Azhwaar’s experience – Pachai Maamalai and Veda Nool Piraayam

இந்த வலைப்பதிவினை தமிழில் படிக்க இங்கே சொடுக்கவும், நன்றி.

As a traditional saying goes” Thirumaalai (the prabandham) ariyaadhaar, Thirumaalaye (Perumalai) ariyaadhaar” , we all need to learn and understand Thirumaalai , sung by Thondaradipodi Azhwaar, to know about Perumal.

In the first three hymns of this divyaprabandham, Azhwaar appreciates the experiences, graced by Perumal on him. Of these first three hymns, we discussed the first hymn in our earlier weblog. In that hymn, we learnt that reciting of the names of Perumal (Thirunaamam) would remove the fear of Yama, The God who gives rewards and/or punishment to all jeevathmaas after their lives in this world. The holiness of the Thirunaamam was also explained in that hymn.

Second Hymn

If there is a shortlist of the most popular hymns in Divyaprabandham, this second hymn of Thirumaalai, would certainly appear in that list. This hymn is simple, but contains deep and wide spectrum of meanings of Vaishnavism. This hymn is sung in such a way that Thondaradipodi Azhwaar was not interested in getting or even ruling Srivaikuntham or Paramapadham, even if he was offered, or he rejected the same, as he felt that reciting the holy names of Perumal (Thirunaamams) tasted much better to him.

We need to take note of the following points here :

  • Azhwaar is not bringing up a topic on which is superior between Paramapadham and reciting Thirunaamams.
  • Azhwaar did not mention that ruling Paramapadham is not sweet or tasty. If he had sung like that then he would have been taken as though he was disrespecting Perumal and Paramapadham .
  • Azhwaar simply said that he did not want Paramapadham, because of the following reasons :
    • The beauty of reciting Thirunaamams was that Azhwaar could recite them then and there, with his existing physical form and in Srirangam, which is hailed even now as “Srivaikuntham of this world” (Bhoologa vaikuntham). So Azhwaar called this closer to his heart as “ichuvai“, meaning ‘this taste’, indicating the proximity. Azhwaar also mentioned that just by reciting the names of Perumal, we could get the benefits without even knowing
      • the reasons
      • the meanings of those names,
      • understanding his glories through difficult steps and
      • appreciating them
    • As told by Namazhwaar in Thiruvaaimozhi (9.10.5), “saranamaagum thana thaal adainthaarku ellaam, maranamaanaal Vaikuntham kodukkum piraan” (meaning – whoever surrenders totally to His holy feet, He would give Srivaikuntham, when they die”), Thondaradipodi Azhwaar knew that he would get Srivaikuntham only when he died or in other words, he needed to wait till he would die to get the experience of Srivaikuntham. Azhwaar also knew that he needed to get a different physical form to get the experience of Srivaikuntham, as we cannot go to Srivaikuntham using this physical body. So he called the experience in Srivaikuntham, as “acchuvai”, meaning ‘that taste”, indicating the farther distance away from him.
    • Again, someone could question the status of Srivaikuntham, as all the information on Srivaikuntham are only heard from others, but no one who has ever visited, seen or experienced Srivaikuntham, had come back and explained. But the experience and satisfaction of reciting the Thirunaamams can be obtained now. Let us proceed into the hymn.

pachai maa malai pol meni, pavala vaai, kamalachengann, achuthaa, amarar aerey, aayar tham kozhunthey, ennum icchuvai thavira, yaan poi, indhiralogam aalum, acchuvai perinum venden, aranga maa nagar ullane.

Those who rejected Srivaikuntham

Sri Hanumaan

Like Thondaradipodi Azhwaar, there are few great devotees,when offered Srivaikuntam refused the same. The first is Sri Hanuman, who is piously called Thiruvadi. In Ramayanam, Sri Hanuman said “Bhaavo Naanyathra gachathi“, meaning that his thoughts were always with Sri Rama and they would not even go to Sri Vaikunta Nathan. There is another slokam, where it is said that Sri Hanuman would be seen in this world, with tears in His eyes and full of devotion towards Sri Rama, wherever Sri Rama’s name is uttered . The slokam is given below:

Yatra yatra raghu naatha keerthanam, thathra thathra kruthamastha kaanjalim, paashpavaari paripoorna lochanam, maaruthim namatha raakshasaanthakam


Next is Thirupaanazhwaar, who wrote in his Prabandham, Amalanaathipiraan, “en amudhinai kanda kanngal matru ondrinai kaanaave“, meaning that his eyes would not see anything after enjoying the dharsan of Sri Ranganatha. This would include all other deities in archavathaaram, paramapatha nathan, ksheerapthi nathan (viyuha state), all avathaarams in the vibhava state and antharyaami state. So Thirupaanazhwaar did not want to see any other form of Paramathmaa other than Sri Ranganathan.

Swami Desikan

Swami Desikan, one of Achaaryars, mentioned “vaikuntha vaasaebhi namebhilaaksha” meaning that the dharsan of Sri Varadhan of Kancheepuram was so attractive that he was not interested in Srivaikuntham. With many celebrations and festivals around, throughout the year, Sri Varadhan (Sri Devaadhirajan) and Periyapiraatiyaar, were so happy in Kancheepuram (Srihasthigiri) that He forgot Srivaikuntham and stationed Himself in Kancheepuram.

Another acharyaar, Sri Paraasara Bhattar, when he was blessed with paramapadham, said that he would cut open Srivaikuntham and jump out to come back again to Srirangam to have the dharsan of Sri Ranganathan, if he was not able to have the dharsan of Paramathmaa in the form of Sri Ranganathan in Srivaikuntham.

The glories of the Thirunaamams

In the first hymn, Azhwaar mentioned that reciting Thirunaamams would remove the fear of death (the fear of Yaman). In this second hymn, Azhwaar sings about the beauty of Perumal. The reason for such sequence is that we can enjoy only after getting rid of our fear.

Thondaradipodi azhwaar in the first hymn approached the Thirunaamams like the rishis who are in fright when they approach Perumal. And in the second hymn he approached Thirunaamams like Azhwaars, who enjoy the experiences with Perumal. In the first hymn, he drove the fear away and in the second hymn he enjoyed the beauty of Perumal.

We have seen that there are many names of Perumal. The reason for the same is because, each and every name represents His identity (Swaroopam) or His physical form (Roopam), or His glories or/and His plays (playful facts). Some of the examples are given below :

  • Identity – Vishnu (He is spread everywhere), Narayanan (He is holding everything)
  • Physical form (roopam) – Kesavan (having long hair)
  • Glories – Vathsalan (very affectionate), Suseelan (Easily approachable, simple)
  • Playful acts – Parthasarathy (The driver of the chariot of Arjunan)

As our commentator say to this hymn, azhwaar got happiness in reciting the names related to his physical form, among all other names, as they were easy to understand and remember.

Let us go into some of the special features in this hymn.

Pachai Maa Malai Pol Meni

The mountain can be taken as a comparison with the size of Perumal’s body only from the hugeness perspective. The mountain gives coolness, only to the eyes, whereas Perumal can give coolness and peace to our eyes and mind. Perumal can also remove all our sins and He is the home for total Kindness. Hence Azhwaar added “pachai” and ‘maa’ as additional prefixes to ‘maamalai‘. The word ‘pol‘ clearly states that mountains can never be equal to the qualities and glories of Perumal. Thirupaanazhwaar, the ninth azhwaar, in the seventh hymn of his Prabandham, Amalanaathipiraan, “neell varai pol meyanaar” meaning that Perumal’s holy form is very huge like a mountain, as the word ‘varai‘ means mountain in Tamil. So this hymn of Thondaradipodi Azhwaar can be compared with Thirupaanazhwaar’s above mentioned hymn.

Pavala Vaai

When describing the terms ‘Pavala vaai”, Periyavaachaanpillai, gave two explanations. First he described the red lips as precious red gems, fitted in the huge mountain. The second explanation is about the different colours running underneath the precious stones. Periyavaachaanpillai did not stop the explanatory work with the physical features only, but he also used this opportunity to refresh our minds with all the good words spoken by Him through His holy mouth. The same mouth, spoke some of the very convincing words to Sugreevan and others around, before the total surrender of Vibhishnan, the brother of Ravana in Ramayanam. Again the same mouth, in a gentle voice and comforting way spoke to Vibhishnan, when Sugreevan brought Vibhishnan for his total surrender.

Thirupaanazhwaar mentioned in the same hymn (7), of Amalanaadhipiraan, “seiyaa vaai Aiyo ! ennai sinthai kavarndhadhuve, meaning that His red lips had won his heart, showing another similarity between Thirupaanazhwaar and Thondaradipodi azhwaar. Similarly Aandal also mentioned in her Naachiyaar Thirumozhi, (11.8), “thesudaiya thevar thiruvaranga chelvanaar, pesi irupanagal perkavum peraave” (referring to the words of Perumal in Varaha Avataram to Bhoomi Piraatti) meaning, who could tell all the things that had been told to her during the incarnation of Varahaa of Paramathmaa.

Periyavaachaanpillai also mentioned about the three charama slogams, the inspired words of Paramathmaa to highlight the powerful words spoken by Him.

Kamala Chengann

The holy eyes of Perumal as “kamala chenkann” are compared with lotus flower. The lotus flower blossoms with sun rise and closes or shuts itself down after sunset, whereas Perumal’s holy eyes keep showering kindness forever. The holy eyes were sung about immediately after the holy lips/mouth and this indicates that Perumal would complete whatever the mouth intended to say with his eyes, even before the lips utter the words. When Azhwaar mentioned about His whole being (body), it was to express the total beauty of Perumal and when Azhwaar mentioned about the eyes and lips/mouth, he enjoys the beauty of His individual features . The purpose of mentioning the lips and eyes can be easily extended to other parts as well. There are many other hymns of other Azhwaars, where they had mentioned about both Eyes and Mouth/lips of Perumal together. One such example is from Thiruvaaimozhi of Nammazhwaar (6.10.9), “senthaamarai kann, senkanivaai, naal thol amuthey, enadhuyire”


Achuthaa means one who does not let others down or one who is firm and unwavering . Periyavaachaanpillai provides three explanations here.

  • In Vishnu Sahasranamam, it is mentioned that He does not change physically, namely, He does not grow or shrink, and He always remains the same, “avikaaraya sudhaaya nithyaaya paramathmane“. In the same way, Azhwaar highlighted that His Holy form being huge and green like a mountain is for ever; Holy Lips always being red and Eyes always being lotus-like and red are forever.
  • In the second explanation, Azhwaar wished Perumal to remain the same for ever and this is called “pallaandu” in our tradition. Here Azhwaar wished that His form remained like a mountain forever, His lips and eyes always remained red forever.
  • In the final explanation Azhwaar said that Perumal forever would not let down those, who recite His holy names.

Amarar Aerey (Head of celestial world)

Here Azhwaar hailed Perumal as the leader or head of the celestial world and with that He is the Utmost Superior in this Universe. One phrase from Vishnu Suktham is highlighted in this portion, namely, “sadhaa paśyanthi sooraya“, meaning Nithyasoories constantly looking at Him or waiting for His orders to serve Him. Unlike us, the human beings, Indra, Agni and other demigods, live slightly longer number of years in the celestial world, due to their past good deeds. But, unlike those demigods, Nithyasoories like Ananthan, Garudan, Vishvaksenan, live for ever and their only purpose is to do service to Perumal. So they have the privilege to be very close to Perumal and attending to Him constantly. If they lose that experience even for a moment, everything is lost for them. This was told by Azhwaar in one word, Amarar, meaning ‘dead’.

Aayar tham kozhunthey (Friendly to cowherds)

With these words, Azhwaar brings out the simplicity of Perumal to the front. Perumal had established himself as the leader of all superiors, like Mahalakshmi Thaayar, Garudan, Ananthan, showing us that He is the Uppermost boundary. And by these words Azhwaar highlighted that He would also take the other extreme position of the spectrum, of being the subservient to those simple cowherds, who doesn’t not even know which is left or right hand.

Azhwaar took the six phrases, namely, pachaimaamalai, pavalavaai, kamalachengann, achuthaa, amaraerey, aayartham kozhunthey and compared them with the six key tastes (arusuvai) and to those who eat these food comprising of these six tastes. Azhwaar wondered, how these people could eat all the six different tastes at the same time, whereas he could not even move from one phrase to another.

Yaan Poi (myself going)

Of these two words, let us first take “Yaan“. The first explanation is that about the ability of Azhwaar to recite the Thirunamams. The second explanation is about Azhwaar’s impatience, meaning that he could not wait to travel to another place to experience the Paramapadham. The second word in the above namely, “poi” indicates that all should travel to another place to get the experience of Paramapadham. Also Thirumangai Azhwaar’s “eraar muyal vittu kaakai pin povathey” from Siriya Thirumadal is highlighted in this explanation by Periyavaachaanpillai.

Indiralogam (heaven / abode)

This ‘indiralogam‘ mentioned here does not mean the space ruled by Indra, who generally is associated with heaven. The root meaning of the word “indira” points to Perumal, so the word indiralogam mentioned here represents Paramapadham or Srivaikuntham. Another explanation is about Antharyaami, another state of Paramathmaa and which dwells in each and everyone, including Indra.

Achuvai perienum venden – Not interested in that experience

Azhwaar was thinking in terms of why he should go to Srivaikuntham and get the experience of Paramapatham, while Perumal Himself had come down from Paramapatham to Srirangam mainly because He wanted the people here to enjoy His beauty and His glories. Moreover, Azhwaar also thought when, those in the celestial world were also coming to Srirangam to experience the beauty of Perumal giving His blessings and dharsan to the people like us, why should he go to Srivaikuntham to experience Paramapadham.

In the first hymn, Azhwaar highlighted the benefits of reciting Thirunamams, like getting rid of the fear of Yama. In the second , Azhwaar preferred the experience of reciting the thirunamams, as the experience was then and there, compared to the experience of Paramapadham, which might happen one day, in some other place and in some other form. In the third hymn, Azhwaar would refuse to live in this world. Let us look into that aspect below.

Third Hymn

veda nool piraayam nooru, manisar thaam puguvarelum, paathiyum urangi pogum, nindrathir pathinainthaandu, pethai, baalagan, athu, aagum pini, pasi, moopu, thunbam, aathalaal piravi venden, aranga maa nagarulaane

Vedas state that generally humans would live for 100 years. If there are some people who live 100 years, will probably spend 50% of the time in sleep (50 years in sleep). The remaining part of the life, namely, another 50 years, they would spend as child, boy or girl and adolescence. Even after crossing these, they might go through the pains of illness, starvation, being elderly. So they might have lost all their life on the above and may not have time to recite thirunaamams or enjoy the experience of reciting thirunaamams. Since there is a good possibility of losing all the time during this life, Azhwaar requested Thiruarangan that he did not want to live in this world.

In the last hymn, he requested that he did not want Srivaikuntham or abode. In this hymn, Azhwaar mentioned that he did not want to live in this world in any place other than Srirangam.

In this hymn, Azhwaar was more interested in bringing out the fact that the number of years of everyone’s life is wasted in many ways instead of reciting the names of Perumal, rather than highlighting the misery and hardship of human life. Azhwaar expressed this as his experience in this sequence in Thirumaalai.

Nindrathil pathinainthu aandu – Remaining fifteen years

Ouvayaar, the great Tamil poet in one of her individual poems, said “arithu arithu maanidar aathal arithu, maanidar aayinum koon kurudu sevidu pedu neengi pirathal arithu”, meaning it is very rare to be born as a human being and even after being born, it is even rarer to be a person without being blind, deaf and dumb. On similar lines, Azhwaar states here that it is difficult to take birth as a human being in this world. Some die during pregnancy, some die within a few days or months or years of birth . There are only a few who live their full life, or 100 years as per vedas, or what is called as ‘Dheerga Aayusu‘ in Tamil. Even those who lived 100 years, without reciting Thirunamams and continued their life till death, only to take rebirth. This cycle of birth, death and rebirth only result in hardship again and hence Azhwaar expressed that he did not want any more birth in this world.

Initially Azhwaar said that out of 100 years, 50 years are spent in sleep and hence the remaining 50 years should have been there for every individual. Of these 50 years, Azhwaar had split that into approximately fifteen year blocks of three stages, namely, child, boy or girl and adolescence . This is the first explanation and the second explanation to that is by splitting the Tamil word ‘pathinainthu‘ into ‘pathum‘ and ‘ainthum‘, meaning ten multiplied by five (10 x 5), totaling to 50 years.

During childhood, a child ignorant of a cause would only cry when hungry or in pain. In other words, during this period, they would not be able to recite the Thirunaamams. When they are boys or girls, the focus and energy were spent on playing, though they were able to recite the Thirunamams, probably did not use that period to recite Thirunaamams. When Azhwaar said ‘athu‘, meaning “THAT”, he meant the adolescence which is surrounded by many bad elements. Hence they did not recite the Thirunaamams. He was scared to call that as ‘youth’ based on his own experience at that age. Next Azhwaar talked about illness after youth because generally illness was the result of our activities at that age. After illness, Azhwaar sang about Aging. Azhwaar also questioned whether we would have a peaceful life after becoming elderly. As Adi Sankara,sung about the cycle every jeevathmaa would be undergoing as, birth, death and rebirth. “punarapi jananam, punarapi maranam, punarapi janani jatare sayanam, iha samsaare bahudhoosthaarey krupayaa paare paahi muraare’ (Baja Govindam 21). The meaning of this hymn is that this life is a like a big ocean, where there is no shore and very difficult to cross. We need to take birth again and again and die again and again in a continuous cycle. Every time we take a birth, we need to spend time in mother’s womb. Oh Lord Krishna, kindly save me from this endless cycle of birth and death.

Pini, Pasi, Moopu, Thunbam (Illness, Hunger, Ageing and Hardship)

Azhwaar highlighted the point that he did not want to live in this world, as there was no time to recite Thirunamams, as the human life was surrounded with hunger, illness, aging and many hardships. As seen in the last hymn, Azhwaar refused Srivaikuntham and now he refused to live in this world. Based on the above, Perumal asked Azhwaar to continue living in Srirangam and recite Thirunamams. Srirangam is called as ‘bhooloka vaikuntham‘, meaning it is the Srivaikuntham of this world. According to Periyavaachaanpillai, Srirangam is very close to Srivaikuntham and he said that they are next to each other like shoulder to shoulder.

So what we understand from the above, is that if we live in Srirangam, though the whole world including Srirangam is surrounded by illness, hunger, aging and other hardships, we still live peacefully by reciting Thirunaamams in Srirangam, where Periyaperumal and Namperumal are showering their blessings to all the people all the time. And this is how Periyavaachaanpillai accounts this :

  • at the young age, the child was taken to Srirangam temple to carry out a function called ‘anna prachanam’, a function, where the child was given its first solid food or rice which was earlier offered to perumal. So the connection with Perumal started at the very young age for the child.
  • Later at the age of a boy or a girl, takes part in all the temple processions in Srirangam, which happen at least 250 days in a year, by taking their toys and going behind the processions of Perumal. So the association with Perumal continues for the children in Srirangam. Here reference was made to the simulated ‘periya paavaadai‘ utsavam conducted by the children on the shores of the river Cauvery on those days and in one such occasion, when Swami Ramanuja promptly accepted the ‘prasadam‘ of the children which was only the sand of the river, as though it was the temple prasadam of Periyaperumal. ‘periya paavaadai‘ is an utsavam, where many varieties of huge quantities of food (prasadams) are offered to Perumal, in front of devotees, unlike the normal days, when the prasadams are offered in closed door to Perumal. Also to be remembered during this occasion is the hymn by Poigai Azhwaar in his Mudhal Thiruvandhaadhi (44), “thamar uganthathu evvuruvam, avvuruvam thaane, thamar uganthathu apper”. The meaning of the above is that Perumal likes to take the form and/or shape, whatever is liked by His devotees and He accepts all the names given by their devotees.
  • In the third stage as Youth, they often visit the temple, as their opposite numbers also visit the temple. And in this process their association with Thiruvarangan continued.
  • When they become aged, they may not be able to visit the temple that often. But Thiruvarangan as Namperumal takes procession almost 250 days in a year and in that process He visits them at their doorsteps and ensures that the relationship with Arangan continues.
  • Thus, in Srirangam, at all ages, the association with Perumal is ensured and that makes people to see only the beauty of Arangan even in their dreams. So Srirangam becomes very special and it is very appropriate to call that place as Bhooloka Vaikuntham.

Third Home / Land / Estate / Property / Wealth

Srivaikuntham is the first Home or His Land of Perumal. This world is His second Home or land. The third home or land is Thiruvarangam, or Bhooloka Vaikuntham, as Thondaradipodiazhwaar sung in this hymn.. In the hymn ‘Senniyongu‘ by Periyazhwaar in his Periyazhwaar Thirumozhi,(5.4) Thiruvenkadam was quoted as the third Home by Periyavaachaanpillai in his explanation. Aaandal in her hymn in Naachiyaar Thirumozhi, (10.3) “pongotham soonzhntha puvaniyum, vinnulagum, angu aagum soraame, allgindra em perumaan”, Periyavaachaanpillai pointed Aandaal herself as His third home or land.


With this, we conclude the part about the experience of Thondaradipodi Azhwaar, as in the first three hymns of his Thirumaalai. Let us look in our next weblog, the next subsection of Thirumaalai, which is from 4th hymn to 14th hymn, where Azhwaar took the role of an advisor to us to preach his learnings.

We can also see all the hymns of Thirumaalai in the following website and our sincere thanks to them. tp://

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: