Valmiki saw a bird being shot with an arrow, and was moved by the sight. His soka (sadness) resulted in a sloka (verse), and culminated in the Ramayana. Valmiki was blessed to have had Sage Narada as his preceptor. But Nammazhvar is superior to Valmiki, for his preceptor was none other than Lord Narayana Himself. Lakshmana is held out an example of an unparalleled devotee of the Lord, for he had bhakti towards Lord Rama from his childhood. But Nammazhvar is superior to Lakshmana too, said Adur Asuri Madhavachari, in a discourse.
Lakshmana's wealth was his service to the Lord, and he was a devotee from childhood, but Nammazahvar was a devotee from the moment of his birth. So Nammazhvar is superior to Lakshmana. Valmiki in his Ramayana, gives us many a Sastraic truth, albeit indirectly sometimes. For instance in the scene describing Lord Rama, Sita Devi and Lakshmana walking through the Dandakaranya forest, he says they walked in single file, with Rama leading, Sita in the middle, and Lakshmana bringing up the rear. This might at first glance seem like an ordinary description of the passage of the three of them through the forest. But it is much more than a mere descriptive scene. It is to be interpreted with care. Rama being in the front, Sita Devi in the middle and Lakshmana at the very end, is representative of the Pranava mantra, Rama being the ‘a', Sita Devi the ‘u', and Lakshmana the ‘m'. Thus a scene in the forest becomes a means of understanding the Pranava mantra. Nammazhvar too gives many such secrets to us in his works, and they are to be understood with careful interpretation.
An interesting interpretation of one of the verses in praise of Periazhvar, shows the greatness of Nammazhvar's works. The verse says that Periazhvar, with the help of the Vedas, won the philosophical contest in the Pandya King's court at Madurai. Perhaps the interpretation should be that the Vedas being spoken about in the verse are the works of Nammazhvar. Madurai was a place famed for its Tamil scholars. So perhaps it was Nammazhvar's works that Periazhvar quoted to win the debate.