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From: A. Bharat (
Date: Fri Jul 16 1999 - 17:28:31 PDT

Dear BhAgavatOttamas'

Re the point being discussed,after the speculative
explanations, we may also have a look at the
authentic meaning of the word,as used by the AzhwArs and achAryas:

It is related that in a 'sadas' of SwAmi
EmberumanAr, his SishyAs were discussing as to
what was the Determining Characteristic (NirUpaka
Dharma)of AtmA.After much discussion,while he
himself could have provided the explanation,
EmberumAnAr,desiring that it should come through
the medium of his AchArya,despatched KoorattAzhwAn
to sri Tiruk-kOTTiyUr Nambi to seek the information
from him.After a six month's sojourn there,as he
was on the point of return,the Nambi pointed out
to him that AzhwAr himself had clearly mentioned it:

In TiruvAymozhi 8.8.2,AzhwAr while explaining
the immanence of the Lord both in JIvAtmA and
Prakriti,says,"AdiyEnuLLAn UDaluLLAn.."-"He is
present in both ADiyEn(JIvAtmA) and UDal(Prakriti)"
thus  by equating JIvAtmA = ADiyEn, he clearly 
states that JIvAtmA is defined not
through its characteristics of JnAna or Ananda
(which are present in ParamAtmA also),but through
its SEshatvam,which is present ONLY in the JIvAtmA.
Which is the reason why in the PraNava before the
letter "ma"(which indicates JIvAtmA with its
qualities of Knowledge and Joy),the letter "U"
(indicating its exclusive SEshatvam to theLord)occurs.

Hence when AzhwAr or AchAryAs or SrIVaishNavas
in general call themselves "ADiyEn" they are
indicating themselves in the ONLY correct way
to indicate themselves- as the exclusive servants
of the Lord.The female form "ADichhi" is used
by AnDAL and also AzhwArs while in NAyikA bhAva.

But doesn't the AzhwAr also sometimes refer to
himself as "NAn"? 

NambiLLai says at some place-
"Whether AzhwAr calls himself ADiyEn or NAn,he
means only ADiyEn;Whether we call ourselves
ADiyEn or NAn, in our mind we're thinking of ourselves as NAn only!"
Its all the attitude of one's mind.
EmberumAnAr TiruvaDigaLE SaraNam!