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Write-ups for AzhwArs for Integration in the forthcoming CD ROM on AzhwArs and the 108 dhivya desams: Madhura Kavi Azhwar (1 of 12 )

From: Sadagopan (
Date: Sun May 28 2000 - 11:30:25 PDT


Madhura Kavi was born in the dhivya dEsam of 
ThirukkOLUr in the month of Chitthirai , when
ChithrA nakshathram was in ascendance . He is
considered as the amsam of Kumudha GaNEsA , one
of the nithya sooris of Sri Vaikuntam .He was like 
the aruNOdhayam (onset of dawn)for the BhaskarOdhayam
( Sun rise ) of NammAzhwAr. He was older than NammAzhwAr
and was a poorva sikhA Brahmin belonging to Saama Vedic 
group. He was a learned and highly regarded scholar in
VedAntham and SaamAnya saasthrams.He was known as Madhura
Kavi or Sweet-tongued poet, who spent his life time
singing about the glories of his AchAryan, Swami
NammAzhwAr and his Prabhandhams. His AchArya Bhakthi
is unparalleled . 

Madhura Kavi and Swamy NammAzhwAr

Swamy NammAzhwAr is revered as our Kulapathi
(Founder-seer) of Sri VaishNava Kulam. He has
also been called affectionately as our-Saint 
(NammAzhwAr ). The moment he was born in
ThirukkuruhUr , he did not speak or eat food 
or drink water or milk . He was so absorbed in 
the meditation on Sriman NaarAyaNA that he forsook 
all of the above and yet showed no fatigue or 
bodily weakness . His parents presented the child 
to the ArchA Moorthy of ThirukkuruhUr and the child
took its residence thereafter under a tamarind tree
inside the temple complex . The child was in deep
meditation for sixteen years .

The Meeting between Madhura Kavi and Swamy NammAzhwAr
At that time , the pious Brahmin , Madhura Kavi
was in AyOdhyA on a dhivya dEsa yaathrai (pilgrimage)
and saw at night an extraordinary effulgence in
the south western direction . He travelled at night
following the effulgence and arrived at TirukkuruhUr .
There , he saw the young boy with radiant effulgence ,
the source of the jyOthi that he saw first in AyOdhyA.
NammAzhwAr was sitting in padmAsanam with parathva BhOdha
mudhrA ( poisture of engagement in performing the upadEsam 
about the Superme principle in the Universe).  

Madhura Kavi's testing of Swamy NammAzhwAr

Madhura Kavi was intrigued at the silence of NammAzhwAr
deeply absorbed in the meditation .He was wondering whether 
the young yOgi could hear well and to test it, Madhura Kavi
dropped a stone near NammAzhwAr. Latter opened his eyes 
and looked with affection at Madhura Kavi. Next , Madhura Kavi
wanted to test whether NammAzhwAr had the faculty of speech .
Hence , he posed a question to NammAzhwAr : "Setthathin 
VayaRiR siRiyathu priandAl , etthai thinRu yengu
kidakkum? ( If  a soul is born of matter , what would 
it eat and where will it rest ?). Swami NammAzhwAr smiled 
and responded immediately : " atthai thinRu angE kidakkum "
( It eats That and there it rests). That " there" refers to God
and not " this " , the perishable body made of prakruthi
(matter or achith ). Madhura Kavi recognized immediately 
the depth of meaning of the succinct utterance of Swamy
NammAzhwAr . He grasped that Swamy NammAzhwAr was eating 
the divine , the food of the yOgis as revealed by
the Upanishads and was rooted in Godhead inspite of 
being housed in a mortal body (setthathin VayiRRil).
Immediately ,the older Madhura Kavi fell at the sacred feet 
of the younger Swamy NammAzhwAr for whom Sriman NaarAyaNan
was food, breath , bliss and everything (Sarvasvam). 
and begged to be accepted as his sishyan (disciple).
Swamy NammAzhwAr acceded to that request 
with pleasure and became Madhura Kavi's AchAryan .

The Contributions of Madhura Kavi

Madhura Kavi is unique among the set of twelve 
AzhwArs. While the others were absorbed in the mystic 
vision of Sriman NaarAyaNA and sang about His anantha-
kalyANa guNams ( limitless auspicious attributes), 
Madhura Kavi sang exclusively about the glories of his
AchAryan , Swamy NammAzhwAr . He elevated AchArya Bhakthi
above that of Bhagavath Bhakthi , which is the foundation
stone of the edifice of Sri VaishNavA theology. His incomparable
AchArya Bhakthi to SatakOpan is enshrined in his short
prabhnadham revered as " KaNNinuNN SiRutthAmpu ".There
are only eleven verses in this prabhandham and each
of these verses is a ringing endorsement of Madhura
Kavi's undivided bhakthi for his AchAryan. With his
choice of SatakOpan as his sole refuge , Madhura Kavi
has shown that the parama bhakthi (deep devotion ) 
and loving service ( kaimkaryam with preethi) to one's
AchAryan is more important than service to God (Bhagavath
Kaimkaryam ) to secure Moksham (liberation from the cycles of
births and deaths ). 

The power of " KaNNinuNN SiRutthAmpu " Prabhandham

Few centuries after NammAzhwAr and Madhura Kavi's time, 
RanganAtha Muni of Veera NaarayaNapuram heard ten verses
sung by BhaagavathAs at Thirukkudanthai . These were 
the famous decad, "AaravamudhE " . The last verse of 
this set of ten verses mentioned that these ten were 
part of a thousand composed by SatakOpan . RanganAtha
Muni known also as Natha Muni went to the birth place of
Swamy NammAzhwAr and was instructed by one of the sishyAs
of Madhura Kavi there to recite "KaNNinuNN SirutthAmpu " few
thousand times to receive the anugraham of Swamy NammAzhwAr.
Naatha Muni performed that recitation and had the vision
of Swamy NammAzhwAr , who instructed him about the divine
collect of four thousand that included his and other 
AzhwAr's prabhandhams. That is the power of Madhura kavi's
AchArya Bhakthi enshrined in "KaNNinuNN SiRutthAmpu"

The message of KaNNinuNN SirutthAmpu Paasurams

The message of these paasurams  and their depth of meanings
are covered in the following articles by adiyEn, Parama padha-
Vaasi Sri KaNNan Swamy of RaamAnujA Mission and 
Sri MaadhavakaNNan of Singapore :

(1) Translation of the Paasurams : Sri MaadhavakkaNNan :

(2) Sri KaNNan Swamy's commentary on the Paasurams :

(3) V.Sadagopan's three part commentary on the Paasurams:

Madhura Kavi AzhwAr ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam,



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