SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImath varavaramunayE nama:
Highlights from avathArikai (Introduction)
In this [decad], in the first pAsuram, AzhwAr is speaking about not getting along with abhAgavathas (non-devotees). Though both (being friendly with bhAgavathas (devotees) and shunning abhAgavathas) are required, what is the reason for this sequence (first explaining shunning abhAgavathas and then about being friendly with bhAgavathas)? Since there is no end to being favourable, it is sufficient to vow for it; but only if one shuns abhAgavathas, can one become friendly with bhAgavathas. Hence this is highlighted first. Usually, eliminating hurdles is required before pursuing the means. SrI vibhIshaNAzhwAn too followed the sequence as in SrI rAmAyaNam yudhdha kANdam 19.5 “parithyakthA mayA lankA” (I have abandoned lankA) and in SrI rAmAyaNam yudhdha kANdam 17.14 “thyakthvA puthrAmScha dhArAmScha” (I have abandoned my children and wife) and in SrI rAmAyaNam yudhdha kANdam 17.14 “rAghavam SaraNam gatha:” (I have surrendered to SrI rAma).
Without caring for himself and troubling himself, sarvESvaran churned the ocean and gave the nectar to dhEvathAs who seek benefits other than kainkaryam; when such sarvESvaran thought “will there be anyone who at least shows as much attachment dhEvas showed towards nectar?” and mercifully reclined waiting for them, when there are people who ignore him and spend their time in other matters, I will not consider them as an entity – says AzhwAr.
naNNAdha vAL avuNar idaippukku vAnavaraip
peNNAgi amudhUttum perumAnAr maruviniya
thaNNArndha kadalmallaith thalasayanaththu uRaivArai
eNNAdhE iruppArai iRaippozhudhum eNNOmE
naNNAdha – those who did not approach him
vAL – having sword
avuNaridai – amidst the asuras (demons)
peNNAgip pukku – entering with a feminine disguise
vAnavarai – dhEvas (saintly persons)
amudhu Uttum – one who feeds nectar
perumAnAr – having greatness
maruva – to remain firmly
iniya – being an enjoyable abode
thaN Arndha – remaining cool always
kadal – present on the seashore
mallai – in SrI mallApuri
thala sayanaththu – on the divine mattress which is the ground
uRaivArai – one who mercifully reclines
eNNAdhu – without thinking about
iruppArai – those who remain in that dhivyadhESam
iRaippozhudhum – even for a moment
eNNOm – we will not think about
emperumAn mercifully reclines on the divine mattress which is the ground in SrImallApuri which is an enjoyable abode, is always cool, and is present on the seashore; he is having the greatness to remain firmly there; he entered with a feminine disguise, amidst asuras who did not approach him and were having sword. We will not think about those who remain in such dhivyadhESam without thinking about such emperumAn, even for a moment.
Highlights from vyAkyAnam (Commentary)
naNNAdha vAL avuNar idaippukku – Entered amidst demoniac persons for the sake of dhEvathAs who seek other benefits. When sarvESvaran created various species he ensured that there is difference between dhEvas (saintly) and asuras (evil) entities. He explained the same in SrI bhagavath gIthA 16th chapter. At that time, arjuna asked “Which group do I belong to?” and krishNa answered in SrI bhagavath gIthA 16.5 “mA Sucha: sampadham dhaivIm abhijAthO’si pANdava ||” (Oh son of pANdu! Do not grieve (thinking “am I born as an asura?”); you are born as a dhEva (divine person) to fulfil the wealth of dhEvas) saying “Why are you worrying? Aren’t you a noble person?”. These are not just humans having demoniac nature, but are born in demoniac clan itself. Unlike kamsa who was born in kshathriya clan as the son of ugrasEna who was noble, but was still evil, these demons are naturally non-aligned with ISvara and are also armed.
vAL avuNar idaip pukku – Did he enter there seeing devotees as said in thiruppaLLiyezhuchchi 10 “ thodai oththa thuLavamum kUdaiyum polindhu thOnRiya thOL” (the shining shoulders which carry the flower-basket that contains properly prepared thiruththuzhAy (thuLasi) garlands)? He entered amidst those who are set out to harm others, having weapons.
When asked “Did he go there for the sake of those who understand his greatness?” AzhwAr responds,
vAnavarai – While they need some help, they show their teeth (being friendly with expectation) and subsequently push him away remaining as said in SrI bhagavath gIthA 16.14 “ISvarO’ham” (I am the controller of everyone). Generally, dhEvathAs consider bhagavAn to be one among them, and only on occasions such as the time when bhagavAn made a blowing sound to effortlessly break the bow of rudhra when there was a competition between bhagavAn and rudhra, will they understand his greatness. Instead of knowing about his greatness through such competition, it is better to simply consider him to be one among them. There is not much difference between the asuras and dhEvathAs in this context. The asuras try to destroy those who are protected by bhagavAn; dhEvathAs are seeking for benefits from bhagavAn – that is the difference.
When asked “Even when helping them, could he do it without affecting his true nature?” AzhwAr responds,
peNNAgi – Even while minimising his own stature, he would go as a messenger, be a charioteer etc. That shows his simplicity. But this is even worse than that. He who is the supreme man, accepted a feminine form. As said in mahAbhAratham udhyOga parvam 61.6 “ahamasmi mahAbAhO” (Oh broad-shouldered! I will do whatever you say) and in SrI rAmAyaNam bAla kANdam 34.40 “imausma muniSArdhUla kinkarau samupasthithau” (Oh best among sages! We are surrendered to you; you order us), he will humbly walk around obeying the words of the sages. bhagavAn who is purushOththama minimised his own stature, which is not matching his true nature.
[An incident explaining bhagavAn’s feminine form is highlighted here from the lives of nanjIyar and nampiLLai]
nampiLLai mercifully told me about the following incident – In the eastern region, in the town of aiyAru (present day thiruvaiyARu), a government officer had arrived and was distributing free funds/lands. nanjIyar had sent me to get some donation, along with other SrIvaishNavas. While I was waiting for the officer in the assembly hall, many persons came and worshipped me. A rudhra bhaktha (devotee of Siva) who was crooked said to me “We heard that you are very good in explaining thamizh poems. In our literature [dhEvAram] there is a phrase ‘ariyallAl dhEviyillai [aiyan aiyarAnArkkE]’ (There is no better wife than hari for rudhra). Please explain the meaning for this phrase”. I responded “I have not learned this”. He insisted saying “But don’t you know everything?” I responded “If you are asking this to add some glories to your dheyvam (rudhra) and bring some disrepute to ISvaran (SrIman nArAyaNan), let me explain to you. While it is explained in purANams that bhagavAn is purushOththaman, and if he minimised his stature for the sake of his devotees, that will only add to bhagavAn’s glories. On the other hand, if rudhra goes behind bhagavAn (knowing well about him) in feminine form, just as a lusty person would follow a sORALvi (a man disguised as a woman to take a cooking job or a eunuch) thinking that person to be a female, that only makes rudhra to be ignorant. Isn’t it understandable that the person who promoted this story is both non-trustworthy and ignorant?”
amudhUttum – Even if he minimises his stature in this manner, if he at least got the dhEvathAs to be immersed in him, that will be good. But they are so immersed in their own body and are only liking the nectar he gives.
Uttum – emperumAn kept the task of churning and other hardships with himself and gave the task of drinking the nectar to dhEvathAs, and when they swallowed the nectar, he felt satisfied as if they helped him. If they asked “We need nectar”, he could have simply acquired it and given to them; but assuming a form to get that tactfully and feeding them shows his great quality. Just as a mother would wake up her child, feed it and feel satisfied, emperumAn did it as if it is a benefit for him.
When asked “What is the reason for doing this?” AzhwAr explains
perumAnAr – The relationship [with jIvAthmAs] based on bhagavAn being the SEshi (lord).
maruviniya … – The abode which is enjoyable to remain.
thaNNArndha – Very rejuvenating abode. That is, where everyone is free from the complaint “we are not fully protected as in SrIvaikuNtam”.
kadalmallaith thalasayanam – When his devotee puNdarIkar was trying hard to see him, he arrived for the sake of his devotee, and mercifully reclined having his divine head at the side of the foot of his devotee. This is the abode where he reclined in such manner.
uRaivArai – Since it is an abode which is dear to his devotees, he firmly remains there without leaving. Here as well, he is reclining amidst those who are having demoniac nature.
eNNAdhE iruppArai – The one who mercifully arrived and reclined in thiruppARkadal (milk ocean), one who can joyfully reside in SrIvaikuNtam without any shortcoming, is new mercifully residing amidst samsAris (materialistic people) for our sake. Instead of thinking in this manner as said in thiruchchandhaviruththam 63 “ninRu irundhu vehkaNaik kidandhadhu enna nIrmaiyE” (What a great quality of standing, sitting and reclining in thiruvekkA?) those who have no interest in him and are engaged in eating, dressing up and engaging in worldly aspects.
iruppArai – Not thinking about him and shying away from him are due to not having exhausted the [bad] karma which makes them do those things; but due to having consciousness one should atone thinking “we did not do these things”; those who remain even without such atonement.
iRaippozhudhum eNNOmE – There are times when we count or think about chEthanas (sentient beings) who are ignorant, even at such times, I will not think about them. There are times when we count insentient entities, even at such times, I will not think about them. Though they think highly about themselves, I will not think about them with any respect. It appears that only when AzhwAr thinks to be sentient, they will be considered as such. thirumangai AzhwAr too said in periya thirumozhi 11.7.9 “mAnidavar allar enRu en manaththE vaiththEnE” (I considered them in my heart, not to be humans). AzhwAr is saying “I placed in my heart” as if it is carved in rock or copper plates. AzhwAr himself reveals his identity to be as said in periya thirumozhi 2.6.10 “adigaL adiyE ninaiyum adiyavargaL tham adiyAn” (I am the servitor of those devotees who are always thinking about the divine feet of bhagavAn). For AzhwAr, gyAnam (knowledge) and Anandham (bliss) are not the main identities for the self, but it is bhAgavath SEshathvam (servitude towards bhAgavathas).
In the next article we will enjoy the next pAsuram.
adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan
archived in http://divyaprabandham.koyil.org