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Article on Tirumanghai Alwar - by Prof. Bhuvarahachariar -part 1

From: Krishna Kalale (
Date: Mon Dec 08 1997 - 10:44:08 PST

>Date: Sun, 7 Dec 1997 14:55:56 +0500 (GMT+0500)
>From: Bharat A <>
>To: kkalale
>Subject: from BHARAT
>Dear Sri Kalale
>Dec 12th happens to be the Tirunakshatram of
>TIRUMANGAI AZHWAR.He was the last of the Azhwars
>and was closely associated with the development of
>Srirangam Temple.He built a rampart around it and
>also started the Tiru Adhyayana Utsavam.His final
>work Tiru Nedun Dandakam has been very influential
>in the history of Srivaishnavism.
>Sri E.S.Bhuvarahachariar has been kind enough to
>write an article about the Azhwar to mark the
>occasion.He has made it into three sections to
>comprise the above topics.
>I,m enclosing the first and main part about his life.
>The other two are shorter ones which I hope to receive
>(he,s at present in Tiruk kovalur) during the next 2-3
>days.I'll pass them on immly.
>If you want to you could put them on the net.
>with best wishes.
>           THIRUMANGAI AZHWAR (Kaliyan)
>           (by Sri E.S.Bhuvarahachariar)
>   ( A) His Life
>   "There is always a woman behind every successful man"
>   This saying is true in every letter in the case of this
>   Azhwar.Born of a low caste family,he got the admiration of
>   the Chola king and rose to the rank of a tributory king
>   through his supreme valor.Naturally enough bravery led to
>   pride,lust and other evil qualities.He was then called
>   NEELA.His associates were NEER MEL NADAPPAN (one who could
>   walk on water),NIZHALIL ODUNGUVAN (one who could hide in
>   the shadow of another), TAAZH OODUVAN (who could open a
>   lock by whistling) and TOLA VAZHAKKAN (who could never
>   be vanquished in an argument).These names clearly indicate
>   that all their abilities helped them and their king NEELA
>   only to rob others of their wealth and to act as spies
>   to the king.While wandering around these associates came
>   across a very beautiful girl by name KUMUDA VALLI,who
>   had been brought up by a physician.Informed about her by
>   them and allured by her bewitching beauty NEELA openly
>   expressed to her father his earnest desire to marry the
>   girl.He however left the choice to his daughter.She told
>   NEELA in unequivocal terms that for her to accept him
>   he has to change his way of life,become a very sincere
>   devotee of Lord Vishnu,obtain the Shankha-Chakra
>   imprints on his shoulders from a Guru and also host
>   one thousand devotees of Lord Vishnu every day for one
>   year.The infatuated NEELA implicitly obeyed thereby
>   causing bankruptcy of his exchequer.Now he had no way
>   left except to again resort to robbery to obtain the
>   money needed to host the devotees.
>   This finally culminated in his getting the grace of
>   Lord Narayana,who assuming the form of a brahmana and
>   accompanied by Sri Lakshmi and carrying a huge quantity
>   of wealth,allowed NEELA to rob Him.When NEELA could not
>   lift the huge bundle of wealth,he,prompted by the misgiving
>   that the Brahmana must have been using a magic spell (mantra)
>   urged Him to teach him the same.This proved to be a golden
>   opportunity for the Lord who promptly initiated him into
>   the Eight syllabled Mantra (Tiru Ashtaksharam) which would
>   totally erase from the mind of the listener the darkness of
>   ignorance.He became an Azhwar- an ardent aspirant for
>   salvation.This was the purpose for which Kumudavalli,originally
>   a divine damsel,had come to this mortal world.By the time NEELA
>   had become TIRUMANGAI AZHWAR  and thus acceptable to her,he
>   had lost all lust and desire for worldly objects and had
>   realised the futility of mundane objects.Now both of them
>   loved each other shedding all physical fascinations.They
>   thought they were made for each other and that is quite
>   true.A detailed study of his life is recommended to all
>   devotees to understand the inner meaning of the Azhwar's
>   mode of life in order to correct ones own life pattern in
>   this age when lust greed jealousy animosity and so many
>   evils crowd and cloud one's mind.
>   The most essential points to be remembered in respect to
>   TIRUMANGAI AZHWAR are given under:
>   1.This Azhwar became a king of Tirumangai country and
>     hence got that title.Though he appears to be a thief
>     his thefts were not for filling up his belly but in
>     the service of the Lord and His devotees which fact
>     led to finally transforming him also into an ardent
>     devotee and raising him to the status of an Azhwar.
>     He robbed the rich-blackmarketeers only; this was
>     pardonable according to the Lord.
>   2.He had the unique good fortune of getting initiated 
>     into the most efficacious mantra,whose meaning if
>     understood and translated into action is sure to
>     deliver a human being from worldly bondage.It's
>     final purport is to advise the devotee to do service
>     to the different Archa-forms (holy idols) of Sriman Narayana
>     residing in the 106 Divya Desams(holy shrines).This the Azhwar 
>     did.
>   3.He is quite different from the other Azhwars in this
>     respect,namely,in his ardent desire and admiration in
>     respect of the Archa Murthis in all the temples.Travelling
>     from the Himalayas to the Southern tip of India he
>     glorified and extolled several Divya Desams.Such was
>     his deep love for the Archavatara he could almost be
>     said to have no desire to exchange them even for
>     Vaikuntha Loka.Our Sri Vaishnava commentators declare
>     "Just as a young prince used to luxury requires a 
>     spoonful of ghee with every mouthful of rice,so does
>     this Azhwar the Archavatara glory to add taste and flavour
>     to every line of his poem."
>   4.By way of illustrating the four divine poems of SWAMI
>     NAMMAZHWAR this Azhwar composed SIX poems:
>   5.Even in the temple dedicated to him at his birthplace
>     TIRU NAGARI he is now in the form of an idol with exquisite
>     charm,accompanied by his beloved spouse Kumudavalli- who
>     was responsible for his fortune."A lady can make or mar a
>     man". While other girls spoiled him only Kumudavalli made
>     him an Azhwar.Considering that this debt of gratitude could
>     never be cleared he keeps her permanently at his side.This
>     is the lesson that every woman should learn- she is meant
>     to add greatness to a man,as Kumudavalli did.
>     His BIRTHDAY falls on Friday 12.12.97.This essay is meant
>     to offer our humble homage and mental prostrations to the
>     great Azhwar. 
>                     Think of TIRUMANGAI AZHWAR.