nAnmugan thiruvandhAdhi – 8 – ilai thuNai maRRu

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AzhwAr was asked “There are some ignorant people who will eat only if there is smoke (in the kitchen) – meaning that they will eat only if something is cooked in their homes. Otherwise they will go hungry. In the same way could you say nAn unnai anRi ilEn kaNdAy nAraNanE? Could you not carry out your task through someone else?”. AzhwAr says that there is none who is a protector other than emperumAn. AzhwAr tells his heart that the others (who are supposed to be protectors) are not only incapable of protecting, they will also pose hurdles in the path of emperumAn when he protects us.

Let us go through the pAsuram and its meanings:

ilai thuNai maRRen nenjE Isanai venRa
silai koNda sengaNmAl sErA kulai koNda
IraindhalaiyAn ilangaiyai Idazhiththa
kUrambanallAl kuRai

Word for Word Meanings

en nenjE – Oh my heart!
Isanai venRa – one who defeated rudhra
silai koNda – one who donned the bow
sem kaN mAl – emperumAn who has lotus like eyes
sErA – one who did not bow down and get redeemed, but got annihilated
kulai koNda Iraindhu thalaiyAn – rAvaNa who had ten heads close together as if in a cluster
ilangaiyai – lankA
Idu azhiththa – one who annihilated
kUr amban allAl – other than (that) SrI rAma who has sharp arrows
kuRai – during the times when (we) have difficulties
maRRu thuNai – support other than him
ilai – we do not have


ilai thuNai maRRu – it is not important to know that emperumAn is our protector. It is more important to know that others are not protectors. Wouldn’t vaiNavathvam (quality of being a follower of vishNu) be attained if people do not worship other deities, forgetting the divine feet of SrIman nArAyaNa? Did not piLLai lOkAchAryar (one of the preceptors of our sampradhAyam) say in his mumukshuppadi treatise “adhilum anya sEshathvam kazhigaiyE pradhAnam” (giving up being a servitor to other deities is primary) in line with this!

en nenjE – Oh my heart who is favourable to listen to my discourse on this!

en nenjE – aren’t you different from other hearts which follow the saying “chanchalam hi mana:” (heart is fickle minded)!

What is the reason for saying that there is no other protector? This is because only SrIman nArAyaNa is the supreme deity. When asked “others such as rudhra et al are also said to be supreme entities. Why then are you emphasising that only nArAyaNa is supreme?”. AzhwAr says derisively in the next verse as to how rudhra et al were called as supreme.

Isanai venRa silai koNda sengaNmAl – the lord of all with lotus-like eyes, who dons the bow which defeated rudhra. This incident has been described in SrI rAmAyaNam bAla kANdam by paraSurAma to SrI rAma (paraSurAma tells SrI rAma that the two bows (one belonging to Siva and the other to vishNu), belonging to the dhEvalOkam (outer world), famous throughout the world, great, firm, strong and eminent, were created by viSvakarma, the celestial carpenter. One was given to rudhra during the war with the three towns (thiripuram, thripura) and it was that bow which later was broken by SrI rAma at the court of King janaka. The other bow, which cannot be approached by anyone, was given by the great ones among the celestial entities to vishNu. After the war on the three towns, the dhEvas wanted to know who among vishNu and rudhra had greater ability. Hence vishNu and rudhra engaged  in a fight. During the fight (with the two eminent bows) when vishNu made a menacing sound (hUnkAra) Siva’s bow cracked a bit and Siva too became unconscious, standing like a pillar. The rishis and celestial entities, seeing the cracking of Siva’s bow, realised the greatness of vishNu).

Isanai venRa silai – the bow which defeated Siva who had the vain feeling that he is ISvara (one who controls everything). We can also construe this as sengaNmAl  who defeated rudhra.

silai koNda – all that emperumAn did was to don the bow. The victorious act was carried out by the bow itself.

sem kaN mAl – supreme being who has reddish eyes, which manifest his ability to control everything. The supreme being was hailed as puNdarIkAkshan based on the saying of vEdhas “kapyAsam puNdarIkam Evam akshiNI” (the two lotus-like eyes which were blossomed by sun).

sem kaN mAl – we can also construe this as SrI rAma who has reddish eyes, showing affection for his followers. Wasn’t SrI rAma hailed as rAmO rAjIvalOchana: and rAma: kamalapathrAksha:, denoting his lotus-like eyes! The words sem kaN would denote both wealth and affection. The word mAl would mean one who is great as well as one who is affectionate.

Ilai thuNai maRRen nenjE Isanai venRa silai koNda sengaNmAl – Is it not apt to enquire whether the one who is victorious is the protector or the one who was defeated!

sengaNmAl sErA – rAvaNa said that he would rather fall back even if he is split into two than falling at the feet of rAma, as that is his nature. This is brought out by in the SlOkam 36-11 of SrI rAmAyaNam yudhdha kANdam “dhvidhA bhajyEyamapyEvam na namEyanthu kasyachith I Esha mE sahajO dhOsha: svabhAvO dhurathikrama: II”

sengaNmAl sErA – how is that an entity can remain without tilting his head at the divine feet of one even after seeing his lotus like eyes?

Isanai venRa….. sengaNmAl sErA – do we need to talk about unfavourable entities [such as rAvaNa] stringing arrow in offence when favourable entities [such as rudhra], under the influence of thAmasa guNa (ignorant state) string an arrow in offence?

Who is that entity who is so incongruent with emperumAn?

kulai koNda IraindhalaiyAn – rAvaNa who has ten heads, like a bunch.

IraindhalaiyAn ilangaiyai Idazhiththa – lankA was protected by rAvaNa with all his might, as said in “lankAm rAvaNa pAlithAm” (lankA protected by rAvaNa. SrI rAma destabilised such lankA).

kUrambanallAl kuRai illai thuNai – there is none like SrI rAma, who has sharp arrows, as support for us to rid us of our difficulties. chEthana (sentient) entities such as rudhra et al or achEthana (insentient) entities such as beads cannot protect us. Only the sharp arrows of chakravarthy thirumagan (son of emperor dhaSaratha) will be a refuge for us, similar to how they were for sIthAppirAtti.

We will take up the 9th pAsuram next.

adiyEn krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan

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