Monday, May 07, 2007


The Indian History says that the period of ‘Bhakthi Movement’ was the very important factor when compared to all other periods, which started during 6th century C.E in Tamilnadu. The Bhakthi movement spearheaded by Alwars and Naayanmaars of both Vaishnav – Shaiva sect, completely swayed over masses and in-turn, the Buddhism and Jainism were overthrown out of country. Buddhism and Jainism reject the truth of GOD, whereas Sanaathana Dharma was re-enacted through Bhakthi movement and a bright light path was laid towards self realization by surrendering one to GOD

ALWARS, (the one who completely drown on GOD’s ‘Leelavinodham’) sang totally 4000 versus on Lord Vishnu, on different occasion. A. K. Ramanujam translate this Tamil ‘Dhivya Prabhantham’ as “Hymns for the drowning”.

The Vaishnava cult’s literatures say that Naadhamuni, the great Acharya of 10th Century CE., who heard a Tamil song of ten versus in a temple at Chola Desam, that ends with ‘Aayiraththul ippatthum….” (the meaning goes like that -Those heard these ten songs of one thousand would attain the moksha) and asked the singer what are all the other nine hundred ninety versus. A negative reply came from the singer but he asked Naadhamuni to go to Alwar Tirunagari and pray for Nammaalwar for the balance songs. Nathamuni took the journey to Alwar Tirunagari in Tirunelveli district of south Tamilnadu and prayed Nammaalwar for his blessings. Nathamuni’s prayers were answered with a huge bonus that instead of getting back the 990 songs, he was blessed with 4000 songs by twelve Alwars which were later called as ‘Naalayira Dhivya Prabantham’. The twelve Alwars as per their periods are three mudhal (first or Prime) Alwars namely Poygai, Bhootham and Pey Alwars. The three belongs to same period. The other nine Alwars are Thirumazhisai Alwar, Nammaalwar, Thondaradippodi Azhwar, Kulasekhara Alwar, Peria Alwar, Aandaal, Thirumangai Alwar, Tiruppaan Alwar and Mathura Kavi Alwar.

There was an interesting story involving the mudhal three alwars near Kanchipuram, one evening Poigai alwar was walking in the outskirts and suddenly a heavy rain with wind started all over. Poigai was looking for safe place to not to get drenched and found a small place which is enough for one can lay up, two can sit and three can stand. Poigai got inside and put himself stretched comfortably. Rain did not stop and dark followed. Like Poigai, Bhootham also searched a place of safe and arrived there and both sat in the available place comfortably. Then after some time in the dark, ‘Pey’ also arrived to join them, so all the three had to stand. And they did. Suddenly one more, the fourth came there and joined them and made them to feel hardship. Poigai wanted to know about the fourth one who he is. And want to light the darken space, he sang an andhaadhi type of 100 songs and created a light by asking the earth as lamp the deep sea as ghee and sun as cotton. Another hundred songs sung by Bhootham by asking ‘Love’ as lamp. A bright light appeared their place. ‘Pey’ has the opportunity to see who the fourth one who disturbed, and found that, he is none other than Naarayana Himself. He immediately sang another 100 andhaadhi songs starting with “Thirukkandean…” (Seen Naarayana with Lakshmi, Shanku and Chakram……). The first three Alwaars were found to be sages, and there were no details about them further except their beautiful and simple understanding three hundred verses songs.

Thirumazhisai Alwar, said to be a disciple of the first three Alwars belong to Mylai, the present temple town in Chennai. Thirumazhisai later shifted himself to Kanchi and became staunch vaishnavite. There was a story linked to this alwar that Lord Vishnu at Kanchi obeyed him to come along with him wherever the alwar goes, as asked by the Alwar when on difference of opinion, the local king ordered an expulsion of alwar from Kanchi. When the Lord Vishnu also went along with alwar, the towns all the good things followed them. Realizing the darkness in Kanchi, the King sought the pardon of Alwar and as he requested, Thirumazhisai went back to Kanchi and also asked the Lord to follow him back to pavilion. Even now Lord Vishnu is named as ‘Sonna Vannam Seitha PerumaaL’ (The Lord who did as asked). Thirumazhisai’s songs on Vishnu are note worthy.

Nammaazhwar - the great, was born to a local king in Thirukkurugur in the deep south of Tamilnadu. The child did not move, did not see, and did not speak, so the parents sought the blessings of Lord Adhi Naathan of Thirukkurugur. After entering into temple, the child moved himself to nearby tamarind tree and occupied the bottom of tree for a period of 16 years. When Madhurakavi Alwar, a Brahmin belongs to the nearby area, came to meet him, the child, now a sixteen year old boy opened his eyes and blessed Madhurakavi. He recited 1000 songs to Madhurakavi which were later famed as Tamil Vedham and Thiruvaaimozhi. The wonder boy’s 1000 versus are in andhaadhi format and when all these songs were explored by later vaishnavite Acharyaas, some of foremost truth of life came to be understood.

“Onrum thevum ulagum uyirum yaadhumilla
Anru naanmugan thannodu thevar
ulagodu vuyir padaitthan”

When there was nothing, He created earth, He created the Brahma, and He created the Life line……. And He the everything.

The science called the earlier age, where there was nothing, as “singularity”, Nammaalwar says that singularity is none other than God. His songs were in simple Tamil. He is all–religious saint. He accepts equality among human beings and even surrendered Himself to the least batch of castes, if that particular man is devotee to Naarayana devotee. He understands the problem of ordinary human beings and shows the right path of journey that leads to lotus feet of GOD. That is why he was called as “Num Alwar – Our Alwar” by everyone. His teachings were the basic for the Bhashyams on Upanishad carried out by Sri Ramanuja in the 12th century CE. Apart from Thiruvaaimozhi, Nammaalwar also sang Thiruvirudhdham, Peria Thiruvandhaathi and Thiruvaasiriyappa

Thiruppaan Alwar belongs to Tiruchirapalli in South banks of Cauvery River. He is a stanch devotee of Sri Ranganathan. Since he was branded in low caste birth, he was initially not treated well. It is said that Lord Ranganathan himself ordered the chief priest of Temple to bring Tiruppaan to have dharshan of Him. Tiruppaan was lifted on the shoulder of chief Brahmin priest and brought to the sight of Lord Ranganathan, Tiruppaan, who had the dharshan of his beloved Lord, sung ten beautiful songs on Him and ended his life at His feet.

Kulasekhara Alwar was a Chera king and a staunch vaishnavite. He was proficient in both Tamil and Sanskrit languages. Apart from his Dhivya Prabhandha songs, he has written ‘Mukundha Maala’ in Sanskrit on Lord Vishnu. His songs on Tirumala and Tirumala Venkateswara were highly excellent works. He asked Lord Venkateswara to bless him to take the next birth as “stone steps of His temple” so that the devotees can cross him to see their beloved GOD. The vaishnavite temples ‘Garbha Gruha-padi’ (stone upper-step before sanctum sanatorium) even now named after Kulasekhara Alwar as ‘Kulasekharapadi’.

Peria Alwar alias Vishnu Chittar belong to 8th century CE. He hailed from a Brahmin scholar family. As a staunch vaishnavite, in the court of Pandya king, with the blessings of Lord Vishnu, he defeated the non-vaishnavites through arguments on Vishnu Paratatvam. He also as an affectionate devotee of Lord Vishnu blessed the Lord to live for many many years along with Mahalakshmi, Conch and Chakra. His “Pallaandu Pallaandu” songs were very famous and this was made compulsory singing in Vaishnavite temples to end the daily poojas with “pallaandu” songs.

Aandal is a beautiful girl child, found in the flower garden during routine plucking of flowers by Peria Alwaar. He took care of the child and named her “Godha”. Since childhood, Aandaal was dreaming only on Lord Krishna and wanted to marry Him only, as she chooses herself as His consort. Everyday before garlanding the Lord with flowers, she herself wears the same, then to be decorated on the Lord. One fine day Peria Alwaar has seen this while Aandaal wearing the Lord’s flower garlands. He got tears and sought the pardon with Lord for her daughter’s mistakes. But lord replied that He likes the way of garlanding and wanted her to continue. Aandaal’s love on God came to be known everywhere after this incident and she was called “Soodikoduttha Sudarkodi” (the girl who offered garlands after wearing herself). But to get the Lord to marry her she has to struggle lot. She offered herself to Lord, a typical “TIRUPPAAVAI” fast ritual for 30 days in the month of Margazhi (Dhanur). The Tiruppaavai fast related to Gopikaas of Gokulam who wanted to reach Krishna at Mathura Palace by observing lot of rituals and their ultimate wish was nothing but ‘saranagathi’ (surrender) to Him and serve Him all the time. The Tiruppaavai songs were very famous in South India and Tamil world. Aandaal also sang 133 versus called “Naachiar Tirumozhi” on Lord Krishna requesting to accept her as His devoted wife.

Tondaradippodi Alwar, a Brahmin devotee treating the devotion to Lord Ranganathan, more than the Brahmin rituals. A court dancer with her sister happened to cross Tondaradippodi’s garden one day. She is so beauty that no one can miss, but the Alwaar did not care her and continued his devotional duties. The smart lady got wild and challenged her sister that she would somehow drag this Brahmin from his deep devotion to Lord and make him a slave to her. And she succeeded by seduction. But Lord Ranganathan came to the risk of His devotee and diverted Tondaradippodi towards His services only. In one song he rejected even Indira-padhavi (lord of lords) if offered, but preferred to be His servant only. His songs of Sri Ranganatha Subrabatham were very famous and recited every day early morning at Sri Rangam.

Tirumangai Aalwaar, a local king at Mangai Naadu in Chola desa was actually an arrogant in his youthful days. He was in love with the beautiful ‘Kumudha’ but she accepted to be his wife on one condition that he should carry out “Annadhanam” for one thousand days to please srivaishnavites. Agreed but drenched out of funds in later days, started stealing from big shots, and continued the food-donation programme. On final day Sri Narayana himself came with his consort Lakshmi as ordinary young merchant and wife and they were way-laid by Thirumangai. Stealing every ornaments from Narayana, he could not remove the foot covering ornament. He bites His leg ornament instead he gets enlightened. Tirumangai got the darshan of Narayana. After that he visits almost every vaishnavite temples in India. He is highly proficient in handling the classical Tamil and his more than thousand songs were each adoring pearls.

Mathura Kavi Alwar has roamed everywhere in India but got his GURU near to his native. His GURU is none other than Nammaalwar. He sang 10 songs on his GURU, and these were included in Divya Prabhandham. The first song itself says that thought of his Guru is so sweet than his beloved Krishna’s leelavinodham.

Whichever the Temple got the Alwaars sang, the temple got named as Dhivya Kshetra. There were 108 Dhivya Kshetrams in all over in which 106 based in India. The 107th is Paarkadal (The ocean of Milk) and the 108th is Paramapatha Sri Vaikundam. Nammaalwaar’s Thiruvaaimozhi ended with a song on Lord of 108th Kshetram where he describe the Lord of Paramapatham as ‘Hari, Ayan and Haran’ (Siva-Vishnu-Brahma) and devotional bhakthi alone will take one to lotus feet of GOD.

Truth seeking of Origin.
Sribhashyam Applacharya Swami and Srivaishnavite of Andhra Desa.

Article by V. Dhivakar

I had the most fortunate opportunities of having darshan with Srimaan Sribhaashyam Applacharyulu swamy (Vaikuntavaasi) at Visakhapatnam in the year 2002-2003 and we have discussed in topics of caste, religion and language. During one such time swamy told me…

“What is there in the origin of caste? If any one called me as ‘Srivashnavite’ that was the greatest gift and most satisfying in the earth”

Srimaan Sribhaashyam swami, a Telugu and Sanscrit scholar had immense knowledge in Tamil Dhivyaprabhandam and Vaalmiki Ramayana. Especially for Tiruppaavai (sung in Tamil by Godha Devi alias Aandaal during ninth century CE), the swami had done excellent service and he spread Godha Devi’s songs everywhere in Andhra Desa, that too among common people by giving regular discourses. His profound knowledge in Tiruppavai, though he is a telugu and do not speak in Tamil, somewhat incomparable and his writings on Godha Devi’s songs were even today very popular among telugu devotees. Apart from Tiruppaavai his nine days discourse in Ramayana during Sri Raama navami draws very huge crowds in open-air auditorium at Visakhapatnam. His Sanskrit knowledge got him the ‘Mahamahopadhyaya’ from Benarus University. Swamy attained the Lotus feet of Lord in the year 2003 and just before that the swamy had completed his 9 days Annual Ramayana lecture and his devotees also celebrated his 82nd birthday as Aayiram PiRai KaNda Vizhaa (Sahsra Chandra Darshan). Swami was born on Ramanavami day.

His legacy is still continuing through his son Srimaan Sribaashyam Srinivaasacharyulu and his daughter Srimati Triguvengalamma. As a daughter Srimati Tiruvengalamma inherited her father’s wisdom, translated the great Tamil Saint Nammazwar’s Thiruvaaimozhi in Telugu with explanations. She also, like father, explains and propagates Tiruppaavai among Telugu devotees. Her one such explanation on Aandal’s ‘UngaL Puzaikkadai Thottatthu vaaviyuL Sengazuniir vAy negizndu Aambal vaay kuumbina kaaN’ was exceptionally excellent where she compares Andaal eyes to lilli flower and Lord’s eye to lotus flower. It is a marvel on Andal’s crown.

But unlike Karnataka, Andhra desa has history of Srivaishnavites before the arrival of Udaiyavar Sri Ramanuja. According to Historian Prof B.S.L. Hanumantha Rao who wrote ‘ social mobility in medieval Andhra’ mention that a large number of villages had tamil migrated srivaishnavite families such as Satlur, Vangiparru, Karambichedu, Puthur, Urputtur, Viravalli, Kundur, etc. in Karma Raashtra (present Guntur-Vijayawada area) settled during 8th and 9th centuries spreading vedism and Azwaar based Vishnu’s paratatvam. It was also likely that the presence of Sri Ramanuja during 11th century was largely responsible for the emergence of Srivaishnavism in different format that as a rapprochement between vedism and devotionalism of Tamil prabandha’s. One such staunch srivaishnavite legacy Sriman Satluru Gopalakrishnacharya still preaching Tamil Dhivya prabhandham at Simhachalam Lord Varaha Narasimha Swami temple here at Visakhapatnam.

Sri Ramanuja ‘s visit to coastal Andhra desa was very significant. Udaiyavar, as Ramanuja was fondly called in Tamil, was staying at Simhachalam Sri Lakshmi Varaha Narasimha Swamy hill Temple for more than six months and scores of people had come forward to follow the footsteps of Sri Ramanuja.

There was a folklore still famous among rural Andhra people that there was an interesting conflict between Telugu Kavi (Poet) Krishnamachari and the Lord Varaha Narasimha Himself on Sri Ramanuja. Kavi Krishnamachari who did not like the popularity of Sri Ramnuja among people. At the same time, as a staunch devotee of Lord he was blessed to speak directly to Lord as one to one. In one such occasion, Kavi has sung beautiful song on Lord for which the Lord Himself appeared before him and danced to his tunes. On completion of song Kavi had asked the Vishnu Murthi to bless him with MUKTHI. But Lord asked the Kavi to go to Sri Raamanuja who only has the light to show the way towards Mukthi.

But that is another story that Kavi did not like Lord’s response and cursed the God to have a fire on his temple and got back the curse on him instead. Kavi Krishnamachari songs, it was told, highly classical and beautiful, devoted, would have been most famous of future, but due to the curse he attained, did not bring to outside world.

The Simhachalam Tamil srivaishnavites were migrated from Tamilnadu during Sri Ramanuja’s time though they have forgotten the speaking of Tamil language but not Tamil Dhivya Prabhandam. The same thing continued with Srikurmam Temple (in Srikakulam District, the north east corner of Andhra desa) where Sri Ramanuja stayed for many days after returning from Jagannathapuri (the present Puri) and prayed the Lord Sri Kurmanatha Swamy.