thiruvAimozhi – 4.3.1 – kOvai vAyAL

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Full series >> Fourth Centum >> Third decad


Introduction for this pAsuram

Highlights from thirukkurukaippirAn piLLAn‘s introduction

No specific introduction.

Highlights from nanjIyar‘s introduction

In first pAsuram – AzhwAr says “Though I did not get to pamper emperumAn to relieve him of his fatigue after defeating enemies of his devotees, survival/sustenance of my heart itself became pampering for him”.

Highlights from vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar‘s introduction

In first pAsuram, AzhwAr looks at emperumAn who destroys the hurdles which stop one from achieving the goal and says “you have my heart as your angarAga (scented cosmetic)”.

Highlights from periyavAchchAn piLLai‘s introduction

See nampiLLai‘s introduction.

Highlights from nampiLLai‘s introduction as documented by vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai

In first pAsuram – AzhwAr says “When the likes of nappinnaip pirAtti, sIthAp pirAtti who is the divine daughter of SrI janakarAja are your most dear lovers, my existence has become everything for you such that you manifest the divine love you have for them, towards me”. Alternatively – same as nanjIyar‘s introduction.


kOvai vAyAL poruttu ERRin eruththam iRuththAy madhiL ilangaik
kOvai vIyach chilai kuniththAy kula nal yAnai marupposiththAy
pUvai vIyA nIr thUvip pOdhAl vaNangEnElum nin
pUvai vIyAm mEnikkup pUsum sAndhu en nenjamE


Word-by-Word meanings (based on vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar‘s 12000 padi)

kOvai – reddish like a kOvai fruit (a type of reddish force)
vAyAL poruttu – for nappinnai who has lips
ERRin – bulls’
eruththam – nape (the back of the neck)
iRuththAy – one who broke
madhiL – having forts
ilangai – for lankA
kOvai – rAvaNa who is the kO (ruler)
vIya – to finish
silai – bow
kuniththAy – one who drew
kulam – having high birth (best breed)
nal – having best abilities
yAnai – kuvalayApIda’s
maruppu – tusk
osiththAy – Oh one who (effortlessly) broke!

(in this manner, you who eliminated the hurdles of nappinnai, sIthA, girls of mathurA)
pUvai – flowers
vIyA – inseparable from
nIr – water
thUvi – offering unto you in a disorderly manner (due to love)
pOdhu – at those times
vaNangEnElum – though I did not worship
nin – your
pUvai vIyAm – having the complexion of pUvaippU (a dark-blue coloured flower)
mEnikku – for the divine form
pUsum – qualified to apply
sAndhu – angarAga (scented cosmetic)
en nenjamE – let it be my heart!

Simple translation (based on vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar‘s 12000 padi)

Oh emperumAn who broke the nape of the bulls for nappinnai who has lips which are reddish like a kOvai fruit, who bent your bow to finish rAvaNa who is the kO (ruler) of lankA which has forts, who (effortlessly) broke the tusk of  kuvalayApIda which is having high birth and best abilities! though I did not worship you (in this manner, you who eliminated the hurdles of nappinnai, sIthA, girls of mathurA) at those times offering flowers, which are inseparable from water, unto you in a disorderly manner (due to love), let my heart be the angarAga (scented cosmetic) which is qualified to be applied on your divine form, which is having the complexion of pUvaippU.

vyAkyAnams (commentaries)

Highlights from thirukkurukaippirAn piLLAn‘s vyAkyAnam

See vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar‘s translation.

Highlights from nanjIyar‘s vyAkyAnam

See nampiLLai‘s vyAkyAnam.

Highlights from periyavAchchAn piLLai‘s vyAkyAnam

See nampiLLai‘s vyAkyAnam.

Highlights from nampiLLai‘s vyAkyAnam as documented by vadakkuth thiruvIdhip piLLai

  • kOvai vAyAL poruttu – Highlighting the beauty of nappinnai’s lips which made emperumAn go up against the fierce bulls disregarding his own safety. They decorated her and showcased her saying “the one who wins over the bulls can marry her”; krishNa went up against the bulls thinking “Why shouldn’t I fight the bulls, if I can embrace her?”. nappinnai was upset seeing nambi mUththa pirAn (balarAma) first stepping up thinking “what if he controls the bulls?”; but as krishNa pushes away balarAma and takes charge, out of great joy, she smiles; the reddish lips appeared at that time. Being captivated by that sight, he made himself her’s.
  • ERRin eruththam iRuththAy – broke the nape of the bull; eruththam – pidar – high nape; it is the cause for the bull’s pride. He broke that pride. A real brave fighter would go weaponless against an enemy who has weapon in his hand and snatch that – this is what krishNa did; the bulls have top weapons (on their upper body). When perumAL (SrI rAma) started chasing the mAyAmrugam (the mysterious deer), iLaiya perumAL (lakshmaNa) understood the situation and warned him about it saying “there is something mysterious; it is a rAkshasa in the form of a deer”; I too should have gone to krishNa when he was getting ready to fight the bulls and should have warned him that they are possessed by some demoniac force; but I did not do that – says AzhwAr.
  • madhiL ilangai – rAvaNa opposed chakravarathi thirumagan (SrI rAma) thinking “I have this great town and the fort surrounding it”. Leaving perumAL who is the sarvarakshaka (protector of all), he considered this fort as protection; this is the only thing one can do to protect oneself [i.e., considering emperumAn as protector].
  • ilangaik kOvai vIya – SrI rAmAyaNam sundhara kANdam 1.39 “lankAm rAvaNa pAlithAm” (to lankA which is ruled by rAvaNa). The town is so well protected that no one can easily enter there. On top of that, the ruler’s strength is also great. To finish rAvaNa who pridefully thinks “I have this well protected lankA”.
  • silai kuniththAy – Just like rAkshasas only know mAyAprayOgam (covert attacks), you [referring to emperumAn] only know honest way of fighting. Like SrI vibhIshaNAzhwAn who advised you “rAkshasas only know to attack covertly as you only know to attack directly”, I could not inform you about such aspects.
  • kula nal yAnai maruppu osiththAy – Oh one who effortlessly broke the tusk of the elephant which is best right from birth to its nature. At that time I could not stand along with the girls of mathurA and say as in SrIvishNu purANam “… na samam yudhdhamithyAhu:… ” (this is not a fair battle between SrI rAma who is positioned on the ground and the rAkshasas who are positioned in their chariots).
  • pUvai vIyA nIr thUvi – Explained as placing the flowers at his divine feet and sprinkling water; also explained as flower which is [fresh] with water – placing that at his divine feet.
  • pOdhu – Though I did not worship him at those times with flowers and water; though I did not pamper him to eliminate his fatigue at those times when he won over the bulls and so on.
  • nin pUvi vIyA mEnikku – The divine body/form of yours which can only be pampered with [soft] flowers; alternatively – the divine body/form that has the complexion of pUvaippU (dark-coloured flower). vI is a synonymous noun for pU (flower). For his body which is as tender as a flower.
  • mEnikkup pUsum sAndhu – As said in SrIvishNu purANam kANdam 5 “AvayOrgAthra sadhruSam” (matching the body), when nambi mUththa pirAn (balarAma) and he (krishNa) entered SrI mathurA, they looked at kUni (the hunched-back lady) and told her “can you apply sandalwood paste on my elder brother and me, which is suitable for us?”, she first gave very inferior quality sandalwood paste; “sugandhamEthath” – he said “this may be suitable for you”; she then presented little better quality paste; “rAjArham” – he said “this may be suitable for kamsa”; she then presented even better quality paste; “ruchiram” – he said “this can be applied on us”. Hearing his merciful words, kUni wondered “How is that these young cowherd boys who are engaged with butter, know about the different qualities of sandalwood pastes?” and smiled due to that;  “ruchirAnEna” – he says “this is a beautiful face suitable to provide best quality sandalwood paste!”. Thus, krishNa says “Those who supply best quality sandalwood paste, should know about the bodies of the consumer of the same; thus you provide the suitable [best] sandalwood paste for my elder brother and myself”. For such body which is applied with the best sandalwood paste, let my [AzhwAr‘s] heart be the sandalwood paste.

In the next article we will enjoy the next pAsuram.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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