thirumAlai – 5 – peNdirAl sugangaL uyppAn

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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?!


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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0 thoughts on “thirumAlai – 5 – peNdirAl sugangaL uyppAn”

  1. An excellent work and had opportunity to view today only with the GRACE of our Poorvacharyargal and Namperumal


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