Sri Embar

Govindar who was later called as Embar was born in Mazhalaimangalam (now known as Madhuramangalam). He was born in Durmathi year (1021 AD). The birth of Swami Embar took place after 4 years of Swami Ramanuja's birth. Embar  born to the Dhivya Thampathis Periyapiraati and Kamala Nayana Bhattar. Swami Ramanujar is known as the incarnation of ThiruAnanthazhvan and Sri Embar as the incarnation of Periya Thiruvaadi (Garuda). Due to some reasons, Periya Thiruvadi was cursed to born in this world and survive as a saivaite and then follow Srivaishnavam to attain the Lotus Feet of Sriman Narayana.


Sri Embar Thanian (by Parasara Bhattar):

raamaanuja padhachCHaaya govindhaahvaanipaayanee |
thadhaayaththa svaroopaa saa jeeyaanmadhvishramasTHalee

Period : 1021 (Durmathi Year)- 1141 (Durmathi Year)
Avatharasthalam : Madhuramangalam
Other Names : Ramanuja Padha saayai (Ramanujar Lotus Feet's Shadow), Sri Govinda Bhattar
Month : Thai
Thiru Natchathiram: Punarpoosam
Amsam : Vainatheya (Garuda)

In the year Durmathi which is 1021 CE this pious couple were blessed with a son, he was born in the month of Makara (Tamil Month of Thai) under the constellation of Punarvasu (it is said he was the amsam of Vaiynatheyan), his maternal uncle Thirumalai nambhi named him as Govinda Bhattar. Govinda was the first cousin of Ilai Azhwar (Swami Ramanujar). Then both were co-students at academy of Yadhava Prakasha (Yadhava Prakasha was an Advaithi) at Thiruputkuzhi. Ilai Azhwar was a very bright student and sometimes he had difference of opinion with his master in interpretation of Vedas, sutras etc. Yadhava Prakasha misinterpreted the scriptures to suit convenience and Ilai Azhwar did not like it. The climax of this dispute came when Master Yadhava Prakasha gave a wrong interpretation to word Kapyaasam as appeared in in Chandadya Upanishad to describe our supreme Lords eyes. (TASYA KAPYAASAM PUNDAREEKAM EVAM ASKHINEE).

Yadhava used some derogatory words and Ilai Azhwar corrected and interpreted the meaning as eyes of Lord was like a Fully blossomed Lotus. He did it this correction in front of all co-students, because of this incident Yadhava Prakashar became angry and asked Ilai Azhwan to discontinue the studies and leave the academy. Then Yadhava Prakasha thought if Ilai Azhwan was alive, he and his academy cannot survive. Then he along with some senior students hatched a plan to eliminate Ilai Azhwar. Then he went and pacified Ilai Azhwar and invited him to join for a Ganga Yatra up to the north. Ilai Azhwar agreed and all of them left for pilgrimage and his cousin Govinda also was there. Then, once they reached across Vindhayas they wanted to put their plan into action i.e. Kill Ilai Azhwar. Some how his cousin Govinda came to know of this sinister plan. So seeing an early opportunity Govinda advised Ilai Azhwar to leave in opposite direction at the night. As advised by Govinda, Ilai Azhwan did the same and reached Kanchi (We know how our Ilai Azhwar was saved by Lord Perarulalan and his consort from getting lost in jungles and had safe passage to Kanchipuram) {Even today, the same event is celebrated as Salai Kinaru Usthavam, the same is enacted in the Utsavam. Later, while taking bath in Ganges with Yadavaprakasar and ashram mates, Sri Govinda Battar gets a lingam in his hand. Sri Govinda Battar shows the same to his guru. The advaitic scholar replied that it is the anugruham of Lord Siva and names him as Ullankai Konarntha Naayanaar. From that day, Govindan becomes a pure advaitee and starts practising the same.

Swami Ramanuja decides to correct his cousin and requests Thirumalai Nambi to do so. Thirumalai Nambi too had been thinking of correcting Govinda Bhattar and hence immedietely leaves to Kalahasti with few of his disciples. He crosses Ullankai Konarntha Naayanaar’s path and makes Alavandhar’s slokam fall on his ears: “SvAbhAvikA anavatikAtishaya Ishitrutvam”. Something in Nayanar’s mind gets stirred when he hears the words and becomes disturbed. On another occasion, Nambigal went and sits under the tree from which Nayanar used to pluck flowers everyday and starts teaching the meaning of ThiruvAimozhi to his disciples. Nayanar forgets his task of gathering the flowers and stands there mesmerized. Nambigal explains the meaning of 3 pAsurams. The fourth one contained the following lines: “EmperumAnukkallAmal Poovum Poosanaiyum Thagumey”. On hearing those words, Nayanar throws the flower basket as he realised the folly he had been committing. He falls at Nambigal’s feet and asks for forgiveness and asks for his blessings and protection. He sobs loudly and laments his wasted years. Nambi consoles NAyanAr. The local Saivaites on hearing this news surrounded Nambigal, and fight with him while questioning if this behavior was okay. Nambigal redirects them to Nayanar, who promptly disowns them and gives them back the key and the ring that had been given to him. Nambigal takes him to Tirumalai and performs pancha samskAram for Govindan. He then starts teaching him all the prabandams starting with “tirup pallANdu”. Later Govindan (Embar) also becomes the Acharya of Sri Parasara Bhattar.

As commanded by Ramanuja, Embar taught Parasara Bhattar all that he learnt from Udayavar. He succeeded in making Parasara Bhattar the worthy successor of Ramanuja to carry on the Ramanuja Sidhantha to the future generation.

Then in the year 1137 our beloved Udayavar shed his mortal coil, at that time his head was resting on Embar's lap.

After the departure of Ramanuja, Embar had no interest in life. In the year 1141 Embar shed his mortal coil. Embar composed the work called "VIJNAASTHUTHI".