Friday, January 28, 2011

Chapter 1 - Part 2: Sriman Nadamunigal

And here is what NAdamunigal came to know about the divya prabandhams: When TirumangaiazhvAr went to Srirangam for NammazhvAr's pradishtai with the blessings of SrI RanganAdar on MArgazhi Sukla EkAdasi, for 20 days the TiruVAimozhi was sung with vEda PArAyanams. This was celebrated as a big TiruvatyayanOtsavam every year. As time went by, the Azhvar could not continue this utsavam any more and the prabandams faded away from common knowledge and practice.

On hearing about this, NAdamunigal was determined to bring the prabandams back to their former glory. He went to Srirangam and revived the TiruvatyayanOtsavam with his special twist on the celebrations: 2000 prabandams were sung on the 10 days from pradamai. For 10 days from EkAdasi, the TiruvAimozhi was sung and the remaining 1000 prabandams were sung after that. So the festivities lasted for a period of 12 days, thus.

From there, he undertook a journey to Tirukkudandhai and by the grace of ArAvamudan, he established a shrine for NammAzhvar there. Here too the Tiruvatyayanotsavam was performed. He christened peruMal with the name of ArAvamudaDasan. He had the full graces of the lord for establishing an important aspect of VishitAdvaitam - the divya prabandhams. After these arduous tasks, he returned to VIranArAyanapuram.

Life continued under the blessings of SrI MannAr. He imparted his kowledge of the prabandhams to 2 sishyAs: KIzhaiyagaththAzhvAn and MElaiyagaththAzhvAn. He sent some of his disciples to SrI Rangam to perform anushtAnams for SrI RanganAdar. Just as Vyasa expounded the vEdas, NAdamunigal expounded the prabandams by setting them to exuberant tunes.

Gangai konda ChOzhan was the king at that time and in his royal sabA - he was once visited by 2 courtesans. One of them was a big proponent of DEvaganam (songs about the Lord) while the other was famous for her ManushyagAnam (songs about ordinary JIvatmAs). Both presented their material at the King's court. The King took a liking to the ManushyaGana courtesan and showered her with favors while completely ignoring the DEvagana courtesan. But she brushed it aside and went on a pilgrimage of the divya desams, enthralling everyone with her mellifluous music.

She came before SrI MannAr and captured everyone with her talent. NAdamunigal sensed her bhakti and showered her with prasAdams from the Lord. She went back to the King and suggested that in order to understand the superiority of DEvaganam, he should invite NAdamunigal to his court and have him explain it. On the bequest of his true disciples in the kingdom, NAdamuni decided to oblige to the King's wishes.

He was welcomed with a lot of respect at the King's court. The King humbly asked NAdamuni what was so special about the DEvaganam of the courtesan. NAdamuni offered to explain with an example. He took a pair of his manjIrA (jAlrA as we call it in colloquial Tamil) and put it inside one of the stone pillars at the palace. He then had the courtesan sing her DEvaganam with bhakti. The stone pillar melted and turned into water. At this juncture he asked her to stop singing - he asked the courtiers to try to retrieve the manjIrA from the molten pillar, but no one could. He then asked her to resume signing and proved that only as long as she was singing, was it possible to reach the manjIrA and retrieve it. He then sounded 400 manjirAs at the same time and proved that the musical ability of that specific maanjIrA was far superior to that of the others - this was due to the power of the dEvaganam.

The King was very pleased with this explanation that wanted to shower NAdamuni with lots of wealth and gifts. Being void of material pursuits, NAdamuni refused those gifts and came back home. The courtesan was well taken care of by the King and the King ruled as a devoted disciple of SrIman NAdamunigal from that day on.

NAdamunigal is also responsible for gracing us with great works like NyAyatatvam and  YOgarahasyam.

NAthEna muninA thEna BhavEyam NAthavAnaham
Yasya Naigamikam tatvam HasTamalakatAm gatam.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chapter 1 - Part 1: SrIman NAdamunigal

(I have had to do so much research just to get the first 4 pages translated!)

JyEshtE anUrAdhAsambhUtam vIranArAyanEpurE
gajavaktrAmsam AchAryam Adhyam NadamunimbajE

In the divyadEsam called VIranArAyanapuram, there was a pious sadamarshana kulathilakar by the name of Ishvara Battar. He was blessed with a son in Kaliyuga year 3985 (883 A.D if Kaliyugam started in the year 3012 BC) of sObakruth in the month of Ani in Anusha star. He was named NAdar. He was brought up in a very 'sath' way, following all anushtAnams and sampradAyams.

When NAdar grew up, he was married to AravindappAvai, daughter of VangIpuraththAchchi.  SrI NAdamuni continued to performs kaingaryams to Lord MannAr in VIranArAyanapuram and grew into a nishttayogi. In due time, nAdamuni was blessed with a son named Ishvara muni. The child grew up with all necessary upadEsams received by his father.

One day, NAdamunigal decided to take the entire family on a pilgrimage of kshEtrams in North India. After receiving the blessing of SrImannAr, they visited Vada Madurai, SaligrAmam and AyOdhyA while immersing themselves in the holy waters of GangA, YamunA and SarayU. They finally decided to settle down at GOvardhan on the banks of the river YamunA.

One day SriMannAr appeared in NAdamuni's dream, and asked that he come back to VIranArAyanapuram and visit him once again. After getting the blessings of Yamunai Thuraivar, Nadamunigal made a trip back home via Kasi, PurushOthamam (where he received JagannAthan's blessings), SimmAdhri, AhObilam, TiruvEngadam, KadigAchalam, KAnchIpuram, TiruvahIndrapuram, TirukkOyilUr and Tiruvarangam. On his return, SrI MannAr welcomed him back as a mothey jouously embracing a son who had returned from an overseas stay. NAdamunigal had the full katAksham of Lord MannAr and the people of VIranArayanapuram came to realize the greatness of NAdamuni and paid homages to him in an attempt to get salvation.

It so happened that a few Tirunagari SrI Vaishnavas came into town once and narrated the beautiful Thiru VAi Mozhi "ArA amudhE adiyEn udalAm". The last lines were "KurukUrch ChatagOpan kuzhalil maliyach chonna OrAyiraththil ippaththum mazhalai thIra vallAr kAmar maney NOkkiyarkE" Through thos wonderful tiruvAi mozhi, NAdamunigal came to know that these were only 11 songs among 1000 supposedly sung in favor of Kannan by KuruKuch ChatagOpan". Excitedly, SrI NAdamunigal asked the devotees if they knew all the 1000, but they sadly did not.  They said that even though they were from Tirunagari, they had been touring all the divya dEsams and when they went to Tirukkudandhai and prayed to ArAvamudhan, they were graced with the 11 songs. They got the thIrtha prasAdam from NAdamunigal and departed from there.

There began the quest for the remaining pAsurams. NAdamunigal went to Tirukkudandhai and asked around, but no one knew anything beyond the 11 pAsurams. The next stop was AzhvAr tirunagari where he met a divine man by the name of ParAngusa DAsar. From him, he learnt 11 more paasurams starting with "Kanninun siruththAmbu" composed by Madurakavi Azhvar in praise of KurukUrch Chatagopan who is none other than NammAzhvar. ParAngusa DAsar suggested that NAdamunigal sincerely recite this paasuram 12,000 times with utmost devotion to the Lord to get his Graces. NAdamunigal was very sincere in his attempt and followed the instructions most fruitfully: At the bequest of PerumAl and PirAtti, NammAzhvar appeared before NAdamunigal and asked him what he wanted. An elated NAdamuni revealed that he wanted to know all the TiruvAi mozhis. Much to his surprise, he came to know that there were not just a 1000, but 4000 of them. The 1000 were just the Tiruvai mozhis of NammAzhvar, but the remaining were the works of the other 11 AzhvArs.

The other BhAgavatAs who witnessed this wondrous sight, shared an interesting story at that point of time.

(To be concluded in Part 2: feeling sleepy now!)

Why this blog?

I recently started reading "Acharya Vaibhavam" by Visishtadvaita Research Centre. I realized that having been out of touch with reading in Tamil for so long, it is a struggle for me. I am captivated by the history and bhakti entwined in the book and want to do something to make it available for those interested who could have the same issues as me - hence this blog.

It is impossible to capture the nuances of the original text - a lot gets lost in translation. Maybe some qualified Bhagavathas can attempt that. But until something becomes available, I will keep trying.

It is not my intent to commit any copyright violation - I am merely sharing the information in this book. If you like what you read here, I am sure you will go out and buy a copy for your own if you are a native Tamil speaker! This is a must own for those interested in Vaishnavism.