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Date: Tue Feb 13 1996 - 18:41:53 PST
Dear Members of the Prapatti Group, Here is an English Article published in the latest Edition of Sri Nrsimha Priya. To see more such articles, please visit Sri Ahobila Mutt web page. Jaganath. ========================================== KULASEKHARA ALVAR'S SREENIVASA (Sree. M.S. Ramesh) Kulasekhara Alvar, a king by birth, known as Kolli Kavalan, Koodal Nayakan, Kozhikone was a great Chera ruler who had defeated the Pandyas and Cholas. He was popularly known as Kulasekhara Perumal because of his intense devotion to the Perumal in his Rama Avathar. The Pasurams composed by him are known as Perumal Thirumozhi, as they are the holy words of a great bhaktha. He has composed ten pasurams in praise of the Lord at Thirumala. Through these pasurams it is evident that the Alvar wanted Seshathvam, i.e., association in one form or another with God. In this article, I propose to briefly convey the meaning of the soul-stirring verses composed by Kulasekhara Alvar. In his first pasuram (pasuram 677), the Alvar says that he does not desire a life of prosperity and wealth where only the wants of flesh are met and the body puts on weight. He says that he wants to serve that Lord who subjugated the seven oxen and who is seen holding in His hand the Conch and who is sitting at Thiruvengadam. He wants to be born as a Kurugu bird and stay on the banks of Swami Pushkarinee Theertha at Thirumala. In the above pasuram the Alvar refers to an episode in Krishna Avathar where the Lord had to subjugate the seven oxen in order to win the hand of Nappinnai. Similarly, the Alvar suggests that if one desires to attain God, one has to overcome the temptations of wealth and prosperity. The Alvar wants to be born as a Kurugu bird on the banks of the Swami Pushkarini, near the temple on the Hill. This bird, white in colour like the Conch, represents the Sathvic gunas. The Alvar though born as a Kshathriya, does not want any connection with Rajo or Tamo gunas. What is more, the Kurugu bird is known for its single-minded approach in achieving its objective. This bird usually stands silently in the waters of a tank like a sentinel. The fishes in the tank get deceived by this apparent harmless immobility, until the stork suddenly darts it beak into the flowing waters, gets at its prey to satisfy its hunger. The Alvar is perhaps suggesting that we should also have a similar single-minded devotion in order to attain our objective, namely Moksha and attainment of Lord's Lotus like feet. In brief, in the very first pasuram, the Alvar makes it abundantly clear that he does not want 'rajya sukham' i.e., 'aihikam'. Instead, he hungers for 'aamushmikam' i.e., the happiness of the other world. In the second pasuram (pasuram 678) the Alvar desire to be born as a fish in the flowing streams in Thiruvengadam He says that he would spurn even Indraloka with its youthful damsels like Rambha, Urvasi and other apsarasa sthrees He says that his sole objective is to attain Moksha. Tb joy to be got out of seeking Moksha is 'nithyanandam i.e., eternal joy while the pleasures of Indraloka- ar evanescent-passing pleasures. The Alvar makes it abundantly clear that Rajyasukham is like iron shackles and Indraloka sukham is perhaps golden shackles. But neither of the shackle is desired by him. He wants to be born as a free fish in the flowing streams in Thirumala. The Alvar in the previous pasuram wanted to be born as a Kurugu bird; but in this pasuram wants to be born as a fish. The commentators, with their poetic fancy, explain that this change of mind of the Alvar may have be prompted by the fear that a Kurugu bird which has wing may in a weak moment, fly away from the Pushkarini theertham i.e., Swami's Saanidhyam! The Alvar, therefor does not want to take any chances, and wants to live as a fish which can neither fly away from the stream nor live outside the waters of the stream. May be Alvar sought Bhagavath Sambandha, by being born as fish and thus claim affinity with the Mathsyavathara of the incident when Rama decided to go to the forest to fulfil his father's wish. At that time Lakshmana and Seetha wanted to accompany Him. However, Rama tried to dissuade them. But Lakshmana said that he would be like a fish out of water if he were to live without Rama. Perhaps in the mind of Kulasekhara Alvar this sentiment of Lakshmana influenced him to opt to be born as a fish in a stream in Thiruvengadam. In the next pasuram (pasuram 679) the Alvar wants to be a 'Kainkaryadar' to the Lord at Thirumala. He wants to carry a golden bowl into which the Lord will spit the water used for brushing His teeth in the morning. The Alvar says that the jatadhari (Lord Siva), as well as Chathurmukha Brahma as also the Lord Indra are not able to go through the 'Vaikunta Neela Vaasal' at Thirumala! The heavy crowds make it difficult to enter the 'Sannidhyam' of Lord Sreenivasa. The Alvar felt that by becoming the Kainkaryapara, he will be able to gain easy access through Vaikunta Vaasal and render service to his dear Lord, Sreenivasa. The commentators say that the Alvar might have got worried that the forest stream in Thiruvengadam may run dry and as a fish he may also die without life sustaining water in the stream! He therefore opted to do Kainkarya to the Lord. The use of the words "Vaikunta Neela Vaasal" by the Alvar is significant as it is believed that the Thiruvengada Hill is the Kreeda Parvatha in Paramapadha, brought to Bhooloka, on the specific orders of Perumal, by his Vahana, namely Garuda. The commentators also say that amongst the various kainkaryas, the Alvar chose to carry the golden bowl as he was sure that when the Lord spits into that vessel, His benign glance will definitely cover not only the bowl but also the person holding it! The Alvar refers to the milling crowds waiting near the temple gates consisting of all the Devas. This statement strikes a sympathetic chord in us as the crowds that throng the holy shrine even today are huge! In the next pasuram (pasuram 680), the Alvar changes his mind and wants to be born as a Shenbaga tree in Thirumala. He says that the Lord at Thiruvengadam is none other than the one who is seen in Yogic slumber at Thirupparkadal where the coral creepers are washed ashore by the waves. He says that as it is not possible to go to Paramapadha and have the darsan of the Divine Feet of Ksheera Sayana, one could have that Padhaseva at Thirumala where the bees are singing happily after having had their fill of the honey from the myriad flowers on the Hills. We find that in the earlier three pasurams the Alvar expressed a desire to be born as movable objects in Thiruvengadam Hill, namely as a bird, as a fish, as a kainkaryaparar. But in this pasuram the Alvar wants to be born as an immovable object in the same Thiruvengadam. The commentators say that this change of mind in the Alvar might have been the result of a fear that as a movable object he might lose the Bhagavath Sambandha. The bird could fly away; the fish could die for want of water; the kainkaryapara might be dismissed if his service is not satisfactory! Thus, he may lose his opportunity to be near God, namely Sreenivasa. He therefore opts to become an immovable object in the same holy Hill which is usually referred to as a 'Sindhu poo maghizhium Thiruvengadam', i.e., Thirumalai where the air is filled with the scent of flowers. This is very true even today as the gardens maintained in the Hill for providing flowers to the Lord are breathtakingly beautiful, filled with innumerable scented flowers. In the idyllic surroundings on the Hill the Alvar wants to be born as a Shenbaga tree and provide the scented Shenbaga flowers to adorn His Lord. In the next pasuram, (pasuram 681) the Alvar wants to be born as a bush in the enchanting Thiruvengadam. He says he does not desire the trappings associated with ruling over a kingdom. It is not his wish to sit on a caparisoned elephant inasmuch as he does not value such evanescent aisvaryas. He simply wants to be born as a bush in beautiful Thiruvengadam where his Thirumalaiyan, the Lord and the master of the world, is residing. The Alvar says that to be born as a bush will be a boon conferred as a Thapobala rewards! That is why he uses the words "Thavam Udayen Aavene". Earlier Alvar desired to be a Shenbaga tree. Perhaps he was afraid that people may cut the precious Shenbaga tree and take it away for replanting elsewhere whereas if he is born as a useless bush, none will waste a second glance at him and he can stay on in the Hill and satisfy his all- consuming, sole passion, viz., to be near the Lord of Thirumala. The commentators say that the Alvar might have been reminded of the episode in Krishnavathara, when at the behest of Sathyabhama the Parijata tree was pulled out of Indraloka and transplanted in Bhooloka. He did not want to face any such eventuality which could lead to his being physically removed from Thirumala. That is why he chose to be born as a useless bush on which nobody in their senses would cast a second glance. In the next pasuram (pasuram 682) the Alvar wants to be born as a tall stone in Thirumala. He has no desire to witness the dance of the slim waisted beautiful apsara women such as Urvasi or Menaka. Instead he will consider himself fortunate if he were to be born as a mere stone in beautiful Thiruvengadam Hill, reverberating with the pleasant humming of the bees. Here the Alvar says that, the beauty of the divine damsels hold no charm for him. Perhaps he was afraid that if he were to be an ungainly bush in Thiruvengadam Hill, somebody with a desire to beautify the Hill might clear the bush; he was afraid that he might thereby lose his sambandha with the Hill. He therefore wanted to be born as an ungainly tall stone which would require a herculear effort to be shifted from Thiruvengadam Hill.