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Chennai 2000 Plus Trust special lecture on Poigai Azhvaar

Updated by admin on Saturday, July 07, 2018 11:43 AM IST

Chennai: Chennai 2000 Plus Trust presented the second part of Poigai Aazhvaar special lecture on January 20, 2016, at Parthasarathy Temple, Thiruvallikeni, by scholar M A Venkatakrishnan. Poigai Aazhvaar is regarded as the first of the Mudhal Aazhvaars.

The programme is part of the 12-month series on Aazhvaars at the Parthasarathy Swamy Temple.

Every month, on Ekadasi day, one of the 12 Aazhvaars would be featured in a special programme at the Parthasarathy Temple.

Chennai 2000 Plus Trust organizes programmes to create awareness about the cultural, historical, archaeological, literary and social importance, and antiquity of Chennai city.

The word aazhvaar means the one who dives deep into the ocean of the countless attributes of god. Aazhvaars are considered the twelve supreme devotees of Vishnu, who were instrumental in popularising Vaishnavism during the 5th to 8th centuries A.D. The religious works of these saints in Tamil, songs of love and devotion, are compiled as Nalayira Divya Prabandham containing 4000 verses and the 108 temples revered in their songs are classified as Divya Desam. The saints had different origins and belonged to different castes. The songs of Prabandam are regularly sung in all the Vishnu temples of South India daily and also during festivals. 

According to traditional account by Manavala Mamunigal, the first three Aazhvaars namely Poigai, Bhoothath and Pey belong to Dwapara Yuga (before 4200 BC). It is widely accepted by tradition and historians that the trio are the earliest among the twelve Aazhvaars. Modern historians place them in the 5th to 9th centuries A.D. Along with the three Saiva Naayanmaars, they influenced the ruling Pallava kings, creating a Bhakti movement that resulted in changing the religious geography from Buddhism and Jainism and to these two sects of Hinduism in the region. The Aazhvaars were also instrumental in promoting the Bhagavatha cult and the two epics of India, namely, Ramayana and Mahabharatha. The Aazhvaars were instrumental in spreading Vaishnavism throughout the region. The verses of the various Aazhvaars were compiled by Nathamuni (824-924 AD), a 10th-century Vaishnavite theologian, who called it the "Tamil Vedha".

Early life

Poigai was found in a lotus flower in a small pond near the Yadhothkaari temple at Tiruvekka in Kanchipuram. In Tamil, small pond is called poigai, and since he was found in a pond, he got the name Poigai. At Kanchipuram there is a temple inside the Deva-sarovaram lake. This temple enshrines an idol of Saroyogi in a recumbent posture with eyes closed in meditation. From childhood, Poigai was deeply devoted to Vishnu. He mastered all the Vaishnava speeches and followed Vaishnavite tradition. He was variously known as Ayonigi, Saro-yogi, Kasara-yogi, Poigai-piraan, Saravora Munindra and Padma-muni. 
 
As per Hindu legend, Vishnu appeared to the mudhal aazhvaars (first three aazhvaars) at Thirukkoilur. It was day time, but it darkened and started raining heavily. The wandering Poigai found out a small hide out, which has a space for one person to lie down. Boodath arrived there looking for a hiding place and Poigai accommodated him, with both sitting together. In the meanwhile, Pey also came to the same place as all the three preferred to stand because of lack of space. The darkness became dense and inside the small room, they were not able to see each other. In the meanwhile, they felt a fourth person also forced his way among them. The three aazhvaars realised from the light of the lightning that the fourth one had a charming face that was sublime and divine. The trio could immediately realize that it was Vishnu who was huddling among them. Poigai wished to see Vishnu's face continuously but could view only from the simmering light of the lightening. With a view to maintain the continuity of light, he instantly composed hundred songs wishing the earth to be a big pot full of ghee like an ocean where the Sun could be the burning wick.

The song is also interpreted as the aazhwar praying to god to remove the darkness and ask for his unlimited knowledge and power. Bhoothath Aazhvaar also sang 100 songs imagining to light the lamp constantly through ardent love for Him. Pey Aazhvaar sang another 100 songs where he described the enchanting charm of the divine face and the association of Narayana equipped with chakra and sankha, and his divine consort goddess Lakshmi.

Poigai composed hundred verses that are classified as Mudhal Tiruvandhadhi. Poigai’s composition was set in the Andhaadhi style. The word Andha means end and Adhi means beginning. Andhadhi  style has ending word or the syllable of each verse as the beginning word of the succeeding verse and the last word of the hundredth verse becomes the beginning of the first verse, making the hundred verses a true garland of verses.

There is a shrine dedicated to Poigai Aazhvaar in the Yathokthkaari Perumal Temple tank called Deva Sarovaram in Kanchipuram where his image is depicted in reclining posture. Poigai has revered Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in one, Thirupaarkadal in one, Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in ten, Thiruvikrama Perumal Temple in two, Vaikuntha in two and Tiruvekkaa in four verses.

For details, contact R. Rangaraj, President, Chennai 2000 Plus Trust, 9841010821.

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