Thirumazhisai is a holy place located equidistant to Kancheepuram , Mahabalipuram and Mylapur in the present chengelpet district ( Tamilnadu) . This place is very famous for Lord Jagganatha Perumal temple . The holy place has cool streams fruit and flower grooves yielding abundant fruits. The blossoming flowers all through makes it a perfect place for a nature lover .
Several seers , sages , nomadaic saints , bhikshukas relax and perform penance at this place for eternal peace .
In such an wonderful place , Thirumazhisai Azhwar appeared much earlier than the advent of Kaliyuga .
Azhwar lived for almost 300 years glorifying the Lordships .
Thirumazhisai Azhwar was a junior contemporary of the foremost Azhwars Pogai , Pey and Bhudath Azhwar who laid a solid foundation for vishistadvaita long long ago .
Azhwar was brought up by his foster parents at Thirumazhisai . It is believed Azhwar left them at a very young age and practiced Ashtanga Yoga .
With the main aim of seeking absolute truth he performed severe austerities and penances . He studied and practiced all religious ideas existed during those days Jainism , Buddhism , Carvaka etc one by one until he got disillusioned with each of them . Slowly he came into the fold of saivism through a siddar and started practicing their faith . He was given a name Sivavakyar .
However his search to the absolute truth was not finished . It so happened by divine will he happened to see the effulgence of Pey Azhwar at Kanchipuram.
Peyazhwar was maintaining a garden and Siva Vakyar used to pass that way. Keen to know the secrets of the divine knowledge , both used to discuss about the faith they followed and wanted to conclude about the ultimate truth . Peyazhwar decided to practically demonstrate the absolute truth to his friend .
One day Peyazhwar took a weak rope with knots and a pot with holes .He drew water from the well through this pot and poured it to the plants that he planted upside down.
Siva Vakyar saw this strange act and was surprised to see PeyAzhwar’s behaviour . Peyazhwar asked him why was he disturbed . Thirumazhisai replied Holy Sire ! I am surprised with your strange act! being so learned , How will the purpose of watering the plants serve in this method , as the plant is planted upside down and the pot that contained holes will water the plants?
Peyazhwar was glad that he had started pondering over the truth .Peyazwar told him that the rope was the example for his Athma which is searching through different faiths to find the Absolute truth , but has not succeeded in its search for the truth and still going on searching wasting precious time .
Peyazhwar further explained ,
My dear young man ,
Our ancestors had explained in the following verse“ Thirumaal is like the root of the plant and is the only Paramporul…
From the root only , the leaves, branches, flowers and fruits appear .
Similarly all the demigods took forms only from the root and so they might wither away at some time or other. Hence it is poor understanding to think that the other parts of the plant are superior to the root, meaning without the root the plant cannot survive.
“Persons engaged in the worship of demigods are not clear , although such worship is indirectly offered to Me.” For example, when water is poured on the leaves and branches of a tree instead on the root, he does so without sufficient knowledge or without observing regulative principles. The process of watering a tree is to pour water on the root.
Similarly, the process of rendering service to different parts of the body is to supply food to the stomach. The demigods are, so to speak, different directors in the government of the Supreme Lord. One has to follow the laws made by the government only , not by the others . Similarly, everyone is to offer his worship to the Supreme Lord only. That will automatically satisfy the different denigods who are working under the the Lord.
Peyazwar’s explanation put Siva Vakyar in deep thought. He realized that he was still searching for the true knowledge , but couldn’t find it. He requested Peyazhwar to accept him as his disciple. Peyazhwar named him Bhaktisaara . He started following vaishnavism and serving Peyazhwar for more lessons .
Later he took leave of Peyazhwar and went on divya desa yathra. After visiting few divya desams he went back to Thiruvekka ( Kancheepuram) and stayed there. Kanikannan a devotee , requested Bhaktisarar to accept him as his disciple. Azhwar accepted him as his disciple.
It so happened at Thiruvekka in his ashram an old lady used to come and clean his place, and perform small service to him. One day she prayed him that being old she felt that she may not be able to serve him longer and regretted for joining this pious service after becoming old.
Azhwar was touched with her devotion and sincerity and blessed her regain her youth .
One day the king who ruled over Kanchi happened to see this lady who was so beautiful after Azhwars blessings , and instantly fell in love with her. He married her and took her to his palace. As years rolled by the king was becoming old, but his wife was as young as she was when he got her married.
He asked her what was the secret and she revealed about Azhwar’s blessings..
.She suggested the King to ask KaNaikaNNan to request Azhwar to the palace and pray for the same. . The king sent for KaNIkaNNan and told him to summon Azhwar and compose a verse in his praise and to restore his youth. KaNikaNNan told him that Azhwar would not compose verse praising mortals, but only in praise of Lordships..
He orders them to leave the kingdom immediately. KaNikaNNan informs Azhwar all that had happened. Azhwar decided to leave the kingdom with his disciple and prays Lord to join along with them folding His couch ( AravaNai)
கணிகண்ணன் போகின்றான் காமரு பூங்கச்சி
மணிவண்ணா நீ கிடக்க வேண்டா -துணிவுடைய
செந்நாப் புலவனும் போகின்றேன் நீயுன் உன்றன்
பைந்நாகப் பாய் சுருட்டிக்கொள்.
Lo presto! What a surprise! The Lord obeyed his true devotee’s order, He got up and followed his devotees out of the city, folding His snake-bed and sticking it under arm.
The next moment the whole city plunged into darkness and ill omens occurred. The king got frightened and called his ministers for quick remedy. They told him that he had committed a big blunder by expelling a true devotee of the Lord and so no other alternative, but to go and ask for his pardon and beseech him to come back.
The king along with his courtiers reached the place where Azhwar and KaNikaNNan were staying for the night. He fell at their feet and begged them to return to the city. Azhwar again requested the Lord to return to his abode with His snake-bed and the Lord also was happy to return.
From then onwards the Lord got the name Sonna VaNNAm Seytha Perumal and in Sanskrit Yathokthakari.
This divine incident had been glorified by Arunagirinatar and Kumaragurupanar both devotees of Paramasivan and Skandar in their works .
The place they stayed for the night got the name Oriravu Irukkai and at present is known as Orikkai where a Mani Mandapam is erected.
A special feature of Thirumazhisai Azhwar at the Jagannatha Perumal temple in Kancheepuram is that he gives darshan with a third eye.
Thirumazhisai Azhwar later moved to Thiru Kudanthai ( Kumbakonam ) and glorified the Lord there .
Thirumazhisai Azhwar’s contribution to the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham includes over 200 verses (Naanmugan Thiruvanthaathi and Thiruchandha Viruththam) of praise.
It is construed , Azhwar expresses after thoroughly convincing himself about the futility of all the other faiths of his first hand experience and affirms LORD SRIMAN NARAYANA is the supreme and absolute reality .
The second composition “Thiruchandha Viruththam” has 120 pasurams which is included in the first thousand of the DivyaPrabhandam .
The composition is so charming that the chanter is tempted to swoon himself to the lilting chants coming out naturally in the divine composition . The rhythm goes like tana tana tana tana tana tana Tanana… almost reminding the gallop of an horse .
This prabhandam is recited in Srirangam during the Ashwa vahanam festival when Nammperumal rides the Horse .
Azhwar expresses in his Prabhandam , Creation or Life emanated through creatures and vegetation around , on all four sides everywhere . This creation is rampant quickly spreading continuous and is powerful .
The divine fragnant LORD the Universal Lord created Brahma . Brahma in turn created Rudra .
I the humble devotee of the Universal Lord submit these in my prabhanda Naanmugam Thiruvandhaadhi . In his Prabhanda , Azhwar builds up by stages the total helplessness of the jivatmas and affirms that only LORD should shower his mercy and grace the helpless soul every stage for his upliftment and reach Godhead .
Makhayam makare mase Chakramsam bhargavodbhavam
Mahisara puradhisam bhakthisara maham bhaje
Azhwar Thiru adigale sharanam
Sonna VaNNam Seytha PerumaL ThiruvadikaLe SaraNam!
Pics Courtesy :
Google images and pictures uploaded by several advanced devotees in social media
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan