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A SanyAsi ascends to the throne : part 5

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sat Jul 12 1997 - 05:40:02 PDT

Dear Narasimha BhakthAs : 

In this posting , I will cover the paasurams through which
AzhwArs enjoyed NrusimAvathAram . I am indebted to 
Dr . M.A . VenkatakrishNan , the editor of GeethAchAn ,
who presented a article in the spthathi malar of the 44th
Jeeyar of Ahobilam . I will include his comments and 
include  additional material to elaborate on the theme 
developed by him .

The Beauty of the Lord in NrusimhAvathAram 

Although the Lord has chosen to appear in many avathArams,
NrusimhAvatharam is considered an exquistely beautiful 
avathAram . The qualifying adjective of " beautiful " is not attached 
to any other avahArams  according to our poorvAchAryAs . For
instance, Sri VishNu sahasra nAmam describes BhagavAn
NarasimhA as " Naarasimha Vapu: SREEMAAN " .  In Naanmuhan 
ThiruvandhAthi , Thirumazhisai salutes this beautiful avathAram as
" AzhahiyAn thAnE ariyuravam thAnE " . He is not beautiful because 
of having a man's body or lion'ds head . Both these mingle together 
to present the most beautiful svarupam like the sugar dissolved in
milk . 

Although He is present as ArchA murthy in many divya desams , 
he is saluted as Azhahiya Singam at ThiruvallikkENi alone . Here,
the Lord is present as Bhayankara Svarupam to HiraNyan (Moolavar )
and as the most merciful svarupam to His bhakthan , PrahlAdhan, with
His AahlAdha mudrai in one of his hands asking his dear Baala -
BhagavathA to come near . THAT name of Azhahiya Singam is borne
by the MatAthipathis of AhObila Mutt even today .

The Glory of the Lord in NrusimhAvathAram

The all comprehending  NammAzhwAr states that 
the special glory of Lord NrusimhA can not be assessed
by us . In the Thiruvaimozhi Paasuram 2.8.9  , he salutes 
Lord NarasimhA  this way to reveal His special glory and 
parathvam :

yengumuLan KaNNan  yenra mahanai kaaynthu 
ingillaiyAlenru IraNiyan thooN pudaippa 
angappozhudhE avan veeyatthOnria yen

The meaning given for this paasuram by Sri V.N. VedAntha Desikan
is : "  The proof that He is all pervasive was established by
PrahlAdhA . He repeated : " The Lord is every where " . The asuran,
HiraNyA , is now to put to test this thesis . He tapped a pillar ,
familiar to him from the moment of its making and positioning . 
None could have played any trick . From that pillar , rending it 
asunder , the Lord NarasimhA came out . In a moment --nay , 
at the same moment , the asuran melted like gold in the fire. 
To prove PrahlAdA's words , " HE is all pervasive " , the Lord 
took the male lion-faced avathArA to match the masculine gender
used by PrahlAdan ( uLan ) . Without taking  a form , The Lord would 
have done away with HiraNyA . But then ,  the world would only
join the school that says that God has  no form . Hence , He took a 
visible form . My dear Narasimhan came out , therefore , proving 
that He is all pervasive , that He is supreme God , He has a form , 
that He will appear to save His devotees , more so that He will
confirm His devotee's contention . IS IT POSSIBLE TO DESCRIBE

NampiLLai , who commented on this paasuram in his eedu 
was reminded of a  Periya Thirumozhi paasuram and another
one from PeriyAzhwAr Thirumozhi and includes them .
Dr.VenkatakrishNan poses the rhetorical question 
"Is it not wonderful and appropriate that the blissful experience
of blending the passurams of Thirumangai and PeriyAzhwAr ,
when meditating upon the rare form of the Lord having the features
of a lion and a man ? " .

NampiLLai comments : " When some one says that  the Lord is 
everywhere, we should fall at the feet of the man , who says that .
If your own son says that the Lord is everywhere , the father 
should be doubly happy about the jnAnam of his child. 
The reaction of the deluded HiraNyan was just the opposite. 
He got enraged at his bhagavathA-son and shouted at him .
NampiLLai is now reminded of the paasuram of Thirumangai 
on Telliya Singham of ThiruvallikkENi :

paLLiyOlodhivantha tan siruvan vaayilOr aayira naamam
oLLiyavahippOtha aangathanukku onrumOr porupilAnAhi
piLLayai seeri vehuNdu thooN pudaippa piraiyeyiRRanal 
TeLLiya singamAhiya thEvai ThiruvallikkENi kandEnE 

                                                --Periya Thirumozhi  2.3.8

When children come home from their class on the first day
at school , the parents ask with affection for the details of 
happenings at school and enjoy  the Mazhali vaaku (lisp )of
the child . They are thrilled to have the experience of the child
recollecting and describing the high lights of the day . HiraNyan
on the other hand was mighty angry to hear his child praising 
Bhagavan NaarAyaNan as all pervasive and as the supreme 
among Gods and Living beings . HiraNyan declared that 
PrahlAdan was not his son . Thirumangai , who believes 
that any one , who utters the name of the Lord is the sarva
vidha bandhu ( related by everyway ) and  identifies with PrahlAdA
as his own son and says " PiLLayai seeri " according to 
NampiLLai . 

This mad HiraNyan furiously asks his son , : You said 
that your Lord is everywhere , Is He in this pillar ? "  and 
hit a pillar that he chose with his fist. When NampiLLai
is ready to describe the meaning of the above paasuram 
of Thirumangai , he is reminded of the anubhavam of 
PeriyAzhwAr in the following paasuram ( Periya Thirumozhi :
1.6.9 ) : 

aLanthitta thooNai avan thatta aangE 
vaLarnthittu vALuhir Singa uruvAi 
uLanthotti IraNiyan oNmArvahalam 
piLanthitta kaihaLAl sappANi
peymulai undAnE SappANi 

MaNavALa MaamunigaL has followed PeriyavAcchAn
piLLai's vyakhyAnam that had  disappeared and reproduced
it with emphasis on each word of this paasuram of PeriyAzhwAr.

MaNavALa Maamuni's line-by-line commentary is as  follows :

" aLanthitta thONai avan thatta" :HiraNyan had constructed 
a victory pillar ( Jaya Sthambham )  in his darbhAr hall . 
HiraNyan  chose the height and circumference of that pilllar 
and had it placed at his sabhA mantapam to remind 
him of his many victories over the DevAs . That was the pillar , 
he chose to hit with his hand , while he queried his son 
about the whereabouts of the Lord . Bhagavan broke that 
pillar and came out of THAT pillar to counter any argument that 
He appeared out of any other pillar , where H e(the Lord) was 
deliberately hidden inside by some one like a "trojan horse ". 
Lord Narasimhan appeared out of the very same trusted pillar , 
which was created by HiraNyan himself .

" avan thatta " : If any one othe rthan HiraNyan had hit the sthampam , 
people might say that they carried inside their palm the miniature 
form of the Lord and passed it on to the sthampam .To avoid 
any controversy of htis sorrt , the Lord appeared as a sequel 
to the asuran's own hand hitting the jaya sthampam .

" avn thatta aangE " : Had the Lord appeared on another pillar 
after HiraNyan hit the Jaya sthampam , then people would say 
that the Lord was not there , where HiraNyan hit . Therefore ,
the Lord appeared " aangE "( right there ) . The word " AangE " 
used by PeriyAzhwAr has a temporal and spatial element attached 
to it . We focussed on the spatial element of Him appearing there 
so far . AzhwAr seems to have had the time element in mind as well .
The moment HiraNyan hit the pillar with his palm , instantaneously 
the Lord appeared to quell the doubts of bahgavadh virOdhis 
that the Lord was not there due to any delay in His appearance . 

" aangE vaLarnthittu " :  Unlike the other growing life forms that 
go through stages such as garbha vaasam , gradual growth and 
birth as an infant and continued growth thereafter , the Lord grew
instantaneously many sizes larger than the asuran and pounced 
on the asuran , who had  committed grave bhagavatha apachAram .

The Lord's anger was not quenched even after destroying 
the asuran . Poyhai azhwAr describes the fear of MahA Lakshmi
to approach Her own Lord at that juncture: " PoomkodhaiyAL 
VERUVA  ponpeyarOn maarvidantha VeenkodhavaNNar " .
Piratti hesitated to approach Lord Narasimhan . BrahmA 
and the others approached the Lord with PrahlAdhan in front.
The Lord's anger subsided once he saw the child PrahlAdhA
approaching Him . Achaarya RamAnujA is said to have explained
this section of Poyhai's paasuram this way : " Even if the Lioness
is showing its anger at  the elephant , it will not stay away from 
from breast feeding its own infant " . 

Thus , the poorvAchAryAs of our tradition have understood 
the unmatchable glory of NrusimhAvathAram and the Lord's
matchless beauty and simultaneous display of anger at
the aparAdhi and compassion for His devotee . Dr . VenkatakrishNan 
quotes another paasuram of NammAzhwAr in this context :

sella uNarnthavar selvan tan seeranRikkaRparO 
yellaillAtha perumtavatthAl palaseymiRai
allalamaraiccheyuum IraNianAhatthai 
Mallal AriyuruvAiccheytha MAAYAMARINTHUME 
                                              ---Thiruvaimozhi 7.5.8

( Meaning provided by Dr.Vedantha Desikan of Oppiliappan 
Kovil ) : " Any one , who has realized what is real goal of life 
will not take interest in anything except the great Sri NrusimhA 
avathAram . I shall explain why . He is the really affluent Lord 
( Mallal ) , the affluence being the attachment to His devotees . 
What is His prowess ? He killed as in mere sport , 
the HiraNyA of great valour , who had acquired 
many boonsto afflict the DevAs . MY LORD APPEARED 
VIOLATING CODES (of boon given to the asuran ) ALSO " .

Aasritha vaatsalyam is the wonderful lesson  taught by 
Lord Nrusimhan . Dushta nigraham and sishta paripAlanam 
are interwoven tightly in this avathAram . That is why , PeriyAzhwAr
also celebrated Nrusimhan during his mangaLAsAsanam 
in ThiruppallANdu :

" ThiruvONatthiruvizhavil andhiyampOthil ariyuruvAhi 
ariyai azhitthavanai panthanai theera pallANdu 
yenru paadhuthumE " -- ThiruppallANdu : Verse 6 

It is important to note that PeriyAzhwAr as " ananya-
prayOjanar and Bhagavadh prApthi kaamar " saluted
NrusimhAvathAram and its glory in detail first and foremost
in his ThiruppallAndu as Sriman NaarAyaNA appeared
on the sky with His pirattis on the back of Garudan to
bless the AzhwAr , who had won the contest at the court
of PaandyA king to establish the parathvam of the Lord.

NammAzhwar salutes Nrusimhan as " Mallal ariyuru "
in his Thiruvaimozhi paasuram ( 7.5.8) . Mallal means 
sampath or Lakshmi . Mallal ari uru means therefore 
the form of the Lord as Sri Lakshmi Nrusimhan or 
MaalOlan , the nitya AarAdhana moorthy that landed in 
the palms of Adhi VaNN SatakOpa Jeeyar , the founder 
of the AhObila Matam and travels across the length 
and breadth of Bharatha Desam with the peetAthipadhis 
of this Matam . NammAzhwAr clearly states that those ,
who clearly understand the purusharthams of life
( Sella uNarnthavar ) will not take interest in any one 
other than Lord NrusimhA ( Selvan tan seeranRikkaRpaRO ).

Such a "sella uNarnthavar " is the 45th Jeeyar of AhObila Mutt ,
who has dedicated his life and taken sanyAsa aasramam 
to bless us all and to intercede for us as our AchAryA .He is 
a great Bhagyasaali and in that aspect , his importance 
can be understood from a paasuram of Thirumazhisai 
AzhwAr , who never minces his words:

mARAya dhAnavanai vaLLuhirAl mArvirandu 
koorAhakkeeriya kOLariyai - vERAha 
yEtthi iruppaarai vellumE maRRavarai
saatthi iruppaar tavam 

Here , Thirumazhisai states unequivocally that 
our ujjevanam 9salvation ) is assured by performing
charaNAgathi /SaraNAgathi at the sacred feet of 
the one , who worships NrusimhA as his principal
aarAdhana moorthy . When we worship this aachaarya , 
who worships Nrusimhan , we acquire a unique glory 
of our own . Thirumazhisai is referring here to the concept
that it is better to offer our salutations to the adiyArs 
of the Lord than to the Lord Himself . May we approach 
BhagavAn Nrusimhan with His key devotee Azhagiya Singar
of Ahobila Mutt leading the way just as PrahlAdhA did 
at the behest of MahA Lakshmi in approaching the  angry
Nrusimhan just after HiraNya SamhAram .

I will cover few more paasurams of Kaliyan on 
the divya Desams such as SaaLagrAmam , 
ThiruvEnkatam , ThirunAngoor  and  ThiruarimEya-
 ViNNagaram , which offer their salutaions to 
BhagavAn Nrusimhan . Kaliyan's attachment to this
Special avathAram of the Lord is understandable ,
since he was born in Thirukkurayaloor , where the 
presiding deity is  BhagavAn Nrusimhan Himself .

AzhwAr AachAryAL ThiruvadigaLE SaraNamm
Oppiliappan Kovil VaradAchAri Sadagopan