SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImath varavaramunayE nama:
SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImath varavaramunayE nama:
In this pAsuram AzhvAr is divining about the series of help of emperumAn, starting from removing dhEhathmAbhimAnam (giving importance to body than AthmA; thinking of body itself as AthmA that is to be taken care of) (minnuruvAy), up to His giving association towards emperumAn’s divine feet (thiruvadi en thalai mElavE).
minnuruvAy munnuruvil vEdham nAngAy
viLakkoLiyAy muLaiththezhundha thingaL thAnAy
pinnuruvAy munnuruvil piNi mUppillAp
piRappiliyAy iRappadhaRkE eNNAdhu eNNum
ponnuruvAy maNiyuruvil bhUtham aindhAy
punaluruvAy analuruvil thigazhum sOdhi
thannuruvAy ennuruvil ninRa endhai
thaLir puraiyum thiruvadi en thalai mElavE. 1
Word by word meaning
mun uruvil – Things that can be seen by eyes (non-sentient)
minnuruvAy – He is being one who enlightens about the nature of them (like the temporary nature of) lightning,
vEdham nAngAy – He is being talked about by all the four vEdhas;
viLakkoLiyAy – Like how light would remove darkness, He removes the inner darkness that is ignorance (of true nature of AthmA, etc.), and enlightens about His true nature/form,
muLaiththu ezhundha – appearing in the mountain, and rising up in the sky,
thingaL thAnAy – like the moon, He is being of delight,
pinnuruvAy – being behind that non-sentient, that thathvam (truth/existence) (which is jeevAthmA)
munnuruvil – unlike the aforementioned shining lamp and moon,
piNi mUppillAp piRappiliyAy – He is being the matter of (parama)AthmA which does not have ignorance, weakness, the six changes of body, or birth,
iRappadhaRkE eNNAdhu – and without thinking about death (kaivalyam (eternal self enjoyment) which is considered as death of AthmA)
eNNum – and He is eligible for always to meditate upon
ponnuruvAy – having the nature of gold (brightness, desirable, etc)
maNiyuruvil – in the form (body) having the nature of gem
bhUtham aindhAy – and being made of five primary elements (pancha bhUtham) (different from the five elements of this world)
punal uruvAy – and being very easy to approach like the water that everyone could fetch and drink,
analuruvil thigazhum – and having the form (body) of not able to approach like fire,
sOdhi thannuruvAy – and being one who illuminates those things that are having light,
en uruvil ninRa – He being set in my body;
thiruvadi – divine feet (soft, etc.)
endhai – of the sarvESvaran who is my lord,
en thalai mElavE – are being set on my head
thaLir puraiyum – due to which His feet freshens (sprouts)
– saying so, AzhvAr is immersed in it.
munnuruvil – pinnuruvAy – In the things that are seen around before the eyes (this is about non-sentient things since they are seen by eyes), and in those that are learned, He showed them to be having the nature of lightning. That is, He showed the unstable nature of material realm and related things (‘minnin nilaiyila [thiruvAimozhi 1.2.2]’);
When the reasons for bondage of AthmA with prakruthi (material realm / achith / non-sentient) are different, (that is, either due to (a) the good and bad deeds of earlier births, or due to (b) kindness of emperumAn; the latter being the cause of incarnation of AzhvArs and AchAryas); (this is by jAyamAna kAla katAksham (giving His grace at the time of birth, like he gave to prahlAdhan, dhruvan, thiruppANAzhvAr) to those of good deeds; and by giving ‘mayaRvaRa mathi nalam [thiruvAimozhi 1.1.1]’ to AzhvArs),
then the understanding of nature of AthmA is also different (for different sentient).
That is, when AthmA is bound to a body due to karmas, the knowledge of nature of AthmA and paramAthmA would stay hidden from the person; and such bondage would hide the nature of the body which is impermanent and incapable, and make it appear to have permanence and enjoyability;
but, when bound to the body based on emperumAn’s grace, it would enlighten about the impermanence and lack of enjoyability in one’s own body and own things, and would enlighten about the true nature of AthmA and paramAthmA (that AthmA is subservient to paramAthmA (emperumAn), etc).
So, here (for AzhvAr), since it is based on grace of emperumAn, it shined light on the impermanence of prakruthi and things based on prakruthi, and AzhvAr got the understanding that such non-sentient things are to be shunned.
But, the prakruthi (body, and related things) are said as ‘vichithrA dhEha sampaththi: eeSvarAya nivEdhithum | pUrvamEvakruthA’ (emperumAn gave the wealth that is the body of multi-faceted capabilities, to worship emperumAn), and, as ‘SareeramAdhyam kalu dharma sAdhanam’ (first instrument that is the means for doing dharma is the body), and as ‘purushArtha sAdhanam’ (is an instrument to attain the destiny); so is it correct to say that prakruthi etc., are to be shunned?
Like the vessel/plantain leaf that is used for holding food becomes untouchable after eating of that food, and, like after completing the rites, things like pole where animals used for the rites were tied, that pole etc., are not to be touched be the performer, this body etc., are also to be shunned after the birth of knowledge about AthmA and paramAthmA.
The sAmAnAdhikaraNyam (condition of a property in same object (example: ‘that man is happiness’ implies that he always exhibits happiness, so, that man himself could be called as happiness)) that is said in minnuruvAy is upakArya upakAra bhAva sambhandha nibhandhanam – that is, one who helped us understand the nature of lightning is emperumAn; the nature He showed us of is the lightning. By this connection, emperumAn is talked about as minnuruvAy (emperumAn helped by showing the transient nature of prakruthi as similar to lightning).
In these ways as these other things are impermanent, the knowledge shall be directed towards the AthmA which is of permanent nature.
aham – (me) – (is the thought that happens by perceiving self) – which is AthmA – some would say that AthmA is body, or senses (can’t be because for example, if eyes are lost, one still continues activities/knowledge etc.), or mind, or breath, or intellect – for such mis-assertions to be removed, and for true knowledge to be born, it is required to have SAsthram (vEdham), so He gave SAsthram – so says AzhvAr now –
vEdham nAngAy – vEdhas which are four, the aim of which is to show the essence of knowledge about AthmA (not just about intellect, but showing up to the level that AthmA is subservient and obedient to paramAthmA);
(If there is only knowledge in someone (gyAthruthvam), then one would tend to do actions on their own (karthruthvam), and would seek enjoyment (bhOkthruthvam); (these three in such form are to be carefully shunned); when there is subservience and obedience (pArathanthriyam) then one would depend on others (devotees/AchAryan) and do according to such people’s acts/commands).
Is vEdham just only about explaining AthmA (and not non-sentient, or paramAthmA)? The other two are talked about only for AthmA to know what is to be shunned (non-sentient) and what is to be accepted (paramAthmA), (that is, vivEkam) so yes, vEdham is only mainly about explaining the nature of AthmA.
If so, is it not enough to only talk about what is to be rejected and accepted, why talk about true nature of AthmA? Since it is the true nature (being subservient/obedient to devotees/AchAryan) that determines what are to be shunned or accepted, (so) when learning about what is to be shunned as appropriate for the true nature, and what is to be accepted as appropriate for the true nature, one would have to learn about true nature (of AthmA), isn’t it?
When not having knowledge about true nature of AthmA, one would think that only the body is to be shunned, but would think that sons, cows (wealth), food, etc., are to be accepted/enjoyed; or, if understanding is only that AthmA is different from body, then one would think that sons, cows (wealth), food, etc., are to be shunned but the enjoyment of heaven is to be pursued (for AthmA’s enjoyment);
Since SAsthram is given for the sentient, it is about the sentient; Since eeSvaran (paramAthmA) by Himself is all-knowing, and since the reality of non-sentience is unintelligent, SAsthram is not required for these two. Thus, SAsthram shall appear only for the sentient as one is expectant of and obedient to SAsthram and, as he applies the knowledge gained (gyAthA).
(vEdhayathi ithi vEdha: ) Since it explains clearly about itself it is called vEdham. vEdham shows its meanings to those who believe it and wish to learn it; (bhOdhdhum ichchcu: – bubuthsu: -> one having interest in understanding vEdham); it would hide its meanings to those who do not follow it, as said in ‘maRaiyAya nAl vEdham [thiruvAimozhi 3.1.10]’. The nature of pramEyam (who is talked about; emperumAn) who is said as ‘paththudai adiyavarkku eLiyavan; piRargaLukku ariya viththagan [thiruvAimozhi 1.3.1]’ – such nature would be present for pramANam too. (pramANam -> what talks about (Him)).
Here the sAmAnAdhikaraNyam (equivalence) said in vEdhan nAngAy, equating vEdham to emperumAn, is Not based on association of what talks (vEdham) and what is talked about (emperumAn) that is said in ‘vEdhaiScha sarvairahamEva vEdhya: [SrI bhagavath gIthA – 15.15]’ (it is I who is known by all the vEdhas (sacred texts)).
It is based on what is said in ‘mAnam pradheepamiva kAruNikO dhadhAthi’ (emperumAn who is of utmost mercy gave the lamp (that shows things that are to be shunned or accepted/followed)) – this association mentioned as vEdham nAngAy is based on giver/what is given (vEdham), that is, helper/helped through vEdham (pradhAthru pradhEya nibandhanam).
Next, AzhvAr says that He created in me the knowledge born from hearing SAsthram (vEdham) from AchAryan.
viLAkkoLiyAy – Since it is having the nature of light of lamp viLAkkOLi implies knowledge born out of SAsthram. That is, lamp is, one that removes darkness and shows things (as is), SAsthram removes ignorance and shows true nature;
As said in ‘andham thamaiva agyAnam dheepavachcha indhriyOthbhavam’ (having no knowledge is like darkness that renders one blind/ignorant; knowledge obtained out of senses (the five cognitive senses – smelling, tasting, seeing, touching, and hearing) (gyAnEndhriyam) are like the lamp (that remove darkness (lack of knowledge)), knowledge based on hearing (from AchAryan) is said as a lamp (here, the sense of hearing is talked about because of previous phrase vEdham nAngAy, vEdham which is learned by hearing). (The knowledge is obtained through karmEndhriyams also but it does not get understood; it requires gyAnEndhriyams for one to gain the knowledge).
Also, ‘harthum thama: sath asath eecha vivEkthumeeSO mAnam pradheepamiva kAruNikO dhadhAthi’ (to remove the darkness, and to show what is true and what is false, emperumAn with kindness comes with eagerness like the light from a lamp, and gives SAsthram).
By this, ‘viLakkoLiyAy’ is about ‘SrOthavya:’ (listen to (about AthmA)), that is SravaNam (hearing (from AchAryan)). (Knowledge gained by hearing – this level of knowledge is like a moon just about rising – a small part of it is visible/known).
By ‘mULaiththu ezhundha thingaL thAnAy’ – it says about manthavya: (reflect up on it (mananam) so that what is heard becomes clearer),
and about nidhidhyAsithavya: (meditate upon its meanings so that its true delicate meanings and implications are understood well),
and about dhrashtavya: (get visualization in mind about nature of jeevAthmA (sAkShAthkAram)).
muLaiththu – Like the moon seen at the tip of a mountain, the knowledge that comes from stage of mananam is brighter than the lamp shown above as example for SravaNam (hearing).
ezhundhu – Like the moon which has risen above the tip of a mountain into the sky would be even brighter, compared to the stage of mananam this talks about the next stage of nidhithyASam.
thingaL thAnAy – This is talking about sAkShAthkAram. How so is – by ‘thAnAna thingaL’ (moon by itself) – is about moon considered by itself and not considering the blemish that came due to association with earth (earth’s shadow on the moon is considered the blemish on the moon, but by itself moon is considered pure), so it is about the matter of AthmA when considered without direct association with prakruthi (material realm), and which is distinct from such prakruthi. sAkshAthkAram can occur only when we see the pure nature of AthmA, isn’t it? (so this is about sAkShAthkAram). (He who gave such sAkshAthkAram) (sAkshAthkArAm – also about paramAthma sAkshAthkAram).
By giving example of moon as example – it shows the svayam prakASathvam of AthmA (being self-illuminous), and, as moon (chandhra) is having the root wording as ‘chadhi AhlAdhE’ (where chadhi means happiness, chadhi becomes chandhra by Samskrutha grammar rules), and so implies one that gives/having happiness, which is applicable for AthmA;
and since the knowledge gained (by AzhvArs) is by the grace of emperumAn, that is, gained easily without difficulty, he (thirumangai AzhvAr) is taking moon as example. In ‘yathA sUryas thathA gyAnam’ where knowledge is compared to Sun, is about the knowledge gained with great difficulty by own efforts by upAsakan (one who tries by own efforts).
pin uRuvAy – the thathvam (reality) that comes after that (after the non-sentient / material realm (prakruthi) talked about earlier).
As said in ‘pancha vimSOyam purusha:’ (jeevAthmA is twenty fifth thathvam (after the twenty four thathvams related to material non-sentient realm), ‘panchavimSa AthmA bhavathi’ (After the twenty four thathvams comes the twenty fifth which is AthmA), such AthmA which is twenty fifth thathvam (reality) is clearly seen by (mind’s) eyes, it is beyond and different from the twenty four thathvams of material realm.
It is said too ‘dhEhEndhriya mana: prANa dheebhya: anya: ananya sAdhana: | nithya: vyApee prathi kShEthram AthmA bhinna: svathassukhee’ (AthmA is different from body, senses, mind, breath, intellect, and it does not have any other means (than emperumAn); AthmA is eternal, AthmA is pervasive in each body, separate AthmA is present in individual bodies (kShEthram is land/field; it is used for growing grains; this body is also called kShEthram which is used for growing the effects of good and bad deeds); AthmA is happy by itself. (But AthmA is a holder of intellect; that is why it is affected by good and bad that happens through the body. When AthmA leaves the body, the body would not have intellect and so would not react to pain, etc.).
AzhvAr says next that such AthmA would not be affected by the blemishes of body that is pervaded by AthmA (blemishes are change in shape, death, sorrow, happiness, etc).
mun uruvil piNi mUppillAp piRappiliyAy – mun uru is reference to the aforementioned prakruthi prAkrutham (material realm/element, and items derived from it (like body, house, etc.)) that was explained as those which are seen before the eyes or perceived. The entity that is AthmA (by nature) is not related to sadness/sickness, aging, birth, etc. By this, it talks about ignorance (which leads to sadness), etc., as well. By ageing and birth, it talks about all the six changes that occur to a body (garbha (in womb), janma (birth), bAlya (toddler), yauvana (youth), vArdhdhakya (old age), maraNa (death)).
Ascertaining the nature of AthmA in ‘nirvANamayaEvAyam AthmA gyAnamaya: amala:’ (AthmA is full of happiness, full of intellect, and does not have any blemishes), and it is said in ‘dhu:ka agyAna malAdharmA: prakruthESthE: na cha Athmana: [SrIvishNu purANam]’ (sadness, ignorance, blemishes, etc. are due to material realm only and these are not for AthmA), that is sadness etc., are the nature of material realm, and not have it inherent in AthmA.
Like how for AthmA which is by itself is in the state of happiness by its nature would not be having sadness, ignorance etc., it is for material realm which is unintelligent also, there would not be sadness, ignorance, etc. But, like how with consumption of Umaththai fruit (medicinal herb – datura) the mind would become insane (though insanity is not present in the fruit itself), since AthmA gets sadness etc., due to association of material realm, these sadness etc., are the properties of material realm (prakruthi) only.
(Knowledge that something seems as per our wish, is happiness; knowledge that something seems against our wish, is sadness).
(till now it was about Athma svarUpam; now it is about kaivalyam).
iRappaadhRkE eNNAdhu – iRappu is dying. (emperumAn) not thinking about (my) dying. Earlier – it talked about death that is one of six states related to body; here, it talks about death related to nature of AthmA. That, is, kaivalyam (being in the state of enjoying one’s own AthmA after getting liberated from the cycle of births in this world).
Is it correct to say the state of kaivalyam which does not have rebirth and which is a separate destiny, and which has the nature of experiencing by (own) AthmA that is happy by itself, as death?
Death is – seen in the world as removal of AthmA from body. This other death is also in the same way, since AthmA is removing the effect of paramAthmA from it for enjoying on own, and so this also shall be considered as death at AthmA level.
But unlike how a dead body deteriorates, AthmA does not deteriorate due to this; so is it correct to call it as its death for AthmA? Since it does not have the enjoyment according to its true nature (being for enjoyment of emperumAn), in the mind of nithyar/mukhthar this kaivalyam also shall be death (for AthmA).
In ‘mruthOdharidhra: purusha:’, the wealthy one who enjoys everything would consider poor as a dead person, this kaivalyam state of AthmA appears as death for them (for annAdha (the nithyasUris for whom emperumAn is food), kaivailayam is said as death for AthmA.
eNNAdhu – emperumAn avoided thinking about giving this kind of death (kaivalyam) to me.
(Will He think of giving that?) As said in ‘jarA maraNa mOkShAyamAmAchrithya yadhanthi yE [SrI bhagavath gIthA]’ (those wishing (only) to liberate from body, which is the cause of birth and death, and wishing to enjoy just the AthmA, I shall give them that kaivalyam), He who could give this as my destiny, now, did not think about giving it to me, and avoided my falling into abyss.
(Why not say ‘tharAdhu’ (not giving) instead of ‘eNNAdhu’ (not thinking of giving)?)
(Place where AthmAs are present in state of kaivalyam is in between virajA river and paramapadham (authoritative references for this include SrIvishNu purANam, and many places in vEdham). This means one cannot return to this world after going there. In thAthparya chandhrikai vEdhAnthAchArya discusses that it is possible to return from there to this world for another birth).
After doing this help of avoiding such danger for me, He enlightened about His true nature (parathvam (supremacy), etc.), form (divine body), and qualities (intellect, strength, wealth, valor, simplicity, and so on), says AzhvAr next, in ‘eNNum pon uruvAy’ – (pon-> gold) – He enlightened (me) about true nature of divine (parama)AthmA, says AzhvAr.
eNNum – (could keep thinking about emperumAn) – Due to eminence of enjoyment, as said in ‘nEthi nEthi’ (not like this, not like this – emperumAn cannot be understood in any such specific ways), other than saying ‘adhu, adhu’ (that, that, …), emperumAn cannot be set in a boundary by saying ‘idham’ (this; (which is seen by eyes)).
As said in ‘Ekaika guNAvadheebhsayA sadhAsthithA:’ (being with the wish to know the bounds of each and every quality of emperumAn, did not leave from the attempt to do that), since each and every quality of His is boundless, does it even require mentioning that it is not possible to determine fully the true nature in which such sort of countless auspicious qualities are present?
pon uruvAy – Since emperumAn is having the nature (uru) of gold (pon), this talks about true nature. That is, He and gold are similar: in being desirable, when said that as being existing then life would be sustained, using it can achieve all the wishes, and all of the world would fall in the feet of one having this.
maNi uruvil bUtham aindhAy – (this is Not about the five core elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether) related to material realm (prAkrutham)). The core cause elements (by which emperumAn’s form is made of), that are five (paramEshti, pumAn, viSvam, nivruththa:, sarva:, which are specified in SrI pAncharAthram). (maNi -> gem). maNi uruvil – Having the nature (uru) of gem (maNi), being lustrous in form (uru stands for this also);
like gold that is set in a ruby container (mANikkam, which implies divine body) (that is, ruby would clearly show the brightness of gold), it shows the nature of AthmA that is formed from the five core elements (bhUtham). That is, the elements would show the nature of (parama)AthmA that supports it, and it would show the qualities of that (parama)AthmA since that form is suddha sathvam (purely tranquil), and His divine form (body) is more enjoyable than His nature and qualities.
The core elements that are cause of such divine form (body) are five upanishath.
In that special place (SrIvaikuNtam), the divine bodies of all present are made of non-material realm, and of five core elements that are pancha upanishath.
These five elements are said in ‘paramEshtee pumAn viSvOnivruththa: sarva Evasa:’.
As ‘maNi uruvil bUtham aindhAy’, it differentiates the five core elements of material realm that make up our body, from the ones which hide the true nature of our AthmA and that of emperumAn inside it.
That is, emperumAn is capable of being present in such form like quality of gem (in auspicious divine body, in SrIvaikuNtam), and also capable of being present in the body that are made of core elements of this material realm.
By this, like the extraordinary divine body, these material realm based ones are also dependent (vidhEyan) on emperumAn. (vidhEyan – who acts according to His wishes)
Without any difference between devotees (in this world) and the material realm that which binds them in this world, they are under the control of the liberator (emperumAn), isn’t it?
It is said too, ‘pradhAna purusha eeSvara:’ (For the core elements of material realm, and for the AthmAs, He is the controller).
Now, would such a distinguished One be hard to access? AzhvAr answers:
punal uruvAy – (punal -> water); Like the water in which any one without differentiation among any ranging from sages like vaSishtar to a person of very lowly stature could bathe in the same area,
emperumAn would be easiest for everyone to access. (sarva sulabhan).
Even though He is very easy to approach, one does not have to be scared as to what danger might happen to Him – this would not be necessary because like how He is easy for His devotees, He is like fire for the opposing ones; that is He cannot be overcome/affected – says AzhvAr now:
anal uruvil thigazhum – (anal -> fire) As said in ‘abhitha: bhAvakOpamam [SrI rAmAyaNam – AraNya kANdam – 99.26]’ (perumAL appeared) like fire on all the sides (for bharathAzhvAn when he approached perumAL to request Him to return to ayOdhyA immediately), when He cannot be attained even for the close ones when He does not wish to honor their request, it goes without saying that He cannot be overcome for those who oppose Him, isn’t it?
sOdhi than uruvAy – (sOdhi -> jyOthi: -> light) Earlier, by pon uruvAy, it said that by His nature He is bright by himself based on Him being desirable. (Here it talks about the behavior of His nature). In the world, for the things that emit light, that light is based on their association with Him; this is as said in ‘thasyabAsA sarvam idham vibhAthi’ (By the light of that sarvESvaran, these things of light are being bright).
en uruvil ninRa – (Here uru stands for body (of AzhvAr)) – Whereas when He comes and be present even in AthmA it would be a blemish for Him, now He came and made Himself present standing in my body which is the form that is to be shunned (body that is shunned by Himself and by others);
ninRa – (stood) – As he (AzhvAr) took madal (going around town and complaining that his lover (emperumAn) is not showing up for him, which is to say there is no emperumAn), emperumAn’s perturbance (where AzhvAr might establish) that He may be considered not present in the world – such perturbance got removed and He came standing and His existence (saththai) prevailed.
endhai – (father/master) – Like his existence (saththai), His sEShithvam (lordship) also prevailed.
thaLir puraiyum thiruvadi en thalai mElavE – read as – en thalai mElavE – thaLir puraiyum thiruvadi per formation of phrase in thamizh – After keeping His divine feet on his head, His feet sprouted (That is, got the life back – became happy).
When not doing that, His divine feet was like dry leaves (His mind was unhappy);
Like how AzhvAr’s svarUpam (true nature of self) was despondent when for a long time he was after vishaya prAvaNyam (inclined towards material aspects of world), His divine feet was like so too due to not having association with AzhvAr (chEthana lAbham (when a sentient and emperumAn come together, it is mainly a gain and happiness for emperumAn (as opposed to for the sentient), when a sentient finally agrees to accept the ever-present grace of emperumAn)).
en thalai mElavE – The divine feet that is a decoration in the head of nithyasUris (amarar chennip pU ’ ()), is the one that has become ornament in my head, you see!
Whose feet were in this head earlier, which is holding His divine feet now..
ninRa endhai thiruvadi – That is, after keeping the divine feet in his head, He got His existence (ninRa), lordship (endhai), and body (thiruvadi (which identifies His body)).
So, (in summary), AzhvAr thinks – is it not enough that emperumAn highlighted the impermanence of material realm and related things? is it not enough that He highlighted the true nature (svasvarUpam)? is it not enough that he ensured (my) not going into kaivalyam? After that, He showed His true nature and the bright nature of His divine body, is that not enough? Oh! beyond that, He came and stood in my body that is to be shunned by (even) me! Even beyond that, Oh!, He kept His divine feet well set on my head! – and so thirumangai AzhvAr becomes very happy thinking about all such Help that emperumAn has done for him.
So, by this pAsuram, it said about the true nature of the three thathvams (truth; viz. sentient, non-sentient, and emperumAn), and that all the three may be destiny (for different types of people), and that only one among them is the true destiny based on true nature (of jeevAthmA) , and that the others are lowly destinies, and about distinguished characteristics of that important destiny, that is, emperumAn’s nature, form, and qualities, and that when emperumAn shows them to the sentient He does so with the view that it is He who is honored by that.
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Translation by raghuram SrInivAsa dAsan
archived in http://divyaprabandham.koyil.org