Bhoothath Azhwar

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Bhoothath Azhwar
Born 4203 BCE[1][2]
Thirukadalmallai
Titles/honours Azhwar saint
Philosophy Vaishnava Bhakti
Literary works Irandaam Thiruvandaadhi

Bhoothath Azhwar (also spelt Bhoothathalvar or Bhoothath Alvar) is one of the twelve azhwar saints of South India, who are known for their affiliation to Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism. The verses of azhwars are compiled as Nalayira Divya Prabandham and the 108 temples revered are classified as Divya desam.[3] Bhoothath is considered second in the list of the three principal azhwars, with the other two being Poigai Azhwar and Pey Azhwar, collectively called Muthalamazhwargal who are known to be born out of divinity. Bhoothath composed hundred verses that are classified as Irandam Tiruvandadhi and his composition is set in the Andhadhi style in which the ending syllable is the starting one for the next verse.

As per Hindu legend, Bhoothath was found in a liquorice flower in Thirukadalmallai (modern-day Mahabalipuram. In Tamil, Bhootham refers to one who is possessed and since the saint was madly attracted to Hindu god Vishnu, he got the name.

As per legend, the three azhwars were once were confined in a small dark enclosure during a rain in Thirukovilur and they experienced a fourth individual among them. They found out that it was god Vishnu and Poigai wished to see his face continuously but could view only from the simmering light of the lightening. With a view to maintain the continuity of light, Poigai instantly composed hundred songs wishing light to emerge. Pey and Bhoothath continued composing hundred songs each on Vishnu. The works of these earliest saints contributed to the philosophical and theological ideas of Vaishnavism. Along with the three Saiva nayanmars, they influenced the ruling Pallava kings of the South Indian region, resulting in changing the religious geography from Buddhism and Jainism to the two sects of Hinduism.

Azhwars[edit]

The word azhwar means the one who dives deep into the ocean of the countless attributes of god. Azhwars are considered the twelve supreme devotees of Vishnu, who were instrumental in popularising Vaishnavism. The religious works of these saints in Tamil, songs of love and devotion, are compiled as Nalayira Divya Prabandham containing 4000 verses and the 108 temples revered in their songs are classified as Divya desam.[3][4] The saints had different origins and belonged to different castes. As per tradition, the first three azhwars, Poigai, Bhutha and Pey were born miraculously. Tirumizhisai was the son of a sage, Thondaradi, Mathurakavi, Peria and Andal were from brahmin community, Kulasekhara from Kshatria community, Namm was from a cultivator family, Tirupana from panar community and Tirumangai from kazhwar community. Divya Suri Saritra by Garuda-Vahana Pandita (11th century AD), Guruparamparaprabavam by Pinbaragiya Perumal Jiyar, Periya tiru mudi adaivu by Anbillai Kandadiappan, Yatindra Pranava Prabavam by Pillai Lokacharya, commentaries on Divya Prabandam, Guru Parampara (lineage of Gurus) texts, temple records and inscriptions give a detailed account of the azhwars and their works. According to these texts, the saints were considered incarnations of some form of Vishnu. Poigai is considered an incarnation of Panchajanya (Krishna's conch), Bhoothath of Kaumodakee (Vishnu's Mace/Club), Pey of Nandaka (Vishnu's sword), Thirumalisai of Sudarshanam (Vishnu's discus), Namm of Vishvaksena (Vishnu's commander), Madhurakavi of Vainatheya (Vishnu's eagle, Garuda), Kulasekhara of Kaustubha (Vishnu's necklace), Periy of Garuda (Vishnu's eagle), Andal of Bhoodevi (Vishnu's wife, Lakshmi, in her form as Bhudevi), Thondaradippodi of Vanamaalai (Vishnu's garland), Thiruppaan of Srivatsa (An auspicious mark on Vishnu's chest) and Thirumangai of Saranga (Rama's bow). The songs of Prabandam are regularly sung in all the Vishnu temples of South India daily and also during festivals.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

Since the saint had intuitive knowledge about god Vishnu, he got the name Bhoothath. As per Hindu legend, Bhoothath was found in a liquorice flower in Thirukadalmallai (modern-day Mahabalipuram.[6] His knowledge on Vishnu is inferred by his description of Vishnu in five different forms as para (supreme being), vyuha (cosmic form), vibhava (incarnations), antaryamin (inner dweller) and archa (consecrated image).[6]

Composition[edit]

As per Hindu legend, Vishnu appeared to the muthalam azhwars (first three azhwars) at Thirukkoilur. It was day time, but it darkened and started raining heavily. The wandering Poigai found out a small hide out, which has a space for one person to lie down. Bhoothath arrived there looking for a hiding place and Poigai accommodated him, with both sitting together. In the meanwhile, Pey also came to the same place as all the three preferred to stand because of lack of space. The darkness became dense and inside the small room, they were not able to see each other. In the meanwhile, they felt a fourth person also forced his way among them. The three azhwars realised from the light of the lightning that the fourth one had a charming face that was sublime and divine. The trio could immediately realize that it was Vishnu who was huddling among them. Poigai wished to see Vishnu's face continuously but could view only from the simmering light of the lightening. With a view to maintain the continuity of light, he instantly composed hundred songs wishing the earth to be a big pot full of ghee like an ocean where the Sun could be the burning wick.[7][8][9]

Tamil
அன்பே தகளிய ஆர்வமே நெய்யாக
இன்புருகு சிந்தை இடுதிரியா - நன்புருகி
ஞானச் சுடர் விளக்கேற்றினேன் நாரணற்கு
ஞானச் தமிழ் புரிந்த நான்

Transliteration
Anbe Thagliyaa Aarvame Neyyaaga
Inburugu Chintai Idu Thiriyaa
Nanpurugi Gnaana Chudar Vilakku Etrinen
Naaranarku Gnaana Thamizh Purindha Naan

Bhoothathazhwar also sang 100 songs imagining to light the lamp constantly through ardent love for Him. Peyazhwar sang another 100 songs where he described the enchanting charm of the divine face and the association of Narayana equipped with chakra and sankha, and his divine consort goddess Lakshmi.[11][8]

Bhoothath composed hundred verses that are classified as Irandam Tiruvandadhi.[12] Bhoothath’s composition was set in the Andhadhi style. The word Andha means end and Adi means beginning. Andhadhi style has ending word or the syllable of each verse as the beginning word of the succeeding verse and the last word of the hundredth verse becomes the beginning of the first verse, making the hundred verses a true garland of verses. The works of these earliest saints contributed to the philosophical and theological ideas of Vaishnavism.[11] The verses of the trio speak of Narayana (another name for Vishnu) as the supreme deity and they refer frequently to Trivikrama and Krishna, the avatars of Vishnu.[13][14]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ L. Annapoorna (2000). Music and temples, a ritualistic approach. p. 23. ISBN 9788175740907. 
  2. ^ Sakkottai Krishnaswami Aiyangar (1911). Ancient India: Collected Essays on the Literary and Political History of Southern India. p. 403-404. ISBN 9788120618503. 
  3. ^ a b Rao, P.V.L. Narasimha (2008). Kanchipuram – Land of Legends, Saints & Temples. New Delhi: Readworthy Publications (P) Ltd. p. 27. ISBN 978-93-5018-104-1. 
  4. ^ a b Dalal 2011, pp. 20-21
  5. ^ Ramaswamy, Vijaya (2007). Historical Dictionary of the Tamils. Scarecrow Press. p. 211. ISBN 9780810864450. 
  6. ^ a b Dalal 2011, p. 76
  7. ^ Dalal 2011, p. 308
  8. ^ a b Lochtefeld, James (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 515. ISBN 9780823931804. 
  9. ^ Garg, Gaṅgā Rām (1992). Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World: Ak-Aq. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 352–354. ISBN 9788170223757. 
  10. ^ N., Rajagopalan. "Irandam Thiruvandhadi translation" (PDF). azhwar.org. p. 4. 
  11. ^ a b Chari 1997, pp. 16-17
  12. ^ Dalal 2011, p. 269
  13. ^ Panda, Harihar (2007). Prof. H. C. Raychaudhuri: As a Historian. Northern Book Centre. p. 86. ISBN 9788172112103. 
  14. ^ D.C., Sircar (1971). Studies In The Religious Life Of Ancient And Medieval India. Motilal Banarsidass Publisher. p. 56. ISBN 9788120827905. 

References[edit]