thiruvAimozhi – 8.8.5 – ninRa onRai

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Full series >> Eighth Centum >> Eighth decad

Previous pAsuram

Introduction for this pAsuram

Highlights from thirukkurukaippirAn piLLAn‘s introduction

No specific introduction.

Highlights from nanjIyar‘s introduction

In the fifth pAsuram, AzhwAr says “This AthmA (self) which I realised by bhagavAn‘s prasAdham (mercy) cannot be known by anyone; even if known, it cannot be realised”.

Highlights from vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar‘s introduction

See nanjIyar‘s introduction.

Highlights from periyavAchchAn piLLai‘s introduction

See nampiLLai‘s introduction.

Highlights from nampiLLai‘s introduction as documented by vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai

Fifth pAsuram. embAr mercifully explains “Previously – AthmA was explained as bhagavAn‘s prakAram (form/attribute); from here onwards, just as the whiteness on a cloth will be explained separately using separate words, up to the pAsuram ‘em pemmAnOdu‘, AthmA’s distinctive nature is explained”. mudhaliyANdAn says “AthmA is explained as prakAram of  bhagavAn”. In the AthmA which is explained as “ninRa onRai“, it is highlighted by AzhwAr “this AthmA which is seen by bhagavAn’s mercy, cannot be known by anyone and even if one knows about it with great efforts, one cannot see it”.


ninRa onRai uNarndhEnukku adhanuL nErmai adhu idhu enRu
onRum oruvarkku uNaral AgAdhu uNarndhu mElum kANbaridhu
senRu senRu param paramAy yAdhum inRith thEyndhaRRu
nanRu thIdhenRaRivaridhAy nanRAy gyAnam kadandhadhE


Word-by-Word meanings (based on vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar‘s 12000 padi)

(Unlike achith (insentient objects) which are perishable and are in variegated forms)
ninRa onRai – AthmA which is eternal (and made of knowledge only)
uNarndhEnukku – for me who saw it (as he showed as his prakAra (form))
adhanuL – its
nErmai – subtle, distinguished nature
onRum – any

(in any form)
oruvarkku – even for those who are fully knowledgeable
adhu idhu enRu – to be in a particular manner

(as realised or experienced as one among the same species)
uNaral AgAdhu – cannot be known (through SravaNam (hearing), mananam (meditation) etc);
uNarndhum – even if known (with great efforts)
mElum – even while gone upto the level of samAdhi (trance)
kANbu aridhu – will be difficult to see directly;

(for me who saw him as he showed himself to me) (in body, senses, mind, vital air, knowledge)
param paramAy – going further over every entity
senRu senRu – passing through
yAdhum – with their nature (such as change)
inRi – without having
thEyndhu – being very subtle
aRRu – eliminating (their connection)
nanRu thIdhu – having virtues and vices (which occur based on their desires)
enRu – as
aRivu aridhu Ay – being difficult to know
nanRu Ay – having distinguished knowledge and bliss ( which is distinguished in all manners)
gyAnam – for the knowledge (which supports them)
kadandhadhu – beyond.

Simple translation (based on vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar‘s 12000 padi)

The AthmA which is eternal and seen by me – its subtle, distinguished nature cannot be known  to be in a particular manner even for those who are fully knowledgeable; even if known and pursued up to the level of samAdhi, it will be difficult to see it directly; passing through and going further over every entity (namely body, senses, mind, vital air, knowledge), without having any change, being very subtle and eliminating the connection with such entities, being difficult to know as having virtues and vices, having distinguished knowledge and bliss, the AthmA remains beyond the reach of knowledge. In this pAsuram, the distinguished nature of AthmA is explained through the philosophy of sAnkhya.

vyAkyAnams (commentaries)

Highlights from thirukkurukaippirAn piLLAn‘s vyAkyAnam

See vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar‘s translation.

Highlights from nanjIyar‘s vyAkyAnam

See nampiLLai‘s vyAkyAnam.

Highlights from periyavAchchAn piLLai‘s vyAkyAnam

See nampiLLai‘s vyAkyAnam.

Highlights from nampiLLai‘s vyAkyAnam as documented by vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai

  • ninRa onRai – The AthmA which is different from body, senses, mind, vital air and knowledge, the one which remains alive in a singular form even when these perish, being the controller for these, and distinguished.
  • uNarndhEnukku – For me who analysed. Since AzhwAr is the one who immersed in emperumAn’s auspicious qualities as said in thiruvAimozhi 1.1.1uyarvaRa uyarnalam” (most superior, auspicous qualities), he did not focus on the nature of the self which appears like firefly in front of emperumAn, until now; since his tools are gyAna in the form of bhakthi, he did not have time to engage in self.

When asked “How did you feel about it when you analysed it?” AzhwAr says,

  • adhanuL nErmai – It’s greatness.
  • adhu idhu enRu – It cannot be known as what is realised or experienced.
  • onRum oruvarkku uNaral AgAdhu – Even for those with great knowledge, the slightest aspect of it cannot be understood.
  • uNarndhu mElum kANbaridhu – As said in SrI bhagavath gIthA 11.54gyAthum dhrashtum cha thathvEna …” (Oh arjuna! One who roasts the enemies! Only with the assistance of bhakthi, I, like this, can be truly known, seen and attained), it cannot be known, and even if known, it cannot be seen.
  • senRu senRu param paramAy – Going step by step, being greater than one after the other. Being beyond the different layers such as annamaya (layer of body), prANamaya (layer of vital air) and manOmaya (layer of mind).
  • yAdhum inRith thEndhaRRu – Not having any of their qualities [such as change etc] and being totally disconnected from them.
  • nanRu thIdhu enRu aRivaridhAy – As senses are greater than body, mind is greater than senses, vital air is greater than mind and so on, it will be difficult to be comprehended as good or bad based on material conceptions.
  • gyAnam kadandhadhE – Will be beyond the knowledge acquired through senses. In achith (matter), though each entity is distinguished from one another, they have equality in being perceivable by physical senses; even that is not possible for AthmA. Thus, in this pAsuram, the manner in which the AthmA is described in sAnkhya philosophy through entity numbering system, and the difficulty in understanding the same are explained.

In the next article we will enjoy the next pAsuram.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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About Sarathy Thothathri

Disciple of SrImath paramahamsa ithyAdhi pattarpirAn vAnamAmalai jIyar (29th pattam of thOthAdhri mutt). Descendant of komANdUr iLaiyavilli AchchAn (bAladhanvi swamy, a cousin of SrI ramAnuja). Born in AzhwArthirungari, grew up in thiruvallikkENi (chennai), presently living under the shade of the lotus feet of jagathAchArya SrI rAmAnuja, SrIperumbUthUr. Learned sampradhAyam principles from (varthamAna) vAdhi kEsari azhagiyamaNavALa sampathkumAra jIyar swamy, vELukkudi krishNan swamy, gOmatam sampathkumArAchArya swamy and many others. Full time sEvaka/servitor of SrIvaishNava sampradhAyam. Engaged in translating our AzhwArs/AchAryas works in Simple thamizh and English, and coordinating the translation effort in many other languages. Also engaged in teaching dhivyaprabandham, sthOthrams, bhagavath gIthA etc and giving lectures on various SrIvaishNava sampradhAyam related topics in thamizh and English regularly. Taking care of portal, which is a humble offering to our pUrvAchAryas. is part of SrI varavaramuni sambandhi Trust ( initiatives.

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