thirumAlai – 23 – gangaiyil punidhamAya

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avathArikai (Introduction)

Azhwar’s heart told him “if it is not possible to think and speak about this matter [emperumAn], you could forget about it and live” to which he responds “how can I, who am deeply involved in the periya perumAL’s (mUlavar at SrIrangam] lying posture, forget him and live?”

Let us look at the pAsuram and its meanings.

கங்கயில் புனிதமாய காவிரி நடுவு பாட்டு
பொங்கு நீர் பரந்து பாயும் பூம்பொழில் அரங்கம் தன்னுள்
எங்கள்மால் இறைவன் ஈசன் கிடந்ததோர் கிடக்கை கண்டும்
எங்ஙனம் மறந்து வாழ்கேன் ஏழையேன் ஏழையேனே.

gangaiyil punidhamAya kAviri naduvu pAttup
pongu nIr parandhu pAyum pUmbozhil arangam thannuL
engaLmAl iRaivan Isan kidandhadhOr kidakkai kaNdum
enganam maRandhu vAzhgEn EzhaiyEn EzhaiyEnE


Word-by-Word Meaning

EzhaiyEn – fickle minded person like I am
gangaiyil – more than gangai [gangA]
punidham Aya – with the quality of sanctity
kAviri naduvu pAttu – in the middle of kAviri
pongu nIr – frothing flood
parandhu pAyum – flowing in all the places uniformly
pUmpozhil – having beautiful groves
arangam thannuL – in the temple
engal mAl – having affection towards his followers
iRaivan – the Lord of all
Isan – the controller of all, periya perumAL’s
kidandhadhu Or kidakkai –  unparalleled lying posture
kaNdum – after seeing and enjoying
maRandhu – forgetting (that divine posture)
enganam vAzhgEn – how can I sustain myself?
EzhaiyEnE – (caught in emperumAn’s matter) I am standing, stunned, unable to do anything

vyAkhyAnam (Explanatory Notes)

gangaiyil punidhamAya – kAviri, which is greater than gangai in sanctifying others. While it is greater than gangai in terms of beauty and sweetness of the waters, it is greater than gangai in the purifying quality of sanctifying others. SrIranga mahAthmyam states “gangAsAmyam purA prApthA dhEvadhEvaprasAdhanAth I rangAvadharaNAdhUrdhvam AdhikyanchApyavApa sA II” – kAviri, who became equal to gangai with dhEvadhEvan’s [emperumAn’s] grace, became superior to gangai after the installation of SrIranga vimAnam (turret). purANas spoke high of kAviri and said that she was superior to gangai after periya perumAL took his position there. The sanctity for gangai is because she had the link to emperumAn’s divine feet once, when brahmA cleansed his divine feet. In ISwara samhithai, brahmA says “dhravIbhUthas thadhA dharmO haribhakthyA mahAmunE! I gruhIthvA dharmapANIyam padham nathasya thushtayE II kshAlitham parayA bhakthyA pAdhyArghyAdhibhir architham I thadhambu pathitham dhrushtva dhadhAra SirasA hara: II pAvanArtham jatAmadhyE yOgyO’smIdhyavadhAra- varshAyuthAnyatha bahUn na  mumOcha thathA hara: II” – Oh, the great one among the rishis! At that time (when bhagavAn measured the worlds), dharmam (virtue), due to its devotion towards hari, became water. jagannAthan’s (Lord of the universe) divine feet were cleansed (by me) with superior devotion, with that virtue turned water, for his pleasure. He was also worshipped with pAdhyam (water used for cleaning divine feet) and argyam (water used for cleaning divine hands). Looking at the water which was falling [from emperumAn’s divine feet], Sivan affirmed that “I am qualified (to purify myself)” with that water and bore the water in the centre of his head to sanctify himself. Then for tens of thousands of years, rudhran did not let go of that water. Thus, the water, which was borne by Sivan to sanctify himself, got a fault also that it had connection with Sivan. Saivas, the followers of Siva, do not consider it appropriate to touch the garland or prasAdha (offering) of Siva since they are nirmAlyam (unfit or useless). Hence, as thirumangai AzhwAr said in thivezhukURRirukkai “ARupodhisadaiyOn” – matted hair with the weight of river, since gangai stayed on in his matted hair, she contacted the rancid smell and connectivity with the matted hair. Since kAviri did not have such flaws and since periya perumAL lies amidst her tributaries, does she not have a superior sanctity over gangai? Even though gangai has that flaw since she stayed in sankaran’s matted hair, since she became the “SrIpAdha thIrtham” (water from divine feet) of emperumAn, wherever she went, her sanctity overshadowed her fault. poygai  AzhwAr, in his mudhal thiruvandhAdhi 97 said “undhan adi sErndhu aruL peRRALanRE podi sEr anarkangaiERRAn avirsadai mERpAyndha punaRgangai ennum pErppon” – gangai, who flowed into the matted hair of rudhran to purify him, attained your divine feet and received your grace so that she could purify all those who had committed sins. kAviri’s greatness is that such an emperumAn came on his own and lay down amidst her tributaries.

naduvupAttu – in the middle. Just as he lay down in the lap of yaSOdhAppirAtti, periya perymAL lay down in the middle of kAviri to rest awhile.

pongu nIr parandhu pAyum pUmpozhil arangam thannuL – due to excess flow of water and with the excessive joy of impending dharSan of periya perumAL, kAviri is coming in with lot of enthusiasm, throwing waves all over. parandhu pAyum – instead of coming in as a narrow stream, she is coming with lot of desire, touching both shores. pUm pozhil arangandhannuL – due to the copious flow of water, the gardens are always full of flowers. With water flow suiting the softness of periya perumAL , with the gardens looking as if it is always spring season, the dhivyadhEsam (divine place) removes the ennui of all persons. By saying gangaiyil punidhamAya the sancity of thiruvarangam (SrIrangam) and by saying pongunIr parandhu pAyum pUmpozhil the sweetness have been indicated.

engaL mAl – emperumAn appears as the epitome of affection towards his followers. By saying engaL [our] he takes in other AzhwArs and others who have surrendered to emperumAn and who have left their protection fully with him. By initially talking about the sanctity of the place and then its sweetness, it would appear superficially that emperumAn is lying there because of these two reasons. But if one were to delve deeper, it would be clear that he is lying there only to show his thirumEni (divine form) to his followers out of the profound affection that he has towards them. Azhwar hints that it is not only affection, but also the result of natural relationship with followers.

iRaivan – the reason for the affection is because he is their swAmy (lord).

Isan – not only is he their lord, he also has the power to control them and guide them towards virtuous ways. Thus with these three words [engaL mAl, iRaivan and Isan] he shows that emperumAn shows affection towards his followers, is their lord and controls them. Thus, preventing his followers from getting involved in worldly matters which are controlled by the three guNas [saththva, rajas and thamas], he wishes to take them to nithya vibhUthi (SrIvaikuNtam) where they can enjoy permanently and is lying here, at SrIrangam, to get ownership of his possessions [the AthmAs who are willing to come to SrIvaikuNtam) with his quality of vAthsalya (motherly affection)

kidandhadhOr kidakkai – leaving aside the three auspicious qualities just mentioned previously, Azhwar is now showing how he has been trapped by the beauty of emperumAn’s divine lying posture. Had he been in the divine standing or divine sitting posture, it might have been possible to forget that. To emphasise that it is not possible to forget his divine lying posture, AzhwAr is using the word Or (as in kidandhadhOr) which emphatically says that he is non pareil. For the beautiful people of the world, their beauty would be enhanced when they are in standing or sitting but would be totally erased when they are lying. In the case of periya perumAL, his beauty surpasses everything when he is in the lying posture. Did not pirAtti admire and enjoy this, as mentioned in SrI rAmAyaNam yudhdha kANdam 38.25 “SrImAn sukha suptha:” – emperumAn who was lying down and looked beautiful? Or kidakkai – He is using the word Or to emphasise that he is not sure whether emperumAn is lying on one side or lying supine. It is clear that it is AzhwArs’ natue to be immersed in emperumAn’s divine postures. If he is standing, they would say as in periya thirumozhi “nilaiyAra ninRAn” – he was standing so beautifully; if he is sitting, they would say as in thiruvAimozhi “pirAn irundhamai kAttinIr” – you showed us your beauty in sitting posture, and as in this pAsuram if he is lying down.

kaNdum enganam maRandhu vAhzgEn – If this had not been enjoyed before, it might have been forgotten. But, having enjoyed this posture, how can it be forgotten? Enganam maRandhu vAzhgEn – AzhwAr says, “when this matter is like food for me, how can I forget this and subsist on worldly matters which are like sand? If I forget this, there is no way that I can sustain with other matters”

EzhaiyEn EahziyEnE – even If I approach emperumAn with greed, to enjoy him, since he cannot be enjoyed fully, I am unable to enjoy. If I separate from him, I am unable to sustain myself. Thus in both ways, I have become impoverished. EzhaiyEn EzhaiyEnE – if Ezhmai were to refer to weakness, since time immemorial, I had become weakened due to involvement in worldly pursuits. Now, getting involved in the immeasurable beauty of bhagavath vishayam (related to emperumAn), I have become weakened as I cannot go for other worldly pursuits too. Earlier, due to karma for a very long time, I had become weakened. Now, due to involvement with emperumAn, I have become weakened, is another meaning for this term.

We shall proceed to the 24th pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dasan

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