This is a momentous day that Sriman Narayana has blessed us to be in, the 1000th Thirunakshatram of Swami Koorathazhvan. Even lucky are those, who are taking part in the grand utsavam taking place at Kooram. (Live coverage of 1000th year celebrations are available from 2 pm IST at www.vedics.org (Requires FREE Registration). The rest of us can at least spend some few minutes reading, thinking & talking about the great Acharya and the foremost disciple of Sri Ramanuja.
All Acharyas were of one voice in declaring that Koorathazhwan even excelled the most excellent of all Acharyas – Sri Ramanuja – in qualities of head and heart. Koorathazhwan has no equal in qualities like compassion towards all jivas. Acharya Bhakti, Vairagya, Jnana, Annushtana. All atma-gunas fund their hall-mark of perfection in the being called Koorathazhvaan. Here are some incidents that show Azhwan’s greatness.
- Sriman Naarayan was very pleased with the Nitya Kainkaryam of Sri Adisesha in Sri Vaikuntam and also in Avatars of Lord. Sriman Narayana wanted to re-pay for the selfless kainkaryam done by Adisesha and hence when Adisesha was born as Sri Ramanuja, the Lord was born as Koorathazhwan to serve and do kainkaryam to Adisesha (Sri Ramanuja) for his unstinting devotion.
- Koorathazhvan’s greatness – In Sri Vaishnava tradition, it is the Acharya who guides his disciple to Sri Vaikunta. But the great Acharya, Sri Ramanuja said that he would attain Moksha by the virtue of his mere relationship with Koorathazhvan. The extra ordinary word ‘AZHWAN’ was conferred on him by Sri Ramanuja in view of his melting bhakti unto the Supreme Being even like the Azhwars. Like Nammazhwar Koorathazhwan is reputed to go into extensive spells of samadhi on contemplating the sowbhagya of Lord Krishna. As he hailed from Kooram, he came to be known as Koorathazwhan.
- Koorathazhvan’s Humility – One evening, after Azhvan and his consort Andal Amma had completed their daily routine of feeding the poor at dusk, they retired for the day. They clanged the big brass doorway to their home shut. This clanging of the brass door was so loud in the quiet of the night that it was heard some distance away in Kanchi. Sri Perundevi ThAyyAr of Kanchipuram queried the Lord Varadaraja Swamy as to the cause of the gong reverberating through the night air. The Lord queried his chief priest, Kanchipurna or Tirukacchi-nambi (also one of the several mentors of Ramanujacharya). Kanchipurna replied,”Lord, it is the doorway of our dear Kuresan’s home being shut for the day after the daily alms-giving.”The Lord and Perundevi-pirAtti, very pleased to know of Kuresa and his piety and charity, commanded that Kuresan be brought to their Presence. At Kura, when Kuresan came to know from Kanchipurna the purpose of his visit, he became extremely indignant with himself. “What?! Did the clanging of my doorway disturb the Lord and His Consort in Kanchi?! What a conceited wretch am I that I should let my charity be announced thus to the whole world! What a vain sinner am I!“. The very moment, Azhwan & Andal Amma renounced all his wealth and left to Sri Rangam to become the disciple of Sri Ramanuja.
- Koorathazhvan’s Sacrifice – The King of ChozhanAd at that time, Krimikantha Cholan, was a tyrant who was also a Saivite fanatic. His name was Krimikantha Chola of the clan of the Kollutunga kings. This tyrant was hell-bent on rooting out Vaishnavism in his kingdom and the best way to do that, he thought, was to destroy Ramanuja. The king invited Sri Ramanuja for a scholarly debate on religion. However, Ramanuja’s followers got wind of the king’s evil designs. Sri Ramanuja had gone to the river for bath then and Azhvan volunteered to go as Ramanuja’s proxy and respond to the royal summons. At the court the King thrust a written declaration in their faces which read:”Nothing higher than Siva exists”, and commanded them both to affix their signatures to it without protest. Azhvaan refused and cited various texts from Vedas, Upanishads & Puranas to prove that Sriman Narayana was the Supreme Power. Thrusting a writing-quill into Kuresan’s hands he commanded Kuresan again to forthwith sign the declaration swearing allegiance to Siva. “If you refuse we shall have your eyes pulled out here and now!”. On hearing this Kuresan flew into a greater rage. He grabbed the quill from the King’s hands and said, “But let me save you the trouble, you tyrant, for I shall pluck out my eyes by my own hand! These eyes that have set sights on a sinner such as thee have no further use for me!“. So saying Kuresan plunged the sharp writing-quill into his own eyes,and extracting ball from socket threw his eyes on the floor at the King’s feet!
- Koorathazhvan’s Acharya Bhakthi – One day the blind & aged Azhvan tottered through his way from home to the temple of Ranganatha to have ‘darshan’ of the Lord there and to unburden his heart in the presence of God of all the untold grief and loneliness that had piled up within it. The temple guards however stopped him at the gates and told him,”Blind man, we have instructions from the King to let people in only if they swear that they willingly renounce RamanujachAryA as their guru. If you denounce your guru you can enter the temple of Ranganatha. If you won’t this holy temple is out of bounds for you!”. Kuresan told them, “Sires, please tell your King that Kuresan is prepared to forsake Lord Ranganatha in this world and even in the next. But denounce Ramanuja…he never will!” Saying this Azhvan immediately left Sri Rangam to TirumAlirunjolai (near Madurai).
Paintings depicting Koorathazhwan’s life in Kinchitakaram Trust Calander