thiruchchandha viruththam – pAsuram 23 – vAniRaththor sIyamAy

SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImadh varavara munayE nama:

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avathArikai (Introduction)

During the time of deluge, to remove the danger which befell chEthanas, you had swallowed the worlds, keeping them safely in your stomach, and reclined on a tender banyan leaf, manifesting your aghatithaghatanA sAmarthyam (ability to bind together entities which cannot be bound at all). Furthermore, just as it has been said in brahmapurANam 103-61 “narasyArdhathanum kruthvA simhasyArdhathanum thathA” (narasimha was born, keeping the (lower) portion of his divine form as human and (top) portion of his divine form as lion), you appeared, even no one had prayed for it, with the lower portion of your divine form as human and top portion as lion, thus combining two different species into one, unable to bear the danger posed by hiraNya kashyap on his son prahlAdhan. Recalling this aghatithaghatanA sAmarthyam, AzhwAr says “Who can estimate this quality!”

vAniRaththor sIyamAy vaLaindha vAL eyiRRavan
UniRaththu ugirththalam azhuththinAy ulAya sIr
nAl niRaththa vEdha nAvar nalla yOginAl vaNangu
pAl niRak kadal kidandha paRpanAban allaiyE

Word-by-Word Meanings

vAl niRaththu – having a white complexion
or – (due to mingling with human) a unique
sIyamAy – incarnating as a lion
vaLaindha – curved
vAL – having radiance
eyiRRavan – hiraNyan, who had the teeth
UniRaththu – in the vital spot [chest]
ugirththalam – nails
azhuththinAy – Oh one who pressed
ulAya – famous throughout the world
sIr – having the greatness of being authentic
nAl niRam – having four types of tunes such as udhAththam etc
vEdham – vEdham (sacred texts)
nAvar – great followers of vEdhams, who keep chanting
nalla – being great
yOginAl – through the means
vaNangu – being attained by
pAl – being white, like milk
niRa – having complexion
kadal – in the ocean
kidandha – one who is reclining
paRpanAban – padhmanAbhan
allaiyE – are you not?

Simple Translation

Oh one who incarnated as a unique lion with a whitish complexion, pressing the demon hiraNyan, who had curved radiant teeth, on his chest, with your nails! You are attained by great followers of vEdham which have four types of tunes such as udhAththam etc and which are famous throughout the world as being authentic. Are you not the one who is reclining on the milky ocean, as padhmanAbhan?


vAl niRaththor sIyamAy – as a unique lion, with a whitish complexion. The word vAl refers to white colour. balarAma (elder brother of krishNa), who was white in colour, was referred to as vAliyOn. AzhwAr is amazed that purushOththaman (emperumAn, the best among all souls), for the sake of his devotee [prahlAdha] not only transformed himself to look like a lion, but changed his complexion too, from his naturally dark hue to white!

or sIyamAy – AzhwAr calls this incarnation as or – unique, since, among the countless incarnations which emperumAn had taken, just as it has been mentioned in purusha sUktham uththarAnuvAkam “ajAyamAnO bahudhA vijAyathE thasya dhIrA: parijAnanthi yOnim” (though (paramapurushan, the supreme entity) is without a birth, he incarnates in many ways. Only the learned people will know his incarnations) as well as in bhagavath gIthA 4-5 “bahUnimE vyathIthAni janmAni thava chArjuna” (Oh arjuna! For both you and me, several janmas (births) have taken place), there has been none which had two different species mingling into one. Alternatively, just as this AzhwAr had said in nAnmugan thiruvandhAdhi pAsuram 22 “azhagiyAn thanE” (emperumAn is the boundary for beauty), since he is in the form of human mixed with lion, he is said to be unique in his divine form. sIyam – lion.

vaLaindha vAL eyiRRavan – hiraNyan who had white, radiant teeth which were curved. vAL – radiance. This refers to the strength of his physical form, which is not a part of the strength of the boons which he had obtained.

Un niRaththu ugirththalam azhuththinAy – oh one who pressed on the vital part of hiraNyan’s form, the chest, with your nails! The word niRan would refer to a vital part, and here, specifically, it refers to the chest. By the usage of the term “ugirththalam azhuththinAy“, this narrates how emperumAn effortlessly plucked out the life of hiraNyan with his nails, without harming the boon which hiraNyan had obtained that he cannot be killed with a weapon.

ulAya sIr nAlniRaththa vEdha nAvar – those who have vEdham in their mouths, vEdham being praised all over the world as the most authentic text and having four types of tunes such as udhAththam, anudhAththam, svaritham and prachayam. The word niRam refers to form. Here, this word refers to the four tunes which are vEdham’s form. Through this verse, it is said that those who worship emperumAn establish thathva hitha purushArtham (truth, means to attain it and the benefit after one attains it) through the pramANam (authentic proof) of Sabdham, which is vEdham, instead of through other proofs such as prathyaksham (seen through the eyes) and anumAnam (based on guess).

nalla yOginAl vaNangu – this could be construed as referring to either distinguished devotion through which his followers worship him, since it lays importance on meditation based on affection or distinguished act of surrendering to emperumAn since he is the natural means for attaining him. The word yOgu is a shortened form of yOgam which refers to means.

pAl niRak kadal kidandha paRpanAbhan allaiyE – Aren’t you padhmanAbhan, reclining on thiruppARkadal (milky ocean) whose white colour adds beauty to the bluish divine form of yours, with the divine navel on your form indicating to the world “He is the causative factor for the world”? The vyAkyAthA (commentator) of this prabandham, periya vAchchAn piLLai, now explains the previous term “nalla yOginAl vaNangu“.
Usage of the term “nalla yOginAl” distinguishes those who follow vEdham fully over mAyAvAdhis (those who say that everything in the world is an illusion; there is only one entity which is jIvan (sentient soul) whose knowledge is covered by ignorance and when that layer of ignorance is removed, he attains liberation) for whom knowing the meaning of the mahAvAkyams  (three most important terms in vEdham) such as “thathvamasi SvEthakEthO” is the means leading to liberation, and over bhEdhAbhEdhavAdhis (those who see the world as a mixture of oneness and manifold) who say that the union of karma (deeds) and gyAna (knowledge) is the means to liberation. These people, who misinterpret the meanings of vEdhams, are referred to as kudhrushtis.

The vyAkyAthA now explains the term “ulAya sIr” as seen in the verse “ulAya sIr nAl niRaththa vEdha nAvar“. In the explanation above for this verse, the term ulAya sIr was considered as an adjective for vEdham. If it is considered as an adjective for vEdha nAvar (those who recite vEdhams), the meaning will change to – those who have the greatness of seeing the truth as it exists, in vEdhams, which are the most authentic texts in the world. Alternatively, the phrase ulAya sIr could be combined with the last word paRpanAbhan. In this case, just as it has been said in SrI rAmAyaNam sundhara kANdam 21-20 when sIthAppirAtti tells rAvaNa “vidhithas sa hi dharmagyas SaraNAgatha vathsala: l thEna maithrI bhavathu thE yadhi jIvithum ichchasi ll” ((Oh rAvaNa!) SrI rAma is famous for knowing dharmam (righteous path) and for having motherly forbearance towards those who take refuge under him. If you have the desire to live, let friendship develop with him), it refers to emperumAn, with his auspicious qualities, being the causative factor for the world.

We will take up the 24th pAsuram of this prabandham, next.

adiyEn krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan

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