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Copy of: Swami Desikan"s MummaNikkOvai : His first Tamil prabhandham

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Wed Aug 13 1997 - 19:08:26 PDT

Dear Members of the Bhakthi/Prapathi group : 
The following article might be of interest to you .
---------- Forwarded Message ----------

From:	V. Sadagopan, 75041,3037
CC:	ara,
DATE:	8/11/97 10:21 PM

RE:	Copy of: Swami Desikan"s MummaNikkOvai : His first Tamil prabhandham

Dear Fellow BhakthAs :

Swami Desikan's fluency and mastery of three 
languages (viz) ., Sanskrit , Tamil and Prakrith 
is well known . With BhagavAn HayagreevA's blessings , 
he composed many a splendid work in these three 
languages . He had the Hayagreeva SaakshAthkAram
at Thiruvaheendrapuram on Oushadha giri . Thereafter ,
he was deeply immersed with Bhagavdh anubhavam 
of Sri DevanAthan , the presiding lord of the divya dEsam 
of Thiruvaheendrapuram . He spent many years of his life 
at this divya kshEthram and blessed us with magnificinet 
compositions such as Achyutha Sathakam , Sri DevanAyaka
panchAsath , MummaNikkOvai and other Tamil aruLicheyalgaL
that are lo longer available to us . These are works that 
resulted from his anubhava janitha aanandhA pravAham .
The extraordinary involvement of Swami Desikan with the 
anubhavam of the pUrNa shAtguNya Vigraham of 
Sri DevanAthan resulted in these magnificient 
composiitons .

These works on Sri DevanAthan also resulted because of 
the direct command of the Lord that Swami Desikan alludes to 
in the eighth slOkam of Sri DeavanAyaka panchAsath :

samrakshaNeeyam amarAdhipathE tvayaiva 
    dhooram prayAthamapi dhusthyaja gAtabhandham I
aakrushtavAnasi bhavanAnukampamAna :
    suthrAnubhaddha sakuni kramatha: svayam maam II

(meaning ) : O DaivanAyakA ! You have pulled me back 
to You from the vast distances that I had wanderd to because 
of my ties to samsAram just as the owner of  a bird , who
has tied a thread to the leg of the bird that he owns  yanks it back .
I am the one , who deserves to be protected by You and 
out of Your compassion , You drew me back closer to You .

This slokam and the sthOthram of Sri DaivanAyaka panchAsath
arose as a result of an incident in Swami Desikan's life . He had
resided many years at Thiruvaheendrapuram enjoyig 
the ArchA mUrthy of Sri DaivanAyakan . After that time , Swami 
Desikan decided to go on a journey to Kanchipuram to have
the darsanam of Sri VaradarAjan . He started on his journey 
and rested for a night at a place on the banks of river
PeNNAru . He had  a dream in the morning , where 
Sri DaivanAyakan appeared in the dream of Swami Desikan 
and commanded him to return to Thiruvaheendrapuram and 
create Sri sUkthis on Him .

Swami Desikan woke up with alacrity and immediately 
returned to Thiruvaheendrapuram and spent many 
more years there and created number of Divya Sookthis 
on Lord DaivanAthan in Sanskrit , Tamil and PrAkrutham and 
placed them at the lotus feet of the divya dampathis . Thus
originated the beautiful Tamil prabhandham of MummaNikkOvai. 
Swami Desikan's deep devotion flows like a majestic river 
in the verses of MummaNikkOvai . 

There are 96 different types of prabhandhams with specific
grammar in Tamil poetic tradition . One of them is the tradition
of MummaNikkOvai . This category of poetry has to have thirty
verses and they have to be set in three different kinds of 
architecture known as veNNpaa , AasiriyappA and kattaLai 
kalitthurai . Earlier NammAzhwAr had set three of his four 
prabhandhams -- ThiruvAsiriyam , Periya ThiruvanmdhAthi 
and Thiruviruttham -- in aasiriyappA , veNNpA and kattaLai
kalitthurai . Inspired by the example set by the kulapathi ,
Swami Desikan followed that illustrious example and 
set MummaNikkOvai in the same manner and distilled
the essence of the four prabhandhams of NammAzhwAr 
in his first Tamil composition . 

NammAzhwAr's first prabhandham is Thiruviruttham.
It fits in the grammatical framework  of kattaLai kalithturai . 
The Thiruviruttham of the great AzhwAr is an account of
the journey of the soul to its transcendance , after overcoming
its avidhyA , slumber and and sloth in which it was trapped 
before its union with the Lord . Several levels of ascent of 
the God-hungry soul and its fulfillement of its objective are 
covered in this magnificient aruLiccheyal of the AzhwAr .
Swami Desikan's verses in KattaLai kalitthurai of 
the MummaNikkovai are moving accounts of his search for 
and attainment of Lord DaivanAyakan's blesings in the manner
of NammAzhwAr's own search and realization . 

The second prabhandham of NammAzhwAr is ThiruvAsiriyam .
This follows the grammar defined for AasiriyappA in Tamil poetry .
These paasurams are a result of the AzhwAr's unparalleled 
enjoyment of the beauty of the subhAsrayam of Sriman NaarAyaNA .
In a similar manner , Swami Desikan saluted the most sacred and 
beautiful bhagavathsvarUpam of Sri DaivanAyakan in aasiriyappA .

The third prabhandham of NammAzhwAr , Periya ThiruvandhAthi 
takes the form of veNNpaa . Swami Desikan uses the veNNpaa 
in MummaNikkOvai to experience his deep involvement with
the anantha kalyANa guNams of the Lord of Thiruvaheendrapuram 
just as NammAzhwar reflected on his own anubhavam of Sriman
NaarAyaNA .

In his fourth prabhandham , ThiruvAimozhi , NammAzhwAr 
poured out his sublime experience in paasurams that 
deal with his saakshAthkAram of the Lord and the delectable 
anubhavam . In a similar fashion , Swami Desiakn 
recorded his own unique bliss resulting from 
the divine darsanam of the Lord of Thiruvaheendrapuram 
in his tenth verse of MummaNikkOvai . 

Thus the ten verses of MummaNikkOvai is the distillation of 
the essence of the four prabhandhams of NammAzhwAr . They
are the quintissence of the aruliccheyalaL of SatakOpa maamuni .

Besides the strict adherence to the rules of Tamil poetry , 
the inner meanings of the ten verses of MummaNikkOvai 
are profound and echo the truths covered by the VedAs and
Upanishads . The vyankyArthams or the symbolic meanings 
hinted have a very auspicious dhvani that is sacred and at 
the same time enchanting . 

MummaNikkOvai has also been identified as a kaavyam 
in Tamil . The jeevan or the life breath of a kaavyam is its
rasam . Sri Desika Darsana Vijaya dhvaja , panditha 
bhooshaNa Bhagavadh vishaya vidwAn  , Sri ChEtlUr 
NarasimhAchArya Swami has written a scholarly commentary
on Swami Desiakn 's MummaNikkOvai . He has pointed out
that saanthi rasam is the primary rasam of this kaavyam ;
sringAram , adhbhutham , karuNai and veeram have been 
identified as auxillary rasams handled by Swami Desikan according 
to this great Srivaishnavite scholar . 

MummaNikkOvai  in Tamil means the necklace 
made up of three gems or rathnams  . Sri ChEtlUr 
Swamy has explained to us that the  three gems
are the sthOthra rathnam , purANa rathnam and manthra
rathnam . 

I will cover the highlights of the ten verses of MummaNillOvai
available to us today among the original thirty verses of 
MummaNikkOvai in the subsequent postings .

Sri Taranga Mukha Nandinee HemAbhja NaayikA samEtha 
Sri DevanAtha ParabrhamaNE Nama:

SrimathE VakuLa BhooshaNa MahA guravE nama:

SrimathE BhaashyakArAya Nama :

SrimathE NigamAntha MahA DesikAya Nama :

Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan 
Sri ANDAL's ThirukkalyANa dinam , Isvara samvathsaram .