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Thirumangai AzhwAr

Date: Mon Nov 03 1997 - 22:56:09 PST

Respected sri vaishNavALs,

SrimAn vEnkata nAthArya kavitArkika kEsari /
vEdAntAchArya varyOmE sannidatthAm sadAhridi //

poigaimuni bhoothathAr pEyAzhwAr thaN porunalvarunkurukEsan vittuchitthan/
tuyya kulasEkaran naM pANanAthan thondaradippodi mazhisaivandhajothi/
vaiyamellAm maraiviLanga vALvElEndhum mangaiyarkOnenRivargaL
seyyatamizh mAlaigaL nAm theLiyavOdhith theLiyAdha maRainilaNgaL
theliginRomE/ (from AdhikAra sangragam by Srimad vEdAntha Desikan)

The Last of AzhwAr series-ThiruvAli nAdu was part of ChOzhA kingdom. There
Ali nAdAr(belonged to the fourth caste), an Army General (ThaLapathi) of
ChozhA king earned the king's goodwill and respect with his devoted work.
He and his wife, vallitthiru were blessed with a beautiful male child, whom
they named neelan (due to his dark (neela mEga) colour. He was born in the
year nala, on a karigai mAsam, kritigai nakshathram, full moon day and was
an incarnation of the Lord's SArngam (Divine bow). Neelan grew up a shrewd
smart boy, learning Tamizh and Sanskrit and mastered them; became well
versed in sword fight(vAL payiRchi), vil viddhai with, Horse riding,
elephant riding, etc. He grew up a young, intelligent, smart, healthy,
strong, handsome lad (and yet simple and modest with a religous mind like
his parents) and not surprisingly, people liked him very much. When
Neelan's father got old, the chOzhA king, having heard about Neelan,
appointed Neelan as the Army General(ThaLapathi). He was agile, dynamic,
young and was good at battle fields; and hence captured the neighbouring
states; The king was immensely pleased and presented him a small portion of
his kingdom, a place called Thirumangai, as a tribute and made him a KING!
(He was thereafter called "Thirumangai mannan".)
That was his first success. And that became the cause for his slipping from
all bhakti, devotion, religion etc., etc., and the success of reaching the
SimhAsanam at such a young age, (with no chance of becoming a king,
otherwise) went to his head. He took to all vices; He was deeply caught in
seeking sensual pleasures. The parent were helpless and could do nothing
but pray to the Lord to correct their son.

The Lord Sriman nArAyaNA did listen to them. He had organised such a
situation that made a dEvamAdhu by name sumangalai(who was performing the
kainkaryam of fanning(sAmaram)the Lord) to appear as the most beautiful
daughter of a local doctor in Tirumangai, in the name "kumudhavalli" (based
on a "sApam" given by kapila muni for her laughing at an ugly face and
coarse voice of his disciple). Being an incarnate of dEvamAdhu, she was
exquisitely pretty and could attract even a recluse. Our "new" king,
Thirumangai mannan heard of her alluringly feminine beauty and wished to
see her immediately. When he saw her, he was so much cativated by her
darting glance at him, he fell head over heels for her and proposed to
marry her. Kumudhavalli, through her father, stipulated two prerequisites
for him to qualify for marrying her. They were 1. Her husband should be a
(or become a) Sri vaishNavA, wear ThirunaNkAppu on his forehead, and be a
true bhaktA of Sriman NarayaNan. (Sriman Narayanan Himself spoke through
her) and 2. Her husband should feed daily 1000 (ONE THOUSAND!) vaishNava
bhakthALs. Our mannan, being intoxicated by her looks, agreed after
listening to her conditions immediately. They got married.

So there he was. With a bright ThirumaNkAppu, thuLasi mAlai, he paid
obeisance to Sriman NarayaNa. He started the annadhAnam for 1000 Sri
vaishNava bhaktALs. Slowly day by day, our mannan was transfering into a
true, sincere devotee of the Lord and was getting tremendous satisfaction
from feeding Sri vaishNavALs daily. The enjoyment of Bhakti and
BhagavatOttamAL sEvai were really experienced by Thirumangai mannan. While
this was going on, the entire "gajAnA" (treasury) was spent on the
annadhAnam kainkaryam. So he could not even send the "tax" which he was
supposed to send to the chOzhA king every year. So, chOzhA sent a message
to pay the tax; but since our mannan could not pay and sent back a reply
saying that he will not be able to pay. ChOzhA king got wild and sent
soldiers to bring him. Our hero sent them back effortlessly with his
fighting skills. ChOzhA king himself came with a heavy army and attacked
Thirumangai mannan. Even though Thirumangai mannan's army is small, he
fought with tremendous skills and he won the battle. His horse went near
the chOzhA king and he got down from the horse. He said: "Oh pErarasE(Big
king!), I did not send the tax- I don't deny. But did I spend the money on
trivial matters? It was spent for Sri VaishNavALs. How can I stop when your
soldiers came to imprison me?". Our chOzhA king was hurt due to his defeat
and did not listen to all this. He said,"I made you a king. I gave you all
these luxuries. Now you are not even grateful. and you fought with me, too"
Our mannan got hurt very badly by that "grateful" statement. He was very
much grateful to chOzhA king for all that he had done. So Thirumangai
mannan threw away his sword and bowed down before the king and said "
Chozha mannA! what a word you spoke about me! Am I ungrateful? You forgot
all kingdoms which I captured for you. Now I am standing in front of you.
Go ahead and do waht you wish to do with me". 

The chOzhA king melted and was moved. He hugged thirumangaimannan and said
"Don't worry. I know you. But we should pay respects to
pErarasar-chitRarsar relation and hence, you are to send your tax within 3
days. Till then, you will be imprisoned in the perumAL temple." There was
no way he could get any money and hence, he begged the Lord to help him.
The Lord appeared in his dream and suggested him to go to the banks of
river vEdhavathi near kanchi where he could find a big treasure of Gold
coins and jewels. He narrated the dream to the chOzhA king and
thirumangaimannan and few ministers went to kanchi, vEdhavathi river banks
and did find a BIG TREASURE. Having heard this news, chOzhA king got up
from the throne and whole heartedly bowed down to Thirumangai mannan for
his bhakti and thee Lord's mercy on him. He said" I have done a great
mistake of taxing a great bhakthA for a small tax issue and caused a
hindrance to BhagavathALs' anna dhAna kankaryam. Please take all this
treasure and let me send you back with full Royal honours. You need not
insult me by paying the tax any more!". The mannan came back with more
wealth and with great honours. The citizns of Thirumangai were greatly
thrilled by their king and kumudhavalli was proud of her husband. 

They revived their kainkaryam for 1000 Sri VaishNanvALs more aggressively
and attained their happiness and satisfaction as usual. Again, they found
themselves left with no wealth for the kainkaryam. With a view to keeping
the promise to his beloved wife, he had to resort to highway robbery from
rich people. With the booty, he continued the kainkaryam. One day The Lord
Sriya: patih Sriman NarayaNan and Vishnu pathni Sri MahAlakshmi appeared on
the highway as a"just married" couple with lots and lots of jewels adorned
them. Our mannan turned robber heard of a new rich young couple's coming on
the Highway and immediately rushed with his adiyALs. He was very happy to
see Them with so many jewels and thanked God(!) for that. They also had a
bag containing more ornaments. Our anti-hero demanded Them to surrender all
they had. They did precisely waht was instructed to Them; all with Their
katAksham on our hero. They put all their ornaments on a piece of cloth.
When Thirumangai mannan tried to lift the bundle of ornaments he just could
not even move it a bit! He was shocked and perplexed as to why it was so
difficult to move it! He went near the Lord Sri mahAvishNu and with a
fierce look into His eyes, asked Him " What is the manthram you have for
lifting this bundle?. Tell me, else, I will kill you both." He threatened
Them with a sword. The Lord and the PirAtti smiled with a gentle
mandhahAsam. He asked Thirumangai mannan to come near Him AND WHISPERED IN
(AshtAksharam) right from none other than SRIYA: PATHI HIMSELF, his mind,
heart became PURE!. All his dirt had disappeared! He was simply electrified
by the AshtAksharam. He got goose pimples all over his body; He got
undescribable blissful happiness! He prostrated fullt at Their Lotus feet
with eyes full of tears at Their mercy to bless him despite his
shortcomings and negative qualities. They blessed him with Their KARUNAI
KATAAKSHAM. Then They disappeared. He realised His ThiruviLaiyAdal and the
purpose of his birth and poured out tamizh pAsurams on the Lordas if it
comes from just opened dam ("madai thirandha veLLam pOl"). He looked at the
sky and kept on crying ceaselessly for Their dayA on his lowly self. His
hands and the legs were shivering with tremendous amount of Bhakti and love
for the Lord. 

He came back galloping on his horse to narrate the ENTIRE EXCITING INCIDENT
to the beloved kumudhavalli. Kumudhavalli, before he started even, asked
him as to why his face looked so bright, serene, divine and beaming that
day. He said "kumudhA, I have reached the purpose of my manushya janmam
kumudhA. I have seen NARAYANA, kumudhA. (nAn kaNdu koNdEn NARAYANAnai). He
was too excited to even complete his statements in a coherent manner.
(After all, he has been initited by SarvEswaran Himself!). Kumudhavalli
said, "Then, I have also reached the purpose of my deputation (by Lord
through kapila muni)" and she narrated her story. Our AzhwAr became all the
more blissful and happier to know that The Lord Sriya: pathih sent
Kumudhavalli only to set him right from his wrong path and
"ThadutthAkoLLified" him. He could not control his tears and sobbed heavily
at the Lord's mercy on him. Then he sang GREAT PASURAMS (on NARAYANAN's
name) and visited almost about 80 temples (out of 108 Divya dEsams). He
built the fort and kOttai (ramparts) of Srirangam without affecting ar
spoiling ThoNdaradippodiAzhwAr's nandhavanam. ("pAdi pAdi paraparappAi
His compositions were : 1. Periya thirumozhi 2. Periya thirumadal 3. SiRiya
thirumadal 4. Thiru nedunthANdakam (TNT) 5. Thiru KurunthANdakam(TKT) 6.
Thiru vezhuk kurrirukkai. His pAsurams are marvellous; excellent and have
unsurpassed beauty in them. parAsara Bhattar made use of his TNT to win
over his counter part, a advaitin scholar in his arguments and later the
advaitin became his disciple 'nam jeeyar'. Sri RanganAtha himself heard and
was greatly pleased with that argument reenacted from Bhattar quoting from
TNT (Please read excellent posts of Sri V. SadagOpan on TNT and TKT during
Feb 96 from Bhakti Archives - a real feast to each one of you). 

Thirumangai AzhwAr (a KING, a person who enjoyed the bhOgams so much)
walked all the way and VISITED almost all temples. He is simply GREAT, my
dearest brothers and sisters. He is JUST S U P E R B AzhwAr. His wordings
are his outpourings straight from his heart. 

We will conclude this post with my favourite pAsuram of this AzhwAr:
Here is one of his periya thirumozhi pasurams: 
vAdinEn vAdi varundhinEn manatthaal/
perun thuyaridum idumbaiyil piRanNdhu/
koodinEn koodi iLaiyavar thammOdu/
avar tharum kalaviyE karudhi/
OdinEn Odi uyvadhOr poruLaal/
uNarvenum perumpadhan therindhu/
naadinEn nAdi nadi nAn kaNdukoNdEn/
nArAyaNA vennum nAmam.

Being born into this body, a reservior of profound sorrow, I am repenting,
melting and crying, I am filled with pathos and self-pity;I have let myself
run after beautiful women, seeking the sensual pleasures from their union;
Through the grace of our Lord I have now realised that there is a greater
goal and That will deliver me into eternal happiness;I have been searching
for this state and have now found it IN THE SWEET NAME NARAYANA.

This pASsuram will bring tears to the eyes of any Vaishnava for AzhwAr's
Bhakti and love and his heart longing for the lotus feet of our Lord
Thirumangai AzhwAr thiruvadigaLE saraNam

Ram Ram

adiyEn madhava dAsan

(P.S. I saw on "Sun TV", a couple of months back ThirumangaiAzhwAr's
portion from the movie ThirumAl perumai; I was literally crying when SivAji
Ganesan acted the sequence of "coming back after initiation from Sri
Narayana and narrating to kumudhavalli thAyar- His face became bigger; eyes
widened; hands shivered; and gasping for breath; and one can imagine
dialogue delivery capacity of sivaji. It was very good. - Sorry it is not
to talk about sivaji; but to visualize the RICH SCENE OF AZHWAR.)