SrI: SrI mahApUrNa guravE nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:
Thirunakshathram: mArgazhi, kEttai
avathAra sthalam: srirangam
Sishyas: emperumAnAr, malai kuniya ninRAr, AriyUril sri satagOpa dhAsar, aNiarangathamuthanAr piLLai, thiruvAikkulamudaiyAr bhattar, etc.
Place where he attained paramapadham: pasupathy kOil in chOLa dhEsam
periya nambi’s thaniyan
kamalApathi kalyANa guNAmrutha nishEvayA
pUrNa kAmAya sathatham pUrNAya mahathE nama:
periya nambi was born in srirangam and is also known as mahA pUrNar, parAnkusa dhAsar and pUrNAchAryar.
He was one of the prime sishyas of ALavandhAr and instrumental in bringing rAmAnujar to srirangam. After ALavandhAr’s time, all the srivaishnavas in srirangam request periya nambi to go and bring rAmAnujar to srirangam. So, he leaves srirangam with his family and travels towards kAnchipuram. In the mean time, rAmAnujar also leaves kAnchipuram to meet periya nambi. They both meet at madhurAnthagam and periya nambi does pancha samskAram to him right there. He goes to kAnchipuram to teach sampradhAya arthams to rAmAnujar. But due to some conflicts caused by rAmAnujar’s dharma pathni, he along with his family actually leave kAnchipuram and return to srirangam.
There are several incidents of periya nambi’s life that are recorded in various pUrvAchArya srisUkthis. Let us see a few here:
- He was full of Athma guNams and had great attachment towards rAmAnujar. Even when his daughter comes to him and asks him for loukIka help, he asks her to go to rAmAnujar for solution.
- Once when rAmAnujar is walking with all his sishyas, periya nambi prostrates in front of him. rAmAnujar does not acknowledge it because acknowledging it means accepting the praNamam of his AchAryan. When periya nambi was asked why he did that he says that he sees ALavandhAr in rAmAnujar. In vArthA mAlai, there is a particular statement that “AchAryas should have great respect for their sishyas” and periya nambi lived by that.
- When mAranEri nambi (who is a great srivaishnava, disciple of ALavandhAr and born in chathurtha varNam) attains paramapadham, periya nambi does charama kainkarayam for him. Some local srivaishnavas does not accept his act and complain about that to rAmAnujar. When rAmAnujar asks about that, periya nambi says that he acted according to AzhwAr’s thiruvuLLam as expressed in thiruvAimozhi, payilum chudaroLi (3.7) and nedumArkkadimai (8.10) padhigams. This Idhihyam is shown in azhagiya manavALa perumAL nAyanAr in AchArya hrudhayam and explained in guru paramparA prabhAvam.
- Once, when there was a danger from some miscreants for periya perumAl, it was decided that periya nambi is the right person to do a pradhakshiNam around the periya kOil. He requests kUrathzhwAn to accompany him since kUrathAzhwAn is the one who have fully understood the nature of pArathanthriyam properly. This is shown in thiruvAimozhi (7.10.5), eedu vyAkyAnam by nampiLLai.
- Beyond all of these, when the saiva king invited rAmAnujar to his court, kUrathAzhwAn went in disguise. Along with AzhwAn, periya nambi also went at very old age. When the king orders the eyes to be plucked, periya nambi accepts that and out of his old age and not able to bear the pain, he eventually gives up his life and reach paramapadham. But at the time of giving up his life, there is a very important point he shows to us. AzhwAn and athuzhAi (periya nambi’s daughter) says that srirangam is only a few miles away and requests periya nambi to hold on to his breath until he reaches srirangam, so that he can leave his body in srirangam. periya nambi immediately stops and decides to give up his life then and there. He says if ever some one hears this incident and concludes that one has to be in srirangam (or any dhivya dhEsam) to give up his life that will only limit a srivaishnava’s glory. AzhwAr says “vaikuNtham Agum tham UrellAm” (வைகுந்தம் ஆகும் தம் ஊரெல்லாம்) – wherever a srivaishnava is, that place becomes vaikuntham. So, it is more important to depend on emperumAn wherever we are – there are many people living in dhivya dhEsams without even realising the glories of such blessing, but then there are others who live in remote places (remember the chAndili-garudan episode) but constantly thinking about emperumAn.
Thus we can see how exalted periya nambi was. He was fully dependent on emperumAn. He is also known as parAnkusa dhAsar because of his attachment towards nammAzhwAr and thiruvAimozhi. From his thanian we can also understand that he immersed in kalyANa guNa anubhavam of sriya:pathi and was completely satisfied in that anubhavam. Let us pray at his lotus feet to bless us with the same qualities as well.
periya nambi mercifully compiled the following thaniyan (invocatory verse) to the beautiful prabandham named amalanAdhipirAn.
ApAdha chUdam anubhUya SayAnam
madhyE kavErathu hithur mudhithAntharAthmA
adhrashtruthAm nayanayOr vishayAntharAnAm
yOniSchikAya manavai munivAhanam tham
The conduct of periya nambigaL is greatly celebrated:
- The primary duty of Sishya is to fulfil the divine desire of AchArya.
- The AchArya should instruct everything to the Sishya, without any ahankAram and mamakAram.
- One should remain as an epitome of servitude towards bhAgavathas in the assembly of devotees of the AchArya.
- Irrespective of their birth, those who are the target of AchArya’s grace should be honoured.
Due to the sacrifice done by periya nambigaL for the growth of SrI rAmAnuja dharSanam, the descendants of periya nambigaL are given all honours at dhivya dhESams such as SrIrangam, thirukkuRungudi, SrIvaikuNtam, SrIvillipuththUr, AzhwArthirunagari, naththam, thiruppuLingudi, vEdhapuri mannAr kOyil, thiruppullANi, madhurai etc. They also have aruLappAdu (special call out) in SrIrangam, saying “rAmAnusanudaiyAr” in namperumAL’s gOshti. Also, the thirukkuRungudi jIyar mutt pontiffs are coming in succession from periya nambi descendants. These indicate the glories of periya nambigaL.
periya nambi’s vAzhi thirunAmam
ambuviyil pathinmarkalai AynthuraippOn vAzhiyE
ALavandhAr thALiNaiyai adainthuynthOn vAzhiyE
umbarthozhum arangEsarkku ugappudaiyOn vAzhiyE
Onguthanuk kEttaithanil udhiththa pirAn vAzhiyE
vambavizhthAr varadharurai vAzhiseythAn vAzhiyE
mARanErNambikku vAzhvaLiththAn vAzhiyE
emperumAnAr munivarkku ithamuraiththAn vAzhiyE
ezhil periyanambi saraN inithUzhi vAzhiyE