thiruviruththam – 2 – sezhu nIr

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avathArikai (Introduction)

In the previous pAsuram, AzhwAr had called out to emperumAn as “imaiyOr thalaivA” (lord of nithyasUris), referring to emperumAn’s quality of supreme masculinity. He wanted to attain emperumAn immediately. Since that did not fructify, he assumed the pathos of a lady. Is it possible for a man to assume the mental make-up of a lady? SrI rAmAyaNa ayOdhyA kANdam SlOkam 3-79 says “pumsAm dhrushti chiththApahAriNam” (SrI rAma would steal the eyes and minds of men). Since that was possible, this also is possible. While it is possible, how is it that AzhwAr donned the role of a noble damsel instead of a normal lady? This is so because AzhwAr felt supremely happy when united with emperumAn, felt very dejected when separated from him and wanted to enjoy and perform service to emperumAn with all his faculties [of mind, body and speech]. While this is acceptable, how is it that he also assumed the conduct of the mother as well as friend of the damsel? Just as excess water during severe flood breaches river and flows into its tributaries and canals before reaching the ocean, since the matter which AzhwAr is experiencing (viz., emperumAn) is without any limit, his supreme affection makes it possible for him to don various roles (of the damsel, her friend and her mother).

How did AzhwAr reach such a situation? emperumAn had shown him the hurdles (inimical entities to be avoided) in samsAram, had prevented any taste for these in AzhwAr and had also shown him his nithyavibhUthi (SrIvaikuNtam). After seeing the profound knowledge which those who dwell in nithyavibhUthi have as well as the exchanges between them and emperumAn and the distinction which that place has, a craving developed in AzhwAr which will not allow him to rest until he attained that place. Even after he developed a desire towards SrIvaikuNtam and prayed to emperumAn to grant him that, why did emperumAn not grant him his wish? emperumAn delayed granting AzhwAr his wish immediately, thinking in his divine mind “Let us create a distinction between AzhwAr and other samsAris, make him unaware of anything other than us. We will make him not expect anything from us (other than ourselves), and to make him call out to us constantly, even if without any reason. We will then grant him servitude towards us, which is his basic nature. Then we will enable him to attain us. We will do all these when he remains steadfast that we alone matter”. After AzhwAr was granted faultless knowledge about emperumAn in the previous pAsuram, he now craves that he should attain emperumAn immediately.

Why should emperumAn make him wait? When guests come to a house, they are provided food, keeping the inmates of the house hungry. In the same way, one can see that emperumAn keeps those who are totally devoted to him, waiting, while granting the wishes of others who are not that devoted to him. We could see this (a) in the way he fulfilled kaikEyi’s wishes (of denying him the crown and sending him to forest) while making bharatha to wait for fourteen years and (b) in the way he made sIthAppirAtti to wait while fulfilling the desire of maharAjar (sugrIvan). What is the reason for fulfilling desires of those who are not that devoted to him, immediately? This is because the wishes of others last only for a short while. Will he not help those who are totally devoted to him? He does that as we could see from the way he helped bharatha to carry only his sandals on his head and not the crown.

While the nAyaki (leading lady) and her friend go to the garden to pluck flowers, the nAyaka (leading man) also, by chance, reaches that place. The friend, again by chance, leaves the garden, leaving the leading lady and man to be together. They unite with each other and separate too. The leading lady thought that separation is also a form of union only. Due to separation from her beloved, the lady is in distress. The friend, who returns, finds out all these and resolves that she should help the lady to regain her existence. She wishes her well saying “What situation is she in! This condition should continue like this” (meaning that the leading lady should continue to be affectionate towards her beloved).

Let us go through the pAsuram and its meanings.

sezhunIr thadaththuk kayal miLirndhAloppach chEyarikkaN
azhunIr thuLumba alamaruginRana vAzhiyarO
muzhunIr mugilvaNNan kaNNan viNNAttavar mUdhuvarAm
thozhunIr adiyiNaikkE anbu sUttiya sUzhkuzhaRkE

Word-by-Word Meanings

muzhu – replete
nIr – having imbibed water
mugil – like a cloud
vaNNan – one who has the complexion
kaNNan – krishNa, who is obedient (to his followers)
mUdhuvarAm – being ahead of all others in terms of time
viNNAttavar – nithyasUris who dwell in paramapadham
thozhum – apt to be attained [and worshipped]
nIr – having it as the basic nature
iNai – being together
adikkE – at the divine feet
anbu – garland of love
sUttiya – one who offered
sUzh – being curled
kuzhaRku – she, who has locks
sezhum – beautiful
nIr – having water
thadaththu – in the pond
kayal – fish
miLirndhAl oppa – like rolling
sE – reddish
ari – having lines
kaN – the eyes
azhu – crying
nIr – tears
thuLumba – to be agitated
alamaruginRana – to be bewildered

Simple Translation

The divine feet of krishNa who is having the complexion of a cloud replete with water, are constantly worshipped by nithyasUris, who came ahead of all others. A girl with curly hair and whose eyes roam around here and there like fish in a beautiful, water-filled pond, offers her garland of love to such divine feet. Her eyes which have reddish lines, are shedding tears and are bewildered since she is separated from emperumAn. Let her condition, in which her love is blooming, remain forever.


sezhunIrth thadaththuk kayal miLirndhAl oppa – (her eyes) are like fish which keep moving from left to right and back to left, in a pond which has pure water. The greatness of what is being compared with is so high that the simile needs a correction. In other words, the fish will not equal her eyes in all ways; they could, to an extent be like her eyes. The eyes are having such greatness.

sEyarikkaN azhunIr thuLumba – her eyes, which are similar to the ones mentioned in SrI rAmAyaNam sundhara kANdam 16-5 “asithEkshaNa” (sIthA with black eyes), are shedding tears copiously. While it is the leading man [here, it is emperumAn] who should shed tears after looking at her beautiful eyes, she is shedding tears. The condition in which the eyes shed tears due to separation from emperumAn is the basic nature of an AthmA (soul). Seeing such a sight is what is acceptable to her friends. Her friend thought “My desire has been fulfilled (of seeing her condition like this); her desire too should be fulfilled”. Even emperumAn does not witness such a situation [where those who separate from him shed tears and wail], as brought out in SrI rAmAyaNam sundhara kANdam 33-4 “kim artham” (looking at the tears in the eyes of sIthAppirAtti, hanumAn asked her “What is the reason for the tears in your eyes?”) SrI rAma learnt the reason for the tears through hanumAn and did not directly know from her. Looking at the tears, the friend asks the leading lady “What is the reason for your tears? Thinking of whom are you in this condition?”

alamaruginRana – her (the leading lady’s) eyes are bewildered.

vAzhiyarO – She tells the leading lady “Let this disheartening condition of yours sustain” (since the leading lady is pining for emperumAn’s love). Is there anyone who complimented on seeing the disheartening condition of someone else? SrI rAmAyaNam AraNya kANdam 67-15 “yAmOshadhivAyushman” jatAyu praised SrI rAma “May you live long” even though SrI rAma was in distress [searching for sIthAppirAtti].

muzhu nIr mugil vaNNan kaNNan – Unlike the clouds which are mentioned in mEghasandhESam 1-5 “dhUmajyOthis salilamaruthAm sannipAdha” (a mixture of fire and smoke), the complexion of kaNNan (krishNa) was that of a cloud which did not have smoke but had only water. It appeared as if the cloud had imbibed entire water from the ocean, making the floor of the ocean visible. Such a dark cloud. emperumAn who has such a complexion, totally enticed her. She was enticed not only by his complexion, but by his simplicity too. When a sarpayAgam (a ritual to bring all the snakes to one place) is held, just as all the snakes gather at that place, while everyone goes to krishNa, he comes to her, falling for her. She got caught by such a person!

viNNAttavar mUdhuvar – Just as it is said in purusha sUktham “yathra pUrvE sAdhyAs santhi dhEvA:” and in yajur vEdham “yathra rushaya: prathamajAyE purANA:” the nithyasUris are far ahead of all others, in terms of time; they are ancient. Their sustenance is only through worshipping emperumAn’s divine feet.

thozhu nIr – they remain with worshipping as their basic nature. It is just as it has been said in mahAbharatham mausala parvam 166-40 “nama ithyEvAdhina:” (they constantly say “Our salutations to you”)

iNai adikkE – the two divine feet where each is an exact match for the other. If a person is very beautiful in one limb of his physical form he may think “Who is as beautiful as I am?” When a person is obedient (servitude) towards one person alone, he may think “Who is as obedient as I?” and when a person is controlling a few persons he may think “Who controls as much as I do?” parathathvam (being supreme) is a combination of all these, without any shortcoming. Did this leading lady not fall for such a supreme entity!

adikkE anbu sUttiya – wouldn’t the others, who have been won over by a person’s sheer simplicity, fall at the feet of that person! Why use the term sUttiya (to adorn)? It is similar to thiruvAimozhi 4-3-2 “vAsagam sey mAlaiyE”(garland strung with words).

sUzh kuzhaRkE – locks which are curled; alternatively, locks which attract others and make them to follow.

In the next article, we shall take up the 3rd pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan

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