Monthly Archives: December 2016

sthOthra rathnam – 1

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In first SlOkam, as a person who sets out to praise some one, he will praise that person’s wealth, and since for a vaishNava, his real wealth is gyAnam (knowledge) and vairAgyam (detachment), ALavandhAr salutes nAthamunigaL‘s excellence in both of them. It is said in mudhal thiruvanthAdhi 43 “thanamAya thAnE kai kUdum” (wealth such as paramabhakthi etc will occur themselves), that for a vaishNava, bhakthi etc are the wealth.

namO’chinthyAdhbhudhAklishta gyAna vairAgyarASayE |
nAthAya munayE’gAdhabhagavadh bhakthisindhavE ||

Word by word meaning

achinthya – incomprehensible
adhbhutha – amazing
aklishta – easily attained (by the grace of bhagavAn)
gyAna – of the knowledge
vairAgya – of the detachment
rASayE – like a collection
munayE – one who meditates upon bhagavAn
agAdha bhagavadhbhakthi sindhavavE – ocean of deep devotion towards bhagavAn
nAthAya – to nAthamunigaL
nama: – I offer my salutations

Simple Translation

I offer my salutations to nAthamunigaL who is a collection of incomprehensible, amazing knowledge and detachment which were easily attained (by the grace of bhagavAn), who meditates upon bhagavAn and is an ocean of deep devotion towards bhagavAn.

vyAkyAnam (Commentary)

  • nama:ALavandhAr is saying “I am not for me; I am a servitor of periya mudhaliyAr (nAthamunigaL)” as said in “ahamapi na mama | bhagavatha EvAhamasmi …” (nama: is said to be the bestower of the thinking “I am not for me; I am a servitor of bhagavAn”). As said in vishNu shadaksharI [vishNu manthram] “namO vishNavE“, ALavandhAr says “namO nAthAya” out of gratitude. This is common practice as seen in “namO vishNavE“, mahAbhAratham SAnthi parvam 344.45 “nama ithyEva vAdhina:” (The definition of the residents of SvEtha dhvIpa applies to the mukthAthmAs (liberated souls) as well. They are always performing anjali (joined palms out of reverence); they are blissful as a result of that; they constantly recite “nama:“), yajur AraNyakam 4 “nama rushibhyO manthrakrudhabhya:” (I salute the rishis who have realized the manthra), vishNu dharmam 90 “thEshAmapi namO nama:” (I salute those who salute yagya varAha bhagavAn). Since ISwaramunigaL (nAthamunigaL’s father) auspiciously named him SrIranganAthan, he came to be known as nAthan.

With the desire to explain such nAthamunigaL’s nature, ALavandhAr proceeds further.

  • achinthya – implies that we cannot think that nAthamunigaL‘s knowledge etc are like some one else’s [there is no comparable person to him]; also, explains that even most knowledgeable person cannot estimate his qualities such as knowledge etc.
  • adhbutha – since previous iyaththArAhithyam (inability to measure/determine) is explained, here it explains that for one who understands his qualities within their ability, his knowledge etc are enjoyable [amazing].
  • aklishta – Unlike vyAsa et al who acquired their knowledge through self efforts, since his knowledge etc were acquired by the grace of bhagavAn as said in SrI bhagavath gIthA 10.10 “dhadhAmi budhdhiyOgam tham” (for those who are desirous to be with me always and worship me, I lovingly bestow the knowledge to reach me) and in thiruvAimozhi 1.1.1mayarvaRa madhi nalam aruLinan” (bhagavAn blessed me with faultless knowledge and devotion), there was no difficulty [in acquiring them].
  • gyAna – gyAnam (knowledge) is knowing about thathva thrayam – chith (sentient entities), achith (insentient entities) and ISwara (God). That is, knowing that AthmA is exclusive servitor of ISwara, achith is to be given up and ISwara is the controller of both. gyAnam means knowing this aspect; It is explained that any knowledge other than on bhagavAn, only leads to disaster and is very lowly as said in SrIvishNu purANam 6.5.87 “thath gyAnam agyAnamathO’nyadhuktham” (That which leads to supreme lord is gyAnam; everything else is agyAnam (ignorance)) and SrIvishNu puraNam 1.19.41 “vidhyAnyA SilpanaipuNam” (that which leads to mukthi is gyAnam; everything else is as good as stitching sandals [just a skill to get a task completed]).
  • vairAgya – As a result of this distinguished knowledge, one would be desireless in anything other than bhagavath vishayam. periya thirumozhi 6.1 “vENdEn manai vAzhkkaiyai” (I don’t want the householder’s life).
  • rASayE – rASi means collection/group.
  • gyAna rASayE – vairAgya rASayE – While gyAna and vairAgya are mentioned in singular, why is there a mention of “rASayE” (collection)? Since bhagavAn’s svarUpa (nature) etc [rUpa (forms), guNa (qualities) etc] are many, the target of knolwedge is also many. As said in vihagESvara samhithai “pitharam mAtharam …” (Oh bhagavAn! I give up my father, mother, wife, children, relatives, friends, teachers, wealth etc with the traces and surrender unto your divine feet which measured the worlds), since there are many aspects to be given up – collection of vairAgyam is also applicable. It can also be said that all the knowledge and detachment of wise people are contained in nAthamunigaL’s knowledge and detachment. This can be seen in chAndhOgya upanishath 4.1.4 “yath kinchith prajAs sAdhu kurvanthi yasthadhvEdha yathsa vEdha sa mayaithadhuktha ithi” (whatever good deeds performed by anyone, they are found in raikva; whatever is known to raikva is what everyone else knows. Such raikva is spoken by me now) and in SrIbhAshyam 1.3.33 “lOkE yathkinchith sAdhvanushtitham karma yachcha sarva chEthanagatham vigyAnam thadhubhayam yadhIyagyAnakarmAnthargatham sa raikva ithi Aha” (All karma (good deeds) and gyAna (knowledge) of the world are seen in one person and that person is raikva).
  • munayE – As said in SrIvishNu purANam 1.17.39 “na vivEdhAthmanO gAthram” (That prahlAdha who was bitten by deadly snakes and having his mind focussed on krishNa, due to being situated in blissful meditation of bhagavAn, did not realise his body) and “paSyannapi na dhrushtavAn” (Not seeing while seeing), constantly meditating upon emperumAn who is to be meditated upon. periya thirumozhi 9.3.3 “Edhu seydhAl maRakkEn mananE” (What will make me forget you? [I cannot forget you]) and thiruvAimozhi 5.3.5 “en nenjam avan enRE kidakkum” (my heart is always attached to him). When he was meditating upon krishNa, even the king’s arrival did not disturb him.
  • agAdha bhagavath bhakthi sindhavE – While bhakthi is a tranformation of knowledge, it is separately highlighted to explain the abundance of that and the importance of that. bhakthi is anububhUshai (desire for affectionate engagement) as said in linga purANam uththara bhAgam “snEhapUrvam anuidhyAnam bhakthi:” (repeated friendly meditation is called bhakthi) and “svAmini dhAsasya snEhamayI sthithi:” (the state of friendship of a servitor towards his master). The term “bhagavAn” (bhagavath) indicates emperumAn’s form in paramapadham. He remains with all six qualities [gyAna, bala, aiSwarya, vIrya, Sakthi, thEjas] in perfection as said in “vAsudhEvO’si pUrNa:” (You remain complete with six qualities).
  • agAdha – akshObhya (unshakeable). Another meaning – cannot be measured; no one can be steady in it.
  • sindhavE – thiruvAimozhi 7.3.6 “kAdhal kadalin migap peridhu” (my love for you is greater than the ocean) and periya thirumozhi 4.9.3 “Asai ennum kadal” (the ocean of desire), while ISwara himself cannot be steady in it, he is immersed in it.

In the next article we will enjoy the next SlOkam.

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ఆర్తి ప్రబంధం – 8

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ఆర్తి ప్రభందం

<<ఆర్తి ప్రబంధం – 7

ramanujar-alwai (2)

పాశురం 8

తన్ కుళవి వాన్ కిణఱ్ఱైచ్ చార్న్దిరుక్కక్ కన్డిరున్దాళ్
ఎన్బదన్ఱో అన్నై పళియేర్కిన్ఱాళ్ – నన్గు ఉణరిల్
ఎన్నాలే ఎన్ నాసమ్ మేలుమ్ యతిరాసా
ఉన్నాలే ఆమ్ ఉఱవై ఓర్

ప్రతి పద్ధార్ధం

తన్ కుళవి – తన శిశువు (ఎవరైతే) ఒకవేళ
చార్న్దిరుక్క – దగ్గర
వాన్ కిణఱ్ఱ – ఒక పెద్ద (లోతైన) బావి (ఒకవేళ ఆ శిశువు ఆ బావిలో పడి చనిపోయినచో)
ఎన్బదన్ఱో – అప్పుడు ఈ జగమతయు చెప్పును
కన్డిరున్దాళ్ – ఆ శిశువు యొక్క తల్లి చూచెను (బావి వద్దకు వెళ్ళూట చూచెను కాని అశ్రధ్దగ ఉండెను)
అన్నై – (తుదుకు) ఆ తల్లి
యేర్కిన్ఱాళ్ – బాధ్యతను తీసుకొనెను
పళి – తప్పును
నన్గు ఉణరిల్ – ఒకవేళ పదిలముగా ఆలోచించినచో
ఎన్నాలే – “పాపములు” అను అగాధమైన పల్లములో ఉన్న నేన్ను
ఎన్ నాసమేలుం – నన్ను నాశనము చెసినైనను
ఎతిరాసా – ఓ! యతిరాజ!!!
ఓర్ – దయచేసి నాకు వివరింపుము !!
ఉఱవై – బాంధవ్యం
ఆమ్ – అది స్థాపించబడినది
ఉన్నాలే – మీ (మరియు నా) వలనే ( ఒక తల్లికి తనయునకు ఉండు బాంధవ్యమే శ్రీ రామానుజులు మరియు మణవాళ మామునులు పంచు కొనుటచే ఈ జగము తనయుడిని కాపాడుకుండుండుటకు తల్లినే తప్పు పట్టును కాని తనయుడిని కాదు)

సామాన్య అర్ధం

ఈ పాశురములో మణవాళ మామునులు శ్రీ రామానుజులు అడిగిన ప్రశ్నకు సమాధానము ఇచ్చెను. శ్రీ రామానుజులు ” నేను ఒక తల్లి తన శిశువును కాపాడునట్టు మిమ్ము కాపాడవలెనని చెప్పుచున్నారు. కాని మీ గురించి ఆలోచించుము. మీ యొక్క దుష్కర్మములు పెరుగుచుండెను మరియు సత్ కర్మములు ఏమియూ లేవు. అట్టి వారిని నేనెలా కాపాడెదను” అని మామునులను ప్రశ్నించెను. దానికి మణవాళ మామునులు శ్రీ రామానుజులతో సమాధానముగా, ఒక వేళ వారు కాపాడనిచో అది వారికి ఒక మాయని మచ్చగా మారును అని చెప్పెను. ఈ విషయమును ఒక చక్కని ఉపమానముతో ఇక్కడ వివరించెను. తనను తాను కాపడలేని శిశువుకు ఒకవేళ ఏదైనను హాని కలిగినచో, ఈ లోకము తల్లినే దూషించును. ఒకవేళ 5 సంవత్సరము కూడ నిండని పసికందు చనిపోయునచో, అది ఆ శిశువు యొక్క తల్లిదే ఆపరాధమని, వారి అజాగ్రత వలనే మరణము సంభవించునని శాస్త్రములో చెప్పబడినది.


ఒకవేళ ఇదేళ లోపల పసికందు చనిపోయినచో, శాస్త్రము ఆ పసివాణ్ణి తల్లి యొక్క అలక్ష్యమే కారణమని దూషించును. ఇట్టి కళంకము నుండి దూరముగా ఉండుటకు, ఆ తల్లి ఎల్లప్పుడు మెలుకవతో కాపాడవలెను. ఆ తల్లి ఎప్పుడు కంటిన నూనెను పొసుకొని గమనించుకొనవలెను. ఉదాహరనకు ఆ తల్లి యొక్క చంటి శిశువు బాగ లోతైన బావి వద్ద వెళ్ళేను.అది ఆ తల్లి చూడలేడు. ఒకవేళ ఏదైన చెడు (ఆ శిశువు బావిలో పడి చనిపోయినచో) జరిగినచో, ఆ తల్లియే దానిని భరించవలెను. ఈ లోకము ఆ తల్లి చూచి కూడ ఏ మాత్రము గమనించలేదని నిందించును. మణవాళ మామునులు “ఓ!! యతిరాజా !! అటులనే, అగాఢమైన లోతైన ఈ పాపములు అను గుంతలో ఉన్న నేను, నన్ను నాశనము చేసుకొన్నచో, మీరు దయచేసి నాకు మరియు మీకు ఉన్న సంబందమును గుర్తు చేసుకొనుము. మీరు నాకు తల్లి, నేను మీ తనయుడను. ఈ బాంధవ్యమే మీకు సమస్యను తీసుకొనవచ్చును. ఎందుకనగా తల్లియే శిశువు యొక్క మరణమునకు బాద్యత వహించవలెను. అందువలనే మన మధ్య ఉన్న బంధమును ఆలోచించి, మరల నా కోరికను పరిశీలించుము. మన మధ్య ఉన్న సంబంధముచే మీరు నన్ను ఎప్పుడు రక్షించ వలెను.” అని చెప్పెను.  ఈ సందర్భమున మనం పిళ్ళై లోకాచార్యులు, వారి శ్రీ వచన భూషణము, సూత్రం #371 “ప్రజయైక్ కిణఱ్ఱిన్ కరయిల్ నిన్ఱుం వాన్గాదొళిన్దాల్ తాయే తళ్ళినాళ్ ఎన్నక్ కడవదిరే” నందు ఇదే విషయము గూర్చి తెలియ జేయుటను ఙ్ఞప్తి చేసుకొనవచ్చు.

అధనపు విషయము

ఈ పాశురములో మణవాళ మామునుల చమత్కారమును గమనించవచ్చును. ఆ తల్లి తన శిశువు యొక్క మరణమునకు కారణమైనట్లు, యతిరాజులు తన పాపములకు కారణమని ఇక్కడ నేరుగా చెప్పలేదు. ఆ అర్థమున ఇక్కడ మట్లాడలేడు. తన కర్మములు మాత్రమే తాను ఈ అగాధమైన పాపుములలో చిక్కుకొనుటకు కారణమని, యతిరాజులు ఏ విధమునా తన పాపములకు బాధ్యులుకారని స్పష్టపరిచెను. కాని యతిరజులతో తనకున్న తల్లి-తనయుడు అను బాంధవ్యము గూర్చి వారిని ఆలోచించమని కోఱెను. ఈ బాంధవ్యముచేతనే యతిరాజులను మణవాళ మామునులు తనను రక్షించవలెనని ప్రార్ధంచెను. ఒకవేళ రక్షించనిచో ఈ లోకము తాను పాపములతో క్షయించునప్పుడు కాపడలేదని యతిరాజులను నిందించునని వివరించెను.

అడియేన్ వైష్ణవి రామానుజ దాసి

మూలము :

పొందుపరిచిన స్థానము –

ప్రమేయము (గమ్యము) –
ప్రమాణము (ప్రమాణ గ్రంథములు) –
ప్రమాత (ఆచార్యులు) –
శ్రీవైష్ణవ విద్య / పిల్లల కోసం –

sthOthra rathnam – avathArikai (Introduction)

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<< thaniyans

nathamuni-alavandharnAthamunigaL and ALavandhArkAttu mannAr kOyil

sarvESvaran out of his causeless grace, reveals his true nature, forms, qualities and wealth as said in thiruvAimozhi 1.1.1mayarvaRa madhi nalam aruLinan” (blessed nammAzhwAr with faultless knowledge and devotion). Since that gyAnam (knowledge) is bhakthirUpApanna gyAnam (knowledge which culminated into devotion), AzhwAr with parabhakthi (first stage of pure devotion – full knowledge about bhagavAn) enjoyed bhagavAn’s qualities. He then acquired paragyAnam (next stage of pure devotion – clear visualization of bhagavAn as if seeing him physically) and as a result acquired paramabhakthi (final stage of pure devotion – the stage before ascending to paramapadham). As a result, as said in chAndhOgya upanishath 8.12.2 “param jyOthir upasampadhya” (reaches the supreme light, nArAyaNa), muNdaka upanishath 3.1.3 “paramam sAmyam upaithi” (jIvAthmA attains equality (in eight qualities) with supreme lord) and in periya thirumozhi 11.8.5 “thammaiyE okka aruL seyvar” (emperumAn will bless the AthmA to become like him), AzhwAr realised his true self and attained kainkaryam (service to lord) as said in thiruvAimozhi 3.3.1 “vazhuvilA adimai seyya vENdum” (desire to engage in service without any break) and thiruvAimozhi 10.10.11 “avAvaRRu vIdu peRRa” (nammAzhwAr, who attained liberation to be fulfilled of all his desires).

periya mudhaliyAr (nAthamunigaL) obtained this confidential knowledge of dhrAvida upanishath (thiruvAimozhi) by nammAzhwAr’s grace. ALavandhAr obtains this confidential knowledge through the teachings of AchAryas, meditates upon them and being unable to control the love, due to the overflowing emotions and unable to bear the despicable state of samsAris (worldly people), thinking that they cannot be ignorant about this confidential knowledge, reveals this most confidential knowledge of all upanishaths and most difficult to learn principles, as sthOthram (praises) to be known by everyone.

In matters/persons other than bhagavAn, sthOthram means flattery (praising non-existing qualities) and praising the limited available qualities as explained in SrI sthavam 3 “sthOthram nAma kimAmananthi” (How does poets praise?) and in SrI rangarAja sthavam pUrva Sathakam 19 “anyathrAthadhguNOkthi:” (In matters other than bhagavAn, praising means speaking about non-existing qualities). But bhagavath vishayam is explained to be beyond comprehension as said in thaiththirIya upanishath Anandhavalli 9.1 “yathO vAchO nivarthanthE” (the words returned being unable to glorify bhagavAn‘s quality of bliss fully and even the mind cannot comprehend that), kEna upanishath 2.3 “avigyAtham vijAnathAm” (for the knowers, brahmam is unknown) and so on. How is such bhagavAn praised here? Though he cannot be praised comprehensively, he can be glorified since

  • bhagavAn himself likes to be praised as said in SrIvishNu sahasranAmam “sthavya: sthavapriya:” (he is praiseworthy and he likes to be praised) and
  • there is enough glories in him to be spoken about as said in thiruvAimozhi 2.2.11Eththa Ezhulagum koNda” (measured and accepted the worlds to be glorified by all) and in thiruvAimozhi 4.3.10 “Eththa Eththa engeydhum” (there is no end to his glories even if everyone praised him) and
  • our words/speech have no other duty than praising emperumAn.

 Another explanation [Introduction focussing on prApyam (goal) and prApakam (means)].

[First, goal is explained.] purushArtham is explained as four in SrIvishNu purANam 1.18.22 “dharmArtha kAma mOkshAkyA: purushArthA udhAhruthA: | idham chathushtayam ” (These four – dharma (righteous actions), artha (wealth), kAma (sensual pleasures) and mOksha (liberation) are explained as goals) and in periya thirumadal 11 “mannum aRam poruL inbam vIdu” (the four aspects which remain firmly – dharma, artha, kAma and mOksha).  Among these, though dharma is a goal as well as means [i.e., performing the righteous actions are means as well as goal], it involves difficulty. artha is an independent goal, yet, it is temporary, difficult to retain and is means to accomplish other goals. kAma too is an independent goal, yet fraught with being insignificant, temporary, disastrous [contrary to the nature of enlightened self], disgusting etc., and also highlighted as a hurdle for mOksha in mOksha SAsthram. Placing these aside, ALavandhAr looked at mOksham. In mOksham too, he first discarded kaivalya mOksham (eternally enjoying oneself) since that too is attained through difficult process which is to be performed for a very long period of time, and the result is insignificant when compared to enjoyment of bhagavAn and finally focussed on bhagavath prApthi (attaining bhagavAn after liberation) which does not have any of the aforementioned defects. Not only that, bhagavAn is explained to be perfectly blissful as said in SrIvishNu purANam 6.5.58 and 6.5.59 “nirasthAthiSayAhlAdha sukhabhAvaikalakshaNA” (having the greatest bliss as his identity) and would also bestow the same bliss on his devotees as said in thaiththirIya upanishath Anandhavalli 7 “Esha hyEvAnandhayAthi” (He only gives pleasure to jIvAthmA), muNdaka upanishath “paramam sAmyamupaithi” (attain the supreme similarity) and periya thirumozhi 11.3.5 “thammaiyE okka aruL seyvar” (emperumAn  will bless those who worship him to become similar to him). Since he is easily attained and is the apt goal as said in SrI bhagavath gIthA 8.14 “thasyAham sulabha:” (I am easy to attain), bhagavath prApthi (attaining of bhagavAn) is considered as the best goal.

The different stages/aspects of attaining bhagavAn are explained with pramANams (references from the sacred texts) to conclude the best among those.

ALavandhAr explains how jIvAthmA and paramAthmA have a servitor/lord relationship:

  • SvEthASvathara upanishath 6.16 “pradhAna kshEthragyapathir guNESa:” (bhagavAn is the lord of matter and souls; he has auspicious qualities)
  • SvEthASvathara upanishath 1.9 “gyAggyau dhvAvajAvISanISau” – paramAthmA and jIvAthmA are omniscient and ignorant respectively; they are lord and non-lord (servant) respectively.
  • SvEthASvathara upanishath 6.7 “thamISvarANAm paramam mahESvaram” (the supreme lord of those who are considered as lords)
  • nAradha telling puNdarIka [rishi] “dhAsOham vAsudhEvasya” (I am a servant of vAsudhEva)
  • hArItha smruthi, ISvara samhitha – Siva’s words “dhAsabhUthAs svathas sarvE” (Aren’t all AthmAs naturally servants of paramAthmA?)
  • SrI rAmAyaNam sundhara kANdam 42.35 hanumAn’s words “dhAsOham kOsalEndhrasya” (I am the servitor of SrI rAma, the lord of kOsala kingdom)
  • subAla upanishath 7 “yasyAthmA SarIram” (for whom (paramAthmA), this AthmA (soul) is a body)
  • yajur AraNyakam 3.11.21 “antha: pravishtaS SAsthA janAnAm sarvAthmA” (bhagavAn who is entered in all creatures, controls them)
  • Apasthamba sUthram 22.1 “pU: prANinas sarva Eva guhASayasya” (All creatures are abodes for paramAthmA who is reclining in every heart, who is imperishable and faultless)
  • SrIvishNu purANam 1.22.86 “thAni sarvANi thathvapu:” (everything is a SarIram (body) for that paramAthmA)

He then explains the natural joyful interaction between jIvAthmA and paramAthmA:

  • parama samhithA “yEna yEna dhAthA gachchathi” (wherever the lord goes, the servitor follows)
  • thaiththirIya upanishath “sOSnuthE sarvAn kAmAn saha brahmaNA vipaSchithA” (jIvAthmA enjoys all the auspicious qualities of bhagavAn, along with him) and in periya thiruvanthAdhi 78 “OvAdha UNAga uN” (enjoy as eternal bliss).
  • jithanthE sthOthram 1.13 “kAmayE vaishNavathvam thu sarva janmasu kEvalam” (I desire to be born as a vaishNava only)
  • SrI rAmAyaNam ayOdhyA kANdam 31.25 lakshmaNa says “aham sarvam karishyAmi” (I will carry out all kainkaryams).
  • thiruvAimozhi 3.3.1ozhiviil kAlamellAm” (At all times)

Based on these, he concludes that as a chaste wife would lovingly serve her husband (husband’s bodily needs), a jIvAthmA would lovingly perform kainkaryam to bhagavAn.

Further, different aspects of kainkaryam are explained:

  • bhagavAn is said to be the attainable goal in SrIvishNu purANam 6.5.58 and 6.5.59 “bhEshajam bhagavath prApthi:” (attaining bhagavAn is the best medicine), it is due to the fact that he is the recipient of our kainkaryam;
  • it is said in chAndhOgya upanishath 8.12.2 “svEna rUpENAbhinishpadhyathE” (attains natural realisation/blossoming of self) that self-realisation is the prApyam (goal) due to the fact that realised soul is the abode of pure devotion;
  • it is said in katOpanishath 1.3.9 “sOdhvana: pAramApnOthi thadhvishNO: paramam padham” (One who has true knowledge as driver and mind as the restraint, he reaches vishNu’s divine abode which is on the other shore of material realm) that spiritual realm is goal due to the fact that one’s kainkaryam develops there.
  • it is said in jithanthE sthOthram 1.4 “nistharanthi manIshiNa:” (they cross over the ocean of material realm) that the removal of hurdles (samsAram) is the goal, since it is a hurdle for one’s kainkaryam.

If any/all of these are not leading to kainkaryam, they are not to be treated as goals as said in SrI rAmAyaNam sundhara kANdam 26.5 sIthA says “na hi mE jIvithEnArtha:” (There is no use of my life, body, ornaments etc., when I am in separation from SrI rAma) and as said in thiruvAimozhi 4.8.1 “maNi mAmai kuRaivilam” (there is no use of my beautiful complexion), thiruvAimozhi 4.8.9 “udambinAl kuRaivilam” (there is no use of my body), thiruvAimozhi 4.8.10 “uyirinAl kuRaivilam” (there is no use of my self).

A chaste wife would be focussed on serving the beautiful body of her husband more than his true self, his qualities and as such there is no deficiency in her chastity due to that [Since she is serving her husband with the right attitude, one cannot say wife is attached only to husband’s body]. Similarly, a devotee of bhagavAn would be focussed on thadhIya SEshathvam (being servitor of the devotees of bhagavAn) which is explained as a goal in itself [since bhagavAn’s devotees are considered as bhagavAn’s different bodies/forms and bhagavAn pervades them with great affection].

Thus, ALavandhAr determines the top-most goal which is the essence of all SAsthram.

[He then moves on to discuss the means for attaining the goal.]

For this goal, there are two [main] means – bhakthi [yOga] (path of devotion) and prapaththi (surrender).

Among these, bhakthi is explained using the terms vEdhana, dhyAna, upAsana etc.; it is knowledge culminated into devotion; it is gyAnam (knowledge) which facilitates direct visualization of emperumAn. Following pramANams highlight bhakthi’s nature:

  • thaiththirIya upanishath Anandhavalli 1 “bhramavidhApnOthi param” (one who meditates upon brahmam, attains that supreme brahmam)
  • bruhadhAraNyaka upanishath 6.6.6 “SrOthavayO manthavyO nidhidhyAsithavya:” (AthmA which should be heard about, thought upon meditated upon, can be seen)
  • katOpanishath 1.2.23 “nAyamAthmA pravachanEna labhya:” (This paramAthmA cannot be attained by mere hearing, meditation etc without devotion)
  • muNdaka upanishath 2.2.9 “thasmin dhrushtE parAvarE” (once that paramAthmA is seen, the jIvAthmA‘s lust, anger etc are destroyed, doubts are cleared and karmas are eliminated)
  • Sri bhagavath gIthA 11.54 “bhakthyA thavanyayA Sakya” (I cannot be attained without devotion)
  • SrI bhagavath gIthA 18.54 “madhbhakthim labhathE param” (One who is equally detached towards everyone, attains supreme devotion towards me)

bhatkthi yOga should be supported with fire sacrifices; it should be supported with karma yOga and gyAna yOga – so it can only be performed by qualified persons [thraivarNikas – men belonging to brAhmaNa, kshathriya and vaiSya varNams only]; the result is attained after a very long period of time only; there is scope for slipping from the process.

Discarding bhakthi yOga due to these defects, ALavandhAr determines prapaththi, which does not have any of these defects, to be the best means due to its being established in Sruthi (vEdham) and smruthi (manu smruthi etc), easy to perform, and which is adhyavasAyAthmaka gyAna viSEsham (a special type of knowledge which is in the form of complete faith) based on the following pramANams.

  • SvEthASvathara upanishath6.18 “mumukshurvai SaraNamaham prapadhyE” (I, who desire to be liberated, surrender unto parama purusha (bhagavAn) who first created brahmA, who instructed vEdham to the created brahmA …).
  • thaiththirIya upanishath nArAyaNavalli 50 “nyAsamAhur manIshiNO brahmANam” (Wise explain paramAthmA as nyAsa (surrender))
  • thaiththirIya upanishath nArAyaNavalli 49 “nyAsa ithi brahmA” (nyAsa is brahmam)
  • thaiththirIya upanishath nArAyaNavalli 50 “thasmAn nyAsamEshAm thapasAm athirikthamAhu:” (Thus, this nyAsa (SaraNAgathi) is said as the top-most penance).
  • yajur kANdam 6.5 “thasmAdhapi vadhyam prapannam na prathiprayachchanthi” (If one has surrendered, even if he is qualified to be killed, he should not be identified to others).
  • SrI rAmAyaNam ayOdhyA kANdam 31.2 “sa bhrAthuS SaraNau gAdam nipIdya ragunanadhana:” (lakshmaNa held his brother SrI rAma’s divine feet tightly and spoke)
  • SrI rAmAyaNam yudhdha kANdam 18.33 “sakrudhEva prapannAya” (even if one surrenders once, I will never abandon him).
  • SrivishNu purANam 5.23.47 “sO’ham thvAm SaramapAram apramEyam” (I surrendered unto the one who has no one higher than him, who is endless and cannot be comprehended)
  • SrI bhAgavatham 11.5.41 “sarvAthmanA yaS SaraNam SaraNyam nArAyaNam lOka gurum prapanna:” (One who is fully surrendered to SrIman nArAyaNan, he is neither indebted to nor servitor of dhEvas, rishis, creatures, relatives and pithrus (ancestors)).
  • SrI bhagavath gIthA 7.14 “mAmEvayE prapadhyanthE mAyAm EthAm tharanthi thE” (one who is surrendered to me, will cross over the ocean of nescience).
  • SrI bhagavath gIthA18.62 “thamEva SaraNam gachcha sarvabhAvEna bhAratha” (Oh descendant of bharatha! surrender unto that bhagavAn only)
  • SrI bhagavath gIthA18.66 “sarvadharmAn parithyajya” (give up all dharmas and surrender unto me only)
  • SrIvishNu purANam 1.9.73 “thAvathArthis thathA vAnchA” (Only until one surrenders unto you, he will have the desire to acquire wealth and the worry of not acquiring wealth and so on)

Why did ALavandhAr who set out to praise bhagavAn, start praising AchArya [He praises nAthamunigaL in the first three SlOkams]? Isn’t this unrelated as in the proverb “karNE sprushtE kadim chAlayathi” (when his ears are touched, he is shaking his hip)? It is, of course, related due to the following reasons:

  • the gratitude of making him (ALavandhAr) praise bhagavAn
  • to have the expanded knowledge to praise bhagavAn
  • to pray for obstacle-free completion of the prabandham

Can this praise be not done in the mind [should it have to be expressed through words]? Since it will be a great favour to those who are desiring to learn this prabandham, to have it expressed through words is apt.

Worshipping AchArya out of gratitude is well established from various pramANams.

  • thaiththirIya upanishath SIkshAvalli 11 “AchArya dhEvO bhava” (Consider AchArya to be God)
  • yajur AraNyakam 4 “nama  rushibhyO manthrakrudhbhya:” (I worship the rishis who realised the manthram)
  • Apasthamba sUthram 1.1.6 “sa hi vidhyAthas tham janayathi | thachchrEshtam janma ||” (AchArya gives re-birth to Sishya through knowledge; that is the higher birth)
  • vishNu thathvam “manthrE thadhdhEvathAyAncha thathA manthra pradhE gurau” (One should be devoted to the manthram, the dhEvathA who is explained in that manthram and the AchArya who instructed the manthram).

Further, when some one gives a precious gem, it is obvious to be grateful towards such person who gave the precious gem. Do we need any special proof from scriptures for that?

It is also seen in practice of elders to praise the AchArya to have one’s knowledge flourish.

  • mImAsaka – mImAmsA kArikA “abhivandhya gurunAdhau Sishya dhIpadhminIravIn” (First worshipping AchAryas who are like sun for the lotus which is the knowledge of Sishyas)
  • manu – manu smruthi 2.218 “yathA kanan kanithrENa” (Like a man will dig a pit in the earth to fetch water, a Sishya attains knowledge by serving the guru)
  • vaiSampAyana rishi – mahAbhAratham Adhi parvam 1.27 “yasya prasAdhAth vakshyAmi nArAyaNa kathAm imAm” (I worship the unlimited, radiant vyAsa bhagavAn by whose grace I am reciting this history of nArAyaNa).
  • manu – manu smruthi 2.117 “laukikam vaidhikam vA’pi” (One should first worship the guru from whom one learned worldly knowledge, scriptural knowledge and knowledge about brahmam)

This being the case, why did ALavandhAr worship his AchArya’s gurus instead of worshipping his own AchArya (maNakkAl nambi)? Praising what is desired by one’s AchArya is better than praising one’s own AchArya; since his AchArya would greatly desire ALavandhAr praising periya mudhaliyAr (nAthamunigaL), ALavandhAr follows suit. Two reasons are cited for ALavandhAr taking shelter of nAthamunigaL:

  • nAthamunigaL, by the grace of nammAzhwAr, acquired the great knowledge that was acquired by AzhwAr due to AzhwAr’s great devotion towards bhagavAn, instead of curtailing that knowledge with him, desire to bestow the favour of sharing it with the future generation, and thus became dharSana sthApaka (presiding AchArya) of our sampradhAyam.
  • maNakkAL nambi tells ALavandhAr “all these principles are explained by nAthamunigaL; your connection with his divine feet is the means for your ultimate goal”.

Only due to this consideration, bhattar too said in SrIvishNu sahasranAma bhAshyam “prathamamapi gurum nAthamIdE” (I worship nAthamunigaL as well who is the first AchArya).

As praNavam which is the origin of vEdham is recited at the beginning and the end of vEdham, here, AchArya is praised in the beginning and end and bhagavAn is praised in between. First, ALavandhAr worships nAthamunigaL in three SlOkams.

In the next article, we shall see the first SlOkam.

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The vyAkhyAtha (commentator) has given the connection of each pAsuram with the previous pAsuram, for all the 45 pAsurams in this prabandham.

  1. Instead of aiming for a benefit at random, the thirunAma sankIrthanam that he composed with reciting itself being the benefit, enabled AzhwAr to keep his feet on the heads of yama and his followers, says the AzhwAr in he first pAsuram.
  2. For one who is enjoying the sweetness of thirunAma sankIrthanam, even paramapadham is not required, says the AzhwAr in the 2nd pAsuram.
  3. He does not want birth in samsAram which is a hurdle for reciting thirunAma sankIrthanam, confirms the AzhwAr in the 3rd pAsuram.
  4. Even when sinners such as kshathrabandhu are qualified to recite the divine names, the samsAris are losing out on that and are suffering, says AzhwAr in the 4th pAsuram.
  5. Those who desire lowly and transient pleasures in the samsAram such as enjoying the company of women etc are fooling, he says in the 5th pAsuram.
  6. He mentioned about the unsteadiness of those who go after such pleasures, in the 6th pAsuram.
  7. He advised those who tried to follow philosophies which went against vEdhas such as bhaudhdha, samaNa etc and reach mOksha, that only chakravarthi thirumagan (SrI rAma) is apt to be taken refuge under, in the 7th pAsuram.
  8. In the 8th pAsuram, he said that killing those who did not accept the above, but went ahead in abusing emperumAn, would be beneficial both to them and to the world.
  9. In the 9th pAsuram, he told those who were willing to accept his words but said that it is difficult to attain SrI rAma, to hold on to kaNNan, who is very simple.
  10. When they said that kaNNan is not present now, AzhwAr told them to hold on to periya perumAL who is none else than kaNNan himself, in the 10th pAsuram.
  11. In the 11th pAsuram, he said that those who did not take refuge under periya perumAL lacked the grace of emperumAn even when they were in the womb.
  12. Even if he had been able to attain periya perumAL, he feels saddened at the sufferings of other samsAris who are not able to attain him, in the 12th pAsuram.
  13. In the 13th pAsuram, he wants the samsAris to say “thiruvarangam” in order to uplift themselves.
  14. To get over the weariness of having counselled samsAris, he recites the divine names of thiruvarangam in the 14th pAsuram.
  15. In the 15th pAsuram, he mentions about the knowledge created by emperumAn about the natural relationship that he has with him.
  16. In the 16th pAsuram, he mentions how his devotion grew in proportion to the huge bhagavath vishayam.
  17. In the 17th pAsuram, he mentions how one of his senses, eyes, without even expecting him, fell over bhagavath vishayam and enjoyed.
  18. In the 18th pAsuram, he mentions how the enjoyment of his eyes led to flooding of his eyes with tears of joy.
  19. In the 19th pAsuram, he mentions how his body, which is insentient, involved with bhagavath vishayam like a sentient entity and melted.
  20. In the 20th pAsuram, he says that those who know of their relationship with thiruvarangan and his beauty will not leave him.
  21. In the 21st pAsuram, he says that he cannot measure the greatness of emperumAn with his heart.
  22. In the 22nd, he says that he cannot measure emperumAn through his speech.
  23. In that case, one can live forgetting him. But it is not possible to forget him, he says in the 23rd pAsuram.
  24. In the 24th, he says that his affection towards emperumAn is deceitful as it is not commensurate with emperumAn’s greatness.
  25. In the 25th pAsuram , he says that he does not have karma, gyAna, bhakthi yOgams which have been mentioned in SAsthras.
  26. In the 26th pAsuram, he says that he does not have means for mOksham such as worshipping and praising emperumAn, which are common for all, including women and 4th varNa people.
  27. In the 27th pAsuram, he says that he does not have the good thoughts that animals such as monkeys and squirrels had (in helping emperumAn).
  28. When the elephant [gajEndhrAzhwAn] was in distress, he had full faith in the means, and AzhwAr says in the 28th pAsuram that he did not have that too.
  29. In the 29th pAsuram, he says that he does not have the distinguishing connection with a dhivyadhESam.
  30. In the 30th pAsuram, he says that not only did he not have any good things in him, he also had many bad things, such as harming others, in him.
  31. He says in the 31st pAsuram that he became persona non grata for his relatives who have been with him for many years.
  32. Having no good things, and having all bad things in me, I still came and stood before you, because I am a fool, says the AzhwAr, in the 32nd pAsuram.
  33. The reason for this is that I have no shame in me, he says in the 33rd pAsuram.
  34. Since such a person as I should not reduce the greatness of emperumAn (like poison being added to milk), I decided to leave, he says in the 34th pAsuram.
  35. Due to his quality of simplicity, emperumAn took me back, when I tried to leave him, says AzhwAr in the 35th pAsuram.
  36. In the 36th, he cries out the emperumAn to shower his grace him [by taking him to SrIvaikuNtam]
  37. Since that did not happen, he feels sorrowful, in the 37th pAsuram.
  38. Once periya perumAL looked at him with comforting eyes, AzhwAr asks him “do you have so much of affection towards your follower who wants to attain you, through you as prApyam (goal) and prApakam (means)?” in the 38th pAsuram.
  39. In the 39th pAsuram, he says that those who have this knowledge will not have any shortcoming because of being born in low birth.
  40. Such people will not suffer because of earlier sins (such as harming others) that they may have committed, in the 40th pAsuram.
  41. They will also sanctify those with whom they are in touch, he says in the 41st pAsuram.
  42. They are also apt to be worshipped like emperumAn, he says in the 42nd pAsuram.
  43. Those who abuse them because of their low birth or behaviour, even if they are born in high birth, will become like wretch, says the AzhwAr in the 43rd pAsuram.
  44. By indicating the great advantage that an elephant had, which even brahmA et al could not derive, AzhwAr talks about his own advantage, in the 44th pAsuram.
  45. AzhwAr, in the 45th pAsuram, divines on the benefit that one would get by learning this prabandham.

That brings us to the end of exposition on thirumAlai sangathi.

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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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thiruvAimozhi – 4.2.11 – meliyum nOy

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Previous pAsuram


Introduction for this pAsuram

Highlights from thirukkurukaippirAn piLLAn‘s introduction

No specific introduction.

Highlights from nanjIyar‘s introduction

In the end – AzhwAr says that those who are well versed in this decad, among the thousand pAsurams, mercifully spoken by him on the divine feet of krishNa, who united with him to relieve him of his unbearable anguish, will be comparable to ayarvaRum amarargaL (nithyasUris – eternal residents of paramapadham).

Highlights from vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar‘s introduction

Subsequently, AzhwAr mercifully says “those who learn this decad will attain the result of uniting with nithyasUris”.

Highlights from periyavAchchAn piLLai‘s introduction

See nanjIyar‘s introduction.

Highlights from nampiLLai‘s introduction as documented by vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai

Eleventh pAsuram. In the end – AzhwAr says “Those who can recite this decad, will become comparable to nithyasUris”.


meliyum nOy thIrkkum nam kaNNan kazhalgaL mEl
mali pugazh vaN kurugUrch chatakOpan sol
oli pugazh Ayiraththu ippaththum vallavar
mali pugazh vAnavarkkAvar naRkOvaiyE


Word-by-Word meanings (based on vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar‘s 12000 padi)

meliyum – the cause for such weakness
nOy – separation
thIrkkum – one who will cure
nam – who is easily approachable for devotees
kaNNan – krishNa
kazhalgaL mEl – on the divine feet
mali – well developed (persevering even in separation)
pugazh – having fame
vaN – laudable
kurugUr – leader of AzhwArthirunagari
satakOpan – nammAzhwAr
sol – mercifully spoke
oli – glorious
pugazh – completeness of all attributes
Ayiraththu – among the thousand pAsurams
ippaththum – this decad as well
vallavar – those who can understand the mood and recite/practice
mali – abundance
pugazh – having bhagavath anubhavam (experience of bhagavAn)
vAnavarkku – for nithyasUris
nal – laudable
kOvai Avar – become united

Simple translation (based on vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar‘s 12000 padi)

nammAzhwAr, the leader of the laudable AzhwArthirunagari, mercifully spoke thousand pAsurams which have completeness of all glorious attributes on the divine feet of krishNa who is easily approachable for his devotees and who will cure the separation which causes such weakness in AzhwAr. Those who can understand the mood and recite/practice this decad as well, will become laudable and united with nithyasUris who are having abundance of bhagavath anubhavam.

vyAkyAnams (commentaries)

Highlights from thirukkurukaippirAn piLLAn‘s vyAkyAnam

See vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar‘s translation.

Highlights from nanjIyar‘s vyAkyAnam

See nampiLLai‘s vyAkyAnam.

Highlights from periyavAchchAn piLLai‘s vyAkyAnam

See nampiLLai‘s vyAkyAnam.

Highlights from nampiLLai‘s vyAkyAnam as documented by vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai

  • meliyum nOy thIrkkum – Mother withdraws her support thinking that it will “weaken” her daughter [Mother’s words stop after “meliyum” – after that it is AzhwAr‘s words in his natural mood], but the [real] owner (emperumAn) will not abandon [his property]. periya thirumozhi 8.9.7 “peRRAr peRRozhindhAr” (My parents gave birth to me and abandoned me subsequently) etc.
  • nam kaNNan – It is well established in sacred texts that emperumAn will come for help whenever there is danger as said in SrI bhAgavatham kANdam 10 “thAsAmArAvirabhUch chauri:” (krishNa arrived amidst the cowherd girls with a smiling beautiful lotus like face and yellow garment like a cupid for cupid himself). On the divine feet of krishNa who can cure the disease of separation which is the cause for her weakened state.
  • mali pugazh … – The glory acquired by AzhwAr due to longing for emperumAn as in “I want to experience his forms which are from distant place/time”. Mercifully spoken by such glorious AzhwAr.
  • oli pugazh Ayiraththu ippaththum vallavar – Those who can recite this decad which expressively explains the auspicious qualities of emperumAn who caused such longing in AzhwAr and who also drove away such longing without a trace by accepting AzhwAr.
  • mali pugazh vAnarkku Avar naRkOvaiyE – [It is not that AzhwAr becomes comparable to nithyasUris, instead] They will become comparable to AzhwAr. nithyasUris long for bhagavAn while eternally/fully enjoying him [desiring for more such experience]; AzhwAr longs for bhagavAn in the abode where people have no such longing in separation of bhagavAn; so, “longing for bhagavAn” is common for both nithyasUris and AzhwAr – thus they both are comparable.
  • naR kOvai Avar – He will be a good combination with vAnavar [i.e., AzhwAr will fit in perfectly among nithyasUris].

AzhwAr thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
emperumAnAr thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
piLLAn thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
nanjIyar thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
nampiLLai thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
periyavAchchAn piLLai thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
jIyar thiruvadigaLE SaraNam

In the next article we will enjoy the next decad.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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thirumAlai – 44 – peNNulam sadaiyinAnum

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avathArikai (introduction)

AzhwAr says that all the eminence that he had mentioned for the bhAgavathas (followers) of emperumAn would fit them well, considering that an animal, gajEndhran, got the rare-to-obtain benefit that even people like brahmA et al could not get. Through this incident, he also indicates the benefit that he had obtained and brings this prabandham (poetic composition) to an end [the next pAsuram gives the benefit for those who learn these pAsurams].

Let us enjoy the pAusram and its meanings.

பெண்ணுலாம் சடையினானும் பிரமனும் உன்னைக் காண்பான்
எண்ணிலா  ஊழி ஊழி தவம் செய்தார் வெள்கி நிற்ப
விண்ணுளார் வியப்ப வந்து ஆனைக்கன்று அருளை ஈந்த
கண்ணுறா உன்னை என்னோ களைகணாக் கருதுமாறே.

peNNulAm sadaiyinAnum piramanum unnaik kANbAn
eNNilA Uzhi Uzhi thavam seydhAr veLgi niRpa
viNNuLAr viyappa vandhu AnaiakkanRu aruLai Indha
kaNNuRA unnai ennO kaLaigaNAk karudhumARE


Word-by-word Meaning

peN ulAm – gangA moving about
sadaiyinAnum – sivan, having matted hair
piramanum – and brahmA
unnaik kANbAn – to see you
eN ilA Uzhi Uzhi – for innumerable periods [Uzhi is the time of deluge]
thavam seydhAr – those who did penance
veLgi niRpa – putting their heads down in shame (since they could not see you)
anRu – during that time
Anaikku – for SrI gajEndhrAzhwAn (who got trapped in the crocodile’s jaws)
vandhu – (to liberate him) coming to the shore of the pond
viN uLAr viyappa – making even the nithyasUris amazed
aruLai Indha – providing your grace
kaNNuRa – one who is blind [in not seeing the shortcomings of followers]
unnai – you
kaLaigaNA – being the refuge for all
karudhum ARu ennO – how to think?

vyAkhyAnam (commentary)

peNNulAm sadaiyinAnum – Siva, who has expansive matted hair so that gangA can move about. The opinion is – is it possible to see sarvESvaran by having the pride of controlling gangA inside his matted locks? It is pertinent to recall thirumazhisai AzhwAr’s nAnmugan thiruvandhAdhi 4 “ARu sadaikkarandhAn aNdarkOn thannOdum kURudaiyavan enbadhum koLgaiththE” (is it proper to say that rudhran, who is holding gangA, hidden in his matted hair, is equal to sarvESvaran?

piramanum – and brahmA, who created that Siva. SrI rAmAyaNam yudhdha kANdam 120.3 says “karthA sarvasya lOkasya brahmA brahmavidhAm vara:” (one who creates all the words and who is the greatest among brahmagyAnis (those who know brahmam, emperumAn)). Can such brahmA, thinking of the pride of giving knowledge to jIvAthmAs like a school teacher, attain emperumAn? He can at the most count the people that he has created and their pApa and puNya (sins and virtues), having created them. Can he measure the immeasurable emperumAn? poygai AzhwAr in his mudhal thiruvandhAdhi 56 says “kadikkamalam thannuL irundhum kANkilAn kaNNan adikkamalam thannai ayan” (despite being inside the lotus flower which sprang from emperumAn’s navel, brahmA has not seen the divine lotus feet of krishNa).

unnaik kANbAn – to see you. thaiththirIya upanishath says “yathO vAchO nivarthanthE” (trying to measure the qualities of emeprumAn, vEdhas returned, unable to measure). Your (emperumAn’s) greatness is such that vEdhas could not measure even one of your auspicious qualities. However much nithyasUris enjoy you, they cannot see your limits. To see such an emperumAn . SrIvishNu purANam 5.1.49 says “niravadhya: para: prApthEr niradhithO’kshara: karma: I sarvESvaraparAdhArO dhAmnAm dhAmAthmakO’vyaya: II” ((you) are faultless; are rare to attain; do not have one to support you; are indestructible; have unlimitedly supreme joy; are the support for all who are engaged with you, the Isvara; are the radiance for all radiant materials; are faultless). It is not that the others do not know your limits. Even you do not know your limits. nammAzhwAr said the same in his thiruvAimozhi 8.4.6 “thanakkum than thanmai aRivariyAn” (even he does not know his inherent quality). kANbAn – only after seeing him can I get a benefit from him. Unless he makes himself available to be seen, others, however great gyAna (knowledge) or Sakthi (power) they may have, cannot see him with their capabilities. thaththirIya upanishath nArAyaNavalli 1.10 says “na sandhruSE thishtathi rUpamasya na chakshushA paSyathi kaSchanainam” (his form is such that it cannot be seen by [our] eyes; no one sees him with his eyes). rig vEdham says “na mAmsa chakshurabhivIkshathE tham” (his form cannot be seen by these eyes made of flesh). vishNu dharmam says “na mAmsa chakshushA dhrashtum brahmabhUtha: sa SakyathE” (he, the brahmam, is rare to be seen by these eyes, made of flesh). Thus, the vEdha SAsthras thundered that he cannot be seen easily.

eNNilA Uzhi Uzhi thavam seydhAr veLgi niRpa – those who carry out penance for long years such as the period of deluge, step back from their penance with shame, thinking ”the person, to see whom we are carrying out this penance, has not yet come”. dhEvathAs on whom hiraNya, rAvaNa et al carry out penance to grant them benefits, carry out penance on him. mahAbhAratham sabhA parvam 14.8 says “yuga kOti sahasrANi vishNumArAdhya padhmabhU: I punasthrailOkyadhAthruthvam prApthavAnithi SuSruma II” (we hear that brahmA, born in a lotus flower, did penance for thousands of crores of yugas [each yuga is 43,72,000 years by our metrics] and became the head for the three worlds again). veLgi niRpa – the opinion here is that instead of doing penance for crores of years it would have been better had they fallen into the jaws of a crocodile, and hence they felt ashamed. vishNu dharmam 69.47 says “paramApadhamApannO manasA’chinthayadhdharim I sa thu nAgavara: SrImAn nArAyaNa parAyaNa: II” (gaJendhrAzhwAn [gajEndhra, the elephant], who got into a deep trouble, who had the wealth of kainkaryam [service to emperumAn] and one who had nArAyaNa as the supreme refuge, meditated on hari [nArAyaNa]). Thus, these dhEvathas felt ashamed that instead of surrendering to emperumAn due to the danger of samsAram, their decision to carry out penance with their own efforts has been proved wrong.

viNNuLAr viyappa vandhu nithyasUris were surprised that emperumAn was ignoring them as well as dhEvathAs such as brahmA, who were toiling like this, in order to fall at the feet of an animal, with his divine dress and divine hair dishevelled. They marvel at his simplicity. bhattar in his SrIrangarAja sthavam 2.57 says ”athanthrithaSamupathiprahithahastham svIkrutha praNithamaNipAdhukam kimithi chAkulAntha:puram I avAhanaparishkriyam pathakarAjamArOhatha: kripravarabrumhithE bhagavathasthvarAyai nama: II” (I salute the speed with which you came to climb on periya thiruvadi (garuda), who was not in his splendorous decor, as soon as you heard the distressing voice of gajEndhrAzhwAn, not bothering about the support for your hand that vishvaksEnar extended, not wearing the gem-studded sandals brought for you and with your womenfolk exclaiming in grief “how is this!”). Since those who wonder should be different from those who stand in shame, the term viNNuLAr refers to nithyasUris who are different from brahmA et al [who were referred to as veLgi niRpa]. vandhu – coming to the shore of the pond where gajEndhra was in distress; since AzhwAr says ”coming to the shore” instead of saying “going to the shore” it shows that emperumAn considers only that place where  his follower is present as his place and his action to assist his follower is his own.

Anaikku – without considering that brahmA et al were born in dhEva class and gajEndhra was born in animal class, emperumAn only looked at the danger that his follower was in and protected him.

anRu – that day when gajEndhra realised that his strength would not protect him. vishNu dharmam 69 says “gaja AkarshathE dhIrE grAha AkarshathE jalE I thayOrdhvandhvasamam yudhdham dhivyam varshasahasrakam II” (gajEndhra is pulling to the land; crocodile is pulling into the water; between them the battle lasted on equal front for 1000 years by dhEva metrics). When gajEndhra tried to save himself, there was no difference between him and the penance that brahmA et al had carried out for their benefit. It is pertinent to note that only when gajEndhra stepped back from protecting himself did he become greater than those people [brahmA et al]. That day you showed mercy on an elephant which was trapped in a crocodile’s jaws; today, when I am trapped in the five senses-like crocodiles of Sabdham etc [sound, sight, taste, smell and touch], you should show mercy. The elephant suffered for 1000 years; I am suffering since time immemorial. He was trapped in the shores of a small pond; I am caught in the ocean of births. The opinion here is that emperumAn should shower grace on AzhwAr who in caught in a far more serious danger than gajEndhra.

aruLaiyIndha – aruL is grace. The act of grace [of emerpumAn] was to free gajEndhra from the jaws of the crocodile, gently stroke his injured leg, to give fomentation with his vasthram (upper cloth) to comfort him, to take the flower from his trunk and place in on his [emperumAn’s] divine feet. The opinion is that in the same way emeprumAn should redeem AzhwAr from SabdhAdhi (five senses such as sound etc) matters and comfort him by making him a servitor to make up for the lost time also.

kaNNuRA – one who is blind. “Since you [emperumAn] helped me [not minding my blemishes]” AzhwAr is happy that emperumAn is without sight – this is a type of nindhAsthuthi ( praising through abuse). This shows emperumAn’s sensible quality of not expecting anything in return when he engages in ignoring those who try to protect themselves and blessing those who withdraw from protecting themselves. It shows his great masculinity. AzhwAr is surprised that this world is losing out, not knowing that emperumAn will even fall at the feet of one who desists from protecting himself and holds on to emperumAn as means, bearing in mind his emptiness.

unnai ennO kaLaikaNak karudhumARE – those who think that emperumAn is the universal protector are ignorant because they do not know that he protects only those who consider him as their means and ignores those who think that emperumAn, as well as their own efforts, will protect them. While jithanthE SlOkam 1.2 says “dhEvAnAm dhAnavAnAncha sAmAnyamadhidhaivatham ” (he is equal to both those who follow him and those who do not), since he kills entities such as crocodile to protect entities such as elephant, can we consider him to be protector for all? We could consider this also as nindhAsthuthi.

We shall now take up the last pAsuram in this prabandham.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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