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Uyyakondar – Life History

Uyyakondar, born in Thiruvellarai (22 km to the northwest of Srirangam (Tamil Nadu), was a disciple of the celebrated saint, Nathamuni. Once, father-in-law of Nathamuni, Vanki Purathu Acci, requested him to send his daughter Aravind Appavai home. Nathamuni agreed, and sent his disciple Pundarikaksha with her. When Pundarikaksha began his return journey, Vanki Purathu Acci entreated him to have food.

However, his family did not feed Pundarikaksha in the kitchen as he belonged to the lowly coilya caste. They fed him cold rice in the outer courtyard. When Nathamuni came to know of this he embraced Pundarikaksha and said: “If you had considered eating cold rice in the outer courtyard as a slight, I would have lost face. You have saved my prestige (uyya kondeer). From that day Pundarikaksha came to be known as Uyyakondar.

Expert in Yoga and Shastras, Nathamuni asked Uyyakondar: “Do you wish to have training in Yoga or Shastras?”

Uyyakondar thought: “Man can overcome the sorrows of birth by taking to Yoga, But is selfishness for the individual to aspire for self-transcendence when others around him are in sorrow. Even if Yoga is taught, very few come forward to learn it. But shastras would help many. One who knows Shastras can gain perceptions and himself take to Yoga. But the Yogi rarely gets mastery of Shastras. Why should I seek bridal union with the Supreme when my fellowmen are like corpses?

So he decided to master the Shastras, and told the teacher so, Nathamuni taught him the secret knowledge of Sri Vaishnava tradition and the hymns of the Alvars and commanded him to reach all this to his own grandson, Alavandar.

After Nathamuni passed away in 978 CE, Uyyakondar succeeded him.

Towards the end of his life, he told his disciple Manakkal Nambi: “My teacher Nathamuni wanted me to pass on his knowledge to his grandson, but I have not been able to do it. I command you to do it by succeeding me to this seat.” He passed away in 998 CE.