Simple guide to dhivyaprabandham – Part 8 (thiruvAimozhi)

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

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We have gone through the introduction of what dhivya prabandham is and how we got them. It is by our AchArya’s grace, we have come to know that the works of AzhwArs are called dhivya prabandham. Our AchAryas have highlighted that it was due to emperumAn’s divine grace that an AthmA/jIva was picked from the samsAra to give the pAsurams also known as aruLichcheyal.

What is aruLichcheyal:

aruLichcheyal is a beautiful word in thamizh language. aruLichcheyal means that which was made and given by the divine grace (aruLAle seyyap pattadhu). If one may ask by whose grace(aruL)? it is by our emperumAn’s grace. It was by His grace AzhwArs sang the glories of emperumAn. Interestingly it can also be said as AzhwAr’s grace because it was completely their experience. All the AzhwArs could have had the divine experiences within their hearts and could have ascended to paramapadham. But it was because of their divine grace they have given the experience in the form of these pAsurams.Though AzhwArs gave the pAsurams, it was lost in time and it was SrIman nAthamunigaL who approached nammAzhwAr and revived it. So, it can also be said as AchArya’s grace (aruL). As it is fully filled with the divine grace of all of them – emperumAn ,AzhwArs and our AchAryas, this is called aruLichcheyal.

jIvanam and ujjIvanam:

All the AthmAs have been in this samsAra for a long period, undergoing the cycle of birth and death. kaNNan emperumAn says in the bhagavath gIthA to arjuna that :”You and I have taken many, many births but, arjuna, the difference is, I am well aware of all the births that I take but you do not know any of yours”. arjuna is the representative for all the AthmAs, so we can understand that all the AthmAs have been going through this innumerable cycle of birth and death for eternity (anAdhi kAlam).

In our sanAthana dharma, anAdhi refers to not having a beginning. ISwaran is anAdhi, AthmA is anAdhi and samsAram too is anAdhi. All of the above mentioned are beyond the concept of time (kAla). We have only seen things within the concept of time, which has a beginning and an end. Thus we tend to misunderstand that AthmAs were created at a certain time period. This concept or idea that AthmA was created at a particular time totally goes against vEdham.

When AthmA is anAdhi, its karma should also be anAdhi and samsAram should also be anAdhi. We are within this samsAra for anAndhi kAlam taking millions of births. We have to get ourselves out of this cycle of repeated birth and death which will give us ujjIvanam. Just living one’s life only for the sake of taking care of the body is called jIvanam – only surviving not knowing the purpose of one’s very existence. ujjIvanam, on the other hand, aims at what benefits the AthmA/jIva rather than the deteriorating body (The nature or aim of an AthmA is to be subservient to emperumAn).

Even during all those periods when we were in this samsAra, covered with ignorance,emperumAn is trying to help us. After many, many lifetimes, we will get AchArya sambandham. That too, only because of emperumAn’s divine grace. We don’t have the capacity to help ourselves get out of samsAra. Our AzhwArs and AchAryas have said how very dangerously distracting this world is, so even a small spiritual involvement of an AthmA is done by emperumAn’s grace.

All that an AthmA can do is try not to stop the krupai of emperumAn. emperumAn is constantly showing us the ways to attain him. For example: A father is always ready to help his son, even though the son sharply says that he doesn’t want his father’s help, the father out of his affection, if not directly, at least indirectly will see to it that his son is provided with all the help that is needed. Likewise, emperumAn is always thinking of helping the AthmA’s ujjIvanam, even if the AthmA is ignorant (avidhyA). All this information is given to us by AzhwArs in their pAsurams.

So far, we have seen mudhal, irandAm and mUnRAm Ayiram (first three thousands). In the mUnRAm Ayiram, we saw thiruviruththam, periya thiruvandhAdhi and thiruvAsiriyam. Let us indulge ourselves into the brief experience of thiruvAimozhi.

Significance of thiruvAimozhi

thiruvAimozhi is celebrated as sAma vEdha sAram and as chAndhogya upanishath sAram. Like how sAma vEdham is musical, thiruvAimozhi is also very musical. First, let us see why we got thiruvAimozhi. nammAzhwAr himself says in one of his pAsurams (enRaikkum ennai uyyakkoNdu pOgiya), how emperumAn blessed AzhwAr and gave this divine opportunity to AzhwAr and made him sing the glories of emperumAn through thiruvAimozhi.

mAmunigaL also mentions about this in thiruvAimozhi nURRandhAdhi – “enRanai nI ingu vaiththadhu Edhukkena mAlum enRanakkum en thamarkkum inbamadhAm”- meaning – AzhwAr asks emperumAn – “why have you placed me in this world? emperumAn replies – Myself and my adiyArs derive divine pleasure listening to your pAsurams and that’s the only reason for keeping you here”. In thiruviruththam, AzhwAr has already expressed that his separation from emperumAn was unbearable. It is emperumAn’s divine will to get the pAsurams from AzhwAr, he prolonged the stay of AzhwAr which resulted in thiruvAimozhi. By doing so emperumAn wanted to help the AthmAs in the samsAra to gain ujjIvanam. Going back to mAmuni’s thiruvAimozhi nURRandhAdhi, the reply of emperumAn melted AzhwAr’s divine heart and AzhwAr feels completely indebted towards emperumAn’s divine will and grace (anugraham) on AzhwAr.

AzhwAr himself says in one of his pAsurAms that he has given this amrutham (thiruvAimozhi) to adiyArs through a garland which is made of words so that all the adiyArs can relish it (thoNdarkku amudhu uNNa sol mAlaigaL sonnEn) in thiruvAimozhi.

madhurakavi AzhwAr says in his pAsuram – nAvinAl naviRRu inbam eydhinEn – meaning – adiyEn achieved utmost blissful experience just by reciting my AchAryAr nammAzhwAr’s nectarian pAsurams with my tongue. Our pUrvAchAryas also have explained the divine experience one gets just by reciting thiruvAimozhi, whether one knows the meanings completely or not, one is sure to have a blissful experience, such is nammAzhwAr’s thiruvAimozhi.

In AchArya hrudhayam, nAyanAr mentions how rAmAnujAchArya always refers to thiruvAimozhi while documenting SrI bhAshyam. SrI bhAshyam was a commentary for brahma sUthrams. vEdhavyAsar gave the deepest meanings of the vEdhAntham in sUthram format as brahma sUthram. So, to grasp the intricacies of the brahma sUthrams, rAmAnujar would look into thiruvAimozhi to understand the in depth meanings of vEdhAntham. The important meanings of all of the SAsthrams are given in thiruvAimozhi by nammAzhwAr. From this, we come to know the greatness of thiruvAimozhi.

Brief overview of thiruvAimozhi

In one of the thaniyans of thiruvAimozhi,

mikka iRai nilaiyum meyyAm uyir nilaiyum
thakka neRiyum thadaiyAgith thokkiyalum Uzh vinaiyum
vAzhvinaiyum Odhum
kurugaiyar kOn yAzhin isai vEdhaththiyal

Meaning: The chieftain of kurugUr (AzhwAr thirunagari) is nammAzhwAr and his pAsurams sound like the divine veeNA. Through the pAsurams, he has given the knowledge that emperumAn is superior to all (iRai nilai – paratvam), the true state of the AthmA (uyir nilai) though AthmAs qualitatively are the same, there are innumerable AthmAs in this universe, unlike the mAyAvadha philosophy, which claims that brahman is one and there are no other AthmAs, but here AzhwAr brings out the true state of AthmAs. Then the path or means to attain emperumAn (thakka neRi) is shown. What is the hindrance that is stopping the AthmA in attaining emperumAn (thadaiyAgith thokkiyalum). The main hindrance is due to our past bad deeds (Uzh vinai). After attaining emperumAn the AthmA enjoys nithya kainkaryam/ service towards emperumAn in paramapadham (vAzhvu).

This thaniyan points out the artha panchakam which is shown in thiruvAimozhi pAsurams :

  • paramAthma svarUpam- nature of the supreme-SrIman nArAyana
  • jIvAthma svarUpam – the true nature of jIvAthmA
  • upAya svarUpam – the ways to attain emperumAn
  • virOdhi svarUpam – the hindrance/ obstacles that stop from attaining emperumAn (karma)
  • upEya svarUpam – enjoyment after attaining emperumAn (end result)

In AchArya hrudhayam, nAyanAr explains how artha panchakam is mentioned in thiruvAimozhi. AchArya hrudhayam is a grantham given by azhagiya maNavALap perumAL nAyanAr. AchArya here denotes nammAzhwAr and hrudhayam depicts the divine heart of nammAzhwAr.

This grantham exclusively brings out the meanings of thiruvAimozhi and the glories of nammAzhwAr. For this grantham, maNavALa mAmunigaL has given commentaries. In one of the chUrnikai (mUnRil surukkiya aindhu) mAmunigaL explains how artha panchakam is present within the rahasya thrayam and shows us that the artha panchakam knowledge can be widely seen in thiruvAimozhi.

artha panchakam in thiruvAimozhi

mAmunigaL highlights the specific portions of thiruvAimozhi where artha panchakam knowledge can be distinctly seen.

parasvarUpam : 4 padhigams

AzhwAr has shown the parathvam of emperumAn – his states, qualities and vibUthis etc.

  •  1.1 – uyarvaRa
  •  2.2 – thiNNan
  •  2.8 – aNaivadhu
  •  4.10 – onRum dhEvum

jIvAthma svarUpam : 4 padhigams

 AzhwAr describes the true nature and qualities of the AthmA in these padhigams.

  •  3.7 – payilum
  •  4.8 – ERALum
  •  8.8 – KaNgaL sivandhu
  •  8.9 – karumAnnika malai

virOdhi svarUpam : 4 padhigams 

AzhwAr explains the hindrance in the path that is stopping us from attaining emperumAn.

  •  1.2 – vIdumin
  •  3.9 – sonnAl
  •  4.1 – orunAyagamAy
  •  9.1 – koNda peNdir

upAya svarUpam : 4 padhigams

In these padhigams AzhwAr shows the definite path to attain emperumAn.

  •  5.7 – nORRa nOnbu
  •  5.8 – ArAvamudhE
  •  5.9 – mAnEy nOkku
  •  5.10 – piRandhavARum

upEya svarUpam : 4 padhigams

AzhwAr lays down the prApyam – the ultimate benefit/end result for an AthmA after attaining emperumAn.

  •  2.9 – emmAvIdu
  •  3.3 – ozhivil kAlam
  •  8.10 – nedumARkadimai
  •  10.3 – vEymaruthOL

There are 100 padhigams in thiruvAimozhi, in that the above mentioned 20 padhigams detail the deep meanings of artha panchakam . The remaining 80 padhigams also elaborate in detail the meanings of artha panchakam only, says mAmunigaL in his commentaries of Acharya hrudhayam.

It is due to Acharya’s mercy we are able to see the presence of artha panchakam in thiruvAimozhi otherwise we cannot by any means figure out by ourselves the true meanings of thiruvAimozhi.This is the main reason to bring out Acharyar’s chUrNikai to emphasize the importance and show that one cannot simply understand thiruvAimozhi’s inner meanings without Acharya’s commentaries.

periya perumAL – the epitome of thiruvAimozhi:

From one of the thaniyans of thiruvAimozhi,

vAn thigazhum sOlai madhil arangar vaNpugazh mEl
AnRa thamizh maRaigaL Ayiramum
InRa mudhal thAy satakOpan
moymbAl vaLarththa idhath thAy irAmAnusan

This thaniyan, which was given by parAsara bhattar, declares that thiruvAimozhi was sung on periya perumAL – SrIranganAthan only. nammAzhwAr, as a mother, delivered this thiruvAimozhi which is considered to be the thamizh vEdham and was brought up (widely spread to all) by the foster mother irAmAnusan. These pAsurams are sung on the glories of aranganAthan who is lying inside the fort which is surrounded by lush greenery and tall trees touching the sky.

Only one decad (padhigam) is sung on periya perumAL, which is 7.2 – “kangulum pagalum”, in the whole of thiruvAimozhi. Each pAsuram of that decad depicts one quality of emperumAn. This quality is further elaborated in each decad (one decad depicts one quality). Therefore our pUrvAchAryas explain that these 10 qualities of periya perumAL in 7.2 are further expanded to the whole composition of 100 decads of thiruvAimozhi. Hence we come to the understanding of how periya perumAL is the epitome of thiruvAimozhi.

(Note: 1 paththu (centum) has 10 padhigams, 1 padhigam has 10 pAsurams)

AzhwAr has sung his pAsurams in different bhAvas which is said as – “gyAnaththil than pEchchu” and “prEmaththil peN pEchchu.” Which means : AzhwAr has given pAsurams as SatakOpa himself when he is in the state of full knowledge. When this knowledge gets transformed into the state of extreme love, AzhawAr sings the pAsurams in feminine bhAva: as a nAyaKi, nAyaki’s mother and nAyaki’s friend.

vyAkhyAnams for thiruvAimozhi:

emperumAnAr assigned thirukkuRugaippirAn piLLAn to write commentaries for thiruvAimozhi.This was the first dhivya prabandham to get vyAkhyAnams . Later, many AcharyAs have contributed by giving commentaries for thiruvAimozhi.

thiruvAimozhi has 5 main vyAkhyAnams (commentaries)

  • 6000 padi by thirukkuRugaippirAn piLLAn
  • 9000 padi by nanjIyar
  • Idu 36000 padi by nampiLLai which was documented by vadakkuth thiruvIdhippiLLai
  • 24000 padi by periyavAchchAn piLLai(done by the order of his AcharyAr nampiLLai)
  • 12000 padi (word-by-word meaning) by vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar

(note: 1 padi has 32 aksharams)

maNavALa mAmunigaL, with great enthusiasm, explains the meanings of thiruvAimozhi from the Idu 36000 padi vyAkhyAnams . namperumAL desires to hear the lectures of mAmunigaL and orders him to give the lecture for one whole year right in front of the sanctum in periya kOyil in SrI rangam.

After the completion of the lecture, on the auspicious day of Ani thirumUlam, namperumAL appeared as a small boy and submits the “SrISailESa dhayApAthram” thaniyan and accepts maNavALa mAmunigaL as His own AchArya.

That is how the Idu vyAkhyAnam became well known to all and the glorious thiruvAimozhi was spread far and wide.


adiyen hEmA rAmAnuja dAsi
adiyen vidhyA rAmAnuja dAsi

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