thiruchchandha viruththam – pAsuram 75 – onRi ninRu

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avathArikai (Introduction)

In the previous pAsuram, AzhwAr had said “Either through surrendering to emperumAn, considering him as the means and end-goal or through reciting his divine names, treating that [the recitation] itself as the end benefit, one can get rid of the hurdles which prevent his mercy from reaching him / her and one can easily attain emperumAn”. Starting from this pAsuram, for seven pAsurams, he mercifully says “If one were to attain him through his / her efforts, it will be very difficult”. In this pAsuram, he says that starting with karma yOgam (path of deeds) until parama bhakthi (ability to sustain oneself only in the presence of emperumAn), it is difficult to attain emperumAn through one’s efforts.

onRi ninRu naRRavam seydhu Uzi Uzhi thORellAm
ninRu ninRavan guNangaL uLLi uLLam thUyarAych
chenRu senRu dhEvadhEvar umbar umbar umbarAy
anRi engaL sengaNmAlai yAvar kANa vallarE

Word-by-Word Meanings

onRi ninRu – engaging the mind
nal thavam seydhu – carrying out good penance, without expecting any benefit
Uzhi Uzhi thORellAm – for many kalpams (a long duration of time)
ninRu ninRu – gradually
avan guNangaL – the qualities (of emperumAn who is most pious)
uLLi – meditating upon
uLLam thUyarAy – having a pure heart
senRu senRu – reaching in an orderly way till the status of meditation
umbar umbar umbarAy anRi – other than reaching the states of parabhakthi (knowing about emperumAn), paragyAnam (seeing emperumAn) and paramabhakthi (living only if together with emperumAn, perishing otherwise)
dhEvadhEvar – as the controller of nithyasUris (permanent dwellers of SrI vaikuNtam)
engaL – our (those who have surrendered to emperumAn)
sengaNmAlai – affectionate one with eyes which are like a reddish lotus
yAvar kANa vallar – who is capable of seeing

Simple Translation

Other than engaging the mind, meditating for a long time on the auspicious qualities of emperumAn, and carrying out penance without expecting any benefit, with a pure heart, reaching in an orderly way the states of parabhakthi (having knowledge about emperumAn), paragyAnam (seeing emperumAn) and parama bhakthi (living only in the presence of emperumAn or perishing in his absence), it is not possible to attain emperumAn. Who is capable of seeing that emperumAn, who is the controller of nithyasUris, who is affectionate towards his followers, who has eyes which are like reddish lotus and to whom we have surrendered?

vyAkyAnam (Commentary)

onRi ninRu – Just as arjuna had said, as in bhagavath gIthA SlOkam 6-34 “chanchalam hi mana: krishNa pramAthi balavadh dhrudam l thasyA’ham nigraham manyE vAyOriva sudhushkaram ll” (Oh krishNa! Mind is unstable, bewildering, strong (towards worldly matters) and wavering. I think that it is difficult to be controlled just as it is difficult to control the flow of wind), since mind is deeply engaged with worldly matters such as Sabdham (sound, form etc), it is difficult to retrieve it saying “Only emperumAn is apt to be attained” and engaging with emperumAn with that mind.

nal thavam seydhu – the word thapas (penance) here is symbolic of deeds such as yagyam (rituals), dhAnam (bestowing to the needy) etc just as it has been said in bhruhadhAraNyaka upanishath 6-4-22 “thamEtham vEdhAnuvachanEna brAhmaNA vividhishanthi yagyEna dhAnEna thapasA’nASakEna l” (wise men who are knowledgeable about emperumAn, desire to know about emperumAn through reciting vEdhas (sacred texts), yagyam (rituals), dhAnam (donating alms), thapas (penance (which does not expect any benefit in the result)); bhagavath gIthA SlOkam 18-5 “yagyO dhAnam thapa: karma na thyAjyam kAryamEva thath l yagyO dhAnam thapa: karma bhAvanAni manIshiNAm ll” (Deeds such as rituals, donation, penance are not apt to be given up; they are to be necessarily carried out. (This is because such deeds purify a person)). The word naRRavam refers to the karmayOgam (path of deed) which is carried out after giving up the thoughts that “This is my deed, the benefit for this deed belongs to me and this deed is carried out by me”, keeping in the forefront true knowledge about jIvAthmA and paramAthmA.

Uzhi Uzhi thORelAm – just as it takes a long time for dirt to destroy a new dress, it would take a long time for removing the sins which act as hurdles in practising bhakthi yOgam (path of devotion) through karmas (deeds). This is buttressed by lagvathri smruthi SlOkam “janmAnthara sahasrEshu thapOgyAna samAdhibhi: l narANAm kshINa pApAnAm krishNE bhakthi: prajAyathE ll” (After observing karma yOgam and gyAna yOgam during tens of thousands of births, (for those who have overcome hurdles which are inimical to the starting of bhakthi yOgam) devotion towards krishNa will happen)

ninRu ninRu avan guNangaL uLLi – meditating on the auspicious qualities of emperumAn who is the most pious and who destroys the sins of those who meditate on him, gradually.

ninRu ninRu – while describing the seven means towards engaging with devotion through firm meditation, brahmanandhi vAkyam says “thallabhdhi: vivEka-vimOha-abhyAsa-kriyA-kalyANa-anavasAdha-anudhdharshEbhya” (devotion through stable meditation occurs through 1) vivEkam (cleanliness in body resulting from eating proper food), 2) vimOham (detachment), 3) abhyAsam (frequent meditation), 4) kriyai (carrying out karmas, deeds), 5) kalyANa (qualities of AthmA), 6) anavasAdham (without mental fatigue) and 7) anudhdharsham (without excessive mental happiness)). Through these seven steps and through continuous meditation, one should meditate on the auspicious qualities of AthmA.

uLLam thUyarAy – through karma yOgam mentioned earlier and through meditating on the auspicious qualities of emperumAn, getting a purified mind just as it has been said in vyAsa smruthi “manasAthu viSudhdhEna” (only through a pure mind could (emperumAn) be known) and as said in SrI bhAshyam “manasA grAhya:” (paramAthmA is known through (pure) mind).

senRu senRu – gradually reaching till the stage of meditating on emperumAn without any break, just as it has been mentioned in chAndhOgya upanishath 7-26 2 “AhAra Sudhdhau sathva Sudhdhi: sathva Sudhdhau dhruvA smruthi: l smruthi lambhE sarvagranthInAm vipramOksha: ll” (by taking pure [ordained] food, mind gets purified; once mind becomes pure, firm thought about AthmadhyAna (meditating on emperumAn) stage is reached; once that happens, all the knots such as avidhya (ignorance) etc get loosened) and just as it has been said in bruhadhAraNyaka upanishath 6-5-6 “AthmA vA arE dhrashtavya: SrOthavya: manthavyO: nidhidhyAsithavya:” (AthmA (here the word AthmA refers to paramAthmA, the supreme being) is apt to be heard, to be thought of and to be meditated upon; it is apt to be seen).

dhEvadhEvarumbarumbarumbarAyanRi – unless one reaches gradually the stages of parabhakthi (acquiring knowledge about emperumAn), paragyAnam (seeing emperumAn) and parama bhakthi (sustaining oneself only in the presence of emperumAn and perishing in his absence), which have been mercifully showered on nithyasUris by their swAmy (emperumAn)

engaL sengaN mAlai – one who has reddish lotus eyes, who is affectionate towards us who have surrendered to him, by treating him as our means. The term engaL could be considered as referring to the other AzhwArs or it could be considered as referring to people like kaNikaNNan who have taken refuge under him, and who have taken the path of surrendering to emperumAn. Since he has used the term sengaNmAl, just as it has been said in jithanthE SlOkam 1-1 “jithanthE puNdarIkAksha namasthE viSvabhAvana l namasthE’sthu hrushIkESa mahApurusha pUrvaja: ll” (Oh one who has eyes which are like reddish lotus! (This Athma entity) has been won over by you; (this) is not mine; Oh one who created the worlds! Oh one who controls all the sensory perceptions! Oh one who is magnanimous! Let this (Athma entity) remain only for you and not for me), it is indicated here that emperumAn, starting with developing an interest in him and ending with parama bhakthi, creates involvement in them [AzhwAr and others], through his distinguished mercy.

yAvar kANa vallarE – who could see him, just as we, who had nothing with us, had seen him only through his mercy? One should add the previous lines and get the meaning – other than gradually reaching the stage of parama bhakthi which is the stage of nithyasUris, a stage which they had been granted by emperumAn, who could see our sengaNmAl (affectionate entity with eyes which are like reddish lotus), who is the lord of nithyasUris? Thus, it is indicated here that it is difficult to see emperumAn by observing means such as karma yOgam and that even if one were to attain him through that means, it would not equal the state reached by AzhwAr et al who had seen him through emperumAn’s causeless mercy.

Next, we will take up the 76th pAsuram of this prabandham.

adiyEn krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan

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