Azhwargals are the devotees of Lord Mahavishnu, and they are deeply immersed into the countless attributes of Lord Mahavishnu. While there are countless devotees of Lord Mahavishnu, the twelve great and supreme devotees are known as Azhwargal. These twelve Azhwargals belong to different cast and creed. This itself is enough to say that supreme devotion is the only means of attaining the lotus feet of the Lord. The devotional, religious and philosophical works of these saints are sung by the followers of Vaishnavism. Most of the works of these saints are in Tamil.
The twelve Azhwargal who are celebrated saints of Vaishnavism are namly Poigai Azhwar, Bhoothathazhwar, Peyalvar, Thirumalisai Azhwar, Nammalvar, Madhurakavi Azhwar, Kulasekhara Azhwar, Periyalvar, Andal Nachiyar, Thondaradippodi Azhwar, Thiruppaan Azhwar and Thirumangai Azhwar.
Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam is the foremost of the eight self-manifested shrines (Swayam Vyakta Kshetras) of Lord Vishnu. It is also considered the first, foremost and the most important of the 108 main Vishnu temples (Divyadesams). This temple is also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Periyakoil, Bhoologa Vaikundam, Bhogamandabam etc.,. In the Vaishnava parlance the term "KOIL" signifies this temple only.
Eleven of the twelve Azhwargals had sung in praise of the presiding deity Sri Ranganatha. Out of which Sri Thiruppan Azhwar had sung in praise of this deity only. The ten verses sung by him are known as essence of Sri Vaishanavism. He had attained moksha [ Vaikunta pathavi] in this temple.
Thirupaan Azhwar belongs to Uraiyur the place near Tiruchirapalli. He was born on Karthigai month Rogini star, considered as the rebirth of Srivatsa (An auspicious mark on Lord Vishnu's chest).
Sri Tirupaanazhwar is so called because he used to play an instrument known as ‘Paan’, otherwise his name is not known. He was brought up by the couple who belong to ‘paanar’ community and living in a village Tirukozhi near Uraiyur, Tiruchirapalli. Paanars are the people who sing in praise of the God of their choice using the sting instrument known as ‘paan’.
Sri Tirupaanazhwar was devoted to Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam and as a routine he will go the Srirangam to sing in praise of the presiding deity Sri Ranganatha his Lord. Ssince he is an outcast he would remain on the bank of River Kaveri facing Srirangam and look at the direction of ‘Sri Rangavimanam’ and sing. Since he believed that the conventions and spiritual sense specified by sastras lies in moral conduct he as an outcast will never cross over river Kaveri.
The chief priest of the temple sage Sri Loka Saranga used to come daily to the river Kaveri for drawing water for the temple. On a particular day Paanar standing on the banks of Kaveri and was in trance devotion and was unaware of his surroundings that he missed the voice of Saranga asking him to leave way. In order to wake him the sage threw a small stone in his direction, but the stone accidentally hit the forehead of Paanar and bleeding started. Paanar realised what had happened and quietly retired. Unaware of the injury caused to Paanar, the Sri Loka Saranga returned to the temple with water from Kaveri for performing pooja. He was taken aback on seeing blood oozing out from the forehead of the deity of Sri Ranganatha. That very night, Sri Ranganatha appeared in the dream of Sri Loka Saranga and commanded him to fetch Paanar to the temple the next morning on his shoulders. Accordingly, Sri Loka Saranga requested Paanar to come to the temple. But, Paanar, referring to his birth, declined to enter the holy place. When he was told of Sri Ranganatha's commandment, Paanar was beside himself and was lost in a deep trance. As commanded by Sri Ranganatha, Sri Loka Saranga carried paanar on his shoulders to the temple. When they reached the sanctum, Paanar experienced the bliss of Sri Ranganatha and ten verses poured out of him starting ‘Amalan Adhipiraan’ describing the beauty from head to foot of Sri Ranganatha. After these ten verses Sri Ranganatha had offered His bliss on the Azwar ultimately immersed him with Him. These ten verses are considered to be sweeter than even the sound of music of the Veena.
In Srirangam Ranganthaswamy temple there is sannidhi for Sri Tirupaanazhwar in Rangavilas mandapam. On his birth anniversary every year his utsava moorthi is brought from Uraiyur temple to Srirangam and taken to sanctum of Sri Ranganatha for viswaroopa dharshanam.
There is a sannidhi for him in Sri Azhagiya Manavala Perumal temple at Uraiyur his birth place. A ten day celebration is conducted in this temple in his honor.
In Rangavilas mandapam sannidhi at Srirangam Sri Tirupaanazhwar is not alone. He is seen in the company of Sri Anjaneya. It is believed that this sannidhi was built around the year 1492.
Sri Veera Anjaneya and Sri Tirupannazhwar moolavar, uthsavar are seen together in this sannidhi which is normally not seen elsewhere. The elders are of opinion that both of them are place in the same sannidhi because both of them never sought moksha. They did not see any other Deity other than their loved one [eshta devatha]. Sri Anjaneya was firm in his devotion to Sri Rama, and Sri Tirupaanazwar in his devotion to Sri Ranganatha. It is no wonder that this two great devotees are together. Sri Tirupaanzhwar in the tenth verse of the ‘Amalan Adhipiraan’ states that he would not see anything after seeing the beauty of Sri Ranganatha. With that verse his outpour of seeing Sri Ranganatha ends …..அணியரங்கன் என் அமுதினைக் கண்ட கண்கள் மற்றொன்றினைக் காணாவே.
The sight of Sri Veera Anjaneya sannidhi is great and pleasant. Sri Anjaneya of this kshetra is seen with ‘tiruvachi’ also made of stone. Sri Veera Anjaneya is of nearly seven and half feet tall in standing posture. Lord’s lotus feet are seen walking southward with His left foot forward. Lord is seen wearing ornaments in his ankle. His hip is adorned with chains and a small knife. Lord is bestowing blessing by His right hand in ‘Abhya Mudra’. His left hand is seen folded towards bosom and holding the ‘Sowgandika’ flower which is seen just above His left shoulder.
Slightly tilted towards right side the Lord’s glorious face is very pleasant. The kundalam worn by Lord is seen resting on His shoulders. He is seen with a neatly tied hair in form of ‘kudumi’ [it couldn’t be seen]. The pleasing look of the Lord through His glowing eyes nullifies all the sorrow of the devotee.
Do not think of anything. Come pray and have dharshan of Sri Veera Anjaneya along with Sri Tirupaanazwar, feel the love for Lord pour out and oneness with Him is felt.
Photo courtesy: Vekat Nagaraj, New Delhi
Ed [February 2015]
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SRI HANUMAN THINKS DIFFERENTLY, THINKS FAST, THINKS AHEAD AND ACTS FOR SURE.
Our salutations to this Hanuman who always brings subham - everything that is good - for His devotees and eliminates the bad and the evil. He removes even the traces of bad thoughts and deeds from His devotees. i.e He makes them pure in words, thought and deed.