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Swami Desika and Madhura kavi Alwar

Ramanbil_at_AOL.COM
Date: Tue Mar 23 1999 - 03:52:30 PST

SWAMI DESIKAN'S TAMIL VERSE "INBATTIL..." - AS AN EXPLANATION OF  
MADHURAKAVI ALWAR'S "KANNINUN SIRUTHAAMBU" PRABANDHAM 
in reverential dedication at the feet of Srimad Andavan, Paravakkottai Gopala
Desika Maha Desikan of Poundarikapuram Andavan Ashramam, on the occasion of
his 78th Tirunakshatram on 23rd March1999
(Anbil Ramaswamy)
=============================================================
Of the two Tamil verses in his Guru Parampara Saaram of the Rahasya Traya
Saaram dedicated to Alwars, Swami Sri Vedanta Desika grouped together all
other Alwars (including Nammalwar!) in one verse and dedicated the whole of
the 2nd verse exclusively to Madhurakavi Alwar whom he calls as "Thunbatra
Madhurakavi" (Blemishless) 

This obviously shows how he considered Acharya Bhakti to be of utmost
importance as exemplified by Madhura Kavi Alwar who composed paeans of praise
of the Prapanna Jana koodasthar, Nammalwar (who is known as "Vedam Tamizh
Seitha Maaran")

It is the "Sishta Aachaaram" of the devout Srivaishnavas customarily to study
this Prabandham first before commencing the study of Tiruvoimozhi, because  it
was Madhurakavi Alwar, the first Sishya of Satakopan. who  introduced us into
the great Tamizh Vedam  of Nammalwar.

Swami Desika's Pasuram runs as follows:
"Inbathil -  Irainjuthalil  - Isaiyum Petril
Igazhaatha Palluravil - Iraagam maatril
Than Patril -Vinai Vilakkil - Thagavokkathil
Tattuvathai Unarthuthathil - Thanmaiyaakkil
Anbarke Avatharikkum Maayan Nirka
Arumaraigal Tamizh Seithaan Thaale Kondu
Thunbatra Madhuravi Thonrak Kaattum
Thol Vazhiye Nalvazhigal Thunivaarkatke"
(meaning)
' To those who venture to attain release from the bondage of Samsara, the
ancient path indicated to us by the spotless Madhurakavi by his own example is
the only safe path because while there is Sri Krishna, the great cowherd, who
incarnated solely for the sake of his devotees - to confer bliss on them, - to
be their refuge, -  to be their final goal, -  to stand in relation to them as
mother, father, brother and so on,  - to change their desire for the pleasures
of the world  - into a desire for Himself,  - to remove all their sins, -  to
show them infinite compassion, -  to reveal the truth and so also  - to bring
about in them a likeness to Himself---while there is Sri Krishna ever ready to
do all this, he sought only the feet of the Sage Satakopa (Nammalwar) who
rendered in Tamil the truths contained in the Vedas which are otherwise hard
to understand".
(Vide the English translation of  Srimad  Rahasya  Traya  Saaram by Sri M.R.
Rajagopala Ayyangar)

In fact, Madhurakavi Alwar makes only a passing reference to Sri Krishna in
the first line of his work saying "Kanninun Siruthaambinaal Kattunnap Panniya
Peru Maayan". This is just because his own Acharya was reputed to be the very
personification of the thirst for Sri Krishna (Krishna Thrishnaa Tattvamiva
Udhitham). Out of respect for his Acharya, he had to make at least this casual
reference to Sri Krishna. It will be seen that form the very next line, he
leaves aside Sri Krishna and switches over to describe the glories of
Nammalwar.

Let us see how the Swami Desika's verse relates to the various aspects
enshrined in  "Kanninun Siru Thaambhu".  Swami Desika's verse lists the
following 10 benefits which Lord Krishna is said to confer but which were
obtainable not necessarily through Bhagavad Bhakti but through sheer Acharya
Bhakti itself.

(1) INBATHIL -  IN CONFERRING BLISS
  kaNNi nuNsiRuth thaampinaal kattuNNap
 paNNi yaperu maayan,en Nnappanil,
 naNNith then_kuru koorn^ampi yenRakkaal,
 aNNik kum_amu thooRum en naavukkE.   (1)
 (meaning)
 The Lord wonderfully submitted himself to tied by means of the tiny knotted
but short and hurtful string. He may be my master but leave him alone; Come,
Recite the holy names of Nambi of the Southern Tirukkurugoor. The very
utterance of his names taste like the nectar to the tongue that utters them.
 Kanni=Knots.  Annikkum= Sweet Tasting
 
(2) IRAINJUTHALIL  - IN BEING THE REFUGE
 naavi Nnaaln^aviR Rinpa meythinEn,
 mEvi NnEn avan ponnadi meymmaiyE,
 thEvu maRRaRi yEn_kuru koorn^ampi,
 paavi Nninnisai paadith thirivanE.  (2)
 (meaning)
 "I enjoyed praising the Alwar by my tongue; Truly did I attain the proximate
contact with Alwar's golden feet; I do not know any God other than the Alwar;
I still spend my time singing the mellifluous songs of the Alwar".  Here,
Madhurakavi explains how he has dedicated himself absolutely to Nammalwar in
thought, word and deed.
 
(3) ISAIYUM PETRIL - IN BEING THE FINAL GOAL
 thirithan^ thaakilum thEva piraanudai,
 kariya kOlath thiruvuruk kaaNpann^aan,
 periya vaNkuru koorn^akar nampikkaaL
 uriya Nnaay,adi yEn peRRa nanmaiyE.  (3)
 (meaning)
 " I see only through the Alwar the divine azure blue form of the Lord of
Nityasuris. The greatest blessing of life I have achieved is the opportunity
to serve the great and merciful Alwar"
 
(4) IGAZHAATHA PALLURAVIL - STANDING AS MY SARVA VIDHA BANDHU
nanmai yaalmikka naanmaRai yaaLar_kaL,
punmai yaakak karuthuva raathalin,
annai yaayaththa Nnaayennai yaaNdidum
thanmai yaan,sada kOpanen nampiyE.  (4)
(meaning)
"When I had been ignored as worthless by the great scholars renowned for their
knowledge of the Vedas and conduct - it was Satakopa who gave me refuge and
offered affectionate parental care as father and mother. Indeed, he is my
master"

(5) IRAAGAM MAATRIL - IN CHANGING MY DESIRES FOR EARTHLY PLEASURES
nampi NnEnpiRar nanporuL thannaiyum,
nampi NnEnmada vaaraiyum munnellaam,
sempon maadath thirukkuru koorn^ampik
kanpa Nnaay,adi yEnsathirth thEninRE. (5)
(meaning)
" Before the Alwar Chastened me, I used to desire whatever others possessed,
desired to enjoy their womenfolk. But, now, I am fortunate to get rid of all
these evil desires and be a Bhakta of the great master of Tirukkurugoor, the
city with numerous golden ramparts"
Nambinen = desired

(6) THAN PATRIL - IN MAKING ME DESIRE HIM ONLY
inRu thottum ezhumaiyum empiraan,
ninRu thanpuka zhEththa varuLinaan,
kunRa maadath thirukku koorn^ampi,
enRu mennai yikazhvilan kaaNminE. (6)
(meaning)
" My master, the Alwar has showed his grace on me so that from today onwards
and for the rest of my life, I shall resolutely praise the glorious qualities
of the Alwar. This Alwar who is the lord of the elevated mansions of
Tirukkurugoor will never forsake me. You can see it for yourself "
ezhumai = lifetime KaaNminE = See for yourself

(7) VINAI VILAKKIL - IN REMOVING ALL MY SINS
kaNdu koNdennaik kaarimaa Rappiraan,
paNdai valvinai paaRRi yaruLinaan,
eNdi saiyu maRiya iyampukEn,
oNda mizhchchada kOpa NnaruLaiyE. (7)
(meaning)
" The illustrious and merciful son of Porkaariyaar, Nammalwar has extinguished
by his graceful glance all my sins committed by me from beginningless time. I
will. Therefore, gratefully publicize his mercy to all those who live in all
the eight directions"

(8) THAGAVOKKATHIL - IN SHOWERING INFINITE COMPASSION
aruLkoN daadu madiyava rinpuRa,
aruLi Nnaanav varumaRai yinporuL,
aruLkoN daayira min_thamizh paadinaan,
aruLkaN deer iv vulakinil mikkathE.  (8)
(meaning)
" There is only one wonderful thing in this world;  the thousand and odd
Tiruvoimozhi in Tamil composed by the Alwar bringing out the esoteric meanings
contained in the Vedas - a work he published out of his infinite and
incomparable compassion for the pleasure and enjoyment of the true devotees of
the Lord"

(9) TATTUVATHAI UNARTHUTHATHIL - IN REVEALING THE ETERNAL TRUTHS
mikka vEthiyar vEthaththi NnutporuL
niRkap paadiy en nenchuL niRuththinaan,
thakka seerchchada kOpanen nampikku,aat
pukka kaatha ladimaip payananRE?  (9)
(meaning)
" The Alwar firmly established in my heart the esoteric meaning of the Vedas
(recited by great orthodox Aasthikaas) through hi Tiruvoimozhi. The Alwar is
the seat of all auspicious qualities. My only desire is to serve at the holy
feet of the Alwar"

(10) THANMAIYAAKKIL - IN BRINGING ABOUT A LIKENESS OF HIMSELF
payanan Raakilum paankala raakilum
seyaln^an Raakath thiruththip paNikoLvaan,
kuyiln^in Raarpozhil soozhkuru koorn^ampi,
muyalkin REnunRan moykazhaR kanbaiyE.   (10)
(meaning)
" Though he gains nothing by reforming others, though they are not fit enough
to be reformed, the Alwar who lives in a grove filled with the sweet music of
the cuckoos in Tirukkurugoor, endeavors to correct them in the service of the
Lord. Oh! Alwar! I am also trying my very best to be worthy of your holy feet"

(11) PHALA SRUTHI- THE FRUIT OF RECITING 'KANNI NUNN SIRUTHAAMBHU
anban thannai yadainthavar katkellaam
anban, then_kuru koorn^akar nampikku,
anba Nnaaymathu rakavi sonnasol
nambu vaarpathi, vaikundham kaaNminE. (11)
(meaning)
"Oh! You who seek refuge in this Prabandham of the sweet poet (Madhura =
Sweet;  Kavi = Poet) who is himself a devotee of Nammalwar, the one who
invoked Bhakti in the hearts of men for Bhagavaan and Bhaagavataas - You are
assured a place in Paramapadam" 

sri madhukaviyaazhvaar, swAmi sri vedAnta desikan,  sri gopAla desika mahA
desikan thiruvadigaLE saraNam