srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

In the previous article (https://acharyas.koyil.org/index.php/2012/09/06/emperumanar-english/) we discussed about emperumAnAr. Now we will move on to the next AchAryan in the OrAN vazhi guru paramparai.

embAr – madhuramangalam

Thirunakshathram: thai, punarpUsam

avathAra sthalam: madhuramangalam

AchAryan: periya thirumalai nambi

Sishyas: parAsara bhattar, vEdha vyAsa bhattar.

Place where he attained paramapadham: thiruvarangam

Works: vijNana sthuthi, emperumAnAr vadivazhagu pAsuram.

gOvindha perumAL was born in madhuramangalam born as the son of kamala nayana bhattar and sridhEvi ammAL. He is also known as gOvindha bhattar, gOvindha dhAsar and rAmAnuja padha chAyaiyAr. He eventually and popularly became to be known as embAr. He is a cousin of emperumAnAr and was instrumental in saving emperumAnAr from being killed during vAraNAsi yAthrai with yAdhava prakAsar.

After saving emperumAnAr, gOvindha perumAL continues his yAthrai and becomes a siva bhakthar and settles down in kALahasthi. emperumAnAr sends periya thirumalai nambi to reform him. When gOvindha perumAL comes to the nandhavanam to pluck flowers for his pUjA, periya thirumalai nambi recites thiruvAimozhi pAsuram “dhEvan emperumAnukkallAl pUvum pUsanaiyum thagumE”, i.e., only emperumAn sriman nArAyaNan deserves to be worshipped with flowers and no one else qualifies for that. govindha perumAL at once realises his mistake and gives up the attachment towards the sivan and surrenders to periya thirumalai nambi. periya thirumalai nambi performs pancha samskAram to him and teaches him sampradhAya arthams. Thereafter, gOvindha perumAL stays with periya thirumalai nambi doing all kainkaryams to his AchAryan.

emperumAnAr visits periya thirumalai nambi at thirupathi and learns sri rAmAyaNam from him. A few incidents happen at that time which will make us understand the greatness of embAr. Let us see them briefly:

  • Once, gOvindha perumAL prepares the bed for periya thirumalai nambi and lies down it first before his AchAryan lies down. When emperumAnAr sees this, he lets periya thirumalai nambi know about this and nambi enquires from gOvindha perumAL about the incident. gOvindha perumAL says he will get narakam for this act but he does not mind that. He says that he was testing to ensure that the bed will be very comfortable for his AchAryan. So he did not worry about his fate but was more concerned about his AchAryan’s thirumEni. This relates to mAmunigaL’s srisUkthi – thEsArum sichchan avan sIr vadivai Asaiyudan NOkkumavan (தேசாரும் சிச்சன் அவன் சீர் வடிவை ஆசையுடன் நோக்குமவன்).
  • Once emperumAnAr notices that gOvindha perumAL does something in a snake’s mouth and takes a bath for sarIra sudhi. emperumAnAr enquires why and gOvindha perumAL says that the snake had a thorn in its mouth and he removed it. emperumAnAr was overwhelmed with gOvindha perumAL’s jIva kArunyam.
  • When emperumAnAr takes leave from periya thirumalai nambi, nambi says he wants to offer something to emperumAnAr. emperumAnAr requests nambi to send gOvindha perumAL with him. nambi happily agrees and instructs gOvindha perumAL to treat emperumAnAr as himself. But by the time they reach kAnchipuram, gOvindha perumAL unable to bear the separation from his AchAryan returns to his AchAryan. periya thirumalai nambi does not let gOvindha perumAL enter his house and says that once he was given to emperumAnAr he has to stay with him only. gOvindha perumAL realises the heart of his AchAryan and returns to be back with emperumAnAr.

After returning to srirangam, on the request of gOvindha perumAL’s mother, emperumAnAr arranges for gOvindha perumAL’s marriage. gOvindha perumAL reluctantly agrees but never gets involved in his married life with his wife. emperumAnAr specifically instructs gOvindha perumAL to be involved in EkAntham, but gOvindha perumAL comes back and says that he sees everywhere emperumAn only, so there is no EkAntham. Immediately understanding the position of gOvindha perumAL, emperumAnAr gives him sanyAsAshramam and names him embAr and orders him to stay with him always.

Once when embAr was praised by other srivaishnavas embAr happily agrees to those praises. emperumAnAr takes a note of that and mentions to embAr that it is not a srivaishnava’s quality to accept praises without naichiyAnusandhAnam (humility). For that embAr says if some one praises him, it only glorifies emperumAnAr himself since it was emperumAnAr who reformed him from a very lowly state. emperumAnAr acknowledges that and praises embAr for his AchArya bhakthi.

When AndAL (wife of kUrathAzhwAn) gives birth to two children by the grace of emperumAn through his prasAdham, emperumAnAr along with embAr visits them for the nAmakaraNam ceremony. emperumAnAr instructs embAr to bring the children and while doing so embAr recites dhvaya mahA manthram to the children as a rakshai for them. emperumAnAr looking at the children, was able to recognise that they had dhvaya mahA manthrOpadhEsam by embAr immediately and order embAr to be their AchAryan. Thus parAsara bhattar and vEdha vyAsa bhattar become the sishyas of embAr.

While embAr was always completely detached to lOka vishayam (material things), he was very much attached to bhagavath vishayam. He was also a great rasikar (one who appreciates/enjoys) bhagavath vishayam. There are several incidents that are highlighted in the vyAkyAnams about embAr’s bhagavath anubhavams. Let us see a few here.

  • In the last pAsuram of periyAzhwAr thirumozhi, when srivaishnavas ask the meaning for “chAyai pOla pAdavallAr thAmum aNukkargaLE” –  he says he has not heard the meaning from emperumAnAr for that particular pAsuram. But he keeps the pAdhukA of emperumAnAr on his head and meditates for a moment and says emperumAnAr revealed it at that very moment and says it should be read as “pAdvallAr – chAyai pOla – thAmum aNukkargaLE”, i.e., one who sings these pAsurams will be close to emperumAn like his shadow.
  • When uyntha piLLai arayar does abinayam for periyAzhwAr thirumozhi, 2.1 padhigam, which describes how kannan emperumAn scares everyone, he shows that kannan emperumAn is keeping his eyes in a scary position to scare the gOpa kumAras (cowherd boys). But embAr, watching from behind shows as if kannan emperumAn showing his sangu and chakkaram to the children to scare them, the arayar swamy understands that and shows that the next time. emperumAnAr, on observing this, asks “gOvindha perumALE irunthIrO” (Are you there in the gOshti?) – since he knows only embAr can give such beautiful meanings.
  • In thiruvAimozhi, minnidai madavArgaL padhigam (6.2), it is shown that, even being a sanyAsi, embAr was able to understand the thiruvuLLam of AzhwAr who is having vislEsham with kannan emperumAn. He was also giving wonderful meanings for this wonderful padhigam which amazes all the srivaishnavas. This truly shows how a srivaishnava should be “paramAthmani raktha: aparamAthmani viraktha:” – anything related to emperumAn is enjoyable and anything not related to emperumAn is to be shunned/given up.
  • In thiruvAimozhi, 10.8.3 pAsura vyAkyAnam an interesting incident is shown. emperumAnAr while walking in his mutt meditating on thiruvAimozhi, suddenly turns back. embAr watching him from behind the doors and asks if emperumAnAr is thinking about “madiththEn” in this pAsuram and emperumAnAr acknowledges that. Just based on a simple act embAr was able to determine exactly what emperumAnAr was thinking.

embAr during his charama dhasai, instructs parAsara bhattar to administer our sampradhAyam from srirangam. He also says to bhattar that, bhattar should always think that “emperumAnAr thirvadigaLE thanjam”. Deeply meditating on emperumAnAr, embAr gives up his charama thirumEni and reaches paramapadham to be with emperumAnAr in nithya vibhUthi.

Let us pray at the lotus feet of embAr that we also develop such attachment towards emperumAnAr and our AchAryan.

embAr’s thanian

rAmAnuja padha chAyA gOvindhAhva anapAyinI
thadhA yaththa svarUpA sA jIyAn madh visramasthalee

ராமானுஜ பதச் சாயா கோவிந்தாஹ்வ அநபாயிநீ
ததா யத்த ஸ்வரூபா ஸா ஜீயாந் மத் விஸ்ரமஸ்தலீ

In our next article, we will see parAsara bhattar vaibhavam.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

archived in https://acharyas.koyil.org/index.php/, also visit http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/

Sources: 6000 padi guru paramparA prabhavam, periya thirumudi adaivu

29 thoughts on “embAr”

  1. Dear Swamin,

    Embar Thirunakshathram is not chithirai punarpUsam but “Thai punarpusam”.
    Also heard that Embar attained paramapadam not in srirangam but in “Melkote” (as told by maduramangalam theerthakaarar).

    If possible, please let us know the birth year of embar. Being from maduramangalam, i was told that embar swami is 6 or 8 years younger than Emperumanar. Also hear numerous feedback on this, but could not able to ascertain.


    • thank you for pointing out the mistake in the month swamy. it is indeed thai punarpUsam.

      guru parampara prabhAvam says that embAr attained paramapadham in thiruvarangam only.

      adiyen will enquire and update the exact year of birth in the future.
      adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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