Swamy NAMPILLAI AND PILLAIATHAN ………. WHEN DEVOTION OVER RULED PRIDE …

Swamy Nampillai appeared in Krithikai Month on Krithikai Nakshatra which happens to be today .

Swamy Nampillai was a disciple of Swamy Nanjeeyar who in turn was the disciple of Parasarar bhattar , son of Koorathazhwar. Swamy wrote commentaries for the great works Kanninunsirutthambu, Thiruviruttam, and Thiruvoimozhi, all belonged to and included in the collection of works “Nalayira Divya Prabandam”. His commentary on Thiruvoimozhi is glorified known as Edu.

Swamy Nampillai discoursed the lectures of Parasara Bhattar to his disciples Periyavachaan Pillai and Vadakku Thiruveedi Pillai who in turn employed them in their respective commentaries..


An interesting incident happened when Swamy Nampillai should have been 25 years old and his teacher, Nanjeeyar should have been in his early fifties. 


One sunny day Pillaiathan approached Swamy Nanjeeyar . He was about forty years old. He prostrated at the lotus feet of Swamy Nanjeeyar and requested him to teach any one padhikam (a set of eleven songs) of Thiruvaimozhi. The  Sacred hymns “Thiruvaimozhi “written by  a great Azwar Sri Nammazhwar which consists of 100 padhikams.  

Swamy Nanjeeyar was busy in some service to the Supreme Lord
He told Pillaiathan,
“I am a little busy now. The best person to teach you Thiruvaimozhi is my disciple Swamy Nampillai. Please go to him.” I will advise him to teach you . Pillaithan was not interested as he was elder to Nampillai .. He said …
“But Swami, there is a delicate problem in that.”
“What’s the problem?”


“Our sasthras dictate that a student should prostrate at the feet of his master. You see I am a forty year old man. I can fall at your feet because you are a sanyasi and you are older than me. But Nampillai is much younger to me. And he is a householder. How do you expect somebody of my stature to fall at his feet?

Swamy ”Nanjeeyar now knew where exactly the problem was .Oh !!

 “That’s not an issue.

Our sasthras allow us to waive that condition in exceptional cases.

Any way Your case appears to be quite exceptional. I will advise Nampillai not to expect the usual formality of the disciple falling at his Guru’s feet.

You may start the classes from tomorrow.

”Pillaiathan went back happily. 

Nanjeeyar called Nampillai and reported the conversation verbatim. 
“My dear boy, Nampillai, we have a moral responsibility for the long-term welfare of our disciples. I have told you what is there in his mind. It is up to you to make him realize what is right and what is wrong. I am sure you will teach him the lessons in his expectations

Swamy Nampillai replied “As you wish, Acharya.”
Next day Pillaiathan went to Nampillai’s house.

Nampillai had already made the seating arrangements for the classes.


A seat was placed two steps above the ground level. Another seat was placed at the ground level.


Pillaiathan now knew the trick. He thought: ‘This boy is offended because I won’t prostrate before him. That’s why he has made a high seat for himself.

What a pride! I should make it a point to tell this to Nanjeeyar.’

Mean time , to his surprise , Nampillai came near Pillaiathan, took his hand in his and led him to the high seat over his . He made Pillaiathan sit there and he sat at the ground level.
That was probably the only one-to-one class in the whole world where the teacher sat at a lower level than his student. 


‘What a nice boy! He has given me the proper seat respecting my age, erudition and my position in the society.’
A teacher’s role is not just to fan the ego of his student.

Nampillai remembered his Guru’s words.
I have told you what is there in his mind. It is up to you to make him realize what is right and what is wrong. I am sure you will teach him without hurting him.”


The lessons started. Nampillai had cleverly chosen the 27th prose in which Nammazhwar talks about his love for the devotees of the Supreme Lord.
In the third verse in that paasuram , Nammazhwar melts;
The heaven and the earth always sing praises about the Supreme Lord, Sriman Narayana, the one who loves Tulsi leaves. The Lord has a shining golden disc about him and he is more than a father to me. 
Many fall at the feet of that kind Lord. Even greater are those who fall at the feet of those who worship that Great Lord.

And I am a slave to those who worship the devotees of our Lord.

I am a slave to them not only in this birth, but all my births to follow.
As Nampillai was quoting from the scriptures, from Ramayana, from many religious texts and emphasizing the importance of selfless love and the total absence of pride, Pillaiathan was transported to a different world. 



He now realized his mistake of refusing to prostrate at the feet of this great man. He started crying for what he had done. 
He could not sit in the high chair any longer looking down on one of the greatest teachers of his time, of all times.


He stood up from his place.
Nampillai misunderstood the meaning of that gesture.
“I know Pillaiathan, that you are a true devotee of God.

Now come and stand here facing East.

Let me fall at your feet and get your blessings.”
As Nampillai prepared to prostrate at his feet, Pillaiathan prevented it with all his might.
“Swami, you are my Acharya.

You have made me realize the dangers of pride.

I had never known about this padhikam of Namazhwar. By deciding to teach me this, you have reformed me. Now please stand there. Let me fall at your feet. Please forgive me, Swami.”
Now it was Nampillai’s turn to block his move. 
“Pillaiathan, my Acharyar , Nanjeeyar has clearly told me that you will not prostrate at my feet. I am a householder and I am younger to you.”
“Oh, Swami, please do not kill me with my own words.”
“No, Pillaiathan I wont let you worship me. It’s against the orders of my Acharyar

.” “Ok, Swami. Then grant me a favour. Please come with me.”
Pillaiathan did not even wait for Nampillai’s answer.

He grabbed him by his hand and walked out of the house.

He virtually dragged Nampillai to Nanjeeyar’s place. 
Nanjeeyar was taking classes at that time.

There were more than fifty students in the class.

Pillaiathan begged Nanjeeyar to stop teaching for a while.

He then told him what had happened.He fell at Nanjeeyar’s feet. He stood up and amidst tears begged him,
“Swami, please instruct your disciple Nampillai to accept me as his disciple.

Please tell him that I am going to fall at his feet in your presence and that he should accept and bless me.”
Nanjeeyar was very happy with his disciple.

He then nodded to Nampillai. 

Pillaiathan then fell at Nampillai’s feet in the presence of Nanjeeyar and all the students in his class. 

Nampillai lifted him up and hugged him.

Thereafter Pillaiathan learned the entire Thiruvaimozhi from Nampillai.

At the beginning and at the end of every class he would fall at his young teacher’s feet. 

All glories to our Swamy Nampillai

Adiyen Ramanuja dasan

Pictures/Videos : Courtesy Google images and uploaded by many devotees in social media

2 thoughts on “Swamy NAMPILLAI AND PILLAIATHAN ………. WHEN DEVOTION OVER RULED PRIDE …

Thank you very much for your valuable time reading the divine pastime. Please let us know your opinion for any improvements .kazhiyur varadan

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