mudhal thiruvandhAdhi – 47 – vAri surukki

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AzhwAr says that it is not possible for anyone to attain his divine feet other than by those who control their sensory organs such that they do not go after worldly pleasures, and who have full knowledge about him.

Let us go through the pAsuram and its meanings:

vAri surukki madhak kaLiRu aindhinaiyum
chEri thiriyAmal senniRIi kUriya
mey gyAnaththAl uNarvAr kANbarE mEl oru nAL
kai nAgam kAththAn kazhal

Word by Word Meanings

madhak kaLiRu aindhinaiyum – the five sensory perceptions which are like elephants in rut
vAri surukki – reducing the water [which is like enjoyment]
chEri thiriyAmal sem niRIi – ensuring that they do not loiter in the streets of worldly objects such as sound, smell etc
kUriya – subtle
mey gyAnaththal – true knowledge which takes the form of devotion
uNarvAr – those who can know [emperumAn]
mEl oru nAL – in earlier time
kai nAgam kAththAn – the one who protected the elephant, gajEndhrAzhwAn with the trunk  [in our sampradhAyam, it is common to denote certain entities as AzhwAn to bring in a distinction of superior knowledge about emperumAn, over other entities; gajEndhra is one such]
kazhal – the divine feet
kAnbar – they will see and enjoy


vAri surukki – to control a rutting elephant, people would reduce its intake of water. The worldly pleasures are to sensory organs, much similar to water for an elephant in rut. To control the five sensory organs which are like elephants, one has to reduce gradually the pleasures that they enjoy. If they are completely stopped immediately, they will tear us apart. At the same time, if we allow them to go their way , they will become very arrogant and will become more roused. In SrI bhagavath gIthA 2-62, emperumAn says “sangAth sanjAyathE kAma: kAmAth krOdhOpi jAyathE: krOdhAth bhavathi sammOha: sammOhAth smruthi vibhrama: smruthibhramSAth budhdhinASO budhdhinASAth praNaSyathi” (due to attachment towards worldly pleasures lust is formed; lust begets anger; anger leads to inability to discriminate; indiscrimination leads to loss of memory; that results in loss of intelligence; loss of intelligence results in the persons’s destruction in samsAram (material realm)). Hence one should not indulge too much in sensory pleasures and should not reduce them at once. There should be a balance between the two extremes for sustaining oneself and they should be reduced slowly.

madhak kaLiRu aindhinaiyum – the five sensory organs of ears, mouth, eyes, nose and body which are like five rutting elephants.

chEri thiriyAmAl sem niRIi – if the elephant strays within one’s area of vision, it can be caught. If sensory perceptions are controlled such that they do not stray in worldly pleasures, like the example of the elephant, it would lead to sharp, true knowledge. True knowledge results in capability to know the subtle meanings [of SAsthras] and to know AthmA (soul) and paramAthmA (emperumAn). Those who carry out deeds which are prescribed in SAsthras, without any attachment in the deeds will have their sins removed, leading to knowledge about AthmA and paramAthmA, knowing further that jIvAthmA is a servitor to paramAthmA and would finally be able to see him. It is said “upAsanam dhruvAsmruthi: dharSana samAnAkArathA prathyakshApathi” (devotion is the steady level of thoughts. It will create the impression of seeing [emperumAn] directly. This will lead to attaining the goal of seeing directly). In SrI bhagavath gIthA 18-55, emperumAn says “thathO mAm thathvathO gyAthvA viSathE thadhanantharam” (he knows about me truly through devotion and after that he attains me through that devotion).

mEl oru nAL kai nAgam kAththAn kazhal – AzhwAr gives example to show that they attain emperumAn. In earlier times, an elephant by name gajEndhra, avoiding its indulgence in worldly pursuits, entered a pond with the intention of plucking a lotus to place at the divine feet of emperumAn. However it was caught by a crocodile in the pond. To overcome the hurdle created by the crocodile and to remove its sorrow, emperumAn killed the crocodile and placed the lotus plucked by the elephant on his divine feet. Those who have devotion towards such emperumAn will get to attain his divine feet. AzhwAr says that just as emperumAn removed the enemy of elephant and gave himself to the elephant, he would remove the enemies of his followers (being caught by sensory indulgence) and give himself to them.

chEri thiriyAmal senniRIi – has it not been said in SrI bhagavath gIthA 2-59vishayA vinivarthanthE nirAhArasya dhEhina: rasavarjam rasO’pyasya param dhrushtvA nivarthanthE  ” (for a person who has come out of worldly pursuits which are the prey to sensory perceptions, those pursuits will leave. The desire in worldly pursuits does not leave him. Once he attains the higher level of seeing the basic nature of AthmA, this desire also leaves)!.

kUriya mey gyAnam – this is defined as thinking of emperumAn as the sweet entity to be attained and thinking of him as the path and object to be attained.

We shall next consider the 48th pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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