thiruviruththam – 51 – malai koNdu

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avathArikai (Introduction)

Before the nAyakan could reach her, the nAyaki heard the noise from ocean and reveals how it distressed her. SrI rAma wanted to cover the distance, which he had travelled over fourteen years by foot, within an afternoon. Knowing that bharthAzhwAn would not be able to tolerate even that, he sent hanuman as his messenger to tell bharathan that he was on his way. Until someone is sent as a messenger to her, all the things which she sees appear to cause her harm. SrI rAma tells hanuman as in SrIrAmAyaNam yudhdha kANdam SlOkam 125-17 “sangathyA bharatha: SrImAn rAjyEnArthi svayam bhavEth l praSAsthum vasudhAm sarvAmakhilAm raghunandhana: ll” (bharathAan who is full of the wealth of servitude and devotion, could continue to rule over ayOdhyA should he wish to do so, since he has been ruling it for many years). There are two interpretations for this SlOkam – some learned people, looking at it superficially, would say that since bharathan has been ruling for a long time, he would have developed a desire and a hold on the kingdom. Thus, if bharathan wishes to continue to rule over the kingdom, SrI rAma would not wish to go to ayOdhyA and would rather stay at sage bharathwAja’s ASram (hermitage) itself. Since he thought this way, he sent hanuman ahead of him on an errand. Our pUrvAchAryars (preceptors) considered that this opinion did not gel with SrI rAma’s greatness. The correct meaning of this SlOkam, in our pUrvAchAryas’ opinion, is this [given as the reasoning of SrI rAma]: as per dhaSarathan’s order and due to the boon which kaikEyi had obtained, we had given the kingdom to bharathan. bharathan followed us to the forest and said “Oh rAma! If you delay returning to ayOdhyA even by a day, I will not be able to sustain my life”. We are now returning after fourteen years. When he is in a state of bliss upon seeing us, we will tell him “You get ready for the coronation”. In the supreme happiness of seeing us, due to bewilderment, he would accept it instead of saying “I will not”. dhaSarathan wanted to see us being coronated. But he could not live to see that. To reverse that, we will be ecstatic to see our child bharathan being coronated. Hence you go ahead, he told hanuman and sent him.

What is the reason for some learned people interpreting in one way and our pUrvAchAryars interpreting in the other? This is explained through SrI rAmAyaNam ayOdhyA kANdam SlOkam 19-31 “shanair jagAma sApEksha:” (SrI rAma, before leaving for the forest, circumambulated all the materials which had been kept for his coronation, saw them respectfully …) In this SlOkam, those learned people saw the word sApEksha: as sAvEksha: which means glancing from the corner of the eye. The meaning for this would then be that SrI rAma had a desire in being the King and made it known in his eyes. On hearing this, parASara bhattar said “It is not to be considered that way. It should be considered as SrI rAma looking at them with despondence since he would not be present to see bharatha’s coronation”,

Before such sarvESvaran could reach the place where the nAyaki was present, the ocean troubled her.

Let us go thorugh the pAsuram and its meanings:

malai koNdu maththA aravAl suzhaRRiya mAyappirAn
alai kaNdu koNda amudham koLLAdhu kadal baradhar
vilai koNdu thandha sangam ivai vEriththuzhAyth thuNaiyAth
thulai koNdu thAyam kiLarndhu koLvAn oththu azhaikkinRadhE

Word-by-Word Meanings

kadal – ocean
malai – manthara hill
maththA – as the churning shaft
koNdu – making it
aravAl –  through vAsuki, the snake
suzhaRRiya – one who churned
mAyam – one with amazing activity
pirAn – sarvESvaran, the benefactor
alai kaNdu – making the waves to rise up
koNda – taken (from the ocean)
amudham – nectar
koLLadhu – without accepting
baradhar – pearl traders
vilai koNdu – taking money
thandha – offered
ivai sangam – these bangles
vEri – fragrant
thuzhAy – divine thuLasi
thuNaiyA – as support
thulai koNdu – searching a way for destroying
thAyam – share of relatives
koLvAn oththu – as if taking
kiLarndhu – agitatingly
azhaikkinRadhu – makes a noise

Simple Translation

sarvESvaran had done great benefits such as keeping the manthara mountain as the churning shaft, the snake vAsuki as the churning rope and churned the ocean to obtain nectar. The ocean did not accept that nectar which was taken from it in such a way that its waves rose up. Traders in pearl had taken payment from me (nAyaki) and given me bangles. The ocean, with the support of divine thuLasi garland, with the thought of destroying me, is making huge noise in order to take these bangles from me, just like relatives would partake of their share in a property.


malai koNdu maththA – sarvESvaran made the immovable mountain to move.

aravAl – he took the snake vAsuki, who has a gentle form, as the churning rope.

suzhaRRiya – the cleverness with which he used these. These entities (mountain and snake) kept churning on their own until nectar came out. This is similar to a potter rotating his wheel once, after which it keeps rotating on its own with that momentum. Since it is sarvESvaran himself who rotated the mountain once, it kept rotating until the work was completed. Thus all the active and inactive states of all entities are under his control.

mAyappirAn – he has amazing activities. periya thirumozhi 5-7-4 “mAyirungunRam ….” – keeping  the manthara mountain which was broad and tall, as the churning staff, keeping the snake vAsuki as the churning rope, he churned the ocean such that it made a noise like the trumpeting of an elephant and its waves rose to hide the sky.He churned in such a way that the garlands and the dress which he wore kept swinging from one side to the other.

pirAn – he benefited me by manifesting the beauty of his divine form to me. He is AzhwAr’s nectar.

alai kaNdu . . . – he churned he ocean in such a way that the sand at the bottom rose to the top and the sand at the top sank to the bottom, by planting the mountain manthara at the centre of the ocean’s heart like a mammoth pestle. He took away the nectar from the ocean. The ocean did not have the courage to go to him to retrieve its nectar from him. Just as it has been mentioned in nAchchiyAr thirumozhi 10-9  “kadalE kadalE unnaik kadaindhu kalakkuRuththu..” the ocean did not go to him to trouble him; instead it is creating distress for me. In this world, it has become natural for strong people to show their strength towards the weak ones.

baradhar – the ocean is attempting to take the bangles which I had bought from the pearl traders after payment of money. Did we go near the ocean on our own?

vErith thuzhAy thuNaiyA – it is torturing me by keeping the fragrant divine thuLasi, which it received from sarvESvaran, as a support. Just as sugrIva took SrI rAma’s support and challenged vAli, the ocean took divine thuLasi’s support to torture me. SrI rAmAyaNam kishkindhA kANdam SlOkam “thath garjath harivara: sugrIvO hEmapingala: thEna nAthEna mahathA nirjagAma haRiSvara: anumAnya thathA dhArAm sugrIvEna samAgatha:” (sugrIva, who was with a reddish yellow hue, similar to gold, stood near the entrance to vAli’s cave and roared. When his wife thArA tried to prevent him from going, vAli comforted her and came out). mahathA – sugrIva displayed his valour; nirjagAma – he came out of his cave; anumAnya – vali told thAra who tried to dissuade him from going out to fight with sugrIva “Will you not unite with a person like me only if I win over him?” As an example of this, the vyAkyAthA cites SrI rAmAyaNam 30-39 “tham dhrushtvA Sathru hanthAram maharshINAm sukhAvaham | babhUva hrushtA vaidhEhi bharthAram parishasvajE ||” (becoming happy after seeing SrI rAma annihilating the enemies of the rishis, sIthAppirAtti embraced him well).

thulai koNdu – to destroy her, ocean took the support of divine thuLasi.

thAyam . . . – even after a land had got changed hands four or five times, the relatives of the original owner of the property would stake their claim on that land. In the same way, the ocean, on seeing the bangles on nAyaki’s hands, claimed that these bangles came from it (from conches which are in the ocean), and is trying to take them away.

azhaikkinRadhE – it is calling like a waylaying robber. When the omnipotent entity immersed a huge pestle inside it, churned it with the power of his shoulders and took away nectar from it, this ocean did not have the capability to challenge him and retrieve that nectar. Since I am a helpless lady, it is trying to harm me. The vyAkyAtha cites an example of how the sounds made by the ocean troubled the nAyaki, from a SlOkam in SrI rAmAyaNam kishkindhA kANdam “nisvanam chakravAkAnAm niSamya sahachArinAm puNdarIka visAlAkshI kathamEshA bhavishyathi” (on merely hearing the noise made by chakravAka birds when they fly, sIthAppirAtti will be joyous; what sort of difficulty is she in, who has eyes like lotus flower?) Just as the noise made by the birds brought memories of sIthAppirAtti to SrI rAma and troubled him, the sound made by the ocean troubled the nAyaki.

adiyEn krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan

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