Thirumaalai – Kaavalil Pulanai Vaithu

தமிழில் இந்த பதிவினை படிக்க, இங்கே சொடுக்கவும், நன்றி.

Entry to Thirumaalai

A popular saying in our sampradhayam stresses that all of us need to learn and understand the prabhandham Thirumaalai, sung by Thondaradipodi Azhwaar, to know and understand Thirumaal Himself. Those who have not, will not be able to know about Him. ( Thirumaalai ariyaathaar, THIRUMAALAYE ariyaathaar.)

Our Achaaryaars say that Thirumaalai is based on “Sri Vishnu Dharmam”, a Sanskrit book. Periyavaachaan Pillai, the king of commentaries (Vyagyana Chakravarthi), wrote a detailed explanation or commentary for Thirumaalai in Manipravala nadai, a combination of Tamil and Sanskrit.

Our Acharyaars added a feather to this Azhwaar’s crown by praising “thondaradipodi emperumaanai eppothum pesu” meaning that Paramathmaa or Perumal is the Perumal for those who do service to Perumal, and in the same way, Thondaradipodi Azhwaar is the perumal for those who do service to the devotees of Perumal. The first one is called Prathama Parvam and the second one is called Charama Parvam.

As discussed earlier, Azhwaar learnt the meaning of Thirumanthiram, continued his devotion to Perumal and also reduced his worldly interests. He went to Srirangam to have dharsan of Perumal and at that time Perumal showed Azhwaar, His beauty, charm, elegance and grace, so that Azhwaar would remain with Him for ever. So, this Azhwaar had left out four of the five states of Paramathmaa, namely, Para, Vyuha, Vibhava and Antharyaami, in both his Prabandhams. Even within Archai , he left out all other divyadesams and took only Srirangam, the prime divyadasam for vaishnavites, in both Thirupalliyezhuchi and Thirumaalai. This is a clear message for us to follow and attain abode or Moksha, without any confusion. But Azhwaar had mentioned Mathura and Ayodhya in his prabandhams . Since the main deity of Srirangam, Periyaperumal (Moolavar) is considered as Sri Krishna and Namperumal, the Utsavar as Sri Rama, in our tradition, Azhwaar also sang in that tradition only once in Thirupalliyezhuchi (Ayodhya) and once in Thirumaalai (Mathura).

Another significant fact about this Azhwaar is the preaching the greatness of Nama Sankeerthanam, that is, reciting the names of god, in this prabandham, Thirumaalai. A short recap on all azhwaars is given below:

Azhwaargal Summary English

Vedas state that the objective of the Jeevathmaas is to get rid of the outcomes of our deeds and misdeeds, and reach Moksham or abode, and offer the services (kainkaryam) to Paramathmaa and get the continued happiness in Srivaikuntham. More importantly, we all, Jeevathmaas, are eligible for getting such happiness. Unfortunately, many of us do not aspire or work towards that, and end up getting repeated births and deaths. This results in ourselves getting more and more pain. On seeing such pain, Sri Mahalakshmi, the thayaar, asked Perumal, in Srivaikuntham on the ways to avoid these pain and attain moksham easily, in this difficult Kaliyuga, on our behalf. Perumal graced the benefits of Namasankirthanam through this Azhwaar and Azhwaar wrote this prabandham, Thirumaalai, based on those preaching.

This prabandham is also appreciated for its length, which is neither too short like Thirumanthiram nor too long, like Mahabharatham or Ramayanam. Thirumanthiram is only an eight syllable word, the meaning of which is explained by our Acharyaars very elaborately to an extent where it is very difficult for us to understand and capture all the meanings in our life time. Ramayanam contains twenty four thousand hymns and Mahabharatham contains one hundred and twenty five thousand hymns. Both epics have innumerable concepts, theories and meanings. But Thirumaalai, with only 45 hymns explains the concepts and facts about Paramathmaa very clearly. This is compared directly to the way Sri Hanuman used to communicate, which was neither short nor too long, but precisely on the subject.

Structure of Thirumaalai

Azhwaar used the following sequence in Thirumaalai to explain the concepts.

  • First three hymns – Azhwaar described his personal experience with Perumal on Nama Samkeerthanam
  • From fourth to fourteenth – eleven hymns, Azhwaar started preaching us based on the experience he got from Perumal.
  • From fifteenth to twenty fourth – ten hymns. Since people did not listen to the preaching of Azhwaar, he decided to move on and appreciated and enjoyed the favours / help extended by Perumal to himself.
  • From twenty fifth to thirty fourth -ten hymns, Azhwaar realised that after getting all the help and favours from Perumal, he realised that he did not have any good qualities but had all the bad qualities also, and hence decided to move away from Perumal.
  • From thirty five to thirty seven – three hymns, Perumal convinced Azhwaar by telling him the favours He had done in the past to all jeevathmaas and made Azhwaar stay with Him.
  • Thirty Eighth Hymn – this is the most significant or important hymn in this Prabandham, where Azhwaar explained the meaning of the Dhwaya Maha Manthram
  • From thirty ninth to Forty fourth – six hymns, Azhwaar explained the qualities of those who understood the meaning of Dhwaya Maha Manthram fully.
  • Last hymn or the forty fifth hymn – Azhwaar explained the benefits of reading, understanding and repeatedly reciting Thirumaalai

The experiences of Azhwaar

First Hymn – Kaavalil pulani vaithu

Kaavalil pulanai vaithu, kali thannai kadakkap paaynthu, Naaval ittu uzhi tharugindrom, naman thamar thalaigal meethey, moovulagu undu umizhndha mudhalva nin naamam katra, aavalippu udamai kandaai aranga maa nagarulaane

In this hymn, Azhwaar explained that the reciting Thirunamam can remove our fear of Yama (Yama is the God of Death and carrying out the rewards and/or punishments after death, according to the deeds done during the life time). In this hymn, Azhwaar stated that he would shout and walk proudly on the head of Yama without any fear, as he had learnt the Thirunaamam. Azhwaar also used this hymn to explain the purity of Thirunamams.

Let us look at some of the interesting explanations given for this first hymn by our Acharyaars.

Our Acharyaars explain “Kaavalil pulanai vaithu” in two different ways, by splitting the word ‘Kaavalil’ as “kaaval + il” or ” Kaaval + illaatha”. First explanation is based on keeping the senses under control and the second is leaving the senses freely without keeping them under control.

Azhwaar stated that during the earlier part of his life, his senses had him in their control and forced Azhwaar to do things in their way. But later Azhwaar brought the senses under his control. Our Acharyaars explain the same through the words of Mandodhari, the wife of King Ravana. After Ravana was defeated in the war with Rama, she lamented that Ravana, when his senses were under control, did many yagnas and got lot of good rewards. But the defeat he got now was, because that he let his senses to dictate him on what to do, when he abducted Sri Sita, the wife of Sri Rama.

The other explanation is that Azhwaar, even after letting his senses free, he got more benefits, by learning / reciting Thirunamams, than the benefits obtained by those who got their senses under control.

Another explanation, by taking the meaning of the word ‘Kaaval‘, as Vishnu, as He is the One, who protects everything in this Universe. So it is explained that, Azhwaar was able to take his senses away from the worldly pleasures and keep them with Sri Vishnu or Paramathmaa, mainly because he learnt the Thirunamams.

kali thannai kadakkap paaynthu” is explained by our Acharyaars as Azhwaar learnt the Thirunaamams (the various names of Paramathmaa), he was seen as though a person from Krutha Yuga, after getting away all his sins (Paavams) of the current Kali Yuha, which is surrounded by many sins. The word Kali took two different meanings in this context, one is the Kali yuga and the other is sin.

When Azhwaar mentioned “naavalittu uzhi tharugindrom” which is told in plural has the following explanations :

  • Even though it was only one Azhwaar, he felt the power or strength of many, after learning the Thirunamams.
  • Another explanation is that when one person does a good thing, the benefits of the good thing would flow to many, which is a natural thing in this world. It was like when Hanuman, as a single individual, returned successfully from Sri Lanka after finding out Sri Sita, it was all his other colleagues (monkeys), who were thrilled with the good news by enjoying the fruits at Madhuvanam of the king Sughreeva.

In the same way, Azhwaar went on to say “naman thamar thalaigal meethey” in plural. This is because, Azhwaar came with many people and hence Yama had to bring his subordinates to give their heads to Azhwaar and his team members. Our acharyaars also mentioned that walking on the heads of Yama and his subordinates was not to show the proudness of Azhwaar or to disrespect Yama, but to highlight the glory of Jeevathmaas, who learnt the Thirunamams as Yama and his subordinates offered their heads under the feet of those who learnt the Thirunamams.

In this hymn, the benefits of Thirunamams come earlier, as we see in the first two lines of the hymn, whereas the Thirunamam itself “moovulagu undu umizhindha mudhalva” comes only in the later part of the hymn. This was explained beautifully by our Acharyaars, that the benefits of Thirunamams would come once we decide to recite the Thirunamams and even before we start to recite them.

Some of the examples to explain the benefits of Thirunamams.

  • Sughreeva was scared of his Brother Vaali. But once he got the friendship of Sri Rama, he got all the strengths to challenge his brother Vaali. Azhwaar says that he got similar strength after learning the Thirunamams.
  • Another example is about Sri Hanuman crossing the ocean when searching Sri Sita and carrying the famous ring of Sri Rama. Here Azhwaar was crossing the ocean of life (Samsaaram) with the help of Thirunamams.
  • In Mahabharatham, Dhraupathi got endless drapes only after calling out the Thirunamam, Sri Govinda.
  • Our Acharyaars also quote that the benefits of Thirunaamam are obtained simply by reciting them and not necessarily after learning the meanings of the Thirunamams.


Our intention was to write about the first three hymns to explain the personal experiences Azhwaar with Perumal on the Thirunama vaibhavam. Azhwaar, in this Prabandham, Thirumaalai, has given a lot of concepts, meanings, examples in a very simple way. Periayavaachaan Pillai had also explained these in every possible detail for our benefit. So keeping these in mind, we stopped with this one hymn and we will continue with other hymns in the coming weblogs.

All the hymns can be seen in the following website and we extend our sincere thanks to them.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

Follow by Email
%d bloggers like this: