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Beginner’s guide – periya nambi

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

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parAsara and vyAsa enter ANdAL pAtti’s house. aththuzhAy enters with a prize in her hand.

pAtti : What did you win here dear?

vyAsa : pAtti, aththuzhAy enacted as ANdAL in our school’s fancy dress competition, sang few pAsurams from thiruppAvai and won the first prize.

pAtti : That’s wonderful aththuzhAy! I will hear the pAsurams from you after I tell you about periya nambi today.

vyAsa, parAsara and aththuzhAy ( in chorus) : And also about iLaiyAzhwAr, pAtti.

pAtti : yes, of course. As I said the last time, periya nambi was one of the prime Sishyas of ALavandhAr. He was born in SrIrangam in the month of mArgazhi, kEttai nakshatram. He was the one who brought iLaiyAzhwAr from kAnchipuram to SrIrangam. While periya nambi was on his way to meet iLaiyAzhwAr in kAnchi, iLaiyAzhwAr started on his journey to meet periya nambi in srIrangam.

parAsara : pAtti, why did iLaiyAzhwAr leave for SrIrangam when he was learning under yAdhava prakASa in kAnchipuram?

pAtti : Very good question! Remember last time I told you that AlavandhAr entrusted thirukkachchi nambi to guide iLaiyAzhwAr as needed? When iLaiyAzhwAr started having difference of opinions with his guru yAdhava prakASa and was confused, with many doubts and questions lingering like dark clouds in his mind, he approached thirukkachchi nambi for solution. And who did thirukkachchi nambi talk to for guidance?

aththuzhAy : dhEvap perumAL!

pAtti : Excellent! It was dhEvap perumAL who always came to iLaiyAzhwAr’s rescue and told him to go to periya nambi, get pancha samskAram from periya nambi and become his Sishya. He clarified all the doubts lingering in iLaiyAzhwAr’s mind just like how a bright, rising sun would remove the darkness of the night and bring the dawn. So as iLaiyAzhwAr was leaving from kAnchi, periya nambi was on his way to kAnchi to meet iLaiyAzhwAr. They both met at a place called madhurAnthagam and periya nambi initiates ilaiyAzhwAr into our sampradAyam by doing pancha samskAram to him right there.

vyAsa : Oh yes, we have the yEri kAththa rAmar temple in madhurAnthagam. We went to that temple during my holidays last time. But, why did he not go to kAnchi or srIrangam to get iLaiyAzhwAr initiated? Why did he do it right there in madhurAnthagam itself?

periya nambi – SrIrangam

pAtti: periya nambi was a great AchAryan who had immense attachment and respect towards iLaiyAzhwAr. He knew that such good deeds must never be postponed and iLaiyAzhwAr also felt the same. Children, from this we learn never to delay or postpone good things or kainkaryams related to our sampradAyam. The sooner, the better! periya nambi knew the true principles of our sampradhAyam which is to never differentiate a devotee of Lord and treat everyone equally with love and respect. He loved his disciple rAmAnuja so much that he sacrificed his life for the future of our sampradhAyam – rAmAnuja!

vyAsa : He sacrificed his life! Why did he have to do that pAtti?

pAtti : At that time, the Saiva king ordered rAmAnuja to come to his court to accept his demands. Instead of rAmAnuja, kUraththAzhwAn, one of the great disciples of rAmAnuja, disguised as his AchAryan, went to the court room with periya nambi, who was very old then. periya nambi was also accompanied by his daughter whose name is aththuzhAy!

aththuzhAy : That’s my name too!

pAtti : Yes it is! When the king orders them to accept his demands, both kUraththAzhwAn and periya nambi refuse to relent to the king’s demands. The king got very angry and ordered his soldiers to pluck their eyes off. Unable to tolerate the pain due to old age, periya nambi gives up his life and reaches paramapadham on his way back to SrIrangam, resting on the lap of kUraththAzhwAn. These great souls sacrificed everything without any worry just to safeguard rAmAnuja, who is like the central gem in a pearl necklace. What would happen if we break the pearls in a necklace?

parAsara and vyAsa ( Together in chorus) : The necklace would break too!

pAtti : Exactly! Similarly, although rAmAnuja was the central gem in the pearl necklace called our sampradhAyam, all the AchAryas as the pearls, held together the necklace and saw to it that the central gem was safe. So we must all be ever-grateful to our AchAryas and always feel humbled by their lives.

parAsara : pAtti, What happened to kUraththAzhwAn ?

pAtti : kUraththAzhwAn, his eyes blinded, returned back to SrIrangam. He was one of the greatest disciples of rAmAnuja and accompanied rAmAnuja in all aspects of his life. I will tell you more about kUraththAzhwAn and rAmAnuja the next time we meet. Now, hurry up and go home. Your parents will be waiting for you. And, aththuzhAy, next time I will hear the thiruppAvai pasurams from you.

The children go back home thinking about periya nambi and kUraththAzhwAn.

adiyEn Janaki rAmAnuja dAsi

Beginner’s guide – ALavandhAr

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

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vyAsa and parAsara enter ANdAL pAtti’s home along with their friend aththuzhAy. ANdAL pAtti welcomes them with prasAdham in her hands.

pAtti : Welcome aththuzhAy! Here wash your hands and feet and take this prasadam. Today is uthrAdam, the thirunakshathram of  ALavandhAr.

parAsara : pAtti, last time you said you will tell us the about yamunaiththuRaivar, remember?

pAtti : Yes! I remember and I’m happy that you too remember and want to know about our great AchArya. It is his thirunakshathram today. Quite the right time to talk about his glories.

vyAsa : pAtti, but did you not say it was ALavandhAr’s thirunakshathram?

ALavandhAr – kAttu mannAr kOyil

pAtti : Yes. yamunaiththuRaivar who was born in kAttu mannAr kOyil later became popularly known as ALavandhAr. He was born as the son of ISvara muni and the grand son of  nAthamunigaL. He studied under mahAbhashya bhattar. There is a very interesting story about how he came to be hailed as ALavandhAr. Those days pandits had to pay taxes to the chief pandit. AkkiyAzhwAn, the rAja purOhithar sends his representatives to all pandits and asks them to pay taxes to him. mahAbhAshya bhattar becomes worried and  yamunaiththuRaivar says that he will take care. He sends a SlOkam which says “he will destroy the poets who look for cheap publicity”. Seeing this AkkiyAzhwAn gets angry and sends his soldiers to bring yamunaiththuRaivar to the king’s court. yamunaiththuRaivar tells them that he will come only if he was offered proper respects. So, king sends him a palanquin and yamunaiththuRaivar visits the court. While the debate is about to start, the queen tells the king that she is sure that yamunaiththuRaivar will win and if he loses, she will become a servant of the king. And the king was confident that AkkiyAzhwAn will win and he says if yamunaithuRairvar wins, he will give half the kingdom to him. Finally, with great valor and knowledge, yamunaiththuRaivar won the debate against AkkiyAzhwAn. AkkiyAzhwAn becomes so impressed that he too becomes a disciple of yamunaiththuRaivar. The queen gives him the name “ALavandhAr” – one who came to protect her – had he not won, she would have become a servant and so she too becomes his Sishyai. He also gets half the kingdom as promised by the king.

vyAsa : pAtti, if yamunaiththuRaivar got half the kingdom, he must have been ruling the kingdom. How did he get into our sampradAyam?

aththuzhAy : He was brought into our sampradAyam by  maNakkAl nambi who was the disciple of  uyyakkoNdAr. According to the instructions of  uyyakkoNdAr, maNakkAl nambi took the initiative to bring ALavandhAr to the sampradhAyam.

pAtti : That is exactly right and wonderful aththuzhAy! How did you know about this?

aththuzhAy: My mother also tells me stories about our AchAryas and perumAL.

pAtti : ALavandhAr is the great AchAryan who brought  SrI rAmAnuja to the sampradhAyam with lord dhEvap perumAL’s blessings.

parAsara : But pAtti, how did dhEvap perumAL help ALavandhAr?

pAtti : It was in kAnchipuram, that ALavandhAr saw iLaiyAzhwAr who was yet to become rAmAnuja, in varadharAjap perumAL temple. iLaiyAzhwAr was learning from his guru yAdhava prakASa. ALavandhAr prays to dhEvap perumAL to make iLaiyAzhwAr the next leader of the sampradhAyam. Thus it was dhEvap perumAL who nurtured and raised iLaiyAzhwAr like a mother would do to her child and it was this great  ALavandhAr who showered his blessings on iLaiyAzhwAr who later goes on to do greatest of great kainkaryams for the sampradhAyam. ALavandhAr also entrusts thirukkachchi nambi to guide iLaiyAzhwAr as needed. Remember thirukkachchi nambi?

vyAsa : Yes pAtti, he is the one who does thiruvAlavatta (fan) kainkaryam to dhEvap perumal and also talks with dhEvap perumAl and thAyAr. How nice it would be if we could also talk to perumAL like thirukkachchi nambi? So did ALavandhAr and iLaiyAzhwAr meet? Did ALavandhAr accept iLaiyAzhwAr as his Sishya?

pAtti : Unfortunately no! Before iLaiyAzhwAr could come to SrIrangam to become ALavandhAr’s disciple, ALavandhAr left this world reached paramapadham. They could not meet each other but iLaiyAzhwAr promises to fulfill ALavandhAr ‘s wishes. Next time, when I meet you kids, I will tell you all about how  periya nambi, one of the many disciples of  ALavandhAr became iLaiyAzhwAr’s achArya and guided him throughout. AlavndhAr had numerous disciples and all of them worked together to bring iLaiyAzhwAr to the sampradAyam. Apart from periya nambi, periya thirumalai nambi, thirukkOshtiyur nambi, thirumAlai AndAn, mARanEri nambi, thirukkachchi nambi, thiruvarangap perumAL araiyar and many others were  ALavandhAr’s shishyas.

vyAsa , parAsara and aththuzhAy : It was very interesting pAtti. Next time, please tell us about periya nambi and iLaiyAzhwAr.

pAtti : I will be very happy to tell it but now it’s getting very dark outside. Go to your home children.

The children leave happily to their homes thinking about ALavandhAr.

adiyEn Janaki rAmAnuja dAsi