Category Archives: thirumAlai

thirumAlai – 14 – vaNdinam muralum sOlai

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srirangam-golden-vimana-history

avathArikai (Introduction)

AzhwAr counselled the samsAris about the divine names of emperumAn and his dhivyadhESam but the samsAris did not pay heed. He then recited the previous pAsuram, as if to himself, but in reality again to the samsAris only. Despite taking so much efforts to say good things to them, seeing their indifference and not being involved with bhagavath vishayam (knowing and enjoying about emperumAn) he becomes averse to them. Just as a person chews a block of camphor to rid of foul taste in the mouth, he immerses himself in the sweetness of thiruvarangam (SrIrangam) and laments that while the samsAris too are born to enjoy this sweetness they are not showing any inclination towards this. Thus he brings to an end the parOpadhESam (counselling others) that he started with the 4th pAsuram. Even though this pAsuram appears as if AzhwAr is talking to himself, it is considered as part of parOpadhEsam. The good words coming out of a sAthvic (purely good) person should be followed by others too.

Let us look at the pAsuram and its meanings:

வண்டினம் முரலும் சோலை மயிலினம் ஆலும் சோலை
கொண்டல் மீதணவும் சோலை குயிலினம் கூவும் சோலை
அண்டர் கோன் அமரும் சோலை அணி திருவரங்க மென்னா
மிண்டர் பாய்ந்துண்ணும் சோற்றை விலக்கி நாய்க்கு இடுமினீரே.

vaNdinam muralum sOlai mayilinam Alum sOlai
koNdal mIdhaNavum sOlai kuyilinam kUvum sOlai
aNdar kOn amarum sOlai aNi thiruvarangam ennA
miNdar pAyndhuNNum sORRai vilakki nAykku iduminIrE

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Word-by-word meaning

vaNdinam  – a swarm of bees
muralum sOlai –  gardens where the bees keep humming
mayil inam – a muster of peacocks
Alum sOlai – gardens where the peacocks are dancing
koNdal mIdhu aNavum  – clouds overhanging and hugging
sOlai – gardens
kuyil inam – a bevy of quails
kUvum sOlai – gardens where the quails keep calling out to each other
aNdar kOnsarvESvaran (emperumAn) who is the lord of nithyasUris
amarum sOlai – gardens where emperumAn has taken permanent residence
aNi – like an ornament (to samsAram)
thiru arangam ennA – those who do not pronounce the word “SrIrangam
miNdar – ungrateful fool
pAyndhu uNNum sORRai – falling over [others] to eat food
vilakki – prevent (them from eating)
nIr nAykku idumin –  you give that [food] to a dog

vyAkhyAnam (Explanation)

vaNdinam muralum Solai – just like people crowd together near (flowing) holy rivers and have a bath, the bees come in swarms to these gardens as they contain lot of honey. “muralum” – since they have consumed honey up to their necks, they are not able to stay in one place and keep humming around. This is similar to nithyAthmAs and mukthAthmAs in SrivaikuNtam, enjoying emperumAn and as a consequence, singing sAma gAnam (the musical notes of sAma vEdha).

mayil inam Alum sOlai – looking at the verdant gardens and hearing the humming of the bees, the peacocks think that monsoon has arrived [the swarm of bees appear like cloud to these peacocks] and start dancing in ecstasy.

koNdal mIdhu aNavum sOlai – hearing the humming of the bees, looking at the vastness and greenery of the garden and mistaking thiruvarangam for ocean, the clouds come over this place and hang around in a hugging fashion. Another interpretation is that these gardens have risen up to the level of cloud. As nammAzhwAr says about thirumAlinrunchOlai in thiruvAimozhi 2.10.8mayal migu pozhil sUzh mAlirunchOlai” similar to thirumAlirunchOlai deluding the clouds, the gardens in SrIrangam also delude clouds into believing that it is an ocean. In thirumAliunchOlai, because of the darkness of the gardens, the starting point and the end-point were not clear, creating a delusion. Here, the gardens make the clouds and peacocks to mistake something for something else [as explained above] and create delusion in them.

kuyil inam kUvum sOlai – unlike the bees, clouds and peacocks, which came out of their places, the quails remain wherever they are, and call out one to another, due to the coolness of the place.

aNdar kOn amarum sOlai – Just as bees, clouds, peacocks and quails, emperumAn also looks at the expanse of the gardens here and their sweetness, forgets that he is the lord of nithyasUris (permanent dwellers) in paramapadham (SrIvaikuNtam) and wants to be here permanently. Just as emperumAn is the refuge for all the samsAris who he protects, this place is the refuge for sarvESvaran himself. “aNdar” refers to nithyasUris and “aNdarkOn” refers to their lord, parapapadhanAthan.  “amarum” –  forgetting parapamadham, he takes permanent residence here. The term paramapadham also implies vyUha (his kshIrasamudhra or thiruppARkadal or milk ocean), vibhava (various incarnations such as rAma, krishNa et al).

sOlai aNi thiruvarangam – one meaning is that the gardens are like an ornament to the temple here. Another meaning is that the temple is an ornament to samsAram (materialistic realm).

thiruvangam ennA miNdar – While he has taken up permanent residence in this place for their sake, the samsAris, like fools, are not mentioning the name of the place that he is residing in. miNdar – they do not realise their present position nor do they know what is coming up next. In other words, hell and womb are catching the scruff of their necks to push them and they keep desiring for their food and clothing to stay in samsAram forever.

pAyndhu uNNum sORRai vilakki nAykku idumin nIrE – those who do not say the word thiruvarangam are ungrateful people. They eat by stealing the materials from emperumAn. Remove the food that they are eating and give it to dogs, ordains the AzhwAr of good people.  sarvESvaran, who created the samsAris, out of consideration for their well-being, has left SrIvaikuNtam and is dwelling in the temple. Forgetting such a great help, these samsAris are enjoying their food. Remove that food and give to a dog, which is grateful to someone who gives it food once and remains at his doorstep to protect him. nIrE – this refers to good people who remove materials from bad people and give them to good people (such as thirumangai AzhwAr).

We shall move on to the 15th pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dasan

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thirumAlai – 13 – eRiyu nIr veRi koL vElai

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srirangam

avathArikai (Introduction)

Despite AzhwAr telling the samsAris many beneficial words, they were not in a position to receive such advice. Not considering their lowliness (since they were not listening to good words), he thinks of their sorrowful state and tells himself “even though they do not realise that their svarUpam (basic nature) is to serve only emperumAn, if they say once, without any restraint, ‘thiruvarangam’, this hell-like samsAram will disappear and grass will grow where it once was”.

Let us enjoy the pAsuram and its meanings now

எறியும் நீர் வெறிகொள் வேலை மாநிலத்து உயிர்கள் எல்லாம்
வெறி கொள் பூந்துளவ மாலை விண்ணவர் கோனை யேத்த
அறிவிலா மனிசர் எல்லாம் அரங்கம் என்று அழைப்பராகில்
பொறியில் வாழ் நரகம் எல்லாம் புல் எழுந்து ஒழியும் அன்றே.

eRiyum nIr veRikoL vElai mAnilaththu uyirgaL ellAm
veRi koL pUnthuLaba mAlai viNNavar kOnai Eththa
aRivilA manisar ellAm arangam enRu azhaippar Agil
poRiyil vAzh naragam ellAm pul ezhundhu ozhiyum anRE

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Word by word meaning

eRiyum nIr – water with lapping waves
veRikoL – (from the meat) having bad odour
vElai – surrounded by ocean
mAnilaththu uyirgaL ellam – all the chEthanars (sentient entities) on this huge mass of land called earth
veRi koL – having sweet fragrance
pUm – beautiful
thuLaba mAlai –adorning thuLasi (basil) garland
viNNavar kOnai – the lord of nithyasUris [SrivaikuNtanAthan]
Eththa – (are meant to) only worship
aRivu ilA manisar ellAm – these men without any knowledge
arangam enRu azhaippar Agil – if they say “thiruvarangam” [SrIrangam]
poRiyil vAzh – living, controlled by the senses
naragam ellAm – this entire world, which is like narakam (hell)
pul ezhundhu –  sprouting grass
ozhiyum anRE – will it not go waste?

vyAkhyAnam

eRiyum nIr veRi koL vElai mAnilaththu uyirgaL ellam – all the creatures living on this huge earth, surrounded by oceans with lapping waves and smell of fish. AzhwAr has used the term “eRiyum nIr” which means that these chEthanars (sentient beings) who are qualified to live comfortably in the expansive paramapadham (SrIvaikuNtam) are living like crowded jackal caught in flood (periya thirumozhi 11.8.5 “veLLaththidaippatta nariyinam pOlE” – like a pack of jackals caught in flood).  “veRi koL vElai” – he says that instead of being in SrIvaikuNtam enjoying the sweet fragrance of thuLasi [which he brings in the next line] these chEthanars are on earth, being the target of foul smelling ocean. “mAnilam” – earth with an expanse of 50 crore yOjana [one yOjana is 10 miles or 16 kilometers][ a word of caution here – the term earth (bhUmi) as our pUrvAchAryas say should not be mistaken for this earth that we live. It encompasses all the 14 worlds (athala, suthala, pAthAla etc comprising 7 worlds below the earth that we are familiar with and bhU:, bhuva:, suva: etc comprising 7 worlds from earth upwards. The entire distance between these 14 worlds is 50 crore yOjana]. “uyirgaL” – if the connection with these dhEham (body) is removed, the AthmA is qualified to be like SrI kousthubam (the radiant garland adorning emperumAn’s chest); instead he is remaining here like a wastrel, feels the AzhwAr. “ellAm” – includes the independent-minded celestial people (dhEvas) and their citizens, the human race on earth.

veRikoL puNthuLabamAlai viNnavar kOnai Eththa –  It is not only nithyasUris who, looking at emperumAn adorned with sweet smelling and beautiful thuLasi garland, worship him. Even samsAris are meant to worship him. sumithrA tells lakshmaNa prior to his departure for forest with Sri rAma and sIthAp pirAtti “srushtasthvam vanavAsAya svanurakthas suhrujjanE I rAmE pramAdham mA kArshI: puthra! bhrAthari gachchathi II” – lakshmaNa! You were created for dwelling in the forest. You are having deep affection for SrI rAma who loves you dearly. My son, when SrI rAma walks ahead, do not make the mistake (of admiring and engaging with his gait and losing sight of those who would harm him).  Just as lakshmANa was created only to serve SrI rAma, the samsAris were created only to serve and worship emperumAn.

“People with knowledge [such as nithyasUris] were meant to get this sort of fortune in worshipping emperumAn and caring for him. Can samsAris, with low level of knowledge get this?” doubts AzhwAr and responds to this in the next words…

aRivilA manisar ellAm arangam enRu azhaipparAgil – despite being born in the human race where they are supposed to be with the knowledge of discriminating [between good and bad, high and low, dos’ and don’ts’ etc], and even if they do not have any knowledge, and any involvement with thiruvarangam because of lack of that knowledge, it is enough if they merely say “thiruvarangam”. Usage of the word “Agil” (if) denotes that many of the samsAris with high degree of pApa (sins) could not say even this.

poRiyil vAzh naragam – those living in leelA vibhUthi (materialistic realm), enslaved by their senses. “poRi” – in the meaning of trap, this indicates that the senses, in all situations, would trap samsAris so that they cannot escape in any way. “naragam” – to those without knowledge, yama lOkam (the dwelling place of yama) is narakam (hell). But for those with knowledge, samsAram itsel f is hell. samsAram makes samsAris believe that living a life on it is the greatest thing and does not allow them to think of paramapadham (SrIvaikuNtam).  nammAzhwAr says in thiruvAimozhi  8.1.9 “nanRum anjuvan naragam nAn adaidhal” – I am scared that I will lose my SEshathva gyAnam (knowledge that I am your servitor) if I stay in this samsAram called narakam.

ellAm pul undhu ozhiyum anRE – if all the samsAris leave samsAram and reach paramapadham, the leelA vibhUthi will lose its fields of samsAris and become arid.

We shall now move to the 14th pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dasan

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thirumAlai – 12 – namanum muRkalanum

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namperumal

avathArikai (Introduction)

The samsAris told AzhwAr “you had told us to recite his divine names. Due to our sins, we are only able to talk about various worldly matters and are unable to recite emperumAn’s divine names” Azhwar responded saying “in that case, hearing emperumAn’s divine names would uplift you” and told them about mudhgalOpAkhyAnam (the story of a person called mudhgan). He further added “I am unable to bear the samsAris’ sorrows because they continue to suffer in samsAram instead of being uplifted by saying ‘thiruvarangam is the dwelling place of emperumAn whose divine names are so great’

நமனும் முற்கலனும் பேச நரகில் நின்றார்கள் கேட்க
நரகமே சுவர்க்கமாகும் நாமங்கள் உடைய நம்பி
அவனது ஊர் அரங்கமென்னாது அயர்த்து வீழ்ந்தளிய மாந்தர்
கவலையுள் படுகின்றாரென்று அதனுக்கே கவல்கின்றேனே.

namanum muRkalanum pEsa naragil ninRArgaL kEtka
naragamE suvargamAgum nAmangaL udaiya nimbi
avanadhu Ur arangamennA(dhu) ayarththu vIzhndhaLiya mAndhar
kavalaiyuL paduginRarenRu adhanukkE kavar(l)ginREnE

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Word-by-word meaning

namanum – yamadharmarAja (yama, the deity for justice)
muRkalanum – and mudhgala bhagavAn
pEsa – when they were conversing
naragil ninRargaL kEtka – as soon as those in narakam (hell) heard those words
naragamE – that narakam itself
suvargam Agum – would become svargam (heaven)
nAmangaL udaiya – with divine names
nambi avanadhu – the perfect emperumAn’s
Ur – dwelling place
arangam ennAdhu – not saying “thiruvarangam”
aLiya mAndhar – great samsAris
ayarththu – forgetting (emperumAn’s divine names)
vIzhndhu – falling down (into the pit of worldly issues)
kavalaiyuL paduginRAr enRu – being plagued by sorrows
adhanukkE – only for that
kavar(l)ginREnE – I am worrying

vyAkhyAnam

namanum muRkalanum pEsa – In ancient times, there was a person by name mudhgalan. He was constantly indulging in vices. Once, to atone for his sins, he gifted a cow made of sesame (til or eLLu). At the time of giving the gift, he said “krishNArpaNam” and gifted it. After he died, he was dragged by the servitors of yama to hell. yama welcomed him which surprised mudhgalan. He told yama “your followers are dragging me here and you are welcoming me and treating me well. What is the reason for this?” yama replied “neither my followers nor you know your greatness. Once you said krishNArpaNam and it is because of that, I am welcoming you and treating you nicely” explaining the greatness of reciting emperumAn’s divine name. As these two people were discussing the greatness of divine names, those who were suffering in hell heard this. As they were hearing, the troubles in hell disappeared for them and they felt as if they were enjoying in heaven. This anectode is given in vishNu dharmam. AzhwAr is quoting this incident in this pAsuram.

namanum muRkalanum pEsa – mudhgala bhagavAn asked yama for the reason for his good treatment and yama responded saying that it was because he had mentioned emperumAn’s divine name. This is all that happened in narakam (hell). yama did not mention emperumAn’s divine name for his own uplifting neither did mudhgalan ask yama and yama preached him. He did not mention it so that people coming to hell to get beaten by him, causing pain to his hands, would get out of narakam. yama once asked a jIvan (an AthmA) “kim thvayA nArchithO dhEva: kEsava: klESanASana:” – was kESavan, with beautifully braided hair, who removes all the sorrows, not worshipped by you? It was not that the jIvAthmA was despised by yama when he reached hell to suffer the punishment for all the wrong doings in samsAram. It was out of sheer fear that he would lose his position since a person who had recited emperumAn’s divine name has come to narakam that yama welcomed mudhgalan and spoke about the greatness of divine names, says the vyAkhyAthA.

naragil ninRArgaL kEtka – they [the jIvAthmAs who had gone to hell to suffer for the sins that they had committed] did not listen to the divine names at the time of carrying out penance for indulging in sinful activities, after feeling sad and vowing not to indulge in such activities. It was at the time of suffering in hell as a result of being punished for their sins that they heard the divine names. Even then it was not as a disciple [listening to his AchAryan] with samith (stick used in yagyams or rituals) in hand. During a conversation between two persons, they happened to hear the divine name. This is about all. If someone asks “When you were indulging in sinful activities, did not anyone mention these divine names and did not you not hear them?” they will say that since they were vain while indulging in such activities these words wouldn’t have entered  their ears. It is only now when they are experiencing sorrow that they think “will not someone say a good word?” and listen to the divine names in this status.

naragamE suvargamAgum – the hell itself became heaven which gives pleasure. How did the hell become heaven? It could change if emperumAn changes his sankalpam (solemn vow). SrI rAmAyaNam yudhdha kANdam 116.13 says “vibhIshaNa vidhEyam hi lankaiSvaryam idham krutham” the same lankA which was the repository of all evils during rAvaNa’s time became the repository of good persons due to SrI rAma’s katAksham (glance). Like this, did the hell become heaven due to the possessor of the name (emperumAn)?…….

nAmangaL – This change was the result of the greatness of the names. Even though it is emperumAn who grants the fruits of effort, since he gives that only after divine names are recited, it is not out of place to state that it is the divine names that brought about the change [from hell to heaven].

nAmangaL udaiya nambi – emperumAn becomes perfect because he has these divine names. While everyone attains him and gets benefitted, these divine names add to his greatness. mahAbhAratham says “dhEvO nAma sahasravAn” – the one with innumerable faces, eyes, feet, hands; the one who pervades everything; the one who knows everything – such a dhEvan nArAyaNan has thousands of names. nammAzhwAr says in thiruvAimozhi  9.3.1 “pErAyiram koNdadhOr pIdudaiyan” – he is great because he has thousand names. periyAzhwAr in periyAzhwAr thirumozhi 4.6.1 says “nAraNan thamannai naragam pugAL” – if you name your child as nAraNan, the child’s mother will not enter hell. sahasranAma adhyAya says “nArayaNa SabdhamAthram vimuktha dhukkA: SukhinO bhavanthi” – by merely hearing the sound nArAyaNa, one gets rid of his sorrows and attains comfort.

avanadhu Ur arangam ennAdhu – all  that the samsAris have to say is that the permanent dwelling place of emperumAn who attained perfection due to his names is thiruvarangam (SrIrangam). But what to say of their pApa (sins) that prevent them from saying such an easy to pronounce word, but containing great benefits! This samsAram is full of people who decide not to live near others who recite divine names or drive them out of their places (such as krimi kaNda chOzhan) or torture their sons who recite divine names (such as hiraNya kaShyap). An incident is quoted by our pUrvAchAryas – a person was in his death bed. He was taught thirumanthram (ashtAkshari) and was asked to recite it. He said “AmAgil sollippArkkiREn” (if possible I shall say). Both the thirumantharam and what he said contain 8 syllables; instead of reciting thirumanthram, he said “AmAgil sollippArkkiREn” and breathed his last. Such was the strength of his sins that they wouldn’t allow him to recite divine name and attain emperumAn.

ayarththu vIzhndhu – forgetting the divine names of emperumAn who is the natural relative for all, these samsAris are indulging in worldly matters and losing their balance. thirumangai AzhwAr in periya thirumozhi 6.2.2. says “maRandhEn unnai munnam …… iRandhEn” – I forgot you earlier….and I died. gAruda purANam pUrva 222.22 says “yanmuhUrtham kshaNam vApi vAsudhEvO na chinthyathE I sA hAnisthanmahachchidhram sA bhrAnthis sA cha vikriyA II” – if in a muhUrtha [48 minutes of our time] or in a moment vAsudhEva is not thought of, that is a great loss; that is great sorrow; that becomes illusory; that is deterioration. Thus Azhwars and rishis also said the same meaning. The great samsAris who are qualified to recite the divine names should recite AzhwArs’ pAsurams such as “thAmuLarE” (iraNdAm thiruvandhAdhi 21) – the chEthanars are there (to praise emperumAn with the physical body and the sensory organs given by emperumAn) and “nAvAyil uNdE” (mudhal thiruvandhAdhi  95) – tongue is there inside (to recite thirumanthram).

kavalaiyuL paduginRArenRu – being caught in sorrow

adhanukkE kaval(r)ginREnE – I suffer because of that itself. While being qualified to recite the divine names and immerse themselves in the ocean of happiness, these samsAris are immersing in the ocean of sorrow and AzhwAr says that he is suffering because of their action. The reason for adding “E” to adhanukku to make it adhanukkE (only for that) is because instead of suffering for self or suffering for self and others, he is suffering only for others (samsAris). The identity of a SrivaishNava is one who cannot bear the suffering of others and AzhwAr shows that quality here. kavalai means sorrow and kaval(r)ginREnE means suffering.

We shall move on to the 13th pAsuram in the next.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dasan

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thirumAlai – 11 – oruvillAl Ongu

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lord-rama

avathArikai

AzhwAr had shown the extreme limit of simplicity – emperumAn lying at SrIrangam temple, as periya perumAL. Despite that, samsAris were not showing any involvement with periya peumAL. He feels sad that despite telling them that the same SrI rAma who he had earlier (in pAsuram 7) pointed out to them for taking refuge under, is now lying in SrIrangam to help them, the samsAris, instead of reciting his names, are wasting their time.

Let us enjoy the pAsuram and its meanings, first:

ஒரு வில்லால் ஓங்கு முந்நீர் அடைத்து உலகங்கள் உய்யச்
செருவிலே அரக்கர் கோனைச் செற்ற நம் சேவகனார்
மருவிய பெரிய கோயில் மதிள் திருவரங்கம் என்னா
கருவிலே திருவிலாதீர்! காலத்தைக் கழிக்கின்றீரே.

Oru villAl Ongu munnIr adaiththu ulagangaL uyyach
cheruvilE arakkar kOnaich cheRRa nam sEvaganAr
maruviya periya kOil mathiL thiruvarangam ennA
karuvilE thiruvilAdhir! kAlaththaik kazikkinRIrE

Listen

Word-by-word meaning

oru villAl – with a bow that he could lay his hands on
Ongu munnIr adaiththu – constructing a dam on the turbulent ocean
ulagangaL uyya – so that all worlds could get uplifted
cheruvilE – in war
arakkar kOnai – rAvaNa, the head of demons,
cheRRa nam sEvaganAr – our azhagiya maNavALan who destroyed that rAvaNa
maruviya – dwelling permanently
periya kOil – the temple which is famous
madhil thiruvarangam –  at SrIrangam, with several protective walls
ennA – not saying so
karuvilE thiru ilAdhIr – not having emperumAn’s mercy when you were inside your mother’s womb
kAlaththai – time (when you should be carrying out service to him after surrendering)
kazhikkinRIrE – wasting

vyAkhyAnam

oru villAl – with the help of a bow that he could lay his hands on, he blocked the ocean. But wasn’t the ocean blocked with stones? How is it that AzhwAr says that SrI rAma blocked it with a bow? When it was decided to build a dam across the ocean, SrI rAma surrendered to samudhrarAjan (king of ocean). But when the king of ocean did not appear even after 3 days, SrI rAma told lakshmaNa “chApamAnaya soumithrE SarAmSchAShI vishObamAn I sAgaram SOshayishyAmi padhbhyAm yAnthu plavangamA: II” – hEy lakshmaNa! Bring the bow and arrows which are like poisonous snakes. I shall dry up the ocean. The army of monkeys can walk through the ocean bed. After lakshmaNa brought the bow and arrows, SrI rAma drew the bow and was about to shoot the arrow when the king of ocean appeared. Thus AzhwAr says that with the help of the bow he created the dam.

ongu munnIr – turbulent ocean. It is not the natural turbulence in the ocean that is referred to here.  On seeing Sri rAma with the bow and the way he stood with a courageous stance, the ocean felt shaken and thus became turbulent. The king of ocean did not appear when emperumAn surrendered to him. Only when he took the arrow did he appear. It is similar to children in school bowing to the class teacher when he takes the stick. vAlmIki bhagavAn describes the anger of SrI rAma “samudhrasya thatha: krudhdhO rAmO rakthAnthalOchana: I” – rAma, because of his anger towards the king of ocean, was red in his eyes.

adaiththu – only after SrI rAma let go off a few arrows did varuNa appear and begged SrI rAma to build the dam on his back.. Hence AzhwAr says, he blocked the ocean with bow and not with stones. Without the backing, the mountains which were thrown into the ocean by the army of monkeys would have sunk and the dam would not have been built.

ulagangaL uyya – For all the worlds, including earth, nether world, svargam (heaven) and anthariksham (world between earth and heaven) to live in comfort. When rAvaNa was alive, these worlds were in disarray due to the strength of the boons that he had obtained. It was only after his death that these worlds became liveable. SrIvishNu purANam 1.13.14 says “na yashtavyam na dhAthavyam na bhOgthavyam kathanchana: I” – at no point of time should there be yagyam (a form of worship) or donations or hOmam (ritual with agni, or fire) was the order during rAvaNa’s time. He conquered all the worlds with his strength and power and made the worlds almost unliveable. Another way of interpreting is “ulagangaLuyya munnIr adaiththu” – for the worlds to live in comfort, he blocked the ocean. “sEthum dhrushtvA samudhrasya gangA sAgara sangamam I brahmahathyA vimuchyathE mithradhrOhi na muchyathE II” – by looking at the sEthu built in the ocean [by SrI rAma] and the place where gangA joins with ocean, a person gets rid of killing a brAhmaNa, but not betrayal of a friend, goes a saying. samsAris, at all times, can get rid of their dhOshas (impurities or faults by merely looking at the sEthu (bridge)).

cheruvilE – in war. Unlike the coward rAvaNa who, using a bait (the illusory deer) removed rAma and lakshmaNa from their dwelling and entering an open house like a dog and took away pirAtti when she was alone, SrI rAma engaged in war with rAvaNa and killed him.

arakkar kOnai – king of demons. As thirumangai AzhwAr says in periya thirumozhi 4-4-6 “arakkar thangaL kOn pOlum” – rAvaNa was arrogant that he was the king of demons, looking at the strength of demons with him. Apart from indulging in evil acts, he gave room for other bad people too to indulge in such acts.

cheRRa – destroyed. Right in front of rAvaNa’s eyes, SrI rAma destroyed his supporters who were the cause for his arrogance; he destroyed his sons; he cut off his heads one by one so that he would be able to see his heads falling on the ground, a sight which no one else would have seen, thus shaming him. This is how rAvaNa was destroyed. In SrI rAmAyaNa, yudhdha kAndam SlOkam 59.144, SrI rAma tells rAvaNa “gachchAnujAnAmi  raNArthithas thvam praviSya rAthrinchararAja! lankAm I ASvAsya niryAhi rathIcha dhanvI thadhA bhalam dhrakshyasi mE rathasthatha: II” – Oh, king of demons! You have become tired in the battlefield. Go back! I allow you to go. Go to your place, recoup your strength and come back with your chariot and your bow. Sitting on your chariot, you will see my strength. SrI rAma disarmed rAvaNa completely and told him to leave the battlefield, demonstrating the extreme limit of his valour.

nam sEvaganAr – our servant. He is not a sEvagan  by his being emperumAn. He is a servant because he is dependent on us (parathanthran to us). If a chEthanan (a sentient entity) folds his palms together in anjali fashion to emperumAn, he forever becomes a servant to such chEthanar. nam – as said in nAchchiyAr thirumozhi 5.3 “thAy thalaiyaRRaRRu vIzhaththoduththa thalaivan” – by removing the heads of rAvaNa one by one and making them fall, SrI rAmA removed the enemy for uniting with pirAtti. In the same way he will remove our enemies too; here, the term “nam” refers to us who don’t have any other refuge. pirAtti is the recommending authority for all of us (purushakAra bhUthai). Hence if he helps her (by removing her enemy) it can be construed as helping us all. The following incidents which took place with our pUrvAchAryas is quoted to explain this term – (1) nanjIyar was listening to his AchAryar bhattar explaining this pAsuram. After the session was over, nanjIyar was thinking about this pAsuram when he saw a soldier and a lady having an argument. The soldier was demonstrating his authority to her and trying to frighten her. The lady calmly told the soldier “what can you do to me? Only for protecting poor people and ladies like me, our king is ruling this country adorning all the weapons” nanjIyar was amazed that the meaning for this pAsurtam came from a commoner. (2) bhattar was recounting to chOzha sikAmaNi pallavarAyar the SrI rAmAyaNa SlOkam  yudhdha kAndam 25.33 “rAmalakshmaNagupthA sA sugrIvENa cha vAhini I babhUva dhurthdharshadharA sarvairapi surAsurai: II” – rAma and lakshmaNa were protecting the army of monkeys that had sugrIva in it and it could not be disturbed by dhEvas or asuras (celestial or demonic people). After reciting this, bhattar told them to keep remembering this incident which happened on the seashore. The audience, which included nanjIyar, pillAI vizhupparaiyar and nambi SrI gOvardhana dhAsar among others, thought of another pAsuram, in nAnmugan thiruvanthAdhi 8 “ilai thuNai maRRu en nenjE – ilangayai azhiththa kUrambanallAl” – there is no  protector other than the one who destroyed lankA with his sharp arrows. Thus, for samsAris like us who have no other refuge, chakravarthi thirumagan (son of dhaSaratha, SrI rAma) is the only refuge.

sEvaganAr maruviya periya kOil – the temple where emperumAn came willingly. After he destroyed rAvaNa in the battlefield and fulfilled his word to dhEvas and rushis, emperumAn came and lay down in this temple in order to help those who came after his period of incarnation. Instead of saying sEvagan (servant) the purpose of adding the honorific sound Ar at the end (sEvaganAr) is not only to highlight his glory; it is to emphasise his dedication in serving his followers here.

maruviya – emperumAn’s permanent place of dwelling, with total commitment. Going beyond para (SrIvaikuNtam), vyUha (thiruppARkadal) and vibhava (places where he took various incarnations), he chose thiruvarangam which is the root for all archAvathArams (dhivya dhESams).

periya kOil – big temple. The adjective big does not refer to the expanse of the temple, but considering the greatness of the place (dhivya dhESam). If the King of a country issues an order from his capital he would not think of rescinding it. In the same way, the sankalpams (solemn vows) that he takes from here makes it a big temple. What are the vows that he takes from here? We have already seen in the explanatory notes of pAsuram 3 that this place is “pavithram paramam puNyam dhESOyam sarva kAma dhuk” (gAruda purANam 11) – this place is sacred, takes the people to liberation, and fulfils their desires. linga purANam says “vaishNavAnAm viSEshOsthi vishNOr Ayathanam mahath” – there is glory among vaishNavas that this temple is a big temple for vishNu.

madhiL thiruvarangam – In order to allay the fears of what will happen to the soft thirumEni (physical body) of periya perumAL, who is lying inside the temple, from his enemies, this temple has huge protective walls. Knowing the greatness of the emperumAn, weren’t protective walls raised by persons such as thirumangai AzhwAr?

ennA – there is no need to trouble the body and carry out superhuman deeds. It is enough just to say a few words. There is no need to even recite his names with auspicious qualities and deeds such as nArAyaNa et al. It is enough if one says the name of the place that he resides in, namely thiruvarangam.

karuvilE thiruviLdhIr – not blessed in the womb. When it is so simple to recite thiruvarangam, why did you not recite it? asks the AzhwAr. Is it because you were not blessed by emperumAn when you were in your mother’s womb? As said in mahAbhAratham, SAnthi parvam (358.73) “jAyamAnam hi purusham yampaSyEn madhusUdhana: I  sAthvikas sa thu vigyEya sa vai mOkshArtha chinthaka: II” – that person who is blessed by madhusUdhanan (emperumAn) as he comes out into this world from his mother’s womb, is the person who is known to possess sAthvika (purely good) qualities and he is the one who thinks of the greatness of mOksha. It is this blessing from emperumAn when he is about to be born that attracts him towards emperumAn. AzhwAr tells the samsAris that they have lost that blessing. poigai AzhwAr and bhUthaththAzhwAr (the first two AzhwArs) conveyed the same meaning in their respective thiruvandhAdhi (of being blessed by emperumAn when they were inside the womb).

kAlaththaik kazhikkinRIrE – wasting your time. As vishNu thathvam says “vichithrA dhEha sambandhISvarAya nivEdhithum I pUrvamEva kruthA brahman hastha pAdhAdhi samyuthA II”- this splendorous body with arms and legs was structured yugas (ages) ago to be offered to emperumAn. AzhwAr is asking, instead of attaining emperumAn and carrying out the appropriate kainkaryam, why are you wasting your time? emperumAn, who has left timeless SrivaikuNtam and taken position in this time-controlled world, is waiting for you all to attain him. But you people are wasting your time. While nithyasUris (vishvaksEnar, AdhisEshan, garuda et al, who are permanent dwellers of SrIvaikuNtam) are willing to carry out appropriate kainkaryam by knowing his desires, he has, forfeiting them, come here so that you people could take refuge under him. But you people are running after food and dress for the body and wasting your time. While he is waiting here so that he can slowly get you interested in him and he can train you to enjoy him, you people are holding onto everything except him. How sad this is, feels the AzhwAr.

We shall proceed to pAsuram 12.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dasan

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thirumAlai – 9 – maRRum Or dheyvam

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krishna-cattle

avathArikai (Introduction)

After listening to his previous pAsuram, the samsAris, afraid of being despised by the learned AzhwAr, told him “we have not attempted to reach emperumAn, not because of any affection for the other sects such as baudhdham etc. dhEvarIr (your highness) had asked us to reach [dhaSaratha] chakravarthy’s son SrI rAma. But he is dwelling inside a huge palace with many security guards guarding him throughout, not allowing common people like us to approach him. Even if we were to go past these security guards, there are sages such as vaSishta who would not allow ignorant persons such as ourselves to approach him. Hence to us, SrI rAma is very similar to paravAsudhEvan [who is in SrIvaikuNtam] in that we cannot approach either of them. We can approach only that entity who will not mind our lowly nature and our lack of qualification. Show us such a person” AzhwAr says “in that case you have to approach only kaNNan (krishNa) who, unmindful of any qualification or lack of it, falls head over heels on his followers and gives them refuge” in this pAsuram. Let us first look at the pAsuram:

மற்றுமோர் தெய்வம் உண்டே மதியிலா மானிடங்காள்
உற்றபோதன்றி நீங்கள் ஒருவன் என்று உணர மாட்டீர்
அற்றமேல் ஒன்று அறியீர் அவனல்லால் தெய்வமில்லை
கற்றினம் மேய்த்த எந்தை கழலிணை பணிமின் நீரே.

maRRUmOr dheyvam uNdE madhiyilA mAnidangAL
uRRapOdhanRi nIngaL oruvan enRu uNara mAttIr
aRRamEl onRu aRiyIr avanallAl dheyvamillai
kaRRinam mEyththa endhai kazhaliNai paNimin nIRE

Listen

word-by-word meaning

madhiyilA – without vEdhAntha (upanishath) knowledge
mAnidangAL – Oh men!
maRRum – (other than the entity mentioned by me) another
Or dheyvam – (fit to take refuge) a God
uNdE – is there anyone? (No, there is none)
nIngaL – you people
uRRapOdhu anRi – (only at the time when the dhEvathA [other than SrIman nArAyaNan] that you had surrendered to is in) difficult times

(at other times)
oruvan enRu – he is (the supreme) one entity
uNara mAttIr – you will not know
mEl – more than (the meanings given in SAsthram (sacred texts))
aRRam – the hidden entity
onRu aRiyIr – you will not know at all
avan allAl – other than him
dheyvam – Lord (fit to take refuge under)
illai – (there is) no one

(Hence)
kaRRu inam mEyththa – the one who herded cattle
endhai – my swAmy (master) [krishNa’s]
kazahliNai – the two exalted feet
nIr paNimin – you hold on to, as in surrendering
nIr – you

vyAkhyAnam

maRRUmOr dheyvam uNdE – other than the entity that I am talking about, will any other entity be supreme enough to attain? While there may be those who claim “I am the Controller” there is no one who is divine enough and of natural affinity towards us, for us to attain. As said in SrI bhagavath gIthA (9.23) “yE thvanya dhEvathA bhaktha:…” (when the devotees of other dhEvathAs (celestial beings) pray to those dhEvathAs with faith, they pray to me only; but in an improper way) kaNNan makes a distinction between himself and the other dhEvathAs. AzhwAr also points out to a similar disparity.

Or dheyvam – just as people living in abject poverty are counted among the citizenship, these dhEvathAs are also considered as “Gods” even though they will be lacking in the auspicious qualities associated with a God, if one delves deeper.

uNdEAzhwAr is not asking if there is any other dhEvathA who is equal to him. He is emphatically denying that there is anyone else who qualifies to be called as a God. Another interpretation is that he is asking if he is not the only famous protector. As said in thiruvAimozhi 2.2.2, if someone were to ask “Ezhulagum IpAvam seydhu aruLAl aLippArAr?” – in all the worlds, who else is there who will protect the samsAris and remove their sins? Even his enemies will respond saying that it is only he [emperumAn]. He is that famous. That he is the protector of all cannot be denied by anyone.

madhiyilA mAnidangAL – rig vEdha 8.1-12-6 says “thrINi SathA sahasrANyagnIm thrimSachcha dhEvA nava chAsaparyan” (agni claims that three thousand three hundred and thirty nine celestial people did service to me). samsAris, quoting this, ask the AzhwAr, when vEdhas say that there are thousands of such dhEvas  (celestial beings) who are being worshipped, how can he say that no one else has divine qualities? To which Azhwar responds, derisively, “madhiyilA mAnidangAL” – Oh men, without the wealth of vEdhAntha knowledge. The vyAkhyAthA quotes from several pramANams here to establish the supremacy of emperumAn:

  1. From yajur vEdham 3-11-21 “chathurhOthArO yathra sampadham gachchanthi dhEvai:” – various karmas starting with agnihOthra dharSapUrNamAsa karma, derive their pride from various dhEvathAs only because these dhEvathAs form the body of emperumAn who remains their inner soul (antharyAmi) for all.
  2. From SrI bhagavath gIthai 9-24 “aham hi sarvayagyAnAm bhOkthA cha prabhurEva cha” – It is true that for all yagyams (rituals), I remain the bhOkthA (one who enjoys) and one who gives the benefits. Those who attempt to reach other dhEvathAs do not realise this and they slip away from me.
  3. From dhaksha smruthi 355-4  “yE yajanthi pithrUn dhEvAn ….” – those who worship pithrUn (forefathers), celestial people, brAhmaNas and agni, worship vishNu who remains their inner soul.

Thus, those without knowledge of the sacred texts (Sruthi and smruthi) are born as chEthanas (sentient entity) who, by definition, are supposed to be with knowledge and AzhwAr laments on their misfortune. The vyAkhyAthA quotes from thirumangai AzhwAr’s periya thirumozhi 11.7.9  “AnvidayEanRadhARku ALAnArallAdhAr mAnidarallavenRu en manaththE vaiththEnE” – I did not consider as chEthanas those who were not blessed by krishNa and from bhUthaththAzhwAr’s  iraNdAm thiruvandhAdhi 44 “chengaNmAl nAmam maRandhArai mAnidamA vaiyEn” – I will not consider as chEthanas those who forget the glory of emperumAn. thaiththiriya upnishath also says “asannEva sa bhavathi I asath brahmEthi vEdha chEth I” – one who does not have the credit for knowing brahmam is considered to be non-existent. SrIvishNu purANam 6.5.87 says “thath gyAnamagyAnam anOnyadhuktham” – that is gyAnam which knows the one who is faultless, pure and shining. The rest is agyAnam. poygai AzhwAr says in the mudhal thiruvandhAdhi -67 “oN thAmaraiyAL kELvan oruvanaiyE nOkkum uNarvu” – gyAnam will consider only the lord of mahAlakshmi. Finally the vyAkhyAthA quotes from SrIvishNu purANam 1.19.41 “vidhyAnyA SilpanaipuNam”  – that which is not reason for bondage (to samsAram) is karmam; that which is reason for liberation (mOksham) is knowledge. The rest of the karmas is for looking after the physical body and the rest of knowledge is suited for repairing one’s sandals.

Thus AzhwAr says that samsAris are without knowledge since they have not gained knowledge of the one entity about which they should have gained. Hearing this, the samsAris told him “since we do not have knowledge, you, the knowledgeable, please enlighten us” AzhwAr responds….

uRRapOdhanRi nIngaL oruvan enRu uNaramAttIr – Azhwar says “however much I tell you, until the day of praLayam (deluge) comes and both you and the Gods that you took refuge under go together into the mouth of emperumAn, you will not realise that the supreme being is purushOththaman (emperumAn).

oruvan – non pareil; peerless; without any equal.

uRRapOdhu – when deluge strikes

Another interpretation given is that  “only on that day when the Gods that you took refuge under are troubled by demons such as rAvANa, hiraNya, basmAsura et al and they cry out to emperumAn will you realise that emperumAn is the supreme entity”

oruvan enRu uNaramAttIr – “samsAris like you who are worshipping other dhEvathAs will not even know until the troubled times (as mentioned earlier) come that emperumAn is also a God like the other dhEvathAs” is another interpretation to these words. AzhwAr feels dejected that the samsAris are not having affection towards emperumAn, who can grant mOksham itself, that they are having towards the other dhEvathAs who can fulfil only their insignificant wishes.

aRRamEl onRu aRiyIraRRam – meanings hidden. The reason for samsAris’ ignorance is that in the vEdhas, they know the meanings only superficially but not the inner, deep meanings. In jithanthE slOkam 1.7, it says “vachasAm vAchyamuththamam” – great people would know that you [emperumAn] are the cause behind all the effects, the real, superior meanings of words and the greatest goal to be reached. krishNa, in bhagavath gIthA 15.15 says “vEdhaiScha sarvairahamEva vEdhya:” – it is I who is known by all the vEdhas (sacred texts). SrI bhAgavatham 2.15.15 says “nArAyaNaparA vEdhA:” – vEdhas talk about nArAyaNa, the supreme being. Even when SAsthras praise other deities, it is only their antharyAmi (inner dwelling soul) SrIman nArAyaNan who is praised.

avan(aiy)allAl dheyvamillai  – no one else has total divine quality. AzhwAr is not saying that there are no other deities. As said in thaiththiriya upanishath SIkshAvalli 5.1 “sa AthmA angAnyanya dhEvathA:” – the other dhEvathAs exist as his forms and physical body; he is their soul. When emperumAn with complete, natural divinity is there, it is not proper to take refuge under other dhEvathAs who have only a fraction of his divine qualities, which were also granted only by him. AzhwAr refers to krishNa, who is mentioned next, as “avan

Please identify the person who you are referring to as “avan”, say the samsAris. AzhwAr responds….

kaRRinam mEyththa endhai kazhaliNai paNimin nIrE – Instead of calling him as krishNa, AzhwAr is using the term “kaRRinam mEyththa” – one who herded the cows and calves. This is to emphasise the fact that unlike other deities who are difficult to worship, he is very simple and makes himself available even to cows and calves. “kaRRu” is a modified form of “kanRu” which means calves. Instead of saying “Avinam mEyththa” (herding cows) AzhwAr is using the term “kaRRinam mEyththa” because cows, being grown up, would know where to go for grazing grass and take care of themselves while calves do not know even this. Cows are like nithyasUris to emperumAn who do not need constant care from him while he is more considerate towards calves, who are like samsAris, unable to protect themselves. As nammAzhwAr said in his thiruvAimozhi 10.3.10 “thivaththilum pasunirai mEyppuvaththi” – he takes more immense pleasure in herding calves than in being in SrIvaikuNtam. thirumangai AzhwAr in his thirunedunthANdakam 10 conveyed similar meaning “kanRu mEyththu inidhugandha kALAy” – you were pleased about herding calves.

endhai – father. You can also get attracted to this krishNAvathAram (incarnation of Lord krishNa) just as I got attracted to, says AzhwAr.

kazhaliNai paNimin nIrE – hold on to his two exalted feet. Just as iLaiyaperumAL (lakshmaNan) said in SrI rAmAyaNam kishkinthA kANdam 4-12 “ahamasyAvarO bhrAthA guNair dhAsyamupAgatha:” – by his (SrI rAma’s) account, I am his brother. But I am a servitor to his qualities. I fell at the exalted feet of emperumAn seeing how fond he was of calves and cows. You could also hold on to his exalted feet. It is only emperumAn who, even when he takes incarnation in a lowly birth, allows his ASrithars (followers) to enjoy to the same extent whatever he himself experiences. Other deities cannot share this pride as is clear from events that happened in krishNAvathAram (kaRRinam mEyththa) and as seen in ithihAsas and purANas. In mahAbhAratham, there is a story on yayAthi. He was a king who attained the position of Indhra by his sheer puNya (good deeds) and sat on the same throne that Indhra sat on, along with Indhra. Indhra was very jealous of him and wanted to push him out of his place somehow. Very casually, he asked yayAthi as to who, in his time on earth,  was the one who had done greatest puNya? Afraid of telling a lie, yayAthi very truthfully said that people used to say that it was he who had done the greatest puNya. Indhra thundered that he had indulged in vanity and said that such a person was unfit to sit on his throne and toppled him from his seat. nanjIyar, one of our pUrvAchAryas, told his AchArya, SrI parASara bhattar that the purpose of this incident in mahAbhArath was not clear to him. bhattar responded saying that this was quoted to explain that other deities (such as indhra) cannot bear others coming anywhere near them and partaking in their enjoyment and that only emperumAn allows that and hence only he is fit to be surrendered to and not the other deities.

We shall move on to the next (10th) pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dasan

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thirumAlai – 8 – veRuppodu samaNar

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srirangam golden vimana history

avathArikai (Introduction)

AzhwAr wonders that despite clearly stating that only SrI rAma is to be taken refuge under, the samsAris are going about their ways, eating and making merry as well as talking ill of emperumAn, instead of seeking him. He concludes that this must be due to the deep involvement that they have with puRachchamayIs (other sects) and tells emperumAn that these purachchamayIs should be eliminated.

Let us look at the pAsuram and its meaning:

வெறுப்பொடு சமணர் முண்டர் விதியில் சாக்கியர்கள் நின்பால்
பொறுப்பரியனகள் பேசிற் போவதே நோய தாகிக்
குறிப்பெனக்கு அடையுமாகில் கூடுமேல் தலையை ஆங்கே
அறுப்பதே கருமம் கண்டாய் அரங்கமாநகர் உளானே.

veRuppodu samaNar muNdar vidhiyil sAkkiyargaL ninpAl
poRuppariyanagaL pEsiR pOvadhE nOya dhAkik
kuRippenaku adaiyumAgil kUdumEl thalaiyay AngE
aRuppadhE karumam kandAy arngamAnagar uLAnE

Listen

Word-by-word meaning

arangamAnagar uLAnE – Oh, thiruvarangA! The dweller of SrIrangam!
veRuppodu – (unable to listen to anything good about emperumAn) full of hatred
samaNar – the jainas
muNdar – the Saivas
vidhi il – the unfortunate (for they cannot attain emperumAn)
sAkkiyargaL – bhauddhas
nin pAl – in matters relating to you (who is the sarvESvaran, the Lord of all)
poRuppu ariyanagaL – the intolerable matters
pEsil – had they spoken
adhuvE nOyAgi – such abuses would become disease
pOvadhu – ending in demise (which would have been the best)

instead of that
enakku – to me (the one who cannot take such abuses about emperumAn)
kuRippu adaiyum Agil – should I get an opportunity
kUdumEl – if I have (the strength too)
AngE – at the same place (where they had abused emperumAn)
thalaiyai aRuppadhE – beheading such persons
karumam kandAy – is the just deed

vyAkhyAnam (Explanatory Notes)

veRuppodu  samaNar muNdar – with hatred, jainas and Saivas. These people, displaying their hatred,  become red in their faces without any reason, on hearing auspicious details about emperumAn. The glories that vEdhas speak about and the torture that animals are subjected to during conduct of jyOthishtOma yAga (a ritual conducted for a person to reach indhra lOkam (svargam or heaven)) may be intolerable for the jainas and Saivas. Saivas would hang themselves when emperumAn comes out of temples in a procession or bang their heads when they hear the thiruchchinnam  (bugle) blowing.

muNdar – this refers to Saivas. As said in thiruchchandha viruththam (71) “mundan nIRan…” Siva’s disciples are like him with tonsured heads. Or it could be taken as samaNar muNdar together, which would refer to the tonsured jainas.

vidhiyil sAkkiyargaL – the bhaudhdhas who are not fortunate enough to know about the greatness of emperumAn and to attain and enjoy him.

ninpAl poRuppariyanagaL pEsil – if they utter anything that will be unbearable, about you – who is greater than everyone else and who is the leader among those with auspicious qualities. The jainas deny the existence of ISvaran and his paramapadham. Saivas elevate a jIvAthmA, Siva, as paramAthmA and have a habit of talking ill of paramAthmA (SrIman nArAyaNan). These acts are naturally unbearable for vaidhikas. AzhwAr, unable to repeat the crude words that such people utter, mentions these as “poRuppariyanagaL” (those which are unbearable). These AzhwArs feel shy even to bring themselves to repeating the cruel thoughts and words of such people about emperumAn – example, “thAn thIngu ninantha” in thiruppAvai, “anRinnAdhana sey sisupAlanum…” in nAchchiyAr thirumozhi. An incident is quoted here by vyAkhyAthA – mahAbali, the grandson of prahlAdhAzhwAn, approached prahlAdhAzhWan and told him that his empire was shrinking and wanted to know the reason for this. prahlAdhAzhwAn told him  “you are troubling the dhEvas (celestial people) to please asuras (demons) and dhEvas have complained to SrIman nArAyaNan in thiruppARkdal (the milky ocean – where emperumAn resides to hear the issues of celestial people). SrIman nArAyaNan has promised to redeem their lost possessions and has taken incarnation as son of adhithi. You can take it that your possession is as good as lost” Upon hearing this, mahAbali started abusing SrIman nArAyaNan. SrI prahlAdhan plugged his ears and told mahAbali “You are lost. You abused SrIman nArAyaNan in my presence. Instead of this you could have done me a favour by beheading me. As a result of your abusing emperumAn, may you lose all your possession” and cursed him, says purANas. nanjIyar, one of our preceptors, asked his AchAryan SrI parAsara bhattar “prahlAdhan is an ascetic. Is it correct on his part to consider an empire as desirable and curse mahAbali that he would lose his kingdom?” bhattar responded saying that denying food that it craves for is the way of punishing a dog. In the same way, denying the kingdom that he values most is the punishment that can be meted out to mahAbali. Denying sandalwood paste and betel to a prince is the just punishment, says the vyAKhyAthA.

pOvadhE nOyadhAgi – if the person who hears the abuses about emperumAn were like piLLai thirunaRaiyUraiyar (who gave up his life on seeing emperumAn’s vigraham set afire by miscreants at thottiyam thirunArAyaNapuram near SrIrangam), he would give up his life. Or else, instead of remaining at the place where emperumAn is being abused and looking at the abusers, he should leave the place immediately. “gurOr yathra parivAdhO nindhAvApi pravarththathE I karNau thathra pidhAthavyau ganthavyam vA thathOnyatha: II” This is from manu smrithi which says where one’s AchAryan is being abused or spoken ill of, one should plug his ears or leave the place.

kuRippenakku adaiyumAgil – if instead of ending one’s life or leaving that place as mentioned in the previous paragraph, opportunity is available to destroy the enemy. kuRiththal – thinking about carrying out a task and opportunity being available to execute it.

kUdumEl – if possible. Instead of getting caught by the enemy and getting killed, if it is possible to catch hold of the enemy and destroy him. AzhwAr uses the condition “El” (if) to emphasise that it is not easy to carry out this task (of eliminating the enemy).

thalaiyai AngE aRuppadhE karumam – it is proper and justified to behead the person who had indulged in abusing emperumAn at the same place where the abuse took place. It is one’s duty. It is a good deed for the one who carries out beheading because he doesn’t have to hear the abuse anymore.  It is also a good deed for the abuser because it prevents him from further abusing emperumAn and earning emperumAn’s wrath more and more.  In agnishOmIya yAgam (a ritual) in which an animal is sacrificed, SAsthram says that both the animal which is killed and the yajamAna (one who carries out the ritual) who kills the animal reach svargam (heaven). In the same way, it benefits both the person who is beheaded and the person who beheads in maRumai (after death).

kaNdAyAzhwAr says that he is appealing to emperumAn who, as SrI rAma, removed the enemies (rAvaNa et al) of rushis (sages) in dhaNdakAraNyam (forest near madhya pradhEsh) as only he could carry out such a task.

aranga mAnagar uLAnE – The purpose of adopting a lying posture at SrIrangam is to exterminate the enemies of followers who came after his rAmAvathAram, says the AzhwAr. It is your duty to put an end to the jainas, bhaudhdhas and Saivas who speak ill of you is the message conveyed here.

An AzhwAr such as thoNdardippodi, who is full of mercy, who always goes in the path of righteousness and who is always at peace – how is it that he is talking of killing someone? More so, when vEdhas (sacred texts) forbid cruelty to others. (yajur vEdha says “na himsyAth sarvA bhUthAni” – no living creature should be harmed). Just as the same vEdha says elsewhere that it is alright to sacrifice an animal in yAgam (ritual) such as agnishOmIyam, this AzhwAr also asks for killing the abuser to save him from committing further sins. There is no friendship between the person who is deeply involved with the auspicious qualities of emperumAn and the person who abuses emperumAn (vyAkhyAthA quotes from thirumangai AzhwAr’s periya thirumozhi 11.5.7 “eNNAdha mAnidaththai eNNAdha pOdhellAm iniyavARE” – it is always pleasant not to think of those who do not think of emperumAn).

We shall go on to the 9th pAsuram next.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dasan

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thirumAlai – 7 – pulaiyaRamAgi ninRa

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avathArikai

samsAris told the AzhwAr after he had sung the 6th pAsuram “you are despising us since we are lowly persons who are not carrying out kainkaryam to emperumAn and not eating his happiness (when he receives our kainkaryam) as our food; you are also despising us that we are lying dead, being pecked by birds. Why do you find fault with us? It is the nature of the samsAram (materialistic world). You asked us to attain “thaN thuzhAy mArban” (one who is adorning the comfortable thuLasi garland). He is so far away that we cannot even reach him. There are several other hurdles for us in samsAram in reaching him. Please tell us how to overcome these hurdles and show us the person who we have to reach”. AzhwAr tells them “attain the emperumAn who came here as the divine son of chakravarthi (reference is to SrI rAma, who incarnated here as the son of dhaSaratha chakravathi) and who has as his nature, removal of all hurdles “ This is the basis for the 7th pAsuram. Let us see the pAsuram:

புலையறமாகி நின்ற புத்தொடு சமணமெல்லாம்
கலையறக் கற்ற மாந்தர் காண்பரோ கேட்பரோ தாம்
தலையறுப்புண்டும் சாவேன் சத்தியம் காண்மின் ஐயா
சிலையினால் இலங்கை செற்ற தேவனே அவான்.

pulaiyaRamAgi ninRa puththodu samaNamellAm
kalaiyaRak kaRRa mAndhar kANbarO kEtparO thAm
thalaiyaRuppuNdum sAvEn saththiyam kANmin aiyA
silaiyinAl ilangai seRRa dhEvanE dhEvan avAn

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word-by-word meaning

kalai – Sasthrams (vEdhas, ithihAsams etc)[all sacred texts]
aRak kaRRa mAndhar – men (and women) who had learnt well the deeper, real meanings
pulai aRam Agi ninRa – those other lowly sects such as
puththodu samaNamellAm – boudhdham, jainam etc
kANbarO – will they investigate with their hearts?
kEtparO thAm – will they listen  with their ears?

Moreover
thalaiyaRuppuNdum – even if I were beheaded
sAvEn – I will not die
aiyA – Oh, the great people
kANmin – Please see (I will show you)
saththiyam – this is a fact
silaiyinAl – with his bow
ilangai seRRa – one who destroyed lankA
dhEvanE – and became famous
dhEvan AvAn – the one emperumAn who is fit to be attained.

vyAkhyAnam (Explanatory Notes)

pulaiyaRamAgi ninRa puththodu samaNamellAm – the four types of baudhdha matham (philosophy or sect) , jaina matham etc.

pulaiyaRa – lowly sects. Those who do not accept vEdhas as basis. The four types of baudhdham were headed by four disciples of budhdha namely vaibhAshikan, southrAnthikan, yOgAchAran and mAdhyamikan. Of these, vaibhAshikan’s hypothesis is that there are only two entities – knowledge and materials dependent on knowledge. There is no one called gyAthA (one who has knolwedge). Knowledge is gained through prathyaksham (what is seen by the eyes) and anumAnam (deductive logic). There is nothing called SAsthras which pass on knowledge. The second disciple, southrAnthikan’s view is that there is only knowledge. There is no gyAthA. Since knowledge is of many types, there are many kinds of materials that we know through deductive logic. yOgAchAran, the third disciple said that that there is nothing that can be gained through prathyaksham or anumAnam. There is only knowledge and no material having knowledge. These three disciples accept that whatever material they accept is of transient (lasting for fleeting moments) nature only. The fourth disciple, mAdhyamikan refused even the knowledge accepted by yOgAchAran. He said that everything is in vacuum (this is called as sarva sUnyavAdham in their parlance). The jaina matham which does not accept baudhdha matham asks “how can there be vacuum? This world which is based on cause and effect is composed of permanent and transient components. It is one and it is many. It is true and it is false” Thus the world is of many different types, says jainan. AzhwAr calls such persons and philosophies as lowly type (pulaiyaRam).

Agi ninRa – just as weeds grow opposing the growth of paddy, these lowly sects have been opposing the vaidhika dharmam (philosophy based on vEdhas) for a long time. Usage of the word ellAm refers to other philosophies such as sAnkhyam, vaiSEshikam, pAsupatham etc. The reason for AzhwAr terming these as lowly secs is because in emperumAn’s leelA vibhUthi (material realm), if a person harms another  (by thought or by words or by action) he accrues sin and these sects harm both emperumAn and his chEthanars / achEthanams (sentient and insentient entities) using the sword of agyAnam (ignorance). They are the types who try to destroy the indestructible.

kalaiyaRak kaRRa mAndhar – those who firmly believe in Sruthi (vEdhas), smruthi (the works of manu et al which came to explain vEdhas), ithihAsa (epics such as SrI rAmAyaNam and mahAbhAratham) and purANas (the 18 primary purANas such as SrIvishNu purANam etc) and know the deep meanings of vEdhas. They are people such as kUraththAzhwAn et al.

kANbarO kEtparO thAm – will they delve into such sects with their hearts or hear them with their ears? Once kUraththAzhwAn came home late after listening to the works of a lowly sect. His father, kUraththAzhwAr, gave him SrIpAdha thIrtham (the divine water of a SrIvaishNava’s lotus feet) to purify him and told him “should you listen to the works of a lowly sect? You should remember AzhwAr’s pAsuram – pulaiyaRa kaRRa mAndhar kANbarO kEtparO thAm...  ”. It is not necessary for the bAhyars (those who do not accept vEdhas) and kudhrushtis (those who give wrong interpretation to vEdhas) to do any harmful act for us to get worried. Their mere existence is enough worry for us. This is similar to bhagavath bhAgavathas’ (devotees of emperumAn) mere existence being good for us even if they do not do anything good to us.

thalaiyaRappuNdum sAvEn saththiyam kANminAzhwAr says ”for those who do not have belief in the words of faultless vEdham (SAsthram or Sruthi), I shall prove, without any doubt, through prathyaksham (direct evidence seen by the eye). You can see that”.  In olden days, to prove a statement that someone makes, that person will hold a red hot weapon (called mazhu or axe) and say that the red hot iron will not scald him if what he says is true. In the same way AzhwAr takes an oath saying that even if he were beheaded, he will not die and the onlookers can get convinced that the supreme entity to be attained is the divine son of dhaSarathan, SrI rAman. vyAkhyAthA periyavAchchAn piLLai quotes the words of lakshmaNa from SrI rAmAyaNam “dharmAthmA sathyasanthaScha rAmO dhASarathir yathi I paurushE chAprathidhvanthva: Sarainam jahi rAvaNim II” (If it is true that dhaSaratha’s son SrI rAma is a righteous person, speaks only truth, has no equal in his valour, let this arrow destroy rAvaNa’s son indhrajith). It is a fact that the arrow killed indhrajith, who could not be killed by anybody. In the same way, AzhwAr wishes to establish the supremacy of emperumAn by taking an oath that even if he were beheaded, he will not die. Could such a thing happen? wonder samsAris…

saththiyam kANmin – why do you doubt an event that you are going to witness right in front of your eyes? See what I am going to do now and learn the truth, says AzhwAr.

aiyA – when the samsAris hesitated to see what he was going to do, he pleads with them calling them ”aiyA” (elderly person). samsAris said “please do not carry out such difficult acts. We believe your oath. Please let us know who the person is that we have to attain”……..

silaiyinAl ilangai seRRa dhEvanE dhEvan AvAn – To ensure that those who granted boons to rAvaNan (brahmA et al) do not lose face, emperumAn came down to earth as the son of dhaSarathan. With the help of the bow in his hand, he destroyed lankA. Such emperumAn, SrI rAman is the object [goal] for you to reach, avers the AzhwAr. What would have happened if he had destroyed rAvaNan with his will power (sankalpam) sitting in SrIvaikuNtam? In that case, the boons which were acting as a protective cover for lankA would have gone waste. Since the boons were granted by his followers (brahmA, rudhra et al) he had to keep their words. Hence he took an incarnation as SrI rAma and with the help of the bow in his hand, he destroyed lankA.

dhEvanE dhEvan AvAn – there are two roots for the word dhEvan – in the first it means “dhivu – kAnthi“ (radiance) and in the second it means “dhivu – gathi” (refuge). AzhwAr says that SrI rAma, who was resplendent with radiance, holding the bow in his hand near the fallen body of rAvaNa is the supreme entity in whom all have to take refuge.

We shall move on to the 8th pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dasan

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thirumAlai – 6 – maRam suvar

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avathArikai (Introduction

samsAris told AzhwAr that even though sensual pleasures have faults such as being lowly and being transient, we will not give them up. Even if we cannot enjoy total satisfaction in any one sensual pleasure, since there are so many of them we can get satisfaction in one or other of these pleasures and what we missed in one, we shall make up in the other. Azhwar responded saying that for enjoying these pleasures, the person who enjoys (samsAri) should be permanent. But even he has limited life and he is as short-lived as these sensual pleasures are. He goes on to paint a picture of the samsAri’s transient state in this pAsuram. First let us enjoy the pAsuram:

மரம் சுவர் மதிள் எடுத்து மறுமைக்கே வெறுமை பூண்டு
புறம் சுவர் ஓட்டை மாடம் புரளும்போது அறிய மாட்டீர்
அறம் சுவராகி நின்ற அரங்கனார்க்கு ஆட்செய்யாதே
புறம் சுவர் கோலம் செய்து புள் கவ்வக் கிடக்கின்றீரே

maRam suvar madhiL eduththu maRumaikkE veRumai pUNdu
puRam suvar Ottai mAdam puraLumbOdhu aRiya mAttIr
aRam suvarAgi ninRa aranganArkku AtseyyAdhE
puRam suvar kOlam seydhu puL kavvak kidakkinRIRE

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Meanings of words

maRam suvar – wall of cruelty as nature [speaking or acting in a cruel way]
madhiL eduththu – raise as protective wall
maRumaikkE – for benefits in the other world
veRyumai pUNdu – take on poverty
puRam suvar – as outside wall
Ottai – to be destroyed
mAdam – this [physical] body
puraLumbOdhu – the time when the body falls on to the ground
aRiya mAttIr – you will not know
aRam suvar Agi ninRa – one who is standing with dharmam (righteousness) as wall
aranganArkku – to SrI ranganAthan
AL seyyAdhE – instead of being a servitor
puRam suvar – this body which is like the outer wall
kOlam seydhu – decorate this body
puL kavva – being pecked by vultures
kidakkinRIRE – lying down, wasted

vyAkhyAnam

maRam suvar  madhiLeduththu –  samsAris construct a protective wall with their cruel thoughts, cruel words and cruel action. Cruelty is the only “auspicious” quality that they have, it appears to AzhwAr.

maRam – without mercy; being angry; being proud are the meanings of the word maRam. If good people look at a cruel person and think, “Oh! Why he is always so angry? He is inviting problems” and want to correct him, they cannot even approach him because of his deep anger which he has spread out as a protective wall around himself. When mArIchan, mAlyavAn, kumbhakarNan and SrI vibhIshaNAzhwAn tried to counsel rAvaNan he was not willing to listen to them. As a result, some of them, like mArIchan and kumbhakarNan died with him while others, such as SrI vibhIshaNAzhwAn were driven out of the country. This is what happens when someone tries to advise the lowly person.

madhiL eduththu – construct a wall. This means that it is not there as a natural behaviour. Since it has been constructed by the jIvAthmA around himself, it also means that one day, when bhagavAn decides to take the samsAri under his wings, the wall will come down in pieces. The next word describes the result of his building the wall…..

maRumaikkE veRumai pUNdu – The samsAri’s action [borne out of cruel thoughts, speech and actions] in this birth leads to an abject state as far as SrIvaikuNtam is concerned. Along with providing whatever the body wanted, had he thought about providing food for AthmA also, emperumAn would have given him all the protection, thinking of the samsAri’s commitment to improve himself. Just as varAha perumAn said, “…dhAthu sAmyE sthithE smarthA…” (when the jIvAthmA is having his senses in balance and thinks of me for protecting him) emperumAn would have provided him with all benefits including mOksham (liberation from samsAram) as varAha perumAn said further in the same SlOka, “…aham smarAmi…” (I shall think of him when he is in his final stage like a stone or a log of wood and take him to SrIvaikuNtam). On the other hand, if he remains as a cruel person, when he dies, there will not be a single person who would look at him with comforting eyes. If a person lives physically in poverty in this world, the poverty will end on the day the body ends. But if his AthmA lives in poverty, there is no end to that poverty and it will become permanent.

puRam suvar Ottai mAdam puraLumbOdhu aRiyamAttIrpuRam suvar refers to the physical body. It should have been used for good deeds, as desired by emperumAn, in going towards him. Instead the samsAri uses it for indulging in worldly pleasures. Hence it is referred to us puRam (outside) suvar (wall).  But the same body would very much become likeable if it were used for doing something good for AthmA (doing kainkaryam for emperumAn and becoming his servitor).

Ottai mAdam – “It fell on this day” “It fell on that day” is what people say about this body. It is that transient, so fleeting it is in its existence. Another meaning for Ottai mAdam – having a roof and lock; hence called as house. “mAdam”  is a big house. It is thought to be big, in samsAri’s opinion. samsAris told AzhwAr that he is telling them only now about the problems with this body and what they should do. We shall follow your advice in due course of time, they said. His response was……

puraLumbOdhu aRiyamAttIrAzhwAr says “you do not know as to how long you will live”. He says “the messenger of death is close at hand. Can you afford to delay doing good for the AthmA under these circumstances?  All along, you were engaged in worldly pleasures and forgot to do any good for the AthmA. Now on the throes of death, you do not have the strength to search for the good deeds. By saying that you would do good things in due course of time, you are only going to destroy everything for yourself”

aRam suvarAgi ninRa – the one who is standing with righteousness as wall (emperumAn). vyAkhyAthA quotes from several parmANams (authentic proofs) to state that emperumAn is dharmam (righteousness). He says that it is natural for emperumAn to be dharmam. First he quotes from SrI rAmAyaNam “lOkAnAm thvam parO dharma:” (you are the superior dharmam for all the people in the world). Then he quotes again from Sri rAmAyaNam “rAmo vigrahavAn dharma:” (rAma is dharmam personified). He quotes from bhAratham AraNya kANdam “krishNam dharmam sanAthanam” (krishNa is dharmam from time immemorial) and finally from SrIrangarAja sthavam “upAyOpEyathvE thadhiha thaththvam na thu guNou” (providing both the means of attaining you and enjoying your kainkaryam are natural to you)

Agi ninRa – unlike other upAyams (paths or means for attaining emperumAn) where the samsAri has to take efforts [referred to as sAdhyOpAyam in our sampradhAyam], emperumAn is ready to be attained through himself [this is called as sidhdhOpAyam in our sampradhAyam]. Unlike the other upAyams which will look up to him for providing benefits, this sidhdhOpAyam does not look at anything or anybody else for providing benefit [granting SrIvaikuNtam]. Is there anything that the samsAri has to do for this, asks the vyAkyAthA and says that taking shelter under this wall and not rejecting him is the only expectation from him.  As it says in mahAbhAratham “prakArassarva vrushInAm…” bhagavAn provides shelter to all those who accept him as their protector.

ninRa – sumanthran said in SrI rAmAyaNam “ASayA yadhi vA rAma:….” (expecting that SrI rAmA will call me I was waiting along with guhan for several days, said sumanthran). In the same way, emperumAn took position at the banks of kAvEri waiting for samsAris to take refuge under him.

aranganArkku – There is no shortcoming that the object to be attained is too far away. Asking “who will utilise my presence and attain me” lies emperumAn in SrIrangam, saying that he will stay here till he grants mOksham to all samsAris.

AL seyyAdhE – the samsAri need not even carry out surrendering. It is enough if he involves in carrying out kainkaryam (service). His basic nature is being a servitor to emperumAn; this is the benefit that has been mentioned in SAsthras. This is precisely the wealth that he had lost from time immemorial. When he is a samsAri he  is a servitor to his karma (deeds). Once he becomes the recipient of emperumAn’s causeless mercy he becomes a servitor to emperumAn. He is a servitor to karmas due to past deeds in innumerable births. He did not become a servitor to emperumAn due to these sins. Another meaning given for AL seyyAdhE  is that it is like staying without food.

puRam suvar kOlam seydhu – decorating only the physical body and not the AthmA. Can AthmA be decorated? vyAkyAthA quotes from thaiththiriya upanishath “asannEva sa bhavathi….” (a person exists only if he knows that there is brahmam (superior power)  and does not exist if he does not know of brahman). Hence realising this AthmasvarUpam (knowledge of emperumAn) and carrying out kainkaryam to emperumAn is the decoration for AthmA. Instead of doing that, the samsAri keeps decorating the body which is incidental and not a permanent feature. In the olden days, palm leaf manuscripts were protected on both sides with wooden planks and tied with a string. The vyAkhyAthA says that decorating the body and leaving the AthmA to rot is like the manuscripts being eaten away by termites and rodents and the wooden planks and string being decorated with flower, sandalwood paste etc.

puL kavva – being bitten by bird. Even birds (like vulture) which eat carcasses take a bite of the samsAri’s body and refrain from eating it further because the birds know that this is the carcass of a person who was treacherous. [the act of treachery here is that the samsAri, who was granted the body and the senses, instead of submitting them to emperumAn through kainkaryam, indulged in worldly pleasures]

kidakkinRIREAzhwAr mocks at samsAris saying that while emperumAn was waiting nearby (at SrIrangam) to provide them sustenance, the samsAris went their own ways so much that even vultures are not interested in their carcasses. He is saddened because of the difficulties that the samsAri encounters in the samsAram by not following the correct path. nammAzhwAr, in the decad “kOvai vAyAL” (thiruvAimozhi 4.3) talks about his body being the sandalwood paste, garland and vasthram (divine dress) for emperumAn. A similar body of the samsAri is being pecked by birds instead of being offered to emperumAn through kainkaryam, feels the AzhwAr. Is he saying these words after the samsAri has encountered death? No, even when the samsAri is alive and spending his life in worldly matters, AzhwAr is able to conclude for sure, the events to come (including pecking by the birds) and feels sorry for such samsAris and tells them what they should instead do. Even when rAvaNan was alive and sitting on his throne in his court, thiruvadi [hanuman] told the courtiers “nEyamasthi purI lankA na yUyam na cha rAvaNa: ….” (since you have invited the enmity of the great warrior and descendent of ikshvAku kulam, SrI rAma, this lankApuri, you and rAvaNa will not be there soon). This was said even when rAvaNa was alive. When dhuryOdhana and his clan were lying dead in the battlefield, vEdha vyAsar says with contempt that they did not pay heed to his advice and have paid the price. In a similar vein, AzhwAr feels contemptuous of the wayward lives of samsAris and warns them of what would happen if they do not mend their ways.

We shall move on to the 7th pAsuram in the next article.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dasan

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thirumAlai – 5 – peNdirAl sugangaL uyppAn

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namperumal

avathArikai

In the previous pAsuram, AzhwAr  was disgusted with the samsAris for being caught in repeated births by focussing on lowly pleasures and not bothering about the supreme emperumAn even though he is waiting to help samsAris. vyAkhyAthA (commentator) creates an antagonist in the form of lOkAyathan (one who thinks that life is there to be lived only in pleasurable ways and not for bothering about matters which are not seen (AthmA, emperumAn et al)). The purpose of creating this lOkAyathan is to describe the background for AzhwAr composing this pAsuram. On hearing the AzhwAr lamenting about the samsAris  getting deeper into the quagmire of repeated births by engaging in lowly activities, lOkAyathan asks the AzhwAr “what is the issue with worldly matters? Why do you talk ill of samsAram which is full of sixteen year old damsels who give so much pleasure? That there is something which is different from and superior to the body is false. That there are both dharmam (righteousness) and adharmam (wrongful deeds) is false. That there is another world above is also false. What we see here with our eyes (the body) and what we enjoy with this body alone are true. It is not true that there is something to be experienced after this body falls”. AzhwAr replies “whatever you enjoy with this body is too lowly and very transient. Even this is very difficult to attain. On the other hand, emperumAn is readily available to us and we can attain him without difficulty”. Let us look at the pAsuram:

பெண்டிரால் சுகங்களுயப்பன் பெரியதோர் இடும்பை பூண்டு
உண்டிராக் கிடக்கும்போது உடலுக்கே கரைந்து நைந்து
தண்டுழாய் மாலை மார்பன் தமர்களாய்ப் பாடி யாடி
தொண்டு பூண்டமுதம் உண்ணாத் தொழும்பர் சோறு உகக்குமாறே.

peNdirAl sugangaLuyppAn periyadhOr idumbai pUNdu
uNdirAk kidakkumpOdhu udalukkE karaindhu naindhu
thaNduzhAi mAlai mArban thamargaLAyp pAdiyAdith
thoNdu pUNdamudham uNNAth thozhumbar sORu ugaggumARE

Meanings of Words

peNdirAl – through women
sugangaL – all types of comforts / pleasures
uyppAn – thinking that he is enjoying
periyadhu Or idumbai – very huge problems
pUNdu – taking on oneself
irA uNdu – eating in the night
kidakkumbOdhu – when lying on the bed
udalukkE karaindhu – worrying only about protecting the body
naindhu – getting troubled in the mind
thaN thuzhAy mArban – sarvESwaran (emperumAn) who is adorning the cool, thuLasi (basil) garland
thamargaL Ay – as his followers
pAdi – singing (about his auspicious qualities and divine names)
Adi – (hence not remaining in the same place) dancing about
thoNdu pUNdu – becoming a servitor (to emperumAn)
amudham uNNA – not eating the nectar (of enjoying emperumAn’s qualities)
thozhumbar – lowly persons
sORu ugakkumARE – how do they relish food?!

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vyAkhyAnam (Explanatory Notes)

peNdirAl sugangaL uyppAn – one can enjoy all comforts with the help of women [if the reader is a woman, the sentence will change to “one can enjoy all comforts with the help of men”]. This seems to be the deep understanding of samsAris, says AzhwAr. This is similar to a person hugging fire in order to cool himself or taking rest under the expanded hood of a poisonous snake or a person eating poison in order to live forever. Without realising that it is the reason for all sorrows, samsAris think that it is the reason for all pleasures. nammAzhwAr in his thiruvAimozhi 9.1.1 states  “koNda peNdir suRRamellAm” meaning that wife will ask of her husband to get this and that and make him run around to earn money and obtain things for her which are very difficult to get. Her love and affection for him will last only until his health and his wealth last. This is samsAram. This is the case when the word peNdir refers to one’s wife. But if it is taken to mean a woman who sells herself for money, his problems become more acute. Since she sells her body for money, she will be willing to have him with her only until he has money. He cannot enjoy her forever. Moreover if someone sees him with her, it will be a matter of shame for him. Even if he escapes that, he will surely rot in hell. This is the kind of comfort that he can enjoy with the help of women. It is as if in his estimate, she is the ultimate source of happiness. The reason for using the plural form for sukam (sugangaL) is because the man thinks that the wife will deliver all comforts to him – the day she enters his house, she will bring him wealth; once she attains the state of bearing him children, she will give him physical pleasures and later on bring forth his children etc.

uyppAn – samsAri keeps dreaming about comforts but in reality there is nothing comfortable in any of what she has to offer. This is so, because these so called comforts are so transient in nature that he will not be able to recall the comfort that he had enjoyed in such lowly pleasures. He (the samsAri) goes behind the damsels out of lust but they would not even bother about him and even put him to shame when they find that he does not have wealth any more. Their putting him to shame makes him long for them more and increases his lust towards them.

periyadhOr idumbai pUNdu – pUNdu means to wear (like adorning oneself with jewels or garland etc). But here, the samsAri wears a huge sorrow (idumbai is sorrow). Just as a person wears the neck of a pot (which cannot be removed) around his neck, he wears sorrow around his neck. Thinking that he is going after unbounded pleasure, he ends up getting unbounded sorrow. While emperumAn is ready to give even SrIvaikuNtam, expecting only an anjali (folded hands) from us [meaning  “I don’t have anything in me to get to your divine feet; only you have to take care of me and give me the opportunity to carry out kainkaryam to your divine feet”]. But the samsAri does anjali to those who cannot grant him anything. kaNNan says in SrI bhagavadh gIthA 9.2 “susukham karththum avyayam” (bhakthi mArga, the path of devotion, is the one which will enable you to reach me and this path is comfortable to do; even after giving you the benefit, it will not be destroyed). In our regular day-to-day routine, when we work (to earn money) it is hard work. It is not comfortable. The comfort comes at the end of the work when we get paid for it and enjoy with it [in his opinion]. But when it comes to emperumAn, whether it is doing bhakthi (devotion) or SaraNAgathi (surrendering), the act of doing it is comfortable and the result obtained is also comfortable. Instead of this, if a person goes after worldly pleasures, it is only sorrow both during the time of putting in the effort and during the time of enjoyment.

uNdirA – [irA uNdu] eating at night. During daytime he works tirelessly earning money, without even having the time to eat, and eats only after sunset.  First he eats to satisfy the hunger in his stomach and then only he can even think of going after worldly pleasures.

kidakkumpOdhu – After that, he looks for a place to rest. Having worked during the day, his body begs him to give it some rest. At this point of time, he does not have the energy even to think of worldly pleasures, let alone engaging in such activities.

udalukkE karaindhu naindhu – Even when he goes to sleep, he is worried about how he is going to earn money the next day for meeting his family’s and his own needs. The reason for using the term ”udalukkE” is that he does not even think that there is another entity (AthmA) which is superior to the body  and that he has to worry about satisfying its needs too. He does not even bother about how to reach the purushArtham (ultimate benefit) of SrIvaikuNtam. Nor does he worry about avoiding naraka (hell) and returning to samsAram with another physical form. His only focus is on satisfying the body. As nammAzhwAr says in thiruvAimozhi 9-6-2 “ninaidhoRum sollundhoRum nenju idindhugum” (whenever I think of emperumAn or speak about him, my heart melts), for the samsAri it is always looking after his bodily needs.

thaN thuzhAy mAlai mArban tharmagalAyp pAdi Adi – The samsAri is fit to go to SrIvaikuNtam as mukthAthmA and recite sAma vEdha hymn “aham annam aham annam” – the mukthAthmA tells emperumAn that he is the food to be enjoyed by emperumAn and once emperumAn eats him and feels happy, the mukthAthmA eats the happiness of emperumAn. He feels proud of being the food for emperumAn and in this exalted state sings and dances with other nithyasUris. When he is qualified to enjoy this, it is indeed sad that he is still in samsAram, suffering all the ignominies.

thaN thuzhAy mAlai mArban – he wears the beautiful thuLasi garland to hint that he is sarvESvaran [Lord of all]. He is waiting to protect us; all we need to do is to tell him that “I have nothing in my hands to protect myself and I have nowhere else to go” [in our sampradhAyam, Akinchanyam (I have nothing) and ananya gathithvam (I have nowhere else to go) are prerequisites to surrender to emerpumAn]. Unlike those lowly people [who give worldly pleasures] demanding money and other things, emperumAn asks for nothing. But still we are not ready to go to him. Even if he is not going to protect us, the very image of emperumAn with the thuLasi garland will give happiness to those who reach him.

thamargaLAy – as servitors. There is nothing great that the samsAri needs to do to be his servitor. It is enough if he accepts his svarUpam (his basic nature) and the svAbhAvika (natural) relationship with emperumAn – that he is the servitor and emperumAn is the swAmy (master). When emperumAn wants to do something good, all that is required of the samsAri is not to object to it. vyAkhyAthA quotes three faultless pramANams (proofs) to establish the relationship between emperumAn and samsAri –(a) thaiththiriya upanishath “pathim viSvasya” (he is the swAmy or master of all), (b) yajur brAhmaNam “yasyAsmi” (I will not go away from the one to whom I am the servitor) and (c) SrI rAmAyaNam“dhAsOham” (I am the servitor of kOsala rAja, SrI rAma). “thamar” (being a servitor of bhagavAn) is the natural state for samsAri whereas being servitor to women is an assumed state.

pAdiyAdi – making merry by singing and dancing due to the experience of enjoying emperumAn. In sundara kANdam of SrI rAmAyaNam, when the troop of monkeys (returning after sighting SithAp pirAtti in lankA) went about destroying the madhuvanam of sugrIva, they were in such a merry-making state of mind. Some monkeys were singing, some were prostrating, some were dancing, some were jumping from one tree to another, some were falling down – the samsAri can engage in such activities as he is the servitor of emperumAn. When he goes to SrIvaikuNtam, he can sing sAma gAnam (hA vuhA vuhA vu….) in ecstasy.

thoNdu pUNdu – donning the role of servitor – what is specified for the samsAri. It should be taken up with joy and not as a duty. As we had seen earlier, the word “pUNdu” means adorning oneself with. Sri ranganAthan wears chEra sundhara pANdiyan (a pendant) as an ornament on his chest. In the same way, the samsAri dons the role of being a servitor as an ornament on his chest. Unlike “idumbai pUNdu” (we had seen the meaning of this term a few paras back), thoNdu pUNdu is not something enforced. It is taken up willingly. This is more like lakshmaNa saying “aham sarvam karishyAmi”  (I will carry out all services) and nammAzhwAr saying in thiruvAimozhi 3.3.1, “vazhuvilA adimai seyya vENdum nAm” (we should carry out all service without missing anything).

amudham uNNA – The food referred to here is the service to emperumAn, the happiness that emperumAn has out of eating this food (service) and the resultant happiness that mukthAthmA gets after seeing the brightened, happy face of emperumAn. This is what is ordained for us and what is permanent for us, instead of the lowly pleasure that we get out of worldly pursuits. ALavandhAr (one of our important preceptors) said in his sthOthra rathnam that he would rather be born as a worm in the hut of emperumAn’s servitor and eat whatever is available there than being born as brahmA in the palace of a non-servitor. kUraththAzhwAn (SrI rAmAnuja’s disciple) said in his varadharAja sthavam that he would rather enjoy the elixir of being emperumAn’s servitor than the pleasures of samsAram or the positions of brahmA, rudhra et al (which would be like sea-water (salty) to him).

thozhumbar – lowly person. Instead of enjoying the service rendered to emperumAn, the samsAri runs after lowly, not enjoyable, not ordained worldly pleasures. It is not that the samsAri has lost out on being emperumAn’s servitor because he is not qualified for it; or because it is very difficult to reach emperumAn; or because he does not know the difference between enjoyment of emperumAn and that of worldly pleasures. Knowing everything, he desires for the lowly pleasures. Hence the term “thozhumbar”

sORu ugakkumARE – he enjoys cooked food knowing that it is superior to sand. But why does he not know that for the AthmA the food is carrying out service to emperumAn? Is it because he has seen his parents eating food and hence he too is eating it? If he has knowledge in one (difference between sand and food) why does he not have knowledge in the other (between food for body and food for AthmA)? AzhwAr wonders as to how the samsAri enjoys this food.

The summary of this pAsuram is that were the samsAri capable of delving deeper into his intelligence, would he not have found out what is beneficial for the AthmA? If he had the knowledge in one aspect, would he not have the same knowledge in another aspect too?

We shall move on to the 6th pAsuram in the next article.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dasan

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thirumAlai – 4 – moyththa val vinaiyuL

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kshathrabandhu

avathArikai (Introduction)

In the first three pAsurams (hymns) AzhwAr expressed the experience that he had in reciting emperumAn’s divine names (how they purify and how they are enjoyable). Starting from this (4th) pAsuram till the 14th pAsuram, he preaches the benefits of reciting his divine names to samsAris (those bound souls who live in leelA vibhUthi or materialistic realm). What is the reason for preaching instead of enjoying the divine names himself? Three reasons are cited by the vyAkhyAthA (commentator): (1) This is because it is very simple to recite and attainable by samsAris; yet they are not doing so and as a result are losing a great deal; AzhwAr is unable to bear this sorrow. (2) In this significant matter (of reciting divine names), it is not possible to enjoy alone and it is pleasing to emperumAn only when many people join in this. (3) “Eka: swAdhu na bhunjItha” is a saying, which means do not eat alone, quoted from bhAratham (the full slOka says, do not eat alone, do not contemplate on a noble issue alone, do not walk through the forest in the night alone and when everyone else is sleeping do not be awake, alone). Hence AzhwAr, not satisfied with his own experience, wants all samsAris to have similar experience as that is his svabhAvam (basic nature). Hence he is preaching from this 4th pAsuram.

Just when he started talking about the benefits of reciting emperumAn’s divine names, samsAris asked him, “are sinners like ourselves qualified to recite his divine names?” AzhwAr responded saying “even a person like kshathrabhandhu, who had no means for atoning for all his sins, got through to paramapadham (SrIvaikuNtam) because he recited the divine name. Hence do not try to slip away saying that you are not qualified” But despite hearing this assurance, the samsAris did not recite emperumAn’s divine names. Azhwar is surprised that even after hearing him, these samsAris continue to indulge in activities which sink them deeper into the quagmire of repeated births, instead of getting out of it by reciting the divine names. Let us enjoy the pAsuram now:

மொய்த்த வல்வினையுள் நின்று மூன்றெழுத்து உடைய பேரால்
கத்திரபந்தும் அன்றே பராங்கதி கண்டு கொண்டான்
இத்தனை அடியார் அனார்க்கு இறங்கும் நம் அரங்கனாய
பித்தனைப் பெற்றும் அந்தோ! பிறவியில் பிணங்குமாறே

moyththa valvinaiyuL ninRu mUnRezhuththu udaiya pErAl
kaththirabandhum anRE parAngathi kaNdu koNdAn
Iththanai adiyar AnArkku irangum nam aranganAya
piththanaip peRRum andhO! piRaviyuL piNangumARE

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Word-by-word meaning

moyththa –  surrounding fully
valvinaiyuL ninRu – standing in the ocean of grave sins
mUnRezhuththu udaiya pErAl – due to the divine name of “gOvindha” with three syllables
kaththirabandhum anRE – even kshathrabandhu
parAngathi – high status of paramapadham
kaNdu koNdAn – had the experience of enjoying
iththanai adiyar AnArkku –  for such agreeable people
irangum – having pity and showering grace
nam arangan Aya piththanai – our azhagiya maNavALan (Srirangam uthsavap perumAL) who has deep affection for his followers
peRRum – even after having him as swAmy (master)
piRaviyuL – getting caught in repeated births
piNangum ARE – the way we despair
andhO – Oh! [how sad it is!]

vyAkhyAnam (Explanatory Notes)

moyththa – sins keep falling over him shouting “I am the first” “I am the first” just like bees would surround a bee-hive or ants would surround a pot containing ghee (periyAzhwAr’s pAsuram (5-2-1) is quoted here “neykkudaththaip paRRiyERum eRumbugaL”) or when the army of monkeys landed on the shores of lankA cried out “it is for me” out of sheer expectation of winning. In the same way, sins are surrounding the jIvAthmAs completely. It would appear as if the jIvAthmAs have the same power to create sins as emperumAn has to create the worlds.

valvinai – How grave are these sins? To atone for each of these sins, a jIvAthmA has to spend the entire duration of kAla (time, the third among achith’s three components). As kUraththAzhwAn said in SrivaikuNta sthavam “yath kalpaniyuthAnubhavEpyanASyam thath kilbisham srujathi janthuriha kshaNArthE” – the jIvAthma commits in a moment a sin which cannot be rid of even in thousand kalpas (one kalpa is the longevity of brahmA, composed of many lakhs of years). The gravity of these sins is such that only emperumAn can remove these out of his mercy.

uL ninRu – standing inside. Just as a silkworm spins a web and gets caught within its web and just as a fly gets tossed about in the middle of an ocean, this jIvAthmA, who is of a size less than an atom, gets caught right in the middle of ocean of sins. As nammAzhwAr says in thiruvAimozhi (4-7-1) “siRiyanElum seivinaiyO peridhAl” – even if I am small, the sins that I commit are huge.

ninRu – standing amidst the sins. Taking root in a bed of burning wood/charcoal, the jIvAthmA is right amidst his sins.

mUnRezhuththudaiya pErAl – with a divine name having three syllables. Will the antidote for sins depend on the time over which the sins were committed or the dimensions (spread) of the sins? No, just a word with three syllables will do for this, says AzhwAr. Even one syllable in the word is sufficient to remove all the sins. Unlike praNavam (Om) which when split into its individual letters (a, u and ma) gives meanings for each of those letters, the name “gOvindha” which is referred to here as the three syllable word, will not convey any meaning when the three syllables are split. Still, each of these three syllables “gO”, “vi” and “dha” will elevate the person to mOksham (SrIvaikuNtam). There are words which are 10,000 letters and 1000 letters long. When one starts reciting those words, one will start wondering as to when they will end. Unlike those names, this three syllable name “gOvindha” is easy to recite.

pErAl – instead of saying “manthram” (this is a word which is recited during vEdhic rituals) why is AzhwAr saying “pEr” (name)? Reciting manthram” requires certain qualifications such as “rishi, chandas, dhEvathA, Sakthi, bIjam, varNam, viniyOgam, dhyAnam” (these are specific to each manthram and are to be recited first before the manthram is recited) whereas reciting a name does not require any such qualification. Only certain sections of the samsAris are authorised to recite manthrams. Anyone, from any of the four varNams, including women and children, can recite emperumAn’s divine names. When a person trips while walking (s)he will cry out “ammA” irrespective of varNam. Reciting emperumAn’s divine name is also like that only, when faced with any hurdle.  Instead of revealing which three  syllable name it is, why is he hiding it? AzhwAr says that only if it is hidden, the person who hears it will start wondering what word it is and once he has the curiosity and comes asking for it, he will tell the person all about it and get him interested in it.

kaththirabandhum – a lowly brAhmaNa is referred to as brahmabandhu (a mere relative of a brAhmanNa). In the same way, a lowly kshathriya person is referred to as kshathriyabandhu. The purpose of adding ‘um’ (kaththirabandhum) at the end is to indicate that he is the limit for lowliness.

anRE – even. In a gathering of our pUrvAchAryars (preceptors) when someone mentioned the name of “nAlUrAn” everyone will close his ears [nAlUrAn was the person responsible for periya nambi, the AchAryar of bhagavath SrI rAmAnujar, and kUraththAzhwAn losing their vision, as well as for rAmAnujar to leave SrIrangam for 12 years]. In the same way in a gathering of rishis, if someone mentions the name of khsathrabandhu, everyone will close his ears. Such was his reputation. [He was a robber, ostracised by his own relatives and had a bad conduct and mind. One day, an aged rishi was going through a forest and he was waylaid by kshathrabandhu. But the rishi was in poor health and swooned. Due to the causeless mercy of emperumAn, kshathrabandhu revived the rishi. On seeing kshathrabandhu’s condition, the rishi took pity on him and taught him the divine name “gOvindha”. That became a turning point in the life of kshathrabandhu and he set right his life and reached SrIvaikuNtam. This is mentioned in vishNu dharmam].

parAngathi kaNdukoNdAn – reached exalted position. While getting rid of sin itself would have been a reward for reciting emperumAn’s divine name, kshathrabandhu went beyond swarga (heaven) experience, beyond the greatest treasures and kaivalyam (AthmA getting detached from all other connections including emperumAn and enjoying self) and getting the status of those who do not have any connection with samsAram. In other words, the lowliest of samsAris, kshathrabandhu, got the status of nithyasUris who are permanent dwellers of SrIvaikuNtam, enjoying emperumAn constantly.

kaNdukoNdAn – it is as if he had got back what he had lost earlier. It is not as if he got something for reciting the divine names, but that he got what was always his. Just as vishNu dharmam says “prakASyanthE na janyanthE…….” – just as a gem will shine brightly when the dirt covering it is removed, the AthmA will gain its true stature of being gyAnamayan (full of knowledge) when its dhOshas (faults) are removed. When a well is dug, and water springs out at a particular depth, it is the water which was always there that came out and not a new source of water that was created. Thus when bad qualities are removed, AthmA gets back its svarUpam (its basic nature and good qualities). This is the case with kshathrabandhu too when he got elevated to SrIvaikuNtam on reciting divine names.

iththanai adiyar AnArkku – be dedicated to emperumAn at least to the extent of kshathrabandhu. It is enough if one is as favourably disposed as kshathrabandhu. Another explanation is – accept that one is a servitor and emperumAn is the master (to be served) and not show hatred towards him. When someone says as in thaiththiriya upanishath that “pathim viSvasya ….” (it is only SrIman nArAyaNan who is the lord of the worlds, controlled only by himself and by no one else, always permanent, auspicious and does not fail his servitors) or says as in yajur brAhmaNam  “yasyAsmi …..” (I will not go away from someone to whom I am a servitor), if someone does not get shocked, it is enough to qualify for emperumAn’s grace. Is this enough to qualify for being a follower? Yes, it is, as per emperumAn’s opinion, says the vyAkhyAthA, quoting from sAthvatham samhithA “dhurAchArO api sarvASI…..nirdhOsham vidhdhim tham janthum prabhAvAth paramAthmana:” which means: even if a person who had lowly conduct for a long time, had been eating whatever he wanted, was  being ungrateful and was atheist, surrenders to emperumAn with dedication, know that emperumAn forgives him of his faults due to his (emperumAn’s) greatness.

“iththanai “ – even this small effort (of reciting emperumAn’s divine name) appears as a mEru parvatham (a huge mountain) for emperumAn to bear. vyAkyAthA further quotes from ISAvAsya upanishath  “…..bhUyishtAm thE nama ukthim vidhEma” – we shall keep reciting “nama:” a word which emperumAn is pleased to hear and which he thinks is a great deed.

irangum – having pity and showering grace.  Due to the natural connection with jIvAthmA, emperumAn expects him not to show hatred towards him and to show involvement with him. All that the jIvAthmA shows is not shunning him (not showing hatred). But what he gets is emperumAn himself. How will such a small hold give rise to such a huge benefit? Just as a cow shows tremendous love and affection towards its calf on the day that it gave birth to, emperumAn also shows his affection and hence has pity, because of the relationship that he has with the jIvAthmA and not because of any benefit that the jIvAthmA has with him. Despite giving him SrIvaikuNtam itself, emperumAn feels that he has not done anything for the jIvAthmA. “un adiyArkku en seyvan enRE  iruththi nI” said nammAzhwAr in periya thiruvandhAdhi  (you keep thinking about “what else can I do for my follower”).

nam aranganAya – our arangan; emperumAn, who is dwelling in the SrIrangam temple, for the sake of jIvAthmAs like us who have nothing in our hands. paramapadham (SrIvaikuNtam) is for nithyAthmAs (nithyasUris) and mukthAthmAs (those who were earlier in samsAram but had since got liberated from it). thiruppARkadal (kshIrAbdhi) is for people who are almost like mukthAthmAs (sanaka, sanathkumAra et al as well as brahmA and other celestials). Incarnations are for those who were fortunate to live at that time. Only in temples does he show himself to people who were not fortunate to be around during the time of incarnation. AzhwAr uses the term ‘nam” in nam aranganAya to confirm that we are of the same clan as kshathrabandhu and there is very little to choose between him and us.

piththanai – He (emperumAn) does not know as to how the others were earlier. Also, he is one who does not know himself. After reaching SrIrangam, emperumAn had forgotten about how great he was earlier (parathvam) and has become simplicity personified. He does not know about his magnanimity when he gives, the lowliness of the people who receive from him and what he gives them (SrIvaikuNtam itself). Hence AzhwAr refers to him as “piththan” (mad, ignorant).

peRRum – Normally if a person is wanting in something, he will go to someone who has it and ask him for it. But here, emperumAn, who has everything to give, has come to SrIrangam (from SrIvaikuNtam) and is asking jIvAthmAs “is there anyone here who wants me?”.

piRaviyuL piNangumARE – even if people want to move away from one object to another, the second should be at least as good, if not better than the first. But in this case, what they are moving away from is a treasure and what they are going after is lowly matter to satisfy their sensual desires. In sheer disgust, AzhwAr says, “andhO”. Just like two vultures fight over a carcass, the jIvAthmAs are fighting over lowly materials. While jIvAthmAs are eligible to adorn the thirumEni (physical form) of emperumAn as “SrI kousthuba hAram” (the garland of gems adorning emperumAn) they are going after sensual objects and keep getting in the quagmire of repeated births. Just as righteous people will cry out “murder” when they see terrible things happening in front of their eyes, AzhwAr is also crying out loud “andhO” on seeing jIvAthmAs getting into samsAram repeatedly.

Let us move on to the 5th pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dasan

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