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mazhisai vandha sOthi

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Date: Sun Feb 04 1996 - 16:41:48 PST

Thiru mazhisai Azhvaar thirunakshathram
Thai - magam
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This year Thirumazhisai Azhvaar's thirunakshathram
(Thai magam) falls on Tuesday, February 6, 1996.  This
Azhvaar gave us 216 verses in two prabhandhams,
nanmugan thiruvandhaathi (96) and thiruch chandha
viruththam (120).

It is this Azhvaar's instructions that the Lord of Thiru
Veqaa (poygai Azhvaar's birth place and near
Kanchipuram periya kOvil) followed and came to be
known as "sonna vaNNam seydha perumaaL" (the Lord
who obeyed). This wonderful story involves
KaNikaNNar, a disciple of the Azhvaar.  KaNikaNNar
provoked the wrath of the local king and got himself
exiled when he refused to restore the king's youthfulness
unlike the devout old lady for whom KaNikaNNar had
obliged.  Not wanting to be separated from his pupil,
Azhvaar went to the temple and declared to the Lord, "I
am leaving town with KaNikaNNan, fold Your serpent
bed and follow me."  Ever waiting to please His
devotees,  (true to namaazhvaar's words in the 53rd
paasuram of periya thiruvandhaathi -- "unnadiyaarkku en
seyvadhu enRE iruththi nee"), the Lord got up
immediately, folded his "painnaagap paay", and went
behind the Azhvaar.  Thus, He came to be known as
"sonna vaNNam seydha perumaaL".  Then, the story
goes, the king apologized to KaNikaNNar and brought all
three back to Kanchi.

It is claimed that the Azhvaar was born to Bhargava
munivar and his dEvi Kanakaangi, but was abandoned
because the baby, at the time of birth, was a lifeless mass.
Upon the grace of Lord Sriman Narayana, the abandoned
lifeless mass turned into a fully formed and perfect baby
in every way.  The baby was then found and raised by a
"low caste" devout family.  Due to this, it is clear that the
brahmins of his time did not readily accord respect to our
Azhvaar.  The Azhvaar himself declares in
Thiruchchandha viruththam (90) that he was not born
into one of the four castes ("kulangaLaaya eeriraNdil
onRilum pirRandhilEn").

During an encounter with the brahmins of Thiru
Mazhisai, our Lord had to directly intervene, by
appearing with His sangu and chakram in Azhvaar's
body, to stop the brahmins deriding our Azhvaar.

In another interesting episode Azhvaar rescued a group
of brahmins from the ignominy of getting stuck during a
recitation of the vEdhaas.  The brahmins had halted their
recitation upon noticing the Azhvaar approaching.  The
aazhvaar moved away to make the brahmins comfortable.
Then, the brahmins tried to resume, but couldn't.  They
had forgotten the place where they had halted.  Noticing
this from a distance, the Azhvaar gave a sign to the
brahmins and helped them resume at the correct place.
At this time the Azhvaar shined with such luminosity that
the brahmins where put to shame.  Swami Sri dhEsikar
reminds us of this instance when he characterizes this
Azhvaar as "mazhisai vandha jOthi" (the shining light of
Mazhisai).

Another interesting story I once heard about this Azhvaar
involves Thirukkudandhai aaraamudhan.  After a long
and arduous journey the Azhvar reached the
Kumbakonam temple, tired and hungry.  When he
entered the temple the thirumancanam (ritual bathing of
the Lord) was just getting underway.  Intent on
comforting the Azhvaar, the Lord interrupted the
thirumancanam and instructed the Bhattaachar to take
"amudhu" to the Azhvaar immediately.  It seems this
practice is continued to this day with the "ThaLigai"
(food) offered to the Azhvaar sannithi first, and only then
to the Lord.  (This needs verification.)

Thiru mazhisai Azhvaar is said to have dabbled in a
variety of religions of his day, and was finally and firmly
turned to Sri Vaishnavam by his acharya and guru, pEy
Azhvaar.  In his paasurams the Azhvaar is unequivocal in
asserting that Sriman Narayana is the supreme Lord
declared by the vEdhaas.  He starts out his naanmugan
thiruvandhaathi (NT) with:

"naanmuganai naaraayaNan padaiththaan,
    naanmuganum thaan mugamaay
        sankaranaith thaan padaiththaan"

     --   Narayanan created the four-faced Brahma,
          and Brahma created Sankaran

and ends NT with:

"ini aRindhEn kaaraNan nee, kaRRavai nee,
    kaRpavai nee, naRkirisai naaraNan nee,
         nan_gaRindhEn naan."

     --   I have finally found these truths, You are the
          primordial reason, what is comprehended is
          You, what is to be comprehended is You, all
          good deeds is You, I have now realized
          these without any doubt.

Between the first and 96th verses of NT, the Azhvaar
repeatedly asserts the theme that Sriman Narayanan is the
only Lord we need to worship for salvation.

Azhvaar's thiruch chandha viruththam is filled with
abstract spiritual references.  Even with commentaries on
hand it is difficult for me to comprehend some of these
paasurmas.  We had an opportunity to examine one such
paasuram a few weeks back.



-- Parthasarati Dileepan