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From: Venkatesh Elayavalli (vke_at_cypress.com)
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 means 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, PeriyavAccAnpillai 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 protection 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 (and surrendered) to Sri Rama in Lanka. This comment shows that PeriyavAccAnpillai has a high regard for Tamil. His 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 TirumankaiAlvAr, PeriyavAccAnpillai states that the reason for modifying the word Tamil with 'cen' (good) is to denote that this language has the special quality of unambiguous expression. And in his expalanation of the phrase centamizhpAduvArvanankumtEvar (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 Tamil. 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 everyone born in Tamil country can understand the poetry of TiruppAnAlvAr. The Acharya 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 Sanskrit. AcharyarkaL thiruvadikalE SaraNam Venkatesh.