thirumAlai – 43 – amaravOr angam ARum

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garudan-chandiligarudAzhwAr’s wings got burnt thinking about a devotee’s secluded residence

avathArikai (introduction)

In the previous pAsuram, AzhwAr had spoken about those born in high births and with consequent good behaviour. If added to these greatness, they also have high level of knowledge and if they look at those who do not have any greatness due to their birth and behaviour but have good knowledge [in mEmporuL pAsuram], and if the former set of people, without recognising that these people have the grace of emperumAn, think lowly of the latter set of people only on account of their birth and behaviour, these high ranking people will become chaNdALas (people of very low birth) at that very moment.

Let us look at the pAsuram and its meanings.

அமரவோர் அங்கம் ஆரும் வேதம் ஓர் நான்கும் ஓதித்
தமர்களில் தலைவராய சாதி அந்தணர்களேலும்
நுமர்களைப் பழிப்பராகில் நொடிப்பதோர் அளவில் ஆங்கே
அவர்கள் தாம் புலையர் போலும் அரங்கமா நகருளானே.

amaravOr angam ARum vEdham Or nAngum Odhith
thamargaLil thalaivarAya sAdhi anthaNargaLElum
numargaLaip pazhipparAgil nodippadhOr aLavil AngE
avargaL thAm pulaiyar pOlum aranga mAnagaruLAnE


Word-by-word Meaning

aranga mAnagar uLAnE – Oh, one who resides inside the temple at SrIrangam
Or angam ARum – the unique six parts of vEdham
Or vEdham nAngum – the incomparable four vEdhas
amara –  firmly settled in their hearts
Odhi – reciting them
thamargaLil – among your followers
thalaivar Aya – being the leader
sAdhi anthaNargaLElum – even if they belong to the class of brAhmaNa
numargaLai – your followers
pazhippar Agil – (looking at their birth and behaviour) if they vilify them
nodippadhOr aLavil – in that minute itself
avargaL thAm – those brAhmaNas only
AngE – at that same place
pulaiyar pOlum –  will become chaNdALas [people of low births; a wretch]

vyAkhyAnam (commentary)

amara Or angam Arum – The six parts of vEdha are: (1) SIkshA (articulation or pronunciation of words), (2) vyAkaraNa (grammar), (3) chandhas (poetic metrics), (4) niruktham (etymology), (5) jyOthisham (astrology) and (6) kalpam (rituals). These are unique to vEdhas. amara – learning the texts and the meanings of these 6 parts and retaining them. Or angam – the uniqueness to these parts [of vEdhas] is that if one has knowledge on any of these 6 parts without any deficiency, he is considered by worldly people as having known everything and they celebrate it. It is pertinent to remember that in SrIrangarAja sthavam 2.18, bhattar says “SIkshAyAm varNa SikshA padha samagadhigamO vyAkriyA nirvachObhyam chandhaS chandhaSchithau syAth gamayathi samayam jyauthisham ranganAtha! I kalpE’nushtAnamuktham hyuchithagamithayOr nyAya mImAmsayO: syAth arthavyakthi: purANasmruthishu thadhanugAsthvAm vichinvanthi vEdhA: II” (Oh SrI ranganAtha! In the part of vEdhas called SIksha, the method of pronouncing letters (is described); in the parts vyAkaraNam and niruktham, knowledge about words (is created); in the SAsthra called chandhas, chandhas (such as gAyathri etc) have been told; jyOthisha SAsthram indicates the time for carrying out karmAnushtAnam (carrying out deeds ordained in vEdhas); in kalpa sUthrams, the procedure for carrying out the karmas is mentioned. In the nyAyamImAmsa SAsthram and purANamsruthis which are consistent with the philosophy of vEdhas, clarity of the subject will be obtained; vEdhas, with siksha and other parts mentioned above, are searching for you), thus explaining the 6 parts of vEdhas.

vEdhamOr nAngum – vEdhas are incomparable because unlike other texts compiled by a man [any person], they do not have faults such as iruL (delusion or clouded state of mind), thuyakku (confusion), mayakku (ignorance) and maRappu (forgetfulness). Alternatively, we can consider that they indicate the greatness of sections of vEdhas such as manthram (hymns), vidhi (rules) and arthavAdham (eulogy).

Odhi – while learning vEdhas, the AchAryan (teacher) would first recite the four vEdhas and the six parts, and the Sishya (disciple) will then recite the same.  Odhi is learning vEdhas this way. Since they have learnt this way, we can surmise that they know emperumAn well, indeed.

thamargaLil thalaivarAya – since they know emperumAn well in this way, consistent with that knowledge, they will stand at the forefront in any gOshti (assembly) of his followers.

sAdhi anthaNargaL – while learning vEdhas thoroughly and being in the forefront of their class and such other great qualities are common with kshathriya (warrior) and vaiSya (trader) classes too, apart from these great qualities, they are also of high birth (brAhmaNa). Thus, in their birth, behaviour and knowledge, they are great.

Elum – the greatness described thus far cannot be found in one person, together. AzhwAr brings in this doubt to show that even if these great qualities happen to be with one person, if that person abuses a SrIvaishNava, these qualities will become useless. In reality, these qualities become reasons for a person with vanity to commit bhAgavathApachAram (showing irreverence to emperumAn’s follower). Even if the persons are gyAnis (knowledgeable) but do not have this greatness, others would carry out inappropriate deeds like stepping on their heads etc. Another interpretation for this is that if they do not have the quality of being vain, they can step even on yama’s head.

numargaLai – those having knowledge of mEmporuL pAsuram, as a result of which they become leaders of your [emperumAn’s] followers. Here the word “followers” refers to nithyasUris (permanent dwellers of paramapadham). nammAzhwAr, in his thiruviruththam 79, says “viNNuLArilum sIriyarE” (they are greater than nithyasUris) and in periyathiruvandhAdhi 79, says “uNNAttuth thEsanRE” (the radiance of those who live in samsAram is greater than that of those (nithyasUris) who live in paramapadham).  numargaLai – those who you deem as your followers and who affirm that you are their means and goal. Those who know “it is he [emperumAn] who is happy at attaining us. Hence it is he who gets the benefit out of [our] liberation. Even the happiness that we get is not appropriate for us. It is he who is controlling his possession [us]. We have no engagement with our protection. Only his causeless mercy is our means”.

pazhipparAgil – instead of thinking of them as those who are having the grace of emperumAn, forgetting this due to one’s ego, thinking only of their low birth and consequently thinking of them to be below one’s status, speaking abusive words about them and harming them through deeds. The irreverence shown to these parama bhAgavathas (superior followers) is the worst offence that one could do to emperumAn. pazhiththal – committing an offence. In other words, thinking of the low birth of a SrIvaishNava is as terrible a crime as estimating the importance of emperumAn based on the material with which his vigraham (divine idol) is made of in a dhivya dhESam. pazhipparAgil – while it is apt to celebrate them, due to ego, one ends up thinking lowly of them due to his ignorance.

The calamity due to such abuse is given now……

nodippadhOr aLavil AngE – it is not at some other time, in some other place, with some other body [form]. One would get the effect of abusing them at the same time, in the same place and with the same body. Just as we have seen in pAsuram 41 punidham anRE (getting the) benefit (of having connection with them) instantaneously, the ill-effect of abusing them would also happen instantaneously.

avargaL thAm pulaiyar pOlum – with the same body, they will become chaNdALas (wretch, born in a very low class). Because of the curse of the sons of rich vaSishta, the valorous chain that thriSanku (a king) wore got turned into leather strap. In the same way, the sacred thread that these high birth brAhmaNas wear would turn into leather strap. thAm pulaiyar – despite being great due to their high birth etc as seen earlier, if such greatness becomes cause of their ego and  incites them into carrying out offence against SrIvaishNavas, it will cause irreparable damage to them. If a person were born in a lowly birth, they would still qualify to become a SrIvaishNava. But since these persons fell into a deep pit despite being born in a high birth, and since they had indulged in bhAgavathApachAram (irreverence to SrIvaishNavas), they go lower down to a level of chaNdALa by deed (instead of chaNdALa by birth). It is pertinent to recall an incident in the life of kUraththAzhwAn here. On the day that one piLLaippiLLai AzhwAn became kUraththAzhwAn’s disciple, kUraththAzhwAn, knowing his disciple’s proclivity for committing bhAgavathApachAram because of his high birth, decided to rein him in. On an auspicious day, he asked piLLaippiLLai AzhwAn to grant him a gift. piLLaippiLLai AzhwAn was puzzled since everything (that a disciple has) belongs to AchAryan (kUraththAzhwAn) and what could he gift him? kUraththAzhwAn responded “through all the three karaNas (organs of thought, word and deed) you should promise me that you will not abuse a bhAgavatha”. piLLaippiLLai AzhwAn did the same. After some days, due to force of habit, piLLaippiLLai AzhwAn committed an offence against a bhAgavatha through his thought. He felt very ashamed of himself and covering his head with a piece of cloth, he stayed in his residence itself, without going to AchAryan’s thirumALigai (residence). kUraththAzhwAn, after waiting awhile, came in search of him and found out as to what happened. piLLaippiLLai AzhwAn fell at the feet of kUraththAzhwAn, and weeping uncontrollably, told him “it is so very difficult to live with this body without committing an offence against a bhAgavatha through the three organs”. kUraththAzhwAn felt happy that his disciple felt genuinely sorry for having committed an offence and told him “since you feel so desolate after committing the offence, emperumAn will certainly forgive you. Since you know how you feel after committing the offence through thought, you will not commit an offence by deed. Make sure that you do not commit any offence through your words”.

aranga mAnagar uLAnE – In varAha purANam, SrI varAha mUrthy tells bhUdhEvimadhbhaktham Svapacham vApi nindhAm kurvanthiyE narA: I padhmakOtiSathEnApi na kshamAmi kadhAchana II” (whosoever abuses my followers, even if my followers are of low birth, eating dog’s meat, I will not forgive them even for crores of years). Thus, emperumAn knows clearly the ill-effect of committing an offence against his followers. For those who try to attain emperumAn through other upAyams (means) such as karma yOgam etc, by doing appropriate penance, they can get rid of any offence that they may commit in between and continue with their upAyams. But, for one who has to attain mOksham through connection with emperumAn (by surrendering), if he commits a bhAgavatha apachAram (offence to his follower), it will sever the connection with emperumAn himself and there is no way that he can redeem himself. Just as connection with his followers is enough to attain emperumAn, committing offence against his followers is enough to lose emperumAn. Hence, a prapannan (one who surrenders to emperumAn) should be very careful in ensuring that he does not have any contact with other dhEvathas (deities) and does not commit any offence against his followers. Thus, it is clear from this pAsuram that even if a person does not do anything which is considered as good by emperumAn, if he stays away from the above-mentioned two offences, emperumAn will become easily approachable to such a person.

We shall take up the 44th pAsuram, next.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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