Thirumaalai – Virumbi Ninru


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 and in the subsequent eleven hymns, Azhwaar was preaching us his experiences with Paramathma.

Since Azhwaar realised that people did not follow him or his preaching, he denounced such people. They pleaded Azhwaar that Paramapadha Nathan was unapproachable, as He would not be in this world, but somewhere else. Azhwaar responded by asking 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 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”.

Since people did not follow his preaching, azhwaar decided to leave us there and started to sing about the greatest help and support graced by Periyaperumaal to him in the next ten hymns. We discussed the first of these hymns earlier which is the fifteenth paasuram, ‘Meiyerke Meiyanaagum‘. In that hymn, azhwaar stated that Permal does all the things for those who show truthful devotion to him; He also protects those who do things related to devotion which are not really truthful, but could be classified as truthful; He lets down those who are not even doing such false devotion as mentioned above. Azhwaar concluded that hymn by stating that Perumal uses His beauty to clarify all the doubts and His place is Srirangam. In the next hymn, Soothanaai Kalvannai, Azhwaar mentioned that he himself was a thief and a fraud, got entangled with the beauty of the eyes of the other women and fell in deep pits. Azhwaar continued to state that Periyaperumal used His beauty to correct him and diverted all his love and affection towards Him. Now let us go into the next hymn.

Thirumaalai – sixteenth hymn

Virumbi ninru yetha maaten, vidhi ilen, madhi onru illai, irumbu pol valiya nenjam, irai irai urugum vannam, surumbu amar solai soozhndha arangamaa koyil konda, karumbinai kandu kondu en kann inai kallikumaare. (Thirumaalai 17)

Azhwaar stated that he did not recite His glories using his mouth, did not pray to Perumal with folded hands, and did not even think about the very existence of Perumal or Eswaran, who was behind every activity of each and every Jeevathmaa. Perumal slowly melted Azhwaar’s heart, which was as hard as steel. Azhwaar was amazed that his eyes started enjoying the beauty of Perumal of Thiruvarangam, full of orchards with many beatles. It was like how a poor person, staying hungry for many days, getting a feast every day would feel ecstasical. Azhwaar considering his earlier state, felt the same, once he got the dharsan and blessings of Periyaperumal , though he did not deserve such grace from Perumal.

Azhwaar mentioned ‘aadharam‘ in the previous hymn, that Periyaperumal enhanced the love and affection in his heart towards Him. Azhwaar was happy that he was not like the people whose heart melted with the love and affection towards Him, but their physical form remained strong. Azhwaar wondered how his senses like vision (eyes) were able to enjoy the beauty of Periyaperumal, in this hymn. Qnly the soul or jeevathma experiences the outcome of the senses, but here Azhwaar mentioned that his senses themselves were enjoying His beauty. With that introduction, let us go into the hymn.

Virumbi Ninru Yetha Maaten

Azhwaar with the above words, mentioned how he was in the past with his heart, limbs and mouth, the three important parts of our body, which could have actively taken part in the devotion process (bhakthi). Aandal in Thirupaavai hymn 5 preached that we should use our hands to offer flowers to Him, our mouth to offer prayers to Him and our mind / heart to think about Him. Thondaradipodi Azhwaar mentioned that he did not do as Aandal asked in the past. In Vishnu Puranam (5.7.70), it is mentioned that we should ask His favour to pray to Him, the head of all Nithyasoories, as we do not have the energy to pray Him and praise Him, but we have more than enough energy in our tongue to speak all other worldly matters. Azhwaar summarised the above with “virumbi ninru yetha maaten” to confirm that in the past, he did not have the strength or inclination to talk about Perumal.

Vidhi illen

In Amarakosam, a literary work, the activities carried out using our body are classified as Vidhi, and mentioned “vidhir vidhaane”. Here Azhwaar stated “vidhi illen“, as he did not do any devotional activity towards Perumal for a very long time, using his hands and other parts of the body.

Madhi Onru illai

According to Vishnu Dharmam, the tongue that speaks about Vishnu alone is a tongue, the heart that is submitted to Vishnu alone is a heart, and the hands utilised for praying to Him alone are considered as hands. Azhwaar said that he did not follow any of these in the past, did not even know that there was a god, when he mentioned “madhi onru illai”, meaning ‘did not have the knowledge’. Our Vedhas and Upanishads, mention that those who know or understand Paramathma alone are considered as human beings and all others are considered nothing. The great sage Parasara in Vishnu Puraanam had said, that the knowledge required for attaining abode alone is ‘the knowledge‘ or ‘the skill’ and all others are wasteful. Since this is ‘the knowledge’, Thondaradipodi Azhwaar mentioned ‘madhi onru illai’ to mean that he did not have this knowledge.

Irumbu pol valiya nenjam

Here Azhwaar states that Perumal for His sake, reformed his mind, instrumental for the other two elements, body and tounge, as Azhwaar, in the past, who had not turned towards Perumal, with his mind, tongue and body. Azhwaar stated that his mind and heart were hard like steel in the past. Even steel could be melted by fire, whereas his heart/mind was stronger than steel, by mentioning ‘valiya‘. Azhwaar praised Perumal by stating that only Perumal could change his heart/mind which could never be done by anyone else.

Azhwaar compared his hardened heart to a land, hardened by drought, that had not seen water for a long time. Even here Azhwaar is praising Perumal, as He showered His blessings like heavy rainfall into that drought land, to make it softened muddy land. As a diamond is used for cutting another diamond, Azhwaar said that his heart hardened like a diamond due to the involvement in other worldly aspects, and a Great Diamond, Periyaperuumal used His beauty to correct the toughened heart of Azhwaar, which we would see at the later part of this hymn.

Irai Irai Urugum Vannam

Aandal in her Thirupaavai, (22) said, “senkan siruchiridhe em mel vizhiyaavo “, as a request from Aandal to Lord Krishna to open His red hued eyes gently. In the same way, Thondaradipodi Azhwaar said that Periyaperumal had slowly changed him, as Perumal knew that Azhwaar did not have the ability to withstand His blessings all at once. As Perumal gently opened His eyes , Azhwaar started melting down slowly.

Surumbu amar solai soozhntha

The beatles, ‘surumbu’ were well settled in the orchards of Thiruvarangam. The word ‘amar’, which literally means ‘sit’, here denotes that the bees were born there and continued to stay only there. The commentator doubted whether the bees would fly out to other places, but responded that, since the honey or nectar never dried up in these gardens, it was like spring season all the times. Hence the bees had no reason to move out of these orchards. He said those beatles of Thiruvarangam were born and stay in those gardens and it was as natural as how the fragrance was there on the flowers, coming into existence with the growing gardens of Thiruvarangam.

Here let us look into one of the points from the second hymn of Yathiraja Vimsathi, one of the works of Manavaala Maamunigal. He mentioned “Srimath Paraankusa padhaambhuja Bhrngaraajam“, that Swami Ramanuja like a beatle that never would leave a lotus full of nectar, was always under the lotus feet of Nammazhwar. Here the nectar is the great Thiruvaaimozhi, by Namazhwaar and Ramanujar always seeking that nectar would never leave the holy feet of Namazhwaar.

Solai Soozhntha Arangamaa koyil konda

Azhwaar, first sang that those beautiful orchards were in Thiruvarangam. Later, he said that Thiruvarangam itself is sweeter than the parks and gardens, by calling the temple “maa’ koyil. According to Azhwaar, if the sweetness of Thiruvarangam is the inner part of a fruit, the beauty of those gardens are like the outer skin of a fruit. Azhwaar stated the temple in Srirangam is as glorified as Paramapadham.


Karumbu means sugarcane. Here Azhwaar calls Periyaperumal as Karumbu. Like Karumbu, which is naturally sweet, Azhwaar says Periyaperumal is also naturally sweet. The Thaithreeya Upanishad, calls Paramathma, Ananda swaroopan, meaning that Paramathma is Happiness and Jeevathma gets happiness by attaining Him. This shows that Paramthama is naturally sweet.

Earlier we saw that Perumal, a diamond, used His beauty to cut the strong mind / heart of Azhwaar, which itself was like a strong diamond. But now we can understand that Perumal with His sweet and soft beauty, changed the strong and diamond like heart of Azhwaar. Soft and sweet Sugarcane (Periyaperumal’s beauty) was used to cut the diamond, hard and strong heart of Azhwaar.

Kandu Kondu

Kandu Kondu, generally means ‘to understand’. In Ramayanam, Yudha Kaantam, 19.7, said that Sri Rama sipped Vibhishnan through His eyes. In the same way, Azhwaar says that Periyaperumal, a sugarcane, could be sipped through the eyes .

En Kan Inai Kalikumaare

Once Azhwaar had the dharsan of Perumal, he wondered how his eyes, after involving in other worldly pleasures, could enjoy the beauty of Periyaperumal. Azhwaar in ‘kan inai says that the joy experienced by his right eye is equivalent to the joy experienced by the left eye, when enjoying the beauty of Periya Perumal, and those two eyes only could be compared to each other. As seen earlier, Azhwaar said that the eyes, having no intelligence by themselves to interpret the sense, went beyond the level as just senses and were enjoying like the soul.

We mentioned above that the eyes were enjoying by themselves in a happy situation. We can see an example, where the eyes reacted to a sad situation, in Ramayanam when Rama was sent to the forest. Dasarathan, after sending Rama was lamenting that his eyes followed Rama and he could not see Kowsalya, his wife. Dasarathan further asked Kowsalya to touch him to check whether his senses were still with him in the hymn 42.34 Ayodhya Kaantam by Valmiki. Here Dasarathan said his eyes went on its own without his permission .

Swami Nammazhwaar stated that he reached the same state in Thiruvaaimozhi, 3.8, Mudiyaane pathigam. Here,

  • In 3.8.1, Azhwaar mentioned that his heart was melting and wanted to see Him;
  • In 3.8.2, his voice, wanted the similar blessings that his heart got from Perumal,
  • In 3.8.3, his hands wanted to sing and praise Perumal like his voice
  • In 3.8.4, his eyes wanted to pray like his hands;
  • In 3.8.5, his ears wanted to see like his eyes.
  • In 3.8.6, his soul wanted to hear like ears.
  • In 3.8.7, his heart wanted to enjoy the beauty of His holy form for many years and could not get the same till that time. (enjoyment is a function of soul, as mentioned earlier)
  • In 3.8.8, Azhwar asked when his heart would enjoy the beauty of Perumal and wanted Him to give a particular date to enjoy, like what Rama promised to Bharathan.
  • In 3.8.9, Azhwaar requested when his soul would attain abode.
  • In 3.8.10 Azhwaar cried that how long should he suffer without seeing His holy feet.

In the above 10 hymns Nammazhwaar said how the control of his limbs were not with him. At the end, in 3.8.11 he mentioned Nalankol seer, a very special set of words, to mean that the functions of each of his limb wanted to perform another function and they did not stop at the other parts, but travelled beyond all senses, to the ultimate supreme, Paramathmaa and to merge with Him .

Let us catch up again in the next hymn of Thodandradipodi Azhwaar.

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