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From: sudarshan (lucasfie_at_md2.vsnl.net.in)
Date: Sun Aug 09 1998 - 07:39:27 PDT
Dear Sri.Sadagopan, It's been very interesting indeed reading all the posts of yours and others like Sri.Dileepan and Company preferring their respective votes for the "MFDD" (Most Favoured Divya-Desam"). As Sri.Anbil has remarked it's a classic "patti-manram" subject with almost infinite possibilities for friendly but scholarly jousting. Much in the same spirit I have a question on Sri.Tondar-adi-podi for all of you. I too have heard it being said that the Saint sang in praise of none but Ranganathan. This indeed was a matter of great disappointment to me for many years (as it always has similarly been I know for generations of natives of Tirupati). That this AzhwAr ignored our Lord TiruvEngada-mudaiyAn who otherwise fully qualifies for the title,"kurai-onrum-illAda-gOvinda", is something which always particularly rankles inveterate devotess of Lord Srinivasan. Since this Saint also happens to be my favourite AzhwAr this grave lapse on his part never ceases to cause me some pain and embarassment. How on earth could this AzhwAr have ignored The Lord of TiruvEngadam? Some years ago an elderly relative of mine from Tirupati offered me some solace which I now share with you. It does offer some consolation. But I often wonder if it is not as far-fetched as ingenious it certainly is. I would appeal to someone else (like yourself or Sri.Anbil or Sri.Dileepan or Sri.Sempath Rengarajan) to confirm if it is indeed credible if not entirely true. Here it is : In the celebrated Second "pAsuram" of the "tirumAlai" we have the "AzhwAr" likening the "tirumEni" of Ranganatha to the lush, verdant crests of a distant hill that captivate one like the magical will-o-the-wisp: "pacchai-mA-malai-pOl mEni, pavazha-vai kamala-chengan achuthA amara-rErE ! ..... etc." Now, analysing the above line the elderly relative of mine actually questioned the very "pAtivratatvam" of the AzhwAr vis-a-vis Ranganathan : "If Vipra-nArayanan" didn't stir out SriRangam," he asked, "if he was such a "pativratan" vis-a-vis Ranganathan, how did he happen to choose the glorious simile of a "pachhai-mA-malai" to describe the "tirumEni" of the Lord of Srirangam? Were there such hills in and around SriRangam? No! So how then did Tondar-adi-podi visualise the arresting beauty of nascent green cascading down a hill-slope and think it fit to describe the "tirumEni-azhagu" of Ranganathan? "If the AzhwAr had wanted he could have picked on other equally arresting imagery nearer home, isn't it? He could have employed surely any one of a number of similes relating to the beauteous ambience of the Cauvery-banks, for instance. But he didn't. Why? Why indeed? My relative went on to explain. "The only way the Azhwar could adequately describe the "aprAkrita-divya-mangala-tirumEni" of Ranganathan was to compare it with the extraordinary beauty of the verdant green of a "pacchai-mA-malai" ---- which is a clear and unmistakable reference to the Hills of VenkatAdri ! "arranganin tirumEni azhagu nam tirumalaiyin azhaghuk-ku nigarE !" This relative of mine still seriously believes that the inspiration for the wonderful second verse of the 'tirumAlai" was incontrovertibly some inner vision of "venkAtAdri" that the AzhwAr must certainly have had and which he then conveniently used in praise of the Lord of Tiruvarangam! Sri.Sadagopan, I am now in a great "dharma-sankatam" (moral quandary)! If I must believe my relative I will be casting grievous aspersions on the "pativratam" of your AzhwAr who, going by circumstantial evidence, certainly seems to have had pre-marital truck with "tiruvEngadam"! If I were to disbelieve my relative, on the other hand, I know I will be taking away credit from my "tiruvengada-mudaiyAn" who to me is the only true "kurai-onrum illAda govindan" ! Can you please rescue me ? adiyEn, sudarshan I strongly believe that even Saint Tondar-adi-podi "AzhwAr" --- he who sang in praise of none else but the Lord of Tiruvarangam --- could not have conceived of the beauty of "pacchai-mA-malai pOl mEni...." unless he had some inner vision of the lush-green of the Hills of GarudAdri and AnjanAdri ! The "AzhwAr" really had no word to describe adequately the "tirumEni" of the Lord of Srirangam except by comparing it to the lush richness of the Hills of TiruvEngadam --- "pacchai-mAmalai-pOl mEni...."! I challenge anyone who states that our Tondar-adi-podi had nothing to say about "tiruvEngada-mudaiyAn"!!! He said everything he had to say in a single immortal expression of extraordinary poetry!