thirumAlai – 25 – kuLiththu mUnRu

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

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avathArikai (Introduction)

In the last 10 pAsurams, AzhwAr recounted the great assistance that periya perumAL  provided him. In the previous pAsuram the love that he showed towards emperumAn was in line with emperumAn’s greatness as it was the love born out of the achith (insentient) body with which he is associated. That love was something similar to the clarity that a mentally ill person gets on occasions, not being credible. He wonders “What should I do?” about his heart and stands in pity. He says “I should give up my connection with this body so that I would not have to suffer like this, reach paramapadham (SrIvaikuNtam) and have permanent experience. But I do not have any means for that” and feels sad. Seeing this, periya perumAL says “Why do you feel sad? To attain me, after getting rid of this body, there are several means available in the SAsthrams (sacred texts). One can observe karma yOgam, gyAna yOgam or bhakthi yOgam (path of carrying out deeds, knowledge and devotion respectively) suited to menfolk in brAhmaNa, kshathriya and vaiSya varNas (classes). Or, carry out SaraNAgathi (surrendering) which is common for these three varNas as well as the fourth varNa (SUdhra), women, children, others born in lower castes and animals without any difference. Or recite the divine names of emperumAn. Thus you can follow any one of these means and attain me”. Azhwar responds saying that “I do not have any qualification for following any of these means” and states that he does not have anything in his hand (Akinchanyam), starting from this pAsuram, until the 34th pAsuram. But, one can ask whether this is not in contradiction with the gyAnam and bhakthi that he had shown in the earlier pAsurams. Those were granted by emperumAn’s grace to enjoy him and they will not be the means for attaining him, says AzhwAr. Whatever experience he had obtained through emperumAn’s grace should last not only in this birth, but also in paramapadham and for that he does not have any means, he says in this pAsuram. In this first pAsuram, among these 10 pAsurams, he says that he does not have involvement in karma, gyAna, bhakthi mentioned very clearly in SAsthrams for thraivarNikas (brAhmaNas, kshathriyas and vysyas).

Let us see the pAsuram and its meanings.

kuLiththu mUnRu analai Ombum kuRikoL andhaNamai thannai
oLiththittEn enkaN illai ninkaNum paththan allEn
kaLippadhen koNdu nambi kadalvaNNA kadhaRuginREn
aLiththenakku aruL sey kaNdAy arangamA nagaruLAnE


Word by Word Meanings

arangamAnaruLAnE – Oh, thiruvarangA!
kuLiththu – after having a bath
mUnRu analai – the three types of agni (the element, fire)
Ombum – to have the qualification for carrying out karma with agni
kuRikoL – that which is difficult to ward off any shortcoming due to wrong-doing with manthram (reciting Slokas)
andhaNamai thannai – being a brAhmaNa
oLiththittEn – I had driven off
en kaN illai – I do not have (the knowledge of AthmA related matters)
nin kaN paththanum allEn – I do not have love towards you

(When things are like this)
kaLippadhu enkoNdu – (the one without repentence) how can I be glad
nambI – the one who is full (with auspicious qualities such as simplicity)
kadalvaNNA – the one has form like an ocean
kadhaRuginrEn – I am calling out to you
enakku – in my matter
aLiththu aruL sey kaNdAy – you must bless me by bestowing me with everything, beginning with being qualified

vyAkhyAnam (Explanatory Notes)

kuLiththu mUnRu ….AzhwAr tells emperumAn “a person born as a brAhmaNa has to take bath thrice a day, worship three types of agnis [agni is dhEvathA for the element fire; agni also means fire], carry out sandhyAvandhanam” is what you have written in SAsthras. But I have not carried out any of these from the day that I was born, thus acting against your commands. kuLiththu – there are different types of baths. nithyasnAnam is what is done three times a day, morning, noon and evening. naimiththika snAnam is what is done for a specific purpose, for example on days of eclipse (both solar and lunar). prAyaSchiththa snAnam is bath taken as an angam (part) after committing a mistake and prior to carrying out atonement for it. Thus there are different types of snAnams. One cannot carry out only one among these and avoid out the rest. These are all independent. Since taking a bath is a qualification for carrying out karma (deed or action) such as sandhyAvandhana, kuLiththu as mentioned here is to be considered as being a qualification for carrying out all karmas. While it is a rarity to carry out all the karmas as mentioned in SAsthras, AzhwAr says that it is rare for him even to observe this act [of taking a bath] which is a qualification for carrying out karmas. mUnRu analai – three types of anal (fire) are mentioned: gArhapathyam, AvahanIyam and dhakshiNAgni. anal is the thamizh equivalent of the samskritha word analam. “na vidhyathE alam yasya sa: analam” is the definition for the word analam (that which does not have a state called “enough” is analam) [agni will never say “enough”. As one puts things into it, it will go on burning and consuming them]. The reason for AzhwAr using the word anal instead of agni is because it will never be satisfied with any worshipping and will keep expecting more and more worshipping.  mUnRu anal – while observing even one anal is a rarity, SAsthram has specified that a brAhmaNa should observe three anals. Ombum – just as a mother runs with food and water behind an emaciated child, a brAhmaNa has to run behind these anals with umi (husk) and samiththu (sticks) for worshipping them. kuRikoL – while observing any religious rite, there are a few faults which will entail. Some of these are: manthralOpam – mistake in pronouncing the manthra; kriyAlOpam – mistake in observing the rite; dhravyalOpam – faults in the materials used in the rite; kAlabhEdham – difference in the time when the rite is observed; dhEvathAvyathyayam – reciting the name of the wrong dhEvathA. Thus even if one of these mistakes is committed, the benefit of carrying out the rite will not be obtained. It is like taking a wrong step and falling down to one’s death and hence one has to be very careful while following these rites. Unlike emperumAn who is pleased by a mere anjali and forgets all the faults in his ASrithar (follower) this is not like that. What is this? andhaNamai – the essence of being a brAhmaNa. What happened to it? oLiththittEn – my activities were such that it is not only that I lost the essence of being a brAhmaNa, but I brought indignity to the entire community of brAhmaNas. When some people see true brAhmaNas, I had made them say “these people belong to the same community as this person who has lost the essence of brAhmaNa!”,  thus bringing disrepute to them also. The meaning hinted by AzhwAr is that when he did not even  have the quality of being a brAhmaNa, there is no possibility of his carrying out karma yOgam.

“Alright, you don’t have karma yOgam, but there is a possibility for gyAna yOgam, is it there?” asks emperumAn …

enkaN illai – there is nothing in me regarding this. The opinion here is that I do not have any knowledge about myself. Since I do not have any knowledge about AthmA, which is the basis for gyAna yOgam, there is no possibility for gyAna yOgam being in me. When it is known that there is no karma yOgam, which is a prerequisite for gyAna yOgam, why should one say separately that he has no gyAna yOgam? The reason for this is that even if he did not have karma yOgam in this birth, it is possible that he had attained completeness in karma yOgam in the previous birth, and had died at that time. Due to the benefit of this karma yOgam in the previous birth, he might have been bestowed with gyAna yOgam at the beginning of this birth. AzhwAr denies this too.

In that case, is at the least bhakthi yOgam present in you? asks emperumAn

ninkaNum paththanallEn – I do not have even an iota of affection towards you, when those who see you cannot but have a deep desire for you. Since he does not have the affection which is the prerequisite for bhakthi yOgam, he denies having bhakthi yOgam in him. When he denied having karma yOgam and gyAna yOgam, which are the prerequisites for bhakthiyOgam, is it required to say that he does not have bhakthi yOgam? laghvathri smruthi says “janmAnthara sahasrEshu thapOgyAnasamAdhibi: I narANAm kshINapApAnAm krishnE bhakthi prajAyathE II” (after observing karma gyAna yOgams in tens of thousands of births, for those who get rid of sins (which are the hurdles for the commencement of bhakthi yOgam), bhakthi towards krishNa begins).  Thus, karma and gyAna yOgams could have been completed in the previous births and bhakthi yOgam could have begun at the start of this birth. AzhwAr says that even this is not the case. Also, “gyAnabhakthiyanvitham karma janakAdhishu dhruSyathE I karmabhakthyanvitham gyAnam prAyENa b harathAdhishu II karmagyAnAnvithA bhakthi: prahlAdhapramukhASrayA II” (karma yOgam, with gyAna yOgam and bhakthi yOgam as its parts, is seen in people like janaka [father of sIthAp pirAtti] as a means of attaining mOksha (liberation); gyAna yOgam, with karma yOgam and bhakthi yOgam as its parts, is seen in people like jatabharatha as a means of attaining mOksha; bhakthi yOgam, with karma yOgam and gyAna yOgam as its part, is seen in people like prahlAdha as a means of attaining mOksha). Thus it used to be said in purANas that each of karma, gyAna and bhakthi yOgams, with the other two as its parts, is a means of attaining mOksha. Hence in line with this, it could be said that AzhwAr admitted that he did not have any of the three yOgams in him. “thryaNAmapi yOgAnAm thribhiranyOnyasangama:” (in each of karma, gyAna, bhakthi yOgams, the other two are mingled well); “AthmArthdhi chEththrayO’pyathE thathkaivalyasya sAdhakA:” (if one likes AthmAnubhavam (experiencing AthmA, the self), each of karma, gyAna, bhakthi yOgams will be a means of attaining athmamAthrAnubhavam, also called as kaivalya mOksham).  ALavandhAr in his gIthArtha sangraham divined each of these three yOgams as means for attaining kaivalya mOksham. Thus, one can surmise from ALavandhAr’s SrIsUkthi  (divine composing) that for a person immersed in kaivalya mOksham, if he were to remember emperumAn in his last moments for enjoying him, each of these three yOgams will be the means for attaining paramamOksham (utmost liberation). Hence, our pUrvAchAryas also agreed with this purANa characteristics. SrI bhagavath gIthA 3.20 says “karmaNaiva samsidhdhimAsthithA janakAdhaya:” (people like janaka attained mOksha only through karma). Again, gIthA 4.32 says “SrEyAn dhravyamayAth yagyAth gyAnayagya: paranthapa! I sarvam karmAkilam pArththa! gyAnE parisamApyathE II” (Hey arjuna! In karma yOgam, supplemented with gyAnam, the part played by gyAna (knowledge) is greater than that played by dhravyam (material). All the karma, with all its means, end in gyAnam).  Again, gIthA 11.54 says “bhakthyA thvananyayA Sakya ahamEvam vidhOrjana! I gyAthum dhrashtum cha thathvEna pravEshtuncha paranthapa II” (Oh arjuna! One who roasts the enemies! Only with the assistance of bhakthi, I, like this, can be truly known, seen and attained). Thus, we can consider through gIthA that, all the three yOgams could be taken as means, individually, aligning with purANa characteristics. Thus, starting with kuLiththu mUnRu, AzhwAr showed that he has no connection with karma, gyAna, bhakthi yOgams. nammAzhwAr in “nORRa nOnbilEn”, ANdAL in “kaRavaigaL pinsenRu” and ALavandhAr in sthOthra rathnam 22 “na dhrma nishtO’smi nA chAthmavEdhI na bhakthimAmthvachcharaNAravindhE I akinchanO’nyagathi: SaraNya! thvathpAdha mUlam SaraNam prabadhyE II”  (Oh emperumAn, fit to be surrendered unto! I am not steeped in karma yOgam; I do not have Athma gyAnam too; I do not possess bhakthi in your divine feet; having no other means and no other place to go, I affirm that your divine feet are the means for reaching you), advanced their emptiness [possessing nothing] as a supplement to their means [for attaining emperumAn].

periya perumAL , as his considered opinion, divined “AzhwIr! Just as knowledgeable people do, your advancing your emptiness is a rarity. Since you are thinking of advancing your emptiness, which is a means for my grace, is there any hurdle to get the benefit?”…..

kaLippadhen koNdu – with what can I rejoice that I will attain the means? Even though I do not have karma, gyAna, bhakthi yOgams, I do not even have the repentence that I do not have them. Even if I have that repentence, as you said in gIthA 18.66 “sarvadharmAn parithyajya mAm Ekam SaraNam vraja I aham thvA sarva pApebhyO mOkshayishyAmi mA sucha: II” (leaving aside all karmas with their traces, as a means of attaining me, take refuge only under me as the means. I shall liberate you from all the sins. Do not feel sad) you could  grant me protection. When I do not have even that, with what can I console myself, asks the AshwAr. Thus he has convinced himself that he does not have even repentence that he has nothing in him. emperumAn tells him “since you do not even have repentence, I do not have any alternative other than giving you up”. AzhwAr responds “though I do not have anything with me as means for attaining you, you are full of auspicious qualities, with which you can offer me the means through your mercy”

nambI – AzhwAr asks emperumAn “Are you not complete in all the auspicious qualities just as I am complete in being without anything as a supplement for means?”  Just as ANdAL said “kuRai onRum illAdha gOvindhA” (one without any fault) soon after saying “aRivonRumillAdha Aykkulam” (we are from the cowherd clan without any gyAnam), AzhwAr also calls him “nambi” being full of auspicious qualities, soon after admitting his emptiness.

kadal vaNNA – Are dhEvarIr’s (your highness) auspicious qualities such as simplicity etc required for completeness? dhEvarIr’s mere beauty of physical form is sufficient for me as a means, says AzhwAr. kamba rAmAyaNam says “karuNaiyangadal kidandhanan karungadal nOkki” (the beautiful, merciful ocean [emperumAn] laydown, looking at the black ocean). In the same way, periya perumAL is lying at SrIrangam. As said earlier “aiyappAdu aRuththuththOnRum azhagan” (pAsuram 15) “Adharam perugavaiththa azhagan” (pAsuram 16) AzhwAr had mentioned this physical form only as his means. Thus, the meaning indicated [by AzhwAr] here is that even though he does not have anything with him, the SaranyAn (one who offers refuge) emperumAn has auspicious qualities and physical beauty and hence he does not have to lose.

periya perumAL  divines “since you have known that you have nothing with you and also that I am complete in auspicious qualities, there is nothing beyond this for you to get the means”…

kadhaRuginREn – was I patient with firm belief in the means? Just as those who follow karma, gyAna, bhakthi yOgams cry out that there has been no benefit for their efforts, I am also wailing till the ears of those who listen to this, get ruptured. After I had rid myself of protecting self, it should have been my pastime to sing praises on you, looking at the beauty of your lying posture. Instead of that, I had brought bad name to you by making people say “when emperumAn blesses even those who show a little bit of affection, why is he not coming to the aid of AzhwAr who is wailing like this?” emperumAn asks of the AzhwAr “If you do not have anything beneficial with you, what do you want me to do?”

aLiththenakkU aruL sey kaNdAy – you should create repentence in me after making me an object of your causeless mercy. emperumAn asks, “what is the compulsion that I should do good to you, starting with creating repentence?”

arangamA nagar uLAnE – the purpose of your coming to this place and lying down like this is only to protect people like me who do not have anything in them. If you wanted to protect only those who do not have any shortcoming, there was no need for you to come here. You could have stayed back in paramapadham and protected nithyasUris and mukthas. Isn’t it your purpose of showing the beauty of your lying posture and showing your simplicity by being under the control of archakars (priests who carryout kainkaryam to emperumAn), only to create everything for samsAris starting with taste [in your matters] and to protect them?

We shall proceed to the 26th pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dasan

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