Thanjavur / 3
Perhaps by drawing the line of fate on the forehead, I went out on this journey, of South Tamil Nadu. The Prant Pracharak had made arrangements to see/show the Thanjavur temple. IT businessman Dinesh Kumar ji from Thanjavur was with me. They are a part of the management of Brihadeshwara temple. That’s why the temple darshan was done very well. By then it was time for the meal. Dinesh Ji said, “Your food has been arranged with Swamiji”.
Seeing my questioning posture, where did he, Swamiji means ‘Swami Brahmayoganand ji’. Swamiji has been a pracharak of the Sangh. You are now a sannyasin. Have done Parikrama of Narmada. He was in silence for two years in Omkareshwar. His aura and discipleship are huge. Swamiji was on his way to address the primary education section of the Sangh in Kumbakonam. On the way he had a lunch program in Melkot. I was also invited to this meal.
Swamiji’s arrangement in Melkot was in ‘Agrahara’. These ‘Agrahara’ or ‘Agraharam’ are a special type of arrangement in South India. In ancient times, kings or dynasties used to give land and some help to Brahmins to study Vedas and to look after temples. It was the duty of these Brahmins to keep the Vedic traditions alive. That is why long ago these agraharams were called ‘Chaturvedamangalam’. Brahmins/Sanyasis/Saints can stay in these Agraharam houses.
Their arrangements are kept with complete purity and purity. Basically these agraharams run households.
The Agraharam in Melkot I went to was a very simple house. About sixty – seventy years old Tamil house. On entering inside, a sense of purity was awakened. We had arrived a little late, by then Swamiji’s meal had started. We sat on the ground with his disciples. Althi – by hitting the cross. Tamil food was being served on banana leaves in front. The serving sisters wore saris in the traditional style. The host was wearing Pitambar in Tamil style. The food was very tasty, of the traditional Tamil style. There were many dishes. Sanskrit shlokas were playing in a melodious voice behind. The atmosphere was full of purity. Later, there was a joyful conversation with Swamiji.
My destiny has made me experience this..!
I again came back to Thanjavur with Dinesh ji. The Saraswathi Mahal of Thanjavur King Bhosale was to be seen. This palace is simple. There are no frills. It is the abode of Saraswati exactly as per the name. It was built during the Nayak period of Vijayanagara. Then it was called ‘Saraswati Bhandar’. Later, when the Marathas conquered Thanjavur, it developed while maintaining its form, keeping the local traditions undisturbed.
Bhosale of Thanjavur is the half-brother of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. This dynasty flourished in Thanjavur itself. Generation after generation, the kings of this dynasty continued to worship Saraswati. All these kings were worshipers of knowledge and devoted to the arts. Especially during the time of Sarfaroji Bhosale (1798 – 1832), many priceless things were deposited in this palace. There are collections of many items from around the world. One by one, there are great paintings. There are many rare manuscripts, whose number is in millions.
Manuscripts written on Bhujpatra. Books written on very ancient papers, copper sheets… If history is to be explored, then it becomes necessary to see all this. There is a collection of thousands of types of texts. There are many ancient paintings. It is not possible to see the entire palace in one day. Thanjavur, famous for wooden toys, is the center of our traditions, store of knowledge, religiosity and our rich culture. Heritage..!