Today, Thirunakshatram of Periya Tirumalai Nambi. June 2nd 2012
srimal lakshmaNa yOgeendra sriramAyana dEsikam
srisailapoorNam vrusha svAthi sanjAthamAsrayE
Periya Thirumalai nambi, otherwise called srisailapoorna, was an ardent disciple of yamunacharya born in the month of vaikasi on a swathi star. He was the maternal uncle of swami ramanujacharya and govinda bhattar (embar) in their poorvashrama and also their philosophical mentor (acharya). Srisailapoorna was one of the pancha acharyas (5 mentors) of swamy ramanujacharya regarded as the jagadAcharya. Guruparamparai records that while Emperumanar and Embar were born, periyathirumalai nambi did pushpasamAsrayanam, which was a usual practice those days. According to the orders of AlavanthAr periyathirumalai nambi was given the task of handing over the SrirAmayana to emperumanar. He was involved in the divine theertha kainkarayam to thiruvenkatamudaiyan. Everyday he used to carry water from Akasha ganga for srinivasa thiruvaradhanam. It is said that He used to chant the holy periya thirumozhi of Tirumangai Azhwar while doing so.
In the days, when elaiyazhvar and govinda was having their lessons in samanya sastra under yadhava prakasa, they undertook a kAsiyAthra, with the plot of killing ramanuja, Govinda understood the plot and he rescued ramanuja, but the group continued the journey. At Kasi, govinda happened to get a sivalinga while having a dip in ganga. Then as per the advice of yadava prakasa govinda become ullan kai konarindha nayanar and a great siva bhaktha and he remained at kalahasti doing services to siva.
Transformation of Govinda
As per the request of Ramanuja, periya Thirumalai nambi, started on a mission to get back govinda to the right track under the divine feet of Srinivasa. Instead of going to govinda directly and advising nambi sat himself with his shisyas on the way through which govinda passed to pick flowers for the pooja and started giving lectures to the disciples on nammazhvar words of wisdom elaborating the appropriateness of submitting flowers and doing pooja only to the divine feet of Sriman Narayana ( ” poovum poosanaiyum tagumE ” ). The lecture was so captivating with various quotes from the sastras that made govinda realize his mistake and at once he fell to the feet of nambi and apologized for going astray and felt bad for losing so many days in a wrong place. For this entire task nambi had to travel three times from thirumalai to kalahasthi. During one visit embar asked nambi that what are you searching here. Nambi replied him, we are looking for a lost calf. Embar indeed was the lost calf. Following was a debate with embar which is indeed described wonderfully in 6000ppadi guruparamparA prabhAvam.
Transferring the wealth of Ramayana to Ramanuja
Swamy aalavandaar had left various treasures (of sampradayic knowledge) with various disciples to be handed over to a single successor, swamy Ramanuja. He had left the treasure of Ramayana with periya Thirumalai nambi. Nambi was waiting for handing over the treasure to Ramanuja. As per the instructions of periya nambi ramanuja reached the foothills of Thirumalai. Since the whole hill of thirumala is divine and considered to be the body of adisesha, swamy ramanuja though the incarnation of adisesha himself didnt want to step on the divine hill with foot and hence started to walk with his knees. Periya Thirumalai nambi coming to know of this rushed to the spot and welcomed ramanuja and said, ” Oh! Ramanuja if you show this precedence of climbing the divine hill with the knees then no one will visit the divine place due to the difficulty in climbing. So please climb the hill considering it also to be bhagavat kainkaryam. Adisesha will be more than happy to get the bhagavata sripada sparsam (divine touch of bhaagavatas divine feet) ” . Swamy ramanuja obeyed his uncle and acharya and asked, ” But for saying this why should you run all the way, why couldn’t your holy self send somebody younger with your message? ” Nambi replied, ” Yes I also wanted to do that and searched all around thirumala and couldn’t find anybody smaller than me (not in age but in knowledge-this is due to nambi’s humility (naichyam) and to show the greatness of thirumala) ”
Swami stayed in Thirumalai for three days, but then he ascended down hill and stayed there. Sri Ramayana kalashepam was started. Ramanuja remained in the foothills and everyday nambi completed his theertha kainkaryam on top of the hill and came down to give the divine arthas of Srimad Ramayana to ramanuja. This continued for a year. That was nambi’s dedication of bhagavat/bhAgavata/acharya kainkaryam.
Relationship between the acharya and shisya
After the completion of the Ramayana kalashepam, instead of Ramanujacharya giving guru dakshina, nambi asked him what he wanted. Ramanuja requested nambi to send govinda bhattar along with him. Without any hesitation nambi also obliged and handed over govinda to ramanuja like parting with some object under possession. But govinda who obeying the acharya started with ramanuja couldn’t stand the separation of nambi and hence fell sick on the way. Ramanuja sent him back to thirumala.
Govinda rushed to thirumala and knocked at nambi’s door. When nambi’s wife wanted to open the door nambi stopped her and said ” viRRa mAttukku pul iduvAr vundO ” [will anyone feed the cow that has been already sold?] hearing this govinda realized his mistake and came back to the divine feet of Swamy Ramanuja and remained an ardent disciple till the last.
Nambi becomes tattAchar
In his last days, when nambi was very old he still was doing his kainkaryam of carrying water to thiruvenkatamudaiyan. One day a small boy came to nambi and requested for water while nambi was carrying water in a pot as usual for thiruvaradhanam. Nambi refused saying that if he gives him water he has to go and fetch fresh water again and that he didn’t have the strength to do the same. The boy told, ” tAtha! Oh my father I am very thirsty so please give me little water to quench my thirst ” . Nambi refused and proceeded towards the temple. The boy took a small stone hit the pot at the back without nambi realizing the same and started to drink the water that poured out. Suddenly nambi realized what was happening at the back and felt very upset for the boys act. At the same time thiruvenkatamudaiyan gave darshan to nambi (the boy was none other than our beloved lord) and told him not to worry and fetch water from koneri pushkarini that is close to the temple. From that day Thirumalai nambi is celebrated astattacharya.
Nambi’s conern for EmperumAn
When Nambi was very aged he was not able to perform thiruvAradhanam and offer food for EmperumAn. So he requested the Lord to take food at a place of another devotee who would offer Him such prasAdham. This is mentioned in the Edu vyAkyanam for
the pAsuram ” ini vunadhu vAy alagil in adisil vaippArai nADAyEa ” thiruvAimozhi 1-4-8;
This shows the concern of Periya thirumalai Nambi for the Lord and his conviction on the archAvathAram.
Let us sing mangalasasanams to that great acharya father of emperuman, uncle and mentor of emperumAnAr.
vaikasi sOdhinAL vandhudhiththAn vAzhiyE
vaN thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn varapuththiran vAzhiyE
ayyan sri alavandaar adithozhuvOn vAzhiyE
anavaradham malaikuniyarkku adimai seivOn vAzhiyE
meyyanirAmAnusAriyan virumbumavan vAzhiyE
mikka thirumalaiyAr kellAm mElAvAn vAzhiyE
seyyathamizh vEdaththin sirappaRindhOn vAzhiyE
thirumalainambigal ubhaya thiruvadigal vAzhiyE
Sri Thirumalai Nambi have composed the thaniyans for AmalanAdhippirAn in Tamizh.