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mudhal thiruvandhAdhi – 15 – mudhal AvAr mUvarE

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avathArikai

AzhwAr was asked “you say that emperumAn is the primary deity. But in the world we see that there are people who follow other deities and that these deities fulfil their wishes”. AzhwAr responds saying “all those are of no use”

Let us go through the pAsuram and its meanings first.

mudhalAvAr mUvarE am mUvaruLLum
mudhalAvAn mUri nIr vaNNan mudhalAya
nallAn aruL allAl nAmanIr vaiyagaththu
pallAr aruLum pazhudhu

Word by Word Meanings

mUvarE – brahmA, vishNu and Siva, the three
mudhalAvAr – are important
ammUvaruLLum – among these three mummUrththis (the three forms)
mUri nIr vaNNan – emperumAn who has the complexion and nature of the vast ocean
mudhalAvAn – is the causal entity
mudhalAya – the cause of everything
nallAn – the benefactor’s
aruL allAl – apart from his grace
nAmam nIr vaiyagaththu – in the famous earth surrounded by ocean
pallAr – many others’
aruLum – grace
pazhudhu – is of no use.

vyAkyAnam

mudhal AvAr mUvarE – instead of holding on to everyone saying “he is emperumAn” “he is emperumAn”, it is good to say that there are three important deities so that it will be easier to discard two.

am mUvaruLLum mudhal AvAn mUri nIr vaNNan – there is no one apart from these three who is an important deity. Nor is there anyone else who, along with these three, could be termed as a primary deity. Among these three, the causative entity [who is the cause for all the worlds] is the one who has the complexion and form of ocean which keeps throwing out waves. It is he who dwells within the souls of brahmA and Siva as antharyAmi (in-dwelling soul) and manifests himself as the unique vishNu, and protects the worlds. In thirunedunthANdakam 2, thirumangai AzhwAr says “Or uruvam pon uruvam onRu sendhee” (one of them is of golden hue [brahmA] and one is red in colour [rudhra]). AzhwAr rejects these two and says that the thirumEni (divine form) of emperumAn is like the ocean.

mudhalAya nallAn aruL allAl – emperumAn, being the cause for all the worlds as well as having these as his possessions, has deep love for these. Apart from his grace ……

nAmam nIr vaiyagaththu – this world which is famous and which is surrounded by ocean

pallAr aruLum pazhudhu – the grace of all others [deities] is of no use. The grace of brahmA and Siva as well the grace of many other deities, without any difference, are of no use. Alternatively, we can consider nAmam nIr vaiyagaththup pallAr aruLum pazhudhu as one sequence and say that the grace of all those deities who believe that they have some name on this earth is of no use. pazhudhu not only denotes that it will not bear fruit but will also be responsible for losing  emperumAn’s grace. Giving up the other deities is equivalent to obtaining emperumAn’s grace for the jIvAthmA (sentient soul). thirumazhisai AzhwAr in his nAnmugan thiruvndhAdhi 68 says “thiruvadi than nAmam maRandhum puRam thozhA mAndhar” (even if people forget the divine names of emperumAn, it could be acceptable; but they should not worship other deities). rishi mArkaNdEya who was for a very long time a devotee of Siva, felt ecstatic when Siva gave him up. The rishi felt as happy as vibhIshaNa felt when rAvaNa gave him up. emperumAn is the antharAthmA (in dwelling soul) of all deities and all means. If he does not wish to shower his grace on someone, he will create interest for such a person in other matters and remove that person from him. He will remove the desires of his followers in other matters and enable them to enjoy him.

Let us move on to the 16th pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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mudhal thiruvandhAdhi – 14 – avar avar thAm

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When asked “While emperumAn stands ahead and creates interest in him among the samsAris, why are these people following various other dhEvathAs (deities)?”, AzhwAr says that even if they do so, the deities that they hold on to, ultimately attain emperumAn.

Let us see the pAsuram and its meanings.

Avar avar thAm thAm aRindhavARu Eththi
Ivar ivar em perumAn enRu suvar misaich
chArththiyum vaiththum thozhuvar ulagaLandha
mUrththi uruvE mudhal

Word by Word Meaning

avar avar – people who have raJo guNam (yielding to passion) and thamO guNam (yielding to laziness)
thAm thAm aRindhavARu – appropriate to their qualities and knowledge
ivar ivar em perumAn enRu Eththi – praising a few deities as “he is our swAmys (Lords)”
suvar misaich chArththiyum – drawing their figures on walls
vaiththum – installing (as an idol)
thozhuvar – will worship

But

ulagu aLandha – (one who kept his divine feet on the heads of those who worship and those who are worshipped and) measured all the worlds
mUrththi uruvE – the divine form of thrivikrama
mudhal – is primary

vyAkyAnam

avar avar – it is said that “lOko binnaruchi” (people have different tastes). Some people of the world will have excess of rajO guNa (such people will be very passionate about everything) while others will have excess of thamO guNa (such people will be very lazy, will be ignorant and will be disinterested in anything). AzhwAr calls such people as avar avar, indifferently.

thAm thAm aRindhavARu Eththi – such people who have rajO and thamO guNas will also have appropriate knowledge only. They will not follow SAsthras (scriptures). They will worship as per their knowledge.

ivar ivar em perumAn enRu – they will hold on to some deity or the other and say “he is my swAmy (my Lord)”. When the sons of King sakara went searching for their aSvamEdha horse (horse let out freely to denote their boundaries), they started catching anyone that they came across as “you only stole our horse”. In the same way, these people will hold on to anyone that they fancy and denote him as their perumAn (supreme entity). Just as some people leave out good materials and have liking for neem and onions, these people will leave out the supreme entity SrIman nArAyaNa and and go after deities with inferior qualities. rudhra (sivan) says in harivamSam 138-8 “sathvanishtA hi purushA:” (people with sathva guNam (purely good qualities) should always meditate on hari (SrIman nArAyaNa)) and “harirEkas sadhA dhyEya:” (only hari should be always meditated upon).

suvar misaich chArththiyum vaiththum thozhuvar – they will worship their deities after drawing their forms on walls and/or installing their deities as idols in some places. [Even] If emperumAn incarnates in some forms to shower his grace on people, they will offer their prayers to these deities instead of to emperumAn.  Even if they carry out such worship…..

ulagu aLandha mUrthy uruvE mudhal – the form of emperumAn which he took to keep all the people of the worlds under his divine feet [thrivikrama], is the primary one. Did he not keep his divine feet on those who are holding on to other deities and on those deities too to measure the worlds!

We shall take up the 15th pAsuram next.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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mudhal thiruvandhAdhi – 9 – porukOttu Or EnamAy

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Will he protect only his followers? What would happen to those who are not his followers? Will they have to die? When there is a danger, without making any distinction between his followers and disbelievers, he will protect every living being, even at the cost of his greatness. AzhwAr says that when there was danger through mahAbali (a ruler in the lineage of hiraNyakashyap and prahlAdha) and deluge, he took the form of a mendicant to beg from mahAbali and took the form of a boar to dig out the earth respectively, not minding about what such forms would do to his greatness.

Let us look at the pAsuram.

porukOttu Or EnamAyp pukku idandhAykku anRu un
oru kOttin mEl kidandhadhanRE virithOtta
sEvadiyai nItti thisai nadunga viN thuLanga
mAvadivin nI aLandha maN

Word by Word Meanings

viri thOtta sEvadiyai – reddish coloured divine feet which resemble a lotus with blossomed petals
nItti – making them grow
thisai nadunga – making people in all directions to quiver
viN thuLanga – making people in the upper worlds also to tremble out of fear
mA vadivin – with a huge form (as thrivikraman)
nI aLandha – measured by you
maN – the earth
poru kOttu – with tusks which are meant for battle
Or EnamAy – a unique boar [incomparable]
pukku idandhAykku – (during deluge) immersed in water and dug it out
anRu – during that time
un – your
oru kOttin mEl – in a corner of one tusk
kidandhadhu anrE – was it not staying?

vyAkhyAnam

poru kOttu Or EnamAy – as a boar with tusks meant for battling. He took the incarnation of boar which keeps digging at all the places with its tusks. The boar cannot keep quiet without digging; it is its nature. When not digging the earth, he would dig the saffron present in bhUmip pirAtti’s bosom.

Or Enam – an incomparable, unique boar. Even if he has a body which could be destroyed, his beauty was such captivating that one would carry out Alaththy (a custom carried out in the southern parts of  India to ward off evils).

pukku idandhAykku – the way the boar went under water to search for earth which had got stuck to the walls of the universe. Just us pearl divers dive into the deep parts of the ocean in search of pearls, emperumAn also dove into deeper parts to search for earth.

anRu un oru kOttin mEl kidandhadhanRE – the earth that you dug out from the deep waters with so much of involvement was lying at one corner of your tusk like a bluish jewel! (the opinion here is that the earth was so small compared to his huge form that it could have passed through the gap between his teeth). It is clear from this that the involvement of the person who protects is much larger than the object that is to be protected. When a magnanimous person is asked to arrange food for one person, he would arrange for nine persons. In the same way, to dig out such a small earth, emperumAn took the huge form of a boar.

virithOtta sEvadiyai nItti – stretching his reddish coloured divine feet which were like the blossomed petals of a lotus. While there is reference to only the petals here, mentioning the petal is equivalent to mentioning the flower itself. Another interpretation is: “virithOtta” also refers to shining ear studs. Here it would be calling out to emperumAn who has shining ear studs [and then referring to his reddish coloured divine feet].

thisai nadunga viN thuLanga – emperumAn measured the worlds making people in various directions to quiver; making dhEvas who are in upper worlds (celestial persons) to quiver. He measured the worlds only for redeeming them for the sake of dhEvas. Why then should they be afraid? Here, their fear is out of affection for him, wondering “what will happen now?”

mAvadivil nI aLandha maN – the huge form that you had taken as thrivikrama in order to measure the earth. Wasn’t that same earth like a dot on your tusk when you took varAha avathAram! The opinion conveyed in this pAsuram is that emperumAn will carry the earth on his head as well as on his foot in order to protect it (as varAha and as thrivikrama respectively) when his focus in on protecting the earth.

We shall next enjoy the 10th pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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mudhal thiruvandhAdhi – 8 – mayanga valampuri

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AzhwAr was asked “does this mean that everyone will become bewildered and not know about emperumAn?” AzhwAr responds saying “the bewilderment is in general matters. In the case of his followers, even if he has to tell a lie, emperumAn will do it to carry out their tasks and show his affection for his followers”

Let us enjoy the pAsuram.

mayanga valampuri vAy vaiththu vAnathhu
Iyangum eri kadhirOn thannai muyangu amaruL
thErAzhiyAl maRaiththadhu en nI thirumAlE
pOrAzhik kaiyAl porudhu

Word by Word Meaning

thirumAlE – consort of thiru [mahAlakshmi]
nI – you (who are a sathya sankalpan, one who fulfils what he says)
muyangu amaruL – in the mahAbhAratha battlefield which is full (of armies)
pOr Azhi kaiyAl – with the sudharSana chakra (disc) in your hand for engaging in battle
porudhu – fighting (with bhIshma)
mayanga – making people (both friendly and inimical) bewildered/perplexed
valampuri – SrI pAnchajanyam (conch)
vAy vaiththu – keeping it in your divine mouth [to blow]
vAnaththu iyangum – the one who is journeying in the skies
eri kadhiroN thannai – sun who is emitting his rays
thErAzhiyAl – with the wheel of the chariot [here it refers to his sudharSana]
maRaiththadhu – hiding it
en – for what purpose

vyAkhyAnam

mayanga valampuri vAy vaiththu – emperumAn projected arjuna merely as the motive for the battle. When the enemies were not put down by arjuna’s arrows, krishNa would blow his pAnchajanyam (divine conch). Anyone who hears it, whether they are friends or enemies, would become perplexed. Enemies would become fearful on hearing its pitch and get perplexed about what will happen to them while friends will worry as to what will happen to emperumAn and become perplexed. SrI bhagavath gIthA 1-19 says “sa ghOsha: dhArthrAshtrANAm hrudhayAni vyadhArayath” (the sound of krishNa’s conch broke the heart of dhrutharAshtra’s sons into smithereens). SrIvishNu purAnam 5-21-29 says “yasya nAdhEna dhaithyAnAm balahAnirajAyatha, dhEvAnAm vavrudhE thEja: prasAdhaSchaiva yOginAm ” (by hearing the tone of which pAnchajanya, demons suffered loss of strength, dhEvas became more radiant and yOgis (rishis) became extremely happy…). Thus ithihAsam and purAnams speak about the strength of pAnchajanyam’s tone.

vAnaththu iyangum eri kadhirOn thannai – radiant sUrya (sun) who is journeying in his orbit in the skies. Sun is in a place where he cannot be hidden and he does not stop in one place but keeps moving about. emperumAn hid such a splendorous sun whose rays burn down people [who are at a great distance from him] who cannot see him with their eyes directly.

muyangu amarauL – in the battlefield where people are very close to each other [lot of people were in the battlefield]. The meaning conveyed here is that he had many people as witnesses to his actions. nammAzhwAr says in thiruvAimozhi 7-5-9 “dhEsam aRiya” (for the whole world to know).

thErAzhiyAl maRaiththadhu en nI – chakkaram (disc) is referred to as “rathAngam” (part of chariot) in samskrutham (Sanskrit). AzhwAr uses the same term in thamizh as thErAzhi (wheel of chariot). Why did you hide the sun with your divine disc? While you are neutral to everyone, is it proper on your part to do this only for the sake of arjuna? vEdhas refer to emperumAn as “sathya sankalpa” (one who is true to his words). When vEdhas call you sathya sankalpa, is it proper on your part to deceive people? [the reference here is to the act of krishNa in creating darkness by hiding the sun with his sudharSana (divine disc) so that jayadhratha would come out of hiding and enable arjuna to kill him]. Is your act synchronous with your own words in mahAbhAratha uththara kAndam 70-48 “na mE mOgham vachO bhavEth” (my words will never be false)? Will it be appropriate to your being the divine entity? Or will it be appropriate to the human form that you took when you incarnated yourself?

thirumAlE – the one who raises the questions [AzhwAr], answers them himself by calling him as thirumAlE (consort of mahAlakshmi). Since mahAlakshmi is biased towards her devotees, thirumAl (one who is in a state of stupor with mahAlakshmi) also shows this quality towards his followers.

pOr Azhik kaiyAl porudhu – you had taken part in the battle with your weapon. In the previous verse, it was mentioned that he had hidden sun with his divine disc. He would have carried out that action with his sankalpam (divine will), viz. he did not carry the disc in his hands to hide the sun. But that was not the case with bhIshma (great grandfather of both pANdavas and kauravas, the main protagonists in the battle). krishNa had taken a vow that he will not hold any weapon in the battlefield. bhIshma had challenged him saying that he will make krishNa take to his weapons. AzhwAr is now asking emperumAn as to why he took his weapon (disc) while going after bhIshma in the battle? The subtle meaning conveyed here is that in order to fulfil the words of his bhaktha (devotee; bhIshma in this context), he will go against his own word!

We shall consider the 9th pAsuram next.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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mudhal thiruvandhAdhi – 7- thisaiyum thisaiyuRu

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AzhwAr was asked “you are saying that only emperumAn is fit to be attained. But wherever we see, there are people who are trying to attain and those who are trying to be attained”. AzhwAr responds “unlike the situation where emperumAn showed himself to me for me to see, the others [who are not devoted to him] are trying to attempt to see on their own; emperumAn has created an illusion so that they are unable to attain him”. In SrI bhagavath gIthA 9-23, krishNa tells arjuna “thE api mAmEva kaunthEya yajanthi avidhi pUrvakam” (those who worship other dhEvathAs (deities) worship only me, but against the rules) and in SrI bhagavath gIthA 7-14 he says “mama mAyA dhurathyayA” (it is very difficult to go past this illusion).

Let us look at the pAsuram.

thisaiyum thisaiyuRu dheyvamum dheyvath
thisaiyum karumangaL ellAm – asaivil sIrk
kaNNan nedumAl kadal kadaindha kArOdha
vaNNan padaiththa mayakku

Word by Word Meanings

thisaiyum – worlds with all their directions
thisai uRu dheyvamum – the deities in these directions
dheyvaththu isaiyum karumangaL – appropriate activities (like creation, destruction etc) for these deities
ellAm – all these
kaNNan – the one who was born as krishNa
nedumAl – the one who has extreme love [towards his devotees]
kadal kadaindha – the one who churned the ocean [with the request from the dhEvas as the reason]
kAr Odha vaNNan – the one who has the complexion of cloud and ocean
padaiththa – created
mayakku – entities to bewilder

vyAkhyAnam

thisaiyum – world having all directions

thisai uRu dheyvamum – all the deities who are in these directions

dheyvaththu isaiyum karumangaL ellAm – all the activities of these deities. One deity is given the role of creating, one for destroying, one for destroying everything etc. All these activities have been ordained by emperumAn only.

asaivil sIr – the qualities of emperumAn do not contract or expand based on time. They are always fully with him (it is implied that in the case of other deities, this is not so; their qualities will shrink or expand).

kaNNan – he incarnated himself to show these qualities, as a simple person. He made himself as equal to others through his ichchA (wish).

asaivil sIrk kaNNan – even though he incarnated himself as being equal to others, his qualities do not have shortfall. While he created other deities and gave them name and fame, their qualities are not consistent and change.

nedumAlmAl means greatness. Even though he makes himself simple, he is so great that no one can measure [know] him. thaiththirIya upanishath Anandhavalli says “yathO vAchO nivarthanthE” (words return, unable to measure emperumAn’s qualities). Alternatively, mAl also denotes infatuation. He is so infatuated with his devotees that he will never let them down.

kadal kadaindha – even though he is great, he carries out impossible tasks to protect his devotees [such as churning the ocean to grant immortality to dhEvathAs to enable them to fight demons] . He needs people who pray to him “please give us this”. Just as other means [such as karma, gyAna, bhakthi etc] need his mercy, the other deities too need his mercy. For his devotees, the other means and other deities are to be avoided completely.

kArOdha vaNNan – even if he does not carry out any of these tasks and even if he brings an end to us, his beauty is such that we will never let go of him.

padaiththa mayakku – he gives such special powers to other deities and makes us bewildered. He makes those who do not listen to him, to approach such deities by giving these deities powers to grant certain boons, to carry out certain difficult tasks etc. These are the illusory acts that he indulges in to bewilder those who do not believe in him. As krishNa, he himself says in SrI bhagavath gIthA 7-14 “mama mAyA dhurathyayA” (it is difficult to overcome my illusion),

We shall take up the 8th pAsuram next.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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mudhal thiruvandhAdhi – 6 – onRu maRandhaRiyEn

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AzhwAr was asked “you make fun of sivan as being body to emperumAn and hence he cannot preach others about emperumAn. You are also emperumAn’s SEshabhUthar (servitor) only. How then would you be able to know about emperumAn and preach his qualities to others?”; he responds saying “whenever his sathva guNa (pure good quality) surfaces, sivan learns about emperumAn; but when rajO and thamO guNas surface, he thinks of himself and proclaims that he is Isvaran (one who controls sentient and insentient entities). That is not the case with me. Since emperumAn showed himself to me, there is no question of forgetting him at any point of time”.

Let us first see the pAsuram:

onRu maRandhu aRiyEn Odha nIr vaNNanai nAn
inRu maRappanO EzhaigAL – anRu
karuvarangaththuL kidhandhu kai thozhudhEn kaNdEn
thiruvarangamEyAn thisai

Word by Word Meaning

anRu – that day
karuvarangaththuL kidandhu – lying inside the womb
thiru arangam mEyAn – emperumAn who is reclining inside thiruvarangam (SrIrangam)
thisai – all his svabhAvam (natural characteristics)
kaNdEn – I saw
kai thozhudhEn – did anjali (joined palms together in salutation)
onRum – even a little bit [of his nature, qualities and wealth]
maRandhaRiyEn – I have not forgotten
EzhaigAL – Oh those who have lost the wealth of bhagavath vishayam (knowledge of emperumAn)
nAn – adiyEn [I, the servitor]
OdhanIr vaNNanai – emperumAn who has the complexion of ocean
inRu – today [when I have been blessed by his knowledge]
maRappanO – how can I forget?

vyAkhyAnam

onRum maRandhaRiyEnAzhwAr says that there is nothing of emperumAn’s qualities that he does not know.

OdhanIr vaNNanai – How can I forget him? Is his [beautiful] form such that it could be forgotten! Isn’t his form like that of an ocean which removes one’s sorrow instantaneously on seeing it!

inRu maRappanO – He came and displayed his beautiful form to me. Is there any possibility for me forgetting him?

EzhaigAL – Oh people, who are poor because of lack of knowledge on emperumAn! Do not think that I too have matters in this world to think of just as you people have and forget emperumAn?

anRu karuvarangaththuL kidandhu kai thozhudhEn kaNdEn – when I was in the womb, he came and showed himself to me [since poygai AzhwAr was born in a lotus flower, the lotus flower itself is considered as the womb]. emperumAn showed himself there because “when he is in the womb, he will not reject me if I show myself to him now. Hence this is the correct time”. nammAzhwAr says in thiruvAimozhi 2-3-3 “aRiyAk kAlaththuLLE adimaukkaN anbu seyviththu” (emperumAn showered his mercy during the time that I was inside the womb, when I had no knowledge). mahAbhAratham SAnthi parvam 358-73 says “jAyamAnam hi purusham yam paSyEth madhusUdhana: sAthvikas sa thu vigyEya: sa vai mOkshArtha chinthaka:” (only that person who is blessed by madhusUdhanan [emperumAn who killed the demon madhu] at the time of his birth, has sAthvika (purely good) qualities; he will desire the purushArtham (goal) of mOksham (SrIvaikuNtam)). Thus, having remembered emperumAn at a time when I could not have thought of (viz. inside the womb), will I forget now when I can only think of him!

kaNdu kai thozhudhEn – I was able to see. As a result of seeing him, I joined my hands in salutation to him.

thiruvangam mEyAn thisai – he came on his own towards me and gave me knowledge. I did not forget his nature, his form, his qualities and his wealth. Is it the parathva state (the supreme state of emperumAn that he displays in paramapadham [SrIvaikuNtam]) of emperumAn that AzhwAr is talking about? No, it is in the archA state (the form displayed by emperumAn in various dhivya dhESams) which is the epitome of his simplicity. It is his form in SrIrangam that I will never forget [emperumAn is reclining in SrIrangam because no one rejected him when he came here].

We shall consider the 7th pAsuram next.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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mudhal thiruvandhAdhi – 5 – aran nAraNan nAmam

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avathArikai

Earlier AzhwAr had mentioned through all resources that only emperumAn is the supreme entity. He has to say that others are not emperumAn. He says that now. AzhwAr was asked, “you had mocked at sivan saying ‘aran aRivAnAm’. But there are people who consider him to be Isvaran” He responds “through their characteristic features one can know who is Isvaran and who is not”

pAsuram

aran nAraNam nAmam An vidai puL Urdhi
urai nUl maRai uRaiyum kOyil – varai nIr
karumamazhippaLippuk kaiyadhu vEl nEmi
uruvam eri kAr mEni onRu

Word by Word Meaning

nAmam – name
aran – (for one) it is haran [sivan]
nAraNan – (for one) it is nArAyaNan
Urdhi – vehicle
An vidai – (for one) bull, which has no knowledge
puL – (for one) garuda, who has vEdham as his SarIram (body)
urai – pramANam (authentic proof)
nUl – (for one) Agamam (scripture) composed by men
maRai – (for one) vEdham (sacred texts) not composed by men
uRaiyum kOyil – dwelling place
varai – (for one) hard mountain
nIr – (for one) comfortable water
karumam – profession
azhippu – (for one) destruction
aLippu – (for one) protection
kaiyadhu – weapon in one’s hand
vEl – (for one) trident
nEmi – (for one) chakkaram (chakra, divine disc)
uruvam – form
eri – (for one) like fire
kAr – (for one) like cloud
onRu mEni – (of the two) one is a body to the other

vyAkhyAnam

aran nAraNan nAmam – as per samskritham etymology, “harathIthi hara:” one who destroys is known as hara: (another name for Siva). Thus, one person has as his name what he carries out as his profession [hara: is written as aran in thamizh]. When the world, which is created, engages in wrongful deeds and tries to ruin itself, sivan carries out that task after becoming a form (body) for emperumAn. Even though he carries out that task as a subordinate of emperumAn,  he lives in samsAram (materialistic realm) which is to be destroyed. sivan’s position is like that of an official in a kingdom who has to pull down the decorative pandhal after mahAnavami [as part of navarAththiri or dussehra festival] on the orders of the King. The name of the other entity, is nArAyaNan, the emperumAn (as per etymology, he is the resting place for all indestructible entities (both sentient and insentient) and he has these entities as his dwelling place since he pervades them all). He has all the universes as his body and as his servitors and he is their Lord, ruling over them as their AthmA (in-dwelling soul of all souls). When someone gets hurt in his foot due to stepping on to a thorn, the pain is felt by the soul which dwells inside the body. In the same way, if people in this world suffer, emperumAn treats those sufferings as his own. Since he does not think that he could exist without them, he is called as nArAyaNan.

An vidai puL Urdhi – if one were to look at the vehicles for sivan and nArAyaNan, similar differences will surface. sivan, in line with his cruel characteristic [of annihilation] has the bull as his vehicle [it is common parlance to call a person without knowledge as “aRivillAdha mAdu” (vidai is mAdu) While the word vidai also denotes lion, in order to distinguish it from bull, the prefix An has been added to vidai to denote bull. emperumAn, on the other hand, has as his vehicle garuda who is the embodiment of vEdham (sacred texts). This shows his greatness.

urai nUl maRai – the authentic proofs that disclose these entities are also similar. urai is pramANam (authentic proof). This could be either nUl or maRai. Here, nUl refers to the Agamam that sivan narrated of himself when he was under thAmasa guNam (state of ignorance). For emperumAn, it is maRai (sacred text) which does not have the fault of having been written by a person and does not yield to the three guNas (thAmasa, rAjasa and sAthvika, which are ignorance, passion and purely good, respectively).

uRaiyum kOyil varai nIr – their dwelling places are also of similar nature. For sivan, in line with his cruel nature [of annihilation] the dwelling place is the hardened [kailAsa] mountain while for emperumAn, in line with his cool and merciful nature, it is thiruppARkadal (the milky ocean).

karumam azhippu aLippu – their deeds are also different. One [sivan] destroys all the worlds while the other protects the worlds by gently stroking with his divine hands.

kaiyadhu vEl nEmi – the weapons on their hands will also be different. For sivan, the weapon is the destructive trident while for emperumAn, it is the protective thiruvAzhi (divine disc). thirumangai AzhwAr says in periya thirumadal “konnavilum vEl” (the trident kills) and nammAzhwAr says in thiruvAimozhi 2-10-6aRamuyal Azhi” (the disc establishes righteousness). That emperumAn holds weapons such as the disc is brought out by an event which happened in parAsara bhattar(kUraththAzhwAn’s son)’s time. A person by name nilAththukkuRip pagavar [an adhvaithi] asked of bhattar “is there any pramANam to show that emperumAn is with four hands (along with his divine weapons) in paramapadham [SrIvaikuNtam] too?” to which bhattar quoted mandOdhari in SrI rAmAyaNam yudhdha kANdam 114-115  “thamasa: paramO dhAthA Sanka chakra gadhAdhara:” (emperumAn is superior to thamas [thamas here refers to the end of prakruthi, the primordial nature]; he supports everything; he holds Sanka and chakra in his hands). pagavar became angry because he did not want to accept this. bhattar said “when pramANam is like this, what is the point in getting angry?”.

uruvam eri kAr mEni onRu – uruvam is form. The forms are also quite varied for the two of them. One [sivan] is a burning form like fire while the other is like rain-bearing cloud. A person who is suffering from thApathrayam  (AdhyAthmikam, Adhibhoudhikam and Adhidhaivikam) – illness caused by (a) one’s own wrong deeds, (b) by nature and c) by emperumAn – gets liberated from these but confronts such a burning form, he would think that his earlier state was better. The other is like the happiness that a person gets similar to [an agricultural] field expecting rain, which indeed receives that rain. thaiththiriya upanishath nArAyaNavalli 11 says “neelathOyatha madhyashthA vidhyullEkEva bhAsvarA” (like lightning amidst blue coloured clouds), thus describing emperumAn’s divine form. After “uruvam eri kAr”, AzhwAr says mEni onRu. One is sivan who is the SarIram (body) while the other is emperumAn who is the SarIri (the indwelling soul). yajur AraNyakam 3-11-21 says “antha:pravishtaSSAstha janAnAm sarvAthmA” (emperumAn pervades all janas (those who are born) and controls them). Thus is it clear that everyone is his body (form). Hence in the context of AzhwAr’s pAsuram, if one is body, the other has to be AthmA.

We shall take up the 6th pAsuram next.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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mudhal thiruvandhAdhi – 4 – neRi vAsal

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avathArikai

AzhwAr says that despite emperumAn bestowing unblemished knowledge on him, he was finding it difficult to know him, while Siva, by carrying out some penance holding on to his breath, is trying through his own efforts to know emperumAn. How ignorant is this action!

Why is AzhwAr struggling to know emperumAn fully? What is the hurdle? Even though hurdles which contract knowledge have been removed and there is no shortage of implements for gaining knowledge, it is impossible to measure those entities which cannot be measured. Thus, it is not possible to measure (know) emperumAn with the knowledge granted by him. vEdhas, which set out to measure him, returned, saying that he is “mahAntham” (he is great)[thaiththirIya upanishath].  One can keep seeing the same features again and again, but not the full picture. Even if a person stands near the sea (at the shore), isn’t it true that he cannot see the whole ocean!

Let us look at the pAsuram.

neRivAsal thanE Ay ninRAnai aindhu
poRivAsal pOrkkadhavam sAththi – aRivAnAm
Ala mara nIzhal aRam nAlvarkku anRu uraiththa
Alam amar kaNdaththu aran

Word by Word Meaning

anRu aLamara nIzhal – on that day [once upon a time], under the shade of the banyan tree
nAlvarkku aRam uraiththa – one who gave a discourse to four rishis on dharma (righteousness)
Alam amar kaNdaththu aran – Siva, who has poison in his throat
aindhu poRi vAsal – among the five sensory organs
pOrkkadhavam sAththi – closing the door, which is difficult to close
neRi vAsan thAnEyAy ninRAnai – emperumAn who is both the path and the goal
aRivAn Am – would he know?

vyAkhyAnam

nerivAsal thAnEyAy ninRAnaineri refers to upAyam (the path to attain) and vAsal refers to prApyam (that which is attained or in other words, the goal). Thus, through these words it is clearly stated that emperumAn himself is both the path (to attain him) and the goal. The purpose of stating this is to understand that knowledge about something else will come only if the object to be attained is something (or somebody) else and not emperumAn [instead of knowing this, Siva tried to give discourse to others]. Moreover, even if a person’s attempts at realising knowledge were to succeed, that would require emperumAn’s mercy. Thus AzhwAr says emphatically that it is only emperumAn who is the path to attain him. This is the path suited to jIvAthmA’s svarUpam (basic nature)

Ay ninRa – unlike other upAyams (paths) emperumAn is readily available [while the others are to be attempted by jIvAthmA].

aindhu poRivAsal pOrkkadhavam sAththi – is it possible to know such an emperumAn by controlling one’s senses? [not possible, is the opinion here]

aindhu poRi vAsal – the five sensory organs viz. ears, mouth, eyes, nose and skin. Any one among these five is enough to prevent a person from carrying out attempts on his own as means [to attain emperumAn]. Since these are capable of pulling a person towards them through some deceit or the other, AzhwAr refers to these senses as “poRi” (trap). The word “pOrkkadhavam” refers to the fact that these sensory organs are waging a battle against the jIvAthmA (pOr means war and kadhavam means door). While the jIvathmA tries to control his senses, these senses slip out of his hands making it difficult for him to control them and they wander all over the place.

sAththi – even if one were to close the door [to the senses] shut, it is almost impossible. If one tries to control one sense, the others will break free and pull him. When one attempts to plug water, which is flowing rapidly, it will create a hole elsewhere and run forcefully again. Senses are similar to this phenomenon. Hasn’t arjuna said in SrI bhagavath gIthA 6-34chanchalam hi mana:” (mind is restless)! If one does not feed the senses, they will tear up the person.  As SrI bhagavath gIthA says in 2-59param dhrushtvA nivarthathE” (only after seeing the superior entity (emperumAn) will desires exit). Thus, is there any way to control the senses other than seeing emperumAn? The opinion here is that while it is possible to control the senses to an extent by carrying out certain deeds, it is virtually impossible to control them such that they do not go after vishayam (pleasures).

arivAnAmAzhwAr is saying sarcastically “Oh, doesn’t Siva, who has controlled his senses, not know emperumAn!” (when Siva started doing his penance, he fell for pArvathi and spent time with her; the opinion expressed here is: could that Siva control his senses?)

Alamara nIzhal – under the shade of the banyan tree where he [siva] was performing his penance.

aram nAlvarkku anRu uraiththa – aRam here refers to the path to attain emperumAn. Siva preached four rishis agasthyar, dhakshar, pulasthyar and mArkaNdeyar about knowledge on emperumAn.

anRu uraiththa – Siva preached others even before he had heard fully about emperumAn. Just as a person, by name bAlAgi, who did not know about brahmam (supreme entity) preached the most learned ajAtha Sathru about brahmam, Siva also preached. This is similar to a person trying to enjoy the goal even before carrying out the deeds to reach it. Siva had consumed poison due to his thAmasa guNa (the quality of being ignorant). SrI bhagavath gIthA 14-27 says “sathvAth sanjAyathE gyAnam” (one gets knowledge through sathva guNa (purely good quality)). But, here, Siva desired to gain knowledge through his thAmasa guNa.

Alam amar kaNdaththu aran – when emperumAn churned the milky ocean, “hAlahAla visha” (a poisonous substance) came out first. emperumAn ordered Siva to consume it and Siva did the same, keeping it in his throat. His pride comes out of this act of taking the poison. Just because he had preached a few persons who had slightly inferior knowledge to his own, and because he was able to hold poison in his throat (with the mercy of emperumAn) could he measure (know) emperumAn? While bAlAgi had not known brahmam, he pointed out whatever he saw to ajAtha Sathru and said “this is brahmam, hold on to this”. In the same way, while Siva had not fully realised brahmam, he preached others about brahmam. Is it possible to preach others merely because one had the power to consume poison and the power to destroy others? sIrAmap piLLai (twin brother of parAsara bhattar, both being the sons of kUraththAzhwAn, prime disciple of SrI rAmAnuja) spoke ill of Siva because he was proud and called himself as Lord. parAsara bhattar told him “Siva, by nature, is a good person. Only because of his thamO guNa (quality of being ignorant) he is proud. Hence, do not vilify him”.

We shall enjoy the 5th pAsuram next.

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mudhal thiruvandhAdhi – 2 – enRu kadal kadaindhadhu

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avathArikai

AzhwAr says “what have I done? Do I need to prove through conjecture that emperumAn is there because there are effects and hence there should be a cause? Through his athimAnusha deeds (deeds that are beyond the capabilities of human beings), we can easily know his presence”

Let us look at the pAsuram and its meanings, first.

enrU kadal kadaindhadhu evvulagum nIrERRadhu
onRum adhanai uNarEn nAn – anRu
adhu adaiththu udaiththuk kaN paduththa Azhi idhu nI
padaiththu idandhu uNdu umizhndha pAr

Word by Word Meaning

kadal kadaindhadhu enRu – when was the ocean (of milk) churned?
nIrERRadhu evvulagam – for which world did you accept water
adhanai onRum uNarEn nAn – I do not know anything at all about that
adhu anRu adaiththu udaiththu – dam was built on that ocean (by SrI rAma) and was broken
kaN paduthta Azhi – ocean on which [you are] reclining
idhu nI padaiththu – this world was recovered (after accepting water)
idandhu, uNdu – [as varAha avathAram] dug up and eaten [during deluge]
umizhndha pAr – [after deluge] the world that was spat out

vyAkhyAnam

enRu kadal kadaindhadhu – when was the ocean churned? The implied answer is that it was churned today. Have the waves and the agitation of the ocean stopped after he churned it? Do they not remain as they were? emperumAn has blessed AzhwAr such that he could see all that happened, is happening and will happen, all at the same time right before him! Thus, the great task that he had undertaken [of churning the milky ocean] appears to AzhwAr as if it has been carried out today.

evvulagam nIrERRadhu – which world did he measure after accepting water? (Here too, the implication is that it is this world). Is there a world other than ours that he measured after accepting water? Is it not to protect this world that he went seeking alms, concealing his identity totally [as vAmana]? AzhwAr says that his foot print that he set out to measure the world has not disappeared. Is this world suffering because of mahAbali? (No) As said in thiruvAimozhi 4-4-1vAmanan maN” (the world measured by vAmana) it appears that this world is only his.

onRum adhanai uNarEn nAn – AzhwAr says that from the day that emperumAn measured this world, we should have realised that and should have been talking this only. Instead of that, we are constantly engaged in and wasting our time in eating, dressing up and similar activities. Another interpretation is that instead of knowing such wondrous deeds of emperumAn, we are trying to establish emperumAn through conjecture. Another interpretation is that just as nammAzhwAr swooned and did not regain his consciousness for 6 months after reciting the verse “eththiRam” in thiruvAimozhi 1-3-1, poygai AzhwAr too goes into a trance after seeing his wondrous deeds. Reference to churning of ocean and accepting water [to recover the world] are pointers to all his deeds.

anRu – did emperumAn not churn the ocean today? To AzhwAr, it appears that he has been churning the ocean from that day and is still at it. Though time keeps moving, to AzhwAr it appears that what was done yugams (ages) back is being done right now, due to his deep knowledge. Since thiruppARkadal is a little distance away from where he is, AzhwAr is calling it as adhu (that).

adaiththu udaiththuk kaN paduththa Azhi – he built a bridge across the ocean with stone. He broke it with his bow (after killing rAvaNan). He reclined in that ocean. udaiththu also means destroy.

idhu nI padaiththu idandhu uNdu umizhndha pAr – since AzhwAr is in samsAram, he calls the world which is near him as idhu (this). emperumAn created this world when it was not there; when it got drowned during praLayam (deluge) he dug it out; before the onset of praLayam, he kept it in inside his stomach to protect it; after praLayam ends, he spat it out this earth so that it could see all the galaxies. This earth has suffered a similar destiny that cotton suffers from the time it comes out as a flower till it gets converted into a cloth (paruththi patta panniraNdum is an old saying in thamizh which means the twelve processes that cotton undergoes before it becomes useful. Earth suffers like this at his hands). While other dhEvathAs call themselves as “Isvaran” (one who controls), if they are really Isvaran, would they not have taken the steps that he had taken to retrieve this earth? This alone is enough to understand that they are not Isvaran. Also, if this earth were indeed not his [emperumAn’s] would he have carried out all these actions? As nammAzhwAr says in thiruvAimozhi  4-5-10kaNdavARRAl thanadhE ulagena ninRAn” (he establishes that the world is his due to all his deeds).

We shall see the 3rd pAsuram in this thiruvandhAdhi, next.

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mudhal thiruvandhAdhi – 1 – vaiyam thagaLiyA

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vaiyam thagaLiyA vArkadalE neyyAga
veyya kadhirOn viLakkAga – seyya
sudarAziyAn adikkE sUttinEn sol mAlai
idarAzhi nIngugavE enRu

Word by Word Meaning

vaiyam thagaLiyA – earth as holding vessel for oil
vAr kadalE neyyAga –  sea, surrounding the earth, as ghee (clarified butter)
veyya kadhirOn viLakkAga –  sun, with his hot rays, as lamp [wick]
seyya sudarAzhiyAn adikkE – at the divine feet of emperumAn, who has reddish coloured chakra (disc) weapon
idar Azhi nIngugavE enRu – let the ocean of sorrow (in this world) disappear
sol mAlai – garland made of words
sUttinEn – I adorned him with

avathArikai

By using the terms vaiyam, vArkadal and kadhirOn, AzhwAr is referring to the elements earth, water and fire through analogy, thus implying all five elements. Through these five, he thinks of the entire constellation, narrowing to earth, its hardness, the tenderness of water, the heat of fire, and thinks of the entire leelA vibhUthi (material realm). By using the term sudarAzhiyAn (divine chakra – disc of emperumAn) he refers to nithyavibhUthi  (spiritual realm) and through the term adikkE he refers to the divine feet of emperumAn, thus implying that emperumAn has a divine form and controls both the vibhUthis (realms). He also implies the SEshithvam (lordship) of emperumAn as well as his own SEshathvam (servitude), carrying out service to emperumAn through his divine feet. Since emperumAn is happy with his service, AzhwAr too feels happy for having gladdened emperumAn. He says that in order to remove the lowliness of not having carried out such kainkaryam (service to emperumAn) so far, he is adorning emperumAn’s divine feet [with his verses]. Another interpretation is that since he had not got the knowledge so far to do this, he wants emperumAn to remove the hurdle of samsAram which is the cause of his continued ignorance.

vyAkhyAnam

vaiyam thagaLiyA – SrIvishNu purANam 1-14-28 says “kAtinyavAn yO pibharthi jagathEthadhaSEshatha: I SabdhAdhi samSrayO vyApI thasmai bhUmyAthmanE nama: II (salutations to the all pervading supreme entity who is in the form of earth with the five qualities of Sabdha etc (Sabdha, rUpa, rasa, gandha and sparSam, the five senses relating to sound, vision, taste, smell and touch respectively). Earth is a hard material and holds the world in it. Thus earth is considered as capable of holding [like a lamp] the substances which are mentioned as simile to ghee (clarified butter) and wick which are mentioned later in the pAsuram (hymn). Since the world has a form, like a lamp, it appears that it should have been created by an entity; it is being compared to the container (of lamp) to affirm the existence of supreme entity.

vAr kadalE neyyAga – ocean surrounds the earth fully and is in the form of a liquid. It obeys the order of supreme entity not to cross its border (shore) and to remain within its boundary. Due to this it is compared to ghee which will enable a lamp (which is to be lit) to keep glowing for a long time. vAr kadal – surrounding ocean (surrounding earth). It can also be construed as a completely filled up ocean. It does not overflow because of excessive flow into it by rivers. It does not shrink if water from rivers does not flow into it.  It does not destroy the earth even though it is at a higher level than earth. There must be an entity to take care of all these. Just as ghee enables the lamp to glow for a long time, the oceanic waters are pulled by sun’s rays and make the rays to glow. For these reasons, ocean is compared to a lamp that reveals emperumAn. There is no significance for the long syllable in the word kadalE. This can be applied to the other words vaiyam, kadhiron  also for uniformity (vaiyamE thagaLiyA, kadhirOnE viLakkAga)

veyya kadhirOn viLakkAga – sun is compared to the lamp (wick) since it has hot rays emanating from it and it is a radiant material. As thaiththiriya upanishath says “bhIshOdhEthi sUrya:” (sun rises because of his fear of emperumAn). He is seen for 30 nAzhigai (one nAzhigai is 24 minutes) and is not seen for the other 30 nAzhigai. He reveals emperumAn like a wick in a lamp.

vaiyam thagaLiyA – Just as a log of wood floats in water, the earth is also floating. Should there not be a reason for it? vAr kadalE neyyAga – instead of inundating the earth, the ocean is limiting itself within its boundary. Should there not be a reason for it? veyya kadhirOn viLakkAga – without reducing or increasing from its 30 nAzhigai, sun rises and sets every day. Should there not be a reason for it? And, should not such an entity, which is the reason for all these, be omniscient and omnipotent?

Once it is known that everything is his and he is the master of all, the hymn says what should be done further.

seyya sudarAzhiyAn adikkEnammAzhwAr, in periya thiruvandhAdhi 26 says “iruLanna mAmEni em iRaiyAr” (my Lord’s divine form has the colour of darkness). For such a dark form, the divine chakra (disc) adds a contrasting red colour. These words negate the opinions of other philosophies which say that brahmam (supreme entity) does not exist, or that it has weapons other than chakra or that it does not have any auspicious qualities etc. These words confirm that emperumAn has all the wealth, has divine weapons such as chakra, has a divine, beautiful form etc.  The reddish colour of chakra contrasts well with the black colour of his divine form. Since AzhwArs were bestowed with unblemished knowledge, the first realisation that they get is that they are servitors and they should serve the divine feet of emperumAn. pirAtti (emperumAn’s consort, mahAlakshmi) holds emperumAn’s hands. AzhwAr is not pirAtti. Hence, he holds on to emperumAn’s divine feet. Under the divine feet of such an emperumAn…..

idarAzhi nInguga enRu – my ocean of sorrow, since it has not performed any kainkaryam, should leave me.

sol mAlai sUttinEn – I adorned his divine feet with a garland of words, which will never lose its fragrance and will never fade, having been strung on his auspicious qualities and deeds. This is just like the decoration that anasUya (wife of rishi athri) made on sIthA pirAtti [garland not fading]. Just as the thiruththuzhAy (thuLasi) garland establishes the supremacy of emperumAn, this garland of words of the AzhwAr also establishes his supremacy. AzhwAr is able to know emperumAn fully and is speaking of his qualities when even vEdham had to return after failing in its attempt to measure the greatness of emperumAn (thaiththiriya upanishath 9.1 “yathO vAchO nivarththanthE apprApya manasA saha”)

idarAzhi nIngugavE enRu sUttinEn – AzhwAr indicates that he wants to rid of his thirst of not having strung a garland of verses for emperumAn till now.  He also implies that he does not exist on days when he does not praise emperumAn. For AzhwAr, every object such as earth, ocean etc reminds of emperumAn. Once a person asked mARanEri nambi “how do I remember emperumAn?” mARanEri nambi asked him in return “tell me, how do I forget emperumAn?”

I strung a garland of hymns for the samsAris, who do not know anything regarding emperumAn, and who are losing their svarUpam (basic nature), who, by learning this text which explains the truths about emperumAn, would have their ocean of sins, a container for all their sorrows, dry up.

There is not a single meaning which has not been conveyed by this pAsuram [i.e., all the important meanings are present in this pAsuram itself].

We shall next take up the 2nd pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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