No work on any philosophy can be complete without an understanding of the architects who made it possible. This is even more so in the case of religious philosophy because the hagiographic background of the great savants who had the ‘savoire faire’ thereof would reinforce the credibility in the system, which they not only preached but also practised in their lives.
The works of Azhwars stood mysteriously a replica of the Vedas themselves and therefore came to be known as Dravida Veda. In fact, there is a view that even the great Rishis are no match to the greatness of the Azhwars because these Rishis got their ‘Jnaanam’ (wisdom) as a result of their own ‘Punyam’ (actions of spiritual merit) and therefore called ’Aarsham', whereas the wisdom of the Azhwars was the direct result of the Lord's divine grace (மயர்வற மதிநலம் அருளப் பெற்றவர்கள்) and therefore called ‘Divyam'. It is because of this that the works of Azhwars is called ‘Divya Prabhandam'.
These works are non-pareil in every sense — be in sentiment, style or syntax. They take even a casual reader on a guided tour into the esoteric exegesis of the Vedas without offending the provisions of exclusions and prohibitions enjoined in the study of the Vedas in original.
Nam-Azhwar is considered to be the foremost among the Azhwars and foremost among the Acharyas (that is, aside of Sriman Narayana, His Consort and Vishvaksena) as well. His four Prabandhams brim with devotion, love, poetic excellence and literary flavour that hold in its grip the attention of anyone who cares to read. They explain the essence of Vaishnavam, Thathva Thrayam, Artha Panchakam, etc. and deservedly called the ‘Tamil Veda’.
Nam-Azhwar is also known as Satakopa, Sataari, Paraankusa, Kurugai-Piraan, Vakulaabharanan, etc. His involvement with the wonderful experiences of Krishna Avathara was such that Parasara Bhattar observed that it is the thirst of the love for Krishna that had personified itself and came down to earth as Paraankusa — “க்ருஷ்ண த்ருஷ்ணா தத்வம் இவ உதிதம்”.
The sentiments expressed in every single verse of his works kindle an insatiable interest and transport one to an enrapturing state of Bhakthi ecstasy. It is very difficult to select one verse over another for poetic excellence or the emotional content. But, even one among the any of his incomparable verses can bestow on the reader an unprecedented delectable experience.
We shall, in this series, savour the poetic excellence and devotional fervour of a few select verses from Nammazhwar’s works. I hope this will not only draw the readers towards his own other verses but also prompt them to learn the import of the other Azhwars’ verses as well.
Next in series: On July 15, 2012.
Sri Ranga Sri (SRS) Electronic Journal, U.S.A.