Mastery of krishNas

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

kaNNan emperumAn is an expert in mesmerizing others and explaining philosophical principles. His mastery was revealed by him in vrundhAvanam amidst the gopas and gOpis (cowherd boys and girls) and kurukshEthram (in the battle field) amidst the soldiers from kaurava side and pANdava side.

krishNa mesmerized many with his childhood pastimes in vrundhAvanam. Becoming the darling child of yasOdha and nandhagOpa, he pleased everyone in AyarpAdi and attracted them with his charm and affection. The gOpis became so attached to him and could not bear the separation from him even for a single moment. The highlight of his whole krishNAvathAram is his navanItha chauryam (butter theft) and just like he stole the butter, he also stole the hearts of his dear devotees. Not just gOpas and gOpis, even great rishis like vyAsa, suka, sUtha, saunaka, etc., who are vEdhAnthis, were amazed by his leelAs and showed great attachment towards him. Our own AzhwArs too, unanimously sung the glories of kaNNan emperumAn more than any other avathAram of bhagavAn. AchAryas followed suit in glorifying emperumAn in their sthOthra granthams. Thus, kaNNan emperumAn controlled every one through his mastery - from the simple minded gOpis to the vEdhAnthis, the AzhwArs who are filled with bhakthi to the AchAryas who were great gyAnis, etc.

His mission of explaining the essential principles through gIthA is also a wonderful revelation of his mastery. arjuna was raring to go and fight it out with the kauravas. But seeing bhIshma pithAmaha, dhrONAchArya, krupAchArya, dhuryOdhana, etc - who are all related to him one way or the other, he got bewildered. He started shivering out of fear for killing his own kith and kin, teachers and mentors. He dropped his famous/powerful bow named gANdIpam and took full shelter of krishNa. krishNa, having masterfully presented such situation to arjuna, took that opportunity to become gIthAchArya and explained the nature of thathva thrayam (chith, achith, Isvara), karma yOgam, gyAna yOgam, bhakti yOgam, his own opulences (viswarUpam and vibhUthi yOgam), the 3 modes of nature (sathvam, rajO, thamO guNams), etc and completes gIthA with the final verdict on total surrender to himself. Thus, bhagavAn sets up arjuna so that he too can take the role of AchArya and explain the essential principles in a crystal clear way that can be understood by every one. This principle of his liking towards being an AchAryan is highlighted by piLLai lOkAchAryar beautifully in srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram in sUthrams 430 and 431. In these 2 sUthrams, he first explains that "bhagavAn also likes to assume the role of AchAryan" and then he goes on to say "that is why he assumed the role of the first AchAryan in guru paramparai and spoke bhagavath gIthA to arjuna and protected vibhIshaNAzhwAn before rAma-rAvaNa war (explaining the principle of sharaNAgathi)". Eventually, he helps arjuna (and all his brothers and family) in so many ways and ensure that they are well taken care off by enacting so many wonderful situations like hiding the sun to kill jayathradha, etc.

But there is the other krishNa. He is none other than periyavAchAn piLLai who is the dear sishya of nampiLLai. periyavAchAn piLLai is considered as an incarnation of kaNNan emperumAn himself and nampiLLai is considered as an incarnation of thirumangai AzhwAr.

bhakthavathsala perumAL (thirukkaNNamangai) - thirumangai AzhwAr

periyavAchAn piLLai (sEnganUr) - nampiLLai (thiruvallikkENi)

A divine event that happens in thirukkaNNamangai dhivyadhEsam is highlighted in periya thirumozhi 7.10 padhigam where in the last pAsuram, thirumangai AzhwAr says to emperumAn that he can become his sishya and learn the meanings of his thirumozhi pAsurams. To fulfill those words, emperumAn becomes periyavAchAn piLLai (born on AvaNi rOhiNi and named krishNa) and thirumangai AzhwAr becomes nampiLLai (born on kArthigai kArthigai and named thirukkalikanRi dhAsar). periyavAchAn piLLai becomes a dear sishya of nampiLLai, learns all the essential principles (that are coming down via our AchArya paramaparai centered on srI rAmAnuja) from him and shows great regard and affection for his AchArya.

periyavAchAn piLLai is crowned as vyAkyAna chakkaravarthy (emperor among commentators). He has written commentaries for all 4000 dhivya prabandhams, sthOthra granthams and selective slOkams of srI rAmAyaNa slOkams. He has also done rahasya granthams. His mastery in the principles of sath sampradhAyam is uncomparable.

srI rAmAyaNam is called as "sharaNAgathi sAsthram" by our pUrvAchAryas. periyavAchAn piLLai's commentary for selective slOkams of srI rAmAyanam is known as srI rAmAyaNa thani slOkam. 

He brings out the most important principles of srI rAmAyaNam for us. The sargam related to vibhIshaNa sharaNAgathi is explained by him in great detail analysing the aspect of sharaNAgathi in the most brilliant way. Let us see an example for his brilliance in writing commentaries by going through his commentary for just one phrase in a particular slOkam in sundhara kANdam 21st sargam 3rd slOkam.

thruNamantharatha: kruthvA prathyuvAcha suchismithA
nivarththaya manO maththa: svajanE prIyathAm mana:

த்ருணமந்தரத: க்ருத்வா ப்ரத்யுவாச சுசிஸ்மிதா
நிவர்த்தய மநோ மத்த: ஸ்வஜநே ப்ரீயதாம் மந:

Simple translation: sIthA pirAtti picks up a blade of grass and places it in between herself and rAvaNa and starts speaking with merciful and pure smile - "You take your mind away from me and focus it on your own wives with affection".

In the vyAkyAnam for this slOkam, periyavAchAn piLLai explains how rAvaNa approached sIthA pirAtti with inappropriate thoughts and words and how pirAtti mercifully gave him so many instructions/replies to rAvaNa's words. Though pirAtti was initially shivering at the sight of rAvaNa, she composed herself and mercifully starts talking to him and giving him good instructions. Here, periyavAchAn piLLai explains several reasons for pirAtti placing the blade of grass in between herself and rAvaNa. Let us see his various explanations for this phrase "thruNamantharatha: kruthvA" now and understand the glories of periyavAchAn piLLai. He starts with saying that pirAtti first places the blade of grass before speaking - though it is not mandatory to do that every time we start speaking. He goes on to give 26 different explanations for this simple act of sIthA pirAtti.
  1. As it is customary and necessary to give a seat to kings before speaking, she places the grass there. Also, she thinks that "if I speak to him pleasingly, he may show some mercy on me and leave". Since it is said that when there is no seat (chair), just bhUmi (earth), water or grass can be offered as seat - sIthA pirAtti offers grass as a seat.
  2. When a lady welcomes another man directly - that means she is treating him as an outsider (instead of giving a side glance to some one like her husband or lover). So, sIthA pirAtti thinks if she directly speaks to him (by offering a seat in the form of the grass), rAvaNa will understand that she is not interested in him and thus will leave her.
  3. Since hanuman was watching from the top of the tree she puts a grass in between herself and rAvaNa. It is said that water or grass can be placed to highlight a line of separation between two parties.
  4. It is said that women cannot directly see or interact with outsiders (men). So, she places the blade of grass which can be considered as a mediator between herself and rAvaNa.
  5. When rAvaNa was given good advice by akampanan, mArIchan, mAlyavAn, etc., he ignored them since he was leading himself and the other rAkshasas into the path of destruction. So, she places the blade of grass to indicate to him that he is just like the blade of grass which does not have the capacity to listen to good instructions.
  6. Instead, she thinks that she will make this blade of grass listen to the good advice as she has the purity to even make a blade of grass understand her instructions.
  7. She thinks that seeing the blade of grass gaining knowledge and becoming as good as a chEthana (sentient being), rAvaNa will understand her power and leave her out of fear.
  8. She considers rAvaNa as good as the blade of grass (which lacks any knowledge).
  9. As the blade of grass is not harming her like rAvaNa does, she considers him even lower than the grass.
  10. As said in "gyAnEna hIna: pasubi: samAna:" - one who is deficient in knowledge is considered as an animal only, she places the grass so rAvaNa (who is as good as an animal) can eat it.
  11. She considers rAvaNa as a fox and srI rAma as a lion. She also says "You are as good as a rabbit which lacks valour" before. So, she says only srI rAma deserves to enjoy me and you deserve to enjoy only this grass.
  12. As rAvaNa spoke highly of his opulence (like great jewels, gems, clothes, etc), she responds saying "I consider your opulence as good as this blade of grass".
  13. She says I am holding on to my life only in the hope that srI rAma will come and rescue me. If not for that, I consider my life as good as this grass only and I will give it up quickly.
  14. She makes fun of rAvaNa saying "Due to your faults, this lankA is going to be burnt down. At that time you can use this blade of grass to build a hut and live there".
  15. There is a nyAyam called "thruNOlapa nyAyam" - which means a plant which looks small eventually becomes a creeper. She instructs "give up your attachment towards me and turn your attention towards your wife". Also she says "give up normal activities like attachment towards woman and develop special activities like surrendering unto srI rAma's lotus feet".
  16. When sIthA says "surrender to srI rAma", rAvaNa asks "how will he forgive me for my mistakes?". She replies "Just like the blade of grass when placed in the ocean, will be pushed out to the shores by the waves, srI rAma will also ignore your mistakes and accept you".
  17. She says "Just like I put down this blade of grass, you drop your anger, pride, etc., and surrender to srI rAma to be saved".
  18. She says "If you want to save yourself and your family, belongings, etc., you grasp this blade of grass with your mouth and surrender unto srI rAmA who is epitome of manliness". Grasping the grass with the mouth is considered as a very humble act.
  19. To indicate that she can convert this grass into a pillar and bring out rAghavasimham to break the chest of rAvaNa.
  20. It is normal to take vows by throwing grass or sand. Here she takes a vow saying srI rAma who is accompanied by lakshmaNa will destroy you through his arrows and will not even have to touch you physically to accomplish that.
  21. As "kruthvA" means "pluck" per its etymology, she says just like I plucked this grass, srI rAma will pluck your head and kill you.
  22. As it is said in sAsthram "When a brAhmaNa (virtuous person in this context) is tortured by abhrAmaNa (non-virtuous person in this context), his parts can be destroyed", when sukrAchArya troubled vAmanan emperumAn, emperumAn used a blade of grass to pierce his eyes. Similarly, I will pierce your eyes since you have seen the wife of another person with wrong attitude.
  23. When kAkAsura committed abominable offense towards sIthA pirAtti, srI rAma, plucked a grass and converted that to brahmAsthram and destroyed kAkAsura's eye. Similarly, she says "I will pierce your eyes with this grass".
  24. nara-nArAyaNa rishis are special incarnations of emperumAn as sishya-AchArya. Of these two, nArAyaNa rishi killed a king named dambOdhbavan using a grass. Similarly, I will kill you using this blade of grass.
  25. I am mercifully not burning you down with my chastity (pure devotion towards srI rAma). If you continue this torture, I will use this grass to light the fire of my chastity and will burn you down in to ashes.
  26. As "kruthvA" means "pluck" per its etymology, she says she will pluck his head just like she plucked the grass.
From this, we can observe the brilliant intelligence of periyavAchAn piLLai in this detailed analysis for a small phrase of an ithihAsa slOkam. This is the distinction between paurANikas (who simply explain purANa/ithihAsa slOkas based on literal meaning) and our pUrvAchAryas (who fully analyze the different context of each word and explain the in-depth and confidential meanings). periyavAchAn piLLai is a radiant sun among such pUrvAchAryas who revealed the wonderful principles of AzhwArs and his AchAryas in his beautiful works.

This is why mAmunigaL greatly glorifies periyavAchAn piLLai's contribution to our sath sampradhAyam in upadhEsa rathina mAlai 46th pAsuram. He says without the commentaries of periyavAchAn piLLai, no one could easily grasp and explain the principles that are in the divine pAsurams of AzhwArs.

The first krishNa we saw here is bhagavAn himself - he is common for both bandham (bondage) and mOksham (upliftment) as he is supremely independent. He can either grant us mOksham (out of his mercy) or keep us in samsAram (due to our karmA and his commitment to oblige by sAsthram). But the second krishNa (periyavAchAn piLLai) is only focussed on the upliftment of jIvAthmAs. AchAryas are totally dependent on bhagavAn and their goal is to purify jIvAthmAs and bring them to bhagavAn for his service. So, obviously we are more attached and indebted to AchAryas and always approach bhagavAn through these glorious AchAryas.
Thus we have seen the mastery of two krishNas - kaNNan emperumAn and periyavAchAn piLLai. This is just a sample of their greatness and brilliance for us to relish - there is so much more to understand and enjoy though.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

Notes: Thanks to puthUr krishnaswamy iyengar swamy's detailed yet simple explanation of thanislOkam vyAkyAnam.

Divine revelations of lOkAchArya - 11

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

Note: srI U. vE. gOpAlakrishNa dhAsar (kOnAr) who was living in chennai and a sishya of kOil kandhAdai vAdhUla aNNan swamy compiled a set of beautiful phrases/sentences from nampiLLai's eedu (documented by vadakku thiruvIdhi piLLai) vyAkyAnam long ago. kOil vidhwAn srI U. vE. R narasimhAchAryar swamy (paramapadhavAsi) wrote simple thamizh meanings for those phrases/sentences. This book ( was originally released on 7-1-68 and was re-published by puthur raghurAman swamy (editior: srI sailEsa dhayApAthram magazine). In this series we are relishing this great compilation with the english translation for the same.

101. pirivil guNAnusandhAnam paNNi dharikkalAm. avan sannidhiyil avanaiyozhiya araikshaNamum mukam mARiyirukkumathukku mERpatta mudivillai.

பிரிவில் குணாநுஸந்தானம் பண்ணி தரிக்கலாம். அவன் ஸந்நிதியில் அவனையொழிய அரைக்ஷணமும் முகம் மாறியிருக்குமதுக்கு மேற்பட்ட முடிவில்லை. 

sIthA pirAtti meditating on srI rAma, ANdAL nAchiyAr meditating on krishNa

During the times of separation from emperumAn, one can sustain themselves by meditating on the divine auspicious qualities of bhagavAn. But in his presence, we cannot take our eyes and thoughts of him. There is nothing worse than focussing on some thing else in his presence.

Translator's note: sIthA pirAtti sustained herself during her stay in asOka vanam (forest) by meditating on the auspicious qualities of srI rAma. AzhwArs sustained themselves in samsAram by constantly meditating on the auspicious qualities of srIman nArAyaNan and engaging in dhivya dhEsa kainkaryams. But ANdAL was different. She was suffering so much in separation from bhagavAn that she asks "How can I manage this sorrow of separation by just meditating on your auspicious qualities?" in nAchiyAr thirumozhi 8.3 - "gOvindhan guNam pAdi AvikAththiruppEnE?" (கோவிந்தன் குணம் பாடி ஆவிகாத்திருப்பேனே?). That is the speciality of ANdAL over others. Once, we have the presence of bhagavAn, we cannot see anything else other than bhagavAn. It is said in vishNu sUktham - "sadhA pasyanthi sUraya:" (ஸதா பச்யந்தி ஸூரய:) - the nithyasUris are always seeing bhagavAn (and nothing else. thiruppANAzhwAr said in the last pAsuram of his amalanAdhipirAn - "en amudhinaik kaNda kaNgaL maRRonRinaik kANAvE" (என் அமுதினைக் கண்ட கண்கள் மற்றொன்றினைக் காணாவே) - my eyes which saw the nectar like form of srIranganAthan will not see anything else.

102. thanthAmaiyaRiyAvittAl AptharvAyilE kEttaRiyavENum.

தந்தாமையறியாவிட்டால் ஆப்தர்வாயிலே கேட்டறியவேணும்.

 srI rAmAnuja and his sishyas - ideal AchArya and ideal sishyas

When the jIvAthmA does not understand his true nature, he should understand the same through AchAryas who are trustworthy source of knowledge.

Translator's note: jIvAthmA is the eternal servitor of bhagavAn. He is also different from the body. If one does not understand this, an AchAryan should be approached. Aptha means trustworthy source. An AchAryan coming in the spiritual lineage from bhagavAn himself is the most trustworthy source since they fully depend on sAsthram and is himself self-realized to explain the essential principles to others. krishNa explains this in bhagavath gIthA 4.34 "thadh vidhdhi pranNipAthEna pari prachnEna sEvayA, upadhEkshanthi thE gyAnam gyAninas thathva dharchiNa:" (தத் வித்தி ப்ரணிபாதேந பரி ப்ரச்நேன ஸேவயா, உபதேக்ஷந்தி தே ஜ்ஞாநம் ஜ்ஞாநிநஸ் தத்வ தர்சிந:) - Approach a knowlegable persons (AchAryan), worship him and serve him. Such realized soul will show you the truth since he has seen it. 

103. ArththanukkanRO palaprApthiyuLLathu.

ஆர்த்தனுக்கன்றோ பலப்ராப்தியுள்ளது.

 nammAzhwAr - wanted to reach emperumAn immediately

Arthan means the ones who cannot sustain himself in this material world and suffers like being in fire. Only for such persons who are fully surrendered to bhagavAn and want to be immediately relieved from samsAram, the goal will be achieved.

Translator's note: There are two types of prapannas (surrendered jIvAthmAs) - Artha prapanna (the one who cannot sustain oneself even for a moment in this samsAram) and truptha prapanna (the one can sustain for some time in samsAram by engaging bhagavath/bhAgavatha/AchArya kainkaryam). Of these two, Artha prapannas are the most advanced personalities and their state of mind is explained here - they simply cannot even stay in this samsAram since for them it is like standing on fire. They really want to be freed from bondage at once and want to fully engage in kainkaryam in paramapadham. nammAzhwAr and all other AzhwArs are explained as Artha prapannas by our pUrvAchAryas. nammAzhwAr reveals in his first pAsuram in his prabhandham (thiruviruththam - 1) itself that he can no longer be in this samsAram.

104. purushakAram munnAgath thanpakkal pugunthArkkuth than thiruvuLLamirangum.

புருஷகாரம் முன்னாகத் தன்பக்கல் புகுந்தார்க்குத் தன் திருவுள்ளமிரங்கும்.

 sIthA pirAtti saving kAkAsura from the wrath of srI rAma

When we approach bhagavAn through the recommendation of pirAtti (srI mahAlakshmi), bhagavAn will show his kindness and protect us.

Translator's note: purushakAram means "the act which makes a noble man fulfill his commitments and justifies his auspicious qualities" - here it is explained in context of srI mahAlakshmi who ensures that bhagavAn accepts the jIvAthmAs inspite of the jIvAthmAs having committed so much sins. By accepting such jIvAthmAs, bhagavAn's auspicious qualities such as krupai (mercy), vAthsalyam (motherly forbearance), etc becomes manifested (its always there - but srI mahAlakshmi brings them out). It is an act of recommendation by pirAtti. When we approach bhagavAn without that recommendation, bhagavAn's other quality of being neutral towards all jIvAthmAs and giving the result based on jIvAthmAs action may be manifested since bhagavAn is supremely independent. That is why it is always recommended to approach bhagavAn through pirAtti. piLLai lOkAchAryar explains this in mumukshuppadi beautifully through an example. 

sUthram 135 - ivaL sannidhiyAle kAkam thalai peRRathu; athu illAmaiyAlE rAvaNan mudinthAn (இவள் ஸந்நிதியாலே காகம் தலை பெற்றது; அது இல்லாமையாலே ராவணன் முடிந்தான்).

kAkAsuran (jayanthan - indhran's son) got saved from srI rAma by the presence of sIthA pirAtti even though he committed the most abominable offense; but rAvaNan was killed by srI rAma due to her absence.

105. samsAri mukthanAnAl avanudaiya leelObakaraNamum bOgOpakaraNamum samamAyth thORRakkadavathu. AkArAntharamAna smruthiyillaiyE. thadhIyathvAkAraththAlE nithya vibhUthiyOdokkath thORRumaththanai.

ஸம்ஸாரி முக்தனானால் அவனுடைய லீலோபகரணமும் போகோபகரணமும் ஸமமாய்த் தோற்றக்கடவது. ஆகாராந்தரமான ஸ்ம்ருதியில்லையே. ததீயத்வாகாரத்தாலே நித்ய விபூதியோடொக்கத் தோற்றுமத்தனை.

When a samsAri (jIvAthmA who is bound in this material world) becomes mukthan (freed from material clutches and reaches paramapadham), for such persons, material world (tool for his pastime) and spiritual world (tool for his true enjoyment) will look the same.  Since, the mukthAthmA's thoughts are no longer driven by karmA, he does not distinguish between spiritual and material world as both are properties of bhagavAn and fully under his control.

Translator's note: Everything is pervaded by bhagavAn. When a jIvAthmA becomes free from the bondage of karmA and becomes a mukthan, he clearly understands that. This is the state of proper state of understanding that everything is favourable only. This is why AzhwArs also praised bhagavAn's variegated manifestation of material world also. nammAzhwAr is amazed by the variegated nature of the material world (vichithra vibhUthi) as revealed by bhagavAn himself in thiruvAimozhi 7.8 "mAyA vAmananE" (மாயா வாமனனே) padhigam. The same principle of everything being favourable to jIvAthmAs due to everything being pervaded by bhagavAn is explained precisely by piLLai lOkAchAryar in the final section of chith prakaraNam in thathva thrayam and can be understood clearly by studying the commentary of mAmunigaL for that section. An example is given by nampiLLai himself  - A king has beautiful palaces and horrible prison-houses as part of his kingdom. For the prince (who is the son of the king), both the palace and the prison-house are part of his wealth. Similarly, for mukthAthmAs (or AzhwArs who are as good as (or even better than) mukthAthmAs even when they are in this world), bhagavAn's wealth in both spiritual world and material world are enjoyable. This is also explained in thiruvAimozhi 6.3.1 vyAkyAnam.

106. svarUpam visathamAnAl nAn ennavumAy adiyEn ennavumAyk kANiruppathu.

ஸ்வரூபம் விசதமானால் நான் என்னவுமாய் அடியேன் என்னவுமாய்க் காணிருப்பது.

Once the jIvAthma's true nature/identity is understood, "I - the jIvAthmA, am not the body but the soul" and "I am an eternal servitor of bhagavAn" will be firmly established.

Translator's note: In thiruvAimozhi 8.8 - "kaNgaL sivanthu" (கண்கள் சிவந்து) padhigam, bhagavAn reveals the nature of jIvAthmA clearly. In this padhigam, bhagavAn first reveals his own nature and glories to nammAzhwAr in the first 2 and half pAsurams. In the remaining pAsurams, he reveals the nature and glories of jIvAthmA (the soul). In the 2nd pAsuram, AzhwAr says "adiyEn uLLAn udal uLLAn" (அடியேன் உள்ளான் உடல் உள்ளான்); adiyEn uLLAn - in this bhagavAn is explained as the in-dwelling soul (antharyAmi - paramAthmA) of the jIvAthmA (adiyEn - dhAsan). The fact that, AzhwAr used "adiyEn" (dhAsan - servitor) instead of "en" (aham - I/me) itself indicates that the jIvAthmA is an eternal servitor of paramAthmA primarily. Yet it also implies that the jIvAthmA is different from body - since AzhwAr immediately says "udal uLLAn" (bhagavAn is in my body).

107. abimatha vishayaththai pirinthAl kaNdathellAm athuvAyth thORRum.

அபிமத விஷயத்தை பிரிந்தால் கண்டதெல்லாம் அதுவாய்த் தோற்றும்.

 srI rAma searching for sIthA pirAtti

When we are separated from the one who is dear to us, everything will look like that person.

Translator's note: nammAzhwAr highlights the unlimited glories of srI rAma in thiruvAimozhi 7.5.2. He goes through more sufferings than even a jIvAthmA who is bound by karmA will go through, such as being separated from his dear consort sIthA pirAtti by rAvaNan. At that time, when rAvaNan takes sIthA pirAtti captive and goes away, srI rAmA becomes thoroughly depressed and starts looking for sIthA pirAtti everywher. Out of bewilderment, whatever he saw resembled sIthA pirAtti to him. nammAzhwAr also, when singing in separation, sees everything in relation to emperumAn only. This can be seen in thiruvAimozhi 4.4 "maNNai irunthu thuzhAvi" (மண்ணை இருந்து துழாவி) padhigam. This is beautifully narrated by mAmunigaL in his thiruvAimozhi nURRanthAdhi 34th pAsuram (which summarizes the essence of the whole padhigam in thiruvAimozhi).

maNNulagil munkalandhu mAlpirigaiyaal
maaRan peNNilaimaiyAykkAdhal piththERi
eNNidil mun pOli mudhalAna poruLai  avanAy ninaindhu
mElvizhundhAn maiyaldhanin vIRu

மண்ணுலகில் முன்கலந்து மால்பிரிகையால்
மாறன் பெண்ணிலைமையாய்க்காதல் பித்தேறி
எண்ணிடில் முன் போலி முதலான பொருளை  அவனாய் நினைந்து
மேல்விழுந்தான் மையல்தனின் வீறு.

bhagavAn gives divine (mAnasIka) anubhavam for nammAzhwAr first in this world itself. But then he leaves AzhwAr and AzhwAr feels immense sorrow in separation. With unlimited loving devotion towards bhagavAn, AzhwAr assumes a feminine form (parAngusa nAyaki) looks at objects that are similar to bhagavAn (and objects that are related to bhagavAn) and considers them to be bhagavan himself and becomes bewildered by the overwhelming emotions in seeing them.

108. sEshiyoruvanAnAl sEshavasthukkaLellAm orumidaRAyirukkumiRE. oruvanukkup palavadimai uNdAnAl thangaLil ellArgaLumoththiruppargaLiRE krutha sangEdhigaLAy.

சேஷியொருவனானால் சேஷவஸ்துக்களெல்லாம் ஒருமிடறாயிருக்குமிறே. ஒருவனுக்குப் பலவடிமை உண்டானால் தங்களில் எல்லார்களுமொத்திருப்பர்களிறே க்ருத ஸங்கேதிகளாய். 

 Our pUrvAchAryas spent their time discussing bhagavAn's glories with each other

bhagavAn is the supreme lord/master of  every one. All his devotees will have the same attitude. When there is a lord (in this world), all his servants will be equally position and spend their time discussing about their master all the time (Translator's note: similarly bhagavAn's devotees will spend their time talking about bhagavAn). 

Translator's note: krishNa reveals the nature and activities of his devotees in bhagavath gIthA 10.9.

machchiththA madh gatha prANA bOdhayantha: parasparam
kathayanthas cha mAm nithyam thushyanthi cha ramanthi cha

மச்சித்தா மத் கத ப்ராணா போதயந்த: பரஸ்பரம்
கதயந்தச் ச மாம் நித்யம் துஷ்யந்தி ச ரமந்தி ச

My devotees constantly remember me, they hold me as their life breath and discuss my activities amongst each other. By such discussions of my divine activities constantly, they (both the speakers and the listeners) derive great satisfaction and pleasure.

109. thannaiyozhintha vasthukkaLellAvaRRukkum kOti vikAraththaip paNNi avikruthanAyiruppAn oruvaniRE Isvaran.

தன்னையொழிந்த வஸ்துக்களெல்லாவற்றுக்கும் கோடி விகாரத்தைப் பண்ணி அவிக்ருதனாயிருப்பான் ஒருவனிறே ஈச்வரன்.

ArAvamuthan (thirukkudanthai - kumbakONam) - nammAzhwAr (AzhwAr thirunagari)

bhagavAn, the supreme master of everyone, is described as "avikArAya sudhdhAya" (unchangeable and pure) in sahasranAmam. While he is changeless, he induces changes in every one/thing that is different from him.

Translator's note: In thiruvAimozhi 4.8.1, nammAzhwAr glorifies thirukkudanthai ArAvamuthan's beauty and he is saying that emperumAn's beauty so great that it is melting AzhwAr down completely. There are other places where AzhwArs and AchAryas go through great emotions. Though, he is declared as avikAra (unchangeable) by sAsthram - it only means he is unchangeable by karmA - he becomes vikAra (changeable) and goes through various emotions out his own dhayA (kindness) and krupA (mercy) towards others.

110. vasthu sathbAvam koLLumpOthu visEshaNam vyAvarththakamAyallathirAthu. onRukkonRu visEshaNamAmpOthu, anyayOgavyavachchEdham paNNikkoNdallathu visEshaNamAgamAttAthu.

வஸ்து ஸத்பாவம் கொள்ளும்போது விசேஷணம் வ்யாவர்த்தகமாயல்லதிராது. ஒன்றுக்கொன்று விசேஷணமாம்போது, அந்யயோகவ்யவச்சேதம் பண்ணிக்கொண்டல்லது விசேஷணமாகமாட்டாது.

sAsthram which explains mOksham speaks about savisEsha brahmam (supreme lord with auspicious attributes/qualities). While understanding an entity, the unique attributes of that entity will differentiate that entity from all other entities. When something is identified as an (unique) attribute of a particular entity, unless it fully differentiates that entity from another one, it does not qualify to be an attribute of that entity. 

Translator's note:  ayOga vyavachchEtham means "an entity being identified by more than one attribute". anyayOga vyavachchEdham means "an entity being identified by a particular attribute which is unique to that entity alone". For example, anantha sAyithvam (lying down on serpent bed) is an attribute that is only applicable to srIman nArAyaNan and this attribute cannot be identified with any other entity.  This pankthi (sentence) is referred by nampiLLai in thiruvAimozhi 6.3.1 - "nalkuravum chelvum" (நல்குரவும் செல்வும்) - pAsuram. In this particular padhigam, bhagavAn's virudhdha vibhUthi (contradictory wealth) is explained - because he is the only substratum (focus) of both sentient and insentient objects - he is explained as having all kinds of contradictory aspects. For example, nammAzhwAr explains him as the abode of poverty and wealth, hell and heaven, enemity and friendship, etc. So, even though in reality, no entity can have contradictory attributes at the same time, since bhagavAn is the only abode of everything that is different from him, he does manifest such contradictory aspects/wealth in him. nammAzhwAr greatly enjoys this quality in emperumAn in this particular padhigam. (Note: Thanks to srI U. vE. gOmatam sampath kumArAchAryar swamy for patiently explaining this sentence when adiyen called him to have more clarity on this topic).

Divine revelations of lOkAchArya - 10

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

Note: srI U. vE. gOpAlakrishNa dhAsar (kOnAr) who was living in chennai and a sishya of kOil kandhAdai vAdhUla aNNan swamy compiled a set of beautiful phrases/sentences from nampiLLai's eedu (documented by vadakku thiruvIdhi piLLai) vyAkyAnam long ago. kOil vidhwAn srI U. vE. R narasimhAchAryar swamy (paramapadhavAsi) wrote simple thamizh meanings for those phrases/sentences. This book ( was originally released on 7-1-68 and was re-published by puthur raghurAman swamy (editior: srI sailEsa dhayApAthram magazine). In this series we are relishing this great compilation with the english translation for the same.

Please view the previous article at

 nampiLLai with pinbhazhagiya perumAL jIyar at his lotus feet - srIrangam

91. sEshathvam AthmAvukku svarUpamAnAl dhEhaththukku virOdhiyAy niRkum nilai kulainthathu.

சேஷத்வம் ஆத்மாவுக்கு ஸ்வரூபமானால் தேஹத்துக்கு விரோதியாய் நிற்கும் நிலை குலைந்தது.

As said in "Athma dhAsyam harE: svAmyam" (ஆத்ம தாஸ்யம் ஹரே: ஸ்வாம்யம்) - srIman nArAyaNan is the master and all AthmAs are his servants, if the jIvAthmA understands that truth clearly, his body will no longer be identified as "azhukku udambu" (அழுக்கு உடம்பு).

Translator's note: Generally our body is considered to be a hurdle in our spiritual progress, since attachment towards body and bodily comforts will take us away from bhagavAn. But, when we understand our true identity, we automatically use all our belongings starting from the body in the service of bhagavAn. In that case, our body is no longer useless/hurdle. This principle can be understood from the words of thirumAlai ANdAn (one of the AchAryas of srI rAmAnuja). In nAchiyAr thirumozhi, 11.6 vyAkyAnam, periyavAchAn piLLai identifies ANdAn’s AchArya bhakthi through his own words. ANdAn used to say that “Even though we should give up attachments to body and all bodily belongings, this particular body should not be ignored since it was this body through which I got ALavandhAr’s sambhandham (which ultimately leads to our eternal kainkaryam in paramapadham)”.

92. sEshavasthuvin vyAbAramadaiya sEshithanakkadimaiyAga ninaiththirukkiRapadi.

சேஷவஸ்துவின் வ்யாபாரமடைய சேஷிதனக்கடிமையாக நினைத்திருக்கிறபடி.

krishNa personally took care of everything for arjuna

bhagavAn who is the supreme master will consider the activities of the jIvAthmA as subservient to him, since the jIvAthmA himself is subservient to him.

Translator's note: When a jIvAthmA surrenders to bhagavAn, bhagavAn takes full control of jIvAthmA's life. piLLai lOkAchAryar explains this principle in mumukshuppadi 258th sUthram while explaining charama slOkam. In charama slOkam, krishNa says to arjuna "mOkshayishyAmi" (மோக்ஷயிஷ்யாமி) - I will protect you. piLLai lOkAchAryar highlights in his sUthram "ini unkaiyilum unnaikkAttith thArEn, en udambil azhukkai nAnE pOkkik koLLEnO?" (இனி உன்கையிலும் உன்னைக்காட்டித் தாரேன், என் உடம்பில் அழுக்கை நானே போக்கிக் கொள்ளேனோ?) - I will not let you take care of yourself, Will I not clean the dirt on my body myself?". Here mAmunigaL's commentary is classic. Let us see the gist of it. krishNa says "Thus far, you have been thinking yourself as independent. But now you have surrendered unto me after understanding yourself as a totally dependent entity just as the body is totally dependent on the soul". krishNa comforts arjuna by saying that it is his own responsibility to remove the ignorance from the mind of arjuna and protect him fully.

93. avathAra kAlaththil uthavAthavarkkum izhakka vENdAthapadiyiRE kOyilgaLilE vanthu kaNvaLarvathu.

அவதார காலத்தில் உதவாதவர்க்கும் இழக்க வேண்டாதபடியிறே கோயில்களிலே வந்து கண்வளர்வது.

thirumUzhikkaLaththAn - thirumUzhikkaLam

bhagavAn descends as various incarnations to dispel the miseries of his devotees. For the benefit of the ones who are born after his incarnations are complete (so they dont miss out on his mercy), he comes and lies down at various temples like srIrangam, etc.

Translator's note: In bhagavath gIthai 4.5 to 4.9, kaNNan emperumAn reveals the purpose of his many incarnations. He says that he appears time and again to protect his devotees, annihilate the miscreants and establish the dharmam. But these major incarnations happen once or twice in every yugam. In dhvApara yugam, bhagavAn appears as krishNan. For the ones who missed his grace during rAmAvathAram, krishNAvathAram, etc., bhagavAn appears as archAvathAram and stays in various dhivyadhEsams. This principle is explained by thirumangai AzhwAr in thirunedunthANdagam 10th pAsuram "pinnAnAr vaNangum sOthi thirumUzhikkaLaththAnAyE" (பின்னானார் வணங்கும் சோதி திருமூழிக்களத்தானாயே) - For the benefit of the ones who missed out on your parathvam, vyUham and vibhavam, you have accepted this most radiant form in thirumUzhikkaLam.

94. ugantharuLina nilangaLilE meyyE prathipaththi viLainthArkku anguLLavai ellAm udhdhEsyamAyth thOnRum.

உகந்தருளின நிலங்களிலே மெய்யே ப்ரதிபத்தி விளைந்தார்க்கு அங்குள்ளவை எல்லாம் உத்தேச்யமாய்த் தோன்றும்.

 srIrangam - the prime dhivya dhEsam

For the ones who have absolute faith in dhivyadhEsams such as thirumalai, srIrangam, etc. which are very dear to emperumAn himself, everything in such dhivyadhEsams will be desirable.

Translator's note: dhivyadhEsams are most dear to emperumAn. He descends to dhivyadhEsams to bless his most accessible forms to his devotees and to gather new devotees. Thus, our AzhwArs and AchAryas have shown great attachment towards dhivyadhEsams. For the ones with great faith and attachment towards dhivyadhEsams, everything that is present in dhivyadhEsams are desirable and favourable. Couple of incidents in our pUrvAchAryas lives highlight this. When ananthAzhwAn once descended down from thiruvEnkatam hill, he opened his package of prasAdham and observed some ants in them. He immediately closed his package and rushed back to the hill and let the ants free there. He was fully faithful to the words of AzhwArs who declared even nithyasUris accept various forms to come and serve thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn in thirumalai. In srIrangarAja sthavam, parAsara bhattar identifies that nithyasUris accept the forms of trees and plants in srIrangam.

95. aprAkrutha samsthAnaththai ithara sajAthIyamAkkA niRpathu, than janmaththai anusandhiththArudaiya janmangaL pOmpadiyAyiruppathu.

அப்ராக்ருத ஸம்ஸ்தாநத்தை இதர ஸஜாதீயமாக்கா நிற்பது, தன் ஜந்மத்தை அநுஸந்தித்தாருடைய ஜந்மங்கள் போம்படியாயிருப்பது.

 bhagavAn's ten main avathArams - thiruchERai

samsthAnam - form; aprAkrutha samsthAnam - divine (spiritual) form. bhagavAn transforms his own divine form (which is untouched by any blemish) into human, animal, etc.,forms as part of his incarnations. He facilitates the jIvAthmAs to meditate on such divine appearances and forms and there by stop their cycle of birth and death.

Translator's note: bhagavAn manifests his divine/blemishless form (that is seen in paramapadham) in this world also. This is explained by nammAzhwAr himself in thiruvAimozhi 3.5.5 "angu vaiththu ingup piRanthu" (அங்கு வைத்து இங்குப் பிறந்து) - nampiLLai in eedu vyAkyAnam beautifully highlights from bhagavAn's own words from gIthA slOkam 4.6 "... prakruthim svAm adhishtAya ..." (ப்ரக்ருதிம் ஸ்வாம் அதிஷ்டாய) - I descend with my divine form into this world. And for ones who become attached to his divine birth - they will be freed from the cycle of birth and death. krishNa himself says in bhagavath gIthA 4.9 - "janma karma cha mE dhivyam Evam yO vEththi thathvatha: thyakthvA dhEham punar janma naithi mAm Ethi sOrjuna" (ஜந்ம கர்ம ச மே திவ்யம் ஏவம் யோ வேத்தி தத்வத: த்யக்த்வா தேஹம் புநர் ஜந்ம நைதி மாம் ஏதி ஸோர்ஜுன) - Oh arjuna! One who truly understands my divine birth and divine activities, once they give up their body in this life, they will never be born again in this samsAram.

96. oru prayOjanaththiRkAgap pOvArgaLanRO athukoNdu mILalAvathu. thannaiyE prayOjanamAgap paRRap pOvArkkum mILaviraguNdO? ippadiyEyiRE bhagavath prAvaNyamudaiyAr padi.

ஒரு ப்ரயோஜநத்திற்காகப் போவார்களன்றோ அதுகொண்டு மீளலாவது. தன்னையே ப்ரயோஜநமாகப் பற்றப் போவார்க்கும் மீளவிரகுண்டோ? இப்படியேயிறே பகவத் ப்ராவண்யமுடையார் படி.

When some one approaches bhagavAn for something other than bhagavAn himself (worldly pleasures, kaivalyam - enjoying ones own AthmA), they can leave bhagavAn once their goal is achieved. But there is no reason to leave bhagavAn for the ones who approached him with him as the goal. This is the position of the ones who are immersed in bhagavAn fully.

Translator's note: Our nature is to serve bhagavAn without any expectation in return from him. The various types of people who approach bhagavAn are explained by kaNNan emperumAn himself in bhagavath gIthA. In 7.16, he explains this beautifully:

chathur vidhA bhajanthE mAm janAs sukruthinOrjuna
ArththO jigyAsur arththArthI gyAnI cha  bharatharshaba

சதுர் விதா பஜந்தே மாம் ஜநாஸ் ஸுக்ருதிநோர்ஜுந
ஆர்த்தோ ஜிஜ்ஞாஸுர் அர்த்தார்தீ ஜ்ஞாநீ ச பரதர்ஷப

Four types of pious people approach me - they are Arththa: - one who is distressed, artthArthI - one who is looking for material wealth, jigyAsur - one who in inquiring into self-realisation (kaivalyam) and gyAni - one who has true understanding of jIvAthmA as a servitor of bhagavAn.
In the subsequent slOkams, he declare that everyone who approaches him is dear to him - but gyAni (his devotee) is the most dear to him because both him and his devotee have great mutual affection for each other. He goes on to declare that, such gyAnis are like his soul (gyAni tu Athma Eva mE matham).

This same principle is explained by poigai AzhwAr in mudhal thiruvanthAdhi pAsuram 26.

ezhuvAr vidai koLvAr 
In thuzhAyAnai vazhuvA vagai ninaindhu vaigal thozhuvAr
vinaich chudarai nandhuvikkum vEngadamE 
vAnOr manach chudaraith thUNdum malai

எழுவார் விடை கொள்வார்
ஈன் துழாயானை வழுவா வகை நினைந்து வைகல் தொழுவார்
வினைச் சுடரை நந்துவிக்கும் வேங்கடமே
வானோர் மனச் சுடரைத் தூண்டும் மலை

In thuzhAiyAnai - the one who is adorning a beautiful thuLasi garland
ezhuvAr - the ones who pray for wealth and leaves him once he receives that
vidai koLvAr - the ones who pray for kaivalyam and leaves him permanently once he receives that
vazhuvA vagai ninanthu vaigal thozhuvAr - one who wants to stay with bhagavAn eternally and serve him ever
For all these 3 kinds of people, thiruvEnkatam hill (which is dear to the nithyasUris) itself will remove their sins. nampiLLai in his vyAkyAnam for this pAsuram quotes the above discussed gIthA slOkam and explains the same nicely.

97. ananthasAyithvam sarvAdhika vasthuvukku lakshaNamAgaiyAlE sarvAdhikanE saraNyanengiRathu.

அநந்தசாயித்வம் ஸர்வாதிக வஸ்துவுக்கு லக்ஷணமாகையாலே ஸர்வாதிகனே சரண்யனென்கிறது.

anantha padhmanAbhan, thiruvananthapuram - the controller of all
One of the unique qualities that identify the supreme being is him being the master of AdhisEshan and lying down on AdhisEshan. Such supreme being is the refuge for everyone.

Translator's note: There are many unique qualities that are present in bhagavAn only. ubhaya vibhUthi nAthathvam (being the full controller of both spiritual and material worlds), ubhaya lingathvam (two types of identification - abode of all auspicious qualities and opposite to all bad qualities), sriya:pathithvam (being the master of srI mahAlakshmi), ananthasAyithvam (the one who is lying down on AdhisEshan - the serpent bed), puNdarikAkshathvam (beautiful lotus eyed), garudavAhanathvam (being the rider of garudan who is glorified as vEdhAthma), etc. They are to be found in no one else. And such personality who has these unique qualities is the refuge for everyone. nammAzhwAr highlighted this principle in thiruvAimozhi 5.10.10 - "nAgaNai misai nampirAn charaNE charaN namakku" (நாகணை மிசை நம்பிரான் சரணே சரண் நமக்கு) - nampiLLai in his vyAkyAnam for this pAsuram highlights this above sentence.

98. AchAryan vArththai kEttu dhariththal, avan abimAnaththAlE dhariththalozhiya vERonRillai.

ஆசார்யன் வார்த்தை கேட்டு தரித்தல், அவன் அபிமாநத்தாலே தரித்தலொழிய வேறொன்றில்லை.

 Ideal AchArya - sishya relationship - srI rAmAnuja and his sishyas

For a sishya, there is nothing other than sustaining oneself by the instructions of the AchAryan and by his affection/grace.

Translator's note: Of all the upAyams, AchArya abhimAnam is the most apt upAyam for our upliftment. AchAryan first explains the most important principles of bhagavath vishayam and constantly reminds the jIvAthmA about his eternal relationship with bhagavAn. In srIvachana bhUshaNam, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains this principle clearly in the last prakaraNam. After explaining the glories of panchamOpAyam (AchAryan), in sUthram he summarizes/concludes that "AchArya abhimAnamE uththAragam" (ஆசார்ய அபிமானமே உத்தாரகம்). In the vyAkyAnam, Here AchArya abhimAnam means "AchAryan's merciful affection/grace over the sishyan, seeing the suffering of sishyan in this samsAram - paragatha svIkAram of AchAryan". mAmunigaL nicely brings out the most important principle of our sath sampradhAyam. He says "piLLai lOkAchAryar is establishing the most important principle based on what is discussed before. That is, though bhakthi, etc are identified as the means for mOksham, they are clearly established as not true upAyams. (karma, gyAna and) bhakthi yOgam and svagatha svIkAram of AchAryan (us approaching an AchArya ourselves and considering that as our choice) are not fitting for the svarUpam of jIvAthmA (since they both manifest sva svAthanthriyam). prapathi (towards emperumAn) upAyam is fearful since bhagavAn being supremely independent he may acecpt or reject us. Thus, the causeless affection of AchAryan who has unsurpassed mercy and his constant caring protection on the sishya is the only way for the upliftment of jIvAthmA from this samsAram".

99. svarUpAnthargathaiyAna krupaikkazhivillaiyiRE. athu saththaiyuLLathanaiyum vilaich chellumiRE.

ஸ்வரூபாந்தர்கதையான க்ருபைக்கழிவில்லையிறே. அது ஸத்தையுள்ளதனையும் விலைச் செல்லுமிறே.

kOlappirAn - thiruvallavAzh

krupai (mercy) is a natural quality of bhagavAn. It never diminishes. As long as there is mercy, bhagavAn will be glorified.

Translator's note: bhagavAn's krupai is the most important quality in him. It is because of his nirhEthuka krupai, he constantly attempts to uplift jIvAthmAs. Out of his nirhEthuka krupai, he induces attachment towards him in the hearts of jIvAthmAs. When the jIvAthmAs stop rejecting his grace, they become realised of their true identity. azhagiya maNavALa perumAL nAyanAr's AchArya hrudhayam is the most classic literature of our sath sampradhAyam. In this grantham, he fully reveals the divine emotions and philosophy of nammAzhwAr. In chUrNikai 218, nAyanAr identifies that each centum of thiruvAimozhi explains a particular quality of bhagavAn and each such quality of bhagavAn nurtures a corresponding activity in nammAzhwAr. In this chUrNikai, the 5th centum of thiruvAimozhi is identified as explaining the kAruNikathvam (merciful/graceful nature) of emperumAn. Through such mercy, nammAzhwAr is identified to have developed unlimited love for bhagavAn. nAyaNAr in his AchArya hrudhayam, chUrNikai 165, identifies that nammAzhwAr enjoyed bhagavAn's krupai in  thiruvallavAzh (5.9 - mAnEi nOkku) dhivya dhEsam - "melivilum chEmam koLvikkum krupai thennagarilE Nithyam" (மெலிவிலும் சேமம் கொள்விக்கும் க்ருபை தென்னகரிலே நித்யம்) - . Thus we can understand the glorious nature of bhagavAn's krupai and its effect by studying the glorious life and teachings of nammAzhwAr.

100. nammAchAryargaL vyApaka manthirangaL mUnRilum dhvayaththaiyE AtharippargaL.

நம்மாசார்யர்கள் வ்யாபக மந்திரங்கள் மூன்றிலும் த்வயத்தையே ஆதரிப்பர்கள்.

 namperumAL and nAchiyAr - srIrangam - the object of dhvaya mahA manthram

bhagavAn's nature and glories are explained by two categories of manthrams - vyApakam and avyApakam. vyApaka manthrams are considered to be higher than avyApaka manthams. All 3 vyApaka manthrams - thirumanthram (nArAyaNa manthram), vAsudhEva manthram and vishNu manthram are glorious. Of these, our pUrvAchAryas gave higher importance to dhvaya mahA manthram.

Translator's note: In the beginning of mumukshuppadi, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains the two categories of manthrams. "That which protects the reciter" is called a manthram. A manthram is made of 3 parts usually - praNavam (which reveals the true relationship between jIvAthmA and paramAthmA), thirunAmam (a name of bhagavAn which is the object of meditation) and nama: (accepting that bhagavAn is the upAyam - means). vyApaka manthrams speak about bhagavAn's sarva vyApthi (omni-presence - being pervaded everywhere). There are 3 vyAkapa manthrams - nArAyaNa, vAsudhEva  and vishNu manthrams. avyApaka manthrams speak about various auspicious qualities, leelais,etc of bhagavAn (Example: kEsavan means destroyer of kEsi (the horse demon), one who has beautiful hair, etc). vyApaka manthrams are considered to be top-most since they reveal the true nature of bhagavAn. 

Of the 3 vyApaka manthrams:
  • vishNu manthram - shadakshari - 6 lettered - Om namO vishNavE - this simply says he is pervading based on the etymology of the word vishNu (vishl - vyApthi - pervasive). 
  • vAsudhEva manthram - thiru dhvAdhasAkshari - 12 lettered - Om namO bhagavathE vAsudhEvAya - "sarvasya vasathi ithi vAsudhEva" - one who pervades everywhere. while this says bhagavAn is pervading everywhere, it does not explain the full auspicious nature of bhagavAn - though, "bhagavathE" in this manthram identifies the 6 auspicious qualities of bhagavAn - its still not complete in all aspects.
  • nArAyaNa manthram - ashtAkshari - eight lettered - Om namO nArAyaNAya (also known as thirumanthram) - nArAyaNa explains bhagavAn's full auspicious nature. From this name, we understand that bhagavAn is residing in all chith and achith (sarva vyApakathvam) and both chith and achith are also sustained/held by bhagavAn (AdhArathvam). Since bhagavAn's true nature is fully revealed in this manthram, this is considered as the top most manthram. 
dhvaya mahA manthram is further expansion of thirumanthram and it reveals the relationship with srIman nArAyaNan and srI mahAlakshmi clearly. Thus our AchAryas held this manthram in high esteem and showed great attachment towards it.