Has presented Parayanam every evening at the Kapaleeswarar temple for over 2 decades, renovated the Nandavanam and Lighted 1500 lamps during Karthigai Utsavam
Anyone visiting the Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore in the evening could not have missed the Akshara Manamalai Parayanam led by A. Srikanth in front of the Eastern Entrance.
50 year old Srikanth has dedicated his life to the service of Lord Kapaleeswarar. While in class 8 at PS High School, he won the first prize in an oratorical competition in which he spoke on Ramalinga Swamigal.
At that young age, he cared not to open the Thiruvachagam book that came his way as the prize. Later as a teenager, Srikanth acted in Historical Plays of Heran Ramaswamy donning the role of Muruga in Saneeswaran and Kumara Gurupurar in Thirumalai Nayakkar, among others.
In the 1980s, he briefly worked for a distribution firm and later also took distributorship of Rasna. But he was destined for more selfless things in life.
Into his 20s, one evening, he carried along with him that prize winning book to the Kapaleeswarar temple. One read of that inside the temple and he was a changed man. It became a daily process. He started reading each of the 656 songs of Thiruvasagam every day for the next 10 years.
In 1996, he started the recital of ‘Ramana Maharishi’s Akshara Manamalai inside the Kapaleeswarar temple. He calls it all pre-destined for only a few years ago, he had mocked at the elderly doctor (he used to perform pooja for a Shiva Lingam at a Doctor friend’s house in Abraham street) for discussing Ramana Maharishi all the time, what Srikanth at that time referred to as ‘Doctor’s Morning Mokkai’. And here he is today having presented a parayanam of Ramana Maharishi’s Akshara Manamalai non-stop every evening 345 days a year for the last 24 years. He says ‘Just believe in the Lord and follow his directions.’
A evening routine for over 20 years
At 8 pm, every evening, he starts with Mattitac Punnayam, Gnana Sambanthar’s 10 songs, followed by Manicka Vaachakar’s Shiva Puranam and ends with Ramana Maharishi’s Akshara Manamalai - 30 minutes every evening (On Monday, this goes on for 45 minutes. On Full Moon day, he starts at 7.30 pm). The devotee crowd has gathered in terms of numbers over the years. Several devotees sit in different corners of the temple quietly listening to the parayanam.
In the early 1990s, he had performed pooja for three years at Virupateeswarar koil including organising the Kumbabhisekam. He also started distributing 10000 ice creams to devotees during the Panguni Brahmotsavam and presenting something to 500 Sumangalis during Navarathri.
Renovating the temple tank Garden
Over the last decade, Srikanth also initiated renovation of the Garden around the Kapaleeswarar temple tank. In the late 1990s, this used to be a discarded stretch of land with glass pieces strewn all over.
In 2002, he dug up the place, filled it with new soil and planted trees. Now one finds Nandyavattai, Thanga Arali, Vrikshi and Maha Vilvam.
He says that protecting the garden has been a big challenge. He has to encounter public nuisance for a lot of them throw bottles and plastics cups/packets inside. Rat is another menace. He is mindless of these obstacles and carries on with his service. He cleans the huge garden and waters the plants every day, one that takes a great deal of effort and time.
He collects the flowers from the gardens and presents it at the Sannidhi.
Lighting the Temple Tank - 1500 Lamps
Also over the last decade, he has initiated the process of lighting 1500 lamps inside the temple tank during 3evenings in Karthigai (and one evening in Vaikasi). He says with modesty that even this was not planned. ‘It is also God’s will. Nothing is in our hands. One cannot be arrogant to think that it is he who has achieved everything. ‘I’ is our biggest enemy in life.’
He gives an anecdotal example “Getting a good night’s sleep is peace for each one of us. During that phase of sleep, we don’t carry anything and we are empty but that is the time we are at the most peaceful. Imagine how happy we will all be if we don’t hold on to things during the day as well. Contentment is the ultimate route to happiness but many of us are always seeking for more of everything.”