Updated: Sep 20, 2021
Naan Siriyan Endreno Azhwarai Pole
Below is the translation to Veda Paati's story, narrated in tamil, available in below platforms:
THIRUKOLUR PEN PILLAI RAGASIYAM - 14
Did I say I am "small" like Nammazhwar?
Emperumanaar Ramanuja’s joy knew no bounds when he heard stories of Azhwars! Was she going to tell the story of yet another Azhwar, he wondered to himself? Just as these thoughts were running through his mind, the little child of Thirukolur said, “Swami, am I like Nammazhwar who praised the Lord saying that He is small?”. Who is Nammazhwar and why did He praise the Lord so?
In Thirukurukur, also known as Alwarthirunagari in modern day, lived a couple Kaariyaar and Udayanangai. Many years had passed after their marriage and yet they did not have a child. They sought Nambi Perumal at Thirukurungudi and prayed for progeny. They were then blessed with a child on the tamil month of Vaigaasi in Vishaakam Nakshatram. The child was none other than the reincarnation of Vishwaksenar!
The child was born healthy but behaved very uncharacteristically! The child went on for several days after birth without crying, nor drinking milk or opening his eyes. As this child was different from other children, the parents named him “Maaran”. The saddened parents brought the child to the Thirukurukur temple on the 12th day. They left the child in a cradle under a tamarind tree. After many days, the child crawled out of the cradle on his own and settled himself in a hole under the tamarind tree. He started doing Yoga Nidra under the tree.
The town people were amazed and this child and predicted that he would eventually rule them, and hence named him “Nammazhwar”! 16 long years passed with the child sitting in the hole under the tree doing meditation. Meanwhile, there was a great devotee called Madhurakavi who was on a spiritual pilgrimage in the north of India. When he was in Ayodhya, one night, he noticed a huge hallow of light in the sky. Enthralled with this light, he had a calling to follow this light to find the source of this. The light brought him to a tamarind tree. The minute he spotted the child in the hole, the hallow of light in the sky disappeared. Madhurakavi was in awe of the child whose face was bright and lustrous. He learnt more about this miraculous child from the townspeople. Madhurakavi who was curious to find out about Nammazhwar threw a stone nearby which made the child open his eyes for the first time. Nammazhwar also asked a question to this child, and the child answered beautifully, speaking for the first time.
Madhurakavi became the disciple of Nammazhwar, impressed with his knowledge. Nammazhwar eventually composed 4 prabhandams (set of verses). Thiruvritham, Thiruvasrayam, Periya thiruvandhaadhi, Thiruvaaimozhi. While Nammazhwar sang these, Madhurakavi wrote them. The Lords of the Divya Desam were so captivated by these beautiful poems that they rushed to the Tamarind tree to see Nammazhwar. Nammazhwar eventually composed poems on the Divya Desam Perumals as well. In these poems, Nammazhwar mentions “Avan Siriyan”, which means He is small, referring to Lord Sriman Narayana. You may ask, how could Nammazhwar call Perumal small, is He not after all the ruler of this universe?
Well, Nammazhwar was referring to the Lord’s divine quality of simplicity. The Lord is very easy to approach and get close to. All He asks for is true love devotion and faith, and He would be ready to receive you with open arms. The Lord has no differentiation between the poor and the rich, or the sick and the healthy. When the elephant Gajendra called “Aadhi Moolame”, the Lord came running to his rescue. When the little squirrels helped their mite in building the Sethu Bandanam bridge, the Lord gently stroked them at their backs giving them their characteristic stripes. When the little child Dhruva meditated upon Him, He came running. He ate the tasted apple given by Sabhari and became friends with the boatman Guhan. Such simplicity, humility and love! Hence, Nammazhwar referred to Perumal as “the small one”!
Not only Perumal, Nammazhwar refes to his own self as “the small one”! This is due to the great quality of humility that Nammazhwar had, and that all of us should imbibe! Nammazhwar beautifully adds on, “Lord Narayana is smaller than me. Since I am small, and He is in me, He should be smaller!”.
“Swami Ramanuja, do I have the simplicity and humility of the great Nammazhwar? Did I call the Lord Himself the small one? Then what reasons do I have to remain here?” laments the poor little child of Thirukolur!