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Part I Alwars - Section 2.8 on Periyalwar

VVijay1068_at_aol.com
Date: Tue May 07 1996 - 10:53:59 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,
Please find enclosed Part I Alwars- Section 2.8 on Periyaalwar
Dasoham
Anbil Ramaswamy

2. 8. Periya Alwar ( Aani - Swathi )
Villi and Kandan were hunter brothers who lived in the forest adjoining
Puttur in the Pandya kingdom. While on a hunting spree, Villi saw his brother
Kandan being killed by a tiger. He also saw how he came back alive by the
grace of God.Villi became very rich shortly after and built a temple for Lord
Vishnu and formed a village around the temple and named it Villiputtur.
Mukunda Bhattar and his wife Padmavalli were one of the early settlers there.

Periya Alwar, an incarnation of  Garuda (the divine falcon vehicle of Lord
Vishnu) was born to them  as Vishnu chitta (One whose mind is rivetted to
Lord Vishnu). He was born in the year Krodhana, Aani month, Suklapaksha
Ekadasi day ( a Sunday ) in the constellation of Swati. He bought a small
piece of land, converted it into a flower garden and spent his time in making
flower garlands for the Lord of Vada Perumal koil in his place.

At that time, there was a king called ' 'Vallabhadeva' who was just and
impartial. Once, he asked his Purohit ' Selvanambhi'  as to who was the
Supeme deity. Selvanambhi suggested that he call all the  learned pundits of
the times in an assembly to debate the issue and arrive at a conclusion. The
king announced a wager in which a wallet containing golden coins ( Porkizhi)
was to be tied to the top of a pole. This would bend towards the person who
is able to establish with absolute certainty the correct answer to this
poser. Great pundits from all over the country belonging to several sects
gathered in the hall to thrash out the issue. But, the wallet would not come
down. 

The Lord appeared in the dream of Vishnu chitta and asked him to participate
in the debate. Accordingly, he proceeded to the court. The poets assembled
jeered at him saying that he had come there like a blind person who was' NOT
AFRAID OF THE DARK'. Unmindful of all the ridicule, Vishnu chitta commenced
expounding how Lord Narayana was the Supreme deity. The pole bent to his side
on its own and Vishnu chitta was declared the winner and offered the prize.
He was honoured by  being taken in a procession mounted on a tall caparizoned
 elephant. He was hailed eulogising his feat in winning the wallet.He was
also called Bhattarpiran, Srivilliputtur Kone, Puduvai Kone, and Kizhi
Arutthan.

As the procession emerged out, there appeared on the sapphire skies Lord
Vishnu clad in his proverbial pink attire ( Pitambara) accompanied by his
consort Mahalakshmi and the entire retinue of divine beings to bless
Vishnuchitta.  In extreme ecstasy, Vishnu chitta sang his famous "Pallandu"
in 12 stanzas praying for the long life of Bhagavan. 

He knew full well that no harm can  ever befall the Lord. But, he became
anxious that having exposed himself to the gaze of all in this mundane world,
 (some of them may be having an evil eye ), Bhagavan should not be affected
thereby. Hence, he hastened to sing the "Tirup pall Aandu" hymns.  These  are
being recited throughout the World in all Vishnu temples even though the
priests have had no exposure to the Tamil language.This forms the first decad
of the first Part of his monumental work, "Periyalwar Tirumozhi"

Vishnuchitta was called " Periya Alwar" - the great Alwar  for very many
reasons :
1. It is the  greatness of  his love for the Lord that made him pour out the
Pallandu hymns.
2. Ordinarily. only elders would bless the young ones for a long life.
"Periya' means elder and therefore he was called Periyalwar.To the objection
that such an attitude was 
' unnatural' ( Swarupa Viruddham), Pillai Lokacharya has argued that as it
was a 'Mangala Aasaasanam',  it was quite in order and because IT WAS A
STRANGE CASE OF KNOWLEDGE RIPENING INTO AN IGNORANCE OF SORTS DUE TO LOVE AND
AFFECTION. 
3. King Janaka laid a challenge through the Siva Dhanus in Sri Sita's
marriage; Kumbar, the Aayar Chief laid a challenge in the form of the 7 bulls
in the marriage of Nappinnai; But, Vishnuchitta laid no challenges in the
marriage of  his daughter, Andal because of his obvious  conviction that in
due time,  'THE OWNER WOULD CLAIM WHAT HE OWNED.'
4. It is natural to honour anyone who brings relief from suffering. That is
how Rishyasringa was honoured when rains came to the parched land of
 Angadesa as he set foot there. Vishnuchitta also performed a similar
miracle. When a famine raged in the northern city of Kandam Kadinagar on the
banks of Ganges, he was invited to the city to solve the crisis.As he set
foot there, welcome rains showered and the place was relieved of the famine.
His greatness was honoured. Periyalwar himself is said to  refer to this
incident thus "Venkali Naliyaa Vittuchittar"
5. Parasara who wrote Vishnu Purana known as Purana Ratna deals with the
story of Sri Krishna only in the 5th Amsa of his work; Sukhabrahmam who wrote
Srimad Bhaagavatam has dealt with the story of Krishna only in the 10 th
Skaandam; But, Vishnuchitta fills his entire Tirumozhi with the  story of
Lord Krishna vividly portraying every detail of the Lord's childhood ' leelas
' in his own inimitable style.
6.Another esoteric aspect concerning Periyalwar that really makes him '
Periya' is the fact that he is the incarnation of Garuda. Garuda was on the
flag atop Ajuna's chariot and he witnessed the Lord delivering the Baghavad
Gita -  especially the Charama Sloka to Arjuna. Thus, apart from Arjuna, he
was the one who was the direct recipient of the Lord's message.  Andal refers
to this when she says "Meymei Peru Vaarthai Vittu Chittar Kettiruppaar".'
Vaarthai' is Moolamantram; ' Peru Vaarthai ' is the Mantra Ratna of Dwayam
and ' Meymei Peru Vaarthai ' is the Charama sloka.
7. He was great also in a different way. He became the father- in- law of
Lord Vishnu when his daughter, Andal married the Lord. 
- an honour none else could claim.

Let us now have a bird's eye view of the contents of the various decads
contained in the 473 verses of his Tirumozhi distributed in 4 parts of 10
decads each plus the 5th part containing 3 decads.

1.1 :This contains the famous Tiruppallaandu in which he issues a clarion
call to everyone to join him in wishing 'all the best' to the Lord- everyone
including those who desired Moksham, those who desired Kaivalya, those who
desired mundane benefits and even those who desired nothing.  1.2 :
Celebrations on the birth of Lord Krihna  1.3 : The physical beauty of every
limb of the baby  1.4 : The lullaby of Yasoda 1.5 : Kinds of plays of a child
 like looking at the moon 1.6 : The posture of rocking back and forth  
(Senkeerai Aadal) 1.7 : Patting the palms ( Sappani Kottal) 1.8 : The
faltering first steps of the child ( Talar Nadai) 1.9 and 1.10 : Pleasures of
hugging the child  2.1 : Playing
' Pick - a -boo' hide and seek 2.2 : Inviting the child for breast feeding
2.3 : Ear piercing 2.4 : Giving shower to the child 2.5 : Combing the hairs
of the child 2.6 : Diverting the attention of the child 2.7 : Decorating the
child's hairs with fresh flowers 2.8 : Taking steps to ward off 'evil eye '
that might affect the child 2.9  and 2.10 : Compalints galore of the
childhood pranks  3.1  Yasoda getting unnerved on seeing her boy's superhuman
feats 3.2 : Her anxiety after sending him for tending the cows 3.3 : A
mother's pride on the activities of her kid. 3.4 : The lad who bewitched the
Gopis 3.5 : The Episode of  lifting the Govardhana Giri 3.6 : The enticing
flute of Krishna 3.7 and 3.8 Alwar assumes himself as the mother of a Gopi
and expresses her concern for her daughter 3.9 : Alwar enjoys the exploits of
the Lord as Rama and Krishna 3.10 : Tiruvadi handing over Rama's  Signet ring
to Sri Sita 4.1 : The glory of Bhagavatas 4.2 and 4.3 : On Tirumalirumcholai
4.4 : On Tirukkoshtiyur 4.6 : The need to name children after Narayana  4.7 :
On Kandam Kadi Nagar 4.8 and 4.9 : On Tiruvarangam  4.5 and 4.10 Portrays
vividly the threos of death and how and why one should remember the Lord
while there is still time to do so in order to escape Samsara 5.1 : He
expresses his humility (Naichya Anusantaanam)  5.2 : How the bodily ailments
are driven out by the Lord 5.3 : He effectively prevents the Lord from
leaving him and concludes by narrating all the benefits he had secured when
the Lord showered His grace .

Now, let us proceed to enjoy the sentiments expressed by the Alwar in a few
hymns :
1. Yasoda calls baby Krishna for an oil bath. He refuses and runs away. She
entreats him saying- " Having besmeared your body with butter and mud, I will
not let you soil your bed tonight.See! For how long I have been waiting with
oil, scented soapnut powder etc.
O! Lord! Narana! who is beyond anybody's  reach. Please do come and have your
bath. "This is the hymn that is recited in all Vishnu temples throughout the
World especially at the time of Tirumanjanam (ceremonial bath) to the Lord's
idol. (2 / 4 / 1 )
Vennai Alainda Kunungum Vilayaadu Puzhudhiyum Kondu /
Thinnam Ivviraa Unnai Theyuthuk Kidakka Naan Otten /
Ennai Pulippazham Kondu Ethanai Podum Erunden /
Nannal Ariya Piraane! Naaranaa! Neeraada Vaaraai /

2. Having failed, she tries to trick him into a sense of shame by saying " I
might even like to leave you go with all the dirt on your beautiful body
smeared by you, while playing in the cattleshed but others ' 'will not like
it a bit': Further, and more importantly, if your darling Nappinnai sees you
in this state, she will laugh at you !. Are you so shameless to let this
happen to you? Come,  Quickly finish your bath and get ready "-
What an experience! (2/4/9)
"Naan Ethenum Ilaadhaa! NAPPINNAI KANDAAL SIRIKKUM"

3. Referring to the power of Bhagavatas who are always immersed in the
thoughts of the Lord's auspicious qualities and exploits, the Alwar says that
we are verily their slaves and they have the right and power even to sell us
away. " Kesava! Purushottama! Kilar Jyotiye! Enru Pesuvaar Adiyaargal
ENTHAMMAI VIRKAVUM PERUVAARKALE(4/4/10)

4. The Alwar advises that if we were to utter the words ' Namo Narayana '
with folded  hands raised above our heads, we would reach Paramapadam through
the ' Path of Light' ( Archiraadhi Marga). And once we reach there, we will
never come back to this stupid world, even if we want to. Even if the
Nityasuris recommend, guarantee and pledge themselves on our behalf, the Lord
would not let us go. ( 4 / 5 / 4 )
Vaayinaal Namo Naarana! Enru/ 
Mathagathil Kaigalaik Kooppi/ 
POYINAAL PINNAI ITH DISAIKKU ENRUM 
PINAI KODUKKILUM POGA VOTTAARE ?

5. The Alwar likens the journey of the Prapanna to Paramapada to his climbing
a ladder through the path of light. He says that once the Prapanna reaches
there, the Lord would remove the ladder leaving him no chance to return again
to this world.(4 /9/2)
Irul Agatrum Eri Kadiron Mandalathu Oodu
YETRI VAITHU YENI VAANGI
Arul Koduthu Adiyavarar Aat Kolvaan
Amarum Oor Ani Arangame

6. Referring to the practice of naming children indicriminately, he advises "
If you give names such as Nambi,  Pimbi etc which are meaningless, these
names will go into oblivion soon. Name the child after the lotus eyed  Lord's
names. They will shine forever. The mother of a child bearing one of the
names of the Lord will never go to hell" (4 / 6 / 3 )
Nambi Pimbi Enru Naattu Maanidap Per Ittaal/
Nambum Pimbum Ellaam Naalu Naalil Azhungip Pom/
Semperum Taamaraik Kannan Per Ittu Azhaithakkaal /
Nambikaal! Naaranam Thum ANNAI NARAKAM PUGAAL /

7. Referring to the Lord's infinite compassion and partiality towards his
Bhaktas, the Alwar says that even if Mother Goddess, Sri Mahalakshmi were to
complain against a Bhakta, he would ignore it saying ' My Bhakta would do no
wrong; ; Even if he does something with confidence in my compassion, I would
deem it as the right thing only".
Than Adiyaar Thiratthagattu 
THAAMARAIYAAL AAGILUM SIDAGU URAIKKUMEL / 
EN ADIYAAR ADHU SEYYAAR- / 
Seidhaarel Nanru Seidhaar Enbar Polum!
The reference is to the episode when after the defeat of Ravana, Sri Rama
ordered Lakshmana to fetch Sri Sita from Ashokavana. She preferred to come
with her dishevelled hairs and haggard looks  having spent 10 months in the
most horrible surroundings. But, Lakshmana asked to her to come fully
groomed, neat and clean ( as advised by Rama himself). When she appeared
thus, Rama spoke harshly to her. She frowned at Lakshmana since he was
responsible for the harsh treatment she received. Sri Rama intervened to
impress that Lakshmana was not at fault.

8. The Alwar tells the Lord that during the last moments, he would not be
able to utter the Lord's names and that the Lord should make a note of his
calling him RIGHT NOW 
( when his faculties are quite active) and save him at the last moment, even
if he does not remember the Lord at THAT time.(Anthima Smriti) ( 4 /10 /1&2)
Eippu Ennai Vandhu Naliyum Podhu /
ANGU EDHUM NAAN UNNAI NINAIKKA MAATTEN /
APPODHAIKKU IPPODHE SOLLI VAITHEN /
Arangathu Aravanai Palliyaane /
Sollalaam Podhe Un Naamam Ellaam Sollinen /
Ennaik Kuri Kondu Enrum /
Allal Padaa Vannam Kaakka Vendum /
Arangathu Aravanai Palliyaane /

9. The Alwar does not consider it as fasting when he foregoes eating on
anyday and does not feel hungry. What is real fasting days for him are those
days when he does not utter the names of the Lord- implying that this
recitation is his only food and life sustaining force - not the food in the
ordinary sense. ( 5 / 1 / 6 )
Kannaa! Naan mughanai Padaithone! Kaarana! kaariyaai! Adiyen -
Naan Unnaa Naal Pasi Aavathu Onrillai/ Ennaa Naalum
Rig Yajur Samaveda Naan Marai Kondu Una Paadam Nunnaa Naal Avai Tathurum
Aagil / ANRU ENAKKU AVAI PUTTINI NAALE 

10. The Alawar says that his soul is now the City of God and is well
protected by Him. The Lord had entered his heart and made it his abode. Clad
in his pink robes, the Lord Himself acted as the Acharya and cleaned Alwar's
ignorance and blemishes. ( 5 / 2 / 8 )
Yethangal Aayina Ellaam Erangal Eduvithu - Ennulle /
Peetheka Aadai Piraan Parama Guruvaagi Vandhu /
Podhil Kamala Vun Nenjam Pugunthum En Sennith Thidaril/
Paada Vilachinai Vaithaar Pandanru Pattinam Kaappe/

11. The Alwar addresses the Lord " I was caught in the swirl of Samsara for a
long long time extending to over several Kalpas and I have been postponing my
day of deliverance. Having got released from that and having secured you, I
will never ever allow you to go away leaving me behind"  ( 5 / 3 / 8 )
Ethanai Kaalamum  Ethanai Oozhiyum Inrodu Naalai Enre/
Ithanai Kaalamum Poi Kirip Patten / INI UNNAI POGAL OTTEN 
Maithunan Markalai Vaazha Vaithu Maatralar 
Nootruvarai Keduthaai / Chitham Nin Paal Adhu Arithu Eyanre /
Tirumaalirum Cholai Enthaai /

Thanians on Periyalwar Tirumozhi
1. Composed by Nathamunigal
Guru Mukham Anaadheethya Praaha Vedaan Aseshaan /
Narapathi Pari kliptam Sulkam Aadhaatu Kaamah /
Svasuram Amara Vandhyam Ranganathasya Saakshaat /
Dwija Kula Tilakam Thum Vishnu Chittam Namaami /
" Vishnu Chitta had no schooling but he was granted knowledge of all the
Vedas by  the Lord Himself. With that knowledge, he won the prize instituted
by the King by expounding the truth as to who is THE Paramatma. He was
actually the father in law of Lord Ranganatha and the gem among the Brahmins.
I bow to him"
2. Composed by Pandiya Bhattar
Minnaar Thada Madhil Soozh Villiputtur Enru Oru Naal /
Sonnaar Kazhar Kamalam Soodinom - Mun Naal / Kizhi Arutthaan Enru Uraithom -
Keezhmai yinil Serum /
Vazhi Aruthom Nenjame! Vandhu /
" O! My Mind! Because you helped me, I am able to adorn my head with the
lotus feet of Bhagavatas who mentioned about Srivilliputtur even once. In the
days when people raised doubts  as to who was THE Paramatma, he cleared their
doubts and won the prize of the wallet. By mentioning this event, we got rid
of the sins that steep us down in hell"
3. Composed by Pandiya Bhattar
Paandiyan Kondaada Bhattar Piraan Vandhaan Enru /
Eendiya Sangam Eduthu Oodha - Vendiya /
Vedangal Odhi Viraindu Kizhi Aruthaan /
Paadhangal Yaamudaiya Patru /
" Our refuge is the feet of Periyalwar who won the prize of the wallet by
expounding the portions of Veda to prove that Lord Narayana IS THE Paramatma,
as a result of which the Vallabha Pandiya Deva praised him as Bhattar Piraan
and groups and groups of people blew their conches aloud in his honour"

DIVYA DESAMS CONSECRATED BY PERIYALWAR
1. Tiruvarangam 2. Tiruvellarai 3. Tiruppernagar 4. Tirukkudantai 5.
Tirukkannapuram
6,. Tiruchitrakoodam 7. Trumaalirumcholai  8. Tirukkoshtiyur 9.
Srivilliputtur 
10. Tirukkurunkudi 11. Tiruvenkatam 12. Tiruvayodhya 13. Salagraamam
14. Badarika Ashramam 15.Tiru gangaik Karai Kandam  16. Dwaraka 17.
Vadamathurai 18. Tiruvaippaadi 19. Tirup Paarkadal and 20. Paramapadam.

Note : It is said that the commentaries of Periyavaachaan Pillai on
Periyalwar Tirumozhi
(except for the last 40 odd hymns) were eaten away by white ants and it was
Manavaala Maamunigal who restored them embellishing them with his own
commentaries.