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"seeriya singAsanattirundu..."

From: sampath kumar (sampathkumar_2000_at_yahoo.com)
Date: Fri Jan 07 2000 - 11:54:05 PST

Dear friends,

Today is the day of the 23rd Stanza of the
"tiruppAvai" beginning with the lines:

"mAri malai muzhanjil mannik-kidandurangam
   seeriya singam arivutru-tee-vizhittu...".

It is said (by both Tamil scholars and "vyAkhyAna-
kartA-s" alike) the first 5 lines of this verse
constitute one of the finest pieces of poetry ever
written in the annals of Tamil literature, past and
present. No language on earth can mirror the power and
beauty of these lines by way of the best or most
faithful translation. Nowhere else is the super-poetic
mind of AndAl- pirAtti, with its awesome powers of
observation, at once both telescopic and minute...
nowhere else is it so much in evidence as here in
these 5 lines.

In purely literal terms, the above 5 lines describe
the lion in winter. 

The majestic beast ("seeriya singam"),  lies with a
mate in its winter retreat deep inside a cavern high
in the hills ("mAri-malai- muzhanjil"). Awoken
suddenly out of its deep slumber ("arivutru"), the
great king of the forest languidly strides out of the
cave with  darting eyes blazing ("teevizhittu") and
long, golden manes bristling ("vEri-mayir ponga"). 

It pauses outside the mouth of the cave for a moment.
It turns its massive, imperial head this way once and
then the other way, and in one sweeping glance takes
in the landscape...much like the proverbial monarch
surveying all that lay in his kingdom. 

The lion then draws itself up ("muri nimirndu"),
flexes his long, feline body, shaking off its sloth
("eppAdum pErndu-udari") and then, with one short
blast of a roar that rents through the forest air like
a crack of thunder, the King proceeds forth further
("muzhangip-purapattu..") ....

Magnificent lines, indeed!

Devotees of the famous 'Ahobila-kshetram' (near
Kurnool, India) are generally found to favour singing
this particular Stanza in praise of Lord Nrisimhan who
presides inside a cave-temple atop the "garudAdri"
Hill there. The words of this 'pAsuram' were composed
by AndAl not with Nrsimhan in mind. Nevertheless, the
majesty of the words and the leonine gait of their
syntactic ebb and flow are seen to aptly fit the
description of 'Ahobila- nrsimhan' to the very tee.   


Speaking of the "gait" or "strides" of the Lord (be it
Krishna or even Nrsimhan) the commentator Sri.Azhagiya
Manavala perumal Nayanar in his "ArAyirapadi" says
that it has the combined majesty of the picture of a
fighting bull or a male elephant advancing; it also
has the fluid grace of a stalking tiger and the
imperial haughtiness of the lion amongst its brood.   


In this verse the 'aayarpAdi" girls actually entreat
Lord Krishna who has at last woken up from the
bed-chamber of Napinnai-pirAtti. He strides forth then
into an outer assembly-room, seats Himself comfortably
on a glorious throne ("seeriya-singAsanam") and
prepares to listen to their petitions and consider
granting them their heart's desire ("yAm vanda-kAriyam
ArAyndu...". 

The "muvAyira-padi" of SriPVP expands on the phrase
"koppudaya-seeriya-singAsanam" i.e. the imperial
throne befitting the Lord of the Universe.

This throne, it is explained by PVPillai is no
ordinary throne! The commentator hails the throne as
the "dharmAdhi-pitam"... the great Seat the Almighty
normally used by God in his Abode in the highest
heaven, SriVaikuntam! It is the Seat upon which the
Supreme Monarch of All Things always rests and from
where He surveys and rules His kingdom of "sara" and
"a-sara"....i.e. all things movable and stationery in
the entire universe.

Now, what kind of throne is this... this great throne
of SriVaikuntam? And how is it that Andal's
'aayarpAdi' girls happen to be offering that mythical
"seeriya-singAsanam", that same hallowed Seat of
SriVaikuntam to Lord Krishna here in the herdsman,
Nandagopan's little hamlet on earth?

Sri.PVPillai explains that this great throne, this
Imperial Seat of the Almighty that is offered in the
"tiruppAvai' to Him and that too here in this temporal
world, is a unique one. It is said to have 4 pairs of
legs: 

One set of one of pairs is called "a-dharma
gnyAnAdigal" and they are (1)"a-dharma"
(unrighteousness) (2)"a-gnyAnam" (Ignorance),
(3)"a-vairAgyam" (the opposite of renunciation i.e.
desire) and (4) "un-aiswariyam" (poverty of all kind
of means).

The second set of the second of pairs is called
"dharma-gnyAnidagaLagira bhagavath-bhAgavata
sikhAmanigal" and they are (1) "dharma" (eternal
righteousness), (2) "gnyAnam" (enlightenment), (3)
"bhakti" (the wealth of God-love, i.e. real
"aiswaryam") and (4) "vyrAgyam" (renunciation of
temporal desires).

The real meaning of the above 8-legged throne, the
"svApadesArtham" is that God rules this universe
through the power that lies vested in his Holy Throne
with its 8 pillared-foundation on which All Creation
is firmly grounded viz. "dharma/a-dharma",
"gnyAna/a-gnyAna", "vyrAgya/a-vyrAgya" and
"bhakti/un-aiswaryam". 

AndAl's 'aayarpAdi" girls in Stanza#23 thus entreat
the Lord Almighty to seat Himself comfortably on such
a glorious "8-legged throne". After seating Himself
thus, He is then requested to patiently listen to
their petitions and prayers ("yAm vanda kAriyam") and
give it all deep consideration and serious thought
("aarAyndu-arul").

"To be seated".... on "seeriya-singAsanam" ... to have
the Lord "seated" in front of them... now, why do the
aayarpAdi girls insist on the the Lord "seating"
Himself first before proceeding to listen to their
prayers?

The commentators again explain in their
'svApadEsArtham' that whenever the Lord gets down to
any "serious business" He is always first "seated".

In Kurukshetra He delivered to Arjuna the great
message of the 'Bhagavath-gita' in a "sitting
posture". The commentators call this "sitting-posture"
of the Lord as "thEr-thattin vArtthai" --- the
"message delivered from the "Throne of Chariot"
(Arjuna's).

Again in the Ramayana, the "achAryA-s" remind us of
"the message that the Lord delivered while seated on
throne-seat on the shores" ("kadarkarai-vArthai") viz.
the solemn guarantee of unconditional protection that
Lord Rama gave to every soul that performed
'saranAgati' unto Him.

Both occasions above were extremely solemn and
momentous indeed when God Almighty transacted very,
very "serious business" with his subjects. And on both
occasions He did it while being "seated", as it were,
on a glorious throne ("seeriya-singAsanam")!

Thus, here too in the tiruppAvai, since the
"aayarpAdi" girls wanted the Lord to get down to the
"serious business" of listening to their prayers and
petitions, AndAl made them entreat Him to first settle
himself down on the great "8-legged" throne of
glory... the "dharmAdi-peetam", the
"seeriya-singAsanam".... so that Krishna would be as
well pre-disposed to them and to their plaints as He
had been when He delivered His solemn assurance of
deliverance and comfort to both Arjuna and Vibeeshana.


dAsan,
Sampathkumaran

  







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