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Sriman Naatha Muni's Thirunakshthram : A Tribute

From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_CompuServe.COM)
Date: Wed Jul 16 1997 - 09:34:45 PDT

Dear Students of NaalAyira Divya Prabhandham :

Today is Aani Anusham . It is the DakshiNAyaNa PuNya
Kaalam and the transition to the month of Aadi . It is on this 
day in the year 824 AD , Sri Naatha Muni ( Sri RanganAtha 
Muni) was born in Kattu MannAr kOvil .He lived for one 
hundred years( veda PrAyam ) on this earth and set the NaalAyira 
Divya Prabhandham to music and tALam . He had  brought back 
earlier the NaalAyira Divya Prabhandham that had become extinct
( luptham ) for some time with the blessings of SatakOpan . 

NammAzhwAr became the AchAryA for Naatha Muni 
and taught him the Divya Prabhandham of the twelve 
AzhwArs including himself at AzhwAr Thirunagari .
NammAzhwAr was pleased with the tapas of Naatha muni ,
who recited Madhura Kavi AzhwAr's " KaNNinuN sirutthAmpu "
twelve thousand times .  SatakOpan  appeared before  Naatha 
Muni and blessed him with the knowledge of the Divya Prabhandham .

Naatha Muni blessed us with two of his own works known 
as NyAya TattvA and YogarahasyA . Both these works are 
no longer available to us . Excerpts from them have been 
quoted by Swami Desikan in his works . It has been surmised
that the NyAya TattvA contained five chapters dealing with
the five subjects, (Viz)., J~nanaA ( true knowledge ) ,
PramEya ( Objects of cognition ) , PramAtru ( the cognizer) ,
karmA ( action ) and NyAya ( logic ) . 

The second work known as "Yoga Rahasyam " 
is considered as a discourse on the subtelities of
upAsanA of the Lord through dhyAnam with devotion .

Iswara Muni was the son of Naatha Muni ; ALavandhAr 
or Yaamuna Muni was the son of Isvara Muni ; 
AlavandhAr's son was Sottai nambi . The line continued
with YennAcchAn , PiLLaiappar and Thozhappar . This is 
the lineage that is  revered as chottai kulam.
The aarAdhya  mUrthy of sottai kulam is 
Sri KrishNan . The descendants of sottai kulam
had the privelege of yogam ( immersion /union ) with 
the Lord through the power of the method revealed in 
Acharya Naatha Muni's " Yoga Rahasyam " . 

As the " administrator " of the temple of Srirangam ,
Naatha Muni was instrumental in 
creating the tradition of Arayar sevai as a service to Lord 
RanganAthA . This kaimkaryam spread to few other 
divya desams later and survives even today at Srirangam ,
AzhwAr thirunahari , SrivilliputthUr et al . Naatha Muni 
is saluted as BharathA by Swami Desikan for this reason .
The word Bharatha is made up of Bha +ra+ tha , standing 
for Bahavam , Raagam and ThaaLam . Natha Muni
set the Divya Prabhandham to tune an dtaught it 
to his two nephews and propagated the Arayar sevai 
kaimkaryam . 

Sri Natha Muni's sacred memory is celebrated by us 
whenever we recite ThiruppallANdu , Thiruvaimozhi and 
KaNNinuN SirutthAmpu at our homes and temples .
He gave us moving taniyans ( Invocatory poems ) on
each one of the magnificient prabhandhams , which meant 
a lot to him in a biogrphical sense . 

The  eight disciples  of Nathamuni were UyyakkondAr , 
Kuruhai kAvalappan , Nambi KaruNAkara Daasan , 
Yeru thiruvudayAr , ThirukkaNNamangai AndAn , 
VanamAdevi AndAn , Urupattur AcchAn Pillai , SohatthUr 
Azhwan . 

Five disciples took refuge at the sacred feet of UyyakkodAr .
prominent among them were MaNakkAl Nambi and 
ThiruvalliKKENi PaaN perumAL arayar .

Most prominent among the five  , who sought MaNakkAl nambi's 
lotus feet was Alavandhar , the grand son of Natha Muni himself .

Five among the  twelve , who sought refuge under AlavandAr's 
sacred feet were : Periya nambi , ThirukkOttiyUr nambi ,
ThirumAlaiAndAN , Thirumalai nambi , AlavandAr azhwAr 
nambi and MaRanEr nambi . 

The most prominent disciple of MahA pUrNar or Periya nambi
is Sri RamAnujA , who received pancha samskArams from him.
Acharya RamAnujA went on to learn rahasyArthams from 
ThirukkOttiUr nambi , Thiruvaimozhi from ThirumaalayAndAn
and AlavandArAzhwAr nambi , sthOthrAs and nal Vaakku from 
AlavandAzhwAr nambi and Srimadh RaamAyaNam from 
Thirumalai nambi or Sri Saila PUrNar .

AchArya RaamAnuja established the 74 simhAsanAthipathis 
in AchArya peetams to spread Bhagavadh RaamAnuja siddhAntham 
and the rest is history . That unbroken chain of AchArya
parampara starting from Sriman NaarAyaNA was 
strengthened by Natha Muni with the blessings of 
NammAzhwAr and continues even today . Such is the glory of 
Natha Muni and his cardinal role in nourishing the Sri VaishNava
sampradhAyam . Swami Desikan in one of His Sri Rahasya
Traya Saara slokams summed up the greatness of 
Guru ParamparA and paid tribute to that paramparA 
without which we will be rudderless boats 
in a stormy ocean :

yeenyuir tanthaLitthavarai saraNam pukki
  yAnadaivE avar gurukkaL nirai vaNangi
pinnaruLAl PerumpUthur vantha vaLLal
  Periya nambi  ALavandAr  MaNakkAl nambi
Nanneriyai avarkkuraittha UyyakkondAr 
  NAATHA MUNI  SatakOpan Seani Naathan
Innamudha ThirumahaL yenrivarai munnittu
  EmperumAn ThiruvadigaL adaihinREnE 

AlavandhAr's reverence for his grandfather was profound .
In his sthothra ratnam , AlavandhAr salutes four times 
the mahAthmyam of his grandfather (Slokams 1,2,3 and 65) .
This great sthOthram has 65 slokams . Both at the beginning
and at the very  end , ALavandAr salutes his grandfather 
with choice words :

Slokam 1 : achinthya adhbhutha aklishta 
J~nana VairAgya Raasi ( The integrated essence of 
J~nanam and VaiAgyam , which is rare and which 
is beyond any specific description ) 

AghAtha bhagavadh bhakthi sindhu ( The bottomless 
ocean of Bhagavath bhakthi 

Slokam 2 : Madhujith angri sarOja tattva j!nana 
anurAga mahimAtdhisaya antha seemnE ( the boundary 
of the true feelings an ddesire about the Lord's glorious,
lotus feet ) .

In this slokam , AlavandAr declares that the saced feet 
of his grandfather is the refuge for him in this 
and the other world ( athra parathra cha api nithyam 
yadheeya charaNou madheeyam SaraNam ) . 

Slokam 3 : Here he salutes once  again his grandfather
with the salutation , " YaminAm varAya Naatha munayE 
bhooya : nama: " ( once again my salutaitons are to the
pre-eminent among yogIs , Sri natha Muni ) . He describes 
the greatness of Natha Muni as an AchaaryA inthe early part
of this third slokam with an  exquisite choice of words :

" aparimitha Achyutha bhakthi tattva J~nana amruthAbdhi
parvAha subhai : vachOpi lOkE  avatheerNa paramArtha 
samagra Bhakthi YogAya YameenAm varAya Naatha MunayE nama : "

Here, AlavandAr salutes the leader of Yathis , Naatha Muni 
as the one with limitless Bhagavadh Bhakthi , 
Tattva J~nanam and the creator of Sri Sookthis with 
the taste of nectar . He recognizes him as the embodiment of 
Parama PurushArtham and a perfect teacher of Bhakthi Yogam .

SlOkam 65: The last slOkam of SthOthra rathnam is a gem
of an example of saraNAgathi imbued with aakinchanyam
(powerlessness ) . Here AlavandhAr prays to the Lord to come to his
rescue atleast for the sake of His dear ancestor , Naatha Muni .

AlavandAr pleads with the Lord to ignore his own 
unworthiness ( math Vruttham achinthayithvA ) and
think of his grandfather , Naatha Muni , the boundary of 
parama bhakthi at the Lord's lotus feet and a true knower of 
aathma svarUpam as a reason for saving him . 

Swami Desikan followed the tradition established by ALavandAr 
and saluted Natha Muni in his YathirAja Sapthathi :

nAthEna muninA tEna bhavEyam nathavAnaham I
yasya naigamikam tattvam hasthAmalakathAm gatham II

( Meaning ) : I salute the leader ( Naathan ) of our SampradhAyam ,
who made it possible for the profound  and abstruse meanings of
the VedAs to be clearly perceived and understood by us 
as the nellikkani on the palm ( uLLankai NellikkAi /HasthAmalakam ) .

There are two important matter that we have to think of this day,
when we think of Achaarya Naatha Muni : ( 1) His devotion to
Mathura kavi as the AchArya to access Sri SatakOpa to recover
NaalAyira Divya Prabhandhams and (2 ) His and His sishya 
Paramparai's celebration of the Various divya Prabhandhams 
thru their taniyans . 

I will follow up on the AchArya Bhakthi and Bhagavatha Bhakthi 
aspect exemplified by Mathura Kavi and the Sishya Paramparai's 
blessings thru taniyans in future postings .

Sri Natha MunigaL ThiruvadigalE SaraNam 
KattumannAr ( Naalayirumum kEttAn ) thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
Oppilaippan Kovil VaradAchAri Sadagopan