(Last Updated on : 12/09/2012)
Sri Vedanta Desika temple is the important temple housing Lord Vedanta Desika, stationed in the small place named Thoopul of Kanchipuram. Thoopul or Tirutanka, situated in Chinna Kanchi (Kanchipuram), near Rangaswami Kulam, is very well-known to Srivaishnavas and is considered sacred immensely. This is so because the small place of Thoopul is abode of the Deepa Prakasar temple, popularly known as Vilakkoli Perumal in Tamil, one of the 108 Divya Desams. It is also hallowed by the hymns (pasurams) of Tirumangai Azhvar, the ancient preceptor and a staunch follower of Vaishnavism. This place is also venerated as an avatara-Sthala because it is the birthplace of the illustrious Srivaishnava scholar, philosopher and preceptor, Vedanta Desika (1268-1369 A.D.). Vedanta Desika is considered as the avatara or the incarnation of Lord and hence he is also revered as God by the people. A big shrine with a large mandapa, facing south, in honour of this great Acharya is located next to the Deepa Prakasar temple. Nowadays the temple has achieved enormous popularity.
The beautiful temple of Sri Vedanta Desika in Thoopul is the ancient and traditional temple. According to tradition associated with this legendary temple, the beautiful icon of Vedanta Desika is seen with his right hand in the attitude of protection. This posture of Lord Vedanta Desika is called abhaya hasta. He is found to be holding a manuscript in his left hand. As the common belief regarding this temple reflects, Vedanta Desika Shrine in Thoopul of Kanchipuram was installed by his son named Nayinar Varadachariar alias Kumara Vedantacharya. Worship in this temple is offered according to the tenets of the Vaikhanasa Agama. However the deity is venerating with immense devotion by the local people and the surroundings.
However there is composed a number of works in praise of Vedanta Desika. The great devotion that Vedanta Desika had for Varadarajasvami of Kanchi is clearly revealed from his great Sanskrit works like the Varadaraja Panchashat. It is consisted of fifty verses eulogizing this deity. Svami Desika's close association with this temple is also evident from the number of festivals connecting this great devotee with Varadaraja Perumal. Thus Sri Vedanta Desika is conveyed the veneration of a God and is worshipped duly.
The tradition of the temple is that Lord makes periodic visits during the observation of the various festivals. During the famous Brahmotsavam celebrations of Varadarajasvami in the month of Vaikasi (May-June), Varadaraja Perumal visits the shrine of Vedanta Desika in Thoopul and stays there for three days. On the third day of the Brahmotsavam is held the well-known Garuda Seva procession, and on this occasion, Varadarajasvami comes to Thoopul and presents his garland (mala) to his devotee, Desika. A chunk of devotee joined the sacred procession. Mohini Avatara is considered as one of the sacred festival. Again on the occasion of this celebration, which falls on the fifth day of the Brahmotsavam, Lord Varadaraja goes into the Thoopul sannidhi and gives His garland to Desika. This is repeated on the Punyakoti-vimana procession, which is on the ninth day of the Brahmotsavam.
Lord also pays a periodic visit on the occasion of Chitra Pournami day; on this occasion lord Varadaraja Perumal comes to visit Desika at Thoopul. Again, on the twelfth day after Vaikunta Ekadasi, Perumal with the deities of Sri Devi and Bhu Devi (Ubhaya-nachiyar) on the occasion of Anushtanakulam festival, go to the tiny village of Sevelimedu, about three kilometers from Periya Kanchi, where there is a shrine for the Srivaishnava Acharya, Ramanuja and also the ancient well from which this great preceptor brought water for the tirumanjanam (abhishekam) of Varadaraja Perumal everyday. On the way back from Sevelimedu to their temple they halt for a while at the shrine for Desika. Thus, the frequent mutual visits of Lord Varadaraja and Sri Vedanta Desika reflect the close affinity between them. The periodic visit of the Lord also reflects the sanctity of the temple.
Festivals at the Vedanta Desika shrine
A number of festivals are performed in the shrine of Lord Vedanta Desika with enormous pomp and in a grand style. Festivals are performed throughout the year. During these festivals a large number of people gathered around the temple precincts to offer their worship and veneration to the Lord. During the month of Purattasi (September-October), a ten day Brahmotsavam is held in the shrine, which is dedicated to Svami Desika in Thoopul, which concludes on
Tiruvonam (Sravanam) asterism. This day is considered sacred and the Sathumurai festival in honour of Vedanta Desika is celebrated in a grand style. The image of Lord Vedanta Desika is brought from his shrine in Thoopul in a special palanquin (pallaku). The image is sent from the Varadarajasvami temple in the morning and is taken to the Perumal temple for worship. The image of Svami Desika is taken right into the main sanctum after visiting the shrine of Goddess Perundevi Thayar and other sanctums in this large temple. In the evening, the image of Vedanta Desika is carried back to his abode in Thoopul. Moreover, aradhana is also offered to the image of Desika as a sign of veneration to the lord. During this time Lord Vedanta Desika is installed in a separate sanctum situated near the Vahana mandapa, in the Varadarajasvami temple-complex. Festivals observed in the temple essentially reflect the cultural and religious significance of the temple.'