thirunedunthANdakam – 8

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As AzhvAr became sorrowful and thought – ‘We could not experience at that time when He strode the worlds’, and (as He said), ‘I am there with that beauty in thirukkOvalUr, come and experience it!’, as AzhvAr took along his mind to experience Him (there), he forgot about the saurya (not running away in a fight (absence of parAngmukhathvam)), and veerya (not getting confused and agitated during fight (unlike arjuna did in kurukshEthra)) of Ayan (of thirukkOvalUr dhivya dhEsam), also forgot about experiencing Him, and as he saw Him in front of his eyes he saw the soft delicateness of emperumAn, and thought about the nature of the place which is having many asuras, and thought ‘Oh what might happen to this divine One’, thus fearing for Him. It is the nature of AthmA to be loving of and be caring of Him. As He showed His valor etc., and cleared his fear, he took his mind along and was involving in experiencing Him – in the previous pAsuram.

In this pAsuram – AzhvAr is deciding that we shall go to thirukkOvalUr and experience the emperumAn. Since it is he (who is having extreme love toward emperumAn), his divine feet are not moving; thinking about the beauty etc., of Ayan (of thirukkOvalUr) his senses got weakened as said in ‘kAl Azhum nenjazhiyum kaN suzhalum’ [periya thiruvanthAdhi – 34] (~ my feet would get stuck, mind would be destroyed, eyes would not focus, even if I just hear about how He is lying down in the divine milky ocean), and to be according to the true nature of self (to be subservient and not do something on own efforts) – that is, both at the time of surrendering to Him, and at the time of enjoying Him (by doing services) – surrendering to Him when He comes and pushes us to surrender to Him, and enjoying Him when He comes with His own efforts and making us enjoy Him, is our true nature. This is as said in ‘kUvudhal varudhal seyyAy [thiruvAimozhi – 9.2.10](~You call me and make me serve you, and You come to me), en thiRam sollAr [thiruvAimozhi – 8.3.7]’ (He is not saying a single word about me His ardent devotee).

Thus due to decimation of senses, and not having eligibility (as per his nature), he is not able to go there; but he did not have the place he was in to happen to be thirukkOvalUr; he started calling (the place); as he was longing to enjoy thirukkOvalUr, why would he start calling other divine places?  Like how one would pick and collect multiple grains (spilled in the field), as Ayan’s nature is shining in dhivya dhEsams, AzhvAr is calling them based on that. It is like (praising SrI rAmA through multiple examples as) said in ‘vishNunA sadhruSO veeryE [SrI rAmAyaNam – bAla kANdam – 1-18]((SrI rAman) is equal to vishNu in manliness; He is pleasing to the eyes like the moon; is like the annihilating fire in His anger; is equal to the earth in His patience).

neeragaththAy nedu varaiyin uchchi mElAy
  nilAththingaL thuNdaththAy niRaindha kachchi
UragaththAy oNthuRai neer vehkAvuLLAy
  uLLuvAr uLLaththAy ulagamEththum
kAragaththAy kArvAnaththuLLAy kaLvA
  kAmarupUngAviriyin then pAl mannu
pEragaththAy pErAdhen nenjin uLLAy
  perumAn un thiruvadiyE pENinEnE                        8

Word by word meaning

neeragaththAy Oh One who is giving divine presence in thiruneeragam dhivya dhEsam!
nedu varaiyin uchchi mElAy –  Oh One who stood at the top of tall and great thirumalai!
nilAththingaL thuNdaththAy –  Oh One who is giving divine presence in the divine place called nilAththingaL thuNdam!
niRaindha kachchi UragaththAy – Oh One who is giving divine presence in the divine place called Uragam by pervading the whole of kachchi (by your qualities)!
oNthuRai neer vekhAvuLLAy – Oh One who is in sleeping posture at the beautiful shore of water tank that is in thiruvehkA!
uLLuvAr uLLaththAy – Oh One who is present in the hearts of those who think of you (as their leader)!  (that is also a temple for Him);
ulagam Eththum kAragaththAy – Oh One who stood in the divine place called ‘thirukkAragam’ for the whole world to worship!
kAr vAnaththuLLAy – Oh One who lives in the divine place called kArvAnam!
kaLvA – Oh the thief (who hid the divine form and not showing it to the devotees)!  (there is a dhivya dhEsam called kaLvanUr);
kAmaru pUm kAviriyin then pAl mannu pEragaththAy – well set in the town of thiruppEr (of appakkudaththAn) that is on the south shore of very beautiful kAvEri!
en nenjil pEradhu uLLAy – Oh One who is showing Himself to my mind without break or going away!
perumAn – Oh One having many many divine places!
un thiruvadiyE pENinEnE – I am calling for your divine feet (wishing to see it).


thiru neeragam – image courtesy –

neeragaththAy – Oh one residing in thiruneeragam! Since One who is of neermai that is of quality of neer (water), is residing here, the place is referred to as neeragam. Even though the nature of AthmA is same for everyone, it is due to karma there are differences of being human, dEvas, etc., and also based on that there are differences in their knowledge and thoughts; but water is the life line for every one of them; likewise, the emperumAn of thiruneeragam  is the life line for everyone. So the divine feet that stored all the worlds is the life line for everyone; since this nature of emperumAn is highlighted in this dhivya dhEsam, Oh One who is enjoyable to everyone without any limits, is not showing yourself to me! wonders AzhvAr.

nedu variyin uchchi mElAy – Oh one who is divining His presence in thirumalai such that You are enjoyed not only by those in the earth, but also in the higher worlds.  This is as said in ‘vAnavar vAnavar kOnodum namanRezhum thiruvEngadam [thiruvAimozhi – 3.3.7]’ (nithyasUris (eternally free souls of paramapadham), with sEnai mudhaliyAr (vishwaksEna – who is their leader), bowing (which highlights their total dependence), feeling accomplished (having realized their true nature), divine place having the name thiruvEngadam); the state of thirumalai reminds of the divine feet of nAyan who strode all the worlds; You who would show up even for those who think of themselves as lords, is not showing yourself to me! wonders AzhvAr.

nilAth thingaL thuNdathhAy – this is also being the name based on the nature of nAyAnAr (emperumAn, the lord). Oh, like the moon who is complete in all the arts, One who helps those who suffer from the three types of thApams by clearing those thApams, and being sweet to those who enjoy You!

As said in ‘sUryAmSu janitham thApam ninyE thArApathi: Samam [SrI vishNu purANam – 5-10-3](like how a discerning mind would remove the sorrow caused by pride, moon the head of stars removed the heat caused by the rays of sun), for the people who suffer due to the heat of the sun it is the moon that is reason for their calm and comfort;  nilAth thingaL – during waning phase its light would be dimmed, and so it is mentioned as ‘nilAth thingaL’  (to imply full moon). Since the divine abode is a part (thuNdam) of the earth, he is saying ‘nilAth thingaL thUNdam’ based on that. Since he mentions about it specifically saying thuNdam, he is saying it to show its uniqueness compared to other dhivya dhEsams. This reminds about emperumAn who is present with removal of tiredness he got due to striding the worlds, and being lovely. Oh one who removes the tiredness and gives happiness to everyone, is not showing yourself to me! wonders AzhvAr.

niRaindha kachchi UragaththAy – Oh one who is present and divining in the dhivya dhEsam of thirukkachchi Uragam for the whole of kAncheepuram to be filled with your beauty and kindness! He is present in thiru Uragam that reminds us of His divine posture in thirukkOvalUr! niRaindha kachchi – As said in ‘SObhayan dhaNdakAraNam [SrI rAmAyaNam – AraNya kANdam – 38-15]’ (SrI rAman, by His brightness, appeared like a young moon which rose just then, in that forest), the whole of thirukkachchi is filled with His brightness; also kachchi that is filled with divine abodes (thirukkachi being one having so many dhivya dhEsams).

Uragam – image courtesy

oN thuRai neer vekhAvuLLAy –  Oh one who is in sleeping posture in the shore of beautiful thiruvehkA! Unlike other places, since this is the one where thirumazhisaip pirAn got down and took holy bath, this is referred to as beautiful shore. He is staying put and lying down in this shore to show that He obeyed AzhvAr‘s words. Going behind the devotee when he left, and coming back as that devotee came back and lying down back again but in the opposite direction keeping His head where His divine feet were earlier – isn’t this how the ‘pArathanthryam toward devotees’ is present in there!

thiruvehkA – sonna vaNNam seydha perumaL – image courtesy

As said in ‘irundha Uril irukkum mAnidar eththavangaL seydhAr kolO [periyAzhvAr thirumozhi – 4.4.7]’ (Oh what penances they might have performed to be rewarded of being in the town where His devotees are present!), for SrIvaishNavas it is the place where a SrIvaishNavan lives is the preferred place – likewise, it is for eeSvaran the place that is preferred is where there is a connection of devotee.

As said in ‘vAsal kadai kazhiyA uL pugA kAmar pUngOval idai kazhiyE paRRi ini [mudhal thiruvanthAdhi – 86]’ (neither going out nor going in, you are staying in the in-between place (because that is where we three mudhal AzhvArs had stayed once)!), how He had entered and jammed Himself into the place where the three AzhvArs were present, and even after they left, He did not have the mind to leave that place – this is how it reminds us about the nature of emperumAn at thiruvehkA (being dedicated to devotees).  soNNa vaNNam seydha perumAn mingled with the devotees with his divine head in the place of the feet. Oh You who is steadfast in the place that was of the devotees, are not showing Yourself to me who would not bear the separation!

uLLuvAr uLLaththAy – Oh one who lives in the hearts of those who live with the thought that there is a lord for me!  It is for reaching a devotee’s heart that He is present in a dhivya dhEsam (this is the reason for AzhvAr to talk about the heart of devotees when in the setting of listing these dhivya dhEsams). ‘ninRadhu endhai [thiruchchandha viruththam – 64]’ (He being present in these dhivya dhEsams is doing all those sitting, standing, etc., in my mind too), etc. You who would live in the hearts of those who have got even a little love toward You, are not showing Yourself to me! wonders AzhvAr.

ulagam Eththum kAragaththAy –  Oh who is divining his standing presence in thiruk kAragam for the whole world to heap praises! As said in ‘lOka vikrAntha! charaNau [vihagESvara samhithai padalam 22]’ ((vikrama:  = stepping) – Oh emperumAn! adiyEn am leaving all the relatives, and all the means, and all other destinies including kaivalyam, and surrendering unto the divine feet of You who strode the three worlds!), for all the worlds to argue (with Him saying – Your divine feet is common and available for all), and surrender, He having such history of taking the three steps, that Ayan being amicable for all to surrender, and this dhivya dhEsam (too) lets us think about that emperumAn! Oh You who is available for all to surrender, are not showing Yourself to me!

kAr vAnaththu uLLAy – Oh one who lives in thiruk kArvAnam, who is having the nature of cloud whose nature is to pour rain! The divine name for dhivya dhEsam is based on the nature of this emperumAn. Cloud would pour rain without expecting any benefit, and without any distinction of water or land (to everyone) – this dhivya dhEsam reminds of the generosity of Ayan (of thirukkOvalUr), who kept His divine feet on the heads of all the people whether they longed for it or not.

kaLvA – Oh one who steals! (apahAram). We would not call Him ‘kaLvA’ since we do not have such love towards Him like this AzhvAr. Stealing is – hiding something that belongs to one by making it not his. His stealing is – not showing His beauty which is to be experienced by His devotees. AthmApahAram is when the sentient does not agree that the AthmA belongs to Him;  whereas that is how it is regarding AthmA, we don’t agree to that but say ‘svathanthrOham’ (I am independent) – this is our stealing.  Is your preventing my stealing, is to steal (not showing) Your AthmA (divine body)? Making the meaning of AthmA to flourish, is for destroying the meaning of ‘bhakthAnAm [jithanthE sthOthram – 1.5]’ (everything of You are there not for you; they are there for Your devotees)?

kAmaru pUm, etc. – Oh One who is having presence in thiruppEr(nagar; appakkudaththAn) that is near the south of kAvEri river that is beautiful which is wished to be seen! AzhvAr is adding this adjective (to river kAvEri) because it is having kOyil (thiruvarangam) in the middle. kOyil (SrIrangam) is such that it is preferred by the ones who are to be saved and for the One Who saves.  then pAl – checking whether there are people going by the shore (on the south), He is staying put near the shore (to get them). Like people who depend on the shore for their livelihood – He is also by the shore for His being the protector to come to bear.  mannu – He is staying put thinking He won’t leave unless everyone one in this world reached Him; ‘Is there anyone who will come and reach Me?’ – thinking so You are waiting for such opportunity; but You are not showing Yourself to me! This dhivya dhEsam also reminds us of Ayan (of thirukkOvalUr) who cannot not sustain Himself without having devotees following Him;

pErAdhu en nenjil uLLAy – You are not making Yourself the target of my eyes, but then why are You appearing in my mind? While making Yourself grandly visible in my mind like it is a brahmOthsavam, why are You keeping Yourself away on the outside like without any kAhaLam (instrument that makes sound), or pole/flag,etc. (that are used during celebrations). If You would not show Yourself in my mind, I would live without thinking about You; I did not get to live by seeing You on the outside; did not get to live by Not seeing You on the inside (mind); did not get to live by dying – says AzhvAr;

he could not live by seeing – because it is He who has to give that vision; he could not live by forgetting Him in his mind – due to the distinct greatness of what he sees in his mind;  not able to live by dying – due to the wish the he would be able to see Him again;  even if separated, the distinct greatness of emperumAn is such that one would keep saying ‘that! that!’ about Him. Only if it is about other matters, that one would be able to forget as time goes by; this matter is such that it would increase the longing as days go by;

he is not able to live by dying – because being present under His control – (sIthA) pirAtti could not proceed with attempting to hang Herself – because She is His property; nammAzhvAr, even though was desperate when singing ‘uyirinAl kuRaivilam [thiruvAimozhi – 4.8.10]’ (There is no use of my AthmA (self) which is not liked by emperumAn), he had to beg Him for ending his life as he sang in ‘sAmAREpaNi (kaNdAy) [thiruvAimozhi – 4.9.1]’ (to die (and shed my body), you have to mercifully speak a word (as in the case of SrI bhagavath gIthA 18.66 “mOkshayishyAmi” (I will free you)).

perumAn – Oh one who does not have any count of such dhivya dhEsams! Since there is not a count of dhivyadhEsams that remind us of Ayan (of thirukkOvalUr), and since he (AzhvAr) does not have the ability to talk about all those dhivya dhEsams, he is collecting them together with this word (perumAn).

Or, perumAn – Oh the lord who accepts our services! Oh I am suffering because of knowing the relationship with Him, says AzhvAr. If I had not known that then I would have happily done whatever came to mind as one interested in worldly matters, like the samsAris (people interested in worldly matters). Is it correct for him to feel bad for not being like the samsAris who undergo the three types of suffering? – the suffering of samsAris due to their ahankAram and mamakAram are tolerable; the suffering that AzhvAr goes through by not getting emperumAn even though he wishes for it so much – this suffering is not tolerable, isn’t it? (ALavandhAr too said) ‘sarvam sahE [sthOthra rathnam – 25]’ (my) sorrows are tolerable (but not that of your devotees), and as I said in ‘nAn kaNdu koNdEn nArAyaNa ennum nAmam [periya thirumozhi – 1.1.1]’ (I have obtained the divine name nArAyaNA), I thought it is enjoyable when I got You. But it has ended up being the reason for my sorrows! When one gets the knowledge about their true nature, there would be happiness only when one gets life that is according to that nature; when that is not the case, it is all sorrows only, isn’t it? It is for one who is having indigestion that the hunger is preferable; for one who is very hungry, it is that hunger that is the cause for his suffering. ‘On one hand I am not enjoying in worldly matters like the samsAris; on the other hand, I am not enjoying in Your experience like the mukthAthmAs (liberated from the cycle of birth); I am not being in the state of ‘thath thasya sadhruSam bhavEth [SrI rAmAyaNam – sundhara kANdam – 30.30]’ (it would fit His nature (to get me when He likes)) like mumukshus (those wishing to be liberated) who have understood their true nature; like being not in any of these groups, I am having this state of suffering!, wonders AzhvAr.

emperumAn asks – For you who were having affinity towards bodily affairs and earthly interests, I showed you the true goal that is suitable for your true nature, and affected you such that your union with and separation from me would be happiness and sadness for you – while there is all these help of mine for you, why are you calling in this way like an ungrateful?

un thiruvadiyE pENinEnE – I am not calling while being ungrateful for things You have done for me; in those matters I am grateful to You; I am calling due to the longing to see Your divine feet – says AzhvAr. Is my purushArtham (aim) about getting a few better things compared to worldly people? (No,), it is about seeing You with my eyes that is the purushArtham for me, says AzhvAr. Because You have not shown Your divine feet, the good things You did for me have become the reason for my sorrows, is the thought here.

un thiruvadi – Your divine feet that is both the means and destiny. Mentioning many of these divine abodes and then saying ‘un’ (Your in singular) thiruvadi, shows that AzhvAr is experiencing the ways of Ayan (of thirukkOvalUr) only in all these dhivya dhEsams.  un thiruvadi – Your divine feet that is of such nature.


Translation by raghuram SrInivAsa dAsan

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