Today is Sri Embar Swamy’s aupicious appearance day (“thiruavataaram”). Sri Embar was a cousin of the renowned Vaishnava preceptor and philosopher, Sri Ramanuja. He was the grandson of Ramanuja’s mother’s sister. He was born to Sri Devi and Sri Kamalanayana Bhattar in the Bharadwaja Gothram at Maduramangalam near Sri Perumbudur.
He was born just four years after the birth of Sri Ramanuja. Both studied under Yadhava Prakasar who resented Ramanuja because of the latter’s profound scholarship. He hatched a plot to do away with him. His evil design was to take him to the Ganges on a pilgrimage and drown him. Embar learnt about this and alerted Ramanuja who managed to escape. On his return journey, he was guided by Divine Providence.
While taking a holy dip in river Ganges, Embar grasped an object floating. It was found to be a lingam. He installed it at Maduramangalam and became a Saivite. He used to frequent the famous temple of Lord Siva in Kalahasthi and worship Him. He remained there performing the daily chores in the temple.
Sri Ramanuja, Tirupati
When Sri Ramanuja came to know of his devotion to Lord Siva he deputed Thirumalai Nambi to Kalahasthi who brought him back to Sri Ramanuja. He initiated him into the treasure house of the Vaishnava cult. He was hailed as a true disciple for his vairaghya and sagacity.
Embar means a person who does not know darkness. There is another school of thought which interprets Embar as one who is synonymous with vairaghya. Ramanujar was called Emberumanar because of his immense service to the humanity. But he himself called Embar as Embarumanar for he stood by him in all his religious activities and for his interpretation of the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham and especially his scholarly exposition on Thiruvaimozhi. Once he instructed Embar to bring the child of Koorathazhvan named Bhattar to him.
Embar obeyed, the child never leaving his lap the entire journey. Ramanuja was highly impressed and advised Embar to become the Acharya for the son of Koorathazhvan, who plucked out his eyes to save Ramanuja from persecution.
Vaikunda Perumal’s temple at Maduramangalam
Embar worshipped Sri Vaikunda Nadha Perumal and His Consort Komalavalli Thayar. Together with Vaikunda Perumal, Embar’s Archa Moorthy was installed and he is worshipped at Maduramangalam.
Sri Vaikunda Perumal with Ubhaya Nachimars, Komalavalli Thayaar, and Andaal
(Photo courtsey Sriman Balaji and Sri Embar Swamy Nitya Kainkarya Trust)
It is believed that all ailments relating to the eyes are cured if the Archa Moorthy is worshipped. Embar’s Thirunakshatram is celebrated in the month of Thai. Arrangements are made by Sri Embar’s Swami Nitya Kainkarya Trust which conducts Annadhanam for the devotees who throng Maduramangalam.