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"arivOnrum-illA".."pin-senru".."siru-pEr-azhaittu" (2 0f 2)

From: sampath kumar (sampathkumar_2000_at_yahoo.com)
Date: Wed Jan 12 2000 - 11:35:54 PST

Dear friends,
Continuing from the earlier post today with the same
title as this one...
------------------------------

Some expressions in Stanza#26 of the tiruppAvai are
extremely significant and they constitute the core of
its "svApadEsArtham":

"arivOnrum-illA"..
"pin-senru".. and,
"siru-pEr-azhaittu".
"undannOdu-utrayvel namakku-ingu-ozhikka-ozhiyAdhu"

The dramatic context in which the above expressions
are used in the Stanza, adiyen has already sketched in
the earlier post of the day. (please see post
preceding this one.)

These expressions are also laden with very deep
philosophical messages of SriVaishnava thought.  We
must all savour it a bit now to the best of our
ability.

The expression "arivonrum-illA" means "lacking any
sort of claim to "gnyAna" i.e. being clueless as to
the nature of Truth and reality.

This is an expression that best describes the state of
every true devotee of God. The seeker of God sincerely
knows in his heart that "he knows not". The
KatOpanishad echoes this deeply-felt sentiment of the
true God-seeker in the following verse (2-2):

   "nAham manyE suvEdEti nO na vEdEti vedacha I
     yO nastadvEda tadvEda no na vedEti vEda cha II

meaning,
  "I do not think I know Him fully although others may
say,"We know Him fully". Nor do I say I know Him not
at all! Amongst us who says,"I know Him", be sure he
knows Him not; and he who says "I do not know Him", he
indeed knows."

Mind boggling, isn't it?

Never mind! The Upanishads usually say things like
that once in a while just to tease one's brain but
their message put simply is this:

"In matters relating to God, there is no such thing as
"full knowledge". People know something of everything
about Him and believe they know everything about Him;
or they know everything of something about Him and
believe they know everything about Him. The true
seeker of God is one who knows something about Him and
knows it is not everything."

True God-seekers are they who realize the limitation
of "gnyAnA" as a means of enligtenment. They learn to
accept it as a condition of the human state. Like the
'aayarpAdi' girls of the 'tiruppAvai' they first learn
to accept Ignorance as their natural state... 
"arivonrum-illAda..pillaigal".

Having accepted this state of Ignorance what does the
God-seeker do? Does he rest content in the dictum
"Ignorance is Bliss" and simply proceed to lead a life
of creature-comfort... 'serndu-unbOm"? 
Does he shrug his shoulders and say,"God and Truth are
un-knowable and so be it!Let Him stay in heaven and
mind his business and I shall mind mine here on
earth"? 

No. The seeker of God does not give up so easily. His
heart yearns to understand God, to feel Him and be one
with Him. He pursues God ... "pin-senru"...doggedly. 

Why can't Man leave God alone? Because there is a
mysterious bond between them that simply won't let
them remain indifferent to each other.

It is a unique and eternal relationship.... a 
relationship that AndAl describes in those immortal
words "undannOdu-utrayval namakku-ingu-
ozhikka-ozhiyAdhu".... In the "nAnmugan tiruvandAdi"
(Verse 7) the AzhwAr too described this unique
relationship between Man and God as "nAn-unnai anri
ilEn kandAy, nAraNaNe! nee enai anri ilai!"... "O
Narayana!  I can't do without Thee and neither can
Thou do without me!".

In the primordial "pranavam" ... the syllable "OM"
consists of 3 letters---' A', 'U' and 'M' ...where "a"
signifies God and "m" signifies Man and in the middle
there is the letter "u" which signifies the
indissoluble relation between the two!

Inextricably bound together thus in a cosmic
relationship that has neither beginning nor end, Man
and God hence engage in a strange game 
of hide and seek in which the seeker of God ever
seeks... and the God of men remains ever hidden....

This unique relationship with God, which Man can
divine but never truly fathom, is verily the seed of
"bhakti" that is sown in the heart of the God-seeker
and keeps growing continuously. Bhakti is an attitude
formed by an inseparable admixture of feelings of
love, devotion, awe and utter dependance... 

Now, the Man of "bhakti" at various times in his life
perceives his relationship with God in various forms:
as father-son; protector-protected; master-servant;
husband-wife; sought-seeker; owner-owned;
supporter-supported; soul-body; enjoyer-enjoyed.....
and so on. In every such relationship he perceives,
however, an underlying common element of love and
devotion. 

It is thus that Man discovers he... the ignorant and
dross mortal that he is... cannot but be devoted to
the Divine and the Immortal... In other words, he
simply can't let God alone!

Now how does this devotion, this "bhakti" manifest
itself in man?

The "AchAryA-s" say that the man of true 'bhakti' who
has truly realized the nature of his unique
"relationship" with God is unafraid of Him. 

The "bhakta" is a indeed a fearless man. Neither the
mighty transcendence of God ("paratvam") nor the 
monumental Ignorance of Man ("a-gnyAnam") unsettles
the true "bhakta". This is because he knows that the
God who appears distant in Heaven ("paratvam") is also
the loving God who resides amidst us
("saulabhyam").... just as He lived and loved amidst
the 'aayarpAdi" girls of the "tiruppAvai". 

A God who resides in the distant heaven and never
deigns to descend amongst his earthly subjects is
grievously flawed indeed. And it would be needless to
talk of such a god much less worship him. (In the
"muvAyira-padi" SriPVPillai states this idea very
bluntly, "neermai sambAthikkap-pOndha viDathE mEnmai
sollukkai kuttrameerE!" i.e. in a place presided by
the God of 'easy access' it would be crime to sing the
praise of the God of Transcendence".) 

But the God of our true 'bhakta' and of our dear
AndAl-pirAtti is One has no flaw whatsoever
("kurai-unrum-iilAda-gOvinda") and He is ever present,
and as ever Compassionate, amongst his devotees
...here, now and in this world itself! 

A God of such disarming 'saulabhyam' is the One that
His "bhaktas" beckon with easy familiarity and
camaraderie. They revel in calling Him by all sorts of
innumerable nicknames ....such as "Narayana", Kesava,
Madhava etc. and ....exactly as the "aayarpAdi-girls"
too called him by several "siru-pEr".... like
"narAyanan-murthy", "nAtra-tuzhAy nArAyanan!" etc....

In such easy and endearing mutual camaraderie the
devotee and the Deity thus both grow dearer to each
other... nearer and ever nearer too...until at last
they embrace in state of divine bliss which AndAl in
Stanza#28 calls: "parai.... elOr embAvAy!".

andAl tiruvadigalE sharanam

dAsan,
Sampathkumaran  


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