This is a biography of the GREAT AzhwAr by name “Thirumazhisai AzhwAr” (born at Thirumazhisai, to Bhargava rishi and his pathni kanakangi after an unusual of 12 months stay in the womb). Seeing the foetus that came out as just a lifeless lump of flesh with no arms, legs, etc., they were terribly depressed and with unwillingness left it at the “moongil” (bamboo) bush and proceeded on their spiritual journey. Our Lord Sriya: patih appeared with His consort and blessed the “flesh” with Their katAksham and it turned into an alive, Divya tEjas, cute little bundle of joy; a fully developed and lovely baby which was later picked up with both the arms affectionately by a tribe(Harijan) named “ThiruvALan”. A really blessed couple Thiruvalan and pankaya chelvi, was very much overwhelmed by the grace of God for this Gift of swarna vigraham-like baby.
Again an unusual (this unusualness is found on many occasions in this AzhwAr’s life) phenomenon of not drinking or eating any thing nor any expelling of any waste by this baby saddened them. They really longed to see the baby drink or eat something; It has been happening for quite some time and this unusualness news spread everywhere and attracted lots of people to see and be blessed with the darshan of this divine child, who is growing and developing like any other normal child without absolutely any intake. When a simple, devoted agriculturist old couple paid their visit, they brought some cow’s milk with them and the old lady lovingly placed the baby on her lap and offered the milk saying “Oh our beloved thirumazhisaiyE, the one who came amidst us by the grace of Sriman Narayana, please take this milk and remove our worries, dear” and IT STARTED DRINKING, guys. (one can imagine the happiness mixed with “Anandha” tears that must have flowed in the hall!) And they were coming everyday to offer the milk to the baby; one such day the baby AzhwAr showed and signalled the left over milk to be drunk by the old couple; The moment they drank, they regained their youth; yet another marvel by the Divine AzhwAr, who was none other than chakrAyudha (the Discuss of maha vishnu). The “young” old couple, later were blessed with a male child called “Kanikkannan” who at a later stage became a close friend/aredent disciple of ThirumazhisaiAzhwAr.
The AzhwAr, actually had learnt tried all other religions/doctrines., namely., Buddhism, jainism, advaita and in fact became a staunch devotee of Siva (with a name siva vAkya. pEyAzhwAr argued with him, showed him evidences from vedas ans smrithis to claim sriman Narayana as the supreme deity, and finally initiated him into vaishnavic philosophy and named him bhaktisArar. AzhwAr later declares his struggles in his pAsuram:
sAkkiyam kaRROm samaN kaRROm, sankaranAr /
Akkiya Agama nool arinthOm bhaktiyAl /
senkatkariyaAnai sErnthOm yAm theethilamE /
“After my futile efforts to know the supreme principle through jainism, buddhism, and saivic philosophy, I am blessed by sriman Narayana to take refuge at the Lotus feet of Sri Devi and have escaped all problems and misfortunes since then.”
BhaktisArar visited various sthalams (temples) and came to Thiruve:ka (bhoodhathAzhwAr’s birthplace) and was allured by the beauty of the Lord and the scenic beauties and decided to stay there for some time. Our Kanikkannan, too joined bhaktisArar and served him as an ardent disciple (sishyA) to AzhwAr. There was also an old lady (unmarried) who devotedly, whole heartedly served AzhwAr by cleaning, mopping, drawing “kOlams” etc.. AzwAr was greatly impressed by her indefatigable service and devotion towards azhwAr and appreciated her openly; The old lady was moved and regretted that she joined him at this age only and not when she was able so that she could have continued to serve for more years. Hearing that, azhwAr’s kind heart melted and showered his graceful look (katAksham) on the lady, who was immediately transformed into an extremely beautiful young lady. (This AzhwAr’s miracles are really great, dear vaishNavALs) Later, during a “nagarvalam”, the pallava king saw her in azhwAr’s place and married her.
After some years, when the king actually noticed that his queen is not ageing and has got the same youthful look while he was getting old, he found out that it was AzhwAr’s divine katAksham that did the magic. He asked Kanikkannan who was summoned to the court to make a request to AzhwAr on behalf of the king, Kanikkannan refused saying he and the AzhwAr will not yield and sing for a mortal. That enraged the king and he ordered to banish Kanikkannan from his kingdom. Kanikkannan said “this is not the only sthalam for me; The entire world is His” and walked off.
He went to azhwAr and narrated the incident which forced him to leave that placeand begged for his pardon for leaving him; AzhwAr felt very sad that his dearest friend/devoted disciple is leaving him. He did not feel like staying there without kanikannan. Hence, AzhwAr, too decided to push off from Thiruve:ka. AzhwAr went straight to the temple and prayed wholeheartedly with tears in his eyes and requested the Lord also to come along with them, as he can not think of living without the Lord.
Kanikkannan pOginRAn kAmaru poon kacchi /
maNivaNNA1 nee kidakka vEndA /
sennAppulavanum pOginrEn neeyum unRan /
painnAgappAi suruttikkoL /
” Kanikkannan is going out of kanchi Manivanna, I am also leaving with him. You don’t have to lie down here any more; You also roll your “nAgam” (serpent bed) and follow me” and FRIENDS, OUR LORD FOLLOWED THE AZHWAR WITH THE SNAKE ROLLED AND TUCKED UNDER HIS ARMS.
The king next day got the news that the temple is desolated and the entire city looks dark and lifeless, he understood his folly and rushed immediately to chase the trio. He caught them on the way and prostrated on the ground, repenting for what he had done; requested them to forgive him for his mistake and to come back to kanchi. AzhwAr and Kanikkannan, understanding the sincerity of his regret and repentance requested the Lord again to return and stay at kanchi. Needless to say, the Lord obeyed.
Kanikkannan pOkkozhindAn kAmaru poon kacchi /
maNivaNNA1 nee kidakka vEndum /
sennAppulavanum pOkkozhindEn neeyum unRan /
painnAgappAi viritthukkoL /
(I will not write the meaning and dilute the rich scene- Whenever I think of this scene, I am very much moved, brothers, by the greatness of AzhwAr and the love/vAtsalyam of our Lord towards the AzhwAr to listen and obey the bhakta’s request; Simply excellent; Words fail me to express my feelings.- one sholud really be blessed to even read his biography and his greatness through such miracles; irrespective of author’s (my) capability and limited or no knowledge)
Once on his way to Tirukkudantai, he stopped for a while to take rest and he sat on the “ThiNNai” ( a sort of bench-pial) in front of a house in Perumpuliyur. A few brahmins were reciting vedas inside that house. On seeing the “harijan” (our AzhwAr), they stopped their recitation since, as per tradition and shAstrAs, Veda was not to be recited in the presence of a person belonging to the fourth caste and our AzhwAr immediately understood and was about to leave when the Brahmins started their recitation.
They forgot the next line and at what point they had left the recitation. The AzhwAr broke open a paddy seed that was lying there with his fingernail to indicate the exact context which had a reference to the paddy seed. The brahmins were simply flabbergasted and astonished and realized the greatness of the AzhwAr and asked for his pardon.
When the Archaka ( priest) of the local temple wanted to honour the AzhwAr, knowing fully well his bhakti and GnAna, some people objected and spoke ill of the AzhwAr. Tha AzhwAr felt hurt and prayed to the Lord to show himself to these people in his physical body to prove that the antaryAmi is the same Narayanan in all living beings, irrespective of the jAti, caste,c reed colour, sex etc.,
Akkarangal Akkarangal Enrum Aavadhu En Kolo /
Ik Kurumbai Neekki Ennai Eesanaakkka Vallaiyel /
Sakkaram Koll Kaiyane Sadankar Vai Adangida /
Ut Kidantha Vanname Puram Posindhu Kaattide /
Meaning:” What is the use of your having those resplendent hands if you cannot remove the idiosynchrosy of these ignorant folk and make me powerful in their midst? Lord, with the divine discus in your hand ! Teach these fools a lesson by showing yourself appearing in my very physical body” Again, The Lord obeyed the AzhwAr and showed himself off in the body of AzhwAr and the protestors were simply astonished and prostrated and begged for his pardon. (It only again goes to prove that no one is superior or inferior by birth; it is just bhakti and love for Him which will make us dearer to Him- No one chooses his kulam, parents, life; It is all His mercy)
On reaching Tirukkudantai ( Kumbakonam), he let the birchbark leaf containing his writings in the waters of river Kaveri. The leaf floated back to him holding his works viz.,’Tiruchanda Viruttam‘ ( a poem of beautiful verses) in which he sang the following beautiful verse:
NinRadhu Enthai Ooragathu Irundathu Enthai Paadagathu /
AnRu Vekkanaik Kidandhathu EnnilAtha MunnelAm /
AnRu NAn PiRandilEn PiRandhapin MaRandilEn /
NinRadhum Irundhadhum Kidandhathum En NenjuLe /
” Before I was born, He was standing in Ooragam, was sitting in Paadagam and was lying down in Tiruvekka.At that time I was not born with wisdom; When once I was born with this wisdom, I never forgot. Therefore, the Lord left all those places and has taken permanent abode in my heart”. The idea is that the great Gnanis never considered themselves as born at all until they realized this ‘ Artha gnAnam’. And, once they realized this, they had no other avocation than being immersed in the thought of the Lord.This is how Mumukshup padi explains this sentiment.
The other work of the AzhwAr is ‘Naanmugan Tiruvantadhi’- an Antadhi commencing with the words ‘Naanmugan’ – a reference to the four faced Brahma. The first stanza of the Antadhi categorically states
Naan Mugani Naraayanan Padaithaan- Naan Muganum /
Thaan Mugamaaai Sankaranaithaan Padaithaan /
Yaan Mugamaai Anthaadhi Melittu Arivithen – Aazh Porulai
Sinthaamal Konmin Neer Therndhu
“The four faced Brahma was born to Narayana and to this Brahma was born Sankara. I am declaring this truth in this Antadhi. Resort to this without any doubt, if you desire to wipe out the pangs of birth”
The AzhwAr was so straightforwarded, outspoken, fearless and established the oneness and supremacy of Sriman Narayanan and sri vaishnavam. He became an exemplary Sri vaishnava AcharyA and it is told that he spent about 700 years meditating on Tiruvallikkeni perumAL Sri Venkata krishnan.