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NavamaNi Maalai of Swamy Desikan

From: Sadagopan (
Date: Fri Dec 03 1999 - 06:24:15 PST

Dear BhakthAs :

In this posting , adiyEn will write an introduction
to another magnificient Tamizh Prabhandham of 
Swami Desikan revered as Nava MaNi Maalai.

The origin of Nava MaNi Maalai
Swamy Desikan settled in ThiruvahIndhrapuram 
in his twenties . He already had the special
anugraham of Sri HayagrIvan and Periya Thiruvadi .
He was performing unchivrutthi and KaalakshEpams 
there . One day , he had  a great urge to have the darsanam
of Sri VardarAjan of Kaanchi . Swamy took leave of 
Sri HemAbhja Valli SamEtha Sri DevarAjan and started 
on his trip to Kaanchi. He arrived at the banks of 
PeNNai river and was resting for the night there . 

Swamy Desikan's dream and the Lord's command 
During his sleep  that night, Sri DevanAthan appeared in 
his dream and commanded Swamy Desikan to return to His 
dhivya dEsam and compose Sri Sookthis about Him . 
Swamy Desikan woke up and obeyed that command 
immediately by abandoning his planned journey 
to Kaanchi and returned to ThiruvahIndhrapuram .

There he composed 7 Tamizh Prabhandhams ( MummaNik Kovai,
Nava MaNi Maalai , Panthu , Kazhal , AmmAnai , Oosal ,
yEsal) and two Sanskritic works ( Sri Deva Naayaka 
PanchAsath and Sri Achyutha Sathakam in PrAkrtham as well ).
Due to our DhurbhAgyam , the five Tamil Prabhndhams
except MummaNik Kovai(MMK) and Nava maNi Maalai (NMM)
are no longer available to us . Even in the case of MMK ,
only ten of the thirty paasurams are known today .

The Acknowledgement of the Lord's command to compose
Swamy Desikan acknowledges at two places the command
of Lord DevanAthan to compose the Sri Sookthis by him .
At the end of NMM , Swamy records his gratitude to the Lord
this way :

" munthai maRai Mozhi Vazhi mozhi nee yenRu
  Mukundhan aruL tantha payan peRREnAnE "

(Meaning): I accumulated the fruits from the command
of Lord Mukundhan ( Moksha Daayakan ) by executing His
command to compose Sri Sookthis on Him . What He commanded
me was to create Prabhandhams that have their meanings 
enshrined in the ancient VedhAs . That adiyEn accomplished
with His blessings by composing seven Tamizh Prabhandhams 
and two Sanskrit-based SthOthra granthams on His glories.

In the eighth slOkma of Sri DevanAyaka PanchAsath , 
Swamy Desikan refers again to the command of the Lord 
on the banks of PeNNai river once again with 
a telling upamA (similie):

SamrakshaNIyam AmarAdhipathE tvyaiva
 DhUram prayAtham api dhusthyaja ghADa bhandham
aakrushtavAnasi BhavAn anukampamAna:
 SoothrA anubhaddha Sakuni kramatha: svaym maam 

(Meaning): Oh Lord Of ThiruvahIndhrapuram ! 
AdiyEn was deeply tied to the ropes of SamsAram
due to poorva Janma karmAs . That made me stay 
far away from You .Inspite of that my unfortunate
state , Your magnificient DayA flowed towards me.
Otherwise , who else could have succeeded in saving
me from my miserable state ? Your immeasurable Dayaa
pulled me to Your sacred feet and set me in the right
track . Your pull is like the pull of the string 
attached to the leg of a bird by the owner of 
that bird as it  flies away from its Lord thinking
that it is independent . Swamy is referring here to 
ANDAL's words : UnRannODu uRavu namakku inku ozhikka 
OzhiyAthu " and " unRannaip paaDip Parai kondhu yaam 
peRum sammAnam ". 


The Title of Nava MaNi Maalai 

The title indicates that there are nine gems 
(paasurams )strung together in the form of 
a beautiful necklace for adornemnt by the Lord
of ThiruvahIndhrapuram . The nava (nine) MaNis or 
the nava rathnams are equivalent to the nine gems
bequeathed as a treasure to us by AchArya RaamAnujA
for whom Swamy Desikan's reverence was legendary.
Nava also means New or rare . Swamy's choice of
the word "nava" in the title can also be intrepreted to 
mean that these paasurams (gems) are apoorva new gems
mined by him for the kaimkaryam to the Lord .

The Essence of Nava MaNi Maalai Paasurams

Paasuram 1: This is a sixteen lined verse 
( PathinARu Aasiriya Viruttham) constituted by 
Four quartets . The glory of the Lord's sacred
feet are saluted in this paasuram.

Paasuram 2: Lord DeavanAthan's dasaavatharam is
eulogized here . Swamy Desikan uses a 20 lined
paasuram ( IrupaattheNN SeerAsiriya Viruttham)
to salute the 10 avathArams and houses these 
20 lines in sets of four , each of which containing
five lines .The PurANic reference to ThiruvahIndhrapuram 
is also included here. Swamy Desikan seems to have been 
inspired by the DasAvathAra Paasurams of Thirumnagai 
on Lord DevanAthan . Thirumangai sang only about 
Nrusimha, Raama , KrishNa and Vaamana avathArams.
Swamy completed the coverage of the rest in this
one paasuram . 

Paasuram 3: This verse is is in yezhu SeerAsiriya
Viruttham and focuses on the dhivya leelAs such as
the lifting of Govardhana Giri by KrishNA and 
VeerarAghavan 's destruction of RaavaNan and his city .

Paasuram 4: This paasuram is in kali Viruttham 
and celebrates the famous uthsavam during the month
of Maasi , when the  constellation Makam is in ascendance.
On that day , Lord DevanAthan travels to the ocean
near by and has His Thirumanjanam with ocean water .

Sri HemAbhja Valli ThAyAr 's other name is Taranga 
Mukha Nandhini . As a little child , She enjoyed very
much the sight of breaking waves of the Ocean 
touching Her feet in reverence . Her foster father ,
Bhrugu Rishi took Her to the sea side for pleasing
Her.Later , Her husband made Her joyous by traveling 
with Her to the same sea side so She can enjoy
the sight of the breaking of the waves .  

Paasuram 5: In this aRuseerAsiriya Vruttham ,
Swamy Desikan prays for anthima smruthi about
the Lord of ThiruvahIdhrapuram just as he did
in Gopala Vimsathi (adharAhitha chAru vamsanALaa:
makutAlampi mayUra pinchamAlA:, Harineela silA
vibhanga neelA: prathibhA: SANTU MAMAANTHIMA PRAYAANE ).

Paasuram 6: Here Swamy asserts that the bhAgyasaalis,
who do not forget the incomparable beauty of the Lord
of ThiruvahIndhrapuram will attain Moksha siddhi (ninn
vaDivazhahu maRavAthAr piRavAthArE )and as a aresult will
never be born again in this samsAric world.

Paasuram 7: This paasuram is a prayer for freedom from 
the sufferings in narakam ( KaalanAr tamar yennaik 
kavarAthu , anRu vanthu ANJAL yenRu aruL ).The reference
here is to "Maa sucha: " section of the Charama slOkam .
Swamy Desikan also refers to GajEndra calling " Aadhi
MoolamE " and the Varadhan rushing to the elephant's
rescue .

Paasuram 8: This is a beautiful , lilting 
paasuram set in PathinAnku Seer Chandha Viruttham .
Here again Swamy Desikan prays to Achyuthan 
( Adiyavarkku Meyyan /Natha Satyan/Sathya Vrathan)
to come to his rescue by offering His RakshaNam
before the Yama DhUthars arrive to cast their noose 
on him ( kaala dhuthar veesu paasam yenn mEl vanthu
veezhnthu azhunthi , yaan ayarnthu veezhvatharkku munnam ,
Nee ANJAL , ANJAL , ANJAL  yenRu aLikka vENDum ).
The request is for the Lord to declare thrice 
the word "Anjal" ( Abhaya pradhAnam )for his sake .
Swamy Desikan will go on to create a magnificient 
Sri Sookthi revered now as Abhaya PradhAna Saaram .

Paasuram 9: In this yeNN seerAsiriya Viruttham ,
Swamy thanks the Lord for blessing him to compose
the nine Tamizh and Sanskrit Prabhandhams on Him.
He acknowledges that he harvested the fruits of
that Kaimkaryam commanded by the Lord ( Mukundhan
aruL tantha payan peRREn ). 

Swamy Desikan ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam ,
Daasan , Oppilaipapn Koil VaradAchAri SdaagOpan