Tuesday, April 22, 2008
In our SriVaishnavite tradition, Divya Desams are those temples of Lord Sriman Narayana that have been sung about by one or more of the twelve Azhwars.
There are 108 Divya Desams in total, with 106 of them being in this earth (105 in India and 1 in Nepal).
The remaining two are Sri Vaikuntam and Sri Paramapadam, which cannot be seen in human birth.
There are several hallowed shrines dedicated to the Divya Dampathi, which have not been sung by the Azhwars. An obvious reason could have been that these temples were established after the times of the Azhwars. A famous example is the Rajagopala Swamy temple in Mannargudi (more about that in another article).
Such temples which have not been glorified by the Azhwars are called Abhimaana Sthalams.
Livermore, in California, USA is the site of a famous Shiva-Vishnu temple. There are beautiful sannidhis for perumal (Sri Maha Vishnu), SriDevi Nachiyar, Andal, Lord Rama, Anjaneya and Radha Krishna. I am taking the liberty of calling Livermore an Abhimaana sthalam.
It was my good fortune to spend a few months in Livermore. I used to visit this temple most days of the week. There are few visitors between 6-7 PM on weekday evenings and the atmosphere is very serene. I have even been able to chant the Vishnu Sahasranama sitting in the sanctum of the Lord almost alone. Also, I have been blessed to have darshan of Garuda Seva, Perumal-Thayar Thirumanjanam and Sri Sudarsana Homam at this sacred place.
The temple closes for the night at around 8 PM. At this time, there is a special puja for Perumal, with a beautiful bed on a swing suspended inside the Perumal sannidhi. An uthsavar of the Perumal is literally tucked into this cosy bed. The lights are dimmed down, and a rendition of Annamacharya's gentle lullaby to the Lord (Jo Achyutananda) by MS Subbulakshmi is played in the background. The atmosphere is so tranquil.