Sunday, March 29, 2009


No matter who you are, if you show sincere faith in the Lord he will take care of you
The man who, earlier, could not enter the Srirangam temple gains a grand entry into the Sannadhi - Composes 10 sweet songs in praise of ‘Arangan’

This story is a classic illustration of the Lord sharing the pain with the devotee and being by the side of a devotee, when he needs HIM the most.

The Baanar community lived in Srirangam on the Cauvery river banks near Melur. The Baanars were well known for their special penchant for playing sweet music. However, they were seen as outcastes and would not be allowed inside temples.

Among them was one who developed a special affection for Srirangam Lord Ranganatha from a very young age and who later went on to compose 10 beautiful verses, in praise of the Lord, called ‘Amalanaathipiraan’ .

Prayers from the southern side of Cauvery
Being denied entry into the temple, this young man, Thiru Baanar ( Thirupaan Azhvaar), had only heard of Namperumal and had never seen the Lord. Given this constraint, Thirupaan (Azhvaar) would wake up very early in the morning and, before dawn, would walk up to the banks of the Cauvery with a Veena in hand and facing the direction of Lord Ranganatha would immerse himself in the thoughts of the Lord. This man would visualise the Lord, engage himself in deep conversation with the Lord day in day out and would sing praises of the Lord as visualised by him in his thoughts.

Baanar pelted with stone
One morning, Sage Loka Saranga came to the banks of Cauvery to bathe and to then proceed to meet the Lord in Srirangam. Finding this man blocking his way, the sage indicated to him with a show of hands to move away from his path (prior to his bath and during this early morning process before meeting the Lord, the sage would not talk to anyone).

With no reply from the man, the sage began to lose his patience. Another wave of hands and with no answer from this man, the sage mistook this lack of reaction for arrogance and in a fit of anger threw a stone at the man. With blood oozing from his forehand, the man opened his eyes and found the sage behind him in an angry mood.

The man soon realized that he had obstructed the path of the sage and had delayed the sage’s bath and his visit to the Lord Ranganatha temple. Immediately, he moved away from this place so the sage could carry on with his devotion to the Lord.

Lord Ranganatha bleeds-Shares pain with his devotee
After completing the formalities, the sage proceeded to the Lord Ranganatha temple. On reaching the sannidhi, he found to his shock blood from the fore head of Lord Ranganatha. Unable to immediately understand the reason for the bleeding, the sage became restless. He would not have anything that day and spent the entire day wondering the cause of this bleeding.

That night, in his dream, he saw Lord Ranganatha unhappy with him and expressing his displeasure about the sage‘s treatment of the devotee who was immersed in his morning prayers. The Lord said ‘To those who show utmost devotion, I become one among them and share their pains. You have hurt Baanar, who despite not being able to visit me, has been relentless in his devotion from the Cauvery banks. I am today sharing the pains of Baanar.”

Sage Loka Saranga carries Baanar on his shoulder
Realising his folly, the sage pleaded with the Lord to forgive his actions and asked for a reprieve. The Lord wanted the sage to carry this devotee on his shoulder from the Cauvery river banks and bring him to his sannidhi. Obeying the Lord’s orders, the sage went to the southern banks of Cauvery the next morning where he found the man immersed once again in his prayers facing the direction of the Srirangam temple.

The sage fell at the feet of Baanar who was shocked at the action of this great sage and requested that the sage not do such a thing- falling at the feet of a lowly man from a different community. The sage sang praise of this man from the Baanar community and said that his eyes had been opened thanks to the sincere prayers offered by Baanar every morning on the banks of Cauvery .

He added that Lord Ranganatha had come in his dreams the previous night and instructed him to carry Baanar all the way to the Ranganatha temple. The sage requested Baanar to allow him to follow the instructions of the Lord.

Amalanaathipiraan- ThiruPaan Azhvaar’s 10 songs in praise of Lord Ranganatha
The sage, accompanied by his disciples, carried him into the Ranganatha Sannidhi and for the first time Baanar entered the temple and found himself in front of the Lord who he had only visualised till then. So thrilled was Baanar at the sight of the Lord that he instantly showered in 10 verses of praise of Lord Ranganatha beginning with the loving legs of the Lord - ‘Amalan Aathipiraan …. Thiru Kamala Paatham Vanthu En Kanninullaney Okkinrathey’.

He ended his praise of the Lord with the words “ En Amuthinai Kanda Kangal Matronrinai Kaanaathey”. Now that he had seen the Lord, he wanted nothing else in this life and wanted the Lord to take him along…

The Lord was truly impressed with this composition and the devotion of Baanar that he took him in along with him. In front of a startled Sage and all his followers, Baanar merged with the Lord and attained moksham.

The ten compositions came to be called Amalanaathipiraan and the man from the Baanar community who would sing praise of Lord Ranganatha from the banks of Cauvery came to be called ThiruPaanAzhvaar.

ThiruPaanAzhvaar Jayanthi takes place in Karthigai on Rohini Nakshatram.

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