Updated: Mar 20, 2022
From Radha Rukmini Sameta Krishnar Sanctum proceed straight, one can find Thirukkarthurai mandapam. This is the mandapam where ramanujar had done debate (chatas) with yagnyamurthy for 18 days and won the debate on the 18th day of the debate. After which yagnyamurthy had surrendered to Ramanujar by accepting the fact that Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya is the only sat sampradaya. Ramanujar brought Yagnyamurthy into this tradition as Arulaala Perumal Emperumaanaar.
Opposite to this mandapam is Periyavachan Pillai Sanctum. One has to go to the opposite side of this mandapam and the sanctum can be seen on the right side.
Sri Periyavaccan Pillai was born in the Sarvajith year (1167), in the month of Avani in Krishnashtami Rohini. He was born to Yamunacharya and Nacciyaramman, in the town of Sanganalloor near Thiruvelliyankudi (in Tanjore district). He was born as the amsam of Lord Krishna and was named Sreekrishnar.
He was the right hand of Swami Nampillai (like Lakshmana was to Rama) and wrote several vyakhyanams based on Swami Nampillai's upanyasams.
It was said that one can speak all the glory of even Periya Perumal, but one cannot complete speaking of Sri Periyavachan Pillai. He was without equal in the cause of the spreading of Srivaishnava philosophy. He shone as an example in the qualities of being a disciple as well as in the qualities of being an Acharya. He was given the titles paramkAruNikar and apaarakarunaamruthasaakarar.
Sri Pillai Lokacharyar once said, "periyaazhwar is like no other azhwar". It could be said that Sri PVP is like no other acharya.
In Srivaishnavism, the three important works are the rahasyams, thiruvAymozhi, and SriRamayanam. Sri PVP stored the essence of these three in his mind and not only taught them to all his disciples but also wrote vyakhyanams to them for the benefit of the Vaishnavas yet to come. He is the person who wrote vyakhyanams for all the naalaayira divyaprabhandam (4000 Divya prabandham).
It is said in the AzhvarAcharya vaibhavams that for those in visishtadvaidam, there is no way beyond the divyaprabhandams and that there is no better way to understand them outside of Sri Periyavaachaan Pillai vyakhyanams. Therefore all Srivaishnavas are the disciples of Sri PVP.
After hearing his vyakhyanams Sri Ranganatha Himself gave him the name Abayapratharajar. By writing the essence of Ramayanam for us, he earned the title SriRamayanapPerukkar. Upon hearing his work, it was wondered if he was the reincarnation of Sri Valmiki.
Even though he was learned in Sanskrit he decided to write his vyakhyanams in maNipravALam (a mixture of Tamil and Sanskrit) so that everyone could understand them. He has written hundreds of works most of which are now unfortunately lost.
Periya Perumal, Periyazhvar, Periyavaccan Pillai, and Periya Jeeyar all attained the title "Periya" due to their greatness.
It is wondered that did Krishna Dvaipayana who wrote sutras explaining the Vedas was reborn as Srikrishna- soori to explain the Tamil Vedas; was Sri Valmiki re-born as Abhayaprathrajar to bring out the thoughts in his heart; did Garuda who is the form of the Vedas was born as Sri PVP; did Sri Krishna Himself who churned the ocean of the Upanishads and brought out the nectar of Gita was reborn in His own birthday with His own name in order to explain the caramasloka, prapatti and to churn the ocean of Azhvars works and bring out their nectar (ArAvamudhu) for the world.
Sri Periyavachaan Pillai Swami's Avatara Rahasyam
Thirumangai Azhvar saw that Thirukkannamangaik Kannan wanted to learn the meaning of his periya thirumozhi from him and sang
kaNNamangaiyuL kaNDu koNDEn enru
kAdalAl kalikanri uraiSeida
vaNNavoN tamizh onbadODonrivai
vallarAi uraippAr madiyam tavazh |
viNNil viNNavarAi mahizhveiduvar
meimmai Sollil veNSangamonrEndiya
kaNNa nindanakkum kurippAhil
karkalAm kaviyin poruLtAnE
Lord Krishna told him that He would definitely learn from him but not at that time as He was present as archAvathAram. He told Azhvar that Azhvar would be reborn later as thirukkalikanRidAsar in the same "kaarthikayil kaarthikai Naal" and that He would be born as Srikrishnar in Avani Rohini day, and that He would take him as His acharya and learn from him the meanings of the works of all Azhvars and Andal, other rahasyas and Ramayanam and teach them to the world. So, Azhvar was born as nampiLLai (thirukkali- kanRidAsar) and Sri Periyavachan Pillai was born as Lord Krishna's amsam.
Sanganalloor's historical records state that Sri PVP left for Thirumalai with his family, obtained a thiruvEngadamudaiyAn vigraham from Himself, and established that vigraham in Sanganalloor.
He then left Sanganalloor and reached Srirangam and became Sri Nampillai's disciple. He spent his time learning from nampiLLai the meanings of different works and with his permission writing them as vyakhyanams. After Sri Nampillai attained emperumAn's tiruvadi, he gathered Sri Vadakkuththiruveethippilai and others and spent his time in maintaining the Srirangam temple.
During his time Srirangam was a good place to be at (previously, during Ramanujar and Battar's times, they had problems from the kings; later during Pillai Lokacharyar and Vedantha Desikar's times, there were problems from outside. Without any hindrances, Sri Periyavachan Pillai Swami was able to write several Grantham and vyakhyanams.
Sri Periyavachan Pillai Swami did not have his own son and adopted his sister's son (Nayanaraccan Pillai) who learned the meanings of several works from him. It is also learned (from periya thirumudiyadaivu and other works) that other than Sri Nayanaracchan Pillai, Vadikesari Azhagiyamanaval Jeeyar (who wrote panneerAyirappadi), Srirangacharyar (who was the Acharya of Adivansadagopa Jeeyar who established Ahobila Mutt), and Parakaladasar (who wrote Parakalanallan Rahasyam, and vyakhyanams for maivaNNa naRunkunchi and other works) were also Sri Periyavachan Pillai's disciples. It is also said that after Sri Nampillai's time, Sri Vadakkuththiruveethippillai learned the meanings of some works from Sri Periyavachan Pillai and that Sri Pinbazhagiyapperumal Jeeyar was also his disciple.
An episode in his life illustrates how he saved Sri Vadikesari Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar. Sri Vadikesari Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar in his poorvashram was not a learned person and used to work in the kitchen of Sri Periyavachan Pillai Swami Once a few scholars had come to see Sri PVP and were examining some granthas while at his home. Sri Vadikesari Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar asked them about what they were studying and they said: "musalakisalayam" (referring to him being like an iron piece that cannot understand even the name of a grantha). When Sri Vadikesari Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyarasked Sri Periyavachan Pillai about this Grantham, Sri Periyavachan Pillai told him sadly that the scholars had made fun of him. Sri Vadikesari Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar then fell on Sri Periyavachan Pillai's feet and requested that he educate him. Sri Periyavachan Pillai then taught him the Vedas, sastras, and other works and made him a scholar. Sri VAMJ then wrote a Grantham called musalakisalayam and showed it to the very scholars who made fun of him. Sri VAMJ wrote in his "thathva niroopaNam"
abayaprathanAmAnam asmathgurumuham baje | yathkadAkshAthayam janthu: apunarjanmathAm gatha: ||
(I salute our Acharya who is known as abayaprathar, upon whose grace I who was like an animal that knew nothing became one who will not have another birth).
Sri PVP lived 95 years before reaching emperumAn's tiruvadi.