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thiruvAimozhi – avathArikai (Introduction) – 2

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azhwar-thiruvadi-thozhalnammAzhwAr at the lotus feet of namperumAL


Highlights from nampiLLai‘s introduction(s)

nampiLLai blesses us with 3 different introductions for thiruvAimozhi vyAkyAnam looking at it from 3 different angles. Since all 3 of them start with “sriya:pathiyAy” (being the husband of srI mahAlakshmi), they are known as mudhal (first) sriya:pathi, iraNdAm (second) sriya:pathi and mUnRAm (third) sriya:pathi. We will see the gist of each one of them now.

mudhal sriya:pathi – first introduction

Note: This is the first and most elaborate introduction explaining various aspects of nammAzhwAr and thiruvAimozhi.

bhagavAn who is the divine consort of srI mahAlakshmi, who has no unfulfilled desires, who is filled with all auspicious qualities and the supreme controller of everyone/everything gives his special mercy to nammAzhwAr who had gone through unlimited number of births in this samsAram (material world) without any exposure to spiritual knowledge. By his unconditional grace, such jIvAthmA (who was immersed in worldly pleasures) became nammAzhwAr who proclaimed that he took shelter of bhagavAn‘s lotus feet, realized the true nature of the essential principles and became blissful. As explained in srIvishNu purANam 5.6.28 “brundhAvanam bhagavathA krushNEnAklishtakarmaNA| subhEna manasA dhyAtham gavAm vrudhdhimabhIpsathA ||” (The all capable krishNa vowed effortlessly that the thorny fields were to be transformed to fertile green fields for the cows for their gazing), bhagavAn transformed a bound jIvAthmA to become nammAzhwAr effortlessly to be fully realized in all the essential truths just like how he transformed the thorny forest of vrindhAvanam to a beautiful fertile field.

nampiLLai then elaborates on how thathvams (truths) are explained in 17 philosophies – lOkAyadhika (chArvAka), Arhatha (jaina), the four schools of thought in baudhdha named vaibhAshika, sauthrAnthika, yOgAchara and mAdhyamika, naiyAyika (nyAya), vaisEshika, pAsupatha (Agama), sAnkhya (kapila), yOga (pathanjali), bhAtta, prabhAkara, mAyAvAdhi, bhAskara, yAdhavaprakAsa and EkAyana (one who accepts nArAyaNa’s supremacy without giving due importance to srI mahAlakshmi).

nampiLLai then explains in detail as to how thathvams are understood in our philosophy. Our philosophy is based on thathva thrayam – the three thathvams viz chith (sentients), achith (insentients) and Iswara (God). These can be explained as one (single brahmam with multitude of attributes) when considered as prakAra (form/attribute) and prakAri (substance/object), i.e., Iswara as the prakAri (substance/object) and chith/achith as prakAra (form/attribute). Looking at the nature of the 3 different entities (chith, achith and Iswara), they can be considered as 3 separate entities.

Then, chith, achith and Iswara are explained in detail. achith is explained as the abode of three guNas (qualities namely sathvam/goodness, rajas/passion and thamas/ignorance), eternal, always changing, etc. Iswara is explained as the one who can bestow both worldly pleasures or spiritual upliftment based on the desire of jIvAthmA. chEthana (jIvAthmA) is explained as eternal, miniscule, one who is made of gyAnam (dharmi gyAnam – consciousness) as well as one who has gyAnam (dharmabhUtha gyAnam – knowledge), unchanging and subservient to Iswara. For a jIvAthmA who realizes the true nature of oneself whether it is the desire for kaivalya mOksham (enjoying oneself) or being immersed in bhagavadh guNams (auspicious qualities of bhagavAn), he needs to accept bhagavAn as the upAyam (means) to achieve such goal. In any case, the focus of true knowledge is bhagavAn only. Any other knowledge is as good as ignorance. It is explained in srIvishNu purANam 1.19.41 “thath karma yanna bandhAya sA vidhyA yA vimukthayE | AyAsAyAparam karma vidhyAnyA silpanaipuNam” (That action which does not lead to binding in this samsAram is good action. That knowledge which leads to liberation is true knowledge. Any action done for worldly pleasures is stressful. That knowledge which leads to any other goal than liberation is useless).

To understand the nature of chith, achith and Iswara fully is very difficult. The best amongst such realized persons is nammAzhwAr. There is no one comparable to him amongst samsAris and nithyasUris. His glories are not known to himself, samsAris and bhagavAn himself. Since these glories were acquired by him through bhagavAn‘s mercy instead of his own efforts, he himself would not know his glories fully. Since there is no one like him who is present in this world, samsAris (materialistic persons) would not understand his glories. Since bhagavAn could not bless and transform any one like nammAzhwAr, he also would not understand AzhwAr‘s glories fully. He is beyond the limitation of both nithya vibhUthi (paramapadham) and leelA vibhuthi (material world). Unlike nithyasUris who are present in paramapadham which is conducive for being immersed in bhagavath vishayam, he is able to experience the same bliss in this material world which in itself is a huge impediment for bhagavath vishayam.

As seen in other vyAkyAnams, it is rare to get human form, its rarer to have desire to serve bhagavAn and its rarest to have the desire to serve bhAgavathas. Thus, it is a great fortune for the jIvAthmAs to have AzhwAr being born in this world (for their upliftment). His birth is as good as bhagavAn‘s incarnation. Sun removes the external/physical darkness. bhagavAn removes the ignorance (which is internal darkness). AzhwAr ensures that whatever blessings he had received from emperumAn are shared with others as well. Just like brahmA blessed vAlmIki to have pure vision of srI rAma’s history, bhagavAn blessed AzhwAr to have pristine knowledge about the essential principles. As bhagavAn himself declares that the gyAnis are most dear to him in gIthA 7.18, he [nammAzhwAr] is the top-most of such gyAnis. Just like srI lakshmaNa who had great attachment for srI rAma from the time of birth itself, AzhwAr too was born with great attachment for bhagavAn . He is not attached to any goal, other than bhagavath kainkaryam, such as aiswaryam (material wealth), kaivalyam (self enjoyment) etc. Just like srI lakshmaNa said in srI rAmAyaNam ayOdhyA kANtam 31.25 “aham sarvam karishyAmi” (I will do all kainkaryams for you), AzhwAr too says in thiruvAimozhi 3.3.1 “ozhivil kAlamellAm … vazhuvilA adimai seyyavENdum” and sustains himself by serving bhagavAn always.

Questions/objections raised and answers explained in nanjIyar‘s avathArikai are also explained in detail here by nampiLLai. Similarly AzhwAr‘s samslEsham (union) and vislEsham (separation) are also explained here in detail. The purpose/objective of thiruviruththam, thiruvAsiriyam, periya thiruvanthAdhi and thiruvAimozhi are also explained elaborately.

In the first padhigam (decad), emperumAn‘s auspicious qualities are enjoyed by AzhwAr. In subsequent padhigams, AzhwAr enjoys those qualities in greater detail.

thathva thrayamIswara, achith, chith are again explained in detail by nampiLLai. Here nampiLLai explains that Iswara is none other srIman nArAyaNa. Also, the special nature of “nArAyaNa” name is explained here. Even though nArAyaNa, vAsudhEva and vishNu names establish bhagavAn‘s vyApakathvam (omnipresence – all-pervading nature), the word/name “nArAyaNa” explains bhagavAn‘s auspicious nature and qualities in a precise way. AzhwAr too, having understood the importance of that, affectionately uses that name to indicate srIman nArAyaNa‘s glories in the beginning, middle and end (everywhere) of thiruvAimozhi. Also, kainkaryam to the divine couple – srI mahAlakshmi and srIman nArAyaNa as the ultimate goal is well established by nammAzhwAr through his pAsurams. Subsequently the nature of jIvAthmA, upAyam (means), upEyam (goal) and virOdhi (hurdles) are explained in detail. Followed by these, artha panchakam is also explained in detail.

nampiLLai establishes how to conduct oneself in samsAram with vairAgyam (detachment). One cannot go to the forest and live in seclusion – even in the forest, Adhi bharatha became attached to a deer. One cannot perform penance in water – even in such situation, saubari became attached to family life seeing the community of fish. So, detachment does not mean staying in seclusion or doing difficult penances. But as said in thiruvAimozhi 1.2.3 “nIr numadhu enRivai vEr mudhal mAyththu“, one should give up ahankAram and mamakAram completely. One has to give up dhEhAthmAbimAnam (ahankAram) – considering oneself as the body and mamathA budhdhi (mamakAram) – considering the bodily relatives/properties as one’s own. Wherever one is located, one can develop such attitude in one’s own place of residence and pursue bhagavAn – this can be seen in the lives of king janaka and srI kulasEkarAzhwAr. Thus budhdhi thyAgam (detachment in mind/intelligence) is the most important aspect.

To remove such hurdles, bhakthi yOga (that can be pursued by brAhmaNa, kshathriya and vaisya) and prapaththi (that can be pursued by the ones who declare that they have nothing in their hands) are identified as upAyam in vEdhAntham. nammAzhwAr establishes that his opinion is to accept prapaththi only as the upAyam (In arumpadham, prapaththi is equated to bhagavAn himself as stated in “nyAsa ithi brahma” – saraNAgathi means accepting bhagavAn as upAyam). Many pAsurams such as thiruvAimozhi 5.7.1 “nORRa nOnbilEn“, 5.7.10 “ARenakku ninpAdhamE saraNAgath thanthozhindhAy” etc., are cited to establish nammAzhwAr‘s views. Even while performing upadhEsam to others, he always instructs everyone to pursue the lotus feet of bhagavAn only as upAyam. He also explains that one has no engagement in karma, gyAna, bhakthi yOgams due to their nature (due to the involvement of self-effort) and establishes that he did not have any self-effort and emperumAn blessed him out of his unconditional mercy. He also establishes that anyone (even the ones filled with vices) can surrender to bhagavAn – emphasising that prapaththi is sarvAdhikAram (open for all).

Though the adhikAri (who is devoid of anything in his side) is there and the upAyam (bhagavAn) is present, unless the upAya svIkAram (adhikAri pursuing bhagavAn) is there, the goal is not attained. Such upAya svIkAram is demonstrated by nammAzhwAr in his many pAsurams. He also establishes that “it is emperumAn who facilitates such upAya svIkAram” in many pAsurams. He establishes that one should have great attachment towards pursuing bhagavAn. He also explains to others that it is very easy to pursue bhagavAn. He also establishes that, this saraNAgathi (bhagavAn) is an independent upAyam that can ensure that the goal is achieved. For the ones who are attached to pursuing bhagavAn, they can pass their time in this world by engaging in the nectarean pAsurams of thiruvAimozhi and its meanings.

For the ones who have thus pursued bhagavAn and spend their time in reciting/meditating thiruvAimozhi, AzhwAr establishes that initially one achieves victory/control over senses and ultimately achieves eternal kainkaryam. For an upAsaka (bhakthi yOga follower) such sense control is essential (and is acquired by one’s own effort). For a prapanna, such control is bestowed by bhagavAn. He also establishes that the source of such person’s bhakthi is also by the causeless mercy of bhagavAn. He also establishes that such bhakthi is nourished by bhagavAn himself. Finally, it is bhagavAn himself who eradicated AzhwAr‘s relationship in this material world and bestowed him the ultimate bliss in parampadham.

Thus thiruvAimozhi presents these important five principles only. That is,

  • srIman nArAyaNa is the supreme God
  • jIvAthmA‘s true nature is to truly exist for bhagavAn‘s pleasure only
  • ultimate goal is to serve bhagavAn being induced by the loving devotion that was an outcome of experiencing bhagavAn‘s auspicious qualities
  • hurdles are ahankAram and mamakAram
  • the means to be freed from such ahankAram/mamakAram and attaining of ultimate goal of kainkaryam is the Lotus feet of the most easily approachable supreme bhagavAn only. And control of senses to ultimate attaining of kainkaryam in parampadham is done by bhagavAn himself.

As explained by periya vangippuraththu nambi, the whole of thiruvAimozhi can be explained through hArItha samhithA slOkams “prApyasya brahmaNO ruPam prApthuscha prathyakAthmana: | prApthyupAyam palam prApthEs thathA prApthivirOdhi cha || vadhanthi sakalA vEdhAs sEthihAsa purANakA: | munayascha mahAthmAnO vEdha vEdhArththavEdhina: ||” (vEdham along with vEdhAntham, ithihAsam, purANam, etc, establish the five essential principles – brahmam (bhagavAn), jIvAthmA (soul), upAyam (means), palam (goal) and virOdhi (hurdles).  The same is emphasised by great saints and sages who are well versed in the principles of vEdham).

iraNdAm sriya:pathi –  second introduction

Note: In this, thiruvAimozhi is explained as an elaboration of dhvaya mahA manthram. Also, the main essence of each centum is explained by nampiLLai.

bhagavAn who is the divine consort of srI mahAlakshmi, who has no unfulfilled desires, who is filled with all auspicious qualities and the supreme controller of everyone/everything gives his special mercy to nammAzhwAr who had gone through unlimited number of births in this samsAram (material world) without any exposure to spiritual knowledge.

nammAzhwAr explains the meaning of dhvaya mahA manthram through thiruvAimozhi. In this, the first 3 centums (1 to 3) explain the second part of dhvayam. The second 3 centums (4 to 6) explain the first part of dhvayam. The next 3 centums (7 to 9) explain the auspicious qualities of bhagavAn, his [jIvAthmA’s] detachment towards his own AthmA and body, etc, and finally his eternal relationship with bhagavAn. In the last centum (10th) attainment of ultimate goal is explained.

The main aspect that is revealed by nammAzhwAr in each centum is explained briefly by nampiLLai:

  • In the first centum, AzhwAr determines that eternal service to bhagavAn is the purushArththam (ultimate goal), sruthi (vEdham) is the most authentic source of such knowledge and that bhagavAn is none other than srIman nArAyaNa.
  • In the second centum, AzhwAr reveals his desire to be in paramapadham. Seeing that bhagavAn willingly accepts him and bestows him parampadham. AzhwAr says he does not want to force emperumAn to bestow him paramapadham and highlights that emperumAn‘s pleasure is his only goal.
  • In the third centum, bhagavAn sees the great desire in AzhwAr for kainkaryam and he engages AzhwAr in kainkaryam at thirumalai (thiruppathi). AzhwAr too craves for such kainkaryam and also extends it up to kainkaryam to bhAgavathas and performs vAchika kainkaryam (kainkaryam through his speech/words).
  • In the fourth centum, AzhwAr explains to others that the means to such kainkaryam is the lotus feet of bhagavAn and hurdle for ultimate kainkaryam to bhagavAn is the attachment towards aiswaryam (worldly pleasures) and kaivalyam (self-enjoyment). He also meditates on the same in his pAsurams.
  • In the fifth centum, AzhwAr clearly establishes that bhagavAn himself facilitates his lotus feet to be the means for removing the hurdles and bestowing the ultimate goal.
  • In the sixth centum, AzhwAr pursues such upAyam with the help of AchAryas and the recommendation of periya pirAtti (srI mahAlakshmi).
  • In the seventh centum, even after accepting bhagavAn as upAyam his desire of reaching parampadham for eternal kainkaryam is not fulfilled. Whatever interactions he experiences emotionally do not transform into physical/real experience. So, he cries out in separation.
  • In the eighth centum, understanding that the emotional experience cannot tranform into physical experience due to being present in samsAram, being in great agony, he thinks that he may still have some attachment towards self enjoyment or worldly pleasures and clearly declares that he does not have any attachment towards them.
  • In the ninth centum, bhagavAn clarifies to AzhwAr that there is no need for doubting AzhwAr‘s attachment towards bhagavath vishayam and tells him “I am nArAyaNa, capable of everything, I will fulfil all your desires”. Hearing that, AzhwAr greatly enjoys and glorifies bhagavAn‘s auspicious qualities such as sausIlyam etc.
  • In the tenth centum, AzhwAr explains how bhagavAn descends as thirumOgUr perumAL, shows him the archirAdhi gathi (the path which leads to paramapadham) and ensures that AzhwAr himself says “You fulfilled all my desires”.

mUnRAm sriya:pathi – third introduction

Note: In this, nammAzhwAr is compared to srI bharathAzhwAn who was fully subservient to srI rAma and who existed only for the pleasure of srI rAma.

bhagavAn who is the divine consort of srI mahAlakshmi, who has no unfulfilled desires, who is filled with all auspicious qualities and the supreme controller of everyone/everything gives his special mercy to nammAzhwAr who had gone through unlimited number of births in this samsAram (material world) without any exposure to spiritual knowledge.

When he has unaware of the principles of chith, achith and Iswara, bhagavAn himself shows him that achith is to be given up, chith is the one to be pursued and Iswara is the top-most one to be pursued. Understanding that, AzhwAr realizes that this body is the hurdle for endless bliss in paramapadham and in thiruviruththam prays to bhagavAn to eradicate the hurdles that stop him from attaining that divine experience. bhagavAn then shows him all his greatness, simplicity (towards his devotees), divine beauty, etc., so that AzhwAr can enjoy them here in this world itself and AzhwAr enjoys that in thiruvAisiriyam. In periya thiruvanthAdhi, the overflowing love towards such bhagavAn is revealed. In thiruvAimozhi, AzhwAr explains that just like one who removes the indigestion, creates hunger and then feeds food, bhagavAn created the ruchi (desire) and that ruchi matured into parabhakthi, paragyAnam and parama bhakthi stages, removed his connection with this material world and finally attaining the ultimate goal in paramapadham.

When srI bharathAzhwAn returned from his uncle’s place to ayOdhyA to serve srI rAma, kaikEyi called him “rAjan” (Oh! king) and put him in great agony (he always considered srI rAma as the king and himself as his servitor. He understood something was terribly wrong when called as king by his mother). nammAzhwAr‘s state was like this in thiruviruththam.

After hearing that srI rAma was in chithrakUtam, srI bharathAzhwAn took along his mothers, the ministers, residents of ayOdhyA et al, hoping that seeing the tears in the eyes of every one srI rAma will return to ayOdhyA. Enroute, he is thinking that surely srI rAma would return with him when he bows down in front of srI rAma and pleads for his return. Thus he sustained himself by these positive thoughts. nammAzhwAr‘s state was like this in thiruvAsiriyam.

srI bharathAzhwAn stayed in nandhigrAmam (the place outside ayOdhyA) for 14 years nurturing his desire to serve srI rAma. nammAzhwAr‘s state was like this in periya thiruvanthAdhi.

Finally, when srI rAma returned to ayOdhyA, accepted the throne and ruled the kingdom, srI bharathAzhwAn served him in fitting manner. nammAzhwAr‘s state was like this in thiruvAimozhi.

thiruvAimozhi‘s sangraham (shortened form) is first padhigam (decad). First decad’s sangraham is the first 3 pAsurams. First 3 pAsurams’s sangraham is the first pAsuram. First pAsuram’s sangraham is the first line in that pAsuram. This is similar to saying that the whole vEdham’s sangraham is thirumanthram. thirumanthram’s sangraham is praNavam. praNavam’s sangraham is akAram (the first letter of praNavam).

mahAbhAratham and srI rAmAyaNam also have been compiled in this fashion of sangraha (shortened form) – visthara (elaborate form) method.

Thus ends the 3 glorious introductions for thiruvAimozhi by nampiLLai.

In the next article, we will see introductions for the 1st centum.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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thiruvAimozhi – avathArikai (Introduction) – 1

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

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Highlights from thirukkurukaippirAn piLLAn‘s introduction

No specific introduction.

Highlights from nanjIyar‘s introduction

nanjeeyarIn this world, without knowing the true nature of chith (soul), achith (matter) and Iswara (bhagavAn), without engaging in any of the proper means to achieve the ultimate goal, being engrossed in sensual pleasures, jIvAthmAs are fully drowned in this ocean of samsAram (material world) which is difficult to bear and cross-over. It is said in srI bhAgavatham 11.2.29 “dhurlabhO mAnushO dhEhO dhEhinAm kshaNabangura: thathrApi dhurlabham manyE vaikuNtapriya dharSanam” (It is very rare to acquire a human body which itself is temporary. Even rarer is to be blessed by the vision of one who is dear to srIvaikuNtanAthan). The human form is the best form to pursue the ultimate goal of liberation. Even if one desires for liberation, it may be limited to just being freed from samsAram as it is rarer to find one with the desire for ultimate form of liberation which is eternal kainkaryam to bhagavAn in srIvaikuNtam. Considering, this it can be easily understood that the desire to perform eternal kainkaryam to bhAgavathas (devotees) can be the rarest.

In such samsAram, as a great fortune and boon for the samsAris (bound souls), nammAzhwAr appears in AzhwArthirunagari.

  • He acquired full/pristine knowledge by bhagavath prasAdham (mercy of bhagavAn).
  • He is glorified as the top-most of gyAnis – those who are most dear to him [emperumAn] as proclaimed by himself in gIthA 7.18 “gyAni thu Athma Eva mE matham” (that gyAni is my soul – this is my philosophy).
  • He is attached to emperumAn right from his birth and holds emperumAn as the one who sustains him (unlike samsAris who sustain themselves with food, water, etc).
  • He cannot bear even a moment considering anything other than bhagavAn as the goal. Like arjuna, dhaSaratha et al, he wants to pursue bhagavAn eternally and will still not be satisfied with his uncontrollable desire towards bhagavAn.
  • His glories are such that even srI mahAlakshmi and other dear consorts of srIman nArAyaNa, srI lakshmaNa, srI bharatha, srI gOpikAs et al, cannot be considered equivalent to him. Just like srI prahlAdhAzhwAn is considered as the best example of sAdhus (devotees), nammAzhwAr‘s each aspect can be considered as an example of many great personalities’ qualities.
  • While being completely overwhelmed by bhagavAn‘s auspicious qualities, considering himself as bhagavAn‘s servant, being situated at the top-most platform of exclusive devotion to bhagavAn, being in a mood of servitude and serving bhagavAn in all possible ways, his presence itself dispelling the ignorance (that exists in the form of ahankAram (considering AthmA as body) and mamakAram (considering oneself as the proprietor of oneself))  of everyone to purify them fully to make them eligible for eternal kainkaryam to bhagavAn in paramapadham, out of his overflowing emotions, he sang thiruviruththam, thiruvAsiriyam, periya thiruvanthAdhi and thiruvAimozhi dhivya prabandhams which clear all doubts which may arise from studying vEdham, vEdhAntham, ithihAsam, purANam etc.

If this is the outcome of nammAzhwAr‘s overflowing emotion – how do these have proper count of pAsurams, proper grammatical structure etc? Just like by brahmA’s mercy/boon, the curse which was recited by vAlmIki out of sorrow (in seeing the male dove being hunted down by a hunter) turned into a slOka and eventually led to the reciting of srI rAmAyaNa, this prabandham (and other dhivya prabandhams) too came out to be perfect by the grace of bhagavAn.

A series of questions are raised (if raised by persons who are not familiar with these principles) and answered by nanjIyar here:

  • In which category, would these dhivya prabandhams belong to? These dhivya prabandhams fall under the category of the main literature that focusses on purushArththam (ultimate goal).
  • How did these prabandhams come into existence?  Being engrossed in bhagavath anubhavam (divine experience with bhagavAn) which leads to great bliss that facilitated the arrival of these prabandhams.
  • What is the source for these prabandhams? How do we know the source? As learnt from the tune, the words in the prabandham itself etc., we can understand that the divine vision blessed by bhagavAn‘s mercy is the source for these prabandhams.
  • How would we know that these are pramANam (authentic source)? Since these prabandhams are pursued by great scholars of vEdhAntham and since these prabandhams reveal the essential principles to relieve oneself from samsAram, we can understand that these are authentic sources of information.
  • Who is the propagator for this? srIman nArAyaNa who is the divine consort of srI mahAlakshmi and who is the goal for everyone is the propagator of these prabandhams.
  • Who can learn these prabandhams? The ones who have detachment in worldly pleasures and who want to somehow serve bhagavAn in all ways are the persons qualified to learn these prabandhams.
  • Who is the enjoyer of these prabandhams? mumukshus (ones who seek liberation), mukthAthmAs (liberated souls), nithyasUris (eternally free souls) and srIman nArAyaNan are the enjoyers for these prabandhams.
  • What is the purpose of these prabandhams? To elaborate the nature of kainkaryam to bhagavAn which is most blissful.

Again a series of objections are raised (by ignorant persons) to minimize the greatness of dhivya prabandhams and these are explained clearly by nanjIyar.

  • They are in nishidhdha (forbidden) language, so they should be discarded. Not necessarily – Though samskritham is considered as dhEva bhAshA (divine language) and other languages are considered inferior to samskritham, any devotional literature on hari (srIman nArAyaNa) is to be glorified irrespective of the language they are written in. This is explained by yamadharmarAja in mAthsya purANam. If the language is the only criterion to accept a literature, then one should accept extraneous literature which are written in samskritham, but which are contrary to vEdham as well. Since that is not meaningful, language alone cannot be used to determine the validity of the literature.
  • These are pursued by women, sUdhras et al, so they should be discarded. Not necessarily – It is by the great mercy of nammAzhwAr that even women, sUdhras et al can pursue these literature which reveal the essence of vEdham/sAsthram – this is actually a good reason to accept these greatly.
  • These are compiled by a sUdhra who doesn’t have the qualification to preach in the kaliyugam, so they should be discarded. Not necessarily – Since nammAzhwAr is most fortunate to be most dear to emperumAn himself who pursued nammAzhwAr for several births, who is the abode of bhagavAn‘s eternal mercy, who is expert in thathvam (truth), hitham (means) and purushArththam (goal), who is also an expert in preaching the same, who is even greater than vidhura, sabhari et al who are most dear to emperumAn, these prabandhams are to be pursued.
  • These are seen only in one place (thamizh dhEsam) not in many places, so they should be discarded. Not necessarily – Even thamizh is spoken in many places which are filled with great saints and even great scholars of samskritham crave to be born in those regions where thamizh is spoken to learn and recite dhivya prabandhams. Hence these prabandhams are to be pursued.
  • These are pursued by avaidhikas (ones who do not accept vEdham as pramANam), so they should be discarded. Not necessarily – these are so great that even avaidhikas are inspired and become transformed into vaidhikas, thus they should be glorified.
  • These speak about kAmam (love/lust) which is contradictory to sruthi and smruthi – so they should be discarded. Not necessarily – the kAmam spoken here is the same as bhakthi, upAsana, etc., that is spoken in vEdhAntham. So, these should be pursued.
  • These discard goals such as aiswaryam (worldly pleasures), kaivalyam (self-enjoyment) which are elaborated in sruthi and smruthi, so they should be discarded. Since aiswaryam and kaivalyam have the defects of being temporary and insignificant respectively, they can be discarded. So, these prabandhams should be pursued.
  • Further, due to these being revealed by bhagavAn‘s greatness,  revealing his nature clearly, being the trigger for one’s devotion, being the ones which nurture such devotion, giving endless pleasure just by hearing them, always quoting vEdhAntham for the principles explained in there, fully explaining brahmam (srIman nArAyaNa) as the ultimate cause of everything and explaining the principle of “brahmagyAn mOksham” (knowledge about brahmam leads to mOksham), the great scholars pursued these dhivya prabandhams as the most important ones among the literature which talk about purushArththam (goal).

nammAzhwAr being fully knowledgable about bhagavAn, why does he feel separation from bhagavAn and sorrow from such separation? It is because, nammAzhwAr enjoys each auspicious quality of bhagavAn which leads to detachment from material pleasures and will further engage nammAzhwAr in bhagavAn’s qualities.  But since he would not be able to fully enjoy bhagavAn due to still being present in this material world, he feels great sorrow. For great devotees of bhagavAn who always engage their mind in bhagavath vishayam, even other materialistic persons/aspects may seem like suffering from separation from emperumAn. They would even feel sorry for others considering that they also are suffering in separation from emperumAn. Thus, nammAzhwAr goes through joy (when thinking about emperumAn‘s qualities) and sorrow (when thinking about presence in this material world) repeatedly.

While it is generally said that one sustains, nourishes and enjoys with food, water etc., how is it that nammAzhwAr considers all of that to be emperumAn? Just as it is said in srI rAmAyaNam that all the inhabitants of ayOdhya consider srI rAma’s auspicious qualities as everything for them, the same can be said for AzhwAr as well. For such AzhwAr, samslEsham (union) means prathyaksha samAnAkAra gyAnasAkshAthkAram (the emotional experience which feels like real physical experience). vislEsham (separation) means AzhwAr trying to experience the same in physical form and being unable to do so, feeling great agony due to that. bhagavAn let this disruption in AzhwAr‘s experience happen to give him some time to digest the previous experience and to nurture the devotion of AzhwAr to the fullest extent. Due to this constant union and separation, AzhwAr reveals different aspects (mainly artha panchakam). Some pAsurams speak about bhagavAn‘s nature; some about jIvAthmA‘s nature; some about the upAyam (means); some about the palam (goal); some about the virOdhi (hurdles). The main goal is to know about the palam (goal) – the other four aspects are spoken to explain about the goal in detail.

Firstly, in thiruviruththam, AzhwAr prays to bhagavAn to mercifully sever the existence in this material world (and to uplift him to the spiritual world). Then, in thiruvAsiriyam, he becomes blissful experiencing bhagavAn who is enjoyed by the ones who are relieved from this samsAram. In periya thiruvanthAdhi, having developed great devotion, he sustains himself by speaking/meditating on him. In thiruvAimozhi, AzhwAr speaks about bhagavAn who is fully qualified to be glorified by AzhwAr‘s devotion, who is seated on a divine throne in srIvaikuNtam with a divine form, divine ornaments, divine weapons, divine consorts etc., being served by the divine souls, who, out of his compassion, descends as vibhava avathArams (incarnations) to uplift jIvAthmAs and seeing that it is not sufficient to help them, he further descends as archAvathArams where everyone can approach him, develop their devotion, serve him and be uplifted. nammAzhwAr also understands and speaks about how emperumAn compassionately reveals himself, how emperumAn mercifully severs AzhwAr‘s worldly connection (without any effort from AzhwAr) and finally brings him to paramapadham as well. Further explanations will follow in each pAsuram, padhigam, etc.

Highlights from vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar‘s introduction


prathamAchArya (first AchArya) nammAzhwAr being unconditionally blessed by srIman nArAyaNa to uplift everyone out of his great compassion, revealed 4 prabandhams in thamizh language which bring out the essence of all of sAsthram and develop unlimited devotion towards bhagavAn who is filled with unlimited auspicious qualities for everyone (without any specific qualification). Among these, in thiruviruththam, AzhwAr prays/desires for the severance of worldly connection. In thiruvAsiriyam, he enjoys the auspicious qualities of emperumAn which are desired by the ones who are freed from samsAram. In periya thiruvanthAdhi, the devotion which was developed by such auspicious qualities was spoken. In thiruvAimozhi, he becomes fully satisfied and grateful by fully experiencing bhagavAn.

In this thiruvAimozhi, the principles of elders that emphasis on srIman nArAyaNan who is the divine husband of srI mahAlakshmi, will himself be the means for jIvAthmAs in removing the hurdles which stop them from achieving him and will also himself bestow the ultimate goal of blissful kainkaryam in paramapadham. This prabandham fully explains the artha panchakam – five essential principles of paramAthma svarUpam (God), jIvAthma svarUpam (soul), upAya svarUpam (means), upEya svarUpam (goal) and virOdhi svarUpam (hurdles).

In this, first 4 centums explain the paramAthma svarUpam and jIvAthma svarUpam, last 4 centums explain the virOdhi svarUpam and pala svarUpam and 5th and 6th centums explain the upAya svarUpam.

In this, the first 2 centums speak about bhagavAn/paramAthmA. The 3rd and 4th centums speak about  the jIvAthmA. The 5th and 6th centums speak about saraNAgathi – total surrender. The 7th and 8th centums speak about the hurdles. And finally, the last 2 centums speak about the attainment of ultimate goal.

periyavAchchAn piLLai‘s introduction

periyavachan-pillaiThis avathArikai follows very closely nanjIyar‘s vyAkyanam.

In the next article, we will see nampiLLai‘s introductions – he has given 3 different introductions for his Idu vyAkyAnam.

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thiruvAimozhi – thaniyans (Invocation)

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thaniyan blessed by nAthamunigaL

bhakthAmrutham viswajanAnumOdhanam sarvArththadham srIsatakOpavAngmayam |
sahasrasAkOpanishathsamAgamam namAmyaham dhrAvida vEdhasAgaram ||

word-by-word meanings

bhakthAmrutham – that which is nectarean for the devotees
viswa jana anumOdhanam – that which pleases everyone, that which is accepted by everyone
sarva arththadham – that which can bestow all benedictions (that which contains all essential principles)
sahasra sAka upanishath samAgamam – Being equivalent to the 1000s of branches of upanishadhs
srI satakOpa vAngmayam – filled with nammAzhwAr‘s divine words
dhrAvida vEdha sAgaram – an ocean of dhrAvida (thamizh) vEdham
aham – I am (this servant)
namAmi – worshipping

Simple Translation

I worship this thiruvAimozhi which is nectarean for the devotees (of srIman nArAyaNan), which pleases everyone, which can bestow all benedictions, which is equivalent to 1000s of branches of upanishadhs, which is filled with nammAzhwAr‘s divine words and which is an ocean of dhrAvida (thamizh) vEdham.

Highlights from piLLai lOkam jIyar‘s vyAkyAnam

  • sarvArththadham – Starting with “mikka iRai nilai”  (true nature of supreme lord, etc., which is part of arththa panchakam – the essential 5 principles) upto “mikka vEdhiyar vEdhaththin utporuL niRkappAdi en nenjuL niRuththinAn” (kaNNinuN chiRuth thAmbu 9 – nammAzhwAr establishes the ultimate essence of vEdham in my heart), thiruvAimozhi covers all essential principles.
  • sahasra sAkOpanishath samAgamam – sahasra sAkA – 1000 sAkAs of sAma vEdham. upanishath – chAndhOgya upanishath which is the essence of sAma vEdham. udhgItham  which is the essence of chAndhOgya upanishath.
  • srI satakOpa vAngmayam – As nammAzhwAr himself said in many places as “kurukUrch chatakOpan sol” (AzhwArthirunagari nammAzhwAr‘s words).
  • dhrAvida vEdha sAgaram viswajanAnumOdhanam – thiruvAimozhi is compared to an ocean as ocean is liked by everyone. bhakthas in this world, nithyasUris and mukthAthmAs and bhagavAn himself – everyone likes this prabandham so much.
  • namAmyaham dhrAvida vEdha sAgaram – The (salt) ocean was surrendered to by srI rAma himself. This thiruvAimozhi too is worshippable by everyone – bhakthas perform an anjali (namaskAram) as soon as hearing “kurukUrch chatakOpan” anywhere,
  • thiruvAimozhi and srI rAmAyaNam are beautifully compared and it is established that both the literature ultimately help in freeing oneself from this samsAram to ascend to paramapadham for eternal kainkaryam and bliss.

thaniyan blessed by IswaramunigaL (son of nAthamunigaL)

thiruvazhudhi nAdenRum thenkurukUr enRum
maruviniya vaNporunal enRum
arumaRaigaL anthAdhi seydhAn adi iNaiyE
eppozhudhum sindhiyAy nenjE theLindhu

word-by-word meanings

nenjE! – Oh my mind!
thiruvazhudhi nAdenRum – meditating on the sacred land of AzhwArthirunagari which is known as thiruvazhudhi nAdu
thenkurukUr enRum – meditating on the beautiful thirukkurukUr (AzhwArthirunagari)
maruva iniya vaNporunal enRum – meditating on the most enjoyable and beautiful thAmirabaraNi river
arumaRaigaL – the rare/difficult vEdhams
andhAdhi seydhAn – nammAzhwAr, the one who brought out (the meanings of) such vEdhams in his thiruvAimozhi in andhAdhi format (ending of one pAsuram as the beginning of the next)
adi iNaiyE – the two feet
eppozhuthum – always
theLinthu – with clarity
sindhiyAy – contemplate.

Simple Translation

Oh my mind! Contemplate with clarity on the lotus feet of nammAzhwAr, the one who brought out (the meanings of) the rare/difficult vEdhams in his thiruvAimozhi in andhAdhi format (ending of one pAsuram as the beginning of the next) while meditating on the sacred, beautiful land of AzhwArthirunagari which is known as thiruvazhudhi nAdu and thirukkurukUr and the most enjoyable/beautiful thAmirabaraNi river.

Highlights from piLLai lOkam jIyar‘s vyAkyAnam

  • As said in “gurupAdhAmbujam dhyAyEth” (meditate on the lotus feet of the AchArya), IswaraamunigaL  meditates on the lotus feet of nammAzhwAr with full focus.
  • In vEdham, srIvaikuNtam is explained as the main land and the town on the banks of river virajA. Also, srIman nArAyaNan‘s lotus feet are greatly glorified in upanishaths as in “vishNO: padhE paramE madhva uthsa:“, “thadhvishNO: paramam padham“, etc (vishNu sUktham). Similarly, in thiruvAimozhi, nammAzhwAr too glorified AzhwArthirungari which is the residence of emperumAn who is the full focus of vEdham and thAmirabharaNi river in thiruvAimozhi 4.10.1 – “thirukkurukUrathanuL ninRa AdhippirAn” (AdhinAthan emperumAn who is firmly situated in AzhwArthirunagari), thiruvAimozhi 6.1.10 “thERu nIrppampai vadapAlai thiruvaNvaNdUr” (thiruvaNvaNdUr which is on the  banks of pampA river which has pristine waters) and thiruvAimozhi 7.2.6 “thaNpunalsUzh thiruvarangaththuLLAy” (lying down in srIrangam which is surrounded by cool waters of cauvery river). Similarly, IswaramunigaL also highlights AzhwArthirunagari dhivya dhEsam, thAmirabharaNi river and nammAzhwAr‘s lotus feet because we are focussed on the essence of vEdham which is to focus on nammAzhwAr who is the purest devotee of emperumAn.

thaniyan blessed by sottainambigaL (son of ALavandhAr)

manaththAlum vAyAlum vaNkurugUr pENum
inaththArai allAdhu iRainjEn
dhanaththAlum Edhum kuRaivilEn
endhai sadagOpan pAdhangaL yAmudaiya paRRu

word-by-word meanings

manaththAlum – with mind
vAyAlum – with words
vaNkurukUr pENum – ones who serves/likes AzhwArthirunagari
inaththArai allAdhu – others who are not part of such clan
iranijEn – will not worship
dhanaththAlum – with wealth
Edhum kuRaivilEn – not limited in any sense (why? because)
endhai satakOpan – my master nammAzhwAr
pAdhangaL – lotus feet
yAmudaiya – our
paRRu – refuge/shelter

Simple Translation

I will not worship with my mind/words those who are not part of the clan which serves/likes AzhwArthirunagari as I am not limited by wealth in any sense because my master nammAzhwAr‘s lotus feet are our refuge.

Highlights from piLLai lOkam jIyar‘s vyAkyAnam

  •  In the previous thaniyans, the principle of worshipping nammAzhwAr is explained. In this thaniyan avoidance of others is emphasised.
  • nammAzhwAr himself says in thiruviruththam 100 “nallAr navil kurukUr” (AzhwArthirunagari where good persons live). These are the ones who have attachment towards nammAzhwAr and thiruvAimozhi.
  • dhanaththAlum Edhum kuRaivilEn – The reason for not supporting others is explained. For those who fully took shelter of the lotus feet of nammAzhwAr as said in sthOthra rathnam 30 “dhanam madhIyam thava pAdha pankajam” (Your lotus feet are my only wealth), everything essential is already there. So, no need to go behind others in need of anything.

thaniyan blessed by ananthAzhwAn

Eyndha perum kIrththi irAmAnusa muni than
vAyndha malarp pAdham vaNangukinREn
Ayndha perum sIrAr satakOpan senthamizh vEdham dharikkum
pErAdha uLLam peRa

word-by-word meanings

Ayndha – not mixed with defects
peru sIr – with best qualities
Ar – filled with, complete in
satakOpan – blessed by nammAzhwAr
senthamizh vEdham – beautiful thamizh vEdham
dharikkum – to behold
pErAdha – not interested in other things
uLLam – mind/heart
peRa – to acquire
Eyndha perum kIrththi irAmAnusa muni than – emperumAnAr who has the most fitting glorious qualities
vAyndha pAdham malar – most qualified lotus feet
vaNangukinREn – I am worshipping

Simple Translation
I am worshipping the most qualified lotus feet of emperumAnAr who has the most fitting glorious qualities to acquire a mind/heart that has no interest in anything other than thiruvAimozhi to behold that beautiful thamizh vEdham that was blessed (spoken) by nammAzhwAr who is filled with the best qualities without the mixing of any defects.

Highlights from piLLai lOkam jIyar‘s vyAkyAnam

  • nammAzhwAr is glorified as the most distinct devotee of emperumAn, being filled with most auspicious qualities and is complete in all manner.
  • Since emperumAnAr is glorified in rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi 1 as “mARan adi paNindhu uyndhavan” (one who became great by surrendering unto nammAzhwAr‘s lotus feet), he is most devoted to nammAzhwAr and an expert in thiruvAimozhi and other dhivya prabandhams.
  • Such emperumAnAr is worshipped with great devotion to be bestowed with a pristine mind to learn thiruvAimozhi and its meanings. As the AchArya is the one who dispels our ignorance and bestows us a clear mind to learn this highest knowledge, we pray to emperumAnAr to do the same.

thaniyans blessed by bhattar

vAn thigazhum sOlai madhiL arangar vaNpugazh mEl
AnRa thamizh maRaigaL Ayiramum
InRa mudhal thAy satakOpan
moymbAl vaLarththa idhath thAy irAmAnusan

word-by-word meanings

vAn thigazhum sOlai – groves which have trees reaching the sky
madhiL – covered with sapthaprAkAram (seven layers of forts)
arangar – periya perumAL who is lying down in srIrangam
vaNpugazh mEl AnRa – on the most auspicious qualities of
thamizh maRaigaL Ayiramum – 1000 pAsurams which are celebrated as thamizh vEdham
InRa mudhal thAy – first mother who gave birth
satakOpan – nammAzhwAr
moymbAl – with gait/agility
vaLarththa – nurtured
idham thAy – well-wishing mother
irAmAnusan – emperumAnAr

Simple Translation
nammAzhwAr is the first mother who conceived/delivered thiruvAimozhi and the agile emperumAnAr is the well-wishing foster mother to thiruvAimozhi (1000 pAsurams) which is celebrated as thamizh vEdham and which is sung on the most auspicious qualities of periya perumAL who is lying down in srIrangam which is covered with the seven layers of forts and groves which have trees reaching the sky.

Highlights from piLLai lOkam jIyar‘s vyAkyAnam

  • In this thaniyan, it is established that all of thiruvAimozhi is sung on srIranganAthan only. nammAzhwAr himself says in thiruvAimozhi 7.2.11 “mugilvaNNan adimEl sonna sol mAlai Ayiram” (this garland of 1000 pAsurams sung on mugilvaNNan – this padhigam is dedicated for srIranganAthan who is hailed as mugilvaNNan). In the beginning, middle and the end, nammAzhwAr talks about “nArAyaNan” – periya perumAL is glorified (and originally named when being worshipped by srI rAma in ikshvAku dynasty) as nArAyaNan.  Just like all of vEdham is focussed on srIman nArAyaNan, all of thiruvAimozhi is focussed on srIranganAthan. (Note: But different decads are still dedicated to different archAvathAra emperumAns, since it is the same emperumAn who is present in dhivya dhEsams).
  • piLLai lOkam jIyar establishes by relating the 10 main qualities of emperumAn (every centum speaks elaborately about one such quality) to the 10 pAsurams in thiruvAimozhi 7.2 “kangulum pagalum” decad which is specifically dedicated for periya perumAL. In the end, he says just like nammAzhwAr is special over other AzhwArs, namperumAL is special over other archAvathAra emperumAns.
  • Just like kaNNan emperumAn was given birth by dhEvaki pirAtti and raised by yasOdhA pirAtti, thiruvAimozhi was conceived by nammAzhwAr but then nurtured by emperumAnAr. Though dhEvaki gave birth to kaNNan emperumAn, it was yasOdha who fed him, protected him from kamsa and his demoniac assistants and nurtured him. Similarly, though nammAzhwAr had sung thiruvAimozhi, he ascended to paramapadham after a short span. It was emperumAnAr who built a protective fence for thiruvAimozhi by writing srIbhAshyam to dispel the philosophies which misinterpret the meanings of vEdham, becoming a comprehensive expert in thiruvAimozhi, having thirukkurukaippirAn piLLAn write the first commentary, etc – all of these to nurture thiruvAimozhi. yasOdha nurtured pramEyam (goal – emperumAn). emperumAnAr nurtured pramANam (literature – thiruvAimozhi).

mikka iRai nilaiyum meyyAm uyir nilaiyum
thakka neRiyum thadaiyAgith thokkiyalum Uzh vinaiyum
vAzhvinaiyum Odhum
kurugaiyar kOn yAzhin isai vEdhaththiyal

word-by-word meanings

kurugaiyarkOn – the leader of the residents of AzhwArthirunagari
yAzhin isai vEdhaththu iyal – thiruvAimozhi pAsurams which sound like the sweet tunes of vINA (a string instrument)
mikka iRai nilaiyum – the true nature of the supreme lord srIman nArAyaNa
meyyAm uyir nilaiyum – the true nature of the eternal jIvAthmA
thakka neRiyum – the true nature of the most fitting means
thadai Agith thokku iyalum Uzhvinaiyum – the true nature of the hurdles which are in the form of infinite karma (puNya/pApa)
vAzhvinaiyum – the true nature of the ultimate goal
Odhum – speaks.

Simple Translation

The leader of the residents of AzhwArthirunagari is nammAzhwAr. His thiruvAimozhi which sounds like the sweet tunes of vINA speaks about the most important 5 principles – the true nature of the supreme lord srIman nArAyaNa (parmaAthma svarUpam), the true nature of the eternal jIvAthmA (jIvAthma svarUpam), the true nature of the most fitting means (upAya svarUpam), the true nature of the hurdles which are in the form of infinite karma (virOdhi svarUpam), the true nature of the ultimate goal (upEya svarUpam).

Highlights from piLLai lOkam jIyar‘s vyAkyAnam

  • As said in “prApyasya brahmaNO rUpam … munayascha mahAthmana: vEdha vEdhArththavEdhina: vadhanthi” (the essential 5 principles are spoken by sages, mahAthmAs, etc), satakOpa muni spoke those 5 essential principles (arththa panchakam) in an elaborate manner in thiruvAimozhi.
  • Since it is compared to sAma vEdham, this dhivya prabandham is very melodious to hear and is always sung with music. All of these are explained in AchArya hrudhayam by azhagiya maNavALap perumAL nAyanAr in great detail.
  • arththa panckam is explained elaborately in the commentary. We can see the gist of that here:
    • mikka iRai nilai – As explained in nArAyaNa sUktham “thathvam nArAyaNa: para:” (srIman nArAyaNa – the supreme entity) etc., and in many pAsurams in thiruvAimozhi and other dhivya prabandhams, srIman nArAyaNa is the supreme lord. As thirumazhisai AzhwAr says in nAnmugan thiruvanthAdhi 53 “thiruvillAth thEvaraith thEREnmin thEvu” (I will not consider any one other than srIman nArAyaNa as worshippable), srI mahAlakshmi is also considered as important identity for bhagavAn. That too archAvathAra emperumAn – who is the most approachable form, is established as the ultimate goal.
    • meyyAm uyir nilaijIvAthmA is that which is different from matter, being filled with gyAnam (knowledge) and Anandham (bliss), eternal and fully dependent on bhagavAn just like the body is dependent on the soul. sarIra (body) – sarIri (soul) bhAvam (relationship) is also explained in detail as in “yasya AthmA saIram” (AthmA is body of paramAthmA), thiruvAimozhi 1.2.4 “uLLathum … avanuru” (AthmA is his body/form). The svarUpa yAthAthmyam (essence of jIvAthmA‘s nature) is to reach the stage of being totally dependent on thadhIya (devotees of bhagavAn).
    • thakka neRi – It is the responsibility of the AthmA to protect the body. So, bhagavAn being the parmAthmA is the ultimate upAyam (means) for one being uplifted as he himself says in gIthA 18.66 “mAsucha:”  (do not worry). And when we understand that we are totally subservient to thadhIyas (devotees), they themselvse are the means to uplift us as well – this is upAya yAthAmyam (essence of upAyam).
    • thadaiyAgith thokkiyalum Uzhvinai – This is the hurdle that stops us from reaching the ultimate goal of eternal kainkaryam. The karmA from unlimited births which are carried with us is the main hurdle. Body itself is also explained as main hurdle as it hides/suppresses the true nature of jIvAthmA (being fully knowledgable). virOdhi svarUpa yAthAthmyam (essence of hurdles) is ahankAram and mamakAram. These will engage oneself into serving materialistic persons (for want of wealth, etc) and also lead to bhAgavatha apachAram such as judging a srIvaishNava based on birth etc., and will push us to lowest levels. The cruelty of such apachArams (mainly bhAgavatha apachAram) is explained in thirumAlai 33 “amaravOrangam…” pAsuram etc., in great detail.
    • vAzhvinai – that great life of eternal kainkaryam at the lotus feet of srIman nArAyaNa in paramapadham. It is the act of pure service for bhagavAn‘s pleasure only instead of looking for self interest. Also, as explained in thiruvAimozhi 10.9.11 “andhamil pErinbaththu adiyarOdu irundhamai” (being in unlimited bliss amidst great devotees of emperumAn in paramapadham) is considered as the ultimate goal as well.

pillailokam-jeeyarpiLLai lOkam jIyar

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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thiruvAimozhi – bhagavath vishayam – thaniyans (Invocation)

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srImathE satakOpAya nama:
srImathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srImadh varavaramunayE nama:

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Before beginning the study of thiruvAimozhi meanings (mainly for Idu (eedu) kAlakshEpam, i.e., listening to lectures of Idu vyAkyAnam), it is customary to recollect the contribution of the glorious preceptors who preserved and propagated thiruvAimozhi and its divine meanings. Let us now see these thaniyans (invocatory verses) briefly with the help of the vyAkyAnam provided by piLLai lOkam jIyar.

The first 2 thaniyans glorify the AchAryas who passed the divine meanings of thiruvAimozhi through the paramparA. These two thaniyans were always recited in the beginning of Idu kAlakshEpam by maNavALa mAmunigaL recollecting the great favours done by the AchAryas who preserved and propagated the divine meanings of thiruvAimozhi.

thaniyan blessed by thiruvAimozhip piLLai

nAtham pankajanEthra rAma yamunAvAsthavya mAlAdhArAn
yOgIndhram kurukEsachandhra jalathim gOvindha kUrAdhipau |
bhattAryam nigamAnthayOgi jagadhAchAryau sakrushNadhvayau
vandhE mAdhava padhmanAbha sumana:kOlEsa dhEvAdhipAn ||

Simple translation: I worship nAthamunigaL, uyyakkoNdAr, maNakkAl nambi, yAmunAchArya, thirumAlai ANdAn, srI rAmAnuja who is most dear to thirukkurukaippirAn piLLAn, gOvindhAchArya (embAr) and kUraththAzhwAn, parAsara bhattar, nanjIyar, nampiLLai lOkAchAryar, the two krishNas – periyavAchchAn piLLai and vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai, IyuNNi mAdhavap perumAL (who was named by nampiLLai as madhava in memory of his own AchArya nanjIyar), IyuNNi padhmanAbap perumAL (who is the son of IyuNNi mAdhavap perumAL), nAlUr piLLai (kOla varAhAchArya) and nAlUrAchchAn piLLai (dhEvAdhipa).

thaniyan blessed by maNavALa mAmunigaL

thiruvaruNmAl sEnaimudhali satakOpan nAthamuni sIruyyakkoNdAr maNakkAl nambi chenrAmALavandhAr
gurumAlAdhArar kurukaippirARkku anbAm ethirAsar gOvindhar kUrEsar bhattar vEdhAnthimuni
irukaNNArkku anbudaiya nampiLLai ivar IdaLiththaRku Eyntha mAdhavar paRpanAbar ivar aruLALar
thiruvadi UnRiya dhEvapperumAL kaikkoNdaruLum thirumalai AzhwAr padhangaL munbennuL chErnthanavE

Simple translation: The lotus feet (and the blessings) of srIman nArAyaNan, sEnai mudhaliyAr (vishwawksEnar), nammAzhwAr, nAthamunigaL, uyyakkoNdArmaNakkAl nambi who reformed ALavandhAr, thirumAlai ANdAn, emperumAnAr who is most dear to thirukkurukaippirAn piLLAn, embAr, kUraththAzhwAn, bhattar, nanjIyar who is known as vEdhAnthi muni, nampiLLai who is dear to the two krishNas – periyavAchchAn piLLai and vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai, IyuNNi mAdhavap perumAL who was greatly qualified to receive the Idu vyAkyAnam from nampiLLai, IyuNNi padhmanAbap perumAL, nAlUr piLLai who is known as “aruLALar thiruvadi UnRiyinavar” (one on whose head srI satakOpam (satAri) of srI varadharAjap perumAL was well pressed meaning well blessed, one who pressed on the srI satakOpam of srI varadharAjap perumAL), thiruvAimozhip piLLai who was lovingly accepted by nAlUrAchchAn piLLai (who is the son of nAlUr piLLai) as his sishya have been bestowed on me.

Highlights from piLLai lOkam jIyar‘s vyAkyAnam

nammazhwar-madhurakavi-nathamuninammAzhwAr with madhurakavi AzhwAr and nAthamunigaL at either side

  • nAthamunigaL who is originally known as srIranganAtha  – one who considers nammAzhwAr as his master. Just like nammAzhwAr was blessed by srIman nArAyaNan, nAthamunigaL was blessed in turn by nammAzhwAr.
  • pankajanEthra – puNdarikAksha is the most glorious uyyakkoNdAr who preached the principle of saraNAgathi (dhvaya mahA manthram) and dhIrga saraNAgathi (thiruvAimozhi).
  • srI rAma misra – maNakkAl nambi who served his AchArya for 12 years staying along with him.
  • yAmunavAsthavya – yamunaithuRaivar who is also known as ALavandhAr and the dear grand son of nAthamunigaL. While he was engaged in administrative duties of the kingdom won by him through debate, maNakkAl nambi pursued him, reformed him and made him the leader of our sath sampradhAyam.
  • guru mAlAdhAra – mAlAdhArar who is known as thirumAlai ANdAn. He learnt thiruvAimozhi from ALavandhAr and taught that to emperumAnAr. The “guru” attribute here signifies him teaching thiruvAimozhi that too to emperumAnAr himself.
  • yOgIndhram – srI rAmAnuja who established the meanings of thiruvAimozhi firmly. nammAzhwAr is considered as the first  [biological] mother of thiruvAimozhi and emperumAnAr is considered as the foster-mother of thiruvAimozhi. He is also glorified as “mARan adi paNindhu uynthavan” (one who became uplifted due to his great devotion towards nammAzhwAr).

emperumanar_with_sishyasemperumAnAr (srI rAmAnuja) kAlakshEpa gOshti

  • yOgIndhram kurukEsa chandra jalathim – kurukEsa who is known as thirukkurukaippirAn piLLAn who lights up the face (life) of emperumAnAr. emperumAnAr gave him the name of nammAzhwAr, considered him as his abimAna puthra (dear son) and engaged him in the propagation of thiruvAimozhi by ordering him to write the first commentary for thiruvAimozhi which is glorified as 6000 padi.
  • gOvindha kUrAdhipau – embAr and kUraththAzhwAn – both of them were the main visionaries of our sampradhAyam and thus most dear to emperumAnAremperumAnAr consecrated these two as the leaders to propagate prapaththi sAsthram (the principle of total surrender). Also, both of them are mentioned here due to their being the AchAryas of bhattar. embAr instructed dhvaya mahA manthram to bhattar right when he was a new-born (11 days old) child and became the AchArya of bhattar per the orders of emperumAnAr. AzhwAn explains the meaning of thirumanthram to bhattar as explained in thiruvAimozhi 1.2.10 “eNperukkan nalam” pAsuram.
  • bhattAryam – srI parAsara bhattar who is lovingly called as “bhattar“.  As explained in srIrangarAja sthavam 1.49 “srIrangarAja kamalApadha lAlithathvam” by himself, he is the adopted son of srIranganAthan and srIranganAchchiyAr. Also, he is non-different from srI rAmAnuja who said “my disciples should consider bhattar as myself”. He is most attached to thirunedunthANdagam and his words are always in the mood of dhivya prabandham. In all of the vyAkyAnams, bhattar‘s explanations are most-widely seen.

parasara-bhattarbhattar with nanjIyar at his lotus feet

  • nigamAntha yOgi – vEdhAnthimuni who is known as nanjIyar. He was originally named mAdhavAchAryar, an advaitha scholar and was reformed by bhattar at thirunArAyaNapuram. He became a great disciple of bhattar and by the blessings of bhattar, he compiled 9000 padi vyAkyAnam (commentary) for thiruvAimozhi. It is also well established that he performed thiruvAimozhi kAlakshEpam 100 times.
  • jagadhAchArya – As explained in upadhEsa rathinamAlai 51 “thunnupugazhk kandhAdai thOzhappar” pAsuram, nampiLLai is glorified as jagadhAchArya. He had two most glorious disciples vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai and periyavAchchAn piLLai – both named srI krishNa. As explained in his thaniyan, he is “kAruNyapUrNam kalivairi dhAsam” – one who is named “thirukkalikanRi dhAsar” and is filled with compassion. It is only during his period that the commentaries for dhivya prabandham flourished greatly. He was also born on thirumangai AzhwAr‘s thirunakshathram kArthikai month kArthikai star. Just like nammAzhwAr, he is called as nampiLLai. Just like nammAzhwAr is called prathamAchArya, nampiLLai is called lOkAchArya. Just like nammAzhwAr is glorified as “thirunAvIRudaiya pirAn” (the lord who has a strong/valiant tongue), nampiLLai is also called as as vIRudaiyAr (valiant). kandhAdai thOzhappar’s dharma pathni glorifies “nampiLLai is like a special incarnation of AzhwAr who is most dear to perumAL himself”.

nampillai-goshti1nampiLLai kAlakshEpa gOshti

  • sakrushNa dhvayau  – two krishNas (of nampiLLai) – since both periyavAchchAn piLLai  and vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai are most dear to nampiLLai, they are glorified together. Both were bestowed with divine knowledge by nampiLLai.  periyavAchchAn piLLai compiled a vyAkyAnam for thiruvAimozhi named 24000 padi and vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai compiled 36000 padi.
  • mAdhava padhmanAba –IyuNNi mAdhavap perumAL (mAdhavAchArya), dear sishya of nampiLLai, who was named after nanjIyar‘s original name mAdhava by nampiLLai himself. In his thaniyan, he is glorified as the recipient of nampiLLai‘s compassion and has pristine knowledge due to hearing the divine meanings of thiruvAimozhi (which is glorified as dhramidOpanishadh) from nampiLLai. The history of his receiving the manuscripts of Idu vyAkyanam is explained in upadhEsa raththina mAlai 48th pAsuram “sIrAr vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai“. vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai documented the Idu vyAkyAnam based on lectures delivered by nampiLLai, without his permission. Finding this out, nampiLLai becomes upset initially, but then realizes the great effort put in by vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai in scribing the lectures as they are and appreciates him greatly. Yet, nampiLLai says, it is not the right time to release this vyAkyAnam and hands over the same to IyuNNi mAdhavap perumAL asking him to preserve the same carefully and teach it to very qualified sishyas only. The history of Idu vyAkyAnam is already documented at padhmanAba is the son of IyuNNi mAdhavap perumAL. mAdhavap perumAL taught Idu vyAkyAnam to his son padhmanAbap perumAL and instructs him to teach it carefully to qualified persons only. padhmanAbap perumAL preserves the manuscripts with great care, keeping them in his kOyilAzhwAr (thiruvArAdhanam) and worshipping it.
  • sumana:kOlEsa – kOlEsa who is known as kOla varAhap perumAL and nAlUr piLLai served padhmanAbap perumAL greatly with the desire to learn Idu vyAkyAnam. padhmanAbap perumAL brought him over to pEraruLALan (srI varadharAjap perumAL) once to get his permission. When archaka presents him srI satakOpam, nAlUr piLLai presses on that (thus becoming to be known as “aruLALar thiruvadi UnRinavar”  – one who pressed on the srI satakOpam of dhEvap perumAL)) to hint his desire to emperumAn. Knowing his desire, emperumAn speaks through the archaka and orders padhmanAbap perumAL to teach Idu vyAkyAnam to nAlUr piLLai. Thus, it is by the mercy of srI varadharAjap perumAL that thiruvAimozhi and its vyAkyAnam were greatly nurtured. It is important to note that srIvachanabhUshaNam (which is the essence of thiruvAimozhi) was also nurtured and propagated by dhEvap perumAL only. Since nAlUr piLLai received this knowledge through great efforts for the benefit of everyone, he is called as sumana: (pleasing to all) kOlEsa.
  • dhEvAdhipAn – dhEvAdhipa is nAlUrAchchAn piLLai. nAlUr piLLai names him as dhEvap perumAL at his birth showing his gratitude towards dhEvap perumAL for his favours. nAlUrAchchAn piLLai grows up to be great in gyAnam, bhakthi, etc. nAlUr piLLai then teaches the divine meanings of thiruvAimozhi to nAlUrAchchAn piLLai. When thirumalai AzhwAr (thiruvAimozhip piLLai) visits kAnchIpuram, nAlUr piLLai and nAlUrAchchAn piLLai are also present in the assembly. They find out about thiruvAimozhip piLLai‘s glories and nAlUr piLLai at once wants to teach him the divine meanings of thiruvAimozhi. When he was blessed with srI satakOpam of perumAL, he again presses on that. emperumAn, knowing his desire, speaks through the archaka and orders that thiruvAimozhip piLLai learns thiruvAimozhi meanings from nAlUr piLLai. nAlUr piLLai sights his old age and inability to fully justify the orders of emperumAn. emperumAn then says, nAlUrAchchAn piLLai is as good as nAlUr piLLai himself and thus he can teach the same to thiruvAimozhip piLLai. Thus, thiruvAimozhip piLLai learns Idu vyAkyAnam from nAlUrAchchAn piLLai.
  • Thus, these two thaniyans are recited by periya jIyar (maNavALa mAmunigaL) regularly. In addition to the above AchAryas, piLLai lOkAchAryar who blessed us the essence of thiruvAimozhi Idu vyAkyAnam in his srIvachana bhUshaNam, sAra sangraham, etc., nAyanArAchchAn piLLai who is the son of periyavAchchAn piLLai and who nurtured 24000 padi vyAkyAnam, vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar who explained word-by-word meanings of thiruvAimozhi in his 12000 padi vyAkyAnam and azhagiya maNavALap perumAL nAyanAr who revealed AchArya hrudhayam are also meditated upon. This is why, their thaniyans are also recited subsequently.
  • maNavALa mAmunigaL explained the full history of Idu vyAkyAnam in his upadhEsa raththina mAlai pAsurams 48 and 49. We can observe father-son duo becoming AchArya-sishya with respect to learning thiruvAimozhi meanings from the lives of kUraththAzhwAnbhattar, periyavAchchAn piLLai – nAyanAr AchchAn piLLai, vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLaipiLLai lOkAchAryarIyuNNi mAdhavap perumAL – IyuNNi padhmanAbap perumAL and nAlUr piLLainAlUrAchchAn piLLai.
  • Subsequently, maNavALa mAmunigaL learnt these thiruvAimozhi meanings in detail from thiruvAimozhip piLLai and other dhivya prabandhams and sustained himself by constantly meditating, speaking and preaching it. It is only after mAmunigaL‘s appearance that thiruvAimozhi became world renowned by constant preaching of the same.  That is why srIranganAthan ordered him to lecture on Idu vyAkyAnam in front of him for a whole year and he himself submitted “srIsailEsa dhayApAthram” thaniyan honouring him as his own AchArya. He also propagated thiruvAimozhi and its Idu vyAkyAnam through his sishyas paravasthu pattarpirAn jIyar, ponnadikkAl (thOthAdhri) jIyar, kOyil kandhAdai aNNan et al.

pillailokacharyar-nayanar-thiruvaimozhipillai-mamunigalpiLLai lOkAchAryar, nAyanAr, thiruvAimozhip piLLai, mAmunigaL

  • paravasthu pattarpirAn jIyar compiles a beautiful grantham named “anthimOpAya nishtai” which brings out the essence of thiruvAimozhi. He also teaches meanings of thiruvAimozhi and other dhivya prabandhams to his sishyas such as madhurakavi dhAsaraNNan et al.
  • ponnadikkAl jIyar (vAnamahAdhri yOgi) teaches the meanings of thiruvAimozhi and other dhivya prabandhams to his own sishya rAmAnujam piLLai and kOyil aNNan‘s sishya sudhdha sathvam aNNan fully. They in turn teach the same to their sishyas.
  • kOyil aNNan, according to the orders of his AchArya (mAmunigaL), teaches the same to jIyar nAyanAr (who is the pUrvAsrama grand-son of mAmunigaL).
  • prathivAdhi bayankaram aNNA, who is known as vEdhAnthAchArya and came to be known as  srIvaishNava dhAsa and one who identifies himself fully as the sishya of mAmunigaL also teaches Idu vyAkyAnam and srI bhAshyam to pattarpirAn jIyar‘s sishya thiruppathi azhagiya maNavALa jIyar et al.
  • Thus, many copies of Idu vyAkyAnam manuscripts were made and greatly preached by many AchAryas to their respective sishyas.

Subsequently we will see the thaniyans of AchAryas who directly propagated thiruvAimozhi by writing vyAkyAnams, etc.

dhrAvidAgama sAragyam rAmAnuja padhAsritham
ruchiram kurukEsAryam namAmi sirasAnhavam

I worship kurukEsAchArya (everyday) who is a well-versed in the essence of dhrAvida vEdham, who took shelter of srI rAmAnuja’s lotus feet and who is most intelligent.

namO vEdhAntha vEdhyAya jagan mangaLa hEthavE
yasya vAgAmruthAsAra bhUritham bhuvana thrayam

My obeisances belong to vEdhAnthi nanjIyar whose nectarean words have filled the 3 worlds and who brings auspice  to all 3 worlds.

vEdhAntha vEdhya amrutha vArirAsEr
vEdhArtha sAra amrutha pUramagryam
AdhAya varshantham aham prapadhyE
kAruNya pUrNam kalivairidhAsam

I take shelter of kalivairidhAsar (nampiLLai) who extracted (and is teaching) the glorious essence of the nectarean vEdham from vEdhAnthi nanjIyar who himself is an ocean of nectarean principles, who is filled with mercy (like a cloud filled with water).

srImath krishNa samAhvAya namO yAmuna sUnavE
yath katAkshaika lakshyANam sulabha: srIdharas sadhA

My salutations belong to srI krishNa (periyavAchchAn piLLai) who is the son of yAmunAchArya and by whose mercy srIman nArAyaNan is easily attainable.

sri krishna pAdha pAdhAbjE namAmi sirasA sadhA
yath prasAdha prabhAvEna sarva sidhdhirabhUnmama

I constantly bow down at the lotus feet of srI krishNa (vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai) through whose mercy I acquired knowledge, devotion, detachment, etc.

lOkAchArya guravE krishNa pAdhasya sUnavE
samsAra bhOgi santhashta jIva jIvAthavE nama:

I offer my obeisances to piLLai lOkAchAryar who is the son of srI krishNa (vadakku thiruvIdhi piLLai), who has a fully qualified AchArya, who is the medicine for the jIvAthmAs who are bitten by the poisonous snake called samsAram.

sruthyarthasArajanakam smruthibAlamithram
padhmOllasadh bhagavadhangri purANabhandhum
gyAnAdhirAjam abhayapradharAja sUnum
asmath gurum paramakAruNikam namAmi

I worship my most merciful AchAryan who extracts the essence of vEdham, who is like a sun for the lotus of smruthi, who is eternally related to the lotus feet of srIman nArAyaNan, who is an emperor of knowledge and is the dear son of abhyapradha rAjar (periyavAchchAn piLLai).

dhrAvidAmnAya hrudhayam guruparvakramAgatham
ramyajAmAthrudhEvEna dharsitham krishNasUnunA

azhagiya maNavALap perumAL nAyanAr who is the son of srI krishNa (vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai) revealed the divine meanings of thiruvAimozhi (nammAzhwAr’s divine heart) which are received through the AchArya paramparai.

sundharajAmAthrumunE: prapadhyE charaNAmbhujam
samsArArNava sammagna janthu santhArapOthakam

I surrender unto the lotus feet of vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar whose lotus feet are like a boat that will deliver the jIvAthmAs who are drowning in the ocean of samsAram.

Note: Though piLLai lOkAchAryar, nAyanArAchchAn piLLai azhagiya maNavALap perumAL nAyanAr and vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar are not directly involved in propagating Idu vyAkyAnam, their thaniyans are recited due to their contribution to the propagation of thiruvAimozhi. Their contributions have been previously explained.

namOsthu dhEvarAjAya chathurgrAma nivAsinE
rAmAnujArya dhAsasya suthAya guNasAlinE

I offer my obeisances to dhEvarAjar (nAlUrAchchAn piLLai) who lives in chathurgrAma (nAlUr), who is the son of rAmAnujArya (another name of nAlUr piLLai) and who is filled with auspicious qualities.

nama srIsailanAthAya kunthI nagara janmanE
prasAdhalabdha parama prApya kainkaryasAlinE

My obeisances belong to srIsaila nAtha (thirumalai AzhwAr – thiruvAimozhip piLLai) who was born in kunthI nagar, one who achieved the ultimate kainkaryam (by the grace of his AchAryan). Originally named thirumalai AzhwAr (srIsailEsa), due to his extreme attachment towards thiruvAimozhi, he comes to be known as thiruvAimozhip piLLai. nammAzhwAr, stayed in malayALa (kEraLa) nAdu for 60 years along with namperumAL et al., during mughal invasion, after which they all arrived at thirukkaNAmbi. thiruvAimozhip piLLai, then located AzhwArthirunagari which had become fully forested, cleared the woods, re-constructed the temple and re-established the temple worship properly.

srIsailEsa dhayA pAthram dhIbhakthyAdhi guNArNavam
yathIndhra pravaNam vandhE ramya jAmAtharam munim


I glorify azhagiya maNavALa mAmunigaL who is the target of thirumalai AzhwAr’s mercy, who is an ocean of auspicious qualities such as knowledge, devotion etc. and who is greatly attached to yathIndhra (srI rAmAnuja). mAmunigaL took shelter of thiruvAimozhip piLLai‘s lotus feet, learnt all of dhivya prabandham from him and wanted to share this great wealth of knowledge with everyone. Understanding his desire, namperumAL ordered through his archakas to have mAmunigaL perform Idu kAlakshEpam (along with other vyAkyAnams) in front of his main sanctum in srIrangam. periya perumAL being very pleased with mAmunigaL‘s command over thiruvAimozhi and Idu vyAkyAnam honours him with the title “muppaththARAyirap perukkar” (one who nurtures/nourishes Idu 36000 padi vyAkyAnam). He himself also submits this “srIsailEsa dhayApAthram” thaniyan in glorification of mAmunigaL.

pillailokam-jeeyarpiLLai lOkam jIyar

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