siRiya tirumadal – thaniyan

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muLLichezhumalarO(r) thArAn muLaimadhiyam
koLLikenuLLam kodhiyAmE – vaLLal
thiruvALan sIrkkaliyan kArkkaliyai vetti
maruvALan thandhAn madal

The thaniyan was composed by piLLai thirunaRaiyUr araiyar. The commentary to the thaniyan was written by piLLai lOkam jIyar. We will first see the preface to the thaniyan followed by the explanation of thaniyan itself.

Preface to thaniyan

The preface to the thaniyan can be interpreted in two different methods.

Method 1

This would be when the first phrase is treated as “muLLi chezhu malarOr thArAn”. There are five things that are collectively known as “SabdhAdhi vishayangaL”. They are Sabdha, sparSa, rUpa, rasa and gandham. Sabdham is sound; sparSa is touch; rUpa is form, rasa is taste and finally gandham is smell. These five are primarily responsible for controlling one’s heart. piLLAi thirunaRaiyUr araiyar celebrates thirumangai AzhvAr who gave us this work called “siriya thirumadal”. With the help of “siriya thirumadal”, piLLAi thirunarayiUr araiyar says that devotees who are at the service of the lotus feet of thirumangai azhvAr, are able to control the unwanted desires that emanate because of “SabdhAdhi vishayangaL” and consequentially they are able to focus their mind and heart towards SrIman nArAyaNan. In this method of interpretation, the purport is that the scripture called “siRiya thirumadal” acts as thing of sustenance for devotees who would otherwise finish themselves due to pain of separation from SrIman nArAyaNan.

Method 2

This would be when the first phrase is treated as “muLLi chezhu malarO thArAn”. There are devotees of thirumangai AzhvAr who cannot live by separating themselves from their beloved AzhvAr. thirumangai AzhvAr gave this work called “siRiya thirumadal” so that these devotees are able to sustain themselves and not indulge in materialistic pleasures that are controlled by “SabdhAdhi vishayangaL”. thirumangai AzvhAr used to wear a garland that was made of “muLLi” flowers. However, he did not give his devotees “muLLi” garland. Rather he gave them something that is even more spectacular that is nothing else than the garland of verses called “siRiya thirumadal”.

Word-by-Word Meanings

sIrkkaliyan – thirumangai AzhvAr who is also known as “kali kanRi” is full of auspicious qualities
thArAn – is someone who is seen decorated with
chezhum – fertile and
Or- unparalleled
muLLi malar – muLLi flowers
thiruvALan – He has enormous wealth called “service to SrIman nArAyaNan”.
vaLLal – and is very magnanimous
maruvALan – He, who has a sword in his hand, with which he
vetti – obliterated
kArkkaliyai – the black and evil effects of kali.
madal thandhAn – He gave us the dhivya prabandham called “siRiya thirumadal”.
enuLLam – (with which) my heart
kodhiyAmE – is without any suffering
muLai madhiyam koLLikku – from the wrath of a beautiful fire known as “moon”.


muLLich chezhu malarO(r) thArAnthirumangai AzhvAr, the king of “thirumangai” , is one who is seen adorned with unparalleled muLLi flowers that seems to be have been born exclusively for him. Just like how nammAzhvAr is celebrated as “vaguLaththArAnai” (thiruviruththam thaniyan), thirumangai AzhvAr is referred to as “Or thArAn”. The reason for the word “unparalleled” is used as an adjective for the “muLLi” flowers is because these flowers are compared and contrasted against the thiruththuzhAy (thuLasi) flowers that adorn SrIman nArAyaNan. thiruththuzhAy flowers are adorned by SrIman nArAyaNan, who, now has separated from thirumangai AzhvAr. However, the muLLi flowers does not get separated from thirumangai AzhvAr. In this aspect, these muLLi flowers are unparalleled. Even the greatest thiruththuzhAy does not stand a match in this regard. The above description fits in line with the method 1 of preface to thaniyan. Now, we will explore the meanings of the second method to preface to thaniyan in which the phrase is “muLLi chezumalarO thArAn”. The difference is that there is no “Or” that meant unparalleled earlier. If we were to interpret this method, then the explanation is as follows. We are devotees of thirumangai AzhvAr. He did not give us the great muLLi flowers that he wears. What did he give instead? Since thirumangai AzhvAr considers himself to be a servant of us (because we are SrIvaishNavas), he gave us an even more spectacular gift – the garland of his verses that is known as “siRiya thirumadal”.

“muLaimadhiyam en koLLikkenuLLam kodhiyAmE” – Why does thirumangai AzhvAr had to bless us with his madal? The answer to this is in the next line “muLaimadhiyam en koLLikkenuLLam kodhiyAmE”. The moon that just started to glow will appear to scorch those people who are in love but are separated. So the moon that is usually connoted with coolness now is referred to as an object that scorches that is similar to “koLLik kattai” (wood lit with fire). thirumangai AzhvAr himself had used the phrase “pOndha veN thiNgaL kadhir suda meliyum (periya thirumozhi 2.7.3). In this phrase he says that the moon is similar to sun that in the sense that it scorches him throughout the night when he is separated from SrIman nArAyaNan. There is one more reference to this in the phrase “chandhras chaNda kArayathE” that means that the moon is similar to sun when it comes to scorch those separated worldly lovers.

SrIrAmApirAn Himself said “yAni sma ramaNIyAni thapA saha bhAvanthi mE! dhAnyEvAramaNIpAni jAyanthE mE dhayA vinA!!!”. This means that when HE is with HIS consort sIthA pirAtti, everything that was around at that time was beautiful. Those same things , when she is not with HIM, look anything but beautiful. There are two possible split ups here. First is “muLai madhiyam koLLi” and the second one is “muLai madhi am koLLi”. The first split “muLai madhiyam koLLi” would mean “koLLi that is like a moon that just dawned” as revealed by “muLai madhiyamAgiRa koLLi”. The second split “muLai madhi am koLLi”, however, could be broken down further in to “muLai madhiyamAgira am koLLi”. The word “am” means beautiful and so it means the “beautiful koLLI that is similar to the just dawned moon”. “madhiyam” is moon. There are five things that usually torment lovers who are separated. Those five include moon, jasmine flowers, poetry in kurunji rAgam, wind that blows towards north and finally a bed that is made of flowers. Jasmine flowers and poetry in kurunji rAgam is taken from nammAzhvAr’s thiruvAimozhi, “malligai kamazh thendRal IrumAlO, vaN kuRunji isai thavazhumAlO” (thiruvAimozhi 9.9.1). The other three namely north blowing wind, moon and bed of flowers are taken from the same work but from a different pAsuram that has “vAdai thaN vAdai vevvAdai AlO, mEvu thaN madhiyam vem madhiyamAlO, men malarppaLLi vempaLLyAlO” (thiruvAimozhi 9.9.4). Earlier, we saw that there are collectively five things that are known as “SabdhAdhi vishayangaL” that torture one’s heart. Similarly there is this another set of five that torment people who are separated from their beloved.

The phrase “muLai madhiyam koLLi ennuLLam kodhiyAme” is key to the two methods that were discussed in the preface to thaniyan. The above phrase is to be joined correctly as below to get the meanings that was explained earlier. Here is the summary of that.

Method 1

The phrase “muLai madhiyam koLLi ennuLLam kodhiyAme” should be joined with “muLLich chezhu malarO(r) thArAn and so should be read as “muLai madhiyam koLLikku en uLLam kodhiyAmE muLLich chezhu malarO thArAn”. This would mean, thirumangai AzhvAr gave “siRiya thirumadal” to us who are separated from SrIman nArAyaNan and are consequentially tormented and tortured by “SabdhAdhi vishayangaL”.

Method 2

The phrase “muLai madhiyam koLLi ennuLLam kodhiyAme” should be joined with “thandhAn madal” and so should be read as “muLAi madhiyam koLLikku ennuLLam kodhiyAmE thandhAn madal”. thirumangai AzhvAr gave “siRiya thirumadal” to us who are thirumangai AzhvAr’s devotees. He did not give the muLLi flowers that he decorated himself with. Instead he gave the garland of verses known as “siRiya thirumadal” with which we can continue to exist.

vaLLal thiruvALan – This refers to a person who is magnanimous. The author of the thaniyan namely piLLai thirunaRaiyUr araiyar says that thirumangai AzhvAr gave madal that made him peacefully exist without having to suffer the tortures of SabdhAdhi vishayangaL. Why is he a magnanimous person in this regard? This is because thirumangai AzhvAr helped piLLai thirunaRaiyUr araiyar to continue to live when the latter could have easily been done because of his separation from SrIman nArAyaNan. SrIman nArAyaNan did not help him survive. But it was only thirumangai AzhvAr that enabled him to live by giving him the great work called “siRiya thirumadal”.

vaLLal thiruvALan – The name “thiruvALan” refers to one who has the most significant wealth called as “service to SrIman nArAyaNan”. The adjective “vaLLal” here is used because no matter how much wealthy a person is, it shines only if he gives. thirumangai AzhvAr is one such person who has abundance of this wealth.

sIrkkaliyan – It refers to thirumangai AzhvAr who is also known as “kaliyan”, who has a lot of auspicious qualities starting from the likes of compassion etc.

kArkkaliyai vetti – How did thirumangai AzhvAr give the garland of verses called “siRiya thirumadal”. If we need to pluck flowers, we may need to remove the thorns in the plant before getting the flowers. Was there any thorn that thirumangai AzhvAr got rid of before giving us the “siRiya thirumadal”? The thorn that is being metaphorized here is nothing but the black kali rather the evil influences of it. kali is a yugam that is characterized by ignorance. thirumangai AzhvAr is also known as kalikanRi for he removed the effects of kali through his works.

maruvALan thandhAn madal – In order to remove the thorn in plant, there needs to be a sword. Did thirumangai AzhvAr have one? Yes. He did have a sword that fitted him perfectly. The word “vAL” (sword) metaphorically refers to knowledge and so it means that thirumangai AzhvAr cut asunder the ignorance (agyAnam) called thorn, using the true knowledge about SrIman nArAyaNan. The word “maru” refers to fragrance. So “maruvALan” means that thirumangai AzhvAr is a person who can be smelled using the pleasant fragrant smell of “bhagavadh anubhavam”. This fact is stated in the phrase “ivaL andhaNthuzhAy kamazhdhal” (thiruvAimozhi 8.9.10) as well. There is yet another meaning for “maruvALan”. The verb “maruvudhal” can mean “to attain”. thirumangai AzhvAr was a person who yearned to be with parama purushan “SrIman nArAyaNan”. There is one more explanation to “maruvALan”. “maruvi” could also mean “to transform or to change”. thirumangai AzhvAr changed the people with conscience (chEthanar), he went towards them out of his own volition and ruled them by correcting them. So it means that in order to correct the ignorant chEthanars and subsequently make them similar to him, who is with the muLLi garland, he gave the madal. In the second method discussed above, it means “muLLich chezhu malaraith thArAmal madalai thandhu vittAr”. The devotees of thirumangai AzhvAr are yearning for the muLLi flowers that he adorns. But thirumangai AzhvAr, as he himself says “annaiyum aththanum enRu adiyOmukku irangiRRilan” (periya thirumozhi 3.7.7), he regard him as the devotees of those devotees who were yearning for his muLLI garland. Hence, he gave a more special gift in the form of “siRiya thirumadal”.

adiyEn santhAna rAmAnuja dhAsan

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