Sri Vedanta Desika

Tiruvahindrapuram is intimately connected with the life of the great acharya Vedanta Desika. Desika spent some of the most eventful years of his life here, participating in the service of the Lord and creating some of his best poetic compositions. It is no exaggeration to say that Desika truly blossomed under Lord Dēvanâtha’s influence.

When in his early twenties, Desika meditated on the Garuda mantra on Aushada Giri and Garuda appeared before him. Sri Garuda in turn initiated him into the Hayagriva mantra and instructed Desika to meditate on this form of Lord Vishnu. Blessed with the effulgent vision of Lord Hayagriva, Desika composed the Hayagriva Stotra, his very first, and went on to compose many others in several languages. At Tiruvahindrapuram itself, in addition to the Gopala Vimsati and Raghuvira Gadyam mentioned earllier, he composed the Garuda Panchasat, Devanayaka Panchasat (both in Sanskrit), Achyuta Satakam (Prakrit), Mummanikkovai, and Navamanimaalai (both in Tamil). These are only his extant works; Desika himself mentions others he composed for recital during Lord Dēvanâtha’s many festivals. These are now lost.

Desikan Tirumaligai / தேசிகன் திருமாளிகை

tirukkiṇaṛu: The well constructed by Sri Desika

The place where Desika lived in Tiruvahindrapuram is preserved as “dēsikan tirumâḷigai”. True to his title of “Master of all branches of learning” (sarva tantra svatantra), Desika also constructed a well with his own hands that can be seen in Tiruvahindrapuram to this day. The image of Desika worshipped inside the temple was cast by himself.

It is no surprise that Desika is worshipped here both as God and as an acharya. The annual festival commemorating Desika’s birth is held in September-October (Purattasi) and is conducted in a grand fashion.