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Fourth Day of Dhanur Maasam: Some reflections On PeriyavAcchAn PiLLai

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Thu Dec 19 1996 - 18:43:53 PST

Dear Members of the Bhakthi group :

Sriman Mohan Sagar's reference to the extraordinary 
Rama Bhakthi of PeriyavaacchAn PiLLai reminds me of 
the unique composition of his on SampoorNa RaamayaNam.
The uniqueness here is associated with the way in which 
he took original Words/lines from the different sections of NAlAyira
Divya Prabhandham and  put them together to form a coherent , interlaced garland
following the thoughts of Srimadh RamAyaNam. He was the VyhkhyAna
chakravarthi of the Prabhamdhams of AzhwArs . Hence he compiled with 
ease the unique RamAyaNam using nothing but the words of the AzhwArs.

P.V. PiLLai was the disciple of NampiLLai , who is the distinguished 
sishyar of Namjeeyar ; latter was converted into Vaishnava Darsanam by 
the precocious ParAsara Bhattar , whom Sriman Sudarshan wrote about
in his postings on "Jataa" .P.V. PiLLai was born in Sanganallur in ChoLa
desam . He was born on KrishNAshtami , when the star of RohiNi was
in ascendance . His ArAdhana murthy was Sri KrishNan . Independent of all
these tilt towards KrishnA , P.V. PiLLAi's adoration of Sri Ramachandra is
well documented . He was pulled between RamA and KrishNa like
AndAL .

Mohan Sagar referred also to RamanandA as being influenced by 
PeriyavAcchAn PiLLai .. If this is the RamAnandA of Benares ,the founder 
of the RamAnandi sect and the Guru of Kabir , we have an excellent 
lineage of SrivaishNavism in the Northern part of India. Tulasidas 
(1532-1623 AD )  was  a well known member of the Ramaanandi sect 
and renowned for his illustrious work Rama-charita Manasa ( the Manasa 
Lake of Rama's story ) , the greatest scripture for the Hindi speaking people .
In one of his verses , Tulasidas describes Rama's anantha KlayANa guNas
that AndAL saluted earlier this way :

" O , Rama ! You dwell in the hearts of those who have no lust , anger ,
infatuation , pride, delusion , avarice, excitement , affection  or hatred ,
hypocrisy , vanity , deceitfulness; those  who are dear to all , benovolent
to all , equanimous in joy and sorrow , praise and blame , who speak the 
truthful and the plesant,  and have taken shelter under You ,and indeed have
no other go but you ,-- in their minds You dwell, O Rama! Those who consider 
others ' women as mothers (Vide--Reference to the quotation from  
Saint Thyagaraja's Aarabhi Pancharatnam, Para nAri sodhara by 
Sri MuraLi Rangaswami ) and others who consider  wealth as more poisonous 
than poison , those who rejoice to see others flourish and are actually 
pained to see them afflicted , those to whom  You are dearer than life ,
in their minds is YOUR BLESSED ABODE ." Tulasidas sets the above 
passage as a statement by Sage Valmiki in his conversation with Rama.

NampiLLai had other well known sishyars besides PeriyavAcchAn 
PiLLai like Vadakku Thiruveedhi PiLLai , EeyuNNI MadhavAchAr et al .
 P.V. PiLLai was commanded by his Acharya to write the 24,000 padi 
commentary on Thiruvaimozhi. In  addition to that masterly work with 
enormous references to Ithihaasaas and PurANAs , he
also blessed us with the following granthams : Upakara Ratnam , Gadhya 
Traya  VyAkyAnam , Abhaya PradhAna VyAkyAnam , Sarama Rahasyam ,
AnusandhAna Rahasyam , Niyamanappadi , MaaNikka Maalai , Navarathna
Maalai , AshtAkshara Deeoikai an dVyakyAnam for Thiruviruttham 
and last but  not the least , a VyAkkyAnam on AaLavandhAr"s Sthothra
Ratnam . No wonder he is remembered with affection as 
VYAAKYANA CHAKRAVARTHI . He lived for 95 years .One  of 
his distinguished sishyAs is Vaadhi Kesari Azhagiya MaNavALa 
PerumAL Jeeyar. 

P.V. PiLLai and Vadakku Thiruveedhi(V.T) PiLLai were  cohorts  among 
the disciples of NampiLLai .  V.T. PiLLai is the author of the 36,000 padi
on Thiruvaimozhi and incurred the anger of his Guru for writing a commentary
without the permission of his Acharya. V.T. PiLLai was somewhat jealous of the 
achievements of others . Once V.T.PILLai went to the court of a local king , 
who asked PiLLai to explain a topic of particular interest  to our Sri Sudarshan
(VIz)., JatAyu Moksham . The king wanted to know how Rama hiding his 
Parathvam as a mere human being can give moksham to JatAyu . V.T. PiLLai
was bewildered and he could not come up with an answer. Another fellow
disciple of NampiLLai whispered into the ear of V.T.P that NampiLLai would 
have explained this apparent mystery with one slokam starting with 
"Sadhyeka LokAn Jayathi . "  V.T.P took on the clue and provided a most 
convincing answer to the king's  question and was amply rewarded . He took 
the presents and laid it at  the feet of his AcharyA and prostrated before him .
As we can see, the controversey over Jataayu Moksham and Sri RamA's
role in it has an ancient history and I am glad that Sri Sudarshan is going to
tackle this subject in his inimitable facile manner . I look forward to reading
postings on this subject .

SrivaishNava Daasan,

Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan