srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:
thirunakshathram: Ani, swAthi
avathAra sthalam: srIvilliputhUr
Works: thiruppallANdu, periyAzhwAr thirumozhi
Place where he attained paramapadham: thirumAlirunchOlai
periyavAchAn piLLai wonderfully glorifies periyAzhwAr in the vyAkyAna avathArikai (introduction) of thiruppallANdu. He identifies the purpose of periyAzhwAr’s avathAram is to uplift the suffering jIvAthmAs from this samsAram. periyAzhwAr is decorated with sahaja dhAsyam (natural servitorship) towards emperumAn by the grace of emperumAn himself. He wanted to conduct his life by performing kainkaryam and studied the sAsthram to find out the best kainkaryam. srI krishNan himself enters into the house of mAlAkArar (the garland maker) in mathurA before going to the assembly of kamsan, requesting him for some garlands and when the mAlAkArar happily gives the best garland with great love and affection, kaNNan emperumAn becomes extremely pleased and wears it with great joy. Observing this, periyAzhwAr determines that making flower garlands is the most pleasing service for emperumAn, he starts making a garden where he plants fresh flower-giving seeds, nurtures the same and makes fresh garland every day to srIvilliputhur emperumAn with great love and affection.
There is a big difference between periyAzhwAr and other AzhwArs. Other AzhwArs want to get their desires (them serving emperumAn eternally) fulfilled. But periyAzhwAr is focussed on fulfilling emperumAn’s desires (bringing many suffering jIvAthmAs to be with him eternally in paramapadham) even at the cost of his own desires. Other AzhwArs think that Ishvaran is the protector and they are the protected and thus get rid of their fears. periyAzhwAr thinks that he is the protector and Ishvaran is to be protected. This point is further explained by piLLai lOkAchAryar and mAmunigaL beautifully which we will see in the subsequent sections.
Similarly, thiruppallANdu is greatly glorified in comparison with other dhivya prabhandhams. While other prabhandhams discuss many vEdhAntham related complicated matters thiruppallANdu simply focusses on performing mangaLAsAsanam to emperumAn. While other prabhandhams are big in size, this prabhandham is crisp and small – in just 12 pAsurams all the essential principles are explained.
piLLai lOkAchAryar in srI vachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram, explains the glories of mangaLAsAsanam as part of the sidhdhOpAya nishtar’s (one who is fully situated in bhagavAn as upAyam(process)/upEyam(goal)) dhinacharyai (daily activities). The srIvaishnava dhinacharyai is already discussed in http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/08/srivaishnava-lakshanam-10.html and http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/08/srivaishnava-lakshanam-11.html as part of the srIvaishnava lakshaNam series of articles – http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/p/srivaishnava-lakshanam.html.
mangaLAsAsanam means desiring/praying for the well being of some one. AzhwArs are always looking out for emperumAn’s well being. But piLLai lOkAchAryar shows that periyAzhwAr’s attachment towards emperumAn is far greater than others. This is already explained in detail in the introduction section of periyaAzhwAr’s archAvathAra anubhavam – http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/10/archavathara-anubhavam-periyazhwar.html. Let us just see 255th sUthram which nicely brings out the glories of periyAzhwAr and srI bhAshyakArar (rAmAnujar).
allAthavargaLaip pOlE kEtkiRavargaLudaiyavum, chollukiRavargaLutaiyavum thanimaiyaith thavirkkaiyanRikkE ALumALAr engiRavanudaiya thanimaiyaith thavirkkaikkAgavAyiRRu bhAshyakArarum ivarum upathEchippathu.
அல்லாதவர்களைப் போலே கேட்கிறவர்களுடையவும், சொல்லுகிறவர்களுடையவும் தனிமையைத் தவிர்க்கையன்றிக்கே ஆளுமாளார் என்கிறவனுடைய தனிமையைத் தவிர்க்கைக்காகவாயிற்று பாஷ்யகாரரும் இவரும் உபதேசிப்பது.
Unlike other AzhwArs/AchAryars, periyAzhwAr and bhAshyakArar instructs the meanings of sAsthram to reform jIvAthmAs and engage them in mangaLAsAsanam to emperumAn so emperumAn’s loneliness is removed (emperumAn wants naturally every one to serve him because every one belongs to him, just like a father or mother will not be happy even if one of their children is not with them, emperumAn will not be happy even if one jIvAthmA among many is not with him). The real focus is not removing the loneliness of the instructor, loneliness of instructed and the upliftment of jIvAthmA – but it is to fulfill emperumAn’s natural desire and having the jIvAthmA being situated in his natural position.
mAmunigaL in his vyAkyAnam for this sUthram explains that AzhwAr understands the most tender/delicate nature of emperumAn and determines that such tender natured person cannot bear separation from the jIvAthmAs and thus wants to fully focus on that alone. He also brings out beautifully that piLLai lOkAchAryar said bhAshyakArar (instead of emperumAnAr, rAmAnujar, etc) to reveal that bhAshyakArar means one who established the essence of vEdhAntham through srIbhAshyam – and thus his act of focussing on emperumAn’s pleasure alone is also in line with vEdhAntham.
mAmunigaL in his upadhEsa rathina mAlai, glorifies periyAzhwAr in 5 pAsurams consecutively.
- In the 16th pAsuram, he tells to his own heart that Ani svAthi is to be greatly glorified since that is the day when pattarpirAn (periyAzhwAr) who brought us great auspiciousness by compiling thiruppallANdu appeared.
- In the 17th pAsuram, he instructs his own heart to always think that there is no one equal in this whole world to the gyAnis who become pleased on hearing the glories of Ani svAthi which is the appearance day of periyAzhwAr.
- In the 18th pAsuram, he explains that periyAzhwAr’s interest in performing mangaLAsAsanam is far greater than other AzhwArs and because of his overflowing affection towards emperumAn, he became to be famously known as periyAzhwAr.
- In the 19th pAsuram, among all the pAsurams (which are defectless – here defect means discussing other matters than emperumAn) of AzhwArs (who are defectless – here defect means having attachment to other upAyams like karma/gyAna/bhakthi and also not having great desire to reach emperumAn), thiruppallANdu is the foremost. Just like praNavam is the foremost and essence of samskritha vEdham, thiruppallANdu is the foremost and essence of dhrAvida vEdham since this discusses mangaLAsAsanam.
- In the 20th pAsuram, he asks his heart to observe all pramANams and see if there is a prabhandham better than thiruppallANdu and to observe all AzhwArs and see if there is another AzhwAr better than periyAzhwAr.
With this in mind, let us see his charithram now.
periyAzhwAr was born in srIvilliputhUr where many great experts of vEdham lived. He was born on Ani svAthi and named vishNuchithar by his parents. Since he did parathathva nirUpaNam (establishing srIman nArAyaNan’s supremacy) like garudan who is called as vEdhAthmA (one who has vEdham as his body) and who always holds srIman nArAyaNan’s lotus feet (thus establishing srIman nArAyaNan’s parathvam), he was considered as an amsam of garudAzhwAr (though AzhwArs are hand-picked from samsAram and divinely blessed by emperumAn).
He was blessed by vatapathrasAyI by his causeless mercy during his birth itself just like prahlAdhan was born with bhagavath bhakthi. It is said in sAsthram that “Na akinYchithkurvathach chEshathvam” (ந அகிஞ்சித்குர்வதச் சேஷத்வம்) meaning when one does not perform atleast small service to emperumAn, his sEshathvam (servitorship) does not exist. Thinking that he should also engage in some kainkaryam purely for the pleasure of emperumAn, he started observing all the purANams, etc. He observes that sarvEshvaran appears as krishNan in mathurA as stated in:
Esha NArAyanNa srImAN kshIrArnNava NikEthaNa:
NAga paryanGkam uthsrujya hyAgathO madhurAm purIm
ஏஷ நாராயண ஸ்ரீமாந் க்ஷீரார்ணவ நிகேதந:
நாக பர்யங்கம் உத்ஸ்ருஜ்ய ஹ்யாகதோ மதுராம் புரீம்
srIman nArAyaNan who was lying down in kshIrAbdhi gave up his AdhisEsha bed and descended to mathurA as krishNan.
Also, nammAzhwAr says that “manNnNin bhAram NIkkuthaRkE vadamathuraip piRaNthAn” (மண்ணின் பாரம் நீக்குதற்கே வடமதுரைப் பிறந்தான்) meaning kaNNan emperumAn appeared in mathurA to remove the pains of bhUdhEvi. It is also said in mahAbhArahtham that the eternal bhagavAn appears as kaNNan emperumAn and lives in dhvArakA to establish the dharmam, protect the sAdhus and to annihilate the miscreants. Such emperumAn was born as the son of the most beautiful dhEvaki and was raised by the most beautiful yasOdhai. Such beautiful krishNan who is decorated with beautiful garlands by nithyasUris, goes to mAlAkArar who works for kamsa and asks him to give him some garlands. mAlAkArar being very pleased with kaNNan emperumAn himself coming and requesting for garlands, offers him the best and most fresh garlands to him to please emperumAn. Seeing this, periyAzhwAr understands that offering garlands which are prepared with great love and affection is the most pleasing kainkaryam for emperumAn and starts performing that kainkaryam to vatapathrasAyi emperumAn of srIvilliputhUr.
At that time one king named srI vallabha dhEvan who comes in the lineage of pAndiya king (who planted his fish flag on the divine mEru mountain) was ruling the pAndiya kingdom from (south) madhurai in a very virtuous manner. One night he was going on a walk in disguise to check the proper functioning of the kingdom, he noticed a brAhmaNa sitting outside someone’s house. The king asks him about his identity and whereabouts and the brAhmaNa tells him that he is a brAhmaNa and is returning from ganges after doing gangA snAnam. The king asks him to recite a slOkam if he knows and the brAhmaNa recites the following slOkam.
varshArthamashtau prayathEtha mAsAN NichArththamarththam dhivasam yathEtha
vArdhdhagyahEthOr vayasA NavENa parathra hEthOriha jaNmaNA cha
வர்ஷார்தமஷ்டௌ ப்ரயதேத மாஸாந் நிசார்த்தமர்த்தம் திவஸம் யதேத
வார்த்தக்யஹேதோர் வயஸா நவேந பரத்ர ஹேதோரிஹ ஜந்மநா ச
People work hard for 8 months to stay relaxed during the 4 months of rainy season; To be happy in the night they work hard in the day time; To live comfortably when they get old, people work hard when they are young; People should thus work hard in this life to have a good after-life.
Hearing this, the king starts contemplating that he is comfortable in this life from material wealth, comforts, etc, but he is not sure about the after-life and how to approach that. He then goes to his purOhith (pandit) and asks him how to establish the supreme god and how to attain him after this life. selva nambi who is a great devotee of srIman nArAyaNan at once says we must assemble all the vidhwAns (scholars) and establish the parathathvam based on vEdhAntham. He invites the scholars to establish the truth since the most important principle per Apasthambha dharma sUthram, “dharmajnYasamaya: pramAnNam vEdhAchcha” (தர்மஜ்ஞஸமய: ப்ரமாணம் வேதாச்ச) meaning the acts of the knowers of vEdham is the primary source of knowledge and vEdham is the secondary source. The king prepares a pouch filled with great wealth as the prize for the one who establishes the truth and hangs that in a decorative ceiling. He invites the scholars from all over the region to assemble at his palace for a debate.
vatapathrasAyi emperumAn (srIvilliputhUr) wants to uplift the samsAris by establishing his supremacy (as explained in vEdhAntham) through periyAzhwAr, appears in his dream and instructs him to go and fetch the prize. AzhwAr replies to emperumAn that the prize is for establishing the supremacy of emperumAn through vEdhAntham and out of humility says that “How can I go and fetch that prize with my hands which have become rough due to working in the garden?”. emperumAn insists to him that “I will take care of everything since I am revealer of vEdham and its meanings as necessary”. AzhwAr waking up early in the morning as per sAsthram which says “brAhmE muhurththE cha uththAya” (ப்ராஹ்மே முஹுர்த்தே ச உத்தாய) meaning one should wake up in the brahma muhurtham (around 4am) and realising the divine dream, performs his nithyAnushtAnam and leaves to madhurai to the palace of the king. Arriving at the palace, the king and selva nambi welcome AzhwAr who is a brAhmaNOthama (top most brAhmaNa) and offer their obeisance to him. The local scholars informs the king that AzhwAr is not well learned – but selva nambi and the king already knowing about AzhwAr’s dedication to vatapathrasAyi and his kainkaryam gave him great respect and asked him to establish the parathathvam based on vEdhAntham. By the divine grace of emperumAn, periyAzhwAr was able to visualize and understand the essence of vEdham, vEdhAntham, ithihAsam, purANam, etc. Just like srI vAlmIki bhagavAn was able to understand all the great principles by the grace of brahmA and prahlAdhAzhwAn became sarvagya (omniscient) immediately by the touch of emperumAn’s pAnchajanyam, periyAzhwAr by the causeless mercy of emperumAn, understood that the essence of sAsthram is srIman nArAyaNan’s parathvam (supremacy). This can be seen in the logical sequence of pramANams as follows:
samastha chabhdha mUlathvAdh akArasya svabhAvatha:
samastha vAchya mUlathvAth brahmanNOpi svabhAvatha:
vAchyavAchaka sambhaNdhas thayOr arththAth pradhIyathE
ஸமஸ்த சப்த மூலத்வாத் அகாரஸ்ய ஸ்வபாவத:
ஸமஸ்த வாச்ய மூலத்வாத் ப்ரஹ்மணோபி ஸ்வபாவத:
வாச்யவாசக ஸம்பந்தஸ் தயோர் அர்த்தாத் ப்ரதீயதே
All the sounds naturally originate from akAram; All the meanings (or the objects) of those sounds naturally originate from brahmmam. So, it can be understood that the relationship between akAram and brahmmam is natural as well.
gIthAchAryan himself declares in bhagavath gIthai that “aksharAnNamakArOsmi” (அக்ஷராணமகாரோஸ்மி), meaning I am akAram amongst letters.
It is said that “akArO vishnNuvAchaka:” (அகாரோ விஷ்ணுவாசக:) meaning akAram represents vishnNu establishing that srIman nArAyaNan is the supreme being.
thaithriya upanishadh identifies the foremost qualities of such srIman nArAyaNan as follows:
yathO vA imANi bhUthANi jAyanthE, yENa jAthANi jIvaNthi, yathprayaNthi abhisamvichaNthi, thath vijijnYAsasva, thath brahmEthi
யதோ வா இமாநி பூதாநி ஜாயன்தே, யேந ஜாதாநி ஜீவந்தி, யத்ப்ரயந்தி அபிஸம்விசந்தி, தத் விஜிஜ்ஞாஸஸ்வ, தத் ப்ரஹ்மேதி
That from which this whole universe and the beings are created, on which the whole universe is sustained, in which it merges during destruction, where the beings reach upon attaining mOksham, know that and know that to brahmam. Thus jagath kAraNathva (being the cause of the universe), mumukshu upAsyathva (being the object of the worship for the ones who desire to get mOksham) and mOksha pradhathva (having the ability to benedict mOksham to a jIvAthmA) are identified as the most important qualities of the supreme being.
These qualities are fully seen in srIman nArAyaNan as explained in:
vishnNOs sakAchAdhudhbhUtham jagath thathraiva cha sthitham
sthithi samyamakarththAsau jagathOsya jagachcha sa:
விஷ்ணோஸ் ஸகாசாதுத்பூதம் ஜகத் தத்ரைவ ச ஸ்திதம்
ஸ்திதி ஸம்யமகர்த்தாஸௌ ஜகதோஸ்ய ஜகச்ச ஸ:
As stated in vishNu purANam, this universe appears from vishNu; it subsides in vishNu during praLayam (when there is no creation); He is the one who sustains it and annihilates it; He also has the whole universe as his sarIram (body).
NArAyanNAthparO dhEvO Na bhUthO Na bhavishyathi
Ethath rahasyam vEdhANAm purAnNANAm cha sammatham
நாராயணாத்பரோ தேவோ ந பூதோ ந பவிஷ்யதி
ஏதத் ரஹஸ்யம் வேதாநாம் புராணாநாம் ச ஸம்மதம்
As stated in varAha purANam, there has not been a higher being than nArAyaNan in the past or present, nor there will be on in the future. This is the most confidential message of vEdham and is accepted in purANams as well.
sathyam sathyam puNassathyam udhdhruthya bhujamuchyathE
vEdha chAsthrAth param NAsthi Na dhaivam kEchavAth param
ஸத்யம் ஸத்யம் புநஸ்ஸத்யம் உத்த்ருத்ய புஜமுச்யதே
வேத சாஸ்த்ராத் பரம் நாஸ்தி ந தைவம் கேசவாத் பரம்
As stated in nAradhIya purANam, I declare this 3 times (emphasis) with raised hands – there is no god greater (or other) than kEsavan and there is no sAsthram greater (or other) than vEdham.
periyAzhwAr, thus established the parathvam of srIman nArAyaNan using the above pramANams and many more from smruthi, ithihAsams, purANams, etc. At once, the pouch of wealth (prize for the winner) automatically comes down from the ceiling by the divine will, periyAzhwAr fetches the prize quickly.
Seeing this, the scholars who rejected periyAzhwAr, the king and every one become extremely pleased and offers their obeisances to him. They declare that periyAzhwAr revealed the essence of vEdhAntham in pristine clarity and with great affection, arranges for a grand procession for AzhwAr on the ceremonial elephant. On the side, all the scholars carry chathram (umbrellA), chAmaram (soft fan), etc and proclaim that “All glories to the most trustworthy person who shows the essence of vEdham has arrived”. The king srI vallabha dhEvan honours him with the title pattarpirAn meaning one who has done great favours to bhattars (great scholars) by revealing the most valuable details of knowledge. The king also joins the procession and there is grand celebration everywhere.
paramapadhanAthan, seeing these, just like a mother/father will be very happy to participate in an event where their sons are glorified, he also wants to join the great celebration. Along with srI mahAlakshmI (sriyapathithvam – being the husband of pirAtti is his main identity) climbs up on the magnificient garudAzhwAn, emperumAn having decorated with pAnchajanyam and sudharshanAzhwAn, arrives on the sky. To see him and AzhwAr together, all dhEvathais of this material world like brahman, rudhran, indhran, etc., arrive immediately along with their family and subordinates. periyAzhwAr being blessed by emperumAn and able to visualize the arrival of srIman nArAyaNan and the others, instead of being proud about the celebrations for him and their arrival for him, at once sees emperumAn and starts worrying about emperumAn’s presence in this material world. Being blessed with divine knowledge, even though he understands srIman nArAyaNan is sarvagya (onmiscient), sarvasaktha (omnipotent), etc., and is undefeatable by any one, out of great love towards emperumAn, he starts thinking about emperumAn’s tender, delicate nature. It is said in sAsthram that emperumAn’s dhivya mangaLa vigraham (divine auspicious body) is made of pancha upanishadh (spiritual components) and is constantly enjoyed by nithyasUris in paramapadam which is not reachable for even great sages or dhEvathais of this world like brahmA, rudhran, etc., what to speak of asuras/rAkshasas (demoniac people). But he has left that divine abode and entered into this material world which is full of ignorant and demoniac people and is ruled by kali in this yugam. AzhwAr starts thinking “emperumAn has arrived here and may become the victim of dhrushti (inauspicious looks/thoughts) as well, so let us pray for his well being now” and picks up the bell from the neck of the elephant which is carrying him and starts singing thiruppallANdu at once. Forgetting his own svarUpam as dependent and emperumAn’s svarUpam as fully independent and capable, AzhwAr out of great love, invites everyone (ishvaryArthi – one who desires wealth, kaivalyArthi – one who desires for AthmAnubhavam, bhagavath charaNArthi – one who desires for eternal kainkaryam to emperumAn) along with him and sings thiruppallANdu. srIman nArAyaNan then returns to his abode happily after the celebrations.
Subequently, periyAzhwAr blesses the king and he is well honoured by the king. Wanting to serve vatapathrasAyi again, AzhwAr returns to srIvilliputhUr and offers all the wealth that was given to him by the king to the emperumAn there. According to manu smrithi, it is said that:
thraya EvAdhaNA rAjaN bhAryA dhAsas thathA sUtha:
yaththE samadhigachchaNathi yasyaithE thasya thadhdhaNam
த்ரய ஏவாதநா ராஜந் பார்யா தாஸஸ் ததா ஸூத:
யத்தே ஸமதிகச்சநதி யஸ்யைதே தஸ்ய தத்தநம்
Wife, servant, son who does not own anything. All they earn will belong to their respective owners (husband, master and father).
According to this periyAzhwAr also offered everything to his master vatapathrasAyi and tells him “since these are earned by your grace these belong to you alone”. Completing the additional task, he then goes back to his routine kanikaryam of preparing many fresh variety of garlands with great affection and continues offering them to vatapathrasAyi like srI mAlAkArar prepared and offered them to krishNan and glorified him. Becoming greatly attached with kaNNan emperumAn’s charithram starting from his birth through his divine pastimes, he takes the bhAvam of yasOdhai and greatly relishes his sauseelyam (magnanimity) and saulabhyam (easy accessibility). Such overflowing emotions resulted in him revealing the divine prabhandham named periyAzhwAr thirumozhi. Contemplating on srIya:pathi allways, He nourished and uplifted his sishyas and abhimAnis who were surrendered to him and blessed everyone in the world.
Its not over yet, his divine charithram is further explained in ANdAL’s charithram which can be read at https://guruparamparai.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/andal/.
gurumukam anadhIthya prAhavE thAn asEshAn
narapathi parikluptham sulkamAdhAthu kAma:
svasuram amara vandhyam ranganAthasya sAkshAth
dhvija kula thilakam vishNuchiththam namAmi
குருமுகம் அநதீத்ய ப்ராஹவே தாந் அஸேஷாந்
நரபதி பரிக்லுப்தம் ஸுல்கமாதாது காம:
ஸ்வஸுரம் அமர வந்த்யம் ரங்கநாதஸ்ய ஸாக்ஷாத்
த்விஜ குல திலகம் விஷ்ணுசித்தம் நமாமி
His archAvathAra anubhavam is already discussed in here – http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/10/archavathara-anubhavam-periyazhwar.html.
adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan
Sources: vyAkyAnams, 6000 padi guru paramparA prabhAvam, periya thirumudi adaivu