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Thirumazhisai AzhwAr Thirunakshathram: Thai Pooram--Part 1

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sat Jan 17 1998 - 06:37:59 PST

Isvara SAmvathsaram , Thai MOnth 3rd Dinam
Thai Pooram , Friday , Jan 16 ,1998

Dear BhakthAs : 

Today is Thai Pooram . Thirumazhisai AzhwAr 
was born on this day . He sanctified Poora Nakshthram of 
Thai month just as ANDAL made Aadi Pooram a day of 
greatness thru her avathAram .

Thirumazhisai AzhwAr   is also known as BhakthisArar 
or a person known for representing the quintessence of 
Bhakthi to Sriman NaarAyaNa .
He is one of  the toughest AzhwArs in the sense that he 
can be combative and uncompromizing . He will challenge 
Lord Siva , the King of Kanchi and the Vedic Scholars , if they
questioned about the Parathvam of Sriman NaarAyaNA . His
prapatthi to our Lord and his mahA viswasam has few parallels .

He can also be called a Research Scholar . He studied & rejected
different philosophical systems and religions based on them 
such as Buddhism , NyAyA , VaisEshikA , SaamkhyA , paatanjala 
and KaapAlikA . Finally , he became an accomplished Siddhar 
worshipping Lord SivA . Pey AzhwAr intervened and helped 
BhakthisArA accept Sri VaishNavism and the supermacy of 
Sriman NaarAyaNA . Once he was won over in the debate that 
established the supermacy of ( parathvam of )  Sriman NaarAyaNA ,
he rejected all the other mathams as Saara Heenam ( devoid of
substance ) and became a Parama VaishNavA . He became the leading
exponent of Sri VaishnNavite theosophy . He is the first AzhwAr to refer to
PaancharAthra Aagamam and VyuhA principles embedded in there .

Thirumazhisai AzhwAr  is considered as an "integral seer " 
in whom all the search for knowledge got transformed 
into the essence of devotion ( bhakthi Saaram ) that led to 
the divine vision at the end and a clear understanding of 
the Bhagavadh SvarUpa VisEsham . He combined in his 
vision of Sriman NaarAyaNA the parajn~Ana ( transcendental
knowledge ) that Poygai stood for , para bhakthi ( transcendental
devotion ) that BhothatthAzhwar represented and the parama bhakthi
( supreme devotion ) that his AchAryA , Pey was noted for . He proved 
with conviction and authority that Sriman NaarAyaNA is the unalterable
truth behind " the primal and ultimate causality of all the Worlds " . In 
both his prabhandhams , Naanmukan ThiruvantdAthi (NT ) and 
Thirucchandaviruttham ( TCV ) , he emphasized that Sriman
NaarAyaNA as the one and only ultimate cause and 
that  ALONE  is the path ( panthA ) , the goal ( upEyam ) and 
the means ( upAyam ) for Moksham .

Naanmukan ThiruvandhAthi 

This Prabhandham is the first of the two compositions of 
Thirumazhisai . It establishes unambiguosly the supermacy 
( parathvam ) of Sriman NaarAyaNA . There are 96 paasurams 
in NT . It follows the andhAthi style of the mudal AzhwArs . The first
ten paasurams deal with the Parathvam of our Lord . Then come 
paasurams that establish what is parama hitham (viz)., the seeking
of the saraNyan's  lotus feet as the sole refuge  to gain moksha siddhi .
Using very assertive and unambiguous language , he instructs us
about the way for our sure salvation . These paasurams are followed by 
salutations to VibhavAvathArams such as NarasimhA , RaamA ,
KrishNA and lead to moving paasurams on ArchA mUrhtys
of divya desams like ThiruvEnkatam , Srirangam , Thirukkudanthai , 
ThiruvehhA , ThiruveLLUr , ThiruppEr , Anbil and  ThiruvallikkENi .
His dozen paasurams on SrinivAsan ( Thiruviruntha Maarban ) 
of Vada Venkatam are beautiful to reflect upon . In one of those
paasurams , he plays the game of kUdal ( paasuram 39 of NT) 
and showed the way for ANDAL to play that game 
in NaacchiyAr Thirumozhi (NTM ) later . In this paasuram , he 
longs for his darsanam of ThiruvEnkatamudayAn and checks
on the insight provided by the Kudal game . In this game , 
one takes a handful of sOzhi and sorts them by pairs . If one
ends up with a pair , the wish will come true. If one is left with 
one sOzhi at the end of pairing the bunch , then one's desire 
will not be fulfilled . AzhwAr says that he is looking for divine
giving the hint of good news regarding the longed-for visit to 
THiruvEnkatam to have the darsanam of his Lord , SrinivAsan . 
At the end of the twelve Paasurams on ThiruvenkatatthAn ,
Azhwar celebrates the dvAdasa nAmAs of the Lord 
( Upavyuha mUrhtys ) . There is a complelling logic to the flow
of his bhakthi outpourings . 

The twentieth verse of NT is a moving paasuram,  where
the AzhwAr celebrates the SarvAntharyAmithvam of Sriman NaarAyaNA 
in the spirit of VedAs and Upanishads. Such a celebration 
based on Vedic truths is not surprising , since  AzhwAr is also a 
great Vedic scholar . In the twentieth verse he celebrates 
Sriman NaarAyaNA as the inner power of all chEthams  ,
achEthanams ,  Brahma dEvan and his son SivA ,Agni , Suryan , 
Chandran and every entity in Your creation :

neeyE ulahellAm ninnaruLE niRpanavum
neeyE tavatthEva dEvanum --neeyE
yerisudarum maalvarayum yeNNdisayum aNdatthu 
irusudarum aaya ivai

( ulahu = achEthanam ; niRpana = chEthanams ;
tavatthEvan = the one who performs tapas , MahEsvaran ;
dEvan= Brhama dEvan ; yeri sudar = burning Agni;
maal varai = eighth towering kula parvathams ; 
yeNNdisai= eight directions ; andatthu irusudar= the Sun
and the Moon shining in the AkAsam ; aaya ivai neeyE =
You are the One in all these forms ) . " sa Brhama: sEndra:
sOkshara: parama svarAt " and the other Veda Manthrams 
cited below are the base for his paasuram :

1. God ( Sriman NaarAyaNA ) alone is one , though known as 
Agni , king VaruNA MitrA , Aryaman and amsA ( TvamagnE RaajA 
VaruNO ---Rig Vedam II.1.4)

2. God ( Sriman NaarAyaNA ) is also known as Agni , Rudra, Maha: ,
PushaN ( TvamgnE RudRo --Rig Vedam II.1. 6)

3. God is Agni , DravinOdA ( wealth giver ) , DevA , savithA ,
RathnadhA ( the treasurehous of gems ) . BhagA ( the effulgent ) ,
and BNrupathi ( the king of Men ) / Rig Vedam II.1.7

4. He alone is Agni ( yerisudar ) , the same He is Aditya ,
and Moon ( andatthu Irusudar of Thirumazhisai) 
and He is the same one  known as Vaayu . ( Indram 
Mithram ( Yajur Vedam XXXII.1)

5. He is the one , though seers call Him with various 
names such as IndrA , MithRa , VaruNA , Agni , DivyA ,
SuparNA , GaruthmAn , Yama and Matarisvan ( -- Yekam 
sadh viprA: bahudhA vadanthi --Rig Vedam I.164.46)

6. He creates the Universe ( DhyAvA Prithvee ) and the 
Universe assumes His form ( Rig Vedam X. 110.9)

7. He weaves the entire Universe through His divine 
thread (tantu ) of Unified Law ( Atharva Vedam : XIII.1.6) 

8. The entire Universe is sustained by the great principle 
( mahi praNithi ) and protected by undecaying devices of
protection ( uthi ) / Rig Vedam : VI.45.3-- maheerasya 
praNeethaya : pUrvOrutha prasasthaya: ,  naasya Ksheeyantha

9. The entire Skhambha SookthA of Atharva Vedam ( X.7.35 onwards ) 
salutes the cosmic creation by the Lord and His divine laws 
that sustain it in a marvellous manner . 

Thirumazhisai in His Naanmukhan ThiruvandhAthi 
celebrates Sriman NaarAyaNA as the " final reality " ,
the Ucchishta Brahmam and sarva sEshi . He is the only 
existing reality at the time of MahA PraLayam and sustains
everything in his stomach and releases them again for 
another cycle of YugAs for His sport . He is the sustainer of 
the entire creation consisting of name and form ( UchcishtE 
naama rUpam chOcchishtE loka aahitha: ucchishtE dhyAvaa
prithvee visvam bhUtham samAhitham , aapa: samudhra: 
ucchishtE chnadramA vAtha aahitha: -- Atharva Vedam XI.7.1&2 )  

In the 26 th paasuram , he reminds Sriman NaarAyanan
that Lord SivA is the witness for his vow that he will not 
worship anyone other than Sriman NaarAyaNan . This is a beautiful
paasuram , where he begs the Lord to bless him to have 
avyapachAra bhakthi to Him alone . The second half of this
paasuram is very reminiscent of the declaration of ANDAL 
yerraikkum yEzhEzh piravikkum --- and maRRai nam kaamangaL
maaRRElOrempAvAi ) :

yeRRaikkum kandukoL kandAi kadal vaNNA 
yaanunnai kandukoLkiRkumARu 

yAnn = myself with no other desire or anticipation of 
any other fruits  , yeRRaikkum = for all times to come , 
unnai kandu koLkiRkkum AaRu kandu koLL = 
please bless me the means to be with You alone 
and worship You alone . 

In the thirtieth verse , AzhwAr emphasizes his mahA viswAsam
in the Lord"s Rakshakathvam( apadh Bhaandhavan
and anAtha rakshakan ) :

avan Yennai AaLi arangattharangil 
uLLatthu ninRAn IrundhAn kidakkumE 
veLLattharavaNain mEl  

avan= the Lord I described below (in the earlier paasurams )
Yennai AaLi = He is my ruling Sarva SvAmi 
arangam tarangil  yennai yeythAmal AVAN KAAPAAN =
He will not dispatch me to the sharp end of the 
spear feared as  SamsAram . He will save me from this 
terror and suffering  . He is sititng , standing and resting 
in my mind . I doubt now very much that he will revert to His old 
bed of Adhi Seshan at His home in the milky ocean after
enjoying the comfort of residence in my mind .

Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan 

Subhamasthu , sarva MangaLAni santhu 
NamO NaarAyaNA , Namo NaarAyaNA