Nammalwar was a Tamil Poet, regarded as one of the twelve Alwars in India. He is quite renowned for his beautiful hymns dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The main aim of Nammalwar’s life was to serve the Lord, love Him, praise him and surrender to Him. Even though he was originally from southernmost part of India, he won the hearts of people throughout the country with his beautiful poems.
Nammalwar was born in Thirukkurugoor (near Thirunelveli) in the Pandaya dynasty of Tamil Nadu. There is a little disagreement as to his birth date. Tradition gives the date as 3102 B.C. (i.e., the beginning of the Kali Yuga), but scholars believe the date to be 880-930 A.D. It is said that as a child, Namalwar never cried, suckled or responded to external stimuli. After seeing this condition of their child, his parents left him at the feet of Lord Vishnu’s statue. It is said that, he got up, sat in the lotus position and started to meditate. From then onwards, began the journey of Nammalwar on the path of spirituality.
The End of a Long Samadhi
Nammalwar remained in a meditative state for as long as 16 years. A Tamil poet and scholar, Maturakavi, managed to draw out Nammalwar from his Samadhi by asking him a question. Thereafter, he took Maturakavi as his first disciple. He taught him about the secret doctrines of Vaishnavism. Unable to resist the urge of praising God, he composed a thousand hymns admiring Lord Vishnu then and there only.
The subject matter of all the poems written by Nammalwar is “the Lord, the soul, the means, the end, and the impediments to spirituality”. The following poems of Nammalwar count amongst his most renowned ones…
Thiru-Viruttam, a poem of stanzas, comes up as the essence of Rig Veda. It describes the event of ‘falling in love with the Supreme being’ and symbolizes ‘Bridal Mysticism’.
Thiru-Asiriyam comprises of seven sections or seven poems, of unequal length, within itself. Made up of 71 lines, it describes the beauty of the lord with the help of the most beautiful words one can imagine.
Constituting the quintessence of Atharva Veda, Periya Thiruvandadi has 87 lyrical stanzas.
Thiruvaimozhi literally means the ‘Divine words’. Considered as the masterpiece of Nammalwar, it comprises of 1102 four lined verses.