anthimOpAya nishtai - 10 - srI rAmAnuja's sishyas

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

In the previous article (, we observed the divine glories of nampiLLai in this article. We will continue with more incidents from various sishyas of emperumAnAr in this article.

Once during the times of udayavar, aruLALa perumAL emperumAnAr was ill. kUrathAzhwAn did not go and enquire about his illness immediately and goes to meet him after 4 days and asks him "How did you manage when you were ill?" and aruLALa perumAL emperumAnAr responds "For the level of our friendship between yourself and me, I thought you would come and meet me and bless me as soon as you heard about my illness. But you have ignored me and I am deeply hurt. This will not heal until I go and worship the lotus feet of ALavandhAr". This incident is explained in ponnaulAgALIrO (thiruvAimozhi 6.8.1) pAsuram vyAkyAnam clearly. (Translator's note: The context here is, in ponnulagALIrO padhigam, nammAzhwAr sends a bird as the messenger to emperumAn and he has utmost confidence that the bird is fully capable of even having emperumAn at his disposal. But the bird is not helping AzhwAr immediately. Similarly, aruLALa perumAL emperumAnAr knowing that AzhwAn has emperumAn at his disposal and could even have got him paramapadham immediately but he showed up after a long delay. So, he is saying, that feeling will heal only when/if he reaches paramapadham and bow down at ALavandhAr who is already in paramapadham).

vaduga nambi was alive for some time after udayavar's ascending to paramapadham. But, eventually he also ascends to paramapadham. One srIvaishNava goes to bhattar and tells him "vaduga nambi ascended to paramapadham". bhattar responds "You should not say like that for vaduga nambi". The srIvaishNava asks "Why not? Cant we say that he ascended to paramapadham?". bhattar beautifully explains that paramapadham is common for prapannas and upAsakas (ones who undergoes bhakthi yOgam and achieves paramapadham by their self effort) - vaduga nambi's focus is not that. Then, the srIvaishNava asks "So, does he have some other place in his mind?" and bhattar explains "Yes. You should say vaduga nambi reached the lotus feet of emperumAnAr" - this is explained by my AchAryan (mAmunigaL). ALavandhAr declares in the beginning of sthOthra rathnam "athra parathrachApi nithyam yadhIya charaNau sharaNam madhIyam" (அத்ர பரத்ரசாபி நித்யம் யதீய சரணௌ சரணம் மதீயம் - Both in samsAram and paramapadham I always want to serve nAthamunigaL's lotus feet). thiruvarangathu amudhanAr says in rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi 95th pAsuram "viNNin thalai ninRu vIdaLippAn emmirAmAnusan maNNin thalaththudhiththu maRai nAlum vaLarththananE" (விண்ணின் தலை நின்று வீடளிப்பான் எம்மிராமானுசன் மண்ணின் தலத்துதித்து மறை நாலும் வளர்த்தனனே - From paramapadham our rAmAnuja will will bless the jIvAthmas with the ultimate goal of kainkaryam in paramapadham and while he took birth in this samsAram, without being touched by the defects of this samsAram, he would establish the vEdha sAsthram properly).

The all knowing aruLALa perumAL emperumAnAr, bhattar who is the son of kUrathAzhwAn, paramAchAryar ALavandhAr, thiruvarangathu amudhanAr who fully brought out the divine glories of udayavar, kUrathAzhwAn, etc., have all clearly explained the glories of AchArya nishtai. Thus it is established that total dependence on the lotus feet of AchArya who is uncomparable master for the sishya in both samsAram and paramapadham is far greater than total dependence on the lotus feet of bhagavAn which are said to be equal to all as said in jithanthE sthOthram as "dhEvAnAm dhAnavAncha sAmAnyam adhidhaivatham" (தேவாநாம் தாநவாஞ்ச ஸாமாந்யம் அதிதைவதம் - bhagavAn is common to all beings). This is why mAmunigaL also prayed towards emperumAnAr as in "When will I attain your lotus feet?", "yathirAja! please always engage me with pleasure in your service".

Our jIyar explains the following incident. Once a srIvaishNava was eating prasAdham and kidAmbi AchAn was serving him water. But instead of serving it straight from the opposite side, he was doing it from the sides and because of that the srIvaishNava had to bend his neck a bit to accept the water. udayavar observed that, and pushes kidAmbi AchAn on his spine (back) and tells him "we must serve srIvaishNavas with utmost care". Hearing that kidAmbi AchAn becomes ecstatic and says "You are clearing my defects and engaging me more in service and I am very grateful for such mercy" and shows his gratitude.

In mAnikka mAlai, periyavAchAn piLLai identifies the following incident. Once, udayavar becomes upset with AzhwAn. A few who were present there asks AzhwAn "Now that udayavar has pushed you away, What are you thinking now?" and AzhwAn responds "Since I am completely subservient to srI bhAshyakArar, I will accept whatever he does - nothing to worry".

The following incident is identified in vArthA mAlai. piLLai uRangA villi dhAsar once goes to mudhaliyANdAn, bows at his lotus feet and asks "How should a sishya be towards his AchArya?" and ANdAn says "For the AchAryan, sishya should be like a wife, the body and an attribute - i.e., a wife will do whatever the husband tells her, a body will do whatever the AthmA wants and will be borne by the object". piLLai uRangA villi dhAsar then goes to AzhwAn and asks him "How should a AchArya be towards his sishya?" and AzhwAn responds "For the sishyan, AchArya should like the husband, the AthmA and the object - i.e., like a husband who properly instructs the wife, like the AthmA who control the body as he feels and as the object which bears the attribute".

Once, kUrathAzhwAn and mudhaliyANdAn were have a discussion on divine matters and a topic comes up "Are we blessed the ultimate goal of mOksham by svAnuvruthi prasannAchAryan (an AchArya who puts through the sishya several stringent tests before blessing him with divine knowledge) or krupAmAthra prasannAchArya (an AchAray who blesses the sishya with divine knowledge based on the pure desire in the sishya)?". ANdAn says "mOksham is through svAnuvruthi prasannAchArya only" and AzhwAn says "mOksham is through krupAmAthra prasannAchAryan only". ANdAn says since periyAzhwAr says "kuRRaminRi guNam perukki gurukkaLukku anukUlarAy" (குற்றமின்றி குணம் பெருக்கி குருக்களுக்கு அனுகூலராய் - One should remove the defects and act favourable towards their AchArya), we should also do that. AzhwAn say "Its not like that", as madhurakavi AzhwAr says "payananRAgilum pAngallarAgilum seyal nanRAgath thiruththip paNikoLvAn kuyil ninRAr pozhil sUzh kurugUr nambi" ( பயனன்றாகிலும் பாங்கல்லராகிலும் செயல் நன்றாகத் திருத்திப் பணிகொள்வான் குயில் நின்றார் பொழில் சூழ் குருகூர் நம்பி - Even if we are not qualified and matured enough, nammAzhwAr who lives in AzhwAr thirunagari which is surrounded by gardens, will purify us and engage us in his service) we should not try to do it on our own and instead we should depend on the mercy of the AchArya to achieve the highest goal of mOksham. Hearing that ANdAn was very pleased. This incident was narrated by my AchAryan (mAmunigaL).

udayavar out of his divine mercy, travelled to thirunArAyaNapuram citing kirumikaNdan (saiva king) as a reason. Since the temple kainkaryaparars were suffering due to that, thinking "We are facing these problems due to udayavar only, so any one who is related to udayavar should not enter the temple", an order was placed to such effect. kUrathAzhwAn went to the kirumi kaNdan's court to establish our sidhAntham and lost his eyes and finally returns to srIrangam. Without knowing the situation at the temple, he goes to worship periya perumAL and one of the gate keepers stops AzhwAn. But at the same time another gate keeper asks AzhwAn to enter the temple. AzhwAn was surprised to hear the two different views of the gate keepers and asks them "What is happening here?". They reply "There is an order which says we should not allow any one related to emperumAnAr inside the temple". AzhwAn asks "But why are you allowing me then?". They reply "AzhwAn! Unlike others you are very good hearted with Athma guNams, so we allowed you to enter the temple". Hearing this AzhwAn becomes shocked and starts shivering like a moon in the water (which constantly shakes). He steps back a few steps and says "sAsthram says one develops Athma guNams lead to AchArya sambandham (relationship); But here in my case, Athma guNams are leading to give up my relationship with emperumAnAr" with deep sorrow. He further says "For me, emperumAnAr's lotus feet is sufficient to achieve the ultimate goal; I dont need to worship perumAL giving up emperumAnAr's relationship" and returns to his thirumALigai (residence) without worshipping emperumAn. This incident is narrated by our jIyar.

It is explained in thiruvirutham vyAkyAnam that ALavandhAr identifies that emperumAn out of his mercy, himself appeared as nammAzhwAr. azhagiya maNavALa perumAL nAyanAr in his AchArya hrudhayam also wonders if nammAzhwAr is the avathAram for kali yugam in chathurtha varNam after being born as the son of athri, jamadhagni, dasaratha and vasudhEvan/nandhagOpAlan in brAmaNa/kshathriya/vaishya varNams in previous yugams (sath, trEtha, dhvApara yugams). (Translator's note: AzhwAr's glories makes everyone wonder if he is emperumAn's avathAram, but he is really not as explained by our pUrvAchAryas clearly. The context here is to show that emperumAn himself wants to take the position of AchAryan since that is the highest position one can depend on).

Translator's note: Thus, we have seen the nishtai of various sishyas of srI rAmAnuja and how they manifested total dependence on srI rAmAnuja.

To be continued...

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