thirumAlai – 32 – Arththu vaNdalambum

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avathArikai (Introduction)

emperumAn tells AzhwAr “samsAris do not involve themselves with me. You are a person who is not liked by samsAris. How did you come to me?”. AzhwAr says “Is it possible to ascribe reasons to actions that I carry out on impulse, like a fool? I came because I am a fool”.

Let us go through the pAsuram and its meanings.

ஆர்த்து வண்டு அலம்பும் சோலை அணி திருவரங்கம் தன்னுள்
கார்த்திரளனைய மேனிக் கண்ணனே! உன்னைக் காணும்
மார்க்கம் ஒன்று அறியமாட்டா மனிசரில் துரிசனாய
மூர்க்கனேன் வந்து நின்றேன் மூர்க்கனேன் மூர்க்கனேனே

Arththu vaNdu alambum sOlai aNi thiruvarangam thannuL
kArththiraLanaiya mEni kaNNanE! unnaik kANum
mArkkam onRu aRiyamAttA manisaril thurisanAya
mUrkkanEn vandhu ninREn mUrkkanEn mUrkkanEnE


Word by word meaning

vaNdu – beetles
Arththu – making a sound
alambum – moving around
sOlai – of groves
aNi – (for samsAram, materialistic world) being beautiful like an ornament
thiru arangam thannuL – inside the temple (lying down)
kAr thiraL anaiya – like dark clouds
mEni – having divine body
kaNNanE – Oh krishNa! (who gives his divine body to his followers)
unnai kANum mArkkam onRu – a path to attain you
aRiyamAttA – not knowing
manisaril – among the people
thirusan Aya – like a criminal
mUrkkanEn – a fool who will not let go of what he likes
vandhu ninREn – (unmindful of my lowliness) came and stood
mUrkkanEn kUrkkanEnE – how foolish am I !

vyAkhyAnam (commentary)

Arththu vaNdu alambum sOlai – the beetles, which came to drink honey from the flowers in the beautiful groves, drank much more than what they could hold; as a result, they were not able to remain in one place and were humming and moving around. This is very similar to the mukthars (those who had left samsAram and reached paramapadham), who, after enjoying emperumAn, start singing sAma gAnam (reciting sAma vEdham with musical tone) out of sheer joy. The sweetness of thiruvarangam (SrI rangam) is such that beetles reached the status of mukthars. In SrI rAmAyaNam, sundhara kANdam, the army of monkeys, returning after sighting sIthAp pirAtti in lankA, entered madhuvanam, the favourite garden of sugrIva. There, out of joy “gAyanthi kEchith, praNamanthi kEchith, nruthyanthi kEchith” – some of the monkeys sang, some danced, some pushed those that they were carrying. Thus, the beetles experienced what the monkeys in madhuvanam experienced. There is a difference between the calling of AzhwAr and that of the beetles, While AzhwAr is crying out for his existence, the beetles are crying out of joy of drinking honey.

vaNdalambum sOlai – Just as mArkaNdEya maharishi was caught in praLayam (deluge) and was tossed around, the beetles, entering flowers to drink honey, drank too much of it and were tossed around like the maharishi and like a garden caught in flood.

aNi arangam thannuL – thiruvarangam (SrIrangam) is like an ornament to samsAram. In SrI rAmAyaNam yudhdha kANdam 16.26 “bharthA nAma param nAryA bhUshaNam bhUshaNAdhapi I EshA virahithA thEna bhUshaNArhA na SObhathE II” (husband is a greater ornament than all other ornaments to a wife. This pirAtti [sIthA], who is to be decorated with all ornaments, is not bright as she is separated from her husband). Thus, when emperumAn, the consort of bhUmi, himself is an ornament to bhUmi, why mention that SrIrangam is an ornament?  The meaning hinted here is that while emperumAn is the lord of leelA vibhUthi (materialistic realm), when he is not in SrIrangam, it appears that the world is like those women who are not wearing their mAngalya sUthram [the sacred, yellow thread worn by married women]. By joining the words, one can get sOlai aNi thiruvarangam which will mean that the large temple has the groves as ornament.

kArththiraL anaiya mEni – when one looks at the lying posture of emperumAn in SrIrangam it would appear as if the clouds, mistaking the flood of honey in the groves for sea, drank honey to their brim and unable to go out, took shelter inside the turret of SrIrangam temple. emperumAn’s form is such that one can equate the clouds to him to an extent, because of the dark coloured form, coolness, helping others causelessly, without expecting anything in return and giving away everything to others, not keeping anything for self. nammAzhwAr also opined that he was reminded of emperumAn when he looked at clouds, in his thiruvAimozhi 8.5.8 “thokka mEgap palkuzhAngaL” (the mass of dense clouds).

kaNNanE – this word refers to periya perumAL’s greatness, more than the clouds’. Cloud will hover at a great distance, high above us, and help us by giving water. periya perumAL is born along with lowly people, remains close by, and helps by giving himself. How can we say that periya perumAL is kaNNan? Our pUrvAchAryas would say that “when one looks at periya perumAL, one would see the person who had stealthily eaten all the butter saved by yaSOdhaip pirAtti and roamed around all over the place like a dark bull”. thiruppANAzhwAr, in his amalanAdhipirAn 10, conveys the same meaning “koNdal vaNNanaik kOvalanAy veNNey uNda vAyan . . . . aNi arangan” (SrI ranganAthan is of dark form, with his mouth having gobbled up butter, as a cowherd).

unnaik kANum mArkkam onRu aRIyamAttA – as krishNa, in SrI bhagavath gIthA, emperumAn had prescribed certain paths to attain him, such as karma yOgam (the path of carrying out prescribed deeds), the resultant gyAna yOgam (path of knowledge), the resultant bhakthi yOgam (the path of devotion), avathAra rahasya gyAnam (knowledge of secret behind emperumAn’s incarnations) and purushOththama vidhyA (the knowledge that emperumAn is supreme). There are other paths too, which have not been mentioned in SrI bhagavath gIthA, but in other SAsthras, such as reciting his divine names, residing in puNya kshEthrams (the sacred places) etc. These have been mentioned so that chEthanas (sentient entities) could follow one of their choice and reach emperumAn. AzhwAr says that it was not that he did not follow any of these, but he did not even know any of these paths.

manisaril –Did I lose the opportunity [of attaining emperumAn] because I was born as an animal which does not have discriminating knowledge? It was as a human being, with the knowledge of discrimination, that I lost out on the path of attaining mOksham (liberation).

thurisanAya – when compared to me, other people would appear like nithyasUris (permanent dwellers of SrI vaikuNtam), says AzhwAr. I am such a thief that even the other people would give up on me. I could have comforted myself had I been born as an animal which is not qualified to know about these paths. But, being born as a human being, I had lost out, laments the AzhwAr. It is said “mAnushyam prApya lOkE’smin na mukO bhadhirO’pi vA I nApakrAmathi samsArAth sa kalu brahmahA bhavEth II” (if a person is born in this samsAram without being deaf or dumb, and does not leave it permanently, he would be considered as having committed the sin of killing a brAhmaNa). AzhwAr says that despite being born as a human being, he did not gain anything. Instead he had lived life like an animal, not belonging to either of the two species. thurisu – robbery. thurisan – thief, cheat.

“When you are like this, why did you come to me?” asks emperumAn. . . .

mUrkkanEn vandhu ninREn – Since I am ignorant of my lowliness, I came. Had I realised my lowliness and your greatness, just as nammAzhwAr said in thiruvAimozhi 1.5.1vaLavEzhulagu” I would have realised that it would not  be proper on my part to come near you and stayed away from you. Instead of doing that, being ignorant, I came near you. Just as someone poisons the good water that is used by all the people in a town, I came near emperumAn, who is enjoyed by wise people, and spoiled him. Another explanation is that just as when one says kaNNan there is no one who is not inimical to him, I too approached emperumAn, not knowing the harm that this would cause him.

mUrkkanEn mUrkkanEnE – since he is repeating the word, he says that it is difficult to see such ignorance elsewhere in the world. Alternatively, it could be assumed that he looks at the greatness of emperumAn and his own lowliness and says ”what a fool am I” for each of the two aspects.

We shall consider the 33rd pAsuram next.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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