Updated: Jun 30
“Ananthapuram pukkēnō Ālavandhāraip pola “
In our Vaishnava culture and history, all the 4000 Pāsurams were collected and composed into beautiful songs by ‘Nāthamunigal’, whose grandson was named ‘Yamunaithuraivan’. He was born in the month of Ādi (mid July to mid august) in the ‘utthirādam’ star at peak in Vīra Nārāyanapuram.
He was very shrewd. He was known to be an 'ekasandhagrāhi'- one who only needs to read anything once to grasp and remember everything. He was a student of Mahābāshya Bhattar. During the Chola reign, the court pandit Ākkiāzhvān was a great scholar, but too proud of himself.
He defeated many scholars in debate and won many accolades. He sends a message to Mahābāshya Bhattar calling him for a debate. Bhattar was very worried, but the little boy Yamunaithuraivan took the message from him and tore it into pieces. On hearing this, the upset Chola king sent another message on an ōlai (palm leaf) requesting the boy to come. But Yamunaithuraivan tore that one too!
On hearing this, the king thought, ‘If this person has torn the Ōlai the second time too, he must be a big shot, let me send a palanquin for him and invite him with all due respect'. When the palanquin arrived, a small boy hopped out.
On seeing that he was a mere boy, Ākkiāzhvān angrily declared, “I shall debate 3 things against you. If you lose, I don’t want anything but I will just hit you hard once on your head and you should leave. “
The king and queen decide to have a bet on who is going to win the argument. The king said, ”If he wins, I will give him half my kingdom.” The queen then said, “If this boy loses, I will give away the queen's post and will serve you as a maid.“
The debate began. Yamunaithuraivan says 3 things:
1.”Un thāyi maladi alle -your mother is not barren"
2.”Mannan oru chakravarthi- The king is best of all”
3.”Arasi Karppukkarasi –The queen is a queen of chastity”
Ākkiāzhvān, now confused, thought, ‘all three things are true, how can I argue against them?’Admitting defeat, he asked Yamunaithuraivan, “Can you argue against these 3 points?.”
Yamunaithuraivan replied, “First of all, oru maram netrā thōppu āgādhu- just like planting a single tree won't make a grove, similarly a woman who gives birth only once is not a mother. I heard you are the only son to your mother so “Un thāyi maladi" -Your mother is barren".
Second: “The one who rules the world is called Chakravarthi, but this king is ruling such a small Chola empire. So how can we call him Chakravarthi?”
Third,”A bride is considered to be married to the Gods before she marries someone, so how can the queen be called a queen of chastity?”
On hearing this, Ākkiāzhvān bows his head in front of the small boy, indicating to hit him on his head, but Yamunaithuraivan said, ‘You are my elder, I will not do that.’ The king, as per his bet, gives half of the kingdom to the little boy. The queen hugged the little boy and exclaimed, ’Ennai ālavandhīro?'- Have you come to rule me?”That’s how Yamunaithuraivan got the name ‘Ālavandhār’. Ālavandhār ruled the kingdom very well and forgot his true identity in the process.
Nāthamuni had a student named “Manakkāl Nambi''. He was given the responsibility of bringing Ālavandhār back to Vaishnava heritage. He thus went to see the King (Ālavandhār) but the guards did not allow him to meet the king. Manakkāl Nambi then gave them a herb called ‘Thūthuvalai’ for the royal kitchen. The king had it.
This happened for a long time and suddenly Manakkāl Nambi stopped coming. The king asked for his food to be made with thūthuvalai. The guard replied that a Brahmin usually brought the herb everyday, but he had now stopped coming.
The king ordered the guards to find out who that Brahmin was and bring him to court. Manakkāl Nambi was brought to the court and the king asked, “I want to return the favour for the tasty herb you brought me everyday. What do you desire?”
Manakkāl Nambi replied, “I don’t want anything, but I have come here with a responsibility of giving you your ancestral property".
King asks, “What property are you talking about?”
Manakkāl Nambi asked the King to accompany him to where the property was. He then took him to the Ranganātha temple in Srirangam.
On seeing Ranganātha, Ālavandhār was reminded about his responsibilities and acknowledged with tears in his eyes, "Lord Ranganātha is indeed my ancestral property.”Ālavandhār gave up his king's attire and throne to his son, donned Sannyāsi robes and returned to Srirangam. He became known as “Yāmuna Muni''. He did a lot of services for Sri Vaishnava Sampradāyam.
Once there was a festival for Ranganāthan with Araiyar Sēvai. (Araiyar Sēvai is the worship of the Lord through song, dance and enactment of the Divya Prabandham). On the Thiruvāimozhi day (thirunal),
Araiyar Swāmi was rendering Thiruvananthapuram pāsuram which declares, “If one does service to Ananthapadmanābhan, he will be relieved of all dangers and will be the most fortunate. One can rest at His lotus feet."
Araiyar kept indicating about praying Thiruvananthapuram Perumāl to Ālavandhār. Ālavandhār felt like Padmanābha Perumāl was calling him.
After acquiring Arangan’s permission, Ālavandhār walked all the way to see Padmanābhan.The moment he reached the border of Thiruvananthapuram, he did Sāshtānga Namaskāra (Namaskāra using all 8 body parts by falling on to the ground) all the way to the temple.
Thirukōlur Pen then said, “I don’t possess deep bhakthi like Ālavandhār, why should I stay here?”
Rāmānuja was all praise for his own Āchārya. “Yes, he really did come to rule our Sri Vaishnava Sampradāyam, Ālavandhār. Who are you going to tell me about next? “
Thirukōlur Pen replied, “Āriyanaip pirindhēno Theyvāri Āndānaip pōla”?