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History of Vaishnava Acharya - Swami PeriyaNambigal (Acharya of Sri Ramanujar)

One of the important Sri Vaishnava acharyas is Swami Periya Nambigal also known as Maha Poornar, Swami Periya Nambigal lived in Srirangam who is one of the acharyas of Sri Ramanujacharya, Swami Periya Nambigal has contributed so many things to Sri Vaishnava Samrudhayam. Swami Periya Nambigal is the ninth Acharya of Sri Vaishnava Guruparamparai. Let's see more about him...

Periya Nambi Swamigal ThiruNakshitram is Margazhi Kettai. Periya Nambi Swamigal Avathara Sthalam is Srirangam Periya Nambi Swamigal Acharyan is Sri Alavandhar. Sishyas of Periya Nambi Swamigal is Sri Emperumanar, Malai kuniya Ninrar, Ariyuril Sri Satagopa Dhasar, Aniarangathamuthanar Pillai, Thiruvaikkulamudaiyar Bhattar, etc. Periya Nambi Swamigal attained place Paramapadham Pasupathy Koil in Chola Desam.

History of Swami Periya Nambigal:

Periya nambi was born in srirangam and is also known as Maha Purnar, Parankusa dhasar and Purnacharyar.

He was one of the prime sishyas of Alavandhar and instrumental in bringing Sri Ramanujar to Srirangam. After Alavandhar’s time, all the Sri Vaishnavas in Srirangam request Swami Periya nambi to go and bring Sri Ramanujar to Srirangam.

So, He leaves Srirangam with his family and travels towards Kanchipuram. In the meantime, Ramanujar also leaves Kanchipuram to meet Swami Periya nambi. They both meet at Madhuranthagam Lake and Swami Periya nambi does Pancha samskaras to him right there. He goes to Kanchipuram to teach sampradaya arthams to Ramanujar. But due to some conflicts caused by Ramanujar's dharma Pathni, he along with his family leave Kanchipuram and return to Srirangam. Several incidents of Periya Nambi’s life are recorded in various Purvacharya Srisukthis.

Let us see a few here:

He was full of Athma gunams and had a great attachment towards Ramanujar. Even when his daughter comes to him and asks him for Loukika help, Swami Periyanambi asks her to go to Ramanujar for the solution. Once when Ramanujar is walking with all his Sishyas, Swami Periya nambi prostrates in front of him. Ramanujar does not acknowledge it because acknowledging it means accepting the Pranamam of his Acharyan. When Periya nambi was asked why he did that he says that he sees Alavandhar in Ramanujar.

In Varthamalai, there is a particular statement that “Acharyas should have great respect for their Sishyas” and Swami Periya nambi lived by that. When Maraneri nambi (who is a great Sri Vaishnava, a disciple of Alavandhar and born in (Suuthra Varam) attains paramapadham, Swami Periya nambi does charama kainkarayam for him. Some local Sri Vaishnavas does not accept his act and complain about that to Ramanujar.

When Ramanujar asks about that, Periya nambi says that he acted according to Azhwar’s Thiruvullam as expressed in Thiruvaimozhi, Payilum Chudaroli (3.7) and NedumArkkadimai (8.10) Padhigams. This Idhihyam is shown in Azhagiya Manavala Perumal Nayanar in Acharyahrudhayam and explained in Guru Parampara Prabhavam. Once, when there was a danger from some miscreants for Periya Perumal, it was decided that Periya nambi is the right person to do a Pradhakshinam around the Periya Kovil. He requests Kurathzhwan to accompany him since Kurathazhwan is the one who has fully understood the nature of Parathanthriyam properly.

This is shown in Thiruvaimozhi (7.10.5), Eedu Vyakyanam by Namppillai. Beyond all of these, when the Saiva king invited Ramanujar to his court, KurathAzhwan went in disguise. Along with Azhwan, Periya nambi also went at very old age. When the king orders the eyes to be plucked, Periya nambi accepts that and out of his old age and not able to bear the pain, he eventually gives up his life and reaches paramapadham.

But at the time of giving up his life, there is a very important point he shows to us. Azhwan and Athuzhai (Periya nambi’s daughter) say that Srirangam is only a few miles away and requests periya nambi hold on to his breath until he reaches Srirangam so that he can leave his body in Srirangam. Periya nambi immediately stops and decides to give up his life then and there. He says if ever someone hears this incident and concludes that one has to be in Srirangam (or any Dhivya Desam) to give up his life that will only limit a SriVaishnava’s glory.

AzhwAr says “Vaikuntham Agum Tham UrellAm” (வைகுந்தம் ஆகும் தம் ஊரெல்லாம்) – wherever a Sri Vaishnava is, that place becomes Vaikuntha. So, it is more important to depend on emperumAn wherever we are – many people are living in Dhivya Desams without even realising the glories of such blessing, but then others live in remote places (remember the Chandili-Garudan episode) but constantly thinking about Emperuman.

Thus we can see how exalted Periya nambi was. He was fully dependent on Emperuman. He is also known as Parankusha Dasar because of his attachment towards Nammazhwar and Thiruvaimozhi. From his thaniyan, we can also understand that he was immersed in Kalyana guna anubhavam of sriya:pathi and was completely satisfied in that anubhavam. Let us pray at his lotus feet to bless us with the same qualities as well.


Kamalapathi Kalyana Gunamrutha Nishevaya

Purna Kamaya Sathatham Purnaya Mahathe Namaha:


Ambuviyil Pathinmarkalai Aynthuraippon Vazhiye

Alavandhar Thalinaiyai Adainthuynthon Vazhiye

Umbarthozhum Arangesarkku Ugappudaiyon Vazhiye

Onguthanuk Kettaithanil Udhiththa Piran Vazhiye

Vambavizhthar Varadharurai Vazhiseythan Vazhiye

Maranernambikku Vazhvaliththan Vazhiye

Emperumanar Munivarkku Ithamuraiththan Vazhiye

Ezhil Periyanambi Saran Inithuzhi Vazhiye

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