Reviews

Reviving the sacred verses of Nathamuni

Sriman Nathamunigal Vaibhava Prakasikai [Tamil] Author: Dr.A.V. Rangachari, p.592. Available at: Dr.A.V. Rangachari, 151, West Car Street, Chidambaram 608001. Price not mentioned

The first millennium of the common era was a landmark in the religious history of India. The great savants like the twelve Azhwars sowed the seed of bhakti among the masses through their outpouring hymns on Vishnu called Dravida Veda – Nalayira Divya Prabandham. Although these hymns generated a change in the religious fervour during its existence, for some centuries it has lost its identity due to other religious developments. Thanks to the unrelenting efforts of the ninth century Vaishnavite, Nathamuni, because of whom this Dravida Veda became extant and gained in glory over centuries since then.

The present book traces the genesis, growth and development of Nalayira Divya Prabandham and their codification by Nathamuni. The rebirth of this Nalayiram is very interesting. Nathamuni, by constant repetition of Madhurakavi Azhwar’s Prabandham for 12,000 times, as ordained by Madhurakavi’s disciple at Alwar Tirunagari, impressed Nammazhwar and he in turn revealed to Nathamuni the 4,000 hymns including Tiruvoimozhi, Rahasyatraya and its meanings over three consecutive nights.

Apt meters

Nathamuni attached apt musical meters to these hymns, consolidated and codified them into four categories – Mudalayiram, Periya Tirumozhi, Iyarpa and Tiruvoimozhi. Also he tagged each prabandham with appropriate nomenclature according to the genre, meter, grammatical type etc. Nathamuni’s eloquent voice, pious life, great devotion and gigantic act of consolidating the hymns laid foundation for Vaishnavism for the generations to follow.

A diligent discussion on the codification of Nalayiram is dealt in a very interesting way in the present book. The benefit of revival of these hymns enumerate the beauty of the Supreme God, Goddess, His weaponry Sudarsana and Panchajanya, apart from showing the path of Saranagati followed by Azhwars. Besides, the advantage in the recitation of hymns, the identification of Divya Desams and their greatness are vividly expressed.

The author also has identified the influence of Azhwars’ hymns in Sri Bashya of Sri Ramanuja. The author provides a summary on the history of Kamban whose Ramayanam was released during the year 886 AD in the presence of Nathamuni at Srirangam with authoritative references. Nathamuni’s reintroduction of Adhyayana Utsavam in Srirangam, rendering an equal status of Vedas in Srirangam and other temples as was done by Tirumangai Azhwar were well explained.

One can identify the foundation laid by Nathamuni in the growth of dramatic representation of puranic stories, manifested physical expression of emotions, time-measure (talam), melody type (Isai Pan) and sulking interludes which find many a place in Nalayaira Divya Prabandham. The author identified the practice of conducting utsavams with vahanams like Garuda and Hanuman which are used in various vaishnava temples in line with the hymns of Peyazhwar, Periyazhwar, and Tirumangai Azhwar. The author vividly unearthed the five stages of God from the Prabandhams and 108 Divya Desas.

As a crusader, Nathamuni’s far-sightedness in the propagation of Azhwars’ hymns through his disciples is indisputably put forth with right references from the contemporary literature. Nathamuni’s constant effort in propagating this tradition through the hierarchy of disciples from Pundareekaksha, to Rama Misra, his grand son Yamunacharya, Mahapurna and further to Sri Ramanaja from whom sprang a thousand tributaries that carried the literature and tradition in its pristine form, is presented in a veritable way in this book. His painstaking effort in consulting umpteen texts renders credibility to the content. I am sure this volume will appeal to the readers to know about Srivaishnavism and Alwars.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 6:50:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-reviews/revival-of-nathamunis-works/article26532489.ece

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