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Story Of King Alavandar Returning To Spiritual Pursuits

Story of King Alvandar returning to spiritual pursuits shows us that even a great scholar can get lost in the materialistic world and move far away from the world of spirituality.

Alavandar, a student of Vishishta Advaita, defeated King Akkiyalvan in debate. He was rewarded with a kingdom and thus Alavandar became a ruler. However, after becoming a king, Alavandar had very less time left for spiritual pursuits.

Alavandar was the grandson of Nathamuni, the first pontiff of Vaishnavism. At the time of his death, Nathamuni asked disciples to bequeath his inheritance to his grandson and name him Yamunai Thuraivar.

Mannakal Nambi (Rama Misra), a very learned saint and disciple of Nathamuni, wanted to install Alavandar as the spiritual successor to Nathamuni. He tried to reach Alavandar, who had become a king, many times, but was unsuccessful. To gain entry into the palace, Manakkal Nambi supplied the palace cook with Alavandar’s favorite spinach. After many months, one day Mannakal Nambi stopped supplying the spinach. Missing his favorite spinach, Alavandar summoned for the supplier.

Mannakal Nambi finally got to meet Alavandar and told him that his grandfather Sri Nathamuni had passed on the ‘family wealth’ that needs to be handed over to Alavandar. Nambi then took Alavandar to the Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple at Srirangam. Upon seeing the Bhagavan Sri Ranganatha’s murti, Alavandar experienced a divine realization and renounced his kingdom.

He surrendered at Sri Ranganatha’s fee and became a seeker of knowledge. Alavandar was given the name Yamunacharya and he was given the charge of Nathamuni’s school.

Alavandar established the orthodoxy of the Pancharatra School (as against the Vaikhanasa), refuted the Advaita doctrine of avidya (knowledge that doesn’t lead to spiritual understanding), and advocated praptatti (surrender unto God).