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

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