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Part 1:Sri Bhagavad Dhyana Sobhanam & Thiruppaanalvar's Amalanaadipiran.

From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_compuserve.com)
Date: Sat Dec 02 1995 - 07:17:32 PST

                                                                                 
Yuva Samvatsara,Karthigai Month
                                                                                 
Kaisika Ekadasi Day, Dec 2, 1995  

 
Dear Members of the Prapatti Group:

Yesterday, A number of Postings covered the  Aruliccheyal of Thiruppaanaalvar
known as the 
Amalannadhipiraan. Today, on this sacred day revered as Kaisika Ekadasi day, I
will post a note on the importance of the ten stanzas of the Alvar and add some
thoughts on how  the Alvar"s Bhagavad Anubhavam   moved  many of the Vaishnava
Acharyas.  These  ten verses are  housed  in the Sixth Prabhandam of the
Mudalaaiyram of the Naalaiyra Divya Prabhandam.This Alvar by tradition  is
considered  to be Ayonija or one, who is not born of mortal human beings. He is
also
 considered as an Amsa of (Sri Vatsa mark, the mole on the chest ) of Sriman
Narayana. He was
brought up however  as a foster-child by a childless couple of the Paanar caste
(wandering ministrel caste  Like that of  Neelakanta Yazhpaanar, who accompnaied
Thiru Gyana Sambhandar). 

Swami Desiakn was moved very much by the Composition of this  Alvar and wrote a
commentary 
called Munivahana Bhogam in Sanskritized Tamil (Mani pravaalam). He also
composed four verses
in Tamil in His Prabhanda Saaram to elaborate on the significance of the
Contribution of this  
Alvar. He went on to compose a Stotram in Sanskrit known as" Sri Bhagavad Dhyana
Sobhaanam"
to praise the matchless beauty of  the Lord of Sri Rangam in the spirit of the
Alvar"s experience
accounted for in the immortal verses of Amalanaadhipiran. We will now summarize
the earthly
life of this great Alvar and his Anubhavam of the Lord of  Sri Rangam, which
inspired Swami 
Desikan and the Acharyas before him.

Thiruppanar was a resident of one of the 108 divya desams known as Kozhi or
Nisulapuri, which is
on the banks of cauveri  river , very close to Sri Rangam. He used to come to
the banks of Cauvery 
and sing about the glory of Ranganatha and lose himself in a  trance like state.
On one of those days,
when he was totally oblivious to  his surroundings, the temple priest of Lord
Ranganatha came to the river to collect  water for the Sacred bath of the Archa
Moorthy  .He saw  our Alvar and  thought that latter  was a man of lower  caste
and therefore, he should move away to permit the collection 
of the water for the daily abishekam  of Sri Ranganatha  without pollution. The
name of the Ranganatha Purohita(Priest) was Loka Saranga Muni. He was called a
Muni by the residents of Sri Rangam  because of his piety and scholarship. He
devoted every moment of his life to the service of the Lord at Sri Rangam.
        
The Alvar was lost inthe  thoughts of Sri Ranganatha and did not hear the shouts
of Loka Saranga
Muniasking him  to move away. The preist got angry at nonresponse and threw a
small pebble at  the Alvar to wake him up from his trance. The pebble missed the
water and hit the Alvar in on the forehead and opened  a wound
from which blood began to gush. The Alvar woke up and realized the situation,
apologized for his 
unawareness and moved away. The Priest collected the water in his  golden pot
and reached the inner sanctum of Lord Ranganatha. There , he saw to his sorrow
and astonishment  blood oozing  from the forehead of the Lord at the same site,
where the Alvar had  a wound earlier.The Muni recognized
his apachara and went home and had restless sleep. In his dream appeared the
Lord of Sri 
Rangam and commanded the Priest to bring the Alvar to the temple as a praaya
chittam(expiation ) for the apacharam (grave misdeed)  to his dear devotee.  The
priest woke up at that dawn  and rushed to  the banks of Cauvery  and saw the
Alvar  pouring his heart out to Sri Ranganatha through his songs. The Muni
conveyed to the Alvar , the message of the Lord to come to HIS temple. The Alvar
refused , since he felt that  as a man of lower caste, he was not fit to set 
FOOT  in the holy city of Sri Rangam or enter the most sacred sanctum of the
Lord there. Loka 
Saranga Muni was desparate to make amendments for his boorish act and persuaded
the Alvar to
ride on his back to the sanctum of the Lord to avoid touching the sacred ground
of Sri Rangam.
The Alvar was thus transported to the sanctum and earned the title as
Munivahana.  .During this ride, the Alvar closed his eyes thinking about the
blessings of the Lord. On reaching the inner court of the Lord of  Sri Rangam ,
the Alvar descended from the back of the elderly priest , opened his
eyes to feast on the beauty of the Lord and burst forth in a song known as
Amalanaadi Piran, which
is a reflection of the Sampoorna Bhagavd Anubhavam of the beauty of the Lord
from HIS Lotus feet
to HIS crown. At the end of this tribute , the Alvar declared that his eyes will
never rest on anything else, after seeing the Lord of Sri Rangam and he merged
with the Lord right there and then.

Loka Saranga Muni learnt about the greatness of the devotees of the Lord inspite
of the superficial
accidents of life such as caste or Scholarship. The Lord of Sri Rangam
demonstrated to one and all
the importance of HIS Bhakthas ,just as He would do  later , when Thyaga Brahmam
stood at one corner of Chitra veedhi during HIS Brahmotsavam. At that time, Sri
Ranganatha halted His procession to let every
one know that a great Bhaktha of HIS was  standing aside without any
recognition.. He halted  his procession on the Raja Veedhi of Sri Rangam, only
after Thyaga Brahmam came close to HIM and received His blessings and
Maryadhai(honor).

Loka Saranga Muni was deluded like Adi Sankara at  Kasi Kshetram,when latter
was hastening to offer his worship at the Temple of Lord Viswanatha. The great
Acharya shouted at a "Chandala with four accompanying Dogs" blocking his way in
a narrow street  to get out of his way , so he wont be polluted through bodily
contact. . When the "Chandala" questioned  the Acharya as to whether he should
remove his physical body or the eternal Atman inside ,Adi Sankara realized his
folly  and understood that the Chandala
standing before him was none other than the Lord of Kasi Kshetram and the four
dogs were the
four Vedas.

Sri Vaishnavite Acharya"s tributes to Thiruppaanaalvar
************************************************************ 
Mahapurna or Periya Nambi composed the Taniyan (invocatory Verse) in Sanskrit in
praise of this 
work of the Alvar, which begins with the words: Aapaada choodam anubhuya Harim
Sayaanam----

Dr.V.K.S.N.Raghavan"s translation of this Taniyan is  as Follows:
" Let me contemplate on Tiruppaanaalvar (Munivahana, the saint who was carried
to the precincts of the shrine of  Lord Ranganatha , by Lokasarangamamuni on his
shoulders) ,whose inner soul (antaratma) became enraptured at the sight of the
reclining Lord Hari(Ranganatha) betwixt (the two streams of ) the river Kaveri
,and who ,having  experienced (the vision of the Lord) from the feet to His head
declared that his eyes would not see other objects (except the Lord). 

The second Taniyan in Tamil is said to be composed by Thirumalai Nambi or
Srisaila Purna, who summarized the Alvar"s composition in a quintissential
manner.The translation given by Sri Raghavan for this verse is as follows:

"Let us sing in praise of the holy feet of Sri Tiruppaanaalvar ,who entered
(the holy shrine of Lord Ranganatha) riding on the shoulders of the sage
(Lokasaranga-Mahamuni) saw( the Lord in 
full) and sung (in praise) HIM limb  by limb ,as the Lord showed to him ,i.e.,
the lotus feet , the 
silk garment, the navel, the waist band of rare excellence, the holy chest, the
neck, the red mouth(with rosy lips) ,the eyes of unfading (red lotuscharm) and
the (whole divine) Archa form."

Sri Vedantha Desikan was so moved by the Ten verses of Amalanaadhipiraan that he
paid 
multiple tributes to the Alvar. He put together  a Manipravala commentary known
as Munivahana Bhogam. Swami Desikan was overwhelmed by the profound Bhagavad
Anubhavam of 
the Alvar that he declared the ten verse compendium to be the essence of
countless Vedic
texts. Swami went on to compose 4  verses in Tamil to praise the work of the
Alvar in his 
Prabhanda Saaram. The translations of these 4  Tamil verses are as follows:

 1.We  are liberated from our accumulated sins and defects ,after understanding
the 
true nature of  Lord Krishna, whose twin charactrestrics are His paramountcy
(Root cause of the Universe and its beings) and his overlordship ( role as the
emperor of the Universe and its controller). This is what Thiruppaanalvar
revealed to us in his ten verses and thus brought out the true meaning of the
important teachings of  the Vedas in Tamil verses. Swami describes the Lord
revealed by the Alvar as "Kaavalanum , Kanavanumaai kalandhu ninra Kaaranan". He
salutes 
the Alvar as the "Tamil Marayin Payaneh konda Paan Perumaal".

2. In the second verse, Swami states that the work of the Alvar as an
extraordinarily unique poem that has to be learnt ,studied, explained  and
meditated upon. He describes the  poem as a true summary of all discourses on
the Vedas  given by all  learned scholars. An understanding of this poem is
tantamount to an understanding of the essentials of Vedantha. Swami claims that
the Alvar is his Paanan , who has  seen the Lord of Sri Rangam , the ocean of
Daya and limitless grace at HIS sanctum sanctorium and sung about HIS greatness
in ten stanzas containg the essence of the Vedas and Vedantha...  

3.In the third verse, Swami Desikan offers his highest tribute to the Alvar and
his Verses. He says: " 
Pannperumal is the one , who spoke only of the supreme Brahman(Kannan) after
having seen HIM (directly) as Ranganatha,neglecting everything else as nothing
to be seen or spoken of; the Alvar had unsurpassed devotion towards the Lord ;
his songs are acclaimed to be the essence of
the beginningless  Vedas (and we adore them).I (Vedantha Desika) got the title
of Vedanthaacharya from the Lord of Sri Rangam in this world ,surrounded by the
vast sea ---- it is my submission that
I abhor ego and am devoid of pride; whatever greatness is spoken of me, it is
only the fruit of the perceptor"s blessings and so I ever resort to the great
teachers (like the Alvar) for their instructions 
on the good and evil."

4. In the fourth and  final verse on the Alvar , Swami Desikanstates  that the
Verses known as 
Amalanaadhipiran are the essence of the innumerable Vedic Texts and prays for
the Alvar"s blessings to understand their  full meaning .

Dr. Raghavan"s translation of the ten verses of Thiruppaanaalvar
***********************************************************************

For the sake of completeness, I will now include the excellent translation of
Dr.Raghavan, who is a Reader in the Department of Vaishnavism at he University
of Madras. This translation closely follows the Muni Vahana Bhogam of Swami
Desikan:

(1) Amalanaadhipiraan---- : He, the Lord Vishnu is blemishlesss, the foremost
God, and the resplendent one that has made me serve His ardent devotees; He, the
Lord of Nityasuris(Celestial, eternal Arch angels) has taken His abode at the
Venkatam hill surrounded
 by fragrant groves; He, the immaculate Lord is the ever pure,  sacred God; (now
I look at)  Him, 
the overlord of supreme justful heaven (Vaikuntham or Vaan) ,and the divine God
(Ranganatha) of 
Sri rangam (girt with ) long ramparts. (As I see Him), His sacred lotus FEET
enter into and become merged with my eyes.

(2) Uvanda ULLattaanay-----: Lord Ranganatha (Arangatthu Ammaan) who has with
His heart full of pleasure, mesured the worlds (earth and heaven) (in His
descent as Trivikrama) shines with His tall  and lofty crown. He ,whose sharp
and piercing arrows destroyed (devoured) the demons (night -wanderers) who came
to fight Him that day(i.e,. In His descent as Rama), is the scion of the race of
Kakutsa. He is the Lord of Sri Rangam full of (flowery and) fragrant gardens;
now  my mind becomes immersed with the Lord"s Reddish SILK GARMENT worn by Him
around His waist.

(3) Mandi Paai Vada Venkata Maamalai--------: The Lord , Ranganatha ,who
reclines on the serpent couch (Adi Sesha) in Sri Rangam ,is the same Lord Vishnu
,(Srinivasa) who has  stood in the north at the great Venkatam hills, where
monkeys jump from one tree to the other. Lord Srinivasa has
stood there for the sake of Gods , who come to worship Him; the sweet core
(inner soul) of my heart rests on the twilight colored garment of the Lord and
on His beautiful NAVEL, above it (the garment) -the great NAVEL that created the
four faced God Aja (Brahma Devan).

(4) Cadura Mamadil Soozh---: The Lord of Sri Rangam (full of Woods) ,where
sweetly singing bees hum and great peacocks dance (happily) ,is the  same as the
Lord Sri Rama of (life-bestowing) ocean hue; Lord Rama vanquished Ravana ,the
king of Lanka surrounded by Massive and square ramparts; after driving him out
(Once from the battlefield), Lord Rama later aimed an invincible 
sharp arrow at Ravana and made his ten heads fall down (simultaneously cut off);
The WAISTBAND (of this Ranganatha)  found on His beautiful belly makes plesant
strolls within my 
heart.

(5)Paaramaya Pazha Vinai-----: The Lord of Sri Rangam has cut asunder all my
burdensome old sins (ripe and heavy); He has now made me His (exclusive)
servant;further ,He has also entered into my heart;What a wonder! I do not know
how much severe and great penance I have done 
to acheive such a great fortune of the Lord"s immense grace over me.The Lord"s
CHEST ,beautified by the Goddess Lakshmi and the great garland Vaijayanthi ,
indeed has wholly captured and
enslaved me.

(6) Tunda Venpirayan------: My master, Lord Ranganatha , has His abode in the
holy city of Sri Rangam surrounded by groves,wherein live the swarms of bees
with fascinating wings; He is the One ,who has removed the sufferings of Lord
Siva with the crescent moon on His head ( when
a skull got stuck in His hand).Lord Ranganatha "s throat (in days of Yore)
consumed in full the 
whole Universe comprising (a) many worlds inhabited by Andar( a category of
people) (b) the higher
and the nether worlds (c) this massive  and vast earth (d) all the seven
Kulaachalas (Ezhu maal Varai, the seven mountains balancing this earth); Harken!
Such a THROAT of the Lord 
indeed has saved me.

(7)Kaiyinar Curi canganal aaliyar------: The Lord of the beautiful city  of Sri
Rangam and the one supreme God,Mayan (beyond the ken of all the ordinary
individual souls) ,who reclines on the serpent couch  Adisesha  holds on His
hands ,the Conch  Paanchajanyam with winding rekha
and the chakra (disc Sudarsanam) that emits fiery sparks; His divins body (archa
form) is like a  lengthy mountain range ; He is our father and saviour  ,who has
a very long crown  smelling 
exuberently with the fragrance of Tulasi leaves ! His beautiful RED  MOUTH (with
rosy lips), aye!(Aiyoh) has captivated and enraptured my mind and heart.

(8) Pariyanaahi vanda AvuNan------: The blemishless  Lord of Sri rangam is the
Supreme Being(i.e,. the foremost creator and benefactor) ,who made the advent as
Narasimha and tore into shreds the massive body of the demon king(Hiranyakasipu)
that came to assault Him; Lord Narasimha was (and also is) unapproachable and
inaccessible to the Gods (Brahma, Siva,Indra et al); in the face of Lord
Ranganatha , there are those wide eyes, which are very much black,broad and
extensive towards the sides ,glittering (restless) , with ruddy lines(rekhas)
running across and very much lengthy; these EYES of the Lord have made me  a
fool (and I am stupefied).

(9) Aalamaa maratinilaimel oru balakanaai------: Lord Ranganatha reclining on
the serpent couch  Adisesha in Sri Rrangam is the one who (long ago) having
devoured the seven worlds ,was seen (by the sage Markandeya and found to be)
lying on the leaf of a great banyan tree as (an exquisite) 
Child, incomparable; the Lord Ranganatha is adorned with beautiful garland
studded with 
peerless gems and pearl necklace; His holy body (archa form) of blue diamond
lustre is of enormous beauty  and excellent complexion; such a divine BODY  of
God has, aye(aiyoh) outweighed my mind (i.e,. the Lord showing His whole body
full of beauty  has taken away every thing from me-my mind, heart and soul).

(10) Kondal Vannanai Kovalanaai ------:Lord Ranganatha is the Overlord (supreme
Soverign) of 
the whole world and all the people (residing there); Him-who is of the black
color of the clouds as well as the nature of the clouds; who ,as Lord Gopala
(Kovala alias Krishna) ,ate butter with His mouth; who has stolen my mind and
heart; and who is my immortal ambrosia-; my eyes
 that have looked at His beauty; (I swear ) these eyes of mine ,that have seen
Him , will never see anything else.

The next posting will cover the Stotram of Swami Desikan (Sri Bhagavad Dhyana
Shobanam) ,
which is a describtion of the enjoyment of Sri Ranganatha by  this Acharya in
the manner
immortalized by Thiruppaanaalvar.Kaisika  was of a "low caste" like the Alvar
and he obtained 
the boon of Moksham on this day by observing the Ekadasi Vratham (fasting) all
through  his life. That is the reason for this Ekadasi of the month of kartigai
being named as Kaisika Ekadasi.

V.Sadagopan