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Re: vEdha nool pirAyam nooru

From: Sridhar Srinivasan (ss_at_clihouston.com)
Date: Tue Mar 30 1999 - 04:50:39 PST

Sri Sudarshan writes with panache and feeling on virakthi.  As to his 
interpretation of thonDaraDippoDi AzhwAr's take on human frailty and 
folly,  while Sri Sudarshan's 'free translation' is interesting,  I 
believe it moves away from the central purport of Azhwaar's 
outpouring, his enchantment with thiruvarangam as the bhoolOka 
vaikunTam and his ardent desire to perform perpetual service 
at the feet of Arangan (per Sri Periya vAcchAn piLLai's vyAkhyAnam).

This pasuram has to be put in the context of the previous pasuram, 
a pasuram of immeasurable beauty:

pacchai mA malai pOl mEni
pavaLa vAy kamalacchengaN
acchuthA amara rErE
Ayar tham kozhundhE ennum
icchuvaiththavirai yAn pOy
indhira lOkamALum
acchuvaipperinum vEnDEn
arangamA nagaruLAnE

Azhwaar only wants icchuvai - he wants to be here with arangan - and 
nothing else (yAn pOy indhira lOkamALum achchuvai vEnDEn) - not even 
indhira lOkamALum  vaikunTam.  Now, if one 
examines the next pasuram (vEdha nool pirAyam), it would seem that 
Azhwaar is talking at cross purposes (Adhalaal piravi vEnDEn) - it is 
clear why he does not want samsaric piravi - but what does he want 
then? - he does not want mOksham and he does not want samsaaram - 
what he seeks is perpetual saannidhyam of arangan at thiruvarangam.

Azhwaar's pasuram, in contrast to Sri Sudarshan's interpretation 
below, is an ultimate affirmation of the desire to be  a Sri 
VaishNava (per Sri vELukkuDi krishNan's upanyasam) and one indulging 
in service at the feet of arangan.   To even suggest that Azhwaar 
does not want to be a part of this life, ensconsed in the joy of 
service at the feet of arangan, is a direct contradiction of Sri 
PVP's vyakhyanam.

Azhwaar rejects the futility of samsaaric bondage, because of the 
inadequacy of the opportunity it provides, in the context of the 
different stages - pEdhai, paalakan, adhu (yauvvanam), piNi, pasi, 
mooppu, thunbam - to seek and develop gnyAna/bhakthi/vairAgyam, as 
enjoined in the shastras.  Instead, Azhwaar suggests, go indulge in 
arangan's anubhavam (Enjoy his Aashritha vyaamoham, saulabhyam and 
paratvam) and you will not need any thing else (karma, gnyana, 
bhakti).

One of the most alluring aspects of Sri VaishNava 
tradition/philosophy (as opposed to advaitic view points) is that the 
ultimate joy, that uplifted state of nirathishaya aanandam 
(ceaseless, wonderous enjoyment) is available here and now, at the 
feet of the archAvathArams.  We do not have to go seeking exalted 
states that require you to jettison all that you can perceive and 
comprehend.  There are no qualifying states.  All that is required is 
simple, total surrender at the feet of SrimannarayaNa.  As Sri 
Alavandhar eloquently performs prapathi,

na dharma nishTosmi, na chaatma vEdin
na bhakthimaargascharaNAravinde
akinchanaha 
ananyagathish
charaNam
aham prapdyE

A simple translation - I have no dharma nishTa, nor gnyanam or 
bhakti, I have nothing (akinchanaha), anayagathi (no where else to 
go), just your lotus feet.   And that encompasses all that one can 
acquire with gnyAna, bhakthi and vairAgyam.
 Hence, the virakthi associated with other traditions, notably 
advaitha, may not be pertinent in Sri VaishNavam.

In this context, it is also important to note the need to properly 
study and understand compositions of Azhwaar's and Acharyas, lest we 
fall prey to the occidental (and something clearly extrinsic to the 
Shruthi-bound Sri Vaishnavite tradition - of learning at the feet of 
an Acharya) tendency of inaccurate representation of concepts 
inadequately understood.  Given the wealth of orthodox and accurate 
vyaakhyaanams available,  it is incumbent on any jignyaasu to make 
the requisite effort to properly comprehend the concepts at the feet 
of an acharya.  Self-study in such cases is replete with dangers 
of mis-constural and worse, a notion of false knowledge (which, as 
our acharyas repeatedly point out, is far worse than ignorance 
since it breeds ego).

I am not about to suggest that one should not interpret, comprehend 
and communicate.  Just that we need to acquire the requisite tools 
that qualify us to do so unerringly, and free of distortions.

Azhwaar Emberumaanaar Jeeyar thiruvaDigaLE sharaNam

sridhar


> 
> And nearer home, the great saint, our dearest Tondar-adi-podi AzhwAr, 
> indeed brought out the very quintessence of "virakti" in the 3rd stanza 
> of his "tirumAlai":
> 
> "vEda-noor pirAyyUm nooru manisarthAm pUgUvarElUm
> pAthiyyUm Urangi-pOgUm ninratheer padhinai-Andu
> pEdhai bAlagan-athAgUm peeNi pasi-mUppU~thhUnbum
> Ada-lAl piravi vEndEn, arangamA nagaruLAnE !"
> 
> (my free translation):
> 
> A hundred seasons have Thou leased me, O Ranga
> To live, love and mellow in the wisdom of Thy knowledge ---
> But half must I spend perforce in slumber
> And a quarter to waste in dissolute youth;
> And if the rest passeth over the years
> In care, illness, and senilitya
> What's left of thy wondrous gift, O Ranga,
> Is what I'd rather do without!
> 
> ***************          ***************          *************
> 
> We will continue in the next post.
> 
> adiyEn dAsAnu-dAsan,
> 
> Sudarshan
>