kidAmbi AchAn

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

kidambi achanthirunakshathram: chithrai, hastham

avathAra sthalam: kAnchipuram

AchAryan: emperumAnAr

He was named praNathArthiharar (one of the names of dhEva perumAL as sung by thirukkachi nambi in his dhEvarAja ashtakam) while he was born.

He was appointed as the chief cook for emperumAnAr by thirukkOshtiyUr nambi. This incident is beautifully explained in 6000 padi guru paramparA prabhAvam and a few other pUrvAchArya granthams.

kidambi achan-emperumanaremperumAnAr recited gadhya thrayam and wrote nithya grantham (thiruvArAdhana kramam) and was nurturing the srIvaishNava sampradhAyam into great heights. Still, there were some people in srIrangam who did not agree with emperumAnAr‘s idealogies.They were filled with anxiety and decide to do the unthinkable. They decided to poison the food and offer them to emperumAnAr when he goes for his bhikshai (alms). They poison the food and give to the woman of one of the houses visited by emperumAnAr. emperumAnAr arrives there and accepts the food from that woman. The woman who does not agree with her husband who is part of the conspiracy, wants to indicate to emperumAnAr about the plan in a subtle manner. She puts her food separately from the food that emperumAnAr already had and reveals great sorrow in her face, offers obeisances to emperumAnAr and returns back. emperumAnAr understands that there is something wrong in the food and dissolves that poisoned food into cauvery and starts fasting from that time onwards. thirukkOshtiyUr nambi hears about this incident and at once arrives to srIrangam. emperumAnAr along with his sishyas goes to the banks of cauvery to welcome him in hot sun. emperumAnAr offers his obeisances to nambi on the sand banks which is burning hot and waits for nambi to ask him to raise (it is usualy practice to wait on the ground offering obeisances until AchAryan/srIvaishNavas ask us to raise). nambi waits for a moment to find out who is more attached to the divine form of emperumAnAr. kidAmbi AchAn at once lifts emperumAnAr up and asks nambi “How can you let emperumAnAr stay on the hot sand for so long? How can you make a fresh flower toast in the sun like this?”. Being very pleased at kidAmbi AchAn, nambi declares “You are the most attached to emperumAnAr’s divine form. From this day onwards, you will have the responsibility of doing bhikshai for emperumAnAr”. kidAmbi AchAn feeling blessed, obliges and carries out that kainkaryam for ever.

In our vyAkyAnams, a few idhihyams that show the glories of kidAmbi AchAn are seen. Let us see some of them now.

  • thiruppAvai 23 – periyavAchAn piLLai vyAkyAnam – In this pAsuram, ANdAL says that gOpis tell kaNNan emperumAn that they have no refuge. To show that gOpis are not refuge-less (they have emperumAn himself as the protector), one incident is shown. Once, kidAmbi AchAn visits thirumAlirunchOlai. azhagar emperumAn asks kidAmbi AchAn to recite something. kidAmbi AchAn starts reciting “aparAdha sahasra bhAjanam … agathim ..” (ALavandhAr‘s sthOthra rathnam 48). In this slOkam ALavandhAr says agathim meaning “He has no other refuge to surrender”. azhagar emperumAn chastises him saying “How can you say you have no refuge after surrendering to emperumAnAr?”.
  • thiruvirutham 99 – periyavAchAn piLLai vyAkyAnam – kUrathAzhwAn‘s greatness is beautifully revealed through an incident here. Once kidAmbi AchAn returns late after kAlakshEpam (lecture) by AzhwAn. emperumAnAr enquires why he was late and AchAn replies that since he was hearing kAlakshEpam he got held up. emperumAnAr asks him which pAsuram AzhwAn was lecturing on. AchAn replies that he was lecturing on piRanthvArum vaLarnthavArun (thiruvAimozhi 5.10) padhigam. emperumAnAr then asks AchAn to explain what happened there. AchAn replies “AzhwAn recited the pAsuram first and contemplating on the divine meanings, his heart melted and he started crying. He said nammAzhwAr is very unique and his anubhavam is so great. How can we explain his divine emotions? and said ‘I cant speak about this anymore’ and stopped the kAlakshEpam”. Hearing this, emperumAnAr greatly praised AzhwAn‘s pure heart and divine attachment towards AzhwAr and his words.
  • thiruvAimozhi 4.8.2 – nampiLLai eedu vyAkyAnam – AzhwAr remembers emperumAn’s greatness in engaging him in kainkaryam. An incident is highlighted here to establish AzhwAr‘s divine emotions. Once kidAmbi AchAn was serving water for the devotees during thadhIyArAdhanam (those days, instead of placing a separate cup for everyone to drink water, a person will pour water directly to the mouth of the ones who ask for water). When a srIvaishNava in the gOshti requests for water, AchAn goes to him and pours water from the side. emperumAnAr, observing this, runs to AchAn and pushes him from the back and tells him that he should pour water standing face to face, so that there is better control over the flow of water leading to more convenience for the ones drinking water. At that time, kidAmbi AchAn feels ecstatic and thanks emperumAnAr using AzhwAr‘s words “paNimAnam pizhayAmE adiyEnaip paNi koNda” meaning “I am grateful to emperumAnAr for correcting me and engaging me in kainkaryam even though I am totally unqualified to serve srIvaishNavas”.
  • thiruvAimozhi 6.7.5 – nampiLLai eedu vyAkyAnam – AzhwAr glorifies the beauty of dhivydhEsams and the purpose of having eyes is to see the dhivyadhEsams of emperumAn. In this connection, an incident is highlighted. mudhaliyANdAn and kidAmbi AchAn were going to thirukkudanthai once. On the way, they noticed appakkudathAn temple and were mesmerized by the beauty of the temple.
  • thiruvAimozhi 10.6.1 – kidAmbi AchAn was seen showing great attachment and was very submissive when dealing with bhattar. One swamy named iLayAzhwAn asks why AchAn was even more submissive than bhattar own sishyas towards him. AchAn says “You were not there the other day to see what emperumAnAr did. One day, when bhattar (who was very young) arrived to periya perumAL‘s sannidhi in srIrangam. emperumAnAr, invited him into the inner sanctum and asked him to recite a slOkam in front of periya perumAL. On completion, emperumAnAr brought bhattar outside and instructed his sishyas as follows ‘All my sishyas should treat bhattar like just how they treat me’. Thus, I also greatly admire bhattar following the instructions of emperumAnAr“.

kidAmbi nAyanAr (a descendant of kidAmbi AchAn) teaches srI bhAshyam to maNavALa mAmunigaL in thiruveKKA. mAmunigaL, at the request of kidAmbi nAyanAr, reveals his Adhi sEshan form to him and since that time kidAmbi nAyanAr feels even greater attachment towards mAmunigaL knowing his svarUpam.

Thus, we have seen some glimpses of the glorious life of kidAmbi AchAn. He was fully situated in bhAgavatha nishtai and was very dear to emperumAnAr himself. Let us pray at his lotus feet that we too get a little bit of such bhAgavatha nishtai.

kidAmbi AchAn’s thaniyan:

rAmAnuja padhAmbhOjayugaLI yasya dhImatha:
prApyam cha prApakam vaNdhE pranNathArththiharam gurum

ராமானுஜ பதாம்போஜயுகளீ யஸ்ய தீமத:
ப்ராப்யம் ச ப்ராபகம் வந்தே ப்ரணதார்த்திஹரம் குரும்

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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Sources: 6000 padi guru paramparA prabhAvam, vyAkyAnams, MAV swamy’s vAzhvum vAkkum for quick reference

18 thoughts on “kidAmbi AchAn”

  1. Nice and useful compilation. Let our Poorvacharya blessings be with you and your family for the great work you are doing to the world of Vaishnavisam.
    –Kidambi Srinivasa Rangan Srinivasa Dasan.

  2. Hello my name is sriram. I lost my dad. my grand father orgin was from Kanchipuram dist a village called Valajapet. The reason for my blog is “Both my father and grand father were carried the names of Kidambi. My grand father name is Kidambi Ramachandra IYER. My dad name is Kidambi R. Chellappa. Even my chinna thatha was called Kidambi Natarajan. But we are IYERS. I like perumal very much. i understand that Kidambi achan hails from kanchipuram dist. whom whoud i get in touch with to understand the link? any achariyas where i connect ?

    • kidAmbi is the name of the lineage – it seems to be originating from gatAmbi (relating to water pots) – kidAmbi AchchAn was serving water in srIvaishNava thadhIyArAdhanai (matching his family name). They lived around kAnchIpuram during rAmAnujar’s times and eventually migrated to many places. It is possible that, there were iyers also being engaged in similar service in their annadhAnam, etc – that is probably why your family is having iyer lineage.

      Not sure if there will be anyone who can decipher the iyer link in kidAmbi family – will enquire and send a mail soon.
      adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

  3. My name is Sundara Ramanuja shasan. I have one doubt I want know Kitambi achcha father & mother name
    Kindly ell me

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