Sri Madhurakavi Azhwar
Paksha: Sukla Paksham
Amsam (incarnation of): Vainatheya (Garuda – divine eagle)
Compilation: Kanninun Siruthambu
(Invocatory verse of glorification to an Acharya which is usually composed by a disciple)
avidhitha vishayAntharas chatArEr upanishadhAm upagAna mAthra bOga:
api cha guNa vachAth thadhEka sEshi madhurakavir hrudhayE mamAvirasthu
Let madhurakavi Azhwar be firmly established in my heart. He did not know any one other nammazhwar, considered singing nammazhwar’s pasurams as the only enjoyable activity and naturally considered nammazhwar as his only master.
According to the scriptures, the stages that one goes through are ishvaryam (opulence), kaivalyam (being in oneness) and bhagavath kainkaryam (serving the supreme lord). Azhwar’s are at a platform where they perform loving devotional service to the supreme Lord. Madhurakai azhwar has gone a step ahead to perform bhaagavat kainkaryam (loving devotional service to the devotees of the supreme Lord)
This is because even though one has surrendered themselves to the Supreme Lord, it is only by Lord’s wish and desire we will attain Him. But if we surrender ourselves to an acharya, then it is guaranteed that through acharya we will certainly attain Lord
The Lord is more pleased if we serve His devotees more than directly serving Him. Madhurakavi azhwar is a perfect example for this fact. For him, Nammazhwar was his supreme master and he knew none other than Nammazhwar to write and dedicate his paurams (poems) to. All the other azhwars wrote the tamil divya prabhandhams (poems) dedicated to the supreme Lord.
Hence Madhurakavi azhwar’s compilation Kanninun Siruthambu (in the praise and glory of Nammazhwar) holds a special jewelled place aomngst the works of other azhwars.
How Madhurakavi azhwar met Nammazhwar
Madhurakavi azhwar was on a pilgrimage in north India and while he was in Ayodhya, one night he saw a bright glow emerging from the southern direction. He became very inquisitive and started to follow the glow. This during the day he would take rest and at night follow the glow until he reached Azhwar Thirunagari where he sae the glorious Nammazhwar, a 16 year old sitting in deep trance under a tamarind tree. He throws a stone at Nammazhwar which wakes him up.
To check whether he is able to speak, Madhurakavi azhwar asks him a question “If a jivathma – sentient enters an achethanam – insentient, what will he enjoy and where will he stay.”
To this Nammazhwar replies “”He will keep enjoying the materialistic joy and sorrows and will stay permanently there”
Madhurakavi azhwar get convinced that Nammazhwar is no ordinary person and decides to stay there serving Nammazhwar and singing his glories.
After Nammazhwar went back to the lotus feet of supreme Lord, Madhurakavi azhwar was unable to convince the supremacy of Nammazhwar to the local scholars. He then appeared before Madhurakavi azhwar and asked him to write “Kannan Kazhalinai” and place it on the Sanga Pallakai (the plank which measures the greatness of literature). The scholars were amazed when the poem was accepted by Sanga Pallakai and accepted Nammazhwar as among the best poets and begged for forgiveness. Thus Madhurakavi azhwar spent his time glorifying his acharya and uplifted everyone around him until the end.