Asmad acharya paryantham vande guru paramparam||
This sloka was composed by Swami Koorathalwan, disciple of Swami Ramanuja. From this we understand our guru parampara or the hierarchy of teachers. Lakshminatha indicates the Husband of Sri Maha Lakshmi, that is Sriman Narayana. In our Acharya hierarchy, the Lord appears First. He is the One Who gave the Vedas to the World. He also provided us Gita. Next comes Sri Mahalakshmi. Third is Vishvaksena, the Army Commander. Fourth is Nammalwar, the leader among Alwars. Swami Nathamuny enjoys the status as the disciple of Nammalwar. and got the Nalayira Divya Prabhandam directly from the Alwar. Thus Swami Nathamuni ranks first among Acharyas. We may get confused as to whether the Lord is the First Acharya or Swami Nathamuni. The Fist Three, starting from the Lord, are all in Vaikuntam. Next the Ten Alwars appeared on this earth. They were Alwars and from Swami Nathamuni, Acharyas appeared. Alwars composed the original text of Nalayira Divya Prabhandam. Acharyas, on the other hand, wrote commentaries on them and preached and made singing of them a custom in temples. Alwars were deeply engrossed in the glory of the Lord. They never resorted to preaching and expressed their experience in pasurams. But Acharyas mingled with the common people and preached. Alwars never mingled with public and for them Bhagavat anubhavam or experience with the Lord, was the primary purpose. Acahryas travelled all over and preached to individuals. This difference we should remember. In such Acharyas' hierarchy, Swami Nathamuni is the First. He was born some 4000 years after Nammalwar. Now it is 5108 years after Nammalwar was on this earth. According to Gregorian calendar, Swami Nathamuni was in the 9th Century. We are in his birth place Kattumannar koil. Thirumangai Alwar in his Thirunadunthandakam, says the Lord was in North in Thirumala, in South in Thirumaliruncholai [Azhagar Koil], in West in Srirangam and in East in Thirukkannapuram. Swami Periyavachan Pillai, however, has determined that what Alwar meant for the East is Kattumannar koil, which gave us Swami Nathamuni to establish Visishtadvaitam. His original name was Ranganatha muni. He was born in the month of Ani [ஆனி] in the star Anusham [அனுஷம்]. He was not aware of Alwars' pasurams. By a design of the Lord, Two persons knowledgeble in just Ten pasurams of Nammalwar came to him. They sang the pasurams starting with aravamude adiyen udalam nin pal..[ஆராவமுதே! அடியேன் உடலம் நின் பால்..]. These pasurams wrere in praise of Sri Sarngapani or Sri Aravamudan of Kumbakonam or Thiru Kudandhai. In the Archana namavali of the Lord Sri Sarngapani, He is praised as Dravida sruti darsakaya nama: [द्रविड वेद दर्सकाय नम:] meaning Exposer of Dravida Vedas [Nalayira Divya Prabhandam] to the World at large. In the last of the ten pasurams it was mentioned that these pasurams were composed by Kurugur Satakopan, and formed part of the Thousand pasurams. Deeply fascinated by these, Swami Nathamuni wanted to listen to the remaining 990 pasurams. But the guests were not knowing and suggested Swami Nathamuni could try in Kurugur. Swami Nathamuni started his search and in Kurugur, though he could not get the remaining pasurams, he got an important clue that Madurakavi Alwar had sung in praise of Nammalwar, 11 pasurams called kanninun siruthambu [கண்ணிநுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு]. He was advised that if he could chant these 11 pasurams with sincereity at the base of Thruppulingudi [திருப் புளி ஆழ்வார்] - tamarind tree, in which Nammalwar lived, 12000 times, perhaps, Nammalwar might appear before him and bless to fulfill his request. Swami Nathamuni did accordingly and Nammalwar appeared before him and taught him not only the 1000 songs of Thiruvaimozhi, but all the pasurams of all the Alwars. Pleased with this invaluable aquisition, Swami Nathamuni taught them to his Two nephews Melai agathu Azhvan [மேலை அகத்து ஆழ்வான்] and Keezhai agathu அழ்வன் [கீழை அகத்து ஆழ்வான்] and made them to sing them to proper tune and metre. He also separated the pasurams as Iyarpa [இயற்ப்பா ] or prose order and Isaipa [ இசைப்பா] or poetical order suited for music. Like Veda Vyasa separated and grouped the Vedas into Four groups of Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana, Swami Natahmuni alos segregated the pasurams of Dravida Vedas in the order we are all singing to this day. Swami Nathamuni was an expert in music. Once the music experts in the Kingdom were asked to play beats and Swami Nathamuni, just by listening to them would gauge the weight of the beat. In his sannidhi here we can see him showing upadesa or teaching mudra in the right hand. Left hand is on his lap and he is seated.
SWAMI NATHAMUNI [moolavar]
Now we will see sloka 34:
mrityuh sarva-haras caham
udbhavas ca bhavisyatam
kirtih srir vak ca narinam
smritir medha dhrtih ksama
"I am all-devouring death, and I am the generating principle of all that is yet to be. Among women I am fame, fortune, fine speech, memory, intelligence, steadfastness and patience."
The Lord mentions some more groups. Sarva- hara = among all bereavers [compulsorily taking away], mrityu = god of death. There are so many in this world who rob others' possessions. The Lord is Mrithyu or god of death among them. Bhavisyatam = among those to occur in future, udbhavas = active energy. That is the Lord is the action in those which are to develop or to happen. Narinam = among females, the Lord is, kirti = fame, sri = wealth, vak = speech, smriti = memory, medha = intelligence, dhriti = courage and ksama = patience. The Lord represents all these women characters like Kirti Devi, Sri Devi, Vak Devi, Smriti Devi, Medha Devi, Dhriti Devi and Kshama Devi. Why should these qualities attributed to women? Are not males with these qualities? Yes, both have these qualities. The Lord is not telling that He is the quality of fame, etc., in people. But each of these qualities are represented by a Devta or demi- goddess. Here we should note that the Lord mentions Three of His Consorts. Kirti Devi implies Sri Neela Devi. Ksama Devi implies Sri Bhu Devi. Of course, Sri Sri Devi is mentioned as such. In Srimad Ramayanam, Dasaratha had Three queens. While mentioning them the sloka in Ramayana says they were like Sri:, Hri: and Kirti:. This is in the same order as Sri Sri Devi, Sri Bhu Devi and Sri Neela Devi. Therefore, Kirti indicates Neela Devi. Why the order of mentioning has changed in the Gita sloka? Should it not be starting with Sri? In Sri Krishna Avatar, Sri Sri Devi was born as Sri Rukmini; Sri Bhu Devi as Sri Sathyabama; and, Sri Neela Devi as Sri Nappinnai. In Sri Krishna Avatar, Sri Nappinnai is considered important. In Thiruppavai, Her name is mentioned many times. Perhaps, that might be the reason for mentioning Kirti first. Earlier He had mentioned Yama, who judges on what punishment or honour to be conferred on the departed soul, and god of Kala, who decides on the duration of life for a soul to reside in a body. Now, Mrithyu is mentioned and who extracts life from the body.