Beginner’s guide – piLLai lOkAchAryar and nAyanAr

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parAsara, vyAsa enter ANdAL pAtti’s house with vEdhavalli and aththuzhAy. The children see pAtti reciting thiruppAvai and wait till she finishes. pAtti finishes her recital and welcomes the children.

pAtti: Come in children!

vyAsa: pAtti, last time you said you will tell about vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai’s sons. Please tell us about them.

pAtti. Yes vyAsa. Today we will talk about the two illustrious sons of vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai. As I said the last time, with the grace of his AchAryan nampiLLai and namperumAL, vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai was blessed with two sons namely piLLai lOkAchAryar and azhagiya maNavALa perumAL nAyanAr. The two boys grow up together like rAma and lakshmaNa to become great stalwarts and proceed to do great kainkaryams for our sampradhAyam.

After nampiLLai reaches paramapadham, vadakkuth thiruvIdhi piLLai becomes the next AchAryan of our sampradhAyam and proceeds to teach his sons all the meanings that he had learned from his AchAryan nampiLLai. After some time vadakkuth thiruvIdhi piLLai gives up his charama thirumEni thinking about his Acharyan nampiLLai and attains paramapadham, following which his son piLLai lOkAchAryar becomes the next AchAryan of our sampradhAyam.

aththuzhAy : pAtti, I heard that piLLai lOkAcharyan was none other than dhEvap perumAL Himself.

piLLai lOkAchAryar doing kAlakshEpam in kAttazhagiya singar kOyil – SrIrangam

pAtti: You heard it right aththuzhAy. piLLai lOkAcharyar was none other than dhEvap perumAL Himself. piLLai lOkAcharyar during his final days at jyOthishkudi, instructs nAlUr piLLai to teach vyAkyAnams to thirumalai AzhwAr (thiruvAimozhi piLLai), the next AchAryan of our sampradhAyam. When thirumalai AzhwAr visits dhEva perumAL for mangaLAsAsanam in kAnchipuram, dhEva perumAL speaks directly to nAlUr piLLai who was standing nearby and says “as I mentioned in jyOthishkudi you should teach thirumalai AzhwAr all the meanings of aruLichcheyal”.

vEdhavalli: pAtti, why did piLLai lOkAcharyar spend his final days in a place called jyOthishkudi? Wasn’t he born in SrIrangam?

pAtti: piLLai lOkAcharyar was a great AchAryan who wrote beautiful granthams on AzhwArs’ pAsurams in easy thamizh language for the benefit of one and all. Not all are well versed in Samskritham or thamizh. For those who are not too well versed with the languages but still have the desire to learn and benefit from our pUrvAchAryas’ works, piLLai lOkAchAryar , with great mercy, documented what he heard from his AchAryas in simple/crisp language. The magnum opus was SrIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya SAsthram which details our sampradhAya meanings. Thus he was the main AchAryan who did pramANa rakshaNam (protecting/nourishing the knowledge base of our sampradhAyam).

piLLai lOkAchAryar – SrIrangam

piLLai lOkAchAryar not only protected the knowledge base of our sampradhAyam but also the root of our sampradhAyam – namperumAL of SrIrangam. When everything was going good in SrIrangam, suddenly the news of muslim invasion spread like wild fire. Everyone got very worried since these muslim kings are well known to target temples for the abundant wealth of the temples. Immediately piLLai lOkAchAryar (being the senior most SrIvaishNava AchArya) took control of the situation. He instructed the SrIvaishNavas to raise a wall in front of periya perumAL and left with namperumAL and ubhaya nAchchiyArs towards south of India. He was much older at that time but did not care about his own health and traveled along with namperumAL in the journey. When they were going through the forests, some thieves came and robbed all the jewels of namperumAL. piLLai lOkAchAryar changes the mind of the thieves who later surrender to him and return the jewels back.

After this, they reach a spot named jyOthishkudi (near madhurai). piLLai lOkAchAryar due to his old age becomes ill and decides to leave to paramapadham. He thinks about thirumalai AzhwAr (thiruvAimozhip piLLai) , who is one of his Sishyas, to be groomed to be the next leader of the sampradhAyam. This is when he instructs nAlUr piLLai to teach vyAkyAnams to thirumalai AzhwAr. He instructs kUra kulOththama dhAsar and VilanchOlaip piLLai that SrISaileSa (thiruvAimozhip piLLai) was working for the king at madhurai and that they should bring him back into the SrIvaishNava fold so that he could become the next AchArya and lead the dharSanam. Finally he gives up his charama thirumEni and reaches paramapadham in jyOthishkudi. Thus piLLai lOkAchAryar sacrificed his life for the safety of namperumAL. If it hadn’t been for him and thousands of other SrIvaishnavas who sacrificed their lives for namperumAL, we wouldn’t be seeing and worshipping namperumAL today in SrIrangam.

jyOthishkudi – place where piLLai lOkAchAryar attained paramapadham

parAsara : No wonder he was the incarnation of dhEvap perumAL Himself, epitome of utmost sacrifice!

pAtti: yes parAsara, that is why dhEvap perumAL is called our sampradhAyap perumAL. piLLai lOkAchAryar not only did pramANa rakshaNam (protection of the knowledge base of our sampradhAyam in the form of granthams), he was also instrumental in pramEya rakshaNam (protection of namperumAL). He showed us the true quality of a SrIvaishNava by thinking about the safety of namperumAL. Just like periyAzhwAr, who was worried about the thirumEni of emperumAn and sung pallAndu to him, piLLai lOkAchAryar saw the archA mUrthi of namperumAL as a child and overcome by paternal love and care, safeguarded namperumAL and went to the extent of sacrificing his life but never let the muslim invaders take namperumAL. Hence, the next time you go to perumAL temple, remember that the sampradhAyam that we have today is built by the selfless sacrifices done by thousands of SrIvaishNavas before us. They protected the sampradhAyam and namperumAL so that we, the future generation, can enjoy the fruits of their labour. There is nothing that we can do to repay them except for being thankful to such SrIvaishnavas by remembering their sacrifices, respect our sampradhAyam and not take it for granted and carry forward the values and knowledge, given to us by them, to our next generation.

aththuzhAy : pAtti, tell us more about piLLai lOkAcharyar’s younger brother, azhagiya maNavALap perumAL nAyanAr.


azhagiya maNavALap perumAL nAyanAr

pAtti: nAyanAr wrote wonderful granthams on the essential principles of our sampradhAyam, the master piece being AchArya hrudhayam. He was considered equal to great AchAryas like periyavAchchAn piLLai, in knowledge on our sampradhAyam and dhivya prabhandhams. nAyanAr was extolled as a great AchArya. He is popularly glorified as “jagath guruvarAnuja – the younger brother of lOkAchAryar”. nAyanAr decided to leave his thirumEni at an early age and ascended to paramapadham leaving behind piLLai lOkAcharyar. His works are nothing but gems of wisdom without which the intricate meanings and details of our sampradhAyam would have been out of reach for common people. mAmunigaL glorifies nAyanAr and his contributions and says that after periyavAchchAn piLLai, its nAyanAr who has contributed immensely with his works. When nAyanAr reaches paramapadham, piLLai lOkAcharyar falls in an ocean of sorrow and cries out keeping nAyanAr’s thirumudi (head) on his lap. He looks at nAyanAr more as an extraordinary SrIvaishNava whom the world has lost in a short period of time.

vyAsa : pAtti, piLLai lOkAcharyar and nAyanAr’s lives are very interesting and emotional to listen to.

pAtti : Yes vyAsa. When we start talking about our AchAryas and their lives, we never know the time passing. It’s getting dark outside. You children must leave to your homes now. The next time we meet, I will tell you about the Sishyas of piLLai lOkAcharyar.

The children leave to their respective homes thinking about vadakkuth thiruvIdhi piLLai, piLLai lOkAchAryan, azhagiya maNavALap perumAL nAyanAr and their glorious lives.

adiyEn jAnaki rAmAnuja dAsi

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