An AchAryan (guru)’s glories were discussed in detail in the previous pAsurams. A person catches hold of his AchAryan’s lotus feet and treats it as everything in his life, after realizing his significance. If a person is able to understand the stature of such a person (sishyAs) who had caught his AchAryan’s feet, he must be really intelligent. People who does not understand the glories of a person who treats his AchAryan as everything, would say, “Well, why would he go after his AchAryan as everything. Why does he consider him greater than even sriman nArAyaNan? Why does he wander after all behind his AchAryan?” Whatever may be the complaints that these people say, this pAsuram answers those questions. In the very questions that these people pose, there is an implicit point imbibed in it. There is a group of people who are behind sriman nArAyaNan after listening to HIS glories, form, divine qualities, reincarnations, stories etc., If these people who go after perumAL ask those other set of people who go after their AchAryan as everything as to, “Why do you folks not go after the supreme lord and go behind just a mortal human being called as “AchAryan”? This pAsuram answers these probable questions from these devotees of perumAL HIMSELF. Any blasphemy on the part of worldly people about these guru bhakthAs and the questions imposed by the perumAL devotees are in fact to be treated as glories rather than complaints/scolding. This particular grammatical structure is known as “vanja pugazhchi aNi” in thamizh.
We can look at an example to this. Once upon a time, during the times of svAmi rAmAnujA, there were lots of people standing near the punnai tree in srirangam. svAmi rAmAnujA was also standing there with other people, waiting for perumAL’s procession to start. svAmi rAmAnujA was standing near perumAL. Lots of devotees came towards svAmi rAmAnujA and prostrated before svAmi rAmAnujA and went. There was a cholA poet who served as poet in the kingdom. His name was “udayAr subramanya bhattar”. He was watching this with curiosity. With a willingness to know the reason for this, the poet went towards svAmi rAmAnujA and asked, “Hey! jIyarE! I want to know something from you”. svAmi rAmAnujA replied, “yes. Please go ahead with what you wanted to ask”. The poet replied, “I do see that there are lots of people who come towards you and prostrate before you. They seem to relish doing this and you, who is standing right besides perumAL, do not oppose them and seem to gladly accept their prostration. You never seem to hold them off from prostrating. Why is it that you do not say anything against them when they prostrate before you”. svAmi rAmAnujA replied, “Well, this is a question that needs to be asked. It is a very good question. But I am astonished by the fact that this is coming from you”. The poet was little perplexed and said, “What is so great about me”? svAmi rAmAnujA answered, “well, you are doing royal service. There are lots of people who come to your king. If there is something that a person wants from the king, he would take the king’s sandals and keep them on his own head and would honor him. The king would knew that the other person is keeping the sandals on his head to honor him and is an act of pleasing the king on his part. Knowing this, the king would ensure that the person is guaranteed of his wish, whatsoever it may be. Does this mean that it was the sandals that did the job for that person? It is only the king that does the job for the person and not the sandals. You have seen this incidents a lot of times when you were in the kingdom. Similarly, here, perumAL is the king. Adiyen is like perumAL’s sandals. People who want anything from perumAL, try to please perumAL by prostrating before me who is serving like sandals to HIM. perumAL ensure that HE does the job of those who express their love and affection towards me. That is why they prostrate befoe me. The poet “udayAr subramanya bhattar” was flabbergasted to learn such a treasurable meaning from svAmi rAmAnujA himself.
Thus, it can be seen that there is a possibility that those who are bhagavath devotees (devotees of sriman nArAyaNan) may condescend those people who have AchArya bhakti. The former group of people need to understand about the greatness of devotees of AchAryA. Even if they fail to understand and start condescending the AchAryA devotees, it will only go ahead and prove the greatness of AchAryA devotees.
“அலகை முலை சுவைத்தார்க்கு அன்பரடிக்கன்பர்
திலத மெனத் திரிவர் தம்மை – உலகர் பழி
தூற்றில் துதியாகும் தூற்றாது அவர் இவரைப்
போற்றில் அது புன்மையேயாம்”
“alagai mulai suvaithArkku anbar adiku anbar
thiladhamena thirivAr thammai – ulagar pazhi
thURRil thudhiyAgum thURRAdhu avar ivarai
pORRil adhu punmayEyAm”
anbar – devotees who are
anbar adiku – at the lotus feet of devotees of the
suvaithArkku – ONE who drank
alagai mulai – the demoness pUthanA’s breastmilk
thiladhamena – The characteristics of these devotees is that they consider the devotees of krishnA as holy as the thilakam that is smeared on one’s forehead
thirivAr thammai – and these great AchArya devotees wander everywhere. To such persons, if at all
ulagar – the worldly people
pazhi thURRil – were to say that these people go after a human instead of going after perumAL
thudhiyAgum – it will only be deemed as a praise because it exhibits their AchArya bhakti even more
avar – However, those very same worldly people
thURRAdhu – if they do not degrade / condescend
ivarai – AchArya’s devotees and
pORRil – if they were euphemize them
adhu –those praises
punmayEyAm – are not praises but only an insult
alagai mulai suvaithArkku: The word “alagai” refers to a demoness. Even thiruvaLLuvar says “vayyathul alagayyA vaikkapadum”. “alagai” refers to pUthana, the demoness who came under the guile of yashOdha. She was been sent by kamsa inorder to kill krishnA who was growing at thiruvAipAdi. pUthana tried to kill krishnA by feeding HIM with poisonous milk in her breast. krishnA not only sucked the milk but also sucked her life along with HIM. This story is illustrated in a lot of places. For example, thirumangai azhwar uses the phrases, “peRRA thAi pOl vandha pEychi peru mulaiyUdu uyirai vaRRa vAngi unda vAyAn” and “kaNN sOra vengurudhi vandhizhiya vendhazhal pOl kUndhalALai maNsOra mulaiyuNda mAmadhalAi”. svAmi nammAzhvAr says “vidapAl amudhAga amudhu seydhitta mAyan”. This story is taken here to say that the devotees immerse themselves in the glorious feet of krishnA.
anbar adiku anbar: The devotees who gets immersed in these stories of krishnA. pUthana came to kill krishnA. HE killed her. Those who think of this story, think about HIS special quality. krishnA killed pUthanA, and thereby not only killed her but also saved HIMSELF who is the causeless cause and root of this world. Had HE not killed her, would krishnA be there for us? What is this great quality of krishnA whereby HE always makes HIMSELF available for HIS devotees. In order to do that, he kills all the demons. The devotees think of HIS quality and deeply immerse themselves in it
thiladhamena thirivAr thammai: Thus, those people who are devotees of their “AchArya” and other bhAgavathAs, who are devotees of perumAL HIMSELF, are actually revered as “the greatest”. All the greatest ancestors have celebrated the people who wander about everywhere praising the glories of other bhAgavathAs and their AchAryas. “thilakam” is the forehead impression that the ladies keep. It denotes auspiciousness and hence, these people who are devotees’s devotees are being praised and celebrated as the most auspicious.
This particular stature of being a devotee’s devotee (adiyArkku adiyAr) is being relished by many AzhvAras in many pAsurams. Specifically, svAmi nammAzhvAr enjoys this in his “payilum sudaroLi” and “nedumArkku adimai” padhigams in thiruvAimozhi. svAmi thirumangai azhvAr enjoys it in “kaNN sOra venkurudhi” and “naNNAdha vAL avuNar idaipukku” padhigam of periya thirumozhi. svAmi kulasEkarAzhvAr enjoys it in “thEtarum thiral thEnilum” padhigam of peumAL thirumozhi. svAmi thondardipodi AzhvAr relishes this in ensuing pAsurams of “mEm poruL pOga vittu”. In addition to this, we can find umpteen number of instances in ithihAsas and purAnAs. srivachanabhUshanam states these very succinctly in the 226th chUrnikai
ulagar pazhi thURRil thudhiyAgum: When a layman comments on a person who is a devotee’s devotee as “Look at this person. He is going behind another person (devotee of perumAL) without knowing the roots of that person. He does not know his caste, his current situation etc. He is simply following this person and treats him as the object of attainment and thereby ignoring perumAL”. If this was the negative comment, then this infact is not a negative comment / complaint or a blasphemy, rather, it goes ahead to prove the diving qualities of that person who regards his AchAryan and other bhAgavathAs as his everything. Hence, these are not bad comments and complaints, instead they are noteworthy praises.
thURRAdhu avar ivarai pORRil adhu punmayEyAm: Now let us consider the flipside of the coin. There is a possibility that these laymen may heap loads of praises on these devotee’s devotees. Does it really mean a praise in the first place? If not, what does it mean? These laymen does not do any kind of things that they are supposed to do in the first place. They do it superficially or not do it at all. On top of it, they comment on those people (devotee’s devotee) after observing a few of their routine tasks superficially and comment as in “These people do abide by the shAsthrAs”. They utter these comments based on superficial observations and so does not mean anything. They say these just because they think that other people should think about them that they are also people with compassion towards others and show respect on others. However, the fact of the matter is that, people with such superficiality how much ever they praise, it would never match the glories of those devotee’s devotees. Rather it would only back fire and considering their stature, it would be just an insult.
adiyArkku adiyAr: The entire group of devotee’s devotees are the peak of glory for the entire world. They can also be termed as “thilakam” for devotees themselves. If the worldly people were to complain about them that they do not go behind perumAL and instead go after a human being, then that is not a complaint. It is just a praise. Thus, we saw the significance of being a devotee’s devotee.
Detailed Explanation: “In srirAmAyaNam, rAma, lakshmanA, bharathA and shathruganA stood by good virtues and served as an example for others to follow. Among the four, it was shathruganA who was being celebrated by our ancestors. The reason is because shathruganA served as the devotee of his brother bharathA, who was inturn a great devotee of his brother rAmA. shathruganA did all kainkaryam to his brother bharathA and served as an exemplar of this stature namely “devotee’s devotee”. It would be good to note the following excerpts of svAmi nammAzhvAr here: “thondar thondar thondar thondan satakOpan”, and “adiyAr adiyAr adiyAr enkOkaL”. svAmi thirupAnAzhvAr says “adiyArkku ennai Atpadutha vimalan”. svAmi thondaradipodiAzhvAr says “adiyArkku ennai AtpaduthAi”. svAmi periyAzhvAr says “adiyArgal em thammai virkavum peruvArgaLe”. svAmi kulasEkarAzvAr says “thondar thondargaLAnavar”. All these reinforce the fact that these AzhvArs wanted to be in the same state of being “adiyArkku adiyAr” (devotee’s devotee). The author of this very book namely svAmi aruLALa perumAL emberumAnAr, regarded his AchAryan svAmi rAmAnujar as everything and served him. He is a person who is described by the phrase “anbar adikku anbar” and “thiladham ena thirivAr”. This is the reason why svAmi aruLALa perumAL emberumAnAr is celebrated as “theruLArum madhurakavi nilai theLindhOn vAzhiyE”.
We can see more example to this. svAmi thiruvarangathu amudhanAr served the devotees of svAmi rAmAnujA and wrote the book “rAmAnuja nURRandAdhi”. Likewise, similar instances could be seen in svAmi parAsara bhattar and nanjIyar’s live history.
svAmi maNavALa mAmunigal served as svAmi rAmAnujA’s devotee and sang “yathirAja vimshathi”. svAmi eRumbiyappA served as svAmi maNavALa mAmunigal’s devotee and sang “pUrva dhinachari”, “uthara dhinachari”, “varavaramuni shathakam”, “varavara muni kAvyam”,”varavaramuni champu” etc. In one of these, he says “serukillAdhavargaLum AchArya nishtaigaLil irupavarum, shAsthira sArArthangaLai aRindhavarum paNathAsai, peNNAsai mudhaliya AsaiyaRRavargaLum, perumayaRRavargaLum, anaithu uyirgaL idathil anbu udayavargaLum, kObam, ulObam mudhaliya kuRRangaLai kadindhavagalumAna maNavALa mAmunigalin adiyArgaLodu adiyEnukku enRum uRavu undAga vENdum”. This means that svAmi eRumbiyappA wishes to have eternal relationship with those devotees of svAmi maNavALa mAmunigal who are characterized by these good deeds: lack of pride and haughtiness, immense AchArya bhakti, knowledge of shAsthras and its esoteric purports, lack of materialistic desires including wealth and women, lack of need to be famous and to be noted, love towards all living beings including birds and animals, disgust towards bad characters like anger, lust etc. Hence it can be thoroughly seen that all “AzhvArs and AchAryas desired and relished only to be a devotee’s devotee. This in itself is the cream of the cream of all acquired knowledge by whatsoever means.” Hence, this particular point is being told towards the end of this book.