Sri ManavALa Maamunigal(MM) revered also under the names of Sri Vara Vara Munni ,YathIndhra pravaNar is one of the greatest Sri ViashNavite AchAryAs . He was born in the village of Kidaram in the year 1370 AD and ascended paramapadham in the year 1443 AD.He has blessed us with 19 granthams . Three of them are in Sanskrit . The rest are in Tamil and ManipravALam .The three works in Sanskrit are : YathirAja Vimsathi, Sri DevarAja mangalam and Sri Kaanchi DevapperumAL SthOthram .His ninteen granthams can be classified under three major categories:
(A) VyAkyAna Granthams or commentaries on the works of earlier AchAryAs like Sri PiLLai Lokaachaar, PeriyavaacchAN PiLLai and Thiruvarangatthu Amudanaar .These eight VyAkhyAna granthams are:
1. Sri Vachana BhUshaNam 2. Mumukshuppadi 3. Tattvathrayam 4. AchArya Hrudhayam 5. Jn~Ana Saaram 6. PramEya Saaram 7. PeriyAzhwAr Thirumozhi 8. RaamAnuja NooRRanthAdhi (B) Three granthams known as PramANa Thirattu are: 1. Eedu 2. Sri Vachana BhUshaNam 3. Tattvathrayam (C) His Own Granthams in Sanskrit (3) and Tamil(5) add up to the remaining Eight : 1. UpadEsa Rathna Maalai 2. ThiruvAimozhi NooRRanthAdhi 3. Iyalc ChaaRRu 4. ThiruvArAdhana Kramam 5. YathirAja Vimsathi 6. DevarAja MangaLam 7. Sri Kanchi DevapperumAL SthOthram 8. Aaarthi Prabhandham , his last grantham .
He lived for 73 years on this earth performing many Kaimkaryams and undertook many pilgrimages to many Sri VishNavite Dhivya dEsams . Most of his life was spent however at Srirangam . The work known as "YathIndhra pravaNa PrabhAvam " records the life and accomplishments of this important AchAryA . His devotion to AchArya RaamAnujA , Swami NammAzhwAr and NammperumAL was extraordinary. He spent a significant portion of his life at Srirangam worshipping Sri Ranganaathan and peforming KaalakshEpams on AzhwAr-AchAryAL aruLiccheyalkaL.
When he was 60 , Sri RanganAthA wanted to honor Sri MM for all his kaimkaryams in spreading the message of NaalAyira Dhivya prabhandham . He commanded Sri MM to conduct an year long lecture series on SatAri Soori's ThiruvAimozhi at Srirangam in His presence . All the regular uthsavams for the Lord of Srirangam was cancelled that year , while He heard the pravachanams on ThiruvAimozhi based on all the five commentaries starting from aRAyirappadi .At the conclusion of these pravachanams , a small boy with dhivys tEjas came from the back of the sadas and sang a verse that has come to be known as the Taniyan for Sri MaNavALa MaamunigaL :
srIsailEsa dayaapaatram dhIbhakthyAdhi guNArNavam YathIndhra pravaNam VandhE RamyajAmAtharam munim
The audience and Sri MM were wonderstruck after the small boy disappeared as fast as he came on the scene . Later , through His archakAs , Sri RanganAthA revealed that it was He , who appeared as a boy to pronounce the famous Taniyan for Sri MM , who is considered as a reincarnation of AchArya RaamAnujA .Earlier at Thirukkurungudi , the Lord had appeared before RaamAnujA and requested for UpadEsams on rahasyArhtams and took on the name of Sri VaishNava Nambi as a result of these upadEsams .
Thizhak-kidanthAn ThirunaavIRduaya pirAn ThAthar aNNan and Sriranga NaacchiyAr were blessed with a beautiful son in the year 1370 AD. This was an year after Swami Desikan ascended to Srivaikuntam . Seven years later , Sri AdhivaNN SatakOpan was going to be born at Melkote , who will initiate this child into utthamAsramam few years later at Srirangam .
The delighted parents gave the name of Azhagiya- MaNavALan , the name of Lord RanganAthA to their child . ThaatharaNNan was a great Sri VaishNavite Scholar himself and initiated his son in to VedAs , VedAngAs and Dhivya prabhandhams . The gifted son took on grahasthAsramam at a young age and moved on to AzhwAr Thirunagari to be a disciple under a great dhivya prabhandham Scholar revered as ThiruvAimozhippiLLai(1307-1410 AD); latter was a disciple of Koora kulOtthama DaasA( 1265-1365 AD), who in turn was a dirct disciple of the renowned Sri PiLLai LOkAcchAr ( 1205-1311 AD), a contemproary of Swamy Desikan .
ThiruvAimozhi PiLLai (TVP) was also known as Sri SailEsar or Thirumalai AaLvAn because of his connection to Thirumalai. TVP had settled down at AzhwAr Thirunagari and that is where Azhagiya MaNavALan studied under him ThiruvAimozhi and rahasyArthams .TVP was moved by the Bhakthi of MM for AchArya RaamAnujA and appointed MM as the AarAdhakar / administrator for a special temple he had constructed for Bhagavath RaamAnujA . TVP also asked MM to compose a sthuthi on AchAryA RaamAnujA . Thus arose YathirAja Vimsathi , a moving tribute by MM to Bhagavath RaamAnujA .
Soon a son was born to MM and he named the child RaamAnujappiLLai. MM continued his studies under TVP , performed AarAdhanam to AchArya RaamAnujA , worshipped AdhippirAN and Swamy NammAzhwAr at AzhwAr Thirunagari until his own Acharyan attained the Lord's feet in the year 1410 AD. MM was Fourty years old at that time. Soon he left with his family for Srirangam along with his fellow sishyA , RaamAnuja Jeeyar , who later became his own key sishyan under the name of VaanamAmalai Jeeyar . At Srirangam , MM did extensive research on the granthams of PoorvAchAryaas and conducted kaalakshEpam classes. Seven more sishyAs sought his feet as their Achaaryan. Together , they are known as Ashta Dhig Gajams or the mighty elephants guarding the eight directions of earth . These 8 sishyAs of MM are:
(1) VaanamAmalai Jeeyar (2) BhattarpirAn Jeeyar (3) ThiruvEnkata RaamAnuja Jeeyar (4)Koil aNNan (5)PrathivAdhi Bhayankaram aNNan (6) YeRumpiappA (7) aAppiLLai (8) AppiLLAr .
MM adopted SanyAsramam out of virakthi and the desire to perform kaimkaryam to Sri RanganAthA without any theettu interrupting such kaimkaryams .The prEksha manthram was given to MM by Sri Adhi VaNN satakOpa MahA Desikan . MM exceleld in his pravachanams and was given the honorific titles of Visatha Vaak SikhAmaNI and SarvaJ~na Saarvabhoumar by the scholars of his time for his felicity in intrepreting the Sri Sookthis of AzhwArs and AchAryAs . We referred earlier to Sri RanganAthA's honoring MM with a famous Taniyan used by the sampradhAyins of ThennaacchArya paramparai to this day .
During his blessed life , MM wrote commentaries for the three of the 18 rahasyams of Sri PiLLai LokAcchAr ( Srivachana BhUshaNam , Tattva thrayam and Mumukshuppadi), since they are the most prominent . He gave us a vyAkhyAnam for Azhagiya maNavALa PerumAL NaayanAr's "AchArya Hrudhayam ". by then , PeriyavAcchAn PiLLai's commentary for PeriyAzhwAr's Thirumozhi had been eaten up by white ants .MM recreated this commentary for the benefit of future generations. He blessed us with commentaries on AruLALap PerumAL EmperumAn's Sri Sookthis known as Jn~Ana saaram and PramEya Saaram .He wrote a commentary on RaamAnuja NooRRanthAdhi of Thiruvarangatthu amudhanAr . Taathparya DhIpam arose from MM as a commentary on Bhagavath GitA . PramANatthirattukaL, ThiruvArAdhana PrayOgam ,IyalcchARRu, YathirAja Vimsathi , DevarAja MangaLam ,UpadEsa Rathna Maalai , ThiruvAimozhi NooRRanthAdhi were also created by MM.
After these kaimkaryaqms , towards the end of his life , MM had such an intense longing (Aarthi) to join the lotus feet of AchArya RaamAnujA out of his deep virakthi from the life on this earth ., He composed at this time , his famous Aarthi prabhandham one paasuram a day and begged RaamAnujA to call him(MM) to his (RaamAnujA's ) sacred feet at Sri Vaikuntam .These are great and moving expressions of MM's NaicchAnusandhANams , which became our " NithyAnusandhAnam " for developing VairAgyam and ruchi for Bhagavath-Bhaagavatha Kaimkaryams . AchArya RaamAnujA responded to the intense prayer of MM and called MM to his feet in the year 1443 AD.
In one of the paasurams of Aarthi Prabhandham , MM expressed his own satisfaction with the blessings that came his way due to the blessings of AzhwArs, AchAryALs and the Lord in a moving way and gave thanks in a mind frame similar to Swamy NammAzhwAr in his " uNNUm sOr paruhu neer" and "ThuvaLil MaamaNI Maadam Pathikams :
Tennarangar seer arulukkilahaahap peRROm Thiruvarangam ThiruppathiyE iruppaaha peRROm manniya seer MaRan kalai uNavaahap peRROm Madhura kavi soRRppadiyE nilayiaahap PeRROm munaavarAm nanguravar mozhikaL uLLappeRROm pinnai onRu tanil nenju pErAmal peRROm piRar minukkam poRAmaillA perumayaum peRROmE
Here MM reflects with happiness over the amazing grace of the Lord of Srirangam ,his days spent joyously at His KshEthram , his blessings to have the Sri Sookthis of NammAzhwAr as his nourishment , his obedient pursuit of the path shown by Madhurakavi AzhwAr with respect to the revenerence for his AchAryan, his treasuring of the upadEsams of poorvAcchAryALs , his reflecting on their deep meanings as the way to spend his time and discarding all other distracting thoughts and living out his life with out generating the asooyai of others .
What a splendid and self-effacing summary of his life by this great AchAryan !
SeerArum YethirAsar ThiruvadigaL Vaazhi Maaran Malar Paadham Thaan Vaazhi Yenthai Thiruvarangan poRRppAdham Thaan Vaazhi
Maamuni, Visatha Vaak sikhaamaNi Sri MaNavALa Maamuni, was born a year after Swami Desikan's passing away and had Sri Bhashyam kaalakshepam from one of the disciples of Brahma Tantra Swami , the founder of the ParakAla mutt and direct disciple of Swami Desikan . Maamuni had the highest regard for Swami Desikan and used to refer to latter with great affection as " ABHIYUKTHAR " OR THE REVERED ONE . Swami Desikan had in turn the highest regard for the Achaarya of Maamuni's own Achaarya, Sri Pillai LokAcharya.
Maamuni and the " Srirangam acharyas " interpreted their works with primary emphasis on the nAlAiyra Divya Prabhandham and did not elect to concentrate on VedanthA or Saastraas. Swami Desikan and "Kanchi Acharyas" put their primary emphasis on Vedas, PaancharAtram and Brahma SutrAs commented by RaamAnujA .
The distinctly different perspectives of Swami Desikan's and Maamuni's views on Sri VaishNava tradition have been covered by Dr. Mumme with reference to their intrepretations on the prime contributions of Sri RamAnujA . Swami Desikan in his Yathiraaja Sapthadhi salutes RAmAnujA for establishing the VisishtAdvaita intrepretation of Brahma Sutras through his Sri Bhaashyam. Maamuni saluted RamAnujaA much more for his Bhakthi for NaMMAzhwAr and Sri RanganAtha than for his cardinal contribution to establish VisishtAdvaitha VedAnthaa.
Maamuni's reverence for Sri RaamAnjua is profound. He followed faithfully his AchArya's command to spend his time teaching and giving Kaalakshepam on the hymns of the AzhwArs and pay only " cursory attention " to Sanskritic sources and Sri Bhaashyam . Maamuni studied only once Sri Bhaashyam as suggested by his Acharya and stayed most of his life at Srirangam in obedience to the suggestion of his AchArya. Earlier ,he had spent a lot of his time at AzhwAr Thirunagari . There , he composed his first work at the command of his Acharya on RaamAnuja in Sanskrit known as " YathirAja Vimsathi " . This moving work is a testament to Maamuni's reverence for RaamAnujA just as Swami Desikan"s celebrated work known as " YathirAja Sapthadhi " is a moving eulogy of BhaashyakArar .
Maamuni's deep attachment to RaamAnuja is evident from the following facts: (1) He named his own son, RaamAnuja (2 ) His tribute to the great AchArya in YathirAja Vimsathi (3) His choice of writing a commentary on RaamAnuja NyurranthAdhi of Thiruvarangatthu AmudanAr (4 ) modeling his composition ( ThiruvArAdhana Kramam " after the Sanskrit work of RaamAnujA and(5) concluding his life on this earth with the moving aarthi Prabhandham , where he anguishes (aarthi ) at staying in this world and expresses his eagerness to reach Sri VaikuNtam to perform Nitya Kaimkaryam to Parama Padha Naathan . Thus Maamuni's first and last work were on Acharya RaamAnuja.
In his work, Upadesa Ratna Maalai , Maamuni pays his tribute to Acharya RaamAnujA as the establisher of Srimadh Bhagavadh RaamAnuja SiddhAntham and the command to his disciple , Thirukuruhai PirAn PiLLai to wirite the firdt commentary on ThiruvAimozhi , which led to the continuation of that tradition by five successors (viz) ., Nanjeeyar, PeriyavAcchAn PiLLai , Vadakku Thiruveedhi PiLLai and Vaadhi Kesari Azhahiya MaNavALa jeeyar . Maamuni wonders loud as to what a loss it would have been, if Sri RamAnujA out of his compassion for us had not instructed his disciple , Thirukkuruhai PirAn PiLLai, to write the first commentary on Thiruvaimozhi .
The two paasurams of Upadesa Ratna Maalai referring to Maamuni's tribute to Acharya RaamAnujA as the the founder of "RaamAnuja Darsanam " and his catalysing the writing of the VyAkyAnam for Thiruvaimozhiare as follows :
emperumAnAr darisanamenrEitharku namperumAL perittu nAtti vaitthAr-- ambhuviyOr inda darisanatthai vaLartha antha seyal arihaikkA --Upadesa Ratna Maalai, verse 38
munthuravE piLLAn mudalAnOr seytharuLum antha viyAkkiyaL anru aahil --anthO thiruvaimozhipporuLai ternthuraikka valla guru aar ikkaalam nenjE kooru -- Upadesa Ratna Maala , verse 40
Sri MaNavALa MaamunigaL thiruvadigalE SaraNam
Sri VaishNava Dasan , Oppiliappan Koil VaradachAri Sadagopan