AzhwAr thiruvanagari vaibhavam – maNavALa mAmunigaL’s history and greatness

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

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We had already learnt about how thiruvAimozhip piLLai had reconstructed AzhwAr thirunagari and made arrangements for daily kainkaryams (services) to AdhinAthar, AzhwAr and emperumAnAr. Staying at AzhwAr thirunagari, thiruvAimozhiip piLLai was conducting our sampradhAyam (SrIvaishNava traditions) properly.

During that time, in AzhwAr thirunagari, on the great day of aippasi thirumUlam (the great nakshathram of mUlam in the month of aippasi, thulA mAsam), emperumAnAr himself, the amSam (aspect) of AdhiSEshan, incarnated as the divine son of the great person thirunAvIRudaiya pirAn. Looking at the great radiance from the child, he named the child as azhagiya maNavALap perumAL nAyanAr, after the divine name of SrI ranganAthan. During his younger days, azhagiya maNavALap perumAL nAyanAr grew at his maternal grandfather’s place, sikkil kidAram. At appropriate stages of his life, he underwent various vaidhIka samskArams (functions as affirmed in vEdhas), learning SAsthras (traditional texts) from his father. Later, even as his marriage was conducted, he learnt aruLichcheyal (nAlAyira dhivya prabandham) and rahasyArthams (meanings of esoteric texts) from his father and remained as a treasure of gyAnam (knowledge about emperumAn), bhakthi (devotion towards emperumAn and his devotees) and vairAgyam (detachment towards samsAram). After his  father attained paramapadham, azhagiya maNavALap perumAL nAyanAr, hearing about the greatness of thiruvAimozhip piLLai, reached AzhwAr thirunagari and took the divine feet of thiruvAimozhip piLLai as his refuge. Looking at nAyanAr’s distinguished qualities, thiruvAImozhip piLLai was glad and instructed nAyanAr about the meanings of sampradhAyam. He showed to nAyanAr that emperumAnAr is the refuge and appointed him to carry out daily kainkaryam at emperumAnAr’s sannidhi. nAyanAr too, with unbounded affection towards emperumAnAr, carried out kainkaryam and earned the name of yathIndhra pravaNar (one who is deeply affectionate towards rAmAnujar).

Towards his final years, thiruvAimozhip piLLai was feeling sad thinking “Who will nurture the sampradhAyam well?” nAyanAr told him “adiyEn (I, the servitor) will do accordingly”. thiruvAimozhip piLLai told him “It is not enough with mere words. You should make an oath”  after which nAyanAr did the same. thiruvAimozhip piLLai accepted that joyously. He then decreed to nAyanAr “Do not be too focussed on samskrutha SAsthram; spread thiruvAimozhi and other prabandhams well”. thiruvAimozhip piLLai ascended to thirunAdu (divine abode of  SrI vaikuNtam). nAyanAr carried out the final rites properly.

At that time, azhagiya varadhar, belonging to the divine abode of vAnamAmalai, became a disciple of nAyanAr. He accepted sanyAsa ASramam (stage of renouncing attachment), became the jIyar [head] of vAnamAmalai matam. He carried out kainkaryam, without leaving nAyanAr. Following  him, many other people became nAyanAr’s disciples.

nAyanAr, thinking in his divine mind that  he could nurture the sampradhAyam from SrIrangam, sought permission from AzhwAr to leave AzhwAr thirunagari. With AzhwAr’s consent, he reached SrIrangam. periya perumAL (the presiding deity at SrIrangam) celebrated nAyanAr’s arrival there like a festivity with happiness and ordered nAyanAr to permanently stay in  SrIrangam. nAyanAr too, staying in SrIrangam, brought back the lost rahasya granthams, made manuscripts properly, and conducted kAlakishEpams (discourses). Being an expert on Idu vyAkyAnam (the ultimate commentary for thiruvAimozhi) mercifully composed by nampiLLai, he was given the divine name of Ittup perukkar (one who nurtured Idu and multiplied its meanings several fold).

In order to carry out mangaLASAsanam (carrying out praises and wishing well) to thiruvEngadamudaiyAn (the presiding deity at thiruvEngadam), he went to many dhivya dhESams (divine abodes) en route, carrying out mangaLASAsanam to the emperumAns there. He reached thirumalai and became the  receptacle for the love and affection of thiruvEngadamudaiyAn and many esteemed people there. He then went to perumAL kOyil (temple for dhEvap perumAL) at kAnchIpuram, carrying out mangaLASAsanam for dhEvap perumAL. He then went to SrIperumbudhUr, carrying out mangaLASAsanam for emperumAnAr. He proceeded to thiruvehkA (a divine abode in  kAnchIpuram) and learnt SrI bhAshyam (commentary written by rAmAnujar for brahma sUthram, composed by vEdha vyAsar) from kidAmbi AchchAn. Looking at his radiance and knowledge, kidAmbi  AchchAn asked him to  reveal his original rUpam (form).  nAyanAr revealed his AdhiSEsha rUpam to him. Subsequently, he reached SrIrangam and nurtured our sampradhAyam in a distinguished manner.

Once, when he was carrying out kainkaryam, an incident happened in his family due to which he had to observe thIttu (abstinence from carrying out vaidhIka kainkaryam to emperumAn, due to be birth  or death of a person in the family lineage). He decided in his divine mind that he should adopt sanyAsa ASramam (stage of renouncing attachment to worldly pursuits). He went to SatakOpa jIyar, who had studied with him in his younger days and who had become a sanyAsi already, and obtained sanyAsam from him. He went to periya perumAL to worship him after that. periya perumAL gave him the title azhagiya maNavALa mAmunigaL, gave him pallavarAyan matam (a house near the temple) and honoured him in all manner. With the help of vAnamAmalai jIyar, mAmunigaL reconstructed the pallavarAyan matam, made a thirumalai AzhwAr kUtam wherefrom he could conduct his kAlakshEpams (discourses). He stayed  in that matam and nurtured the sampradhAyam in a distinguished manner. Many distinguished and learned persons from SrIrangam as well as other places came to him, obtained panchasamskAram (a ceremony in which a person goes to an AchAryan and undergoes five rituals in order to surrender to emperumAn) and became his disciples.

mAmuniaL had composed many samskrutha prabandhams, thamizh prabandhams and commentaries for rahasya granthams. He re-established kainkaryams and sthalaththAr honours (temple honours to designated people belonging to SrIrangam) which had got stopped for many years. Through his disciples, he ensured that kainkaryams were carried out at many divine abodes. He established our sampradhAyam throughout the bhAratha dhESam (India) by asking vAnamAmalai jIyar to undertake journey to many places in the country. Thus, he lived eminently in SrIrangam, just like emperumAnAr, with high reverence.

As a crowning glory to mAmunigaL’s greatness, periya perumAL ordered mAmunigaL to give discourses based on Idu vyAkyAnams (Idu commentary for thiruvAimozhi, written by vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai based on nampiLLai’s discourses), stopping all his festivities at SrIrangam temple, for ten months. mAmunigaL too, in line with emperumAn’s decree, gave discourses on thiruvAimozhi  (based  on Idu) with  emperumAn, nAchchimArs (emperumAn’s divine consorts SrIdhEvi and bhUdhEvi), AzhwArs and AchAryars sitting in the assembly to listen to him, explaining the meanings clearly in such a way that the residents of SrIrangam were able to appreciate and enjoy thiruvAimozhi prabandham. On the final day of kAlakshEpam, the divine mUla star of Ani mAsam, periya perumAL took the form of the son of  an archakar (sannidhi priest) in the temple and offered the  divine thaniyan “SrISailESa dhayApAthram dhIbakthyAdhi guNArNavam l yathIndhra pravaNam vandhE ramya jAmAtharam munim ll” to mAmunigaL, accepting him as his AchAryan. He also  decreed that whenever sEvAkAlam (reciting nAlAyira dhivya prabandham) is started, this thaniyan should be recited first.

maNavALa mAmunigaL, with such greatness, ascended for thirunAdu due to his advancing years. The final rites for mAmunigaL were performed in an amazing manner by his disciples.

We will briefly see some of mAmuniaL’s distinctions:


ashtadhik kajangaL (eight principal disciples who were like elephants guarding the  eight directions): ponnadikkAl jIyar, kOyil aNNan, paththangi paravasthu bhattarpirAn jIyar, thiruvEngadam jIyar, eRumbiyappA, appiLLai, appiLLAr and prathivAdhi bhayankaram aNNa.

navarathnas:  sEnai mudhaliyAndAn nAyanAr, SatakOpa dhAsar (nAlUr siRRAthAn), kandhAdai  pOrERRu nAyan, EttUr singarAchAriyAr, kandhAdaiaNNappan, kandhAdai thirukkOburaththu nAyanAr, kandhAdai nAraNappai, kandhAdai  thOzapparappai, kandhAdai azhaiththu  vAzhviththa perumAL. There were many disciples for mAmunigaL, from various thiruvamSams (divine lineages) and thirumALigais (divine houses based on emperumAnAr’s appointment of 74 simhAsanAdhipathigaL).

Place where he attained paramapadham: SrIrangam

granthams which he mercifully composed: dhEvarAja mangaLam, yathirAja vimSathi, upadhEsa raththina mAlai, thiruvAimozhi nURRandhAdhi, Arththi prabandham

vyAkyAnams: for mumukshuppadi, thathva thrayam, SrI vachana bhUshaNam, AchArya  hrudhayam, periyAzhwAr thirumozhi (only for the portions composed by periyavAchchAn piLLai  which got destroyed by termites), irAmAnusa nURRandhAdhi.

pramANath thirattu: (glossary of all the SlOkas and quotations from SAsthras which appear in the vyAkyAnams for) Idu 36000 padi, gyAna sAram, pramEya sAram, thathva thrayam, SrI vachana bhUshaNam

maNavALa mAmunigaL’s thaniyan:

SrISailESa dhayApAthram dhIbakthyAdhi  guNArNavam l
yathIndhra pravaNam vandhE ramyajAmAtharam munim ll

adiyEn (aranganagarappan, the  lord of  SrIrangam) worship maNavALa mAmunigaL who is the  target of the divine mercy of thiruvAimozhip piLLai, who is an ocean of knowledge, devotion etc and who has great affection towards rAmAnujar.

maNavALa mAmunigaL’s vAzhith thirunAmam (praising his divine name)

ippuviyil arangEsarkku Idu aLiththAn vAzhiyE
ezhil thiruvAimozhip piLLLai iNaiyadiyOn vAzhiyE
aippasiyil thirumUlaththu avadhariththAn vAzhiyE
aravarasap perum sOdhi anandhan enRum AzhiyE
eppuviyum SrIsailam EththavandhOn vAzhiyE
ErArum edhirAsar ena udhiththAn vAzhiyE
muppirinUl maNivadamum mukkOl dhariththAn vAzhiyE
mUdhaRiya maNavALa mAmunivan vAzhiyE

(thirunAL pAttu – recited on the days of his divine star, mUlam)

sendhamizh vEdhiyar sindhai theLindhu siRandhu magizhndhidu nAL
sIr ulagAriyar seydharuL naRkalai thEsu polindhidu nAL
mandha madhip puvi  mAnidar thangaLai vAnil uyarththidu nAL
mAsaRu gyAniyar sEr edhirAsar tham vAzhvu muLaiththidu nAL
kandha malarp pozhil sUzh kurugAdhipan kalaigaL viLangidu nAL
kAramar mEni aranga nagarkkiRai kaNgaL kaLiththidu nAL
andhamil sIr maNavALap munip paran avadhAram seydhidu nAL
azhagu thigazhndhidum aippasiyil thirumUlam adhu enu nALE

adiyEn krishNan rAmAnuja dhAsan

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