Friday, April 24, 2009

Hindu Gods and Untouchability-Part 3

After writing about Kanakadasa and Kannappa Nayanar in part 1 and part 2,In this post I am writing about Maaraneri Nambi who was honoured by Lord Shri Ranganathar posthumously.In previous posts the two devotees were blessed during their respective lifetime.But here ,it is an entirely different story.This wonderful incident features in Shri Ramanujacharya's Life History.

When we read the great lives of these 3 acharyas who spreaded Advaitham,Dwaitham and Vishishtadwaitham ,We come to know that they followed excellent principles during their life time and they treated people of all sects equally because they knew the ultimate truth that God lives in all beings.But the present day followers of all these 3 philosophies who constitute the major chunk of the so called uppercastes neither study their acharya's Life history thoroughly nor follow their teachings and principles with sincerity.They are more happy in taking false pride about their caste ranking in the varna system which fuels the discriminative attitude.Now let us proceed with the post.

Shri Ranganathar's grace on Maaraneri Nambi
First let me introduce the important characters of this post for those who don't know the history.
Aalavandhaar (ஆளவந்தார்)- Grand son of Nadamuni(நாதமுனி) who wrote a concised collection of Naalayira Divya prabandham(நாலாயிர திவ்ய பிரபந்தம்).Aalavandhaar was a great Vaishnavaite guru and acharya.

Periya Nambi(பெரிய நம்பி)-A great disciple of Aalavandhaar.He belonged to a brahmin subsect.(I am specifying the caste because it is required for this post) and he was also a great Vaishnavite Acharya.

Atthuzhai(அத்துழாய்) -Daughter of Periya Nambi.

Thirukachi Nambi (திருக்கச்சி நம்பி)-Another great disciple of Aalavandaar.He belonged to Vysya Caste.Young Ramanujachar used to approach him to clarify many of his spiritual doubts.

Maaraneri Nambi(மாரனேரி நம்பி) - Another disciple of Aalavandhar.Belonged to Harijan Caste.He was also a great Vaishnavite Acharya.Both Periya Nambi and Maaraneri Nambi studied together under Aalavandhar.Aalavandhar had always admired and appreciated Maaraneri Nambi's staunch devotion to Lord Vishnu.

One interesting point to note is that Lord Varadharaja Perumal had appeared in the dream of Thirukkachi Nambi and instructed him to convey to Ramanujachar that he should accept Periya Nambi as his Guru.From that day onwards Ramanujachar became the disciple of Periya Nambi.

Periya Nambi and Atthuzhai had great admiration for Maaraneri Nambi because of his devotion and good qualities.In his later stage when Maaraneri Nambi fell sick,Periya Nambi served him in many ways,He prepared food in his house and took it to Maaraneri Nambi's House to feed him.Periya Nambi attended his sick friend very lovingly.In fact Ramanujachar himself was astonished on seeing Periya Nambi serving Maaraneri Nambi inspite of all caste barriers.

Such people who think beyond castelines have always inspired awe and respect in me.A Brahmin Acharya serving Harijan Acharya,isn't it wonderful.Will our people learn lessons from this?

When Maaraneri Nambi died,Periya Nambi did all his funeral rites with due respect.This attitude of her father increased Atthuzhaai's respect for her Father.Ramanujachar also could easily understand Periya Nambi's way of thoughts.
But other people in that town didn't accept Periya Nambi performing funeral rites for a Harijan.They got agitated and imposed a ban on Periya Nambi's family.They covered Periya Nambi's House with a thorny fence and ordered that Periya Nambi's family members should not come out of their house and nobody should enter Periya Nambi's House.

When this ban was on,Shri Ranganathar's Utsav was held in ShriRangam.During that festival a chariot procession of Shri Ranganathar was held with great pomp and splendour.Chariot entered the street where Periya Nambi's house was located.On seeing the chariot Atthuzhaai Ammayaar came out of the house,prostrated in front of the chariot with great devotion,got up and spoke with a loud voice."Swear on Thee!Holy Order on thy Name!" (திரு நின் ஆணை ! நின் ஆணை கண்டாய்! ) and stood before the Chariot.

Ignoring startled people around,she stood infront of the Lord's Chariot and continued with a loud voice,"Didn't you play and have food with Shepherd boys? Didn't you recognize and honour the devotion of Thiruppaanazhwar who belonged to a low caste?Won't you approve the act of my father doing funeral rites to Maaraneri Nambi?These people have boycotted my father and have put thorny fence in front of our house.Oh!Lord!What is your opinion about my father's deed ?Is it right or wrong?Till a correct decision is taken on this matter,and till you give a clear judgement about this ,Thy Holy chariot will not move from this spot.I Swear on Thee!"

On hearing her holy order,Chariot did not move a bit further.Many persons tried but in vain.Time was passing on.But chariot cannot be moved.

At that time one priest was possessed by Lord Ranganatha and he said in a commanding voice " Ask the person who headed the agitation against Periya Nambi to go into his house,ask his pardon and make Periya Nambi sit on his shoulder as mark of respect and bring him in front of the chariot!Then the chariot will move further!"As per the Holy order,the person who lead the agitation against periya Nambi removed the thorny fence ,entered the house carried Periya Nambi on his shoulders and brought him before the chariot and one priest declared that funeral rites done to Maaraneri Nambi by Periya Nambi was approved and appreciated by the Lord and they lifted the ban on him.Periya Nambi was honoured with due respect and people asked for his pardon.

To the amazement of all,the chariot started moving and reached the destination.

This wonderful incident is also a testimony which stands by the fact that God never approves inequality among Human beings.

Reference:Chapter "3 Acharyas-16" from "Hindu Maha Samudram" by Cho Ramaswamy.

1 comment:

Ravishankar said...

Untouchablity started late 17 th century when caste Hindus started exploiting the lower caste.
There is no much evidence of evil practice before.