Thirumazhisai Alwar
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Thirumazhisai Alwar
Thirumazhisai Alwar  
Period 7th C. AD
Place Thirumazhisai
Other Names Bhakthi-saarar, Bhaargavar, Magisaaraapuriswarar, Mazhisai-piraan
Month Thai
Star (Natshatram) Magam (Magha)
Hamsam Sudarshanam (Discus)

This Alwar was an incarnation of  Sudarsana Chakra ( the divine discus  of  Lord Vishnu). He was born to Bargava Muni and Kanakangi at Tirumazhisai near Kanchipuram. Even though the foetus was in the mother's womb for an unusual 12 months, when delivered was without arms, legs etc. The parents left it at the foot of a bush of cane shrubs in the forest. Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi appeared and blessed the child which then became fully developed into a lovely baby.


A childless tribal couple called Tiruvaalan and Pankaya Chelvi engaged in cutting canes found the child and took it home. The child would not eat or drink anything nor  did it show any signs of expelling waste material from its body. When an old agriculturist couple offered milk in a bowl, the child drank it with relish.   One day, the couple drank of the milk left over by the child. They regained youth and in due course had a son born to them whom they named as 'Kanikannan'.


Thirumazhisai decided to learn about all other religions. So, he studied Buddhist, Jain and other literature. He became a staunch devotee of Siva assuming the name of  Siva Vakya. One day, he saw an old man  planting a plant upside down and then trying to water it with a broken pot using a tattered rope  to lift water from a waterless well. Sivavakyar asked him why he was attempting such a foolish act. The old man was none other than Pey Alwar who replied that what he was doing was only less foolish than Sivavakya's allegiance to Saivism , knowing full well that the Vedas and Smritis proclaim Sri Narayana as the Supreme deity.


As a result of an argument with Pey Alwar, finally he got initiated  into Vaishnavism by Pey Alwar assuming the name of Bhaktisarar. After visiting several temples, he reached Tiruvekka, the birthplace of Budat Alwar.


Impressed by the service rendered by an old spinster, he restored her youth with unsurpassed beauty as desired by her. She married the Pallava king who learned of the secret of her youth. He wanted to regain youth himself. She told him that he approach Kanikannan for the purpose. When Kanikannan was summoned to court, he refused to come; when asked to compose a verse on the king, he refused to compose one on a mere mortal; when told that the king was an aspect of the Lord, he composed a verse on the Lord and not on the king.


This enraged the king who banished him from his kingdom.


On hearing this, Bhaktisarar requested the Lord in his puja to leave the place. He sang:


Kanikannan Poginraan Kaamaru poong Kachi /

Manivannaa! Nee Kidakka Vendaaa/

Sennaap Pulavanum Poginren Neeyum Unran /

Pai Naagappaai Suruttik Koll /

" Kanikannan is going out of Kanchi O! Manivanna, You don't have to lie here

anymore. Since, as the fluent poet that I am also leaving with him, you also roll your serpent bed and follow me"

And, accordingly all of them left Kanchipuram.


 When they left, Kanchi became desolate. The king realized his folly and requested  Bhaktisarar and Kanikannan to forgive and return. Bhaktisarar prayed to the Lord that in view of the King's repentence, they might return. He sang again :

Kanikannan Pokkozhindaan Kamarupoong Kachi /

Manivanna ! Nee Kidakka Vendum - Thunivudaiya /

Sennap Pulavanum Pokkozhinden- Neeyum Unran / Kanchi regained Pain Nagap Paai

Paduthuk Koll /

" Kanikannan has changed his mind and rescinde his decision to leave Kanchi. Since, as the fluent poet that I am also returning with him, You may also return and lie down on your serpent bed as before"

All of them returned accordingly and Kanchipuram regained its  lost glory.


 Since the Lord did as he was told by the Alwar, he came to be called

'Yatotkari' and 'Sonna vannam Seitha Perumal'-meaning 'the Lord who acted as told'


One day, when on his way to Tirukkudantai, he stopped for a while for rest and he sat on a pial of a house in Perumpuliyur. A few brahmins were reciting Vedas. On seeing him, they stopped their recitation since Veda was not to be recited in the presence of a person belonging to the fourth caste. The Alwar understood and was about to leave when the Brahmins started their recitation. They did not remember at what point they had left the recitation. The Alwar broke open a paddy seed with his fingernail to indicate the exact context which had a reference to the paddy seed. The brahmins realized the greatness of the Alwar and begged to be excused.


When the Archaka ( priest) of the local temple wanted to honour him, some objected and spoke ill of the Alwar.  Tha Alwar prayed to the Lord to show himself to these people. He sang :

Akkarangal Akkarangal Enrum Aavadhu En Kolo /

Ik Kurumbai Neekki Ennai Eesanaakkka Vallaiyel /

Sakkaram Koll Kaiyane Sadankar Vai Adangida /

Ut Kidantha Vanname Puram Posindhu Kaattide /

" What is the use of your having those resplendent hands if you cannot remove the idiosynchrosy of these ignorant folk and make me powerful

in their midst? O1 Lord with the divine discus in your hand ! Teach these fools a lesson by showing yourself appearing in my very body"

The Lord showed himself off in the body of Alwar and the onlookers were

astonished and begged forgiveness .


On reaching Tirukkudantai ( Kumbakonam), he let the birchbark leaf containing his writings in the waters of river Kaveri. The leaf floated back to him holding  his works viz.,'Tiruchanda Viruttam' ( a poem of beautiful verses)in which he sang the following beautiful verse:

Ninrathu Enthai Ooragathu Irundathu Enthai Paadagathu /

Anru Vekkanaik Kidandhathu Ennilaatha Munnelaam /

Anru Naan Pirandilen Pirandapin Marandilen /

Ninrathum Irundhathum Kidandhathum En Nenjule /

" Before I was born, He wasstanding in Ooragam, was sitting in Paadagam and was lying down in Tiruvekka.At that time I was not born with wisdom; When once I was born with this wisdom, I never forgot. Therefore, the Lord left all those places and has taken permanent abode in my heart". The idea is that the great Gnanis never considered themselves as born at all until they realized this ' Artha gnaanam'. And, once they realized this, they had no other avocation than being immersed in the thought of the Lord.This is how Mumukshup padi explains this sentiment.


 The other work of the Alwar is  ' Naanmugan Tiruvantadhi'- an Antadhi

commencing with the words 'Naanmugan' - a reference to the four faced Brahma.

He published them for the benefit of posterity.

The first stanza of the Antadhi categorically states

Naan Mugani Naraayanan Padaithaan- Naan Muganum /

Thaan Mugamaaai Sankaranaithaan Padaithaan /

Yaan Mugamaai Anthaadhi Melittu Arivithen - Aazh Porulai

Sinthaamal Konmin Neer Therndhu

"The four faced Brahma was born to Narayana and to this Brahma was born

Sankara. I am declaring this  truth in this Antadhi. Resort to this without any doubt, if you desire to wipe out the pangs of birth" 1


He was so fearless , outspoken and frank to a fault in establishing his

staunch devotion to Narayana that he was known as ' the sword that was never sheathed in the cause of Vaishnavism'.


Thanian on Tirumazhisai Alwar

On Tiruchhanda Viruttam by Tiruk Kachi Nambigal

Taruchhandap Pozhil Thazhuvu Dhaaraniyin Thuyar Theera/

Tiruchhanda Viruttam Sei Tirumazhisai Paran Varum Oor /

Karuchhandung Kaar Akhilum Kamazh Kongu Mana Naarum /

Tiruchhandathudan Maruvu Tirumazhisai Valam Pathiye

The places of birth of Alwars are considered to be as sacred as the Alwars themselves. Hence, the Thanians praise the their birthplaces.

" This place is filled with the divine Kalpa tree, Sandalwood tree and other groves of fragrant flowers. Tirumazhisai is the holy place where was born the great Tirumazhisai Alwar who came to this world to relieve the populace of their misery. Mahalakshmi resides happily in this beautiful place."


Thanian on Naanmukhan Tiruvantaadhi

Naaraayanan Padaithaan Naanmuganai- Naan muganukku /

Eraar Sivan Pirandhaan Ennum Sol - /

Seeraar Seppi Vaazhalaam Nenjame ! Moi Poo /

Mazhisai Piraan Adiye Vaazhthu ?

" Naaraayana created Brahma and to this Brahma was born Siva who is known as the ' Mei Tavathone'- real penitant. If we read and understand this great psalm, we can redeem ourselves. The one who gave us this rare psalm is the great Tirumazhisai Alwar who was born in  the flower - garden city of Mazhisai"

athAto "brahma" zignAsA - Then thereafter be inquisitive to enquire about "the Absolute"