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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) Dasoham 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 Nammalwar". 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 into (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 Tiruvoimozhi. 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 Tiruvoimozhi. 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.