Vikhanasa Maharshi: Vikhanasa Maharishi is the maanasa
putraa (mind-born son) of Brahmaa.He is the author of several exalted works like the Kalpa Sutra and of texts laying down
in elaborate detail the modes of worshipping the Lord in His arcchaa form, in various temples. Those who are born in the lineage
of Vikhanas Maharshi and undergo purifying rituals as per these Sutras are known as Vailkhaanasaas. The Vaikhaanasa Agama
is one of the two Vaishnava Agamaas (Manuals of Temple Worship), the other being Paancharaatra.
Vaikhanasas claim to be a surviving school of Vedic ritual,
the Taittiriya sakha of the Krishna Yajurveda. Vaikhanasa tradition says the sage Vikhanas, who was a manifestation of Brahma
or Vishnu, composed the Vaikhanasa Kalpasutra and taught four disciples, Atri, Bhringu, Kasyapa, and Marici, the procedures
of samurtarcana, devotional service to Vishnu in images. Most Vaikhanasa literature is almost completely concerned with ritual,
prescribing the rituals and their rules of performance. To the Vaikhanasas their temple worship is a continuation of Vedic
fire sacrifice. Regular and correct worship of Vishnu in a temple will bring the same results as the fire sacrifice even for
people who do not maintain their fires.
Jnana, knowledge, sections of Vaikhanasa texts are short and it is necessary to
infer their doctrines from discussions in the texts on ritual. The Vaikhanasas evolved the theory of the five aspects of Vishnu:
Vishnu, the all-pervading supreme deity; Purusa, the principle of life; Satya, the static aspect of deity; Acyuta, the immutable
aspect; and Aniruddha, the irreducible aspect. The distinction is emphasised between Vishnu in his niskala presence, the unfigured
primeval and indivisible form unperceived even by Brahma, and his sakala presence, the figured, divisible, emanated, and movable
form. In his sakala presence he responds gracefully to devotional meditation. Shri is important as nature, prakriti, and as
the power, shakti, of Vishnu.
The Vaikhanasa doctrine states that moksha is release into Vishnu's heaven. The nature of
a man's moksha is dependent on a devotee's service of japa, attentive repetition of prayer, huta, sacrifice, arcana, service
to images, or dhyana, yogic meditation. Of the four the Marici Samhita says arcana is the realisation of all aims.
The Vaikhanasas originated as a group of ascetics. In the Manava Dharmasastra, Manu discusses
vanaprastha, forest-dweller, the third of the four asramas, stages of life, and mentions a "Vaikhanasa rule." Other ancient
authorities support this reference, so it seems there was a Vaikhanasa ascetic community before the common era. They are also
mentioned in the Narayaniya, which is a late section of the Mahabharata of uncertain date but probably no earlier than the
third century CE. Surviving Vaikhanasa sutras are no older than the fourth century CE.
Inscriptions from perhaps the eighth
century CE identify Vaikhanasas as temple priests, and from the end of the tenth century they are prominently mentioned in
South Indian inscriptions. Vaikhanasas were the priests of Vaishnava temples. They were not merely ritual priests, but were
trusted with administering the temples and their lands.
With the rise of the Shri Vaishnavas the Vaikhanasas declined
in their temple role. Ramanuja, leader of the Shri Vaishnavas and the first organiser of temple administration at Srirangam
Temple, replaced the Vaikhanasa system of worship with the more liberal Pancaratra system, expanded the fivefold division
of temple servants into tenfold, and gave an important part in ritual to sudra, lowest caste, ascetics. This change spread
to other Vaishnava temples. However, the Vaikhanasas continued to be important.
Today Vaikhanasas are the chief priests
in more than half of the Vaishnava temples in the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and parts of Karnataka.
Their present day temple activities are worthy of attention, as are their efforts to work for community integrity which is
threatened by increasing social and technological changes.
Temples and images with the Vaikhanasas are of more importance than perhaps any other sect
In accordance with Vaikhanasa doctrine of the two forms of Vishnu, the niskala, the unfigured, and the sakala,
the figured, two cult images are distinguished. There is the large immovable image representing Vishnu's niskala form, which
is ritually placed in a sanctuary and elaborately consecrated, and a smaller movable image representing Vishnu's sakala form.
If the devotee wishes for temporal and eternal results he should worship both forms. But if he is after only eternal results
he should worship the immovable image.
After purification and meditation to identify with Vishnu, the devotee surrenders
to Vishnu and places the movable image on a bathing pedestal and elaborately bathes it. This is preparation for receiving
the presence of God by immediate contact via a connecting string. The invocation starts with a mantra, sacred utterance, saying
that the Imperishable is linked to the Perishable and that the Self is released from all evil as it knows God. Flowers are
presented to all the deities present. Then the hymn called the Atmasukta is recited that identifies the body of the devotee
with the cosmos, followed by meditation on Vishnu's niskala aspect: these parts of the ritual are to request Vishnu to take
his sakala form in the movable image so that the devotee can converse with Him. A puja ceremony takes place with God as the
royal guest, followed by a homa, offering into the fire, and a bali offering with something that may be visible, touchable,
audible, or eatable. An offering of havis, cooked food, is important as the God's meal. Afterwards the food as prasada, holy
food, is eaten by the worshippers. The offering area is cleaned and a bali of cooked rice sprinkled with butter is offered
to Vishnu. Then comes a circumambulation around the temple. After daksina, the officiating brahman's share of the sacrifice,
is given, Vishnu is meditated upon as the personal manifestation of the sacrifice. Finally puspanjali, a handful of flowers,
is offered to the image and the temple door is closed.
Vaikhanasas are a tiny brahman community of about 2,500 families widely dispersed in South
India at Vaishnava temples in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and parts of Karnataka (Welbon in Eliade 1987, Vol. 15, 165-6).
Headquarters / Main Centre
Tirupati, the famous Hindu pilgrimage centre in Andhra Pradesh, India.
Reference of Vikhanasa Maha Muni in Sri
"Vaikhaanasa muni shreshtta poojitaaya SrI
Vikhanasa Maharishi is the maanasa putraa (mind-born son) of Brahmaa.He is the author
of several exalted works like the Kalpa Sutra and of texts laying down in elaborate detail the modes of worshipping the Lord
in His arcchaa form, in various temples. Those who are born in the lineage of Vikhanas Maharshi and undergo purifying rituals
as per these Sutras are known as Vailkhaanasaas. The Vaikhaanasa Agama is one of the two Vaishnava Agamaas (Manuals of Temple
Worship), the other being Paancharaatra.
The worship at the Tirumala temple has been, for time immemorial, performed according
to the Vaikhaanasa Agama, by the descendents of Vikhanasa Mahrshi. The Lord HImself, when He manifested from an anthill, advises
Tonadamaan Chakravartthi to perform His worship through sages of the Vaikhanasa lineage--
"Kaarayitvaa shilpinaa atha pratishthaapya muneesvarai:
Vaikhaanasai: munivarai: archayet Tondamaan api" (Varaha Puranam)
Other details relating to the Kaimkaryams of Vikhanasa Muni are given below :
The renowned Rishi Vaikhaanasa had an overwhelming desire. Having heard and lost himself
in the endearing exploits of Sri Krishna, the Rishi wanted badly to have his eyes' fill of the Lord's bewitching countenance
and tiruemeni. To this end, he performed an extraordinarily severe penance. Sri Mahavishnu appeared before the Rishi in response
and told the latter that it was impossible for him to have a dharshan of Sri Krishna in person, as the avataara had already
been concluded. The Lord suggested to the Rishi that as an alternative, he could go to Tiruvenkatam and have a filling dharshan
of Srinivasa, who was no less in beautiful and captivating than Sri Krishna. The Rishi dutifully set off for Tirumala Hills
and, establishing an enchanting garden with myriad fragrant blooms, with the help of one Rangadaasa, worshipped Srinivasa
to his heart's content, deriving on earth itself the boundless bliss that awaits the liberated soul in paradise.
It is this episode that is chronicled in this tirunaamam.
Further, when Srinivasa was performing penance on the banks of Padma Sarovaram near the
Svarnamukhi river, it was those belonging to the clan of Vykhaanasaas who were of assistance to the Lord, even though He displayed
none of His divine attributes or features