You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : January 1999

Periya Thirumozhi- Introduction

From: Madhavakkannan V (
Date: Thu Jan 14 1999 - 21:58:08 PST


Dearest Sisters and Brothers, Happy makara sankaranthi! Happy Pongal!

I pray to Divya Damapthis for Their blessings and AchAryAs and 
ThirumangaiAzhwAr for Their anugraham for my yet another rash, brazen 
attempt to enter into tranlsation kaimkaryam. Please forgive me for my 
errors and mistakes. Anything good in it, I am not to be "blamed"; All 
Emperumaan's grace and AzhwAr's and AchAryan anugraham.  All mistakes, 
blunders are mine; Please pat (slap) my back for that. 

ThirumangaiAzhwAr's Periya Thirumozhi is what we are going to enjoy 
next. All of you know well about this Great AzhwAr, and he needs no 
introduction. However, for novices like me, just a quick account of his 

In his early days, as a king, our Lord Narayana was far from AzhwAr's 
thoughts.  His spiritual journey started with a commitment he made to 
his sweetheart Kumudhavalli in exchange for her hand in marriage.  While 
most women may have asked for her suitor's everlasting love, or a 
diamond ring, or a golden bangle, all our gentle lady Kumudhavalli 
sought from AzhwAr was that he must wear the marks of Sri Vaishnava and 
serve food (amudhu) for 1,000 Vaishnavaas everyday for a period of one 
year.  This service, initiated as a price for carnal pleasure, turned 
into a labour of divine love towards the devotees of our Lord Narayana.  
Years rolled by.  AzhwAr spent all his wealth in the service of 
Vaishnavas.  With his coffers empty, AzhwAr could not continue the 
service.  He could not bear the thought of having to turn away the 
Vasihnavas who by then were accustomed to blessing his abode with their 

The feeling of despair turned to anger at the sight of the greedy idle 
rich strolling around with all their gaudy and ostentatious jewels and 
showing contempt for the simple and devout Vasihnavas.  This was enough 
to drive our Great AzhwAr to actions. But it was not just fame that was 
in store for our AzhwAr. 

Our Lord Sriya: Pathih Sriman Narayana decided to intervene and turn 
AzhwAr away from the ways of the sword.  He and His consort, our divine 
mother Sri, appeared before him as a newly wed couple bedecked with 
priceless ornaments.  AzhwAr, who hid himself at ThirumaNankollai, 
stopped the couple and forcibly relieved them of all the jewellery.  
But, there was one piece on our Lord's toe
that wouldn't come off however much AzhwAr tried.  In frustration AzhwAr 
put his head on the lotus feet of our Lord (!) with the intention of 
biting the ring off. He asked the Lord as to what is the magic manthra 
for removing? (The Lord must have mis understood that AzhwAr enquires 
regarding samsaara bond!) and that sort of SaraNagathy did work! at that 
moment AzhwAr was drawn in by the beauty of the lotus feet and realized 
the true nature of the couple standing in front of him.  The Lord then 
instructed the esoteric meaning of the "magic manthra" i.e 
"Thirumandhiram" or Ashtaaksharam for the Most Blessed AzhwAr, to get 
initiated by the Lord Himself, with Their "thadutthaaTkoLLal".

Thus AzhwAr learnt of the efficacy of the divine name "Narayana" from 
our Lord Narayana Himself!

He  immediately burst out to sing the poem "Periya Thirumozhi" (Great 
divine poem) consisting of 1,084 verses.  The first ten of these verses 
are dedicated to the name "Narayana."  These first 10 emotional verses 
give aid and comfort to people. 

AzhwAr comes down hard on himself with intense self criticism for the 
violence he had caused,
though for a good cause, for having sought fleeting worldly pleasures, 
for having squandered his days on mundane pursuits.  He ends each of 
these ten verses with a celebration of the divine name Narayana, for 
after finding this sweet name, AzhwAr declares, he was free from all the 
sins and assured of the everlasting bliss at the lotus feet of our sweet 
Lord Narayana   (Biography passage -stole- from Sri Dileepan's post in 
Dec 95- in bhakti list - Thanks, Dileepan!)

His compositions were : 1. Periya thirumozhi 2. Periya thirumadal 3. 
SiRiya thirumadal 4. Thiru nedunthANdakam (TNT) 5. Thiru 
KurunthANdakam(TKT) 6.Thiru vezhuk kurrirukkai. His pAsurams are 
marvellous; excellent and have unsurpassed beauty in them. ParAsara 
Bhattar made use of his TNT to win over his counter part, an advaitin 
scholar in his arguments and later the advaitin became his disciple 'nam 

Sri RanganAtha himself heard and was greatly pleased with that argument 
re-enacted from Bhattar quoting from TNT (Please read excellent posts of 
Sri V. SadagOpan on TNT and TKT during
Feb 96 from Bhakti Archives - a real feast to each one of you). 

Thirumangai AzhwAr (a KING, a person who had all kingly royal comforts) 
walked all the way and VISITED almost all temples. He is simply GREAT, 
my dearest brothers and sisters. He is JUST S U P E R B AzhwAr. His 
wordings are his outpourings straight from his heart. 

It is told and declared by Tamil Poets of all kinds that His paasurams 
contain ezhutthu (writing), sol,(words) poruL, (meanings), yaappu 
(Grammar), aNi (figure of sppech?) etc.. His songs are so great and so 
nice to recite! It is simple and quite lucid too for reciters and those 
who know even little Tamil, can understand the lovely emotional 
outbursts of AzhwAr and his bhakti. 

His paasurams depict mainly the archaavathaarams of Divya dEsams, and 
when He enjoys Them with the descrition of Divya Desams, they simply 
immerse us in unbounded limitless bliss and pErAnandham. 

Thai AzhwAr, when Kumudavalli had asked him to become a Srivaishnava, 
got his pancha samskaaram done by ThirunaRaiyoor Nambhi. He got his 
Thiru ManthrOpadEsam from Sri SowrirAja PerumAL; AzhwAr praises These 
Lords individually with 100 pAsurams! Nambhi naamam sollil NamO 

This AzhwAr had Great regards for NammAzhwAr. He appealed and requested 
Sri Ranganathan for lsitening to Thiruvaaymozhi from Kaarthigai sukla 
Ekadasi and now all Sri vaishnava Divya Desams celebrate this uthasavam 
of reciting Thiruvaaymozhi. 

The essence of Periya Thirumozhi is: The worldly life is sorrowful; It 
can be cured only by the grace of Sriman Narayanan; Hence, get saved by 
paying obeisance to Him at His Divya Desams (106 Thiruppathis on this 
Earth). AzhwAr visited almost about 80 Thiruppathis, all on foot; He 
sang 1253 passurams, next only to NammAzhwAr; (but NammAzhwAr never went 
to any Divya Desams; The Lords came to Him!)… Thirumangai AzhwAr padi 
padi paraparappaay Thirndhaar…He declares: If one surrenders to Sriman 
Narayanan, "enRum vinaiyaagina saaragilaavE"… (Never will sins accrue to 
your account!).. 

This prabhandham should be read, re-read, re-re read and enjoyed! So 
nice are they… Last Kaarthigai Kritthigai nakshathram (during AzhwAr 
Thirunakshathram) as instructed by our KaNNan Swami, I could recite 
Periya Thirumozhi for ten days preceding his Thirunakshathram and 
completed on his birthday. It was a great feeling of having read his 
lovely Periya Thirumozhi. Dearest Sisters and Brothers, my attempting to 
write these translation is: 1. Those who do not know Tamil, can get to 
know the meanings, and enjoy. 2. Those who wish to know the meanings 
(though we all know Tamil, it is still difficult to understand the 
meanings) and 3. Being a self-centred person, I myself would like to 
enjoy them, by reading the pAsurams and writing these translations.

May I request for all your aseervaathams and wishes for such a rash 
attempt? (Fools rush in where angels fear to tread).  

Thirumangai AzhwAr ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam

"thunjum bOdhu azhaimin.. thuyar varil ninaimin… thuyarileer sollinum 
nanRaam… (While you sleep, call… or when you feel depressed and 
sorrowful… call… or no worries.. no problems.. stilll it is so sweet to 
utter…. Call "Narayana Narayana" says "Thirumangai AzhwAr)


Narayana Narayana

Narayana dAsan Madhavakkannan

Get Your Private, Free Email at