Category Archives: mudhalAyiram

thirumAlai – sangathi (Connection)

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

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periyaperumal-thondaradippodiazhwar

The vyAkhyAtha (commentator) has given the connection of each pAsuram with the previous pAsuram, for all the 45 pAsurams in this prabandham.

  1. Instead of aiming for a benefit at random, the thirunAma sankIrthanam that he composed with reciting itself being the benefit, enabled AzhwAr to keep his feet on the heads of yama and his followers, says the AzhwAr in he first pAsuram.
  2. For one who is enjoying the sweetness of thirunAma sankIrthanam, even paramapadham is not required, says the AzhwAr in the 2nd pAsuram.
  3. He does not want birth in samsAram which is a hurdle for reciting thirunAma sankIrthanam, confirms the AzhwAr in the 3rd pAsuram.
  4. Even when sinners such as kshathrabandhu are qualified to recite the divine names, the samsAris are losing out on that and are suffering, says AzhwAr in the 4th pAsuram.
  5. Those who desire lowly and transient pleasures in the samsAram such as enjoying the company of women etc are fooling, he says in the 5th pAsuram.
  6. He mentioned about the unsteadiness of those who go after such pleasures, in the 6th pAsuram.
  7. He advised those who tried to follow philosophies which went against vEdhas such as bhaudhdha, samaNa etc and reach mOksha, that only chakravarthi thirumagan (SrI rAma) is apt to be taken refuge under, in the 7th pAsuram.
  8. In the 8th pAsuram, he said that killing those who did not accept the above, but went ahead in abusing emperumAn, would be beneficial both to them and to the world.
  9. In the 9th pAsuram, he told those who were willing to accept his words but said that it is difficult to attain SrI rAma, to hold on to kaNNan, who is very simple.
  10. When they said that kaNNan is not present now, AzhwAr told them to hold on to periya perumAL who is none else than kaNNan himself, in the 10th pAsuram.
  11. In the 11th pAsuram, he said that those who did not take refuge under periya perumAL lacked the grace of emperumAn even when they were in the womb.
  12. Even if he had been able to attain periya perumAL, he feels saddened at the sufferings of other samsAris who are not able to attain him, in the 12th pAsuram.
  13. In the 13th pAsuram, he wants the samsAris to say “thiruvarangam” in order to uplift themselves.
  14. To get over the weariness of having counselled samsAris, he recites the divine names of thiruvarangam in the 14th pAsuram.
  15. In the 15th pAsuram, he mentions about the knowledge created by emperumAn about the natural relationship that he has with him.
  16. In the 16th pAsuram, he mentions how his devotion grew in proportion to the huge bhagavath vishayam.
  17. In the 17th pAsuram, he mentions how one of his senses, eyes, without even expecting him, fell over bhagavath vishayam and enjoyed.
  18. In the 18th pAsuram, he mentions how the enjoyment of his eyes led to flooding of his eyes with tears of joy.
  19. In the 19th pAsuram, he mentions how his body, which is insentient, involved with bhagavath vishayam like a sentient entity and melted.
  20. In the 20th pAsuram, he says that those who know of their relationship with thiruvarangan and his beauty will not leave him.
  21. In the 21st pAsuram, he says that he cannot measure the greatness of emperumAn with his heart.
  22. In the 22nd, he says that he cannot measure emperumAn through his speech.
  23. In that case, one can live forgetting him. But it is not possible to forget him, he says in the 23rd pAsuram.
  24. In the 24th, he says that his affection towards emperumAn is deceitful as it is not commensurate with emperumAn’s greatness.
  25. In the 25th pAsuram , he says that he does not have karma, gyAna, bhakthi yOgams which have been mentioned in SAsthras.
  26. In the 26th pAsuram, he says that he does not have means for mOksham such as worshipping and praising emperumAn, which are common for all, including women and 4th varNa people.
  27. In the 27th pAsuram, he says that he does not have the good thoughts that animals such as monkeys and squirrels had (in helping emperumAn).
  28. When the elephant [gajEndhrAzhwAn] was in distress, he had full faith in the means, and AzhwAr says in the 28th pAsuram that he did not have that too.
  29. In the 29th pAsuram, he says that he does not have the distinguishing connection with a dhivyadhESam.
  30. In the 30th pAsuram, he says that not only did he not have any good things in him, he also had many bad things, such as harming others, in him.
  31. He says in the 31st pAsuram that he became persona non grata for his relatives who have been with him for many years.
  32. Having no good things, and having all bad things in me, I still came and stood before you, because I am a fool, says the AzhwAr, in the 32nd pAsuram.
  33. The reason for this is that I have no shame in me, he says in the 33rd pAsuram.
  34. Since such a person as I should not reduce the greatness of emperumAn (like poison being added to milk), I decided to leave, he says in the 34th pAsuram.
  35. Due to his quality of simplicity, emperumAn took me back, when I tried to leave him, says AzhwAr in the 35th pAsuram.
  36. In the 36th, he cries out the emperumAn to shower his grace him [by taking him to SrIvaikuNtam]
  37. Since that did not happen, he feels sorrowful, in the 37th pAsuram.
  38. Once periya perumAL looked at him with comforting eyes, AzhwAr asks him “do you have so much of affection towards your follower who wants to attain you, through you as prApyam (goal) and prApakam (means)?” in the 38th pAsuram.
  39. In the 39th pAsuram, he says that those who have this knowledge will not have any shortcoming because of being born in low birth.
  40. Such people will not suffer because of earlier sins (such as harming others) that they may have committed, in the 40th pAsuram.
  41. They will also sanctify those with whom they are in touch, he says in the 41st pAsuram.
  42. They are also apt to be worshipped like emperumAn, he says in the 42nd pAsuram.
  43. Those who abuse them because of their low birth or behaviour, even if they are born in high birth, will become like wretch, says the AzhwAr in the 43rd pAsuram.
  44. By indicating the great advantage that an elephant had, which even brahmA et al could not derive, AzhwAr talks about his own advantage, in the 44th pAsuram.
  45. AzhwAr, in the 45th pAsuram, divines on the benefit that one would get by learning this prabandham.

That brings us to the end of exposition on thirumAlai sangathi.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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thirumAlai – 45 – vaLavEzhum thavaLa mAda

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

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krishna-kuvalayapidam

avathArikai (introduction)

In the  last pAsuram of this prabhandham, AzhwAr says that just as emperumAn destroyed kuvalayApIda yAnai (the royal elephant of krishNa’s uncle, kamsa), he destroyed those sins which were hurdles for AzhwAr to reach him and further says that emperumAn’s pleasure is his benefit, bringing this prabandham to an end.

Let us look at the pAsuram and its meanings.

vaLavezhum thavaLa mAda madhurai mAnagaram thannuL
kavaLamAl yAnai konRa kaNNanai aranga mAlaith
thuLavath thoNdAya tholseerth thoNdaradippodi sol
iLaiya punkavidhaiyElum empirARku iniyavARE

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Word-by-word Meaning

vaLam ezhum – being beautiful
thavaLam – being white coloured
mAdam – having storied houses
mA – being great
madhurai nagaram thannuL – in vada madhurai (mathurA)
kavaLam – with mouthful of food
mAl – huge
yAnai – elephant (called kuvalayApIdam)
konRa – killed
kaNNanai – SrI krishNa
aranga mAlai – SrI ranganAthan
thuLabam thoNdu Aya – one who is engaged in thuLasi service
thol seer – one who is  fully engaged in bhAgavatha SEshathvam (being servitor to SrIvaishNavas)
thoNdaradippodi – thoNdaradippodi AzhwAr
sol – (recited) prabandham called thirumAlai
iLaiya pun kavidhai Elum – even if it has blemishes such as choice of words, poetry metrics etc
em pirARku – for my swAmy (master) periya perumAL
iniya ARE – how is it so sweet!

vyAkhyAnam (commentary)

vaLavezhum thavaLamAda – having beautiful, silver-like white coloured storied houses. AzhwAr talks about the decorations in vada madhurai (mathurA) which were missed out when kaNNan (krishNa) was born there and consoles himself by decorating with words. Since he is going to talk about kuvalayApIda (elephant) incident, it could be taken that kamsan has got the place decorated for the festival. vaLam indicates beauty and ezhum indicates excessive. thavaLa indicates whiteness.

madhurai mAnagaram thannuL – in the great city of madhurai. What is this greatness? Initially it was the place which had vAmana ASramam (the hermitage of vAmana) when emperumAn took the incarnation of vAmana. Later it was the capital of SrI Sathrugna. Finally, it was the place where kaNNan was born. Thus, since it has connection with emperumAn continuously, unlike SrIvaikuNtam which appears to be having bright lamps shining during daytime [there is not much use with the lights in the day time], this madhurai is similar to having bright lamps during night time in this ignorant samsAram and hence is greater than SrIvaikuNtam.

kavaLamAl yAnai konRa kaNNanai – the elephant kuvalayApIdam (kamsan’s royal elephant) which had eaten the food called kavaLam to make it mad, and was huge. In the previous pAsuram, AzhwAr said “Anaikku anRu aruLai Indha” (one who had shown mercy on the elephant) and here he says “yAnai konRa” (one who killed the elephant). Through this, exception to the SlOkam “dhEvAnAm dhAnavAnAm cha” (being equal to those who are his followers and who are not his followers) is being explained. AzhwAr indicates here that just as krishNa killed enemies such as kuvalayApIdam and gave himself to the people of that town to enjoy him, periya perumAL removed his sins which were the hurdles in the way of his enjoying emperumAn and gave himself to AzhwAr for his enjoyment. kaNNanai – one who came to be seen. On the day that he was born, as ANdAL says in thiruppAvai 25oruththi maganAip piRandhu Or iravil oruththi maganAy oLiththu vaLara” (he was born to one lady and in the same night he shifted his place to hide himself and to be brought up by another lady), he returned to the place which he left on the night of his birth, to be seen by everyone and to destroy his enemies such as kamsa et al. AzhwAr enjoys this greatness.

arangamAlai – since AzhwAr came after that incarnation, kaNNan incarnated as periya perumAL to remove AzhwAr’s enemies. mAlai – one who has tremendous love towards his followers. One who treats killing enemies of his followers and giving himself to his followers for their enjoyment as being for his own benefit.

thuLabath thoNdAya – one who carries out service to thuLasi AzhwAr [here thuLasi is being elevated to the level of an AzhwAr). While carrying out service to emperumAn is purushArtham (benefit or goal), carrying out service to the follower of emperumAn is defined as extreme limit of purushArtham [ellai nilam, as referred to, by our pUrvAchAryars]. Usage of the term thuLasi here implies all bhAgavathas. Service to thuLasi is equivalent to service to all bhAgavathars. When service is carried out to all bhAgavathars, sometimes there could be a chance for apachAram (offence). But in the case of thuLasi, there can be no such offence. AzhwAr, in his other prabandham thiruppaLLiyezhuchchi says in the last pAsuramthodaiyoththa thuLabamum kUdaiyum polindhu thOnRiya thoNdaradippodi “ (thoNdaradippodi who appeared with flower-like thuLasai and basket), thus making thuLasi as his identity.

tholseer – one who is fully established in the limit of bhagavath SEshathvam (service to emperumAn), which is bhAgavatha SEshathvam (service to SrIvaishNavas). By saying thuLabath thoNdAya he mentions that he is doing the service of stringing thuLasi for emperumAn and by saying tholseer he mentions the extreme limit of that kainkaryam, which is SrIvaishNava kainkaryam.

thoNdaradippodi sol – in line with his service orientation towards bhAgavathas, he has thoNdaradippodi as his name. It is clear from this that his identity is not gyAnam, Anandham or bhagavath SEshathvam [our sacred texts say that AthmA is full of gyAnam (knowledge), Anandham (happiness) and  is SEshabhUthan (carrying service to emperumAn)], but bhAgavatha SEshathvam (service to followers of emperumAn). Just as nammAzhwAr in his thiruvAimozhi 7.1.11 said “thoNdar thoNdar thoNdar thoNdan satakOpan” (SatakOpan, another name of nammAzhwAr, is emperumAn’s follower’s follower’s follower’s follower), this AzhwAr called himself as thoNdaradippodi (the dust sticking to the feet of a follower of emperumAn).

iLaiya pun kavidhaiyElumAzhwAr says that the words used by him in these pAsurams are very young, [not choosing apt words due to lack of experience] and there are faults in his verses. Even though neither of these is true, AzhwAr says this as his naichyAnusandhAnam (thinking of his lowliness).

em pirARku iniavARE – will these not be sweet to emperumAn? As we have seen earlier “kim mrushtam suthavachanam” (which is sweet to hear? It is the gibberish words of one’s child), AzhwAr exclaims “is it surprising that periya perumAL is happy with my gibberish!” Won’t the gibberish words of a child be sweet to its father? As ALavandhAr, in sthOthra rathnam 46 says “bhavanthamEvAnucharan nirantharm praSAntha niSSEshamanOrathAnthara: I kathA’hamaikAnthika nithyakinkara: praharshayishyAmi sanAthajIvitha: II” (when am I going to make (you) happy, following you constantly, getting rid of all the desires with their scents, having kainkaryam towards you uninterruptedly, having a janma (birth) which is fruitful?), making emperumAn happy is a person’s purushArtham (goal). Being a cause for emperumAn’s happiness is a chEthana’s (sentient entity’s) reason for existence. It is pertinent to remember nanjIyar’s (disciple of bhattar and AchArya for nampiLLai) words “[emperumAn’s] compassion is upAyam (means); happiness is upEyam (goal)”. Unlike other AzhwArs, this AzhwAr has not indicated the benefit for those who learn these pAsurams [in the last pAsuram] since he considers that emperumAn’s happiness is the benefit here. Just as emperumAn was happy with this AzhwAr for having strung this garland [called thirumAlai], he will be happy if people learn these pAsurams. SrI rAmAyaNa yudhdha kANdam 131.118 says “rAmAyaNam idham kruthsnam SruNvatha: patathas sadhA I prIyathE saththam rAma: sa hi vishNu: sanAthana: II” (rAmapirAn is always affectionate towards one who hears or reads this entire rAmAyaNam. Isn’t rAma, the eternal vishNu!). The benefit that SrI vAlmIki divined for those who learn SrI rAmAyaNam is also the benefit for those who learn this dhivya prabhandam.

This brings us to the end of this prabandham. In the next article, we shall see the concluding section.

periya pirAttiyAr periya perumAL thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
thoNdaradippodi AzhwAr thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
periyavAchchAn piLLai thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
jIyar thiruvadigaLE SaraNam

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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thirumAlai – 44 – peNNulam sadaiyinAnum

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

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gajendramoksham

avathArikai (introduction)

AzhwAr says that all the eminence that he had mentioned for the bhAgavathas (followers) of emperumAn would fit them well, considering that an animal, gajEndhran, got the rare-to-obtain benefit that even people like brahmA et al could not get. Through this incident he also indicates the benefit that he had obtained and brings this prabandham (poetic composition) to an end [the next pAsuram gives the benefit for those who learn these pAsurams].

Let us enjoy the pAusram and its meanings.

peNNulAm sadaiyinAnum piramanum unnaik kANbAn
eNNilA Uzhi Uzhi thavam seydhAr veLgi niRpa
viNNuLAr viyappa vandhu AnaiakkanRu aruLai Indha
kaNNuRA unnai ennO kaLaigaNAk karudhumARE

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Word-by-word Meaning

peN ulAm – gangA moving about
sadaiyinAnum – sivan, having matted hair
piramanum – and brahmA
unnaik kANbAn – to see you
eN ilA Uzhi Uzhi – for innumerable periods [Uzhi is the time of deluge]
thavam seydhAr – those who did penance
veLgi niRpa – putting their heads down in shame (since they could not see you)
anRu – during that time
Anaikku – for SrI gajEndhrAzhwAn (who got trapped in the crocodile’s jaws)
vandhu – (to liberate him) coming to the shore of the pond
viN uLAr viyappa – making even the nithyasUris amazed
aruLai Indha – providing your grace
kaNNuRa – one who is blind [in not seeing the shortcomings of followers]
unnai – you
kaLaigaNA – being the refuge for all
karudhum ARu ennO – how to think?

vyAkhyAnam (commentary)

peNNulAm sadaiyinAnum – Siva, who has expansive matted hair so that gangA can move about. The opinion is – is it possible to see sarvESvaran by having the pride of controlling gangA inside his matted locks? It is pertinent to recall thirumazhisai AzhwAr’s nAnmugan thiruvandhAdhi 4 “ARu sadaikkarandhAn aNdarkOn thannOdum kURudaiyavan enbadhum koLgaiththE” (is it proper to say that rudhran, who is holding gangA, hidden in his matted hair, is equal to sarvESvaran?

piramanum – and brahmA, who created that Siva. SrI rAmAyaNam yudhdha kANdam 120.3 says “karthA sarvasya lOkasya brahmA brahmavidhAm vara:” (one who creates all the words and who is the greatest among brahmagyAnis (those who know brahmam, emperumAn)). Can such brahmA, thinking of the pride of giving knowledge to jIvAthmAs like a school teacher, attain emperumAn? He can at the most count the people that he has created and their pApa and puNya (sins and virtues), having created them. Can he measure the immeasurable emperumAn? poygai AzhwAr in his mudhal thiruvandhAdhi 56 says “kadikkamalam thannuL irundhum kANkilAn kaNNan adikkamalam thannai ayan” (despite being inside the lotus flower which sprang from emperumAn’s navel, brahmA has not seen the divine lotus feet of krishNa).

unnaik kANbAn – to see you. thaiththirIya upanishath says “yathO vAchO nivarthanthE” (trying to measure the qualities of emeprumAn, vEdhas returned, unable to measure). Your (emperumAn’s) greatness is such that vEdhas could not measure even one of your auspicious qualities. However much nithyasUris enjoy you, they cannot see your limits. To see such an emperumAn . SrIvishNu purANam 5.1.49 says “niravadhya: para: prApthEr niradhithO’kshara: karma: I sarvESvaraparAdhArO dhAmnAm dhAmAthmakO’vyaya: II” ((you) are faultless; are rare to attain; do not have one to support you; are indestructible; have unlimitedly supreme joy; are the support for all who are engaged with you, the Isvara; are the radiance for all radiant materials; are faultless). It is not that the others do not know your limits. Even you do not know your limits. nammAzhwAr said the same in his thiruvAimozhi 8.4.6 “thanakkum than thanmai aRivariyAn” (even he does not know his inherent quality). kANbAn – only after seeing him can I get a benefit from him. Unless he makes himself available to be seen, others, however great gyAna (knowledge) or Sakthi (power) they may have, cannot see him with their capabilities. thaththirIya upanishath nArAyaNavalli 1.10 says “na sandhruSE thishtathi rUpamasya na chakshushA paSyathi kaSchanainam” (his form is such that it cannot be seen by [our] eyes; no one sees him with his eyes). rig vEdham says “na mAmsa chakshurabhivIkshathE tham” (his form cannot be seen by these eyes made of flesh). vishNu dharmam says “na mAmsa chakshushA dhrashtum brahmabhUtha: sa SakyathE” (he, the brahmam, is rare to be seen by these eyes, made of flesh). Thus, the vEdha SAsthras thundered that he cannot be seen easily.

eNNilA Uzhi Uzhi thavam seydhAr veLgi niRpa – those who carry out penance for long years such as the period of deluge, step back from their penance with shame, thinking ”the person, to see whom we are carrying out this penance, has not yet come”. dhEvathAs on whom hiraNya, rAvaNa et al carry out penance to grant them benefits, carry out penance on him. mahAbhAratham sabhA parvam 14.8 says “yuga kOti sahasrANi vishNumArAdhya padhmabhU: I punasthrailOkyadhAthruthvam prApthavAnithi SuSruma II” (we hear that brahmA, born in a lotus flower, did penance for thousands of crores of yugas [each yuga is 43,72,000 years by our metrics] and became the head for the three worlds again). veLgi niRpa – the opinion here is that instead of doing penance for crores of years it would have been better had they fallen into the jaws of a crocodile, and hence they felt ashamed. vishNu dharmam 69.47 says “paramApadhamApannO manasA’chinthayadhdharim I sa thu nAgavara: SrImAn nArAyaNa parAyaNa: II” (gaJendhrAzhwAn [gajEndhra, the elephant], who got into a deep trouble, who had the wealth of kainkaryam [service to emperumAn] and one who had nArAyaNa as the supreme refuge, meditated on hari [nArAyaNa]). Thus, these dhEvathas felt ashamed that instead of surrendering to emperumAn due to the danger of samsAram, their decision to carry out penance with their own efforts has been proved wrong.

viNNuLAr viyappa vandhu nithyasUris were surprised that emperumAn was ignoring them as well as dhEvathAs such as brahmA, who were toiling like this, in order to fall at the feet of an animal, with his divine dress and divine hair dishevelled. They marvel at his simplicity. bhattar in his SrIrangarAja sthavam 2.57 says ”athanthrithaSamupathiprahithahastham svIkrutha praNithamaNipAdhukam kimithi chAkulAntha:puram I avAhanaparishkriyam pathakarAjamArOhatha: kripravarabrumhithE bhagavathasthvarAyai nama: II” (I salute the speed with which you came to climb on periya thiruvadi (garuda), who was not in his splendorous decor, as soon as you heard the distressing voice of gajEndhrAzhwAn, not bothering about the support for your hand that vishvaksEnar extended, not wearing the gem-studded sandals brought for you and with your womenfolk exclaiming in grief “how is this!”). Since those who wonder should be different from those who stand in shame, the term viNNuLAr refers to nithyasUris who are different from brahmA et al [who were referred to as veLgi niRpa]. vandhu – coming to the shore of the pond where gajEndhra was in distress; since AzhwAr says ”coming to the shore” instead of saying “going to the shore” it shows that emperumAn considers only that place where  his follower is present as his place and his action to assist his follower is his own.

Anaikku – without considering that brahmA et al were born in dhEva class and gajEndhra was born in animal class, emperumAn only looked at the danger that his follower was in and protected him.

anRu – that day when gajEndhra realised that his strength would not protect him. vishNu dharmam 69 says “gaja AkarshathE dhIrE grAha AkarshathE jalE I thayOrdhvandhvasamam yudhdham dhivyam varshasahasrakam II” (gajEndhra is pulling to the land; crocodile is pulling into the water; between them the battle lasted on equal front for 1000 years by dhEva metrics). When gajEndhra tried to save himself, there was no difference between him and the penance that brahmA et al had carried out for their benefit. It is pertinent to note that only when gajEndhra stepped back from protecting himself did he become greater than those people [brahmA et al]. That day you showed mercy on an elephant which was trapped in a crocodile’s jaws; today, when I am trapped in the five senses-like crocodiles of Sabdham etc [sound, sight, taste, smell and touch], you should show mercy. The elephant suffered for 1000 years; I am suffering since time immemorial. He was trapped in the shores of a small pond; I am caught in the ocean of births. The opinion here is that emperumAn should shower grace on AzhwAr who in caught in a far more serious danger than gajEndhra.

aruLaiyIndha – aruL is grace. The act of grace [of emerpumAn] was to free gajEndhra from the jaws of the crocodile, gently stroke his injured leg, to give fomentation with his vasthram (upper cloth) to comfort him, to take the flower from his trunk and place in on his [emperumAn’s] divine feet. The opinion is that in the same way emeprumAn should redeem AzhwAr from SabdhAdhi (five senses such as sound etc) matters and comfort him by making him a servitor to make up for the lost time also.

kaNNuRA – one who is blind. “Since you [emperumAn] helped me [not minding my blemishes]” AzhwAr is happy that emperumAn is without sight – this is a type of nindhAsthuthi ( praising through abuse). This shows emperumAn’s sensible quality of not expecting anything in return when he engages in ignoring those who try to protect themselves and blessing those who withdraw from protecting themselves. It shows his great masculinity. AzhwAr is surprised that this world is losing out, not knowing that emperumAn will even fall at the feet of one who desists from protecting himself and holds on to emperumAn as means, bearing in mind his emptiness.

unnai ennO kaLaikaNak karudhumARE – those who think that emperumAn is the universal protector are ignorant because they do not know that he protects only those who consider him as their means and ignores those who think that emperumAn, as well as their own efforts, will protect them. While jithanthE SlOkam 1.2 says “dhEvAnAm dhAnavAnAncha sAmAnyamadhidhaivatham ” (he is equal to both those who follow him and those who do not), since he kills entities such as crocodile to protect entities such as elephant, can we consider him to be protector for all? We could consider this also as nindhAsthuthi.

We shall now take up the last pAsuram in this prabandham.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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thirumAlai – 43 – amaravOr angam ARum

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

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garudan-chandiligarudAzhwAr’s wings got burnt thinking about a devotee’s secluded residence

avathArikai (introduction)

In the previous pAsuram, AzhwAr had spoken about those born in high births and with consequent good behaviour. If added to these greatness, they also have high level of knowledge and if they look at those who do not have any greatness due to their birth and behaviour but have good knowledge [in mEmporuL pAsuram], and if the former set of people, without recognising that these people have the grace of emperumAn, think lowly of the latter set of people only on account of their birth and behaviour, these high ranking people will become chaNdALas (people of very low birth) at that very moment.

Let us look at the pAsuram and its meanings.

amaravOr angam ARum vEdham Or nAngum Odhith
thamargaLil thalaivarAya sAdhi anthaNargaLElum
numargaLaip pazhipparAgil nodippadhOr aLavil AngE
avargaL thAm pulaiyar pOlum aranga mAnagar uLAnE

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Word-by-word Meaning

aranga mAnagar uLAnE – Oh, one who resides inside the temple at SrIrangam
Or angam ARum – the unique six parts of vEdham
Or vEdham nAngum – the incomparable four vEdhas
amara –  firmly settled in their hearts
Odhi – reciting them
thamargaLil – among your followers
thalaivar Aya – being the leader
sAdhi anthaNargaLElum – even if they belong to the class of brAhmaNa
numargaLai – your followers
pazhippar Agil – (looking at their birth and behaviour) if they vilify them
nodippadhOr aLavil – in that minute itself
avargaL thAm – those brAhmaNas only
AngE – at that same place
pulaiyar pOlum –  will become chaNdALas [people of low births; a wretch]

vyAkhyAnam (commentary)

amara Or angam Arum – The six parts of vEdha are: (1) SIkshA (articulation or pronunciation of words), (2) vyAkaraNa (grammar), (3) chandhas (poetic metrics), (4) niruktham (etymology), (5) jyOthisham (astrology) and (6) kalpam (rituals). These are unique to vEdhas. amara – learning the texts and the meanings of these 6 parts and retaining them. Or angam – the uniqueness to these parts [of vEdhas] is that if one has knowledge on any of these 6 parts without any deficiency, he is considered by worldly people as having known everything and they celebrate it. It is pertinent to remember that in SrIrangarAja sthavam 2.18, bhattar says “SIkshAyAm varNa SikshA padha samagadhigamO vyAkriyA nirvachObhyam chandhaS chandhaSchithau syAth gamayathi samayam jyauthisham ranganAtha! I kalpE’nushtAnamuktham hyuchithagamithayOr nyAya mImAmsayO: syAth arthavyakthi: purANasmruthishu thadhanugAsthvAm vichinvanthi vEdhA: II” (Oh SrI ranganAtha! In the part of vEdhas called SIksha, the method of pronouncing letters (is described); in the parts vyAkaraNam and niruktham, knowledge about words (is created); in the SAsthra called chandhas, chandhas (such as gAyathri etc) have been told; jyOthisha SAsthram indicates the time for carrying out karmAnushtAnam (carrying out deeds ordained in vEdhas); in kalpa sUthrams, the procedure for carrying out the karmas is mentioned. In the nyAyamImAmsa SAsthram and purANamsruthis which are consistent with the philosophy of vEdhas, clarity of the subject will be obtained; vEdhas, with siksha and other parts mentioned above, are searching for you), thus explaining the 6 parts of vEdhas.

vEdhamOr nAngum – vEdhas are incomparable because unlike other texts compiled by a man [any person], they do not have faults such as iruL (delusion or clouded state of mind), thuyakku (confusion), mayakku (ignorance) and maRappu (forgetfulness). Alternatively, we can consider that they indicate the greatness of sections of vEdhas such as manthram (hymns), vidhi (rules) and arthavAdham (eulogy).

Odhi – while learning vEdhas, the AchAryan (teacher) would first recite the four vEdhas and the six parts, and the Sishya (disciple) will then recite the same.  Odhi is learning vEdhas this way. Since they have learnt this way, we can surmise that they know emperumAn well, indeed.

thamargaLil thalaivarAya – since they know emperumAn well in this way, consistent with that knowledge, they will stand at the forefront in any gOshti (assembly) of his followers.

sAdhi anthaNargaL – while learning vEdhas thoroughly and being in the forefront of their class and such other great qualities are common with kshathriya (warrior) and vaiSya (trader) classes too, apart from these great qualities, they are also of high birth (brAhmaNa). Thus, in their birth, behaviour and knowledge, they are great.

Elum – the greatness described thus far cannot be found in one person, together. AzhwAr brings in this doubt to show that even if these great qualities happen to be with one person, if that person abuses a SrIvaishNava, these qualities will become useless. In reality, these qualities become reasons for a person with vanity to commit bhAgavathApachAram (showing irreverence to emperumAn’s follower). Even if the persons are gyAnis (knowledgeable) but do not have this greatness, others would carry out inappropriate deeds like stepping on their heads etc. Another interpretation for this is that if they do not have the quality of being vain, they can step even on yama’s head.

numargaLai – those having knowledge of mEmporuL pAsuram, as a result of which they become leaders of your [emperumAn’s] followers. Here the word “followers” refers to nithyasUris (permanent dwellers of paramapadham). nammAzhwAr, in his thiruviruththam 79, says “viNNuLArilum sIriyarE” (they are greater than nithyasUris) and in periyathiruvandhAdhi 79, says “uNNAttuth thEsanRE” (the radiance of those who live in samsAram is greater than that of those (nithyasUris) who live in paramapadham).  numargaLai – those who you deem as your followers and who affirm that you are their means and goal. Those who know “it is he [emperumAn] who is happy at attaining us. Hence it is he who gets the benefit out of [our] liberation. Even the happiness that we get is not appropriate for us. It is he who is controlling his possession [us]. We have no engagement with our protection. Only his causeless mercy is our means”.

pazhipparAgil – instead of thinking of them as those who are having the grace of emperumAn, forgetting this due to one’s ego, thinking only of their low birth and consequently thinking of them to be below one’s status, speaking abusive words about them and harming them through deeds. The irreverence shown to these parama bhAgavathas (superior followers) is the worst offence that one could do to emperumAn. pazhiththal – committing an offence. In other words, thinking of the low birth of a SrIvaishNava is as terrible a crime as estimating the importance of emperumAn based on the material with which his vigraham (divine idol) is made of in a dhivya dhESam. pazhipparAgil – while it is apt to celebrate them, due to ego, one ends up thinking lowly of them due to his ignorance.

The calamity due to such abuse is given now……

nodippadhOr aLavil AngE – it is not at some other time, in some other place, with some other body [form]. One would get the effect of abusing them at the same time, in the same place and with the same body. Just as we have seen in pAsuram 41 punidham anRE (getting the) benefit (of having connection with them) instantaneously, the ill-effect of abusing them would also happen instantaneously.

avargaL thAm pulaiyar pOlum – with the same body, they will become chaNdALas (wretch, born in a very low class). Because of the curse of the sons of rich vaSishta, the valorous chain that thriSanku (a king) wore got turned into leather strap. In the same way, the sacred thread that these high birth brAhmaNas wear would turn into leather strap. thAm pulaiyar – despite being great due to their high birth etc as seen earlier, if such greatness becomes cause of their ego and  incites them into carrying out offence against SrIvaishNavas, it will cause irreparable damage to them. If a person were born in a lowly birth, they would still qualify to become a SrIvaishNava. But since these persons fell into a deep pit despite being born in a high birth, and since they had indulged in bhAgavathApachAram (irreverence to SrIvaishNavas), they go lower down to a level of chaNdALa by deed (instead of chaNdALa by birth). It is pertinent to recall an incident in the life of kUraththAzhwAn here. On the day that one piLLaippiLLai AzhwAn became kUraththAzhwAn’s disciple, kUraththAzhwAn, knowing his disciple’s proclivity for committing bhAgavathApachAram because of his high birth, decided to rein him in. On an auspicious day, he asked piLLaippiLLai AzhwAn to grant him a gift. piLLaippiLLai AzhwAn was puzzled since everything (that a disciple has) belongs to AchAryan (kUraththAzhwAn) and what could he gift him? kUraththAzhwAn responded “through all the three karaNas (organs of thought, word and deed) you should promise me that you will not abuse a bhAgavatha”. piLLaippiLLai AzhwAn did the same. After some days, due to force of habit, piLLaippiLLai AzhwAn committed an offence against a bhAgavatha through his thought. He felt very ashamed of himself and covering his head with a piece of cloth, he stayed in his residence itself, without going to AchAryan’s thirumALigai (residence). kUraththAzhwAn, after waiting awhile, came in search of him and found out as to what happened. piLLaippiLLai AzhwAn fell at the feet of kUraththAzhwAn, and weeping uncontrollably, told him “it is so very difficult to live with this body without committing an offence against a bhAgavatha through the three organs”. kUraththAzhwAn felt happy that his disciple felt genuinely sorry for having committed an offence and told him “since you feel so desolate after committing the offence, emperumAn will certainly forgive you. Since you know how you feel after committing the offence through thought, you will not commit an offence by deed. Make sure that you do not commit any offence through your words”.

aranga mAnagar uLAnE – In varAha purANam, SrI varAha mUrthy tells bhUdhEvimadhbhaktham Svapacham vApi nindhAm kurvanthiyE narA: I padhmakOtiSathEnApi na kshamAmi kadhAchana II” (whosoever abuses my followers, even if my followers are of low birth, eating dog’s meat, I will not forgive them even for crores of years). Thus, emperumAn knows clearly the ill-effect of committing an offence against his followers. For those who try to attain emperumAn through other upAyams (means) such as karma yOgam etc, by doing appropriate penance, they can get rid of any offence that they may commit in between and continue with their upAyams. But, for one who has to attain mOksham through connection with emperumAn (by surrendering), if he commits a bhAgavatha apachAram (offence to his follower), it will sever the connection with emperumAn himself and there is no way that he can redeem himself. Just as connection with his followers is enough to attain emperumAn, committing offence against his followers is enough to lose emperumAn. Hence, a prapannan (one who surrenders to emperumAn) should be very careful in ensuring that he does not have any contact with other dhEvathas (deities) and does not commit any offence against his followers. Thus, it is clear from this pAsuram that even if a person does not do anything which is considered as good by emperumAn, if he stays away from the above-mentioned two offences, emperumAn will become easily approachable to such a person.

We shall take up the 44th pAsuram, next.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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thirumAlai – 42 – pazhudhilA ozhugalARRu

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

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periyaperumal-thiruppanazhwarperiya perumAL – thiruppANAzhwAr

avathArikai (introduction)

Those who have this knowledge of mEmporuL pAsuram, even if they are born in lowly births and consequently have lowly behaviour, are qualified to be worshipped by those who are born in higher births (chathurvEdhis, those who are conversant with all the four vEdhas), on a par with sarvESvaran, and are also qualified for exchanging gyAnam (knowledge) with those born in higher births.

Let us go through the pAsuram and its meanings.

pazhudhilA ozhugal ARRup palasadhuppEdhimArgaL
izhikulaththavargaLElum emmadiyArgaLAgil
thozhuminIr kodumin koLmin enRu ninnOdum okka
vazhipada aruLinAy pOl madhiL thiruvarangaththAnE

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Word-by-word Meaning

madhiL thiruvarangaththAnE – Oh one who is residing inside the temple with high walls!
ozhugal ARu – in the lengthy lineage starting with brahmA, up to themselves
pazhudhu ilA – without any blemish
pala sadhuppEdhimArgaL – those who are learned in the four vEdhas!
em adiyArgaL Agil – if they are regarded as “our servitors”
izhi kulaththavargaL Elum – even if they are born in a lowly birth
nIr – you
thozhumin – worship (them)
kodumin – teach them (the special knowledge that you have)
koLmin – learn from them (if they have special knowledge)
enRu – thus
ninnOdum  okka – as your equal
vazhipada – to worship
aruLinAy pOl – did you not divine!

vyAkhyAnam (commentary)

pazhudhilA ozhugalARRu – Starting from brahmA and reaching up to them, they come from a lineage where no blemish [transgression] could be pointed at them. ozhugal – long lineage; ARu – path. Either in their birth or in their behaviour, they do not slip from their quality of brahminhood (quality of being a brAhmaNa).

pala sadhuppEdhimArgaL – in this lineage there were many  who had studied all the four vEdhas. Just as it is said chathurvEdhA rushaya: (rishis are those who recite the four vEdhas), the people from this lineage are learned like the rishis. sadhuppEdimArgaLAzhwAr is calling out to those in this lineage, Oh! chathurvEdhimArgaLE (those who have learned the four vEdhas)!

izhi kulaththavargaLElum – even if they are born in a class below which there is no other class. Elum – as said in SrI gIthA “bahunAm janmanAm anthE” a person gets the knowledge that emperumAn is the prApyam and prApakam (goal and means) only after many [hundreds of thousands of] births. For those with such a high level of knowledge [of mEmporuL], it is unlikely that they would be born in a low birth. If they had been born in a low birth, like a vidhura or a dharmavyAdha . . .

em adiyArgaL Agil – if they know all the relationships with me [emperumAn] [it is said that there are nine types of relationships between a chEthana and emperumAn] and if they act according to that knowledge. The meaning here is that these people think that kainkaryam to emperumAn alone is beneficial and emperumAn also thinks that for them he is the upAyam and upEyam (means and goal) and all types of relationships for these people.

thozhumin nIr – you worship them. “vidhyAmadhO dhanamadhas thruthiyO’bhijanO madha: I EthE madhAvalipthAnAm Etha Eva sathAm dhama: II” (for the arrogant, being learned becomes a cause for arrogance; being wealthy is also a cause for arrogance; being born in a high lineage also becomes a cause for arrogance. These (education, wealth and lineage) become the causes for good people to be humble). Thus, you people, who feel that your education, wealth and high lineage should become reasons for humility instead of arrogance, fall at their feet [prostrate to them]. jithanthE SlOkam 1.9 says “kAlEshvapi cha sarvEshu dhikshu sarvAsu chAchyutha I SareerE cha gathau chApi varthathE mE mahath bhayam II” (Oh one who does let his followers down! In all the puNya kAlam (auspicious times), in the puNya kshEthrams (holy places) in all directions, in the physical body (which is the implement for virtuous deeds) and in the state other than physical body, I have great fear). Thus, as said in sacred texts, only emperumAn’s causeless grace gives fearlessness and all the other implements create only fear. You people, who have this belief, worship those who have the same belief. As kUraththAzhwAn, in SrIvaikuNta sthavam 77 says “ kainkarya nithya nirathair bhavathEkabhOgair nithyairanukshaNanavInarasArdhrabhAvai: I nithyA’pi vAnchithaparaspara nIcha bhAvair madhdhaivathai: parijanaisthava sangasIya II” (make me to be together with those who are your beloved ones and who are fit to be worshipped by me, who are always engaged in kainkaryams, who consider you as their greatest enjoyment, those whose hearts melt in new experienes [about you] every moment, who desire to be servitors to each other), the true nature of AthmA, which is being humble, comes naturally to those born in lower births. It is very rare for you people, born in high lineage and being learned in the four vEdhas, due to the arrogance of being born in high birth. The opinion here is that “if you people worship them, your arrogance which makes you suffer in this samsAram, will go”. Have we seen anywhere a person from lower birth protecting one from higher birth? In kaiSika vruththAntham (incident), we have seen that nampAduvAn, a person from chaNdALa class, was able to get rid of brahmarakshas (a demoniacal entity) from the body of a brAhmaNa who had lost his quality of being a brAhmaNa.

kodumin koLmin – if they desire to obtain knowledge from you, tell them supportively. If they desire to divine knowledge about emperumAn to you, seek it and enjoy it. Since those exchanges which take place because of class of birth and engaging with each other because of qualities, will not last beyond that birth, they will be like words written on the surface of water and will not last long. Relationship established with these people [having knowledge of mEmporul] through exchanging of knowledge will continue beyond this birth, into paramapadham and will last as long as AthmA lasts [forever].

enRu ninnOdum okka vazhipada aruLinAy pOl – The opinion here is that “since all the meanings until now in this pAsuram have been divined by you [emperumAn] , who grants mOkshapalam (benefit of liberation), there is no scope for any doubt in this”. enRu ninnOdum okka aruLinAy – you divined “since there is no one superior to me, fit for worshipping, worship them just as you worship me and proceed in the path of righteousness”. aruLinAy – vyAkhyAthA (commentator) quotes emperumAn who divined in gArudam 219.6…9  “madhbahakthajana vAthsalyam pUjAyAnchAnumOdhanam I svayamabhyarchananchaiva madharthE damba varjanam II mathkathASravNE bhakthi: svaranEthrAnga vikriyA I mamAnusmaraNam nithya yachcha mAm nOpajIvathi I bhakthirashtavidhA hyEshA yasmin mlEchchE’pivarththathE II sa viprEndhrO muni: SrImAn sa yathi: sa cha paNditha: I thasmai dhEyam thathO grAhyam sa cha pUjyO yathA hyayan II” ((1) motherly love towards my followers, (2) agreeing to my being worshipped, (3) the person himself worshipping me, (4) not being ostentatious in my matters, (5) showing affection in hearing my stories, (6) when thinking about me, voice faltering, eyes shedding tears and body developing goose-bumps always, (7) always thinking about me and (8) not asking for any other benefit from me [except myself] – if these eight different types of devotion are seen in a person, even if he is a lowly person, he alone is a superior brAhmaNa; he alone is a sage; he alone is a wealthy person; he alone is a scholar; he can be taught knowledge; knowledge can be obtained from him; he is fit to be worshipped like me).  aruLinAy – isn’t this secret divined by you out of your causeless mercy? nammAzhwAr in his thiruvAimozhi 7.10.11 “thIrththangaLE enRu pUsiththu nalgiyuraippar tham dhEviyarkkE ” (nithyasUris also will tell their consorts about the pure nature of those who have connection with emperumAn)

pOl – like that. We can consider that in the SlOka seen earlier on varAha avathAram (incarnation as varAha), what he divined as varAha, he carried out as periya perumAL in the case of thiruppANAzhwAr. First varAha perumAL divined the meanings for this. (thoNdaradippodi) AzhwAr composed the meanings in this pAsuram in thamizh. periya perumAL, after hearing this pAsuram, carried it out in the case of thiruppANAzhwAr. Just as SrI rAma heard SrI rAmAyanam from agasthya (a sage), periya perumAL heard these meanings from this AzhwAr.

madhiL thiruvarangaththAnE – instead of merely giving a discourse on this as varAha avathAram, did you not come to thiruvarangam (SrIrangam) and make lOka sArangamuni (a temple priest) who is from a higher birth and status to carry on his head, thiruppANAzhwAr, who is from a lower birth and status? madhiL thiruvarangaththAnE – only if it is possible to cross the temple compound wall can one cross the limit set by you.

In some texts, it is mentioned that this pAsuram extols the virtues of SrIpAdha thIrtham (divine water from the feet of emperumAn’s followers). The previous pAsuram, pOnagam seydha sEdam, mentioned about the greatness of food partaken from a follower of emperumAn. It is apt that this pAsuram mentions about the greatness of SrIpAdha thIrtham. The meaning for kodumin koLmin should be changed in keeping with this order. If the followers pray for it, provide SrIpAdha thIrtham and accept if they offer SrIpAdha thIrtham.  ninnOdum okka vazhipada aruLinAy – in SAsthram, it is mentioned that AchAryan is to be treated as emperumAn’s avathAram (incarnation). Hence, ninnOdum okka would mean treating AchAryan like emperumAn. Just as it says svAchAryamiva tham dhrushtvA (looking  (at a SrIvaishNava) (with dignity) as one’s AchAryan ….), one should worship a SrIvaishNava like one’s AchAryan. Similarly avidhyam vA sa vidhyam vA (irrespective of whether a SrIvaishNava is learned or not, he should be treated with dignity). thiruvAimozhi 7.10.11 that we had seen earlier dhEvar vaigal thIrththangaLE enRu , nithyasUris also lauded because of the connection with SrIpAdha thIrtham. nammAzhwAr in his thiruvAimozhi 10.9.10 said pAdhangaL kazhuvinar meaning that nithyasUris accepted SrIpAdha thIrtham.

We shall next take up the 43rd pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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thirumAlai – 41 – vAnuLAr aRiyalAgA

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

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thyaga-mandapamemperumAnAr prayed for the remnants of thirukkachi nambi who was a beloved devotee of kAnchIpuram varadharaja bhagavAn

avathArikai (introduction)

In the previous two pAsurams, AzhwAr said that there is no shortcoming for these people [those who have knowledge about the meanings of mEmporuL pAsuram] either because of their birth or because of their behaviour. In this pAsuram, AzhwAr says that “it is not only that they do not have any shortcoming. They have the greatness that other samsAris, by having a connection with them, will become purified because of that connection itself”.

Let us enjoy the pAsuram and its meanings.

vAnuLAr aRiyalAgA vAvnavA enbarAgil
thEnulAm thuLaba mAlaich chenniyA enbarAgil
UnamAiyanagaL  seyyum UnakArakargaLElum
pOnagam seydha sEdam tharuvarEl punitham anRE

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Word-by-word Meaning

Unam AyinagaL seyyum –  if they carry out lowly activities [or]
Una kArakargaLEm – if they carry out lowly activities through others
vAn uLAr aRiyalAga vAnavA – Oh one who lives in paramapadham (SrIvaikuNtam) and who cannot be known even by the dwellers of upper worlds such as brahmA et al !
enbar Agil – if they say so
thEn ulAm thuLaba mAlai senniyA – Oh one who adorns on his divine crown, the garland of thuLasi, from which honey is dripping !
enbar Agil – if they say so
pOnagam seydha sEdam – the remnants of bhagavath prasAdham (food that had been served to emperumAn) eaten (by them)
tharuvar El – if they give (with compassion)
anRE – immediately
punitham – (that ) will be very purifying

vyAkhyAnam (commentary)

vAnuLAr aRiyalAgA vAnavA – One who lives forever in paramapadham [SrIvaikuNtam], not known even to brahmA and other celestial entities. Those sitting on the loft (which is at a higher elevation than the floor) cannot know about starts because they are at a higher level. In the same way, even if they are living in sathyalOka (brahmA’s dwelling place) and other such places, these celestial entities cannot know about paramapadhanAthan. Even though they have some greatness because of  higher level of gyAna (knowledge) and Sakthi (power), they cannot reach paramapadham with that. The word AgA means “not possible” here. Alternatively, AgA can also mean “should not”. Just as a chaNdALa (person born in a low caste) should not enter a place where rituals are conducted, these celestial entities should not enter paramapadham. But we have seen that gyAnis such as AzhwArs know about paramapadhanAthan. This is not because of their efforts, but because of his [emperumAn’s] mercy. As said in SrI bhagavath gIthA 16.14, those who think that they are “God” cannot see or know about him. Just as people cross oceans with the help of ship, AzhwArs cross the ocean of samsAram with the help of ship called vishNu. But these celestial entities are like people who think that they could cross the ocean with their own efforts. Without any distinction between one who knows swimming and one who does not know, it is not possible for a person to cross the ocean by swimming. In the same way, one cannot know about emperumAn on his own efforts by anyone irrespective of the fact whether he has or does not have the strength [to know]. As per the prapaththi lakshaNa vAkhyam of bharatha muni “ananyasAdhyE svAbhIshtE mahAviSvAsa pUrvakam I thadhE gOpAyathA yAnchA prapaththi: SaraNAgathi: II” (when it is not possible through any other means as per one’s desire, beseeching him to be the means through deep faith is prapaththi. That itself is SaraNAgathi), the AzhwArs qualified as prapannars (those who surrendered) by taking refuge under him. That he is the only upAyam (means) will be clear when one looks at his greatness of being without any connection with samsAram and having aprAkrutha vigraham (his divine physical form is composed of sudhdha sathvam, purely good). When one looks at the lowliness of chEthana (sentient entity) controlled by the three qualities of sathva, rajas and thamas (purely good, passion and ignorance), emperumAn’s upAyathvam (being the means) will be evident. When one dvelves into the chEthana’s athyantha parathanthra svarUpam (having the basic nature of being completely dependent on emperumAn), emperumAn’s upAythvam will be evident.

enbarAgil – just as thaiththirIya samhithai 7.5.3 says “mana: pUrvO vAguththara:” the faculty of  speech says what the faculty of  thought thinks first. In the same way vAnuLAr aRiayalAgA vAnavA comes out of a person who has taken refuge under emperumAn through his mind. Just as ahirbudhya samhithai 37.30 states, it is evident that these people pray that emperumAn should be the upAyam for them. Agil AzhwAr indicates that it is very difficult for people to renounce their ability to protect themselves. Thus, it has been shown that these people are those who have taken emperumAn as their upAyam.

Next it shows that they have taken emperumAn himself as upEyam (goal or benefit) too.

thEnulAm thuLabamAlaich chenniyA – Oh, the one having divine crown decorated with thuLasi garland, dripping with honey! Since he is adorning with thuLasi garland, considered to be best among  flowers, it is indicated that he is the greatest among dhEvas. Since he is referred to as having thEnulAm thuLaba mAlai, it indicates that he is very sweet and enjoyable. With these two, it is indicated that he is the one to be attained above all.

enbarAgil – just as the word enbarAgil [in the earlier part] indicates the prArthanA (prayer) for emperumAn being the means, this word indicates the prayer for attaining him. Agil – it is very rare to leave aside all the other goals and consider emperumAn as the superior goal. kaNNan (krishNa) himself had indicated this in his SrI gIthA SlOka “sa mahAthmA su dhurlabha:

UnamAyinagaL seyyum – people who will torture other creatures for feeding their own stomachs. They are such dishonourable people that they would tie animals such as live goats and cows so that they can give the flesh after cutting them to pieces to those who desire to have these, even in the dead of night. Compassionate persons such as sibi chakravarthy will give their flesh for saving other creatures. These people are exact opposite of such compassionate people.

Una kArakargaL – Not only will they carry out such heinous acts themselves and become sinners, they will also engage others in such acts and make them sinners. kArakargaL – engaging others for carrying out tasks. Unam – lowly acts. Since these people would not indulge in such heinous acts after acquiring knowledge about mEmporuL, we should presume that these acts have been carried out earlier.

Elum – even if they would have done such crimes earlier, they would not do such acts after acquiring knowledge. If they see others suffer {after acquiring this knowledge], they will suffer the pangs of the others’ pain and swoon. It is pertinent to remember here that kUraththAzhwAn once heard the wailing of a frog that had been caught by a snake and thought “Oh, how terrible! Who is it calling out for who could hear it and save it in this state?” He became very agitated and swooned. If such people torture others, it will be only for their benefit, as said by this AzhwAr in the 8th pAsuram “thalaiyai AngE aRuppadhE karumam kandAy” (severing the heads of people who abuse emperumAn is the correct action), just as emperumAn poses difficulties to jIvAthmAs [for their ultimate benefit].

pOnagam – food. Since these gyAnis (knowledgeable people) are more supportive than emperumAn, just as one says “amudhu seydhu” (offer divine food) in emperumAn’s case, AzhwAr says pOnagam seydhu in these gyAnis’ case, for want of a better word.

seydha sEdam – the food remnants (after partaken by the gyAni). ALavandhAr, in his sthOthra rathnam 42 says “thvadhIya bhukthOjjithaSEshabhOjinA thvayA nisrushtAthmabharENa yath yathA   I priyENa sEnApathinA nyavEdhi thath thathA’nujAnandhamudhAra vIkshaNai: II” (one who eats the food that remains after you have eaten, one who acts as the administrator of your two vibhUthis (realms) having been appointed by you, one who is sweet (to everyone), such vishvaksEnar’s acts were carried out with divine mercy as per the way you ordained . . .). periyAzhwAr in thiruppallANdu 9 says “kalaththadhuNdu” (eating the remnants after you had eaten). Thus these terms refer to the food that remains on the (banana) leaf [which is used as a plate to eat out of, traditionally] after the food had been partaken.

tharuvarEl – if one gets such a rare offering. This is not like the bhagavath prasAdham (emperumAn’s mercy) that those, who desire other things also, get. Thus, if such a great rare benefit were to be obtained . . . It is pertinent to recall an incident here – One day, parAsara bhattar (kUraththAzwAn’s son) was discoursing on thiruviruththam (One of the works of nammAzhwAr) when he gave the meaning of the word “maippadi mEni” as – no one can know that “it is like this” – such is his thirumEni (divine form) that it will darken [blind] the eyes of the beholder. His disciple, nanjIyar, who was listening to this, told him that the pAsuram by thirumangai AzhwAr in periya thirumozhi 10.10.9 “innAr enRaRiyEn” has similar meaning to this. bhattar was overjoyed on hearing this and gave the remnants of his food (pOnagam seydha sEdam) to nanjIyar as his prasAdham (grace).

punidham anRE – if one takes the remaining portion of the food that these knowledgeable people had, it will sanctify that person who takes it, immediately, just as the kuLigai (magic lump, touchstone) called sparSavEdhi converts iron into gold as soon as it touches it. There is no need to wait for another body, another time, another place, for this effect (to sanctify). vihakOSam (a sacred text) says “nArAyaNaika nishtasya yA yA vruththis thadharchanam I yO yO jalpas sa sa japas thath dhyAnam yannirIkshaNam  II thathpAdhAmbvathulam thIrtham thadhuchchishtam su pAvanam I thadhukthimAthram manthrAgryam thathsprushtamakhilam Suchi II” (whatever activities are performed by a person who is an exclusive devotee of nArAyaNa, they are all bhagavath ArAdhanam (worship of emperumAn); whatever words are mumbled by him, they are prayers; whatever he sees, are meditation on vishNu; whichever water comes into contact with his feet, becomes incomparable thIrtham (sacred water); the food that remains after he has eaten, is sanctified; his every word becomes a manthra (vEdhic hymn); everything he touches becomes purified). Thus SAsthrams also spoke high of pOnaga sEdam. If emperumAn’s prasAdham (grace) is pAvanam (purifying), the prasAdham of his followers is supAvanam (very purifying).

We shall move on to the 42nd pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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thirumAlai – 40 – thirumaRu mArva

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

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namperumal-nachiyar-serthi

avathArikai (introduction)

In the previous pAsuram, AzhwAr mentioned about the lowliness due to birth. Since it was not due to them [the birth was a result of one’s own past karma, yet, after being born, one cannot do anything about it], this could be excused. In this pAsuram, he says that if they carry out wrong deeds which would not be pardoned, they will not have to endure any punishment because of those wrong deeds, provided they have knowledge of mEmporuL pAsuram.

Let us look at the pAsuram and its meanings.

thirumaRu mArva! ninnaich chindhiiyuL thigazha vaiththu
maruviya manaththarAgil mAnilaththu uyirgaLellAm
veruvuRakk konRu suttutu Ittiya vinaiyarElum
aruvinaip payanadhu uyyAr aranga mAnagar uLAnE

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Word-by-word Meaning

thiru – periya pirAtti (SrI mahAlakshmi)
maRu – mole called as SrIvathsam
mArva – one who is adorning these two (thiru and maRu) on your chest!
aranga mAnagar uLAnE – one who is dwelling in thiruvarangam temple (SrIrangam)
mAnilaththu – of this world
uyirgaL ellAm – all the creatures
veruvu uRa – to be frightened
konRu – killing (the creatures with weapons)
suttittu – burning (by fire)
Ittiya vinaiyar Elum – even if they have committed such sins
ninnai – you
sindhaiyuL – in (their) hearts
thigazha vaiththu – to hold (as upAyam, means)
maruviya manaththar Agil – if they have full faith (that you are the goal or benefit)

such persons
aruvinai – deadly sins
payan adhu – its result
uyyAr – will not enjoy

vyAkhyAnam (commentary)

thirumaRu mArva – the one who has thiru (SrI mahAlakshmi) and maRu (mole, called as SrIvathsa) on his chest! These two will signify that he is the sarvESvaran (lord of all). In SrI rAmAyaNam yudhdha kANdam 114.15, “SrIvathsavakshA nithyaSrI: ajayya: SASvathO dhruva:” ((SrI rAma, who has) mole called SrIvathsa on his divine right chest, inseparable periya pirAtti forever on his divine chest, one who cannot be won over, one who lives forever and one who has unchanging form,  nArAyaNan), maNdodhari describes SrI rAma through the above verse and confirms that these two identities (Sri and SrIvathsa) are unique to him. AzhwAr, towards the end of this pAsuram says “they will not experience the result of their deadly sins” by referring to the pirAtti’s quality of vAthsalyam (motherly love) and says here that such pirAtti is always present in his divine chest. Other AzhwArs also refer to her presence in his divine chest, such as nammAzhwAr’s thiruvAimozhi 6.10.10 “alarmEl mangai uRai mArbA” (one who has the divine chest where alarmEl mangai (consort of SrInivAsa) dwells constantly) and periyAzhwAr’s thiruppallANdu 2nin valamArvinil vAzhginRa mangaiyum pallANdu” (mangaLASAsanam to pirAtti who dwells in your right chest). While AzhwAr had hidden the presence of pirAtti in mEmporuL pAsuram [hinted her presence through the word un as we had seen in the vyAkhyAyam of that pAsuram], he announces her presence in the beginning itself,in this pAsuram, which speaks about the greatness of those who are fully immersed in that pAsuram [38th]. When emperumAn grants the means (upAyam) to his ASrithars (followers), it is pirAtti who functions in the recommendatory role (purushakAra bhUthai). When he performs the role of master (taking the follower’s service) (upEyam), she joins him in accepting the kainkaryam. Thus her connection is very much required, both in the upAya and in the upEya sthithis (states).

ninnaich chindhaiyuL thigazha vaiththu – keeping you in their hearts [mind] as the only upAyam (means) without connection with any other upAyams [such as karma yOga etc]. During gAyathri hOmam (a ritual in which gAyathri manthram is recited) the person will recite gAyathri manthram on the one hand and will feed the agni with samith (stick), thus carrying out two jobs at a time. If a follower does anything himself to attain emperumAn as upAyam, then emperumAn’s nature as being the upAyam will dullen. Thus, AzhwAr says that apart from (1) pirAtti who recommends to emperumAn to protect the follower, (2) emperumAn himself, who is the protector, (3) the prapannan (one who surrenders to emperumAn)  and (4) AchAryan, who shows that it is emperumAn who is upAyam and upEyam, nothing else is required. By saying vaiththu we can also consider that it shows the ASritha pArathanthriyam (total dependence of followers) of the emperumAn and pirAtti since they enter the follower’s mind, taking the follower’s thought of keeping them in his mind as their hold.

maruviya manaththarAgil – this sequence emphasises the deep faith of the follower in the upEyam (goal). The meaning here is – if the follower renounces all the other goals and holds on only to SrIman nArAyaNan. By using the term Agil AzhwAr indicates that it is rare for any chEthana (sentient entity) to keep firm faith in the upAyam as seen in the sequence sindhaiyuL thigazha vaiththu and firm faith in the upEyam as seen in this sequence maruviya manaththar.

mAnilaththu uyirgaL ellAm veruvuRak konRu – Since it is almost impossible to kill all the jIvarASis (creatures), we should not combine the words mAnilaththu uyirgaLellAm with konRu (killing all the creatures in the world); instead, we should combine mAnilaththu uyirgaLellAm with veruvuRa (to be frightened). Thus if even one person is killed, all the creatures get frightened because of the dastardly act. It shows the killer’s proclivity for harming creatures.

suttittu – instead of killing them instantly with weapons, torturing them by setting them afire and killing them.

Ittiya vinaiyarElum – just as people work hard to obtain an advantage, this person is also working hard to earn sins. Elum – since he couldn’t have done such harmful deeds after obtaining knowledge in mEmporuL pAsuram, this talks about his behaviour before obtaining that knowledge. laghvathri smruthi says “janmAnthara sahasrEshu thapOgyAnasamAdhibi: I narANAm kshINapApAnAm krishnE bhakthi prajAyathE II” (after observing karma gyAna yOgams in tens of thousands of births, for those who get rid of sins (which are the hurdles for the commencement of bhakthiyOgam) , bhakthi towards krishNa begins). SrI bhagavath gIthA 7.19 says “bahUnAm janmanAmanthE gyAnavAn mAm prapadhyathe I vAsudhEvas sarvamithi sa mahAthmA sudhurlabha:  II (after several virtuous births, gyAni (knowledgeable person) worships me, saying that “vAsudhEvan is everything (to me)”. Such a mahApurusha (great person) is very rare to see). Again, SrI bhagavath gIthA 6.54 says “prayathnAth yathamAnasthu yOgI samSudhdha kilpisha: I anEka janma samsidhdhas thathO yAthi parAm gathim II” (yOgi [sage like person who meditates deeply] attains high levels after gaining puNya (good deeds) in many births, consequently ridding himself of pApa (sins) and engaging in yOga with his efforts). From all these pramANams (authentic sources) it is clear that such a knowledge and bhakthi (devotion) will come to a person only after many virtuous births. Thus, such bad behaviour [as we had seen a little while ago] will not come to a person even in previous births. Hence by using the term Elum AzhwAr says that even if such a rare event occurs . .

aruvinaip payanadhuyyAr – they will not experience the harmful result of such sinful deeds that they had earned. When SrI rAma aimed the arrow at samudhra rAjan (king of ocean), the samudhra rAjan fell at SrI rAma’s feet. Immediately SrI rAma shot the arrow against his enemies in [very far away] deserts. The opinion here is that emperumAn will make the enemies of such persons ([hat we had seen earlier, indulging in sinful deeds like killing, burning etc] to suffer the results of their deeds. SAtyAya naSAkhai says “thasya puthrA: dhAyamupayanthi: dhvishantha: pApakruthyAm suhrudhas sAdhukruthyAm II” ((when the mumukshu (one interested in mOksham) goes to paramapadham, his sons will inherit his wealth; his enemies inherit his sins and his friends, his virtues). Thus, this has been mentioned in vEdha too. Even if it does not happen that way [not experiencing result of sinful deeds], emperumAn will save them, just as he saved arjuna from the nAgASthra of karNa by making arjuna’s crown as the target. He may even experience the results of such deeds himself to save his followers, just as he took the power of bhagadhaththa’s weapon on himself and saved arjuna. Since the punishment for their sinful deeds is emperumAn’s anger, if emperumAn says that he has “tolerated” their deeds, will they [the harmful deeds] not disappear? Hence AzhwAr says that they will not experience the harmful results of such deeds.

arangamAnagar uLAnE – the purpose of your coming to thirvarangam (SrIrangam) and lying down here is only to show that you do not do all these things only during the time of avathAram (incarnation) but also to help those who come after the period of incarnation. emperumAn may desire that he gets the name of having protected such people [who commit ghastly crimes as mentioned in the earlier part], but in reality, those who have knowledge of mEmporuL” will not indulge in such acts. It will be clear, without there being a need to mention it, that these people who get scared that even an act of puNya (virtue) carried out with the thinking of upAyam (means) by oversight, will be counted as pApa (sin), will [obviously] not commit sins. In SrI rAmAyaNam yudhdha kANdam 116.44, pirAtti tells hanumAn “pApAnAm vA SubhAnAm vA vadhArhANAm plavangama I kAryam karuNamAryEna na kaSchinnAparAdhyathi II” (hE monkey! Whether a person has committed sin or a virtuous deed, even if he is to be killed, he should be shown mercy by a person with great qualities. There is no one who has not committed an offence). Sitting on his chest, even if such pirAtti who plays recommendatory role to emperumAn on behalf of followers, finds faults with his followers, emperumAn will say “my follower will not do that. Even if he had done that, it must be an act of good” (periyAzhwAr thirumozhi 4.9.2). If we quote this to a person who has only superficial knowledge of emperumAn, he may say “in that case they have to go on indulging in sins”. But such thoughts are incongruous, says the vyAkhyAthA (commentator).

We shall now see pAsuram 41.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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thirumAlai – 39 – adimaiyil kudimaiyillA

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

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periyaperumal-thiruppanazhwarperiya perumALthiruppANAzhwAr

avathArikai (introduction)

The greatness of those who have gyAnam (knowledge) of the meanings mentioned in the previous pAsuram is described, starting with this pAsuram, until the 44th pAsuram. nammAzhwAr spoke about the greatness of emperumAn’s followers (servitors) in thiruvAimozhi 3.7payilum sudaroLi mUrththi” and in 8.10 “nedumARkadimai”. This (thoNdaradippodi) AzhwAr does the same, in these 6 pAsurams. AzhwAr surmises that even if the followers of emperumAn are wanting in birth [not belonging to the first three varNams], practices [result of the above] and qualities, if they have knowledge of the meanings mentioned in the pAsuram “mEmporuL ” they are fit to be our prApakam and prApyam (our means and our goal). In this pAsuram, AzhwAr says that even if the followers are born in a very low clan, if they have deep knowledge in the meanings of “mEmporuL” pAsuram, they will be adorned on his divine head by emperumAn, like thiruththuzhAy (thuLasi).

Let us go through the pAsuram and its meanings.

adimaiyil kudimaiyillA ayal sadhuppEdhi mAril
kudimaiyil kadaimai patta kukkaril piRapparElum
mudiyinil thuLabam vaiththAy moykazhaRku anbu seyyum
adiyarai ugaththi pOlum aranga mAnagar uLAnE

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Word-by-word meaning

mudiyinil – on the divine head/crown
thuLabam vaiththAy – one who has adorned the thuLasi garland (as a subtle mark of being the lord of all)
arangam mAnagar uLAnE – dwelling inside the temple at SrIrangam
adimaiyil – carrying out service (to you)
kudimai illA – even if they are not involved
ayal – being different (from being servitor)
sadhuppEdhimAril – from the vaidhikas (those who follow vEdhams) who recite the four vEdhams
kudimaiyil kadaimai patta – being lowly in terms of their birth
kukkaril – below the level of chaNdALas (of a very low birth)
piRappar Elum – even if they are born
moy kazhaRku – your close, divine feet
anbu seyyum – being affectionate
adiyarai – followers
ugaththi pOlum – don’t you enjoy!?

vyAkhyAnam (commentary)

adimaiyil kudimaiyillA – even if they do not have the thought that carrying out kainkaryam is apt for them. It is apt to think that “kainkaryam is natural to us. Just like the food that we eat and the water that we drink, we cannot live if we do not carry out kainkaryam”.  AzhwAr is referring to those who do not think this way.

ayal sadhuppEdhimAril – being different from the chathurvEdhis who are not immersed in kainkaryam. sadhuppEdhimAril – those who learn the four vEdhas. The benefit of learning vEdhas is to realise that emperumAn is the master of all the worlds,  that we are his possessions, that to carry out kainkaryam to emperumAn and his followers is the appropriate goal for us. ayal is not knowing that the purpose of learning vEdhas is to obtain this knowledge. If the chathurvEdhis do not have the knowledge that the goal of learning the four vEdhas is to know these (above mentioned) meanings, then they are of no use to anyone. pAdhmOththaram says “vishNubhakthivihInO yas sarvaSAsthrArtha vEdhyapi I brAhmaNyam thasya na bhavEth thasyOthpaththir nirUpyathAm II” (Even if a person knows the meanings of all SAsthras (sacred texts), he will not have the qualities of a brAhmaNa if he does not have devotion towards vishNu. His birth is doubtful). brahmANda purANam vihakOsam 24.11 says “ya: puthra: pitharam dhvEshti tham vidhyAdhanyarEthsam I yO vishNum sathatham dhvEshtitham vidhyAdhanyarEthasam II” (if a son hates his father, it can be surmised that he was born to another person. If a person always hates vishNu, it can be surmised that he was born to a chandALa). Thus SAsthras thundered that such people do not have brAhmaNyam (qualities of a brAhmaNa).

Through the remaining part of the pAsuram, it says about those who are different from these people and who are dear to emperumAn.

kudimaiyil kadaimaippatta kukkaril piRapparElum – those who spend several births, not carrying out deeds which are ordained in vEdhas and carrying out deeds which are forbidden by vEdhas, are born in very low births because of the accumulated sins in all these births. kukkar (kushka) refers to a class lower than chaNdALas. Since AzhwAr is using the term piRapparElum (even if they are born), he indicates that the superiority or inferiority of a person’s birth is not a reason for having knowledge about the meanings mentioned in the mEmporuL (previous) pAsuram. In SrI rAmAyaNam AraNya kANdam 68.24, SrI rAma tells lakshmaNa “sarvathra kalu dhruSyanthE sAdhavO dharmachAriNa: I SUrA: SaraNyAs saumithrE thiryak yOni gathEshvapi II” (hE lakshmaNa! Those who are like sages, going in the path of righteousness, dhEvas et al, fit to be surrendered to, are seen among those born as animals and other species too!). SrI rAma says this when he sees jatAyu (vulture who fought valiantly with rAvaNa when he flew after abducting sIthAppirAtti). The opinion here is that knowledge of meanings of the pAsuram mEmporuL is prevalent across species, even among animals and birds. In SrI rAmAyaNam, which came about to explain the meanings of vEdhas, people who roam around in forest such as guhan (a hunter), Sabari (again from the hunters’ tribe), primates such as hanuman, sugrIva, rAkshasa such as vibhIshaNa had this knowledge. In the other epic which came about to describe vEdhas, mahAbhAratha, vidhura, born in a lowly caste, dharmavyAdha, a butcher, ghantAkarNa, the cow herd boys and girls – all had this knowledge. In thiruviruththam 79, nammAzhwAr says “pAmbaNai mEl paLLi koNdaruLum sIdhanaiyE thozhuvAr viNNuLarilum sIriyarE” (those who worship only the lord who is lying on the serpent bed, are greater than nithyasUris). Even though nithyasUris are constantly involved with emperumAn, those born in this samsAram (which only breeds ignorance) and reformed due to the efforts of emperumAn, are considered to be greater than nithyasUris. Just as syamanthakamani (a stone which will convert even iron into gold when it touches iron) is better than pure gold, since these dwellers of samsAram are capable of converting other samsAris into followers of emperumAn due to their connection, which even nithyasUris cannot do, such samsAris are considered to be greater than nithyasUris.

mudiyinil thuLabam vaiththAy – just as emperumAn adorns thuLasi on his head, these followers are also apt to be kept on his head like thuLasi. Just as he adorns thuLasi to indicate that he is sarvESvaran (lord of all), if he keeps his followers on his head, that would also indicate his quality of being sarvESvaran.

moykazhaRku anbu seyyum – Just as in the 38th pAsuram AzhwAr had said “aimpulan agaththadakki” (controlling their sensory organs) to serve emperumAn, these people cast aside their happiness [while carrying out kainkaryam] and serve only for his happiness, with affection, similar to sEvadi sevvi thirukkAppu (thiruppallANdu 1). To them this is the only way to spend time purposefully  and they consider this as their goal. Thus they have emperumAn, who is always delightful, as their means.   Next, the means (path) is mentioned.

adiyarai – they consider his compassionate divine feet as the means. As mentioned in pAsuram 38 as sOmbar, they know that their Athma svarUpam (nature of the AthmA) is being subservient to emperumAn for ever and will not have anything to do with their protection themselves. Another interpretation is – adiyar – remaining at the feet. The feet are the goal, which are enjoyable, and the feet are also the means, which sustain. This is similar to nammAzhwAr mentioning in periya thiruvandhAdhi 31 nizhalum adithARum AnOm (we became the shadow and the lines, of the feet).

ugaththi pOlum – you enjoy these followers, who have the knowledge, not considering their lowly birth, and not those chathurvEdhis who do not have the knowledge.

aranga mAnagar uLAnE – the purpose of coming to SrIrangam and lying here is to hear these people, who have affection towards you, even if they are of lowly birth. If you wanted to hear only great people, you would have remained at SrIvaikuNtam, is the meaning here.

We shall move on to the 40th pAsuram

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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thirumAlai – 38 – mEmporuL pOgavittu – Part 3

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

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namperumal-thiruvadi

In this 3rd and final part of this pAsuram, we shall see the meanings of the last two lines of the pAsuram and how this pAsuram conveys the meanings of first line of dhvaya manthram as well as parts of thirumanthram and charama SlOkam.

mEmporuL pOgavittu meymmaiyai miga uNarndhu
AmparisaRindhukoNdu aimpulanagaththadakki
kAmbaRath thalai siraiththun kadaiththalai irundhu vAzhum
sOmbarai ugaththi pOlum sUzhpunal arangaththAnE

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kAmbaRaththalai siraiththu – removing the hair with the root. kAmbaRa – making sure that the connection with other upAyams (other means such as karma, gyAna, bhakthi yOgams, thirunAma sankIrthanam etc) is severed; thalai siraiththu – severing connection with other instruments being carried inside the head, which are like sins because they are preventing from attaining the goal – in other words, removing the esteem that “I am my protector”. Why is there a reference to hair? Since hair is supposed to add beauty to a person and to add esteem, AzhwAr is using this as a simile for the thought that the person has, that he is his own protector. In olden days, when kings resorted to tonsuring a person, the reason was to lower his esteem. This was also the reason for sanyAsis (those who have renounced everything in this world) and EkAngis (ascetics) to tonsure their heads [they want to rid of their self-esteem themselves]. Thus, since we see people tonsuring themselves to remove their self-esteem, AzhwAr is using this metaphor to denote removal of esteem that one gets from following other upAyams (means). charama SlOkam, in its first half, states that after renouncing other means only can one hold on to emperumAn. AzhwAr denotes this meaning in the term “kAmbaRath thalai siraiththu” considering the greatness of its meanings, in an indirect manner. SAsthram referred in an indirect manner only when it spoke of “dhvA suparNA sayujA sakAyA..” (muNdakOpanishath 3.1.1) (there were two birds with beautiful wings and similar qualities, sitting on a tree (referring to jIvAthmA and paramAthmA)). Thus AzhwAr also, like SAsthram, uses simile to convey his intended meanings.

un kadaiththalai irundhu kadaiththalai can be transposed as thalaikkadai which means at the door step. In dhvayam the term charaNa refers to the divine feet of emperumAn. AzhwAr refers to that word here. Why is AzhwAr not mentioning the divine feet directly? Looking at this lowliness, he is ashamed to go near emperumAn’s divine feet; he is unable to leave emperumAn and indulge in worldly matters. Hence he is staying at the door-step of emperumAn. vyAkhyAthA mentions about an incident in the life of thirukkaNNamangai ANdAn, a disciple of  SrIman nAthamunigaL (the preceptor who received all the 4000 dhivya prabandham from nammAzhwAr). One day ANdAn saw a person killing another person with a knife because the other person troubled his pet dog. Knowing that he will be punished by the King for his act of murder, he killed himself with the same knife. thirukkaNNamangai ANdAn, on seeing this, thought “if a samsAri, who thinks that dhEham (body) is AthmA (soul), can have so much affection for his dog which stays at his door step and eats whatever he feeds it, paramachEthana (emperumAn) will never let down those who stay at his door-step and hand them over to yama (dhEvathA for justice)”. Having affirmed this, thirukkaNNamangai ANdAn left his relatives, his possessions and his wife, refrained from working for himself, and engaged fully in emperumAn’s kainkaryam and till his end, stayed at the entrance of the temple at thirukkaNNamangai. irundhu – chEthana, who, due to attraction to worldly pursuits was running around, stays like a ship which has been anchored. thaththirIya upanishath Anandhavalli 7.2 says “yathA hyEvaisha EthasminnadhruSyE anAthmE anirukthE anilayanE abhayam prathishtAm vindhathE I atha sO’bhayangathO bhavathi II” (when a person, in order to rid himself of his fear for samsAram, attains affection called as bhakthi with emperumAn who cannot be seen by others, who is without (prAkrutha) SarIram (physical form that chEthanas have), who cannot be described by words (such as dhEva, manushya etc), who is without any support (for himself), he becomes fearless of samsAram). In the same way, the samsAri attains emperuman and becomes fearless.

vAzhum – once ISvaran becomes the means (path to attain him), enjoying him becomes living in prosperity. Another interpretation is  – since it is irundhu vAzhum, having him as the means (path) itself is prosperity.

sOmbarai ugaththi pOlum – Looking at the joy in emperumAn’s divine face, AzhwAr is wondering “when you look at those who have given up the responsibility of protecting them to you and who are lazy about protecting themselves, is this how your divine mind would feel joyous!?”. The term vAzhum sOmbar refers to those who are sloth about living for themselves but who are living only for emperumAn. Those who live for themselves are termed as kedum sOmbar (ruinously lazy people). To differentiate from such people who ruin themselves, AzhwAr is using the term vAzhum sOmbar. These people will not give up their daily ritual [such as sandhyAvandhanam etc] or special ritual [such as amAvAsya tharpaNam etc] because they do not believe in SAsthras or they are lazy. They will follow such rituals as emperumAn’s order and as a kainkaryam. They will be foremost among the Asthikas (believers of God) and will hold on to emperumAn, who does not expect anything from them for being their means, enjoy him as a way of passing their time in this world, and will be lazy when it comes to protecting themselves here. ugaththi pOlum – it appears that you [emperumAn] seem to enjoy these people as you enjoy nithyasUris (permanent dwellers of SrIvaikuNtam).

emperumAn asks him, “How did you know this matter [that I enjoy those who are lazy about protecting themselves]?” . . . .

sUzhpunal arangaththAnE – the fact that you have come to thiruvarangam (SrIrangam) and are lying here, seems to denote this. For those who look superficially, it would appear that emperumAn is lying because of the nice streams and greenery around thiruvarangam. Only those who dvelve deeper would understand that he is lying here in anticipation of a vAzhum sOmbar, without feeling lazy (himself).

kAmbaRath thalaisiraiththu denotes sarvadharmAn parithyajya in the first part of charama SlOkam, as it refers to giving up all the other upAyams (means to attain emperumAn) as a prerequisite for holding on to emperumAn as the means.

sUzhpunal arangaththAnE un kadaiththalai denotes the meaning of nArAyaNa padham (word) in the first part of dhvaya mahAmanthram, facilitating taking shelter under emperumAn through his four auspicious qualities of sauSeelyam (being easily approachable), saulabhyam (being simple), vAthsalyam (considering faults as qualities) and swAmithvam (being the swAmy or master). pirAtti, being the identity for proving emperumAn’s existence and being indicated by nArAyaNa sabdham itself, is denoted by the word un [un kadaiththalai] in this pAsuram. In the next (40th) pAsuram he is going to show this clearly. It has been shown already that kadaiththalai indicates charaNau. Irundhu vAzhum refers to the deep belief in the means through the word prabadhyE (deep belief that emperumAn is the means) and that this deep belief will be very sweet to the person who surrenders. sOmbarai refers to the quality of the person who surrenders, as in the word prapadhyE. Thus, this pAsuram describes in detail the meaning of dhvayam, and also shows the meanings of several terms in thirumanthram and charama SlOkam.

We shall now go on to the 39th pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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thirumAlai – 38 – mEmporuL pOgavittu – Part 2

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

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namperumal-nachiar_serthi

In the previous part of this pAsuram, we had seen the avathArikai (introduction) and meanings of the pAsuram. In this part, we shall see the meanings of the first two lines of the pAsuram and how they reflect the meanings of the uththara bhAgam (latter part) of dhvaya mahAmanthram and meanings conveyed in thirumanthram.

mEmporuL pOgavittu meymmaiyai miga uNarndhu
AmparisaRindhukoNdu aimpulanagaththadakki
kAmbaRath thalai siraiththun kadaiththalai irundhu vAzhum
sOmbarai ugaththi pOlum sUzhpunal arangaththAnE

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vyAkhyAnam (commentary)

mEmporuL – vyAkhyAthA (commentator) has given three different meanings for this word: (1) superficial object; (2) pervasive object; (3) object creating eminence. In all the three meanings, this word indicates [physical] body which in turn is representative for all materialistic objects. Let us consider each of these three meanings. (1) as a superficial object – having an unnatural relationship on account of karma and once knowledge about emperumAn is born, body becomes something that need not be bothered about. Thinking that this is sweet, when jIvAthmA (chEthana or sentient entity) starts enjoying with the help of this body, it would appear superficially that this is indeed sweet; but when looked a bit deeper, since there is nothing sweet about this, we can consider that this body is a superficial object. (2) as a pervasive object – As SrI bhagavath gIthA 7.14 says “dhaivI hyEshA guNamayI mama mAyA dhurathyaya I mAmEva yE prapadhyanthE mAyAmEthAm thanthithE II” (ordained by me, this prakruthi (primordial matter) also called as mAyA, is composed of the three qualities – sAthvic (pure good), rAjasic (passionate) and thAmasic (ignorance). It is very difficult to cross over. Only those who surrender to me cross this prakruthi), this body is intertwined with the AthmA (soul), becoming nearly inseparable. This body makes the person believe that “I am dhEva” (celestial entity) or “I am manushya” (human being) since it is so closely intertwined and hence we can say that this body is pervasive. (3) as an object creating eminence – it makes people to think that they are eminent among all the persons, who know everything. Thus the body can have any of the three connotations as we have seen above, and all the other materialistic objects with which it is connected, can be called as mEmporuL.

pOgavittu – to give up with all the traces (give up completely). As long as one is with this SarIram (body) it cannot be given up. Only when a person gets the knowledge that this SarIram and its connected materialistic objects cannot be the purushArtham (benefit) [on attaining emperumAn] can it be termed as giving it up will all traces. The connection [between the body and the soul] was created by emperumAn. As we had seen in the gIthA Slokam 7.14 [in the previous paragraph] this connection cannot be severed by the chEthana. SrIvishNu purANam 7.11 says “anAthmanyAthma budhdhiryA asvE svamithi yA mathi  I samsAra tharusambhUthi bIjamEthath dhvidhA sthitham  II” (the thought that this body, which is not the true self, is the self, and thinking that those objects which are not one’s, are one’s own, are the seed with dicotyledons which enable the tree called samsAram to grow). Thus, ridding of the thought that this dhEham is AthmA, that the objects in this samsAram which  are connected to this dhEham are one’s own and thinking of AthmA, which is different from dhEham, as svathanthran (one who is independent) is called as pOgavittu (giving up with trace). This is what great gyAnis (highly intelligent persons) such as janaka could do. When two trees, one good and the other, bad, are intertwined so closely that it is not possible to separate them, a person, desirous of separating them, will scratch the surface of the bad tree and apply asafoetida (an organic substance used in cooking) on it so that it will wither away. In the same way, when AthmA and the body are so closely intertwined, if someone wants to rid of the body, he has to remove the thoughts of ahankAram (thinking of body as oneself) and svAthanthriya budhdhi (thinking of oneself as being totally independent). The words which follow later in this pAsuram such as “meymmaiyai miga uNarndhu” and “AmparisaRindhu koNdu” are related to gyAna (knowledge); hence we can consider this word pOgavittu also to be related to knowledge.

meymmaiyai miga uNarndhu – the word “mey” refers to AthmA. Can mey denote AthmA? thaiththirIya upanishath Anandhavalli 6 says sathyanchA nruthancha sathyamabhavath (the paravasthu [greatest entity] was sathyam (without any change) even though it exists as sathyam (chEthana thathvam or sentient entity) and asathyam (achEthana thathvam or insentient entity). Since upanishath calls the constantly changing entity of achEthana as anrutham (false) and the one without any change to its svarUpa, the chEthana entity, as sathyam (mey or true), AzhwAr also calls AthmA as mey. The word sathyam denotes the permanent nature of AthmA, unlike adhvaithis (followers of a philosophy which says that there is no separate chith, achith and ISvaran) who define it as different from asathya, without any distinction. AzhwAr calls this permanent nature as meymmai here.

miga uNarndhu – [vyAkkhyAthA periyavAchchAn piLLai brings in here, a few philosophies and contrasts them with the philosophy of viSishtAdhvaitham]. Unlike lOkAyathan (also called as chArvAkan) who says, “only body is AthmA”; unlike pUrvamImAmsakan who says “AthmA, who is different from body and who is permanent, is independent”; unlike vaiSEshikan who says “the knowledge of AthmA is acquired [it is not natural]; when he remains like a stone, he attains mOksha (liberation)”; unlike all these philosophies, knowing AthmA as per its true nature – i.e. AthmA is self-radiant, permanent, having knowledge forever, as a quality, having a svarUpam which is like an atom [Sasthra defines the size of AthmA: take a grain of paddy, take out the sharp end, divide it into a hundred parts, take one of these parts, divide this into a hundred pieces, the size of the AthmA is less than the size of this finally divided piece], always belonging to ISvaran, being subservient to his followers also – this is knowing AthmA completely.

AmparisaRindhu koNdu – After realising that dhEham, which is the result of prakruthi (primordial matter), and those which are connected to dhEham [relatives, possessions etc] are fit to be given up, and after knowing AthmA’s true nature [as explained in the previous paragraph], the benefit that results is Amparisu  which is bhagavath kainkaryam (carrying out service to emperumAn). Amparisu (benefit) is the cause for growth. The cause for growth will vary, depending on what the AthmA thinks of itself. If the AthmA is inside the body of animals like cow, a bundle of grass is the cause for its growth. When the AthmA resides in the body of man, food is the cause for its growth. When the AthmA is inside the body of a celestial entity, amrutham (nectar) is the cause for its growth. In whichever body the AthmA resides, if it feels that it is an adiyEn (servitor), then kainkaryam (carrying out service) is the reason for its growth. Since the person’s intellect gets blunted due to the body and its connected entities [in this samsAram], this subject matter is not well known in this world. On reaching paramapadham (SrIvaikuNtam), gaining the inner knowledge and realising the true nature, AthmA’s natural servitorship will be its benefit and cause for its growth.

aRindhu koNdu – just as one says “carrying wealth”, AzhwAr explains its pre-eminence. The wealth for every chEthana is the knowledge that dhEham and its complements are to be given up, that AthmA is always dependent on emperumAn, that servitorship is its purushArtham. If this is present, there will be no need for any other means. It is emperumAn’s efforts to rid the chEthana of his bondage to samsAram and of puNya and pApa (virtue and vice) and to make him hold on to himself [emperumAn] as the means. It is pertinent to remember the following incident: A person asked nanjIyar (bhattar’s disciple) as to which is the means – renouncing [worldly desires] or holding on [to emperumAn]? nanjIyar responded “neither; the one who makes him renounce and hold on to [emperumAn himself] is the means”. While mEmporuL , meymmai and Amparisu may not directly mean  dhEham [body], Athma svarUpam [true nature of AthmA] and kainkaryam [service] respectively,  since there is a connection for each of these words to the respective meaning, AzhwAr brings forth these meanings indirectly, due to the greatness of the meanings.

aimpulan agaththadakki – keeping the sensory organs under one’s control. At the beginning of this pAsuram, AzhwAr had said mEmporuL pOgavittu  in which he said that one should keep under one’s control everything connected to dhEham (body) and its complements. This being the case, would not saying aimpulan agaththadakki now, be a repetition of the earlier one? In the previous word Amparisu aRindhu koNdu, when carrying out kainkaryam [to emperumAn], a happiness could be felt by the jIvAthmA itself [that it is carrying out the kainkaryam]. Renouncing this happiness for self is the meaning conveyed by the words aimpulan agaththadakki. Hence there is no repetition. Even while carrying kainkaryam, one thought should be removed – i.e. kainkaryam carried out for one’s happiness or kainkaryam carried out for emperumAn’s and one’s happiness will not be termed as purushArtham (goal), but the kainkaryam carried out exclusively for emperumAn’s happiness is purushArtham. AzhwAr conveys this meaning here. nammAzhwAr, in his thiruvAimozhi 2.9.4thanakkEyAga enaikkoLLumIdhE” (consider me only for your kainkaryam) and ANdAL in her thiruppAvai 29unakkE nAmAtcheyvOm” (we will be subservient only to you) conveyed the same meaning. In dhvayam, the meaning of the word nama: in the end is also the same as in this. In SrI rAmAyaNam AraNya kAndam 1.31 it says “ramyamAvasatham kruthvA ramamANA vanE thraya: I dhEvagandharvasankASAs thathra thE nyavasan sukham II” (the three of them (rAma, lakshmaNa and sIthA) who were like dhEvagandharva (celestial entities) and who were very happy in the forest, built a beautiful cottage and lived happily in it). While the SlOkam says that perumAL (SrI rAma), pirAtti (sIthA) and iLaiya perumAL (lakshmaNa) were happy, from the context it will be clear that lakshmaNa’s happiness is derived from carrying out kainkaryam to the duo of perumAL and pirAtti.

Thus, in these two lines [of this pAsuram], the meaning of prApyam (the benefit of attaining emperumAn) has been mentioned. Now we shall see how the meaning of thirumanthram [the first of the three rahasyams in our sampradhAyam] is being mentioned. In the terms memporuL pOgavittu, the meaning of Om nama: and in the terms aimpulan agaththadakki the meaning of namO nArAyanAya have been mentioned. In the words meymmaiyai miga uNarndhu which is the SEshathvam of AthmA (being subservient to emperumAn) the meaning of the word nAra in the word nArAyaNa has been mentioned. Since that SEshathvam succeeds only because of emperumAn, his SEshithvam (being the master for all) is also mentioned in this meaning. Thus the meaning of the word nArAyaNa has also been mentioned. In the term AmparisaRindhu koNdu, the meaning of the fourth case Aya [in nArAyaNAya], which is kainkaryam, has also been mentioned. Since the term uNarndhu refers to the jIvAthmA who knows [has knowledge], the meaning of praNavam (OmkAram) which includes jIvAthmA, has also been mentioned. Thus these two lines establish the meaning of thirumanthram.

Now, over the next two lines of this pAsuram, the upAyathvam (being the means of attaining emperumAn) as mentioned in the first line of dhvayam and the first part of charama SlOkam are being mentioned. We shall see this, along with the meanings of the remaining two lines, in the next part.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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