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Sri YathirAja Vimsathi of MaNavALa MaamunigaL

From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_compuserve.com)
Date: Fri Mar 14 1997 - 19:13:15 PST

Dear Members of the Bhakthi group :

After I wrote last year on Sri DevarAja MangaLam of 
MaNavALa Maamunigal(MM) , Sri Mohan Sagar asked me 
to write about the other sthothrams composed by this
great AchAryA . I will now write about the beautiful sthothram
composed by MM on Sri RamAnujA . The bhakthi that MM had
for Acharya RamAnujA was deep and profound . Similar to the 
great works of Acharyas that preceded him with eulogies of their
own -- Swami Desikan's YathirAja Sapthathi , Thiruvarangatthu 
AmudanAr"s RaamAnuja NooRanthadhi --this( sanskrit) work of
MM is a testament to the affection and devotion that he had for 
the great AchAryA , Sri RaamAnujA . The guru of MM , Thiruvaimozhi 
PiLLai suggested to his talented disciple to compose a sthothram 
on Sri RaamAnujA . Thus originated the twenty slokams (Vimsathi )
of MM on our great AchAryA . I will cover one slokam in one posting ,
because of the depth of meanings involved .

MM  was born at Thirunagari , the birth place 
of NammAzhwAr -- the object of veneration of RamAnujA -- 
on an Eippasi Moolam day . RamAnujA has been saluted 
as " MaaRanadi PaNintha RaamAnusan " . Hence it is appropriate 
that MM , who was born in NammAzhwAr 's birth place
of Thirukuruhoor saluted RamAnujA , whose devotion for 
Kuruhoor SaTakOpan ( MaaRan) was legendary . 

The greatness of MM has been celebrated through the taniyans 
about him and also by his 8 magnificient disciples known as 
the Ashta Digh Gajams ( elephants defending the 8 directions ) :
1. VaanamAmalai Jeeyar 2. Bhattar Piraan Jeeyar 3. Thiruvenkata
RaamAnuja Jeeyar 4. KoilaNNan 5. PrathivAdhi Bhayankaram ANNan
6. YerumpiappA 7. AppiLLai 8. AppiLLAr . 

It is instructive however to reflect upon MM "s own appraisal of 
his qualifications and how he wanted others to remember him.
We find this description in the following Arthi Prabhandha paasuram 
(sandhis separated ) :

Tennarangar seer aruLukku ilakkaha peRROm 
   Devanurai ThiruppathiyE iruppaha peRROm
manniya seer MaRan kalai uNavAha peRROm
   Madhura Kavi sorpadiyE nilayAha peRROm
MunnavarAm nanguravar  mozhikaLuLLapeRROM 
   Muzhudhu namakku Ivai pozhudhu pOkkaha peRROm
Pinnai Onru tanil nenju pErAmaRpeRROm 
   Pirarminukkam poRAmailA perumaiyum peRROm 

( Approximate Meaning ) : We have become the object of 
the auspicious grace of the Lord of Srirangam ; We have been 
blessed to claim Thiruppathi , the place of residence of the Lord ,
as our home ; We are blessed  to have the illustrious 
prabhandhams of the revered SatakOpan as our nourishment ; 
We have stabilized ourselves following the instructions of 
Madhura Kavi ; We are fortunate to have our purvAchAryA's 
aruL vaakugal etched in our mind ; All of these have become 
the objects for us to reflect and spend our time on this earth ;
we are blessed not to have any other thoughts that conflict 
with the above auspicious tattvams in our mind ; We are also 
fortunate not to have the misfortune of stirring the jealousy of others .

Such is the greatness of Sri MaNavALa Maamuni revered also  
as Yathindra PravaNar -- Name given by his AchArya -- and 
Sowmya Varayogi Pungavar , a name chosen by  the author of 
the Taniyan for YathirAja Vimsathi . It is interesting to note that 
MM composed the Vimsathi during his days as a GrahasthA .
The Taniyan salutes him as Yogi Pungavar , a title associated 
with the UttamAsramam of SanyAsam in the style of the AchAryA
of MM , who called him Yathindra PravaNar with great affection .

Let us start with the Taniyan for YathirAja Vimsathi :

Ya: sthuthim yathipathiprasAdaneem
vyAjahAra YathirAja vimsatheem I
Tham prapanna jana sadhakAmbhudham 
nowmi Sowmyavara Yogi pungavam II  

(Meaning ) : I offer my homage to MaNavALa Maamuni ,
who blessed us with YathirAja Vimsathi with the intention 
of pleasing the heart of RamAnujA . He is the one , who showered 
PrapannAs with the nectar of sakala saastrArthAs , just as the 
rays of moon fully nourish the ChaathakA birds . 

Slokam 1 :

Sri MaadhavAngri Jalaja dvaya nitya sevA prema--
aavila aasaya paraankusa paadha bhaktham I
kaamAdhi dhosha haram aathma padhamAsrithAnAm
Raamanujam Yathi pathim praNamAmi MoordhnA II

( short Meaning ) : I salute the emperor of SanyAsis ,
Sri RamAnujA , who had great vAtsalyam for the lotus feet of 
NammAzhwAr and who chased away the blemishes of those ,
who took refuge at his feet .

(Commentary ) : The most prominent Vaibhavam of RamAnujA
among all of his glories is that he considered himself as the 
dear devotee of NammAzhwAr's sacred feet 
( ParAnkusa Paadha Bhaktha ). Thiruvarangatthu AmudanAr 
has described RaamAnujA in this context as , 
" MaaRanadi PaNinthu uynthavan " . Thiruvaimozhi Taniyan 
also salutes the golden links beteen SatakOpA and RamAnujA 
this way : " Tamizh MaraigaL aayiramum eenRa mudal Thaai 
SatakOpan, Moympaal vaLarthavitatthaai IrAmAnusan " . MM 
points out and underlines this most important attribute of 
RaamAnujA ( Paraankusa Paadha Bhakthi ) in the very 
first slokam of his Vimsathi . 

Next , MM describes the special attributes of SatakOpA that 
made him the object of RaamAnujA's reverence with the words :
" Sri Maadhava angri jalaja dhvaya nithya sevA prema aavila aasaya 
parAnkusa : " . NammAzhwAr's premai for the Lord 's pair of lotus feet 
( Sri Madhava Angri jalaja Dhvayam) has poured out in the form of the 
Paasurams of Thiruvaimozhi . AzhwAr was absorbed in the Nitya SEvA
of those sacred feet of the Lord . AzhwAr's mind was  "agitated " 
( aavila aasaya ) as a result of that premai . One wonders why AzhwAr's 
mind was agitated instead of being clear and joyous as a result of
his Premai for the Lord . This has  been explained as the agitation 
arising from the thought of vislesham (separation from Him ) and 
inability to be without Him for even a moment . That is why AzhwAr 
out of his prema paravasam engaged in angry conversations 
with the Lord as the rejected ParAnkusa Naayaki . AzhwAr's 
aavilAsayam is therefore due to his limitless premai for the Lord 
and not due to any mental agitation associated with KarmAs .

MM described RaamAnuja pointedly as " PARAANKUSA 
Paadha Bhaktham" . He used the Naamam of ParankusA 
instead of other names like SatakOpan for the AzhwAr . 
The  two deep meanings of the naamam , ParAnkusA 
have  been pointed out as the reason
for MM's choice of the name ParAnkusA . 

AzhwAr is revered as ParAnkusA because he is the ankusam 
(elephant goad ) for the parAs , who aver that the Lord is not 
SuguNa Brahmam , He has  no vigraham (NirguNa Svarupi) ,
and has no vibhoothis . Through his Divya Sookthis , the AzhwAr 
has celebrated the anantha KalyANa guNAs of the Lord ,
who is Ubhaya Vibhoothi Visishtan . He is the leelA vibhoothi
Visishtan , since He has this world as His property.
He is also Nitya Vibhoothi Visishtan , since he is the Lord 
of Parama Padham made of Suddha Sattvam . AzhwAr
has described his aruLiccheyalgaL as " Paranadi mEl
Kuruhoor SatakOpan sol " .  With his divya sookthis ,
he has goaded and controlled the parans as their ankusam .
That is why he is called ParAnkusan according to this view .

In anothe rview , the azhwAr  is the Ankusam for the ParAthparan.
In his Thiruvaimozhi ( 6-4-9) , AzhwAr says : " Valakkai aazhi idakkai 
sangamivaiyudai maal vaNNanai , malakku naavudayErku ". He proudly
says about his special relation with the Lord and states that he can 
be like the ankusam for the Lord to respond to him  . That is the second
explanation for the title of ParAnkusan for the AzhwAr . RamAnujA had great 
reverence for AzhwAr for possessing such power . 

The  second line of the slokam refers to RamAnujA as the most 
compassionate Acharya , who removes the six kinds of dhoshams 
( Kaama , madha , moha , maatsarya , krodha et al ) from those ,
who sought refuge in him . He is therefore  described as Dhosha Haran .

This slokam concludes with the salutation of MM that he bows 
before that Prapanna jana Dhosha haran , RamAnuja, with his head .
It is no loger anjali mudrA , but sAshtAnga NamaskAram with his 
head at  the feet of RamAnujA . The depth of devotion and respect 
of MM for RamAnujA is hinted here .

AzhwAr , AachAryan ThiruvadigaLE Saranam
Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan      
.