thirumAlai – 1 – kAvalil pulanai vaiththu – Part 2

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We had seen in the previous part as to how AzhwAr feels that he can very well keep his foot on the heads of yama and his followers after learning the divine names of emperumAn and at the same time yama would feel that the purpose of being given a head is to keep it at the feet of one who has learnt the divine names of emperumAn.

Is there any pramANam (proof) to say that yama is looking forward to such a person to keep his head?

vyAkhyAthA periyavAchchAn piLLai quotes from SrIvishNu dharmam and SrIvishNu purANam. In   vishNu dharmam, yama himself says “thasya yagyavarAhasya vishNOramithathEjasa: I      praNamam yEpi kurvanthi thEshAmapi namO nama: II” – I repeatedly salute that person who worships vishNu who is yagyavarAhar, and who has unlimited radiance. In SrIvishNu purANam, yama tells his followers “svapurushamabhivIkshya pASahastham, vadhathi yama: kila thasya karNamUlE | parihara madhusUdhanapprapannAn, prabhurahamanyanruNAm na vaishNavAnAm II” (yama beckons his follower who has the lasso (to take the life of samsAris) in his hand, and tells him softly in his ears “do not go near those who had surrendered to madhusUdhanan; I am lord for all human beings other than SrIvaishNavas”). The same meaning was conveyed in thamizh pAsuram by thirumazhisaippirAn in nAnmugan thiruvandhAdhi pAsuram 68 “thirambEnmin kaNdIr thiruvadi than nAmam……irainjiyum sAdhuvarAip pOdhumingaL enRAn ..”. yama tells his followers to carry out possible kainkaryams to such SrIvaishNavas and leave their presence softly. Thus yama himself is afraid of SrIvaishNavas and ordains his followers too to be wary of them.

While all the samsAris are afraid of yama and his followers, how is this AzhwAr saying that he would walk atop yama and his followers? What is the special feature that he has?  …. wonders periya perumAL. AzhwAr says…..

mUvulagu uNdu umizhndha mudhalvaAzhwAr says – if I am surrendered to a demi-god, I have to be scared of him (yama). But I have surrendered to the one entity who is responsible for the creation of the universe, the one who swallows the universe during deluge, protects it inside his stomach, and spits it out at the appropriate time so that the jIvAthmAs could get out of a crowded space into outer lands (outside his stomach) [and some of them could reach his SrIvaikuNtam by following the SAsthrams laid out by him]. Both during the time of deluge and during the time of creation, both yama and I were together inside your stomach, without any difference between us. And, it was you who ruled over both of us (mudhalva).

emperumAn then asks the AzhwAr, “so, you surrendered to me and hence you got all these benefits, is it?”. AzhwAr responds, “where did I come anywhere near you?

nin nAmam kaRRa Avalippu – It is the strength of learning your divine names; the pride of learning your divine names, says the AzhwAr. But why use the word “nin” while referring to divine names? He would have not got the strength and pride had it been someone else’s names. Hence he emphasises that it his nin (your) names. AzhwAr further says that he is like pure gold and his names are like ornamental gold. The difference is that pure gold, though superior, cannot be converted into ornaments and made to adorn oneself while ornamental gold can be. Hence his divine names are superior to him in that respect, he says. He (emperumAn) protects him during deluge and at the appropriate time, spits him out again. But his divine names protect him from the ocean of samsAram (repeated births) and he doesn’t have to return to the universe again, ever. But why call it as “nAmam” and not “manthram” (such as thirumanthram) which are superior to the other divine names and can deliver a person from samsAram? The reason is that certain qualifications are required to recite “manthram” (such as time of the day (only after taking bath), thraivarNikars – brAhmaNa, kshaththriya, vaiSya – only can recite it etc) while anyone can recite divine names, at any time of the day and get the benefit. When a person trips while walking, he automatically cries out “ammA!”. Recalling mother does not require any conditions to be met like having a bath or sitting facing east etc. Since one is reciting emperumAn’s divine names, these can be recited without observing any formalities. “kaRRa” – learn. Instead of saying “sonna” – told, AzhwAr is using the term “kaRRa” which means that someone else (a guru or teacher) has taught him and he learnt it from him. That teacher is none other than periya perumAL himself. Another explanation given is that he recited the divine names by their mere sound (phoneme) and not after knowing the meanings of those divine names. “Avalippudaimai” – We have seen that Avalaippu means pride.  udaimai would mean possession (such as a house or treasure or any such wealth). “vaiSravaNan” is the dhEvathA (demi-god) for wealth. AzhwAr feels that learning emperumAn’s divine names was equivalent to getting the wealth of vaiSravaNan.

kaNdAiAzhwAr beseeches thiruvarangan to open his eyes and see the pride that he (AzhwAr) has got after learning his divine names. AzhwAr says that there is  no need to give a discourse to emperumAn to know how he has changed after learning his divine names. By merely looking at him, emperumAn will know. He (Azhwar) has imbibed nectar like medicine (the divine names) whereas emperumAn has imbibed the three worlds (only sand and mud and such-like). His face will glow much brighter than that of emperumAn, who has taken only sand.

arangamA nagaruLAnE AzhwAr tells emperumAn “you left SrIvaikuNtam and lay down in an inclined position at thiruvarangam with a desire to see if there would be at least one person who has learnt the divine names. Your desire has been fulfilled (since you are sathyasankalpan – whatever you desire to happen will happen). mAnagar – an emphasis given to SrIrangam, the place where thiruvarangan has taken position. If a king passes an order from his court-hall, even he cannot rescind it. In the same way, AzhwAr says, thiruvarangan has blessed the Azhwar from SrIrangam, and even if he wants, he cannot withdraw his grace. Another explanation given for mAnagar is that it is the place where samsAris will no more argue with emperumAn as to who is bigger, and why samsAri has to carry out kainkaryam to emperumAn.

In summary, there was a person who lived life only by illegal ways, was not fit to approach a gathering of learned people and was ashamed to show his face in an assembly of any four persons.  Such a person suddenly got to know the king of the land. There will be a huge turn in his fortunes. Now he will ignore the gathering of learned persons and approach the king directly, while the learned persons will bow down to him. In a similar way, AzhwAr, who was so scared of yama and his followers, by learning emperumAn’s divine names, obtained the courage to walk atop the heads of yama and his followers. The main characteristic of divine names here is to purify the person who has learnt them.

We shall see how the divine names are also enjoyable (bhOgyam), in the next pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dasan

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