Thursday, September 10, 2015

Muthaliandan Ramanuja’s First Disciple

Ramanuja referred to him as his Tridhandam
'Daasarathi' composed 5 verses of praise on his Acharya Ramanuja at Thondanur

பாஷண்ட ஸாகர மகாபடபாமுகாக்நி:
ஸ்ரீரங்கராஜ சரணாம் புஜ மூலதாஸ:   
ஸ்ரீ விஷ்ணுலோக மணி மண்டப மார்க்கதாயீ
ராமாநுஜோ விஜயதே யதிராஜ ராஜ:- Dhaati Panchakam

In this 5th and last verse, Muthaliandan showers great praise on his Acharya Ramanuja. ‘He is the one who shows us the way to reach the Mani Mandapa at Sri Vaikuntam…….’

Born in Pachai Vaarana Puram (now Nazrath Pettai or simply Pettai) about 30kms from Madras off the Poonamallee- Bangalore NH, Muthaliaandan is considered the first and foremost among the disciples of Ramanuja as well as the Lotus feet of Ramanuja. There is a Pachai Vaarana Perumal temple at his Avathara Sthalam at Pettai ( near Poonamallee).

Muthaliandan Avatharam
Anantha Narayana Deekshithar belonged to Pachai Vaarana Nagar. Not blessed with a child for a long time, he decided to invoke the blessings of Lord Srinivasa at Tirupathi and went along with his wife Kothambika (Ramanuja’s eldest sister). On the way he stopped over at Thirumazhisai and stayed back the night there. Rama appeared in his dreams and promised to bless him with a child. Later he had darshan of Pachai Vaarana Perumal on Panguni Uthiram. Muthaliandan was born on Chitrai Punarvasu in 1027 AD and was named by his parents as Dasarathi. He went on to become the first and foremost among Ramanuja’s disciples. Hence he was called Muthali Andan.

Alavanthar was in his final days and wanted to crown Ramanuja as his successor at Srirangam. Accordingly Thiruvaranga Perumal Araiyar came to Kanchi and presented Prabhandham verses there. Pleased with his presentation, Lord Devapiran blessed him with Parivattam but Araiyar asked him to grant him a wish. And the Lord agreed. Araiyar asked for Ramanuja to be taken back along with him.

Periya Nambi welcomed Ramanuja and Muthaliandan on the northern banks of Cauvery and brought them to the temple. Ramanuja was asked to take care of all the activities at the temple and Periya Nambi crowned him as Udayavar (the fitting one).

At an appropriate time, Periya Nambi informed Ramanuja about Alavanthar’s Rahasya Grantha and wanted him to be initiated into this at Thiru Koshtiyur .On the 18th occasion, Thiru Koshtiyur Nambi asked him to come alone with his Dhandam and Pavitram.

Muthaliandan is my Dhandam
When Thiru Koshtiyur Nambi questioned his presence with two others, Muthaliandan and Koorathazhvaan (though he had asked him to come only with Dhandam and Pavitram), Ramanuja replied that they were his Dhandam and Pavitram much to the delight of Koshtiyur Nambi.

After being initiated with Thiru Manthiram and its meaning, Ramanuja secured permission to share it with Koorathazhvaan (after one year of his service). Learning about this, Muthaliandan too wanted to be initiated with this but was re-directed by Ramanuja to Koshtiyur Nambi.

After staying there for 6months he failed to get initiated and was once again directed to Ramanuja. He returned to Srirangam and served at the feet of Ramanuja and was finally initiated with the knowledge.

During the period of his stay at Srirangam, he was a beacon of support to Ramanuja and it was with his support that Ramanuja would go for bath to the Cauvery every day.

His Different Names
He was Daasarathi to his parents.  Nam Vadhoola Desikan was a name presented to him by Lord Rangantha himself. Ramanuja crowned him as Aandan and till the very end he was Ramanuja’s TriDhandam. 

Servant Maid of Athuzhai
One day Athuzhai came to her father Periya Nambi and presented a problem. She had asked her mother in law to accompany her to the bathing ghat at Cauvery but was told to find another one for this service.  Periya Nambi suggested to her that only her Acharya had the power to instruct her on this front. When she came to Ramanuja and asked for service help, the acharya called for his foremost disciple and directed him to be her maid servant. And he instantly agreed. Such was the greatness of Muthaliandan that he without a blink of an eyelid accepted the orders of his master even though it meant being a servant ( Seethana Vellati) to a young girl and undertaking the role typically performed by women.

Chief Administrator of the Srirangam Temple
When Ramanuja went along with Koorathazhvaan on a long pilgrimage, he was so confident of the administrative abilities of Muthaliandan that he assigned him to take care of all the service activities at Srirangam. Muthaliandan and Embar hugged each other for the successful 10 day Brahmotsavam and for safely bringing back the Lord to his sanctum at the end of the festival.

Thiru Arathanam at Thondanur
Ramanuja along with Muthaliandan went to Thondanur which was also completely inhabited by Saivites (like it was in Srirangam under the then Chozha rule). There seemed to be many slaves there. Ramanuja directed Muthaliandan to place his feet at the sacred lake and the next day much to everyone’s surprise all the Saivites had become cordial. In recognition of this achievement, Ramanuja directed daily Thiru Arathanam for Muthaliandan at this place. The place turned to Sri Paatha Theertham.

 Dhaati Panchakam
When the health problems of Thondanu king’s daughter was instantly solved by Ramanuja, the king became his disciple. Angered at this, tens of thousands of Saivite followers challenged Ramanuja to a war of words (much like Thiru Gnana Sambanthar’s followers invited Thiru Mangai Mannan at Seerkazhi). Ramanuja chose this moment to display thousand of his hoods (Adisesha) and answered each question posed by them and won them over to his side. Delighted at this victory and having had darshan of Adisesha, Muthaliandan composed 5 songs in praise of Ramanuja referred to as Dhaati Panchakam.
 யச் சக்ரே பக்த நகரே தாட்டி பஞ்சக முத்தமம் ராமானுஜார்யா ஸச்சாத்ரம் வந்தே தாஸரதிம் குரும் (We salute the one (Muthaliandan) who composed that gem Dhaati Panchakam at Thondanur (BhaktaNagar). He is a great disciple of Ramanuja).

When news came from Srirangam that Periya Nambi had passed away and Koorathazhvaan had lost his eyes and that it was time for him to return to Srirangam, he directed Muthaliandan to instal Pancha Narayana Idols at Talakkad, Thondanur, Katak, Mithuna Saligrama and Belur.

Muthaliandan’s son was named by Ramanuja as Ilayavan (later referred to as Kanthadai Andan).

Muthaliandan’s Disciple
Muthaliandan once angered at his disciple Nambi Thiruvazhuthi Valanadu Dasar kicked him. He spent the whole night at the portico of Muthaliandan’s house. When Muthaliandan enquired the next day, he said even a dog if given food for just a day does not leave us. I cannot become less loyal than a dog by leaving you.

Thaligai presentation for Thiruthangal Appan during 5 Garuda Sevai
Once in Malli village, where Muthalianda stayed to have darshan of the 5 Garuda Seva at Srivilliputhur, a vaishnavite came asking for food. By the time Muthaliandan returned he only found thiruthangal appan in front of his house in a palanquin. To this day, Muthaliandan presents food to Lord Thiruthangal appan as part of this 5 Garuda Seva Utsavam.

Muthaliandan passed away in 1132 at the age of 105.

The Post Muthaliandan Period
After Muthaliandan, Ramanuja assigned his son Kanthadai Azhvan for temple service activities. It was he who installed Ramanuja’s idol both at Sriperambudur and at Srirangam.

During Nampillai’s time, Muthaliandan’s grandson Kanthadai Thozappar too lived. With Nampillai getting all the attention, Kanthadai Thozhappar shouted at Nampillai in public during a Ghosti in an effort to embarrass him. Saddened by his emotional outburst, Kanthadai Thozhappar along with his wife decided to go that evening and apologise to Nampillai. As they opened the door to leave the house, they found Nampillai in front of them and he instantly fell at the feet of Kanthadai Thozhappar much to his shock for it was he who was the offender. However, Nampillai opined that it was unbecoming of him to have caused anger to the grandson of Muthaliandan in the sannidhi of Periya Perumal.

Delighted at this reply, Kanthadai Thozhappar crowned him as Lokacharaya, an acharya for the entire world.

Kanthadai Thozhappar’s elder son Periya Varadachariyar performed service at Kanchipuram while his younger son Chinna Varadachariyar received the title of Thirumazhisai Kanthadayar and he stayed in Thirumazhisai and performed service.  Later the chozha king brought back the 3rd son, Eeyan Ramanuja to Srirangam to perform daily services to the Lord.

Padalathri Singa Perumal Koil
In recent times, it was Annavilappar (Venkatachariar) who identified the Padalathri Narasimha at Singa Perumal Koil, which was a forest and installed the Vimana and Mandapas there.  His son Azhagiya Singar (KKVA Kumar Ramanujacharya Swami) is the current Acharya of the Muthaliandan clan. 

He resides in the Thirumaligai at Singaperumal Koil.

Pachai Vaarana Perumal Temple @ his Avathara Sthalam
When Yudistira’s Rajasuya Yagna was disrupted by Asuras, Lord Vishnu came on a Green Elephant and killed the Asuras. This place was referred to in centuries gone by as Haritha Vaarana Puram and Purusha Mangala Kshetram. As part of the Avathara Utsavam in Chitrai, Muthaliandan gets Parivattam, Garland and Silk Robe from his Acharya Udayavar at Sriperambudur.

Quick Facts
Moolavar: Pachai Varana Perumal
Thaayar  : Amrutha Valli Thaayar ( Separate Sannidhi)
Time       : 7am-1030am and 430pm-730pm
Contact   : Arun Bhattar @ 95001 81134  

10 day Brahmotsavam in Panguni
10 day Avathara Utsavam in Chitrai

How to reach Pettai
From Poonamallee, Nazrath Pettai is 1km South West, off the Madras- Bangalore National Highway.
 Take a left at the Signal immediately after Poonamallee flyover.

Bus Numbers 53K, 54E, 54F to Nazrath Pettai.

Auto from Bangalore NH (main road) at Nazrath Pettai will cost Rs. 30/-

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