thiruvAsiriyam – 5 – mAmudhal adi

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Previous pAsuram


In the previous pAsuram AzhwAr expressed his desire to perform mangaLASAsanam to emperumAn’s divine feet as “mAmudhaladiyE vAzhiyavenRu yAm thozha isaiyum kol”. Here, emperumAn asks “what for are you performing mangaLASAsanam like this?”, AzhwAr thinks of replying “even though your great favour (which is like a mother who takes care of her sleeping baby, i.e., the motherly forbearance) is not understood by anyone, you still created jIvAthmAs who were without a physical form [at the time of deluge], appointed dhikpAlakas (guardians for the eight directions) to protect the jIvAthmas, and then appointed indhra as the protector for the three lOkam to ensure that the strong persons do not persecute the meek persons. When indhra lost his kingdom to the demonic mahAbali and was in tears, being incapcitated, instead of being indifferent to his difficulties thinking “I created jIvAthmas, and protected them by appointing dhikpAlakas; let them handle the situation”, you being the SrIya:pathi (divine consort of SrI mahAlakshmi who is the deity for all wealth) changed yourself as a mendicant, and begged on behalf of indhra with the hands which had only been giving to others constantly. Thinking about how you accomplished the task for indhra, who else can be offered mangaLASAnam other than you?”. Since AzhwAr had to tell about emperumAn measuring the worlds with his divine feet while replying to emperumAn, he speaks about that and enjoys the experience.

Let us go through the pAsuram and its meanings:

mAmudhal adip pOdhu onRu kavizhththalarththi,
maN muzhudhum agappaduththu, oN sudar adip pOdhu
onRu viN seleei, nAnmugap puththEL
nAdu viyandhuvappa, vAnavar muRai muRai
vazhipada neReei, thAmaraik kAdu
malark kaNNodu kani vAy udaiyadhu
mAy, irunAyiRu Ayiram malarndhanna ,
kaRpagak kAvu paRpalavanna ,
mudi thOL Ayiram thazhaiththa ,
nediyOykku alladhum adiyadhO ulagE

Word by Word Meaning

mA mudhalemperumAn who is the supreme cause, your
adi – divine foot
onRu pOdhu – a (red lotus) flower
kavizhththu alarththi – overturned and spread out
maN muzhudhum agappaduththu – captured the whole surface of the earth
oN – beautiful
sudar – shining
pOdhu – like a flower
onRu adi – the other divine foot
nAnmugan puththEL – for the dhEvathA brahmA
nAdu viyandhu uvappa – to the amazement and delight of the world
vAnavar – and the dhEvathAs in that world
neReei – to walk in the right path
muRai – ordain
muRai – as said in SAsthras
vazhipada – to worship
viN – in the sky
seleei – sending upwards
thAmarai kAdu – forest filled with lotus flowers
malar – blossoming
kaNNOdu – with divine eyes
kanivAi udaiyadhumAy – having (reddish) divine lips like a fruit
iru  – vast (with many rays)
Ayiram nAyiRu – thousand suns
malarndhanna – like rising
mudi paRpala – many crowns
kaRpagakkAvu anna – like a forest with kaRpaga (celestial, wish-fulfilling) trees
thazhaiththa – grown up tall
Ayiram thOL – having thousand divine shoulders
nediyOykku alladhum – for any one except emperumAn who is supreme
ulagu – this world
adiyadhO – is it subservient?


mA mudhal adi pOdhu onRu kavizhththalarththi – As said in irandAm thiruvandhAdhi – 61ninRadhOr pAdham nilam pudhaippa” – emperumAn’s one divine foot covered the entire earth; and while measuring the world, the divine foot went all the way to AvaraNa jalam (water surrounding the aNdam (oval shaped world)) and covered all under it – thirunedunthAndakam – 5oNmidhiyil punaluruvi orukAl niRpa [after making the soft step with one divine foot it went all the way to AvaraNa jalam]. People will say that the huge divine shoulders permeated and measured all the directions. [anRu karumANiyAy irandha kaLvanE! unnaip piramANiththAr peRRa pERu] You, the consort of SrI mahAlakshmi, went about asking for alms, with happiness, without distinction between the time when people gave you and did not give you alms. Did you not hide your greatness when you took the form of vAmana having scars due to seeking alms!  You did not carry out this act only for indhra. Was this act not done for the sake of all your followers who would meditate on your simplicity of lowering your esteem and carrying out their tasks so that they could sleep without a worry!

mA mudhal adip pOdhu – As said in previous pAsuram [4th] “mAyakkadavuL mAmudhaladiyE” since emperumAn is the supreme primordial cause, it can be explained as the divine feet (mAmudhaladi) of the supreme lord. Alternatively, mAmudhal could be considered as an adjective for the divine feet themselves, and in this case the meaning could be construed as: since all his followers  attain his divine feet, the divine feet are the apt goal for the followers. adipOthu – divine foot which is like a lotus flower that had blossomed that day.

What did he do with the divine foot which was like a flower which blossomed on that day?

kavizhththalarthi – When emperumAn spread his divine foot to pervade and measure all the places, the smaller entities when pressed under the larger ones could get trampled.

Did not the entities which were under the divine foot suffer?

The entities did not suffer in any way, similar to the situation when a lotus flower, that had blossomed that day, is inverted and its petals are spread out, the pollen inside the flower would have so much of space that they will not get trampled. Did not thirumangai AzhwAr say in thirunedunthAndakam – 5oN midhiyil” (the step that did not trample on the entities under it)!

maN muzhudhum agapaduththu – As said in thirunedunthAndangam – 5punal aruvi (it went all the way to AvaraNa jalam)” his divine foot extended till the water surrounding the aNdams (AvaraNa jalam).

If the planted foot did all these, what did the other divine foot, which was stretched, do?

oNsudar adi – Starting with the verse mentioned in thirunedunthAndangam – 5orukAlum kAmaRu seer avuNan uLLaththu eNmadhiyum kadandhu aNdamIdhupOgi iruvisumbinUdupOy ezhundhu” (the other foot, going past the thoughts of the great mahAbali in his heart, rose to go over the aNdam, piercing the expansive sky…) and ending with the verse “maNmuzhdhum agappadhuththu” (measuring all the places) it measured all the worlds above.

oNsudar adippOdhu onRu – the divine foot which is like a flower that had blossomed on that day, and being very radiant. AzhwAr terms the divine foot as being radiant because it removed the arrogance of all the dhEvathAs (celestial entities), each of whom, starting with indhra (lord of all dhEvathAs) had ego equivalent to the sum of egos of all the people in samsAram (materialistic realm) and bringing them under it.

viNseleei – pervaded the entire sky.

Till which place did it permeate?

nAnmuga puththEl nAdu viyandhuvappa – The people in sathyalOkam (abode of nAnmugan or brahmA) were amazed at the divine foot which extended up to their abode. viyandhu uvappa – they were amazed saying “we came in search of this abode where emperumAn‘s auspicious qualities of saulabhyam (easy to attain), sauseelyam (simplicity) etc would not reach but these qualities are flowing into this place! How wonderful it is this! It seems that there is no one who is not desired by this divine foot. When emperumAn came to keep his divine foot on our head in order to establish our svarUpam (basic nature), we shunned it since we didn’t need it. But it appears that this divine foot will not leave us! We have got a benefit which we would have never obtained”. They were extremely delighted at this.

thirumazhisai AzhwAr describes what brahmA, the head of sathyalOkam, did then, in the 9th pAsuram in nAnmugan thiruvandhAdhi:

kuRaikoNdu nAnmugan kuNdigai nIr peydhu
maRaikoNda mandhiraththAl vAzhththi kaRaikoNda
kaNdaththAn senni mElErak kazhuvinAn
aNdaththAn seEvadiyai Angu

emperumAn‘s divine foot settled on brahmA’s hand when he hadn’t thought of that. Having been blessed to get this fortune, brahmA looked around in a perplexed way, wondering how to pay compliment to the divine foot. At the same time, the entity dharmam (righteousness) looking at the divine foot melted like a liquid and entered brahmA’s kamaNdalam (a vessel for holding sanctified water). brahmA washed emperumAn’s divine foot with that water. As soon as he saw this, Siva felt that this was the right moment to purify himself and put out his head under the flow of water, coming from emperumAn’s divine foot. Isvara samhithai describes this as follows:

dhravIbhUthas thadhA dharmOharibhakthyA mahAmunE
gruhIthvA dharmapAnIyam padham nAthasya thushtayE
kshALitham parayA bhakthyA pAdhyArghyAdhirarchitham
thadhambu pathitham dhrustvA dhadhAra SirasA hara:
pAvanArtham jatAmadhyE yOgyOsmIthyavadhArANAth
varshAyuthAnyatha bahUn na mumOcha thathA hara:

(Oh great sage! At that time (when bhagavAn measured the worlds) dharmam (righteousness) turned into liquid due to its devotion towards hari. With that dharmam in the form of water, for the happiness of jagannAthan (emperumAn), (his) divine foot was washed (by me [brahmA]) with great devotion; it was worshipped with pAdhyam and argyam (water used for washing feet and hands respectively); looking at the water falling (from emperumAn’s divine foot) Siva affirmed that he is qualified (to purify) himself and took the water in the centre of his matted hair to purify himself. After that, for several tens of thousands of years, rudhra did not let go of that water). Thus, affirming that people who are lowly are also qualified for these divine feet, to get rid of the sin of having severed the head of his father [brahmA], rudhra carried the SrIpAdhathIrtham (purified water from the divine feet of emperumAn) on his head. When someone gets a good article, would he let go of it? In the same, way, since he obtained the impossible-to-get SrIpAdhathIrtham of emperumAn’s divine foot, Siva held that water, which is river gangA, on his head for a very long time. Did not periyAzhwAr, in his periyAzhwAr thirumozhi 4-7-3 mercifully say “chathumukan kaiyil sathuppuyan thALil sankaran sadaiyinil” describing the history of gangA – initially at the hands of brahmA, then dwelt on the divine feet of the supreme being emperumAn and then fell on the head of rudhran. The benefit which brahmA accrued out of this was mentioned in the 78th pAsuram of iraNdAm thiruvandhAdhi “dharaNi nivandhaLappa nIttiya poRpAdham sivandha than kaiyanaiththum Arak kazhuvinAn” – to realise the benefit of getting eight hands, brahmA washed the divine foot of emperumAn. The 9th pAsuram of nanmugan thiruvandhAdhi describes the benefit that brahmA obtained – (kuRai koNdu) – brahmA, displaying his emptiness (Akinchanyam). The meaning implied is that even though brahmA has high levels of knowledge and strength, he thought “there is nothing that I have to honour the divine foot” (kuNdigai nIr peydhu maRai koNda mandhiraththAl vAzhththi) – offering mangaLASAsanam (praising emperumAn) through manthras (incantations or vEdhic hymns) such as purusha sUktham etc which are mentioned in vEdhas (sacred texts) directly referring to emperumAn, he poured the dharmajalam (the deity for righteousness in the form of water) on the divine foot of emperumAn. (kaRai koNda kaNdaththAn senni mElERak kazhuvinAn) – Just as a father sprinkles sanctified water on his mischievous child to purify him, thinking “being without the power to distinguish [between right and wrong] he is carrying out wrongful deeds without realising their effects. Henceforth at least, let not inauspicious incidents come his way” [reference here is to the act of Siva severing brahmA’s head and suffering due to that], brahmA let the SrIpAdhathIrtham fall on his son rudhra’s matted hair.

What did the other deities in various lOkams (worlds in the upper reaches) do when brahmA was carrying out this act?

vAnavar muRai muRai vazhipada nereei – they worshipped emperumAn together, in the proper ways mentioned in SAsthras. It is implied here that just as people worship the divine feet of periya perumAL in SrIrangam by gathering near the thiruvaNukkan divine entrance near the thirumaNaththUN (two divine pillars) inside SrIrangam temple, the dhEvathAs also worshipped emperumAn as per the thiruvArAdhanam way (method of worshipping emperumAn) mentioned in SAsthras.

AzhwAr explains what emperumAn did when the dhEvathAs worshipped him.

thAmarai kAdu malarkkaNNOdu kanivAi udaiyadhumAi – emperumAn’s divine eyes will blossom when someone, whoever he may be, places his head on his divine feet, just as a lotus will blossom on seeing the sun. Thus, even if they are arrogant, when the dhEvathAs worshipped [his divine feet], emperumAn’s eyes blossomed like a forest of lotus.

iru nAyiru Ayiram malarndhanna – just as a thousand suns blossomed with their great rays. Unlike the sun which we see in this world, a thousand suns, with all their greatness mentioned earlier, rose together, with their thousands of rays.

kaRpagakkAvu paRpalavanna – like many orchards of kaRpaga trees (a celestial wish-fulfilling tree)

What was like this?

mudi thOL Ayiram thazhaiththa
– The crown of the emperumAn looked like  thousand suns which rose at once. The thousands of divine shoulders looked like kaRpaga orchards.

nediyOykku – one who has long memory, thinking “I haven’t done anything for him [his follower]; what can I do further for him?” Even after changing himself into a mendicant and taking alms for the sake of indhra and accomplishing his task, he feels sorry for the dhEvathAs just like a person robs money from another who had trusted him, thinking “I have not protected him [indhra] before he was troubled by mahAbali. I have lost my sense of righteousness as I have delayed”. The term nediyOn refers to one who, feeling ashamed for not having done anything and feeling his shortcoming, thinks about it for a very long time.

nediyOykkallathum adiyathOvulagEAzhwAr is asking “was this world under the feet of someone else, to offer that deity mangaLASAsanam (praise) , other than emperumAn who protects everyone? Which is correct – offering worship to you who kept your divine foot on those deities who are trying to convince other people to fall at their feet and worship them or to those other deities who were trampled under your divine foot?” Here the term nediyOn refers to thrivikrama, the greatest among all.

Let’s see the 6th pAsuram next.

adiyEn boomA rAmAnuja dhAsi

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