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Thirumangai and ThiruppaaNaar

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Date: Sun Nov 13 1994 - 19:17:21 PST

We are now in the month of kaartthigai and here is another
great week for sri vaishnavaas.

11/18/94  FRI thirumangai aazhvaar  krutthigai
11/19/94  SAT thirp paaNaazvaar     rOhiNi

Thirup paaNaazhvaar's life is illustrative of what sri
vaishnavaas have always conisidered important, i.e. being a
servant of Lord's servants.  Namaazhvaar expresses this
concept very forcefully in thiruvaaymozhi 3.7.9:

\bt
kualanthaangu saathikaL naalilum
  keezizinthu, etthanai
nalanthaa nilaathasaN daaLasaN
  daaLarka Laakilum,
valanthaangu sakkarath thaNNal
  maNivaNNaR kaaLenRuL
kalanthaar, adiyaar thammadi
  yaarem madikaLE.
\et

(If an individual is a devotee of  Lord Vishnu, then, even if
he belongs to a lowly caste, you must consider his devotee's
devotee as your lord.)

Nammaazhvaar's above verse is acted out in Thirup
paaNaazhvaar's life story.  Being of low birth, thirup
paaNanaathan was not permitted to enter the thiruvarangam
temple.  Yet, aazhvaar's bhakthi was unparalleld.  One day,
upon seeing the thiruvarangam temple gOpuram from a
distance, aazhvaar went into a trans.  He was standing in
the middle of the road leading to the temple from the
kaavEri river.  At that time the chief priest, ulOga saaranga
munivar, was returning to the temple with a pot full of
kaavEri water intended for thirumanchanam (abishegam)
for Lord Ranganaathaa.  Upon seeing a paaNan obstructing
his way, he scolded him to move away at once.  Oblivious
to the surrounding, aazhvaar did not respond. To draw his
attention the priest picked up a small stone and threw it at
him.  It struck aazhvaar's forehead.  Coming back to this
world, aazhvaar profusely apologized for the transgression
and ran away.  There are two versions for what ensued.
When the priest reached the temple,  Version 1: the temple
door was locked from inside even though there was no one
inside;  Version 2: blood was streaming out of Lord
Ranganaathaa's forehead.

That night Lord Ranganaatha appeared in the priest's dream
and chastised him for striking his bhakthaa with a stone.
He then instructed the priest to carry the aazhvaar  upon his
shoulders and bring him to the temple.  Realizing his
blunder, uloga saarangamunivar searched out the aazhvaar,
found him and carried him in broad day light for everyone
to see.  The priest carried the aazhvaar in a procession
around the temple and finally took him inside the sanctum.
A 'high brahmin' carrying an untouchable in his shoulders
and taking him inside the temple must have caused quite a
stir.

Upon entering the sanctum, thiruppaaNaazhvaar sang 10
pasurams.  This prabhandam is called amalan aathipiraan.
In this prabhandam, Azhvaar  describes, in exquiste detail,
each part of the Lord Ranganaathaa's thirumEni (sacred
body) starting from kamala paadham (lotus feet), to
neeNdavap periya vaaya kaNgaL (long, large eyes).  The
bhakthi rasam is unsurpassed  by any other aazhvaar.
Consider this,
\bt
kaiyinaar surisanganal
  aazhiyaar, neeLvarai pOl
meyyanaar, thuLaba viraiyaar kamazh neeLmudi em
aiyanaar, aNi aranganaar aravin aNaimisai
  mEya maayanaar,
seyyavaay aiyO! ennaich
sinthai kavarndhathuvE!
\et
(He is holding his conch and disc, His body is like a long
mountain range, the thuLasi He is wearing is giving out
sweet fragrance, He, my Lord, is wearing an enormous
crown, His mouth is like a red corol, Oh! my Lord
Ranganaathaa is sleeping on the bed formed by
aathisEshan,  and this sight has captured my mind.  suri
sanganal = conch; aazhi = disc; varai = mountain, thuLba =
thuLasi,  aravin aNai = bed made of snake)

The last pasuram in the prabhandam is,
\bt
koNdal vaNNanaik, kOvalanaay veNNey
uNda vaayan en uLLam kavarnthaanai,
aNdar kOn aNi arangan en amudhinaik
kaNda kaNkaL maRRonrinaik kaaNaavE.
\et
(I have seen the One whose color is like dark rain bearing
clouds, He is the one with the mouth that swollowed the
butter of cowherds, He is the Lord of dEvaas, He is Lord
Ranganaathaa, He is my nector life, I have seen my Lord,
now I will not see anything else. koNdal=rain cloud; aNdar
kOn = Lord of dEvaas)

With 'maRRonrinaik kaaNaavE,' aazhvaar entered the
Lord's chamber and merged with Him as one.

It is clear from all this that among sri vaishnvaas there
should be no place for caste differences and prejudice.  But
unfortunatly, this is true only on paper.  In 1991 we visited
ahObhila madam at sri rangam to pay our respects to sri
azhagiya singar.  After having our lunch at the madam we
were about to wash from a hand pump.  A sri vasihnava
young man halted us with \bt kaNdavan thotta pumpil En
alambarEL, kiNatthulEndhu jalam edutthu tharEn,
alambikkOngO \et. :-(