--> Skip to main content

Story Of Madhurakavi And Nammalvar

Madhurakavi Alvar, a prominent bhakti saint and one of the twelve revered Vaishnava Alvars, is renowned for his discovery and subsequent recognition of the greatness of Nammalvar. The narrative of their interaction highlights profound spiritual insights and marks a significant event in the tradition of Vaishnavism.

Madhurakavi, originating from the town of Mathura, embarked on an extensive pilgrimage across various sacred sites in both northern and southern India. His journey was driven by a deep spiritual quest. As he traveled, he was eventually guided by a mysterious and divine light. This ethereal illumination led him to Kurukoor, also known as Alvar Tirunagari, a place of immense spiritual significance.

In Kurukoor, Madhurakavi encountered Nammalvar, a child of extraordinary nature. Nammalvar had neither spoken nor moved since birth, spending his entire existence in a state of profound divine contemplation under a tamarind tree. Despite his lifeless appearance, the divine light indicated to Madhurakavi that Nammalvar was no ordinary being but a divinely blessed soul.

Perplexed by the sight of Nammalvar, who seemed devoid of any signs of life, Madhurakavi decided to test the divine indication. He dropped a large stone near Nammalvar to startle him. For the first time in his life, Nammalvar opened his eyes, responding to the external world.

Intrigued, Madhurakavi posed a profound question to Nammalvar: "If in the womb of what is dead, a subtle thing be born, what will it eat and where will it abide?"

Nammalvar’s response was equally profound: "It eats that and abides there."

This brief exchange held deep spiritual meaning. The question and answer symbolized the soul's journey and sustenance. The "womb of what is dead" referred to the physical body, and the "subtle thing" represented the soul. Nammalvar's answer indicated that the soul's nourishment is God (spiritual sustenance), and it abides eternally in God.

Recognizing the spiritual depth and wisdom in Nammalvar’s words, Madhurakavi immediately realized the divine nature of Nammalvar. He became Nammalvar’s devoted disciple, dedicating his life to spreading the teachings and fame of Nammalvar.

Madhurakavi’s contributions to the Vaishnava tradition are encapsulated in his only literary work, Kanninum Chirutambu. This text comprises eleven stanzas of four lines each, in which Madhurakavi praises Nammalvar with heartfelt devotion and reverence. Through these verses, he extols the virtues and divine wisdom of his guru, ensuring that Nammalvar’s spiritual legacy was enshrined in the hearts of future generations.

The story of Madhurakavi and Nammalvar stands as a testament to the profound teacher-disciple relationship and the enduring impact of spiritual wisdom. It highlights the importance of recognizing and venerating true spiritual greatness, and how such recognition can lead to a deeper understanding and dissemination of divine knowledge.