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 and in the subsequent eleven hymns, Azhwaar was preaching us his experiences with Paramathma. After Azhwaar realised that people did not follow him or his preaching, he denounced such people. They pleaded Azhwaar that Paramapadha Nathan was not in this world and unreachable. Azhwaar then asked them 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 was not easy to approach and follow Sri Rama. To this Azhwaar sang ‘katrinam meitha kazhalinai panimin,’ asked us to follow Sri Krishna, by herding the cattle showed His simplicity. But 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”. Since people did not follow his preaching, Azhwaar decided to leave them there and started to sing about the greatest help and benefits graced by Periyaperumal to him in the next ten hymns.
Meiyarke Meiyannagum vidhiyila ennai pola, poiyarke Poiyanaagum, put kodi udaiya Komaan, uyyappom unarvinaarkatku oruvan endru unarndha pinnai, aiyaapaadu aruthu thonrum azhaganoor arangam anre. (Thirumaalai 15)
This song on the surface simply implies that Perumal is true to those whose devotion is true and He is not True to those, whose devotion is not true. Perumal, full of handsomeness, who has the Garurda (divine bird) on His flag, clears the doubts of those who want to attain moksham / abode and He stays in Srirangam.
We need to carefully look at this hymn, as what is True devotion and what is False or untrue devotion according to Perumal and how this is evaluated by Him. We need to also look at what He gives to those whose devotion is true and to those whose devotion is false or untrue. That would be the complete explanation of this hymn from the commentator.
Perumal would do everything to those whose devotion are true and would let down those, whose devotion is false. Perumal considers the devotion as true, if people did not show any hatred or animosity towards Him, even if they did not have the interest or involvement in Perumal related matters. Perumal considers the devotion to be false, if people are interested only in the materialistic world and showed no interest in Perumal related matters; (people who are Atheists); once people realise the presence of Perumal and wish to attain moksham, He clears all their doubts and with all His beauty He is in Srirangam. This is the overall summary of this hymn according to the commentator.
Azhwaar, in this hymn, showed what a grateful person would do, by praising those whose good acts helped him. Azhwaar was like one of us, but Perumal had uplifted him to a great level that he could then preach people like us. Perumal had cleared all the doubts of Azhwaar and had uplifted him to higher levels of devotion (bhakthi, parabhakthi and parama bhakthi). So Azhwaar wanted to praise the glories and beauty of Perumal in this hymn.
Swami Nammazhwaar in a similar situation, not knowing how to reciprocate the favours he received from Perumal, said “ennai thee manam keduthaai” (Thiruvaaimozhi, 2.7.8), meaning that Azhwaar had thanked Perumal for having given him a pure heart, without any bad ideas or thoughts. The srisukthi from Eedu (Eetu Srisukthi) for this states that there are people who like both nectar (things involving Perumal) and poison (all other worldly things) together, whereas Azhwaar appreciated and thanked Perumal for having given him only the nectar, or the heart that thinks only about Perumal all the time and nothing else.
The word ‘Meiyarke’, refers to Jeevathmas who are truthful. The word “Meiyanaagum” refers to what Paramathma does to those whose devotion is true. In the same way, in the next phrase, “Poiyarke Poiyanaagum”, the word “Poiyarke”, refers to Jeevathmas who are not truthful and the word “poiyanaagum’ refers to what Paramathma does to those whose devotions are untrue.
First let us try to understand the journey of Bhakthi involving various stages. All jeevathmas need not have to go through all these stages and at any point, many jeevathmas may be identified in a particular stage. Let us assume that the first stage is being an Atheist, someone who does not believe in God or refuses the existence of God. The next stage is where people do not show any hatred or animosity towards God. These people do not have much to talk about devotion and does not spend any time in spiritual matters. But at the same time, they also do not show any resistance to God or to His beliefs. Next stage is when people start to get interested about God. At this stage they show more interest and spend more time towards spiritual matters. Then those stages progress to Bhakthi, Parabhakthi, Paragnanam and Paramabhakthi. Let us start with the stage, where people who do not show any hatred or animosity as the first step in the ladder of devotion or bhakthi. Now we go into the hymn.
“Meiyar” means those who are truthful. According to Azhwaar, Perumal considers even those jeevathmas as Meiyar or truthful who are in the initial stage of not showing hatred or animosity towards Perumal. Truthful life is one where Jeevathmas start living only for Perumal and false life is one where jeevathmas live only for themselves. Truthful life (Mei) gives eternal benefits and happiness whereas false life (Poi) does not give long lasting benefits or happiness. In other words, this ‘true life’, begins as soon as someone is in a non-hatred state towards Paramathma, which also implies that the individual does not need to start liking Perumal or do any bhakthi related activities. The word Mei talks about the mind of believers and the word ‘poi‘ talks about the mind of atheists. Thondaradipodi Azhwaar called all other matters that are not related Perumal do not give permanent benefits as ‘false’ or ‘untrue.’
The commentator also mentioned that these jeevathmas should have an internal desire not to live for themselves but to serve Perumal. That is the main reason, why Azhwaar called them as Meiyar in the first place.
Nithyasooris, are perfect examples for Meiyar. They are dedicated to Paramathma and serve Him, only Him and eternally. And Perumal does everything He could do for them, through His heart, words and deeds. According to Azhwaar, Paramathma would do the same to all Meiyars.
In the above phrase “Meiyarke Meiyanaagum” the word “mei” appears twice and each time the word “mei” is explained differently. The commentator justifies the following reasons for the two different meanings :
Next is a question whether we could assume this state of non-hatred or non-animosity to be a path for getting moksham. Our commentators responded negatively to that and said non-hatred state could not be a path to abode. They added further that a path is not needed after reaching the destination and hence would be dropped after reaching the destination. However, jeevathmas have to continue with the non-hatred attitude and grow beyond the state of non-hatred to other states when they would be serving Paramathma in Paramapadham. And for this reason, non-hatred state is not a path for getting abode.
Next let us go through Poiyarke Poiyanaagum. When Perumal knew that a particular jeevathma could not even attain the primary state of Non-hatred level, then He, lets them down, sadly. For this we need to understand from what Namazhwaar had told in Thiruvaaimozhi (5.1.1), “poiye kaimei solli purame purame aadi” meaning that he uttered untrue words and acted as if he was involved in spiritual and Perumal related activities, but in reality he was not. Nammazhwaar completed this hymn by saying that in spite, he got all the real benefits from Perumal. So Perumal takes this as another important stage in the level of bhakthi or devotion. This state is considered a true act or true intention or true words, even though they were untrue. According to Paramathma, if a jeevathma can not attain even this state, then only Perumal lets them down. So this is a minimum level of bhakthi needed to get the blessings of Paramathma.
Please note that the suffix in Meiyarke, ‘ke‘, called ‘e-kaaram’ in Tamil denotes the minimum level of bhakthi, showing non-hatred or non-animosity towards Perumal. Similarly the “ke“, the e-kaaram in Poiyarke represent the maximum level of an atheist, the activities that can be considered as true, even though they are not done in the true spirits. Here Perumal lets them down, only if they do not reach even this level.
Perumal would do whatever He does for Nithyasoories to Meiyar or Believers and He will let the atheists or Poiyar down. This is the summary for the phrases Meiyarke Meiyannagum’ and poiyarke Poiyanaagum.
Thondaradipodi Azhwaar said that he found within himself, both, Meiyarke Meiyanaagum’ and poiyarke Poiyanaagum and this he referred to as ‘vidhiyila ennai pola‘, meaning that he did not have the destiny to get the blessings from Perumal for a long time. Here the destiny means the right opportunity to get into Perumal related matters. Azhwaar felt for having wasted so many days and time without involving himself with Perumal related matters. Poigai Azhwaar, in Mudhal Thiruvandhadhi, hymn 16, “pazhudhe palapagalum poyina endru, anji azhudhen”, says that Poigai Azhwaar felt that what he lost in the past, wasting his time, was more painful than the happiness he got from getting the knowledge and blessings from Perumal then. We can also recall here, from the saying in Ramayanam, (Ayodhya Kaandam, 17.14) that those who did not see Rama or who did not get the blessings of Rama, were all leading a blamed life.
Azhwaar considers himself in a state between believer and an atheist in “vidhiyila ennai pola”. It is a middle state between Meiyar and Poiyar. Perumal still protects those in that state, like a lamp, that gives light, both in the front and at the back. But He may not show all His glories to these jeevathmas. According to Azhwaar, he felt that he was in that middle state.
Now let us go back to the bhakthi illustration shown earlier, with two steps which were undefined. Together we can name them as Neutral stage. We can classify them, one as the state where the activities may be considered as true, even though they are not done in the same true sense. The next undefined step is the middle state, where we may not be considered either as believers or as atheists. In these two states, Perumal may not show all His glories, but will not let them down also, which means that He will give opportunities to those Jeevathmas to move forward in the journey of bhakthi. We may not know where we are, but keeping in mind, that we need to go a long way in the stages of bhakthi and keep trying our best to move forward.
There could be a question in the minds of Jeevathmas, whether Perumal is doing this favour of accepting even those who do things, which are classified as true activities, even though they are not carried out in the same good spirits, only because He does not get enough jeevathmas in Paramapadham. Azhwaar responded negatively to this question, by mentioning the words “putkodi udaiya komaan“. Putkodi, is the flag with Garudan as an emblem, and this flag is the identity of Perumal. Azhwaar takes Garudan as one example to highlight the service of nithyasoories to Perumal and indicates that there are more nithyasoories to serve Perumal. Now let us take the different services that are done by Garudan to Perumal
These services can be done by other nityasooreies too, but Garudan does these services all by himself. Perumal has many such nithyasorries, who can do many services like Garudan. Another example is Adhiseshan and the services done by Adhiseshan are :
So Perumal has many such nithyasoories, who are capable of doing multiple services for Him and He is not considering those jeevathmas, who are in the early stages in the bhakthi, for this reason. He is looking at all the Jeevathmas as His property or His entitled ones and does not want to leave any one, like how a rich person, who would not like to lose even one coin. It is just that what He expects is very simple, because He knows the Jeevathma’s capabilities and with that He still wants to give us the moksham.
The word “komaan” refers to a King and the reference given here is “ayarvarum amarargal athipathi‘ (Thiruvaaimozhi, 1.1.1), meaning that He is ever agile , the King or Lord of all the devas and untiring celestial beings, like Nithyasoories.
We should understand the above “uyyappom unarvinaargatku“, as those who have the desire to move forward in the levels of bhakthi, from the early state of doing activities classified as out of true bhakthi or devotion even though they were done untruly. This means that such people are getting more knowledge and seriously considering how to make the change from the current stage to the next higher levels. If those jeevathmas who do not even get this desire to move forward from this level, are leading their life towards a ‘mudiyapom’, meaning that they are leading towards a closure. We can refer to Bhaghawath Geetha (2.63), where Krishna says that when we start forgetting (Him), we see a decline in our knowledge or mind and move towards the cycle of birth and rebirth.
This, oruvan endru unarntha pinnai, refers to the knowledge we get once we realise that there is God, Eswaran, and He is one who guides us in each and everything. It is also the knowledge about understanding the difference between body and the soul. It is also understanding that the soul is much superior to the body. And everyone’s soul is directed and guided by Paramathma, Perumal or Eswaran.
Let us try to understand the twenty six (26) elements in our tradition. This was conveyed by Perumal to Namazhwaar as in Thiruvaaimozhi (8.8), “Kanngal sivandhu periyavaai vaayum sivandhu” and let us try to recall those 26 elements here.
Many have accepted the above list upto the twenty fifth element, but they would not easily accept the twenty sixth element, the Paramathma. They have lot more questions and doubts around that principle ‘Paramathma’. In Bhaghavath Geetha, all the queries of Arjuna were clarified by Lord Krishna in person. According to Thondaradipodi Azhwaar, Perumal clears all the queries from people through His beauty. Azhwaar says that His Beauty will clearly show that He is Paramathma or Paramporul or the reason for everything.
In Thiruvaaimozhi, (9.7.3), Swami Namazhwaar highlights that he would not live, if separated from Perumal or from His beauty, as, “sekkamalarthavar polum, kann, kai, kaal senkanivaai, akkamalathilai polum thirumeniyadigaluke”. This explains the beauty of Perumal in Archai state. This is further explained in Aachaarya Hrudhayam, as “thamarottai vaasam marapitha soundharyathai unarthum archai naalaam thoodhirku vishayam” meaning that the beauty of Perumal in Archai state would make people forget about the aromatic surroundings, and enjoy only seeing His form and this became the key subject for the fourth errand in Thiruvaaimozhi. There are three other errands in Thiruvaaimozhi; first one is to the Perumal in Vyugam, the second one to Vibhavam state; the third one is to the Parathva state and this fourth one is to the Perumal in Archai and we will see more details of these errands at some occasion.
Similarly the hymn Thiruvaaimozhi 4.5.10, “kandavaatraal thanake ulagena nindraan thannai‘, also highlighted the beauty of Perumal. Thondaradipodi Azhwaar here, raises the question should we need to visit Paramapadham to enjoy His beauty, and clarifies the same without any doubts that we can see the same beauty in Thiruvarangam, as Azhagnoor Arangam anre.
The commentator concludes this hymn, by stating that Paramapadham is like the king’s court of Srivaikuntha Nathan and once the session is completed in Paramapadham, He would come and stay happily in Thiruvarangam. We will also conclude this hymn here and let us catch up with the next weblog soon.