SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImadh varavaramunayE nama:
Several episodes were devoted to experience the deep influence of the words of Azhwar in the works of Swami Ramanuja. It was also seen how highly Swami Ramanuja regarded Swami Nammazhwar. Starting with this episode, we will experience in brief the influence of Azhwar on other acharyas whose compositions are predominantly in Sanskrit.
Swami Koorathazhwan (Azhwan in short), the disciple of Swami Ramanuja and a genius par-excellence, composed the famously known “Five-Praises” or Panchastavam. The first book of praise is called Srivaikuntastavam. Swami Azhwan commences the praise with the famous “yo nityam” hymn dedicated to Swami Ramanuja. He, then, dedicates two praises to Swami Nammazhvar. After all, even Swami Ramanuja would be gladdened only if his spiritual guide Swami Nammazhwar is well saluted! It is also easy to gain the grace of the Lord who is the subject of the praises after praising His beloved Swami Nammazhwar.
The two hymns will be explained in turn.
traividya-vṛddhajana-mūrdhavibhūṣaṇaṃ yat saṃpacca sātvikajanasya yadeva nityam |
yadvā śaraṇyaṃ aśaraṇya-janasya puṇyaṃ tat saṃśrayema vakulābharaṇaṅghrīyugmam ||
Azhwar’s lotus feet are “traividya-vṛddhajana-mūrdhavibhūṣaṇaṃ”. They are the ornaments adorned on the heads of those who are well-versed in the Vedas. They are also “sātvikajanasya nityam saṃpat” – the permanent wealth of pure satvika people. It must be recalled that Swami Alavandar regarded the lotus feet of Swami Nammazhwar as his all in the “mātā pitā” hymn.
Azhwar’s lotus feet are also the refuge for those without other resorts – aśaraṇya-janasya śaraṇyaṃ. Generally, people see the resort of wealth or seek the company of powerful individuals. However, the enlightened beings renounce all these wicked resorts and do not surrender their minds, speech and action to ordinary individuals. They offer them in the service of the divine. Since, Azhwar is the leader of this community of renunciants and devotees, these enlightened saints take refuge in the words of Azhwar and surrender to his lotus feet.
Azhwar’s lotus feet are also capable of uplifting people from the suffering of this world. There is no need for one to undertake severe austerities or bathe in holy rivers. It is sufficient to surrender to the lotus feet of Swami Nammazhwar. These lotus feet are capable of purifying everyone instantly. Hence, they are “puṇyaṃ”. Therefore, we seek the lotus feet of Azhwar, who is decorated with the garland of vakula flowers.
In the next hymn, Swami Azhwan says,
vedārtharatnanidhir-acyutadivyadhāma jiyāt parāṅkuśapayodhir-asīmabhūmā ||
In this hymn, Azhwar is likened to an ocean. He is parāṅkuśapayodhiḥ or the Parankusa ocean.
The reason is fourfold.
- The ocean is fed by various water streams. The Parankusa ocean is also fed by various streams. It is bhakti-prabhāva-bhavad-adbhuta-bhāva-bandha-saṃdhukṣita-praṇaya-sāra-rasaugha-pūrnaḥ. Due to Bhakti or devotional love, wondrous sentiments are created which arouse the grand waters of divine romance and nourish the ocean with the streams of the nine rasas.
- The ocean is the home of pearls and other riches. Likewise, the Parankusa ocean also houses special riches. It is vedārtharatnanidhiḥ – the ocean which houses the jewel-like meanings of the Vedas.
- The ocean is also the resting place of the Lord. He sleeps on it in Kshirabdhi. He builds bridges across it as Rama. He sleeps on the ocean of deluge on a small leaf. In this way, the ocean becomes an abode of the Lord – acyutadivyadhāma. Swami Poigai Azhwar sings, “ālinilaith thuyinḍra āzhiyān, kōlakkarumēni ceṅkaṇmāl kaṇ paḍaiyuḷ enḍrunthirumeni nī thīnḍapperṭṛu”. Likewise, the Parankusa ocean is also an abode of the Lord. The Lord abandons His glorious resorts and rests in Swami Nammazhwar. Azhwar himself remarks, “kallum kanaikadalum vaikundhavānāḍum pullenḍrozhindhanakol ēpāvam! vella neḍiyān niṛaṅkariyān uḷpukundhu nīṅgān aḍiyēnadhu uḷḷaththagam”. [Oh! The Supreme Lord of dark hue has probably considered lowly the lofty stations of Thiruvenkadam, Kshirabdhi and Vaikuntam. (Because) He has taken permanent residence in my heart.]“koṇḍal vaṇṇan cuḍar muḍiyan nāṅgu thōḷan kunicārṅgan oṇsaṅgathai vālāzhiyānoruvan aḍiyenuḷḷane” [ The Lord, dark like cloud, of four hands, and bearing five divine weapons resides inside Me.]This point is well emphasized in “ivaiyumavaiyumuvaiyum” Thiruvaymozhi.
- The ocean is immense, making it difficult to find its shore. Therefore, it is called asīmabhūmā. The enormity of the Parankusa ocean lies in its greatness – both in character and in its auspicious attributes. In Kanninun Siruththambu, Swami Madhurakavi Azhwar celebrates the matchless grace of Swami Nammazhwar in the “aruḷkoṇḍāḍum aḍiyavar” hymn in a way similar to how the Vedas sing the matchless bliss of the Brahman. In this manner, Azhwan sings the glory of Parankusa Payonidhi.
adiyen ranganatha ramanuja dasan
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