Posted in Acharya, Manakkal Nambi

Know your Acharyas – Part III – Manakkal Nambi

Uyyakondar had many disciples under him with whom he was happily engaged in the delightful study and exposition of the Utterances of the Holy Azhwars. The chief of these disciples were five, viz., (1) Manakkal Nambi, (2) Tiruvallikkeni Panperumal Arayar, (3) Sottaip-pusi-Sendalankarar, (4) Sri Pundarika-dasan, and (5) Ulagu-perumal Nangai.

Of these disciples, Manakkal Nambi or Sri Rama Misra was the greatest, inasmuch as he bore to his Guru (Uyyakkondar) the relation of Lakshmana to his Master and Brother Sri Ramachandra. This was so much the case that when the Guru’s wife Andalamma died, Rama Misra did all the menial services that thus necessarily devolved on him in the household of the Guru. In illustration of this implicit servitude to his master, it is recorded that on a certain occasion, he accompanied the two daughters of his Guru on pilgrimage to a bathing place. They were returning and the damsels shrank at a small stream in their path, because it was sloughy. Rama Misra saw the situation and immediately coming to their rescue, stretched himself at length across the channel, and let them walk over on his back! The Guru heard this incident, and drawing the disciple to him with exclamations of joy, touched his head with his feet—a favour not bestowed on all indiscriminately. “Is there anything more that I can do to thee?” further asked the Guru. “What more can I ask,” said the disciple,” than that, having already attained my highest ambition, viz., that of serving at your Holy Feet, this service should be continued to me for ever”? Uyyakkondar was overcome with this exemplary attitude and in his irrepressible wish to do to his disciple the highest good, commended to him once more for meditating the Dvaya-Mantra, the efficacy of which has been described in the Pancharatra Agama.

Uyyakkondar’s sojourn in this earth was now approaching its end and Rama Misra, reverently broached to him the subject of who after him was to bear the apostleship for their Blessed Dispensation. “Well, my son,” said he, “I had hoped to carry out myself the behests of my Holy Master Nathamunigal, communicated to me when he was passing away, viz., to expect the arrival of a grandson for him, (i.e., son to Isvara-munigal), to whom to impart all the Mysteries of our faith, naming him Yamunaithuraivar, as my Guru willed; but Providence has willed it otherwise. This duty therefore devolves on thee, the next and my most trusted disciple, and thou therefore will bequeath our mysteries to posterity’ in the Holy Sottai line of descent.” So delivering the message, Uyyakkondar left his body, seating himself in the Padhmasana posture, and uniting his heart with the Holy feet of his Acharya, Sri Nathamunigal. Neither Rama Misra, nor his brethren, could bear this pang of separation, but gradually they recovered and girded themselves to carry out the last services and sacraments for the departed; which they did with all due ceremony and solemnity.

Rama Misra was now, with his disciples, engaged in the work of furthering his holy mission, all the time in eager expectation of the hoped-for holy son to be born to Isvaramunigal. This happy event came about in the Tamil month of Adi under the asterisk Uttaradam. Joy overspread their countenances, and they forthwith went about administering to the child all the sacraments fit for the occasion, through the medium of the father, ending by naming the child Yamunaithuraivar (according to the wishes of Nathamuni) and observing all the needful preliminaries prescribed for the Vaishnavas.

Reference: The Life of Ramanuja by Alkondavilli Govindacharya, S. Murthy & Co., Madras, 1906

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