Thirumaaliruncholai – Kilaroli ilamai and Mudichodhi


இந்த பதிவினை தமிழினில் படிக்க இங்கே சொடுக்கவும்.

We are currently trying to go through the experience of Azhwaar, as described in Thiruvaaimozhi, on some of the selected divyadesams.  Initially we  discussed about Thiruvenkadamudaiyaan, followed by Thiruvarangan and then Aaraavamudan of Thirukudanthai / Kumbakonam.   In this weblog, let us try to discuss briefly about what Namazhwaar says on Thirumaaliruncholai, which is traditionally called as The Southern Home of Vaishnava Sampradhayam,  and currently known as Azhagarkovil near Madurai.   

Thirumaaliruncholai is one among the eighteen divyadesams in Paandiya nadu, which are in and around Madurai.   This divyadesam is glorified by our acharyars as “Iruppidam Vaikuntham, Venkadam, Maaliruncholai ennum porupidam Maayanuku enbar nallor“, where Thirumaaliruncholai is put on parallel to Srivaikuntham or paramapadham or abode and Thiruvenkadam, where Vishnu resides.   As we said earlier, Thirumaaliruncholai is called the Southern Home in Srivaishnavam and the other homes are  Thiruvenkadam as North, Thirukannapuram as East and Thiruvarangam as West.  This is appreciated by Thirumangai Azhwaar in his Thirunedunthandagam (10), “ulagamethum thenaanaai, vadavaanaai, kudapaal aanaai, kunapaaladhaayinaai” . 

In Tamil, the words, “maal’ and ‘irumai’ mean the same thing, namely, “glory”. Both the words are used in the divyadesam’s  name, Thirumaaliruncholai.   The word ‘maal’ in Tamil also means, height and the word “irumai” also means vastness in area.   By taking these meanings, the word Thirumaaliruncholai, will mean that it is a hill with many gardens, on a large area with many peaks.

Swami Namazhwaar  had sung the  largest number of hymns (52) for Thiruvenkadamudaiyaan than any other divyadesams.   The second most number of hymns  sung  by Namazhwaar are for Thirumaaliruncholai Azhagar. In the same way, the total number of hymns on Thirumaaliruncholai Azhagar by all azhwaars is 128 and Swami Namazhwaar had sung the maximum for Azhagar. 

The first full pathigam in Thiruvaaimozhi,  for a  divyadesam  by Namazhwaar is only for Thirumaaliruncholai.  “kannaavaan endrum, mannor, vinnoruku thannaar venkada vinnor verpane”  (1.8.3), a single hymn for Thiruvenkadamudaiyaan and “nambiyai then kurunkudi nindra acchem ponne thigazhum thirumoorthiyai” (1.10.9), another  hymn on Thirukurunkudi  Nambi  are the only two references to divyadesa perumaals by Namazhwaar in Thiruvaaimozhi, before starting the full pathigam, “kiloroli ilamai” (2.10) on this divyadesam.  

Kilaroli ilamai

In the previous pathigam (2.9), Azhwaar had longed that he wanted to do service only to Paramathma and granting that  should also  come from Paramathma, based on “thanakeyaaga enai kollum eethey” (2.9.4), meaning that He should take Azhwaar exclusively for Him.  In the same way, Azhwaar had also expressed his inability to accept the delay in offering his services to Paramathma, like ollai (2.9.1), ollai (2.9.10) and “Kaalakazhivu seiyel” (2.9.2).  

On seeing these, Paramathma wanted to indicate that He was ready to grant Azhwaar whatever he had asked for, and  ready to accept Azhwaar’s services. Paramathma also felt that Azhwaar could not give his services with his physical body, in other words, when Azhwaar was alive.  But the urgency shown by Azhwaar indicated that he wanted to  do the same with his then existing physical form.  So Paramathma decided and informed him that He was alone in Thirumaaliruncholai and Azhwaar could come there to get whatever he wanted. 

Azhwaar understood that Thirumaaliruncholai, would be the place where he needed to go as it was where Paramathma was living happily.  In this pathigam, Azhwaar explains that reaching Thirumaaliruncholai or any nearby hills, or the path towards Thirumaaliruncholai, or even having interest to visit Thirumaaliruncholai are all equal and beneficial  to us.   One more point to note is that in this pathigam, Azhwaar had taken more importance and focus only about the divyadesam and he had not mentioned anything specific about Azhagar, the divya desa perumal. 

Azhwaar is advising us to reach Thirumaaliruncholai  before our youth disappears in the first hymn of this section, “Kiloroli illamai keduvathan munnam” (2.10.1).  Similarly Thirumazhisai Azhwaar, in his Thiruchandavirutham, (112) says that “Vaalgalaagi naatkal sella noimai kundri moopu yeithi, maalum naal athu aathalaal vanangi vaazhthu en nenjame” meaning that our days were passing with illness and aging, and we would die, so let us offer our prayers and bow to Him, as He would grant abode, a life without return to this world”. 

If we take the meaning of the word “oli” as “wisdom”, then it can also be seen as Azhwaar advising us to reach Thirumaaliruncholai, before our wisdom towards Paramathma disappears and before we start taking interests in worldly things.  Similarly the word “valaroli” (2.10.1) means that the person who is accepting the services, the person who is offering the services and the place where the service is offered are all young and at the same age.  

In the next hymn, Azhwaar says “mathi thavazh kudumi“, meaning that Thirumaaliruncholai is very high that the moon is crawling over the hills slowly, like pregnant ladies climbing up the hill.   

After confirming that the place he wanted to visit was Thirumaaliruncholai, Azhwaar was convinced that even reaching any hill nearby Thirumaaliruncholai would be sufficient, in the next hymn (2.10.3). 

In the next hymn (2.10.4), Azhwaar discussed about the rain, “varu mazhai thavazhum maaliruncholai“, meaning that Thirumaaliruncholai was getting rains through the clouds that were coming in. Our acharyaars comment that Thirumaaliruncholai  gets  the  benefits of  two types of clouds, one, the rainy clouds, as mentioned by Azhwaar, and the other,  the shower of  kindness of Thirumaaliruncholai Azhagar. In the second line of the hymn Azhwaar mentioned that it would be enough, if we could concentrate on getting our way or thinking about the path to Thiru(maaliruncholai) malai(hill) without diverting our mind on other things. 

 In the next hymn, by quoting “Pura malai saara povathu  kiriye“, (2.10.6) Azhwaar confirms that the heart of those who want to reach Paramathma would be as clear as Azhwaar’s mind and it would be sufficient to reach any of the hills nearby Thirumaaliruncholai, which is constantly wet and sweet.  

In the next hymn 2.10.6, Azhwaar says “pinai ser Maaliruncholai“, meaning that we, the objects that are protected by  Him, and  the Protector are inseparable in Thirumaaliruncholai.  In the same hymn, Azhwaar mentioned “ninavadhu nalame” meaning that thinking about the way to Thirumaaliruncholai  is good for all Jeevaathmas like us. 

In the next hymn, when Azhwaar says “Naragazhunthadhe” (2.10.7) meaning that “Being with Him is happiness and  being in  heaven but without Him is like spending time in hell”.   This is much similar to what Lakshman said to Sri Rama, in Ayodhya Kandam, before leaving for the forest, that it would be like living in hell, if he had to stay back in Ayodhya and it would be like  living in heaven, if he could go and stay with Sri Rama in the forest.  In this hymn, Azhwaar says that we should reach Thirumaaliruncholai with a clear thinking as He is the Master and we are the slaves to Him.

Thirumaaliruncholai  in  the south  and Thiruvenkadam in the north are the places where the Nithyasoories (the jeevathmas who serve Paramathma all the times) visit in this world on a daily basis.  The following  hymns about Thirumaaliruncholai by Namazhwaar on the above.

  • Namazhwaar in Thiruvaaimozhi (3.3.7) “amarnthu vaanavar vaanvar konodum namendru ezhum venkadam
  • Namazhwaar in Thiruvaaimozhi (1.8.3) “Vinnnor verpan”  and
  • in this pathigam, “valam seiyum vaanor maaliruncholai” (2.10.8)

In addition, Azhwaar recommends to us that we stay in Thirumaaliruncholai and offer prayers to Him daily without wasting our time. 

In the next hymn, 2.10.9, Azhwaar says “Maaliruncholai, Thozha karuthuvathey“, meaning that it is good enough, even if we pray to Thirumaaliruncholai, the hill or the divyadesam without even mentioning the deity. 

In the next hymn, Azhwaar recommends that we do not do  soodhu (fraudulent activities) and kalavu  (stealing), we should avoid both and march towards Thirumaaliruncholai by saying “soodhu endru kalavum soodhum seiyaathey” (2.10.10).     Fraud is an act which is generally done in the presence of the other party, while stealing is an act which is done in the absence of the other party.   Thondaradipodi azhwaar, about whom, we are yet to discuss, had also mentioned ” Soodhanaai, Kalavannai” (Thirumaalai, 16) in the prabhandham, Thirumaalai. 

The deity in Thirumaaliruncholai is also called  Aruludaiya Perumaal and this is also referred by Namazhwaar in 2.10.11 “Aruludaiyavan Thaall“.  Azhwaar concludes this pathigam by saying that reciting these hymns would take those  to His Holy Feet. 


After having enjoyed the glory of Thirumaaliruncholai, the divyadesam, Azhwaar decided to enjoy  the beauty of the deity of Thirumaaliruncholai, namely, Azhagar in the next subsection, namely 3.1. On observing the beauty of the various segments of Azhagar’s Thirumeni (body) and  the glowing effect on  the clothes and ornaments of Azhagar, Azhwaar came to the conclusion that the beauty of the Azhagar could not be described completely through the hymns in this pathigam or subsection.  Azhwaar confirms that the glory and beauty of Him can not be completely articulated by any human being or anyone, even auspicious people like himself, who were given superior knowledge by Him, the vedas, those in the celestial world, Indran, Brahma or Siva and that is the summary for this subsection. 

 It is the perfect fit between the segments of His body and the ornaments that gave an exceptional happiness and made Azhwaar wonder in the first hymn (3.1.1) of this subsection. Azhwaar wondered whether the glow from His face increased the glow on the crown or the glow from the crown increased the glow on His face.   After having enjoyed the beautiful glow from His face, Azhwaar started looking at the other parts of His body, which  enhance the beauty of the ornaments and the dress on them.

Azhwaar says that His crown was so majestic and beautiful, that it proclaimed that He is  The Swami or the Master, the only one who could grant abode  for everyone and hence Azhwaar started with the beauty of His crown. Azhwaar  then  moved to His holy feet, which are the logical sequence to the total surrender to attain abode.    The beauty and glow from His holy feet directed Azhwaar to move upwards to His hip, the attire and the ornaments around  His body.  Azhwaar continued to wonder which caused the enhancement of the glow.   This is  for understanding the sequence  in which Azhwaar had described in this Hymn, first His crown, then His feet and later His hip.  

In the  next hymn, (3.1.2) Azhwaar commented that we could only enjoy the beauty of Him with our eyes and heart, but we could not explain further with any examples or equivalent objects.  Even though people generally take the lotus as an example for His eyes, Holy feet and His arms, Azhwaar says that it is inappropriate to use those examples in the first two lines of this hymn.   Azhwaar starts building the example, like the gold, pure gold and then still a higher level gold which is in the boiling state as liquid, when he was trying to give example for the glow from His body, but finally admitted that it was impossible to give parallels or examples.   Like the previous  hymn, Azhwaar has sung in the sequence of His eyes, Feet and Hands. 

 In the next hymn(3.1.3), Azhwaar says, that 

  • There is no one who is equivalent or superior to Paramathma
  • There is no one, including himself, who can give equivalents or examples for His beauty or His glories
  • He has created this world and still the effect of any good and bad things of this world would never get attached to Him
  • There is no one who could define the boundaries of His greatness or His simplicity 

What can not be thought through by the heart can never be explained in words, is the best possible summary of the above, as given in  one of the Srisukthis of  Eedu (Eettu Sri Sukthi).   

In the next hymn (3.1.4), Azhwaar is worried about the loss the people suffer due to their disinterest and  non-involvement in  the glories and beauty of Paramathma and He continued to enjoy the fragrance of Thulasi and other flowers without paying attention to such people.

In the next hymn (3.1.5) Azhwaar states how he could explain the glories of Paramathma who is naturally beautiful and glowing with complete knowledge and omnipresent in all objects. The major difference between this hymn and the previous one is that here Azhwaar stresses that His glories can not be explained by those in celestial world too. Our acharyars  say that the glowing nature of His body is not for Himself, but for the enjoyment and experience of His devotees. 

The number of slokas or holy scriptures  in every  world would differ according to the  knowledge level of those living in those parts of the Universe. Any of those in every such Universe or even  those scholars who are experts in  the four vedas (Rig, Yajur, Saama, Atharvana)  could not completely describe His glories.  Azhwaar continues to say  in the next hymn (3.1.6) that whatever he was saying was also a like a drop of water in the ocean and he also would not be able to describe Him fully.  

In the next hymn (3.1.7), Azhwaar says that those who are created by Him and those who are greatly knowledgeable, like Siva, Brahma  also would not be able to totally explain the glories of Paramathma.   

 It is understood that Brahma has complete knowledge of everything, but only when in power as Brahma.  His knowledge level would reduce once he move  out of his position.  Azhwaar says in his next hymn, 3.1.8, that such Brahma, even when he is in power could not describe the glories of Paramathma.  Paramathma’s thirumeni (body), His glories and His beauty are always constant.  (avikaaraya sudhaaya nithyaaya paramaathmanevishnu sahasranaamam).  Azhwaar, says that even when such Brahma  tries to explain the glories of Paramathma, it would not affect the glow of Paramathma or even the glow of His feet.

We should also keep in mind that the knowledge for all in every part of the Universe, is also given  by Him. And  the knowledge level of Brahma and others are also not constant or permanent.  If Paramathama is praised by such people, Azhwaar doubts whether such  praise is going to add anything further to Him or it is going to diminish the glow at His feet or body.   

The purpose of the next hymn 3.1.9, is for Azhwaar to explain to us that no one can completely describe the glories about His supremacy  and also His simplicity.   Here Azhwaar takes the example of Gajendra elephant and how He rushed to protect him, even though He could have done everything , without Him rushing, just through His Thoughts or Sankalpam and with the  Sudharsan Chakra or the Discus. 

Azhwaar takes the case of Gajendran, the  elephant, a staunch devotee of Paramathma to explain the above in this hymn.   Gajendran was fighting with a crocodile for many years, while  carrying flowers to offer on the holy feet of Paramathma and to have a dharsan of Paramathma.  Since having the dharsan of Paramathma was the desire of His devotee, namely, Gajendran, Vishnu rushed to the spot on His vehicle, Garuda to give dharsan to the elephant.  This example is taken by Azhwaar in this hymn to describe the simplicity of Paramathma. 

 In the next hymn, Azhwaar explains that His glories can not be completely told by Vedas or by those who are created and given knowledge by Him. 

In Tamil, the words Vedham and Marai mean the same and represents the rule book, Veda Sastras.  The word Vedham means detailed explanation.  The word Marai, in Tamil, also means Hide.  So our acharyars  say that the word Vedham is used for His devotees and the word Marai is used for those who do not have respect or admire Paramathma.  The vedas directly explain the Paramthama without expecting any supporting material, whereas the others like Ithihasam or Puranams use supporting material or quotes to explain Paramathma.   

There are also many quotes that say that all vedhas explain Him.   This is the first sentence of the next hymn (3.1.10). The second line states that He is all powerful and He is the reason for all activities. In the third sentence Azhwaar states that He  gave  knowledge to all whom He created.    If He takes pride when He  is praised as the mighty and powerful  by those,  who are created by Him , then it would be a surprise to Azhwaar. 

We should remember that Azhwaar is trying to explain the beauty and glory of Azhagar, the deity of Thirumaaliruncholai, in all the hymns in this subsection (pathigam).   But we can also take note that there is no explicit mention of Azhagar in any of the hymns.

There are two more subsections or pathigams in Thiruvaaimozhi on Thirumaaliruncholai and they  are “mun neer gnalam padaitha” (3.2) and 
sen chor kavi kaal” in the end (10.7).   Let us see about them in our next weblog. 

Adiyenin sincere thanks to Sri R Ranganathan, my elder brother for helping me in confirming certain points while writing this weblog.

The hymns are available at the following websites for your  information.  Our sincere thanks to them.

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