One must know the Kula deivam as one that has been worshipped for generations or at least in the last 3 generations. Apart from the Kula deivam, one will be guided by a Phalana deivam. Some people are fortunate to have both kula deivam and Phalana deivam as the same. It happens to them like this without any conscious thinking or efforts, due to their past good karma. In that case there is no confusion and the spiritual journey goes on smoothly.
But there are many who run into confusions at times. And there have been instances where we see that the deity worshipped in the last 3 generations was not the Kula deivam. That will be reflected in the horoscopes of subsequent generations.
In the case of Srivaishnavites, such a deviation is least likely to happen as they must have been praying some from of Vishnu –group deities only. The confusion comes when deities other than Vishnu's forms are worshiped in the family. A person grasping this deviation will anyway look for who his kula deivam is. In such cases, we ask them to worship Venkatavan as Kula deivam, as He is the Universal Kula deivam.
It is also possible to know one's phalana deivam, from the horoscope. For this, one must identify the Athma karaka in the natal horoscope.
The planet that has traveled long degrees in a rasi is the Athma karaka. The 12th house from that planet in the Navamsa is the Jeevan mukthamsa – that shows the Lord that is guiding one towards Mukthi.
The lord of this house, or the occupant of this house of the planet aspecting this house must be studied in that order for their strength. The stronger of them will indicate the Guardian God in one's life.
According to Parashara,
If the planet is Sun, the Phalana deivam is Rama. For moon, it is Krishna, For Mars, it is Narasimha, For Mercury, it is Vishnu, For Jupiter, it is Vamana, For Venus, it is Parashurama, For Saturn, it is Kurma, For Rahu, it is Vraha and for Ketu it is meena
When we come across person of faith in Gods other than Vishnu, we follow the Jaimini recommendation. According to Jaimini,
If the planet is Sun, the Phalana deivam is Shiva. For moon, it is Gowri, For Mars, it is Skanda, For Mercury, it is Vishnu, For Jupiter, it is Shambashiva, For Venus, it is Lakshmi, For Saturn, it is Vishnu, For Rahu, it is Durga and for Ketu it is Ganesha.
Another school of Thought identifies Hanuman for Saturn.
A person may be following a God as told in Jaimini system. But he will gradually move over to the Vishnu group of deities as told by Parashara because Narayana is the Moksha saadhanam. This shift may happen in one generation , may happen with a conscious effort or by experiences or may happen over a series of generations. But this knowledge does give an awareness of mukthamsa.
For a Srivasihnavite, already fortunate to be born in a family of Narayana –worshipers, the 'SennoyOngu' pasurams of Periaazhwar give an interesting food for thought.
These are about the 3 Gods besides 'kula deivam', spoken by the Periaazhwar in 'SenniyOngu' 10, - the bhava of which is a 'moksha-saadhanam' according to Mumukshuppadi. Though the aazhwar makes references to other names of Sriman Narayana, he has specifically mentioned about Thiru Venkatavan (Srinivasa of Thirumalai) Kula deivam, Rama and Krishna.
The 1 st verse starts with a reference to Thiruvenkatavan. The azhwar then proceeds to glorify Sri Rama in the 6th verse and completes with worshiping Sri Krishna in the phala-pasuram in the 11th. In between, he calls up 'Kula daivam' in the 3 rd verse.
"emmanai, en kula deivamE, ennudai nayaganE".
Who is this kula deivam that periyaazhwar is referring to? It is obvious that it is some Vishnu- deity as he was born in a family of Vishnu-worshippers.
From 'Pallandu' pasuram (6th verse) we understand that it must be that deity worshiped by his parents, grand parents and all those in his previous generations. (endai, thanthai, thantahi tham mootthappan..Thirupplaandu -6)
Then who is this specific deity? The clue to this question lies in the first verse. Any act or worship must begin with the worship of kula deivam. In the first verse, Azhwar begins with a salutation to Thiruvenkatavan (Srinivasa of Thirumalai). So the kula deivam he mentions must be Thiruvenkatavan only.
One information of importance is that Srinivasa of Thirumlai is the kula deivam for many people or for all people. This is known from Naanmugan Thiruvandhathi and the vyakhyaanam (commentary) by Periyavaachaan pillai.
The 48 th pasuram 'venkatame vinnor' tells how Thirumalai is the abode for everyone including nithya suris and ordinary persons. The Lord of this abode protects them all, removes the physical ailments and karma afflictions as well and enables them to live happily by suppressing the asura vargas. (Periya vachaan pillai). He protects all for generations and is therefore the Kula daivam for all.
('sarvarkum Thirumalaiye praabhyam' - Appillai urai)
Periyazhwar recognises Thiruvenkatavan as Kula daivam in the 3rd pasuram after concurring with the above notion (that He removes all Vinai) in the 2nd pasuram. Kula daivam is the Lord who protects one for many births or protects the kulam for many generations from afflictions of the body and of karma-vinai
('vemkatangal mei mel vinai muttravum' - Nammazhwar).
Even the name "Venkadam" means churning out the heat (vemmaiyai –k- kadaithal) The Lord in this abode churns out the heat of bad karma from us and frees us off them.
After praying to Kula deivam, Periyaazhwar prays to Rama in the 6 th verse. On reading this verse, I used to wonder whether Rama was the phalana deivam (Guardian God) of periyaazhwar.
It is because the description found in the 6th pasuram (Unnudaiya vikramam..) wherein the azhwar prays to Lord Rama, is more to do with how Rama giving rakshakam (protection) to the devotee. The mention about valor and victory over Lanka (victory over evil), if read with Periya vaachaan pillai urai (commentary) for the 47 th pasuram of Nanmugan Thiruvandhathi gives the lead about how one has to fashion one's life while living.
According to his urai (commentary), Thirumalai is the place that protects one. But it is Rama who protects one wherever one is. Wherever one lives, that place must be considered as Ayodhya ('ayodhya matavim viddhi'). (Interepreted as – if you worship Rama in your pooja room, that place is the Ayodhya)
Raman must be considered as one's father who leads, guides and protects. ('Ramam dhasaratham viddhi').
Sita must be considered as the mother, so tells Sumithra to Lakshmana. (Maam viddhi janakaathmajaam')
Periyavaachaan pilaai says that all these apply to the nithya suris who live in Thirumalai. The inference is that Rama is in the image of Srinivasa at Thirumalai, protecting everyone.
To explain this in today's parlance, worship at Thirumala comes like a package. Srinivasa ensures that your 'vinai' (karma) of body and mind of previous birth and present birth are burnt off and in addition, Rama's protection also is assured! Rama is the 'kaakkum deivam'. In other words, the 'Guardian God' for everyone!
The jiva thus protected has to aim for the final fruit. Who else, but 'Ayar yeru' (11th pasuram) leads us all to make us 'anukkargal'. This is corroborated in the 50th pasuram of Nanmugan Thiruvandhathi, "kootramum saara.." that speaks about 'kannan kadal kidakkum maayan urai kidakkum'.
The Mayan urai is nothing but the Charama slokam of Mayan, the Gitacharyan. (sarva dharmaan …. The sloka asking us to renounce even the fruits of our action and surrender unto His feet) When the jivas realize that it is only by taking refuge in His feet by giving up all dharmas, they can be said to be moving in the right direction.
Thus in my opinion, though Sriman Narayana had been the object of worship for Periyazhwar in his pasuramas, he has also indicated Srinivasa as his Kula deivam (rather the kula deivam for all) and the glory of the two forms of Narayana, namely, Rama as Protector (phalana deivam for all) and Krishna as Liberator (Moksha sadhanam for all)
There is no mincing of words as to who his or everyone's Kula daivam is. It is Thiruvenkatavan for all, to protect one, for all generations to come and in all births to come. His chief concern is protection of one in body (mei) and in karma (vinai)
There is no mincing of words as to who his or everyone's phalana deivam is It is Rama who is to be worshipped as the protector in life.
Krishna is the upaya (means) for moksha. In worship, Periyaazhwar sees Him as Jyothi in his heart ('sudaroliyai nenjinulle thondrumen Jyothi nambhi' -10th pasuram).
But if we attempt to find out who his 'Ishta devatha' (God he desired) could have been, we may think that it was Vatapatra saayi to whom he did daily kainkaryam! The Lord whom he and his daughter Andal saw every day and paid personal adorations and worship was Vatapatra saayi of Srivilliputtur.
I may perhaps be right in referring this Lord as his Ishta devatha.
In this was I am led to think that that Lord at Oppiliappan Koil is our moderator Swami's Kula deivam (worshiped for more than 3 generations), Phalan deivam as he had grown under Him and Ishta deivam as he had delighted in nithya kainkaryam to Him.
However, I may be permitted to say, that Thiruvenkatamudaiyaan is Kula Deivam for all of us 'sarvarkum Thirumalaiye praabhyam' as told by Sri Appillai and indicated by Aazhwars.
Our bhagawan has numerous roopams, He has numerous names. No one roopam or no one name is inferior or superior to another. Each one of us connect with some roopams or some names due to various reasons - known and unknown. But beyond all this, there is something as tradition which we follow. In that way, kula deivam comes as a tradition - as a protector of a kulam.
Kulam is defined as something different from Kudi. Kudi is the root word for Kutumbham (we can quote texts in Tamil). A kudi vazhi is something that comes in a family for generations. There is 'kudi vazhakkam' coming down in the family. But Kula vazhakkam is different from Kudi vazhakkam
A kulam is defined as "koottam" that is not homogenous in all aspects but is united on some specific trait.In this way, there is manushya kulam, deva kulam, asura kulam etc. As swamin has said we are a vaishnava kulam as Vishnu worship is the unifying thread. It is with reference to this unifying factor, we have been given a single form as the form common to all. That form is Venkatavan's.
Specific forms of God are worshipped as kudi vazhakkam. The shalagrama worship is transferred from generation to generation as Kudi vazhakkam. The veettu vazhipaadu is kudi vazhakkam. However the root of Kudi vazhakkam is always the root of Kula vazhakkam.
As a kulam, all people of a kulam worship one form as the foremost. If we say Koil, it denotes Srirangam. If we say PerumaL, He is always the one associated with the chanting of "Govinda Govinda" –He is the Malaiappan.
Seeing the 'para- vasthu' on Garudan, Periaazhwar, remembered Venkatavan, his Kuala deivam, the one worshiped by "enthai, thanthai.." and who enjoys "ThiruvOna –th- thiru vizhavu". Aazhwar has thus indicated the Kula deivam for all!
The Kula dhanam
Dhanam has been identified as four in number. They are Sriranga mangala nidhi, the nidhi at Venkatam, at Hasthigiri and at Yadugiri. The common thread in these four is veLLam (flood waters) and verpu (hill or mountain) This is further fine-tuned by aazhwars who have seen 3 forms in their vuLLam (vuALn kandai pasurams) One is at veLLam, one is at verpu and the other is 'maN aLAndhaan' These three are glorified, as they remind one of the cosmic forms of Lord!
The first is about his sthithi in milky ocean (veLlAm / Srirangam) The second is about Koorma avatara (venkatam) And the third is about Vamana avatara. (maN aLandhaan)
Elaborating this, if we look at a river, or waters or floods, we are reminded of milky ocean and the worlds that are yet to be born If we look at a hill or mountain, we are reminded of Thirmaal in His original ThirumEni. The tall mountain reminds us of His tall figure. The sun and the moon are His charka and shanku. The blue sky and the dark clouds are Him only. His dress is bright, made so by the lightening in the hill tops. We can be near Him only when we reach the clouds and sky in the hill tops. This is a cosmic form of lord which can be experienced only on the hill top.
The mountain resembles the Manthara parvada with the serpent around it as was in Koorma avatara. (Nanmugan Thiruvandhathi 49) The lord at Venkatam with His 'Thiru mangai" and the Parivar (and nithya sooris) is in the Ultimate form – reminiscending the world that has just been formed after the churning.
In the avatars after these two only, Bhoodevi is taken out and specific acts of protection are carried out. In all these avatars, Bhagawan's imprint is on the world we live. But the first two as personified at Vellam and Venkatam are the result of Lord's mercy on us to make Himself accessible to us in His traits as not felt by the inhabitants of this world!
The four forms of dhanam (nidhi) are worshipped everyday. But no one knows the origins of two of them. The one at Srirangam is the kula dhanam of Sri Raman himself. No one knows its origins. The one at Venkatam also has no beginnings. His is the eternal swaroopa of the Nedu-maal.
It is He who comes as Jyeshtan. It is He who is Kanishta too. Baladeva is Jyeshtan. But Krishnan as Kanishtan is special.
Specialty of Venkatam as Verpu.
'Verpu' -the mountains - are lofty, can be seen from anywhere. Such lofty abodes are 3 in number. Venkatam, Vaikuntham and Maal Irum cholai are His iruppidam In addition we have Emperumaanaar's manas. Since they are lofty abodes, we don't have to go to them.
( Appillai urai for "sendru vaNAnguminO SeNuyar Venkatatthai" – Nanmugan T– 42)
From wherever we are, we can see them and worship. Just look at the direction of verpu. Look at the sky and clouds and the sun and the moon. You have had the dharshan of Him. That is why that 'verpu' of Venkatavan is characterized as 'senni vOngu' – high in the world by Aazhwar.
In previous births as "pazhavadiyen", aazhwar would have served the Lord in different divya desas. But at all those times, Venkatam and Thiruvarangam must have been at the top of his list. Thiruvarangam is final destination. Once one has gone there, it is all over. It happened with Andal, Azhwars and Emperummanaar!
Raman as Venkatavan.
Raman is another form of Venkatavan (Naan .Thiru 47) (Peria vaacchaan and Appillai urai) due to the kind of protection He does. Venkatavan does rakshanam in the forests of Venkatam where elephants and lions co-exist. Similarly Raman carried out his rakshanam not in Ayodhya but in the forests where he protected the rishis.
Thirumagai aazhwar who vows not to see any other God than ThirviNNagaraan, remembers Raman in Him (mattrOr deivam…Peria Thirumzhi -6-3-5) Periaazhwaar also sees Raman at first in the 'para-vasthu' and then remembers the ThiruvOnatthaan. As "Kaakkum deivam" Raman and Venkatavan have been identified as one and the same.
Venkatavan established this to Saint Thyagaraja too. When Sri Thyagaraja went to Thirumalai, he could not see the Lord as the 'thirai' was down. It fell when Thyagaraja sang, 'Thera theeyagadhaa Rama.." (thirai vilagaadha Rama) He saw Raman in Thiruvenkatavan, not vice cersa! One can see Venkatavan in Venkatam only!!
Please forgive me for the mistakes if any, in this mail.