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"pancha-sayanattin male-Eri"

From: sampath kumar (
Date: Mon Jan 03 2000 - 12:36:31 PST

Dear friends,

Today (3 January) adiyen continued freely "reflecting"
into his private "mArgazhi" diary about the
'tiruppAvai' verse of the day ... "kuttu-villakk-eriya
kOttukAl kattil male..." (Stanza # 19).

adiyen is sharing only a few impressions of the verse
below and exactly as they were said to be have been
held by venerable "purvAchAryA-s". (Very scrupulously,
adiyen has duly censored out all  embellishments,
fanciful or otherwise, of adiyen's own handiwork lest
it offend the tastes and sensitivities of learned
'bhAgavatA-s' on the list). 

   ****        *****         *****

Stanza #21 is a very important verse for Sri
Vaishnavas since it is said to contain some cardinal
principles of doctrine. 

The first 2 lines are of utmost philosophical
significance to the adherents of SriRamanuja

      "kuttu-villaku-eria kottukAl kattil male
         metth-enra pancha-sayanattin male-Eri...".

In this verse, the damsels from the  'aayarpAdi'
village of Nandagopalan, give vent to slightly
vehement feelings as they address "nappinnai-pirAtti".
Their feelings are at best described as one of
"platonic jealousy". 

They feel really jealous that while they are left
fretting and fuming at the gates of "napinnai's"
house,  impatient to have audience with Krishna, the
girl "napinnai-pirAtti" however chooses to remain
completely unmindful of their restiveness. She seems
wholly insensitive to their gnawing anxiety to quickly
meet with Lord Krishna. Napinnai simply continues to
remain supine in Krishna's warm embrace
("vaittu-kidantha- malar-mArbA"), savouring its warmth
on a grand "ivory bedstead" (kOttukAl-kattil") and
blissfully ensconsed in the deep and delicious valleys
of an incredibly "soft mattress" ("metth-enra

Thus, the girl "napinnai" ("thAyyAr") appears to be
giving the 'aayarpAdi" damsels the "divine
cold-shoulder" and the latter (in this verse) seem to
resent it. And the resentment apparently arises from a
twinge of "platonic jealousy" they cannot help feeling
towards "napinnai".

(If you ask adiyen if there is ever such a special
variety of "jealousy" on earth, adiyEn can only say,
"Yes, everything is possible in the exquisite poetry
of AndAl!" There is indeed such a thing ...a human
feeling which one may perhaps licentiously call
"sAtvika-porAmai" ... "platonic envy" which does
sometimes overtake a spiritual-aspirant when he sees
the rapid spiritual progress another more "advanced"
'bhAgavata' is making towards God. He thinks the
latter is "nearer" God than he is himself and hence is
also better off ! It is such a variety of
"jealousy"... the platonic type.. that also afflicted
the "aayarpAdi" girls who beseeched "napinnai-pirAtti"
to let them a little nearer bhagawan Krishna, although
not as near as pirAtti herself was. Adiyen must
confess here that he always feels "platonic jealousy"
fill his heart whenever he is standing far behind in
the 'dharma-darshan' queue in the Tirumala temple and
resentfully watches a "VIP-vAru" being led right
royally past him by temple-officials straight into
"Sri-vAru" Venkateshwara's Presence ! In those moments
adiyen usually conquers feelings of jealousy by
reciting silently this verse #19 of the "tiruppAvai"
in praise of "tiruvEngada-mudaiyAn"!) 

    ******      ********    *********

Scholars and "achAryA-s" point out that the expression
"pancha-sayanattin-male-Eri" is to be interpreted in
more ways than one.

One is to understand it as: "the Lord and His Consort
Napinnai lying on a cotton-bedding or mattress". This
meaning is appropriate from a literal and contextual
point of view. To take it a little further we may even
say that "pancha-sayanam" refers to a "mattress" that
has the 5 excellent features of beauty, coolness,
whiteness, softness and fragrance. Or, it may be taken
to mean a "mattress" made out of 5 excellent
substances viz., tendrils, flowers, cotton-fluff, soft
wool and pieces of finest silk. (Once again here,
adiyEn must recollect the "pancha-sayanam" that is
usually provided for the "utsava-murthy" of Lord
Venkateshwara who goes out in ritual procession, with
the two "pirAtti-s", on a grand palanquin. Adiyen once
had the opportunity to feel with his hands those
"mattresses" which the temple priests had used to
upholster the palanquin. Believe me, sirs, they are
truly pure "pancha-sayanam" as  they have all the
qualities and excellences of bedding described by the
'tiruppAvai'! Next time you visit Tirumala please make
it a point to observe the "cushions and mattresses" on
the Lord's palanquin and you will  instantly and
certainly remember AndAl's phrase!).

"pancha-sayanam", our "purvAchAryA-s" remind us,
however has a deeper, more esoteric significance of
doctrine than the literal context would ordinarily

"pancha-sayanam" in this verse of AndAl refers to
"artha-panchaka" ... which is 'sine-qua-non' for the
understanding of the SriVaishnava conception of

What is the "artha-panchaka"?

The "AchAryA-s" explain it as one's 5 inner states of
realization. The states of realization are wholly
experiential. They are not measurable by applying
external yardsticks. They are 

(1) The state of realization of the true nature of God
known as "paramAtma-svarupa" or "Iswara-svarupa". In
Tamil, this is also called "mikka-iRanilai".

(2) The state of realization of the completely
helpless nature of the   individual soul known as
"jivAtma- svarupa" or as in Tamil, "uyir-nilai". 

(3) The realization of "upAya-svarupa" or the means of
attaining "mukti" or salvation. This is called
"takka-neRigal" in Tamil. These means or "upAya"
include GnyAna, karma, Bhakti yoga and "prappathi" or

(4) The realization of the various pitfalls on the
road to  attainment of "paramAtma"... the realization
of sins and fates that can impede one's progress
towards salvation. These are called "virOdhi-svarupa"
or "jivAtma-virOdhigal" (in tamil). These pitfalls are
again 5 in number: (a) 'svarupa-virOdhi' or what is
anti-soul (b) 'paratva-virodhi' or anti-God (c)
'purushArtha- virodhi' or what is inimical to the
ultimate goals of life (d) 'upAya-virodhi' or what
impairs adoption of the right means to attain mukti
(e) 'prApti-virOdhi' or what is antipathic to one's
natural destiny
(5) The realization of "purushArtha-svarupa" which is
the actual experience of "paramAtmA". This in Tamil is
called "vAlvinai", eternal and undiminishing bliss.

According to SriVaishnava doctrine every Man must
strive to the above 5 States of Realization with the
help of an "achArya" and the Grace of Isvara. And that
indeed is the true goal of all human existence.

Parashara Bhattar talked of the same 5-fold States of
Realization, the "artha-panchaka", in his famous
'tanian' (doxology):

"mikka virai-nilaiyum meyyAm-uyir-nilaiyum
   takka neriyum taDaiyAgit-tokkiyallum
 Uzhvinaiyum vAlvinaiyum Odhum kurukaiyarkOn
  yAzh-inn-isai vedat-tiyal".     


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