After completing the construction of Sri Rangam temple in accordance with the agama shastras, Thirumangai-alwar started focusing on the temple administration and composed Thiru-nedund-andagam and dedicated it to Lord Ranganatha. Thirumangai-alwar gradually became old and one fine day the Lord appeared in his dream and asked him if he had any unfulfilled desires.
Thirumangai-alwar requested the Lord to honor Nammalwar by ensuring that his works are recited along with the other Vedic scriptures during the Adhyayanothsavas and Nammalwar’s deity be brought from Alwar-Thirunagari during the festival. The Lord granted his request and since then Nammalwar’s deity is brought from Thirunagari every year during the Adhyayanothsavas to Sri Rangam.
Thirumangai-alwar requested the Lord to show him the Lord’s ten famous incarnations (avataras). The Lord asked Thirumangai-alwar to go to Thirukkurungudi to have a vision of His ten famous incarnations in His deity forms. Thirumangai-alwar offered his obeisance for the last time to his beloved deity and left to Thirukkurungudi along with his wife, Kumuda-valli.
After having the darshan of the Lord at Thirukkurungudi, Thirumangai-alwar retired to Siddashrama on the west coast of the country and started to contemplate on the Lord. Thirumangai-alwar attained liberation while in samadhi after having enacted his glorious pastimes for more than a hundred years on this planet. Though Thirumangai-alwar left this planet more than 4,500 years ago, his glory lives even to this day. The devotees who visit Sri Rangam temple devotedly remember him for having constructed such a magnificent temple for the Lord.
Thirumangai-alwar’s brother-in-law, Yatirasan, who used to accompany him wherever he went, came back to Lord Ranganatha and informed him about Thirumangai-alwar’s disappearance. The Lord directed Yatirasan to go to Thiru-kkuraiyalur, the birth place of Thirumangai-alwar, and construct a temple for the alwar. The Lord also asked Yatirasan to regard Thirumangai-alwar as his guru and spend the rest of his life serving the deity form of Thirumangai-alwar. Yatirasan obediently followed the Lord’s order and joined his master in the spiritual realm within a short span of time.
Thirumangai-alwar has contributed the most for the Nalayira-Divya-Prabandhams. He has composed 1,084 hymns in his Periya Thirumozhi, 20 hymns in Gurun-Thandakam, 30 hymns in Nedum-Thandakam, one hymn in Thiruvezezhu-kkurrirukkai, one hymn in his Sirya Thirumadal and one hymn in Periya Thirumadal. Being a great philosopher, Thirumangai-alwar has established Vaishnava philosophy in his hymns by refuting Mayavada and the other philosophies that were being propounded by heretics in those days.
Thirumangai-alwar’s bhakti was so intense that he had visualized himself as a gopi (gopi bhav) who was yearning for communion with the Lord in some of his hymns. Though Thirumangai-alwar was born in the clan of thieves and committed various crimes for serving the devotees and carrying out the Lord’s orders he is worshipped as a saint even today because of his intense and selfless devotion to the Lord.
There was a vacuum in the Vaishnava world after Thirumangai-alwar left this planet and people gradually started to forget the teachings of the Alwars. Buddhism and Mayavada started to gain ground due to the absence of good leaders in the Vaishnava world for the next 3,000 years. The dominance of Mayavadis increased to such an extent that they started ridiculing Vaishnavas and defiling the temples.
Nathamuni, the foremost among the Sri Vaishnava acharyas, initiated the revitalization of bhakti movement by reviving the works of the alwars, which were lost to the world. The alwars' works later on helped Ramanuja and other acharyas to refute Mayavada and, thereby reestablish the glory of Vaishnavism.
May all glories be to the lotus feet of Thirumangai-alwar and blest be the devotees who read the glories of the alwars regularly.
We will reveal about Nathamuni in the next post.