Daily Archives: December 11, 2016

sthOthra rathnam – thaniyans (invocation)

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alavandharALavandhArkAttumannAr kOyil

svAdhayanniha sarvEshAm thrayyanthArtham sudhurgraham |
sthOthra yAmAsa yOgIndhra: tham vandhE yAmunAhvayam ||

I worship that ALavandhAr who is the best among the yOgis who revealed the vEdhAntha principles which are difficult to comprehend, in sthOthram (SlOkams of praise) format to be understood easily by all.

namO namO yAmunAya yAmunAya namO nama: |
namO namO yAmunAya yAmunAya namO nama: ||

I worship ALavandhAr again and again. I cannot stop paying obeisances to him.

In the next article, we shall see the avathArikai (introduction).

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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sthOthra rathnam

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vishnu-lakshmijalavandhar-nathamunigalALavandhAr and nAthamunigaLkAttu mannAr kOyil

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ALavandhAr, a great scholar of viSishtAdhvaitha sidhdhAntham and SrIvaishNava sampradhAyam and the grand son of the revered AchArya, nAthamunigaL, revealed the most essential principles of prApyam (goal) and prApakam (means) through detailed elaboration of dhvaya mahA manthram in his sthOthra rathnam. This is the earliest known samskritha sthOthra grantham of our pUrvAchAryas which is available for us now.

periya nambi went to kAnchIpuram with the desire of facilitating iLaiyAzhwAr (SrI rAmAnuja) to become a Sishya of ALavandhAr. iLaiyAzhwAr was bringing thIrtham (water) from sALaik kiNaRu (a well) as kainkaryam for dhEvap perumAL under the guidance of thirukkachchi nambi. periya nambi recites some SlOkams from sthOthra rathnam which attracts iLaiyAzhwAr very much and brings iLaiyAzhwAr into our sampradhAyam. iLaiyAzhwAr who goes on to be famously known as emperumAnAr, had great attachment for this prabandham and used several passages from this prabandham in his SrIvaikuNta gadhyam too.

periyavAchchAn piLLai has written an elaborate vyAkyAnam (commentary) for this divine prabandham. The esoteric meanings of the sthOthrams are eloquently explained by periyavAchchAn piLLai in his commentary.

We shall now see the thaniyans for this divine treatise.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi – 62

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Introduction (given by maNavALa mAmunigaL)

amudhanAr is divining about reaching the goal due to breaking his connection with his karmas.

Introduction (given by piLLailOkam jIyar)

In the previous pAsuram, amudhanAr divined about how emperumAnAr who possesses all the auspicious qualities had searched for him to get him, and about how after voluntarily getting him to be his servant, his auspicious qualities had attained meaning/brightness; in this pAsuram – Instead of those who say ‘we don’t have subservience to emperumAnAr, nor do we have subservience to his disciples’ and so are bad and having cold heart, amudhanAr considers those who are the opposite of them, and divines about his reaching the goal due to connection with such noble ones.

irundhEn iru vinaip pAsam kazhaRRi inRi yAniRaiyum
varundhEn ini em irAmAnusan mannu mA malarththAL
porundhA nilai udaip punmaiyinOrkku onRum nanmai seyyA
perum thEvaraip paravum periyOr tham kazhal pidiththE                 62


Word by word meaning (given by maNavALa mAmunigaL)

em – head of our clan
iraAmAnusan – emperumAnAr’s
mannu – well set matching each other
mA – most worshippable
malar – and most enjoyable
thAL – divine feet
porundhA – not joining
nilay udai  – in the state of
punmayinOrkku – ones having the bad nature
onRum – at any place
nanmai seyyA – do any good things
perum thEvarai – SrIvaishNavas who are equivalent to the lord
paravum – losing to their nature and praising them
periyOr – those having great glories
kazhal pidiththu – surrendering to the divine feet of ,
inRu – today
iru – being in two ways based on good and bad deeds
vinaip pAsam kazhaRRi – got liberated from the ties of karmas
irundhEn – thus achieving the objective and being ardent;
yAn – I who was being like this
ini – here after
iRaiyum – even a little bit
varundhEn – not be involved in sorrows.

Only if there is karmam remaining will there be any sorrow – is the thought here.

Also, for porundhA, etc., it can be explained as follows. To those who are present with the thought they would not reach the divine feet of emperumAnAr, I would not do any favor even if they showed thousand farms of teeth – would be the stand of the periya perumAL the almighty; kUraththAzhvAn losing to such nature of emperumAn had done praises to Him; reaching such divine feet of kUraththAzhvAn whose glory is beyond words – then inRu  – iru vinaip pAsam kazhaRRi irundhEn – then today I am doing well having broken from ties of karmas.

There are those who recite it as ‘perum thEvanai”.

When recited as ‘punmaiyinOrkku enRum nanmai seyyA’, – it shall mean that he/they would not do any good at any day (to such lowly people).

punmaiyinOr – is – those having such inferior character/thoughts.  punmai – wrong/evil/disservice.

By thamizh grammar, inRu + yAn  shall be written as inRiyAn (and recited so as well).


em irAmAnusan – As said in ‘thasmin rAmAnujAryE gururithisapthapAthi’ , and, ‘SrImath gurUNAm kulamithamakilam thasya nAthasya SEsha:’, the lord of SrIvaishNavas that is emperumAnAr – his –

mannu mAmalarth thAL – mannu -> it is being steadfast and unwavering in the protection of those who have surrendered to one’s divine feet. Like saying ‘thiN kazhal’.

Greatness of flower is its having the qualities like radiance, tenderness, fragrance, purity etc.. The divine feet that are similarly pure and enjoyable. The divine feet that are praised as ‘seerArum ethirAsar thiruvadigaL’, and ‘azhagArum ethirAsar adi iNaigaL’.

porundhA nilaiyudaip punmaiyinOrkku – Being idiotic like fist of monkey and not come and surrender, such lowly ones having bad nature;

onRum nanmai seyyA – Not doing even a little good for such people

perum thEvarai –  thEvar: brahmA, rudhran et al.  perum thEvar:  are nithyasUris as said in ‘yathra pUrvE sAdhyAssanthi dhEvA:’. dhivyasUris having such nature;

paravum periyOr tham – The noble ones who at all times and in all ways be praising those and as mentioned in the Slokam of ‘mAthA pithA uvathaya:’, and the SlOkam of ‘bhUtham saraScha’.

periyOr – Greatness is due to knowledge, so greatness is mainly based on knowledge (gyAna pradhAnam).


One who is beyond words that is kUraththAzhvAn, his and such noble ones –

kazhal pidiththu – divine feet to be surrendered to.

irAmAnusan mannu mA malarth thAL porundhA nilai udaip punmaiyinOrkku onRum nanmai seyyA perum thEvar’ ­  – could be said as periya perumAL (He would not do any thing good for those who do not wish to surrender to emperumAnAr), and in that case, ‘paravum periyOr’  would be about parAnkuSa, parakAlan, et al.

Or, ‘perum thEvar’ can be applied to refer to emperumAnAr, and ‘paravum periyOr kazhal pidiththu’  to – being in the steadfastness of being servant to series of servants to the last level of them;

When recited as ‘punmaiyinOrkku enRum nanami seyyA’ , it shall mean to say – not helping at any time.

punmaiyinOr – is – those having such inferior character/thoughts.  punmai – wrong/evil/disservice.

After it is in this way –

irundhEn iru vinaip pAsam kazhaRRi – I am in the state of having crossed the ties that are hindrance to reaching the goal, the ties related to two types based on good and bad deeds;  since these are reasons for attachments,  they are referred as hindrance to reaching the goal;

What is to be reached is what He said as ‘sarva pApEbhyO mOkshayishyAmi’.

inRiyAn iRaiyum varundhEn ini – now I shall not suffer even for a second due to the sadness of material world (samsAram).

It concludes that as said in ‘athraiva SrIrangE sukhamAsva’ the harshness of samsAram shall not affect me even for a second, and shall be with the happy tasteful experience.


From AzhwAr thirunagari SrI u.vE. vidhwAn thirumalai nallAn chakravarththi rAmakrishNa iyengAr’s ‘amudha virundhu’ :

irundhEn –  after reaching the divine feet of devotees of emperumAnAr, I reached my destiny; so I don’t have to do anything more; I have completed what I have to do (in this world). So I can be ‘mAsucha:’ (without any worries).

kazhaRRi –  implies easily untied the karmas; this was possible because of surrendering to the divine feet of devotees of emperumAnAr; this is because emperumAn does everything as per the wishes of such noble ones – so it is very easy to remove the ties of karmas if one reaches such noble ones.

em irAmAnsan kazhal pidiththu –  The noble ones would not help in any way to the lowly ones who are against surrendering to emperumAnAr’s divine feet  – this is not because those noble ones are not kind – The good help that they can do is to show emperumAnAr’s divine feet as the destiny; if those lowly ones would not learn and follow that, then the noble ones cannot help them.

– – – – –

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thirumAlai – 45 – vaLavEzhum thavaLa mAda

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avathArikai (introduction)

In the  last pAsuram of this prabhandham, AzhwAr says that just as emperumAn destroyed kuvalayApIda yAnai (the royal elephant of krishNa’s uncle, kamsa), he destroyed those sins which were hurdles for AzhwAr to reach him and further says that emperumAn’s pleasure is his benefit, bringing this prabandham to an end.

Let us look at the pAsuram and its meanings.

வளவெழும் தவள மாட மதுரை மாநகரம் தன்னுள்
கவளமால் யானை கொன்ற கண்ணனை அரங்க மாலைத்
துவளத் தொண்டாய தொல் சீர்த் தொண்டரடிப்பொடி சொல்
இளைய புன் கவிதையேலும் எம்பிறார்க்கு இனியவாறே.

vaLavezhum thavaLa mAda madhurai mAnagaram thannuL
kavaLamAl yAnai konRa kaNNanai aranga mAlaith
thuLavath thoNdAya thol seerth thoNdaradippodi sol
iLaiya pun kavidhaiyElum empirARku iniyavARE


Word-by-word Meaning

vaLam ezhum – being beautiful
thavaLam – being white coloured
mAdam – having storied houses
mA – being great
madhurai nagaram thannuL – in vada madhurai (mathurA)
kavaLam – with mouthful of food
mAl – huge
yAnai – elephant (called kuvalayApIdam)
konRa – killed
kaNNanai – SrI krishNa
aranga mAlai – SrI ranganAthan
thuLabam thoNdu Aya – one who is engaged in thuLasi service
thol seer – one who is  fully engaged in bhAgavatha SEshathvam (being servitor to SrIvaishNavas)
thoNdaradippodi – thoNdaradippodi AzhwAr
sol – (recited) prabandham called thirumAlai
iLaiya pun kavidhai Elum – even if it has blemishes such as choice of words, poetry metrics etc
em pirARku – for my swAmy (master) periya perumAL
iniya ARE – how is it so sweet!

vyAkhyAnam (commentary)

vaLavezhum thavaLamAda – having beautiful, silver-like white coloured storied houses. AzhwAr talks about the decorations in vada madhurai (mathurA) which were missed out when kaNNan (krishNa) was born there and consoles himself by decorating with words. Since he is going to talk about kuvalayApIda (elephant) incident, it could be taken that kamsan has got the place decorated for the festival. vaLam indicates beauty and ezhum indicates excessive. thavaLa indicates whiteness.

madhurai mAnagaram thannuL – in the great city of madhurai. What is this greatness? Initially it was the place which had vAmana ASramam (the hermitage of vAmana) when emperumAn took the incarnation of vAmana. Later it was the capital of SrI Sathrugna. Finally, it was the place where kaNNan was born. Thus, since it has connection with emperumAn continuously, unlike SrIvaikuNtam which appears to be having bright lamps shining during daytime [there is not much use with the lights in the day time], this madhurai is similar to having bright lamps during night time in this ignorant samsAram and hence is greater than SrIvaikuNtam.

kavaLamAl yAnai konRa kaNNanai – the elephant kuvalayApIdam (kamsan’s royal elephant) which had eaten the food called kavaLam to make it mad, and was huge. In the previous pAsuram, AzhwAr said “Anaikku anRu aruLai Indha” (one who had shown mercy on the elephant) and here he says “yAnai konRa” (one who killed the elephant). Through this, exception to the SlOkam “dhEvAnAm dhAnavAnAm cha” (being equal to those who are his followers and who are not his followers) is being explained. AzhwAr indicates here that just as krishNa killed enemies such as kuvalayApIdam and gave himself to the people of that town to enjoy him, periya perumAL removed his sins which were the hurdles in the way of his enjoying emperumAn and gave himself to AzhwAr for his enjoyment. kaNNanai – one who came to be seen. On the day that he was born, as ANdAL says in thiruppAvai 25oruththi maganAip piRandhu Or iravil oruththi maganAy oLiththu vaLara” (he was born to one lady and in the same night he shifted his place to hide himself and to be brought up by another lady), he returned to the place which he left on the night of his birth, to be seen by everyone and to destroy his enemies such as kamsa et al. AzhwAr enjoys this greatness.

arangamAlai – since AzhwAr came after that incarnation, kaNNan incarnated as periya perumAL to remove AzhwAr’s enemies. mAlai – one who has tremendous love towards his followers. One who treats killing enemies of his followers and giving himself to his followers for their enjoyment as being for his own benefit.

thuLabath thoNdAya – one who carries out service to thuLasi AzhwAr [here thuLasi is being elevated to the level of an AzhwAr). While carrying out service to emperumAn is purushArtham (benefit or goal), carrying out service to the follower of emperumAn is defined as extreme limit of purushArtham [ellai nilam, as referred to, by our pUrvAchAryars]. Usage of the term thuLasi here implies all bhAgavathas. Service to thuLasi is equivalent to service to all bhAgavathars. When service is carried out to all bhAgavathars, sometimes there could be a chance for apachAram (offence). But in the case of thuLasi, there can be no such offence. AzhwAr, in his other prabandham thiruppaLLiyezhuchchi says in the last pAsuramthodaiyoththa thuLabamum kUdaiyum polindhu thOnRiya thoNdaradippodi “ (thoNdaradippodi who appeared with flower-like thuLasai and basket), thus making thuLasi as his identity.

tholseer – one who is fully established in the limit of bhagavath SEshathvam (service to emperumAn), which is bhAgavatha SEshathvam (service to SrIvaishNavas). By saying thuLabath thoNdAya he mentions that he is doing the service of stringing thuLasi for emperumAn and by saying tholseer he mentions the extreme limit of that kainkaryam, which is SrIvaishNava kainkaryam.

thoNdaradippodi sol – in line with his service orientation towards bhAgavathas, he has thoNdaradippodi as his name. It is clear from this that his identity is not gyAnam, Anandham or bhagavath SEshathvam [our sacred texts say that AthmA is full of gyAnam (knowledge), Anandham (happiness) and  is SEshabhUthan (carrying service to emperumAn)], but bhAgavatha SEshathvam (service to followers of emperumAn). Just as nammAzhwAr in his thiruvAimozhi 7.1.11 said “thoNdar thoNdar thoNdar thoNdan satakOpan” (SatakOpan, another name of nammAzhwAr, is emperumAn’s follower’s follower’s follower’s follower), this AzhwAr called himself as thoNdaradippodi (the dust sticking to the feet of a follower of emperumAn).

iLaiya pun kavidhaiyElumAzhwAr says that the words used by him in these pAsurams are very young, [not choosing apt words due to lack of experience] and there are faults in his verses. Even though neither of these is true, AzhwAr says this as his naichyAnusandhAnam (thinking of his lowliness).

em pirARku iniavARE – will these not be sweet to emperumAn? As we have seen earlier “kim mrushtam suthavachanam” (which is sweet to hear? It is the gibberish words of one’s child), AzhwAr exclaims “is it surprising that periya perumAL is happy with my gibberish!” Won’t the gibberish words of a child be sweet to its father? As ALavandhAr, in sthOthra rathnam 46 says “bhavanthamEvAnucharan nirantharm praSAntha niSSEshamanOrathAnthara: I kathA’hamaikAnthika nithyakinkara: praharshayishyAmi sanAthajIvitha: II” (when am I going to make (you) happy, following you constantly, getting rid of all the desires with their scents, having kainkaryam towards you uninterruptedly, having a janma (birth) which is fruitful?), making emperumAn happy is a person’s purushArtham (goal). Being a cause for emperumAn’s happiness is a chEthana’s (sentient entity’s) reason for existence. It is pertinent to remember nanjIyar’s (disciple of bhattar and AchArya for nampiLLai) words “[emperumAn’s] compassion is upAyam (means); happiness is upEyam (goal)”. Unlike other AzhwArs, this AzhwAr has not indicated the benefit for those who learn these pAsurams [in the last pAsuram] since he considers that emperumAn’s happiness is the benefit here. Just as emperumAn was happy with this AzhwAr for having strung this garland [called thirumAlai], he will be happy if people learn these pAsurams. SrI rAmAyaNa yudhdha kANdam 131.118 says “rAmAyaNam idham kruthsnam SruNvatha: patathas sadhA I prIyathE saththam rAma: sa hi vishNu: sanAthana: II” (rAmapirAn is always affectionate towards one who hears or reads this entire rAmAyaNam. Isn’t rAma, the eternal vishNu!). The benefit that SrI vAlmIki divined for those who learn SrI rAmAyaNam is also the benefit for those who learn this dhivya prabhandam.

This brings us to the end of this prabandham. In the next article, we shall see the concluding section.

periya pirAttiyAr periya perumAL thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
thoNdaradippodi AzhwAr thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
periyavAchchAn piLLai thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
jIyar thiruvadigaLE SaraNam

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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