AzhwAr thirunagari vaibhavam – nammAzhwAr’s history and greatness

SrI: SrimathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImadh varavaramunayE nama: SrI vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

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After the incarnation of nammAzhwAr, the abode thirukkurugUr, also known as AdhikshEthram, came to be popularly called as AzhwAr thirunagari. We shall presently enjoy the history and greatness of nammAzhwAr.

emperumAn undertakes several tasks in order to ensure that AthmAs, who are in samsAram, would attain SrI vaikuNtam (the abode of emperumAn from where AthmAs do not return to samsAram ever). He employs various activities such as re-creating the world which had been destroyed during deluge, giving body and senses to the AthmAs, giving SAsthras (scriptures) to them, explaining the meanings of SAsthras through rishis (sages), incarnating in various forms to explain SAsthras to them, in order to uplift the AthmAs who are bound to samsAram. In order to correct those who had not got corrected after all these, just as a hunter uses a deer to trap another deer, emperumAn decided to utilise AthmAs who are existing on this earth to correct all. With this in mind, he selected a few AthmAs, removed their ignorance and showered them with clear knowledge which has not been muddled with any trace of ignorance. Thus, AzhwArs [the few selected AthmAs as mentioned just now] were granted devotion and knowledge, without any trace of ignorance. emperumAn made these AzhwArs to compose divine pAsurams (poems) and through them he wanted to create knowledge in all the AthmAs in the world, enabling them to attain mOksham (SrI vaikuNtam). Among such AzhwArs, nammAzhwAr is considered as the chief.

He is praised by several other names such as mARan, magizhmARan, SatakOpan, nAvIRan, parAnkuSan, vakuLAbaraNan, Satajith, kurugUr nambi.

In a few days after the beginning of kali yugam, he incarnated as the son of kAriyAr and udaiyanangai, at a place called as appan kOyil, within the precincts of AzhwAr thirunagari, in the month of vaigAsi, in visAgam thirunakshathram (the divine star of viSAkam). Both the families of kAriyAr and udayanangai have been, for generations, devoted to the followers of thirumAl (emperumAn, the divine consort of SrI mahAlakshmi). kAriyAr and udaiyanangai had gone to and worshipped thirukkuRungudi nambi (emperumAn at thirukkuRungudi), asking for a boon to beget a child. emperumAn told them that he himself would be born as their child. We have read this in guruparamparai grantham [a treatise which gives the historical account of AzhwArs and AchAryas]. Due to this as well as due to his greatness, preceptors would exclaim whether nammAzhwAr is the incarnation of emperumAn’s or one of the nithyasUris’.

When a child is born in this world, a gaseous matter known as Satam which creates ignorance will surround the child [inside the womb]. It will muddle the child’s intelligence. Such Satam tried to surround him (nammAzhwAr) too but he was able to drive it away. Hence, he is called as SatakOpan (one who was angry with Satam). Unlike other children who are born, nammAzhwAr did not cry or attempt to drink milk. His parents proffered him to emperumAn at thirukkurugUr AdhinAthar temple and left him under the tamarind tree which is called as thiruppuLi AzhwAr, deciding that he should remain only for emperumAn. He stayed there in padhmAsanam (a sitting posture), as a thEjasvi (one with radiance), without sleeping or eating for 16 years, meditating on emperumAn.

During that period, a great brAhmaNa, madhurakavi AzhwAr, who had been born much before the incarnation of nammAzhwAr, in thirukkOLUr which is close to AzhwAr thirunagari, had gone on a pilgrimage to the northern part of India. Due to divine mercy, he saw a radiance on the southern skies; he followed that and reached nammAzhwAr who was sitting under thiruppuLi AzhwAr, with radiance.

As nammAzhwAr recited the following four prabandhams, madhurakavi AzhwAr made manuscripts out of them on palm leaves:

  • thiruviruththam (essence of rig vEdham)
  • thiruvAsiriyam (essence of yajur vEdham
  • periya thiruvandhAdhi (essence of athanrvaNa vEdham)
  • thiruvAimozhi (essence of sAma vEdham)

These four prabandhams of nammAwAr are equivalent to the four vEdhams. This is the reason for his being called as vEdham thamizh seydha mARan (mARan who composed the vEdhams in thamizh language), viz. one who mercifully brought out the meanings of samskrutha vEdhams in thamizh language. The prabandhams of other AzhwArs are the ancillaries of vEdhams only. It is hailed that thiruvAimozhi is the essence of nAlyAyira dhivya prabandham (the collection of four thousand hymns composed by all the twelve AzhwArs). All the vyAkyAnams (commentaries) and rahasya granthams (esoteric literary works) of our pUrvAchAryars (preceptors) have thiruvAimozhi as the basis. For such a lofty SrIsukthi (divine work), five commentaries and explanatory works are available to us due to emperumAn’s anugraham (divine mercy).

AzhwAr [this term refers only to nammAzhwAr unless preceded by the name of a particular AzhwAr] lived on this earth for thirty two years , meditating constantly on emperumAn, without any attachment to samsAram (materialistic world). Remaining in his position under the tamarind tree, as AzhwAr composed mangaLASAsanam (praising emperumAn) through prabandhams (hymns) on various emperumAns at different dhivyadhESams (divine abodes), the emperumAn from the respective divine abode came to thiruppuLiyAzhwAr and received the prabandhams. Further, through his divine mercy, AzhwAr mercifully brought out the great meanings of all SAsthrams clearly and expansively in his prabandhams. Since he is with such greatness, the vyAkyAnams of our pUrvAchAryars guide us to the way that whenever we hear the name kurugUr or pronounce the name kurugUr in the palaSruthi pAsuram (the last pAsuram of every decad in thiruvAimozhi which enunciates the benefit of reciting the pAsurams), we should perform anjali (cupping the palms together as a symbol of salutation) in the southern direction of AzhwAr thirunagari [as a mark of respect to AzhwAr].

After remaining for thirty two years since his incarnation, AzhwAr desired to leave for paramapadham (SrIvaikuNtam). Knowing this, madhurakavi AzhwAr felt sad that his AchAryan (spiritual teacher) was going to leave the world. Even as he was continuously worshipping nammAzhwAr, madhurakavi AzhwAr prayed to AzhwAr to create a vigraham (an idol) of himself and give him. nammAzhwAr told madhurakavi AzhwAr that the latter will get a vigraham if he boils the waters of thAmirabaraNi river. madhurakavi AzhwAr followed that and obtained a vigraham. Seeing that the vigraham had the hands in anjali posture, madhurakavi AzhwAr asked nammAzhwAr “adiyEn desired to worship dhEvarIr with upadhESa mudhrA (hands held in the posture of instructing) since dhEvarIr is adiyEn’s AchAryan. What is the reason for this anjali posture?” nammAzhwAr responded saying “He is bhavishyadhAchAryar (one who is going to be a spiritual teacher in the future) who is going to be a mahAn (great person) incarnating after four thousand years” indicating the incarnation of rAmAnujar. This is the vigraham which we worship as bhavishyadhAchAryar / emperumAnAr’s divine form at rAmAnuja chathurvEdhimangalam (the four streets surrounding the sannidhi of emperumAnAr / udaiyavar) located on the western side of AzhwAr thirunagari. Subsequently nammAzhwAr instructed madhurakavi AzhwAr to boil the waters of thAmirabaraNi again. madhurakavi AzhwAr followed his instruction and obtained the beautiful divine form of nammAzhwAr. This vigraham, which madhurakavi AzhwAr accepted blissfully, is the one that we worship everyday at AzhwAr thirunagari.

After this, emperumAn came himself and led nammAzhwAr to paramapadham. Subsequently, madhurakavi AzhwAr installed the vigraham of nammAzhwAr inside AdhinAthap perumAL temple, built the front divine hall, compound wall and tower. Every day, he strung garlands with a variety of flowers, donned the garland on the vigraham of nammAzhwAr and felt happy. He kept singing the pAsurams composed by nammAzhwAr in such a way that they spread far and wide, all over the world. He composed eleven pAsurams on nammAzhwAr, starting with kaNNinuN siRuththAmbu (title of the pAsurams) with ecstatic devotion. Till date, the people from madhurakavi AzhwAr lineage are carrying out kainkaryam (divine service) in AzhwAr thirunagari, continuously, with the divine name of “aNNAviyAr”.

We have been able to enjoy the greatness of nammAzhwAr, to a certain extent, here.

nammAzhwAr’s thaniyan (special hymn)

mAthA pithA yuva thanayasthanayA vibhUthi
sarvam ya dhEva niyamEna madhanvayAnAm
Adhyasya nakulapathEr vakuLAbhirAmam
SrImadh thadhangri yugaLam praNamAmi mUrdhnA

nammAzhwAr’s vAzhi thirunAmam (praising his divine name)

thirukkurugaip perumAL than thiruththALgaL vAzhiyE
thiruvAna thirumugaththuch chevvi enRum vAzhiyE
irukkumozhi en nenjil thEkkinAn vAzhiyE
endhai edhirAsarkku iRaivanAr vAzhiyE
karukkuzhiyil pugAvaNNam kAththu aruLvOn vAzhiyE
kAsiniyil AriyanaAyk kAttinAn vAzhiyE
varuththam aRa vandhu ennai vAzhviththAn vAzhiyE
madhurakavi thambirAn vAzhi vAzhi vAzhiyE

Ana thiruvairuththam nURum aruLinAn vAzhiyE
Asiriyam Ezhu pAttu aLiththa pirAn vAzhiyE
Inam aRa andhAdhi eNbaththuEzhu IndhAn vAzhiyE
ilagu thiruvAimozhi Ayiraththu nURRu iraNdu uraiththAN vAzhiyE
vAn aNiyum mAmAdakkurugai mannan vAzhiyE
vaigAsi visAgaththil vandhu udhiththAn vAzhiyE
sEnaiyar kOn avadhAram seydha vaLLal vAzhiyE
thirukkurugaich chatakOpan thiruvadigal vAzhiyE

mEdhiniyil vaigAsi visAgaththOn vAzhiyE
vEdhaththaich chendhamizhAl viriththu uraiththAn vAzhiyE
Adhi guruvAy ambuviyil avadhariththOn vAzhiyE
anavaradham sEnaiyar kOn adi thozhuvOn vAzhiyE
nAdhanukku nAlAyiram uraiththAn vAzhiyE
nan madhurakavi vaNangum nAvIRan vAzhiyE
mAdhavan poRpAdhugaiyAy vaLarndharuLvOn vAzhiyE
magizh mARan sadagOpan vaiyagaththil vAzhiyE

adiyEn krishNan rAmAnuja dhAsan

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