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A Tribute to NammAzhwAr on His VaikAsi VisAkam birthday: Part 1

From: Sadagopan (
Date: Mon Jun 08 1998 - 19:16:18 PDT

Dear BhakthAs :

Sriman MadhavakkaNNan's wonderful article today on 
the ThiruvenakatamudayAn's Paasuram , AhalahillEn --,
is the most fitting tribute to the glories of the Lord of 
Seven Hills on our Kulapathi's birthday . What a coincidence 
or AzhwAr's sankEtham for Sri MadhavakkaNNan that 
this special paaasuram dealing with Dvaya Manthram
moved onto the Center stage on the day of days , 
AzhwAr's birthday ! The sincere Kaimkaryam performed
by our Sri MadhavakkaNNan seems to have its own rewards . 
It is wonderful to read these soulful postings from
Simhapuri . 

Sri Murali Rangaswamy's tribute to AzhwAr and 
Saama Vedam transforming into Thiruvaimozhi added 
to today's special celebrations . 

I would like to share with you the PurvAchAryA's commentary 
on this most important paasuram on ThiruvenakatamudayAn 
and add some additional thoughts . The two Saranagathi
pasurams addressed to Sri Oppiliappan ( Yennappan yenakkAiyuhuLAi--)
and Sri VenkatEsan ( AhalahillEn --) are the two most 
important paasurams to me in the entire Thiruvaimozhi .

I will summarize what I have learnt from the commentaries
of PurvAchAryAs , the Navaneetham Family ( Navaneetham 
Sri KrishnamAcchAr Swamy , Dr. VedAntha Desikan , Sri
Gopala Desikan ) , UttamUr Swamy and PrathivAthi Bhayankaram
AnnamAcchAr Swamy . One can not write enough about these 
great paasurams of NammAzhwAr .Naatha Muni was initiated by 
NammAzhwAr Himself into this Paasuram . His grandson , ALavandAr
captured the essence of this Paasuram in his SthOthra Rathnam 
slOkams . His great grand disciple , AchArya RaamAnujA enshrined 
the spirit of this paasuram in his SaraNAgathi Gadhyam .
Swami Desikan and other AchAryAs elaborated on this 
paasuram to offer their tributes to our Sri VaishNava
SampradhAyam in an endearing/enduring manner .  

AhalahillEn Paasuram 

In the first decad of Thiruvaimozhi , AzhwAr points out that 
Sriman NaarAyaNan is upAyam ; the second decad focuses on 
the athibhOgyam ( most delectable ) aspects of the Lord ;
the third decad shows that the Lord has divya mangaLa 
Vigraham ; the fourth decad asserts that the Lord is
the most superior means for moksham ; in the sixth decad ,
AzhwAr performs SaraNAgathi to ThiruvenaktamudayAN with
his AhalahillEn paasuram :

ahalahillEn iRayum yenRalarmEl MangaiuRai maarbA !
niharil puhazhAi ! ulahamUnrudayAi ! yennai aLvAnE !
niharil amarar munikkaNangaL virumbhum ThiruvEnkatatthAnE 
puhalonRillA adiyEn unn adikkeezhamarnthu puhunthEnE 

The above paasuram is the tenth in this decad . Through
the preceding nine paasurmas , NammAzhwAr completed the five
angAs of SaraNAgathi and in the tenth , he performed 
the actual SaraNAgathi at the Lotus feet of the SarvalOka
SaraNyan at Thirumalai .In the earlier decad, he cried 
soulfully : koovikkoLLum  kaalam innam kuruhAthO ? 
( Will not that time to call me to Your sacred feet
come very soon ? ) . He had great aarthi (longing )
for reaching the cool shade of Lord's holy feet to
escape from the scorching heat of SamsAram . He had
no patience for krama prApthi . He introduced himself
as " terithal ninaithal yeNNalAhAt thirumAlukku 
uriya thondar thondar thondan SatakOpan " ( that he is
the servant of the servant of the servant of Sriya: pathi,
whose glories are beyond the comprehension through either 
acquired knowledge , manthra japam or dhyaanam ). 

AzhwAr had great dvarai ( urgency ) and acute longing 
to rest at the Lord's cool feet . He recognized that 
it was not enough just to have the longing . He had 
to perform an anushtAnam to realize the fruit of
that longing . He chose the UpAyam of Prapatthi . 
He recognized that Prapatthi to the ArchA murthy 
is the better upAyam than Prapatthi to other forms of 
the Lord such as Param , VyUham , Vibhavam and AntharyAmi .
He concluded next  the performance of Prapatthi 
to the ArchAmUrthy standing on top of Venakata Giri.
This is the sequence of happenings starting from 
the first paasuram ," Ulahamunda peruvAyA --" to
" ahalahillEn --" . 

Swami Desikan's description of the ten paasurams

In Taatparya RathnAvaLi , Swami Desikan captures in 
his inimitable style the essence of these 10 paasurams 
dealing with SaraNAgathi at the sacred feet of the Lord
of the seven hills . He concludes that Azhwar assessed 
that Sri VenkatEsan is the most appropriate one to
receive his saraNAgathi and then performed it .

The last two lines of this summary of Swami Desikan 
is as follows :

prApyA prApyathva yogAth svajana vijanayO: sath prapatthavya bhaavAth
uchE naatham SaraNyam sruthisatha vidhitham VenkatEsam SatAri :

The last line describes NammAzhwAr performing SaraNAgathi 
to his Lord VenakatEsan , who is understood well by the VedAs .
The first line refers to his being near to His BhakthAs
and AsrithAs ( svajana prApyathvAth ) and being far away
from bhaktha dhvEshis ( vijana aprApyathvAth ) . References
here are to the Paasura vAkyams: vandhAy pOl vArAyi and 
vandhAyi polE vArAthAi " 

Finally , Swami Desikan connects " AhalahillEn "
part of the paasurem with "Sath prapatthavya bhAvAth ". 
He salutes the Vaatsalya , SwAmithva , Souseelya , SoulabhyAdhi 
guNams of Periya Piratti that are shared by Her Lord equally 
and Her purushaakAram ( merciful intercession quality/sipArsu to 
Her Lord ) and performs the SaraNAgathi to the Sruthi satha 
vidhitha VenkatEsan , who is prapadhana sulabhan (easy of 
access for Prapatthi ) . 

In the next posting , I will cover the other AchAryA's
intrepretations of this profound paasuram .

ThiruvEnakatamudayAn ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam ,
Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan