anthimOpAya nishtai - 6 - AchAryan's higher position over bhagavAn

srImathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srImadh varavaramunayE nama:
srI vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

In the previous article (, we observed the divine dealings of bhattar, nanjIyar and nampiLLai. We will continue with the many incidents from our pUrvAchAryas in this article.

thirukkOshtiyUr nambi once visits srIrangam during an uthsavam and stays there for the whole time. emperumAnAr serves nambi throughout the uthsavam. While nambi was leaving, emperumAnAr asks him "Please give me a few good instructions that I can take refuge on". nambi closes his eyes for some time and says "We were undergoing training under ALavandhAr. At that time, when he bathes in the river and takes a dip facing down, his upper back will resemble a beautiful shining copper pot. I always take refuge in that divine vision. You also consider the same as your refuge" - this incident is very popular (Translator's note: The same incident is explained in 6000 padi guru paramparA prabhAvam also. This incident indicates that the sishya's focus should be on meditating on the AchArya's divine form). It is said that, nambi used to stay on the upper level of the main gOpuram in thirukkOshtiyUr temple meditating on ALavandhAr and always reciting the manthram "yamunaithuraivar" (yAmunAchAryar).

  Our jIyar explains this following incident. Once udayavar, wanting to  shower his causeless mercy on a dumb (mute) person, took him into his room, showed that his own divine form and lotus feet are the total refuge for the mute person through sign language. The mute person becomes ecstatic and bows down before udayavar. udayavar keeps his lotus feet on the head of the mute person and fully blesses him. kUrathAzhwAn, at that time happens to notice this and says "Oh! If I was born as a mute person, I could have also been shown the true path (which is accepting emperumAnAr's divine form as total refuge). Instead, I was born as AzhwAn and learnt sAsthram fully. But due to this, udayavar showed me the path of prapathi and thus I have become unfit to take full shelter of emperumAnAr's divine form!" and became upset with himself.

udayavar once wanted to perform mangaLAsAsanam to nammAzhwAr and starts his journey towards AzhwAr thirunagari. On the way, he reaches thiruppuLingudi dhivya dhEsam. He sees a little brAhmaNa girl in the street and asks her "Oh little girl! How far is AzhwAr thirunagari from here?" and the girl responds "Oh learned person! Have you not learnt thiruvAimozhi?". udayavar, being shocked, asks the girl "How would we know the distance from here to AzhwAr thirunagari by learning thiruvAimozhi?". The girl responds "Since AzhwAr says - thiruppuLingudiyAy! vadiviNaiyillA malarmagaL maRRai nilamagaL pidikkum melladiyaik koduvinaiyEnum pidikka nI orunAL kUvuthal varuthal cheyyAyE (thiruvAimozhi 9.2.10 - திருப்புளிங்குடியாய்! வடிவிணையில்லா மலர்மகள் மற்றை நிலமகள் பிடிக்கும் மெல்லடியைக் கொடுவினையேனும் பிடிக்க நீ ஒருநாள் கூவுதல் வருதல் செய்யாயே - Oh the one who resides in thiruppuLingudi! Why dont you call me or come to me so I can attend your most tender lotus feet which are attended by the most beautiful srIdhEvi and bhUdhEvi nAchiyArs) - would you not know that the distance must be very short (since if emperumAn calls out from there, AzhwAr will be able to hear in AzhwAr thirunagari)?". Hearing this udayavar becomes most blissful and very pleased with that little girl's intelligence and faith in AzhwAr's words. He then breaks the earthen pots which he was carrying along for his cooking and asks where the girl lives. The girl brings udayavar to her house and udayavar accepts her parents and the girl and their relatives as his sishyas, instructs the parents and the girl to prepare a feast (offers to emperumAn) and accepts the prasAdham from them. Then he leaves from there and reaches AzhwAr thirunagari. From that day onwards, the little girl and all her relatives considered udayavar as their worshippable deity and lived a glorious life - this is explained by our elders.

From the above incidents, we can understand that child, dumb (mute), the fallen, etc., who are not qualified to study sAsthram will still reach the ultimate destination/goal through the connection with a true AchArya. As we can see, the little girl and the dumb (mute) person attained the most glorious benediction simply by the most merciful acts of udayavar.

The following 2 incidents (among others) are identified in periyAzhwAr thirumozhi 4.4.1 nAva kAriyam pAsura vyAkyAnam by mAmunigaL. (Translator's note: These 2 incidents highlight the importance of total faith on AchAryas and giving up the association of persons who simply glorify bhagavAn without giving equal or more importance to AchAryan).
  • Once thirukkurugaippirAn piLLAn was travelling to kongu region (coimbatore, etc). He arrives at a srIvaishNava's place where he decides to prepare his own prasAdham. But he observes that everyone in that home is just reciting bhagavAn's nAma sankIrthanam (without any rememberance of AchAryan). Since it did not please him, he simply left that home.
  • Once, in the assembly of emperumAnAr, a vaishNava arrives and recites thirumanthram. vaduga nambi observes this and since thirumanthram was recited without reciting the guru paramparA manthram before, nambi declares that this is something unfit for the tongue to say and leaves that place. (Translator's note: piLLai lOkAchAryar declares that a sath sishyan should always be reciting guru paramparai and dhvayam in srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram).
As well known from vArthA mAlai, thirumAlai ANdAn said "If I want to teach bhagavath vishayam there are not many in this materialistic world to hear and learn that. If we sowed an areca nut, feed some fertilizer until it sprouts, build a small hut and stay there watching it for many years, finally we will see a few areca nuts. Unlike all such sufferings to get something very insignicant, here in bhagavath vishayam, we will be relieved from this material world which is filled with sufferings and we will achieve paramapadham which is all auspicious. All we need to have is a little bit of gratitude towards the AchAryan who made it all possible - but for materialistic people who cannot even fulfill this small requirement, how can I explain bhagavath vishayam?" and becomes very sad. As said in "gOgnE chaiva surApE cha chOrE bhagnavrathE thathA; nishkruthir vihithA sadhbhi: kruthaghnE nAsthi nishkruthi:" (கோக்நே சைவ ஸுராபே ச சோரே பக்நவ்ரதே ததா; நிஷ்க்ருதிர் விஹிதா ஸத்பி: க்ருதக்நே நாஸ்தி நிஷ்க்ருதி:) (Translator's note: This slOkam lists out the most abominable sins such as killing a cow, drinking liquour, stealing, etc which have no prescribed atonement - and the ungrateful ones who commit such sins will be relieved of them by performing certain pious deeds during puNya kAlams/auspicious times) - if the acts which involve being ungrateful in material (bodily) acts like killing the cow, stealing, etc. are very abominable, what to speak of being ungrateful to an AchAryan who transformed the jIvAthmA from being in the state of just matter (bodily thinking) to spirit soul (spiritual thinking) by giving divine knowledge to the sishya - ofcourse this is the most abominable sin which has no atonement.

Just like when water mixed with sand is taken in a container and purified with thEththAm seed (a type of seed), the sand will be subdued in the bottom and clean water will stay at the top, When the most merciful AchAryan takes the jIvAthmA (clean water) in the body (container) which is the source for ignorance (sand) and purifies it with thirumanthram (seed), ignorance will be subdued and knowledge will shine. But just like until the purified water is transferred into another clean container, the sand will come up whenever the water is touched with something else, the jIvAthmA will also be bewildered in this body until he is transferred into another pure body in paramapadham. To avoid such bewilderment it is essential for the sishyas to stay in the vicinity of AchAryan and other srIvaishNavas who are as good as the AchAryan. This principle is explained by our pUrvAchAryas.

ALavandhAr, while leaving to thiruvananthapuram, instructs his dear sishya dheivavAriyANdAn to serve the emperumAn by making garlands and also to take care off the mutt in srIrangam. ANdAn, becomes too worried and stops accepting thIrtham and prasAdham and day by day, becomes thinner. perumAL asks him "Why are you becoming like this?" and ANdAn responds "Even though I have dhEvarir's kainkaryam and sEvai (dharshan), I am unable to bear the separation from my AchAryan, that is why my body is becoming thinner". perumAL then says "If that is the case, you just go to ALavandhAr". ANdAn happily leaves and meets ALavandhAr (who was returning from thiruvananthapuram) just outside thiruvananthapuram on the banks of a river. ANdAn goes there, meets his AchAryan and becomes blissful and healthy on seeing him. At that time, ALavandhAr says "You can see the gardens around thiruvananthapuram. You go there along with the srIvaishNavas to worship anantha sayanan emperumAn". ANdAn replies "That is your thiruvanathapuram; I have already met my thiruvananthapuram" (Translator's note: AchAryan's divine form is where emperumAn stays - so that itself is a dhivyadhEsam for the sishya). ALavandhAr says "What a great conviction! It is difficult to find sishyas with such conviction" and becomes very pleased with ANdAn.

When pinbhazhagiya perumAL jIyar was ill, he asks other srIvaishNavas "Please pray to emperumAn that he does not give me paramapadham at present and let me stay here in srIrangam for some more time" and asks them to recite Azhiyezha (thiruvAimozhi 7.4), Ezhai Ethalan (periya thirumozhi 5.8) padhigams and make such request to emperumAn (Translator's note: this is considered as improper per srIvaishNava etiquette – one should not pray to emperumAn for anything – even for recovering from illness). They do that and he recovers quickly and becomes normal. Seeing this, sishyas of nampiLLai go to him and enquire him "He is most knowledgable and elderly; but is this act of praying for bodily recovery fit for his svarUpam?". nampiLLai says "We dont know what his thoughts are". nampiLLai then says, go and ask piLLai engaLAzhwAn. engaLAzhwAn replies “He may be attached to the glorious kainkaryasrI of srIrangam and he wants to stay here for some more time” as it is also said that "One has to fully consume once karma in this samsAram". nampiLLai then asks his sishyas to go and ask thirunArAyaNapurathu arayar – arayar says “may be he has some unfinished tasks which he wants to complete, so he is praying to prolonging his life here”. nampiLLai then asks his sishyas to ammangi ammAL who says “who would want to leave nampiLLai’s kAlakshEpa gOshti, he may be praying so he is here for some more time to listen to nampiLLai’s kAlakshEpam”. nampiLLai then asks his sishyas to go to ammangi periya mudhaliyAr and when they go to him, he says “bhattar said if he does not see the same divine form of namperumAL in parampadham, he will make a hole and jump back in to srIrangam. Similarly he may be too attached to namperumAL that he does not want to leave from here”. After hearing all these views, nampiLLai finally asks jIyar himself if any of these views are in line with what he himself is thinking. jIyar replies “None of these match my thinking". nampiLLai asks to reveal his mind then. jIyar says "You know everything. But out of your mercy, you want to reveal this through me. Let me say why I want to continue living here. Everyday, after  you taking bath, you would wear new clothes and walk around with a bit of sweat on your divine face and I would start fanning you at that time. How can I give up that vision of such divine form and the service I do at that time and go to parampadham just yet?”. nampiLLai and his sishyas were blissful hearing that and amazed to see such dedication in this samsAram. Our jIyar (mAmunigaL) also was overwhlemed with this dedication and instructed his own mind to develop such dedication in upadhEsa rathina mAlai 66th pAsuram as follows.

pinbazhagarAm perumAL jIyar
perunthivaththil anbadhuvumaRRu
mikka AsaiyinAl nampiLLaikkAna adimaigaL sey 
annilaiyai nannenjE! UnamaRa eppozhudhum Or

பின்பழகராம் பெருமாள் சீயர்
பெருந்திவத்தில் அன்பதுவுமற்று
மிக்க ஆசையினால் நம்பிள்ளைக்கான அடிமைகள் செய்
அந்நிலையை நன்னெஞ்சே! ஊனமற எப்பொழுதும் ஓர்

Simple translation: pinbhazhagarAm perumAL jIyar, without having attachment to paramapadham, stayed in srIrangam out of great love to serve nampiLLai's divine form. Oh dear mind! always meditate on such state of dedication.

Once periya nambi, thirukkOshtiyUr nambi and thirumAlai ANdAn were assembed under the punnai tree on the banks of chandhra pushkariNi in srIrangam. They were recollecting fond memories of their AchAryan (ALavandhAr) and were discussing/enjoying the wonderful instructions that were given by him. At that time, selvar (Tranlator's note: selvar is the form (vigraham) of emperumAn who watches over the process of distributing prasAdham to parivAra dhEvathas) starts his procession and arrives there along with the kainkaryaparas distributing srIbali (prasAdham). Since they had to break their discussion, stand up and bow before the emperumAn, they say "here comes the crowd-breaker; From this day onwards let us take a vow to be in a temple where selvar does not accompany the kainkaryaparas distributing srIbali". (Translator's note: To fulfill their vow, emperumAn took a vow not to accompany the kainkaryaparas since it will disturb the divine discussions of his devotees in srIrangam and follows that until today).

When ananthAzhwAn met nanjIyar (vEdhAnthi who was reformed by bhattar) who took sannyAsam and was planning to reach srIrangam and tells him "You accepted sannyAsAshramam which will interfere your kainkaryAms to your AchArya. Will they push you out of paramapadham if you took bath when you sweat, ate when you were hungry and always took refuge unto bhattar's lotus feet? Now you have to just stay in a corner without being able to serve bhattar".

A sishya of thoNdanUr nambi who was a saiva before visits thirumalai and meets ananthAzhwAn. He notices that ananthAzhwAn is plucking flowers and planting seeds in his garden to make garlands for thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn. He says "ananthAzhwAn! many nithyasUris assume the form of these flowers in thiruvEnkatam to serve emperumAn. You are crumpling them unnecessarily. My kainkaryam in my AchAryan thoNdanUr nambi's residence is at the backyard where they empty the banana leaves on which srIvaishNavas consume prasAdham to ensure that everything is maintained clean and proper. I will share some of my kainkaryam with you. By engaging in that bhAgavatha kainkaryam we can live our life as per payilum chudarOLi (thiruvAimozhi 3.7) and nedumArkkadimai (thiruvAimozhi 8.10) (Translator's note: Both these padhigams highlight the importance of being sub-servient to bhAgavathas). Why dont you avoid disturbing these divine flower bearing trees?". Subsequently, that srIvaishNava becomes ill and lies down having his head on ananthAzhwAn's lap. ananthAzhwAn asks "What are you contemplating on at the moment?". That srIvaishNava replies "thoNdanUr nambi accepted me and reformed me without considering my previous bad association. I am meditating on the backyard of his residence where I used to do kainkaryam" and immediately ascends to paramapadham. The essence of this incident is - Even though this srIvaishNava had the great fortune of being in front of thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn, he had no great interest in that and was fully focussed on the place where his AchAryan accepted him and engaged him in kainkaryam.

Translator's note: Thus, through the above incidents, we can understand the greater importance given to AchArya kainkaryam/anubhavam even over bhagavath kainkaryam/anubhavam by our pUrvAchAryas.

To be continued...

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adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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  1. Adiyen Dasan. Thank you for this great kainkaryam. A small correction request: payilum chudarOLi is thiruvAimozhi 3.7 and not 2.7

    1. dhanyOsmi for the feedback. Thanks for pointing out the error and it is corrected now.
      adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

  2. Dhanyosmi. Swamin, can I request that you upload the anthimopayanishtai Grantham's moolam as a downloadable file please

    1. adiyen had the srIkOsam, but gave it another swamy - still have not received it back. as of now, adiyen dont have the soft copy.

    2. its (hardcopy) available at for sale - they will deliver it at your home also.