srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:
avathAra sthalam: pUvirunthavalli
Sishyas: emperumAnAr (abhimAna sishya)
Place where he attained paramapadham: pUviruthavalli
Works: dhEvarAja ashtakam
thirukkachi nambi also known as kAnchi pUrNar and gajEndhra dhAsar is born in pUvirundhavalli. He was most popularly known for his thiruvAlavatta (fan) kainkaryam for dhEva perumAL and his regular conversations with dhEva perumAL and perundhEvi thAyAr.
When iLayAzhwAr (srI rAmAnujar) returns to kAnchipuram from vAraNAsi yAthrai (after escaping from the plan to kill him), his mother instructs him to take shelter of thirukkachi nambi who is a sishya of ALavandhAr and a close confidante of dhEva perumAL. iLayAzhwAr apporaches nambi and requests for his guidance. nambi instructs iLayAzhwAr to perform thirumanjana thIrtham bringing kainkaryam from sAlai kiNaru (a well which is situated few kilometers from the dhEva perumAL temple). iLayAzhwAr happily obliges and starts performing that kainkaryam every day.
periya nambi visits kAnchipuram to bring iLayAzhwAr to srIrangam to formally have him initiated in to the sampradhAyam by ALavandhAr and to establish him as the next AchArya of the sampradhAyam. He approaches thirukkachi nambi and asks for permission from him and thirukkachi nambi happily agrees. periya nambi then explains ALavandhAr’s glories to iLayAzhwAr and iLayAzhwAr leaves with periya nambi to surrender to ALavandhAr. But ALavandhAr ascends to paramapadham before meeting iLayAzhwAr. So, iLayAzhwAr returns to kAnchipuram and continues his kainkaryam there.
iLayAzhwAr develops great attachment towards thirukkachi nambi and surrenders to thirukkachi nambi and requests him to perform pancha samskAram to him to accept him as his sishya. But nambi citing pramANams says that, him being in an abhrAmaNa varNam makes him ineligible to become a formal AchArya (while he can continue to be regarded very high and can continue to instruct iLayAzhwAr). iLayAzhwAr becomes very dejected but accepts thirukkachi nambi’s stand due to unflinching faith in sAsthram.
iLayAzhwAr wanting to accept the uchchistam (sEsha prasAdham/food remnants) of thirukkachi nambi, once invites him to his thirumALigai (home) to accept his thadhIyArAdhanam. thirukkachi nambi obliges and iLayAzhwAr runs back to his thirumALigai (home), informs his wife about this with great joy and instructs her to prepare a great feast, performs his nithya karmAnushtAnam, completes his thirumanjana thIrtha kainkaryam for dhEva perumAL and returns home. He then goes to meet thirukkachi nambi through the south side of the temple, while nambi starts to iLayAzhwAr thirumALigai through the north side of the temple. nambi arrives at iLayAzhwAr’s home and informs iLayAzhwAr‘s wife that he needs to return for his kainkaryam quickly. So, he quickly accepts the prasAdham and leaves. thanjammAL (wife of iLayAzhwAr) without understanding iLayAzhwAr’s heart, considering nambi’s varNam, pushes out the banana leaf, fully cleans the place and take a bathe. iLayAzhwAr returns to see this and asks her why she took bath. She replies that “nambi came and had prasAdham, but because he had some kainkaryam he left early. Since he is not an upavIthar (one with yagyOpavItham), I threw away the plantain leaf on which he had prasAdham, cleaned the place using cow dung and took bath to purify myself”. iLayAzhwAr becomes very upset with the behaviour of his wife who disrespected nambi (since she did not understand his true greatness) and leaves the place.
nambi is well known to be conversing with dhEva perumAL. iLayAzhwAr had some lingering doubts in his mind and he goes to thirukkachi nambi and requests him to find the answers for his doubts from dhEva perumAL. (Note: srI rAmAnujar being Adhi sEsha avathAram and based on pUrvAchArya srIsUkthis, we should understand that he knows everything, but is enacting these events only to establish the pramANams through bhagavAn and his elders/AchAryas). On that night, after completing his kainkaryam, to dhEva perumAL, nambi was looking at emperumAn with great love as usual.
dhEva perumAL being sarvagya (omniscient), asks nambi if we wants to say something. nambi reveals iLayAzhwAr‘s heart (Note: iLayAzhwAr did not say what the doubts are) and asks emperumAn to clarify his doubts. dhEva perumAL at once says “Just like I went to sAndhipani to learn sAsthram, iLayAzhwAr (Adhi sEshan) who is a great expert in sAsthram is asking me to clarify his doubts”. He then gives out what is famously known as 6 vArthaigaL (6 commandments) through nambi to iLayAzhwAr. They are:
- ahamEva param thathvam – I am the supreme
- dharshanam bhEdham Eva – jIvAthmAs/achEthanam are different from me (my sarIram)
- upAyam prapathi – “accepting me as the only refuge” is the only means to attain me
- anthima smrthi varjanam – for prapannas, there is no need for thinking about me while leaving their body since bhagavAn declares in varAha charama slOkam that he will think about us during our last moments (interestingly, all our AchAryas reveal that they are thinking about their AchAryas instead of bhagavAn while leaving their body – this is the beautiful inner meaning of our sampradhAyam that one should always be thinking about his/her AchAryan)
- dhEhavasAnE mukthi – prapannas will be liberated at the end of this body and will ascend to paramapadham to eternally serve him there
- pUrNAchArya padhAsritha – Accept mAhA pUrNar (periya nambi) as AchAryan
thirukkachi nambi, goes to iLayAzhwAr and informs him about the 6 commandments. iLayAzhwAr thanks nambi for his favour and offers his respects to him. nambi asks if iLayAzhwAr was also thinking the same and iLayAzhwAr agrees – thus nambi becomes very pleased to emperumAn’s thiruvuLLam (heart) and iLayAzhwAr’s thiruvuLLam being the same.
Not much more is present about thirukkachi nambi in pUrvAchArya granthams. He is identified in a few places in vyAkyAnams. Let us see them now.
- periyAzhwAr thirumozhi – 3.7.8 – thiruvAimozhi piLLai‘s svApadhEsa vyAkyAnam – thirukkachi nambi asks dhEva perumAL to give him a name which is very dear to emperumAn. dhEva perumAL names him gajendhra dhAsar (since gajEndhrAzhwAn worshipped dhEva perumAL in kAnchipuram, he is very dear to emperumAn there).
- thiruviruththam – 8 – nampiLLai Idu – Once emperumAnAr was seated with many srIvaishNavas. He suddenly thinks about thirukkachi nambi and requests for a volunteer to go and enquire nambi’s well-being. No one volunteers at that time. The next morning, periya nambi (mahA pUrNar) summons emperumAnAr and informs him that he will visit kAnchipuram for mangaLAsAsanam. emperumAnAr at once says that periya nambi has all authority over him and he could fulfill his desire. periya nambi then reaches kAnchipuram, meets thirukkachi nambi and enquires about his well being and starts his return journey immediately. When thirukkachi nambi requests periya nambi to stay there for the upcoming uthsavam, periya nambi says that his mission (to enquire about thirukkachi nambi) is accomplished. He informs thirukkachi nambi that no one was willing to travel immediately so he just volunteered and came to meet thirukkachi nambi only. Such was thirukkachi nambi’s greatness that periya nambi himself travelled all the way to kAnchipuram to meet him exclusively.
- AchArya hrudhayam – 85th chUrNikai – thyAga manNdapaththil Alavattamum kaiyumAna aNtharanGgarai vaidhikOththamar anuvarththiththa kramam (த்யாக மண்டபத்தில் ஆலவட்டமும் கையுமான அந்தரங்கரை வைதிகோத்தமர் அனுவர்த்தித்த க்ரமம்) – While explaining the glories of bhAgavathas who are not born in brAhmaNa varNam, azhagiya maNavALa perumAL nAyanAr cites the glories of thirukkachi nambi who was serving dhEva perumAL in thyAga mandapam (kAnchipuram) by performing fan kainkaryam and how the top most vaidhihar (emperumAnAr) himself revered and served thirukkachi nambi.
mAmunigaL in his dhEvarAja mangaLam brings out the greatness of thirukkachi nambi and dhEva perumAL’s great affection for him in the 11th slOkam.
srI kAnYchipUrnNamisrEnNa prIthyA sarvAbhibhAshanE
athithArchchAvyavasthAya hasthadhrIsAya manGgalam
ஸ்ரீ காஞ்சிபூர்ணமிஸ்ரேண ப்ரீத்யா ஸர்வாபிபாஷனே
அதிதார்ச்சாவ்யவஸ்தாய ஹஸ்தத்ரீஸாய மங்கலம்
Let there be all auspiciousness for the lord of hasthigiri who broke his archA samAdhi and conversed regularly with thirukkachi nambi out of his great attachment towards him.
mAmunigaL beautifully brings out the relationship between dhEva perumAL and thirukkachi nambi in this slOkam and also shows us that whenever we approach bhagavAn we should go through his devotees only.
Let us pray at his lotus feet to bless us with the same attachment towards emperumAn and AchAryan as well.
thirukkachi nambi’s thanian
dhEvarAja dhayApAthram srI kAnchi pUrNam uththamam
rAmAnuja munEr mAnyam vandhEham sajjanAsrayam
தேவராஜ தயாபாத்ரம் ஸ்ரீ காஞ்சி பூர்ணம் உத்தமம்
ராமாநுஜ முநேர் மாந்யம் வந்தேஹம் ஸஜ்ஜநாச்ரயம்
His archAvathAra anubhavam (through his beautiful grantham dhEvarAja ashtakam) can be read at http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/11/archavathara-anubhavam-thuirukkachi-nambi.html.
adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan
Sources: 6000 padi guru paramparA prabhavam, periya thirumudi adaivu, vyAkyAnams and MAV swamy’s vAzhvum vAkkum for quick/handy reference