Shrivathsa chinha mishrebhyo nama uktheem adheemahe!
Yadhukthasyas thrayee kante yaanthi manggala soothrathaam!!
Salutations to the great mahaan Srivathsa Chinha Misra (Swamy Koorathazhwan) whose Sri Sookthis became the thirumangaalyam ( mangalasoothram ) of Veda Maatha.
Swamy Koorathazhwan appeared during the year 1010 AD at the Kooram village about 16 kms from Kanchipuram, the temple town of Tamilnadu (Sowmya varusham on Thai –Hastham star during Jan-Feb as per English calendar ) to Sri Ananthan and Perundevi . Swamy is considered to be the amsam of “Srivatsam” which adorns Lord’s chest. As this mark is very close to where Thayar resides, he invariably inculcated Thayar’s abundant compassion.
Swamy Koorathazhwan is glorified as the “pavithram” of Swamy Ramanujar thus proving his closeness to Swamy Ramanujar.
Swamy Ramanujar felt incomplete without Mudaliandan Swamy and Koorath azwan. MudaliAndaan is considered as “Yathiraja Padhuka and Dhandam( tridandam which a sanyasi hold in his hand) .
Swamy Kooratathazhwan is considered as Pavithram worn by Swamy Ramanujar. This has been revealed by Acharyar when he meets Swamy Thirughostiyur Nambi at Thirughostiyur .
Swamy was also glorified as “Haaritha kula thilakar “(the best among born in Haritha kulam ) and belonged to an affluent wealthy family. He was the chieftain of the entire village of Kooram.
He was an extremely intelligent who could grasp knowledge by hearing once only . He was a human personification of compassion, generosity and humility.
Compassion, humanity, tolerance, shedding ego, detachment from material things, being faithful, being truthful, feeding the needy, not harming anyone either by word,deed, thought , pardoning people who inflict harm on us, respecting elders , unflinching devotion at the lotus feet of Acharyar Swamy Ramanujar with the firm faith contemplating only on Lord Sriman Narayanan and not resorting to worship of any demi god were the qualities of Swamy Koorathazhwan
Koorathazhwan had a close association with Swamy Ramanujar at Kanchipuram even before Swamy Ramanujar embraced Sanyasam and became the pontiff of Srivaishnavism. He lived with his family in Kooram and continued with dhadhiaaradhana kainkaryam.
Later after Swamy Ramanujar took up sanyasam and went to Srirangam, as per Lord’s sankalpam an incident took place which changed the life of Kooratazhwan from a wealthy person to “Ramanuja dasan”
It so happened that one night after dhadhiaaradhana kainkaryam was over, the doors of Kooratazhwan’s thirumaligai were closed with a big bang and the sound emanated from the bells of the door could be heard by Perundevi Thayar at Kanchipuram .
Thayar enquired from Perumal about it for which Perumal replied that it was from the wealthy Kooratazhwan’s thirumaligai and extolled his kainkaryam to Thayar. It was divine will to bless him with more kainkaryam and the divya dampathigal ordered Thirukachi nambigal who was fanning them to bring Azhwan to their presence.
Thirukachi nambigal reached Kooram and informed Azhwan about the discussion Perumal and Thayar had regarding his wealth. Had any person been in his place, he would have jumped with joy to hear about Perumal’s description. Kooratazhwan repented for his mistake that the noise emanated from the door disturbed the divya dampathigal and without a second thought distributed the entire wealth to the needy and set out to Srirangam to take asrayanam at Swami Ramanujar’s holy feet.
While traversing through the forest, he observed that his wife was worried about something and on enquiry learnt that she was carrying a golden bowl for him to have food. Kooratazhwan threw away the golden bowl saying that they were going to surrender to Ramanujar which was very precious compared to this gold. Such was his vairaagyam.
Koorathazhwan excelled in study of Vedas and scriptures and put them into practice. He considered the entire Universe to be Perumal’s children and ensured that everyone was properly taken care of by giving food which is required for sustenance.
He used to relentlessly do “dhadhiyaaradhanai”(anna dhaana kainkaryam) every day from morning to night as he believed that the wealth bestowed on him by the kind grace of the Lord should be utilised in a proper way.
In the Divya Prabhandam , Ramanuja Nootrandhadhi, the great disciple of Swamy Ramanuja , Swamy Thiruvarangathu amudanaar praises Koorathazhwan in the 7th pasuram as
“Mozhiyai kadakkum Perum Pugazhaan* Vanjha Mukkurumbaam
Kuzhiyaik kadakkum* nam Koorathaazhwaan charan koodiya pin**
Pazhiyaik kadaththum Iraamanusan*pugazh paadi allaa
Vazhiyaik kadaththal*enakkiniyaadhum varththamanrey
In the above pasuram, Thiruvarangathu Amudanaar praises his Acharyan Swamy Koorathazhwan with whose grace he got Ramanuja sambandham.
Before becoming disciple of Swamy Ramanujar, he was known as “Peria kovil nambi” and was in charge of temple administration, reading puranams, doing prohitam etc .in both Perumal and Thayar sannidhi.
However, initially he was not comfortable with Swamy Ramanujar directions whom Namperumal made incharge for ubhaya vibhutis(in charge of material and spiritual world) .He didn’t part with the rights of temple administration and hence Swamy Ramanujar could not proceed with much reforms.
Kooratazhwan as per Ramanujar’s advise undertook the task of slowly molding Peria kovil nambi and was thus successful. Swamy Ramanujar could make the necessary reforms in Srirangam temple which is being followed till date.
Later, Peria kovil nambi realised Ramanujar’s greatness and approached him to be accepted as his disciple. As Swamy felt that Kooratathazhwan was responsible for his transformation, he directed him to accept Koorathazhwan as his acharyar. Azhwan named him Thiruvarangathu amudanaar. Amudanar cites this as “Koorathazhwan charan koodiya pin…”in Ramanuja Nootrandhadhi.
Another interesting fact is that this is the only pasuram which praises Ramanujar’s thiruvadi sambandham and thus establishes koorathazhwan’s greatness.
Koorathazhwan though very intelligent, handsome, was very wealthy , had all the good qualities. Despite all these , he didn’t have slightest iota of ego. Amudanar refers to these qualities as “Vanjha mukkurumbaam…”.
Normally, a person even if he has anyone of the above quality would be puffed up by ego .Koorathazhwan was an embodiment of all virtues and was very humble and poised.
He had compassion not only to humans but also to animals and plants.
As mentioned earlier, he felt that all are God’s children and ensured that no one remains hungry. Hence he used to always feed the needy.
Many incidents in his life speak about Azhwan’s compassion to the world he lived .
Once , when a frog was caught by a snake and was wailing, Koorathazhwan who was tender hearted fainted hearing the frog’s plight.
In another instance, when he went into the banana plantation for cutting leaves to be used for serving food, he fainted when he saw milk oozing out of the banana stem .
Such was his compassion and humanity.
His ego never propped up when Udayavar asked him to go for 11th day ceremony at Periakovil nambi’s place.
When Periakovil nambi’s mother passed away, he approached Ramanujar to help him by sending someone for being part of the 11th day ceremony when the person himself is treated as the departed soul and offerings are made. Only when the person is satisfied, the ritual is deemed to be complete.
The person who goes in that form would be abstained from participating in any religious ceremonies for a period of one year.
So it was difficult to find a person who would budge into his request.
Kovil peria nambi requested Ramanujar to send one of his disciples for the purpose. Ramanujar felt that Kooratathazhwan alone could complete his task and advised him.
Kooratathazhwan who could read Swamy Ramanujar’s desire participated in the 11th day ceremony and when he was asked as to whether he was satisfied he replied in negative. When Periakovil nambi offered him to give anything for appeasement, Koorathazhwan asked him to hand over his temple responsibilities.
Periakovil nambi had to budge in. Koorathazhwan submitted the same to Ramanujar’s lotus feet.
Swamy Ramanujar took incharge of the temple activities and assigned the job of purana patanam(reading puranam) and prohitam(main priest) to Koorathazhwan.
These activities are till date being followed by Koorathazhwan’s descendants.
Once while returning from Kaveri after having holy bath, he helped a pregnant woman by helping her to lift the water pitcher unmindful of to which caste she belonged to. In those days, orthodox people would be hesitant to do such activities but for our Azhwan , humanity was equal to Godliness.
To fulfill Yamunacharyar’s desire of writing a commentary for Brahma sutras, Swamy Ramanujar along with Koorathazhwan undertook the arduous task of going to Kashmir for referring to Bodhyana vritti . Having procured the literature, while returning, they were suddenly waylaid by the people sent by Kashmiri pundits to return the manuscript Ramanujar had to reluctantly part with the grantham and was depressed as he could not fulfil his acharyar’s desire.
At that time, Koorathazhwan humbly submitted that he could reproduce the entire grantham which he happened to read after Ramanujar retired for the day. As he had a highly grasping ability , he reproduced the entire commentary at the lotus feet of Swamy Ramanujar and played a vital role in composing SriBhashyam-the authentic commentary on Brahma Sutras. Saraswathi-goddess of learning herself declared to Ramanujar that this was the most authentic commentary and gave Swamy Ramanujar the title “Bhasyakaarar”.
Once when Srirangam was about to be waylaid, by the invaders , Acharyar Peria Nambigal – acharyar of Swamy Ramanujar took some soil and uttered some mantras to evade intruders. Having done so, he gave the same to Swamy Ramanujar ordering him to give to a person who was blemish-less without any ego so as to sprinkle it on all four sides of Srirangam border. Immediately Swamy Ramanujar assigned the task to Koorathazhwan who accomplished it successfully.
Once it so happened , Koorathazhwan happened to see through a key hole of a door , how Swamy Ramanujar graced a deaf and dumb person by placing his holy feet on that person’s head. Koorathazhwan lamented and regretted that he was not so fortunate as that person and was feeling ashamed of his intellect as Ramanujar had assigned him various tasks which acted as an obstruction for obtaining similar grace as that person.
To save Swamy Ramanujar from the atrocities of Krimikanta Cholan the tyrant king , Koorathazhwan pleaded Sway Ramanujar to accept his white robes and leave Srirangam along with Mudaliandan to a safer place along the banks of Kaveri river. Swamy Ramanujar and Mudaliandan left incognito to Melnadu and was thus protected from the terror Krimikanta cholan.
Swamy Koorathazhwan donned the orange robes of Swamy Ramnujar and appeared before the king along with aged Peria Nambigal. Peria Nambigal succumbed to the king’s punishment loosing his eyes. Koorathazhwan who regretted for having seen this sad episode , voluntarily plucked his eyes and left the place. The perplexed king’s attention was thus diverted. The blind Koorathazhwan managed to serve Peria Nambigal who due to advanced age could not tolerate the pain and attained acharyar’s feet. This incident is remembered at Kooram on the 5th day of Azhwan thirunatchitira utsavam. Koorathazhwan is adorned with orange robes and Swamy Ramanujar in white robes to remember the divine pastime .
Swamy Koorathalvan was staying at Thirumalirumcholai during his exile from Swamy Ramanuja under divine intervention . Swamy was carrying out pushpa kainkaryam ( Flower service ) for Lordships every day. He glorified the lordships “Azhagar” with Sundarabaahu stavam which forms part of Pancha Sthavams . The remaining are Sriranga sthavam, Sri Varadaraja sthavam, Sristhavam, Athimaanusha sthavam.
Once , during the month of December ( Margazhi maasam) Koorathazhwan walked the hills and reached the temple . He recited the verses of Andals glorification of LORD from her Thiruppavai . Later with all the due respects he offered a garland to the LORD .The priest in turn honored Koorthazhwan with sathari ( Srisatakopam) .
On returning from the temple en route the hills , Koorathazhwan was feeling sad for some reason . He looked around the majestic hills . He passed the rivulets and reached his house . He sat outside his house and was in a trance .
Suddenly a young well built man emerged from no where and politely stood before Azhwan . He asked ..Swamin What is making you dull today ?
Swamin !!! I assure you whatsover the problem, I would solve the same .
Azhwan was silent ..
Despite repeated such assurances, Koorathazhwan, insisted that there was no way his problem could be solved.
At his casual reply , the charming man got surprised.
He went near Azhwan and said …Swamin Do you know who I am ?
Swamy Koorathazhwan replied with all humility,
Swamin ! ”Adiyen can recognize you very well.
You are the Lord himself”.
Amazed at how azhwan could recognize him, Lord was keen to know ..
Azhwan replied that he could smell the Lord fragrance from the garland that he had offered for the day.
Coming back to the question of what was troubling azhwan, azhwan still insisted that though he was the Lord himself, his trouble could not be resolved even by him.
Lord insisted for Azhwans explanation …
“What is the problem – you have to tell me?”
“ The Thiruppavai pasuram mentions your anubhavam with the yadava kulam.
Adiyen am sad that I was not fortunate to be born in the yadava kulam.
Now that I have Swamy Ramanuja association ,
Adiyen is eligible for moksham.
However adiyen cannot be associated with the yadu kulam where devareer ( LORD) was there with each one of them to their joy …
Can adiyen experience that big joy of being part of your kulam?”now ……………………….
The Lord truly had no answer to his query !
Azhwan was always in the mood of serving LORD ..
On returning to Srirangam from Melnadu after a long period of 12 years, Swamy Ramanujar met his dear disciple and embraced Koorathazhwan tightly who had just returned from Thirumaliruncholai after knowing about his Acharyars arrival.
Swamy Ramanuja advised him to go to Kanchipuram and pray to Lord Varadarajar for restoring his eyes. Koorathazhwan with the help of few disciplies reached Kanchipuram and composed Varadaraja sthavam as per his acharyar’s instructions.
Lord pleased with his devotion, appeared before him to bestow boon, Koorathazhwan requested the Lord to give him eyesight which he could see HIM and Acharyar Swamy Ramanuja .
He also pleaded to bestow moksham to Naaluran (the person who was responsible for instigating cruel thoughts to Krimikanta cholan) and all those associated with him.
Lord Varadarajan bestowed both the boons.
When Swamy Ramanujar who was in Srirangam came to know of this, he felt so joyful that he was confident of getting moksha as he had” Koorathazhwan sambhandham”.
Azhwan always used to glorify Mudaliandan who was Swamy Ramanujar’s nephew that he was very fortunate to have deha sambandham too whereas he had only atma sambandham.
Koorathazhwan and his wife Andal were blessed by Peria Perumal HIMSELF with children. Once due to heavy rains, the wealthiest person Koorathazhwan who was now living on Uncha vrutti in Srirangam could not go out and starved the whole day. His wife Andal who could not see his plight prayed to Lord Ranganatha who was being offered the night prasadam known as “Aravanai prasadam”.
With a heavy heart, she thought that while Lord Ranganatha was being offered with varieties of dishes , her husband was allowed to starve. Lord Ranganatha immediately answered her prayers by appearing in a priest’s dream ordering him to take temple prasadam with full temple paraphernalia to Koorathazhwan’s house. Koorathazhwan was surprised to see a visitor at that odd time with prasadam.
He guessed that it must be his wife’s act which made the priests arrive at that time. As he felt that the temple prasadam had to be sold to get income for the temple, he simply honoured by taking two servings of the prasadam . The Lord appeared in his dream and said that he would be blessed with two sons who would be considered and brought up as the Lord’s own children. Swamy Ramanujar fulfilled his acharyar,Yamunacharyar’s desire to name two befitting persons after Parasara rishi and Veda Vyasar. Swamy Ramanujar named them Parasara bhattar and Vedavyasa bhattar(Srirama pillai)..
Koorathazhwan who was always in the mood of serving his Acharyar, approached Peria Perumal with a prayer to leave this material body before his acharyar so that he could receive him with poorna kumbham when Swamy Ramanujar would decorate Thirunaadu.
When Swamy Ramanujar questioned him about this strange act, Azhwan quoted the beautiful verse
“Soozh visumpanimugil…. from Thiruvaimozhi …that means
“ when the muktatma enters Vaikuntam, he is received by the inmates with due honours…..
he submissively replied that he wished to be in continuous service to his Acharyar and wanted to welcome him in Srivaikuntam .
Contemplating on Swamy Ramanujar, Koorathazhwan left his body by uttering a sloka on his acharyar(thanian on Ramanujar) which every Srivaishnava recites daily
yO nityam achyuta pAdAmbuja yugma rukma
vyAmOhatastaditarANi tRuNAya mEnE |
asmad gurOr bhagavatO asya dayaikasindhOh
rAmAnujasya charaNou SaraNam prapadyE |
May Koorathazhwan who pardoned his enemy and prayed for him , teach us how to love.
Azhwans appearance day (THAI HASTHAM) January 26th 2019 is celebrated all over the world in Vaishnava temples and all vaishnavas praise the glories of Azhwans bhakthi towards Acharyar
Few pastimes are shared in the below posts
Watch the following clips in which the vaibhavam of Kooram and Azhwan is explained by the temple Bhattar
Swamy Koorath azhwan thiruvadigaley sharanam
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Photographs : Courtesy Google images