SWAGATHAM

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SRI HANUMAN

SRI HANUMAN THINKS DIFFERENTLY, THINKS FAST, THINKS AHEAD AND ACTS FOR SURE.


Our salutations to this Hanuman who always brings subham - everything that is good - for His devotees and eliminates the bad and the evil. He removes even the traces of bad thoughts and deeds from His devotees. i.e He makes them pure in words, thought and deed.


 

 

Sri Hanuman Swamy of Sri Swamy Hathiramji Mutt, Vellore, Tamilnadu

Sri Hanuman of Sri Swamy Hathiramji Mutt, Vellore, Tamilnadu


Sri V.P.Narasimha Gupta, Vellore


Sri Swamy Hathiramji Mutt

Sri Swamy Hathiramji Mutt was established by Mahant Hathiramji with Tirupati [Tirumala to be more specific] as the headquarters around four hundred and fifty years back. Although the exact year of formation of the mutt is not known, it is strongly believed that the founder Sri Hathiramji Maharaj had established the mutt during [Aravidu] Rayas time. During the course of time the mutt has established several subordinate branches at many places in Bharat in the [then] presidencies of Madras and Bombay, Bangalore City, Andhra, Tirupati, Adoni, Tanjavur, and Vellore. All these branches were being managed from the main Mutt at Tirupati. In the year 1843, the management of Tirupati temple was handed over to this mutt by the British, after long deliberation. The Mahants of this mutt continued to be dharmakarthas of the temple and managed the affairs of the temple administation till 1933.

Bairahi/Bairagi

Before proceeding to know about Sri Hathiramji mutt, let us know who Bairahis are. Sri Hathiramji Mahant is one.

Bairahi or Bairagi is a word derived from the word vairahi which means ‘people living with a vow’. It refers to persons who lead their life with an aim to attain ‘moksha’. These people follow and adopt any recognised path to attain the same. There are many such Bairahi who visit the holy kshetras in pursuit of their goal of attainment of ‘moksha’. Few of these saints who travelled to south India as a part of this holy trip, had decided to settle down in various places in South India. Few of them had built rest house [known as chatram or matam] for other visitors from their place of origin; in such matam they also installed deity of their choice and affection.

Such ‘matam’s were called Bairahi matam or Bairagi Mutt in south India. One can see many such matams in places like Arani, Kanchipuram, Chennai, Trichy, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Rameswaram, and Vellore etc to name few and also at many places in present Andhra and Kartanataka.

Sri Bavaji the bairagi

It happened about four hundred fifty years ago during the time of Rayas of Vijayanagara, a Bairahi who was a devotee of SriRam was on a pilgrimage to south India. As he came to Tirupati and had darshan of Sri Venkatachalapati, he stayed for few days and served the temple with all his might. He felt immense pleasure in serving the deity and his quest to serve Him for more time had increased.

This bairagi, who came from northern India, then settled in Tirumala. It was his practice to take holy dip thrice a day in the Swami Pushkarini and have darshan of the deity at the temple after bath. At his ‘ashram’ he will spend rest of the time singing glories of God, meditating upon Him.

He and his associates will help other devotees who come to Tirumala on a pilgrimage. Serving devotees of the Lord is a seva for any bairagi and this bairahi is no exception. This has earned him respect among the pilgrims to the khestra and people addressed him as ‘bhavaji’ with respect.

Dice play of Bavaji

Bairagi Sri Bavaji Hatiramji plying dice with Lord Balaji

Bavaji felt that Sri Venkatachalapati is close to him and his heart. During night when he could not sleep he would play dice. He had a peculiar habit of assuming that he is playing dice with the Lord himself. He will play the dice for the lord also. One fine night when he was playing dice as usual, somebody entered the ashram. All of a sudden the atmosphere changed. Bavaji was astonished at the divine look of the visitor, and lost himself in His presence. Bavaji felt that the Lord of this kshetra Himself had come to play dice. Voluntarily the visitor started playing dice with the Bavaji.

This practice of playing dice continued for few nights. Time had come that the Lord felt like confering a boon on the bairagi devotee. Therefore He after playing dice with the bavaji left for His abode, leaving His necklace behind at the bavaji’s place.

Next day the archaka of the temple noticed that the necklace of the Lord is missing and he reported the matter to temple authorities. At the same time bavaji came for handing over the necklace left behind by the Lord at his place. While it was said that the Bairagi had stollen the necklace, bavaji pleaded innocense and narrated as to what had happened the previous night. The temple authorities did not believe him and brought the matter to the Raya’s court.

Bavaji becomes Sri Hathiram Bavaji

Bairagi Sri Bavaji Hatiramji

Raya could not believe what the bairagi said. But judicially Raya said that the bairagi be confined to a cell with full of sugar cane, which he will eat over night before dawn. Accordingly bavaji was confined to the well guarded cell with full of sugar cane. Aware of his innocence and with absolute faith in his Lord, bavaji went on a deep meditation. As the Lord came as Narashimha to save Prahalladha, He came as an elephent and swallowed all the sugar cane while His devotee was meditating upon Him. At dawn Lord shook him off the devotee from meditation and gave him His Viswaroopa darshan as a boon to him for which he was longing.

The guards of the Raya saw an elephant walking out of the cell in the dawn and all the sugar canes in the cell emptied. The news spread and Raya realised as to what has happened, and the bairagi was honoured then after. This incident had brought out the divinity of the bava known to the world. People came to know of him called him Sri Hathiram Bavaji. His ashram came to be known as Sri Hathiram Bavaji ashram latter as Sri Swami Hathiramji Mutt.

Sri Swami Hathiramji Mutt Vellore

After long deliberation, in the year 1843 the management of Tirupati temple was handed over to this mutt by the British. The Mahants of this mutt continued to be dharmakarthas of the temple and managed the affairs of temple administation till 1933. Even before 1843, this mutt had registered in the minds of philanthropists from all religions that the mutt stands for service to devotees and straight forwardness. This is one of the reason as to why the then British entrusted the responsibility of management of such a huge temple to this mutt. The mutt had been given endowments by various individuals and rulers for their established services. In the course of time the mutt thus had to open units of their mutt in various places in Bharat as extension of their services.

One place where such branch of the mutt was opened is in Vellore. The mutt here was acting as a nodal point for people from down south and north Arcot. Wherever they had established a mutt, a bairahi is selected to handle the affairs of that branch mutt by the chief Mahant of Tirupati muttt. With the approval of Mahant the charter of duties are fixed for the branch. Normally a deity is installed in the local branch after due local considerations and approval of the Mahant.

Peepal tree

Sri Hanuman Swamy of Sri Swamy Hathiramji Mutt, Vellore, Tamilnadu

Peepal tree or sacred fig is a species of fig native to Indian subcontinent, south-west China and Indochina only. This tree is known by other names also: bodhi tree, ashwattha vruksha, and in Tamil it is known by the Arasa Maram.

In Bharat, sadhus [ascetics] meditate beneath sacred peepal trees to liberate themselves from the cycle of rebirth. Normally it is a practice that people do circumambulation, meditating upon their Ista Devatha. It is said that Lord Brahma resides in the root, Lord Vishnu in the trunk and Lord Siva in the crown of this tree and hence call “vriksha raja” meaning ‘king of trees’. In Tamil it is known as ‘Arasa Maram’ meaning ‘king of trees’.

Deity of Sri Hanuman at Vellore branch

According to the established practice of the mutt as the first bairahi in-charge of Vellore, deity of Sri Hanuman was recommended. With the due permission of chief Mahant of Tirupati, the pradeshthapana of deity of Sri Hanuman was made at this center. Although the exact year of installation is not known, it is said that the mutt is at Vellore for more than three hundred years. The Hanuman vigraha was installed under the sacred peepal tree as was the practice among bairagi sanyasis.

Sri Hanuman of Sri Hathiramji swamy mutt Vellore

The main deity of this mutt is Sri Anjaneya consecrated by the first Mahanth. Sri Anjaneya was consecrated under the peepal tree. The murtham of the direct looking Lord along with arch [tiruvachi] is carved on a single hard stone. Sri Hanuman is a simple deity who can inspire the devotees to be sincere in their efforts and do things with honost. Lord is standing firmly on His lotus feet, the posture itself will give the devotee self-confidence and to be straight forward. In the lotus feet Lord is wearing nupuram and also Thandai. Lord is holding the mace majestically in His left hand. Lord’s right hand is seen in raised posture in ‘abhaya mudra’, giving confidence to the devotee. In both hands Lord is wearing kankanam and keyuram. His raised tail goes behind the head in a curling style, imparting how practical and flexible the devotee should be.

 

 

Experience

For those who want to be devoted, honost and of service to mankind, the Lord of this kshetra had been of great strength. Salutation to Sri Hanuman of this kshetra is sure to give us those qualites for which He stands for.



Ed [July 2018]