Faith Movie Review

Vedanta Desika (2018)

ஸ்ரீ வேதந்த தேசிகா (2018)

Swami Sri Vedanta Desikar is one of the most renowned Acharya (Guru) in the Vaishnavism tradition, during his lifespan of 101 years (1268-1369) Swami Desikar has authored over 120 works, though they were mostly about the supreme being he also wrote on other subjects. Sri Vedanta Desika is considered to be the incarnation of the Ghanta (Divine Bell) of Lord Sri Venkatesa of Tirumala. Born in a Vaishnavaite family, I have heard from the elders in the family the slokas and stories of Swami Desikar, especially the one where Lord Hayagreeva (our family deity and the avatar of Lord Vishnu in which he restores the Vedas to Lord Brahma) appeared in the form of a white horse to drink water when Swamy Desikar was meditating atop the small hillock Aushadagiri in Thiruvahindrapuram, Cuddalore.

ஸ்ரீ தேசிக தபோ மண்டபம் – ஸ்ரீ தேசிகருக்கு ஸ்ரீ லக்ஷ்மி ஹயவதன பெருமாள் காட்சி அருளிய திருதலம்.

The story of how Swami Desikar saved the main deity and religious works of Srirangam city during the invasion by Malik Kafur, the General of Allauddin Khilji, is a fascinating one of courage, devotion and planning. As per Wikipedia, Desika hid the main Deity of the temple behind a newly built wall, and placed a duplicate Deity in the front. The smaller festival Deity was smuggled out by Pillai Lokachariar and his men, and carried to Tirupati, where it was worshipped secretly for many years. Back in Sri Rangam, Desika wanted to protect rare manuscripts like the Sruti-prakasha, a commentary on the Sri Bhashya of Ramanuja. Desika and the sons of the author of Shrutiprakasha hid amongst the dead bodies of thousands of Sri Vaishnavas killed by the marauding invaders. They escaped with the rare manuscripts to Karnataka.

This year (2018) marks the 750th anniversary of Vedanta Desikar. As a way of respect to the Acharya, a documentary on his life and the great deeds done by him has been made by Orator Mr Dushyanth Sridhar in association with Veteran Film Producer (Late) Mr Muktha Srinivasan. I saw the picture today with my family, it was a divine experience.

Biopics on the subject like this one are not for the masses, so there is a dearth of money for making these films. Despite that Mr Dushyanth and Muktha Films have been bold to make this film and they have succeeded in their efforts. Fantastic background score by Rajkumar Bharathi, the great-grandson of poet Subramania Bharathiyar. Dialogues being in Manipravalam was impossible for me to understand, the English subtitles too were long. Still, a must-see movie, for Vaishnavaites and anyone else interested in the subject.

Dushyanth Sridhar as Swami Vedanta Desika

Dushyanth Sridhar as Swami Vedanta Desika

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