srImathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srImadh varavaramunayE nama:
srI vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:
ALavandhAr (in the middle) with dheivavAri ANdAn and mARanERi nambi – A sculpture in srI rAmAnujar sannidhi, srI rangam
Thirunakshathram: Ani, Ayilyam
avathAra sthalam: purAnthakam (a village in pAndiya nAdu)
Place from where he attained paramapadham: srIrangam
mARanEri nambi is a dear sishya of ALavandhAr. He was born in chathurtha varNam and was most respected in srIrangam for his attachment towards periya perumAL and his AchAryan ALavandhAr.
He is sometimes known as mARanEr nambi – one who is similar to mARan (nammAzhwAr) in qualities.
He was known to be fully engaged in listening kAlakshEpams from ALavandhAr and being engaged in guNAnubhavam of periya perumAL. He had given up all other attachments and just stayed in srIrangam temple prAkAram itself.
During his last days mARanEri nambi requests periya nambi (who is his dear friend) to take care of his final rites and not handover his thirumEni (divine form) to his bodily relatives since they had not become srIvaishNavas. He compares that his body is like havis (offering in yagya) that is only fit to be offered to bhagavAn and should not be touched by others. periya nambi obliges and after mARanEri nambi attains paramapadham, he performs the charama kainkaryams (final rites) for him. Due to his varNam, the local srIvaishNavas does not accept periya nambi‘s action and challenges him. They go to emperumAnAr and complain to him about periya nambi’s act. emperumAnAr, wanting to establish the glories of mARanEri nambi through periya nambi’s words, goes to periya nambi and questions him. emperumAnAr asks him “When I am trying to develop faith and confidence in everyone’s mind on sAsthram, why are you doing something which looks tangential to sAsthram?”. periya nambi replies that “We cannot appoint some one else to perform bhAgavatha kainkaryam. We have to do it ourselves. srI rAman did the final rites for jatAyu. I am not greater than srI rAman and he is not lower than jatAyu – so there is nothing wrong in me doing this kainkaryam for him. payilum chudaroLi (thiruvAimozhi 3.7) and nedumARkadimai (thiruvAimozhi 8.10) padhigams of nammAzhwAr which glorifies bhAgavatha sEshathvam are not just theoretical. We should atleast try to follow some aspects of AzhwAr’s divine words”. Hearing this emperumAnAr becomes very pleased, offers his obeisances to periya nambi and declares that periya nambi has indeed done a noble act. All the local srIvaishNavas become very pleased. This most beautiful conversation is most beautifully explained by maNavALa mAmunigaL in the vyAkyAnam of 234th sUthram of piLLai lOkAchAryar‘s srIvachana bhUshaNam.
nambi’s vaibhavam is highlighted in a few places in the vyAkyAnams. Let us see them here now:
- thiruppAvai 29 – Ayi jananyAchAryar vyAkyAnam – In this pAsuram, a beautiful conversation between periya nambi and emperumAnAr is explained. When mARanEri nambi was in his final days, he had to endure great bodily difficulties. At that time, he becomes worried that he wont even be able to meditate on emperumAn during his final moments. Looking at his state, periya nambi asks emperumAnAr if mARanEri nambi will reach paramapadham. emperumAnAr replies saying since srI varAha perumAL has guaranteed in the varAha charama slOkam that he will think about the ones who surrender to him and delivers them to paramapadham at the end of their lives. periya nambi then says those words cannot be accepted since varAha perumAL could have just said that out of compassion (and attachment towards bhUmi pirAttiyAr) and may not fulfill the words. But emperumAnAr replies since pirAtti is with emperumAn always, he is not going to say something to pacify her just at that time. periya nambi asks for a pramANam where it is said that the ones who are engaged in bhagavadh vishayam fully will be granted mOksham. emperumAnAr replies that kaNNan emperumAn’s words in gIthai 4.10 – “janma karma cha mE dhivyam Evam yO vEththi thathvatha: thyakthvA dhEham punar janma naithi mAmEthi sOrjuna” says that one who understands bhagavAn’s birth and activities truly will reach paramapadham definitely at the end of his life. periya nambi then becomes pleased by emperumAnAr‘s words.
- periya thirumozhi 7.4 – periyavAchAn piLLai vyAkyAnam introduction section – In this padhigam (kaNsOra venkuruthi), thirumangai AzhwAr glorifies the srIvaishNavas who are surrendered to thiruchErai sAranAthan emperumAn. Here the incident of periya nambi performind the last rites for mARanEri nambi is identified.
- mudal thiruvanthAdhi 1 – nampiLLai vyAkyAnam – In this pAsuram, it is identified that when some one asks mARanEri nambi if there is a way to remember emperumAn, he replies back asking if there is a way to forget emperumAn (since he is constantly meditating on emperumAn, he cannot even think of the possibility of forgetting him ever).
- srIvachana bhUshaNam 324 – piLLai lOkAchAryar identifies the glories of srIvaishNavas in this section and establishes that birth in a particular varNam does not minimize the glories of srIvaishNavas. Amongst many other examples, he identifies the incident of periya nambi explaining his act of performing final rites to mARanEri nambi to emperumAnAr. mAmunigaL in his beautiful vyAkyAnam brings out the essence of the discussion in the most crisp manner.
- AchArya hrudhayam 85 – azhagiya maNavALa perumAL nAyanAr, following in the foot steps of his elder brother (piLLai lOkAchAryar), highlights the glories of mARanEri nambi in this chUrNikai through the same incident.
Thus, we have seen some glimpses of the glories of mARanEri nambi.
Let us bow down at the lotus feet of mARanEri nambi who had great attachment towards ALavandhAr.
Note: nambi’s thirunakshathram is identified as Adi – Ayilyam in periya thirumudi adaivu, but its identified as Ani – Ayilyam in his vAzhi thirunAmam.
mARanEri nambi’s thanian
yAmunAchArya sachchishyam rangasthalanivAsinam
gyAnabhakthyAdhijaladhim mARanErigurum bhajE
யாமுநாசார்ய ஸச்சிஷ்யம் ரங்கஸ்தலநிவாஸிநம்
ஜ்ஞாநபக்த்யாதிஜலதிம் மாறனேரிகுரும் பஜே
adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan
Sources: 6000 padi guru paramparA prabhavam, periya thirumudi adaivu, vyAkyAnams, MAV swamy’s vAzhvum vAkkum for quick reference