thirumAlai – 12 – namanum muRkalanum

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avathArikai (Introduction)

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

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

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


Word-by-word meaning

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

kavalaiyuL paduginRArenRu – being caught in sorrow

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

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

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dasan

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