Periyalwar

The Tamil word, Alwar, means one who has drowned, lost himself in the sea of the divine being. Since these saints were always immersed in the Lord and His qualities, they were called Alwars.
Among these canonized saints of Southern Vaishnavism ranks Vishnuchitta, Yogin and poet, of Villipattan in the land of the Pandyas. He is termed Perialwar, the great Alwar.

Perialwar was a high priest in the Vatapatra Saayi temple at Srivilliputtur. His original name was `Vishnuchitta' meaning one who has Vishnu in his mind at all times or one who acts according to Vishnu's wishes. Vishnu chitta sang his famous "Pallandu" in 12 stanzas praying for the long life of Bhagavan.
He was very learned in the Vaishnavite lore and utterly dedicated to the Kainkarya of the Lord. Sri Vallabha Deva was then reigning in the Pandyan kingdom with Madurai as his capital. He had a very devoted minister and priest called Selva Nambi.


A seeker of truth, the Pandyan king wished to know the ultimate truth in religion and so he convened a conference of all the religious heads and pandits in his territory with a view to have his views crystallized. Selva Nambi who knew about Perialwar's devotion piety, erudition and poetic skill, invited Perialwar to the conference. The great debate began in the royal palace where a bag containing gold coin was hung as prize to be won by the winner in the debate.


Perialwar was silently watching the proceedings deeply immersed in God-consciousness, while the battle of wits was going on.


The contenders for the prize were worsted as it refused to bow down spontaneously according to the stipulation of the king. But when Perialwar expatiated on his philosophy and concluded, the bag of gold bowed low and the king placed it under his feet. The prize was won by him. The king mounted him on his royal mount, the privileged pachyderm and took him round the city on it, as conches were blown, drums beaten and horns sounded, followed by royal insignia and paraphernalia.


Then all of a sudden Lord Vishnu Himself appeared in the sky, on his garuda Mount with his consorts and blessed Perialwar. This event is a great land mark in the history of Vaishnavism

Perialwar’s depth in mangalasasana gave him this name: ‘Perialwar”
All other alwars


when they had the glimse of the Lord immediately asked something for
themselves e.g. Nammalwar - "inninra neermai ini yaam uramai". Whereas
perialwar alone did not ask anything for himself but sung pallandu for the
Lords feet. Other alwars have parivu for Lord but Perialwar alone has Pongum
parivu. There are many instances to prove Perialwars pongum parivu

Lord Krishna was born on rohini. Perialwar iterates this as "attatin patha
naal vandu tonriya achutan" ie. one who is born on the tenth day from Hasta.
Start counting from hasta to one side, would give you rohini and on the
other side would give you tiruvonam. Perialwar without explicitly mentioning
rohini, mentions hastam and the number only. Why? Let people keep counting
and guessing as to which is the correct nakshatram? If I tell Rohini then
it will reach to the ears of Kamsa and other dushta drishtis immediately?
My Lord Krishna is now so young that he cannot bear all these drishtis. By
the time all these people keep counting 10 days and decide on which side to
count, Krishna would get older and then these drishtis would do no harm to
him.

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Last of the alwars says Krishna did Sakatasura bhanga during 7th month -
"innambi piranda ezhu tingalil". Whereas the same story is told by Perialwar
as "naalgal or nalaindu tingal alavile" ie four or five months. What does
this mean. Is it four or five or 4+5=9, or 4x5=20 ?
Let people keep guessing? IF not everyone would cast drishti dosham that a
7 month old baby has done sakatasura bhanga. By the time they decide on the
number my Krishna would be old and there would be no harm to him.

This shows that other alwars had parivu and Perialwar alone had pongum
parivu and so is the reason for his tirunamam.

Swami Manavala Mamunigal, tells that while all the Alwars had care for the Lord, Perialwar had overflowing care and love and so he is called Perialwar. Like a mother he was worried about the welfare of the Lord.

Another esoteric aspect of Periyazhwar that really makes him 'Periya' is the fact that he is the incarnation of Garuda. We know that Garuda is known as "Periya Thiruvadi". Garuda reincarnated himself as Ajuna's chariot and as such he witnessed the Lord delivering the Bagavad Gita - especially the Charama Sloka to Arjuna. Thus, apart from Arjuna, he was the one who was the direct recipient of the Lord's message. Andal refers to this when she says "Meymei Peru Vaarthai Vittu Chittar Kettiruppaar".'Vaarthai' is Moolamantram; 'Peru Vaarthai' is the Mantra
Ratna of Dwayam and 'Meymei Peru Vaarthai' is the Charama sloka.