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From: Parthasarati Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Date: Sat Dec 02 1995 - 16:30:28 PST
I am sure the story of Thirumangai mannan is familiar to most in this group. However I am posting the following having prepared it for the newly formed NG SRV. Please pardon me for any and all mistakes. Thank you. -- Dileepan ==================== The star Krithigai in the month of Kaarthigai (December 5, 1995) is an auspicious day for all Sri Vaishnavas for it is the birth star of one of their most revered saints, Thiru Mangai Alwar (TMA). He is the second most prolific author among the 12 Alwars, next only to Nam Alwar. Of the 24 poems by the twelve Alwars consisting of almost 4,000 verses, TMA's share is 6 poems with 1,253 verses. Nam Alwar's share is 4 poems with 1,296 verses. In his early days, as a man of the sword, our Lord Narayana was far from TMA's thoughts. His spiritual journey started with a commitment he made to his sweetheart Kumudhavalli in exchange for her hand in marriage. While most women may have asked for her suitor's everlasting love, or a diamond ring, or a gold bangle, all our gentle lady Kumudhavalli sought from TMA was that he must wear the marks of Sri Vaishnava and serve food (amudhu) for 1,000 Vaishnavaas everyday for a period of one year. This service, initiated as a price for carnal pleasure, turned into a labor of divine love towards the devotees of our Lord Narayana. Years rolled by. TMA spent all his wealth in the service of Vaishnavas. With his coffers empty, TMA could not continue the service. He could not bear the thought of having to turn away the Vasihnavas who by then were accustomed to blessing TMA's abode with their presence. The feeling of despair turned to anger at the sight of the greedy idle rich strolling around with all their gaudy and ostentatious jewels and showing contempt for the simple and devout Vasihnavas. This was enough to drive TMA to actions that a certain individual of English folklore in Sherwood forest, a continent away, would resort to and become famous world over. But it was not just fame that was in store for our good TMA. Our Lord Narayana decided to intervene and turn TMA away from the ways of the sword. He and His consort, our divine mother Sri, appeared before TMA as a newly wed couple bedecked with priceless ornaments. TMA stopped the couple and forcibly relieved them of all the jewelry. But, there was one piece on our Lord's toe that wouldn't come off however much TMA tried. In frustration TMA put his head on the lotus feet of our Lord with the intention of biting the ring off. At that moment TMA was drawn in by the beauty of the lotus feet and realized the true nature of the couple standing in front of him. The Lord then instructed the esoteric meaning of "Thirumandhiram" (Om namO Narayanaya) for TMA. Thus TMA learnt of the efficacy of the divine name "Narayana" from our Lord Narayana Himself! TMA immediately went on to sing the poem "Periya Thirumozhi" (Great divine poem) consisting of 1,084 verses. The first ten of these verses are dedicated to the name "Narayana." These first 10 emotional verses give aid and comfort to people like me who have strayed in their youth. TMA comes down hard on himself with intense self criticism for the violence he had caused, albeit for a good cause, for having sought fleeting worldly pleasures, for having squandered his days on mundane pursuits. He ends each of these ten verses with a celebration of the divine name Narayana, for after finding this sweet name, TMA declares, he was free from all the sins and assured of the everlasting bliss at the lotus feet of our sweet Lord Narayana. These 10 verses will bring emotional tears of longing for the lotus feet of our Lord Narayana to the eyes of any Vaishnava. Here is the first of these ten Tamil verses: vaadinEnvaadivarundhinEnmanatthaal perunthuyaridumbaiyil piRanNdhu, koodinEn koodiyiLaiyavarthammOdu avartharumkalaviyEkarudhi, OdinEnOdiyuyvadhOrporuLaal uNarvenumperumpadhantherindhu, naadinEnn^aadin^aan_kaNdukoNdEn naaraayaNaavennumn^aamam. "Born into this worldly body, a receptacle of profound sorrow, I am weltering, I am filled with remorse; I have let myself run after beautiful women, seeking the fleeting carnal pleasures of the union they give; Lo and behold, through the grace of our Lord I now realize there is a greater goal, that which will deliver me into eternal happiness; I have searched for this state and have now found it in the sweet name _Narayana_." When you offer your prayers this Friday, think of this great Sri Vaishnava saint. -- Dileepan Notes: 1. This post is based on my recollection of TMA's story narrated by elders. 2. I have not included many epsiodes from TMA's long life story. This may be found in many publications including the one by Ramakrishna Mutt in English titled "Sri Ramanuja."