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Re: Azhwars

From: Madhavakkannan V (
Date: Tue Feb 26 2002 - 04:28:27 PST

SrImathE ramanujaya namah:

Dear Sri Rajaram,

Possibly sri NathamunigaL would have addressed them as AzhwArs as he was the 
one who compiled the pAsurams. AzhwArs really and very deeply immersed  
themselves in their devotion and bhakti towards the Lord Sriya:  Pathi  
Sriman  Narayanan.  The  AzhwArs  are  reported  to  be  incarnations  of  
NithyasUris of Sri Vaikuntam,  namely, the weapons, the Vanamaali, the 
GarudA, et  al.  They lived like human beings and burst out bhakti laden 
great works for the  sake of humanity.  The works of Alwars stood 
mysteriously a replica of the Vedas  themselves  and therefore came to be 
known as Dravida Veda.  In fact, there is a  view that even the great  
Rishis  are no match to the  greatness  of the  Alwars  because  these  
Rishis  got their  'jnAnam'  ( wisdom)  as a result of their own  actions of 
'spiritual  merit' ( Punyam) whereas the wisdom of the Alwars was the  
direct result of the Lord's divine grace and therefore  called ' Divyam'.  
It is  because of this that the works of Alwars is called ' Divya  
Prabandham' are 4000  poems (pAsurams).

These works of AzhwArs are  non-paralleled  in every sense- be it in  
sentiment,  style or  syntax.They  take  even a casual  reader  on a  guided 
  tour  into the  esoteric  exegesis of the Vedas without  offending the  
provisions of exclusions  and prohibitions  enjoined in the study of the 
Vedas in original.  (from Sri Anbil  Ramaswamy's write up)

AzhwAr's  paasurams (poems) called  naalaayira  dhivyap  prabhandam  
composed by  twelve  AzhwArs.The  paasurams were collected and brought out 
by one of the much  revered Sri vaishnava AchAryAs called Sriman  
Naathamuni.  By the time of sriman  Naathamuni  (9th century A.D.)  the 
AzhwAr  paasurams  were not lost or unknown.  It was by divine grace of 
Sriman  Narayanan that Sriman  Naathamuni came to know  of the Tamil poems 
praising Lord Vishnu.  It is believed that Sriman  Naathamuni  heard some 
devotees visiting his home town of VeeranaaraayaNapuram  (present day  
kaattu mannaarkudi near  Mayilaadurthurai or Mayavaram) singing a few (11) 
Tamil  songs starting with "aaraa amudhE adiyEn udalam" and ending with

"... kurugoor sadagOpan
kuzhalil maliyach sonna Or
aayiratthuL ippatthum,
mazhalai theera vallaar kaamar
maanEy nOkkiyarkE."

(NammAzhwAr's Thiruvaaymozhi 5.8.1 - 5.8.11)
Sriman Naathamuni was greatly excited and enchanted with the exquisite 
beauty of  the poems.  He  approached  the  devotees  and  enquired  about 
its origin.  The  ending of the 11 poems, "aayiratthuL  ippatthu,"(means 
this ten of the thousand)  suggested  that  there  are  many  more  such  
poems  (may be  thousand?).  This  possibility intrigued Sriman Naathamuni.

Unfortunately,  the devotees were unaware of any other poems  besides the 
eleven  they had just finished  reciting.  However, they suggested to Sriman 
  Naathamuni  that he may try  enquiring  in the town of thiruk  kurugoor,  
present day AzhwAr  thiru nagari near  thirunelvEli.  So he set out to 
travel from  kaattumannarkudi  to thiruk  kurugoor,  a long  journey  indeed 
  in his  time.  There he found one  paraangusa  daasar.  From him, Sriman 
Naathamuni learnt 11 more paasurams called  kaNNinuN  sirutthaambu.  These 
were  composed by  Madhurakavi  AzhwAr and all 11  paasurams are in praise 
of kurugoor  SadagOpan  (NammAzhwAr).  Sriman Naathamuni  was excited to 
have doubled his collection.  But this only whetted his desire to  seek out 
the more than 1,000,  promised in the first set of paasurams he fell in  
love with at his home town.

Paraangusa  daasar  suggested  that he  repeatedly  recite  this great  
kaNNinuN  sirutthaambu  (sung in  praise  of Sri  Sadagopan-  NammAzhwAr)  
in the  hope of  pleasing the Lord.  Sriman  Naathamuni took his advice  
sincerely and recited it  about  12,000  times!  It is said that  NammAzhwAr 
  was  impressed  with  Sriman  Naathamuni's  persistence and appeared  
before him.  NammAzhwAr was so impressed  that he revealed to Sriman  
Naathamuni  not just the 1102  paasurams  of his own  "thiruvaay mozhi", but 
also all the rest of the paasurams  composed by the other  eleven  AzhwArs.  
>From this, we may deduce  that it is Sriman  Naathamuni,  who  gathered the 
Tamil treatise (these 4000 peoms) praising Lord Vishnu  composed by  the 
twelve AzhwArs.  Sriman  naadhamuni  called this  collection of paasurams or 
  prabhandams naalaayira dhivya prabhandam or draavida vEdham.

Due perhaps to  historical  reasons,  much of these  treasures  had been 
lost to  humanity  for a while.  It was given to the great  Naathamuni  to  
retrieve  and  revivify them in their  pristine  glory for the benefit of  
posterity.  The long  line of the lineage of  preceptors  who followed him 
kept the torch  burning and  handed them over to successive generations .  
We can justifiably be proud of the  rich heritage .  It is our duty,  
therefore, to familiarize  ourselves  with the  lives  and  works of these  
preceptors  , the  least we can do as a token of our  gratitude for the 
invaluable treasures bequeathed to us.

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