Tiruvaimoli Nutrandadi, the magnum opus of Manavala Mamunigal, is an important work that forms an integral part of daily worship for Srivaishnavites. The work presents the essence of Nammalvar’s Tiruvaimoli in hundred sweet verses of poetry, with each verse capturing the essence of a decad (a decad comprises approximately ten songs). The Tiruvaimoli of Nammalvar is said to embody the path of absolute surrender (prapatti or dheerga saranagati). The Tiruvaimoli, with its commentaries and special meanings, was transmitted across generations in the teacher-disciple mode from Nathamuni to Manavala Mamunigal. Pillailokam Jiyar, in his commentary on the Tiruvaimoli Nutrandadi, compares this tradition to a stream of water that had its source in Nammalvar, flowed through the various preceptors of Srivaishnavism and found its culmination in the lake called Mamunigal.
The distinguished Mamunigal, without whom this tradition of Tamil Vedas would have vanished without a trace, composed the Tiruvaimoli Nutrandadi for the following reasons as pointed out to us by the commentator: (1) To serve as a medium to experience the auspicious attributes of the Lord embodied in each decad of Tiruvaimoli; (2) To explain, with clarity and brevity, those meanings of the Tiruvaimoli which cannot not easily apprehended; (3) To point out the semantic connections between two consecutive decads of the Tiruvaimoli.
Special Features of this Work:
The literary structure of this work is worth an independent study in its own right. From the outset, Mamunigal imposes several constraints upon himself while composing this work. First, he decides to set the work in the venpa style, a metrical prosody comprising four lines. Second, he sets out to convey the essence (tatparya) of a decad of Tiruvaimoli in each of the verses. Third, he makes it a point to include one of the various names of Nammalvar in each verse. Fourth, he resolves to retain the andadi style of the original work in his composition, thereby beginning each verse with the same word the previous verse ended with. Thus, this work is as much a contribution to the literature on Classical Tamil as it is to Srivaishnavism. Alongside Tiruvarangattu Amudanar’s Ramanusa Nutrandadi which glorifies the noble qualities of Ramanuja, the author reckons that this work can constitute an object of experience to those who want to indulge themselves in Nammalvar’s auspicious attributes and his works.
Going further, we shall see how the author has gone about fulfilling the objectives he had set for himself while composing this work by drawing up three examples. The third decad of the Tiruvaimoli, beginning with Pattudai Adiyavarku Eliyavar, eulogizes the easy accessibility (saulabhya) of Sriman Narayana. The Lord, who reigns Supreme, and who is beyond the perception of the senses, incarnated in this world as Rama and Krishna, and lived as Humans among humans, in order that His devotees can perceive Him with their ordinary eyes and worship His Divine Form. It is documented in the Eedu commentary that Nammalvar spent six full months in experiencing this accessibility of the Supreme Lord in His Krishnavatara. The author beautifully brings out the essence of Nammalvar’s intentions in the third verse of this work:
O’ the people of this world! The Supreme Lord, who is easy accessible to His devotees, will release us from the incarceration of bondage that has held us captive for ages, should we follow the instructions laid down by Nammalvar, who entreats us to stay devoted to His distress-dispelling feet.
By referring to the Lord’s saulabhya in straightforward terms and by explaining the benefits accruing to those devoted to His feet, the author goes about achieving his first objective, which was to extol the auspicious attributes of the Supreme Lord as described in the Tiruvaimoli.
In the 40th verse of this work, corresponding to the Ondrum Tevum tiruvaimoli, the author establishes the Sovereign Supremacy of Sriman Narayana in the context of His iconic manifestation at Alvar Tirunagari as Adippiran. The author clarifies that He stood there, out of his own volition, to become accessible to those million souls steeped in bondage. The fact that it is Sriman Narayana alone who can deliver the souls from bondage is captured with brevity and clarity in this verse:
My hands would be eager to bow in respect to the feet of Saint Nammalvar, who demonstrated, in unequivocal terms, that there isn’t a Greater God worthy of propitiation than the One Who brought forth these worlds.
Through this verse, the author asserts the monotheistic nature of Srivaishnavism that does not recognize any parallel in glory to that of Sriman Narayana. By explaining that He alone is worthy of propitiation and surrender, the author claims, without an iota of ambiguity, that the powers of deliverance rest with the offices of Sriman Narayana alone.
Another important feature of this work lies in the manner in which the author demonstrates the continuity between successive Tiruvaimoli decads. In the 75th verse of this work, the author presents the gist of Nammalvar’s Mayakkutta Tiruvaimoli, wherein Alvar, unable to envision the Divine physical Form of the Lord first hand, starts craving for His company. However, it is said in the preceding 74th verse (corresponding to the Varkada Aruvi Tiruvaimoli) that the Lord of Tiruchittaru displayed His valor and Grit to remove any fears of susceptibility from the mind of Alvar. If that was the case, there arises a doubt as to why Alvar would crave for His union again in the context of this (Mayakkutha) Tiruvaimoli. The author removes any such doubts about the context of this verse by explaining that experience of Alvar in the 74th verse was restricted to his mind while he craves for a first-hand physical experience in this verse:
May we experience the unsurpassed fame of Nammalvar day-in and day-out, who, unable to experience the physical beauty of the Supreme Lord in person, experienced alternating fits of pain and disheartenment.
The Tiruvaimoli of Nammalvar, along with the divya prabandhas of the other Alvars, is subject to a period of lull called anadhyayana, during which they are not chanted in Srivaishnavite households. However, the Nutrandadi of Mamunigal, which captures the essence of the Tiruvaimoli and serves as a vehicle for experiencing the auspicious attributes of the Lord and that of Nammalvar, is not subject to any such time restrictions. Therefore, a regular chanting of this work and a meditation upon its inner meanings helps to keep the devotees of the Lord close to Him all the time.