SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImath varavaramunayE nama:
SrIman nArAyaNan is the supreme God who is filled with unlimited and wonderful auspicious qualities. Out of his divine and unconditional grace, he blessed selected jIvAthmAs to become AzhwArs (great saints who preached pure and exclusive devotion towards SrIman nArAyaNan). Though He was the supremely independent master of the nithyasUris (eternally free souls) and mukthAthmAs (liberated souls), he wanted to rid himself of the one agony he had.
That agony is him suffering for the suffering of the bound souls in the material world. Him being the supreme father of every one, he was unable to bear the suffering of his children who are caught in the cycle of birth and death in the material world. One may question, if the supreme God will have any agony/sorrow – him being sathya kAma (one who can fulfill all his desires) and sathya sankalpa (one who can accomplish anything). Our AchAryas have explained that him feeling the pain for the suffering souls is also his auspicious quality. Just like an all-capable father who is happily living with his one child will still worry for his other child who is staying away from him on his own and struggling, bhagavAn, though being all-capable, he is feeling the pain looking at the plight of the jIvAthmAs in samsAram (material world) who are suffering since time-immemorial due to being covered by ignorance and lacking of true knowledge.
To facilitate the upliftment of such suffering jIvAthmAs, he gives body and senses for the jIvAthmAs during srushti (creation), reveals the sAsthram (scriptures), himself descends in to the material world as various incarnations like SrI rAma, krishNa, etc. Even after all of these, the jIvAthmAs are not really willing to learn the true knowledge and accept his supremacy. Just like a hunter will catch a deer using another trained deer, He decides to uplift jIvAthmAs through other jIvAthmAs who are already in the material world. So he chooses a select few of them, blesses them with divine knowledge and makes them AzhwArs. AzhwAr means one who is immersed in bhagavath vishayam (spiritual matters). These AzhwArs appeared in various holy places in the southern part of bhAratha dhEsam as foretold by vEdha vyAsa in SrI bhAgavatham. Totally, AzhwArs are said to be 10 in number. poigai AzhwAr (sarO yOgi), bhUthaththAzhwAr (bhUtha yOgi), pEyAzhwAr (mahathAhvaya), thirumazisai AzhwAr (bhakthi sAra), nammAzhwAr (satakOpa/parAnkusa), kulasEkara AzhwAr, periyAzhwAr (vishNuchiththa), thoNdaradippodi AzhwAr (bhakthAngri rENu), thiruppANAzhwAr (muni vAhana yOgi) and thirumangai AzhwAr (parakAla). They are also said to be 12 in number if madhurakavi AzhwAr and ANdAL (gOdhA – an incarnation of bhUdhEvi nAchiyAr, one of the divine consorts of bhagavAn) are included. While the 10 AzhwArs are said to be exclusively devoted to bhagavAn, madhurakavi AzhwAr and ANdAL were totally devoted to their AchAryas, nammAzhwAr and periyAzhwAr respectively.
AzhwArs sung many pAsurams (verses) in glorification of SrIman nArAyaNan. These pAsurams total up to 4000 verses approximately and are thus called 4000 dhivya prabandham. dhivya means divine and prabandham means literature (that which captures bhagavAn himself). They brought out the essence of vEdham/vEdhAntham in simple and chaste thamizh. The whole purpose of these dhivya prabandhams is to uplift the jIvAthmAs by transmitting true knowledge. Several hundreds of years after the time of AzhwArs, many AchAryas starting with nAthamunigaL, centered with SrI rAmAnuja and ending with mAmunigaL appeared and preached the divine message of AzhwArs. While less intelligent people considered AzhwArs pAsurams as simple thamizh songs, the most intelligent AchAryas established that these pAsurams bring out the ultimate philosophy of SrIman nArAyaNan being the means (to be uplifted from this material world) and the goal (to be situated in ones true nature of eternal service to SrIman nArAyaNan in paramapadham – spiritual world). Our pUrvAchAryas fully relished the dhivya prabandhams and centered their life around learning them, teaching them and living by those pAsurams.
There was a dark period in the history where the dhivya prabandhams were lost in time after the time of AzhwArs. Eventually, it was nAthamunigaL who took lots of hardships to locate AzhwAr thirunagari which is the birth place of nammAzhwAr and he learnt all the 4000 dhivya prabandham with their meanings by the divine grace of nammAzhwAr. nAthamunigaL classified the 4000 dhivya prabandhams into 4 parts as we see today, taught them to his sishyas and brought out the importance of these dhivya prabandhams. He added kaNNinuN chiRu thAmbu into 4000 dhivya prabandhams in honour of madhurakavi AzhwAr who showed unflinching devotion towards nammAzhwAr.
SrI rAmAnuja (emperumAnAr) who is considered as an incarnation of Adhi sEsha and who appeared a century later received the same through the guru paramparA by studying the same under various AchAryas per the desire of yAmunAchArya. He then spread the glories of AzhwArs and their works to all sections of the society and greatly facilitated the propagation of this SrIvaishNava sampradhAyam. It is because of his great contribution, this sampradhAyam was declared to be known as SrI rAmAnuja dharsanam by SrI ranganAtha himself. Also, rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi which was sung in glorification of SrI rAmAnuja by thiruvarangaththu amudhanAr was added into 4000 dhivya prabandham by the AchAryas due to his greatness. This rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi is glorified as “prapanna gAyathri” – that which is to be recited compulsorily by all prapannas (ones who are surrendered) every day, just like how gAyathri manthram is to be recited by brAhmaNas everyday.
nampiLLai kAlakshEpa (lecture) gOshti (assembly)
nampiLLai is an important AchArya (coming in the parampArA after emperumAnAr, embAr, bhattar and nanjIyar) who should be mentioned at this juncture. He was living in SrIrangam and was the leader of SrIvaishNava sampradhAyam during his times. It was during his period in SrIrangam, the meanings of 4000 dhivya prabandham were given great importance. He was engaged in giving lectures everyday close to the sanctum sanctorium of periya perumAL – SrI ranganAtha. It is explained that even periya perumAL would stand up and try to peek through the window to hear his lectures. nampiLLai‘s sishyas also greatly contributed to propagate the meanings of these dhivya prabandhams. periyavAchchAn piLLai who is a sishya of nampiLLai and also known as vyAkyAna chakkaravarthy (emperor among commentators) wrote commentaries for all dhivya prabandhams and his contribution is greatly hailed by our AchAryas. vadakku thiruvIdhi piLLai, who is another sishya of nampiLLai, documented the lectures given by nampiLLai on thiruvAimozhi and this document became to be known as eedu 36000 padi (the most cherished vyAkyAnam of thiruvAimozhi).
After nampiLLai‘s time, piLLai lOkAchAryar leads the sath sampradhAyam and documents all the most confidential matters of dhivya prabandham in his rahasya granthams. These confidential matters were explained by various AchAryas at various times in various granthams. piLLai lOkAchAryar consolidated those and documented them in his 18 primary works. But towards the end of his life, tragedy struck SrIrangam in the form of mughal invaders who destroyed everything there. piLLai lOkAchAryar arranged for the safe journey of namperumAL (SrI ranganAtha – uthsavar) and escaped from the invaders from there along with namperumAL. Shortly in to the journey, he ascended to paramapadham due to the difficult journey through forests at such advanced age. Then came a lengthy period of suffering for the whole of SrIvaishNava community. After few decades, when peace prevailed and invaders were driven out, namperumAL eventually returned to SrIrangam.
mAmunigaL kAlakshEpa gOshti – “srI sailEsa dhayApAthram” thanian submission
Finally, maNavALa mAmunigaL who is considered as an incarnation of SrI rAmAnuja himself, appeared in AzhwAr thirunagari. He became a sishya of thiruvAimozhi piLLai and learned all the esoteric meanings of vEdham, vEdhAntham and dhivya prabandhams from his own father and thiruvAimozhi piLLai. Under the orders of thiruvAimozhi piLLai (his AchArya), he reached SrIrangam and spent the rest of his life in rejuvenating the sath sampradhAyam to its past glories. He personally searched for all the lost literature, studied them, recorded them in palm leaves with great difficulty and preserved them for future generations to come. Fittingly, in appreciating his great qualities and efforts, SrI ranganAtha himself listens to thiruvAimozhi kAlakshEpam from mAmunigaL for a whole year and at the end of the lecture series, he himself appears as a small boy and accepts mAmunigaL as his AchArya and submits him the most glorious “SrISailESa dhayApAthram…” thaniyan. Subsequently, many AchAryas who came in various lineages taught and lived by these dhivya prabandhams.
Thus, AzhwArs‘ dhivya prabandhams which were focussed on the upliftment of jIvAthmAs which is to fulfill the desire of bhagavAn have been preserved by our pUrvAchAryas through the history. It is emphasised greatly that all SrIvaishNavas should learn the dhivya prabandhams, understand the meanings properly and live by them. Keeping this in mind, with the aim of translating all of 4000 dhivya prabandhams, we are starting humbly in this great endeavour. We have a great desire to complete this translation kainkaryam by 2017 May, when we will commemorate the 1000th year appearance day of SrI rAmAnuja. Initially we are starting with English translation but we would try to arrange for translation of these dhivya prabandhams in other languages as well.
It would be very useful to understand the validity and glories of AzhwArs and their dhivya prabhandhams. Please read the following articles which go through them in detail:
- part 1 – http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2013/02/dhivya-prabhandha-pramanya-samarthanam-1.html
- part 2 – http://ponnadi.blogspot.com/2013/02/dhivya-prabhandha-pramanya-samarthanam-2.html
With full dependence and faith on SrIman nArAyaNan, AzhwArs and AchAryas, we are planning to translate the dhivya prabandhams into simple English (and other languages too). We will provide word-by-word meaning for each pAsuram with specific highlights and important points from the vyAkyAnams. The website will be well organized and easily searchable. We would also attempt to add pictures wherever possible/applicable. With the blessings of bhagavAn, bhAgavathas and AchAryas, we plan to do a faithful kainkaryam of translating these dhivya prabandhams which will be useful for many generations to come.
Though dhivya prabandham only indicates the thamizh pAsurams composed by AzhwArs (and rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi of thiruvarangaththu amudhanAr), in this website/initiative, we would also cover many of the thamizh/samskritham prabandhams which are composed by our pUrvAchAryas in the “Other Prabandhams” section. We revere our AchAryas SrIsUkthis (divine compositions) greatly too and will also provide translation for the same as much as possible.
adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan
on behalf of dhivya prabandham translations team