Thirumazhisai-alwar At Perumpuliyur
(Pix source: http://anudinam.org/2013/11/16/guru-parampara-series-thirumazhisai-azhwar/)
Though Thirumazhisai-alwar did not consume food like normal children, he started to grow like a normal child and was always engrossed in the loving contemplation of the Lord.
His natural tendencies and desire to know more about the Lord made him study various philosophies at the age of seven. Having analytically studied Sankhya, Ashtanga-yoga, Nyaya, Vaishesikha, Purva-mimamsa, Uttara-mimamsa and other schools of philosophical thought, Thirumazhisai-alwar retreated to a secluded cave to further his quest for truth as he could not find conclusive answers in any of the aforesaid schools of philosophy. He sat in meditation and went into a state of Samadhi for many years.
According to one version, the mudal-alwars came to the forest where Thirumazhisai-alwar was practicing austerities during the course of their pilgrimage and saw some sort of divine glow emanating from the cave in which Thirumazhisai-alwar was meditating.
The mudal-alwars entered the cave and were astonished to see a strange sort of divine radiance emanating from the body of Thirumazhisai-alwar who was seated in a padmasana pose.
The mudal-alwars realized that Thirumazhisai is wasting away his precious time in practicing unnecessary penance and by focusing on kaivalya, one of the types of liberation, by which he would not reach the abode of the Supreme Lord.
They decided to teach him the intricacies of Vaishnava philosophy and the greatness of Lord Vishnu.
Instead of directly speaking to him, Pogai-alwar planted a plant upside down on the path that Thirumazhisai would normally use to take his bath in the nearby tank and started watering the roots. Seeing the antics of Poigai-alwar, Thirumazhisai asked him as to what he was doing.
Poigai-alwar replied, “Don’t you see I am watering the plant to nourish it.’’ Being amused, Thirumazhisai said, “Have you seen anybody watering a plant like that? Plants do not grow like that. You have to plant the roots in the ground before watering it.” Poigai-alwar immediately retorted, “If plants cannot grow, if they are not properly rooted in the ground how can people realize the absolute truth just by meditating without any deep rooted devotion, conviction in the existence of the Lord and focusing on the Supreme Lord?’’
Thirumazhisai realized his folly and requested Poigai-alwar to enlighten him about the Vaishnava philosophy. Thirumazhisai spent some days discussing various spiritual topics with the mudal-alwars and got his doubts clarified. Thus, the mudal-alwars got Thirumazhisai-alwar into the Vaishnava fold. Having cleared all the doubts of Thirumazhisai, the mudal-alwars continued their journey to visit different Vishnu temples in the area.
Having realized the greatness of the Supreme Lord, His beauty and potencies, Thirumazhisai-alwar retreated to Thiruvallikkeni (the present Triplicane in Chennai) and sat in deep meditation beside the Gajendra Tank with devotion and conviction in the all merciful nature of the Supreme Lord.
Thirumazhisai was never bothered by the pangs of hunger or thirst as he was always engrossed in experiencing the bliss of contemplating on the glories of the Supreme Lord. It is said that Thirumazhisai-alwar went into a trance and contemplated on the auspicious qualities, pastimes and other aspects of the Supreme Lord for 700 years on the banks of Gajendra Tank and enacted some interesting pastimes.
Read about Thirumazhisai-alwar’s pastime with Lord Shiva and Parvathi and other aspects related to his life in the next post.