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sOmbhar --Welcome comments by Sri Varadan

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sat Nov 30 1996 - 18:38:07 PST

Dear Sri Varadan :

I appreciate very much your clarifications and 
welcome your note. As you have summarized excellently , 
our purvaacharyAs have commented heavily 
on the meaning of the word "mEmporuL " used by 
Thondaradipodi . It is very appropriate that this Paasuram 
needs a lot of intensive study inview of the general
acceptance of this particular paasuram as the essence 
of Thirumaalai .

Our Acharyaas have pointed out that 
this Paasuram is to Thirumaalai , what  the Sarama slokam 
is to Bhagavadh  Gitaa . Thanks for bringing the essence 
of this Paasuram for the benefit of all of us..I would also like
to request  you to share with us more   your extensive knowledge of 
our AzhwAr's aruLiccheyalkaL . 

Let me share with you all the perspective from where I am 
coming from . Swami Desikan in his sillarai Rahasyam ,
Abhaya PradhAna sAram , includes this section of 
Thondardipodi's paasuram.. Swami's Desikan's actual 
text realting to sOmbar  in this TamiL work is as follows :  

 rakshaapekshai paNNUmpOthu vEROr ubhAyamum 
paNNa vEndA , abhimaana gocharamaana vizhayatthil 
tuvakkAlE ananya saraNathaiyai veLi ittukkidakka 
amaiyum enra ThirukkaNNamangai aandAn padiyilE
" Kadaitthalai irundhu vaazhum sOmbarai uhatthi " ennum
arthatthai veLiyittAn ."  

Thiruvahindrapuram SwamigaL , his disciple Naveneetham
KrishNamAchar SwamigaL of Oppiliappan Koil and his son 
and disciple , Navaneetham Vangipuram Srirama Desikachar 
SwamigaL (one of my achAryas ) have given the intrepretation 
to sOmbhar in this context of Swami Desikan's reference to 
ThirukkaNNamangai Aandhaan and his choice among DharmAs.
I have  followed that line of thought .

ThirukkaNNamangai Aandhaan , the author of the famous taniyan
for NaacchiyAr Thirumozhi was a great JnAni , who understood 
the " mEmporuL " very well . He chose to  clean the praakarams
and the front of the temple of the Lord Bhakthavatsalaa and 
Abhishekavalli thAyAr at the Divya desam of ThirukkaNNamangai.

He was a " Vaazhum sombhar " in the sense  indicated ..
He did not live for himself , but lived only for the service to Divya 
Dampathis. To that extent he was a sOmbheri . He did not care 
about his personal comforts. he recognized the kedum sOmbhar,
who were the opposite of Vaazhum sOmbhar . 

The keum sOmbhar  lived only for themselves and 
not for the Lord and His consort. They are tempted
and deluded by the loka vAsanAs, they do not understand the 
aathma svarupam properly and do not perform svarupAnurupa Kaimkaryam. 
They do not consider that type of Kiamkaryam as their purushArtham. 
They do not control their indriyAs and let them run amok in
Vishaayantharams. They do not release the load of 
aathmAbhimAnam and dehAbhimAnam in contrast to the 
Vazhum sOmbhar like ThirukkaNNamangai aandhAn .
Latter engaged in "simple "Sannadhi Kaimkaryam of cleaning the 
surru praakarams and the front of the Lord's temple with 
a broom stick all his life . He did not practice the difficult JnAna or Bhakthi
Yogam and took"the easier route " of Prapatthi with its six limbs 
and Bhagavadh kaimkaryam and bhagavth guNaanubhavam.. 

The Lord was very pleased with the services of this exemplary 
PrapannA . Aandhaan exemplified the Bhagavatha LakshaNams 
covered by the paasuram of Thondaradipodi . He also resided 
inside the temple as indicated by the AzhwAr 
( un kadaitthalai irundhu Vaazhum Sombhar) . 
Swami Desikan seems to have chosen ThirukkaNNamangai AandhAn 
as an exemplary "sOmbar " for all these reasons in his Rahasya work
and was reminded of Thondardaipodi's paasuram section on "sOmbhar". 

Instead of elaborating this much , which is needed to understand
the full significance of the word "sOmbar" used by the AzhwAr , 
I recognize that I have caused confusion  by compressing 
the meaning too much . Dear Sri Varadan ,Thanks very much for 
taking the effort to point out the left-out meanings. 

The main message of Thondaradipodi in Thirumaalai 
has been identified by our AchAryAs as the fitness of everyone 
to recite the Lord's name to attain salvation. Only the effort 
has to be made. Those , who follow this path are 
BhagavathAs and others are "Thozhumbhars".

Saint ThyagarajA in number of his krithis has celebrated such
"Vaazhum sOmbhars " and described their lakshaNams. He says in
his NathanAmakriyA krithi " KaruNAjaladE DaasarathE " : 

" The realization of true Bhaktha is in one way , while the 
method adopted by the people , who do not know the truth
about You , is in another direction". In sections of his Sri Raaga
krithi , "Endharo MahAnubhAvulu " , he describes the Bahagavatha 
lakshaNams and salutes them . In his YamunA kalyANi krithi,
Hari dAsulu vetalu , he describes the true Hari DaasAs and their 
ecstasy , when they forget themselves and praise Hari's name 
as the only means of their salvation.

In his VarALi krithi , KaruNa yelagantE , he describes the lakshaNam
of the Bhagavatha , who does not care about himself more precisely :

" He will not utter a lie, will not approach low people with
requests, will not even serve kings, --- will not injure others,
--, will not have three desires ( for wife, wealth and progeny ) , 
will not exhibit any exultation even if he were to become a jivan mukthA,
will not be fickle-minded and make himself unhappy , will not
swerve from his aim , believing fully well (maha ViswAsam ) 
that the Lord is eternal witness."

Such is the tribute of Saint ThyagarAjA to the class of BhagavathAs
referred affectionately as "Vaazhum sOmbhar" by Thondaradipodi 
in his ThirumAlai prabhandham verse.

AzhwAr, Swami Desikan ThiruvadigalE SaraNam,

V.Sadagopan .