You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : January 1998

Sanskrit and Tamil

From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_compuserve.com)
Date: Fri Jan 02 1998 - 06:19:55 PST

Sri Dileepan's questions and the responses of
Sri Sridhar Srinivasan and Sri Venkatesh Elayavalli's
reesponses bring  back a lot of memories . I am convinced 
that in our Ubhaya VedAntha SiddhAntham , Sanskrit and Tamil 
are the two eyes of one's face and we need both of them 
to intrepret the world of AruLiccheyalgaLs , ApourushEyams ,
and VyAkhyAnams of purvAchAryAs in their original languages .
It is a tough call to have this dual facilitiy , but it is important to
cultivate
this study . Ohterwise , it is like the Sangeetha VidwAns from 
Tamil Naadu singing Telugu Krithis of Saint ThyagarAjA and 
ShyAmA SaastrigaL or Sanskrit krithis of Sri MutthuswAmi Deekshithar or
the KannadA krithis of Purandara DAsA . For a full and rich anubhavam,
their understanding of the original languages would help . 

A whole series of disorders of the eyes , when they do not function
propely (i-e) myopia , astigmatism , tunnel vision spring in my mind as 
metaphors in this anlaogy . The ability to have steroscopic vision 
is another blessing of the fully functioning pair of eyes . One can 
get along with one eye like General Moshe Dayan , but , it will be
a blessing to have both functioning well and both are equal 
to one another in importance as pointed out by Sri Sridhar Srinivasan .

Great AchAryAs like Swami Desikan , MaNaVALa Maamuni ,
Thirukkacchi Nampi were fluent in both the languages and 
blessed us with works in both the languages , while concentrating
on one language or the other . EmperumAnAr elected to write in 
Sanskrit , but his taniyans are testaments to his skills in the 
handling of Tamil .  The great Agasthya Muni gave us beautiful
Yoga MeenAkshi SthOthram in Sanskrit , while he authored the 
Tamizh grammar . The VaishNava ParibhAshai evolved as
a highly Sanskritized version of Tamil . So did PrAkrutham ,
which is considered as a mixture of Maratti and Sanskrit ( ? ) .
The intermingling between  Veda ( Deva) Bhaashai and 
" the Vernacular " rooted itself in this long tradition . 
The doctrines that the AzhwArs sung in their divya prabhandhams 
can be matched one on one to their Sanskritic roots in 
VedAs and Upanishads . Hence , it may be futile to 
establish the superiority of one over other , while conceding
the fact that Sanskrit is the older of the two languages and 
that it influenced the Dramida BhaashAs deeply . No wonder ,
ANDAL's ThiruppAvai is revered as "GOdhOpanishad " 
in the company of her Lord's GeethOpanishad .
   
As  one reflects on the thirty " Sanga Tamizh mAlai " of GodhA 
PirAtti in this month of MArghazhi and the reverence that EmperumAnAr
had for them , we gain an appreciation of their interconenction .
Thiruppaavai is known as " Godhai Tamizh " in some circles.

In a brilliant article entitled " Godhaiyum Sanga Tamizhum 
/ VishNu Parathvam " , Sriman PutthUr  KrishNaswaami Iyengar , 
the Editor of " Sri VaishNava Sudarsanam "  has analyzed the 
Pre-sangam , Sangam and post-Sangam works in Tamizh 
and correlated them to Godhai"s " Sangat Tamizh "   . He connects
the "Veda PrathipAdhyathvam " ( Veda PramaaNam  Of 
Sriman naarAyaNan ) in Brahma suTrams and Upanishads 
with the theme of VishNu parathvam as revealed in the early 
Sangam works and maps it on to ThiruppAvai and 
NaacchiyAr Thirumozhi brilliantly . He quotes profusely 
from KeeranthayAr ( second ParipAdal ) , Kaduvan ILaveyinAr 
( third and Fourth ParipAdals ) to demonstrate the influence of Purusha 
Sooktham in their works . He quotes further from Nal YezhuniyAr of
Sanga Kaalam , PerumpANARRu padai , TolkAppiyam , PuranAnUru 
to map the thoughts of ANDAL with the paasage from the above 
Tamizh works across centuries . 

In the post-sanga kaalam literature , the authors veered to
Siva Parathvam on the basis of their belief that Sriman 
NaarAyaNA's birth in many yOnis is not  commendable 
compared to the legend that Lord Sivan never incarnates.
They missed the whole point about the avathAra rahasyam 
described by GeethAchAryan and the fundamentals of 
Sri VaishNavism . 

In Pre Sangam days and Sangam days , the parathvam of 
Sriman NaarAyaNan was celebrated as per 
the doctrines expounded in the ancient Sanskritic VedAs 
and were distilled into pure Tamizh . The " AamnAyam " 
of Sanskrit for Sruthis learnt by the aural tradition was 
described by Sanga kAla Tamizh poets as ' Nalam
puri ee am seer nAma vAimozhi " . The emphasis is on 
Vaimozhi , the one taught by oral/aural tradition from 
the AchAryA's mouth and the student's ears . 
The meaning of these sanskrit VedAs took 
the form of Tamizh Marais . 

ANDAL decalred with certainity that the " Sangat Tamizh 
maalai " sung by her belongs to the tradition of the parama
viadhika matham celebrating Sriman NaarAyaNan
( NaaraayananE namakkE paRai tharuvAn ) in the foot steps 
of her revered father ( her AchAryA ) and the other AzhwArs . 

ANDAL's spiritual pilgrimage leading upto her union 
with Sri Ranganathan ( sOsnuthE sarvAn kAmAn 
sahabrahmaNAvipaschithA ) is her way of teaching 
in Sangat Tamizh the profound and redeeming doctrine
of ParamaathmA -JeevAthmA samslEsham . 

Last year , I had the privelege of writing about Artha 
Panchakam and how it is woven into ANDAL's ThiruppAvai .
That is again another deep doctrine celebrated in
the Sanskritic texts and forms the corner stone of the 
teachings of our PurvAchAryAs  in Sanskrit and Tamizh . 
It becomes difficult to track the ways in which Tamizh ,
the language that came after Sanskrit has been influenced 
and how much  it has borrowed from Sanskrit , especially 
in the area of sacred literature . 

The tradition going back to NammAzhwAr's pre-sanga Tamizh 
was followed by  ANDAL and continued onwards thru our 
AchAryAs down to Natha Muni , AlavandhAr and RaamAnujA ,
ThiukkurhaippirAn and Arangatthu AmudanAr about the 
four purushArthams ( aRam , poruL , inbam , veedu --
Dharmam , Artham , Kaamam and Moksham ) . AmudanAr 
states this unbhaya VedAntha doctrines in Tamizh to
summarize the way shown to us by the author of 
Sri Bhaashyam this way :

sEma nalveedum poruLum ,dharumamum seeriya naR-
kaamamum yenirivai naankenpar , naankinum KaNNanukkE
aamathu kaamam aram , poruL , veeditharkenruraitthAn,
Vamanan, seelan  IrAmAnusan intha maNNmisayE 

This KrishNa thrushNaa ( avaa in Tamizh ) led to NammAzhwAr's
aruLiccheyalgal being revered as  " avAvilanthAthigaL " . NammAzhwAr
declares loud and clear to the Lord about his avaa and reminded 
Him of His sworn dutirs just as ANDAL did in sundara Tamizh :

mAyam seyyEl yennai , unn thirumArvatthu maalai nangai
vaasam sey pUnkuzhalAL ThiruvANai ninnANai kandAi 
nEsamcheythunnOdu yennai uyir vEranRiyonrAhavE
koosam seyaathu kondAi yennaik koovikkoLLAi vanthanthO 

Om Veda PurushAyA Nama:
Tamizh Marai seythOn vAzhiyE 
Sanga Tamizh muppathum tappaamE
sonna ANDAL thiruvadigaLE SaraNam 

Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri SadagOpan