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PeriyAzhwAr- one who greeted the Lord Himself

From: V.MadhavkkaNNan (vxmadhav_at_bechtel.com)
Date: Fri Oct 31 1997 - 17:18:59 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
magizhndhupAdum/
seyyatamizh mAlaigaL nAm theLiyavOdhith theLiyAdha maRainilaNgaL
theliginRomE/ (from AdhikAra sangragam by Srimad vEdAntha Desikan)

Before getting into periyAzhwAr charithram, let us have a glance at the
Great Villiputthoor charithram, where periyAzhwAr hailed from. In "Then
PAndya" kingdom, there is a small town called putthoor, where great sholars
pundits were residing. Nearby there is a forest where there were hunters
living in it. The chief of these hunters had two sons named villi and
kaNdan.
One day these two guys villi and kaNdan went inside the forest for hunting
as usual. They spotted a tiger and it escaped the arrows from their bows.
KaNdan started chasing vigorously and went deep inside the forest. After
som time, the tiget hid behind a tree and pounced on kaNdan and killed him.
Villi waited for kaNdan for along time and started seraching for him with a
worried look on his face about his dearest brother. When he spotted the
dead body of kaNdan, his heart almost stooped with grief and cried heavily
and fell unconscious on his darling brother's body. During his
unconsciousness, he had a scene in front of his eyes; Sriman NarAyaNan whih
His consort VishNu pathni MahAlakshmi appeared and uttered opening His
"pavaLachchevvAi" thus:"O villi, Do not lament and cry. Do not worry. We
will get back your brother's life. And you both go to find out the Big
Banyan tree in the midst of this forest where my moorthy has been lying for
quite a long time. You both will also find a cave nearby the tree where
there is lots and lots of Golden jewels and coins and treaure available.
You can take them as much as you wish. using that wealth, you both need to
deforest that place and build a temple and surrounding town." Then the Lord
disappeared. When villi came back to consciousness, he did not know whether
what he saw (in his unconscious state) was true at all and was confused.
But seuddenly kaNdan got up alive as if he just woke up from sleep (without
any wound even). Villi explained the whole thing to his darling brother and
both of them hugged each other for having been blessed by the Lord and
having been chosen by the Lord to establish the temple for Sriya: pathih.
(I wish we too had been just hunters like villi and kaNdan, rather than
studying all sorts of degrees and leading a life which in now way helps us
reach towards the Lord.)

Then they did exactly as was tod and with great enthusiasm built the temple
with the co operation of all his people (who were pleasantly surprised at
the Lord' mercy on their kulam). The place became an excellent sthalam and
the temple looked majestic with VadabhathrasAyee as the moorthy. The place
even today is being referred as Villiputthoor (named after the brother
Villi). Great scholars, BhaktAs, pundits migrated from putthoor to this
holy place and started residing in this place. 
One of them was Mukunda Bhattar and he was a VaishNava GnAni and his wife
was Padmavalli, a GuNavathi and a perfect match for Mukunda Bhattar. Both
of them were parama bhaktAs of VadabhatrasAyee. On an auscipicious day they
were blessed with a male child and they named the child as VishNu chittar;
means the one who thinks of VishNu always in his mind. The kid lived upto
his name fully and always was contemplating on ways and means to achieve
the Lord's DayA. He did not wish to spend and waste his time on education
(vEdAs and SasthrAs) and concentrated only on praising the Lord. (PoiginRa
Gnanamum pollA ozhkkamum... ). He knew that when Lord KrishNa appeared he
had a liking for wearing Garlands made from variety of flowers. He chose
that kainaryam to pluck flowers in the early morning and make an excellent
garland out of it to adorn the idol of Sri VadabhatrasAyee. He even sold
some of his property and bought a small place near his home (and the
temple) and converted that into a beuatiful Nandavanam (a Garden). He grew
all kinds of creepers and plants for various flowers and the Holy Thulasi.
The place also housed a small beautiful pond where there was a clear
crystal like water as pure as VishNuchittar's heart and mind. His time was
wholly spent on cultivating this garden only and beatify them in order to
get more and more and flowers for the Lord. (What a superb life! What a
great Bhakti!)
The flowers bloomed; Tulasi plant became bigger and bigger; The entire
Garden  looked divinely beautiful and had an exquisite sugandham (smell)
due to jasmine, rose, lotus, pArijAtham, alli, Thulasi, etc., etc.. Every
morning, before the Sun rises VishNu chitthar took bath completed his
NityakarmAnushtAnangal, went to his garden and plucked all kinds of flowers
to prepare garlands and garlands of various types for the Lord, while he
sang songs in praise of the Lord. He used to take them to the temple and
enjoy the scene of Lord wearing all his garlands. He got an immenses
satisfaction and great amount of blissful happiness in that. He was also
blessed with a spouse Vrajai who also had similar taste for performing
service to the Lord. (Never complain about your wife (or husband); If she
had been better, she would have got a better husband!)

During those times (9 th century A.D?), there was a king by name
"VallabhadEvan" ruling that area (Then madurai). He was a good king and was
ruling excellently; He was a great VishNu BhaktA and wished to know the
meaning of vEdAs and the glory of the Supreme truth. He enquired his chief
minister on his desire and as to how to go about pursuing his interests.
The minister said " Let us bring vEdic scholars and ask them your questins
and seek clarifications from them; Whoever furnishes good, satisfactory
reply and clarifies you can be greatly rewarded, O mighty king.". The king
agreed and the announcement was made throughout the kingdom and it was alos
told that there will be a bag containing Golden coins hanging at the top
and with the power and truth of the vEdic statement/principle, it shall
fall automatically. There were many scholars, pundits, vEdic viRpannargaL,
arguments, discussions, seminars, pArAyaNams, etc, etc,; But the bag still
was hanging! The true vEdic underlying principle/statement was known to
anybody; The king was terrible disppointed. The Lord now plays! Sriman
NarayaNan, Sri Vadabhatra sAyee appeared in VishNuchitthA's dream and said"
O BhaktA, I am impressed with your poomAlai kainkaryam. Tomorrow you go the
palace and speak vEdic principles and get the reward". VishNuchitthar said"
I am not at all well versed in vEdAs; I did not even study them; I
wasted(!) my time without learning all these vEdAs; I have doing only a
simple Garland preparation for you, Lord. I can not tell any vEdic truths,
since I do NOT know.". The Lord smiled; O VishnuchittA, You are only an
instrument. We will speak through you. Not to worry; Just proceed. (ennE
BhagawAn's vAtsalyam to bring His BhaktA to the limelight!)
The Lord appeared in the Chief minister's dream too and asked him to
arrange to bring VishNuchittar the next day in the palanquin with full
honours(GREAT!). The Next day VishNuchittar prayed the Lord and boarded the
pallakku (palanquin) and came to the palace with full honours. The scholars
laughed at his greed for they knew his limited (or no) knowledge on vEdAs.
They made sarcastic statements at him loudly.
But once our VishNuchittar started his explanation (after a small prayer)
the mummurs stopped; The sarcasm disappeared; People sharpened their ears.
The king, the ministers the people and the scholars, everbody could follw
the simple statements which were full of deep meanings and were coming as
if the waves were coming out of the great ocean; The entire meaning of his
statment was clearly understood by one and all and when VishNuchitthar made
a concluding statement that Sri MahAvishNu, the Sriya: pathih, is the only
paramporuL who is protecting and blessing the whole Universe and all beings
and is the only underlying principle of all four vEdAs, the bag FELL by
itself! and fell into the hands of VishNuchitthar. The king got up
immediately with full of tears in his eyes and prostrated at the feet of
VishNuchitthar. He appreciated "I am now clear. You have clarified all my
doubts. Sriman NarAyaNanE paramporuL. I have NEVER heard such deep meanings
in such simple explanation". All scholars lowered their heads in utter
shame and removed their pride and celebrated VishNuchittahr's victory. The
king gave away further more lots of prizes and addressed him
"BhattarpirAn". VishNuchitthar said "O king, I am dumb. I never spoke. It
is HE who spoke here thorugh me. He is the flutist. I am only a bamboo
stick. I am only a plant. He is the one who bloomed the flower. I am only a
puppet. He is the karthA and a puppetter. Please do not say anything to me.
Please do not prostrate at my feet. Let us all prostrate at HIS FEET.
Come." and he said this deeply moved, hands shaking and shivering due to
the Lord's mercy on his lowly self. 
The king made VishNuchitthar sit on the Royal Elephant and arranged for a
great procession in the streets of his kingdom. Everwhere people thronged
to see the blessed soul and everywhere people were shouting "BhattarpirAn
vAzhga! BhattarpirAn vAzhga!". VishNuchitthar was all the time crying with
Anandha kaNNeer and was having his palms glued together with his mind fully
thinking of Him and His mercy. When all these festivities were going on, Do
you think our Lord will lie down in PARKADAL. No! He has also wished to see
this great scene and enjoy His BhakthA being admired and appreciated. He
along with MahAlakshmi appeared on GarudA in the sky and the whole lot of
corwd, the king the ministers, the jealous scholars everbody SAW HIM AND
HIS CONSORT ON GARUDA! (What a blessed place and blessed people. Were we
not even insects in that place during that time?). Seeing the Lord
VishNuchitthar was ecstatic and using the pearls which the elephant was
wearing he made THALAMS and sang "PallAndu, PallAndu PallAyiratthAndu
PalakOdi NoorAyiram" (Long live for many years, Long live for many years
for Hundreds of thousands of years!) He is giving AsirvAdhams to the Lord!
for living ever!. That is why he was called PERIYA AZHWAR. The eldest
AzhwAr because he is elder than the Lord by blessing him for living a long
life!

(We will see this AzhwAr's second part, an equally excellent moving part in
our next post)

PeryAzhwAr thiruvadigaLe saraNam

Ram Ram

madhava dAsan