Birth Period : 9th C. AD
Birth Place : Sri Villiputhur
Other Names : Vishnu Sittar, Patta Naadan, Bhattar Piraan, Sri Villiputthooraar, Sriranganaatha Svasoorar
Month : Aani
Star (Natshatram) : Swathi (Swaathee)
Hamsam : Garuda (Vehicle)
Poomalai Kaimkaryam of Periyazhwar
Sri periyazhwar was deeply interested in serving perumal vatapatrasayi in the best manner as possible.Sri Vatapatrasayi perumal is The lord who appears as resting in yoga nidra on a small banyan leaf with the whole universe inside His stomatch to protect it(Universe) from Pralayam.
While doing anusandhanam of Srimad Bhagavatham periyazhwar came across the following incident.
Sri krishna paramatma comes to mathura for slaying king kamsa alongwith balarama.While getting down from his chariot at mathura Sri krishna paramatma saw the malakaran taking flower garlands for the king kamsa immediatly sri krishna paramatma stopped the malakaran and asked him for a flower garland .The malakaran reverentially replied "so many rishis and mahapurushas perform penace to get your divine darsanam and you who are so elusive to them came before a ordinary person like me and gave me your darsanam out of your own will and have asked me a garland.what more grace can i expect" saying this the malakaran picked out his best flower garland and offered it to the lord .The lord was very happy in receiving the garland and then left for kamsa's palace.
This incident left a strong impression on periyazhwar's mind and he concluded that preparing and offering flower garlands to the lord was the best kaimkaryam and thus prepared a small flower garden in front of his house and grew different varities of flowers like Tulasi,Tamarai,shengazhaneer,mallikai mullai etc and looked after the garder with great care.
Daily He used to get up very early and after taking his bath and finishing his anushthanams used to go to the nandavam and then carefully select the flowers and after plucking the best among the lot used to weave a garland and then take it to the vatapatrasayi perumal sannidhi ,the bhattar used to adorn the malai over mooolavar in a very nice fashion after being satisfied vishnuchittar used to offer his prayers and leave the place.
His tiru pallandu is very famous among the Vaishnava devotees. This great alwar's special daughter is none other than Srimati Andal, the author of Tiruppavai.
Vishnuchitta? was called " Periya Azhwar"
He was not one of the first Azhwars to appear on this earth.
That credit goes to the Mudal Azhwars.
He was not the first one to establish the Paratvam of the Lord.
That credit goes to Thirumazhisai Azhwar.
He did not write extensively. Even the ones he authored is small
compared to those of other Azhwars.
That credit of composing prodigiously goes to Tirumangai Azhwar.
How then did he come to be known as Periya Azhwar?
For this, we need to have a flashback of the incident in the life story of Vishnuchitta?, which shot him to instant fame.
Villi and Kandan were hunter brothers who lived in the forest adjoining Puttur in the Pandya kingdom. While on a hunting spree, Villi saw his brother Kandan being killed by a tiger. He also saw how he came back alive by the grace of God. Villi became very rich shortly after and built a temple for Lord Vishnu and formed a village around the temple and named it Villiputtur. Mukunda Bhattar and his wife Padmavalli were one of the early settlers there.
Periya Azhwar, an incarnation of Garuda (the divine falcon vehicle of Lord Vishnu) was born to them as Vishnu chitta (One whose mind is rivetted to Lord Vishnu). He was born in the year Krodhana, Aani month, Suklapaksha
Ekadasi day (a Sunday) in the constellation of Swati. He bought a small piece of land, converted it into a flower garden and spent his time in making flower garlands for the Lord of Vada Perumal koil in his place.
At that time, there was a king called "Vallabhadeva" who was just and impartial. Once, he asked his Purohit 'Selvanambhi' as to who was the Supreme deity. Selvanambhi suggested that he call all the learned pundits of the times in an assembly to debate the issue and arrive at a conclusion. The king announced a wager in which a wallet containing golden coins (Porkizhi) was to be tied to the top of a pole. This would bend towards the person who is able to establish with absolute certainty the correct answer to this poser. Great pundits from all over the country belonging to several sects gathered in the hall to thrash out the issue. But, the wallet would not come down.
The Lord appeared in the dream of Vishnu chitta and asked him to participate in the debate. Accordingly, he proceeded to the court. The poets assembled jeered at him saying that he had come there like a blind person who was 'NOT AFRAID OF THE DARK'. Unmindful of all the ridicule, Vishnu chitta commenced expounding how Lord Narayana was the Supreme deity. The pole bent to his side on its own and Vishnu chitta was declared the winner and offered the prize. He was honored by being taken in a procession mounted on a tall caparisoned elephant. He was hailed eulogizing his feat in winning the wallet. He was also called Bhattarpiraan, Srivilliputtur Kone, Puduvai Kone, and Kizhi Arutthan.
As the procession emerged out, there appeared on the sapphire skies Lord Vishnu clad in his proverbial pinkish yellow attire(Pitambara) accompanied by his consort Mahalakshmi and the entire retinue of divine beings to bless
Vishnuchitta. In extreme ecstasy, Vishnu chitta sang his famous "Pallandu" in 12 stanzas praying for the long life of Bhagavan.
He knew full well that no harm could ever befall the Lord. But, he became anxious that having exposed himself to the gaze of all in this mundane world, (some of them may be having an evil eye), Bhagavan should not be affected thereby. Hence, he hastened to sing the "Tirup pallaandu" hymns. These are being recited throughout the World in all Vishnu temples even though the priests have had no exposure to the Tamil language. This forms the first decad of the first Part of his monumental work, "Periyazhwar Tirumozhi".
1. It is the greatness of his love for the Lord that made him pour out the Pallandu hymns. Ordinarily, only elders would bless the young ones for a long life. "Periya' means elder and therefore he was called Periyazhwar. To the objection that such an attitude was 'unnatural' (Swarupa Viruddham), Pillai Lokacharya has argued that as it was a 'Mangala Aasaasanam', it was quite in order and because - IT WAS A STRANGE CASE OF KNOWLEDGE RIPENING INTO AN IGNORANCE OF SORTS DUE TO LOVE AND AFFECTION.
2. King Janaka laid a challenge through the Siva Dhanus in Sri Sita's marriage; Kumbar, the Aayar Chief laid a challenge in the form of the 7 bulls in the marriage of Nappinnai; But, Vishnuchitta laid no challenges in the marriage of his daughter, Andal because of his obvious conviction that in due time,'THE OWNER WOULD CLAIM WHAT HE OWNED'
3. It is natural to honor anyone who brings relief from suffering. That is how Rishyasringa was honored when rains came to the parched land of Angadesa as he set foot there. Vishnuchitta also performed a similar miracle. When a famine raged in the northern city of Kandam Kadinagar on the banks of Ganges, he was invited to the city to solve the crisis. As he set foot there, welcome rains showered and the place was relieved of the famine.His greatness was honored. Periyazhwar himself is said to refer to this incident thus "Venkali Naliyaa Vittuchittar"
4. Parasara who wrote Vishnu Purana known as Purana Ratna deals with the story of Sri Krishna only in the 5th Amsa of his work; Sukhabrahmam who wrote Srimad Bhaagavatam has dealt with the story of Krishna only in the
10th Skaandam; But, Vishnuchitta fills his entire Tirumozhi with the story of Lord Krishna vividly portraying every detail of the Lord's childhood 'leelas ' in his own inimitable style.
5.Another esoteric aspect of Periyazhwar that really makes him 'Periya' is the fact that he is the incarnation of Garuda. We know that Garuda is known as "Periya Thiruvadi". Garuda reincarnated himself as Ajuna's chariot and as such he witnessed the Lord delivering the Bagavad Gita - especially the Charama Sloka to Arjuna. Thus, apart from Arjuna, he was the one who was the direct recipient of the Lord's message. Andal refers to this when she says "Meymei Peru Vaarthai Vittu Chittar Kettiruppaar".'Vaarthai' is Moolamantram; 'Peru Vaarthai' is the Mantra
Ratna of Dwayam and 'Meymei Peru Vaarthai' is the Charama sloka.
6. Swami Desika in his Godha Sthuthi reveals the secret!
Thaathasthu thE madhubithah sthuthilesa vasyaath
KarNaamruthaih: sthuthi Sathaih: anavaaptha poorvam /
Tvan mouli gandha subaghaam upahrithya maalaam
lebhe ?Mahthara?padaanuguNam prasaadam //
Oh! Godha Devi! Your father composed hundreds of sweet pasurams and dedicated them to Emperumaan. The Lord who is Stotra priya- one who is easily moved by praise, did not confer this honorific on your father then. But, only after you adorned the fragrant flower garland and had them offered to Him, that He conferred the title of "Periya Azhwar".
He sowed the seed of devotion in the heart of his daughter, Andal which eventually developed into a divine love and culminated in her wedding the Lord. Thus, he became the father- in- law of Lord Vishnu - an honor none other Azhwars could claim.
Sri Nathamuni also refers to this when he said:
Svasuram amaravandhyam Ranganaathasya saakshaath/
Dvija kula thilakam thu, VishNu chittham namaami//
Let us now have a bird's eye view of the contents of the various decads contained in the 473 verses of his Tirumozhi distributed in 4 parts of 10 decads each plus the 5th part containing 3 decads.
1.1 :This contains the famous Tiruppallaandu in which he issues a clarion call to everyone to join him in wishing 'all the best' to the Lord - everyone including those who desired Moksham, those who desired Kaivalya, those who
desired mundane benefits and even those who desired nothing.
1.2 : Celebrations on the birth of Lord Krishna
1.3 : The physical beauty of every limb of the baby
1.4 : The lullaby of Yasoda.
1.5 : Kinds of plays of a child like looking at the moon
1.6 : The posture of rocking back and forth (Senkeerai Aadal)
1.7 : Patting the palms (Sappani Kottal)
1.8 : The faltering first steps of the child (Talar Nadai)
1.9 and 1.10 : Pleasures of hugging the child
2.1 : Playing ' Pick-a-boo' hide and seek
2.2 : Inviting the child for breast feeding
2.3 : Ear piercing
2.4 : Giving shower to the child
2.5 : Combing the hairs of the child
2.6 : Diverting the attention of the child
2.7 : Decorating the child's hairs with fresh flowers
2.8 : Taking steps to ward off 'evil eye' that might affect the child
2.9 and 2.10 : Complaints galore of the childhood pranks
3.1 : Yasoda getting unnerved on seeing her boy's superhuman feats
3.2 : Her anxiety after sending him for tending the cows
3.3 : A mother's pride on the activities of her kid.
3.4 : The lad who bewitched the Gopis
3.5 : The Episode of lifting the Govardhana Giri
3.6 : The enticing flute of Krishna
3.7 and 3.8 Azhwar assumes himself as the mother of a Gopi and expresses her
concern for her daughter
3.9 : Azhwar enjoys the exploits of the Lord as Rama and Krishna
3.10 : Tiruvadi handing over Rama's Signet ring to Sri Sita
4.1 : The glory of Bhagavatas
4.2 and 4.3 : On Tirumalirumcholai
4.4 : On Tirukkoshtiyur
4.6 : The need to name children after Narayana
4.7 : On Kandam Kadi Nagar
4.8 and 4.9 : On Tiruvarangam
4.5 and 4.10 Portray vividly the throes of death and how and why one should remember the Lord while there is still time to do so in order to escape Samsara
5.1 : He expresses his humility (Naichya Anusantaanam)
5.2 : How the bodily ailments are driven out by the Lord
5.3 : He effectively prevents the Lord from leaving him and concludes by narrating all the benefits he had secured when the Lord showered His grace .
Now, let us proceed to enjoy the sentiments expressed by the Alwar in a few hymns :
1. Yasoda calls baby Krishna for an oil bath. He refuses and runs away. She entreats him saying- "Having besmeared your body with butter and mud, I will not let you soil your bed tonight. See! For how long I have been
waiting with oil, scented soap-nut powder etc. O! Lord! Narana! who is beyond anybody's reach. Please do come and have your bath". This is the hymn that is recited in all Vishnu temples throughout the World especially at the time of Tirumanjanam (ceremonial bath) to the Lord's idol. (2 / 4 / 1 )
naNNalariyapiraanE! naaraNaa! neeraadavaaraay. (2)
2. Having failed, she tries to trick him into a sense of shame by saying "I might even like to leave you go with all the dirt on your beautiful body smeared by you, while playing in the cattle-shed but others 'will not like it a bit'; Further, and more importantly, if your darling Nappinnai sees you in this state, she will laugh at you!. Are you so shameless to let this happen to you? Come,Quickly finish your bath and get ready" - What an experience! (2/4/9)
"Naan Ethenum Ilaadhaa! NAPPINNAI KANDAAL SIRIKKUM"
3. Referring to the power of Bhagavatas who are always immersed in the thoughts of the Lord's auspicious qualities and exploits, the Azhwar says that we are verily their slaves and they have the right and power even to sell us away. "Kesava! Purushottama! Kilar Jyotiye! Enru Pesuvaar
Adiyaargal ENTHAMMAI VIRKAVUM PERUVAARKALE(4/4/10)
4. The Azhwar advises that if we were to utter the words 'Namo Narayana' with folded hands raised above our heads, we would reach Paramapadam through the 'Path of Light' (Archiraadhi Marga). And once we reach there, we will never come back to this stupid world, even if we want to. Even if the Nityasuris recommend, guarantee and pledge themselves on our behalf, the Lord would not let us go. ( 4 / 5 / 4 )
5. The Azhwar likens the journey of the Prapanna to Paramapadam to his climbing a ladder through the path of light. He says that once the Prapanna reaches there, the Lord would remove the ladder leaving him no chance to return again to this world.(4 /9/2)
6. Referring to the practice of naming children indiscriminately, he advises "If you give names such as Nambi,Pimbi etc which are meaningless, these names will go into oblivion soon. Name the child after the lotus eyed Lord's names. They will shine forever. The mother of a child bearing one of the names of the Lord will never go to hell" (4 / 6 / 3 )
nambikaaL! naaraNan tham_annain^arakampukaaL.
7. Referring to the Lord's infinite compassion and partiality towards his Bhaktas, the Azhwar says that even if Mother Goddess, Sri Mahalakshmi were to complain against a Bhakta, he would ignore it saying 'My Bhakta would do no wrong; ; Even if he does something with confidence in my compassion,
I would deem it as the right thing only".
Note that when with the Purushakara of Piratti, the jiva surrenders to the Lord, is called " thammadiyaar" (OUR devotee); If at all she should complain AFTER this, the Lord claims "ennadiyaar" (MY devotee!)
The reference is to the episode when after the defeat of Ravana, Sri Rama ordered Lakshmana to fetch Sri Sita from Ashokavana. She preferred to come with her disheveled hairs and haggard looks having spent 10 months in the most horrible surroundings. But, Lakshmana asked to her to come fully groomed, neat and clean (as advised by Rama himself). When she appeared thus, Rama spoke harshly to her. She frowned at Lakshmana since he was responsible for the harsh treatment she received. Sri Rama intervened to impress that Lakshmana was not at fault (ennadiyaar)
8. The Azhwar tells the Lord that during the last moments, he would not be able to utter the Lord's names and that the Lord should make a note of his calling him RIGHT NOW (when his faculties are quite active) and save him at the last moment, even if he does not remember the Lord at THAT time.(Anthima Smriti) (4 /10 /1&2)
9. The Azhwar does not consider it as fasting when he foregoes eating on anyday and does not feel hungry. What is real fasting days for him are those days when he does not utter the names of the Lord - implying that this recitation is his only food and life sustaining force - not the food in the ordinary sense. (5 / 1 / 6)
kaaraNaa! kariyaay! adiyEnn^aan
10. The Azhwar says that his soul is now the City of God and is well protected by Him. The Lord had entered his heart and made it his abode. Clad in his pink robes, the Lord Himself acted as the Acharya and cleared Alwar's
ignorance and blemishes. (5 / 2 / 8)
EdhangaLaayinavellaam iRangaliduviththu ennuLLE
11. The Azhwar addresses the Lord "I was caught in the swirl of Samsara for a long long time extending to over several Kalpas and I have been postponing my day of deliverance. Having got released from that and having secured you, I will never ever allow you to go away leaving me behind" (5 / 3 / 8)
THANIANS ON PERIYALWAR TIRUMOZHI
1. Composed by Sri Nathamunigal
gurumuka manadheethya praaha vEdhaanasEshaan
svasuramamaravandhyam ranganaathasya saakshaath
dhvijakulathilakam tham vishNuchiththam namaami||
" Vishnu Chitta had no schooling but he was granted knowledge of all the Vedas by the Lord Himself. With that knowledge, he won the prize instituted by the King by expounding the truth as to who is THE Paramatma. He was
actually the father in law of Lord Ranganatha and the gem among the Brahmins. I bow to him"
2. Composed by Pandiya Bhattar
minnaar_thadamathiLsoozh villipuththoorenRu orukaal
sonnaar_kazhaRkamalamsoodinOm - munnaaL
vazhiyaRuththOm nenchamE! vandhu
" O! My Mind! Because you helped me, I am able to adorn my head with the lotus feet of Bhagavatas who mentioned about Srivilliputtur even once. In the days when people raised doubts as to who was THE Paramatma, he cleared their doubts and won the prize of the wallet. By mentioning this event, we got rid of the sins that steep us down in hell"
3. Composed by Pandiya Bhattar
eeNdiyasangametuththoodha - vENdiya
"Our refuge is the feet of Periyazhwar who won the prize of the wallet by expounding the portions of Veda to prove that Lord Narayana IS THE Paramatma, as a result of which the Vallabha Pandiya Deva praised him as
Bhattar Piraan and groups and groups of people blew their conches aloud in his honor"
DIVYA DESAMS CONSECRATED BY PERIYALWAR
1. Tiruvarangam 2. Tiruvellarai 3. Tiruppernagar 4. Tirukkudantai
5. Tirukkannapuram 6,. Tiruchitrakoodam 7. Trumaalirumcholai
8. Tirukkoshtiyur 9. Srivilliputtur 10. Tirukkurunkudi
11. Tiruvenkatam 12. Tiruvayodhya 13. Salagraamam 14. Badarika Ashramam
15.Tiru gangaik Karai Kandam 16. Dwaraka 17. Vadamathurai 18. Tiruvaippaadi 19.
Tirup Paarkadal and 20. Paramapadam.
If we notice; PeriyAzhwAr comes in the 6th chronologically; but still his Prabandhams are the first to be taken in 4000. WHY?
1. Sri ANDAL is the incarnation of PiraaTTi (BhUmi PiraaTTI). Hence, PiraaTTi should be given top preference. ThirupPAvai and Nacchiyaar Thirumozhi to be taken as the first in 4000. But AndAl would not have been happy
to receive that special treatment. She would not be pleased because her AchArya (as claimed by her in each of her works - as Bhattar Piraan kodhai) PeriyAzhwAr should be given higher position than hers. That is why first PeriyAzhwAr PAsurams and then immediately followed by AndAL's works.
2. Who else can have the rarest distinction of being called Father in law of PerumAL? He needs to be in the TOP and the first position.
4. PeriyAzhwAr's ThiruppallANDu is the meaning of PraNavam enshrined most beautifully. And the 4000 is the Tamil Vedas; hence, the praNavam (Thiruppallandu) is the beginning of 4000.
Due to the above the PeriyAzhwAr's works have been taken first in 4000.