thirumAlai – 38 – mEmporuL pOgavittu – Part 1

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Note: The vyAkhyAnam for this pAsuram is a fairly lengthy one; hence we shall see this in three parts. In the first part, we shall see the avathArikai and the pAsuram, with its meanings. In the second part, we shall see the vyAkhyAnam for the first two lines of the pAsuram and in the last part, the vyAkhyAnam for the last two lines.

avathArikai (introduction)

Just as gIthA charama SlOkam  (the ultimate SlOka of SrI bhagavath gIthA) is the centrepiece of mahAbhAratham, this pAsuram is the centrepiece of this dhivya prabhandham (divine composition of thoNdaradippodi AzhwAr). mahAbhAratham is  the essence of vEdhas as could be gauged from the SlOka “mathimandhAnamAvidhya yEnAsau SruthisAgarAth I jagadhdhithAya janithO mahAbhAratha chandhramA: II” (the moon called as mahAbhAratha was created by churning the seas of vEdhas by vyAsa for the well being of this world). emperumAn churned thiruppARkadal (the ocean of milk on which he lies) and gave nectar to dhEvas (celestial people). The sage vyAsa churned vEdhas and gave mahAbhAratha, which brings forth happiness among those who read it, for the well-being of samsAram. The nectar which emperumAn gave to the dhEvas was not necessarily for their well-being since it would not even allow them to die when they are in serious trouble; it is more of a millstone to them. On the other hand, the mahAbhAratha which vyAsa gave the samsAris is capable of ridding them of samsAram. Such mahAbhAratha can be termed as chakkai (residue such as from sugarcane after the juice has been extracted) when compared to SrI bhagavath gIthA. The essence of SrI bhagavath gIthA is its charama SlOkam. gIthAchAryan (krishNa), in order to highlight the lowliness of other upAyams (means for attaining emperumAn such as karma yOga, gyAna yOga etc), explained these before reciting charama SlOkam. After reciting charama SlOkam, he recited the following SlOkam highlighting the greatness of charama SlOkam “idham thE nAthapaskAya nAbhakthAya kadhAchana I nAchASuSrUshavE vAchyam na cha mAm yO’bhyasUyathi II” (this SAsthram which was recited (by me) to you should not ever be told to one who has not done any penance, to one who does not have devotion (towards you and me), to one who is not interested in it and to one who hates me). In the same way, this entire thirumAlai was created only for reciting this 38th pAsuram, mEmporuL pOgavittu. The pAsurams coming after this highlight the greatness of those who are deeply involved in the meanings of this 38th pAsuram. Thus it will be clear that just as charama SlOkam is the essence of mahAbhAratha, this pAsuram is the essence of thirumAlai. Apart from giving the meanings of charama SlOkam, this pAsuram gives the meanings of dhvayam also [dhvayam is one among the three secretive exponents of our philosophy, the other two being thirumanthram and charama SlOkam]. [dhvayam is composed of two lines, of which the first line expounds on the upAyam (means or path) for attaining emperumAn and the second, on the purushArtham (benefit or goal on attaining him)]. In this pAsuram, the benefit is mentioned in the first two lines and the means, in the next two lines. What is the reason for this reversal (from the order in which they appear in dhvayam)?

For any advantage or benefit, there are two different periods – one is vyuthpaththi vELai (time of origin) and the other is anushtAna vELai (time of execution). The time of origin is when one knows about the advantage and the time of execution is when he engages through some means in attaining that advantage. For example, there is a SAsthra vAkhyam (a sentence from sacred text) svargakAmO jyOthishtOmEna yajEtha (one who is desirous of svargam should carry out jyOthishtOma yagyam). Here SAsthram tells a chEthana (sentient entity) about the advantage, svargam. This is in the time of origin. This is why it first informs about the advantage, svargakAma, and later, it tells about the means of attaining that advantage, which is doing the jyOthishtOma yagyam.  However, at the time of execution, one has to first carry out jyOthishtOma yagyam (means) and only then attain svargam (goal). It is clear from this that the means and goal will be reversed during time of origin and time of execution. In this pAsuram, AzhwAr is talking about goal and means. Hence it is structured on vyuthpaththi vELai (time of origin). Thus, AzhwAr is talking about the goal first and then the means. In order to reach the goal, the observance of means, which is reciting the dhvaya manthram, is in the execution time. In dhvayam, the sAdhanam (means) is given first and the sAdhyam (the goal) is given next. nammAzhwAr in his thiruvAimozhi 6.10.10 “agalagillEn”  gave the meaning of the first part of dhvayam. ANdAL, in her thiruppAvai 29th pAsuramsiRRam siRukAlE” gave the meaning of 2nd part of dhvayam. This (thoNdaradippodi) AzhwAr alone has given the meanings of both halves of dhvayam in one pAsuram.

What is the link for this pAsuram with the previous (37th) pAsuram?

After AzhwAr had recited with lot of sorrow, the words “aLiyan nam paiyal ennAr ammavO kodiyavARE”, periya perumAL felt very happy in his divine mind that “despite staying in samsAram which incites involvement in worldly pursuits, he is praying for kainkaryam (service) to me as his purushArtham (benefit), in line with his svarUpam (true nature); for attaining that, instead of resorting to his own efforts, he is looking up to me; on top of that, he is feeling saddened that there is a delay in getting that purushArtham. What a great mahAthmA he is!  How great that I have got him!” The happiness in his divine mind manifested into happiness in his divine face, blessing AzhwAr. After seeing this happiness, AzhwAr says in this pAsuram “Oh one who has done me favours! Is this how your divine mind feels happy when someone attains you, gives the responsibility of protecting him to you and withdraws from protecting himself?” charama SlOkam ordains “hold on to me as means, with deep belief”, dhvayam is the manthram that those who are steadfast in this means, will recite. This pAsuram shows how happy emperumAn becomes with those who are fully involved in dhvayam and its meanings.

Let us go through the pAsuram and its meanings.

mEmporuL pOgavittu meymmaiyai miga uNarndhu
AmparisaRindhukoNdu aimpulanagaththadakki
kAmbaRath thalai siraiththun kadaiththalai irundhu vAzhum
sOmbarai ugaththi pOlum sUzhpunal arangaththAnE


Word-by-word Meaning

punal sUzh – surrounded by kAvEri
arangaththAnE – one who is sleeping in the temple
mEm poruL – the worldly matters which give an impression of being great
pOgavittu – casting aside, with trace
meymmaiyai – the Athma svarUpam (true nature of AthmA, the soul)
miga uNarndhu – knowing, as it is [completely]
Am parisu – bhagavath kainkaryam (service to emperumAn) which is the purushArtham (benefit) for AthmA’s true nature
aRindhu koNdu – knowing it
aim pulan – the five senses
agaththu adakki – controlling (instead of enjoying them)
kAmbu aRa – removing the attachment (in other means)
thalai siraiththu – removing the weight from head
un thalaikkadai irundhu – standing at your door step (as a guard)
vAzhum – those who live
sOmbarai – followers who are lazy (in looking after themselves)
ugaththi pOlum – do you not enjoy them?

 We shall consider vyAkhyAnam for the first two lines of this pAsuram, in the next part.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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