Sri Periya Nambi, also known as Mahapurna, is well known for his contribution towards the development of Sri Vaishnavam. He was one of the prominent disciples of Sri Alavandar. He was born in year 997 and lived for a total of 105 years. He was also know as Parankusa Daasar.
Thiruvaranga PerumAL arayar for Thiruvaymozhi; other sthothras
ThirukkOttiyoor Nambhi for RahasyArttham; Thirumalai
ANdaan for Thiruvaymozhi vyAkhyAnam;
Thirumalai Nambhi for Srimad RamayaNam]
Periya Nambi mastered several branches of learning at a very young age and became a disciple of Alavandar. Under the guidance of Alavandar, Periya Nambi mastered the texts of Vedanta and Divya Prabandam, a result of which he came to be known as Mahapurna. He became the primary AcArya for Sri Ramanuja.
During the same period, Alavandar's greatness was well known to other Sri Vaishnavas such as Thiruk kottiyur nambi, Thirukkacchi nambikal, Thirumaalai Andaan, Periya Thirumalai Nambikal. Alavandar, after receiving the blessing of Sri Ranganathar, paid a visit to Kanchi. When he entered Sri AruLaaLap perumaaL shrine, Thirukkacchi NambikaL, brought Ramanuja to his attention, saying "He is the one who naturally understands that The Lord Vishnu, who has the eyes that resemble a lotus, is the true meaning of Vedanta". Alavandar was very much impressed with Ramanuja. Periya Nambi was with Alavandar all this while.
After returning to Sri Rangam, Alavandar was restless to meet Ramanuja. As his health started to fail, Alavandar requested Periya Nambi to bring Ramanuja to Srirangam. Sir Periya Nambi reached Kanchi and extended Alavandar's invitation to Ramanuja. However, before he could reach Srirangam, Alavandar reached the devine feet of Sri Ranganathar at Vaikundam. Ramanuja returned to Kanchi after promising to satisfy the three requests from Alavandar:
The name of Parasara, should be commemorated on the earth by giving it to a person worthy to bear it.
Compose a commentary on Tiruvaymozhi of St. Nammaazhvaar
Compose a commentary on Upanishads, Vedanta Sutras and Bhagavad Gita
Periya Nambi, who became the AcArya after Alavandar, could not wait to meet Ramanuja. So he decided to meet him at Kanchi. Meanwhile, Ramanuja, was equally anxious to meet Periya Nambi, and decided to get to Sri Rangam. They both met at MadhurAnthakam.
Ramanuja requested Periya Nambi to be initiated in SriVaishnavam and started learning the Prabandam from him. They both returned to Kanchi and got the blessings of Lord Varadha. Priya Nambi and his wife stayed with Ramanuja for a while. During this time, Ramanuja's wife and Periya Nambi's wife had an altercation while drawing water from a near by well. Nambi, who was witness to this, decided to return to Sri Rangam, as a prolonged stay at Ramanuja's home would result in more conflicts. When Ramanuja returned he was told of the altercation and subsequent Nambi's departure. Ramanuja, who was was outraged at his wife's behavior, sent her to her parents place, and decided to take up the ascetic order.
Later when one of Alavandar's disciples, Sri MaranEri Nambi passed away, Periya Nambi performed the last rites, inspite of the fact that MaranEri nambi was from a lower caste. When Ramanuja questioned him of his action, Nambi recalled that Sri Rama performed the last rites of Jataayu, and added he was neither bigger that Sri Rama nor was Maraneri nambi lower than Jataayu. Though Ramanuja was satisfied with his answer, the rest of vaishnavas in Srirangam were not. They decided to isolate periya nambi. Once when Ranganathar was taking a procession, the temple car came to a complete halt at the entrance of Periya nambi's house and refused to move. Only after Periya nambi was given the theertham and the aaraadhana, the car allowed itself to proceed. It took Sri Ranganathar to demonstrate the greatness of Periya nambi.
When the Chola King (Kulothungan) wanted to do harm to Ramanujar, Periya nambi and Koorathazhvan went to the king in place of Ramanuja. They both sacrificed their eye sight to save the Sri Vaishnava sampradhayam and Sri Ramanuja. On their return to Srirangam, due to his failing health, Periya Nmabi could not complete the journey and attained Vaikundam. It is believed that, though Periya nambi wanted to reach Srirangam and attain Vaikundam while being there, he decided to do otherwise fearing that it would generate a false impression and other Sri Vaishnavas would worry about passing away at places other than Sri Rangam, in order to attain moksham.
DayAnignam Yatheendrasya Desikam Poornam AasrayE
Yena Viswasrujo VishnOr apooryatha Manorathah |
Meaning: I take refuge at PoornA (Mahapoornar-PeriaNambi), Ramanuja?s Guru, who
is full of mercy and soft heartedness and by whom the desire of Vishnu, the Lord
of the world was accomplished..