You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : January 1997

Tirumazhisai Azhwar

RANGASWAMY_at_plh.af.mil
Date: Mon Jan 06 1997 - 11:17:47 PST

Dear Members of the List,

Smt. Nagu Satyan posted an excellent article on the episode between Shiva and 
Tirumazhisai Azhwar. This caused me to reflect on some related aspects about 
this great Mahan. The Taniyan for this Azhwar is 

MakhAyAm Makare MAsE Chakramsham Bhargavodbhavam I
MahisAra PuradEsham Bhaktisaram Aham Bhaje II

(I salute Bhaktisara, the son of Bhargava, who was born under the asterism of 
Makha in the month of Makara (Jan 14-Feb 14), as an Amsham of the 
Sudarshana Chakram of Lord Vishnu in Tirumazhisai.)

Born as the son of Rishi Bhargava, the child was a lifeless mass of flesh 
at birth and consequently was abandoned. However, the child was brought back 
to life through the grace of Lord Narayana and was raised by foster parents 
belonging to the fourth caste. The Azhwar never cared for material comforts 
or riches. Instead his sole occupation was to string garland after garland 
of flowers for Govinda. A group of Brahmins were engaged in reciting the Vedas
when the Azhwar happened to pass by. Dazzled by the brilliance of the 
Azhwar, the Brahmins stopped reciting the Vedams. As the Azhwar was about to 
depart, the Brahmins attempted to resume their chanting but had forgotten 
where they stopped. The Azhwar recognized this and broke into two a grain of 
paddy to remind the Brahmins, where they had stopped in their recitation.

A common misconception of this incident is that since the Azhwar belonged 
to the fourth caste, he was not privy to the Vedas. Therefore, the Brahmins
stopped their recitation upon his arrival. However, Sri Anbil Ramaswamy 
provided a brilliant explanation for this incident in light of the 
Azhwar being an Amsham of the Sudarshana Chakram. I shall touch upon this 
aspect very briefly. 

The Sudarshana Chakram is the Maha Jyothi which forms the center of the 
Maha Jwala known as Kalanala (fire at the end of time). References to the 
Jwala can be seen from Swami Desikan's Sudarshana Ashtakam (Prututara 
Jwala Panjara), and the fact that one of the six corners of the Sudarshana 
Yantram is the Jwala Chakram. It is also well known that the Jwala connotes 
the Jwala Narasimhar aspect, which was responsible for the destruction of 
Hiranyakashipu. Further connections between Narasimhar and Sudarshana Chakram 
can be seen from the prescriptions of the Pancharatra and Vaikhanasa Agamams 
for the worship of Narasimhar in four places (i.e., below the earth, in 
pillars, on hills and in the Sudarshana Yantram). Padma Samhita (a 
Pacharatra Agama text) specifically refers to the presence of Narasimhar in 
the Chakram. Furthermore, the three worlds were trembling with fear 
to see the fit of rage of Ugra Narasimha. Additional evidence in support of 
the back-to-back forms of Sudarshana and Narasimhar can be found in the form 
of the Sudarshana-Narasimhar Saligramam. Also, the Sudarshana Chakram 
has the radiance of a thousand Bhaskaras as is seen from Ambarisha's Prapatti 
Stotram in the Bhagavatam (Sahasraditya Sankasham, Sahasra Vadanam Param I
Sahasradam Sahasraram Prapadyeham Sudarshanam). Further testimony to the 
radiance of the Chakram is found in the Panchayudha Stotram (Sudarshanam 
Bhaskara Koti Tulyam). 

Since the Azhwar was an Amsham of the Chakram, he personified the radiance of 
the Chakram, which left the stupified Brahmins in stunned silence. However, 
the Azhwar upheld Varnashrama Dharma by not uttering the Veda Aksharams 
(although he was well versed in them) but instead used a gesture to provide 
the Brahmins a clue as to where they had stopped in their chanting.

Another interesting episode is the incident with YathOktaKAri Perumal of 
Kanchipuram. Srimans Sadagopan, Ramaswamy, Srinivasan Iyengar and 
Lakshminarasimha Srinivasa have referred to this incident in 
considerable detail in their articles in the past. Hence, I shall not touch 
upon it here. 

Sudarshana NarasimhAya Namaha,

Muralidhar Rangaswamy