Tirumangai Azhvar was a warrior, initially known for his bravery. But God had His own plans for Tirumangai Azhvar, who was known as Neelan and Mangai Mannan before he was initiated into Vaishnavism.

Tirumangai Azhvar fell in love with a lady called Kumudavalli, a staunch devotee of Vishnu. She laid down certain conditions before she would accept his proposal. She said he would have to get the Vaishnavite symbols of the conch and discus imprinted on his arms, and he was to offer worship to Vishnu every day. The second condition was that he was to feed thousand Vaishnavites every day. Tirumangai Azhvar agreed to the conditions, and the marriage was solemnised.

To fulfil the first condition, anyone else would have approached an Acharya. But Tirumangai Azhvar approached the deity in the temple of Tirunaraiyur, in the Chola kingdom, Kidambi Narayanan said in a discourse. The next condition was more demanding because it meant that Azhvar’s coffers were soon empty. Yet, he did not want to stop feeding Sri Vaishnavas every day. He waylaid travellers and took their belongings.

Lord Vishnu decided to impart gnana to Tirumangai Azhvar. God is ever watchful of his devotees. We complain that there are many difficulties in the lives of His devotees. But these problems serve to correct us. Life is like four- lane traffic. Problems are speed-breakers. If there were no speed-breakers, we would go at a terrific speed, not stopping to take stock of where we are, and whether we should proceed in the direction in which we are going, and whether we should proceed at the pace at which we are proceeding. Likewise, our difficulties help us introspect and think about the path we are taking in life, and when we begin to think, God is there to guide us.

Thus, it was that when the time came for Tirumangai Azhvar to be instructed, God Himself assumed the form of a bejewelled bridegroom, was stopped by Tirumangai Azhvar, and revealed to him the mantra that guarantees moksha.

Thus, Tirumangai Azhvar had mantropadesa from the Lord Himself. He has the unique distinction of being the only one who got such instruction, brandishing a sword!

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