:" the Sanskrit equivalent of the English Term "Holy Father"). Sri Thirumalai Nambigal being the maternal uncle of Sri Ramanujacharya (Ramanuja) and the one who corrected Sri Govinda Bhattar alias 'Embar' the brother of Sri Ramanuja and a venerated saint of Sri Vaishnava Sampradhaya. Sri Thirukurugai Piran Pillan being the son of Sri Thirumalai Nambigal was appointed as the 'Sri Ubhaya Vedhanta Sri Bhashya Simhasanathipathi' - literally meaning the 'Divine Incharge' of the 'Sri Bhashya' (Sri Bhasya) the treatise to Sri Veda Vyasa's "Brahma Sutras" written by Sri Ramanujacharya and the "Nalayira Dhivya Prabandham" (especially 'Thiruvaimozhi' of Sri Nammalvar) the collection of 4000 songs sung by Tamil Saints known as Alwars.
Sri Thatha Desikan traces his origin from the most celebrated aacharya purusha Swamy Nikamantha Maha Desikan (Vedanta Desika) of Thoopul. Sri Thatha Desikan comes in the chronology of 22nd Generation of Sriman Nathamunigal (Nathamuni). He is believed to have got all the divine knowledge fed to him by the Divine Mother Goddess Sri Lakshmi Devi known as Sri Komalavalli, the consort of the presiding deity of Sri Sarangapani Temple in Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu (India). Sri Thatha Desikan was the Raja Guru of the Venkatapathi Rayas I and II (known as Sriranga Raya) and was the chief minister of Sri Vijayanagar Empire. Prior to Thatha Desikan, His father Sri Sundara Thatha Desikan and Paternal Uncle Sri Pancha Madha Bandhana Thatha Desikan were adorning the courts of the Vijayanagar Kingdom as Raja Gurus or Divine Preceptors.
Sri Thatha Desikan during his regime brought a large army from Vijayanagar and drove away the unrighteous people from the Divya Desams of Sri Rangam, Kanchipuram, Srivilliputtur, Thirumalirum Cholai. Kumbakonam and many other places and restored the worships and conducts as directed by the greatest philosopher Sri Ramanujacharya and Swamy Sri Nikamantha Maha Desikan of Thoopul. Sri Thatha Deiskan appointed His Heirs in these places and gave a lot of grants to these Temple, to take special care on the Temple Proceedings. Sri Thatha Desikan gold plated the 'Moolavar Vimanam' (the pyramidal structure over the sanctum sanctorum) of Tirumala Tirupati, Kanchipuram and renovated the parts of Srirangam Temple constructions. He constructed the 100 pillared mandapa in Kanchipuram Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple. He also renovated various Shrines of the said temple. Around 15 stone Tablets with inscriptions stating the same is available in the Alavandhar Thirumuttram (The Circum circle pathway around the Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple Enclosure). A lot of historical evidence and archaeological proofs are available in various temples like Kanchipuram Temples, Tirumala Sri Venkateswara Temple, Sri Rangam, Srivilliputtur, and in many other places.
He guided the Kings of Vijayanagar Empire in following the righteous path known as Dharma. He is the only person to hold the twin positions of Raja Guru and Chief Minister of the state. The contribution of Sri Thatha Desikan in protecting the cultural values of South India and Sri Vaishnavism could be traced from a lot of references available in the forts of the Kingdom like Chandragiri. During his lifetime Sri Thatha Desikan travelled all around ancient Bharath for the purpose of educating people from various cadres of the society to follow the codes of Righteousness. He is been referred by lot of philosophers and saints owing to various sampradhayas or walks of Hindu religion. The great contemporary writer and philosopher Sri Appaya Dikshitar of Adayapalam has referred and praised Thatha Desikan in many of his works. He considered Thatha Desikan to be the Divine Incarnation.
Sri Thatha Desikan constructed a temple in Ayyankar Kulam, a small village near Kanchipuram known to be as "Thatha Samuthram – Sri Lakshmi Saras Sri Maruthi /Sri Sanjeevirayar Temple" for Sri Hanuman with a temple tank measuring more than 150 acres known as "Thatha Samudhram" literally meaning "Sri Thatha Ocean". The presiding deity of Sri Varadharaja Perumal visits this temple once in a year during the festival named "Natabhavi Uthsavam".
Legends say that, Sri Thatha Desikan was a very pious devotee of Lord Sri Rama. Once Sri Thatha Desikan was travelling with all the wealth he got as a reward for his knowledge and as a tribute from various kings .He was intended to offer them to the Lord of Kanchipuram Sri Varadharaja Perumal. On reaching the outskirts of Kanchi, it was late night. So Thatha Desikan decided to stay with his disciples at the place for a while and decided to continue the travel once the sun rises. So all the treasure was kept near a tree and Thatha Desikan along with his disciples fell asleep. On knowing the wealth assimilated there, a group of thieves came there to loot them. So without any one's knowledge they came there and started bundling all the resources available there without any one's notice. By then, immediately a crew of monkeys led by a senior monkey came there and started beating the thieves very badly and drove them away from the treasures. The monkeys started guarding the treasure. Thus the treasure, which was meant to be offered to the GOD, got saved from getting plundered. As a miracle, Thatha Desikan had a dream in which he was shown the entire happenings and was blessed with the Darshan of Sri Hanuman. Thatha Desikan realised that it was none other than lord Hanuman a sincere servant of Lord Rama came there in his rescue. So Thatha Desikan was very much moved in Joy and tears started flowing down from his eyes. He immediately woke up and saw the thieves who have fallen unconscious being beaten heavily and the treasure being guarded by a crew of monkeys. Thatha Desikan also found his treasures saved. He was overwhelmed in devotion and decided to spend a part of the saved sum in building a magnificent temple for Lord Hanuman along with Sri Rama, Sri Sita, Sri Lakshmana. He also built a very big lake near the constructed temple and named it as 'Sri Lakshmi saras', that means the 'Pond of Goddess Lakshmi' who happened to be his mother of Divine Origin as the presiding Goddess of Kumbakonam by name Sri Komalavalli of Sri Sarangapani Temple fed him the Mother's milk and the presiding Goddess of Kanchipuram Sri Perundevi saved him throughout his life and was Herself a teacher of various Arts and Philosophies to him.
But later this lake was fondly called as "Sri Thatha Samudhram" in remembrance of this great Aacharya, as the Lake was appearing majestically like an ocean running for about 150 acres in area. Even during the present days, this Temple stands to be the Biggest Temple dedicated to this form of Lord Hanuman known as "Sri Sanjeeviraya" built during the ancient times of India. Sri Thatha Desikan also composed a famous literary work called "Srimath Hanumath Vimsathi" in praise of this Lord Hanuman, which are inscribed on stone tablets and are kept in the prakarams (the circle enclosure surrounding the main temple) by the then King of Vijayanagar Empire. Later the entire surroundings of this Temple came to be known as "Sri Thathayyangar Kulam" in the remembrance of Sri Thatha Desikan. This small hamlet of village with a very great historic importance is situated near to the present day Kanchipuram.
Contribution to literature
Sri Thatha Desikan has composed a lot of literary works including "Sri Hanumath Vimsadhi", "Nikama Parimalam", "Sri Panduranga Mahathmiyam", "Sri Desika Prabandha Eedu" and many more in the languages of Sanskrit and Tamil. These works are preserved in the libraries of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. The work "Sri Thatha Vimsathi" composed on the greatness of Sri Thatha Desikan clearly records various acts and deeds of this great scholar.
Sri Thatha Desikan has also composed various literary works to substantiate various philosophical truths of Sri Vaishnavism. His devoutness towards Sri Ramanujacharya and Swamy Vedanta Desikan could be very much traced from his works. He was a master of Sanskrit, Tamil, Prakrut Languages. The "Sri Desika Prabandha Eedu" serves as a testimony for his mastering the Tamil Literary skills. This work stands as a guide to the Tamil works of Swamy Vedanta Desikan.
Sri Thatha Desikan followed the Vadakalai sect of modern Vaishnavism and his thoughts were deeply rooted his works. He was a sincere follower of Swamy Sri Nikamantha Maha Desikan of Thoopul (Vedanta Desika) and followed his foot steps. He had Sri Rama with Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Satrugana and Hanuman as his personal deity and carried them in a golden box to all the places where ever he travelled. Sri Thatha Desikan was considered as an embodiment of Truth, Devotion, Supreme Knowledge and Literature. He was revered as an "Aacharya Mahanubhava" which is the "Greatest Teacher and Philosopher". Sri Thatha Desikan abided to the codes of Vaishnavism and its philosophical values as drafted by the Lineage of Teachers starting from Nammalvar to Swamy Vedanta Desika. Even though Sri Vaishnavism has a broader perspective of having existence from time immemorial, the accountability in this Kali yoga as marked by the Hindu calendar starts with the teachings of Alwars who are the saint-people who are believed to be sent by Sriman Narayana the Supreme God-Head, to relieve the people of this materialistic world from the glitches of Maya, an equivalent term of 'illusion'. Sri Thatha Desikan was praised and celebrated not only for the great knowledge level of him, but also for being so simple and entirely proud-less, as a person who has done a variety of contributions to the religion of Hinduism – Sri Vaishnavism and to the Sampradhaya (the way) shown by Vedanta Desika.
Sri Ramanujacharya's 'Vedaartha Sangraha', works of Swamy Vedanta Desika are capsuled in the works of Sri Thatha Desikan. The Key concepts of Sri Ramanujacharya's Vishistadvaita like: Tattva, Hita and Purushartha; The Upaya and Upeya; Chit, Achit, Eswara; the truth behind the concept of Karya, Karana; are well explained in most of the works of Sri Thatha Desikan like "Nikama Parimalam, Lakshmi Niyudam, Panchagranthi Nipaharam, Sapthagranthi Nipaharam, and Satvika Brahmana Vidya Vilasa". It is praise worthy to note that, Sri Thatha Desikan wrote the explanatory text of "Sri Desika Prabandha Eedu" which falls under the title of "Eedu" works, that holds as a guide to the works of Swamy Vedanta Desika. Similar Eedu work is "Thiru Aarayira Padi" (the holy 6000 verses) written by an Aacharya 'Swamy Thirukurugai Piran Pillan' as a guide for the work of Nammalvar known as 'Thiruvaimozhi' in Nalayira Divya Prabandham. It is praise worthy to note that Sri Thatha Desikan comes in the paternal family lineage of 'Swamy Thirukurugai Piran Pillan' who is again considered to be the 'Abhimana Puthran' (equivalent term for adopted son) of Sri Ramanujacharya.
Sri Thatha Desikan is revered as,
Thasmai Dharma Swaroopaya, Nirmalodhara Keerthaye | Sri Lakshmi kumara Thathayarya Desikaya Namon Namah: ||
This literally means, we salute the great Aacharya "Sri Thatha Desikan", who is the embodiment of – the Righteousness Dharma and innumerable valor!
Sri Thatha Desika was the royal preceptor of the Vijayanagar Empire and was revered with high respects and fame. He was the 'Raja Guru' – 'The Royal Teacher' and the 'Chief Minister' of Venkatapathi Raya I and Venkatapathy Raya II known as Sri Ranga Raya. The Kings patronised the contributions of this legend and made Him the "Manager-General" known as "Sri Karya Thurantharar" of all the Divya Desam Temples existing in their Empire, which are the 108 temples offered to Hindu God-Head Vishnu in India, with the acharya having the base at Kanchipuram. Also Swamy Thatha Desikan inherited the office of "Sri Karyam" ( known colloquially as "Dharmakartha-ship") of Kanchipuram, Sriperumbudur and Kumbakonam temples from his ancestors also he governed various other temples Vishu Temples of India along with his heir apparents and the other aacharyas belonging to this clan of "Thathacharya".
Also the family of "Thirumalai Nambi", maternal uncle of Sri Ramanujacharya) of Tirumala possessing the title of "Thathachariars" are the adherent followers of Sri Ramanuja and Swamy Vedanta Desika and served as the Raja Gurus (Divine Preceptors) of various Dynasties which ruled India during various periods. Sri Thatha Desikan's Paternal lineage were the Raja Gurus for the rulers of Vijayanagar Empire including the dynasties of Saluva, Tuluva and Sangama. Even the empires of Hoysala and Chalukya shows references to these great men with the title of "Thathacharya" being the important aacharya clan of their respective empires, who belong to the gothra of Sadamarshana Maharishi. After the fall of Vijayanagar Empire the descendants of Swamy Thatha Desikan continued to be the Royal Preceptors for the Nayaka rulers who were appointed as the Governors of various Vijayanagar Empire territories including Vilankuppam, Kanchipuram, Trichy, Madurai, Chandragiri and parts of modern days Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
The Love of this great Aacharya for the poor and suffering was well known by the excellent generous contributions that He made to bring them up in their lives. He established a lot of "Anna Chatrams" – "Feeding Halls" and established the so-called "Desanthri Kattalai" the "Order to serve Travelers" in various Temples to feed the devotees visiting those temples daily. He sponsored the wedding of a lot of needy couples and hence adorned with the Honorary Title "Koti Kannikadhana" that reveres Him to have helped almost ten million couples or literally couples in a large crowd known as "Koshti"! He was praised as "Ubhaya Vedantha Chariyar", meaning "The master of both Sanskrit Sacred Texts – Vedas and Upanishads and Tamil works of Alwars known as Prabandhas"
Even today the Descendants of Sri Koti Kannikadhana Sri Lakshmi Kumara Thatha Desikan are living in various Divya Desams as the teachers of the Philosophical values and rich Indian Culture and are continuing many righteous deeds that are bound for them.
The Thathacharyas are the custodians of the Kanchipuram Perarulalan Kovil popularly known as Varadaraja Perumal temple. They are the Pradhana Acharya Purushas in the protocol to receive and deliver the temple honors. In retrospection Tirumalai Nambi's son Tirukkurukai Piran Pillan was ordained by Ramanuja himself as the first and foremost among the 74 Peetadhipathis to propagate Visishtadwaita philosophy after him. Pillan was also chosen by Ramanuja as the competent person to write the commentary on "Tiruvaimozhi. The annotation of Tiruvaimozhi thus brought out by Pillan under the behest of Ramanuja is called the famous 'Araiyarpadi' the first gloss in Manipravala, an elegant mixture of Tamil and Sanskrit words, on the Divya Prabhandam. After Pillan, Tirumalai Srinivasacharya Thathachariar in the fifth generation of Thathacharyas was installed by Vedanta Desika as the Sri Kariyam of the Devaraja Swamy Kovil (Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple of Kanchipuram). Since then the office of Sri Kariyam is institutionalized in the diligence and devotion of the Thathacharyas to the Varadaraja Perumal temple in Kanchipuram. Lakshmi Kumara Thatha Desikan inherited this mantle from his ancestors and made epoch making contributions to the temple annals. He was the Sri Kariya Durandhara – a phrase connoting absolute dedication and authority – of the temple affairs. Simultaneously he was also the Raja Guru of the Vijayanagar king Venkatapathi Deva Maharaj. In Ayengarkulam, a village named after him near Kanchipuram, he built a tank and temple to Sri Rama and Hanuman.
During Modern Days
In the city of modern Kanchipuram , the Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple's Sri Vedantha Desikan Sannidhi houses a six-feet idol of Sri Lakshmikumara Thatha Desikan along with His consort Sri Kamala Ammangar paying their homage to their aacharya Sri Swamy Nikamantha Maha Desikan. Whenever the presiding deity of Sri Varadharaja Perumal starts for procession, the respect to these Aacharyas – Swamy Sri Nikamantha Maha Desikan and Swamy Sri Lakshmi Kumara Thatha Desikan are offered the "Satari" – the religious crown shaped structure with the imprints of the Lotus Feet of the Lord Vishnu in it, with the "Theertham" – sacred water and the Garland "Malai" "Mariyadhai" – "Respect". Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple also houses the processional deity of Sri Lakshmi Kumara Thathadesikan.
- "Sri Thatha Vimsadhi" by Sri Venkata Varadha Kavi – TTD library
- "Guru paramparai prabhavam 6000 padi – Part 2 Aacharyargal Vaibhavam" Sri Parakala Mutt
- "Sri Lakshmi Kumarodhayam" a fifteenth-century work of Vijayanagar Kingdom
- "Sadamarshana Gothra Prabhavam" by Seva Srinivasa Raghavan
- The inscriptions found in various Temples of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh
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