maNavALa mAmunigaL identifies that our SrIvaishNava sampradhAyam is emperumAnAr (rAmAnuja) dharisanam as declared by namperumAL (SrIranganAthan). Together we can explore the depths of this glorious sampradhAyam in this blog site. This website is a humble samarpaNai at mAmunigaL's ponnadi (his thiruvadi [lotus feet] is called ponnadiyAm sengamalam - representing ponnadikkAl jIyar - 1st pontiff of vAnamAmalai/thOthAdhri mutt).
In the previous article we discussed the unique relationship between acharya and sishya.
will ask - "Why do we need an acharya between us and emperumaan? Has
there not been cases where emperumaan directly acknowledging individuals
like Gajendraaazhwaan, Guha perumaal, Sabhari, akrUran, thrivakraa
(kooni in Krishna avathaaram), maalaa kaaran, etc?".
this our pUrvaachaaryaas explain that, while emperumaan is svathanthran
and he will occassionally choose to pour his mercy on some souls, he is
also bound to give results by an individual's karma. This is where an
acharya comes into the picture. Emperumaan out of his constant sukrutham
tirelessly creating opportunities for a jIvaathma to ultimately reach a
sadaacharya who will impart the real knowledge and prepare the
jivaathma to reach him. Acharya being a recommendation authority like
piraati (who is purushakaara bhoothai) ensures to emperumaan that the
jIvaathma is ready to give up worldly attachments and is purely
depending on emperumaan's mercy to reach him.
is said that while emperumaan will grant samsaaram or mOksham according
to one's own karma, acharya will always ensure that the surrendered
jIvaathma gets mOksham. It is also explained that going directly to
emperumaan is like trying to reach out to his hands to hold on and going
through an acharya is like reaching out to his lotus feet to hold on
(since achayas are his thiruvadi nilai - representing his lotus feet).
Emperumaan directly acknowledging jIvaathmaas are rare and him accepting
jIvaathmaas through an acharyan is the most common/appropriate process
as explained by our pUrvaachaaryaas.
in to srivaishnava lakshanam, since we are discussing about acharyas it
is very appropriate to understand our own acharya paramparai. This will
help us fully appreciate how we got this knowledge down to us from
emperumaan. Most of us will probably already know this, but still
sharing this since without this acharya paramparai - we would also be
like so many other samsaaris in this world today.
(also known as sanaathana dharmam) is an eternal sampradhaayam and many
great personalities have propagated it throughout the history. Towards
the end of dvaapara yugam, azhwars started appearing in southern part of
bhaaratha varsham at the banks of various rivers. The last aazhwar
appeared in the early part of kali yugam. Vyaasa rishi, in sri
bhaagavatham identifies that exalted bhakthas of Sriman
Narayanan will appear in the banks of various rivers and will enrich
every one with the divine knowledge of emperumaan. Azhwaars are 10 in
number - Poigai Azhwaar, bhoothathaazhwaar, peyaazhwaar, thirumazhisai
aazhwaar, nammaazhwaar, kulasEkaraazhwaar, periyaazhwaar, thondaradi
podi aazhwaar, thirumangai aazhwaar and thiruppaanaazhwaar. Madhurakavi
azhwaar is an aaacharya nishtar and Andaal is avathaaram of Bhoomi
piraati. Azhwaars (except Andaal) are all jIvaathmaas hand picked by
emperumaan from samsaaram. Emperumaan gave the Azhwaars the most perfect
knowledge about tattva trayam (chit, achit, isvara) through his own
sankalpam and through them he re-established the bhathi/prapaththi
maargam when it was lost. He also made them realize past, present and future events fully and clearly. Azhwars sung 4000 divya prabhandham (popularly
known as arulicheyal) which were direct outpourings of their bhagavad
anubhavam. The essence of arulicheyal is in the divine verses of
thiruvaaimozhi which was rendered by nammaazhwaar.
the time of aazhwaars, acharyas started appearing. Several acharyas
such as NAthamuni, Uyyakkondaar, manakkaal nambi, aalavanthaar, periya
nambi, periya thirumalai nambi, thirukkOshtiyur nambi, thirumaalai
aandaan, azhwar thiruvaranga perumal arayar, emperumaanaar, embaar,
koorathaazhwaan, mudhaliaandaan, arulaala perumaal emperumaanaar,
thirukkurugai piraan pillan, engalaazhwaan, nadaathur ammaal, bhattar,
nanjeeyar, nampillai, vadakku thiruveedhi pillai, periyavaachaan pillai,
pillai lOkaachariar, azhagiya manavala perumaal naayanaar,
koorakulOthama daasar, thiruvaaimozhi pillai, vedhaanthaachariar,
manavaala maamunigal appeared and propagated our sampradhaayam. This
acharya paramparai continues through the 74 simhaasanadhipathis and
jeeyar mutts (established by emperumaanaar and manvala maamunigal) until
today. These acharyas wrote several commentaries on arulicheyal,
explaining the meanings of the paasurams in great detail. These
the great wealth they have left behind to us - for us to read them for
ourselves and immerse in the bhagavad anubhavam. The acharyas, by the
mercy of the aazhwaars were able to exactly understand the exact message
in the paasurams and explain them from different angles.
upadhEsa rathina maalai, maamunigal explains that we are able to
understand these arulicheyal as it is only because of the existence of
these commentaries (vyaakyaanamgal). If there were no commentaries, our
arulicheyal would have also become like other Tamil literature (which
are only learnt by a few elite group of people). Since our
pUrvaachaaryaas understood the message, they even made arulicheyal as
part of nithyaanusandhanam at both homes and temples. To see it
practically, we can visit thiruvallikeNi divya dEsam - during siriya
thirumadal gOshti on fridays, we can even see 5 year olds and 6 year
olds chanting out louder than the older ones. Also, every one of us
Thiruppaavai - every where, atleast during maargazhi month we can see
even 3 year olds and 4 year olds singing the glorious paasurams of
This article ended up being another slight
deviation from original topic - but again a very important aspect that
is to be understood and appreciated clearly.
In the next article,
we will continue with the original topic and move on to Pillai
lOkaachariar's presentation of the qualities of a vaishnava adhikaari.