Madurai: MAY 21-30, 2012

In the Ancient Temple City of Madurai

Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji arrived in Madurai on the evening of May 21 to a joyous reception. The Jagadguru had Darshan of Vinayaka in the temple adjoining the Bypass Road and was taken in a procession to Sri Sringeri Shankara Math, Bypass Road, Madurai. The Jagadguru had Darshan of Ganapati, Adi Shankara and Goddess Sharada at the Math and graced the public function organized by the devotees to welcome Him. Dhuli Pada Puja was performed by Dharmadhikari Sri Sankaranarayanan. Devotees were seen in an exuberant mood as the Jagadguru was gracing the Math in the Bypass Road for the first time since its construction. As if to acknowledge the cheers of the devotees, the clouds opened and rain poured cooling the entire region.

Arriving at the ancient city after twenty years, the Jagadguru in His Anugraha Bhashanam expressed happiness over being in Madurai that is sanctified by the divine presence of Meenakshi and Sundareshwara. The Jagadguru said that Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada sang hymns such as the Meenakshi Shatakam in praise of the Goddess, and it has been a tradition of the Acharyas of Sringeri to come to Madurai. The Jagadguru noted that His Guru, Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Mahaswamiji had observed Shankara Jayanti in the city in 1958 and had subsequently made many visits. The Jagadguru also noted that He Himself had observed both the Chaturmasya Vrata and the Navaratri Celebrations in 1987 in Madurai and had again come in 1992 when He had laid the foundation stone for this Math at Bypass Road.

The Jagadguru pointed out that not everything envisioned by man takes place. So even though many devotees over the years felt that the Acharya would come earlier, He had come now because Ishwara Sankalpa had made this happen at this time. The Jagadguru mentioned that during His stay in Madurai, He would observe the Aradhana of His Parapara Guru, Jagadguru Sri Narasimha Bharati Mahaswamiji. The Jagadguru then spoke briefly about His Parapara Guru stating that He was a Mahatapasvi, a Nrisimha Upasaka, and was capable of both blessing the good and subduing evil.

The Jagadguru expressed wonder that about 150 years back, when transportation was not easy, His Parapara Guru during His 62 year-reign as the Shankaracharya of Sringeri, had undertaken Vijaya Yatras all over the nation. One of the Namavalis of Jagadguru Sri Narasimha Bharati Mahaswamiji is द्वारकादिमहाक्षेत्रयात्रासन्तुष्टमानसः Such was His personality that He felt joy and peace in going to far-away Kshetrams as Dwaraka.

The Jagadguru then spoke about the need for securing God’s Grace. Even though people have experienced that only Ishwara Sankalpa brings about the fructification of efforts, they have a feeling tinged with pride, “Why can I not obtain all I wish for?”. But all that you wish for does not come to be. Such an ability can be observed only in Mahatmas such as our Parapara Guru. These Mahatmas have total sense control and perform intense Tapas. Bhartruhari has compared the Tapas and meditation performed by both Mahatmas and ordinary people. While Tapas is God-centric in the case of Mahatmas, it is oriented towards the acquisition of wealth in the case of of others – ध्यातं वित्तमहर्निशं नियमितप्राणैर्न शम्भोः पदम् ।

If we have to become a recipient of the Grace of God, we have to remain devoted. Even though the Lord says that He is impartial and that He shows no favouritism, He also says that He resides in him who serves Him devotedly.

समोऽहं सर्वभूतेषु न मे द्वेष्योऽस्ति न प्रियः ।
ये भजन्ति मां भक्त्या मयि ते तेषु चाप्यहम् ॥

Hence we must intensify our Bhakti. We are not to engage in Puja for others to take note and praise us. Rather, as the Lord instructs us in the Gita, it has to be done as an offering to God – यज्ञार्थात् कर्मणोऽन्यत्र लोकोऽयं कर्मबन्धनः । The Jagadguru also taught that there is no point in asking for various boons during the Sankalpa for one has to take many births to experience when the boons fructify. This only leads to bondage.

जन्मदुःखं जरादुःखं जायादुःखं पुनः पुनः ।
संसारसागरः दुःखं तस्मात् जाग्रत जाग्रत ॥

To take birth, one has to undergo a lot of suffering. In His Shivaparadha Kshamapana Stotram, Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada talks about the extent of suffering while in the mother’s womb – आदौ कर्मप्रसङ्गात् कलयति कलुषं मातृकुक्षौ नितान्तम्. In old age, all those around you stop giving you respect because you are not earning (money) any more. These days, people even refuse to talk to them. It has to come to the extent that elderly parents are dropped off in old age homes to be taken care of. Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada talks of the neglect in old age thus –

यावद्वित्तोपार्जनसक्तः तावन्निजपरिवारो रक्तः ।
पश्चात् जीवति जर्जरदेहे वार्तां पृच्छति कोऽपि न गेहे ॥

Even people in wedded life talk about various difficulties that arise. Hence the entire Samsara is a bundle of suffering. That is why it is said that to avoid bondage, one must perform actions dedicating them to the Lord.

The Jagadguru expressed that while every man is ready to teach or give instructions to everyone else, no one is ready to practice. Man’s power to distinguish and reason has to be put to use. Otherwise, what is the use of having obtained this power having taken birth as a human? Hence it is not sufficient to keep talking. One must practice. Hence any worship or any act of Dharma should not be done for receiving praise from others. You will only get a temporary joy for having been mentioned by others or by the newspapers. You will not get Shreyas (spiritual welfare) out of it .

Hence we should perform the actions enjoined in the Shastras without any desire for fruits. A person who goes in this direction will be specially blessed. He strives selflessly with the notion of engaging in Ishwara Seva, Guru Seva and Samaja Seva, and the Lord’s Grace will fall on him bountifully.

The Jagadguru said that the long felt desire of the Shishyas of Madurai that the Jagadguru set foot on Madurai had fructified after a period of 20 years, and praised their Bhakti and Shraddha.

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Parapara Guru Aradhana, Shatachandi Mahayaga and Visits

On 22nd May, the Jagadguru observed the 133rd Aradhana of His Paraapara Guru, the 32nd Acharya of the Peetham, Jagadguru Sri Nrisimha Bharati Mahaswamiji. On 23rd May, a Sahasra Modaka Homa was conducted in the Math premises on the occasion of the Jagadguru’s Vijayam. The Jagadguru graced the Poornahuti of the Sahasra Modaka Homa. In the Jagadguru’s presence, the Sankalpa of Shatachandi Mahayaga took place. The Shatachandi Mahayaga was conducted over 5 days from 23rd to 27th May for the welfare of the world.

On 23rd May evening, the Jagadguru graced Durga Parameshwari & Sharabeshwara temple at Chattrapatti. The Jagadguru was received at the Sabha Mandapam in Vaidika Samajam, Madurai. In His Anugraha Bhashanam, the Jagadguru explained that Shraddha is important when adhering to Dharma. Only Dharma performed with Shraddha leads to Shreyas (spiritual welfare). Our adherence to a number of Karmas is dependent on the role of Vaidikas. It is imperative for everyone to give Vaidikas respect and take good care of them. The Jagadguru praised the formation of Vaidika Samajam and said that the development of Vaidika Samajams helps in increased adherence to Vaidika Karmas.

The Jagadguru then visited the Information Centre, Tirumalai Tirupati Devasthanam in Tirumalai Nagar and and inaugurated Goddess Padmavathi Thayar Nandanavanam. The Jagadguru planted Magizham and Mango saplings on the occasion. In His Anugraha Bhashanam, the Jagadguru said that people must use what they are blessed with in the service of God and the Guru and blessed Sri Gopalakrishnan who had donated the land for the Nandavanam to the Devasthanam.

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Gracing the Arya Vaishya Communities

On 24th May evening, the Jagadguru travelled to the Avani Moolam Street near the Meenakshi Sundareshwarar temple and graced the Arya Vaishya Samajam. The Jagadguru first had Darshan of Goddess Kannika Parameshwari. In His Anugraha Bhashanam, the Jagadguru said that He had come to the Samajam with great joy as the members of the Arya Vaishya community have great devotion to the Sringeri Jagadguru Mahasamsthanam.

Recounting an incident from the Durga Sapta Shati of the Markandeya Puranam, the Jagadguru said that a King and a Vaishya who were both in great difficulty, approached a Maharshi and expressed their problems. The King had been cheated by those around him while the Vaishya had suffered at the hands of his own sons. However, both the King and the Vaishya were constantly thinking of the welfare of the very people who made them suffer. The Maharshi told them that all these were the divine sport of the Goddess and asked them to underake Her Upasana (worship). The King and the Vaishya then undertook intense practices to please the Goddess. Pleased with their devotion and penance, the Goddess appeared before them after three years, and directed them to ask for a boon. The King wished that he have his kingdom back, and the Divine Mother granted him his wish. When the Goddess asked the Vaishya, he replied “I need nothing else but Jnana” – तदा वैश्यः ततो वव्रे ज्ञानं निर्विण्णमानसः । Such was the Vaishya’s spiritual maturity that he asked the Mother for knowledge that results in liberation!

The Jagadguru expressed happily to the people in the gathering that they have all belong to such a Parampara and have such maturity. The Jagadguru blessed the members of the Samooham that their devotion to the Goddess intensify and they become a recipient of the God’s limitless compassion.

The Jagadguru also graced the Arya Vaishya kaasukkarar Chettiar Samooham in the South Chitrai Street just across the Southern Gopuram of the Madurai Meenakshi temple. In His Anugraha Bhashanam, the Jagadguru emphasized on the need to nurture Aastikyam, foster Bhakti and realize the Grace of God in achieving success in our efforts.

 

Puja to Goddess Sharada and Guru Vandana Program

On 25th May morning, the Jagadguru dedicated silver Mandapam and performed a special Puja to Goddess Sharada in the Bypass Road Math.

In the evening, a special Guru Vandana Program was held to honour the Jagadguru. Many dignitaries including the Mayor of Madurai, and eminent lawyers, doctors spoke on the occasion expressing the greatness of the Peetham and the Acharyas. With one of the doctors expressing that youth today are troubled by the fear of death and seeking the Jagadguru’s instruction for addressing the issue, the Jagadguru compassionately delved on how to conquer the fear of death in His Anugraha Bhashanam. The Jagadguru quoted a Shloka from the Shastras that describes in essence the way to conquer death.

मृत्योर्बिभेषि किं मूढ भीतं मुञ्चति किं यमः ।
अजातं नैव गृह्णाति कुरु यत्नमजन्मनि ॥

(O Fool! Do you think death shall spare you just because you fear death? He cannot however touch the unborn. So strive towards liberation from births.)

The Jagadguru explained that there are instances in the world, where people who fear something are sympathized with and are not made to experience what they fear. However, this is not the case with Yama Dharma, the Lord of Death. He never stops just because you fear death. Once your lifespan is over, whoever you are, whether you fear him or not, Yama arrives.

Hence one should take efforts towards obtaining Atma Jnana – knowledge of one’s self. Many may question here as to what remains to be known about the self. When asked about their identity, people would usually reply, “I was born on such and such a date to such and such parents. This is my height, weight and skin color and I am so many years old.”

This is not a description of your self. This is merely a description of your body. The Atman is changeless and eternal. However the realization that “this Atman is I” does not dawn so easily as we have all been identifying the body with the self for many lifetimes. This is called Samskara i.e. When a particular thought or feeling occurs repeatedly or an action or karma is undertaken many times, an impression is formed. Over a number of lifetimes, people have developed the impression that the body and the self are not different.

Sri Adi Shankaracharya says that the notion of equating the self with the body must first be removed – नाहं देहो नेन्द्रियाण्यन्तरङ्गः (I am neither the body, nor the senses nor the mind-intellect). All changes that occur are only to the body. Realize that the self is pure and eternal. However, this understanding does not come to anyone. People only end up sleeping on hearing Vedanta. The Jagadguru quoted the example of an affluent person who engaged a scholar to talk Vedanta to him until he falls sleep.

For the eligibility to listen to and register the Vedantic teaching, one has to cleanse the mind. Until this happens, no amount of teaching will help.

The Jagadguru then spoke about the methods to cleanse the mind. You may be sitting here listening to the Bhashanam. But the mind wanders towards the activities you are usually engaged in. Your mind ponders over interest rates and the share market. That is why, many, when asked what they have understood from the Anugraha Bhashanam, would merely say, “I understood that the Swamiji can speak Tamil well”. None of the teachings would have been imbibed by them. This is because desires refuse to leave and satisfaction does not arise. Hence desire (kaama) has to be regulated.

The Jagadguru then quoted the instance of Hanuman explaining the effect of anger, after He burnt Lanka in anger and wondered if the fires would have harmed Sita. Similarly, ego is another impurity in the mind. Ego arises in man due to various reasons – out of status, power or education. Jealousy is another evil that entraps people. People fail to recognize the good in others and remain jealous while repeatedly pointing their faults.

The Shastras advise that every day a man has to analyze whether he has spent the day like a Satpurusha or like an animal. Remember you can never cheat your conscience. Hence if your conscience replies back that “I have not erred today in any sense”, only such a day is well-spent. When such days increase in number, it is indicative of the extent of purity of the mind.

Sri Adi Shankaracharya says – कामं क्रोधं लोभं मोहं त्यक्त्वाऽत्मानं भावय कोऽहम् – Give up lust, anger, infatuation, and greed and ponder over your real nature. Unless these impurities are removed, Vedanta will be of no interest to you. Hence it is essential to purify the mind, get the eligibility to study Vedanta, and then seek refuge in the Guru, study and realize the Vedantic teaching. This alone will put an end to births and Yama shall not come near you.

One needs Ishwara’s Grace for all these to occur. So undertake your efforts to make your devotion towards Ishwara steadfast and act accordingly. The Jagadguru blessed that by the Sankalpa of Goddess Sharada, the desire of the medics in Madurai to start a healthcare center under the auspices of the Peetham be fulfilled.

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Anugraha Bhashanam at Madurai (Guru Vandana Program)

 

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Graces Ayyappa temple, Chinmaya Mission and SS Colony

On 26th May morning, the Jagadguru went to Ayyappaswamy temple at Vilacheri and laid the foundation stones for the Rajagopuram and a shrine for Hanuman. In His Anugraha Bhashanam to the devotees, the Jagadguru said that Ayyappan, the son of Hari and Hara is renowned as a fulfiller of the wishes of devotees in the Kali Yuga. We must adore Him with Bhakti and Shraddha and become a recipient of His grace. If one is incompetent in all aspects but has Bhakti towards the Lord, he will be blessed. The Lord has said in the Gita that He can be reached by unparalleled devotion – भक्त्या त्वनन्यया शक्य अहमेवं विधोऽर्जुन. The Jagadguru noted that the temple has served a large number of devotees as the foundation stone for the temple was laid by His Guru.

On 27th May, Poornahuti of the Shatachandi Mahayaga took place in the Jagadguru’s presence. In the evening of 27th May, the Jagadguru graced the Chinmaya Mission, Dok Nagar, had Darshan of Lord Dakshinamurti and gave an Anugraha Bhashanam. The Jagadguru quoted the Lord from the Gita, अध्यात्मविद्या विद्यानाम् – Self-knowledge is the supreme amongst all knowledge.This is so because while all other knowledge only help us to live in the world, Self-knowledge alone leads to Moksha or liberation. For Jnana to dawn, one has to remain immersed in Adhyatma Vidya. The Lord describes that the means to Self-knowledge is to regard it as the most essential entity in life – अध्यात्मज्ञाननित्यत्वं तत्त्वज्ञानार्थदर्शनम् । एतज्ज्ञानमिति प्रोक्तम्. Only then the Guru will appear and instruct. The Lord’s Grace is very essential here because the Lord’s Grace is required even for an interest to arise in Advaita. Lord Dakshinamurti is a special form representing the Supreme Teacher. Sri Adi Shankaracharya has praised Lord Dakshinamurthy thus – तत्त्वार्थमन्तेवसतामृषीणां युवाऽपि यः सन्नुपदेष्टुमीष्टे । The Jagadguru ended the Bhashanam with prayers to Lord Dakshinamurti to increase the Shraddha in Adhyatma of the Ashram’s members.

The Jagadguru then visited the Satsangha in SS Colony and gave an Anugraha Bhashanam. The Jagadguru talked about the importance of Satsangha as stressed upon by Sri Adi Shankaracharya, who stated that Satsangha ultimately leads to Jivanmukti. The Jagadguru spoke about the quality of Satpurushas that they would always desire the welfare of others, would never do any wrong to any one even in their thoughts, and would only see the good in everyone. When we have the company of such Satpurushas, we too will cultivate those qualities and our life will be purposeful. The society too will be benefitted. The Jagadguru then blessed the members of the Satsangha.

The Jagadguru also graced Tamil Nadu Brahmin Association (TAMBRAS) in SS Colony and the Brahmana Kalyana Mahal in SS Colony. If man desires his Shreyas, he must act in accordance to the Shastras. The Lord Himself has stated that the Shastras alone are the authority in matters of Dharma and Adharma -

तस्माच्छास्त्रं प्रमाणं ते कार्याकार्यव्यवस्थितौ |
ज्ञात्वा शास्त्रविधानोक्तं कर्म कर्तुमिहार्हसि ||

The Dharmic actions must be done Shraddha – unshakeable faith in the Shastras. The Jagadguru invoked the grace of the Lord that everyone be blessed with such a bent of mind to engage in Dharmic actions, and blessed the efforts of TAMBRAS.

The Jagadguru also visited the Ramalaya temple in the Agrani Apartment complex. In His Anugraha Bhashanam said that while undertaking Dharmic activities individually is of one kind, those performed as a group brings about the welfare of all people. The Jagadguru blessed the residents of the area for the Dharmic activities being undertaken.

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At Lakshmi Matriculation School, TVS Nagar

On 28th May 2012, the Jagadguru graced Lakshmi Matriculation School, TVS Nagar. The Jagadguru was welcomed by Correspondent Shobhana Ramachandran and others and a Swagata in Tamil was rendered. In His Anugraha Bhashanam, the Jagadguru said that education is utmost essential for a man. He shines only if he has education. That is why it is said – विद्याधनं सर्वधनप्रधानम्. The greatness of learning is such that a learned person is respected everywhere – विद्वान् सर्वत्र पूज्यते. That is why our ancestors had a system that everyone should undertake education. A child should not be asked to do any kind of work and must be put under the educational system. Only then he will get a good education. Such an education will also bring humility in him. The Jagadguru then stated that only that can be called education that brings about both learning and humility. The Jagadguru then quoted a shloka from Mahakavi Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsha Mahakavyam, describing the birth of Lakshmana and Shatrughna to Sumitra –

सुतौ लक्ष्मणशत्रुघ्नौ सुमित्रा सुषुवे यमौ ।
सम्यगाराधिता विद्या प्रबोधविनयाविव ॥

The Jagadguru explained that the twins were born to Sumitra even as education when undertaken well, begets the twins of knowledge and humility. The humilty referred to here is the feeling that how much ever one may have learnt, there is a lot more to learn. These days the pride of a student shoots up the instant he gets the first rank in the secondary (10th grade) examinations in school. That is why our ancestors stated that the Shastras are like an ocean, and anyone what a student of the Shastras manages to study can be compared to a mere cup of water in that ocean.

The Jagadguru continued – अनन्तशास्त्रं बहु वेदितव्यं, स्वल्पश्च कालो बहवश्च विघ्नाः यत्सारभूतं तदुपासितव्यम् – The Shastras are innumerable; the time available to study them is so little – and even then, a number of obstacles crop up. Hence it is impossible to finish the study of the Shastras. Hence atleast the essence of the Shastras must be grasped properly. Only he who pays full attention to his studies during his time as a student, will acquire learning and humility, and come up in life.

The Jagadguru stressed the importance of good schools to foster such education. Those who run such schools deserve His total blessings as hundreds of thousands of students get benefitted. The Jagadguru mentioned that it has been more than 50 years since the Lakshmi school had started and commended the efforts of the management. The Jagadguru conveyed His blessings for the teachers and students of the school and ended His Anugraha Bhashanam.

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“Sri Meenakshi Shatakam” Released

On 29th May evening, Vaidikas of Madurai received the Jagadguru’s blessings and were felicitated. A Souvenir commemorating the Jagadguru’s visit to Madurai was released. The Jagadguru notably released a hitherto unpublished work, titled “Sri Meenakshi Shatakam” containing a hymn of about 122 verses on Goddess Meenakshi composed by the 25th Acharya of Sringeri Sharada Peetham, Jagadguru Sri Sacchidananda Bharati I, who reigned from 1622-1663. The Acharya in His Poorvashrama hailed from Kundruvaarankottai near Vatthalagundu, about 100 km from Madurai. This work had been preserved in manuscript form in the archives of the Peetham. The work is a scintillating piece of poetry in praise of Goddess Meenakshi and was taken up for release at the instance of the Jagadguru during His Vijaya Yatra to Madurai. The Jagadguru in His Srimukham to the book has stated that the 25th Acharya had impressive poetic skills as is evident in his larger work, titled Ramachandra Mahodaya (Under the Jagadguru’s direction, this work is also being currently being researched for publication).

 

Punah Prathishta Kumbhabhisheka

At 8am on 30th May, the Jagadguru travelled from the Bypass Road Math to the Sringeri Shankara Math at Amman Sannadhi Street near the Goddess Meenakshi temple. The Jagadguru then performed the Punah Prathishta Kumbhabhisheka of Sri Kashi Vishalakshi Sameta Vishweshwarar, Sri Ganapati, Sri Adi Shankara, Goddess Sharada, Sri Krishna and Sri Hanuman. In His Anugraha Bhashanam, the Jagadguru expressed that the Math in Amman Sannadhi Street has been in existence for a long time in the holy city of Madurai. The Jagadguru said that the deities of Kashi Vishweshwarar have been gracing this area for long and His Guru, Paramaguru, Parameshti Guru, and Parapara Guru have come here and blessed the devotees. In such a sanctified place, the Jagadguru stated that the temple renovation was taken up for the convenience of devotees and the Kumbhabhisheka was performed on this day. The Jagadguru remembered His visit along with His Guru about 32 years back, when His Guru had a structure constructed for the temple and had performed the Kumbhabhisheka. However the area was very small. Now, the area of the temple had grown larger by Ishwara’s Grace. The Jagadguru blessed the people of Madurai for their role in various activities during the Jagadguru’s Vijayam to Madurai.

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Visit to Goddess Meenakshi Temple

At about 6 pm on 30th May, the Jagadguru started for Darshan at the ancient temple of Goddess Meenakshi and Sri Sundareshwarar.

The Jagadguru started from the Amman Sannadhi Street, and arrived at the Eastern entrance of the massive temple, where dignitaries including the Executive Officer of the temple, other administrative officers as well as Archakas of the temple offered Poorna Kumbha Swagata. Portions of the massive temple including the East Gopuram are almost a millenium old while many of the present sculptures were carved about 400 years back. Walking along from the Eastern Rajagopuram, the Jagadguru arrived at Porttraamarai Kulam (pond of Golden lotus) and then had Darshan of the massive idol of Lord Mukkuruni Vinayakar. The Jagadguru then proceeded towards the Garbha Griha of Goddess Meenakshi. The Jagadguru then had Darshan of Sri Sundareshwara Swamy. That night, the Jagadguru performed the Sharada Chandramoulishwara Puja inside the temple at the Thiru Kalyana Mandapam where the wedding of Goddess Meenakshi and Sundareshwara is celebrated. Many of the Sringeri Acharyas have visited this famous temple. The Meenakshi Pancharatnam composed by Sri Adi Shankaracharya are the most famous Sanskrit verses on Goddess Meenakshi. The 25th Acharya, Jagadguru Sri Sacchidananda Bharati Mahaswamiji had composed Meenakshi Shatakam (that as mentioned earlier was released by the Jagadguru on the occasion of the Madurai Vijayam 2012) while Jagadguru Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswamiji has also composed two Stotras on the Goddess.

On 31st May, the Jagadguru gave Darshan to the devotees in the Thiru Kalyana Mandapam. Pada Puja was also offered to the Jagadguru in the Mandapam. The Jagadguru ended His Madurai Vijayam after blessing the devotees with Mantrakshata in the Thiru Kalyana Mandapam inside the temple premises.

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