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Inputs for CD ROMs : Part VII.2--> ThoNdaradippodi AzhwAr's dhivya prabhandhams

From: Sadagopan (
Date: Fri Feb 02 2001 - 06:17:00 PST

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The two prabhandhams of Thondaradippodi celebrate
the power of Bhagavan naamam and the greatness of
the devotees of Sriamn NaarAyana resting in the archa
form at the glorious temple of Srirangam in the middle of
the two branches of the sacred Cauvery river.
(A) ThiruppaLLiyezucchi :This is the SuprabhAtham or
awakening song for the Lord of Srirangam and consists
of 10 beautiful paasurams describing the Sun rise  
at Srirangam and the Gods and men waiting at that time 
in front of the sanctum sanctorium of the Lord for 
His visvaroopa darsanam . This prabhnandham is sung  
at all SrivaishNavite temples every morning to awaken 
the Lord at the end of his nocturnal "sleep". 

The word painting of the dawn at Srirangam by 
Thondaradippodi is a delight to experience .The first
and the last paasuram are illustrative of the depth
of devotion of Thondaradippodi waiting with freshly-woven 
garlands in his hand in front of the Lord's sannidhi for
the Visvaroopa Darsanam .

First Paasuram: " The Sun has come up on the eastern
mountain top. The night's darkness has completely gone.
As the beautiful morning has come , big flowers have 
blossomed and honey is dripping from them .Gods and kings
have arrived and are standing , crowding on the opposite sides;
elephants , male and female have come with them.The trumpets 
are making loud noises in all directions like the noise of
billows of the ocean .Therfore , Oh Sriranganatha! Wake up
from Thine sleep (and bless all your devotees)!

Final( Tenth) Paasuram : " Fragrant lotuses have bloomed!The Sun
has risen above the roaring waters of the eastern sea !
Slender-waisted ladies having bathed in the river(Cauveri)
have rinsed and shaken off the water from their tresses
(and tied them up) , and wearing their clothes , have gotten
up from the banks of the river. Oh Srirangantha in the temple
grit(garlanded) by the cauveri river, who has accepted me , 
the rejoicer of the dust of the sacred feet of Thine devotees 
(Thondaadippodi),carrying in his hands the Tulasi garland 
as fit object of Thine love , wake up to bless 
Thy devotees "(K.C.Varadachari). 
Thirumaalai Prabhandham
ThirumAlai or the divine garland of flowers is 
a prabhandham with 45 paasurams. Dr.K.C.Varadachari
describes ThirumAlai as " a garland of hymns which ,
whilst praising the glory and the grace of God , also
assures the souls that are in agony and sorrow that
service should be the goal of man and not any other".

It has been said that " ThirumAlai aRiyAthAr , Thiru Maalai
aRiyARE "( One who does not know about Thirumaalai Prabhandham
of Thondardipodi will not understand (the tatthvams of)
Thiru Maal ( the divine consort of Sri Devi /Sriman Naarayanan). 

Azhwar's deep reverence to the Thondars of RanganAthA ,
independent of their caste or birth status or
worldly accomplishments , which led him to choose 
the daasa naamam of Thondaradippodi is well
revealed in the 43rd paasuram of Thirumalai:

" Though they be born of the Brahmin caste , supreme among
Thine devotees , learned fully in the Vedas and their 
excellent six subsidaries (angas) , if they speak 
disrespectfully of Thine devotees  of other castes ,
then that very instant , they would become outcastes,
Oh Lord of Srirangam " (K.C.Varadachari).

Azhwar's deep devotion to the Lord of Srirangam and Him 
alone is revealed in the second paasuram , where he rejects 
totally even the pleasures of ruling IndralOkam in favor of
worshipping his dear Lord art Srirangam.

Azhwar points out at the very beginning of Thirumaalai that
those , who have learnt The Lord's names and recite them 
are immortal and have thus placed their feet on the heads of
Yaman and his servants. He states in the subsequent paasurams
that the utterance of the Lord's name with devotion will
spare us from the cruel cycles of birth and death.He classifies
those , who do not recite the name of the Lord residing at 
the high-walled temple of Srirangam as devoid of grace ,
even while they are in their mother's womb.He says with
conviction that even the utternace of the name , Srirangam, 
will free us from the fate of being trapped in Narakam.

In the twenty fifth paasuram , Azhwar wails about his
pitiable state and implores the Lord movingly : "Oh Lord
dweller in Srirangam! make me Thine object of mercy and
deliver me (from my wasted life)".He questions the Lord in 
the next paasuram in  a spirit of naichciyam(humility) :
" Oh Lord of Srirangam! I have not spent all my time 
offering flowers at Thy golden feet. Nor am I speaking 
faultless words describing Thine auspicious qualities. 
Nor have I even connected my mind lovingly with Thee! 
Therefore I have done nothing ( no kiamkaryams) for You.
Oh Lord of Srirangam ! For what purpose then have I been born?".

His moving prayers and appeals about his state of utter
helpness (aakinchanyama nd ananya gathithvam ) are etched 
in his 29th paasuram , "UrilEn KaaNi illai--": " I have no
place nor plot of ground nor relative nor friends . On this
earth , I have not  attained Thine lotus feet . Oh Supreme
Godhead , Oh Luminous cloud-hued form ! KaNNaa ! I implore 
Thee , Lord resident at Srirangam ;WHO ELSE HAVE I EXCEPT 

In the next(30th) paasuram , Azhwar states that he is utterly 
disqualified to approach the Lord of Srirangam asks HIm:
" Tell me what way is open to me". Swamy Alavandhar and
AchArya RaamAnuja must have taken inspiration from
these paasurams to create their Sri Sookthis relating to
their Saranagathis ( SthOthra Rathnam and Saranagathi
Gadhyam ).

Scholarship in VedAs without service (kaimkaryam)to the Lord 
is rejected by this AzhwAr ; and he proclaims loudly 
in the dhivya desam of Srirangam crowded with Vedic scholars
the greatness of Bhaagavathas of the Lord this way in his
fourty second paasuram: " Thou, Oh Lord of Srirangam of 
high walls, has instructed (Loka Saaranga Muni and others)
thus: Oh Ye (souls) who follow the traditional knowledge
of the four Vedas faultlessly ! Even though the devotees of 
My feet (adiyars) are born of the lowest caste , tell them 
the highest truths ( Tatthvams), and learn from them ,FOR THEY

K.C.Varadachari sums up the central theme of Thirumaalai 
this way: "Thirumaalai is a garland of hymns , which ,whilst
praising the glory and the grace of God, also assures the souls
that are in agony and sorrow that service should be the goal of
humans and not any other. Problems of social concern such as
the relationship between the devotees of God belonging to 
the several castes are also solved by the counsel of mutual
instruction and helpfulness and equality".This is the most 
uplifting message about the equality of all children of 
Sriman Naarayanan .

Thondardipodi Azhwar Thiruvadigale Saranam ,
Srimath Azhagiya Singar Thiruvadigale SaraNam 
Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari Satakopan 

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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