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RANGASWAMY_at_plh.af.mil
Date: Tue Nov 26 1996 - 06:36:29 PST

 
Dear Members of the Prapatti Group:

Nov 26, 1996 is the tirunakshatram of Sri Tiruppanazhwar. 
Sri Rengarajan has written in great detail about the Amalanathipiran of
Sri Thiruppaanazhwar. Sri Sadagopan and Sri Anbil Ramaswamy have 
also written excellent articles in the past about the work of this Azhwar. 
In this post, I shall try to summarize some aspects 
of the life of this great Azhwar. His ten Pasurams rendered before Lord 
Ranganatha are rare gems indeed. These Pasurams have served as the motivation 
for the works of several Acharyas. This Azhwar by tradition  is 
considered  to be Ayonija or one, who is not born of mortal human beings. 
He is also considered as an Amsa of the Sri Vatsa mark, the mole on the chest 
of Sriman Narayana. He was brought up however  as a foster-child by a 
childless couple of the Paanar caste

Swami Desikan was greatly moved by the composition of this Azhwar and wrote a
commentary called Munivahana Bhogam in Mani Pravala. 
Swami Desikan's sanskrit compostion " Sri Bhagavad Dhyana Sobhaanam" was also 
motivated by the work of Tiruppan Azhwar. In this Stotram, Swami Desikan 
offers tribute to Lord Ranganatha and enjoys his Bhagavad Gunams in the 
spirit of Tiruppan Azhwar's homage in the Amalanathipiran. Swami Desikan 
dwells on each part of the Lord's body and salutes it with great reverence. 

I shall provide a very brief account of the life of Sri Tiruppan Azhwar 
and his Anubhavam of the Lord of  Sri Rangam, which inspired Swami Desikan 
and the Acharyas before him.

Thiruppanar was a resident of one of the 108 divya desams known as Kozhi or
Nisulapuri, which is on the banks of cauveri  river, very close to Sri 
Rangam. Adopted by foster parents of the Panaar caste, the Azhwar came to be 
known as "Panaa". At a very young age, the Azhwar became proficient at playing 
the instrument known as the "Yal". Sublimal music in praise of the Lord 
emanated from the Yal whenever the Azhwar touched it. As a young boy, the 
Azhwar frequently accompanied his father to the Temple of Lord Ranganatha, 
where his father would engage in cleaning the exterior of the Temple. Intrigued 
by the magnificent palace-like structure of the Temple, the Azhwar enquired of 
his father "Who does this mansion belong to?". The Azhwar's father replied that
the mansion was the home of Lord Ranganatha who is the father of the entire 
universe. 

Encouraged by his father's words, the Azhwar once tried to enter the Temple 
in an attempt to obtain a darshanam of "the father of the universe". Since 
Panaars were forbidden from entering the Temple, the Azhwar was 
unceremoniously thrown out of the Temple by the orthodox brahmins. Pained 
by treatment meted out to him the Azhwar came home in 
tears and reported the incident to his father and complainingly asked of 
his father "Isn't Lord Ranganatha the father of the universe and therefore, 
my father too? Why an I not allowed to see him?" The Azhwar's father comforted 
him with soothing words to the effect that the Azhwar will definitely 
get to see the Lord at the right time.

Since the Azhwar could not go to the Temple, he used to come to the banks of 
the Cauvery river and sing about the glory of Ranganatha and lose himself in 
a  trance like state. On one of those days,
when he was totally oblivious to  his surroundings, the temple priest of Lord
Ranganatha came to the river to collect  water for the Tirumanjanam of the Archa
Moorthy. He saw  our Azhwar and  thought that latter  was a man of lower  caste
and therefore, he should move away to permit the collection of the water for 
the daily Tirumanjanam of Sri Ranganatha  without pollution. The
name of the priest was Loka Saranga Muni. He was called a
Muni by the residents of Sri Rangam  because of his scholarship and devotion. 
He devoted every moment of his life to the service of the Lord at Sri Rangam.
        
The Azhwar was lost in the  thoughts of Sri Ranganatha and did not hear the 
shouts of Loka Saranga Muni asking him  to move away. The priest got angry at 
the nonresponse and threw a stone at  the Azhwar to wake him up from his 
trance. The pebble missed the water and hit the Azhwar in on the forehead and 
opened  a wound from which blood began to gush forth. The Azhwar woke up and 
realized the situation, apologized for his 
unawareness and moved away. The priest collected the water in his  golden pot
and reached the inner sanctum of Lord Ranganatha. There , he saw to his sorrow
and astonishment  blood oozing  from the forehead of the Lord at the same site,
where the Azhwar had  a wound earlier. The Muni recognized
his apacharam and went home and had restless sleep. In his dream appeared the
Lord of Sri 
Rangam and commanded the priest to bring the Azhwar to the temple as a 
praayaschittam for the Bhagavata apacharam to the Azhwar.  The
priest woke up at that dawn  and rushed to  the banks of Cauvery  and saw the
Azhwar  pouring his heart out to Sri Ranganatha through his songs. The Muni
conveyed to the Azhwar , the message of the Lord to come to HIS temple. The 
Azhwar refused , since he felt that  as a man of lower caste, he was not fit 
to set foot in the holy city of Sri Rangam or enter the most sacred sanctum 
of the Lord there. Loka Saranga Muni was desparate to make amendments for his 
boorish act and persuaded the Azhwar to ride on his back, despite the 
latter's protests to the sanctum of the Lord to avoid touching the sacred 
ground of Sri Rangam.

Another version of this incident is that Loka Saranga Muni arrived at the 
Temple upon striking the Azhwar to find that the Temple door was firmly 
shut and would not open despite his attempts. The voice of the Lord 
reminded Loka Saranga Muni of his Bhagavata Apacharam and declared that 
the Temple door would remain tightly shut until Loka Saranga Muni 
performed Prayaschittam brought the Azhwar to the Temple by carrying the 
latter on his back. Heeding the divine command Loka Saranga Muni rushed 
to the Azhwar and brought the latter to the Temple on his back.  

The Azhwar was thus transported to the sanctum and earned the title as
Munivahana. During this ride, the Azhwar closed his eyes thinking about the
blessings of the Lord. On reaching the inner court of the Lord of  Sri Rangam ,
the Azhwar descended from the back of the elderly priest, opened his
eyes to feast on the beauty of the Lord and burst forth in a song known as
Amalanaati Piran, which is a reflection of the Sampoorna Bhagavad Guna 
Anubhavam of the beauty of the Lord from HIS Lotus feet to HIS crown. At the 
end of this tribute, the Azhwar declared that his eyes will
never rest on anything else, after seeing the Lord of Sri Rangam and he merged
with the Lord right there and then. Below is a humble attempt after 
reading the articles of Srimans Sadagopan, Sampath Rengarajan and Anbil 
Ramaswamy to summarize what in my opinion is the most majestic of the 10 
Pasurams of this Azhwar.

Kondal Vannanai Kovalanaai: Lord Ranganatha is the supreme
emperor of the whole world and all the people (residing there); 
he who is of the black color of the clouds as well as the nature of the 
clouds; who ,as Lord Gopala, ate butter with his mouth; who has stolen my 
mind and heart; and who is my immortal ambrosia; my eyes that have looked at 
his beauty; these eyes of mine ,that have seen Him , will never see anything 
else.


Azhwar Tiruvadigale Sharanam,

Muralidhar Rangaswamy