Among the various vahanams of Namperumal, the Yaanai (Elephant) vaahanam holds great significance. In Srirangam, as per custom, the Srivaishnavas with Yagnyopaveetham carry the palanquin or vahanams of Namperumal,Srirenganachiar, Azhwars and Acharyas. But the only exception to this usual practice is the Yaanai Vaahanam. People from all social backgrounds participate in the kainkaryam of carrying Namperumal in Yaanai vahanam around the Main streets of Srirangam.
The Yaanai is also the reflection of one of Namperumal’s qualities, the quality of ‘ Swatantryam’ i.e ‘ the virtue of unquestionable freedom to make decisions’. In olden days, when a king died without having a natural successor or electing a successor, the whole town would assemble at a huge ground. An elephant would be given a garland and the one on whose shoulders the elephant throws the garland would be elected the King. Many a times amidst great warriors, archers, wrestlers, men of great administrative capacity, men who hold senior positions in the Kingdom, men who possess riches, the elephant would choose a pauper, a meek man, a man who has never been in limelight. Can anyone question this decision of the Elephant? None. That is Swatantrym. Many a times we ask why did the Supreme Being do this to me. It should be remembered that He is a Swatantran. But the difference between Him and the elephant is that the act of the elephant is out of sheer ignorance but that of Namperumal is out of absolute cognizance of what He’s doing and in keeping our Hitham / well being in mind.
The Gurukulam students have once again exactly enacted the Yaanai vahanam with great fervor and joy. Do watch the videos and bless the children.