thirumAlai – 38 – mEmporuL pOgavittu – Part 2

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In the previous part of this pAsuram, we had seen the avathArikai (introduction) and meanings of the pAsuram. In this part, we shall see the meanings of the first two lines of the pAsuram and how they reflect the meanings of the uththara bhAgam (latter part) of dhvaya mahAmanthram and meanings conveyed in thirumanthram.

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


vyAkhyAnam (commentary)

mEmporuL – vyAkhyAthA (commentator) has given three different meanings for this word: (1) superficial object; (2) pervasive object; (3) object creating eminence. In all the three meanings, this word indicates [physical] body which in turn is representative for all materialistic objects. Let us consider each of these three meanings. (1) as a superficial object – having an unnatural relationship on account of karma and once knowledge about emperumAn is born, body becomes something that need not be bothered about. Thinking that this is sweet, when jIvAthmA (chEthana or sentient entity) starts enjoying with the help of this body, it would appear superficially that this is indeed sweet; but when looked a bit deeper, since there is nothing sweet about this, we can consider that this body is a superficial object. (2) as a pervasive object – As SrI bhagavath gIthA 7.14 says “dhaivI hyEshA guNamayI mama mAyA dhurathyaya I mAmEva yE prapadhyanthE mAyAmEthAm thanthithE II” (ordained by me, this prakruthi (primordial matter) also called as mAyA, is composed of the three qualities – sAthvic (pure good), rAjasic (passionate) and thAmasic (ignorance). It is very difficult to cross over. Only those who surrender to me cross this prakruthi), this body is intertwined with the AthmA (soul), becoming nearly inseparable. This body makes the person believe that “I am dhEva” (celestial entity) or “I am manushya” (human being) since it is so closely intertwined and hence we can say that this body is pervasive. (3) as an object creating eminence – it makes people to think that they are eminent among all the persons, who know everything. Thus the body can have any of the three connotations as we have seen above, and all the other materialistic objects with which it is connected, can be called as mEmporuL.

pOgavittu – to give up with all the traces (give up completely). As long as one is with this SarIram (body) it cannot be given up. Only when a person gets the knowledge that this SarIram and its connected materialistic objects cannot be the purushArtham (benefit) [on attaining emperumAn] can it be termed as giving it up will all traces. The connection [between the body and the soul] was created by emperumAn. As we had seen in the gIthA Slokam 7.14 [in the previous paragraph] this connection cannot be severed by the chEthana. SrIvishNu purANam 7.11 says “anAthmanyAthma budhdhiryA asvE svamithi yA mathi  I samsAra tharusambhUthi bIjamEthath dhvidhA sthitham  II” (the thought that this body, which is not the true self, is the self, and thinking that those objects which are not one’s, are one’s own, are the seed with dicotyledons which enable the tree called samsAram to grow). Thus, ridding of the thought that this dhEham is AthmA, that the objects in this samsAram which  are connected to this dhEham are one’s own and thinking of AthmA, which is different from dhEham, as svathanthran (one who is independent) is called as pOgavittu (giving up with trace). This is what great gyAnis (highly intelligent persons) such as janaka could do. When two trees, one good and the other, bad, are intertwined so closely that it is not possible to separate them, a person, desirous of separating them, will scratch the surface of the bad tree and apply asafoetida (an organic substance used in cooking) on it so that it will wither away. In the same way, when AthmA and the body are so closely intertwined, if someone wants to rid of the body, he has to remove the thoughts of ahankAram (thinking of body as oneself) and svAthanthriya budhdhi (thinking of oneself as being totally independent). The words which follow later in this pAsuram such as “meymmaiyai miga uNarndhu” and “AmparisaRindhu koNdu” are related to gyAna (knowledge); hence we can consider this word pOgavittu also to be related to knowledge.

meymmaiyai miga uNarndhu – the word “mey” refers to AthmA. Can mey denote AthmA? thaiththirIya upanishath Anandhavalli 6 says sathyanchA nruthancha sathyamabhavath (the paravasthu [greatest entity] was sathyam (without any change) even though it exists as sathyam (chEthana thathvam or sentient entity) and asathyam (achEthana thathvam or insentient entity). Since upanishath calls the constantly changing entity of achEthana as anrutham (false) and the one without any change to its svarUpa, the chEthana entity, as sathyam (mey or true), AzhwAr also calls AthmA as mey. The word sathyam denotes the permanent nature of AthmA, unlike adhvaithis (followers of a philosophy which says that there is no separate chith, achith and ISvaran) who define it as different from asathya, without any distinction. AzhwAr calls this permanent nature as meymmai here.

miga uNarndhu – [vyAkkhyAthA periyavAchchAn piLLai brings in here, a few philosophies and contrasts them with the philosophy of viSishtAdhvaitham]. Unlike lOkAyathan (also called as chArvAkan) who says, “only body is AthmA”; unlike pUrvamImAmsakan who says “AthmA, who is different from body and who is permanent, is independent”; unlike vaiSEshikan who says “the knowledge of AthmA is acquired [it is not natural]; when he remains like a stone, he attains mOksha (liberation)”; unlike all these philosophies, knowing AthmA as per its true nature – i.e. AthmA is self-radiant, permanent, having knowledge forever, as a quality, having a svarUpam which is like an atom [Sasthra defines the size of AthmA: take a grain of paddy, take out the sharp end, divide it into a hundred parts, take one of these parts, divide this into a hundred pieces, the size of the AthmA is less than the size of this finally divided piece], always belonging to ISvaran, being subservient to his followers also – this is knowing AthmA completely.

AmparisaRindhu koNdu – After realising that dhEham, which is the result of prakruthi (primordial matter), and those which are connected to dhEham [relatives, possessions etc] are fit to be given up, and after knowing AthmA’s true nature [as explained in the previous paragraph], the benefit that results is Amparisu  which is bhagavath kainkaryam (carrying out service to emperumAn). Amparisu (benefit) is the cause for growth. The cause for growth will vary, depending on what the AthmA thinks of itself. If the AthmA is inside the body of animals like cow, a bundle of grass is the cause for its growth. When the AthmA resides in the body of man, food is the cause for its growth. When the AthmA is inside the body of a celestial entity, amrutham (nectar) is the cause for its growth. In whichever body the AthmA resides, if it feels that it is an adiyEn (servitor), then kainkaryam (carrying out service) is the reason for its growth. Since the person’s intellect gets blunted due to the body and its connected entities [in this samsAram], this subject matter is not well known in this world. On reaching paramapadham (SrIvaikuNtam), gaining the inner knowledge and realising the true nature, AthmA’s natural servitorship will be its benefit and cause for its growth.

aRindhu koNdu – just as one says “carrying wealth”, AzhwAr explains its pre-eminence. The wealth for every chEthana is the knowledge that dhEham and its complements are to be given up, that AthmA is always dependent on emperumAn, that servitorship is its purushArtham. If this is present, there will be no need for any other means. It is emperumAn’s efforts to rid the chEthana of his bondage to samsAram and of puNya and pApa (virtue and vice) and to make him hold on to himself [emperumAn] as the means. It is pertinent to remember the following incident: A person asked nanjIyar (bhattar’s disciple) as to which is the means – renouncing [worldly desires] or holding on [to emperumAn]? nanjIyar responded “neither; the one who makes him renounce and hold on to [emperumAn himself] is the means”. While mEmporuL , meymmai and Amparisu may not directly mean  dhEham [body], Athma svarUpam [true nature of AthmA] and kainkaryam [service] respectively,  since there is a connection for each of these words to the respective meaning, AzhwAr brings forth these meanings indirectly, due to the greatness of the meanings.

aimpulan agaththadakki – keeping the sensory organs under one’s control. At the beginning of this pAsuram, AzhwAr had said mEmporuL pOgavittu  in which he said that one should keep under one’s control everything connected to dhEham (body) and its complements. This being the case, would not saying aimpulan agaththadakki now, be a repetition of the earlier one? In the previous word Amparisu aRindhu koNdu, when carrying out kainkaryam [to emperumAn], a happiness could be felt by the jIvAthmA itself [that it is carrying out the kainkaryam]. Renouncing this happiness for self is the meaning conveyed by the words aimpulan agaththadakki. Hence there is no repetition. Even while carrying kainkaryam, one thought should be removed – i.e. kainkaryam carried out for one’s happiness or kainkaryam carried out for emperumAn’s and one’s happiness will not be termed as purushArtham (goal), but the kainkaryam carried out exclusively for emperumAn’s happiness is purushArtham. AzhwAr conveys this meaning here. nammAzhwAr, in his thiruvAimozhi 2.9.4thanakkEyAga enaikkoLLumIdhE” (consider me only for your kainkaryam) and ANdAL in her thiruppAvai 29unakkE nAmAtcheyvOm” (we will be subservient only to you) conveyed the same meaning. In dhvayam, the meaning of the word nama: in the end is also the same as in this. In SrI rAmAyaNam AraNya kAndam 1.31 it says “ramyamAvasatham kruthvA ramamANA vanE thraya: I dhEvagandharvasankASAs thathra thE nyavasan sukham II” (the three of them (rAma, lakshmaNa and sIthA) who were like dhEvagandharva (celestial entities) and who were very happy in the forest, built a beautiful cottage and lived happily in it). While the SlOkam says that perumAL (SrI rAma), pirAtti (sIthA) and iLaiya perumAL (lakshmaNa) were happy, from the context it will be clear that lakshmaNa’s happiness is derived from carrying out kainkaryam to the duo of perumAL and pirAtti.

Thus, in these two lines [of this pAsuram], the meaning of prApyam (the benefit of attaining emperumAn) has been mentioned. Now we shall see how the meaning of thirumanthram [the first of the three rahasyams in our sampradhAyam] is being mentioned. In the terms memporuL pOgavittu, the meaning of Om nama: and in the terms aimpulan agaththadakki the meaning of namO nArAyanAya have been mentioned. In the words meymmaiyai miga uNarndhu which is the SEshathvam of AthmA (being subservient to emperumAn) the meaning of the word nAra in the word nArAyaNa has been mentioned. Since that SEshathvam succeeds only because of emperumAn, his SEshithvam (being the master for all) is also mentioned in this meaning. Thus the meaning of the word nArAyaNa has also been mentioned. In the term AmparisaRindhu koNdu, the meaning of the fourth case Aya [in nArAyaNAya], which is kainkaryam, has also been mentioned. Since the term uNarndhu refers to the jIvAthmA who knows [has knowledge], the meaning of praNavam (OmkAram) which includes jIvAthmA, has also been mentioned. Thus these two lines establish the meaning of thirumanthram.

Now, over the next two lines of this pAsuram, the upAyathvam (being the means of attaining emperumAn) as mentioned in the first line of dhvayam and the first part of charama SlOkam are being mentioned. We shall see this, along with the meanings of the remaining two lines, in the next part.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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