During the Thiruppan A:lwa:r Thirunakshatram celebration, a memory aptly recalled today. In the summer of 2023, numerous young volunteers from the USA journeyed to India to engage in an internship program at Nethra Vidyalaya Colleges and Jeeyar Gurukulams. This experience also provided them with a remarkable opportunity to explore the Statue of Equality alongside the Haridasas and witness the enduring impact that Bhagavad Ramanujacharya had on society a millennium ago.
But who are the Haridasas? Also known as Madiga and Mala Dasarlu, they command profound respect in society for their unwavering devotion to Hari. Through Hari nama sankirtana, they propagate the greatness of Hari by visiting every household, keeping alive the tradition of singing and dancing to the glories of Hari for over a thousand years. Historically treated as untouchables, Bhagavad Ramanujacharya not only embraced them but also bestowed upon them honor and veneration, following the exemplary model set by Thiruppan A:lwa:r.
Thiruppan A:lwa:r, born in a community long treated as untouchable, witnessed Lord Ranganatha Himself demonstrating equal love for all devotees. Consequently, Thiruppan A:lwa:r became a worshiped figure for everyone. Bhagavad Ramanuja, throughout his life, disseminated the path of A:lwa:rs, with the Haridasa tradition standing as a living testament to this legacy.
Thiruppani A:lwa:r, born in a community long treated as untouchable, witnessed Lord Ranganatha Himself demonstrating equal love for all devotees. Consequently, Thiruppani A:lwa:rbecame a worshiped figure for everyone. Bhagavad Ramanuja, throughout his life, disseminated the path of A:lwa:rs, with the Haridasa tradition standing as a living testament to this legacy.
The young volunteers from the USA were provided the unique opportunity to have darshan of 108 divya desams (inspirational centers of equality) and Bhagavad Ramanujacharya (embodiment of Equality) while actively participating in Harinama Sankirtana led by the Haridasas.
They even had the chance to dress up as Haridasas, immersing themselves in the tradition and getting a feel for the musical instruments.
At the culmination of this enriching experience, they engaged in a profound interaction with the Haridasas, delving into the greatness of Ramanujacharya’s contributions to their community for over a thousand years. They explored how their family rituals and cultural values were enriched by the practices advocated by him. They highlighted that contributions of Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji to the society is a living embodiment of Ramanujacharya’s greatness. In a gesture of profound gratitude, all the youngsters and chaperones bowed down to the Haridasas.