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Poigai Azhwar

Poigai Alwar
Yathothkari (8).jpg
Image of Poigai Azhwar in the Yathothkari temple
Personal
Born4203 BCE[1][2]
Tiruvekkaa near Kanchipuram
ReligionHinduism
PhilosophyVaishnava Bhakti
Religious career
Literary worksMudal Thiruvandaadhi
Honorsazhwar

Poigai Azhwar (also spelt Poygai Alvar or Poigai Alvar or Poygai Azhwar) is one of the twelve azhwar saints of South India, who are known for their affiliation to Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism. The verses of azhwars are compiled as Nalayira Divya Prabandham and the 108 temples revered are classified as Divya desam. Poigai is one of the three principal azhwars, with the other two being Bhoothathazhwar and Peyazhwar, collectively called Muthalamazhwargal who are known to be born out of divinity. Poigai composed hundred verses that are classified as Muthal Tiruvandadhi and his composition is set in the Andhadhi style in which the ending syllable is the starting one for the next verse.

According to traditional account, the first three azhwars belong to Dwapara Yuga (before 4200 BC). As per Hindu legend, Poigai was found in a small pond near the Yadhotakaari temple at Tiruvekkaa. In Tamil, small pond is called poigai, and since he was found in a pond, he got the name Poigai.

As per legend, the three azhwars were once were confined in a small dark enclosure during a rain in Thirukovilur and they experienced a fourth individual among them. They found out that it was god Vishnu and Poigai wished to see his face continuously but could view only from the simmering light of the lightning. With a view to maintain the continuity of light, he instantly composed hundred songs wishing light to emerge. The other two continued composing hundred songs each on Vishnu. The works of these earliest saints contributed to the philosophical and theological ideas of Vaishnavism. Along with the three Saiva nayanmars, they influenced the ruling Pallava kings of the South Indian region, resulting in changing the religious geography from Buddhism and Jainism to the two sects of Hinduism.

Azhwars

The word azhwar means the one who dives deep into the ocean of the countless attributes of god. Azhwars are considered the twelve supreme devotees of Vishnu, who were instrumental in popularising Vaishnavism during the 5th to 8th centuries AD. The religious works of these saints in Tamil, songs of love and devotion, are compiled as Nalayira Divya Prabandham containing 4000 verses and the 108 temples revered in their songs are classified as Divya desam.[3][4] The saints had different origins and belonged to different castes. As per tradition, the first three azhwars, Poigai, Bhutha and Pei were born miraculously. Tirumizhisai was the son of a sage, Thondaradi, Mathurakavi, Peria and Andal were from brahmin community, Kulasekhara from Kshatria community, Namm was from a cultivator family, Tirupana from panar community and Tirumangai from kazhwar community. Divya Suri Saritra by Garuda-Vahana Pandita (11th century AD), Guruparamparaprabavam by Pinbaragiya Perumal Jiyar, Periya tiru mudi adaivu by Anbillai Kandadiappan, Yatindra Pranava Prabavam by Pillai Lokacharya, commentaries on Divya Prabandam, Guru Parampara (lineage of Gurus) texts, temple records and inscriptions give a detailed account of the azhwars and their works. According to these texts, the saints were considered incarnations of some form of Vishnu. Poigai is considered an incarnation of Panchajanya (Krishna's conch), Bhoothath of Kaumodakee (Vishnu's Mace/Club), Pey of Nandaka (Vishnu's sword), Thirumalisai of Sudarshanam (Vishnu's discus), Namm of Vishvaksena (Vishnu's commander), Madhurakavi of Vainatheya (Vishnu's eagle, Garuda), Kulasekhara of Kaustubha (Vishnu's necklace), Periy of Garuda (Vishnu's eagle), Andal of Bhoodevi (Vishnu's wife, Lakshmi, in her form as Bhudevi), Thondaradippodi of Vanamaalai (Vishnu's garland), Thiruppaan of Srivatsa (An auspicious mark on Vishnu's chest) and Thirumangai of Saranga (Rama's bow). The songs of Prabandam are regularly sung in all the Vishnu temples of South India daily and also during festivals.[4][5]

According to traditional account by Manavala Mamunigal, the first three azhwars namely Poigai, Bhoothath and Pey belong to Dwapara Yuga (before 4200 BC). It is widely accepted by tradition and historians that the trio are the earliest among the twelve azhwars.[3][4][6][7][8] Along with the three Saiva nayanmars, they influenced the ruling Pallava kings, creating a Bhakti movement that resulted in changing the religious geography from Buddhism and Jainism to these two sects of Hinduism in the region. The azhwars were also instrumental in promoting the Bhagavatha cult and the two epics of India, namely, Ramayana and Mahabaratha.[9] The azhwars were instrumental in spreading Vaishnavism throughout the region.[10] The verses of the various azhwars were compiled by Nathamuni (824-924 AD), a 10th-century Vaishnavite theologian, who called it the "Tamil Veda".[11][12]

Early life

Temple tank in Yathothkari Perumal Temple where Poigai Azhwar originated

Poigai was found in a small pond near the Yadhotakaari temple at Tiruvekkaa.[13] In Tamil, small pond is called poigai, and since he was found in a pond, he got the name Poigai. At Kanchipuram there is a temple inside the Deva-sarovara lake. This temple enshrines an idol of Saroyogi in a recumbent posture with eyes closed in meditation. From childhood, Poigai was deeply devoted to Vishnu. He mastered all the Vaishnava speeches and followed Vaishnavite tradition. He was variously known as Ayonigi, Saro-yogi, Kasara-yogi, Poigai-piraan, Saravora Munindra and Padma-muni.[14][15][16]

Composition

Shrine of Poigai Azhwar in the temple

As per Hindu legend, Vishnu appeared to the mudhal azhwars (first three azhwars) at Thirukkoilur. It was day time, but it darkened and started raining heavily. The wandering Poigai found out a small hide out, which has a space for one person to lie down. Boodath arrived there looking for a hiding place and Poigai accommodated him, with both sitting together. In the meanwhile, Pey also came to the same place as all the three preferred to stand because of lack of space. The darkness became dense and inside the small room, they were not able to see each other. In the meanwhile, they felt a fourth person also forced his way among them. The three azhwars realised from the light of the lightning that the fourth one had a charming face that was sublime and divine. The trio could immediately realize that it was Vishnu who was huddling among them. Poigai wished to see Vishnu's face continuously but could view only from the simmering light of the lightning. With a view to maintain the continuity of light, he instantly composed hundred songs wishing the earth to be a big pot full of ghee like an ocean where the Sun could be the burning wick.[7][12][4]

The song is also interpreted as the azhwar praying to god to remove the darkness and ask for his unlimited knowledge and power. Bhoothathazhwar also sang 100 songs imagining to light the lamp constantly through ardent love for Him. Peyazhwar sang another 100 songs where he described the enchanting charm of the divine face and the association of Narayana equipped with chakra and sankha, and his divine consort goddess Lakshmi.[7][19]

Poigai composed hundred verses that are classified as Muthal Tiruvandadhi.[20] Poigai’s composition was set in the Andhadhi style. The word Andha means end and Adi means beginning. Andhadhi style has ending word or the syllable of each verse as the beginning word of the succeeding verse and the last word of the hundredth verse becomes the beginning of the first verse, making the hundred verses a true garland of verses. The works of these earliest saints contributed to the philosophical and theological ideas of Vaishnavism.[19] The verses of the trio speak of Narayana (another name for Vishnu) as the supreme deity and they refer frequently to Trivikrama and Krishna, the avatars of Vishnu.[21][22]

In culture

There is a shrine dedicated to Poigai in the Yathothkari Perumal Temple tank called Deva Sarovaram where his image is depicted in reclining posture.[3][23] Poigai has revered Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in one, Thirupaarkadal in one, Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in ten, Thiruvikrama Perumal Temple in two, Vaikuntha in two and Tiruvekkaa in four verses.[24] Azhwar Utsavam is a festival celebrated annually during the birth date of the saint based on Tamil calendar in the Yathothkariswami temple at Tiruvekka.[25]

Mangalasasanam

There are 20 of his paasurams in the 4000 Divya Prabhandham. He has sung in praise of six temples.[26]

S.No. Name of the temple Location Photo Number of Pasurams Presiding deity Notes/Beliefs
1 Srirangam. Srirangam, Trichy district
Tamil Nadu
10°51′45″N 78°41′23″E / 10.8625°N 78.689722°E / 10.8625; 78.689722
Srirangam14.jpg
1 Ranganayagi
Ranganathar (Periya Perumal)
Srirangam temple is often listed as the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world, the still larger Angkor Wat being the largest existing temple. The temple occupies an area of 156 acres (631,000 m²) with a perimeter of 4,116m (10,710 feet) making it the largest temple in India and one of the largest religious complexes in the world.[27][28] The annual 21-day festival conducted during the Tamil month of Margazhi (December–January) attracts 1 million visitors.[29]
2 Tiruvekkaa.[30] 12°49′26″N 79°42′43″E / 12.824°N 79.712°E / 12.824; 79.712
Yathothkari (2).jpg
4 Komalavalli
Yathothkari Perumal
Tiruvekkaa or Yathothkari Perumal temple is considered one of three oldest Vishnu temples in Kanchipuram. The temple is believed to have been built by the Pallavas of the late 8th century AD, with later contributions from Medieval Cholas and Vijayanagar kings. The temple has three inscriptions on its walls, two dating from the period of Kulothunga Chola I (1070–1120 CE) and one to that of Rajadhiraja Chola (1018-54 CE). The temple houses a rare image of Ranganatha recumbent on his left hand unlike other temples where he is recumbent on his right. Poigai Azhwar was born at this temple lotus tank.[31]
3 Thirukovilur.[32] 11°58′01″N 79°12′07″E / 11.966944°N 79.201944°E / 11.966944; 79.201944
Ulagalantha Perumal9.JPG
2 Poongothai
Ulagalantha Perumal temple
Ulagalantha Perumal Temple is believed to have been built by the Medieval Cholas, with later contributions from Vijayanagar kings and Madurai Nayaks. The temple covers an area of 5 acres (20,000 m2) and has a temple tower that is the third tallest in Tamil Nadu, measuring 192 ft (59 m) in height. As per Hindu legend, Vamana, a dwarf and an avatar of Vishnu, appeared here to quell the pride of Asura king Bali. The temple is believed to be the place where the first three Azhwars, the Vaishnava saints, namely, Poigai Alvar, Bhoothathalvar and Peyalvar attained salvation. The temple is one of the Panchakanna (Krishnaranya) Kshetrams, the five holy temples associated with Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu.[33]
4 Paramapadam Heavenly
Vishnu, Lord of Vaikuntha
2 Lakshmi
Vishnu
Vaikuntha is the celestial abode of Vishnu[34] who is one of the principal deities of Hinduism and the supreme being in its Vaishnavism tradition.[35][36] Vaikuntha is an abode exclusive to the him, his consort the goddess Lakshmi and other liberated souls that have gained moksha. They are blessed with pure bliss and happiness in the company of the supreme being for all eternity.
5 Tirupathi 13°08′35″N 79°54′25″E / 13.143°N 79.907°E / 13.143; 79.907
Tirumala 090615.jpg
10 Alamelumanga
Venkateswara
Venkateswara Temple is a landmark Vaishnavite temple situated in the hill town of Tirumala at Tirupati in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, India. The Temple is dedicated to Lord Sri Venkateswara, an incarnation of Vishnu, who is believed to have appeared here to save mankind from trials and troubles of Kali Yuga. Hence the place has also got the name Kaliyuga Vaikuntham and Lord here is referred to as Kaliyuga Prathyaksha Daivam. The temple is also known by other names like Tirumala Temple, Tirupati Temple, Tirupati Balaji Temple. Lord Venkateswara is known by many other names: Balaji, Govinda, and Srinivasa.[37] Tirumala Hills are part of Seshachalam Hills range. The hills are 853 metres (2,799 ft) above sea level. The Temple is constructed in Dravidian architecture and is believed to be constructed over a period of time starting from 300 AD. The Garbagriha (Sanctum Sanctorum) is called AnandaNilayam. It is the richest temple in the world in terms of donations received and wealth.[38][39][40] The temple is visited by about 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims daily (30 to 40 million people annually on average), while on special occasions and festivals, like the annual Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims shoots up to 500,000, making it the most-visited holy place in the world.[41]
6 Thiruparkadal Heavenly
Kurma
1 Lakshmi
Vishnu
In Hindu cosmology, Thiruparkadal (Ocean of milk) is the fifth from the center of the seven oceans. It surrounds the continent known as Krauncha.[42] According to Hindu mythology, the devas (gods) and asuras (demons) worked together for a millennium to churn the ocean and release Amrita the nectar of immortal life.[43] It is spoken of in the Samudra manthana chapter of the Puranas, a body of ancient Hindu legends. It is also the place where Vishnu reclines over Shesha Naga, along with his consort Lakshmi.

Notes

  1. ^ L. Annapoorna (2000). Music and temples, a ritualistic approach. p. 23. ISBN 9788175740907.
  2. ^ Sakkottai Krishnaswami Aiyangar (1911). Ancient India: Collected Essays on the Literary and Political History of Southern India. pp. 403–404. ISBN 9788120618503.
  3. ^ a b c Rao, P.V.L. Narasimha (2008). Kanchipuram – Land of Legends, Saints & Temples. New Delhi: Readworthy Publications (P) Ltd. p. 27. ISBN 978-93-5018-104-1.
  4. ^ a b c d Dalal 2011, pp. 20-21
  5. ^ Ramaswamy, Vijaya (2007). Historical Dictionary of the Tamils. Scarecrow Press. p. 211. ISBN 9780810864450.
  6. ^ Aiyangar, Sakkottai Krishnaswami (1920). Early history of Vaishnavism in south India. Oxford University Press. pp. 17–18.
  7. ^ a b c d Lochtefeld, James (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 515. ISBN 9780823931804.
  8. ^ Krishna (2009). Book Of Vishnu. Penguin Books India. p. 136. ISBN 9780143067627.
  9. ^ B.S. 2011, p. 42
  10. ^ B.S. 2011, p. 47-48
  11. ^ Mukherjee (1999). A Dictionary of Indian Literatures: Beginnings-1850 Volume 1 of A Dictionary of Indian Literature, A Dictionary of Indian Literature. Orient Blackswan. p. 15. ISBN 9788125014539.
  12. ^ a b Garg, Gaṅgā Rām (1992). Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World: Ak-Aq. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 352–354. ISBN 9788170223757.
  13. ^ Madhavan 2007, pp. 17-20
  14. ^ Dalal 2011, p. 308
  15. ^ Chari, S.M. Srinivasa (1994). Vaiṣṇavism: Its Philosophy, Theology, and Religious Discipline. Motilal Banarsidass Publishes. p. 202. ISBN 9788120810983.
  16. ^ Bühler, Georg; Kielhorn, Franz; Lüders, Heinrich; Wackernagel, Jacob (1897). Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde: (Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research). K.J. Trübner. p. 4.
  17. ^ "Muthalam Tiruvandadhi" (PDF). archarya.org. Retrieved 2013-04-21.
  18. ^ Ray, Niharranjan; Chattopadhyaya, Brajadulal (2000). Source Book Of Indian Civilization, A. Orient Blackswan. p. 412. ISBN 9788125018711.
  19. ^ a b Chari 1997, pp. 16-17
  20. ^ Dalal 2011, p. 269
  21. ^ Panda, Harihar (2007). Prof. H. C. Raychaudhuri: As a Historian. Northern Book Centre. p. 86. ISBN 9788172112103.
  22. ^ D.C., Sircar (1971). Studies In The Religious Life Of Ancient And Medieval India. Motilal Banarsidass Publisher. p. 56. ISBN 9788120827905.
  23. ^ Ayyar, P. V. Jagadisa (1991). South Indian shrines: illustrated. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. p. 539. ISBN 81-206-0151-3.
  24. ^ Azhwar, Poigai (1999). Nalayira Divya Prabandam (PDF). projectmadurai.org. pp. 14–24.
  25. ^ "Alwar utsavam". The Hindu. 2003-10-20. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  26. ^ Pillai, M. S. Purnalingam (1904). A Primer of Tamil Literature. Madras: Ananda Press. pp. 182–83.
  27. ^ Mittal, Sushil; Thursby, G.R. (2005). The Hindu World. New York: Routelge. p. 456. ISBN 0-203-67414-6.
  28. ^ Vater, Tom (2010). Moon Spotlight Angkor Wat. USA: Perseus Books Group. p. 40. ISBN 9781598805611.
  29. ^ Jones, Victoria (2004). Wonders of the World Dot-to-Dot. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. p. 4. ISBN 1-4027-1028-3.
  30. ^ Kodayanallur Vanamamalai 2001, p. 70
  31. ^ Chari, T. V. R. (1982). The Glorious Temples of Kanchi. Big Kancheepuram: Sri Kanchi Kamakshi Ambal Devasthanam and Sarada Navaratri Kalai Nigazhchi Trust. pp. 17–24.
  32. ^ Kodayanallur Vanamamalai 2001, p. 52
  33. ^ Hoiberg, Dale; Ramchandani, Indu (2000). Students' Britannica India, Volumes 1-5. Popular Prakashan. p. 217. ISBN 9780852297605.
  34. ^ Maehle, Gregor (2012). Ashtanga Yoga The Intermediate Series: Mythology, Anatomy, and Practice. New World Library. p. 207. ISBN 9781577319870. Vaikuntha (Vishnu's celestial home)
  35. ^ Orlando O. Espín; James B. Nickoloff (2007). An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies. Liturgical Press. p. 539. ISBN 978-0-8146-5856-7.
  36. ^ Gavin Flood, An Introduction to Hinduism (1996), p. 17.
  37. ^ "Tirumala Temple". Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 13 September 2007.
  38. ^ "NDTV Report". Retrieved 13 September 2007.
  39. ^ Sivaratnam, C (1964). An Outline of the Cultural History and Principles of Hinduism (1 ed.). Colombo: Stangard Printers. OCLC 12240260. Koneswaram temple. Tiru-Kona-malai, sacred mountain of Kona or Koneser, Iswara or Siva. The date of building the original temple is given as 1580 BCE according to a Tamil poem by Kavi Raja Virothayan translated into English in 1831 by Simon Cassie Chitty ...
  40. ^ Ramachandran, Nirmala (2004). The Hindu legacy to Sri Lanka. Pannapitiya: Stamford Lake (Pvt.) Ltd. 2004. ISBN 9789558733974. OCLC 230674424. Portuguese writer De Queyroz compares Konesvaram to the famous Hindu temples in Rameswaram, Kanchipuram, Tirupatti-Tirumalai, Jagannath and Vaijayanthi and concludes that while these latter temples were well visited by the Hindus, the former had surpassed all the latter temples by the early 1600s
  41. ^ "Ghazal programme at Tirumala temple". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 30 September 2003.
  42. ^ Hudson, D. Dennis (2008). The body of God: an emperor's palace for Krishna in eighth-century Kanchipuram. Oxford University Press US. pp. 164–168. ISBN 978-0-19-536922-9.
  43. ^ "Churning the Ocean of Milk by Michael Buckley".

References

External links