kaNNinuN chiRuth thAmbu 10 – payan anRAgilum

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

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Previous pAsuram

Nammalwar-emperumanarnammAzhwAremperumAnAr (who is considered as the lotus feet of nammAzhwAr)

Introduction for this pAsuram:

nanjIyar highlights that madhurakavi AzhwAr mediates on nammAzhwAr‘s great favours towards him, realizes that he could not return such great favours and says that he immediately starts developing attachment towards nammAzhwAr‘s divine feet.

nampiLLai  highlights that madhurakavi AzhwAr meditates on nammAzhwAr‘s  great favours towards him, realizes that he has not taken any steps towards nammAzhwAr and speaks the glories of nammAzhwAr‘s  favours. It is explained in vishNu dharmam 70.78 “…kruthsnAm vA pruthivIm dhadhyAnna thaththulyam kathanchana:” (For the ones who give knowledge about bhagavAn and the means to reach bhagavAn, the whole world should be submitted. Even that will not match the favour done by such knowledge-bestower (AchArya)). Since AchArya gives bhagavAn himself to the sishya, only if there is another bhagavAn, the favour can be returned by the sishya. Thus, sishya will always be unsatisfied with his deeds towards his AchArya.

periyavAchchAn piLLai highlights the same principle as that of nampiLLai. But instead of simply saying AchArya gives bhagavAn, he says AchArya gives the highest benefit – the divine couple (srI mahAlakshmi and srIman nArAyaNa). Only if the sishya finds another divine couple like that (which is impossible), he can return the favour to his AchArya and thus the sishya will always be unsatisfied that he cannot return the favours done by his AchArya.

azhagiya maNavALa perumaL nAyanAr‘s introduction

So far, nammAzhwAr‘s unique glories and the favours done by nammAzhwAr towards madhurakavi AzhwAr were explained by him. nammAzhwAr‘s glories which are contrary to his own defects and nammAzhwAr‘s  great favours which are contrary to his own limitations were explained before.

In this pAsuram, he realizes that he can never return nammAzhwAr‘s favours and becomes worried (that he cannot do that). In thaithriya bruguvalli 10.6, it is explained that “yO mA dhadhAthi sa i dhEvamAvA:” (one who gives me the supreme lord is my rakshaka (protector)). This feeling of gratitude will occur both in mumukshu stage (when being desirous of mOksham in this world) or muktha state (after reaching parampadham) and one cannot do anything beyond showing gratitude towards AchArya throughout one’s existence.

It is the nature of AchArya to not expect anything in return and it is the nature of sishya to try to do something in return (for the great favours done by AchArya). But since nothing can be done matching the favours done by AchArya, he becomes very sad. Seeing the great favours, the sishya will desire to do something in return. But the greatness of the favours done by AchArya will make the sishya realize that such great favours cannot be returned since there is nothing as good as that (bhagavAn) which was given by AchArya. So, the only way to spend one’s time is by always worrying about not being able to satisfy one’s AchArya. Since AchArya reforms the AthmA, that AthmA can be submitted to bhagavAn. Even that cannot be done in the case of AchArya, since it was the AchArya who already reformed the AthmA and made oneself realize about one’s true nature. So, offering oneself is also not a fitting return for AchArya’s favours.

பயனன்றாகிலும் பாங்கலராகிலும்
செயல் நன்றாகத் திருத்திப் பணிகொள்வான்
குயில் நின்றார்ப் பொழில் சூழ் குருகூர் நம்பி
முயல்கின்றேனுன்றன் மொய் கழற்கன்பையே

payan anRAgilum pAngallar Agilum
seyal nanRAgath thiruththip paNi koLvAn
kuyil ninRAr pozhil sUzh kurukUr nambi
muyalginREn un than moykazhaRku anbaiyE

word-by-word meanings
payan anRu Agilum – though there is no personal gain (by reforming others)
pAngu allar Agilum – though (they are) not fit to be reformed
seyal – by (his) deeds
nanRAgath thiruththi – reformed through strong instructions
paNi koLvAn – engage (them) in service
kuyil ninRu Al pozhil sUzh kurukUr – (living in) AzhwArthirunagari which is surrounded by groves (gardens, etc) that are filled with the sounds of cuckoo
nambi! – Oh nammAzhwAr!
un than – your
moy kazhaRku – unto the (your) best divine feet
anbaiyE – to develop affection only
muyalginREn – trying

Simple translation:
Oh nammAzhwAr! who is living in AzhwArthirunagari which is surrounded by groves (gardens, etc) that are filled with the sounds of cuckoo, though there is no personal gain for you (by reforming others), and though they are not fit to be reformed, you reform them and engage them in (your) service through your strong instructions and deeds. I am trying to develop love and affection only to your divine feet (which is the best).

Highlights from nanjIyar‘s vyAkyAnam:

  • seyal nanrAganammAzhwAr‘s easy approachability is such that, any one (irrespective of ones greatness/lowliness), one can approach him and accept his shelter unlike bhagavAn who is approachable only by the ones who have adhikAram (qualification).
  • kuyil ninRAr pozhil sUzh kurukUr nambi  – Even the cuckoos living in AzhwArthirunagari are joyfully singing – such is nammAzhwAr‘s simplicity (easy approachability). For bhagavath vishayam, one has to go to paramapadham to engage in sAma gAnam (singing of divine sAma vEdham) as mentioned in thaithriya bruguvalli 10.6 “Ethath sAma gAyannAsthE” (the liberated soul is singing sAma gAnam). For mukthas, the destination is paramapadham. But for mumkushus, the destination is AzhwArthirunagari. nammAzhwAr is enjoyed and relished by all including emperumAn himself, nithyasUris, mukthAthmAs, etc.

Highlights from nampiLLai‘s eedu vyAkyAnam:

  • payananRAgilum – In general, one helps another only for personal benefit. But nammAzhwAr helped me even though I would be of no real use to him.
  • pAngallarAgilum – Even if there is no personal benefit, one would at least be able to follow the instructions. In my case, even that is not there since I am not qualified for anything good.
  • payananRAgilum pAngallarAgilum – Even with these limitations, nammAzhwAr is unable to bear the suffering of such persons in this material world – that is why he is reforming them. Just like sIthA pirAtti instructed rAvaNa, looking at his pathetic state of being attached to worldly pleasure even though he was trying to harm her, nammAzhwAr is instructing me, to reform me. Even though a person may stay inside his home shutting all entrances (not to allow any one in), when that house is in fire, the on-lookers will naturally try to extinguish the fire. Similarly, even though one may not be qualified, nammAzhwAr instructs them still and reforms them.
  • thiruththip paNikoLvAnemperumAn is glorified in thiruvAimozhi 3.5.11 as “thIrntha adiyavar thammai thiruththip paNi koLLa valla” (One who is capable of reforming and engaging the devotees who accept bhagavAn as the prApyam (goal) and prApakam (means)) – but unlike bhagavAn, nammAzhwAr will reform even those who have not understood their true nature properly.
  • kuyil ninRAr…nammAzhwAr feels sad in separation from emperumAn like in thiruvAimozhi 8.5.2 “kANavArAy” (Please come and see me). He sometimes feels happy on meditating his relationship with emperumAn like in thiruvAimozhi 4.5.8 “yAvar nigar agal vAnaththE” (there is no one equal to me). During all these times, the cuckoos are with him, and they learn his pAsurams from him thus and repeat the same.
  • kurukUr nambi – the complete person from AzhwArthirunagari. His completeness in auspicious qualities are such that, they even reform cuckoos (who don’t possess great intelligence to distinguish between chith (soul) and achith (matter)). He himself (in mother’s mood about her daughter parAnkusa nAyaki) says in thiruvAimozhi 6.7.2 “Urum nAdum ulagamum thannaippOl … pithaRRa” (She changed every one to be like her to be constantly uttering bhagavAn‘s names and glories).
  • muyalginREn un than moy kazhaRku anbaiyE – I am trying to devote myself towards your most-praise-worthy lotus feet. madhurakavi AzhwAr is unable to comprehend how to show his gratitude towards nammAzhwAr, just like nammAzhwAr wondered how to show his gratitude to bhagavAn in thiruvAimozhi 2.7.8 “ennaith thImanam keduththAy unakken seygEn” (You have reformed me, how am I going to repay this favour of yours?).

Highlights from periyavAchchAn piLLai‘s vyAkyAnam:

  • This vyAkyAnam is mostly based on nampiLLai‘s vyAkyAnam.
  • muyalginREn un than moy kazhaRku anbaiyE – Since he himself is not satisfied with his kainkaryam (service) towards nammAzhwAr, he prays that he develops more attachment towards nammAzhwAr‘s lotus feet.

Highlights from azhagiya maNavALa perumaL nAyanAr‘s vyAkyanam:

  • payananRAgilum pAngallarAgilum – Generally, an AchArya instructs only to a sishya who submits wealth, charity and renders service as mentioned in “arththO dharmatha: susrushuradhyAbya:“. bhagavAn who is considered as niravadhika vathsalan (one who has infinite love/affection towards his children – all) himself instructed to arjuna only after he submitted himself fully as said in gIthA 2.7 “sishyasthEham sAdhi mAm thvAm prapannam” (I am your disciple and fully surrendered to you). But nammAzhwAr instructed me out of great compassion only due to my disqualification of learning anything.
  • seyal nanRAgath thiruththi – Reformed me so that knowledge becomes fulfilled by practically following what is learned. Even kshathrabandhu who was reformed by a vaishNava (saintly person) attained the real goal only towards the end of his life, but I attained purity immediately. Reforming properly means – there should be sravaNam (hear from AchArya) first, mananam (meditating on what was heard) next, mahAvisvAsam (unflinching faith) on what was meditated upon, practically following those aspects which we have faith in,  avoiding asadhanushtAnam (mis-deeds) and performing only sadhanushtAnam (deeds which are followed by pUrvAchAryas only). He himself ensured that I go through these steps and be reformed fully (instead of letting myself try it out).
  • paNi koLvAn – Engaged in bhagavath, bhAgavatha kainkaryam (service to bhagavAn and his devotees). Once reformed, one should be engaged in kainkaryam. There should be bhagavath kinchithkAram (at least little bit of service to bhagavAn), AchArya kinchithkAram (at least little bit of service to AchArya) and vaishNava kinchithkAram (at least little bit of service to srIvaishNavas). To please AchArya, one performs kainkaryam to bhagavAn and bhAgavathas. To please bhagavAn and bhAgavathas, one performs kainkaryam to AchArya. All three are related and nourish each other. Among these three, bhagavath kinchithkAram is nirupAdhikam (natural) and bhAgavatha/AchArya kinchithkAram are sOpAdhikam (acquired). bhAgavatha kainkaryam is desired/acquired due to that being the ultimate goal. AchArya kainkaryam is desired/acquired due to one’s gratitude towards AchArya who shows bhagavAn and bhAgavathas.
  • A true AchArya will first give proper instructions to the sishya, he will then himself practically demonstrate those instructions and will ensure that he becomes purer than himself. Only then such AchArya will be satisfied with the sishya and acknowledge him as qualified to do bhagavath/bhAgavatha kinchithkAram.
  • kuyil ninRAr… – If the cuckoos in AzhwArthirunagari themselves are reformed (due to nammAzhwAr‘s sambandham) what to speak of me? Since he has madhura vAk (sweet voice/words), he glorifies AzhwArthirunagari in connection with cuckoos who have sweet voice.
  • kurukUr nambi – one who is so complete that he would not expect anything in return for the great favours he has done. Even bhagavAn‘s favours can be re-paid, but AchArya’s favours can never be re-paid.
  • moykazhal – Just like nammAzhwAr said in (the end of) periya thiruvanthAdhi 87 “moykazhalE Eththa muyal” (try to glorify bhagavAn’s lotus feet), here madhurakavi AzhwAr also says the same thing. Previously, madhurakavi AzhwAr said “ponnadi” in 2nd pAsuram highlighting the pure nature of nammAzhwAr’s lotus feet. In this pAsuram, the sweet/relishable nature of nammAzhwAr’s lotus feet is revealed.
  • moykazhaRku anbaiyE – nammAzhwAr‘s most relishable aspect of lotus feet induced my love towards them. That love induced me to show my gratitude towards him. But I am most bewildered since I am unable to re-pay his favours. This bewilderment will go on forever.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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