Thiruppugazh Devotees

He is the Thiruppugazh devotee whose mind is without any other thought than Muruga, whose heart is filled with pure love, whose body is smeared with Vibhuti, whose tongue recites the names of Muruga and ears receptive to the songs of Muruga. He may be doing all the work that is necessary to lead a normal life but deep within he is away from the world, away from all attachments and fully immersed in his devotion towards Muruga. ‘Thiruppugazh Anbargal’, as they are known, are too many. There are enlightened masters who teach Thiruppugazh with dedication and lead a life of purity and perfection. There were many and there are many who have come in the lineage of Guruji and it is impossible to describe their humility, their devotion, their knowledge and their contribution. However, here I make a humble attempt to portray the glimpse of three of them, selected at random, who represent the devotion and love which form the characteristics of Thiruppugazh Anbargal.

“Please come, spend some time with your grand-children who are craving for your love”. Most of the parents would have received such a request from their son or daughter settled overseas. When the lady who was an ardent disciple of Guruji Sri Raghavan received this request from her son, she could not say “yes” or “no”. If she said “yes”, she would be denying herself the bliss of attending Guruji’s classes and if she said “no”, she would be denying the pleasure of the company of her grand children. When she expressed her predicament, Guruji advised her to say “yes”. “Go, but carry the Thiruppugazh tradition with you” Guruji had said. She then boarded the flight for Canada on 22nd January 1982 wondering how to go about her task of planting the Thiruppugazh tree in a distant, foreign and unknown soil. Then one day, while resting at the residence of her son, the telephone rang. It was Santha Krishnamurthy at the other end. She said she and her friends are very keen to learn Thiruppugazh and enquired whether this lady would help them out. Her joy knew no bounds and soon a teaching session with just four students was started. From four it became forty and many. From one place, it travelled to different places. The tree became giant in size, spreading its branches all over Canada and America. What Arunagirinathar visualized about Thiruppugazh being hailed as a wonder by people of North, South, West and Eastern region (Pachima dakshina uthara dhikula…‘Bhaththar Ganapriya’.) was now coming to reality. These devotees performed at York University, watched and listened by vast audience, consisting of different nationals. The students were singing and more students came to learn. She was delighted when Guruji accepted her invitation and came to Canada. All those who witnessed Guruji’s Thiruppugazh on the auspicious day of Kirthigai the next day experienced the presence of Muruga and returned with a great sense of spiritual fulfilment. The glorious journey of Guruji culminated on the day of Vykasi Visakam. The lady, who by virtue of her devotion to Guruji could single-handedly organize a mass Thiruppugazh movement abroad, was Smt. Thara Krishnan. She attained the lotus feet of Muruga on 23rd June 2017.

Lalita Nagaraj hailed from a musical family. Her father, a great admirer of the veteran musician and actor, S.G. Kittappa, renamed himself as Kittappa. While her husband, Nagaraj deftly handled Ginjara, her son, Manoj is a good Mridamgam player. Just as any devotional singer, Lalita Nagaraj was also attracted to Guruji Sri A.S. Raghavan and received direct training in Thiruppugazh. As she settled down in Coimbatore later, she has chosen this city as the ideal ground to express her Thiruppugazh passion. She was very particular in singing Thiruppugazh in the Raaga and Thala which Guruji has prescribed. Whenever an Anbar approached her with a request to conduct the Thiruppugazh recital at his house, Smt. Lalita readily turned up at the premises at the time specified with all her group members like Sruti, Jaya, Kamala, Kalyani etc. It is a strange coincidence that her group members’ name also sounded music. The voice of Lalita Nagraj was heard at many residences, Sabhas, temples and halls, the voice that hailed the glory of Lord Muruga in the divine verses of Thiruppugazh. She was a born Thiruppugazh singer. Just mention the first few words of a Thiruppugazh song to her and she would give all details about it; its Raaga, Thaala, the place from which Arunagirinathar rendered it, the song number by which it appears in the old book and the new book and also the meaning. “It is very rare to see a Thiruppuhgazh singer who is as humble, as sincere and as dedicated as Smt. Lalita Nagaraj,” said Sri N.V. Vaidyanathan, who conducts classes at different places in Coimbatore on all the seven days of the week. ‘She was a role model of the principles of Anbu and Avirodha as set out by Guruji for Anbargal’, said Sri Gopal, her disciple. During December 2012, while conducting class, Smt. Lalita suddenly received a stroke. After being in hospital for few days, she bid farewell to this world to rest permanently at the Lotus Feet of Lord Muruga.

The year was 1991. Meenakshi Mami, a resident of Erode, went to Delhi to take care of her son who was employed there. It was during this time, she heard about Thiruppugazh class conducted by Guruji. The moment she attended the class, it marked a new experience. She felt that there is an inexplicable power in Thiruppugazh. She felt that there was a divine energy in the voice of Guruji. She then made it a point to attend Guruji’s classes and soon she became an accredited singer. Every class that she attended enlightened her. She realized that Guruji, full of grace, was transmitting an aura of divinity. She could not explain the bliss she was experiencing while reciting Thiruppugazh, in the ragas set by Guruji. Even when she returned to Erode, the voice of Guruji was ringing in her ears. She realized that Thiruppugazh culture has become part of her and she cannot remain without singing Thiruppugazh or without listening. It was always pulsating in her heart. Since there was no Thiruppugazh class at Erode at that time, she made enquiries and found out that a regular class is held at Annapurneswari temple at R.S. Puram at Coimbatore on Saturdays. The next Saturday, she boarded the train to Coimbatore, attended the class and every Saturday she came, spending over 6 hours. When old age set in and Meenakshi Mami could no more travel easily, she decided to shift to Coimbatore just to be able to attend the Thiruppugazh class conducted by Sri N.V. Vaidyanathan. We wish Meenakshi Mami long life and more Isai Vazhipadu experience.

Meenakshi Mami is only one among the innumerable men and women located at different cities and towns in India and abroad, who are captivated by the power of Thiruppugazh.