thiruvAimozhi – 5.7.1 – nORRa nOnbilEn

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Full series >> Fifth Centum >> Seventh decad

Introduction for this pAsuram

Highlights from thirukkurukaippirAn piLLAn‘s introduction

No specific introduction.

Highlights from nanjIyar‘s introduction

In the first pAsuram, AzhwAr who is devoid of upAyams (means) such as karma yOgam etc and who is desirous of a saviour, sees emperumAn who is complete and is seeking those who seek his protection, and sets out to have his desire fulfilled.

Highlights from vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar‘s introduction

In the first pAsuram, AzhwAr says “I am devoid of upAyams mentioned in SAsthram to attain you, and cannot survive without you; am I outside the purview of you who are a favourer in being together with your devotees and who are ready to help others?”.

Highlights from periyavAchchAn piLLai‘s introduction

See nanjIyar‘s introduction.

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

See nanjIyar‘s introduction.


nORRa nOnbilEn nuNNaRivilEn Agilum ini unnai vittonRum
ARRagiRkinRilEn aravin aNai ammAnE!
sERRuth thAmarai sennel Udu malar sirIvaramangala nagar
vIRRirundha endhAy! unakku migai allEn angE


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

nORRa – performed to attain the result
nOnbu – karma yOgam
ilEn – I do not have;

nuN – in subtle form
aRivu – gyAna yOgam which is focussed on knowledge about self and god
ilEn – I do not have;

Agilum – though not having bhakthi yOgam which is possible by having these two, i.e., karma yOgam and gyAna yOgam
ini – after meditating upon your qualities
unnai – you (who are the saviour)
vittu – other than
onRum – even for a moment
ARRa – to survive
kiRkinRilEn – unable;
aravu – AdhiSEsha who is your servitor
aNai – as mattress and favouring him by placing your divine body on him
ammAnE – being the distinguished lord
sERu – muddy field
thAmarai – lotus flower
sennel Udu – mingled with paddy crop
malar – attractive to be blossoming
sirIvaramangala nagar – in SrIvaramangala nagar
vIRRu – being distinguished, manifesting your readiness to protect well your devotees
irundha – being seated
endhAy – Oh benefactor for me!
angu – in your presence there
unakku – you who are the saviour
migai – outside the savable souls
allEn – I am not.

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

I have not performed karma yOgam to attain the result; I have not performed gyAna yOgam which is in subtle form and is focussed on knowledge about self and god; though not having bhakthi yOgam which is possible by having these two, i.e., karma yOgam and gyAna yOgam, I am unable to survive even for a moment without you after meditating upon your qualities; Oh benefactor for me who is seated in a distinguished manner manifesting your readiness to protect well your devotees in SrIvaramangala nagar [vAnamAmalai/thOthAdhri, also known as nAngunEri] where attractive lotus flower is blossoming while being mingled with paddy crop in muddy fields! In your presence there, I am not an outsider to the savable souls who are to be saved by you who are the saviour.

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

  • nORRa nOnbilEn nuNNaRivilEnAzhwAr is saying similar to what is said in sthOthra rathnam 22na dharma nishtOsmi na chAthmavEdhI na bhakthimAmsthvachcharaNAravindhE” [Though ALavandhAr appears after AzhwAr, here the commentator has stated that AzhwAr is stating similar to what is stated by ALavandhAr, to make us understand the similarity. In reality, ALavandhAr explained what is already explained by AzhwAr]. na dharma nishtOsmi – There are certain aspects which make people think “he is engaging in some pursuit on his own”, which in turn makes me bewildered thinking “we will attain something by this” and will lead you to give up on me [since you are the real means to attain you, you cannot tolerate any other means], but will not lead to the result [i.e., there is no guarantee that the result will be achieved by karma yOgam etc]. na cha Athma vEdhi – those who pursue gyAna yOgam will know about self – I don’t even have such knowledge. I don’t have knowledge about ISvara which is preceded by true knowledge about self as said in SrI vishNu purANam 6.5.57 “thath gyAnam agyAnam atha: anyath uktham” (Knowledge about bhagavAn is only identified as knowledge; everything else is ignorance only). na bhakthimAn – No need to separately say “I have no bhakthi” – only with karma yOgam and gyAna yOgam, bhakthi yOgam can be present.
  • nORRa nOnbilEn – Is it not sufficient to say nOnbilEn [to indicate that he is not engaged in karma yOgam]? Should AzhwAr say nORRa nOnbilEn? This is to indicate “I do not have any karma yOgam, which is performed perfectly to lead to the desired result”. [was there any one who waited for results after engaging in karma yOgam] I do not have karma yOgam like that which was practiced by dhaSaratha chakravarthy or SrI vasudhEva which leads to the result.
  • nuNNaRivilEn – In “na dharma nishtOsmi“, ALavandhAr says that he does not have “dharma nishtai” [faith in dharma] instead of saying “dharma” [dharma itself]. Similarly, here, AzhwAr says “nuNNaRivilEn” instead of saying “aRivilEn“. I do not have the knowledge through which one can first understand the true nature of the self and then go on to understand the true nature of bhagavAn. Why is AzhwAr not first highlighting and then discarding bhakthi as done in “na bhakthimAn” or in thirumAlai 25nin kaNum paththan allEn” (I am not your devotee)? bhakthi only occurs when karma yOgam and gyAna yOgam are present as said in Athma sidhdhi “ubhaya parikrimithasvAnthasya” (for the one whose mind is decorated with karma and gyAna); since both of those are not present, there is no need to first highlight it and then discard it. Now, in the same manner, when it is said that “there is no karma yOgam”, what is the need for separately saying “there is no gyAna yOgam”? Well, if one performs karma yOgam to its perfection in one birth and dies before starting gyAna yOgam, it will continue in the next birth. Can the same not be said for bhakthi yOgam? No – when karma and gyAna are practiced to their perfection, they will culminate in bhakthi immediately, and hence it is necessary to highlight karma and gyAna separately, but bhakthi need not be highlighted separately. When he says “unnai vittu onRum ARRagiRkinRilEn“, does it not mean bhakthi, since it is said “snEha pUrvam anudhyAnam bhakthi:” (meditation with affection is bhakthi); in this case, can this statement be considered as upAyam [AzhwAr‘s own pursuit to attain emperumAn]? That cannot be said. The parabhakthi (ultimate state of bhakthi) which is acquired by one who has perfected karma and gyAna yOgams is only called as sAdhanam (means) in SAsthram; but AzhwAr’s state of mind is acquired based on bhagavAn‘s mercy and hence it is just svarUpam [his nature is to be greatly devoted towards bhagavAn, and not as means to pursue him]. Alternative explanation – since karma and gyAna yOgams are explained as independent upAyams in purANams (ancient sacred texts), these statements can simply mean that AzhwAr does not have any of those means independently. [AzhwAr pursuing emperumAn here is explained generally as adhikAri viSEshaNam (a natural attribute of a jIvAthmA who has realized emperumAn as the master). It should not be treated as upAyam. As such, a jIvAthmA cannot pursue any upAyam other than emperumAn to attain emperumAn. So, here the desire to attain emperumAn is to be treated as natural attribute only and not otherwise]

When asked, like those who do not have any principal will not get any interest, if these don’t exist how would you get the result?

  • Agilum – Even if this is the case. Even if you [bhagavAn] considered “ARRagiRkinRilEn” as my upAyam (means), there is no meaning for my using the word “Agilum” [in spite of not having any means].

When emperumAn asked AzhwAr “But were you not patient all along?”, AzhwAr says,

  • ini – Is it not appropriate for me to miss out on you when I did not know you and myself? But should I still miss out on you after knowing your completeness and my defects? When a person has food in his hands and is willing to share it with others, and another person is needing food and is hungry, should the hungry person miss out?
  • ini – Am I having something in my hand and waiting for it to culminate in result? You may consider my saththai (that which sustains me) as upAyam (means) and discard me. Since time immemorial, I had forgotten my nature and lost the opportunity to serve you. Now that I have truly accepted your lordship, should I still miss out on the opportunity to serve you eternally?
  • unnai vittu – If you too are [incomplete] like me, will I not be relaxed [and not think about attaining you immediately]? Are you such that, I have to do something to attain you?
  • unnai vittu – How can the body sustain itself without the soul?
  • onRum ARRagiRkinRilEn – The knowledge about you, is not letting me sustain myself. sIthAp pirAtti had a way to sustain herself saying as in SrI rAmAyaNam sundhara kANdam 39.30 “thathdhasya sadhruSam bhavEth” (SrI rAma saving me and accepting me will match his stature) and relax, but for AzhwAr, emperumAn need not build a bridge on the ocean and kill rAvaNa [so he must come immediately].
  • aravin aNai ammAnE – Until now, AzhwAr highlighted his own incompleteness; from now on, he is highlighting emperumAn’s completeness.
  • aravin aNai – Can I be relaxed seeing your attachment towards bhOgam (bhOga means enjoyment as well as serpent)? While you are paramabhOgi (supreme enjoyer, supreme being on the serpent bed), can I be relaxed? ananthaSAyithvam (reclining on AdhiSEsha) is an indication of supremacy. Oh sarvESvara who is having serpent as your bed!
  • sERRuth thAmarai … – I can be relaxed and be patient if you are simply reclining on AdhiSEshan.
  • sERRuth thAmarai – The abode which will make one forget even paramapadham. In the muddy swamps, the lotus flowers standing close to the paddy crop, blossom appearing like umbrella to the crop. As the king descends to a place, his associates will follow [similarly, as emperumAn descended from paramapadham to SrIvaramangala nagar, nithyasUris too followed him and assumed various forms].
  • sirIvaramangala nagar – As said in “dhEvanAmbhU: ayOdhyA” (ayOdhyA [another name for paramapdham] is the abode of nithyasUris). emperumAn residing in this abode with more joy than in paramapadham. The abode where he permanently resides for the protection of the samsAris (worldly people).
  • vIRRirundha – Instead of residing with disgust thinking “I who resided in that great paramapadham, have to reside here now”, residing joyfully in a distinguished manner as a prisoner who was crowned in a kingdom would be.
  • endhAy – Just as his stay there is meant for the nithyasUris, the stay here is specifically meant for me. My father who is residing in sirIvaramangala nagar.
  • unakku migai allEn – If you resided in the distant abode of paramapadham, I can be patient and sustain myself, but you have specifically descended here for me, and hence, how can I miss out on you any more?
  • angE vIRRirundha unakku migai allEn – I am not outside the reach of you who are desirous of protection seekers. Alternatively,
  • unakku migai allEn – As said in SrI rAmAyaNam ayOdhyA kANdam 31.32 “vaidharmyam nEhavidhyathE” (there is no unrighteousness in this), I am not here for anything else. When I am beyond your reach, I will cease to exist.

When asked “what is the benefit for me?”, AzhwAr says,

  • angE – As said in “thavachArtha prakalpathE” (it is a gain for your highness only), the benefit is also for your highness only. As a nursing mother will be happy to see the satisfied face of a fully fed baby, the master will gain when the servitor realizes his true nature and engages in servitude.

In the next article we will enjoy the next pAsuram.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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