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ThirupallAndu : Comments on singing of " Eternal Years" for Sriman naarAyaNA !

From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_compuserve.com)
Date: Fri Dec 26 1997 - 17:59:51 PST

Dear Members of the Bhakthi Group : 

One of the readers of  the SaraNAgathi journal 
had a question on PeriyAzhwAr's mangaLAsAsanam 
of the SaraNya Dampathis thru ThiruppallAndu , where 
he burst forth with the benediction of " Long Live the divine
Lord and His consort " . 

Our immediate reaction to this benediction for "eternal years "
to the Lord , who is not defined by time ,  is the appropriateness 
and relevance of a mere mortal wishing the eternal Lord
Long life ! A deeper reflection of the context of the origin 
of Thiru Pallandu and a fuller appreciation of the towering 
Bhakthi of this AzhwAr would help us reconcile this " odd " and
yet spontaneous bendiction by the AzhwAr ( VishNuchitthA ) .

The Context 
*************
The Lord appeared with MahA Lakshmi in the sky on 
the back of Garudan to witness the honor accorded to His
dear BahkthA and student by the King of Mathurai for establishing 
His supermacy ( parathvam ) in a scholarly fashion with indisputable
proofs from the VedAs and Upanishads at the court of the 
Pandyan king ; the Joyous  AzhwAr was overwhelmed with 
concern and fear over the safety of the Lord as he drank deep
the beauty of the SaraNya Dampathis , who manifested 
over the sky  . He marvelled at the parAkramam of 
the Lord as he saw the weapons that the Lord handles 
to punish the wicked and protect His asritha janams .  
The Azhwar was totally overwhelmed  by the grace of the Supreme Being , 
who sanctified the occasion with His appearance in person  
to witness the celebration over his victory at the court .
.
The Azhwar suddenly got  worried about any dhrishti dhOsham 
falling on the Lord and  causing Him( Sriya: Pathi ) any harm . 
He forgot for  few moments that the Omnipotent Lord 
could take very good care of Himself and fend Himself  
very well against any undesirable happenings  associated 
with the "evil eye " of the malevolent people . The concern 
that poured out of the AzhwAr  was like  water gushing out of 
a deep fountain . MaNavALa Maamuni understood precisely 
the outpouring of anxious concern of this kind and the deep 
desire of the  devotee to intervene and protect the Lord 
from harm's way . AzhwAr 's mood was described by 
Maamuni precisely as " Ponghum Parivu " . Maamuni 
concluded that this unique anubhavam of the AzhwAr 
entitled him to be recognized as PeriyAzhwAr .    
   
Our AzhwAr was a retiring Kaimkaryabhara of Vatapathra Saayee 
and was quite happy with his chosen vocation to gather 
flowers from his garden and to make beautiful garlands 
for the Lord of Sri VilliputthUr . Sriman NaarAyaNA decided 
to project this humble man on the center stage . Our Lord 
commanded VishNuchitthA  to go to the court of the PandyA
king in  a dream and to claim the prize reserved for the Scholar , 
who would establish the supermacy of Sriman NaarAyaNan . 

The worried VishNucchitthA described his lack of
scholarship and begged off from undertaking such a
ventutre . The Lord became his AchAryA and stood on 
his tongue ( jihvAgra SimhAsanam ) and made him 
proficient in the deeper meanings of the VedAs 
and enabled His dear bhakthA ( VishnuchitthA )
to win over all the contestants , who questioned
His supermacy . 

 Achaarya Nathamuni refers to this incident 
in his taniyan saluting PeriyAzhwAr this way :
 " Gurumukham anadheethya PrAha VedAn AsEshAn ,--" . 
Here , AchArya Nathamuni points out that VishNucchitthA 
did not have the benefit of Adhyayanam of the VedAs 
in the traditional manner .  He did not have the luxury 
of a Guru and therefore , the  knowledge of the VedAs 
did not come to him via a traditional Guru and yet , 
he became  totally proficient in the intrepretation of 
all VedAs ( vEdAn AsEshAn ) and their deeper meanings
to win his case to establish unequivocally 
the supermacy of the Lord in the spirit of 
Sri NaarAyaNa Sooktham :

NaarAyaNa parO jyOthi-rAthmA NaarAyaNa : Para : 
NaarAyaNa param Brahma tattvam NaarAyaNa: Para:
NaarAyaNa parO dhyAthA dhyAnam NaarAyaNa: Para: 
yaccha kinchijjagath saravm dhrusyathE srUyathEpivA 
Antharbahisccha tathsarvam VyApya NaarAyaNa: sthitha : 

That was the uniquenes of this devotee of the Lord . 
The miraculous grace of the Lord fell on this dear devotee 
doing pushpa Kaimkaryam . Our SaraNyan blessed His
devotee to enjoy direct  instructions on the VedAs 
from Him . The  result of those instructions made 
the "untutored " Brahmin expound the inner meanings
of the VedAs at the royal court and led to his  winning  
the prize ( Sulkma = Kizhi ) established  by the king 
to prove the supermacy of Sriman NaarAyaNA . 
VishNucchitthA transformed into PeriyAzhwar as 
as a result of the anugraham of our Lord .  The 
depth of his devotion for the Lord and the concern
for the  safety and security  of the Lord , who had become 
visible to the eyes of all kinds of people ( BhakthAs 
and ill-wishers alike ) created indescribable 
tensions in the mind of the AzhwAr . This  deep fear 
about anything untoward happening to the Lord 
transformed itself into the verses of Thirup PallAndu 
offering benedictions to  and prayers for the well being
of the Lord . Here , the AzhwAr did not ask the Lord 
anything for himself , but asked instead for the Lord's 
protection and prayed for the the establishment of 
the Lord's unquestioned sovereignity over 
every part of His Universe . What we experience in 
the verses of Thirup PallAndu is the tender and 
extraordinary love of the AzhwAr for the Lord and 
the most compassionate Lord's love for His devotee .

It has also been suggested that PeriyAzhwAr's prayer is for 
the eteranl life for the Lord in His ArchA form ( One of the five
forms of Lord ) , which  " had  become the center of culture 
and security for all people in every village and town " . AzhwArs 
without exception have performed mangaLAsAsanam 
for the ArchA murhtys of 106 divya dEsams , where the Lord
is consecrated in the ArchA form . Any injury or harm to 
the ArchA murthy ( consecrated temple icon ) would 
cause certain harm to people and their places of residence .
The conditions for the Lord's sAnnidhyam ( presence )
in the icon is rooted in the twin requirements of 
" the protection " of the icon and the sAstraic  performance
of ArAdhanams and uthsavams for the ArchA murthys as 
prescribed by the VaikAnasa and PaancharAtra AgamAs .
PavithrOthsavam is conducted each year and the 
MahA SamprOkshaNam are carried out for these purposes
to assure  the Lord's presence in these consecrated ArchAs 
for "eternal years " on earth conferring blessings to the dear
devotees and protecting the world from calamities . This 
has been pointed out as another  reason for the AzhwAr's
prayer for the eternal years ( pallAndu ) of residence of 
the Lord as ArchAvathAran on His earth . This then 
is considered as the prime reason for our singing 
the Eternal Years for the Lord following the path 
shown by PeriyAzhwAr in  a spirit of prayer to Him 
to be with His dear devotees in all of His five forms: 
" Transcendent , Cosmic , Historical , Iconic and 
as Internal Ruler Immortal( AntharyAmi Brahmam ) " . 

The incident that happened at ThiruveLLUr in this 
century is a case in point for the well being of the 
ArchA form of the Lord. One day , Sri VeerarAghavan
of ThiruveLLUr appeared in the dream of the 37th Jeeyar 
of Ahobila Mutt and mentioned that His arm had a lot of pain
and as a result , He had difficulty getting up from His 
reclining pose . The Jeeyar woke up and went to the temple 
in the morning with the temple priest and found that 
there was a slight damage to the right hand of mUlavar 
from an accident during the daily ArAdhanam . The Jeeyar
performed BaalAlayam and repaired the damaged arm 
and reconsecrated the power of the Lord in the mUlavar .
The Lord , who is worshipped as Vaidhya VeerarAghavan 
at ThiruveLLUr  thanked the Jeeyar  for taking such good care 
of Him , when he was in distress . This is why it has been said that ,
" the entire relation between God and man awakens the awareness 
of the Reality both in its individual depths and universal vastness " .   
         

PeriyAzhwAr was the first among  the true devotees 
of the Lord , who blessed the Lord for long life and 
freedom from any inauspiciousness. Saint ThyagarAjA
offered later rakshai to the Lord through his Bhairavi krithi ,
" Raksha BettarE " in the spirit of the Kaapidal paasurams
of PeriyAzhwAr . Both were engaged in deep meditation 
and enjoyed the  drama of protecting the Lord with 
unquestioned sincerity . They both played the role of 
protecting mother and concerned father . 

Purandara DAsar offered his own benedictions 
to Sri Ramachandra in his tender NeelAmbari 
raaga Krithi :

Jayathu KOdhanda RaamA
Jayathu DasaratharAmA 
Jayathu SeethArAmA 
Jayathu RaghurAmA Jayathu 

In three charaNams that follow , Purandara Daasar
performs benediction to the Supreme and wishes 
Him to be victorious ( Jaya Vijayee Bahva ) .

That seems to be the inner meaning of wishing 
eternal years to the Lord , who is kaalAtheethan .

PeriyAzhwAr ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam ,

Oppilaippan Koil VaradAchAri SadagOpan