The Srivaishnava Acharyar “Swamy Nam pillAi .. who was glorified as “LokaA chAryar”

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 .

jjjjk 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..

Thunnu pukazh KanthAdai ThOzappar tamm uhappAl Yenna UlahAriyanO yenRu uraikka —

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

A Unique school of learning

A    man inspired with Azhwars Divya Prabhandam  wanted to learn Nammazhwars Tiruvaimozhi .He proceeded to Swamy Nanjeeyars Ashram and was waiting for swamy’s audience . He was fortunate to be called immediately . Nanjeeyar was pleased with the man’s interest . Nanjeeyar  without any  thought , directed him to his disciple Nampillai.


The man was a bit  hesitant as he had come seeking spiritual instructions from  Nanjeeyar only,  as he was told by his friends about Nanjeeyar scholarship  and  had great regard for him . Though  elderly , he was ready to fall at  Nanjeeyar’s  feet and learn from him rather than  to fall at his disciple  Nampillai’s feet.


Nanjeeyar calmed the seeker and told him  at no point of time  he has to  fall at Nampillai’s feet.  Nanjeeyar  called  Nampillai his foremost disciple and said ,Child , You need to teach this gentlemen Nammazhwars Thirumozhi .Please see that he is comfortable both in mind and action when you teach him .


 Nanjeeyar also told Nampillai that this class shall be a bit different as you shall be seated  on the floor and teach this gentlemen who will be seated on a chair . The great disciple he was , obeyed Acharyars command with cheerful smile . Nampillai welcomed the new student with respects to the class .


The lessons began, and as instructed by Nanjeeyar, Nampillai  obediently sat on the floor, while the student sat on a chair.  The classes was conducted with lot of respect to the student . As the classes progressed, the student felt very bad about being seated on a chair, while his  young teacher sat on the floor.  One day , he got up with tears  and fell at Swamy Nampillais lotus feet like an uprooted tree with tears for his foolish behaviour .He pleaded Swamy to be seated on chair .


Surprisingly  for him , Swamy Nampillai said he would no longer teach him. The reason given by Nampillai was that he had been asked by Nanjeeyar to sit on the floor and instruct the student. Now if he were asked to sit on a chair, he could not teach, because that was not what his acharya had expected from him . Thus Nampillai not only was humble enough to sit on the floor and teach he was also always obedient to his preceptor. Later , the student approached Nanjeeyar with tears apologising for his foolish act .


He pleaded Nanjeeyar to be allowed to attend Swamy Nampillai’s class along with other students as a true disciple .Nanjeeyar agreed and once again the student happily attended the classes sitting on the floor .


 A similar incident happened in the  days of Swamy Ramanuja . There was a learned scholar who wanted to know few esoteric truths from Kooratazhvan. He was a most influential person in the Kingdom . Almost an advisor to the Royal family .


Knowing about Koorathazhwans humility and great knowledge , he approached him for clearing his doubts . He said , the whole kingdom knows that I am a  scholar and advisor to the Royal family but I do not want anyone to know about my doubts .


Both of them decided the classes would begin from the next day near the shores of the river . Kooratazhvar humbly suggested that the man sit on a chair  and Koorathazhwan sat on the floor as If he was learning from the scholar .  The moment they heard someone approach, the man could hand the book over to Kooratazhvar, and the visitor would think Kooratazhvar was the student, which was why he was seated on the floor!

Adiyen Ramanuja dasan