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Re: Murugan and thirumangai aazhvaar

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani)
Date: Thu Dec 28 1995 - 12:04:40 PST

On Dec 28, 12:38pm, Badrinarayanan Seshadri wrote:
> Scholars like PT Srinivasa Aiyengar (who is a Tamilologist)
> believe that the 12 aazhvaars had a continuous tradition going
> down all the way up to Sriman Naadhamuni. PTS believes that
> Nammaazhvaar directly taught Naadhamuni and Nammaazhvaar
> himself was a student of Thiru Mangai aazhvaar.

There is not much historical evidence for this speculation.
What is more probable is that the 12 aazhvaars were part of
a larger, informal, Vaishnava bhakti tradition.  Only the
poetry of these 12 has survived, perhaps because they were
the best and most memorable.

Modern research as well as tradition tells us that Thirumangai
aazhvaar came after Nammaazhvaar.  Dr. Friedhelm Hardy believes
that there is internal evidence in their respective poetry that
indicates this.  The traditional biographies also tell us that
Thirumangai established the worship of Nammaazhvaar in several
places.  It is probable that this tradition is based on some
facts.

All accounts indicate that Nammaazhvaar was a very philosophical
sage who did not participate much in worldly affairs.  I tend
to think that other than Madhurakavi and a few other immediate
disciples, upon his passing, not many people knew about his poetry.
These disciples may have spread it to a certain extent, but I am
quite certain that Sri Nathamunigal had an extremely hard time
recovering the paasurams.  I think it likely that Nathumuni
spent much of his life going from village to village searching
for Vaishnavite Tamil poems.  He may have met Madhurakavi Azhvaar
or his disciple (one Parankusa Daasan) in the course of his journeys.
The chronology is so uncertain that we cannot say for sure.
I doubt, however, that he ever met Nammaazhvaar in person.

> Guruparampara Prabhavam (which is quite sectarian as can be
> witnessed from the two versions, one each for VK & TK) contain
> a little real history and rest all nonsensical myths and should
> be taken with pounds of salt.

Actually, the so-called Thengalai Guruparampara Prabhavam
is not really Thengalai per se, as it was written by Pinpazhagiya
Perumal Jiyar, a disciple of Periyavaacchaan Pillai, before
Vedanta Desika's rise to prominence.  In general, it is a
non-sectarian account of Sri Vaishnava history.

The other Guruparampara Prabhavam was written several centuries
later by the 3rd Brahmatantra Svatantra Jiyar of Parakala
Mutt and contains many more views characteristic of the
Vadagalai viewpoint.

Mani