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Thirumangai Azhwar's unique distinction

CHENNAI JULY 18 . Will any guest, who is offered a shelter for a night's stay have a peaceful sleep if he is incidentally and casually told that a cobra is likely to pass through the room at any time? The person concerned will shudder to think of such a situation and will never venture to go anywhere near the chamber. Likewise the human being will have to remain on guard throughout his life if only he realises the consequences of getting involved in worldly affairs. Similarly the time a man spends in the journey in life can be likened to an ant caught in the midst of a stick that burns at both ends. Existence during the brief time in the world can also be compared to a huge tree that stands on the riverbed with the turbulent waters gradually eroding the soil under it and the roots ready to lose their grip and the tree is ever in a stage of being uprooted and washed away in the floods? One of our greatest saints has given ten such examples to explain the nature of every man's sojourn in this world constantly being gnawed by vicious forces and lured by temptations. Through his soul-stirring hymns, he has spread the message for humanity to lead a safe voyage by resorting to devotional exercises.

Anyone can have desires but these should be diverted to obtain safeguards from the threats he faces every second and reach the Divine Kingdom. This apostle, Thirumangai Azhwar, the last of the 12 canonised Vaishnavite saints, had the unique distinction of having visited more than 80 holy places dotted all over the country and sung praising the deities therein in his six Prabandhams wherein he has poured out his Divine emotions. Curiously while he eagerly awaited the early Divine Call, the Lord kept him in the world so that he continued the task of spreading devotion among people, reforming and guiding them.

This rhapsodist was a skilled poet having composed hymns in four styles. The rich legacy of religious literature in Tamil (1253 verses) forms part of the collection of all the Azhwars known as Nalayira Divya Prabandham, said Sri M.A. Venkatakrishnan in a discourse. Two of his six works are in the nature of epistle with threats to "expose" the Lord's "acts" while He was amidst human beings during His incarnations. The Azhwar and the Saivite saint, Thirugnanasambandhar, once met at Sirkazhi and at the instance of the latter he rendered on the spot a poem adoring the local deity "Thadaalan" admiring which the latter presented his trident to him.

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