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Sri RanganaathO jayathi : Part 17

From: Sadagopan (
Date: Fri May 01 1998 - 20:41:21 PDT

Dear Sri RanganAtha Premis :

I will cover the mangalAsAsanams of PeriyAzhwAr ,
ThiruppANar , KulasEkarar and Thondaradipodi in this 
posting an conclude the series with the paasurams of
NammAzhwar and Thirumangai in Part 18 .Due to limited time 
and space , I have to be necessarily brief .

PeriyAzhwAr "s MangalAsAsanam of Sri RanganAthan

Sri VishNuchitthar became PeriyAzhwAr by virtue of becoming
the father-in-law of the Lord of Srirangam . He composed hence
35 moving paasurams on Sri RanganAthan . Each one of them 
is deep in meaning and moving in spirit. 

In 4.9.11 , PeriyAzhwAr describes Srirangam as the divya
desam of preference for the Lord and that the lord of that
Divya Desam is worshipped with equal fervor by people of
the North and the South ( KanlAzhip padayAn karuthum koil ,
tennAdum vadanaadum thozha ninRa Thriruvarangt Thirruppathi ).

In 4.9.9 ,AzhwAr salutes Sri RanganAtha as the DasAvathAra
mUrthy: " thEvudaya meenamAi aamayayAi , yenamayAi ariyAik kuraLAi ,
mUvuruvin IraamanAik KaNNanAik , KaRkiyAi mutippAn Koil " ( This
is the koil of the Lord , who incarnated as the Matsyam with
ever growing lustre , Tortoise , VarAham , Narasimham ,
Vaamanan , the thre RaamAs - ParasurAman, Dasaratha Raaman and 
Balabhadra Raamn - , KrishNa and Kalki) .

In a profound paasuram (4.9.2) , AzhwAr asks whether there is
anyone who wants to be the Daasan of any God other than 
Sri RannganAthan . He explains why it is difficult 
to find any other god to match in comparison to Sri RanganAthan.
He says : " If Maha Lakshmi , the embodiment of clemency for
our apachArams gets fed up and some times complains about 
the adiyArs of the Lord , then the Lord will protest and 
come to their rescue and say that His adiyArs would not 
have committed such apachArams and if they ever committed 
those apachArams with the thought that He will forgive them 
for their trespasses , then they would have done only good deeds" .
In other words , He would defend His BhakthAs against any 
surprising complaints from His Devi , who is known for Her
PurushakAram ( intercession and sipArasu on behalf of 
the AparAthis ). That is the quality of His DayA .

The decad 4.10 is a gem, where the AzhwAr prays for 
the blessing of the Lord's KatAksham during his last
moments on this earth. AzhwAr states that he will be
in a state of utter powerlesness during his last moments
and will be like a log or stone , totally devoid of 
control over his senses to think about the Lord .
Therefore , I am reciting today Your ThirunAmams
in anticipation of my helpless state during my last
moments. Please save me from the himsai of the servants
of Yama Devan at that time and take me to Your Parama padham .

" appOthaikku ippOthE solliv vaitthEn , 
  ArangatharavaNaip PalliyAnE " 

I am insuring now against my helpless state then by uttering
Your naamAs ; please take note ! You must come to my 
rescue , when I would be helpless in my last moments .

Decad 5.1 contains some moving paasurams dealing with
AzhwAr's NaicchAnusanthAnam . AzhwAr belittles himself for 
all of his lapses and deficiencies . Every one of the pasurams
of this decad is a gem . They need to be studied and restudied .
In the first paasuram , AzhwAr acknowledges that he does
not have the purity of tongue and therefore he is disqualified
to use that impure tongue to eulogize Sri RanganAthan .
At the same time , my tongue which has experienced the  sweetnes 
of eulogizing You will not quit from reciting Your nAmAs .It will
not praise anyone other than You .I am afraid of the compulsive
activities of my immodest and impure tongue.That tongue is not
under my control .Oh Lord ! Please do not consider my eulogy
as coming from a mUrkan ( man of bad character )and become 
angry at me. My tongue is so agitated that it does not 
listen to me inspite of its unfitness . The great ones 
deem even the shreik of the crow as a good deed out of their 
sense of tolerance . You should treat the improper and
forward activities of my tongue in the same way and
forgive its arrogance to venture into praising you 
independent of its immense disqualifications . Please
forgive me and my tongue . I have recited insubstantial 
paasurams with my evil tongue . It is Your duty befitting 
Your status as the Lord of All to forgive my trespasses 
( Sanku chakkaram Yenthum kaiyanE ! pizhaippaarAhilum 
tammadiyAr soll poRuppathu periyOr kadananRE ) . 

In Paasurm 4.2.8, AzhwAr describes the Lord's reaction ,
when he stated that he dared to use his evil tongue 
to compose insubstantial poems on Him . AzhwAr was in an
utter state of sorrow over his unfitness and lowliness. 
The Lord figured out that His bhakthan is excusing himself 
to get away from Him and He immediately entered into 
the AzhwAr and made him stay away from thoughts of 
his unfitness and deficiencies . AzhwAr experienced
the bliss of union with the Lord and acknowleged that
the citadel of the Lord , his soul is no longer in the old
dejected and defenseless state and now it has become
supremely protected against all inauspiciousness 
( paikkonda PaampaNaiOdum pandenru pattiNam kAppE ).

In paasuram4.2.8 , AzhwAr describes the great blessing
that he was priveleged to receive from the Parama DayALU ,
Sri Ranganaathan : " - yennuLLE peethakavAdaip piraanAr 
Bhirama guruvAhi vanthu , pOthil kamalavannEnjam puhunthum
yenn sennitthidaril paathavilacchinai vitthAr pandanru 
pattinam kAppE " . My soul( aathmA, Pattinam ) is no longer
in the old dilapidated , defenseless state . It is now
rejuvenated and well protected . What happened ? 
What was the reason for this miraculous change ? 
What happened was that the beautiful Lord of Srirangam 
wearing His brillant silk garb entered my heart lotus ,
which is His seat ( antharyAmi Brahmmam ) and removed
all the blemishes that He found there and placed His
sacred feet on my head . My soul is no longer in its old ,
pitiable state . Now that the Lord has entered my heart
lotus , my soul is very well protected .

AzhwAr goes on to comfort the Lord in decad 5.4 
(senniyOngu paasurams ) .He assures the Lord that 
He has nothing more to do for him and that He should
not worry whether He had done enough for him. 
Srirangam paasurmas thus form a central plank 
in the unique anubhavam of PeriyAzhwAr in his 
spiritual quest and kaimkaryam .

KulasEkara Azhwar 's salutation of Sri RanganAthan

This AzhwAr dreamt about pilgrimage to Srirangam
every day from his kingdom . He gave up his kingdom 
finally and moved to Srirangam and reached the Lord's 
sacred feet there . He gave us 31 marvellous paasurams 
known for their depth of Bhakthi . The first three of 
his ten decads are about Azhagiya MaNavALan , 
Sri RanganAthan . 

In the first decad , KulasEkarA longs for the day ,
when he would be able to stand in the courtyard
of Sri RanganAthan hugging the two ThirumaNatthUNNkal .
These two pillars are known as the marriage pillars .
They are recognized as a pair representing the fragrance
of Sri RanganAthan . The BhakthAs overcome by the Lord's
beauty hold on to them to maintain their balance , when 
the flood of the Lord's beauty hits them as they stand
in the ThirumuRRam of the Lord : " KadiarangattharavaNayil
paLLIk koLLUM MaayOnai , maNat thUNE paRRi ninru yenn 
vaayAra yenru kolO vAzhtthum nALE " ( when will that day
arrive, when I can stand holding the two marriage pillars
at  the garbhagraham of Sri RanganAthan and eulogize 
Him with all the power of my tongue ? ).

In the second decad , AzhwAr celebrates the glory
of the BhAgavathAs , who are engaged in Bhagavadh
Kaimkaryam tirelessly . He says that the purpose
of the eyes are to have the sevai of those BhaagavathAs .
He states that the bath in the dust of the feet of
the BhagavathAs is far superior in its holiness 
compared to the bath in sacred waters of ganga and other
puNya theerthams .In the fourth paasuram , AzhwAr 
declares that his mind will forever sing pallAndu
to the sacred feet of the BhaagavathAs .In the eighth
paasuram , AzhwAr reveals that his heart is hopelessly 
in love with the VaishNava Lakshmi of Sri VaishNavAs ,
who lose themselves in ecstacy over Sri RanganAthA ,
their Lord .

In the third decad , AzhwAr explains the transformation 
in him as his mind fell in love with the BhaagavathAs
of Lord RanganAthan . He says that he developed VairAghyam 
and lost interest in pomp and circumstance and discarded
all perishable sukhams . He says that he avoided from then on  
the people , who confuse their body with their aathmA 
and equate the perishable siRRinbhams with the PeRinbham
of relating to the Lord . In the sixth paasuram of this
decad , Azhwar states with conviction :

yemparatthar allArodum kUdalan 
umbar vAzhvai onRak karuthalan
TampirAn amararkku , Aranganahar
EmpirAnukku Yezhumaiyum pitthanE 

(Meaning ) : I will not associate with those ,
who have are not the servants of the Lord like me .
I will always stay intoxicated with the love for 
my Lord of Nithya Sooris , who is at His Periya Koil
at Srirangam . 

ThiruppANAzhwAr's great anubhavam of the beauty of the Lord

The ten most beautiful paasurams of ThiruppANAzhwAr 
have very few comparisons . Swami Desikan gave us 
a profound commentary known as " Muni Vaahana BhOgam 
on these ten verses . Swami Desikan decribed these 
ten paasurams this way :

" PaavaLarum Tamizh maRayin payanE konda
  pANN PerumAL  paadiyathOr paadal patthu "

(Meaning ) : The ten paasurams of PaaNN PerumAL 
are the saarArthams (quintessence )of the Divya-
Prabhandhams , which are nothing but Tamizh Vedams .

ThiruppANa AzhwAr was overcome by the beauty of 
the sarvAnga Soundharyam of Sri RanganAthan reclining
on Adhi Seshan at Srirangam . He enjoyed the beauty of
the Lord from foot to head ( paadhAthi kEsAntham ) 
and gave us the extraordinary paasurams starting
with the words : AmalanAthipirAN .

Thondardipodi, the RanganAtha pathivrathai
1. ThiruppaLLIyeZucchi Paasurams

Vipra NaarAyaNar described himself as the dust
from the feet of BhagavathAs of the Lord of Srirangam
( Thondaradippodi ) . He gave us ThiruppaLLIyezhucchi
( suprabhAtham verses) , which are the most beautiful
in their lyrical description of the approach of sunrise
at Srirangam . He prayed to the Lord to wake up from His 
nidhrA and protect the people , just as He did wake up
the AzhwAr from his samsAric sleep earlier . The taniyan
by Thiruvarangap PerumAn arayar describes the AzhwAr ,
who woke up the Lord as " Vandu tiNartha vayal 
ThennarangatthAmmAnai PaLLLi uNartthum PirAn '.
Another Taniyan salutes the AzhwAr's SookthimALas
and decribes how the AzhwAr approached the sleeping Lord 
and appealed to Him to wake up to bless the world :

" TamEva MathvA ParavAsudEvam 
RangEsayam Raajava darhaNeeyam " 

(Meaning ) : The AzhwAr considered Lord RanganAthA 
sleeping on His serpent bed as the paravAsudEvA 
of Sri Vaikuntam and accorded Him all the honors due 
to a King and woke Him up through his paasurams . 
He concludes this prabhandham with a prayer to 
the Lord to bless him to become the servant of
the servants of Him . He asks the Lord of Srirangam 
to get up from His serpent bed for the express purpose 
of giving him the blessed status of being the servant
of the BahgavathAs , who are near and dear to Arangan .

2. ThirumAlai Paasurams of Thondardipodi

The fourty five paasurams of ThirumAlai have 
a profound expression of the ananya Bhakthi of 
the AzhwAr . For this AzhwAr , no other divya desa 
mUrthy mattered . Sri RanganAthA was his entire focus
and purpose of his life. That is why, he has been
saluted as Sri RanganAtha Pathivrathai .He exults 
over the power that he derived by learning the sacred 
Moola Manthram of the Lord and declares that he is
shouting with joy and is dancing over the heads of
the servants of Yama dharman .In another paasuram,
he reveals that the bliss that arises from reciting 
the many divya naamAs of Sri RanganAthan is far superior
to the bliss arising from the stay at parama Padham .
Therefore , he says that he rejects life at Sri Vaikuntam
over the life at Srirangam spent in the enjoyment 
of the naama sankeerthanam of the Lord's thousand
names .

One of the Bhakthais of this group wanted me to write 
about the " Vandinamuralum sOlai " Paasuram of ThirumAlai .
I will focus on this beautiful verse of Thondardipodi
rendered in Thodi Raagam by Sangeetha KalAnidhi M.S.S
in a famous recording few decades back . 

In this paasuram , AzhwAr describes the natural beauty
of Srirangam and the greatness of the Lord resting on
His serpent bed there. Suddenly , the AzhwAr's mood shifts ;
he has a flashing thought about the mUrkAs ( dushtAs),
who do not recite the holy names of the Lord of Srirangam,
and are feasting themselves in a banquet. AzhwAr gets mad
and asks us to get there and pull the food from their 
full plates and throw that to the dogs.The paasuram 
containing these thoughts is as follows : 

Vandinamuralum sOlai mayilanamAlum sOlai
kondal meethaNavum sOlai kuyilinamkoovum sOlai
AndarkOnn amarum sOlai aNi Thiruvarangamenna-
mindar paaynthuNNum sORRai vilakki nAykkidumineerE 

(Comments ) : Vandinamuralum sOlai : Srirangam is 
surrounded by multitudes of groves full of 
the humming bees . The Vandu or bees are also
known as dhvirEpams since they have two "R's 
in their name ( Bhramaram ) . That name Bhramaram
also means  Rishis , who do Hari nAma sankeethanam
(equivalent to the reenkAram of the Vandus ) .Thus
the groves of Srirangam are resonating with the divya
naama sankeerthanam of the sages . 

MayilinamAlum sOlai : While the bees are producing 
reenkAram  in the air reciting the Lord's many names,
on the ground , the peacocks are excited from hearing
the sacred names of the Lord and they begin to dance 
with joy as they visualize the neela megha PerumAL
resting inside the Ranga VimAnam . Normally , the Pea cocks 
spread thier plumes and dance , when they see the dark blue
rain-laden clouds . here, their dance arises from the thought 
of the dark blue hue of the Lord celebrated by the bees .

Kondal meethaNavum sOlai : Now the blue clouds of the rainy
season come low and brush against the foliage of the trees
of the verdant groves to gain the attention of the dancing
peacocks , which do not take note of them as they would
have done at any place other than Srirangam .

Kuyilanam koovum sOlai : Here at the groves of Srirangam .
the nightingales are calling each other witht their sweet 
voices to come together to sing about the Lord.

Andar kOnn amarum sOlai : Sri Ranganaathan arrives
at these groves and rests in the mantapams there
during His many uthsavams . Hence , they become 
blessed and become places of the songs for the bees 
and nightingales and the rangam (stage) for the dance
of peacocks .

aNi Thiruvarangam yennAmindar : Those that do not 
recognize the holiness of Srirangam with its eventful
groves and fail to hail this holy divya desam and 
salute it with reverence as Sri RanganAthA's divya desam .

Mindar paaynthuNNum sORRai vilakki nAykkidumineerE :
Of those sinful ones eating with gusto their food,
there is only one thing to do . They are falling over their
food and forgetting to think of Sri RanganAthA and
his holy place of residence. Azhwar asks us to quickly go
there and ake away the food that they are lusting over and throw 
it to the dogs . That is the kind of reverence the AzhwAr
has for Sri RanganAthA and the anger he has for those ,
who fail to recognize the holiness of Srirangam and go
about their worldly ways .

Sri ranganAtha ParabrahmaNE Nama :
Oppilaippan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan