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

In the previous article ( we discussed about parAsara bhattar. Now we will move on to the next AchAryan in the OrAN vazhi guru paramparai.

nanjIyar – thirunArAyaNapuram

Thirunakshathram: panguni, uthram

avathAra sthalam: thirunArAyaNa puram

AchAryan: parAsara bhattar

Sishyas: nampiLLai, sri sEnAdhipathi jIyar, etc

Place where he attained paramapadham: srirangam

Works: thiruvAimozhi 9000 padi vyAkyAnam, kanninun chiruthAmbu vyAkyAnam, thiruppAvai vyAkyAnam, vyAkyAnams for thiruvandhAdhis, sharaNagathi gadhya vyAkyAnam, thiruppallANdu vyAkyAnam, rahasya thraya vivaraNa grantham named nURRettu (108) – most of these are not available now.

Born as sri mAdhavar, he became to be a famous adhvaitha scholar. Eventually bhattar named him nanjIyar and he was also known as nigamAntha yOgi and vEdhAnthi.

mAdhavAchAryar was a great adhvaitha scholar who was living in thirunArAyaNapuram. emperumAnAr wanted to reform him and bring him into our sampradhAyam. He orders bhattar to go and reform mAdhvAchAryar. It is clear from the guru paramparai that even emperumAnAr had good respect for mAdhavAchAryar despite him being an adhvaithi.

mAdhavAchAryar also hears about bhattar’s glories and was longing to meet him. Based on emperumAnAr’s desire, bhattar goes to thirunArAyaNapuram, debates with him and accepts him as his sishya (we have already seen this in bhattar’s vaibhavam – After the debate, all the srivaishnavas who came with bhattar from srirangam arrive at mAdhavAchAriar’s place and mAdhavAchAriar was completely overwhelmed after understanding the glory of bhattar. He says to bhattar “You have come all the way from srirangam, giving up your glories – changed into a simple attire voluntarily and debated with me, explained me all the true knowledge in sAsthram and reformed me. How am I going to ever repay you for all these favours?”. bhattar simply asks him to master aruLicheyal and related works and leaves to srirangam.

mAdhavAchAriar, getting frustrated with his wives who are unfavourable for his kainkaryams and unable to bear the separation from his AchAryan decides to become a sannyAsi and go to srirangam to be with his AchAryan. He divides his huge wealth into 3 parts, gives 2 parts to each of his 2 wives (since sAsthram says that wives should be taken care off before accepting sannyAsAshramam), accepts sannyAsAshramam and begins his journey to srirangam. On his way, ananthAzhwAn meets him and asks him the need for taking for sannyAsAhramam. He says if he goes to bhattar and simply serve, emperumAn will give mOksham anyway. He says to mAdhavAchAriar “let you be born in thirumanthram (understanding the Athma svarUpam) and grow in dhvayam (doing kainkaryam to perumAL and pirAtti)”. bhattar seeing mAdhavAchAriar and his dedication, accepts him and calls him “you are nam jIyar” and then onwards he becomes to be known as nanjIyar.

bhattar and nanjIyar share an ideal AchArya-sishya relationship. nanjIyar gives up everything else in his life and stays with his AchAryan forever. bhattar teaches him thiruvAimozhi based on 6000 padi vyAkyAnam of thirukkurugai pirAn piLLAn. bhattar instructs him to write a vyAkyAnam for thiruvAimozhi and nanjIyar duly writes 9000 padi vyAkyAnam. One of the speciality of nanjIyar is that he performs thiruvAimozhi kAlakshEpam 100 times in his 100 years of life time.

nanjIyar’s AchArya bhakthi was boundless. Let us see some incidents through which we can understand his AchArya bhakthi.

  • Once during a procession of bhattar on his palanquin, nanjIyar tried to carry him as well with his thridhandam on one shoulder and the palanquin on the other. bhattar said “jIyA, this does not fit your sannyAsAshramam. you should not carry me”. For that nanjIyar says “if my thridhandam becomes a hurdle for my service to you, I will break it and give up the sannyAsAshramam”.
  • Once when some EkAngis (his assistants) were complaining to nanjIyar that there were some disturbances in the garden due to the arrival of bhattar, nanjIyar says the purpose of the garden is to serve bhattar and his family not for namperumAL and asks his EkAngis to always keep that in mind.
  • It is customary for AchAryas to keep their heads on their sishyas’ laps while lying down. Once, when bhattar wanted to take rest, he lied down and kept his head on nanjIyar’s lap and rested for a long time. nanjIyar stayed put for the whole time without moving and bhattar when woke up realized the dedication of nanjIyar and taught the meanings of dhvayam once more (AchAryas teach dhvayam only when they are very pleased with the sishyas).
  • nanjIyar quickly learnt aruLicheyal and became a master of it. bhattar used to ask nanjIyar to recite aruLicheyal pAsurams and will give wonderful meanings to him. Once when nanjIyar was reciting thiruvAimozhi 7.2.9, “en thirumagaL chEr mArvanE ennum ennudaiyAviyE ennum” (என் திருமகள் சேர் மார்வனே என்னும் என்னுடையாவியே என்னும்) – he recited the whole sentence without break. Hearing this bhattar immediately fainted. When woken up, bhattar explains that this sentence should be recited together only since doing that we get the real thiruvuLLam of parAnguasa nAyaki that because sriranganAthan is having sriranganAchiAr in his heart, he is very dear to AzhwAr. If it was recited separately as two phrases it would simply mean he is sriranganAthan who has sriranga nAchiAr in his heart and he is very dear to me.
  • bhattar also praises nanjIyar for his knowledge in aruLicheyal despite coming from a land where Tamizh is not the mother tongue and despite being a samskritha vEdhAnthi (adhvaithi) before.

bhattar and nanjIyar had several interesting conversations. nanjIyar, even though he was a great scholar, he never hesitated asking doubts and clarifying them from his AchAryan. Let us see some of his conversations here:

  • nanjIyar asks bhattar why AzhwArs are very attached to kannan emperumAn. bhattar says that everyone remembers more recent activities. It is because krishnAvathAram is the most recent avathAram of emperumAn and the AzhwArs missed meeting kannan emperumAn personally even being born quite recently (relatively speaking compare to other avathArams) they are very attached to him.
  • bhattar also explains that in krishnAvathAram, emperumAn is living in gOpa kulam. Wherever he goes he meets with asuras – kamsan has his servants waiting to kill kannan emperumAn everywhere. But in rAmAvathAram (and other avathArams as well), emperumAn himself has learnt all weaponry. His father dhasarathan was brave enough to even help indhran during difficulties. His brothers (lakshmaNan, bharathan, shathrugnan) were equally  brave and capable. Thus periyAzhwAr feared for kannan emperumAn more than other avathArams.
  • kaliyan in thirumozhi “oru nal suRRam” padhigam (towards the end of thirumozhi) does mangaLAsAsanam for many dhivyadhEsams. nanjIyar asks the reason for that and bhattar says, a girl who is getting married and leaving to her husband’s place would quickly go to all her friends and neighbours to take leave from them. Like that, since AzhwAr is almost ready to go to paramapadham, he is taking leave from all the emperumAns in this world quickly before he leaves.
  • prahlAdhan curses his grandson mahAbali that all his wealth will be lost when he is not respecting emperumAn. nanjIyar asks why prahlAdhan who does not care about wealth cursed like that. bhattar says prahlAdhan took away what was dear to mahAbali – just like if you want to punish a dog, you take away the dirt which it eats.
  • nanjIyar asks, why mahAbali goes to pAthALam and sukrAchAryar loses his eye in vAmana charithram. bhattar says since sukrAchAryar stopped mahAbali from performing his dharmam he lost his eye and since mahAbali did not listen to his AchArya’s words he was punished to be in pAthALam.
  • nanjIyar asks why dhasarathan who could not bear the separation of perumAL and gave up his life immediately only went to svargam. bhattar says actually since he was attached to sAmAnya dharmam (speaking truth) and gave up emperumAn (protecting him), he should have gone to narakam only. But since he was perumAL’s father, it would not be nice for him to go to narakam – so emperumAn mercifully sends him to svargam.
  • nanjIyar asks why sugrIvan was not in favour of accepting vibhIshaNan even though vibhIshaNan was a bhakthan. bhattar says, just like perumAL was trying to accept/protect his bhakthan, sugrIvan was also trying to protect his sharaNagathan (perumAL asked the help of sugrIvan before). sugrIvan was worried that vibhIshaNan may harm perumAL.
  • When kannan emperumAn meets dhEvaki and vasudhEvar after killing kamsan, it is said that dhEvaki had milk flowing from her breasts out of motherly affection and kannan emperumAn accepted that (even though he is no longer a baby). nanjIyar asks how is that possible. bhattar first jokingly says it is between a mother and child and who are we to question? but he also explains that if pUthanai who is neither his mother nor has any real love for kannan emperumAn can give milk and emperumAn accepts that, what is the difficulty in understanding that the real mother who has so much lover for emperumAn giving milk and emperumAn accepting it.
  • bhattar explains yayAthi charithram as part of a lecture. yayAthi compeletes 100 ashvamEtha yAgams and goes to svargam to share the seat of indhran. Indhran does not like sharing his seat, so he tricks yayAthi to commit a mistake and pushes him down from his seat. nanjIyar asks bhattar what is the purpose of this charithram? bhattar says this charithram explains the greatness of emperumAn and the lack of the same in other dhEvathas. emperumAn gives sAmyApathi mOksham to every one who simply surrenders to him. But anya dhEvathas cannot bear any one being equal to them even after performing 100 ashvamEtha yAgams – they will some how try to push them down.

There are so many such conversations which explains the deep meanings of aruLicheyal and sAsthram to us. Actually, these conversations lay the foundation for nanjIyar’s expert commentaries to aruLicheyal and explanations to his sishyas.

When nanjIyar wanted to make a nice copy of his 9000 padi vyAkyAnam, nambUr varadhAchAriar was identified as a great writer to do that. He completes the work and eventually nanjIyar praises him and names him nampiLLai and makes him the dharisana pravarthakar. nanjIyar also constantly glorifies nampiLLai when nampiLLai gives a better explanation than him. This shows his magnanimity as well.

nanjIyar had excellent understanding of our sampradhAyam. He says “if a srivaishnava looks at another srivaishnava’s sufferings and if he feels sorry for that, then he is a srivaishnava”. He had great respect for srivaishnavas and AchAryas of his time.

In periya thirumozhi, 3.6 (thUviriya malaruzhakki padhigam), an incident is shown. When nanjIyar is very ill towards the end of his life, a swamy named peRRi visits him and asks him if he needs anything. nanjIyar says he wants to hear this padhigam which is thirumangai AzhwAr’s thUthu to emperumAn (AzhwAr sends thUthu in the first 4 pAsurams and after that is unable to continue due to his soft nature) – the arayar swamy recites the same in front of namperumAL and nanjIyar gets immersed in emotions when he hears that.

Towards the end of his life, he requests emperumAn to show his svayam thirumEni and namperumAL does that for him specially. Fully satisfied with that, nanjIyar gives many final instructions to his sishyas and gives up his charama thirumEni and attains paramapadham.

Let us pray at the lotus feet of nanjIyar that we also develop such attachment towards emperumAn and AchAryan.

nanjIyar’s thanian

namO vEdhAntha vEdhyAya jagan mangaLa hEthavE
yasya vAgamruthasAra bhUritham bhuvana thrayam

நமோ வேதாந்த வேத்யாய ஜகந் மங்கள ஹேதவே
யஸ்ய வாகம்ருதஸார பூரிதம் புவந த்ரயம்

In our next article, we will see nampiLLai vaibhavam.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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Sources: 6000 padi guru paramparA prabhavam, periya thirumudi adaivu, vyAkyAnams

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