thirumAlai ANdAn

srImathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srImadh varavaramunayE nama:
srI vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

thirumalai-andanThirunakshathram: mAsi, magam

avathAra sthalam: thirumAlirunchOlai

AchAryan: ALavandhAr

Sishyas: emperumAnAr (grantha kAlakshEpa sishya)

thirumAlai ANdAn is one of the prime sishyas of ALavandhAr. He is also known as mAlAdhArar and srI gyAna pUrNar.

ALavandhAr instructs his 5 prime disciples to teach various aspects of our sampradhAyam to emperumAnAr. Of those, thirumAlai ANdAn is given the responsibility of teaching the meanings of thiruvAimozhi. After ALavandhAr ascending to paramapadham and emperumAnAr arriving at srIrangam, thirukkOshtiyUr nambi guides emperumAnAr to thirumAlai ANdAn to listen the estoeric meanings of nammAzhwAr‘s thiruvAimozhi.


ALavandhAr with his sishyas

While giving lectures, thirumAlai ANdAn explains the meanings of thiruvAimozhi as he heard from ALavandhAr. But at times, emperumAnAr presents his view point in some of the pAsurams (that are different from ANdAn’s) and thirumAlai ANdAn thinks that emperumAnAr is creating meanings on his own and tells emperumAnAr that he has never heard ALavndhAr explaining those meanings.

One such time, while explaining thiruvAimozhi 2.3.3 “aRiyAk kAlaththuLLE” pAsuram, ANdAn explains that AzhwAr is speaking with sorrow that emperumAn blessed him with blemishless knowledge but still has kept him in this samsAram with this body. But emperumAnAr looks at it differently (by placing the 2nd line first) and says that since this padhigam (10 pAsurams) are revelation of AzhwAr’s bliss, the pAsuram really means that AzhwAr is saying with great joy that “I was suffering in this samsAram since time immemorial and you have blessed me suddenly”. Hearing this ANdAn becomes upset and says he has never heard this from ALavandhAr and emperumAnAr is creating new meanings like vishwAmithra created new lOkam for thrisangu mahArAja. And he stops his lectures as well. Hearing this, thirukkOshtiyUr nambi comes running from thirukkOshtiyUr to srIrangam and goes to ANdAn and enquires him about the incident. ANdAn says that emperumAnAr keeps on giving new meanings which are not heard from ALavandhAr. When ANdAn explains the particular incident fully, nambi says that he has heard this meaning from ALavandhAr and is a valid explanation of the pAsuram. He further says that “just like emperumAn learnt from sAndhIpani, rAmAnujar is learning thiruvAimozhi from you. He will not say anything other than what is in ALavandhAr‘s heart. Do not presume that you are teaching some thing rAmAnujar does not know already”. He then brings ANdAn and periya nambi to emperumAnAr’s mutt and requests emperumAnAr to continue hearing from ANdAn. Subsequently, emperumAnAr explains another pAsuram differently than ANdAn and ANdAn asks him how he knows this particular meaning even without meeting ALavandhAr and emperumAnAr replies that it is because he is like Ekalvayan for ALavndhAr (Ekalavyan is the one who learnt everything from dhrONAchArya without directly learning from him). ANdAn understanding the greatness offers his respects to emperumAnAr and feels great joy that he is able to hear what he missed hearing from ALavandhAr.

There are many pAsurams that are identified in the vyAkyAnams where ANdAn and emperumAnAr had interesting/different view points. Let us see a couple.

  • thiruvAimozhi 1.2 – nampiLLai vyAkyAnam – “vIdu min muRRavum” padhigam (decad) introduction section – ANdAn lectures this padhigam to emperumAnAr as explaining prapathi (surrender) yOgam as heard from ALavandhAr. emperumAnAr also follows the same approach. But after emperumAnAr completes srI bhAshyam, he changes his perspective and starts lecturing this padhigam as explaining bhakthi yOgam. Since prapathi is most confidential and can be easily misinterpreted, emperumAnAr explains this as sAdhya bhakthi (which means doing bhakthi purely for emperumAn’s pleasure without any tinge of the thought that “I am doing bhakthi on my own capacity”). This sAdhya bhakthi is different from upAya/sAdhana bhakthi (which is explained generally as bhakthi yOgam). embAr also follows emperumAnAr and does the same.
  • thiruvAimozhi 2.3.1 – nampiLLai vyAkyAnam – While explaining “thEnum pAlum kannalum amuthumoththE – kalandhozhinthOm” (தேனும் பாலும் கன்னலும் அமுதுமொத்தே – கலந்தொழிந்தோம்), ANdAn explains it as heard from ALavandhAr as AzhwAr saying “emperumAn and I mingled naturally as honey and honey or milk and milk will mix”. But emperumAnAr explains it as AzhwAr saying “We mingled and enjoyed all the nectarean taste that is arrived by mixing various tasty materials like honey, milk, sugar, etc”.

In nAchiyAr thirumozhi, 11.6 vyAkyAnam, periyavAchAn piLLai identifies ANdAn’s AchArya bhakthi through his own words. ANdAn used to say that “Even though we should give up attachments to body and all bodily belongings, this particular body should not be ignored since it was this body through which I got ALavandhAr’s sambhandham”.

In charamOpAya nirNayam (which glorifies emperumAnAr’s greatness) nAyanAr AchAn piLLai identifies that when thirumAlai ANdAn was explaining poliga poliga pAsuram (thiruvAimozhi 5.2), thirukkOshtiyUr nambi reveals to everyone in the gOshti that emperumAnAr is the one who is talked about in this pAsuram. Hearing this ANdAn becomes ecstatic and declares that he will consider emperumAnAr as ALavandhAr (his own AchAryan). This is explained at

Let us pray at the lotus feet of thirumAlai ANdAn who had great attachment towards ALavandhAr and emperumAnAr.

thirumAlai ANdAn’s thanian

rAmAnuja munIndhrAya dhrAmidI samhithArththadham
mAlAdhara gurum vandhE vAvadhUkam vipaschitham

ராமாநுஜ முநீந்த்ராய த்ராமிடீ ஸம்ஹிதார்த்ததம்
மாலாதர குரும் வந்தே வாவதூகம் விபஸ்சிதம்

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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Sources: 6000 padi guru paramparA prabhavam, periya thirumudi adaivu, vyAkyAnams, MAV swamy’s vAzhvum vAkkum for quick reference