Posted in Assault on Draupadi, Mahabharatham, Pillai Lokacharya, Srivachana Bhushanam

Lord Krishna in the eyes of Azhwars and Acharyas

Though the incarnation of Lord Rama in this world spanned several centuries, His character sketch can be drawn with a relatively consummate ease. On the other hand, the personality sketch of Lord Krishna and the reasons for His incarnation are tough to pen down irrespective of the fact that He lived amongst us for a mere hundred-odd years. Like the gopis at Gokul who were drawn to Krishna’s mystical flute melodies, our Azhwars and acharyas too have glorified the ‘Embodiment of auspicious attributes’ like no other. It is recorded in Nampillai’s Eedu vyakhyanam on Thiruvaimozhi that Nammazhwar lay motionless for three periods of six months each when he experienced Krishna Avataram (பத்துடை அடியவர், பிறந்தவாறும் வளர்ந்தவாரும், குரவை ஆய்ச்சி). In fact, Nammazhwar’s indulgence in Krishna Avataram has earned him the title of ‘Krishna Trishna Tattvam’ (i.e. one who is peerless in his indulgence in Lord Krishna) from Parasara Bhattar. Outside the Thiruvaimozhi, the other divya prabandhams that constitute the auxiliary texts to the Dravida Veda are replete with instances of Andal role-playing as a Gopika and Periyazhwar assuming the form of Yasodha to remain immersed in Krishnanubhavam. Such has been the spell this avataram of Sriman Narayana has cast on His devotees! Hence it is opportune and worthwhile to investigate the raison d’être for this incarnation of Sriman Narayana through the eyes of our purvacharyas.

Although we celebrate the ten prominent incarnations on Sriman Narayana, Lord Krishna himself admits in the Gita that the number of His incarnations is countless (बहूनि मे व्यतीतानि जन्मानि तव चार्जुन). However, out of His multitudinous incarnations, the Krishna avataram alone, possibly by Emperuman’s own admission, could be considered a complete one in all aspects. It is because it was in His Krishna avataram that He revealed the Bhagavad Gita to the world under the pretext of instructing a hapless Arjuna not to give up his fight. In order to ensure that the esoteric meanings enshrined in the Upanishads outlive His lifetime, it appears to be Lord Krishna’s agenda to unravel it in the context of the Mahabharata war, and, in the process, preserve the salvation science for posterity.

Mahabharata – the great epic, as we know, codifies certain key events of Lord Krishna’s life. Pillai Lokacharya, the shining light in the galaxy of our illustrious preceptors, opines that the epic Mahabharatha glorifies that Krishna who went as a messenger on behalf of the Pandavas (மகாபாரதத்தால் தூதுபோனவன் ஏற்றம் சொல்லப்படுகிறது). In addition, Lokacharya asserts that Krishna lowered Himself in stature to drive Arjuna’s chariot and subsequently offered him the Gita sastra solely because it was necessary for Krishna to fulfill the promise he owed to His surrenderer Draupadi. (அர்ஜுனனுக்கு தூத்யஸாரத்யங்கள் பண்ணிற்றும் பிரத்யுபதேசம் பண்ணிற்றும் இவளுக்காக). Since Draupadi’s vowed to tie her hair up only after the Kauravas are punished and since going to war would also mean that she could potentially lose her mangalsutra, Krishna was obliged to jump to the defence of the Pandavas (கண்ணன் அவதரித்து செய்த ஆனைத்தொழில்களெல்லாம் இவள் கழுத்தில் நூல் தொங்குவதற்காகவும் இவள் விரித்த குழல் முடிப்பிக்கைக்காகவுமே).

To read more on how our purvacharyas have admired Krishnavatharam, I direct your attention to the following Tamil entries adiyen wrote last year:

கூரத்தாழ்வான் அனுபவித்த கண்ணன் – Part 1: கூரத்தாழ்வான் அனுபவித்த கண்ணன் – Part 2: பராசர பட்டர் அநுபவித்த கண்ணன்: பிள்ளைப்பெருமாள் ஐயங்கார் அநுபவித்த கண்ணன்:

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