In the last post, we saw the essence of the first Thiruvaimozhi. Now let us dive into a tricky topic viz. Whether Aazhwars are amsam(incarnation) of NityaSuris? or were they NityaSamsaris(நித்ய சம்சாரி) like us and due to the grace of lord, they attained Gyanam and Moksham?
There is a misconception when we use the word 'NityaSamsari' when referring Aazhwars. The Word 'Nityam' generally means EVER, however when we say Aazhwar is a NityaSamsari, Kudrustis are asking a question that if Aazhwar is a NityaSamsari then how he is in Moksham now and how every year we are celebrating 'Nammazhwar Moksham' in every temple. The general concept when we say Aazhwar is a NityaSamsari, we mean that before he became an Aazhwar, he had a continuous samsaric existence(like us) and He/They are not amsams(incarnation) of any NityaSuri. The Amarakosa lists the word Nithya along side Sathatha and Santhatha, giving the connotation of "continual" or "uninterrupted". Hence, when we say Aazhwar is a NityaSamsari, we mean that before he became an Aazhwar he was a NityaSamsari.
Let us see how our Poorvacharyars have aligned the facts in this reagard.
- OranVazhi Acharyars have always stated Aazhwars are NityaSamsaris in their Vyakyanams(நித்ய சம்சாரியாய் போந்த இவரை).
- Aazhwar himself has specified he was a NityaSamsari till then(மாறிமாறி பலபிறப்பும் பிறந்து, இன்றென்னை பொருளாக்கி, மயர்வற மதிநலம் அருளினன்).
- If Aazhwars were amsams of NityaSuris, Bhagavat Nirhethuka Krupai(causeless mercy) would be nullified(as they already would have had gyanam), which all Aazhwars mentioned in their Prabandhams(மாதவன் என்னதே கொண்டு).
- Nityasuris' Dharmabhootha Gynam or Gunams would never diminish at any time or place, so if Aazhwar was a amsam of nityasuri then we have to attribute dhoshams to Nityasuris like Thirumangai Aazhwar did robbery, Tondaradipodi went after DevaDevi etc.
- If NityaSuris came to world has Aazhwars, then they would not be desperate to attain moksham so quickly(இந்நின்ற நீர்மை இனியாமுறாமை, பாவியேனைப் பலநீ காட்டிப் படுப்பாயோ) as they would have known the purpose of their Avataram. Sri Nampillai explains this elaborately in Thiruvirutha Vyakyana Avatharikai.
Now, a question would arise, if there is clear cut evidence that Aazhwars were Samsaris like us, how the concept of 'Aazhwars as NityaSuris' came into existence. The answer for the question is that, yes, there were acharyars who had mentioned Aazhwars as Nityasuris, but those were words of praise(கௌரவ வார்த்தைகள்) due to Aazhwars' Prabhavam(greatness), and not a reality. For Instance, people reckon Periyaazhwar who sung the Vedas in Pandiya kingdom as amsam of Garudan who is the Embodiment of all Vedas(Vedaatmaa).
A simple strong example for a similar case would be that, we praise a person good in maths as next Ramanujam(here I mean the Mathematician) or Incarnation of Ramanujam, but really he is not. We praise like that due to the persons expertise in Maths. It is the same case with Aazhwars too.
Acharyars like Alagiya manavala perumal nayanar mentions Nammazhwar as "அத்ரி ஜமதக்னி பங்க்திரத வசுநந்த சூனுவானவனுடைய யுகவர்ண க்ரமாவதாரமோ? .... என்று சங்கிப்பர்கள்" where he says "Has Emperuman taken a Nammazhwar avataram in Kaliyugam as a continutation of his series of avatarams in each Yugam in each Varnam ie. Vamanan in krutha, Raman in Threthaa, kannan in Dwapara?"
Sri Vedanta Desikan mentions "அபிநவ தசாவதாரம் போலே" where he says "this(birth of Aazhwars) is like a Second Dasavatharam for Emperuman" which is a stothram considering their Prabhavam.
From the above, it is clear that Aazwars were born as Samsaris and recieved the Vishesha Kataksham(Nirhethuka Krupai) from Emperuman, which turned them into a Aazhwar, and attained Moksham as a result. Whenever we say they are Incarnations of NityaSuris, those words are considered as words of praises. If we are to follow the words of Aazhwars and our Poorvacharyars, then we have to say that Aazhwars were Samsaris and on one fine day emperuman மயர்வற மதிநலம் அருளினான்.