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More on Periya Thirumadal

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Date: Sun Mar 31 1996 - 13:55:08 PST

This note is my meager attempt to present an outline of
Thirumangai Azhvaar's Periya Thirumadal.  This, I hope, will
provide a context for Parakala Nayaki's "threats" to our Lord
that Badri posted earlier.

Even though I lack critical knowledge of aazhvaar's works, I
embark on this difficult task motivated by nothing else but a
keen desire to write about them.  Therefore, I seek the
forbearance of, and welcome additions and corrections from,
more knowledgeable members of this group.

Periya thirumadal is credited as the last prabhandham of
Thirumangai Azhvaar (vide Swami Sri Desikar's prabhandha
saaram).  Right after the aazhvaar finished this prabhandham,
our Lord Sriman Narayana consummated His eternal
embrace with Parakala Nayaki (PN).  Apparently, PN's
threats at the end of the prabhandham worked.  It seems
threatening our Lord comes easy to Thirmangai Mannan; for
was he not the one who threatened our Lord with his sword
and demanded to be initiated into Thirumanthiram (vaaL
valiyaal mandhirangoL)?

However, before threatening to "expose" the "misdeeds" of
our Lord Sriman Narayana, PN pours out her heart with
intense passion and longing.  PN starts the prabhandham by
first declaring that "mOksham" is only a theory and that
"kaamam" is the only real purshaarththam.  The
other two purushaarththams, namely "dharmam" and
"arththam" ultimately results in "kaamam" as well.  This
section of the prabhandham ends with:

"...aangu aNimuruval in amudham maandhi iruppaar
          idhu anRE aRaththin payan aavadhu,
    oN poruLum anna thiRaththathE,
          aadhalaal kaamaththin mannum vazhimuRaiyE
                     niRRum naam."

(.... thus, one enjoys the sweet nectar of the lover's smiling
lips; isn't this the object of righteous living; verily this is the
object of wealth as well; therefore let us pursue this "divine kaamam")

When pursuing this divine kaamam what is one to do if it is
not reciprocated?  Madaloordhal is a powerful weapon to
force the issue, but that is only for men.  So, in the next
section, PN embarks on an elaborate defense of why women
must be allowed to undertake "madaloordhal."  PN presents
two justifications.  The first deals with the intolerable nature
of unfulfilled love.   She pleads, "how can one bear to be
roasted by the flames shed by the full moon of open sky?"
("umbarvaay thunnu madhi uguththa thoonilaa neeL neruppil
tham udalam vEvathth thaLaraadhaar"  -  Oh! my, my).  The
second justification deals with the repudiation of the Tamil
tradition that forbids "madaloordhal" for love stricken
women.  PN cites several examples of women of northern
tradition including Seethaa piraatti and umai.

"thunnu veyil vaRuththa vemparalmEl panchadiyaal mannan
iraaman pin vaidhEvi.. "

( (having forced Sri Rama to take her along ...) She followed
Sri Rama, Her feet, soft as cotton, getting scorched by
walking on small sharp stones heated to cinder by the fierce sun)

Having established a woman's right to undertake
"madaloordhal", PN then claims that right for herself by
describing her own unbearable passion for our Lord:

"mannum maRikadalum aarkkum,"

     (the calm seas seem to roar at me)

"madhiyuguttha innilaavin kathirum enRanakkE veythaagum,"

     (the rays of the sweet moon strike me like scorching sun)

"thennan pothiyil sezhuncanthin thaathaLainthu,
manniv vulagai manangaLippa vanthiyangum,
inniLampoon^ thenRalum veesum eriyenakkE,"

     (the delightful breeze from the south, fragrant with
     sandlewood flowers, strikes me like harsh heat wave)

"munniya peNNaimEl muLmuLarik koottagatthu,
pinnumav vanRil pedaivaayc siRukuralum,
ennudaiya nencukkO reervaaLaam enseykEn"

     (the sound of the sweet nothings the two love birds upon
     a palmyra tree are exchanging sounds to me like a sword
     cutting my heart into two pieces - what can I do!!)

"kannavilthOL kaaman karuppuc silaivaLaiya,
konnavilum poongaNaikaL kOtthup pothavaNainthu,
thannudaiya thOLkazhiya vaangi, - thamiyEnmEl
ennudaiya necE ilakkaaga eykinRaan,
pinnithanaik kaappeer_thaam illaiyE,

     (Cupid is taking aim at my heart with his sugar cane
     bow and flowery arrows, is there none to save me from
     these deadly arrows?)

The desperate yearning PN expresses in this passage is most
exquisite.  The "viraga thaapam" flows out like the waters of
Niagara falls.  This is a far cry from the aazhvaar's earlier
laments "therivai maar uruvamE maruvi" (I wasted my time
seeking the pleasures of young women) in Periya
Thirumozhi.  The transformation to womanhood is complete
when PN bares her heart for inseparable union with,

the Lord who severed the ten heads of Ravana,

the Lord who tore open the immense chest of Hirnyakasipu
with his nails,

the Lord who killed Hiranayakshakan with His boarish tusks
and rescued Boomi piraatti,

the Lord who churned the seas and secured "amritham" for the devas,

the Lord who spanned the skies and earth and sent Mahabali
to the underworld,

the Lord of Sri, ...etc., etc.

What follows is a captivating listing of dhivya desa
archaavathaaras with whom PN yearns for inseparable union.
Just a couple of examples:

"maamalarmEl annam thuyilum maNineer vayalaali
     ennudaiya innamudhE"

     (my sweet Lord of Thuruvaali surrounded by fields
     filled with large lotus flowers with napping cranes)

"kOvaloor mannumidaikkazhi yemmaayavanai"

     (the beguiling Lord of Thirukkovaloor who appeared
     in a narrow passage to enjoy the company of the first
     three aazhvaars )

For more on this, please see Sri Rengi Sampath's post.

PN ends this section with the ominous,

"emperumaan thennaruLum aagamamum thaaraanEl"

     (if my Lord refuses to grant me His grace and union)

What follows is nothing short of extortion!  See Badri's
post for details.

Azhvaar uses naayaki bhavam right from his first
prabhandham Periya Thirumozhi, but it is in the two
Thirumadals that "she" presents a completely transformed
womanly personality.  Even in thirun^edundhaaNdagam,
aazhvaar betrays maleness when he signs off as "kaliyan
sonna" in the last paasuram.  In the two thirumadals
aazhvaar shows no trace of maleness and thus our Lord
consummates union with PN right after she completes periya
thirumadal.  This, I think, is an illustration of our true
nature, to be a member of our Lord's andhappuram.

It is interesting to note that the aazhvaar casts doubts about
the existence of "mOksham" in the beginning of the Thirumadal,
but at the end achieves just that!

Parakaala naayaki thiruvadigaLE saraNam

-- dhaasan parthasarati dileepan