srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:
thirunakshathram: chithrai, chithrai
avathAra sthalam: kAnchIpuram
sishyas: sruthaprakAsikA bhattar (sudharsana sUri), kidAmbi appiLLAr, etc
Place where he attained paramapadham: kAnchIpuram
Works: thathva sAram, parathvAdhi panchakam (Discussed briefly in – http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/10/archavathara-anubhavam-parathvadhi.html), gajEndhra mOksha slOka dhvayam, paramArtha slOka dhvayam, prapanna pArijAtha, charamOpAya sangraham, srI bhAshya upanyAsam, pramEya mAlai, yathirAja vijaya bhANam, etc.
Born in kAnchIpuram, he was named varadharAjan by his parents. He is the grand son of nadhAthUr AzhwAn who is one of the srIbhAshya simhAsanAdhipathis (leader) appointed by emperumAnAr himself.
He was serving kAnchIpuram dhEva perumAL every day by offering him warm milk. He would prepare the milk with perfect warmth, just like how a mother would prepare milk for her child. That is why he was fondly honoured by dhEva perumAL himself as ammAL or vAthsya varadhAchAryar.
When ammAL wanted to learn srIbhAshyam from his grandfather, his grandfather due to his old age, asks ammAL to go to engaLAzhwAn and learn the same. ammAL goes to engaLAzhwAn’s thirumALigai (home) and knocks on the door. engaLAzhwAn asks “Who is that?” and ammAL replies “I am varadhan”. engaLAzhwAn says “Come back after the ‘I’ dies”. ammAL returns to his home and enquires from his grandfather about the incident. nadhAthUr AzhwAn says we must always introduce ourselves as “adiyEn” (dhAsan) with total humility and never use the terms “I”, “I am”, etc., which are the cause of ahankAram (ego). Understanding the principle, ammAL returns to engaLAzhwAn and knocks at the door. This time when engaLAzhwAn asks who is at the door, ammAL replies “adiyEn varadhan is here”. Being pleased, engaLAzhwAn welcomes ammAL, accepts him as his sishya and teaches him all the valuable principles. engaLAzhwAn also becomes to be known as ammAL AchAryan, since he became the AchAryan of nadAthUr ammAL who becomes to be a great scholar.
ammAL’s prime sishya is srutha prakAsikA bhattar (sudharsana sUri – who is the grand son of vEdha vyAsa bhattar) who learns srI bhAshyam from ammAL and goes on to write the glorious commentary srutha prakAsikai for srI bhAshyam and commentaries for vEdhArtha sangraham and sharaNAgathi gadhyam as well.
Once ammAL was teaching srI bhAshyam to a dozen srIvaishNavas. The students say bhakthi yOgam is very difficult to follow. He then explains prapathi to them. They further say prapathi is even more difficult to implement. At that time, ammAL says, “Just think that emperumAnAr‘s lotus feet is the only refuge and you will be redeemed”.
Similar incident is revealed in charamOpAya nirNayam as well.
nadAthUr ammAL was teaching srIbhAshyam to some srivaishnavas. At that time a few of them asked “bhakthi yOgam cannot be performed by a jIvAthmA because it is very difficult to do (as it requires many adhikArams like being male, thrIvarNika (brAhmaNa, kshthriya, vaisya), constant meditation and service to emperumAn, etc) and prapathi cannot be performed because it is against the svarUpam (jIvAthmA being utterly dependent on emperumAn, doing something himself for his ultimate goal will be against that utter dependence). In such case, how can the jIvAthmA attain the ultimate goal?”. nadAthUr ammAL replies that “for those who are unable to do this, emperumAnAr‘s abhimAnam is the ultimate path. Without this there is no other way. I am firmly confident of this”. ammAL’s final instructions are explained in the following popular slOkam:
prayAnNa kAlE chathuras chvasishyAN padhAthikasthAN varadhO hi vIkshya
bhakthi prapaththi yadhi dhushkarEva: rAmANujAryam NamathEthyavAdhIth
ப்ரயாண காலே சதுரஸ் ச்வஸிஷ்யாந் பதாதிகஸ்தாந் வரதோ ஹி வீக்ஷ்ய
பக்தி ப்ரபத்தி யதி துஷ்கரேவ: ராமாநுஜார்யம் நமதேத்யவாதீத்
In his final days, when his sishyas ask nadAthUr ammAL what is their refuge, he replies “bhakthi and prapathi are not fit for your svarUpam; Simply take shelter of emperumAnAr and fully depend on him; your ultimate goal will be accomplished”.
In vArthA mAlai, a few incidents involving nadAthUr ammAL are identified. Let us see them now:
- 118 – engaLAzhwAn was explaining charama slOkam to nadAthUrammAL. When explaining “sarva dharmAn parithyajya” – nadAthUr ammAL wonders why is emperumAn talking with so much svAthanthriyam in disregarding all dharmams (upAyams) that are explained in sAsthram. engaLAzhwAn replies that it is the true nature of bhagavAn – he is fully independent – so it is fitting for him to say that. Moreover, he says, emperumAn is relieving the jIvAthmA from indulging in other upAyams which are against the true nature of jIvAthmA – since the jIvAthmA is fully dependent on bhagavAn it is fitting for the jIvAthmA to accept bhagavAn as upAyam. So, engaLAzhwAn categorically explains that bhagavAn’s words here are most apt.
- 198 – When nadAthUr ammAL and a srIvaishNava named ALipiLLAn (probably an abhrAmaNa srIvaishNava or a non-AchArya purushar) were having prasAdham together, another srIvaishNava named perungUrppiLLai watches that with great joy and says “Without seeing you mixing with this srIvaishNava freely, had I just heard the general instruction that varNAsrama dharmam must be respected all times, I would have completely lost the essence”. ammAL replies “The fact is whoever/whatever related to a true AchAryan must be accepted/embraced by us. So, even this anushtAnam of me mixing with this great srIvaishNava is understood to be included in the special instruction (bhAgavatha dharmam) which is explained by our pUrvAchAryas”.
In the vyAkyAnam for piLLai lOkAchAryar‘s thathva thrayam (http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/p/thathva-thrayam.html) sUthram 35, maNavALa mAmunigaL quotes a beautiful slOkam from ammAL’s thathva sAram to establish the jIva svAthanthriyam (independence given by emperumAn to jIvAthmA) in the first thought of every action and how emperumAn guides the jIvAthmA from that first thought in every action.
Thus, we have seen some glimpses of the glorious life of nadAthUr ammAL. He was fully a great scholar and was very dear to engaLAzhwAn. Let us pray at his lotus feet that we too get a little bit of such bhAgavatha nishtai.
nadAthUr ammAL’s thaniyan:
vandhEham varadhAryam tham vathsAbi janabhUshaNam
bhAshyAmrutha pradhAnAdhya sanjIvayathi mAmapi
வந்தேஹம் வரதார்யம் தம் வத்ஸாபி ஜநபூஷணம்
பாஷ்யாம்ருத ப்ரதாநாத்ய ஸஞ்ஜீவயதி மாமபி
adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan
Sources: 6000 padi guru paramparA prabhAvam, charamOpAya nirNayam, vArthA mAlai, periya thirumudi adaivu, pattOlai (recently released ancient grantham which lists out all works of all pUrvAchAryas), puthUr swAmy’s AchAryargaL vaibhavam