Beginner’s guide – nanjIyar

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

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parAsara, vyAsa enter AndAL pAtti’s house with vEdhavalli and aththuzhAy.

pAtti : Welcome children. Today we will talk about the next AchAryan nanjIyar who was the Sishya of parAsara bhattar. As I told you the last time we met, nanjIyar who was born as SrI mAdhavar was brought into the sampradhAyam by parAsara bhattar under the divine instruction of rAmAnujar. We also saw how bhattar used thirunedunthANdakam and various other meanings from SAsthram to win over mAdhavAchAryar in a debate. mAdhavar was an adhvaitha scholar whom bhattar later named as nanjIyar. He was also known as nigamAntha yOgi and vEdhAnthi.

vyAsa : pAtti, if AchAryas like rAmAnujar and bhattar could reform followers of other philosophies like yAdhava prakASa (who became gOvindha jIyar), gOvindhap perumAL (who became embAr), yagya mUrthi (who became aruLALap perumAL emperumAnAr) and mAdhavar (who became nanjIyar), why did they not try to reform the Saiva kings because of whom they had troubles? Why did they move away from the Saiva kings?

pAtti : vyAsa, our pUrvAchAryas knew who could be reformed and who could not be. In the case of the aforementioned AchArya’s , once they knew that the opponent was right, they accepted defeat with dignity and not only did they accept defeat, they also surrendered to the lotus feet of periya thirumalai nambi , rAmAnujar and bhattar and were blessed to enter the SrI vaishnava sampradhAyam. However, the Saiva king was neither ready for a fair argument nor was he dignified enough to accept defeat and realise the eternal truth of SrImaN narAyaNan‘s supremacy. As the old saying goes, “It is only possible to wake someone who is asleep, it is impossible to wake someone who is pretending to be asleep”. Our pUrvAchAryas knew who was really asleep and who was just pretentious. Hence their decisions varied accordingly. Also, in spite of the defects of such persons, our pUrvAchAryas also tried genuinely to help them, but only gave up after too much resistance from the other side.

parAsara : pAtti, how did mAdhavar get the name nanjIyar?

pAtti : After bhattar wins over mAdhavar in the debate, he instructs him to learn aruLichcheyal, teaches him our sampradhAya principles and leaves for SrIrangam. After bhattar leaves, mAdhavar did not receive any support from his two wives for his decision of becoming bhattar’s Sishya. Frustrated with his wives, who were not supportive of his kainkaryams and unable to bear the separation from his AchAryan, mAdhavar decides to become a sanyAsi (mendicant) and travel to SrIrangam to be with his AchAryan. He divides his huge wealth into 3 parts, gives 2 parts to each of his 2 wives and accepts sanyAsASramam and begins his journey to SrIrangam. On seeing mAdhavar in SrIrangam, bhattar is moved by his dedication and AchArya abhimAnam and calls him “nam jIyar” ( Our beloved jIyar). Since then, he is called nanjIyar. nanjIyar was very devoted to his AchArya. His AchArya bhakthi was boundless. He says, “if a SrIvaishnava looks at another SrIvaishnava’s sufferings and if he feels sorry for that, then such person is a SrIvaishnava”. He had great respect for SrIvaishnavas and AchAryas of his time.

nanjIyar – thirunArAyaNapuram

aththuzhAy : pAtti, tell us some stories on nanjIyar’s AchArya bhakthi.

pAtti : Once, during a procession of bhattar on his palanquin, nanjIyar tries to carry him with his thridhaNdam on one shoulder and the palanquin on the other. bhattar said “jIyA! this does not fit your sanyAsASramam. you should not carry me”. For that nanjIyar says “if my thridhaNdam becomes a hurdle for my service to you, I will break it and give up the sanyAsASramam”.

Another time, some of nanjIyar’s disciples complained to him that the tranquillity of his garden is disturbed due to bhattar’s arrival, nanjIyar immediately clarifies to them that the purpose of the garden is to serve bhattar and his family and warns his disciples to remember that forever.

It is customary for AchAryas to keep their heads on their Sishyas’ laps while lying down. Once, when bhattar wanted to take rest, he lied down and kept his head on nanjIyar’s lap and rested for a long time. nanjIyar stayed put for the whole time without moving. Such was his devotion and affection for his AchArya. bhattar and nanjIyar always had very interesting conversations.

vEdhavalli : Like the conversations that we have ?

pAtti (Smiling) : yes, like our conversations but much more interesting!

Once, nanjIyar asked bhattar why all azhwArs seem to be attracted towards kaNNan than rAman. bhattar who is always supportive of rAman says, people always remember more recent activities. It is because krishNAvathAram is the most recent avathAram of emperumAn, AzhwArs are attached more towards Him.

Another time, nanjIyar asks bhattar why mahAbali goes to pAthALam and sukrAchAryar loses his eye? bhattar replies that since sukrAchAryar stopped mahAbali from performing his duty of keeping his promise to vAmanan, he lost his eye and since mahAbali did not listen to his AchArya’s words he was punished to be in pAthALam. Hence, here, bhattar stresses on how important it is to respect one’s own AchArya. There were many such interesting conversations between them. These conversations helped nanjIyar in his written works too.

One day nanjIyar wanted to make nice copies of his written works and enquires among his Sishyas for someone who is capable of doing this. nambUr varadharAjar’s name was proposed. nanjIyar first gives full kAlakshEpam of 9000 padi to varadharAjar and then gives the only original copy to him. varadharAjar decides to go across cauvery to his native place so that he can focus on the writing and finish it quickly. While crossing the river, suddenly floods appear and varadharAjar starts swimming across. While doing so, the original grantham slips away from his hands and he is devastated. After reaching his native place, he meditates on his AchAryan and the meanings given by him and starts re-writing 9000 padi vyAkyAnam. Since he was an expert in thamizh language and literature, he adds nice meanings wherever applicable and finally returns back to nanjIyar and submits the same to him. nanjIyar seeing the vyAkyAnam, understanding that there are some changes from the original, enquires what happened. varadharAjar explains the whole incident and nanjIyar gets very pleased hearing the same. Truly understanding varadharAjar’s glories and pleased by his work, nanjIyar affectionately calls him nampiLLai and makes him the next dharSana pravarthakar. nanjIyar also constantly glorifies nampiLLai when nampiLLai gives a better explanation than him. This shows nanjIyar’s magnanimity.

vyAsa : pAtti, tell us more about nampiLLai.

pAtti : I will tell you more about nampiLLai and his glories tomorrow. It is getting late. You all must go home now.

The children leave to their homes thinking about bhattar,  nanjIyar and nampiLLai.

adiyEn jAnaki rAmAnuja dAsi

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