Dwapara Yugam ended with Krishnavatharam and was followed by Kali Yugam. On the 43rd day of Kaliyugam, on a Friday in the Tamil month of Vaikasi under the star Vishakam, Namazhwar avatharam took place. He chose the banks of Tamraparni river and the place Thirukurugoor. His parents were KariMaran and Udhayanangai. They were childless and their desire for progeny was fulfilled after they prayed to Thirukurungudi Nambi. This was no ordinary child. Vishvaksenar – the commander-in-chief of Sriman Narayana, a Nityasuri incarnated to save the world. At the time of birth, this baby conquered the vayu called Shattam and was therefore named Sathakopan. This child did not cry or feed, yet continued to grow. The worried parents left the baby in a cradle infront of Adinathan’s temple in Thirukurugoor. The baby got out of the cradle and reached a tamarind tree under which he sat for sixteen years in meditation. The Tamarind Tree was special too – its leaves did not droop during night as tamarind leaves usually do and the tamarind fruits never ripened. This tree was called “Urangapuli” the tamarind tree which never sleeps. The divine child was assumed dumb till he answered Madurakavi’s question – If a small something were born in the womb of what is dead what would it eat and where would it rest? – It eats that itself, and rests there itself.
Having woken from his trance Sathakopan’s outpourings started and were written down by Madurakaviazhwar. The four vedas took shape in Tamil as:
- Thiruvirrutham (100 pasurams),
- Thiruasiriyam (7 pasurams),
- Periya Thiruvanthathi (87 pasurams) and
- Thiruvaymozhi (1102 pasurams)
Thus, what was available in Sanskrit to Brahmins alone became known to everyone by the grace of Sathakopan. Thenceforth, Sathakopan became Namazhwar and Kurugoor became Azhwar Thirunagari. So much so that Azhwar without a prefix has come to mean Namazhwar. He never stirred from under the Divine Tamarind tree and it is said that all Divya Desa Perumals vied with each other to come before Azhwar and be recepients of His pasurams. Azhwar was immersed in Krishna consciousness. For Azhwar Krishna was food, water and enjoyment. He lived every moment in contemplation of Perumal-Thayar and was in eternal bliss. Namazhwar is given pride of place in our sampradhayam. He is hailed as Prappana jana kootasthar. Bhaghavadh Ramanuja says that His SriBashyam was the result of understanding Azhwar’s works. Swami Desikan says that the way to attaining Perumal’s Thiruvadi is by holding to the feet of Sathakopan. But for us ignoramusus Namazhwar blesses as Sri Sathari which is placed on our heads in Srivaishnavaite temples. In sum Sathakopan’s grace reaches everyone and Azhwar has done what the avatharams of Sriman Narayana could not. That is why Perumal and Thayar called Azhwar as – Namazhwar (Nam – our Azhwar – Namazhawar).
Write-up Courtesy: Smt Vyjayanthi Sundararajan