Azhwars (or Alwars) are 12 saints who wrote poems in Tamizh on Vishnu. This collection of poems is called as Nālāyira divya prabandham. Out of these 12, Nammzhwar is the first azhwar born in Kaliyuga and considered most important of all of them because he gave all the Divya Prabandham to Sri Vaishnava Acharya Nathamuni as a discourse.

Nammazhwar was a mystic. He didn't speak any word since his birth till Madhurakavi Azhwar came to him. He only spoke to Madhurakavi Azhwar. After completing 32 years, he left this planet and reached Paramapadam. After the departure of his acharya, Madhurakavi Azhwar thought of making the poems of Nammazhwar accepted and famous among the world because they are the essence of Vedas and beneficial for the mankind. So, he took these written poems to Madhurai Sangam where poets and scholars debate and decide which work is useful and has merit. But they refused to accept Nammazhwar and his works. They thought the love poems (said thinking himself as a woman yearning for Lord Vishnu) written by Nammazhwar didn't contain any divine knowledge. Madhurakavi Azhwar didn't give up. In the ancient days, there used to be a method to decide valuable literature using a magical boat called Sangap Palagai. The poets and their works which are waiting for check are supposed to be kept on the boat. Those which are not worthy will be fell down in the small pond. He wrote following poem of Nammazhwar on a parchment. Placed that in the boat and watched.

KaNNan kazahliNai-- naNNUm manamudayeer
YeNNUm ThirunAmam-- tiNNam NaaraNamE (Thiruvaimozhi 10.5.1)

Oh People of the World (Vyatthu-VaazhveerkAL) aspiring to reach as the Supreme goal of this life on Earth , the sacred feet of Lord KrishNA , meditate on His most important naamam , NaarAyaNA . Do it without fail. That meditation will be rewarded most assuredly by Sriman NaarAyanan.

When the boat and poets who rejected Nammzhwars and his Pashurams (poems) were in the midst of the journey, all fell into the pond except the parchment with the poem.

Then the poets accepted the greatness of Nammazhwar. Each of them wanted to write poems glorifying Nammazhwar. Surprisingly everyone wrote exactly the same poems. They wrote 2 poems. My question is about the first one which is the following.

Seman kurugaiyo, seyyath thirupaarkadao?
Thulavo?Vagulamo?Thole irando?Naango?
Ulavo Peruma Unakku?

Is your Abode Kurugai, Is it the divine milky ocean?
Is your name Parankusha? Or Srimannarayana?
Are you adorned with the Vakula flowers? Or the tulasi leaves?
Are you adorned with two earrings or four earrings?
Are you the supreme lord, Perumal(Srimannarayana) Himself?

They are glorifying Nammazhwar to Vishnu because he was born as a boon from Lord Vishnu. is parents pray to Lord Vishnu at Tirukkurungudi, Tamil Nadu. He blesses the couple with an amsha of himself.

In the couplet, they are comparing Nammazhwar with Vishnu. All these comparisons can be recognised.

  • Lord Vishnu resides on the milky ocean. Nammazhwar in Kurugur (now called as Azhwar Tirunagari).

  • Lord Vishnu is Narayana. Nammazhwar is otherwise called as Parankusha.

  • Lord Vishnu wears a garland of tulasi because he is fond of them. Nammazhwar is called Vakulabharanam because he wears garland of vakula flowers.

  • Finally asking if he is Lord Vishnu himself.

You can watch the story said as form of a video on YouTube

But I couldn't understand the comparison with two earrings and four earrings. From the resemblance from the poem, Nammazhwar's characteristics are said first and Vishnu's second. So it means Nammazhwar is adorned with two earrings and Vishnu with four earrings.

Now my question is where is it referred to that Lord Vishnu wears four earrings? Is this a specific form or Lord Vishnu on the milky ocean is adorned with four earrings to his two ears (two to each)?

If you are wondering whether Vishnu wears ear rings, yes he does. In a stotra which is also known as surya namaskar mantra chanted during Sandhyavandanam, Vishnu is called as following wearing shark earrings.

oṃ dhyeyaḥ sadā savitru maṇḍala madhyavartī nārāyaṇa sarasijā sanasanni viṣṭaḥ
keyūravān makarakuṇḍalavān kirīṭī hārī hiraṇmayavapur dhṛtaśaṃkha cakraḥ ॥

One should meditate on the form of Lord Narayana situated in the sun globe. He is seated on a lotus, with golden bracelets, crown, shark earrings; he is golden in complexion, and holds the shankha and chakra in his hands.

Which form did the poets speak of when they were comparing Nammazhwar with Vishnu regarding earrings? Is there any mention of form of Vishnu who is adorned with four earrings?


1 Answer 1


This is a case of mistranslation, the translator has mistaken the word "Thol (shoulders)" for "Thodu" (earrings). So the line says, "Are you possessed with two shoulders (irandu Thol) or four shoulders (naangu Thol)?" Basically, are you a normal human being, or Chaturbhuja Vishnu?

The mistranslation may be due to the fact that the Tamil letter La (the heavily inflected la) is often transliterated as Da in Devanagari scripts for ease of pronunciation.

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