thirumAlai – 45 – vaLavEzhum thavaLa mAda

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krishna-kuvalayapidam

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.

vaLavezhum thavaLa mAda madhurai mAnagaram thannuL
kavaLamAl yAnai konRa kaNNanai aranga mAlaith
thuLavath thoNdAya tholseerth thoNdaradippodi sol
iLaiya punkavidhaiyElum empirARku iniyavARE

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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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