periyavAchAn piLLai - vyAkyAna chakkaravarthi

srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

periyavAchAn piLLai - sEngaNUr

srImath krishNa samAhvAya namO yAmuna sUnavE
yath katAkshaika lakshyANam sulabha: srIdharas sadhA

ஸ்ரீமத் க்ருஷ்ண ஸமாஹ்வாய நமோ யாமுந ஸூநவே
யத் கடாக்ஷைக லக்ஷ்யாணாம் ஸுலப: ஸ்ரீதரஸ் ஸதா

I worship periyavAchAn piLLai who is the son of yAmunar and whose katAksham will make emperumAn sriman nArAyanan's grace fall on us very easily.

Thirunkaksathram: AvaNi rOhiNi
avathAra sthalam: sanganallUr (sEngaNUr).
AchAryan: nampiLLai
sishyas: nAyanArAchAn piLLai, vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jeeyar,  parakAla dhAsar, etc
Born as krishnan as the son of yAmunar and sEngaNUr, he becomes to be known as periyavAchAn piLLai. He is one of the prime sishyas of nampiLLai and learnt all sAsthra arthams from nampiLLai himself. periyavAchAn piLLai became an illustrious AchAryan in our sampradhAyam by the grace of nampiLLai. As in periya thirumozhi 7.10.10, it is said that thirukkannamangai empeumAn wanted to learn the meanings of thirumangai AzhwAr's pAsurams from kaliyan himself - so kaliyan took the avathAram of nampiLLai and emperumAn took the avathAram of periyavAchAn piLLai to learn all the meanings of the aruLicheyal. He is also known as vyAkyAna chakkaravarthi, abhaya pradha rAjar, etc. He adopts nAyanArAchAn piLLai as his son.

In his life time, he has done vyAkyAnams for:
  • 4000 dhiyva prabhandham - He has written vyAkyAnams for all of aruLicheyal. vyAkyAnams of approximately 400 pAsurams for periyAzhwAr thirumozhi was lost and mAmunigaL just wrote those missing pAsura vyAkyAnams.
  • sthOthra granthams - He has written vyAkyAnams for pUrvAchArya srisUkthis like sthOthra rathna, chathu slOki, gadhya thryayam, etc and jithanthE sthOthram.
  • sri rAmAyaNam - He has selected important slOkams from sri rAmAyaNam and written a detailed commentary for those in rAmAyaNa thani slOki. He was named abhaya pradha rAjar for his masterful explanation of vibhIshaNa sharanAgathi episode.
He has also written many rahasya granthams such as mANikka mAlai, parantha rahasyam, sakala prAmANa thAthparyam, etc which explains rahasya thrayam in an excellent manner. He was a pioneer in documenting rahasya thrayam - piLLai lOkAchAryar took the essence of nampiLLai and periyavAchAn piLLai's teachings and wrote his astAdhasa rahasya granthams.

His expertise in aruLicheyal and sri rAmAyaNam can be understood by his grantham called pAsurapadi rAmyAyanam where he uses words from aruLicheyal to explain the story line of sri rAmAyaNam in a crisp manner.

The power of his grace can also be understood from the incident happened in vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jeeyar. jeeyar, in his pUrvAshramam was serving in the thirumadappaLLi (kitchen) of periyavAchAn piLLai's thirumALigai. He was an illiterate but had strong devotion towards his AchAryan. Once when he overheard some srivaishnavas discussing some vEdhAntha vishayam, he enquired from them about the topic of discussion. Them being arrogant and considering him as an illiterate said they were discussing about a grantham called "musala kisalayam" (newly blossomed  pounder). He went and mentioned this to his AchAryan and periyavAchAn piLLai out of his grace decided to teach everything to him. After a few years, he becomes a master of all sAstram and goes on to become vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jeeyar and writes several granthams himself on our sampradhAyam.

Just like periya perumAL, periya pirAtti, periya thiruvadi, periya AzhwAr and periya kOil, AchAn piLLai also due to his greatness became to be known as periyavAchAn piLLai.

maNavALa mAmunigaL in his upadhEsa rathina mAlai dedicates two pAsurams specifically to periyavAchAn piLLai.

pAsuram: 43
NampiLLai thammudaiya NallaruLAl Eviyidap (நம்பிள்ளை தம்முடைய நல்லருளால் ஏவியிடப்)
pin periyavAchAn piLLai athanAl (பின் பெரியவாச்சான் பிள்ளை அதனால்)
inbA varubathi mARan maRaip poruLai chonnathu (இன்பா வருபத்தி மாறன் மறைப் பொருளைச் சொன்னது)
irupathu nAlAyiram (இருபத்து நாலாயிரம்)

Simple Translation: Out of his grace, nampiLLai orders periyavAchAn piLLai to write a commentary for thiruvAimozhi. Having that in mind, periyavAchAn piLLai wrote the most enjoyable commentary for nammAzhwAr's thiruvAimozhi which is the essence of all vEdhas.  The commentary was written similar to sri rAmAyaNam, i.e., containing 24000 lines (similar to 24000 slOkams in sri rAmAyaNam).

pAsuram: 46
periyavAchAn piLLai  pinbuLLavaikkum  (பெரியவாச்சான் பிள்ளை  பின்புள்ளவைக்கும்
theriya vyAkiyaigaL cheyvAl (தெரிய வ்யாகியைகள் செய்வால்)
ariya aruLichcheyal poruLai AriyargatkippOthu (அரிய அருளிச்செயல் பொருளை ஆரியர்கட்கிப்போது)
aruLichcheyalAyth thariNthu (அருளிச்செயலாய்த் தரிந்து)

Simple Translation: It is due to periyavAchAn piLLai's commentaries for aruLicheyal, the great teachers are able to understand and propagate the true meanings of aruLicheyal. Without these vyAkyAnams, no one can speak about the inner meanings of aruLicheyal.

Also, mAmunigaL in pAsuram 39, identifies that periyavAchAn piLLai was one of the 5 vyAkyAna karthAs for thiruvAimozhi, there by saving it and propagating it to everyone since without the vyAkyAnams we cannot understand the inner meanings of aruLicheyal.

Several incidents from his life are recorded in vArthA mAlai grantham and other pUrVAchArya granthams. Let us see some here:

  • When some asks if we are target of emperumAn's krupai or leelai - periyavAchAn piLLai says "if we think that we are caught in this samsAram, we are target of emperumAn's krupai and if we think that we are happy in this samsAram, we are target of emperumAn's leelai".
  • When some one asks what does pArathanthriya mean? periyavAchAn piLLai says that depending fully on emperumAn's sakthi, completely giving up upAyAntharams (including self efforts) and ever longing for bhagavath kainkarya mOksham is pArathanthriyam.
  • When some one asks what is upAyam? Is it us giving up everything or holding on to him? periyavAchAn piLLai says that both are not upAyam it is emperumAn who made us give up everything and hold on to him is the upAyam.
  • Once when bandhu of periyavAchAn piLLai is worried and he asks for the reason. She says she is very worried since she has been in this samsAram since anAdhi kAlam and with so much karma how emperumAn will give her mOksham. For that periyavAchAn piLLai says, we are emperumAn's property and he will take us when he wants to irrespecitve of our karmas.
  • When a srivaishnava finds fault in another srivaishnava, periyavAchAn piLLai says that yaman is asking his servants to move away from srivaishnavas without looking at their faults, piAtti says "na kaschin na aparAdhyathi" - dont look at anyone's faults, perumAL says even if my bhakthas do mistakes it is good only, AzhwAr says who ever emperumAn's bhakthas are, they have to be praised. So sarcastically he says, some one needs to say the faults in srivaishnavas and let that some one be this person who finds faults in the other person.
  • During a discussion about the greatness about bhAgavathas, some one starts speaking about emperumAn and periyavAchAn piLLai says  why speak sAmAnya vishyam (general matters) when speaking about visEsha vishayam (special matters).
  • periyavAchAn piLLai says every srivaishnava must have involvement in aruLicheyal.
  • and so on.
Today being AvaNi rOhiNi, the thirunakshathram of periyavAchAn piLLai, let us bow down at his lotus feet and ever remember his contribution to our sampradhAyam.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

kiLaroLi iLamai - 6 - svarUpa yAthAthmya jnAnam - bhAgavatha sEshathvam

srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

In the previous articles we observed the importance of understanding that jIvAthmA is bhagavath sEsha bhUthan (servant of emperumAn) and avoiding the main hurdles namely dhEhAthma abhimAnam, sva svAthanthriyam and anya sEshathvam.
Our pUrvAchAryas have shown that it is not sufficient to be a servant of emperumAn. We have to go beyond that and understand that we are really servants of emperumAn's adiyArs. We can understand this through a simple loukIka example. When a man and woman marry, if the wife serves the husband lovingly, the husband gets pleased. But if the wife serves the husband's parents (or others who are very dear to him), the husband gets mighty (very) pleased. 

emperumAn's adiyArs are very dear to emperumAn. In bhagavath gIthai (7.16, 7.17, 7.18 and 7.19), kannan emperumAn explains that:
  • 4 types of people who approach him - one wants to get rid of his material miseries, one who is desirous of material wealth, one who is looking for AthmAnubhavam (kaivalyam) and one who is looking for bhagavadh kainkaryam.
  • He says, of the four, jnAni - the one who wants bhagavath kainkaryam is the best and there is reciprocation of boundless love between such jnAnis and himself.
  • He further says, such jIvAthmAs are like his life and soul. For example, this can be observed in the cases of pANdavas where emperumAn says "mama prANA hi pANdava:" - pANdavas who were fully surrendered and attached to him are treated by emperumAn as his life.
  • He also says such jnAnis who understand emperumAn is everything are very rare to find in this samsAram.
AzhwArs and AchAryas were such jnAnis who understood the real meaning of life. And if we serve them that will satisfy emperumAn even more than serving himself.

We can go back to thirumanthram to understand this concept as well. As mentioned before thirumanthram contains everything that is essential for us to understand.

In mumukshupadi, while explaining nama: padham, piLLai lOkAchAryar says in sUtram 89 that:
'uRRathum unnadiyArkkadimai' enkiRapadiyE ithilE bhAgavatha sEshathvamum aNusaNthEyam ('உற்றதும் உன்னடியார்க்கடிமை' என்கிறபடியே இதிலே பாகவத ஸேஷத்வமும் அநுஸந்தேயம்).

Here mAmunigaL explains in the vyAkyAnam that thirumangai AzhwAr says "once I learnt thirumanthram I understood that I am really a servant of your adiyArs". This is the yAthAthmya (inner/deep) meaning of thirumanthram and it is to be properly understood.

Understanding ourselves to be subservient to bhAgavathAs is explained by AzhwArs in several places as follows:

  • payilum chudaroLi (thiruvAimozhi 2.7)
  • nedumArkku adimai (thiruvAimozhi 8.10)
  • naNNAtha vaLavuNar (thirumozhi 2.6)
  • kaNsOra venguruthi (thirumozhi 7.4)
  • thEttarum thiral thEn (perumAL thirumozhi 2)
  • thirumAlai (pAsurams - 39 to 43)
periyAzhwAr also shows that we should be totally surrendered to bhAgavathas. He says we should be like "en thammai viRkavum peRuvargaLE" (என் தம்மை விற்கவும் பெறுவர்களே), i.e., we should be so surrendered to them that, they should even have the right to sell us.

ThirumAlai is the outpouring of Thondaradipodi AzhwAr towards periya perumAL.
In pAsuram 38, AzhwAr explains that emperumAn will be pleased when:
  • we should understand that we are jIvAthmAs who are utterly dependent on emperumAn 
  • we should remove our senses  from material things and focus them on emperumAn
  • we should understand that bhagavath kainkaryam is the ultimate goal to achieve
  • we should give up attachment to all other upAyams and just do kainkaryam in this life

In pAsurams - 39 to 43, AzhwAr gives beautiful explanation for bhAgavatha sEshathvam which is higher than bhagavath sEshatvam. He says the ones who have this understanding will be the target of emperumAn's grace very easily.
  • In pAsuram 39, AzhwAr says that emperumAn likes one who is born in panchama kulam (outside varNAshramam) but is engaged in bhagavath kainkaryam always more than one who is done proper adhyayanam of 4 vEdhas but lacks understanding of svarUpa jnAnam.
  • In pAsuram 40, AzhwAr says that if a person is involved in murdering and robbing others, but always thinking about sriya:pathi in his mind, he will not face any of the pApams that are accumulated by his acts. periyavAchAn piLLai does clarify in the vyAkyAnam that one who is always thinking about sriya:pathi will not engage in such acts and whatever explained here must be considered as pUrva vruthantham (what has happened before his surrender and acquiring knowledge in bhagavath vishayam).
  • In pAsuram 41, AzhwAr says, even when one is torturing others himself and tortures others through his servants, if he says paramapadhanAthan's thirunAmam, their food remnants (sEsha prasAdham) will purify anyone who consumes that. Same as before, one who has proper knowledge will not engage in any such evil acts.
  • In pAsuram 42, AzhwAr says to brAhmaNas who have come in a pure family lineage and learnt all the four vEdhas that emperumAn says they should worship his bhakthas at the same level as emperumAn, accept knowledge from them and give knowledge to them.
  • In pAsuram 43, even if one is a fully qualified brAhamaNa and a vaishnava who has learnt vEdhas fully with the ancillary details, but commits an offense towards a bhaktha who may not even be within varNashrama (being born in a panchama kulam), the very moment, he will become like a chandALa. This need not be a physical transformation - but at a psychological level.
From the above we can easily understand the thiruvuLLam of AzhwArs. Further, while the 10 AzhwArs longed for bhAgavatha sEshathvam but did not enjoy it themselves fully, madhurakavi AzhwAr and ANdAL showed complete bhAgavatha sEshathvam.
  • madhurakavi AzhwAr says "dhEvu maRRariyEn", he does not any any other dhEvan than nammAzhwAr.
  • ANdAL says "vishNuchithar thangaL dhEvar", she accepts kannan because kannan is dear to periyAzhwAr.

Many of our AchAryas were also fully enjoying bhAgAvatha sEshathvam and kainkaryam.
  • emperumAnAr was fully surrendered to nammAzhwAr - that is why he is called "mARan adi panNiNthu uyNthavan"  (மாறன் அடி பணிந்து உய்ந்தவன்). He was also constantly thinking about ALavandhAr (his mAnasIka AchArya) and showing his gratitude to him.
  • vaduga nambi was completely focussed on emperumAnAr. Once, when he was boiling milk for emperumAnAr, namperumAL purappAdu was happening. When emperumAnAr invites him outside to worship namperumAL, vaduga nambi refuses to come out saying that in the mean time the milk may boil and he wont be fulfill emperumAnAr's kainkaryam properly.
  • AzhwAn
    • When emperumanar was upset with him once, AzhwAn says he is simply a property of emperumAnAr and emperumAnAr can do whatever he wants with AzhwAn.
    • When one srivaishnava wanted to hear kAlakshEpam of a particular grantham from AzhwAn without wanting to be subservient, AzhwAn teaches him in a secluded place. But when some one comes by that side, to protect the other srivaishnavas ego, AzhwAn pretends that he is hearing kAlakshEpam from the other srivaishnava. The other srivaishnava realises his mistake and falls at the lotus feet of AzhwAn.
  • MudhaliANdAn - Once when periya nambi's daughter needs a servant at her in-laws house, emperumAnAr asks mudhaliAndAn to go and be her servant. AndAn happily goes with her and takes care of her needs.
  • nampiLLai 
    • When one srivaishnava wanted to hear bhagavadh vishayam from nanjeeyar, nanjeeyar says he should hear from nampiLLai. The srivaishnava was hesitant to hear from a grihasthar but accepts nanjeeyar's words with the condition that he will not prostrate (fall at the feet) nampiLLai. But when nampiLLai starts explaining payilum chudaroLi (2.7), that srivaishnava realizes his mistake and prostrates to nampiLLai. nampiLLai does not accept that and says that it was his AchArya's instruction that he should not accept the prostration from this srivaishnava.
    •  thOzhappar - nampiLLai idhihyam: When kandhAdai thOzhappar commits an apachAram at nampiLLai, nampiLLai was so graceful that he went and apologized to thOzhappar for that. thOzhappar overwhelmed by nampiLLai's greatness gives him the title "lOkAchAryar".
  • pinbazhagarAm perumAL jeeyar was very attached to nampiLLai. When once he became sick, he went to the doctor and took some medicines (those days, it was not considered proper for srivaishnavas to look after their bodily discomforts by taking medicines). When everyone guessed different reasons for him doing this, jeeyar says that he cannot think about leaving his body yet, since he wants to enjoy the sight of nampiLLai's back/shoulders while coming back from cauvery after taking a bath.
  • maNavALa mAmunigaL was completely surrendered to emperumAnAr. He was worshipping bhavishyadhAchAryan in AzhwAr thirunagari and also compiled yathirAja vimsathi and Arthi prabandham - both focussed on emperumAnAr. He also was always thinking about thiruvAimozhi piLLai and followed his instructions always.
  • mOr munnAr iyar was a disciple of mAmunigaL. He ate in the same banana leaf on which mAmunigaL has his prasAdham. He also starts with curd rice first since he wants to continue with the same taste on the leaf (from where mAmunigaL left).
There are many such idhihyams like this where our pUrvAchAryas show complete dependence on bhAgvavathas and AchAryas. 

Being surrendered to emperumAn is the first step and the basic understanding. Being surrendered to bhAgavathAs is the last step and the highest understanding. So, it is said in kanninun chiruthAmbu vyAkyAnam that if we fall from the bhagavath sEshatvam we will fall in to vishayAntharam (material attachments). But if we fall from bhAgavatha sEshathvam, we will fall down to bhagavath sEshathvam only (so recovery is faster).

It is also said in the vyAkyAnams that plain bhagavath sEshathvam without any link to bhAgavathas is the same as dhEvathAnthara bhajanam. We should always worship emperumAn in relation with his adiyArs like pirAttis, AzhwArs, AchAryas, etc.

To summarize, we should first understand that we are jIvAthmAs who are fully subservient to emperumAn, avoid dhEhAthma abhimAnam, sva svAthanthriyam and anya sEshathvam. Finally we should understand that we should fully depend on bhAgavathAs, consider them as our masters and try to serve them as much as possible. If we are able to grasp this understanding and put it into practice our life will be blissful both in this world and the higher world.

With this adiyen will complete this series of articles on Athma svarUpa jnAnam. Any mistakes in these posts are purely adiyen's and anything good here goes to our AchArya paramparai.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan