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Upon seeing her wailing in loud voice, calling Him, and then falling down fainting, the mother thought – “I kept parrot and veeNA in front of her thinking that they would console her. Even these have become useless”, and setting them aside, thought “Would it be helpful if I told her a few good words?”, and so told her “Your calling Him loudly and fainting are not appropriate for your womanliness. This is a bad name for our clan, so it is only appropriate for you to stay patiently till He comes”. Daughter replied “Am I in a state to consider womanliness and bad names?”. To this the mother said, “Let the womanliness and bad name be set aside. Do you not have to make sure that He, who is loved by you, does not get any bad name? Would not the world accuse Him as – ‘He who is merciful to those having even a little love, is not being merciful to her who is not able to sustain her life without Him and so calling Him with sorrow’? Don’t you have to consider that He should not get such bad name?”. To that the daughter thinks, “Would the time come for me to see the face of Him who understands the sadness of those separated, and not see her (mother’s) face who is talking these words of advice without understanding my sorrow due to separation?”, and calls Him thinking about Him, in this pAsuram.
pongAr melliLangkongai ponnE pUppa
porukayaRkaN neerarumbap pOndhu ninRu
sengAla madappuRAvap pedaikkup pEsum
siRukuraluk kudalrugich chindhiththu AngE
thaNkAlum thaNkudandhai nagarum pAdith
thaN kOvalUr pAdi Adak kEttu
nangAy! nam kudikkidhuvO nanmai? enna
naRaiyUrum pAduvAL navilginRALE. 17
Word by word meaning
pongu Ar mel iLa kongai – Bosom that is growing, delicate, and young
ponnE pUppa – losing colour,
poru kayal kaN – two eyes that are like two fish fighting
neer arumba – sprouting tears,
pOndhu ninRu – in the state of coming away separated from mother,
udal urugi – body melting
sem kAla madam puRavam pedaikkup pEsum siRu kuralukku – upon hearing the intellect-less doves having red legs, talking with their wives in low voice,
chindhiththu – thinking (about Him talking in personal ways?),
AngE – at that moment,
pAdi – (she started to) sing and
Ada – dance,
pAdi – by singing to her mouth’s content, about
thaNkAlum – thiruththaNkAl,
thaN kudandhai nagarum – and the place of thirukkudandhai,
thaN kOvalUr – (and about) the comforting thikkOvalUr too;
kEttu – As I heard that,
enna – and as I said
‘nangAy – ‘Oh girl!
nam kudikku – for our clan
idhu nanmaiyO’ enna – is it good (to call out openly loudly)’,
pAduvAL navilginRALE – she started for singing about
naRaiyUrum – thirunaRaiyUr too.
pongAr mel iLamkongai ponnE pUppa – Mother is saying, “This state of all the longing that she is going through is what He would go through due to her bosom, and now she is going through that state that would be His state usually”.
pongAr mel iLam kongai – Having growth, soft, and young bosom. ‘Ar’ in ‘pongAr’ implies high/excess. Or, ‘Ar’ could also indicate spreading and widening, this phrase could mean bosom that is growing more and more and spreading out.
men kongai – When it is the nature of bosom to be hard, saying it as soft is to show that it is not able to bear the separation.
iLam kongai – idea is that it has just started to grow and not a matured one.
ponnE pUppa – For it to change its colour. Like a fertile land became a desert, the bosom that is instrumental to His experience, has changed its colour and lost itself, is the thought.
ponnE pUppa – Instead of saying ‘colour changed’, the mother is saying ‘turned golden’, because it seems that for her this change of colour is like a karpaka tree sapling newly blossoming its flowers. When it was having its colour earlier, it was like an ornament worn during union with Him. Now changing its colour golden is like wearing it as an ornament for the separation, is the thought of the mother. If she is saying that it is like an ornament, would it befit for her to say the words of dislike about the state of her daughter? – It is only for those who came to inquire about her daughter that she hid her appreciation and talked as if she disliked it, but actually the mother finds it beautiful to see her daughter in this state due to separation.
poru kayal kaN neer arumba – by talking about tears rolling from the eyes, mother is saying that her daughter’s eyes that are supposed to keep looking at Him all the time are also lost.
poru kayal kaN – ‘poru’ – fight. This phrase may be understood to mean either that it is one that wins Him over, and the eyes that compete with each other in being beautiful.
kayal kaN – bright eyes like the kayal fish.
kaNNeer arumba – For her the tears are persistent. It would be tears overflowing out of joy when together with Him; tears overflowing out of sorrow when separated. Like how colourlessness entered her bosom, sorrowful tears entered into her eyes. Mother is saying, ‘The eyes that are supposed to be seeing Him are the ones that became the target of sorrowful tears”.
In the previous pAsuram, ‘thuNai mulai mEl thuLi sORa’, tears fell on her bosom, said the mother. Here, due the fire that is separation, internally her mind has become bone dry, so she is not saying ‘sOra’, but is saying ‘arumba’. That is, if boiling a quarter measure (kAl padi – uzhakku) of milk in a pot of size two marakkAl (padhakku), then even if the boiling milk comes up to the rim of the pot, there would not be wetness in the bottom of the pot – likewise, even when the mind has dried up, tears are welling up in her eyes.
pOndhu – When her mother advised, ‘You, who have got the beautiful bosom, and beautiful eyes which should make Him come and be with you, are engaging in Him – this does not match your womanliness”, she could not bear to hear it, she left outside from her mother’s house urgently like how one would rush out of a burning house.
Hearing the good words of SrI viBheeshaNAzhvAn, rAvaNAn replied, “yO(S)nyasthvavamviDham brUyAth vAkya mEthanniSAchara | asmin muhUrthE na BhavEth thvAm thu Dhik kulapAmsanam [SrI rAmAyaNam – yudhDha kANdam – 16-16]” (Oh giant! If anyone else had said these harsh words, they would not be alive. You, who have come here as a destroyer of our clan of giants, are a shame. (So, you should not be present here from this moment)), and so as said in “ithyukthvA parusham vAkyam rAvaNam rAvaNAnuja: | AjagAma muhUrthEna yathra rAma: salakShmaNa: || [SrI rAmAyaNAm – yudhDha kANdam – 17-1]” (viBheeshaNan, brother of rAvaNan, saying harsh phrases to rAvANan, came quickly to the place where there were rAmA and lakshmaNa), she left like how viBheeshanAzhvAn left quickly.
ninRu – after leaving from mother’s house, parakAla nAyaki stood sustaining herself.
As said in “thEshAm samBhAshamANAnAmanyOnyam sa viBheeshaNa: | uththaram theeramAsAdhya KasTha Eva vyathishTatha || [SrI rAmAyaNam – yudhDha kANdam – 17-10]” (That viBheeshaNan, while the vAnaras were talking to each other, reached the north shore (of the sea), stayed put above the land), as how viBheeshaNAzhvAn reached the north shore and stayed strongly in one place,
and as said in “vaDhyathAm Esha theevrENa dhaNdEna sachivai: saha | rAvaNasya nRuSamsasya BhrAthA hyEsha viBheeshaNa: || [SrI rAmAyaNam – yudhDha kANdam – 17-29]” (Let this viBheeshaNan be killed along with his ministers. (Because) he is a brother of the cruel rAvaNan. (sugreevan said this before he was accepted). (The oft-quoted phrase ‘vaDhayathAm paDhyathAm’ is not present in the text) – similarly, sugreevan and others said that we should punish viBheeshaNan. perumAL also did not accept him as soon as he arrived. Even then, viBheeshaNAzhvAn sustained himself and stood still, above the ground. Likewise, after she came out of her mother’s house, she sustained herself and stood well.
sem kAla, etc – Since the words of her mother was not acceptable to her, she left from her mother’s house. All the places outside looked poisonous. So none outside were any shelter to her. From this it is clear that the worldly life is sorrowful whether within or outside the house, and that it is only paramapadham that is of happy experience.
sem kAla mada puravam – Male dove having reddish feet, and which does not have wisdom. Its red legs made her suffer as it reminded her of His reddish feet which she keeps in her head when together with Him, as said in “adichchiyOm thalai misai nee aNiyAy AzhiyankaNNA! un kOlap pAdham [thiruvAimozhi – 10.3.6]”.
mada puravam – Here ‘madam’ implies lack of wisdom. When in union with Him He would converse out of losing His sense due to enjoyment of that union – so the bird reminds her of that and makes her suffer now.
pedaikkup pEsum siRu kuralukku – Male dove talking to its female birds in low voices – reminds her of the loving talks of Him to her, and so she suffers now.
siRu kural – Can take the meaning of this phrase as – words that were said out of tiredness, or the words only that He and She know. Since the words of man talking love to the woman should not be known to others, he would talk close to her ears. She is indicating that as ‘siRu kural’.
udal urugi – Seeing His physical form her heart melted. Hearing His talks, her body melted, is the thought.
sindhiththu – Thinking about His deeds when talking together with Him. That is, thinking about mix up of their clothes, doing salutations, etc. – such deeds of contrary ways.
AngE – Since the personal talk of male dove of red legs to her female lover is making her suffer, it is better to listen to the good words of her mother even in such state. The acts of her even while in that state, which she did while not listening to her mother, is told by the mother – starting with ‘thaN kAlum’.
The places thaNkAl, thaN kudandhai nagar, thaN kOvalUr are those that are already discussed for a meet with Him. Mother is saying that her daughter is calling out the names of such places.
thaNkAlum – This dhivyadhESam is referred as thiru thaNkAl to indicate the comforting nature of the One living in thaNkAl. Another meaning of thaN-kAl – breeze of air (kAl) that removes tiredness. Like the breeze, He who is having sweet touch and having form that removes any tiredness, is living there – so this dhivyadhESam is getting the divine name of thiruththaNkAl. She is calling Him ‘thaNkAl’ because it removes her tiredness when He hugs her when together, and is sweet.
thaN kudandhai nagarum pAdi – thirukkudandhai is the place where He mingled with the devotees without considering the norms.
As said in “thvadheeya BhukthOjjithaSEsha BhOjinA – thvayA nisRushtAthmaBharENa yadhyaThA | priyENa sEnApathinA nyavEdhi thath – thaThA(S)nujAnantham udhAraveekShaNai: || [sthOthra rathnam – 42]” (vishvaksEnar consumes the prasAdham first consumed by You, he manages both the worlds as his responsibility as given to him by You. Whatever deed is requested by Him for You to consider, You would go along with it and decide that it be done that way),
while it is the norm for the svAmi to eat first and then the devotees to eat the remaining, thirukkudandhai ArAvamudhAzhvAr first makes thirumazhisaip pirAn eat the prasadham made for Him, and then only does He consume it. thirumazhisaip pirAn would not complain about this because this is done by emperumAn out of overflowing fondness towards him.
The idea behind parakAla nAyaki saying this is – it indicates that the fortune of her friends (AzhvArs) is considered as her fortune.
thaN kOvalUr pAdi – If devotees approached Him first, it is customary for Him to mingle with them. Unlike so, it is He who went to where they were and jostled among mudhalAzhvArs out of love – such is this place called thirukkOvalUr. As they took shelter from rain in idai kazhi (small verandah) at thirukkOvalUr, He want to that place out of His own volition, and jostled with them, and mingled in this way. After the three AzhvArs left that place, He keeps thinking about them and so standing in that place itself – that is thirukkOvalUr Ayan. This is sung by poigai AzhvAr, “vAsal kadai kazhiyA uL pugA kAmar pUnkOval idaikazhiyE paRRi ini [mudhal thiruvanthAdhi – 86]”.
pAdi – She sang out of love, as she forgot her earlier sorrow as she thought of thaNkAl that was sweet for her like a cool breeze, and of thirukkudandhai and thirukkOvalUr where He mingled with other AzhvArs like her.
Ada – She is dancing also, and not stopping with just singing.
kEttu – hearing; this also includes ‘seeing’. Seeing the way she is dancing, and hearing the way she is singing – is the meaning.
pAdi Ada kEttu – Mother is wondering, ‘what blessing has she gained for her to sing and dance!’?
nangAy – Earlier AchAryas gave the meaning to this word as – she who is important – ‘muKhari’. That is – as you are very important for Him, it is He who has to come to you and undergo these sufferings. So should you go through such pains to attain Him? – was their thought. Bhattar gave the meaning for ‘nangAy’ to mean ‘Oh who is complete in qualities!’. In the eighth pAsuram, as per the SrI rAmAyaNa SlOkam – sundara kANdam – 30-30, which was discussed for the word ‘perumAn’, bhattar gives the meaning as “The mother asks – You are one who is having the completeness of the thinking as – let Him do whatever He wants to do to me as I am subservient to Him. – So is it appropriate for such a person with this quality to sing and dance for Him to come to you?”. Or, the word could also mean – we thought that our clan would flourish based on your completeness of such quality. That completeness is getting destroyed due to your efforts to make Him come”.
nangudi – nam kudi – The clan of prapannas is of higher greatness compared to all other clans of the world.
nangAy – third meaning for this word follows – You are having the beautiful form that He would wish to see always. You possess the helpers for enjoyment, like the red-footed dove, etc. You also possess the inability to bear the separation; like seethAp pirAtti you also have the sense that it is better to wait and look forward to His coming to you. When that is the case, is it appropriate for you to call our to Him like one who is not having the completeness of qualities?
idhuvO nanmai – Is calling Him out loud the favour you are doing to the clan that wishes to survive based on completeness of your qualities? You who have born to bring greatness to this clan could make this blemish to the clan?
enna – As the mother said this; instead of pulling back, she started calling Him out more, says the mother.
naRaiyUrum pAduvAL navilginRALE – She started singing about the place from where it is impossible to get her back – thiru naRaiyUr. Daughter was like asking – are you still spending your life talking about greatness of clans? The daughter is trying to get hold of aasu – 1) singing the type of poetry called aasu kavi – continuing to sing. 2) aasu : weapon – it is like touching the handle of weapon (with intention to pull it out and use it) for destroying her clan. (such is her starting to sing about thirunaRaiyUr).
naRaiyUrum pAduvAL navilginRALE – Daughter is wondering, ‘Instead of looking at the mother who is giving words of advice without understanding my suffering due to separation and longing to reach Him, when would I see the divine face of thirunaRaiyUr vanjuLavallith thAyAr the natural mother, who knows the sadness that occupies me due to separation?’. Since thAyAr is of the state “agalakillEn iRaiyum [thiruvAimozhi 6.10.10]”, she is the one who can understand my state due to separation.
Another meaning for the phrase – calling out thinking about thirunaRaiyUr nambi. He who had roamed around all of the forest looking for seethAp pirAtti and finally found her, would be able to understand my sad state of separation. When would I see the mother and father who understand my sad state of separation – asks nAyaki.
pAduvaL navilginRALE – Starting to sing, she is introducing its rAgam/tune. Is it wrong to sing? – Her own efforts of singing is wrong for her true nature of subservience – wrong like doing madal (announcing her love publicly to gain support from people).
navilginRALE – She is engaging in starting with elaboration of rAga of the song. If she completes singing then the pride of our clan would be like getting drowned in the sea. From this we can understand the expertise of mother on the SAsthram of music (this too is thirumangai AzhvAr!), since she is understanding the direction the song is going, just from listening to the beginning of her picking up the rAga for singing.
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Translation by raghurAm SrInivAsa dhAsan.
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