இந்த பதிப்பினை தமிழில் படிக்க இங்கே சொடுக்கவும்.
As the saying goes ” Thirumaalai (the prabandham) ariyaadhaar, Thirumaalaye (Perumalai) ariyaadhaar”, we all need to learn and understand Thirumaalai , sung by Thondaradipodi Azhwaar, to know more and more about Perumal. In the first three hymns of this Divyaprabandham, Azhwaar enjoyed the experiences, graced by Perumal on him. These first three hymns, we discussed them in two of our earlier weblogs. In the next subsection, consisting of eleven hymns, from 4th to 14th, Azhwaar was preaching us his experience with Paramaathma. Of those hymns, we discussed the fourth, fifth and sixth hymns in our weblog and seventh to tenth hymns in our previous weblog.
In other words, Thondaradipodi Azhwaar experienced and enjoyed Paramaathma in the first three hymns of Thirumaalai. He preached us in the next eleven hymns. When people did not listen to his advice Azhwaar denounced such people and they pleaded to Azhwaar that Paramapadha Nathan was unapproachable, as He would not be in this world, but somewhere else . Azhwaar responded by asking us to follow Sri Rama, when he mentioned “silaiyinaal ilangai setra devane devan aavaan”. But they then stated that Sri Rama was a King and it would be difficult to approach or follow Sri Rama. To this Azhwaar, by stating ‘katrinam meitha kazhalinai panimin‘ asked us to follow Sri Krishna, who herded the calves, and showed His simplicity. We again complained that Sri Krishna went back to Paramapadham after completing the purpose of that incarnation. Azhwaar took us along to Thiruvarangan, by mentioning ‘uybavaruku uyyum vannam Thiruvarangam kaatinaan”.
Now let us get to the final part of this subsection, namely, the preaching by Azhwaar.
Oru villaal ongu muneer, anaithu ulagangal uyya, seruvile arakar konai setra nam sevaganaar, maruviya periya koyil, madhil Thiruvarangam enna karuvile thiru illadheer kaalathai kazhikindreere (Thirumaal 11)
First let us look at the overall meaning of this hymn. Rama constructed a bridge over the tumultuous ocean for all the jeevathmaas from all the worlds to live peacefully. Ravana, the king of all the demons in the war, was killed by Rama, the Protector of all of us at all the times, is in Thiruvarangam, which has huge, long and large fenced walls. Azhwaar was very concerned about the people, who do not understand the glories of this temple or the glories of His Holy names (Thirunaamams), or His glories or His objective of being present here, which is to bless all those who were born after His (Rama) incarnation. Azhwaar felt that they were wasting their time, by not uttering the Thirunamams, and they were unlucky in not getting His blessings even when they were in their mother’s womb.
In Ramayana, Hanuman found Sita Devi abducted by Ravana, in Sri Lanka and informed Rama about the whereabouts of Sita. Rama decided to build a bridge across the ocean to take the army of monkeys. So Rama decided to inform (seek permission) from the King of ocean and on the shores ( Thirupullaani ) was lying down on holy grass waiting for the King of Ocean. But the king of the ocean, ignorant of Rama’s valor and glories did not respond to Rama’s request. Since he did not respond even after a few days, Rama got angry, vowed to dry up the ocean with His arrows , asked Lakshman, to bring His bow and arrows. On seeing this , the king of the ocean immediately came to Rama and agreed for the construction of the bridge on the ocean. Though Rama, constructed the bridge with stones on the ocean with the help of the monkeys, Azhwaar mentioned that Rama constructed the bridge with His Bow. In Tamil Kal is stone and Vil is bow and they sound rhythmical.
Azhwaar used the word “Ongu” in Tamil, which generally mean the turbulent waves on the sea. But here, azhwaar used to word to mean that the king of the ocean was scared at the fury of Rama and ran towards Rama like a student falling at the feet of a teacher , when the teacher lifts up his cane . The waves in a utmost hurry brought along the sand from the bottom of the sea to the Holy feet of Rama, lying down on the seashore. The word Munneer represent the sea of ocean, which is a collection of three different types of water, namely, river water, spring water and the rain water.
Ravana, cowardly, abducted Sita by distracting Sita with a false golden deer and made Rama and Lakshmana to go away from her, so that he could abduct Her. Unlike that, Rama fought with Ravana directly and won the war and hence Azhwaar coined the word “Seruviley arrakar konai setra nam Sevaganaar” .
Rama protects each and every one of us and He does that willingly and gladly. However if He has to go to each and everyone’s place, it is little bit harder than doing that in one gesture. This was the reason behind the killing of Ravana, who was giving troubling everyone in all the worlds and if he was defeated / killed, then He could easily protect all in all the worlds, by being in one place. This was mentioned in the hymn as ‘anaithu ulagangal uyya” (all in all the worlds to live peacefully). Ravana was called as the king of all bad demons (arakar cone). Our poorvaachaaryaars highlight two other occasions where Paramathma handled few difficult instances with simple ease and they are :
Ravana captured the heaven, this earth, the lower world (paathaalam) heinously and by killing Ravana, Rama made those who were living in those worlds again to be happy. This is reflected in the phrase “anaithu ulagangalum uyya‘ in the hymn. There is saying that those who visit confluence where the holy river Ganges reaches the sea and those who visit and see the bridge ( Sethu ) constructed by Rama, are all absolved from all the sins they committed. This could also be the reason for Azhwaar to state “anaithu ulagangalum uyaa”.
When Azhwaar mentioned “Sevaganaar”, it is about Paramathmaa, who serves us. When a devotee makes a notion like Anjali (a known emojee with both hands together and closed) towards Him, Paramathmaa takes the role of a servant to that devotee. For example, He became a messenger to Pandavas in Mahabharatham.
There is also another meaning to the word “sevagam’, namely valor. Rama asked Ravana to leave the battlefield then and to return the next day with enough weapons, as he lost his weapons on one of the days of the war. That was the superiority of Rama on His strengths over Ravana. During the war Ravana in front his eyes, lost his children, his brothers and all those who were supporting him, and these were all due to his arrogance. Ravana also saw with his own eyes his head being cut off and falling on the ground, which no other person in this world would have seen, as he had ten heads. It was cruel and also a disgrace that no one would have undergone. Again, all these were demonstrating the valor of Rama. In Naachiyaar Thirumozhi, Aandaal also mentioned about this as “Thaithalai atru atru veezha thodutha thalaivan”, (5.3) meaning the prime head among the ten heads of Ravana , fell again and again and that was done by Rama. Thus Rama, who eliminated the enemies of Seetha, who were the obstacles for Rama and Seetha to be united, would do a similar act to protect us by removing our enemies. So it is very appropriate to call Him as Sevaganaar. Since Seetha or Pirati is the one who recommends our surrender to be accepted by Paramathamaa and when Paramathmaa had helped Sita or Pirati, it is a direct help to us, the Jeevathmaas .
Namjeeyar, one of the aacharyaars, when he learnt this hymn from his guru, Bhattar, came across an incident, which he highlighted as having given him the explanation of this hymn. This incident, where the husband threatened his wife and the wife retaliated by saying what he could do, when the king was there with his weapons to protect her from such people. If a human like a king, could give courage to a woman to fight against her ordinary human, husband, Namjeeyar understood that the all powerful, all supreme, Paramathmaa could do everything to protect all jeevatthmaas and that was what conveyed as the meaning to him from this word “sevaganaar’ in this hymn.
Once a student named Chola Sigamani joined Bhattar, one of our achaaryaars. Bhattar asked him to recall the incident at the seashore. This incident was about Rama and Lakshmana guarding and protecting, the thousands of monkeys that were sleeping on the seashore of Sri Lanka throughout the night. Here Bhattar meant that Sri Rama be our only recourse.
Azhwaar mentioned “Maruviya Periya Kovil” to indicate that the temple at Thiruvarangam was established to shower His blessings on those after Rama killed Ravana and after the time of Rama’s incarnation. He is waiting in the reclining posture to grace His blessings. Thondaradipodi Azhwaar had mentioned similar point in his other prabandham, Thirupalliyezhuchi, “maamuni velviyai kaathu avabiratham aatiya adu thiral ayodhi em arase”. The word “maruviya” here means that Perumal is very happy to be here in Thiruvarangam.
According to our commentator, the word ‘Periya” in the term “Periya Kovil“, meaning big temple, was meant to stress the importance and not indicate the size or a measure of the area. Also this temple protects those devotees of this temple, and hence it became Periya kovil.
People like Thirumangai Azhwaar, were scared that there could be enemies for Thiruarangan, much similar to the Rama’s Incarnation days and hence built large, long and huge fenced walls around this Temple.
Our acharyaars say that the Moolavar, Periya Perumal represents Krishna and the Utsavar, Namperumal represents Rama. So the deity in Srirangam is Rama as well as Krishna and it is them who bless us from there. There is a general saying that Perumal casts His eyes on every fetus, when it is in the mother’s womb, so that it acquires additional Satva properties. (Satva gunam). That was the principle behind Azhwaar’s words “karuvile Thiru illadheer“. Azhwaar was worried about those who did not seek the blessings of Thiruvarangam and wasting their time in this world and he called them as “karuvile Thiru ellatheer” and “kalathai kazhkinderrey “.
Two other azhwaars hymns were referred here, as they mean similar point.
Perumal wants to give us the experience that was given to the Nithyasoories and hence He has come here and waiting. Azhwaar was concerned that
Namanum Murkalanum pesa, naragil ninraargal ketka, naragame suwargamaagum naamangal udaiya nambi, avanathu oor Arangam ennaathu ayarthu veezhnthu aliya maandhaar, kavalayul padukindraar endru adhanuke kavalkinrene. (Thirumaalai 12)
Azhwaar asked people like us to recite the holy names of Perumal and the people responded that they could not do that. Azhwaar replied to them that the same benefits would be obtained even if they hear the holy names and this was explained in this hymn. Let us look into the direct meaning of the hymn. Yama and Muthkalan were talking in Hell and those in Hell, who were undergoing the punishments for their sins heard that conversation. The hell became heaven and that was due to the superiority and power of the holy names that were discussed in the said conversation. Azhwaar felt sad and unhappy about those who are wasting their lifetime without mentioning even the name of the place, Thiruvarangam, where the owner of the holy name is waiting to bless them.
Let us first see the reasons for Azhwaar’s concern. Azhwaar stated that he would not worry or show concerns,
So azhwaar asked us on how he could not feel sad and unhappy with people like us wasting and spending our time in the worldly pleasures, without mentioning the easy holy name of Thiruvarangam.
Muthkalan , mentioned in Vishnu Dharmam, was a sinner, but once when he gave away a cow as charity he mentioned Krishnaarpanam, as a part of the ritual, meaning that it was dedicated to Krishna. After he died, the subordinates of Yama, brought him to hell. Yama was there to receive Muthkalan and he was received well. He was surprised and asked Yama, why was such a pleasant welcome or treatment to him in the hell, and then Yama told Muthkalan, that he mentioned the holy name of Krishna once. This was heard by those who were undergoing punishment in the hell and they felt that the hell, the painful place till then, transformed into a happy heaven. Here the glories of reciting or hearing the holy names are listed :
Here, Periyavaachaanpillai raised a query and answered the same with a principle for the benefit of us. If those in hell, who were undergoing punishment due to the sins they committed, could benefit just by hearing the holy name, why the same thing did not happen when they were committing the sin in this world. The question was, had they heard the holy names while committing the sin, they should not have come to the hell at all in the first place. The response from Periyavaachanpillai is that those holy names would not have reached their ears, due to their arrogance when they were committing the sins; and people will keep their ears open and awaiting for soothing words and help only when they are in trouble and pain.
The explanation given for “naragame suwargamaagum“, is that Sri Lanka became a Satvik Town from Thamasa Town, once Vibhishnan took over the kingdom from Ravana. The gloomy and sad town became bright and happy town after Vibhishana was made as the king.
The holy name, ‘Thiruvarangam’ is easy to utter, but if people are not able to tell that holy name, the main reason is the weight of the sin that we committed. The commentator feels sad and gives some more examples of
Periyazhwaar in Periyaazhwaar Thirumozhi prabandham, fourth section (naangam pathu) sixth subsection (pathigam) talked about naming the children, with the holy names like Nayagan, Naaranan, Govindan, Kannan and Kesavan. He continued that the mothers who named their children in the above manner would not go to hell, as they get the benefits of reciting holy names as and when they call their children. The commentator, Manavala Maa Munigal included the fathers also in his explanatory notes.
Thondaradipodi Azhwaar talked about those who fell deep into this worldly pleasure as they forgot to recite the holy names of Perumal, who is our natural relative as ‘ayarthu veezhndhu aliya maandhar’. Thirumangai Azhwaar in his hymn on Thiruvinnagar Perumal (Uppiliappan temple), “marandhen unnai munnam marandha madhi il manathaal iranthen” (Periya Thirumozhi 6.2.2) said that since he forgot Him, who had always been residing in his heart, Azhwaar considered himself as dead mentally.
Thondaradipodi azhwaar felt sad when he mentioned “aliya maandar‘, as we people have good health and a tongue that enable us to recite the holy names, but did not take any effort to recite them. The same point was stressed by Boothathazhwaar in Irandaam Thiruvandhadhi (21). “thaamulare, tham ullam ul ulathey, thaamarayin poo ulathey ethum pozhuthu unde, vaman thiru maruvu chenniyare, sevve aru naragam servathu aridhu“. Azhwaar is perplexed that people are there, they have their heart within them; lotus flowers are available; there is enough time to praise Him; they have their heads to bear the holy feet of Vamanan; but still get into hell. Poigaiazhwaar also said similarly in Mudhal Thiruvandhadhi (95) that we have the tongue in our mouth to recite the holy name of Narayana and finding the way to Moksham or abode, but he wondered our ability to choose bad ways . His words are naa vaayil unde, namo Nayarana endru, ovaadhu uraikum urai unde, moovaadha maa gathikann sellum vagai unde, ennoruvar thee gathigat sellum thiram”.
Thondaradipodi Azhwaar did not worry about himself, but only about people like us, as we are not taking steps towards getting abode, by reciting His Holy names, as he said ” adhanukke kavalginrene”. With this let us move on to the next hymn.
Eriyum neer verikol velai maanilathu uyirgal ellaam, verikol poonthulava maalai vinnavar konai yetha, arivilaa manidhar ellaam Arangam endru azhaipaar aagil, poriyil vaazh naragam ellaam pul ezhunthu ozhiyum andre (Thirumaali 13)
Azhwaar advised people like us in the previous hymns, but found that we did not listen, hence he decided to give his preaching as if he is talking to himself.
Azhwaar started with the people in this world surrounded by sea which has a foul smell of fleshes, felt that they did not have the knowledge to praise and pray Paramathmaa, wearing a fragranced Thulasi (Basil) garland, the God to all in the celestial worlds. Azhwaar’s felt that if people who are controlled by the five senses, living a life of hell here itself could mention the holy name, Thiruvarangam, all would attain abode or Moksham or Paramapadham from this world. So this whole world would become a wasteland, with grown grass. There is another meaning, that if people start reciting Thiruvarangam, there would not be anyone who would be going to hell and hell would be uninhabited with growing grass.
Paramathmaa had given to the Jeevathmaas, the Vedas, limbs and body to do right things and showed the way to reach Him. Accordingly, to reach Paramathmaa people need to have the knowledge about Paramathmaa. Those who do not have that knowledge, can also reach moksham, by simply uttering Thiruvarangam, the name of the holy city. Since no sinful being would be living in here the whole world would be barren and only with grass grown.
Parampadham is called the country with no end to good things. According to Azhwaar all Jeevathmaas are eligible to get there (Paramapadham) and enjoy the good things like the aroma of basil (Thulasi) and praising the glories of Paramathma. However the jeevathmaas end up grieving in this world, surrounded by the sea with the foul smelling water from fish and other living things. This is something similar to what Thirumangai azhwaar said in Periya Thirumozhi (11.8.5), as “vellathu idaipatta nariyinam pole“, meaning the herd of foxes, trapped into a flood. Thondaradipodi azhwaar called this as “yeriyum neer veri kol velai maanilathu uyirgal“
Nithyasoories praise the Paramathmaa for His supreme position and also for the beauty of basil garland with its pleasant aroma. Azhwaar states that we have also taken this birth to praise Him. Periyavaachanpillai provides an wonderful example here. This is from Ramayanam, where Rama was about to go to the forest. Sumitra, mother of Lakshmana, called Lakshmana separately and advised him that he was born only to go to forest and to serve Rama. She went on advising Lakshmana not to focus on the walking style of Rama, as he would then miss the forthcoming enemies of Rama, as His majestic walking would distract everyone. As Lakshmana was born for serving Rama in the Forest, we are also born only to praise Paramathmaa. This is highlighted by Azhwaar in “veri kol poo thulava maalai, vinnavar konai etha‘.
Azhwaar meant that it was easy for people to say harsh words but too difficult and rare to callout “arangam’, when he mentioned “azhaiparaagil“, meaning that in case they call.
All the miseries enter and get trapped in us, due to the five senses we have and hence our body is called a ‘trap’, according to Azhwaar. The five senses have their own individual traps and this is explained with some living things by the commentator.
For these to get caught, there is generally only one trap, whereas for human beings there are five traps in five senses and any of them is capable of sending us to the hell and hence when this life is spent in worldly / materialistic pleasures, it is called as hell by Azhwaar.
Just before Rama, Sita and Lakshman left for forest (vanavaasam) from Ayodhya, Sita mentioned what heaven and hell were and those words are very apt here. She said that it would not be correct, if we generalise and state that heaven being a place for enjoying the pleasures and hell being the place for undergoing punishments. She continued that it all would depend on the particular person’s perspectives. Swami Namazhwaar stated that the life in this world was like living in a hell and he was afraid of living here in Thiruvaaimozhi (8.1.9) “nandrum anjuvan naragam naanadaidhal‘. He goes on stating logically that both heaven and hell being the creation of Paramathama, hence we should not be worried about where we live. But his worry was that if he had to maintain that high level of spiritual knowledge continuously, this worldly life was not conducive to do that. In Irupathinaangaayiram padi (24000 words) commentary on Thiruvaaimozhi, it is stated that Azhwaar was worried about losing whatever spiritual knowledge he got on Paramathmaa and hence he was scared to live in this world. Thondaradipodi azhwaar’s words of “poriyil vaazh naragam” are also very much much similar to the above words of Swami Namazhwaar.
Swami Namazhwaar stated in Thiruvaaimozhi (10.6.1), “irul tharu maa gnalathul ini piravi yaan venden”, meaning that he did not want to get any further births in this world. His contention was that if he stay here more and more time, this worldly life makes his ignorance grow more and more and hence he did not want to live any more in this world.
With this let us move on to the next hymn.
Vandu inam muralum solai, mayil inam aalum solai, kondal meedhu anavum solai, kuyil inam koovum solai, andar kon amarum solai, ani thiruvarangam ennaa, mindar paayndhu unnum sotrai vilaki, naaikku idumineere. (Thirumaalai 14)
This is the last hymn in this subsection, where Azhwaar was preaching to us from hymn 4 to 14 of Thirumaalai. Azhwaar tried to preach directly and on finding not much of a response from people like us he started his preaching as if he was talking to himself. But doing these preaching, though beneficial to us were like preaching good things directly on to the ears of a donkey and the end result was only its crying and nothing other than that. Since his preaching did not make people like us to get involved with subjects related to Perumal, he decided to talk about the glories of Thiruvarangam to make his tongue sweeter, after this bitter experience. Azhwaar, being Azhwaar, could not stop thinking about us during this and felt that people like us also have equal responsibility for reciting the holy names of Perumal and felt sad about us in this hymn. Even though this hymn may sound like his experience, is still a lesson to others and hence it is included in this subsection of Preaching by Azhwaar.
Like flocks of people taking a dip in the river, the bees in Thiruvarangam were in swarms in the flood created by the nectar flowing from the flowers in the gardens is the description given by the commentator for “vandinam muralum solai”. Thirumangai azhwaar handled a similar situation in the eighth hymn of Thirukurunthandagam (8), when he mentioned “varai idai pirasam eendra, thenedai karumbin saatrai thiruvinai”. Here Azhwaar explains the honey coming out of honeycombs from the mountain in floods, as the honey was not collected, going through the sugarcane fields and Perumal, the god for everyone including those in the external worlds, was like the juice of the sugarcane from the such fields.
The word ‘Muralum” is explained as the abnormal humming of the bees, as though they drank too much of wine, moving here and there, as they could not stay in one place. The commentator further explains that the humming was like recital of Sama vedha ghanam by the Nithyasoories and Mukthathmaas, while enjoying the Perumaal’s experience in Srivaikuntham.
The peacocks started enjoying and dancing, thinking that it was a rainy season and arrival of clouds, due to the crowded bees and their humming and the greenery of the garden. Azhhwaar called the above scene as “mayil inam aalum solai’. The sheer number of bees and the greenery around Thiruvarangam, made the clouds to think that Thiruvarangam was a sea and the clouds spread densely over the gardens of Thiruvarangam. The commentator uses the words from Thiruppaavai, “aazhiyul pukku mugarndhu kodu aartheri‘ to announce the downpour of the heavy rain.
Swami Namazhwaar talked about Thirumaaliruncholai near Madurai as “mayal mighu pozhil soozh maaliruncholai” in Thiruvaaimozhi (2.10.3). This is another occasion where an Azhwaar had called the clouds got confused, due to the density and darkness of the gardens. Swami Namazhwaar had told that the clouds did not know where they entered and where they were then. Similarly the dense gardens in Thiruvarangam had made the clouds to get confused and to think that Thiruvarangam was a sea.
Till now we have seen about bees, peacocks and the clouds moving around here and there. But the quails or cuckoos in Thiruvarangam did move from their place, but they were inviting each other. Azhwaar mentioned this as “kuyil inam koovum solai”.
Perumal forgot about His supreme position and the tradition of getting praised by the Nithyasoories in Srivaikuntham or Paramapadham, but continued to stay in Thiruvarangam happily like the bees, clouds, peacocks and cuckoos liking and enjoying the large gardens and sweetness of the atmosphere. Azhwaar mentioned this as “andar kon amarum solai“. Azhwaar mentioned only one of the five states of Paramathmaa, namely, Para, but the commentator in the explanation stated that it is equivalent to mentioning the other states, vyuham and vibhavam. The word “amarum’ means that Paramathmaa had decided to continue to stay here. The term ‘Andar kon’ means that Paramathmaa be the head for all jeevathmaas in all the words and giving His blessings to all jeevathmaas.
The gardens in Thriuvarangam are like oranaments to Thiruvarangam and this is what is conveyed in Azhwaar’s words “solai ani Thiruvarangam“. Azhwaar continued the hymn “Thiruvarangam ennaa mindar“, meaning that when He has been waiting for people us in Thiruvarangam, we should call the people as fools, who did not utter His holy city, Thiruvarangam. Azhwaar called them as ‘mindar‘ , a special word for fools, who neither knew the current situation nor the future.
Azhwaar was disappointed with people like us, as we were using the mouth for eating food, whereas it was supposed to be used for reciting the holy name “Thiruvarangam’. So Azhwaar asked whether there was anyone who could take away the food that was being eaten by the thankless people and give the food to dogs, which are known for their gratefulness. With that Azhwaar changed his thought process and moved away from preaching. This was highlighted in the hymn “mindar paayndhu unnum sotrai vilaki, naaikku idumineere“. A similar concept was told by Periyazhwaar in Periyazhwaar Thirumozhi 4.4.5. “nemi ser thadankaiyinaanai ninaipilaa vali nenjudai, bhoomi baarangal unnum sotrinai vaangi pullai thiniminey“ without even referring such people as people but as liabilities on the earth and stating that those who have strong/hard/dry heart and did not think about the chief deity in Thirukoshtiyur, did not deserve the food made out of rice; but they should be fed with grass.
The commentator asked a question and responded so that we can understand Azhwaar’s reasoning. The question is that if Azhwaar wanted to feed a dog, he could have done that separately, but who gave them the authority to snatch the food from others. The answer was from the sastra sentence which states that it is perfect, if we snatch the resources from bad and give to good. The commentator did not stop there with the sastra sentence, but also gave the example of the life of Thirumangai Azhwaar, who lived like that.
Thondaradipodi Azhwaar started Thirumaalai with the first three hymns, where he shared his experience with Paramathma and then continued his preaching to people like us about the greatness and glories of the holy names (Thirunaama Vaibhavam). We did not listen or followed the preaching of Azhwaar and hence Azhwaar started the next subsection of ten hymns, where he explained the help and support by Paramathma to him. Let us start seeing them in our next weblog.