srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:
avathAra sthalam: sALagrAmam (karnAtaka)
Place where he attained paramapadham: sALagrAmam
Works: yathirAja vaibhavam, rAmAnuja ashtOththara satha nAma sthOthram, rAmAnuja ashtOththara satha nAmAvaLi
During his travel to thirunArAyaNapuram, emperumAnAr goes to mithilApuri sALagrAmam, where he instructs mudhaliyANdAn to touch the water source (river) with his lotus feet. By the purity of mudhaliyANdAn’s lotus feet, the locals who bathe in the river become purified and become sishyas of emperumAnAr. One such swamy was vaduga nambi who is also known as Andhra pUrNar. emperumAnAr, out of his causeless mercy, blesses vaduga nambi, teaches him the most important principles of our sampradhAyam and makes him fully situated in AchArya nishtai and eventually vaduga nambi becomes inseparable from emperumAnAr.
vaduga nambi was fully situated in the AchArya nishtai. He acquires a pair of sandals wore by emperumAnAr and was performing thiruvArAdhanam to those sandals every day.
Once while travelling with emperumAnAr, along with emperumAnAr’s thiruvArAdhana perumALs, vaduga nambi also carried his thiruvArAdhana deity (sandals of emperumAnAr) in the same package. emperumAnAr was shocked to notice that and he enquired vaduga nambi why he was doing that. vaduga nambi spontaneously replied “My worshippable deity is equally glorious to your worshippable deities, so there is nothing wrong in me carrying them with your thiruvArAdhana perumALs”.
Whenever emperumAnAr goes to perform mangaLAsAsanam, he will fully enjoy the beautiful form of periya perumAL. The whole time, vaduga nambi will be fully enjoying the beautiful form of emperumAnAr. emperumAnAr notices that and asks vaduga nambi to look at the beautiful eyes of periya perumAL. vaduga nambi replies using thiruppANAzhwAr‘s words “en amudhinaik kaNda kaNgaL maRRonRinaik kANAvE” meaning “My eyes which saw the beautiful form of emperumAnAr will not see anything else” in this case. emperumAnAr was very pleased with his AchArya nishtai and blessed him fully.
vaduga nambi regularly accepted emperumAnAr‘s sEsha prasAdham (food remnants) and after consuming them, he would just wipe of his hands on his head with reverence (instead of washing hands) – Usually while accepting prasAdham of emperumAn/AzhwAr AchAryas since it is pure, after consuming the same, we should not wash our hands, we should just wipe our hands on our head. Once, emperumAnAr became perplexed seeing this and asks him to wash his hands after consuming his food remnants. nambi obliges and washes his hands. Next day, when emperumAnAr was given bhagavath prasAdham, he consumes some and gives the remnants to vaduga nambi. vaduga nambi consumes that and washes his hands. emperumAnAr is again perplexed and asks why he is washing his hands after consuming prasAdham. vaduga nambi, politely and smartly answers “I am just following dhEvar’s instructions as given yesterday”. emperumAnAr says “You have easily defeated me” and appreciates his nishtai.
Once vaduga nambi was boiling milk for emperumAnAr. At that time, namperumAL arrived outside emperumAnAr’s mutt in procession. emperumAnAr calls out for vaduga nambi and vaduga nambi replies “If I come out to worship your perumAL, my perumAL;s milk will get burnt. So I wont come”.
Once vaduga nambi’s relatives (who are not srIvaishNavas) come to visit him. After they leave, vaduga nambi destroys all the pots and fully purifies the place. He then goes to mudhaliyANdAn‘s thirumALigai, picks up the pots that were discarded by him and starts using them. Thus he establishes that for the ones who have pure AchArya sambhandham, everything related to them (even discarded ones) are fully pure and acceptable to us.
When emperumAnAr visits thiruvananthapuram, he wants to change the Agamam of the anantha sayanan emperumAn temple. But emperumAn had different plans. When emperumAnAr was sleeping he lifted him up and brought him over to thirukkurungudi dhivya dhEsam. emperumAnAr wakes up in the morning, bathes in the nearby river, applies dvAdhasa Urdhva pundram (12 pundrams) and calls for vaduga nambi (who is still in thiruvananthapuram) to apply the remnants on vaduga nambi. thirukkurungudi nambi himself takes the form of vaduga nambi and accept the remnants of the thirumaN (holy sand). emperumAnAr goes on to accept thirukkurungudi nambi as his sishya subsequently.
After emperumAnAr ascending to paramapadham, vaduga nambi returns to his native village, where he preaches the glories of emperumAnAr. He would not consume srI pAdha thIrtham (charaNAmrutham) of any one other than emperumAnAr. He constantly worships emperumAnAr’s lotus feet and teaches to his sishyas/abhimAnis that emperumAnAr’s lotus feet is the ultimate goal and spends the rest of his time in sALagrAmam and finally attains the lotus feet of emperumAnAr.
In our vyAkyAnams, a few idhihyams that show the glories of vaduga nambi are seen. Let us see some of them now.
- periyAzhwAr thirumozhi 4.3.1 – maNavALa mAmunigaL vyAkyAnam – This padhigam talks about “nAva kAriyam” (the words that are not to be uttered). An incident in the life of vaduga nambi is identified here. Once, near vaduga nambi, a srIvaishNava says thirumanthram. Hearing that, vaduga nambi (being fully situated in AchArya nishtai) says that “this is nAva kAriyam” and walks away. It is important to remember that even when we recite thirumanthram, dhvayam, charama slOkam – we should first recite guru paramparai and then only recite rahasya thrayam. piLLai lOkAchAryar identifies this as “japthavyam guru paramparaiyum dhvayamum” (one must constantly recite guru paramparai and dhvaya mahA manthram) in srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram (sUthram 274).
- periyAzhwAr thirumozhi 4.4.7 – maNavALa mAmunigaL vyAkyAnam – When vaduga nambi ascends to paramapadham, one srIvaishNava informs that to aruLALa perumAL emperumAnAr saying “vaduga nambi ascended to paramapadham”. aruLALa perumAL emperumAnAr replies “Since vaduga nambi was AchArya nishtar, you should say that he attained the lotus feet of emperumAnAr. You should not say he ascended to paramapadham”.
- vaduga nambi wrote a beautiful grantham named yathirAja vaibhavam. In this grantham he identifies that emperumAnAr was worshipped and accompanied by 700 sannyAsis, 12000 srIvaishNavas, many srIvaishNavis, etc.
piLLai lOkAchAryar identifies the greatness of vaduga nambi in srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAshtram (sUthram 411).
vaduga nambi AzhwAnaiyum ANdAnaiyum irukaraiyar enbar (வடுகநம்பி ஆழ்வானையும் ஆண்டானையும் இருகரையர் என்பர்)
mAmunigaL explains that vaduga nambi was like madhurakavi AzhwAr who had nammAzhwAr as everything. kUrathAzhwAn and mudhaliyANdAn were fully surrendered to emperumAnAr – still they were at times seen glorifying emperumAn and requesting emperumAn to give mOksham when they were unable to bear the cruel nature of samsAram. Thus vaduga nambi said that “Even though they are related to emperumAnAr, they are holding on to both emperumAn and emperumAnAr”.
Finally, In Arthi prabhandham (pAsuram 11), mAmunigaL establishes that vaduga nambi’s position is what he is craving for as well and he is praying to emperumAnAr to bless him to be like vaduga nambi. vaduga nambi had unflinching faith on emperumAnAr that he did not engage in worshipping emperumAn separately. It is established by our pUrvAchAryas that when we worship our AchAryan, we automatically worship emperumAn. But if we just worship emperumAn, it does not mean that we worship our AchAryan. So, worshipping AchAryan and fully depending on him is the most desired principle of our sampradhAyam and mAmunigaL highlights that this was fully manifested in vaduga nambi.
Thus, we have seen some glimpses of the glorious life of vaduga nambi. He was fully situated in bhAgavatha nishtai and was very dear to emperumAnAr himself. Let us pray at his lotus feet that we too get a little bit of such bhAgavatha nishtai.
vaduga nambi’s thaniyan:
rAmAnujArya sachchishyam sALagrAma nivAsinam
panchamOpAya sampannam sALagrAmAryam AsrayE
ராமானுஜார்ய ஸச்சிஷ்யம் ஸாளக்ராம நிவாஸிநம்
பஞ்சமோபாய ஸம்பந்நம் ஸாளக்ராமார்யம் ஆச்ரயே
adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan
Sources: 6000 padi guru paramparA prabhAvam, vyAkyAnams, MAV swamy’s vAzhvum vAkkum for quick reference