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Re: Thirumangai Alwar and Thirujnanasambhanda Nayanar

From: Sampath Rengarajan (
Date: Fri Oct 10 1997 - 05:50:53 PDT

Dear bAgawathALs,

	On the eve of holiest of all sravanams, purattasi sravanam, i do my
maRu pravEsam in this forum, as promised to the two elderly bAgwathALS of this
and SDDS group. Sri Anbil Ramaswamy and V Sadagopan have persistantly requested
me to start contributing in addition to several others who also wrote by
personal mails. My exile was a self imposed vratham for, last a month and odd.
I promised to Sri VS and Sri AR that i will start contributing only from
Srvanam the star, i was born. At their request i have written several posts in
these days and I have submitted a 12 part series on sravana viratha mahAthmiyam
at the feet of Sri Anbil Ramaswamy and Sri V Sadagopan for them to review it.
This was written as part of oppiliappan thala purANam which also has several
other parts to come.

Happy purattAsi srvana vratham (start this evening and goes until tomorrow
evening) to all who sincerely pray to Lord Oppiliappan and Lord

Sri Booma dEvi thAyAr samEtha Sri Oppiliappan thiruvadikaLE charaNam
Kadagakudi Sampath Rengarajan

***************************my first post this month********************
On Oct 9,  1:05pm, Mani Varadarajan wrote:
> Subject: Re: Thirumangai Alwar and Thirujnanasambhanda Nayanar
> > I have a particular question regarding the meeting between Thirumangai
> > Alwar and Thirujnanasambhanda Nayanar at Seergazhi. I have read that the
> > Alvar defeated jnanasambhandar in debate and received the title
> > 'Nalukavi perumal' from him.
> This meeting, while mentioned in some traditional biographies,
> is recognized by most authorities as being anachronistic.

Historians by and large in Tamil Nadu agree that this inicident did take place
and they did live in the same era. There is absolutely no doubt about this and
a biograpgy on thirumanagai mannan provides much more details.

> The great Saiva saint tiru-jnAna-sambandhar postdates tirumangai
> AzhvAr by at least a century.

saint Thiru -jnAna-sambandhar and thirumangai lived during the same time. This
has been established again and again. Besides, they both respected each other
so much for their knowledge in Tamil and in fact they both longed to see each
other. This has been established by Tamil Historians again and again. In fact
this has been explicitelyt explained in their tamil works itself. ie Both
thirumangai and saint Thiru -jnAna-sambandhar expressed their eagerness to see
each other whom each other held in high esteem as a fellow Tamil poet.
I will try to post these works when i get some time later, may in this weekend.

	I wouldnot even call this episode as a "vAtham". VAtham can be meant as
"Argument" directly in tamil. They never argued with each other and in contrary
held each other in high esteem. They had a debate as promoted by their
disciples. The debate was not on whether Saivam or Srivaishnavam was great. At
the request of saint Thiru -jnAna-sambandhar, thirmangai delivered the pAsurams
on Lord thAdALan at HIS sannithi and saint Thiru -jnAna-sambandhar accepted the
pulahAngitham and Tamil poetic skill of thiru mangai even after the very first
pAsruam in which he stacked numbers 1 to 10 in Tamil poetry and indirectly
cited them as the 10 avathArams of Lord Vishnu. After this saint Thiru
-jnAna-sambandhar presented his own holy spear (vEl) that he rever and keeps
with him as a reward and and as an acknowledgement of thirumagai's winning the
so called debate.

> Nonetheless, the story is an interesting one.  Tirumangai had
> already been reputed as "nAlu kavi perumAL" (master of four-fold
> poetry) before he had a chance meeting with Sambandhar at
> Sirkazhi, where the latter was then at residence.  The AzhvAr
> proposed a debate with the Sambandhar,

The debate was proposed by their disciples.

> but soon discovered
> that there was no temple to PerumaaL in that area.  This being
> the case, he refused to enter the disputation in such a place.

Thirumangai was adorned with *enormous recognition* as a tamil poet and  fame
after this debate *even among saivite circles* and was adjudged as the
extradinary Tamil poet of his time. THIS IS THE EPISODE THAT
BROUGHT THE ADDITIONAL FEATHERS to his crown. In fact among all the 1300 and
odd pasurams thirumangai calls himself with so many adaip peyar ie special
names given to him by many. But at the 10 th pAsuram on this lord (delivered
during the debate) he states all the 8 adaippeyars he has so far ie all in all
in one pAsruam and this can never be seen anywhere else inthe other 1300 and
odd pAsurams. it was said that the saint thiru -jnAna-sambandhar was
overwhlemed by these deliverance of thirumanagai and praised him so much.

> By chance, a Vaishnava woman passed by, and Tirumangai asked
> to borrow an image of Vishnu.  She gladly lent him her Lord
> taaDalan (Krishna?).

ThAdALAn in Tamil means ThAL ALan or ALanthavan or ALanthu ALbavan

ThAL means feet.
ALAnthavan means who measured.
ALbavan means who still rules.

 ie Lord thiru vikraman who measured all these worlds by HIS FEET and claimed
the ownership of them fro mking mahAbali and by virute of it who rule them to

> Recharged, he then began his debate
> with Sambandhar.  The latter composed a poem which Tirumangai
> criticized.  Sambandhar asked Tirumangai to compose one in
> return, and the story goes that Tirumangai then composed the
> 10 verses in praise of kAzhic cI rAmar (Sri Rama at Sirkazhi). [*]
> [*] It may strike the reader as strange that the story
> declares that Tirumangai composed a poem to Rama at Sirkazhi
> when it was just stated that no Vishnu temple existed in
> that area.

In fact this kshEthram has been praised in brahmANda purANam. It is believed
that during thrEtha yugam this site was wahsed away. The woman stored the
ursavar alone in her husk (not dust) storage bin and worshipped HIM all the
time handed over it thirumangai. thirumangai installed the moolavar and ursavar
here. Since thirumangai saw only the ursavar first , this ursavar is praised
even today. Infact when i arrived in this temple i happened to see the ursavar
first and only the moolavar later. The arcahgAL explained to me that I am lucky
as this is the same routine that is considered very holy and followed as a
protocol by some ardent srivaishnavaL.  The so much reverred ursavar is Sri
Ramar then. Currently there is west facing sannithi where this Sri Ramar ursavr
is situated inside the temple. There are many temples that have the ursavar and
moolavars differently in the 108 DD's and i donot see why this cannot have
different moorthis.

Another interesting observation is such that thirumangai sang on all avathArams
in first pAsuram itself and his reference to Rama is explicitely seen in few
pAsurams though. In fact one of these 10 pAsuram explicitely refers to the
thala purANam explained in brahmANda purANam as to how urOmasi muni sought the
blessings from Lord that when each one HIS hair is fallen one brahma's life is
over. ie  when Lord Brahma had some ahangAram and argued with this muni this
muni replied that "your life is equal to life of my one urOmam or thread of the
hair" grown in his body and was so blessed. This is explained in the pAsuram
and as well as the thAdALan or Lord thiruviokraman pAsuram on this temple by

> It is, however, very much in the style of the
> AzhvArs to not stick to singing of a particular manifestation
> of Vishnu at any particular shrine.  For example, in tirukkaNNa-
> puram, reputed to be a temple to Krishna, kulasekhara AzhvAr
> praises the god there predominantly as Rama.

Thiruk kaNNa puram is also a similar story. It has been established by
historians that the ursavar of this temple was Sri Ramar, who is now
currently in Sri VAdivoor, known as the famous vaduvoor Ramar. thirumangai
himslef confirms this in his decade and the last of the 11 pasuram explaiaing
the whole dasAvathAram as the creation of Sri Rama of thiru kaNNa puram. In
fact when Sri Mani asked for references to Sri Parasuramar avathram in 4000, i
have not only presented this pasuram 2 years back but also mentioned that there
is one pasuram for each avatharam in this decade which is not present
anywhereelse in 4000, and this decade is equivalent to the dasavatha sthothram
of Swami deiskan. The last pAsuram on Sri Ramar ursavar of thiruk kaNNapuram by
thirumanagi says

munnum rAmanaay (as a parusraman who appeared prior to HIM in this chthuryuga)
thAnaay (as Sri Rama HIMself0
pinnum rAmanaay ( as a Sri Bala ramar who appeared after HIS Sri Rama avatharma
			in this chthur yugam)
thAmodharanAAy (as moolavat Sri Krishna HIMself)
kalkiyum ( as kalki avathAramm)


>  Similarly,
> it would not be out of character for Tirumangai to praise his
> idol of Krishna also as Rama.

Thus it is stated that thirumangai praised the Sri Ramar vigraham as Sri Ramar
vigraham only in seerkAzhi thAdALan sannithi.

> The story continues that Sambandhar was delighted at hearing
> this, confessed that he was beaten, and declared that the AzhvAr
> fully deserved the title of nAlu kavi perumaaL.  As a tribute,
> he presented Tirumangai with his spear (vEl), which is why
> Tirumangai is invariably depicted with this weapon in Vaishnava
> temples.
> Not a story to be taken very seriously, but still charming in
> its own way.

Since this is not a mere story, I humbly submit this at the feet of Sri Mani
and all the bAgawathALs and request them as azhwar bhakthALs to take this very
seriously as a true incident and plead that they must learn more from this
episode. Stay tuned for more on the actual debates and the relevant poems.

parakAla nAyaki thiruvadikaLE charaNam
kadagakudi Sampath Rengarajan

> Mani
>-- End of excerpt from Mani Varadarajan