Nathamuni and Alavandar

Published - March 10, 2021 09:15 pm IST

Vaishnava Acharya Alavandar wrote a work called Stotra Ratna. What is a stotra? People might define it as attributing to someone, qualities which they do not possess, or exaggerating their qualities. But when it comes to the Supreme One, no praise is exaggerated. He is the repository of all auspicious qualities, and no praise can be enough to capture the greatness of His qualities. Stotra Ratna speaks of His infinite good attributes. There are three gems in sacred literature — Mantra Ratna (Dhvaya mantra); Purana Ratna (Vishnu Purana) and Stotra Ratna of Alavandar — said Valayapet Ramachariar, in a discourse.

Alavandar was named Yamuna and was the grandson of Nathamuni, who recovered the Divya Prabandham. The verses were set to music and taught to Nathamuni’s nephews Melaiyagathazhvan and Keezhaiyagathazhvan and became a part of temple worship in Vaishnava temples. Vedanta Desika, in his Adikara Sangraha, says that by studying the Divya Prabandham we obtain clarity with regard to difficult portions of Vedic literature.

In Adikara Sangraha, Vedanta Desika says none is equal to those who worship Nathamuni. Now the question might be asked if this is not pride, to claim that there is none equal to devotees of Nathamuni. There are three types of pride — sattvika ahamkara, rajasa ahamkara and tamasa ahamkara. To take pride in one’s scholarship or one’s wealth would fall in the category of undesirable ahamkaras, namely rajasa or tamasa ahamkara. But to be proud of one’s Acharya is not wrong. We must have a sense of pride in the greatness of our Acharyas. This is sattvika ahamkara, and it is a desirable pride. Desika says that those who follow Alavandar’s teachings do not study anything unnecessary.

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