SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImath varavaramunayE nama:
In the first three pAsurams (hymns) AzhwAr expressed the experience that he had in reciting emperumAn’s divine names (how they purify and how they are enjoyable). Starting from this (4th) pAsuram till the 14th pAsuram, he preaches the benefits of reciting his divine names to samsAris (those bound souls who live in leelA vibhUthi or materialistic realm). What is the reason for preaching instead of enjoying the divine names himself? Three reasons are cited by the vyAkhyAthA (commentator): (1) This is because it is very simple to recite and attainable by samsAris; yet they are not doing so and as a result are losing a great deal; AzhwAr is unable to bear this sorrow. (2) In this significant matter (of reciting divine names), it is not possible to enjoy alone and it is pleasing to emperumAn only when many people join in this. (3) “Eka: swAdhu na bhunjItha” is a saying, which means do not eat alone, quoted from bhAratham (the full slOka says, do not eat alone, do not contemplate on a noble issue alone, do not walk through the forest in the night alone and when everyone else is sleeping do not be awake, alone). Hence AzhwAr, not satisfied with his own experience, wants all samsAris to have similar experience as that is his svabhAvam (basic nature). Hence he is preaching from this 4th pAsuram.
Just when he started talking about the benefits of reciting emperumAn’s divine names, samsAris asked him, “are sinners like ourselves qualified to recite his divine names?” AzhwAr responded saying “even a person like kshathrabhandhu, who had no means for atoning for all his sins, got through to paramapadham (SrIvaikuNtam) because he recited the divine name. Hence do not try to slip away saying that you are not qualified” But despite hearing this assurance, the samsAris did not recite emperumAn’s divine names. Azhwar is surprised that even after hearing him, these samsAris continue to indulge in activities which sink them deeper into the quagmire of repeated births, instead of getting out of it by reciting the divine names. Let us enjoy the pAsuram now:
moyththa valvinaiyuL ninRu mUnRezhuththu udaiya pErAl
kaththirabandhum anRE parAngathi kaNdu koNdAn
Iththanai adiyar AnArkku irangum nam aranganAya
piththanaip peRRum andhO! piRaviyuL piNangumARE
moyththa – surrounding fully
valvinaiyuL ninRu – standing in the ocean of grave sins
mUnRezhuththu udaiya pErAl – due to the divine name of “gOvindha” with three syllables
kaththirabandhum anRE – even kshathrabandhu
parAngathi – high status of paramapadham
kaNdu koNdAn – had the experience of enjoying
iththanai adiyar AnArkku – for such agreeable people
irangum – having pity and showering grace
nam arangan Aya piththanai – our azhagiya maNavALan (Srirangam uthsavap perumAL) who has deep affection for his followers
peRRum – even after having him as swAmy (master)
piRaviyuL – getting caught in repeated births
piNangum ARE – the way we despair
andhO – Oh! [how sad it is!]
vyAkhyAnam (Explanatory Notes)
moyththa – sins keep falling over him shouting “I am the first” “I am the first” just like bees would surround a bee-hive or ants would surround a pot containing ghee (periyAzhwAr’s pAsuram (5-2-1) is quoted here “neykkudaththaip paRRiyERum eRumbugaL”) or when the army of monkeys landed on the shores of lankA cried out “it is for me” out of sheer expectation of winning. In the same way, sins are surrounding the jIvAthmAs completely. It would appear as if the jIvAthmAs have the same power to create sins as emperumAn has to create the worlds.
valvinai – How grave are these sins? To atone for each of these sins, a jIvAthmA has to spend the entire duration of kAla (time, the third among achith’s three components). As kUraththAzhwAn said in SrivaikuNta sthavam “yath kalpaniyuthAnubhavEpyanASyam thath kilbisham srujathi janthuriha kshaNArthE” – the jIvAthma commits in a moment a sin which cannot be rid of even in thousand kalpas (one kalpa is the longevity of brahmA, composed of many lakhs of years). The gravity of these sins is such that only emperumAn can remove these out of his mercy.
uL ninRu – standing inside. Just as a silkworm spins a web and gets caught within its web and just as a fly gets tossed about in the middle of an ocean, this jIvAthmA, who is of a size less than an atom, gets caught right in the middle of ocean of sins. As nammAzhwAr says in thiruvAimozhi (4-7-1) “siRiyanElum seivinaiyO peridhAl” – even if I am small, the sins that I commit are huge.
ninRu – standing amidst the sins. Taking root in a bed of burning wood/charcoal, the jIvAthmA is right amidst his sins.
mUnRezhuththudaiya pErAl – with a divine name having three syllables. Will the antidote for sins depend on the time over which the sins were committed or the dimensions (spread) of the sins? No, just a word with three syllables will do for this, says AzhwAr. Even one syllable in the word is sufficient to remove all the sins. Unlike praNavam (Om) which when split into its individual letters (a, u and ma) gives meanings for each of those letters, the name “gOvindha” which is referred to here as the three syllable word, will not convey any meaning when the three syllables are split. Still, each of these three syllables “gO”, “vi” and “dha” will elevate the person to mOksham (SrIvaikuNtam). There are words which are 10,000 letters and 1000 letters long. When one starts reciting those words, one will start wondering as to when they will end. Unlike those names, this three syllable name “gOvindha” is easy to recite.
pErAl – instead of saying “manthram” (this is a word which is recited during vEdhic rituals) why is AzhwAr saying “pEr” (name)? Reciting manthram” requires certain qualifications such as “rishi, chandas, dhEvathA, Sakthi, bIjam, varNam, viniyOgam, dhyAnam” (these are specific to each manthram and are to be recited first before the manthram is recited) whereas reciting a name does not require any such qualification. Only certain sections of the samsAris are authorised to recite manthrams. Anyone, from any of the four varNams, including women and children, can recite emperumAn’s divine names. When a person trips while walking (s)he will cry out “ammA” irrespective of varNam. Reciting emperumAn’s divine name is also like that only, when faced with any hurdle. Instead of revealing which three syllable name it is, why is he hiding it? AzhwAr says that only if it is hidden, the person who hears it will start wondering what word it is and once he has the curiosity and comes asking for it, he will tell the person all about it and get him interested in it.
kaththirabandhum – a lowly brAhmaNa is referred to as brahmabandhu (a mere relative of a brAhmanNa). In the same way, a lowly kshathriya person is referred to as kshathriyabandhu. The purpose of adding ‘um’ (kaththirabandhum) at the end is to indicate that he is the limit for lowliness.
anRE – even. In a gathering of our pUrvAchAryars (preceptors) when someone mentioned the name of “nAlUrAn” everyone will close his ears [nAlUrAn was the person responsible for periya nambi, the AchAryar of bhagavath SrI rAmAnujar, and kUraththAzhwAn losing their vision, as well as for rAmAnujar to leave SrIrangam for 12 years]. In the same way in a gathering of rishis, if someone mentions the name of khsathrabandhu, everyone will close his ears. Such was his reputation. [He was a robber, ostracised by his own relatives and had a bad conduct and mind. One day, an aged rishi was going through a forest and he was waylaid by kshathrabandhu. But the rishi was in poor health and swooned. Due to the causeless mercy of emperumAn, kshathrabandhu revived the rishi. On seeing kshathrabandhu’s condition, the rishi took pity on him and taught him the divine name “gOvindha”. That became a turning point in the life of kshathrabandhu and he set right his life and reached SrIvaikuNtam. This is mentioned in vishNu dharmam].
parAngathi kaNdukoNdAn – reached exalted position. While getting rid of sin itself would have been a reward for reciting emperumAn’s divine name, kshathrabandhu went beyond swarga (heaven) experience, beyond the greatest treasures and kaivalyam (AthmA getting detached from all other connections including emperumAn and enjoying self) and getting the status of those who do not have any connection with samsAram. In other words, the lowliest of samsAris, kshathrabandhu, got the status of nithyasUris who are permanent dwellers of SrIvaikuNtam, enjoying emperumAn constantly.
kaNdukoNdAn – it is as if he had got back what he had lost earlier. It is not as if he got something for reciting the divine names, but that he got what was always his. Just as vishNu dharmam says “prakASyanthE na janyanthE…….” – just as a gem will shine brightly when the dirt covering it is removed, the AthmA will gain its true stature of being gyAnamayan (full of knowledge) when its dhOshas (faults) are removed. When a well is dug, and water springs out at a particular depth, it is the water which was always there that came out and not a new source of water that was created. Thus when bad qualities are removed, AthmA gets back its svarUpam (its basic nature and good qualities). This is the case with kshathrabandhu too when he got elevated to SrIvaikuNtam on reciting divine names.
iththanai adiyar AnArkku – be dedicated to emperumAn at least to the extent of kshathrabandhu. It is enough if one is as favourably disposed as kshathrabandhu. Another explanation is – accept that one is a servitor and emperumAn is the master (to be served) and not show hatred towards him. When someone says as in thaiththiriya upanishath that “pathim viSvasya ….” (it is only SrIman nArAyaNan who is the lord of the worlds, controlled only by himself and by no one else, always permanent, auspicious and does not fail his servitors) or says as in yajur brAhmaNam “yasyAsmi …..” (I will not go away from someone to whom I am a servitor), if someone does not get shocked, it is enough to qualify for emperumAn’s grace. Is this enough to qualify for being a follower? Yes, it is, as per emperumAn’s opinion, says the vyAkhyAthA, quoting from sAthvatham samhithA “dhurAchArO api sarvASI…..nirdhOsham vidhdhim tham janthum prabhAvAth paramAthmana:” which means: even if a person who had lowly conduct for a long time, had been eating whatever he wanted, was being ungrateful and was atheist, surrenders to emperumAn with dedication, know that emperumAn forgives him of his faults due to his (emperumAn’s) greatness.
“iththanai “ – even this small effort (of reciting emperumAn’s divine name) appears as a mEru parvatham (a huge mountain) for emperumAn to bear. vyAkyAthA further quotes from ISAvAsya upanishath “…..bhUyishtAm thE nama ukthim vidhEma” – we shall keep reciting “nama:” a word which emperumAn is pleased to hear and which he thinks is a great deed.
irangum – having pity and showering grace. Due to the natural connection with jIvAthmA, emperumAn expects him not to show hatred towards him and to show involvement with him. All that the jIvAthmA shows is not shunning him (not showing hatred). But what he gets is emperumAn himself. How will such a small hold give rise to such a huge benefit? Just as a cow shows tremendous love and affection towards its calf on the day that it gave birth to, emperumAn also shows his affection and hence has pity, because of the relationship that he has with the jIvAthmA and not because of any benefit that the jIvAthmA has with him. Despite giving him SrIvaikuNtam itself, emperumAn feels that he has not done anything for the jIvAthmA. “un adiyArkku en seyvan enRE iruththi nI” said nammAzhwAr in periya thiruvandhAdhi (you keep thinking about “what else can I do for my follower”).
nam aranganAya – our arangan; emperumAn, who is dwelling in the SrIrangam temple, for the sake of jIvAthmAs like us who have nothing in our hands. paramapadham (SrIvaikuNtam) is for nithyAthmAs (nithyasUris) and mukthAthmAs (those who were earlier in samsAram but had since got liberated from it). thiruppARkadal (kshIrAbdhi) is for people who are almost like mukthAthmAs (sanaka, sanathkumAra et al as well as brahmA and other celestials). Incarnations are for those who were fortunate to live at that time. Only in temples does he show himself to people who were not fortunate to be around during the time of incarnation. AzhwAr uses the term ‘nam” in nam aranganAya to confirm that we are of the same clan as kshathrabandhu and there is very little to choose between him and us.
piththanai – He (emperumAn) does not know as to how the others were earlier. Also, he is one who does not know himself. After reaching SrIrangam, emperumAn had forgotten about how great he was earlier (parathvam) and has become simplicity personified. He does not know about his magnanimity when he gives, the lowliness of the people who receive from him and what he gives them (SrIvaikuNtam itself). Hence AzhwAr refers to him as “piththan” (mad, ignorant).
peRRum – Normally if a person is wanting in something, he will go to someone who has it and ask him for it. But here, emperumAn, who has everything to give, has come to SrIrangam (from SrIvaikuNtam) and is asking jIvAthmAs “is there anyone here who wants me?”.
piRaviyuL piNangumARE – even if people want to move away from one object to another, the second should be at least as good, if not better than the first. But in this case, what they are moving away from is a treasure and what they are going after is lowly matter to satisfy their sensual desires. In sheer disgust, AzhwAr says, “andhO”. Just like two vultures fight over a carcass, the jIvAthmAs are fighting over lowly materials. While jIvAthmAs are eligible to adorn the thirumEni (physical form) of emperumAn as “SrI kousthuba hAram” (the garland of gems adorning emperumAn) they are going after sensual objects and keep getting in the quagmire of repeated births. Just as righteous people will cry out “murder” when they see terrible things happening in front of their eyes, AzhwAr is also crying out loud “andhO” on seeing jIvAthmAs getting into samsAram repeatedly.
Let us move on to the 5th pAsuram.
adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dasan
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