Maran, later known as Nammalvar and by other names like Satagopa, Parankusa, etc., was born as the avatara of Senai Mudaliar

Alvar Tirunagari
(God’s Chief of Hosts). His father Kariyar belonged to Tirukkuruhur on the banks of the Tamraparni in the Tirunelveli district. For the first sixteen years of his life, Maran remained without food and drink, with his eyes closed, under a tamarind tree (the avatara, it is believed, of Adisesha, the serpent on which God, Sri Narayana, reclines), near the temple of Lord Adinatha at Tirukkuruhur. He opened his eyes and spoke for the first time when one Madurakavi, who later on became his disciple, put a question to him: “When what is little is born in the dead, what will it eat and where will it lie?” Nammalvar answered the question thus: “It will eat the dead and lie on it.”

Even after this, Nammalvar never left the shade of the tamarind tree. He remained there singing his hymns. All the deities of the hundred and eight divya desas (the divine shrines) came to Tirukkuruhur, it is said, to give him “darsan”. When he had finished the four works attributed to him, the call came and he joined the feet of the Lord for which he had yearned all his life.



‘Tiruviruttam’ (Tiru Viruttam) is a poem of a hundred four-lined stanzas. Each stanza is a ‘Kattalai Kalitturai’, a special type of verse, each line having five feet and all the four lines in the stanza rhyming initially. Viruttam, besides denoting a kind of verse, means a message or an event. It is generally held that the poem is a submission made by Nammalvar to God of an event, the event of his falling in love with Him.

The first stanza of the poem indicates this:

To save us from false knowledge,
From evil ways and the dirt of the body,
To save us from coming again and again,
To all these,
And to give us Life,
Thou, Lord of the Immortals,
Camest down here,
Taking birth in many a womb,
And accepting many a form.
Hearken, Lord, to my submission true. 1


About arnulfo

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