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Manavala Mamunigal (1370–1450) was a
Hindu Sri Vaishnava religious
leader, who during the 15th century in Tamil Nadu, with the help of
his eight disciples helped spread Sri Vaishnavism. The disciples of
Mamunigal established places of learning to teach Sri Vaishnavite
Vishishtadvaita philosophy in Tamil Nadu.
1 Birth and early life
2 Journey towards Srirangam
3 Life at
Srirangam and visit to Kanchipuram
4 Philosophical works and commentaries
5 Classification of literary work
5.3 Independent works
6 Various names and titles of Sri Manavala Mamuni
7 Deep and permanent influence over day-to-day religious observances
8 His disciples
10 External links
Birth and early life
Manavala Mamunigal was born in 1370 at
Alwarthirunagiri in Tamil Nadu.
His parents were Tigazhaakkidanthan Tirunaveerudaiya Piran Tadar Annar
and Sriranga Nacchiyar. His father was the son-in-law and also a
disciple of Kollikavala Dasar, a junior disciple of Pillai Lokacharya.
His parents named him Azhagiya Manavala Perumal Nayanar (beautiful
groom) after Ranganathan of Srirangam.
Mamunigal was schooled by father and maternal grandfather, who taught
him the Vedas,
Vedanta and the Divya Prabandam. He married at the age
of 16 and moved from Sikkil Kidaaram to Azhvar Thirunagari to become
the disciple of the acharya Thiruvaimozhipillai.
Thiruvaimozhipillai was instrumental in reviving the archa thirumeni
Ramanuja at Azhvar Thirunagari and in building a temple for
him. He put the young Mamunigal in charge of the temple and gave him
to title of Yatheendra Pravana in recognition of his devotion to
Ramanuja. It was around this time that Mamunigal wrote "Yathiraja
Vimsati”, which is considered to epitomise the very essence of the
exalted ‘iramanusa nootrranthAdi’.
Journey towards Srirangam
On his deathbed, Thiruvaimozhipillai instructed Mamunigal to learn and
Sri Bhasya and to spend most of his time in propagating
and preaching the arulicheyal (Divya Prabhandam) of the AzhvArs. He
also asked Mamunigal to stay at
Srirangam and perform service to
Ranganatha as his predecessors had done.
Mamunigal was inconsolable on the death of his master. He immersed
himself completely into studying and delivering discourses on Divya
Prabhandham and rahasyas. Word of his abilities spread and he gained
various disciples. Prominent among them was Sri Azhagiya Varadar who
undertook sanyasashrama (asceticism) from Azhagiya Manavalan. The
sanyasa name was given as "
Ramanuja Jeeyar" (also known as Ponnadikkal
Jeeyar). Thus began the most illustrious jeeyar mutt in the Sri
Vaishnava sampradaya, the Vanamaamalai mutt, that continues the great
unbroken lineage of acharyas to this day.
Intending to fulfil the wishes of his acharya, Mamunigal and his
disciples left for Srirangam, spending some time at Srivilliputhur,
the birthplace of Aandaal, on their journey.
Srirangam and visit to Kanchipuram
Srirangam at that point was facing the worst consequences of the
Muslim invasion that took place in the early 14th century. It was
structurally dilapidated, sacramentally bare, intellectually barren
and spiritually, socially and morally corrupt. Misuse of rights,
corruption and disorder were rampant. Nayanar had to exert tremendous
effort and bring to force his divinely inspired organizational skills
to restore the original pristine glory for daily sacramental and
festival procedures at Sri Rangam, without antagonizing the people who
were functioning in different capacities at that point in time. He
realized the importance of bringing the focus back to the essential
tenets of Sri VaishNavam and achieved this objective by bringing to
fore scholarly works of Acharyas that had hitherto been pushed into
the background. As a matter of natural consequence stemming from his
commitment, devotion, erudition NayanAr was put in charge of everyday
temple administration as well as anointed the leader for all Sri
Vaishnavas of his time.
With normalcy returning to Srirangam, Nayanar set on a pilgrimage to
Kanchipuram, Thirumalai and Sriperumbudur, after seeking permission
from Lord Ranganatha. Nayanar paid his obeisance to Lord Srinivasa at
Thirumala and reached Kanchipuram. At the request of his disciples to
glorify the Lord of Kanchi, he composed " Devaraja Mangalam" which
praises the glory of Lord Varadharaja in thirteen sweet verses. At
Sriperumbudur, Nayanar worshipped Swami
Ramanuja and sought his
blessings to formally study
Sri Bhasya under an acharya. Ramanuja
directed him to Kidambi Nayanar, a descendant of Kidambi Acchan.
Nayanar exhibited his erudition and scholarship by grasping the
Sri Bhasya deftly and then simultaneously expounding it
to other disciples. The discourse took place at Yathothkari temple at
Tiruvekkaa, where his idol is seen showing the vyakhyana mudra
(Symbolizing spread of Knowledge) to commemorate this event.
After visiting several other holy places, Nayanar returned to
Srirangam to fully manage the temple affairs. He undertook
sanyasashrama (asceticism) from Sri Sadagopa Jeeyar of Azhwar
Thirunagari (who was his classmate earlier) at
Srirangam to fully
involve himself in service to Sri Vaishnavism. It was during this time
he received the beautiful appellation Azhagiya Manavala Mamuni from
Swami Mamunigal’s divinely inspired brilliance, compassion and
commitment endeared him to one and all. At this point of time, some of
the prominent scholars namely Koil kanthaadai annan, Prathivaadhi
bhayankaram annaa, Erumbi appaa from Erumbi, a Village near
Sholinghur, Appillai came and became his disciples.
Philosophical works and commentaries
Manavala Mamunigal continued to live in
Srirangam and involved himself
completely in writing commentaries for works of Pillai Lokacharya. He
wrote elaborate acommentaries for three of Pillai Lokacharya's rahasya
granthas namely Mumukshupadi, Sri Vachana Bhushanam and
Thathvathrayam. He also wrote commentaries on the works of swami
Arulaalap perumal emperumanar - Gnyaana Saaram and Prameya Saaram. He
also blessed us with his commentaries on some decads of Periyazhwar
Thirumozhi for which the original commentaries of Periyavaccan Pillai
were supposed to be lost. In addition, he provided the gist of
Nammalvar's thiruvaimozhi in the form of poetic verses tuned in the
andhaadhi metre in his magnum opus Thiruvaimozhi nootrandhaadhi.
Mamunigal extolled the greatness of the
Azhwars and the acharyas who
wrote commentaries on Thiruvaimozhi in his Upadesa rathina malai or
the gem-studded garland of instructions. His swansong, Arthi
Prabandham - a work composed out of utter despair at having to live in
this material world, bears resemblance in part to his earlier Sanskrit
work titled Yatiraja Vimsati.
After some time he returned to Alvar Tirunagari and started to write
Acharya Hrudayam. This is a seminal work written by
Azhagiya Manavalapperumal Nayanar (Pillai Lokacharya's brother), which
lays bare the philosophy and basic tenets of
Sri Vaishnavism with
words chosen from Nammalvar's thiruvaimozhi. The text was written
Manipravalam and when trying to teach
Mamunigal encountered some difficulties. So he decided to consult with
Ayee Jananyacharya Swami, who was a co-disciple of Tiruvaymozhi
pillai. Ayee was on his way to Alvar tirunagari to meet
Manavalamamuni. They both met at the outskirts of Alvar Tirunagari and
returned to Manavala mamuni's residence, and the latter studied the
secrets of the
Classification of literary work
Manavala Mamunigal wrote nineteen books known as grantha. Three of
these were in
Sanskrit and the rest in
Tamil language and
Sri Vachana Bhushanam
Bhavagad Gita (known as Gita Tatparyadipika) - Kanchi Sri Bhayankaram
Annangaracharyar Swami lists this commentary in his Sri Manavala
Mamunigal Vaibhavam book (1971) as a work of Swami Manavala Mamunigal
but also says it is lost forever.
Sri Vachana Bhushanam
Upadesa Rathna Maalai
Thiruvaradhana Kramam (known as Jeeyar Padi or Nityam)
Sri Kanchi Devapperumal Sthothram
Independent quatrains on the
Vishnu Temples of Kanchipuram, the
various sanctums of the Kanchi Varadaraja Temple and the Vishnu
Temples around the birthplace of Nammazhwar, Azhwar Tirunagari.
It is said that, while at a very old age, Manavala maamuni discovered
that part of Periyavachchaan pillai's commentary on Periyalvar
Tirumozhi was missing. So he duly restored the lost portion of the
commentary. It is also noted that he composed the commentary on
Acharya Hrdayam with great difficulty as his health was failing. When
he became very ill, preventing him from worshiping at the temple, he
dedicated one Tamil stanza a day, expressing to
Ramanuja his anguish
at staying in this world and his eagerness to reach Vaikuntham. These
collected verses became known as Arti Prabhantham, his last work.
Various names and titles of Sri Manavala Mamuni
Sri Manavalamamuni is also known as Varavaramuni,
Sowmyajamatrumuni,ramyajamatra muni, Sowmyopayanthrumuni,
Sundarajamatrumuni, Periya Jeer, YatheendraPravanar etc. He is known
as "Vichatavak Shikhamani"- one endowed with striking precision and
depth and clarity in utterances.
Deep and permanent influence over day-to-day religious
Sri Manavala Mamuni's devotional practices towards the Lord,
especially the presiding deity of Srirangam, and the lineage of
Ramanuja left an indelible influence on followers
numbering several millions throughout India. His influence can be
traced to everyday observances till this date. But he was so
self-effacive that few recognise his deep influence.
His eight famous disciples are known as Ashtadiggajas (elephants of
the eight directions). they were: Vanamaamalai Jeeyar, Paravasthu
Bhattar Piraan Jeeyar, Tiruvengada Jeeyar, Koil Kandhaadai Annan,
Prathivadhi Bhayankaram Annangaracharya, Erumbi Appaa, Appillai and
Appillan. Prathivadhi Bhayankaram Annangaracharya's "Sri Venkateswara
Suprabhatham" is widely known. In that work and in the connected
prapatti and mangala stotras he says "sowmyopayanthrumunina mama
darsithou the...", "Srimat Sundara Jamathru Munimanasa vasine",
referring to the Lord of the seven hills as residing in the heart of
Sri Manavala Mamuni. The teacher-disciple tradition has been followed
for over six centuries and exists intact today amongst 74 simhasana
^ "History of Vanamamalai Mutt" (PDF). vanamamalai.org. Archived from
the original (PDF) on 30 December 2008. Retrieved 26 August
Manavala Mamunigal in a historical context".
srivaishnava.org. Archived from the original on 18 April 2000.
Retrieved 26 August 2017.
^ "Devaraja Mangalam". antaryami.net. 2 October 2012. Retrieved 26
^ "The Hindu: A manifestation of Adisesha". hinduonnet.com. Retrieved
26 August 2017.
^ "Upadesa Rathinamalai". antaryami.net. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 26
^ "Arthi Prabandham". antaryami.net. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 26
^ "Commentaries and Works". srivaishnava.org. Archived from the
original on 26 April 2001. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
^ "The Hindu: Outstanding works of Manavala Mamunigal".
hinduonnet.com. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
Manavala mamunigal sabha
Photos of Sri
Manavala Mamunigal - From Divyadesamonline.com
Manavala Mamunigal Life History and Works - From acharya.org
Sri Manavala Mamuniga