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Part I Alwars- Section 2.6 Madhurakavi Alwar
Date: Wed May 01 1996 - 10:46:14 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,
Please find enclosed  - 
Part I Alwars-  Section 2. 6 - Madhura kavi Alwar 
( on the day of his Tirunakshatram - May 2, 1996)
Anbil Ramaswamy

Part I : Alwars - Section 2.6

Madhura Kavi Alwar. ( Chitra - Chitrai )
Madhurakavi ( Sweet poetic), the incarnation of Vainatheya (the divine bird)
was born in the year Easwara, Chitrai month, Sukla Paksha, Chaturdasi day ( a
Friday) in the constellation of Chitrai at Tirukkolur in tne Pandya kingdom.
He was well versed in Tamil and Sanskrit, was of excellent conduct and
absolutely devoted to Lord Narayana.

We already saw how he returned from Ayodhya drawn by the bright light  at
Tirkkurugur and his encounter with Nammalwar. Madhurakavi was so much devoted
to his Guru Nammalwar that he held him much higher than even Lord Narayana
himself.  In just 11 hymns, he composed a poem 'Kanninun Siruthambu' ( the
rope with minute knots) that commenced with those words in praise of
Nammalwar also in Antaadhi style.

After Nammalwar's departure from the world, he installed an Archa Vigraha (
idol) of Nammalwar in Tirukkurugur and performed festivals in his honour. He
used to proclaim the various honorifics of Nammalwar such as " Vedam Tamizh
Seitha Maaran' - 'Maaran who rendered Vedas in Tamil", " Alavilaa Gnaanathu
Aasiriyar' - the great preceptor of infinite knowledge' etc. 

The Sangam poets  objected to his praising Nammalwar who they said was not
affiliated to the Sangam. Madhurakavi placed a birchbark leaf with the first
line of Nammalwar's  verse starting with the words " Kannan Kazhalinai" on a
boat in which the poets were sailing. The boat capsized throwing out the
haughty poets leaving the leaf alone intact. 

Each one of the poets who came ashore struggling through the waters composed
a dedicatory verse each  acknowledging the greatness of Nammalwar. When they
published the verse  which they had composed independently, they were
surprised to find that all of them had written down exactly the same text
without any variation. The verse reads thus :

" Seman Kurugaiyo Seyyat Thirup Paarkadalo? /
Thaamam Paraankusamo? Naaranamo?- Thaaman /
Thulavo? Vagulamo? Thole Irando? Naangum /
Ulavo Peruma Unakku ? /

The president of the Sangam acknowledged the superiority of Nammalwar's works
in a poem comparing other poets to flies in the presence of the divine
vulcan,  fire flies in the presence of the Sun, dogs before the terrific
tiger, wolf before the Man- Lion Narasimha, to  ugly clumsy goblins  dancing
before the beautiful  nymph Urvasi - concluding that not all the works of all
the other poets put together  could ever equal even a single utterance of

The Verse reads as follows :-
" Yee Aaduvatho Garudarku Edhirae? / 
Iravikku Edhir Minmini Aaduvatho ? /
Naay Aaduvatho Uru Vempuli Mun?/
Nari Aaduvatho Nara Kesari Mun? /
Pey Aaduvatho Azhagu Oorvasi Mun? /
Perumaan Vagulabharanan Arul Koorndhu /
Ovaadhu Uraiyaa Biramaa Maraiyin /
Oru Sol Perumo Ulagir Kaviye? ?/

Of the two verses dedicated to Alwars, Swami Sri Vedanta Desikan has grouped
together all other Alwars in his first verse and has dedicated the whole of
his second verse exclusively to Madhurakavi Alwar in Guruparampara Saaram of
his Rahasya Traya Saaram.The various aspects in Kanninun Siruthaambu have
been listed out in this verse.
Swami Sri Vedanta Desika remarks that while Lord Krishna was very much there
for -   
(i ) Inbattil - (i) conferring bliss on his devotees,
(ii ) Irainjutalil - (ii) to be their refuge
(iii)Isaiyum Petril  -  (iii) to be their final goal 
(iv) Igazhaatha Palluravil -  (iv) to stand in relation to them as mother,
father etc -   
(v) Iragam Maarril  -  (v) to change their desires for the earthly pleasures
 (vi) Thun Patril  - (vi) a desire for Himself 
 (vii ) Vinai Vilakkil - (vii) to remove all their sins
 (viii) Thagavokkattil -  (viii) to show them infinite compassion
(ix)  Tattuvam Unarthil - (ix) to reveal the eternal truths and
(x)Thanmai Aakkil -  (x) also to bring about in them a likeness of Himself-

 Anbarkke Avatarikkum Maayan Nirka, /  
Arumaraikal Tamizh Seithaan Thaale Kondu /
Tunpatra Madhurakavi Tonrak Kattum /
Tolvazhiye Nal Vazhigal Tunaivar katke"
-  while Krishna was ever ready to do all these, the blemishless Madhurakavi
chose to seek the feet of Satakopa only who rendered Veda in Tamil and
 showed us the royal road to Supreme bliss":

'Kanninun Siruthambu' emphasizes that Acharya 
Bhakti is more important than even Bhakti towards the Lord.
Nammalwar knew none other than Bhagavaan true to his ' Unnum Sorum, Parugum
Neerum, Thinnum Vetrilayum Ellaam Kannane'-
'the food he ate, the water he drank and the pleasures he enjoyed 
( figuratively referred as chewing Paan) - all was Kannan for him. For
Madhurakavi, Nammalwar was all these ( Vide his statement ' Thevu
Matrariyen'). His practice of "Acharya Nishta' is non-pareil (except long
after we see when Thiruvarangattu Amudhanar  wholeheartedly devoted himself
to Emperumaanaar).

A quetion arose as to how this work exclusively devoted to the Alwar could be
counted as part of the 4000 Divya Prabandham- the whole of which  is claimed
to be dedicated to Bhagavaan. Manavaala Maamunigal has answered this question
thus :

Vaitha Thiru Manthirathin Maddhimam Padham Pol /
Seertha Madhura Kavi Sei Kalaiyai- Aartha Pugazh /
Aariyarkal Thangal Aruli Cheyal Naduve /
Servithaar Taathparyam Therindhu /

The greatness of its contents raises it to be the central gem that sheds
lustre on the other gems of the garland. That is why it was counted in the
midst of the 4000 Divya Prabandhams.

Pillai Lokacharya explains that ' Kanninun Siruthambu' reveals the ideas
underlying such psalms as ' Payilum Sudar Oli',  'Nedumaararku Adimai' etc of

It is said that all the other psalms of the 4000 Divya Prabandhams cannot be
a match to the 11 Paasurams of Madhurakavi- because it is this work that
holds the key to the treasure of the rest and it is this work that helped Sri
Nathamuni to unravel the rich treasures to the world. It is truly said " If
there were no ' Kanninun Siruthambu', there would be no 4000 Divya
Prabandhams at all" Thus, Madhurakavi was responsible for literally the
rebirth and publicity of the Prabandhams. It is, therefore, customarily
incumbent in  ' Anusanthaanam' to traditionally first recite ' Kanninun
Siruthambu' before beginning the other Pasurams especially Nammalwar's

There are four kinds of poets viz Aasukavi- Instant poets, Chitrakavi-
Artistic poets, Vistaarakavi - Elaborate poets and Madhurakavi- Sweet poets.
Of these, this Alwar was a specialist in composing sweet songs. Hence, he is
called ' Madhurakavi'.

Since Madhurakavi helped through his work to retrieve the 4000 Divya
Prabandhams from oblivion for the benefit of humanity, its importance cannot
be brought out better than what Swami Sri Vedanta Desikan had done as
explained above.

Thanians on ' Kanninun Siruthambu' composed by Sr Nathamunigal

Aviditha Vishaya Antharahs / 
Sadaarer Upanishadam Upagaana Matra Bogah / 
Abhi Saguna Vasaath Tad Eka Seshee /
Madhura Kavir Hridaye Mamaavirastu /

" Here is one who knew none other than Nammalwar; the one who made it his
mission in life to sing the Dramidopanishad of Nammalwar; The one being
overwhelmed by Nammalwar held him as his very God; Let such Madhurakavi fill
my heart"

Veronrum Naan Ariyen Vedam Tamizh Seitha /
Maaran Sadakopan Vun Kurugur - Yeru Engal /
Vaazhvaam Enru Ethum Madhura Kaviyaar Emmai /
Aalwaar Avare Saran /

Madhurakavi said -" I do not know anything other than Nammalwar also known as
Maaran who rendered in Tamil the essence of the Vedas and who is the head of
Tirukkurugur. This Madhurakavi is OUR master. He is THE guardian of the group
of Prapannaas.

Divya Desams consecrated by Madhurakavi Alwar are the 'Punya Kshetras' of (1)
Ayodhya (2) Mathura (3) Gaya (4) Kasi (5) Kanchi (6) Avanti and (7) Dwaraka.