THE TWELVE AZHWARS ( MYSTICAL SRIVAISHNAVA SAINTS) OF SOUTH INDIA. (PART 3 OF 5)
9. GODAI THAYAR/ ANDAL AMMA:
She is none other than Bhudevi amma, divine consort of our lord Sri Govinda, sent by him on our dearest mother earth to spread the message of love and affection. She is divinity incarnation for right from her birth she loved Lord Sri Krishna to the zenith. When her foster father our greatest of great Peria Azhwar, weaved the beautiful garland she used to adorn it first. Peria azhwar never knew of this and hence the practice of the child continuing to adorn the garland meant for our lord Sri Krishna went unnoticed by him. One fine day, one strand of hair was found in the garland and Vishnuchittar came to know that it was already worn by Andal amma , he felt very sad that for so many days this has been continuing and all the wonderful garlands were actually worn by andal amma before offering our lord which is a wrong practice, the other way it is possible our lords vastram, garlands can be worn by us after he adorns it. Vishnuchittar was clueless as to what to do but our dearest lord as usual simplifies matters , he appeared in our Azhwar’s dream and conveyed to him that he would adorn the beautiful garlands only if andal amma wore it first. Such is the love of our dearest of dear Parmatman, he never hesitates to bow down to any level when he is convinced of true love for him. In the meanwhile andal amma wanted to marry Lord Sri Krishna just as other women saints such as Mira amma. In the auspicious month of Marzhai (corresponding between December 15 to January 14 till Makar sankranti) she along with her friends observe Kathyani Vrath for 30 days which is very tough and lofty. She with her friends used to get up very early in the morning that is Brahma muhurtam, have a holy bath , they abstained from all sorts of sweets, savouries, milk and other products and begged Lord Sri Krishna to marry her. Her innumerous plea before the lord can melt the toughest of tough , then the softest of soft, softer than a rose petal , our most beloved Lord Govinda how could he not relent. Her holiest of holy verses Tirupavai totaling to 30, each for a day is read till date in all the Srivaishnava temples with the greatest reverence . Lord Govinda ultimately marries her with the greatest happiness, once again, a live testimony of an individual jivatma merging with the one and only parmatma. Andal ammas simple message of love towards the one and only Sriman Narayana and to all the mortals of the world is to attain the divine lotus feet of Lord Sri Keshava. As all other azhwars , who spread the same message to each one of us is that the ultimate truth is the one and only PARMATMAN , our dearest Sriman Narayana and our most beloved mother Lakshmi amma, nothing or no one in the entire cosmos matters more than them, having attained their lotus feet and abode there is no return back to this ephemeral world which is only a permanent residence of sorrow, misery and maya (illusion). Countless prostration to our dearest Andal amma who stands as a brightest torch bearer of Srivaishnavism and above all an intermediate between Sriman Narayana and us, if she wills to take us to him none can stop us, this is the surest of sure assertion.
10.Thondar adi podi Azhwar:
Thondar adi podi Azhwar is popularly known as Vipra Narayana . Vipras are those people whose main routine is to praise Sriman Narayana. He was a very staunch devotee of Lord Sri Ranganathar of Srirangam. He tended to the most wonderful gardens of Srirangam temple. As all other Azhwar’s he was very humble and loved our lord dearly and treated everyone with due respect and courtesy and hence was loved by all. Podi means tiny particles of dust , whenever he encountered any devotee of our dearest Lord Sri Govinda , the dust from their feet, he sprinkled on his head and hence he is called Thondar adi podi Azhwar. He wrote some of the most beautiful verses to wake Lord Sri Ranganathar of Srirangam temple who is none other than Lord Sri Krishna. Till date , Lord Sri Ranganathar visits the garden so lovingly tended by Thondar adi podi Azhwar during the spring season and enjoys the cool breeze, the highest token of appreciation from PARMATMAN to a jeevatman in praise of his most loving efforts. Needless to say, our dearest of dear Azhwar who was humbleness personified , occupies the top position in Srirangam temple as also other Srivaishnava temples for his pure devotion not only to our lord but also to the devotees of our lord. Countless prostration to our dearest Thondar adi podi azhwar. May his glory touch the three worlds.
11. Tiruppan azhwar
4. Shri Thiruppana Azhwar was found lying in a paddy field by a couple of Panar caste who took him to their house. They nurtured him. People of Panar caste were considered untouchables but are supposed to be expert in singing and playing music and our beloved Azhwar was no exception to this. He played the Veena beautifully. His only desire was to have a darshan of Lord Sri Ranganatha, of Srirangam temple but because he was from the fourth varna , in those days it was not permissible for them to enter the temple and so he played the Veena near the banks of the river Cauvery at Srirangam without disturbing anyone. He used to very often go in trance and during such times he was totally oblivious towards his surroundings. On one such occasion when the head priest of Srirangam happened to go to Cauvery , inadvertently , bumped himself on Tiruppan Azhwar. The priest being very orthodox, got very angry and hurled a very huge stone at Tiruppan Azhwar injuring him who was bleeding profusely, by now ,had regained consciousness and felt very bad that because of him the priest was put to inconvenience. The priest went inside the temple and to his amazement found that the the sanctum sanctorum was locked from inside. He wondered how could this be possible , he started shouting on top of his voice to ensure the doors are opened. After his most pitiable pleas , Lord Sriranganathar , who himself had bolted from inside, spoke to him and admonished him saying why did he hit him with a huge stone. The temple priest asserted that he never hit him, when in turn Srirangathar made him realize any harm done to his loving devotee is as good as hurting him and hence he will not open the door of the sanctum sanctorum till the priest goes out and lifts Tiruppan azhwar on his shoulders and presents him in front of him. When the priest attempts to lift our dearest azhwar, he runs in fear lest he does not commit further offense but the priest assures him that only on the orders of our dearest lord is he lifting him, the priest carries him to the sanctum sanctorum and when our beloved Azhwar very lovingly has a divine darshan from the lotus feet to the lotus face of our lord , his eyes brimming with fulfillment and ecstasy that at last he could get a glimpse of our most beloved loving Sriman Narayana, he sings in praise of him and merges with him just as Andal amma merges with Sri ranganathar . Our most compassionate lord will make every attempt to ensure his devotees are not put to any inconvenience and this he has countless times demonstrated, we need no proof at all for we are more than 100% sure he will come to our rescue under every circumstance, he is just at an arm’s distance from us , if only we showered our truest of true love on him and convey to him that we have none but him in this entire cosmos why will he delay? No reason at all. Our purest of pure Tiruppan azhwar is an embodiment of divinity, our lords love for him and his for our lord cannot be ever matched. Caste, creed, gender, are all overlooked and is correlated only to the gross body , our subtle soul is beyond any classification , it is tiniest of tiny million watt light which resides in our gross body which is merely a cover to our sparkling soul which is never subject to destruction ever , it is eternal , all pervasive and surely will attain permanent salvation if it surrenders unconditionally first unto the lotus feet of all our azhwars, then at the lotus feet of our most beloved Lakshmi amma and finally the one and only destination our beloved lord Sriman Narayana, beyond that for there is nothing to achieve in all the three worlds after attaining our dearest of dear Parmatma…Countless prostrations unto the lotus feet of our most loved Tiuppan Azhwar , a harbinger of divine bhakti and total prapatti…(unconditional surrender with total trust and love)……
12. Thirumangai Azhwar:
- Thirumangai azhwar’s father was a military commander serving the king. When his father grew old, he was appointed as his successor After few years , he met Kumudavalli , and well in love with her and wanted to marry her. She put two conditions to him , one he should become a true Srivaishnavite and worship Sriman Narayana and Lakshmi amma only, second he has to feed 1000 Srivaishnava devotees daily. He agreed to both her conditions , married her and lived very happily. But with such lofty deal, his financial situation started declining, but promise he had to keep and hence he decided to rob the rich to feed the Srivaishnava devotees. Once when he was on a robbing spree, he encountered a marriage party, he felt this would be one of his best loot and hence , by force, ensured that the bride and bridegroom divest themselves of all their jewels which he bundled in a sack and was about to lift the same , he could not. He tried very hard to lift the bundle of sack filled with priceless ornaments but failed miserably. At that moment, to his immense surprise the bride and bridegroom were none other than Sriman Narayana and Sri Lakshmi amma who had come disguised to test him. No doubt he robbed but he did that to feed the Srivaishnava devotees, when he came in direct contact with our dearest of dear lord , he fell at his lotus feet to seek refuge and forgiveness, and our most benevolent lord uttered the Ashtakshara mantra in his ears, the superlative maha divine holiest of holy name of our dearest of dear lord “Namo Narayanaya”, the only elixir that can cure every ailment known and unknown on this earth. When a jivatama encounters the one and only one PARMATMA, at that moment itself attains permanent salvation for a mere glimpse of our dearest lord can burn to ashes all our sins and purge our soul of all impurities. From then onwards our most dearest azhwar, took to holy ways and wholeheartedly surrendered unto the divine lotus feet of our lord.
Temporary Conclusion: To call the works of azhwars a conclusion or to put a full stop would be a grossly misplaced action for it is just a beginning but can rephrase it to temporary comma( , ) and not a full stop for anything even tons and tons of praises for all our beloved azhwars would be totally insufficient for they are Nitya suris who are compassion, love and purity personified. They have paved us a way of life of divinity with a holiest of holy message, from their own lives, that irrespective of caste, creed, gender, status which are the most transient element in this mortal world, the single most important thing “ PUREST OF PURE LOVE ONLY AND NOTHING ELSE CAN DIRECTLY ENSURE EACH OF THE JIVATMA A PERMANENT PLACE AT THE LOTUS FEET OF SRIMAN NARAYANA AND OUR MOST BELOVED LAKSHMI AMMA, ALL IT TAKES FOR OUR LORD TO CARRY US THROUGH THIS MIRAGE IS OUR SELFLESS PRAPATTI FILLED WITH DEVOTION , FAITH AND UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER. NOTHING ELSE EVER MATTERS. SATYAM SATYAM PUNAR SATYAM OUR BELOVED KESHAVA NEEDS ONLY OUR MOST DIVINE LOVE AND NOTHING ELSE CAN WE GIVE HIM. OUR RECIPROCATION TOWARDS HIM IS ONLY THROUGH OUR UNALLYOED BHAKTHI FILLED WITH THE HIGHEST TRUST IN HIM AT ALL TIMES WHICH EACH ONE OF US HAS TO START IMPLEMENTING FROM JUST NOW FOR TIME IS FLYING ,FLEETING AND IS AT A PREMIUM, WE NEED TO WORK AT A LIGHTENING SPEED TO ENSURE OUR LORD CARRIES US TO HIS ABODE , A PERMANENT RESIDENCE OF JOY UNTOUCHED BY ANY MATERIAL CONTAMINATION, SATCHITANAND……