srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:
avathAra sthalam: srIrangam
Place from where he attained paramapadham: srIrangam
thiuvarangathu amudhanAr was previously known as periya kOil nambi. He was the official guardian of srI rangam temple and was doing purOhithyam (reading purANam, vEdha viNNappam, etc). Initially, he was not favourable towards emperumAnAr‘s efforts to reform the activities in the temple. But, by the divine grace of srIman nArAyaNan, he ultimately got the relationship with emperumAnAr and benedicted.
When emperumAnAr was declared by periya perumAL as udayavar (the master) and wanted all the activities in the temple to be organized in the most optimum way, periya kOil nambi did not allow easy access to emperumAnAr. emperumAnAr became frustrated and first decided to remove him from his position. But one day, when emperumAnAr was waiting for perumAL’s purappAdu, emperumAn appears in his dream and informs him that periya kOil nambi is dear to him since he has served him for too long.
emperumAnAr then engages AzhwAn to educate and guide periya kOil nambi so that he becomes fit to serve him and allow his reforms. AzhwAn starts slowly making an impact and eventually one day periya kOil nambi wants to become the sishya of emperumAnAr. emperumAnAr advises periya kOil nambi to accept AzhwAn as his AchArya since he was the one who reformed him. periya kOil nambi then becomes named amudhanAr by emperumAnAr himself due to his classic ability to write nectarean poems in thamizh. Subsequently, amudhanAr develops extreme attachment towards AzhwAn and emperumAnAr.
amudhanAr handing over the control of periya kOil to emperumAnAr
When amudhanAr’s mother passes away, on the 11th day, a ceremony named EkOthishtam is to be performed where a person is assumed to be the body of the deceased person and offered a great feast. At the end of the feast, the consumer of the feast will be asked if he is satisfied and unless he says he is fully satisfied, the ceremony does not become complete. The main aspect of this ceremony is, the one consuming the feast cannot participate in any temple kainkaryam for 1 full year those days. amudhanAr wanting to have an advanced srIvaishNava approaches emperumAnAr and asks him to identify such person. emperumAnAr at once asks AzhwAn to go to that ceremony and AzhwAn happily accepts. Once the feast is over, amudhanAr asks AzhwAn if he was satisfied and AzhwAn says he will be satisfied only it the temple control is handed over to emperumAnAr. amudhanAr at once agrees and hands the temple keys and control to emperumAnAr through AzhwAn to fulfill his commitment. At that time, amudhanAr also gives the purOhithyam kainkaryam to AzhwAn (thus we can see descendants of AzhwAn still continuing this kainkaryam in srIrangam). amudhanAr becomes less attached to the temple since he gave up all his kainkaryams. Seeing that, emperumAnAr goes to thiruvarangapperumAL arayar and requests him to give the iyaRpA recital right to him. arayar obliges and gives the same to emperumAnAr. emperumAnAr then teaches iyaRpA to amudhanAr and asks him to perform iyaRpA recital in srIrangam temple permanently thus engaging him in emperumAn’s kainkaryam as well.
appearance and glories of rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi
After some time, amudhanAr writes rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi (108 pAsurams) on emperumAnAr and submits that to emperumAn and emperumAnAr. namperumAL, once during the last day of brahmOthsavam orders emperumAnAr not to accompany him in the procession and asks the srIvaishNavas to recite rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi during the procession – which eventually becomes a routine to be followed during every uthsavam. Understanding emperumAn’s desire, emperumAnAr himself acknowledges this great work of amudhanAr and includes that as part of iyaRpA similar to how kaNNinuN chiru thAmbu of madhurakavi AzhwAr (which glorifies nammAzhwAr) is included in mudhalAyiram. This prabhandham becomes to be famously known as prapanna gAyathri and emperumAnAr also instructs all srIvaishNavas to recite this prabhandham atleast once every day similar to gAyathri japam being mandatorily recited everyday by the ones who have undergone brahmOpadhEsam (the ones who wear the yagyOpavItham – sacred thread).
In rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi, emperumAnAr‘s name is seen in every pAsuram. That is why it became to be known as rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi as well. It presents all that is needed to be understood by AchArya abhimAna nishtars (one who depends on the grace of AchAryan). This prabhandham also establishes that the one who is fully focussed on AchAryan automatically has bhagavath sambandham (relationship with bhagavAn) and does not need to make any special effort for the same. That is why all of our pUrvAchAryas proclaimed that we should always fully depend on srI rAmAnujar’s lotus feet.
nadAthUr ammAL who was the leader amongst great scholars declared that emperumAnAr is both the means and goal for srIvaishNavas based on pERonRu maRRillai pAsuram (45) and ninRa vaN kIrthi pAsuram (76) of this divine prabhandham named rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi.
periyavAchAn piLLai‘s son nAyanArAchAn piLLai extensively uses rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi in his work charmOpAya nirNayam (http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/p/charamopaya-nirnayam.html) to bring out the divine glories of emperumAnAr.
mAmunigaL has written a most beautiful and short commentary for rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi. In the introduction section, he is beautifully bringing out the glories of amudhanAr and rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi. Let us see the gist of that.
charama parva nishtai (full dependence on AchArya) is the essence of thirumanthram and all AzhwArs‘ pAsurams. This was revealed by madhurakavi AzhwAr towards nammAzhwAr. amudhanAr is also very similar to madhurakavi AzhwAr as he manifests full dependance towards emperumAnAr in his prabhandham as well as acts. He was reformed by emperumAnAr purely out of his divine mercy through AzhwAn‘s tireless and merciful efforts. Just like madhurakavi AzhwAr revealed his nishtai through his 10 pAsurams, amudhanAr reveals his AchArya nishtai through 108 pAsurams in great detail for the benefit of everyone in this world to understand the most important principles for AchArya nishtars, follow the same and redeem themselves. mAmunigaL also identifies that similar to gAyathri manthram which is recited by upavIdhIs (the ones who wear the sacred thread) every day, this is called prapanna sAvithri and should be recited by srIvaishNavas everyday.
amudhanAr was an expert in thamizh and samskritham. This helped him present very beautiful meanings for many pAsurams in aruLicheyal. Let us see one example here:
In thiruvirutham 72nd pAsuram, nampiLLai brings out the beautiful narration of amudhanAr. In this pAsuram, nammAzhwAr in the mood of parAngusa nAyaki is feeling great anxiety in the dark night out of separation from emperumAn. Usually lovers feel more anxiety in the night during separation. At that time, a small crescent moon appears and shatters the darkness a little bit. While cool shade of the moon is most enjoyable during union of lovers, it is most painful during separation. parAngusa nAyaki then thinks that darkness was better and now with the cool crescent moon its worse for her to control her emotions thinking about emperumAn. To explain this, amudhanAr beautifully presents a story. Once a tender-hearted brAhmaNa was travelling through the forest during the night. He was suddenly chased by a wild-beast and some how he escapes and climbs on a tree. The beast waits for the brAhmaNa to climb down to feast on him and brAhmaNa is so scared. At that time, a tiger approaches the beast, kills it and feasts on it. After finishing that, the tiger looks up to the brAhmaNa and now waits the brAhmaNa to climb down to feast on him as well. Now, the brAhmaNa becomes more scared than even before and starts shivering at the prospect of being killed by the tiger. The same way, parAngusa nAyaki was initially fearful of darkness but was more fearful of the cool crescent moon – explains amudhanAr.
bhattar and amudhanAr
bhattar takes great pride in being born as the son of AzhwAn. He himself declares that in his sahasranAma bhAshyam he was born to AzhwAn who has the great wealth of the relationship to emperumAnAr. amudhanAr also has the connection of AzhwAn which he himself declares in the 7th pAsuram of rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi. Once, amudhanAr out of great ecstasy informs to bhattar through another srIvaishNava that “You only have bodily relationship with AzhwAn but I have an intellectual relationship with AzhwAn”. bhattar replies that “thats fine! but you yourself should not boast about it”. AzhwAn‘s relationship is so great that it leads to amudhanAr going over-board on his pride – but the great thing about this in the matters of our pUrvAchAryas is, they dont take these issues beyond those discussions and have any ill-feeling towards others. Issues are resolved then and there in a magnanimous way and this is what we have to understand from such incidents. We must also greatly appreciate our pUrvAchAryas honesty for having recorded even such incidents instead of hiding them under the carpet (which could have been easily done).
Finally, mAmunigaL identifies in his beautiful Arthi prabhanadham 40th pAsuram that to avoid being submerged in this sorrowful ocean of samsAram, we should surrender unto the lotus feet of emperumAnAr, spend our time with the dear devotees of srI rAmAnujar always and recite/meditate on rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi constantly.
Thus, we have seen some glimpses of the glorious life of thiruvarangathu amudhanAr. He was fully situated bhAgavatha nishtai and was very dear to both emperumAnAr and AzhwAn. Let us pray at their lotus feet that we too get a little bit of such bhAgavatha nishtai.
thiruvarangathu amudhanAr’s thaniyan:
srIrangE mInahasthE cha jAtham rangAryanandhanam
rAmAnujapadhAskandham ranganAthagurum bhajE
ஸ்ரீரங்கே மீநஹஸ்தே ச ஜாதம் ரங்கார்யநந்தநம்
ராமாநுஜபதாஸ்கந்தம் ரங்கநாதகுரும் பஜே
adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan
Sources: vyAkyAnams, AzhwAr thirunagari nallAn chakravarthy rAmakrishNa iyengAr’s article on amudhanAr’s glories in his beautiful vyAkyAnam for rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi named amudha virunthu