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Thirukkurnthaandakam of Thirumangai Azhwaar.

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Thu Feb 01 1996 - 19:41:45 PST

Dear Members of the Prapatti Group:

In an earlier posting , I mentioned that I will cover the 
two Thaandakams of Thirumangai. Thirukkurnthaandakam (TKT)
has 20 moving verses celebrating the rakshatvam of Sriman 
Narayana and the Maha Viswasam of the Azhwar . After his deep 
immersion in the mysteries of the Ashtakshara Maha Mantram of
the Lord and after visiting the many Divya Desams , at the end of 
Periya Thirumozhi, Thirumangai is in a mellow mood . In the pasurams 
of his Periya Thirumozhi, he expressed his fear of being caught in
the snares of Samsara and rebirth and cried aloud for the Lord's
boon of Moksham. The Lord wanted to enjoy few more Pasurams from 
his dear Bhaktha and therefore did not respond to the fervent plea of
the Azhwar. In his desperation, the Azhwar engaged in a strenous effort to
enjoy the auspicious qualities of the Lord by mind , body and speech in TKT and
declared his utter servitude to Him under all  circumstances. As a result of
exercise, he got his boon of Moksham and overcame the afflictions of 
Samsara . He continued on in TNT and although there is no clear proof , TNT
might have been the last work of Thirumangai judging from the mood  of the two
Thaandakams .

Another school of thought centers on the theme that Sriman Narayana blessed 
the Azhwar at the end of  Composing Periya Thirumozhi and presented himself 
before him and blessed him. This school believes that the joyous outpourings of
 the Azhwar in TKT is a reflection of  the ecsatatic state and the mindset of
the Azhwar.
Independent of the correctness of one point of view or the other, the verses of 
TKT are testimony to the unshakable belief of the Azhwar  in the Rakshakatvam
and Bhaktha Vaatsalyam of Sriman Narayana.TKT also houses the Mangalasaasanam
of the Azhwaar for the Archamurthys  of Srirangam, Thirukkudanthai, Thirupper
Venkatam, Thirukkandiyur, Thirukkadanmallai, Kacchi and  Thirumayyam. The
seems to point out that the Murthy Jnanam is essential even after understanding
means (Upaayam) and Target (Upeyam) aspects of Saranagati. There  are pasurams 
in TKT that capture the mood of Nirvedam ,where the Azhwaar laments over the
lost in chasing the transient pleasures of life instead of reflecting on the
holy feet 
of the Lord. Like Nammazhwaar, He recognizes that the thought of the Lord and 
the experience of His Kalyana Gunaas are his food and Water (UNNum Sohr and 
Paruhum Neer ). His celebration of the Bhakti Yogam in one of the Pasuram
is a marvel from the point of succinct capture of the essence of this Yogam. He
answers the Rg Vedic Question: Kasmai Devaaya Vidhema.To Which god shall we
offer our offerings and obesiance is the question raised by the Rg Veda mantra. 
Like Nammazhwaar, Thirumangai states unambigouosly that Sriman Naryana
is the God , who is the supreme principle and the adoration of HIM is the
highest rite 
(charya)  to  enjoy  Moksha Sukham (eternal bliss).

In the following sections, I will focus on the highlights of
 the twenty pasurams of TKT. 

 It is a marvel from the poetic point of view. The rhyming is perfect. The first

word of each of  the four lines of this  Pasuram rhymes  perfectly with 
one another, while incorporating deep meanings inside them.
The words are Nidhiyinai, Gathiyinai, Mathiyinai and Vidhiyinai.

He equates in the first word of TKT that the Lord is like a Nidhi in
the spirit of Upanishad that described the Lord in his Antharyami state 
as Hiranya Nidhi or the golden Treasure. 

The Second line starts
 by pointing out  that he is the Gathi .This word Gathi is  a Sanskrit
word originating  from the Root Gum, which means accessible,
 approachable, fit to be practised or aspired  as the ultimate  goal
of one's existence on this earth. It also means the supreme Lord,
who is the one, who creates and protects all Jivans and blesses one
with Jnana.

 The third line of the first Pasuram starts with the Word 
Mathiyinai. AaLum mathiyinai is the context in the Pasuram line. 
The reference in one intrepretation is to Varaha Sarama Slokam,
where he says "Aham Smaraami ". Mathi stands for mind or mental
disposition. His mind set is to think of his Bhaktha at the time, when
latter is like a stone or wood during the last moments of his life and is 
unable to think of the Lord.  He not only thinks of His Bhaktha at that
time, but leads him to Vaikutam by hand.

 The last line starts with the 
word Vithiyinai. Vithi stands for the Parama Purusha or Devathidevan .
Azhwaar Qualifies this PeraruLaLan as "EN MANATTHU VANDHA 
VITHIYINAI ". He describes the Lord as the one , who enthroned Himself
in his mind and sanctified it. The Azhwaar says  that he conducted
 Mangalaasaasanam for the Lord residing in  his mind and
 prostrated before Him through the words "Vaazhtthi VaNangi".
 He concludes this sublime pasuram by stating that he will
never ever leave that Lord, whom he has discovered as the resident of his heart
and to whom he has saluted and offered his deep devotion. He says 
"Thondanehn Viduhileneh". I, your  servant will not let go of your holy
feet . Mahaviswasam of the Azhwaar is abundantly clear here. 

****SECOND PASURAM:  this one also has similar meaningful rhymes 
at the beginning of each line. The words are KaaRRinai, YeRRinai,
AaRRinai and KooRRinai. KaRRu stands for the Lord, who is the force 
behind the wind or Vayu or KaRRu. He is the force by which the wind blows, 
the water wets and the fire burns according to the Upanishads.

YeRRInai stands for the Sanskrit word "PURUSHARSHABA " or the bull 
among men or the Parakramasaali. Thirumangai saluted Vijaya Raghavan 
of Thirupputkuzhi as "PoReRu"  or as the valorous Bull of Thirupputkuzhi. 
Following along these lines, Swami Desikan saluted the PoReru of 
Thirupputkuzhi as Aahava Pungavan and RaNapungavan. Thirumangai
has the Rakshakatvam of Vijayaraghavan in mind here in the spirit in which
Hanuman saluted him in Sundara Khandam:
"Baahucchaayam Avashatbdho Yasya Loko Mahaatmana:"
Hanuman says that Raman is the One powerful Lord , who with the 
sahdow of his hand offers protection to the whole world from all types
of Fears. Thus YeRRinai stands for the Lord"s mighty Valour to rescue the 
Prapannas from all kinds of calamities.

(Inba) AaRRiniai is the beginning  of the third line  of the Pasuram. Here, He
saluted as the Bliss-yielding River of Nectar or  Aaraavamudan. Here , Azhwaar 
recognizes the Lord as the first  and foremost essence of life, the 
life giving , thirst quenching , the blissful nectar  as.visualized by the
Rg Veda Mantram(I.31.1) .

(avuNan Aaruyir Unda) KooRRinai  is the first word  of the fourth line of the
second Pasuram of TKT. KooRRu stands for Yaman or the one , who takes 
away life .Here the Lord's destruction of the  evil ones like Hiranya Kasibhu is
referred to. Here the Dushta Nigraham aspect of the Lord is saluted. 

After Praising the Antharyaamitvam, Valor , Blissful nature and the 
Power to destroy evil ones ,Azhwaar converses with his mind and asks 
it to persist in offering praise to the  Lord of so many auspicious attributes.

THIRD PASURAM: Here , Azhwaar says that he prostrates before the Lord of
Thirumaalirumsolai  to the limits of his physical strength. The first Pasuram 
dealt with Maanasa Kainkaryam. The Second covered the Vaachika Kainkaryam.
The third Pasuram concludes with the Kaayika Kainkaryam.Thus , Azhwaar 
salutes the Lord  through his Mind(Manas), Speech (Vak) and Body (Kaayam).

FOURTH and FIFTH PASURAMS: the full blossoming of the Bhakthi of
the Azhwaar is revealed here. In the fourth verse, Azhwaar declares like
his Guru Nammazhwar that Lord is the "UNNum Soru", his food.
He says that the spontaneous mercy (Avyaaja Karuna) of the Lord 
permitted him to" devour "  Him, when he presented Himself before
the Azhwaar. In the fifth Pasuram, Thirumangai states that the Lord 
is the "Paruhum Neer" , the water that  he drinks.Since the Lord is the 
Unsatiable Nctar(Aaraavamudan), Azhwaar says that he devours that
nectar of  adrink ceaselessly.

SIXTH  VERSE: Lord"s Paratvam (Para vasudeva Tattvam) and Sowlabhyam
(Easy accessibility ) are saluted here. Azhwaar describes the Lord 
of Thirukkudanthai with choice eulogies and then says that both he 
and the Bhakthas are at  a loss ot find words to adequately praise Him.

SEVENTH  and EIGTH  VERSES: Sri Ranganathan and the Lord of Thiruvenkatam
 are saluted here. The greatness of Bhagavathas are also saluted
 by the Azhwaar, who declares that the feet of the Bhagavathas of the Lord
always  adorn his head. In the Eigth verse, he pities those, who do not
the uniqueness of the Bhagavathas or their  relationship to the Lord 
have wasted their lives as Human beings and may as well be born 
as birds or animals. Azhwaar is disgusted with such people .

NINTH VERSE: Here he thinks that  life spent among the unfortunate 
people like the ones described above is like an ant caught between 
the fire at both the end of the stick and that he will stay  away from such
and  seek only  the Lord as his company always.

TENTH VERSE: Here Azhwaar calls with affection the Lord as "EN Attha",
my affectionate Master.He confesses that he mind is unsteady and runs
 from one thought to the other. What can I do? Please bless me to have
unwavering devotion to You and You alone! My father!  I do not know of
anything other than eternal servitude to you.

ELEVENTH VERSE: Here, the Azhwaar begs the Lord to bless him
so that his Mind, Speech and the Limbs will be engaged in HIS 
service forever. 

TWELFTH VERSE: This is  a grand verse or a verse with ennobling thoughts.
His humbleness/Helplessness  (Kaarpanyam ) blossoms into the next 
stage of Saranagathi , Viz., Mahaviswaasam . He says: Me , the Egotist ,
who is not pure of thought with my unclean body and mouth recited HIS 
ancient and Sacred Mahamantram. I was  afraid of having engaged in 
reciting His Mantram in my unclean, unfit state. To my utter surprise, the 
most merciful Lord appeared before me and told me not to be afraid . I was 
overcome by this experience and closed my eyes out of fear. Lo and Behold!
He entered into my closed eyelids and appeared before my eyes there.
Here, he points out  that the Lord is resident at Srirangam to give hope 
to people that they do not need to worry about their state of perfection and
that he 
will bless them and come to their side , when they make even a meager  effort.