Swami Nammazhwar

Nammazhwar நம்மாழ்வார்,  one of the twelve Azhwars, well known for his many hymns on devotion to Vishnu. Legend gives him the date 3102 B.C. (i.e., the beginning of the kali yuga). He was born in the asterism Visakham in the month of Vaikasi, in what is now thirupathi saaram (also known as Thiruvenparisaaram), Tamil Nadu. His name means "our own azhwar (azhwar means "one immersed in God"). He is also known as mARan, sataGopan, parAngusan, vakuLAbharaNan, vakuLAbhirAman, magizhmAran, satajith, kurugUr nambi.


Swami Nammazhwar Thanian (by Alavandhar):

mAthA pithA yuvadhayas thanyA vibhoothi: |
sarvam yadhEva niyamEna madhanvayAnAm || 
Aatyasya na: kulapathEr vagulAbhirAmam |
Srimath thathangri yugalam pranamAmi moordhnA ||||

Year: Beginning of Kaliyuga
Birth Place: Thirukurugoor
Other Names: mARan, sataGopan, parAngusan, vakuLAbharaNan, vakuLAbhirAman, magizhmAran, satajith, kurgUr nambi,
Month : Vaikasi
Thiru Natchathiram: Visakam
Amsam : Senai Mudhaliar (Viswaksenar)

He was born in a small town called Thiruvenparisaaram in the southernmost region of the Tamil country Nagerkoil.

His father, Kari was a petty prince who paid tribute to the Pandian King of Madurai. He must have been born fully enlightened because as a baby he never cried or suckled and never opened his eyes. According to legend, as a child he responded to no external stimuli and his parents left him at the feet of the deity of Lord Sri Adhinathar in Azhwarthirunagari. The child then got up and climbed into a hole in a tamarind, sat in the lotus position, and began to meditate.

It appears he was in this state for as long as sixteen years when a Tamil poet and scholar in North India named Madhurakavi Azhwar saw a bright light shining to the south, and followed it until he reached Nammazhwar's tree.

Unable to elicit any reaction from the child, he asked him a riddle:

"If the small is born in a dead's body (or stomach), what will it eat and where will it stay?"
meaning, if the subtle soul is embodied in the gross body, what are its actions and thoughts? Nammazhwar broke his lifelong silence and responded that "It will eat that and it will rest there!" meaning that if the soul identifies with the body, it will be the body but if it serves the divine, it will stay in vaikunta and eat (think) of God. Madhurakavi Azhwar realized the divinity of this child.


His contribution of 4 works which can be compared to all Vedas (numbering 1296 hymns) to the 4th thousand of the Divya Prabhandham includes the entire 4th thousand and part of the 3rd thousand, these works are

Thiruviruththam (100 verses) - Rig Vedha Saaram,
ThiruvAsiriam (7 verses) - Yajur Vedha Saaram,
Thiruvaimozhi (1102 verses) - Sama Vedha Saaram,
Periya Thiruvandhadhi (87 verses) - Atharvana Vedha Saaram.

Thiruvaimozhi describes Ranganatha as a metaphor to discussing the philosophical details in the nature of the paramathma (divine soul), the nature of the jeevathma (living soul), the means for the jeevathma (living soul) to attain the goal of Paramathma (divine soul). The blocks and hurdles on the way and the goal is towards Moksha (Salvation).

In the Srivaishnava canon, these four represent (in Tamil language) the four Sanskrit vedas, respectively Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharvana Veda.

According to tradition "He poured the cream of these vedas" into his songs and poetry that were the result of deep mystic experience. Though Nammazhwar did not visit any of the 108 divyadesam temples talked about in the Vaishnava religion it appears from his works he must have had the vision of all the archa forms in the temples he had glorified in his hymns.