thiruviruththam – 22 – kombAr thazahikai

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avathArikai (Introduction)

The nAyakan (leading man) asks the nAyaki (leading lady) and her friend as to who are the people who had put them in charge of guarding the fields. Just as one goes to a place where those who are dear to that person are assembled, asking for water (in order to start a conversation), the nAyakan goes to the fields where these girls are guarding with some foliage in his hand and asks them “Have  you seen an elephant here?” in order to strike a conversation with them. They respond asking in return “Are we here to guard these fields or are we here to answer your queries?” When the nAyakan went there, why did he break the shoot of a tree? This was to tell them [especially the nAyaki] that just as the tree shoot has started withering after being separated from the tree which is its sustaining force, he too is withering in separation from the nAyaki. However, the shoot appeared to have become fresh due to its contact with sarvESvaran (supreme entity) who is the nAyakan. The friend, thinking that her friend, the nAyaki, has not become rejuvenated like the shoot after coming in contact with the nAyakan, tells him “You have brought this foliage in order to express your anguish in separation. However, the foliage appears to be as fresh as it would have been had it been on the tree”. The nAyakan responds “Any entity which is in your presence will not get withered. Won’t the entities show signs of drooping only when they are in their respective place, being separated from you?”

Let us go through the pAsuram and its meanings:

kombAr thazhaikai siRu nAN eRivilam vEttai koNdAttu
ambAr kaLiRu vinavuvadhu aiyar puLLUrum kaLvar
tham pAragaththenRum AdAdhana thammiR kUdAdhana
vambAr vinAchchollavO emmai vaiththadhu ivvAn punaththE

Word-by-Word Meanings

kombu – stick
Ar – full of
thazhai – foliage
kai – was in the hand
siRu – small
nAN – bow’s
eRivu – scar
ilam – we are not seeing
aiyar – a respectable person such as you
koNdAttu – celebrating
vEttai – hunting
vinavuvadhu – asking
ambu – with arrow
Ar – being complete
kaLiRu – elephant
puL – garuda
Urum – one who conducts
kaLvar tham – sarvESvaran who is deceptive, his
pAragaththu – leelAvibhUthi (our world)
enRum – at any time
AdAdhana – (these activities) did not happen
thammil – amongst them
kUdAdhana – will not gel
i – this
vAn – expansive
punaththE – fields
emmai – us
vaiththadhu – appointed
vambAr – complete with oddities
vinA – query
sollavO – is it to answer?

Simple Translation

It is only foliage which is held by this respectable person in his hands. There is no mark of any scar which would have occurred had he held a bow in his hand. It is only to talk to us that he is saying that he has come hunting [an elephant] This sort of incident has never taken place in this world, belonging to sarvESvaran who conducts garuda. His words are contradicting one another other. Is it to respond to his odd queries that we have been appointed here?


kombAr thazhai kai – at a place where one can gain [sympathy] by standing with a forlorn face, why should that person carry a bow and show his valour?

siRu nAN eRivilam – we are unable to see the scar on your hand which forms due to constantly holding the bow. For a bow, the presence of arrow is characteristic. The arrow will never leave its owner, the bow. But there is no bow in your hand, say the friends. Immediately, the nAyakan shows them the foliage and tells them “Here is the bow”

vEttai koNdAttu – they are amused that the shoot is bow and the place that he entered [where they are standing guard over their fields] is his hunting ground, and are amazed at the strange combination. Even if we assume that the shoot in your hand is the bow, where is the arrow? He says “The arrow was shot at the elephant and is stuck in it”

ambAr kaLiRu vinavuvadhu aiyar – they make fun of his words which are contradictory [since he has foliage in his hand and tells them that he was hunting elephant]. Using a respectable word aiyar [a respectable person], they tell him “You are saying words which are not gelling with one another. You seem to be a great chief!”

puLLUrum kaLvar – one who controls everything; the supreme entity

tham pAr agaththu enRum AdAdhana – in this world which is under the control of emperumAn, the supreme entity, we have not come across such words or deeds which are contradictory. We do not know whether such events take place in paramapadham.

thammil kUdAdhana – though it has not happened before either at paramapadham or here, why cannot such contradictions be taken as the normal from now onwards, asks the nAyakan. They say “It is not possible to consider it that way. There is no congruence between your words and you. An entity should either be existing or non-existing. It cannot be said to be outside these two, as propagated by the mAyavAdhis (those who claim that everything in this world is illusory). Where did you learn to say such words which are not seen either in this world or in paramapadham?”

vambAr vinAchchollavO emmai vaiththadhu – They ask him “Have we been kept here by our parents in order to ask counter questions to your novel queries?” It could also be taken that they are asking him “Have we been kept here by our parents to ask questions on the novel words which you are using?”

ivvAn punaththE – We do not have the time to respond to your queries. We do not have the time even to guard these huge fields.

svApadhESam (distinguished meaning): these are words mentioned by nammAzhwAr to SrIvaiNavas who were engaged with the svarUpam (true nature), rUpam (form) and gUnam (qualities) of AzhwAr who himself is fully engaged with the svarUpam, rUpam and guNam of emperumAn.

adiyEn krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan

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