Nanjeeyar’s interpretations

Nammazhvar wrote verses styling himself the Parankusa

Nayaki. In one verse, Parankusa Nayaki says, “When will I be with the One at Thiruvallavazh?” Parankusa Nayaki is in Kurugoor, and Thiruvallavazh is miles away. How can she hope to be united with the Lord of Thiruvallavazh?

Vaishnavite Acharya Nanjeeyar had an explanation for

this verse, said Kidambi Narayanan in a discourse. Once

Nanjeeyar was proceeding to Srirangam to participate in the

temple festival. As Bharata went with eager anticipation to

meet Lord Rama, as Akroora went to meet Krishna, so did

Nanjeeyar travel with anticipation. But the Kollidam river

was flooded and Nanjeeyar was unable to cross the river. He

could bring before his mind images of the festival; he could

hear the shouts of devotees and he was saddened by the fact that he was unable to participate in the festival. “Just as I, separated from Ranganatha, pined for Him, so did

Parankusa Nayaki pine for the deity of Thiruvallavazh,” Nanjeeyar said.

Nanjeeyar had been known by the name of Vedanti, because

he was well versed in Vedanta. Usually a Vedanti is not

expected to have the ability to see nuanced meanings in romantic poetry. But Nanjeeyar had unusual explanations

even for verses where bhakti is expressed in terms of romantic love, and his explanations show his genius.

Nanjeeyar had once been a grihastha, but later became a

sanyasi. A taste for sanyasa develops like the ripening of a

tamarind fruit. When the tamarind is unripe, the pulp sticks

to the shell. But when it ripens, give the pod a shake and you

can hear the pulp shaking inside.

Likewise, when we are young, we have deep attachments.

But when we age, we develop detachment. Since Nanjeeyar

was well read in the Sastras, such detachment came to him

more easily.