Beginner’s guide – ALavandhAr’s Sishyas – 1

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

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thiruvarangapperumAL araiyar, periya thirumalai nambi and thirumAlai AndAn

pancha-acharyasALavandhAr’s Sishyas

parAsara and vyAsa enter ANdAL pAtti’s house with their friend vEdhavalli.

pAtti : Welcome vEdhavalli. Come in children.

vyAsa : pAtti, last time you said you will tell us more about rAmAnujar and his AchAryas.

parAsara : pAtti, didn’t you say that rAmAnujar had many Acharyas and not just periya nambi? Who were the others pAtti?

pAtti : As I told you children last time, ALavandhAr had many Sishyas who worked towards nurturing iLaiyAzhwAr in to the sampradhAyam. The prominent ones are :- 1) thiruvarangapperumAL araiyar 2) thirukkOshtiyUr nambi 3) periya thirumalai nambi 4) thirumAlai AndAn 5) thirukkachchi nambi along with periya nambi. Do you remember that we talked about periya nambi last time when we met? Now, let me tell you about the other AchAryas and their valuable contribution to our sampradhAyam.

parAsara : pAtti, why did rAmAnuja have so many AchAryas?

pAtti : Each of them in their own way moulded SrI rAmanuja into a great AchArya that he turned out to be. thiruvarangapperumAL arayar did the great kainkaryam of bringing rAmAnujar from kAnchipuram to SrIrangam.

vyAsa : How did that happen? Tell us the story pAtti.

pAtti : rAmAnujar was living in kAnchipuram then and had also accepted sanyAsASramam. araiyar goes to kAnchipuram at that time and requests thirukkachi nambi to allow him to perform the araiyar sEvai before dhEvap perumAL . dhEvap perumAL through his archakars asks araiyar to render araiyar sEvai in front of him. araiyar with great love and devotion sings pAsurams with dance and action. emperumAn becomes extremely pleased and offers him many gifts. araiyar says that he does not need those gifts and tells him that he needs something else. emperumAn agrees and says “I will give anything; go ahead and ask”. araiyar then points at rAmAnujar and says that he wants him to be brought along to SrIrangam. dhEvap perumAL says “I did not think you were going to ask for him; ask for something else”. araiyar replies “you are none other than SrI rAman who does not have two words – you cannot refuse any more”. dhEvap perumAL then finally agrees and gives farewell to rAmAnujar.

vyAsa: What a great trick pAtti? That was very intelligent of araiyar to some how convince perumAL.

pAtti: Yes vyAsa. Immediately, araiyar holding rAmAnujar’s hands, starts his journey towards SrIrangam. Thus, araiyar did the most important favour for SrIvaishnavam by bringing rAmAnujar over to SrIrangam to establish our sampradhAyam firmly and take it to great heights.

vEdhavalli : pAtti, you said each AchArya moulded rAmAnujar in some way. What did araiyar teach rAmAnujar?

pAtti : ALavandhAr instructed each of his prominent Sishyas to teach different aspects of our sampradAyam to rAmAnujar. araiyar was asked to teach the true essence of our sampradhAyam to rAmAnujar. Now , rAmAnujar performs a beautiful thing before he went to araiyar to learn. He performs kainkaryam to his AchArya (araiyar) for 6 months before he sets forth to learn anything. This is a very important aspect that rAmAnujar, kUraththAzhwAn, mudhaliyANdAn and many other AchAryas did in their lives – kainkaryam to their respective AchAryas before learning anything from them. This shows the devotion they have towards what they are intending to learn and also on the one who will be teaching them. rAmAnujar used to prepare milk in proper warmth every day and also prepared turmeric paste for araiyar to be applied when necessary.

vyAsa: pAtti, what did the other AchAryas teach rAmAnujar?

pAtti : Yes, I’m coming to them one by one. thirumalai nambi was rAmAnujar’s maternal uncle. He is the foremost of SrIvaishNavas hailing from thiruvEnkatam. He did kainkaryam to lord SrInivAsa and was engaged in bringing thIrtham (holy water) from AkASa gangA (a water source on thirumalai) everyday. He served lord SrInivAsa with great care and dedication. He was instructed by his AchArya ALavandhAr to teach the essence and beautiful meanings of SrI rAmAyaNam to rAmAnujar. SrI rAmAyaNam is famously called as SaraNAgathi SAsthram in our sampradhAyam. It was thirumalai nambi who, being the maternal uncle of rAmAnujar, named him as iLaiyazhwAr when he was born. Not only this, thirumalai nambi also brought gOvindhap perumAL , the maternal cousin of rAmAnujar back to our sampradAyam. His knowledge in our sampradAyam and his love for AzhwAr’s pAsurams are unparalleled.

parASara : pAtti, can you tell us more about thirumAlai ANdAn? How did he help rAmAnujar?

pAtti : thirumAlai ANdAn was given the responsibility of teaching the meanings of thiruvAimozhi. After rAmAnujar arrives at SrIrangam, thirukkOshtiyUr nambi guides him to thirumAlai ANdAn to listen and learn the great meanings of nammAzhwAr‘s thiruvAimozhi. Although, initially the two had few differences of opinions as it happens between any great scholars, it was resolved amicably and rAmAnujar learnt the intricate meanings hidden in the pasurams of AzhwArs with the blessing of his AchArya thirumAlai AndAn. thirumAlai AndAn had such great respect and devotion for his AchArya ALavandhAr. He never swayed away from the path and the teachings of his AchArya and taught them to rAmAnujar so that he can carry forward the kainkaryam to our sampradAyam.

vEdhavalli : and what about thirukkOshtiyUr nambi and thirukkachchi nambi?

pAtti : I will tell about them the next time we meet. There are many interesting stories about them.

vyAsa, parAsara and vEdavalli ( in chorus) : Tell us the stories now pAtti.

pAtti : It’s getting late. This is enough for today. Go home now and come back tomorrow and don’t forget to bring your friends along with you.

The children leave to their homes thinking about the AchAryas and eagerly waiting for the stories that pAtti will tell them the next day.

adiyEn jAnaki rAmAnuja dAsi

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