குலசேகர ஆழ்வார்

இவர் திருவஞ்சிக்களம் என்னும் ஊரில் திடவிரதன் என்ற சேர நாட்டு அரசனுக்கு திருமாலின் மார்பில் இருக்கும் மணியான கௌஸ்துப அம்சத்தின் வடிவாக தோன்றினார்.

இவர் போர்க்கலைகளில் சிறந்து விளங்கிய இவர் வடமொழியிலும் தேர்ச்சி பெற்றவர். நீதிநெறி தவறாமல் ஆட்சி புரிந்த இவரை இவ்வுலக மாயை நீக்கி இறை தொண்டு செய்யுமாறு திருமால் பணித்தார்.

இவர் திருமால் மீது பாடிய பாசுரங்கள் பெருமாள் திருமொழி என்றழைக்கப்படுகிறது. இவர் கொல்லிக்காவலன், கூடல்நாயகன், வில்லவர் கோன் ஆகிய பெயர்களால் சிறப்பிக்கப்படுகிறார்.

இவர் தனியாக ஒரு கோவிலையும், பிற ஆழ்வார்களுடன் சேர்ந்து ஏழு கோவில்களையும் மங்களாசனம் செய்துள்ளார்.

Kulasekara Alwar

Chera Nadu is otherwise called as “Malai Nadu”, which is rich in wealth and is surrounded by big beautiful mountains and rivers. In this Chera Nadu, lots of Elephants are found as cows found in Thondai Nadu. All the people found in this empire are said to be great warriors. Not only in war, but also in education and the way they led the country and their life. Chera Nadu was ruled by Chera Kings, who ruled for more decades. They led the empire in peace and made the life of the people happy. In that generation, a king by named “Thidaviradhan”, ruled the Chera Empire, who had a great bhakti towards Sriman Narayanan. He gave proper respect and gave lots of valuable things to Vishnu bhaktas. As the kind of life by the king, as the Hamsam of Sri Vishnu’s Sri Kousthu, a baby was born in Prabhava year, Maasi month, Sukla Dvadesi, friday in Punarpoosa Natshatram (Star). Since, the child was born as the result of Vishnu bhakti of the king, it look very bright and beautiful.

As the birth of child, the entire empire celebrated his birth and after 10 days, the child was kept the name “Kulasekaran”. He did all the mischief things in the childhood days what a child does generally. But, at the same time, he learnt all the important issues and also learnt the Sanskrit language, which is said as the Veda Mozhi (Vedic language). He was not only taught with the studies, but also with various was teachings like horse riding, Elephant ride, practiced the sword fight, Gadhai and Chariot riding. He was very well taught with studies and also with various fighting aspects for war. After attaining the proper age, he was given the throne and led the Chera Nadu, better than his father led. He also gave the proper respect to the Vishnu bhaktas and made the people very happy. He fought with great speed in the war and defeated all the opposing kings. On seeing this, the Chozha kings and Pandiya kings got jealous on him and tried to defeat him in the war. But, Kulasekarar with his mighty soldiers and army defeated them and extended his empire towards Chozha Nadu.

On seeing the greatness and the masculine character of Kulasekarar, Pandiyan king married her daughter to Kulasekarar. After getting married, he led his life with his wife and along with the war and capturing the various empires. But, seeing all this, the Emperumaan who is found on the Paambuanai (Perumal found on the Aadhiseshan using him as his bed) wanted to make kulasekarar to get out from the Maayai and wanted him to lead an spiritual life. But the life of Kulasekarar went on as this and one fine day, he got irritated for his leading of life and felt sorry for the lives he had killed in the war. This made him to think about Sriman Narayanan and thought that he should lead his life by being useful to others and at the same time he should spread the Vishnu Bhakti in the midst of human life. He was really worried that he should have not born in a rich family, but instead he might have born in an unwealthy family, so that he could not lead a luxurious life. He even thought that he might have born as a fish in any of the Punniya theerthams, so that he might have a close relationship with the Perumal. This thought didn’t stop, it extended assuming him (Kulasekarar) as the mother (Devaki) of Sri Kannan, he explained the childhood leelas of Sri Krishnar. He explained his leelas as :

“Thann Am Thamaraik Kannane! Kanna
Thavazhtu Ezhundhu Thalarndhu Oar Nadayaal
Mannil Sempodi Aadivandhu Enthan
Maarbil Mannidam Petrilen! Andho!
Vanna Chemsiru Kaiviral Anaithum
Vaari Vaaikkonda Adisilin Micchil
Unnaip Petrilen oh! Keduvinaiyen
Ennai Enseip Petradhu Em Moyae”!

In this, Kulasekarar thinks Sri Kannan as his child and explains him about his childhood leelas. He started to love the God and it extended so well. Because of his great bhakti, he did lots of Dhaanams to Vishnu bhaktas. He praised the Perumal by praising and satisfying his bhaktas.

Kulasekarar had a great attention towards hearing the purana stories. He called up lots of old persons and heared lots of old stories and the thathuvam in it. He gave lots of prizes to the old person. Likewise, one day an old yogi was called to say a story in the puranas.The old yogi told the story of Ramayana and the way of life led by Sri Ramar. On hearing the story of Sri Ramar, Kulasekarar as he was deeply attracted by the life of Sri Ramar, his eyes started to release water and he was totally surrounded towards Sri Ramar. The next day, the old yogi explained about the war scene that happened in Ramayana. In that he explained, that Lakshmanan was asking for the permission to fight with the Arakkars (Demons) who had come against them. But, at that time Sri Ramar stopped him not to go to fight with them, but asks him to stay as the protection for Seetha amd came out from the hut. On seeing Sri Ramar, Soorpanaka roared at all of the Arakkars that Rama has come out and asks his entire troops to surround him. All the arakkars had lots of sharp weapons and surrounded Sri Ramar.On hearing the story of Sri Ramar and he was deeply attracted by this scene, Kulasekarar thought that there is something harm is going to happen for Sri Ramar and quickly stood from that place and orders all of his army persons to get ready for the war. But, all the war members, on seeing the action of Kulasekarar was amazed and surprised that why and with whom they are going to raise the war, since the choza and Pandiya kings who are treated as their enemy are being quiet at that time. But, they have to obey the orders of their king and prepared all the horses and Elephants for the war.

Kulasekarar made himself comfort for the war and came out of the palace and stood on the Chariot. But, on knowing the great bhakti towards the Emperumaan he had towards Sri Ramar, his ministers found that the war plan was because of the story the old yogi was telling and asked the yogi to tell the complete story to their king. The yogi completed the story that their is not necessity for the war, since Sri Ramar, single handedly have defeated all the arakkar. On hearing this and the greatness of Sri Ramar, he was very much attracted to him and at the same time, he order all of him army members to go to their places and tie up the horses and elephants in their places. This explains about great attraction of Kulasekarar towards the Emperumaan. But, this action of their king towards the Vaishnavism increased, all the ministers were angry on all Vishnu bhaktas and this anger turned towards them. Some of his ministers, stealed the ornaments of the Perumal. The next day, Kulasekarar was surprised to see some of the ornaments being stolen. He wanted to know who had done that, knowing the situation, the ministers complained that the ornaments are stolen only by the Vishnu Bhaktas. But, kulasekarar denied that by saying it cant be done by any of Vishnu bhaktas and having a great faith of them, Kulasekarar asked some of ministers to bring a vessel in which lots of poisonous snakes are put. His ministers also did the same thing as said by their king. They came along with a vessel in which lots of poisonous snakes are found. Kulasekarar said to all of his ministers in the midst of the palace, that he is going to insert his hand into the vessel. If the ornaments are stolen by the Vishnu Bhaktas as said by his ministers, the snakes will bite him, but if not, they will not bite him.

By telling this, he inserted his hand into the vessel, but since the ornaments are not stolen by the bhaktas the snakes didn’t bit him. He took his hand without even a single bite. The entire minister was ashamed of their act towards the Vishnu bhaktas and they asked sorry to kulasekarar for what they have done. But, Kulasekarar asked then that he is not the right person to ask for, they should ask sorry to the Vishnu Bhaktas. This acts of Kulasekarar explains how dedicated he is towards Vaishnavism and to the Vishnu bhaktas. This kind of great character of Kulasekarar made him to get the name as “Kulasekara Alwar” and he followed the Vaishnava bhakti to a vast extent. He had a great bhakti towards Sri Ramar who is also called as “Periya Perumal” and he wrote “Perumal Thirumozhi”. He did a lot of Kainkaryams (devotion) towards Aranganathan and finally got the Paramapadham.

மதுரகவி ஆழ்வார்

இவர் தூத்துக்குடி மாவட்டத்தில் திருக்கோளுர் என்ற இடத்தில் பிறந்தார். இவர் சிறுவயதிலேயே செந்தமிழில் நாவிற்கினிய பாடல்களைப் பாடிய காரணத்தால் மதுரகவி ஆழ்வார் என்றழைக்கப்பட்டார்.

இவர் வடநாட்டில் உள்ள திருமால் சேத்திரங்களை தரிசித்துக் கொண்டிருக்கும்போது தென் திசையில் ஒரு ஒளி ஏற்படுவதைக் கண்டு அத்திசை நோக்கி செல்கையில் அங்கு நம்மாழ்வாரைக் கண்டார்.

அவரிடம் கேள்வி வினவ அதுவரை பேசாதிருந்த நம்மாழ்வார் மதுரகவி ஆழ்வாருக்கு பதிலுரை கூறினார். அதனைக் கேட்ட மாத்திரத்தில் நம்மாழ்வாரைக் குருவாக ஏற்றார். அவரிடமிருந்து சூட்சமங்களைக் கற்று உணர்ந்தார்.

இவர் கண்ணிநுன் சிறுதாம்பு என்ற பதிகத்தை மட்டும் தன் குருவாகிய நம்மாழ்வார் மீது பாடியுள்ளார். இவர் இளங்கவியார், ஆழ்வாருக்கு அடியான் என்ற பெயர்களால் சிறப்பிக்கப்படுகிறார்.

Madhurakavi Alwar

In Paandiya Nadu, lots of temples of both Sri Vishnu and Lord Shivan temples are found. All the temples are rich in Spirituality and divine followers are seen. Inspite of lots of Vishnu temples are found, Thirukkoloor is one of special sthalam is seen. This sthalam is found two miles on the eastern side away from Azhwar Thirunagari. Lots of Andhanars who spread the fame of Sriman Narayanan are found. In that, there was a separate family, who led their life by spreading and praising the fame of Sri Vishnu is found. For them, in Easwara year, Chittirai month, Sukla Chaturdasi Friday, Chittirai Natshatram (star) Madhurakavi Alwar was born. His birth is referred to as the rays of the sun, which comes out before the sun completely comes out. Here the rays are referred to “Nammalwar”, since Madhurakavi born before Nammalwar.

He was taught with all kinds of Vedic books and was devoted to Sriman Narayanan by praising him with songs. He was also well – versed in writing poems and songs in Sanskrit also. He had talent of writing poems and bhakti songs that could tie the minds of all the persons who hears (or) reads it. He doesn’t want to mingle (or) lead his life along with ordinary humans who is winded up with ordinary life. To get rid of this and to attain the final destiny, the Moksha, he thought of going for a spritual travel towards the North Indian shetrams like Ayodhya, Madura, Kaasi, Dwaraka etc. As he thought, he converted his thought into action and started towards the North Indian sthalams.

Reaching North India, he worshipped all the Vishnu sthalams and finally he went to Ayodhya temple and admired at the beauty of Sri Ramar along with Sita Piratti, Lakshmana and Hanuman. He stayed in Ayodhya for a while and at that time, one day he remembered about his birth place Thirukkoloor and at the same time he heard about the fame of Nammalwar who was in unconscious stage, which lead his life without eating anything under a tamarind tree. After finishing the daily pooja, one day Madhurakavi Alwar found a bright star in the sky which made him to think whether any village (or) house had caught fire (or) some big fire is burning the forest. He could not get anything as the answer and thought it as some mystery. As the same way, he saw the same flashy bright star travelled towards the south. This made him to think a bit and thought he could find the answer by following the star. The star finally reached Thirunagari and disappeared. He heard about the child Nammalwar who didn’t open his eyes (or) ears for almost 16 years. Madhurakavi on seeing Nammalwar could not believe a 16-year-old child can live without eating (or) moving a little bit for many years. So, he wanted to test his qualities. He lifted a big stone, which is found near the tree and dropped it in the ground. On hearing, Nammalwar opened his eyes and smiled at Madhurakavi Alwar. After this, Madhurakavi was still confused whether he could speak (or) not. He wanted to test him and questioned him as:

“Senthin Vayitril Siriyadhu Pirandhal
Eatthai Thindru Engae Kidakkum?”.

This means if anything that is born in a dead, the subtle thing that is born inside it, how does it leads his life on eating what and where does ir resides? For this, Nammalwar answers him as:

“Atthai Thindru Angae Kidakkum”.

This means that the small Jeevathma resides in the soul (the Paramathma) and enjoys the place which it lives. The answer also explains how all of our human souls are tied up with ordinary life by doing good and evil things to all the persons around them. If a person does these kinds of things, he will experience the same and could not attain the Moksha, the destiny. On hearing the philosophical explaination answer for his question, Madhurakavi Alwar raised his hands above his head and finally fell down at the feet of Nammalwar. From then, he decided him to accept Nammalwar as his “Spiritual Guru” to attain the Moksha. He was the first student to learn the Veda from Nammalwar, which explains the love betweenSriman Narayanan and ordinary human and how to attain his thiruvadi. He praised and wrote lots of paasurams on Sriman Narayanan and also sung in praise of Nammalwar starting with “Kanni Nunn Siruthambhu” and sung 11 paasurams following it. He made a statue of Nammalwar and placed in the temple and did daily poojas for him and led his life by praising and singing the greatness of Sriman Narayanan and his spiritual guru “Nammalwar”.

பெரியாழ்வார்

இவர் திருவில்லிபுத்தூரில் முகுந்தர், பதுமவல்லி ஆகியோருக்கு திருமாலின் வாகனமான கருடாழ்வாரின் அம்சமாகத் தோன்றினார். இவரின் இயற்பெயர் விஷ்ணுசித்தர்.

திருவில்லிபுத்தூரில் உள்ள வடபத்ரசாயி பெருமாளின் மீதிருந்த அளவற்ற பக்தியின் காரணமாக தினமும் அவருக்கு பூமாலை தொடுத்து கொடுப்பதை வழக்கமாகக் கொண்டிருந்தார்.

இவர் திருமாலின் கருணையால் வல்லபதேவன் என்ற பாண்டிய அரசனின் அவையில் வாதாடி அரசனின் சந்தேகத்தை போக்கி பொற்கிழி பெற்று யானையில் ஏற்றி ஊர்வலம் செய்து சிறப்பிக்கப்பட்டார்.

அப்போது திருமால் திருமகளுடன் கருட வாகனத்தில் காட்சியருளினார். அதனைக் கண்ட விஷ்ணுசித்தர் திருமாலின் அழகில் சொக்கி, திருமாலுக்கு கண்திருஷ்டி பட்டுவிடும் எனக்கருதி பல்லாண்டு பல்லாண்டு பல்லாயிரத்தாண்டு எனத் தொடங்கும் திருப்பல்லாண்டு பாடினார்.

இறைவனுக்கே கண்ஏற்றினை கழிக்க முயன்றதால் ஆழ்வார்களில் பெரியவர் என்னும் பொருள்படும்படி பெரியாழ்வார் என்றழைக்கப்பட்டார். இவரே ஆண்டாள் நாச்சியாரின் வளர்ப்பு தந்தை ஆவார்.ஆண்டாளை அரங்கனுக்கு மணம்முடித்துக் கொடுத்ததினால் திருமாலின் மாமனார் என்ற சிறப்பினைப் பெற்றார்.

திருப்பல்லாண்டு, பெரியாழ்வார் திருமொழி போன்றவை இவரின் படைப்புகளாகும். இவர் தனியாக 2 கோவில்களையும், பிற ஆழ்வார்களுடன் சேர்ந்து 17 கோவில்களையும் சேர்த்து மொத்தம் 19 திவ்ய தேசக் கோவில்களை மங்களாசனம் செய்துள்ளார்.

Periyalwar

The Avathara sthalam of Periyalwar is Srivilliputhur. He was born to Mukunda bhattar and Paduma valli, who belong to veyar family. He was born in Aani month – Swathi nakshathram – krothana year – Ekadesi Thithi – Sunday as the hamsam of Garudalwar. His parents kept him the name as “Vishnu Siththar”.

He heard lots of stories of Sri Kannapiran from his parents and because of this, he got attracted towards Sri Vishnu. In the early days of his life, he learnt all the Vedams, etc. Both of his parents were also had a great bhakti towards Sriman Narayanan. And like them, Vishnu siththar was also very much attracted by Sriman Narayanan and his Gunams. So, he started to dedicate his life to Sri Vishnu. He selected to dedicate Garlands and flowers to the Perumal. He considered Sri Vadabhadra Saayee Perumal as “Sri Kannan” and started to perform Nandhavana (flower park) Kainkaryam for him. During the time of Periyalwar, Madurai (belonged to Pandiya Kingdom) was ruled by the king named Vallabha devan. He conquered lots of kingdoms in North and the chozha kingdom also. As a routine, he dressed in another way to find how is ruling and how are the people of his kingdom. While passing through a house, he saw an elderly person sitting in front of the house. The king had a great doubt (i.e.) how to overcome this birth and what to be done to be good in the next generation. As the person in front of the house seemed to be brighter, the king thought he is the right person to be asked and he can find the solution from him.

The King asked the Andhanar about him. The Andhanan answered that he comes from the north after having the sacred bath in Ganga River and now he is traveling towards Sethu River. Hearing this, the king bow down towards him and asked what is the best way to be happy in the next jenmam (or) piravi and for what should be done in this jenmam. The Andhanan said and explained the following slokam:-

“Maariyin kaalam thThiruyppaan matru illa kaalaththu eettum
Kooriya Irulil theriyppaan kozhum sudar pagalil eettum
Seeriya illamai thannin Moopukku Sirappaal eettum
Aariyalbhu adhanaal immai thanniley marumaikku eettum”. means

The necessary things for the night, should be found and searched in the day time, The thing for the rainy season, had to be found and saved during the sunny seasons; thing needed for the older age should be saved in the younger age itself; like that, to be good in the next jenman, we should be good in at present jenman (i.e.) help others, follow our rules and regulations etc. If we are good and follow the said rules according to our religion, one can attain all the things what he wanted in the next jenman”.

After hearing this, the king wanted to know what is the thing he wanted to perform for the betterment of his next jenmam. Selva Nambi worked as a prohithar in his kingdom and said one has to explain that the person has to explain the Vedanta parathuvam. On hearing this, the king ordered to tie a silk cloth which had lots of precious ornaments, jewels etc which will be given to the person who explains the Parathuva siddhantham. During that time, Sri Vishnu emerged in the dreams of Vishnu siththar and asked him to go to the palace of pandiya kingdom and explained the truth for paraththuva siddhantham. As said by Sriman Narayanan, he marched towards Madurai and reached the palace. Selva Nambi could see the glow on the face of Vishnu siththar so he went towards him and greeted him.

Then, he started to explain about Paththuvam and he said that for every action to be perform, there is and should be a reason. The entire world to lead its life is god; and the paramporul the Paramathma is Sriman Narayanan and we can attain him only through our dedicated bhakti; the final step of bhakti is “Saranagathi”. So, if one surrenders all of his ego, wealth, anger and dedicates bhakti means he is getting Saranagathi towards Sri Vishnu which is the only way to get out of all sins and attain Mukthi”. Om hearing this, all the great people who were in the palace and even the Pandiya king fell towards Vishnu sittar and gave the prize money to him. After this, the king himself wore the silk cloth on him and gave him the special name “Pattarbiran”. Pattarbiran dedicated the precious ornaments got from the Pandiya king towards Sriman Narayanan and started his routine work of Nandhavana Kainkaryam. He not only dedicated the poo maalai (garland) for the perumal but also the Paa maalai (explaining the greatness, the beauty etc) of the perumal.

பூதத்தாழ்வார்

முதல் ஆழ்வார்களில் இவர் இரண்டாமவர். இவர் மாமல்லபுரத்தில் உள்ள தலசயனப் பெருமாள் கோவிலில் மல்லிகை புதர்களுக்கிடையே நீலோத்பவ மலரின் நடுவில் தோன்றியவர் என்று கருதப்படுகிறது. இவர் திருமாலின் கையில் உள்ள கௌமோதகி என்ற கதையின் அம்சமாவார்.

உலக வாழ்க்கையில் இன்புறாமல் திருமாலிடத்தில் நீங்கா பக்தி கொண்டவர். திருக்கோவிலூர் மிருகண்டு முனிவர் ஆசிரமத்தில் பொய்கையாழ்வார் மற்றும் பேயாழ்வாருடன் இறைவனைத் தரிசித்த போது அவரைப் பற்றி நூறு பாடல்கள் பாடினார். அவை இரண்டாம் திருவந்தாதி எனப் போற்றப்படுகின்றன.

இவர் பிற ஆழ்வார்களுடன் சேர்ந்து 14 கோயில்களை மங்களாசனம் செய்துள்ளார்.

Bhoodathalwar

In Thondai Naadu, a city, which is found on the shore of the sea, which is called as “Kadal Mallai” is found. The Adiyaars (or) the bhaktas who praise the Emperumaan are found in large number in this Kadal Malai Kshetram.

This Kadal Mallai Kshetram is also popularly called as “Maamallapuram” and as the years passed, this sthalam is now called as “Mahabalipuram”. Since this sthalam was ruled by Maamallan, a great of Pallava King, the sthalam is named as “Maamallapuram”. This sthalam is also called as “Mahabalipuram” because Mahabali Chakaravarthy, who ruled this sthalam, as asked by Sriman Narayanan who came as “Vaamanar” (Dwarf) asked for 3 feets of land. Since, he could not give him the 3rd feet, he surrended his head as the 3rd one. As a complete surrender towards the Emperumaan, Mahabali was sanctified him to attain Moksha. Beacuase of this, the sthalam is also known as “Mahabalipuram”.

Emperumaan Sriman Narayanan is found in some sthalams in Nindra Kolam and in some sthalam as “Veetrirundha thirukkolam” and in “Kidantha Kolam” in some sthalam. Likewise, this is one of the greatest sthalam where the Emperumaan, “Sthala Sayana Perumal” is found in Kidantha Thirukkolam. Having these kinds of specialities, this sthalam has another speciality to say.

In Siddhartha year, Iyppasi month, Navami, Avitta Natshatram, Bhoodhathalwar was born, who is considered to be the Hamsam of one amongst the Panja Aayudham (five weapons) of Thirumaal, the Koumothagi, the Gadha, in a small Madhavi flower. From the child hood, his heart and all of his thinking are towards Sriman Narayanan and spent his life by praising the fame of him.

நம்மாழ்வார்

வைணத்தில் ஆழ்வார் என்றாலே அது நம்மாழ்வாரையே குறிக்கும். இவர் தூத்துக்குடி மாவட்டத்தில் உள்ள‌ திருக்குருகூர் எனப்படும் ஆழ்வார்திருநகரியில் காரியார், உடைய நங்கை ஆகியோருக்கு மகனாகத் தோன்றினார்.

இவர் பிறந்தவுடன் அழாமல் தன் ஞானத்தால் சடம் என்னும் காற்றை வென்றதால் சடகோபன் என்றழைக்கப்பட்டார்.

பதினாறு ஆண்டுகள் திருக்குருகூர் நம்பி கோவிலின் புளியமரப்பொந்தில் யோகத்தில் இருந்து மதுரகவி ஆழ்வாரின் கேள்விக்கு பதில் தந்து அவரை சீடராகப் பெற்ற பெருமை இவரைச் சாரும்.

இவர் இயற்றிய திருவிருத்தம், திருவாசிரியம், பெரிய திருவந்தாதி, பெரியதிருவாய்மொழி ஆகிய பாடல்கள் ரிக், யசூர், சாம, அதர்வண வேதங்களுக்கு இணையானவை ஆகும் என்பது பெரியோர்களின் வாக்கு.

இவர் திருமாலின் படைத்தலைவரான விஷ்வக்னேசர் என்பவரின் அவதாரமாகக் கருதப்படுகிறார். இவர் சடாரி, பராங்குசன்,மாறன், வகுளாபரணன், குருகையர் ஆகிய பெயர்களால் சிறப்பிக்கப்படுகிறார்.

வைணவத்தில் நம்மாழ்வாரை ஆன்மாவாகவும், ஏனைய ஆழ்வார்களை உடலாகவும் கருதுவதுண்டு. இவர் 37 திருக்கோவில்களை மங்களாசனம் செய்துள்ளார்.

Nammalwar

Maran, later known as Nammalvar and by other names like Satagopa, Parankusa, etc., was born as the avatara of Senai Mudaliar  (God’s Chief of Hosts). His father Kariyar belonged to Tirukkuruhur on the banks of the Tamraparni in the Tirunelveli district. For the first sixteen years of his life, Maran remained without food and drink, with his eyes closed, under a tamarind tree (the avatara, it is believed, of Adisesha, the serpent on which God, Sri Narayana, reclines), near the temple of Lord Adinatha at Tirukkuruhur. He opened his eyes and spoke for the first time when one Madurakavi, who later on became his disciple, put a question to him: “When what is little is born in the dead, what will it eat and where will it lie?” Nammalvar answered the question thus: “It will eat the dead and lie on it.” Even after this, Nammalvar never left the shade of the tamarind tree. He remained there singing his hymns. All the deities of the hundred and eight divya desas (the divine shrines) came to Tirukkuruhur, it is said, to give him “darsan”. When he had finished the four works attributed to him, the call came and he joined the feet of the Lord for which he had yearned all his life.

It will be seen from this brief account that Nammalvar’s life as it was lived in the light of common day, with all the details of the earth that he touched, is not available to us. The first account of it in Sanskrit was written a few centuries after him, and according to its claim, more than nearly forty centuries after him. It is no doubt a theological if psychologically true version, for by the time it was written, Nammalvar had been accepted by Vaishnavas of the south as a saint, as the saint of saints at whose word the transcendent state opens to man.

Modern biographical and historical research trying to get at what it would call the facts of Nammalvar’s life stands baulked. Time has swallowed the factual details and what is now presented is the idealised account given in Divya Suri Charitam and Guru Parampara Prabhavam. This account, though it may not satisfy seekers of Boswellian documentation, is true to the inward life — and that is what matters — so variedly and movingly recorded in Nammalvar’s words. The long years of his silence and his detachment from all things earthly which are the most significant points in the traditional account of Nammalvar conform to the experience of mystics the world over. The first years of his life were spent, we may well believe, in the search for the `God within’ in a single-pointed contemplation that by a divine dispensation came to him from birth. The miracle of his life lies here. When he emerged from this in-drawn state, he had touched the Ultimate. His works chronicle this as also the various stages of his journey to God. That journey, as his words reveal, is marked by the initial alienation from the earth, the beginning of the search for significance, the darkness that sets in on the way, its sudden removal and as sudden return, the passion and agony of the seeking and the joy of realisation, in fact all the states through which one passes.

“When that which came from out the boundless deep 
Turns again home.”

Since Nammalvar spoke only after the first sixteen years of his life, if we consider this period of silence as occupied by his search for Reality, we have to infer that portions of his works were a turning back and  a recollection, a fresh experience, to change Wordsworth’s phrasing, recollected in the tranquillity of realisation