You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : April 1997

Madhurakaviyaazhvaar

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (Dileepan_at_utc.edu)
Date: Tue Apr 22 1997 - 14:41:47 PDT

It was the early years of Kali yuga.  An elderly scholar from the south was
on a pilgrimage of Northern regions of the country.  One evening he noticed
a bright star in the southern skies.  Drawn by its brilliance the scholar
followed the star.  Many months later he reached a small town called
Thirukkurugoor and the star suddenly disappeared.  The scholar took this to
be a sign that his journey is at an end.  His enquiries with the locals led
him to a tamarind tree near the Athipiran temple.  There he found a young
boy radiating like a brilliant star.  The boy had taken refuge in a small
cavity in the tree and had not spoken in 16 years.  The scholar realized
this was no ordinary boy.  Mustering up some courage he asked the boy,

"periyadhu vayiRRil siRiyadhu piRandhaal adhu eththai thinRu engE niRkum?"
(If great begets little, what will it eat, where will it rest?)

To this the boy replied,

"adhu aththaith thinRu angE niRkum."
(It will eat that and it will rest there)

The scholar was astonished by the clever answer pregnant with sasthirc
meanings.  Immediately the scholar fell at the feet of the boy and begged
to be accepted as a disciple.  The boy was Nammaazhvaar and the scholar was
Madhurakavi Azhvaar.  Then Nammaazhvaar started composing his four
prabhandhams that are considered the very essence of the four Vedhaas.
MadhurakavikaL faithfully wrote them down.  Centuries later one of
Madhurakavi aazhvaar's descendants helped Sriman Nathamuni discover not
just the verses of Nammaazhvaar, but the entire Dhivya Prabhandham as we
know them now.   Today (April 22, 97) is Madhurakai's birth star Chiththrai
in the month of Chiththirai.

Madhurakavi is the only Azhvaar who sang not in praise of our Lord, but
only about his Acharyan, Nammaazhvaar.  These eleven verses are called
"kaNNinuN siRutthaambu".  For him Nammaazhvaar was the only Lord (dhevu
maRRaRiyEn).   Of the three types of bhakthi, Bhagavath bhakthi,
Bhaagavatha bhakthi, and Acharya bhakthi, Acharya Bhakthi is the foremost,
so says Swami Sri Desikan.  Then, KaNNiuN siRuththaambu dedicated to
Acharya Bhakthi, must be the foremost among the Dhivya Prabhandhams.
Therefore, it cannot be an exaggeration to consider KaNNinuN siRuththaambu
to be the very essence of Sri Vasihnavam.

A careful study of the eleven verses of KaNNinuN siRuththaambu suggests
that Nammaazhvaar's verses were not readily accepted by the orthodoxy of
the time.  Consider the fourth verse of the Prabhandham.

nanmai yaalmikka naanmaRai yaaLargaL,
punmai yaakak karuthuvar aathalin,
annai yaayaththanaay ennai aaNdidum
thanmai yaan, satakOpanen nambiyE.

(To the righteous Vedic scholars this may be lowly,
but to me Satakopan is my Lord,
He is my mother, He is my father, and He rules over me .)

Interestingly, in the 8th and 9th verses MadhurakavikaL declares that
Nammaazhvaar's paasurams contain the very essence of the Vedhaas.  Given
below is the 9th verse.

mikka vEthiyar vEthaththin utporuL
niRkap paadiyen nenchuL niRuththinaan,
thakka seerch satakOpanen nampikku,aat
pukka kaathal adimaip payananRE?

(Satakopan sang the very essence of the Vedic truths and firmly planted
them in my heart.  What better use is there for me than to be in loving
servitude to him?)

Opposition to Azhvaar Sri Sukthees continued even to the time of Swami Sri
Desikan.  When formal worship at Sri Rangam was reinstated after the Muslim
invaders were repulsed recitation of Dhivya Prabhandham was not accepted
readily.  Swami Sri Desikan had to intervene and settle the matter in favor
of recitation.

Mathurakaviyaazhvaar thiruvadigaLE saraNam

-- Dileepan