thiruvAsiriyam – 7 – naLir madhichchadaiyanum

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Previous pAsuram


In the previous pAsuram, AzhwAr said “while it is apt for all jIvAthmAs to praise emperumAn, they are attaining other deities and continuing in samsAram. What a huge loss is this to their AthmA! I am not able to tolerate this meaningless activity”. He brings the prabandham to an end in this pAsuram by happily saying “Let the others do whatever they want. It is good that we escaped from this meaninglessness”. He completes the prabandham by saying “while the people of this world fall the feet of all and sundry and pass their time, it is nice to know that we are having no connection with other deities. Isn’t this benefit sufficient? ”

AzhwAr feels happy that “emperumAn does  not look at whether a person is great or lowly. Without making any distinction, he keeps everyone inside his stomach. Is it not enough that I am without the lowliness of attaining one of those who enter his stomach and look up to them for gaining benefits!”. Since there is no further happiness for him, he brings this prabandham to an end, with the satisfaction derived, without completing the full andhAdhi style (the last word of current pAsuram becomes the first word of next pAsuram and so on till the end, where the last word of the last pAsuram becomes the first word of first pAsuram) unlike his other prabandhams such as thiruviruththam, periya thiruvandhAdhi and thiruvAimozhi. The opinion of this pAsuram is that emperumAn swallowed all sentient and insentient entities, starting with “naLirmadhich chadaiyanum” Is there any benefit in attaining one of the jIvAthmAs like oneself, who has entered his stomach and seeking benefits from them?

Let us look at the pAsuram and its meanings:

naLirmadhich chadaiyanum nAnmugak kadavuLum,
thaLir oLi imaiyavar thalaivanum mudhalA,
yAvagai ulagamum yAvarum agappada,
nilam nIr thI kAl sudar iruvisumbum,
malar sudar piRavum siRidhudan mayanga,
oru poruL puRappAdinRi muzhuvadhum
agappadak karandhu OrAlilai sErndha em
perumA mAyanai alladhu,
oru mA dheyvam maRRu udaiyamO yAmE

Word by Word Meaning

naLir madhi sadaiyanum – rudhra who has donned the cool chandra (moon) on his head
nAnmugak kadavuLum – brahmA, with four heads
thaLir oLi – having (beautiful) radiance like a tender shoot
imaiyavar thalaivanum mudhalA – indhra, the head of celestial entities et al
yAvagai ulagamum – all types of worlds
yAvarum agappada – including all the sentient entities
nilam – earth
nIr – water
thI – fire
kAl – wind
sudar – due to radiance
iru – pervaded
visumbum – sky also
malar sudar – sun and moon, having bright rays
piRavum – all other entities
udan – at the same time
siRidhu – on one side (inside the stomach)
mayanga – being together
oru poruL – even one entity
puRappAdu inRi – being unable to go out
muzhuvadhum – all
agappada – being inside
karandhu – eating and hiding (inside the stomach)
Or Alilai – on a banyan leaf
sErndha – sleeping
em – my lord
peru – being great
mA – unable to measure
mAyanai alladhu – other than SrIman nArAyaNa, who has amazing power
maRRu – anyone else
mA – great
oru dheyvam – a deity
yAm – we
udaiyamO – do we have (as fit for attaining)?


naLir madhichchdaiyanum – rudhra, despite having matted hair to show that he is carrying out penance towards someone, due to his vanity that he is ISvaran, keeps the cool chandhran (moon) on his head to show that he is in deep joy, just like people will don the fragrant pine leaf on their heads.

nAnmugakkadavuLum – the deity nAnmugan [brahmA] who created that rudhra too, and who has four faces in order to create entities in the four directions.  Aren’t these two entities involved in creation and destruction, respectively, of individual entities within the universe? Of these two, brahmA is like the potter who creates pots and rudhra is like the stick which removes the excess mud and gives shape to the pot.

thaLir oLi imaiyavar thalaivanum mudhalA yAvagai ulagamum yAvarum agappada – starting with indhra,  the lord of celestial beings in svargam (heaven) who, due to his involvement in the pleasures of heaven, enjoys the beautiful forms of apsaras (celestial women) and in keeping with that, looks after his own body such that it has radiance; including all the entities in various worlds and all the worlds, without leaving anything or anyone

nilam nIr thI kAl sudar iruvisumbum – five elements which are the cause for the existence of all the entities mentioned above within the universe, namely bhUmi (earth), jalam (water), agni (fire), vAyu (wind) and AkASam (the one with special feature, sky). Among these five, sky is the cause for the other four elements when they are formed; when they are annihilated (during deluge) it remains after the other four have been destroyed and is the last one to be destroyed; keeping these features in consideration, AzhwAr qualifies sky with the term iru sudar visumbu (the great radiant sky)

malar sudar piRavum – sun and moon, which have bright, huge number of rays, and other entities such as human beings

siRidhudan mayanga – to be within the same space inside [emperumAn’s] stomach, at the same time. After food is cooked for serving some people, if larger number of people come suddenly, the quantum of food is reduced appropriately to serve everyone. In the same way, while emperumAn was waiting impatiently to protect all the entities, the food (all entities) suddenly became too small when compared to his huge expectation. Thus, the entire food was just sufficient to fill a small space inside his stomach. The term udan refers to simultaneous time. The term siRidu mayanga refers to the small space in which all the entities were contained since they were unable to compete with his huge expectation. Alternatively, the term udan mayanga could be split as udal mayanga.  In this case, the meaning will change to: the entities mixed within the small frame which was lying on the banyan leaf [refers to emperumAn’s small form when he slept on the banyan leaf after swallowing all the entities and protecting them in his stomach, during deluge]. mayanga would refer to mixing of the entities inside emperumAn’s stomach.

oru poruL puRappAdinRi muzhuvadhum agappada – all the entities, without letting any entity to go out

karandhu – when someone in the world eats a lot, his stomach will show out, by bulging. In his (emperumAn’s) case, since all the entities were hidden in a corner of his stomach, it appeared as if he could show that despite eating all the entities, his stomach actually reduced a bit; in other words, there was no change in his appearance (nirvikAram).

Or Alilaich chErndha em perumA mAyanai alladhu – other than emperumAn who has the agadithagatanA Sakthi (ability to carry out deeds which are impossible for the others), as he lies on a little banyan leaf which had just sprouted, after swallowing all the worlds. The 69th pAsuram of mudhal thiruvandhAdhi which explains this behaviour of emperumAn is explained now:

[bAlan thanadhu uruvAy Ezhulagu uNdu]: In the form of a small child as mentioned in the pramANam “yaSOdhAsthanandhayamathyantham vimuktham” (yaSOdhA’s very beautiful infant), keeping all the worlds in the stomach

[Alilaiyin mElanRu nI vaLrandha meyyenbar]: as mentioned in periya thirumozhi 2-10-1 “Alilaiyin mEl Or iLam thaLiril kaN valarndha ISan” – on top of a just sprouting banyan leaf, with no one like yaSOdhA, who could keep you on her lap with motherly affection, not being present there, looking at the way you were lying, rishis (sages) who write only facts, wrote that it is true, in ithihAsam (epics) and purANams (ancient sacred texts). “katham nvayam SiSu: SEthE lOkE nASamupAgathE I SAkAyAm vatavrukshasya pallavE thu Suchismitha: II” is the pAsuram that they wrote, after experiencing your activity, in mahAbhAratham

[AlanRu vElai nIr uLLadhO?]: was that banyan leaf inside the water that had dissolved the soil (earth) and submerged it?

[viNNadhO?]: was it in the sky which had no support?

[maNNadhO?]: or was it on the earth which had lost its ‘effect’ status and was hidden in the ‘causative’ status?

[sOlai sUzh kunRu eduththAy sollu]: Only you, who had held the gOvardhana hill for several days with your hands, in the same position, at the age of seven, even before completing your status as a child, have to tell! Isn’t this also an amazing activity just like swallowing the world as a child! This incident should be quoted as well as that. Swallowing the worlds in the form of an infant, lying on an unsupported banyan leaf, holding a mountain for several days as a child – these are amazing activities which could not have been done by anyone else in the world. The implication here is that only he has to answer as to how he performed these activities. When parASara bhattar was asked “what was his response to AzhwAr”, he said “Since AzhwAr had asked the question to emperumAn knowing fully well the answer,  emperumAn would also have thought that he would ask AzhwAr himself to give the answer, if AzhwAr compels him for an answer”.  periyavAchchAn piLLai (the commentator for this prabandham) would quote bhattar saying “while you are the support for all entities, leaving you aside, would those entities support one another? AzhwAr feels amazed that  even during the time of deluge, he was the support for all the worlds that he swallowed as well as the banyan leaf on which he lay down”.

AzhwAr describes such an amazing entity as perumA mAyan . . . .

perumA mAyanai alladhu oru mA dheyvam maRRu udaiyamO yAmE – are we people who have assumed as Lord, apart from emperumAn, those deities who rule small portions of the world? Those other deities would tell their followers that they would protect them, accept their offerings and after some days pass, would tell them that “I too am like you all, carrying out penance towards one entity” and leave them. Thus he doesn’t have a deity who he can accept and reject later on. The quality of those deities could be seen in the life of mArkaNdEya maharishi. mArkaNdEya was a follower of Siva, who told him “I will protect you” and was accepting the offerings given by him. When markaNdEya got fed up  with the life on earth and desired mOksham, Siva, showing his form with matted hair, told him “I too am carrying out penance like you, focussing on SrIman nArAyaNa; I am also holding on to my Lord. It appears that you got bewildered when some people told you that I am the supreme being, taking it to be true. Wait a while; I will show you the place that you have to attain” and showed mArkaNdEya SrIman nArAyaNa. nammAzhwAr himself has clearly shown this incident in his thiruvAimozhi 7-5-7 “kaNdum theLindhum kaRRAr

In mahAbhAratham SAnthi parvam 350-36 it is clearly stated that other deities will not be attained by knowledgeable persons  “brahmANam neela (Sithi)kaNtam cha yASchAnyA dhEvathA: smruthA: I prathibhudhdhA na sEvanthE yasmAth parimitham palam II  ” (gyAnis (knowledgeable persons) will not worship brahmA, rudhra and other dhEvathAs; this is because there is a limit to the benefits that they can give).  In other words, knowledgeable people will not worship these dhEvathAs since they do not have the capability to grant mOksham if the followers desire that from such dhEvathAs. These dhEvathAs can only grant prAkrutha (matter relating to samsAram) benefits which are seen in samsAram (materialistic realm). Such benefits will be lowly and temporary. These benefits are such that they can be given by these knowledgeable people to those dhEvathAs. “skandharudhramahEndhrAdhyA: prathishidhdhAsthu pUjanEgyAthvaivam bhakthisAnkaryam na kuryA dhEvamEvahi II” (In the matter of worship dhEvathAs such as skandha, rudhra, indhra et al have been kept aside by gyAnis (knowledgeable persons). Knowing this, let him [chEthana] not mix up when he carries out bhakthi (devotion)). This is the reason SAsthras forbade people from worshipping such dhEvathAs. Did not thirumazhisai AzhwAr too mercifully define vaishNava lakshaNam (the identification for vaishNavas) in his nAnmugan thiruvandhAdhi 68 “maRandhum puRam thozhA mAndhar” (even by mistake, people will not worship other dhEvathAs). For a wife who has a difference of opinion with her husband, her status as wife will remain so long as she does not go to another man. In the same way, even if the involvement with emperumAn takes time to set in, it does not matter. It is more important for him not go have any connection with other dhEvathAs. If this puRam thozhAmai (not worshipping others) is followed, even for a person who has forgotten emperumAn, the qualification to become his servitor will be present. Only to emphasise this, AzhwAr brings this prabandham to an end by saying “oru mA dheyvam maRRu udaiyOmOyAmE” (do we have another deity to attain?).

adiyEn krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan

periya perumAL periya pirAttiyAr thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
AzhwAr thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
emperumAnAr thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
periyavAchchAn piLLai thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
jIyar thiruvadigaLE SaraNam

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