Those were the days when Swami Nampillai the distinguished Acharyar was delivering religious discourses at Srirangam temple attended by many devotees . As Swamys discourses were absolutely soul stirring due its sweetness in delivery devotees used to throng in thousands inside the temple . Many occasions there was a confusion about the crowds pouring inside the temple whether some festival was going on there , as the numbers used to match with the number of devotees in Utsavams .
His reputation was increasing and consequently the reputation of other Acharyas was being overlooked.
A contempory of Swamy Nampillai was Sri Kandadai Thozappar , grandson of Swamy Mudali Andaan the foremost disciple of Swamy Ramanuja . Swamy Thozhappar was very knowledgeable . Somehow he became increasingly jealous about the fame and reputation of Swamy Nampillai which was going up day by day.
One evening while he was returning from the temple shrine , by divine will he noticed Swamy Nampillai proceeding into the shrine with few hundreds of disciples . Because of the unbearable envy Thozhappar instantly abused Swamy Nampillai in strong words inside the shrine itself amongst the disciples .
Swamy Nampillai was calm and polite accepting the pungent words . Inspite of the humiliating abuses heaped on him , Swamy Nampillai unshaken approached LORD and offered his worship seeking forgivance wondering whether inadvertently he had committed any transgression to the great devotee Thozhappar . Upset , he reached home and was seeking pardon repeatedly mentally to the great Acharya .
Swamy Kandadai Thozhappar reached home relaxed , after insulting the great seer . Thozappars wife was an advanced devotee with deep insight and divine knowledge . She was through her fathers side disciple of Swamy Nampillai .
She came to know about the misconduct of her husband which pained her deeply. True to her Acharya bhakthi , she abandoned all the household work as she was convinced that because of the arrogant behavior of her husband both would be doomed for the bhagavatha apachara.
She was grief stricken and ignored her husband. Thozhappar who was casual wondered with her sudden change in behaviour . He was used to see his wife welcoming him with affection and attended on him with love and praise . Amazed , He was forced to question her unusual way of behavior especially for the very first time he experienced with her conduct . With uncontrollable grief she replied , Swamin .. Do you know what type of bhagavtha apachara you have committed ?
Swamy Nampillai is reincarnation of Swamy Nammazhwar. You have dared to abuse a noble soul who is enlightening many many bhagavathas day in and out by his lucid divine commenteries on Lords vaibhavam. And you dared to insult him in the shrine itself without any remorse. What privilege do you think you will have when one abuses his own Acharya. You have committed a great sin and you are also aware of it .
Since I am your wife , you may have right over my body and can punish me but remember I am alive because of my Acharya , who is Swamy Nampillai. I cannot forgive any one who abuses the devotees of the LORD .You are also aware of the aphorisms . The sin you have committed is grave and you pretend to be ignorant . Hence forth there can not be any connection between us . And I do not wish to continue to live with you and never wish to destroy myself ( soul ) .Let me seek my path of life which takes me to Acharyans Lotus feet .
Thozhapar was shaken with the turn of events . He deeply introspected himself and belonging to a distunguised srivaishnava family was disturbed with his behaviour. He understood that this rude behaviour was because of his envy and jealousy. He appreciated his wife for revealing the truth and enlightening him . He found solace in her words and seeked a solution to bridge his unruly behaviour by seeking forgivance and amend the same. His wife said if anything is lost in river , we must seek the same in river and not in a pond . Similarly , she said , Swamy Nampillai is a great Acharya with a kind heart . You need to just fall at his feet and plead forgivance . If he forgives , you will be saved and seeking forgivance from the LORD also will not save you .
Thozhappar politely replied , that he was too harsh on Swamy and was afraid to face him. Insulting the revered Acharyar in the temple amongst many people makes him shiver in meeting him. Ashamed with this conduct , my feet tremble to meet the seer . With humility he requests his wife to accompany him so that Swamy will be appeased and being his disciple he may pardon for her association . As it was too late in the night , both of them agree that the first thing they will do the next morning was to seek Acharyars forgivance .
At the other end , Swamy Nampillai was greatly upset . He sent all his disciples away . He gave up his food for the night and was questioning his own flaws that could disturb Thozhappar which resulted in his outbursts. He felt strongly that he must have somehow misbehaved with the distinguished vaishnava . He decided that he will seek his forgivance as the sin accredited in misbehaving with a vaishnava shall be severe . His mind was wavering . He decided he will not waste time till the next day . He immediately left to Thozhappars residence covering himself with a white blanket . As the doors were closed , he did not wanted to disturb them . He decided he will rest near the pial at the entrance of the house the whole night and the next day when Thozhappar opens the door he will fall at his feet to seek pardon .The next day , in the early hours , both Thozhappar opens the door
To the surprise they find some person with a white blanket covered standing . As the lighting was poor they enquire about him . Swamy Nampillai replies ..Swami !!! I am a great sinner . Thozhappar was shocked .. Unexpected of his approach He asked him , What was the need to rest on the pial before his house the same night . Have you come to quarrel with me early in this day for the abuses hurled by me yesterday ??
Nampillai with all humility submitted to Thozhappar . Swamin !!! Please forgive me !! Adiyen had just come here to ascertain that any misconduct of mine should not disturb your peace of mind . Having born in a distinguished family of Swamy MudaliAndaan , adiyen requests your kindness to please let me know the misconduct to earn abuse by a revered Acharyar like you .Please forgive me for any misconduct either in words or deeds . Swamin !! If not you , who will be kind enough to forgive me ..
Thozhappar was astounded at the humble appeal of Swamy Nampillai. He was at loss of words and at the unexpected turn of events , especially when he himself was proceeding to seek forgiveness from Nampillai . With tears he pleaded Swamin ” True to my wife’s words what a big heart you possess . It is very difficult to see people with such humility . I was under an illusion that you are Acharyar for a few disciples . I know realise that you are a teacher ( Acharyar ) of the whole world. Henceforth I shall propagate devareer as Lokacharyar . Thozhappar welcomed Nampillai and washed his feet and accepted him as his Acharyar .
Swamy Manavalamaamuni mentions this incident one of his pasuram in the great work Upadesarathinaimala saying..
pinnai UlahAriyan yenum pEr NampiLLaikku Ongi vilahAmal ninRathu yenrum mEl.. verse .(51)
Translated in English ..
ThOzhappar of wide fame belonging to the KanthAdai vamsam with joyful respect asked o NampiLLai once ” Are You THE teacher of the Universe (LOkAchAryan)? ” out of respect for his extraordinary scholarship and humility . From that day onwards , that name of LokAcchAryan stayed with NampiLLai as a mark of his srivaishnava guNa visEsham .Later, NampiLLai’s sishyar, Vadakku- Thiruveedhi PiLLai gave the name of LokaachAryan to his son out of his own deep reverence for his AchAryan . This son – who became a very famous AchAryan later – came to be revered as PiLLai Lokam Jeeyar .
Later , Thozhappar had to leave to Kancheepuram and serve the Lordships there .He conducted the Thirukalyana utsavam for Kanchi Devaperumal with Andal Naachiyaar. In turn, Varadar as a measure of showing his love towards Thozhappar, arrived in Thozhappar’s thirumaaligai. He revealed in Thozhappar’s dream that the deity being worshipped was the Shatberam in Thozhappar’s thirumaaligai. Thozhappar, on seeing the grace of the Lord became very happy and named him ‘Aahuya Rakshaka Hari’ (Azhaithu Vaazhvitha Perumal). This deity darshan can be had in MudaliAndaans Thirumaligai ( Ashram )
Swamy Nam pillai became Lokacharyar because he did not loose his temper with even the ones who abused him , instead showed the qualities of patience and mercy of sri vaishnava which converted others too.
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Pictures : Courtesy Google pics uploaded by devotees