Simple guide to dhivyaprabandham – Part 1 (thaniyans, thiruppallANdu, kaNNinuN chiRuth thAmbu)

SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

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<< Introduction

In the first part, we learnt about AzhwArs, aruLichcheyal and the classifications similar to how vEdham is classified into 4 parts. While vEdhas are huge, available in samskrutham, and not available for everyone, dhivya prabandham is in thamizh and is not as big and can also be learnt by everyone.

The dhivya prabandhams are the outpouring of AzhwArs’ devotion and they took great compassion on us and composed them as pAsurams for all of us!

AzhwArs’ time period was at the end of dhvApara yuga and beginning of kali yuga and the pAsurams were later revived by SrIman nAthamunigaL by reciting kaNNinuNch chiruththAmbu 12,000 times and was blessed with all the dhivya prabandhams and their meanings by nammAzhwAr.

This has been propagated by our pUrvAchAryas starting with SrIman nAthamunigaL, uyyakkoNdAr, maNakkAl nambi, ALavandhAr, emperumAnAr, embAr, SrI parAsara bhattar, nanjIyar, nampiLLai, vadakkuth thiruvIdhi piLLai, piLLAi lOkAchAriyar and so on. piLLai lOkAchAriyar mercifully wrote rahasya granthams based on the knowledge gained from AzhwArs’ pAsurams and AchAryas’ vyAkyAnams. nampiLLai’s another Sishya, periyavAchchAn piLLai wrote commentaries for all the 4000 pAsurams.Later thiruvAimozhip piLLai and maNavALa mAmunigaL also propagated dhivya prabandham.It is to be noted that mAmunigaL had memorised Idu 36000 padi, nampiLLai’s vyAkhyAnam for thiruvAimozhi and gave kAlakshEpam for 1 year at SrIrangam temple. namperumAL stopped all utsavams during that year and listened to the entire kAlakshEpam and also took the form of a small boy to give the “SrISailESa” thaniyan to his AchArya, maNavALa mAmunigaL. maNavALa mAmunigaL took all the manuscripts of dhivyaprabandhams and their commentaries, and made many copies of the same to preserve them for us.

The 4 divisions of 4000 dhivya prabandham are 1st thousand, 2nd thousand, iyaRpA and thiruvAimozhi.

iyaRpA is without music, rest of the 3000 pAsurams are sung with music even today and we can see that in aRaiyar sEvai.iyaRpA is chanted during the procession of perumAL during uthsavams.

Let us now move into the 2nd part of this introduction. Let us now look into a brief introduction and important features of the individual prabandhams.

thaniyans are AchArya vandhanam. Here, we pray to guru paramparai. There are common thaniyans (podhu thaniyan) and prabandham’s thaniyans. periya perumAL accepted maNavALa mAmunigaL as his AchArya and submitted the thaniyan

SrISailESa dhayApAthram dhIbhakthyAdhi guNArNavam |
yathIndhra pravaNam vandhE ramya jAmAtharam munim ||

This is the first thaniyan chanted every time before beginning to chant dhivya prabandham

Simple meaning: I pray to ramya jAmAthru muni (maNavALa mAmuni), who has received the grace of thiruvAimozhi piLLai, one who is filled with guNas like gyAnam (knowledge), bhakthi (devotion) and vairAgyam (detachment towards worldly pursuits),and has great love for yathIndhra (rAmAnujar).

ramya jAmAthru yOgIndhra pAdharEkhA mayam sadhA |
thadhA yaththAthma saththAdhim rAmAnuja munim bhajE ||

(composed by one of ponnadikAl jIyar’s ashta dhik gajangaL – dhoddaiyangAr appai)

This is the thaniyan on vanamAmalai 1st jIyar – SrI ponnadikAl jIyar, who is like the imprints on the sole of the divine foot of maNavALa mAmunigaL,

lakshmInAtha samArambhAm nAthayAmuna madhyamAm |
asmadhAchArya paryanthAm vandhE guruparamparAm ||

– mercifully given to us by Sri kUraththAzhwAn

Simple meaning: Starting with lakshmI’s consort SrIman nArAyaNan, followed by AchAryas such as nAthamuni, yAmunAcharya, and having emperumAnAr as the centre-piece in the necklace of guru parampara, who is also my AchAryan, I pray to that guruparamparai. It is applicable to all of us as well, since we can meditate upon our AchArya

yOnithyam achyutha padhAmbhuja yugma rukma
vyAmOhathas thadhitharANi thruNAya mEnE |
asmadh gurOr bhagavathOsya dhayaika sindhO:
rAmAnujasya charaNau SaraNam prapadhyE ||

This thaniyan glorifies our jagadhAcharyan rAmAnujar. namperumAL called our sampradhAyam as “emperumAnAr dharisanam”. This thaniyan is given by kUraththAzhwAn.

Simple meaning: I take refuge under the lotus feet of my Acharya, SrI rAmAnuja,who has great devotion towards the divine golden feet of achyuthan,who considers everything other than emperumAn‘s divine feet as equivalent to mere grass and who is an ocean of mercy.

mAthA pithA yuvathayas thanayA vibhUthi:
sarvam ya dhEva niyamEna madhanvayAnAm |
Adhyasyana: kulapathEr vakuLAbhirAmam
SrImath thadhangriyugaLam praNamAmi mUrdhnA ||

This thaniyan is on nammAzhwAr, given to us by ALavandhAr.

nammAzhwAr , who is the leader of our prapanna kulam is everything to me – mother, father, children, wealth all of that is nammAzhwAr . He adorns himself with vakuLa flowers and I carry his lotus feet on my forehead at all times!

bhUtham saraScha mahadhAhvaya bhattanAtha
SrI bhakthisAra kulaSEkhara yOgivAhAn |
bhakthAngri rENu parakAla yathIndhra miSrAn
SrImath parAnkuSa munim praNathOsmi nithyam ||

This thaniyan celebrates all the AzhwArs as divine body parts (avayavam) of nammAzhwAr (avayavi) and was given to us by SrI parAsara bhattar.

Simple meaning: This thaniyan considers nammAzhwAr as the avayavi ( body) and other AzhwArs are the avayavam (parts of that body). Here, emperumAnAr is considered as the feet of nammAzhwAr.

Let us now go into mudhalAyiram which is a collection of the following prabandhams

  1. thiruppallANdu (periyAzhwAr)
  2. kaNNinuN chiRuth thAmbu (madhurakavi AzhwAr)
  3. periyAzhwAr thirumozhi (periyAzhwAr)
  4. thiruppAvai (SrI AndAL)
  5. nAchchiyAr thirumozhi (SrI AndAL)
  6. perumAL thirumozhi (kulasEkhara AzhwAr)
  7. thirumAlai (thondaradippodi AzhwAr)
  8. thiruppaLLiyezhuchchi (thondaradipodi AzhwAr)
  9. amalanAdhipirAn (thiruppANAzhwAr)
  10. thiruchchandha viruththam (thirumazhisai AzhwAr)

Sriman nAthamunigaL divided them. First prabandham is thiruppaLLAndu. That will be followed by kaNNinuN chiRuth thAmbu. In AzhwAr sannidhi (in AzhwArthirunagari), kaNNinuN chiRuth thAmbu is chanted in the beginning at all times. In thirunArAyaNa puram dhivya dhESam also kaNNinuNch chiRuth thAmbu is chanted first.

Let us look into thiruppallANdu – it is considered equivalent to praNavam in our sampradhAyam. In upadhEsa rathna mAlai pAsuram 19, mAmunigaL states this and compares praNavam with thiruppallANdu. Just like how vEdham chanting begins and ends with praNavam, dhivya prabandham chanting begins and ends with thiruppallANdu. Also, just like how praNavam contains the essence of entire vEdhas,thiruppallANdu also contains the essence of the entire dhivya prabandham.

periyAzhwAr was born in SrIvillipuththUr and did pushpa kainkaryam for emperumAn. He had great involvement in kaNNan emperumAn and got moved by mAlAkArar charithram in SrI bhAgavatham and decided to do the blemishless, great garland kainkaryam.

It was during this time that pAndiya king declares that anyone who clears his doubt on the difference between the fruits of this world and the fruits of higher world paramapadam, and establishes para thathvam, will win a bag filled with gold coins. His minister selva nambi advises him about this strategy. Due to emperumAn’s orders and grace, periyAzhwAr goes to that place and establishes para thathvam and wins the treasure.The king honours AzhwAr by making him sit on his royal elephant and going around the town in a procession.At that time, emperumAn appears in the sky on garuda along with pirAtti, On seeing this, periyAzhwAr is overcome with so much love that he fears that some harm may come to emperumAn and sings pallANdu pallANdu as mangaLASAsanam to emperumAn. mangaLASAsanam is done not just by elders to younger people, anyone who has a lot of love with devotion in their heart can do mangaLASAsanam and thus periyAzhwAr is highly recognised for doing mangaLASAsanam to emperumAn and he earned the name “periyAzhwAr” because of this reason! All of periyAzhwAr’s pAsurams are full of mangaLASAsanam. He wants to bring many many groups of adiyArs together to do mangaLASAsanam to emperumAn.

periyAzhwAr thaniyan shows an important point – that AzhwAr did not get gyAnam by studying under an AchArya. He was chosen by emperumAn and given blemishless knowledge. He also has another speciality – he is the father in law of ranganAthan. In thirupallANdu first 2 pAsurams, AzhwAr does mangaLASAsanam to emperumAn by himself.In the 3rd pAsuram, he calls other bhAgavathas like him. In the 4th pAsuram, he calls kaivalyArthis, those who are interested only in enjoying their own Athma svarUpam and not interested in doing kainkaryam to emperumAn. In the 5th pAsuram, he calls all the aiSwaryArthIs, those interested in gaining new wealth and regaining lost wealth in this world. In pAsurams 6 to 8, they all arrive one by one. In pAsurams 9 to 11, periyAzhwAr does mangaLASAsanam with all of them. In the last, that is 12th pAsuram, he completes the prabandham by stating the fruits – phalam of this prabandham – What benefits does one get for performing mangaLASAsanams to emperumAn? We get the gift of doing eternal mangaLASAsanams to emperumAn in this world and also in paramapadham! This mangaLASAsanam is the quality that is in accordance with our svarUpam – true nature! A jIvAthmA who is always subservient to paramAthmA, has to always think about the well being of their master at all times! A jIva should aspire to bring more and more glories to emperumAn due to jIva’s servitude! Hence, eternal mangaLASAsanam to emperumAn by the jIvAthmA is the fruit of this prabandham!

kaNNinuN chiRuth thAmbu

kaNNinuN chiruth thAmbu has been given to us by madhurakavi AzhwAr. He was born in thirukkOLUr dhivya dhESam which is close to AzhwAr thirunagari. The presiding deity is SrI vaithamAnidhip perumAL. AzhwAr travelled to northern India and was performing kainkaryam there! While he was living there, one day, when performing his daily duties, he noticed a bright light from the South! Out of curiosity, he starts following the light and reaches AzhwAr thirunagari! When the light disappears, he enquires around to see if there is any knowledgeable, great person around! The town people point out thriuppuLiyAzhwAr (divine tamarind tree) to him and also inform him about nammAzhwAr who resides in a state of dhyAna under that tamarind tree. madhurakavi AzhwAr is older than nammAzhwAr. madhurakavi AzhwAr feels an unexplainable great joy on seeing nammAzhwAr as he senses nammAzhwAr to be a great gyAni and a great devotee of emperumAn. In order to get him out of his dhyAna state, madhurakavi AzhwAr throws a small stone in front of him.nammAzhwAr opens his eyes and looks at madhurakavi AzhwAr! Then madhurakavi AzhwAr asks a question – “seththaththin vayiRRil siriyadhu piRandhAl, eththaith thinRu engE kidakkum?”!

nammAzhwAr speaks his first words ever and says “aththaith thinRu angE kidakkum”!

The meaning for this is – When a jIvAthmA is inside an achit (a body) – what will it enjoy and where will it be? For this, nammAzhwAr replies, “As long as the jIvAthmA is involved in karma, it will be inside the dhEha (body) and keep enjoying the same!”. On hearing this madhurakavi AzhwAr gains clarity and realises the great knowledge of nammAzhwAr! He realises AzhwAr’s greatness and starts serving him as his AchArya! He learns thiruvAimozhi and other prabandhams from nammAzhwAr! He also records those prabandhams for the future and continues to perform kainkaryams to nammAzhwAr! When nammAzhwAr ascends to paramapadham after 32 years, madhurukavi AzhwAr is overcome by grief of being separated from his AchArya. However, to spread the glories of his AchArya, he composes the prabandham called “kaNNinuN chiRuth thAmbu”. This is a very short and sweet prabandham. maNavALa mAmunigaL in his upadhESa raththina mAlai, pAsuram 26, states the greatness of this prabandham.

vAyththa thirumanthiraththin maththimamAm padham pOl
sIrtha madhurakavi seikalaiyai – Artha pugazh
AriyargaL thAngaL aruLichcheyal naduvE
sErviththAr thAthparyam thErndhu”

The meaning is “madhurakavi AzhwAr’s prabandham is like the middle part of thirumanthram, that is, namaha. Our pUrvAchAryas realised the greatness of this prabandham on nammAzhwAr and made it a part of the dhivya prabandham after realising the deeper meaning of this prabandham which explains that more than emperumAn himself, one must look to serve a devotee of emperumAn!” Since madhurakavi AzhwAr’s prabandham celebrates his AchArya nammAzhwAr, our pUrvAchAryas starting from SrIman nAthamuni, hailed it as equivalent to middle part of thriumanthram! In this prabandham – madhurakavi AzhwAr says “dhEvumaRRaRiyEn kurugUr nambi, pAvin innisai pAdith thirivanE” – that he does not know any Lord other than his AchArya kurugUr nambi and he will spend his time by singing the glories of his AchArya and the prabandhams sung by his AchArya! Thus, he establishes AchArya bhakthi as greater than bhagavath bhakthi and hence madhurakavi AzhwAr is greater than other AzhwArs! Our pUrvAchAryas desired to be like madhurakavi AzhwAr and vaduga nambi! For vaduga nambi, emperumAnAr was everything! For madhurakavi AzhwAr, nammAzhwAr was everything!

There are 11 pAsurams in this prabandham. nammAzhwAr’s glories are brought out well in this prabandham! In this pAsuram “mikka vEdhiyar, vEdhaththin utporuL …” AzhwAr says, those well versed in vEdhas, did not accept him due to his ignorance. However, nammAzhwAr accepted him without any reservations and gave him all the right knowledge with utmost compassion! He reformed me the right way! “payananRAgilum pAngallar Agilum, seyal nanRAgath thiruththi paNi koLvAn” – Even though I was not useful in any way, nammAzhwAr reformed me and made adiyEn eligible to do kainkaryams .

He also goes on to state that nammAzhwAr’s grace is greater than that of emperumAn and also greater than any kind of grace that one can benefit from this world! emperumAn gave us SrI bhagavath gIthA, which is difficult to understand and can only be studied by a qualified few! However, AzhwAr gave us thiruvAimozhi, which is easy to understand and can be learnt by all!

In the last pAsuram, he says “those who agree with the views of AchArya bhakthi as expressed by adiyEn , who is very dear to my AchArya, who in turn is very dear to emperumAn, will surely get to reach vaikuNtam”. Here, our pUrvAchAryas give a beautiful commentary! Why did madhurakavi say that those who believe and chant this prabandham will get vaikuNtam? He could have said that they will get thirukurugUr which is the residence of nammAzhwAr? The commentators like azhagiya maNavALap perumAL nAyanAr, say that, thirukurugUr is ruled by both Adhip pirAn emperumAn and nammAzhwAr. However, vaikuNtam is ruled only by nammAzhwAr, as SrI vaikuNtam is ruled by vAnavar or adiyArs of emperumAn. Also, it is pointed out that madhurakavi AzhwAr has dharSan of emperumAn only because that will please his AchArya and not because he wants to get the grace of emperumAn.Thus, this is a very precious prabandham that speaks the glories of nammAzhwAr and hence is considered equivalent to namaha after praNavam (thiruppallANdu). The rest of the prabandhams will speak of the glory of emperumAn – His divine play and his kalyANa guNas.


adiyen vidhyA rAmAnuja dAsi

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