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

PeriyAzhwAr Birth Day Tribute

From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_compuserve.com)
Date: Mon Jul 14 1997 - 05:22:18 PDT

Dear Fellow BhakthAs :

I will follow the cue set by Sriman Sundararajan 
for this sacred week noted for its integrated celebrations for 
Sri VaishNavAs . Once again, the brilliant and precise
tribute paid by Sri Sundararajan is truly inspirational 
in setting the stage for this special week .

I will start my salutations to PeriyAzhwAr with the recollection of
Swami Desikan's tribute to him in the ninth verse of his work
revered as Prabhandha Saaram :

pEraNintha VilliputtUrAni  tanniR
     perunjyothi taniRROnRum perumAnE mun
seeraNintha pAndiyanRan nenju tanniR-
     riyakkaRamAl  paratthuvatthaithh tiRamAsseppi 
vAraNamEn Mathuraivalam varavE vAnin
     mAl garuda vahananAitth tOnRa vAzhtthu
mEraNipallANdu mudaR paattu nAnUR-
     Rezhupatthuon RiraNdumenakkudhavu neeyE 

( Padha/VakhyArtham ) : 

per aNindha : famous , known for its glory 

Villiputthur : in the city of Sri Villiputthur ( then puduvai ) 

aani tannil : in the Tamizh  month of Aani 

prunjyothi tannil : during the asterism , SvAthi 

thOnRum perumAnE : O great one , who incarnated

nee mun : once upon a time , you 

seer aNindha paandiyan than  nenju tannil : In the mind of the
celebrated Pandyan king 

thiyakku aRa mAl paratthuvatthai tiramA seppi  : You inscribed 
effectively  the supermacy of Sriman NaarAyaNA(in the king's mind )
so that he had no doubt whatsoever over that unassailable doctrine

vAraNam mEl    valam vara : (then ) you ascended the back of 
the royal elephant and went around the streets of southern Mathurai
at the behest of the king in a celebratory ride 

vaanil mAl Garuda VahananAi thonRa : (at that time ) , Lord Sriman 
NaarAyaNA appeared on the back of His vAhanam, Garudan 
(to witness) the scene of "Brahma ratham" for you 

vAzhtthum : (you responded to the Lord's grace ) through your 
benedictory verses and performed mangaLAsAsanam for Him
out of your prEma paravasam and concern that there is no dhrishti
dhOsahm for your Lord and His consorts 

yEr aNi pallANdu : ( you blessed us with) the most beautiful 
paasurams known as ThirupallANdu 

(pallAndu)  mudal paattu nAnURRezhupatthu onRu irandum :
The 473 verses starting from ThiruppallAndu

yenakku udhavu : please bless me with the knowledge of them .

PeriyAzhwAr was born during a Aani SvAthi at SrivilliputthUr .
He was GarudAmsam . He was given the name of VishNucchitthar ,
to suggest that he had Lord VishNu on his mind always . 
He was a sahaja daasyar and considered that kaimkaryam 
perormed by the florist in Vada Mathurai to Sri KrishNA was 
the example that he should follow in his life as the kaimkaryam
for the Lord of SrivillipputthUr , Vata pathra Saayee . He established
a nandavanam and performed flower garland and Tulasi maalai
kaimkaryam to the Lord . 

One day , the king of the land , Sri Vallabha Paandyan was 
going around incognito in the streets of his capital city ,
Southern Mathurai at night . He saw a Brahmin seated on 
a pial and asked him as to who he is and what does he do . 
The Brahmin replied that he is a traveller engaged 
in theerthAdanam and was on his way to bathe in the sacred
GangA river. The king asked the Brahmin to recite a verse .

The obliging Brahmin responded  with a verse  that starts with
" VarshArtthamashtou prayathEtha maasAn " { One should 
accumulate what one needs for the rainy season in the other 
eight months of the year ( chaathur Maasyam ) , one should 
collect what one needs for the night during the day , one should 
store things needed for the old age during one's youth and one
should seek what one needs for the other world ( maRumai )
during the stay in this world ( Immai ) . The king was stunned
to the quick by the wisdom incorporated in this slokam recited
by the Brahmin . He said to himself : " I do not have any wantings
in this world . I must now begin to do what is needed for the other
world . 

The king returned to his palace and consulted with his PurOhithA ,
Selva Nambi , who recommended that the king assemble learned
scholars and learn from their debate about the supreme doctrine
that he wanted ot know , which would be of help to him for maRumai .
The king invited the leading scholars of the alnd and requested 
them to establish the parataathva nirNayam based on VedAntha 
siddhAnthams. He set aside a major purse for the winner of 
the debate and displayed it on the top of a pole in his darbhAr.
That was to serve as the sambhAvanai and VidhyA sulkam . 

The Lord of Srivilliputthur ( VadaperumkoviludayAn) decided to
demonstrate his Parathvam  through His servant , VishNucchitthA .
He appeared in the dream of His servant and commanded him to
go to the king's court and bring down the purse from the pole , where
it was hanging . VishnucchitthA was overwhelmed with the Lord's
command and pointed out that he has no formal education of 
any kind and therefore was totally unqualified to enagage in any
discussion with the learned scholars at the king's special sadas .

The Lord replied : " My dear child ! you go to the court . I will be there
with you " . VishNucchitthar proceeded to the court and was 
welcomed by Selva Nambi and the king . The assmbled scholars 
did not want to engage VishNucchitthA in debate , since he had
no training in VedAs and SaasthrAs. The king requested 
VishNucchitthar to debate the scholars on Para Tattva NirNayam .
Just as the hunter Vaalmeeki was blessed by the blessings of 
BrahmA , Just as child Dhruvan became sarva~jnA through the 
contact of the Lord's conch on his face , VishNucchittha became 
proficient in all aspects of VedAnthA and VedAs and established 
without any doubt that the AkAravaachyanAna Sriman NaarAyaNan
is sarvasmath paran " . He defeated the arguments of all the other
scholars and proved that Sriman NaarAyaNan is the supreme
God . At hat time , the purse attached on top of the tall pole bent
over and came to the level of VishNucchitthA for him to take hold
of it . 

The impressed  and grateful king bowed before VishNucchitthA 
and placed him on the back of the royal elephant and named him 
" Bhattar PirAn " . The Lord with His consorts wanted to witness 
this scene honoring his servant and appeared in the sky seated 
on His vahanam , Garudan . Bhattar pirAn was overwhelmed by 
the Lord's dayA ,anugraham and incomparable beauty and 
omniscience ( Sarva~jnthva , Sarva sakthithva , Sarva Raksha-
thva , Soundharya , SoukumArya , LaavaNyadhi guNams)  . Before 
he could salute the omnipotence , omniscience and omnipresence
and bhaktha rakshakthvam aspects , Bhattar PirAn was overcome 
with a fear about any "evil eye " that may befall the Lord during the
occasion of appearing before the jealous mortals in person . 
Bhattar pirAn grabbed the bells attached to the neck of 
the elephant on which he was riding and used them as the 
tALam and sang with great affection the twelve verses 
of ThiruppallAndu . This parivu and kanivu born out of Bhattar's
worry about any inauspiciousness coming the way of the Lord is 
the basis of the origin of these12 moving verses that arose
spontaneously from this great bahkthA . Sri MaNavALa Maamuni
referred to this pongum parivu in his salutation to Bhattar PirAn
during the occasion of explaining how he got the name of 
PeriyAzhwAr : " MangaLAsAsanatthin maRRuLLa AzhwArgaL ,
tangaLArvatthaLavu taananRi --ponghum parivAlE VilliputthUr
Bhattar PirAn peRRAn , PeriyAzhwAr yennum peyar "  in his 
Upadesa Rathna Maala paasuram . 

Bhattar PirAn returned to SrivilliputthUr and placed the purse
that he won at the feet of the Lord and spent his life immersed
in thoughts about KrishNAvathAram and decribed to us in sweet
paasurams the baala kreetAs of the Gopi ManOharan . He blessed
us with 473 verses through his Periya Thirumozhi of the MudalAyiram .
He was the foster parent for AaNDAL ( SakshAth KshamA /Bhumi Devi)
and became the father-in-law of Sri RanganAthA . In the house of
PeriyAzhwAr and AanDAL resides even today , the Lord of Srirangam 
as RangamannAr . Such is the glory of PeriyAzhwAr !

I will translate and comment next  on the 12 verses of ThirupallAndu ,
which are equivalent to the DwAdasa Naamams of the Lord in
response to a long standing request from Professor M.G . PrasAd 
of New Jersey and his Divya Prabhandha Adhyayana  group . They 
have expressed interest in ThirupallAndu and NeerAttam paasurams
of PeriyAzhwAr . I will invoke the blessings of PeriyAzhwAr to undertake
this kaimkaryam .

Oppiliappan Kovil VaradAchAri Sadagopan 
Isvara Samvathsaram , Aani SvAthi .