We all have been looking into the life stories of Alwars whose mere remembrance in pure Dhanurmasam would please the Lord.
Today we shall see about Perialwar. He is also called Vishnuchitta. He was born in the Amsha of Garuda. He was born in Srivilliputhur beside Mathurai. It is said in puranas that when Lord Vishnu is bored of Vaikuntham, he would go to two places. One is Tirumala and the other is Srivilliputhur. Lord is that fond of Srivilliputhur.
He was born there into a Brahmin family who are devotees of Lord Vishnu. He had lot of devotion to Lord Vishnu since his childhood. With that he even rejected to go to school and study vedas, saying that he only wanted Lord’s service. He dedicated his whole life in serving Lord.
In Srivilliputhur, there is an amazing temple called Vatapatra Sai temple. It has a stunning Gopuram. He stayed there serving Lord. He was born into a poor family. So what service he would render? As said in Bhagavad Gita “Patram Pushpam Phalam Toyam Yo Me Bhaktya Prayachati”, he decided to offer patram (leaf), pushpam (flower). He raised a flower garden and grew Tulsi & flower plants in it. He made garlands and offered them to the Lord.
His devotion is so high that Lord Vishnu used to appear in his dreams and talk to him just like how you and I talk to each other. Like this, he grew 50 years old.
As soon as we hear this we feel like, “Ah, How pity? He has got 50 years of age. He did not even had education, he spent his whole life in devotion.”
People around him also thought similarly. They used to feel sad about him thinking, “He did not even accumulate some money. He did not marry, has no wife or children. What would happen to him?”
Lord also thought the same. “He spent his whole life in My devotion. He has no wealth. Let me bless him with abundant wealth”. Willing this way, Lord created an incident.
Once there was a king of Mathura called Vallabha dev. One night he went on a tour in his kingdom. He had dinner somewhere and slept on a raised flat terrace thinking to hear what people were talking. Beside him there was a great devotee. He also had dinner and was chanting Lord’s names. He sang one slokam.
Varshaarthamashtau prayatena maasaan, nishaarthamartham divasam yatena
Vaarthakya hetorvaya saana vena, paratva hetor iha janma nashah
We toil hard the whole day to sleep nicely in the night. And in those days, they used to work hard the whole year to save food for the rainy season, so that they don’t have to go anywhere for food during that time. Also, people work hard in the youth and save money in pension schemes and all, so that they could sit happily in the old age without worries.
The meaning of this sloka is that “Dear foolish human, you are doing all these. But you have to work hard in this life itself to acquire that which is needed in the higher world. Only then you will get liberation. So work for that.”
The king becomes detached from worldly life as soon as he hears this slokam. Sometimes even a small word will take a person to renounced order of life. He went back to kingdom and started saying, “I don’t want to rule kingdom. I want liberation. Which God should be worshiped for attaining liberation?”
Different people were suggesting different Gods to worship. The king said that he needs a proof for anything that a person would suggest. He arranged for a test. He erected a pole in an open area and tied a bag containing 1 lakh coins.
He announced that if some person wants to prove that a specific God is Para Tattva, upon worshiping whom would give liberation, then the bag tied on top should break and fall down at the person’s feet. If the bag falls down, then the king would accept that person as a great personality. He made an announcement about this.
Then many people started to come with the desire of getting that 1 lakh coins bag. They started saying many things, recite stotras etc.. but the bag never fell down.Vishnuchitta ji was doing his routine work of plowing garden, watering Tulsi plants, taking care of them etc.. One day, Lord felt pity on Vishnuchitta and told him, “Dear Vishnuchitta, go and prove that I am para tattva and bring that money.”
Vishnuchitta replies, “Dear Lord, Is it You who is saying this? I don’t have any education. How will I go and prove? But anyway You are my wealth. I don’t want any other wealth. Hence I won’t go.”
Lord persists on him to go there. Vishnuchitta replies, “Dear Lord, you know I haven’t had education. I have always been digging to grow plants for You. Look at the bumps developed in my palms because of that work.”
“How can You send me there? I don’t have any education. I don’t mind about my honor or dishonor. But Your reputation would be damaged.”
“But I shall do any other work that You tell me.”
“Why do I need to get into those debates and all. You please find someone else.”
Lord says, “No, only you have to go there. You can definitely do this. Just go there and chant my name. Everything will come under your grip.”
Lord touched His conchsell on Vishnuchitta’s head. Vishnuchitta goes there. He speaks about everything from vedas, upanishats etc..and debates with pandits there. Everyone gets surprised to see his knowledge and to see him debate with authority.
Finally he proves that Lord Vishnu is Para tattva and one who holds on to His feet would attain liberation. Now the bag breaks and falls in front of his feet. The king was overjoyed and declared him as a great devotee. He gave the 1 lakh coins bag and took him on a royal procession by seating him on an elephant and fanning him with royal opulence.
Vishnuchitta did not get even little pride. Someone like us would immediately become so proud thinking, “Oh, everyone is honoring me.” Seeing this, Lord Vishnu became so happy.
Lord Vishnu came down to Srivilliputhur along with His consorts, Sridevi and Bhudevi, on Their carrier Garuda in order to see his great devotee (who is a Garuda on Earth) being honored.
When Vishnuchitta is on elephant, Lord appeared to him and said, “I am very happy to see you like this Vishnuchitta.”
Upon seeing the Lord, Vishnuchitta had tears of joy and said, “Dear Lord, this is not my greatness. I was able to debate just because you placed Your conch shell on my head. Otherwise what greatness would there in me?
He further said, “Lord, in order to see me, You came in the midst of so many people along with Your consorts (Mothers). You might get affected from evil eye, because Your form is so attractive.”
In order to protect Lord from evil eye, he prayed with Mangalasasanam (praying that the Lord or holy shrines be happy all the time)
That Mangalasasanam is called Thirupallandu.
He sang Thirupallandu containing 12 amazing Pasurams.
Just keep listening to Thirupallandu sang by a person, your heart would be filled with joy. It’s so amazing.
Just like people are first taught to chant Om before learning vedam in sanskrit, they are taught Thirupallandu first in order to study Dravida prabandhams (that are equivalent to vedas).
In it (Thirupallandu), he says, “Lord, Your feet should provide shelter to millions of people for the next millions of years.”
“Your feet are so beautiful. An evil eye might fall upon Them. Hence may my blessings be upon Them that They are always safe.”
Lord became so happy to see His devotee bless Him. Lord became very pleased at his devotion and told him, “From now on wards you would be called Periyalwar (meaning: elder one among all Alwars).”
Later Periyalwar returned back to Srivilliputhur. After returning, he donated all the money to Vatapatra Sai temple and asked temple authorities to use it for temple services. He again went back to his usual work of plowing and taking care of Tulsi and other flower plants.
Look at his sacrifice. He is such a great personality. He gave the money for Lord’s service, did not bother about his reputation. He used his knowledge obtained by Lord’s grace to write 450 Pasurams called thirumozhi, in which he assumed himself as a father and the Lord as his child.
It’s one amazing literature. We don’t understand it as it is in Dravida language, but it is still marvelous.
He was spending his life like this. Then Lord became very pleased at his devotion and thought, “I gave him money, but he did not take it. I gave him reputation, but he did not care about it. I gave him education and he is using it for Me.”
“He did not marry, had no children. He is spending his whole life just for Me. What more can I give him?” Lord’s heart melted thinking like this, not knowing what to give him.
Then Lord thought, “This devotee gave back to me everything that’s given to him. So there is only one thing that I could give him, that is Myself.”
But how would Lord give Himself to him?
Then He looked at Bhudevi.
Mother immediately understood. She smiled and said, “My dear Lord, I understood what you meant.”
The very Tulsi plants for which he spent his whole life, I (Lord) am going to award Him salvation through the same Tulsi plants.
Agreeing to this, Mother Bhudevi Herself descended on to the Earth. That is a wonderful episode.
We shall see what actually happened in the upcoming Alwar’s article.