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Periazhvar


Though he is called Periyazhvar meaning Big Azhvar, he ranks 8th among the twelve. How he got his title and from whom will be seen later.

He was born as the fifth son of a Brahmin Vedic scholar named Mukunda Bhattar.  His mother’s name was Padmavadi. His avatar was on Ekadashi, Sunday in Shukla Paksha.  He belonged to the Brahmin family called Puras-sikha (Tuft on the forehead).

His birth took place at Srivilliputhur under the star Swathi in the month of Jyeshta (June – July).  He was named Vishnuchittar.  His thread ceremony and marriage was performed by his father at the appropriate time.

Right from a tender age he was interested in doing the kainkarya of making garland of flowers for Lord Vadapathrasayi.  So he established a garden and every morning pluck flowers and make garlands.

One day when the Pandya king Vallabadeva was on his rounds at night, he noticed a Brahmin sleeping on a stone bench.  The king woke him up and asked him who he was.  The Brahmin replied that he has just returned from a pilgrimage in the north after having a dip in the holy Ganges River.  The king said if so; please recite a sloka useful to the society at large.  The Brahmin recited a sloka in Sanskrit the meaning of which is as follows:  
To relax during rainy season, one should work hard during other seasons.
To enjoy a restful night, one should not ease during day time.
To enjoy peace during old age, one should earn while young.
To get moksha, one should strive to get GOD’s grace.
The Pandya king called Vallaban went back and sat ruminating one the above for a long time.  He came to the conclusion that the first three was achieved, but had made no effort whatsoever to earn HIS grace.

So he arranged for a meeting of eminent scholars and held a debate on the fourth line of this sloka, to attain Eternal Bliss – Moksha.  In the sabha, a scholar named Chelvanambi put forward an idea that the king should arrange for a meeting in Madurai of scholars well versed in Vedas, Dharma Sastras, etc wherein we could come to the conclusion about the way in which Eternal Bliss cold be obtained.  Moreover a goldpot hung from the stone pillar which will be given to the winner of the debate.  This proclamation made known to his entire state.

In Srivilliputhur the Lord appeared in the dream of Sri Vishnuchittar and made him to go Madurai, take part in the debate and win the golden pot. Vishnuchittar argued that he know only to make garlands and could not forth any arguments in front of eminent vedic scholars assembled in the King’s court.  The Lord told him, “I will take care of all that.  You just proceed to Madurai in the palanquin with Sanka and Chakra and the accessories of ME”. The Archakas and other sevakas of the temple had a similar dream and they therefore came with a palanquin to take Vishnuchittar to Madurai.  When Vishnuchittar appeared in the sabha with temple attendants in the palanquin, the King with Chelvanambi was surprised and he was greeted with the title “Battarpiran”.  The other scholars were jealous of the treatment given to Vishnuchittar, but nevertheless had to accept him because it was Vishnuchittar who elucidated the Partvam of the Lord.  It was the Lord himself speaking through Vishnuchittar.  He told the King and others present that it was the duty of every mortal to live for and do kainkarya to the Lord.

The King gave him full honours; he was mounted on an elephant and taken in procession around the city. It is believed that the main deity of Madurai “Koodalazhgar” with his consort and all other accessories such as Sanku and Chakra gave darshan to Vishnuchittar.  Brahma, Siva and Indra all came to witness this beautiful darshan.

Such was the love of Vishnuchittar for the Lord that he feared that evil eye will affect the Lord and therefore using the bells on either side of the Lord as claps, he sang benediction to the Lord.  He completed 12 verses, the first verse beginning thus,
“Pallandu, Pallandu, Pallayirathandu………”
It was here then that the Lord gave him the title “Periazhvar”.

He returned to Srivilliputhur and as usual continued his work of weaving garlands for the deity.  The money got from the golden pot was spent on the renovation of the temple.

On one fine day in the Tamil month of Adi when the star Pooram was ruling on that day, while plucking flowers for making garlands, he heard the cry of a baby girl.  He took the child home as he had no issues and gave to his wife Vraja.  This child went on rank as the 9th among the twelve Azhvars.  The poorvika of this child dates back to the time when the Lord descended as Varaha Avatar.  The details can be found in the article on “Andal or Goda Devi”.

As the child was found near the Tulsi Brindavan, he was named Goda meaning “Gift of Mother Earth.”

Goda grew up in an atmosphere laden with Bhakthi for Lord Krishna.  When she attained marriageable age, she told she would not marry none other than Lord Ranganatha.  Vishnuchittar was perplexed but Ranganathar came in his dream and asked him to bring Goda to Srirangam in a marriage procession and there in front of all those who had gathered, Godadevi merged with the Lord.

He returned to Srivilliputhur after becoming the father-in-law of Lord Ranganath and as before continued his work of plucking flowers and making garlands.

He composed the following prabhandams:

Periazhvar Thirumozhi  12 Verses
 (also Known as Thirupallandu)
Thirumozhi 461 Verses

The 12 verses are in the nature of benediction to the Lord. It may be noted here that of 12 Azhvars it was only Vishnuchittar who sang benediction to the Lord.  His Thirumozhi consisting of 461 verses refer to the “Leela” of Lord Krishna and therefore related to Krishnavatara.

He treated Krishna as his own child and throughout he behaved like mother Yasoda.  He put him in the cradle and sang lullaby called him to play hide and seek, gave him bath, fed him. He enjoyed the       of Lord Krishna from babyhood to boyhood. It is this vatsalya which differentiates him from others which the Lord loved and enjoyed.  Vishnuchittar loved the sports of the Lord and the Thirumozhi are his outpourings of a mother.  In many places, he refers to the tradition to be followed in the households of Vishnu devotees.

He did mangalsasanams to 18 divya desams - Thiruvarangam, Vellarai, Thiruppernagar, Thirukundanthai, Thirukannapuram, Thirumaliruncholai, Thirukottiyoor, Srivilliputtur, Thirukurungudi, Thiruvengadam, Saligramam, Ayodhya, Badrinath, Kadinagar, Dwarka, Vadamadurai, Thiruvaipadi, Thriuparkadal and Paramapadam.  He moved on to Thirumaliruncholai in Madurai, where he spent his last days.  He is said to have reached HIS LOTUS FEET at the ripe age of 87.  His date is placed between 7th and 8th century.
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