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Thirumangai"s Paasuram on ThiruvenkatamudayAn

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Thu Feb 27 1997 - 06:39:34 PST

Dear Sri Srinivasan and Sri Vijay Triplicane:

Both of you have given me the opportunity to reflect 
on this moving paasuram of Thirumangai Mannan 
performing MangaLAsAsanam of the Lord of the seven
hills . I consider this a great blessing to share my musings 
on the deeper meanings of this paasuram as revealed by
our AcharyAs .

To begin with virai aar means filled with(aar) sugandham 
or parimaLam (virai ) . AzhwAr addresses the Lord , who is the 
Sarva Gandhan  as " vEyi yEyi poompozhil soozh virai 
aar ThiruvEnkatavA "in the third line of this beautiful
paasuram .  " VEyi  yEyi "  refers to the dense bamboo 
thickets found in the slopes of the seven hills . These
thickets are interspersed with flower gardens ( poompozhil).
Together they form splendid thoppus (groves) , where the 
lush green bamboo leaves serve as background for the 
multicolored wild flowers blossoming  in their midst . 

The hill side is filled with the perfume of jaathi mullai , 
gundu mallikai , samphangi , ThAzhai , vakulA flowers, 
wild roses , and other fragrant flowers .
That perfume is wafted gently by the  waving bamboo leaves and 
reaches the lotus feet of the Lord , which has the natural perfume
of the highest order because of his own Sarva gandha nature 
and nigama parimaLam ( fragrance of the Veda mantrAs 
eulogizing those holy  feet ) mingling with it. 

AzhwAr  addresses this sarvagandhan 
( ViraiAr Thiruvenkatavan)as the  Lord 
who resides on these fragrant hills known for their
dark thickets of tall bamboos(inviting as it were theDevAs
to come down to Bhulokam )  and groves with fragrant
blossoms to nourish the bees(jeevans )  that perform Hari nAma 
sankeerthanam .

After saluting the above third line of this famous paasuram ,
let us offer our homage to the rest of the paasuram . 

In the previous ten verses ( Periya Thirumozhi 1.8) ,
AzhwAr begged his mind (nenju ) to reach Thiruvenkatam
( Thiruvenkatam adai nenjamE ) . The nenju obliged by
shaking of all the attachments that it was heir to and 
lifted the AzhwAr to the top of the seven hills . AzhwAr
described his presence in front of the Lord as 
a lowly dog that has finally  arrived out of
desire to feast its eyes on the Sowndharyam 
of the Lord of ThiruvEnkaTam . 

Now AzhwAr worries about the other Praapthi Virodhis 
( the enemies that interfere with the attainment 
of Prapatthi that he wishes to perform ) 
and prays for the Lord's anugraham
to banish them and bless him with the supreme boon 
of Moksham . Chasing away praapthi virodham items 
is one of the essentials of Artha panchakam.

The understanding of the  Virodhi Svarupam and the clear 
knowledge about those enemies helps one to defeat them with
the grace of the Divya Dampathis .Knowledge about 
the Isvara Svarupam , Jeeva Svarupam , Upaayam ,
palan and the knowledge about the  virodhis 
for attaining that palan constitute together 
the artha Panchakam . Swami Desikan has devoted the 
entire fourth chapter of Sri Rahasya traya Saaram to 
the doctrines of Artha Panchakam . 

Swami Desikan quotes the following  verse from 
Haaritha Samhitha to describe the features 
of Artha Panchakam that are relevant to the 
understanding of the mokshArthis : 

prApyasya brahmaNO rupam prApthusccha pratyagAthmana: I
prApthyupAyam palam chaiva tathA PRAAPTHI VIRODHI CHA 
vadanthi sakalA vedA: sethihAsa -puranAkA :II

(Meaning ) : All the VedAs , IthihAsAs and PurANAs describe 
the nature (Svarupam ) of Brahman that is to be attained, 
the nature of the Jeevan who seeks that  Brahman , the means
for that quest , the fruits of such a quest and the obstacles on
the way to such an attainment . 

Thirumangai focuses in this paasuram on the obstacles of 
SamsAric bonds that  delayed him and his pitiable status 
due to devotion  to  those transient relationships and finally
gaining true knowledge and reaching ThiruvenkaTam and 
standing before VenkatanAthan begging for his anugraham
inspite of all his past transgressions .

AzhwAr in a state of repentance reminds himself and reveals 
to the Lord  that he transgressed the Saastric injunction ,
"  Na sva vruthyA kadhAchana " . Sva  vritthi is the dog's life. 
The dog is loyal to those whosoever   feeds it and has no particular 
(discriminating )preference on who it works for 
to earn its food& shelter.

What the AzhwAr reminds the Lord is that 
due to his prArabdha karmAs , he served 
all kinds of masters and doted on various realtionships with 
utmost intensity that did not lead to the fruit of 
firm attachment to the Lord's lotus feet   . In a state of naicchiyam 
( revulsion about his wasted days in sva vritthi as a result of 
not devoting his time and energy on the Sarva Gandhan 
and Sarva Bhandhu ) . He equates his status to that 
of a lowly dog (nAyEn ) that has arrived  . He implies like 
NammAzhwAr who described himself before 
the very same Lord of ThiruvenkaTam
(Thiruvaimozhi paasuram: 3.4) as " NeesanEn , NiraivonrumilEn" . 

***** Naicchiyam of the AzhwArs and AchAryAs

Digressing  a little to focus  the sentiment of NammAzhwAr 
that Thirumangai echos here , we can see the links among 
AzhwAs and AchAryAs. Kulapathi NammAzhwAr described 
himself to the Lord of ThiruvenkaTam as lowly and downtroden
with no uplifting grace . The Tamil words , Neesan ( " Lowly "
AzhwAr ), nEsan ( Lord , the Friend) , the one who destroys
the lowliness (Naasan ) through His paasam ( atachment and 
affection to the AzhwAr , who stands before Him crying out for
His mercy to uplift him ) in the desam ( Divya Desam ) of
ThiruvenkaTam ring together . It is in the context
of the declaration of SatakOpa Suri that Thirumangai and 
other AzhwArs and AcharyAs declared themselves as 
undeserving , lowly  and despicaple ones (neesan, NaayEn,
MoorkanEn ) . 

In one of his ThirumAlai paasurams ,
Tondaradipodi describes himself and 
his status this way :

" manathilOr Thooymai illai 
vaayilOr inn sollilai
markamonRu aRiyamAttA 
moorkanEn vandhu ninrEn
moorkanEn moorkanEnEnE " 

(Meaning ) : O Lord RanganAthA ! There is no
purity in my thoughts . There is no pleasing 
word coming out of my speech in praise of
You . I do not know the ways for upliftment
to attain your grace . I have now arrived at 
your sannithi and am standing before You 
with all my lowly , ferocious and despicable traits.
I am indeed the AdhamAdhamAn ( Lowliest of the 
Lowliest ) . Please bless me !

AlavandhAr descibed his status similar to that of 
the AzhwArs in his 62nd slokam of his immortal
work , Sthothra Rathnam and cried out about
his unfit status( na dharmanishtosmi nachAthma vedhi--).

Swami Desikan described himself 
at one time as the Emperor  of all AparAdhams 
(AparAdha Chakravarthi ) . Saint ThyagarAjA 
described himself as one who will stay 
away from the neechAs in his Ranjani Krithi
and addressed Sri RamachandrA as "SRIKARA "
(the one who creates auspiciousness of every kind ) .
The meaning of this song is as follows and ties closely
to the state of mind of the sadhAcharyAs who preceded 
this great Rama BhakthA :

{ O Lord RamachandrA ,  the embodiment of DharmA ! 
O bestower of the riches of Moksham ! You are my material
prosperity and wealth and my very God. I can never
bring myself to flatter the wicked people (MOORKAAS AND
I will stay  away from those adaharmikAs , who dedicate 
their literary works to depraved persons and address  
them (for the sake of their vrutthi or livelihood ) 
" you are my Lord " and thereby practice sva vrutthi  } .  

*****Thirumangai"s Paasuram : Rest of the  lines 

The lower status of Oupaadhikha Sambhandham versus 
NiruphAdhika sambhandham (relationship ) is described by 
the AzhwAr in these two lines:

ThAyE Thanthai yenrum TaaramE kilai MakkaL Yenrum
nOyE pattu ozhindhEn unnai kANpathu Ohr aasiyinAl        
( ---ThiruvenkaTavA , naayEn vabthu adainthEn ,
nalhi aaLennai koNdaruLE ) .

NirupAdhikam is the realtionship without any limitations
of ours to the Lord as his Sesha BhoothAs . It is beyond 
the limits of desam , kaalam , caste , creed or gender or
kalais  and other constraints or boundaries . 
The opposite of NiruphAdhikam is OuphAdhikam relationships . 
Thirumangai recognizes the OuphAdhikam vritthis 
that he followed so far and begs the Lord 
as Sarva Vidha Bandhu ( relative in all dimensions  ) to show 
affection and friendship to him ( undeserving self overpowered by
OuphAdhika sambhandhams thus far ) and accept him 
as His servant ( Nalhi Yennai AaL kondu aruL ). 

The PrApthi Virodhis are identified by the AzhwAr as  diseases
that he was subjected to by not focusing on the NiruphAdhika
sambhandham with the Lord of ThiruvenkaTam . He states that
this wasting disease led to his loss of knowledge about his
Aathma Svarupam ( Jeeva Svarupam and its seshatvam to
the Lord ) . He says : "Those days of suffering are behind me  and 
I am now fortunate to be standing before you inspite of all
those lowly tendencies . Please receive me as your own 
and command me to be your servant " 
This is the prayer of theAzhwAr.

The ouphAdhika Sanmbhandhams that the AzhwAr describes are:

ThAyE -- Asa helpless infant , I passed my time with the thought that
my mother , who nourished me as the sole succour and sustenance.

ThanthayE -- Then came my father , who fed me , clothed me and 
instructed me on the hithams for livelihood . I shifted hence my 
attachment to him as my sole refuge.

TaaramE -- Then came my youth . I acquired a wife. I shifted from 
the attachment ot my parents to my taaram . I did not want to have
children , since I did not want her to lose the firmness of her body.
I lived doting on her as my sole source of happiness.

KiLai MakkaL yenrum -- Then came the children as the branches 
of the family . I doted on them as santhAnam and toiled to keep
them happy and prosperous. 

nOyE pattu ozhindhEn -- I went through the ravages of this
wasting disease of Ouphaadhika Sambhandhams and 
strayed away from the UpAyam , Palan and PrApthi sukham 
as well as the search for an understanding of your (Isvara )
svarupam and my ( Jeeva ) svarupam and the seshathvam 
of mine to You without any limitations . 

Now , I have amalgamated all of my desires of Anaadhi 
SamsAram ( love for parents, wife , children et al )
and deflected them to You , who is the Sarva vidha bandhu.
Driven by that new and ideal desire , I have arrived at 
your sannithi and beg for Your anugraham . His prayer
reminds one of the famous passage describing the Lord 
as the Sarva Vidha Bandhu :

MaathA pithA brAthA nivAsa: saraNam suhrudh gathi NaarAyaNa : "

In the next verse , AzhwAr is reminded of the Upanishadic
injunction , Maathru DEvO Bhava , Pithru DEvO bhava 
and accepts the reverence to one's parents as Saasthra-
permitted rules and also reminds himself of Manu Smrithi
rules about the protection of one's family ( Kudumbha 
RakshaNam )  quoted by Kusela prior to his journey 
to the house of his boyhood friend ,KrishNA   and recognizes 
them as allowed by the Lord to a limited extent 
and talks about his other "Bheethis " and how he has 
now arrived in a state of terror about them  to seek the Lord's
intervention to chase them away and bless him with the boon
of Nithya Kaimkaryam .

AzhwAr ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam 
Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan  

P.S : I guess this posting is a good example of the 
Anglo-MaNi PravAlam alluded to by Sri Sudarshan .  
SobhAdhikam .