The most revered Acharyar in Srivaishnava sampradayam was Swamy Srisailesar . Srisailer was disciple of the legendary revered saint Swamy Pillai Loka Acharyar.
( The most respected and adored saint who played a very important role in Lord Ranganathar’s safety during the Turks invasion few hundred years back )
Check the appended post for more details ..
Swami Srisailesar appeared in a illustrious village kunthinagaram near Madurai. His parents named him as “Thirumalai azhwaar”.
A very intelligent and highly talented young lad who assimilated all types of knowledge including administration with dedication was loved by one and all . He had samashrayanam (initiation ) done from his Acharyar Swamy Pillai Lokacharyar and was given a name as Satagopa dasar.
Those were the times when the illustrious Pandyan Kings were ruling Madurai. King Kulasekhara Pandyan had two sons Sundara Pandyan and Veera Pandyan. Contrary to tradition, the king proclaimed that his younger son would succeed him. Sundara Pandyan was agitated and by a coup occupied the throne .
The local chieftains swore allegiance to younger brother Veera Pandian and thus a civil war broke out . Sundara Pandyan was defeated and was forced out of the country. He sought help from Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji who entrusted the task to General Malik Kafur to handle the problem .
With Sundara Pandyan’s assistance, the army entered Madurai and looted the city for their benefit . They plundered the wealth from all the temples . The citizens were in fear and the threat of being killed by these ruthless invaders .
To their worst nightmare Sundhara Paandyan passed away . It was chaos all around the whole city of Madurai as the invaders looted the nearby areas and the people had to suffer in the enemy’s hands . Sundhara Pandyan legal heir “Paraakrama Pandya” who was very young occupied the throne . It was a tough task managing the kingdom in such a deep crisis . As the prince was too young to take up the responsibilities , the queen requested the learned Swami Srisailesar to take care of the administration of the kingdom .
Swami Srisailesar understood it was need of the hour to protect the Kingdom. He took over the responsibilities as defacto King and as an able administrator was managing the show with long sighted acumen thus protecting the prince and the kingdom.
Years passed , Thirumalai azhwar was missing his favorite service of attending to the revered saints and Acharyas association in learning true knowledge . He developed deep interest in sampradayam and quenched his thirst by knowing several esoteric truths from scholars regularly by inviting them to the royal chambers .
Day by the day the thoughts to resign from the assignment given to him became stronger and love to the Lordships increased manifold. Over a period of time as things settled down , he decided to quit the job and seek Acharyar’s lotus feet once for all .
In the other part of the kingdom , Swamy Pillai lokacharyar instructed his chief disciple, Sri Koorakulothamadasar to enlighten Srisailesar by teaching our sampradayam who would be succeeding him in Acharya parampara.
(Similar to how Manakal nambi based on Nathamunigal’s instructions personally interacted with Yamunacharyar who was a king and taught him about our sampradaya and made him a prominent Vaishnava acharyar) .
Due to his advanced age, Sri Pillai Lokacharyar attained Acharyar’s lotus feet ( leaving his mortal coils at Jyotishkudi near Madurai .
( The divine pastime is appended in the blog post url ..
During the plundering expedition of Malik Kafur, one of the worst period in Srirangam, Sri Pillailokacharyar’s disciples took our adorable Lord Azhagiya Manavalan ( Namperumal ) to Thenaikidambai, a village near Kozhikode, Kerala from Jyotishkudi after Swamy PillaiLokacharyar’s heavenly sojourn.
In other part of the Kingdom , due to the invaders torture ,parallely to protect saint Nammazhwar’s deity , few devotees from Azhwar Thirunagari carried the Lordships and reached this place carrying swamy Nammazhwar.
May be It was Lord’s arrangement !!!
Lord Namperumal and Swamy Nammazhwar met at this very holy place .What else can be the divine plan when both the Lord and his dearest devotee move out from their respective abodes and purify the nearby places by giving opportunities to his dearest disciples to carry them .
Nammazhwar was duly honored with Lord’s (Perumal’s parivatam) royal clothes , (kavacham made of pearls) . Both the teams discussed about the future plans in protecting the Lordships . They had to part ways for further safety .
From this holy place the disciples carried Lord Namperumal towards Melkote and later to Tirumala…..
Lord Ranganathar enjoyed the company of Lord Venkateshwara for almost 40 years .
We can have the darshan of the divine abode Of that mandapa where Lord Ranganathar stayed at Tirumala .
The devotees led by Swamy Thozhappar carried Swamy Nammazhwar diety and proceeded towards Kerala and halted at a place ” Munthirupu” .
The revered Acharyar Thozhappar was carrying out the divine service for months traveling avoiding eye contact with the ruthless invaders carefully avoiding the army who were looting the temples and the Priests .
As it was too hectic and difficult to face the invaders they carefully had Azhwar’s diety put inside a well covered box hid the same in a valley. In the tough task being carried out by the team , Thozhapar attained Acharyar’s lotus feet .
With no other option left out , the disciples slowly proceeded towards Madurai to seek Srisailesar’s help in safeguarding the deity .
At Madhurai , Srisailesar by Azhwar’s grace, was now detached from the royal affairs Srisailer who had resigned from the ministerial post approached his Sri Koorakulothamadasa for receiving the instructions from Acharyar ….
As per Acharyar Swamy Pillailokacharyar’s orders and Koorakulothamadasar’s instructions, Srisailer approached Swamy Pillailokacharyar disciples.
As similar how Swamy Ramanujar approached five Acharyas , Srisailesar also approached .
Swamy Vilaancholai Pillai taught him the intricate meanings of Srivachana bhooshanam the magnum opus work by Swamy Pillai Lokacharyar at Thiruvananthapuram.
Swamy Thirukannangudi Pillai taught him the divine pasurams of Thiruvaimozhi .
Swamy Nalloor Pillai taught him the intricate meanings of 3000 vyakhyanam
Swamy Thiruputkuzhi Jeeyar taught him the intricate meanings Thiruvaimozhi
Nallooraachan pillai-the illustrious son of Nalloor pillai continued to teach him the meanings Eedu 36000 .
Thus another versatile Acharyar was guiding the sampradayam .
Thozhappar’s disciples reached Madurai and approached Srisailer . The mission was divine . Srisailer was eager to have darshan of Azhwar .He along with the disciples proceeded to Munthirupu and located the valley . With Azhwars grace , they were able to locate the deity .With all honors, the deity was safely kept at Thirukannambi.
Time passed quickly , and one fine day, Lord appeared in Srisailer’s dreams and advised ,
My dear Thirumalai aazhwar , the temple near Thirukurugoor is in a dilapidated condition which needs to be attended immediately .
I am sure you would initiate action
Thirumalai azhwar understood Lord’s divine command …
He immediately started towards Thirukurugoor along with few disciples .Praying Lord for his mercy he started searching the village . Somewhere far , he felt there could be Perumal sannidhi and Nammazhwar sannidhi. But was not sure if he was at the right place. A barren and waste land nearby made him go closer . He was confused thoroughly because he did not even expect the place to be in such a poor condition.
He met the villagers and requested them to guide him in locating the temple of Azhwar and Perumal . The villagers were also in poor memory .They informed that due to the Moslem invasion in the Pandyan kingdom all of them were scattered and they were also cognizant of the poor state of azhwar and Perumal sannidhi.
They feared that due to invasion, the whole area became like a waste and barren land . One old villager came running and offering obesiances said ,
Revered swamin …….
From childhood I have been going to Azhwars temple for serving the Acharyas . I remember during the looting expedition by the invaders , the brahmins keeping the security of Swami Nammazhwar in mind, carried Lordships and Swamy Nammazhwar deity to a place in Kerala that was engulfed by forests.
I was told by my elders that they had kept azhwar’s vigraham in a cave in that forest.
Srisailer was overjoyed . Thanking Swamy Nammazhwar for his mercy he proceeded to Thiruvananthapuram (capital city of Kerala) and approached the king there.
The King was kind to receive the saint . He ordered his minister to extend all the help to Srisailer . Using their help, he located the place where Swami Nammazhwar resided . The place was called “Thirukanaambi”.
The entire group was overjoyed having darshan of Swamy Nammazhwar who was safely residing in a small box inside a valley . Glorifying the Lordships and Azhwar the group lead by Swamy Srisailer proceeded towards Thirukurugoor.
Now the task as allotted by Lord himself was taken up enthusiastically . All the villagers started to clear off the engulfed forest like area. One day ,while Srisailer was passing on pitch dark night, with a small lamp in his hand, he saw the ( Tamarind ) “Urangaapuli” tree and also the surrounding vimanam around it .
He was overjoyed . Realizing the importance of the holy place recollecting those divine pastimes of Swamy Nammazhwar and dear disciple Swamy Madhurakavi Azhwar, he called the villagers and explained the glory of the holy place . The mission was to make the divine place just like place it was during the heydays of Swamy Madhurakavi azhwar.
With the abundant grace of Ahzwar’s and Lord Polindha nindra piraan’s anugraham, the mission of renovating the temple was accomplished in grand scale .
Glad with the service of Srisailer’s services and his recitation along with nectarine explanation of Thiruvaaimozhi, Swami Nammazhwar himself christened the name of “Thiruvaaimozhi pillai”.
Now , Thiruvaaimozhi pillai started to revive all the lost and hidden traditions of the great place called “Thirukurugoor” ( “Aazhwar Thirunagari”). He took interest in educating the villagers.
With their active cooperation he got the forest area cleared and constructed a temple for Swamy Ramanujar who is worshipped as “Bhavishyad Acharyar” which is know glorified as Chaturvedi mangalam (called “Raamanuja chaturvedhi mangalam” ).
Thiruvaaimozhi Pillai used to contemplate on the divine pasurams of Thiruvaimozhi explanations always given in Eedu .
His attachment to Thiruvaimozhi was so much that he instructed his prominent disciple, Sri Manavala Mamunigal to always contemplate on Thiruvaimozhi .
Sri Azhagiya Manavala Perumal (Manavala mamunigal) belonged to Azhwar thirunagari and was direct disciple .He got his initiation from Srisailesar. Sri Azhagiya Manavala Perumal was Srisailesar’s favourite student who later on took sanyasam and came to be known as Swamy “Manavala Maamunigal” who rendered EEdu vyakhyanam in the presence of the processional deities in Srirangam (Azhagiya Manavalan/Namperuamal) for one full year .
The famous invocatory sloka rendered Supreme Lord Sriman Narayana residing as Sri Ranganathar in Srirangam which every Srivaishnava recites daily at the beginning and end of Thiruvaraadhanam starts with the words
SriSailesa Daya patram DhiBhakti Adi Gunarnavam
Yatindra pravanam Vande Ramyaja Mataram Munim
This invocatory verse was given to Swami Manavala maamunigal by Lord Ranganathar himself .
The Lord addresses Acharyar Mamunigal as “Srisailesa Dayaa paathram”-one who is the recipient of Srisailesa’s mercy.
Among-st the august gathering ,the Lord disguised as a boy came forward and gave the glorification verse (thanian.) ….through the Archaka .
He accepted Swamy Manavala Mamunigal as HIS acharyar. The Lord also gave HIS serpent bed, Adiseshan to Swamy Manavala Mamunigal as aasanam.
The kalakshepa mandapam in Manavala Mamunigal’s Thirumaligai at Srirangam is called as “Thiruvaimozhi Pillai mandapam”
Swamy Manavala Mamunigal in his wonderful work “Upadesa Ratnamala” starts the invocation verse ( thanian) as
“Yendhai Thiruvaimozhi Pillai Inn arulaal……”
He attributes everything to the lotus feet of his acharyar.
Upadesarathinamalai,’ has 74 verses.
As the name indicates it is a jewel of noble precept – gems, a treasure house of essential knowledge for Srivaishnavas. These verses are chanted by the congregation (goshti) in temples and all vaishnava homes .
Swamy Mamunigal states in the very first verse that these essential precepts were received by the grace of Thiruvoimozhi Pillai, his preceptor-Acharya.
After explaining an authoritative chronology of the appearance of revered Azhwars into this world with their appearance day details and places of birth, the hymn introduces the greatest of our acharyas, Swamy Ramanujar..
Elucidating further the commentaries by our acharyas on the hymns of the Azhwars, the importance of Nammazhwar’s Thiruvoimozhi is brought out by an enumeration of the five commentaries, of different lengths, that have appeared for these eleven hundred verses and how the ‘Eedu’ (36,000) commentary came to be written and propagated.More emphasis on the precious jewel, ‘Srivachana Bhushanam’ and the greatness of this ‘secret’ document is glorified .
The conclusion of this great treatise is that the grace of the preceptor-Acharya is the surest-gateway to salvation .
The sacred verses concludes that a reverent study of ‘Upadesarathinamalai’ is certain to beget the generous grace of Swamy Ramanuja.
The final (74) verse was an addition by Erumbiappa disciple of Swamy Mamuni that the fortunates heads who seek the holy feet (Sandals) of Sri Manavala Mamunigal are certain to be touched by Amanava at Srivaikuntam . This contact would cleanse the emancipated soul of the last traces of karma and render it pure to enter the land of Bliss.
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Inspired from a discourse rendered by a revered Acharyar
Pictures : Courtesy Google images