Simple guide to dhivyaprabandham – Part 5 (mudhal, iraNdAm, mUnRAm, nAnmugan thiruvandhAdhi)

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dhivya prabandham is also called aruLichcheyal. prabandham means one that binds. AzhwAr’s prabandhams have the ability to bind emperumAn Himself to adiyArgaLs/devotees and it helps adiyArgaLs/devotees to engage in bhagavad vishayam and binds them to emperumAn.Hence called prabandham. dhivya prabandham is not bound by the flaws of the samsAric material world, it helps one to engage in flawless, pure divinity.

Even though vEdha is one body of SAsthram, vEdha vyAsa divided it into 4 parts, to make it easier for people to follow.

vEdha vyAsa split the vedas into 4 parts. rig;yajur; sAma and atharvaNa.

Similarly nAthamunigaL divided the dhivya prabandham into 4 parts. mudhal Ayiram (First Thousand) ; iraNdAm Ayiram (Second Thousand) , iyaRpA/mUnRAm Ayiram (Third Thousand) and nAngAm Ayiram (Fourth Thousand).

The 4 parts of the dhivya prabandhams:

  • In the first thousand – he put the works of periyAzhwAr; ANdAL nAchiyAr; kulaSEkhara AzhwAr; thondaradipodi AzhwAr; thiruppAn AzhwAr, madhurakavi AzhwAr and thirumazhisai AzhwAr (thiruchandavirutham) .
  • In the second thousand, nAthamunigaL placed, periya thirumozhi, thirukurunthAndakam; thirunedunthAndakam.
  • In the third thousand- he placed the iyaRpA – prose form. Typically there is no rAgam, thAlam for pAsurams in the iyaRpA. There are 3 parts to literature in tamizh:

○ iyal (gadhyam in sanskrit) – means no song; prose form.

○ isai – that can be set in musical Form

○ nAtakam – play/drama

  • In the fourth thousand, nAthamunigaL placed thiruvAimozhi, nammAzhwAr’s work.

dhivya prabandham is considered the pulse of our SrI vaishaNava sampradhAyam. nammAzhwAr is considered as the leader of AzhwArs.

nammAzhwAr’s works are considered equivalent to the 4 vEdhas, upanishaths, ithihAsas, purANas

  • thiruviruththam – 100 verses – equivalent to rig vEdha
  • thiruvAsiriyam-7 verses – equivalent to yajur Veda
  • periya thiruvandhAdhi – 87 verses -equivalent to atharvaNa vEdha
  • thiruvAimozhi – 1102 verses – equivalent to sAma vEdha

Like how vEdhas have 6 angas or auxiliaries, thirumangai AzhwAr’s works are considered the 6 angas to nammAzhwAr’s 4 works. The six angas of vEdha are: (1) SikShA (articulation or pronunciation of words), (2) vyAkaraNa (grammar), (3) chandhas (poetic metrics), (4) niruktham (etymology), (5) jyOthisham (astrology) and (6) kalpam (rituals).

All the other prabandhams are considered angas/auxiliaries to nammAzhwAr’s work.

The intent of dhivya prabandham is to make us perform mangalASasanam to emperumAn. The more we keep chanting AzhwArs works, we are doing mangalASaSanams to emperumAn.

ponnadikkAl jIyar in his thiruppAvai sVApadhESam says, by chanting thiruppavai daily, we are glorifying the guru paramparai and dhvaya mahA manthram and doing mangalASaSanam.

All of aruLichcheyal is specifically there for archAvathAra anubhavam. This is clearly explained by azhagiya maNavALap perumAL nAyanAr in AchArya hrudhayam chUrNikai 70. Here, in this chUrNikai, nAyanAr makes a table of pramANam and pramEyam based on the vEdha vEdhya nyAyam (this principle explains that vEdham took the avathAram of SrI rAmAyaNam to explain emperumAn who took the avathAram of SrI rAman).

  • vEdham speaks about emperumAn’s parathvam (paramapadha nAthan)
  •  SrI pAncharAthram speaks about vyUha emperumAn.
  • manu smruthi, etc. speak about antharyAmi emperumAn.
  •  SrI rAmAyaNam and mahAbhAratham speak about vibhavAvathArams like SrI rAman and krishNan.
  •  aruLichcheyal (also known as dhrAvida vEdham or thamizh vEdham) speaks about archAvathAra emperumAns.

emperumAn handpicked a few jIvAthmAs from leelA vibhUthi, showed them His divine beauty and qualities, gave them blemishless knowledge through which they can see past, present and future and made them AzhwArs. AzhwAr literally means one who is immersed in bhagavad vishayam.

iyaRpA is generally recited during puRappAdu (ceremonial procession of uthsava deity of emperumAn).


In thamizh literature we have three categories viz. iyal, isai and nAdagam

  • iyal – typically not sung with music, and is not put to musical format.
  • Isai – isai is normally set to rAgam and thALam. mudhal Ayiram, iraNdAm Ayiram and thiruvAimozhi (nangAm Ayiram) are in isai pA format. For these 3000 prabandhams, the rAgam and thAlam, has been defined.
  • nAtakam is drama

iyaRpA is the third set of 1000 pAsurams. The prabandhams in the iyaRpA section are the following:

  • mudhal thiruvandhAdhi – poigai AzhwAr
  • iraNdAm thiruvandhAdhi – bhUthaththAzhwAr
  • mUnRAm thiruvandhAdhi – pEyAzhwAr
  • nAnumugan thiruvandhAdhi – thirumazhisai AzhwAr
  • thiruviruththam – nammAzhwAr
  • thiuvAsiriyam – nammAzhwAr
  • periya thiruvandhAdhi – nammAzhwAr
  • thiruvezhukURRirukkaithirumangai AzhwAr
  • siRiya thirumadal – thirumangai AzhwAr
  • periya thirumadal – thirumangai AzhwAr
  • rAmAnusa nURRandhAdhi – thiruvarangaththu amudhanAr

In mudhal Ayiram, thirupallANdu is sung at the beginning, however the first prabandham that was created was poigai AzhwAr’s mudhal thiruvandhAdhi.

periyavAchAn piLLai in his vyAkhyanam highlights that each AzhwAr has their focus on different types of manifestations of emperumAn. He summarizes that

  • SukAchAryar, etc and mudhalAzhwArgaL (poigaiyAr, bhUthathAr, pEyAr) are immersed in parathvam.
  • sanakAthigaL (sanaka, sanAthana, sanandhana, sanathkumAra) and thirumazhisaip pirAn are immersed in antharyAmithvam.
  • vAlmIki, kulaSEkhara AzhwAr are immersed in rAmAvathAram.
  • parASara rishi, vEdha vyAsa rishi, nammAzhwAr, periyAzhwAr and ANdAL are immersed in krishNAvathAram.
  • nAradhar, thoNdaradippodi AzhwAr and thiruppANAzhwAr are immersed in SrIranganAthan.
  • Saunakar and thirumangai AzhwAr are immersed in all archAvathArams.

Even though each AzhwAr has different focus, they are unanimously enjoying archAvathAram through their mangaLASAsanams in their pAsurams.

mudhal AzhwArs

poigai AzhwAr was born in a pond near thiruvekkA yathOkthakAri temple. bhUthaththAzhwAr was born in a pond near thirukkadalmallai sthalasayanap perumAL temple. pEyAzhwAr was born in a well near thirumayilai kEsava perumAL temple.

All the 3 AzhwArs are usually glorified together because of the following reasons.

  • They were all born a day after each other in sequence – poigaiyAr, bhuthaththAr, pEyar. They were born in the time period between the end of dhvApara yugam and the beginning of kali yugam (yuga sandhi – transition period – see in the bottom for details).
  • They were all ayOnijars – one who is not born from a human mother. They all appeared from flowers by the divine mercy of emperumAn.
  • They were attached to emperumAn right from their birth – they were fully/divinely blessed by emperumAn and were fully enjoying bhagavath anubhavam throughout their life.
  • At some point in their life, they met each other and from then onwards they stayed together and they traveled together to various dhivya dhEsams/kshEthrams. They are also called “Odith thiriyum yOgigaL” (ஓடித் திரியும் யோகிகள்) – the yOgis who are always doing pilgrimage.

All the 3 AzhwArs were born in different locations and were enjoying emperumAn thoroughly. emperumAn who considers his adiyArs as his life (gIthai – jnAni thu Athma Eva mE matham) wanted to see them all together. So he made a divine arrangement to bring all three of them to thirukkOvalUr in the night time.

It was raining heavily and one by one started arriving at a small hut where one can lie down, two can sit and three can stand. poigai AzhwAr came first and he was able to lie down. When bhuthath AzhwAr arrived, they were able to sit and at the arrival of pEy AzhwAr all 3 were able to stand.

When they got into the hut there was just enough space for the 3 of them to stand. Being completely situated in bhagavath bhAvam (mood), they started inquiring about each other.

Normally in the material world everyone wants their personal space, it can be seen from the incident of these three mudhal AzhwArs, how they were happy to give space and share the space with each other. They were focused on the Athma and not the body. They were focused on bhagavath vishayam and they did not focus on the body, but they were focused on the soul.

emperumAn thought “what a beautiful sathsangam, I had brought them here, so I can be with these adiyArs”, and so He went with thAyar to this beautiful sathsangam. Thus, when they were sharing their divine anubhavams, emperumAn with thirumAmagaL (SrI mahAlakshmi) suddenly entered the hut where it was very dark.

Now, wanting to see who arrived…

mudhal thiruvandhAdhi:

poigai AzhwAr lit the place using the world as a lamp, the ocean as the oil and the sun as the light.

**vaiyam thagaLiyA * vArkadalE neyyAga*
veyya kadhirOn viLakkAga **- seyya
sudarAziyAn adikkE * sUttinEn sol mAlai*
idarAzhi nIngugavE1 enRu

He adorns emperumAn with these beautiful words. The ocean of sorrow will disappear when we think of emperumAn.

There are 3 kinds of pramANam which give us knowledge.

  • prathyaksha – direct sense perception
  • anumAna – inference
  • Sabdha – vEdham -whatever is given in vEdhas is ultimate.

prathyaksha – direct sense perception – one we get by seeing or by listening. Direct evidence has its limitations because our senses are not perfect. We see the sun every day, and to us it appears small like the sun disc, but it is huge, far, far larger than planets.

anumAna – deciphering based on experience. When we are cooking we see fire and smoke together. When we see smoke in the mountain we infer that fire must be close by. This is not by direct evidence, and we are making an observation based on inference.

Sabdham – verbal testimony. vEdhas existforever, vEdhas are considered the most authoritative.

poigai AzhwAr, used anumAnam in this first pAsuram. We see the beautiful world; it must have been created by someone, not by itself. Created by someone, there is the earth, the ocean, the sun and the sun is giving us sun rays. Seeing this, he deducted that there is a creator creating all of these. So he used anumAna pramAnam here.

Now a question may come, anumAnam has limitations, for which nampiLLai explains in his commentary that “Sruthikku anukUlamAga irukkum anumAnaththai ERRuk koLLalAm “ which means, what is aligned and supports SAsthras can be accepted.

vEdham says bhagavAn creates and only because of bhagavAn’s creation do we have this world. poigai Azhwar through his anumAnam in the first pAsuram reinforces that and hence this is accepted.

In pAsuram 15, mudhal thiruvandhAdhi

mudhalAvAr mUvarE* am mUvaruLLum*
mudhalAvAn* mUri nIr vaNNan**- mudhalAya
nallAn aruL allAl* nAmanIr vaiyagaththu*
pallAr aruLum pazhudhu

This pAsuram establishes emperumAn’s supremacy.

brahmA, vishNu and Siva are all primary dhEvathAs. Out of the three, the one who has the color of the vast ocean is the cause of all. Apart from His grace, which is what we need, the grace of the dhEvathAs is of no use as they cannot give liberation. This establishes emperumAn’s supremacy.

In pAsuram 53,

**senRAl kudaiyAm irundhAl singAsanamAm*
ninRAl maravadiyAm nIL kadaluL** – enRum
puNaiyAm maNiviLakkAm* pUm pattAm pulgum
aNaiyAm* thirumARku aravu

For emperumAn who is with pirAtti (SrI mahAlakshmi), thiruvananthAzhwAn AdhiSEshan,is an umbrella when (emperumAn) goes out, (he) is the throne when he sits, (he) is the divine sandals when emperumAn stands,whenever emperumAn reclines (he) is the float in the expansive ocean, (he) is the auspicious lamp, (he) is the beautiful divine dress , (he) is the pillow that emperumAn embraces.

We understand the kainkaryams performed by AdhiSEshan through this pAsuram. dhEvas approach emperumAn asking for benefits, from this pAsuram we understand that emperumAn enjoys all the services AdhiSEshan performed to Him, because he performs them without any expectations from emperumAn and just for His pleasure. emperumAn accepts all kainkaryams done for Him with love.

**Oradiyum sAdudhaiththa* oN malarch chEvadiyum*
Iradiyum kANalAm en nenjE !** – Oradiyil
thAyavanaik kEsavanaith * thaNduzhAy mAlai sEr*
mAyavanaiyE manaththu vai.

In the final pAsuram of mudhal thiruvandhAdhi , AzhwAr says “ O mind, keep within yourself the Lord who performs amazing acts, the One who measured all the worlds, who killed asura kEsi … you will be able to see the divine feet , the feet that measured the world and the feet that kicked the demon, chakatAsura”. Through this pAsuram, we understand that emperumAn is both the goal and the means.

emperumAn is the owner of the lIlA and the nithya vibUthi. This knowledge of para jnAnam is highlighted in mudhal thiruvandhAdhi.

irandAm thiruvandhAdhi

In Pasuram 1, of iraNdAm thiruvandhAdhi,

anbE thagaLiyA * ArvamE neyyAga *
inburugu sindhai idu thiriyA ** – nanburugi
gyAnach chudar viLakku ERRinEn * nAraNaRku *
gyAnath thamizh purindha nAn

Azhwar is mentioning servitorship born out of affection thinking about the qualities of emperumAn and that He is the one to be attained. I dedicate myself to the service of the Lord by singing this song that blesses wisdom, with love as lamp, endearing involvement as the ghee and the knowledge as the wick.Through bhakthi and love he is glorifying emperumAn. bhakthi is the higher level of knowledge. para bhakthi is highlighted in iraNdAm thiruvandhAdhi.

In pasuram 21 of irandAm thiruvandhAdhi

thAmuLarE * tham uLLam uLLuLadhE * thAmaraiyin
pUvuLadhE * Eththum pozhudhuNdE ** – vAman
thirumaruvu * thAL maruvu senniyarE * sevvE
arunaragam sErvadhu aridhu

Here, AzhwAr is saying, in order to worship emperumAn, we have the physical body and the senses, we have the mind, we have lotus flower to offer, we have the time to glorify Him, we have vAmana mUrthi, who has His divine feet on our head, we have our head to offer to Him. why then are we not glorifying emperumAn? It is strange!!

In the final pAsuram 100 of irandAm thiruvandhAdhi

mAlE ! nediyOnE ! kaNNanE! * viNNavarkku
mElA ! * viyan thuzhAyk kaNNiyanE! ** – mEnAL
viLavinkAy * kanRinAl vIzhththavanE ! * enRan
aLavanRAl yAnudaiya anbu

AzhwAr is saying

“Oh one who is affectionate (towards His followers)!, Oh one who cannot be estimated [as this much]!,Oh!one who is the lord of nithyasUris! Oh one who is adorning the thuLasi garland! Oh one who was born as krishNa!, the affection that i have towards You has grown too big.”

mUnRAm thiruvandhAdhi: 

pEyAzhwar got the darshanam of the lamp that poigai Azhwar and bhUthath Azhwar lit.

In the 1st pasuram of mUnRAm thiruvandhAdhi,

thirukkaNdEn * ponmEni kaNdEn * thigazhum
arukkan aNi nirRamum kaNdEn ** – serukkiLarum
ponnAzhi kaNdEn * purisangam kaikkaNdEn *
ennAzhi vaNNan pAL inRu

Here, AzhwAr glorifies how emperumAn and thAyAr show their divine form to AzhwAr. This prabandham is beautiful in that in the 1st and the last pAsuram, thiru is mentioned. In pAsuram 2, here AzhwAr says ,

inRE kazhal kaNdEn * Ezh piRappum yAn aRuththEn *
pon thOy varai mArbil pUndhuzhAy ** – anRu
thirukkaNdu koNda * thirumAlE !* unnai
marukkaNdu koNdu en manam

Here, he glorifies the lotus feet of emperumAn

In pAsuram 16

**vandhu udhaiththa veN thiraigaL* sembavaLa veN muththam*
andhi viLakkum aNi viLakkAm** – endhai
oruvallithth thAmaraiyAL * onRiya sIr mArvan*
thiruvallikkENiyAn senRu

Here, AzhwAr glorifies the emperumAn in thiruvallikkENi.

In pAsuram 57

polindhu iruNda kAr vAnil * minnE pOl thOnRi*
malindhu thiruvirundha mArvan** -polindha
garudan mEl kaNda* kariyAn kazhalE*
theruL thanmEl kaNdAy theLi.

In this pAsuram, he glorifies garuda sEvai and glorifies emperumAn, on garudAzhwAr. vEdha purushan is emperumAn, garudAzhwAr glorifies his parathvam.

In the final pasuram of mUnRAm thiruvandhAdhi

**sArvu namakkenRum chakkaraththAn* thaN thuzhAyth
thArvAzh* varaimArvan thAn muyangum** – kArArndha
vAn amarum min imaikkum* vaN thAmarai nedungaN*
thEnamarum pUmEl thiru

periya pirAtti is our refuge. The one who holds periya pirAtti in His heart, is our shelter. So he starts and ends with thAyAr.

nAnmugan thiruvandhAdhi:

While mudhal AzhwArs established that emperumAn is the only person to be perceived and enjoyed, thirumazhisai AzhwAr removes the weeds in that process. What is the weed for experiencing emperumAn? Worshipping other deities becomes the primary weed to be removed for enjoying emperumAn. In this divine hymn nAnmugan thiruvandhAdhi, he explains to the samsAris who perceive other dhEvathAs as ISvara, that these other dhEvathAs are also controlled by emperumAn. He explains that SrIman nArAyaNa is the only controller of the entire universe.

The thaniyan of nAnmugan thiruvandhAdhi says:

nArayaNan padaiththAn nAnmuganai * nAnmuganukku
ErAr sivan piRandhAn ennum sol ** – sIrAr
mozhi seppi vAzhalAm nenjamE!* moy pU
mazhisaip parAn adiyE vAzhththu

” nArAyaNa created brahmA and to this brahmA was born Siva . The one who gave us this beautiful pAsuram, is the great thirumazhisai AzhwAr who was born in the flower – garden city of mazhisai”

In pAsuram 35

**thALAl ulagam * aLandha asaivE kol?*
vALA kidandharuLum vAy thiRavAn **- nILOdham
vandhalaikkum mAmayilai * mAvallikkENiyAn *
aindhalai vAy nAgaththaNai

thiruvallikENi emperumAn is glorified. The one who is reclining on AdhiSEshan, because you measured the worlds, are you taking rest? Have you taken residence at the great thiruvallikkENi which is in the great thirumayilai where waves come and lap your resting place.

In pAsuram 43

mangul thOy senni * vada vEngadaththAnai*
kangul pugundhArgaL* kAppaNivAn** – thingaL
sadai ERa vaiththAnum * thAmarai mElAnum *
kudai ERath thAnguviththuk koNdu

emperumAn is glorified and mangalASAsanams are done by all dhEvathAs when they are in sathva mode. All accessories to the kainkaryam are taken and used for mangalASAsanams for perumAL.

In pAsuram 68

thiRambEnmin kaNdIr* thiruvadi than nAmam*
maRandhum puRam thozhA mAndhar **- iRainjiyum
sAdhuvarAyp*pOmingaL enRAn * namanum than
thUdhuvaraik kUvich chevikku

Three AzhwArs highlighted the parathvam of emperumAn. thirumazhisai AzhwAr highlights that one should worship only emperumAn and no other dhEvathAs. Here the yama kinkara samvAdham is highlighted. yaman tells his associates not to go to SrI vaishNavas.

SrI vaishNavas may even forget emperumAn’s feet, but they will not go and worship other dhEvathAs.

In the 96th pAsuram

iniyaRindhEn* IsaRkum nAnmugaRkum dheyvam*
iniyaRindhEn emperumAn! unnai ** – iniyaRindhEn
kAraNan nI kaRRavai nI * kaRpavai nI * naRkirisai
nAraNan nI nangaRindhEn nAn

Oh my Lord, I firmly understand that you are the Lord of brahmA and rudrAn. I know Your basic nature, You are the cause of everything, You are all the entities learnt before, and all the entities to be learnt in future. You are the one who protects all, You are my nArAyANa.

So with this, we have seen the brief introduction to mudhal, irandAm, mUnRAm and nAnmugan thiruvandhAdhi.


adiyen smirthi rAmAnuja dAsan

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