Sri PARASARA BHATTAR - A Profile
This name is inseperably linked with Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam, as he is responsible for the complete
and comprehensive commentary of the thousand names of the Lord.
Parasara Bhattar had a unique privelage of a highly prodigious mind right from childhood, nurtured
first hand by no less than the galaxy of the very consolidators of SriVaishnavism, namely Sri Ramanuja, Kurattalvan and Embar.
The exact dates of his stay is uncertain, a fair guess by our ancestors seems to be that he was born in 1063AD and reached
Parampadam in 1153 AD. Parasara Bhattar(so named by Sri Ramanuja himself to cherish the memory of the great sage who wrote
Visnu Purana) and Vedavyasa Bhattar(named after the father of Kurattalvan) were the born twins to Kurattalvan and Andal. It
is said that Andal herself was a great scholar and Kurattalvan consulted her on several occasions. Bhattar was precious even
as a child.
His snubbing a scholar by a simple question when he was just five year old is widely quoted.
He used to ask his father questions, used to find Vedic classes boring with the repetition of the lessons which he already
knew. Bhattar had two wives, Akkacci and Manni from the family of Mahapurna. It appears that despite the catholicity of Ramanuja,
Kurattalvan found it difficult to get alliances for his sons as he belonged to the ‘vadama’ subsect whereas the
prevailing circle he associated at Srirangam was Brhaccaranam ! It was Ramanuja’s intervention that brought about this
alliance. Bhattar had one son by name Uddanda Bhattar(Naduvil Tiruvidhi Pillai).
The stalwart seniors of Bhattar were all alive and active for the greater part of his youth
and middle age. It can therefore be conjucted that during this period, he maintained a low profile. Bhattar wrote the commentary
‘Bhagavadguna Darpana’ on Sri Visnusahasranama at the behest of Acharya Ramanuja himself. His other equally famous
works are ‘Srrangaraja Stava’, ‘Srigunaratnakosa’, ‘Astasloki’, ‘Tatvaratnakara’
and ‘Tatvatraya’. His favourite Divya Prabhandham composition was Thirumangai Alwar’s Tirunedundandakam
on which he has written a beautiful commentary. The speciality of this works is that he has taken just the 21st stanza ‘Maivanna
Narumkunji..’ for detailed study and in the course he has brought in other 29 stanzas more for delineation.
Ramanuja installed Bhattar on his own pontificial throne even when he was alive. At his behest,
Bhattar later went to Mysore state to win over the great Vedantin and aristocrat Madhava to his fold. This vedantin subsequently
became Bhattar disciple at Srirangam by the name of famous Nanjiyar. It seems that Bhattar had to leave Srirangam again for
sometime to live in Tirukkottiyur as a protest against a chieftain Veerasundara Brahmarayar when he encroached the house of
Pillai Pillai Alvan for building the Trivikrama enclosure for the temple. He returned to Srirangam only after Brhmarayar’s
demise. Bhattar’s highly incisive and intellectual interpretations on the whole are spoken even today with due mention
to Periyavachan Pillai’s works always mentioning the name of Bhattar.