The last of the Azhwars Tirumangai Azhwar took avatharam at Tirukuraiyalur as an amsam of Perumal’s Sarngam (bow) in the Tamil month of Karthikai under the constellation Kritthika on a Pournami (full moon) day. He was named Neelan by His parents. His father Aali nadar was a general in the army of a chozha king and His mother was Vallithiru. He had a sharp intellect and mastered whatever was taught. So He was adept in Tamil, Sanskrit and in warfare. He fell in love with Kumudhavalli of Annan koil but she laid two tough conditions:
- To get initiated into SriVaishnavam by getting samashrayanam done and
- To feed 1008 SriVaishnavas daily.
Neelan exhausted all the money he had in this daily feeding and resorted to stealing to fulfil the second condition. He could not send the tax collection to the king and was jailed. He resorted to highway robbery. On hearing that a newly wedded couple would be coming that way He waylaid them and relieved them of all their jewellery but could not carry the bundle. Neelan felt that some mantram had been used that is why it was not possible to lift the jewels. When Tirumangaiazhwar asked what the mantram was He received the Ashtakashara mantram from Thayar and Perumal themselves. Overwhelmed by His good fortune Tirumangaiazhwar begins Periya Tirumozhi by talking about the greatness of Narayana nama which is an elixir, a panacea for all ills. On Perumal’s command Tirumangai traversed several divya desams. He visited 86 divya desams and His outpourings resulted in the following compositions:
- Periya Tirumozhi,
- Periya Tirumadal,
- Siriya Tirumadal,
- Tirukurunthandakam and
- Tiruvezhu kuttruirukkai.
His works display mastery over all poetic forms and earned the title Narukavi Perumal. Tirugnana Sambandar gave his trident (vel) for His verses on Sirkazhi SriRama. That is why we see Tirumangai azhwar with a Vel.
He started the tradition of Adhyayana utsavam in SriRangam. It used to be a 10 day festival and Nammazhwar’s archa Tirumeni used to be brought from Azhwar Tirunagari and Nammazhwar’s prabhandhams used to be recited before NamPerumal. The madhil (rampart walls) were built by Tirumangaiazhwar and when the nandavanam nurtured by Tondaradipodi azhwar came in the way He ensured that it was left intact and the madhil was built around it. Let us conclude with Ramanujacharya’s mangalasasanams:
Long live Parakalan! Long live the remover of kali dosham!
Long live the treasure of Kurayaloor!
Long live the One who threatened Perumal with His sword to obtain Tirumanthram! Long live Tirumangai Mannan!
Long live His Trident (Vel)!
Write-up by Smt Vyjayanthi Rajan