Again in Aani, on Swathi, the birthday of Perialwar, the Lord is on Garuda. This is the replica of the Lord appearing to Perialwar on ths streets of Madurai.
Then, in Aadi Pournami, to enact the incident of Gajendra Moksham, the Lord is on Garuda. All these Three Garuda sevai, are started with a visit to Nammalwar sannidhi. What is the connection between Alwar and the Lord on Garuda? Swami Vedanta Desika says that in the very First pasuram of Thiruvaimozhi, the Alwar mentions Sri Varadaraja. Amarargal adhipathi - Leader of Devas, indicates Sri Devaraja! Again in Nammalwar's Thiruviruttham [திருவிருத்தம்], the First pasuram starts with poi ninra gyanamum polla ozhukkum[பொய் நின்ற ஞானமும் பொல்லா ஒழுக்கமும்] ..In that he says Imayor thalaiva [இமையோர் தலைவா], which means again, Leader of Devas or Sri Devaraja! Thus Alwar has intimate devotion to the Lord of this temple. We will see another pasuram in Thiruvaimozhi. We can remember this in Arjuna's request in the sloka 4 of Chapter 11. We can see the similarity of both. Alwar assumes the heroine [நாயிகா பாவம்] form and languishes to see 'her' Hero, the Lord. 'She' sends emissaries to the Lord. 'She' sends a message that the Lord had totally forgotten 'her' and so He should come in the street where 'she' is living and show Himself. In the pasuram the words to this effect are arulazhi put kadaveer [அருளாழி புட் கடவீர்]. 'She' wants the Lord to come on Garuda and show Himself to 'her' so that 'she' does not wither away longing to see Him. The Lord fulfills the request of His devotee. That too, if the devotee happens to be like Nammalwar, then the Lord takes it as an important responsibility. Therefore, whenever the Lord takes a ride on Garuda, He does not miss First to grace the Alwar, before He proceeded further. We have seen Alwar in many Kshetrams. In all those places Alwar would be either in anjali [folded hands] mudra or in upadesa [ teaching] mudra.
But here, the Alwar's right arm is touching his heart, in upadesa mudra. That is, he is advising his mind! It seems that when the Alwar's idol was being crafted in the usual way, it was not possible; so, this pose only could be moulded. Thus his pasuram is figuratively displayed. To the right of Alwar is Madurakavi Alwar and to his left Swami Nathamuni, are gracing. For the satthumurai [சாற்றுமுறை], the finale of festivals, of all the Three, the Lord arrives at this sannidhi. That is on Vaikasi Vishaka - it is possible that is also the Garuda sevai day. Madurakavi Alwar was the direct disciple of Alwar; while Swami Nathamuni, who appeared much later, is also a disciple of the Alwar, by Swami Nathamuni's yogic power. For every festival of the Lord, mruth sngrahanam [ம்ருத் சங்க்ரஹரணம்] - collecying mud from the ground- is performed in this sannidhi only. Symbolically, we can say, Alwar conducts the festivals. Part of the sloka 4, we are to see today [2nd October 2008] has been seen in Alwar's pasuram. We saw that Arjuna mentioned whatever he learnt in Chapters 1 to 6, in one sloka, and whatever he learnt of Chapters 7 to 10, in another sloka. Then he told that believing all told by the Lord as true, he desired to see His wealth. Expressing desire is one thing; but to really see Viswaroopam is another matter. So in sloka 4, he expresses this:
manyase yadi tac chakyam
maya drastum iti prabho
yogeshvara tato me tvam
"If You think that I am able to behold Your cosmic form, O my Lord, O master of all mystic power, then kindly show me that unlimited universal Self."
Manyase = if it is thought so, Prabho = Lord [Sri Krishna], yadi = this [ Arjuna's desire], chakyam = possible, maya drastum = could be seen by me [Arjuna], then, atmanam = Your [Sri Krishna's] image, avyayam = limitless, me = to me [Arjuna], darsaya = show, yogeshvara = repository of auspicious qualities. Arjuna says that if the Lord thought that Arjuna could see that limitless image of the Lord [Viswaroopam], then He might show Arjuna. Arjuna expresses a doubt in seeing the Lord's infinite image [Viswaroopam] with the normal eyes. We can see the Lord in temples with our eyes. But Viswaroopam, involves showing His image with entire Universe as His body. Our eyes have limitations. Prabho also means capable of doing anything. Arjuna cleverly uses this word. Since he is doubtful of seeing the Viswaroopam with the normal eyes, the Lord, capable of doing anything, should make Arjuna to see by providing special powers. It is similar to the request Alwar made to the Lord to come on Garuda to the street, where Alwar lived. Swami Koorathalwan says that our eyes with limitations could only see objects with limitations; but, the Lord has infinite qualities and so our eyes can not see as such. Nammalwar desired to see the Lord as Fire, Water, Wind, etc. The Lord agreed that he could see. But what Alwar desired was he should see in these the Lord holding discus and conch. Thus the Lord yields to the request of His devotees and so He is Sri Varadaraja!