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Guru Parampara Series: The First Azhwars

mudhal azhwarsTula Masam is a significant month in the Sri Vaishnava calendar. Whenever we begin anything we start by remembering Vishvaksena. His Thirunakshatram occurs in Aippasi Pooradam  which falls on November 8, 2013, this year. Who is Visvaksena? How does He look are the questions asked often? Vishvaksena is a NityaSuri who is known as Senai Mudaliar or Senapathi, Commander -in-chief of the universe. Both Pancharatra and Vaikanasa agama mention His worship before the beginning of any religious function. He has all the attributes of Vishnu and comes immediately after Perumal-Piratti in the acharya lineage or Guru Parampara. In Srirangam temple whenever there is a utsavam Vishvaksena and Hanuman visit Thayar Sannidhi and soil from the Bilva tree in the outer prakaram is collected for Ankurarpanam. Ankurarapanam means the sowing of seeds which sprout by the time the ten day utsavam is over. Visvaksena does Nagarasodhanai or inspecting the streets which Perumal will take during Purappadu. Vishvaksena worship is done in Tirumala, Kanchipuram and in other Divya Desams and at the home of every Sri Vaishnava before starting any work – spiritual or otherwise.

Nammazhwar was an incarnation of Vishvaksena who composed Thiruvaimozhi besides three other prabhandham. The first commentator of Thiruvaimozhi was Thirukurugaipiran Pillan. Pillan’s thirunakshatram is also Aippasi Pooradam. Pillan was a shisya of Bhaghavadh Ramanujacharya who instructed Pillan to write the vyakhyanam. The result was 6000 padi (the number indicates the number of words in the Vykhanam). Bhaghavadh Vishayam is the name of this work.

This month also  calls for celebration of the avathara dinams of Mudhal Azhwars or the First Azhwars: Poigai Azhwar, Bhuthath Azhwar and Pey Azhwar. Aippasi Sravanam is Poigai Azhwar Thirunakshatram which falls on November 10, 2013 this year. Azhwar means immersed in the thought of Sriman Narayana. Poigai is pond and Azhwar took avatharam in a sacred pond that is the pushkarni at Yathothkari temple in Kanchipuram. Azhwar was the manifestation of Perumal’s Panchajanyam  the divine Conch. This Mudhal Azhwar composed Mudhal Thiruvanthathi a composition of 100 Pasurams in Anthathadi style (The last word of  the first verse is the first word of the next verse).thirukovilur mudal azhwars

Aippasi Avittam which falls on November 11, 2013 this year marks the Thirunakshatram of Bhuthath Azhwar who took avatharam in Thirukaddalmallai or Mahabalipuram and was the manifestation of Kaumodhukhi Perumal’s Mace. His 100 pasurams are known as Irandam Thiruvanthathi or the Second Thiruvanthathi.

Aippasi Sadayam which falls on November 12, 2013 this year is the Thirunakshatram of Pey Azhwar. Nandakam Perumal’s sword manifested as this Azhwar who took avatharam in Mylapore. His 100 are known as Munram Thiruvanthathi.

These Azhwars who took avatharams in consecutive nakshatrams in Aippasi in Siddharthi Varusham happened to meet one day. Poigai Azhwar was visiting the Divya Desam of Thirukovilur when it started raining heavily. He sought shelter at the corridor of an ashram and took rest there by lying down. It so happened that Bhuthathazhwar landed in the same corridor seeking shelter. Since the alley was narrow there was space enough for the two to squat. Meanwhile, Pey Azhwar arrived at the same spot seeking shelter. There is room for three to stand said the two Azhwars. Seeing the congregation of Azhwars Sriman Narayana joined them. Elated the three burst into divine verses revealing their experience. Thus it is that we have the 1st hundred, 2nd hundred and 3rd hundred pasurams of the The Mudhal Azhwars.

The oft asked question is why celebration of Thirunakshatram should be done? Remembering them will purify us and lead us to the path of Prappathi. How? Just as a single lamp puts an end to a room of darkness, remembering azhwars and acharyas and learning their outpourings will take us on the right track (Prappathi Margam) and help us to  be at peace with ourselves on earth and take us to His feet in  Sri Vaikuntam after we shed our mortal coils and end our cycle of endless births.

http://anudinam.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/muthal-alwars.jpgWrite-up Courtesy: Smt Vyjayanthi Sundararajan

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