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Sri PeriyavAccAnpillai's and Azhakiya manavAlap perumAL nAyanAr defence for Tamil

From: Venkatesh Elayavalli (
Date: Sat Jan 03 1998 - 17:53:57 PST

Dear members,

To continue on the use of Tamil on par with Sanskrit,  I would like to
quote the following
from Srivaishnava ManipravAlA by Sr. K. K. A. Venkatachari.


Sri PeriyavAccAnpillai's defence.

Sri periyavAccAnpillai strongly defends the use of Tamil. In reference
to stanza 4 of
Thirunedunthantakam, where thirumangaiAlvAr has written the lines which

    The one who is the  personification of beautiful Tamil and Sanskrit

he mentions that certain persons had objected to the placing of Tamil
before Sanskrit,
for according to them  Tamil was born from Sanskrit .
PeriyavAccAnpillai, in his
commentary on Thirunedunthantakam strongly argues against those  who
want Sanskrit
first, since tamil is an independent language and its words convey their
meaning lucidly
and unambiguously. Moreover, he says that the AlvAr's words written in
Tamil are
self-explanatory and do not have to rely, as do the Vedas (in Saskrit)
on puranAs and
ithihAs for explanation. In other commentaries his love for tamil is
expressed in even
stronger terms. His elaborate discussion of TirumAlai goes as follows:

    The One Who is lying with His head towards the west,
    with His feet stretching towards the east, with His back
    towards the north, and Who is facing south towards Lankai
    is the Lord Who is of the color of the ocean, Who is seen
    sleeping on the serpent couch. My body melts. O people
    of the world, what should I do?

In reference to this stanza so popular in Srivaishnava tradition,
exhaustively explains the posture of Lord Ranganatha. First he says that
the Lord
has His head towards teh west because He has the responsibility for the
of the whole world. He wants to safeguard the people in that region.
With reference
to the Lord's stretching His legs towards the east, the commentator asks
why the
AlvAr uses the word "stretch His feet towards east" when he could have
merely said
"with His feet towards east". This reference to "stretch" says
PeriyavAccAnpillai, is
beacause the AlvAr wants to convey that the Lord desires to extend His
grace to him.
Moreover, He wants to extend His grace to a person who does not deserve
it. It is
also to be noted that tirumandankudi, the place where
ThondaradipodiyAlvAr was
born, lies east of Srirangam where Lord Ranganatha lies, and so the
AlvAr visualizes
the Lord lying with His feet (and His grace) stretched towards east (and
so towards
the AlvAr). regarding the Lords bach to the north, the AlvAr thinks that
the Lord has
a special pity for the north since:

a. It is an Aryan region where Sanskrit is spoken (this implies that
Sanskrit is not
    on par with Tamil).

b. It is a place which has not been celebrated by the AlvArs.
Nonetheless, adds
    PeriyavAccAnpillai, even when the Lord shows the beauty of his
backside to
    the north, He is bestowing a special grace on the north.

Finally, PeriyavAccAnpillai,  tells us that the Lord faces south
because, first of all, He
feels guilty about having killed RAvana, inorder to retrieve Sita after
her abduction.
Secondly, He wishes to show his affection to Vibhishana who had helped
surrendered) to Sri Rama in Lanka.

This comment shows that PeriyavAccAnpillai has a high regard for Tamil.
frequent and reverent references to Tamil make clear that he esteems it
more highly
that Sanskrit. In his expalnation of Periyatirumozhi 7:8:7 by
PeriyavAccAnpillai states that the reason for modifying the word Tamil
'cen' (good) is to denote that this language has the special quality of
expression. And in his expalanation of  the phrase
(in Periyatirumozhi 2:8:2), he says that it means that God was worshiped
by the
first three AlvArs "who sang in pure  and chaste Tamil" implying that
the divinity
of the Lord increased when such great AlvArs sang about Him in pure

Sri Azhakiya manavAlap perumAL nAyanAr's defense:

Very similar to this is an explanation given by Azhakiya manavAlap
perumAL nAyanAr
for the term 'vadavEnkadam', which he describes as the northern place
where people
cannot understand Vedas without the aid of PurAnAs and ithihAs, while
born in Tamil country can understand the poetry of TiruppAnAlvAr. The
also states that the difference between Sanskrit and Tamil is only
superficial, like
the difference in the four sections of the Veda - the Rk, Yajus, Sama
and Atharva.
Tamil is an ancient language like Sanskrit; Tamil has fourteen
classifications like

AcharyarkaL thiruvadikalE SaraNam