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Re: Swamy Desikan's work on Thiruppaanaazhwaar

From: Mani Varadarajan (
Date: Wed Sep 26 2001 - 16:53:06 PDT

Dear Sri Narayanan,

Swami Desika's 'munivAhana-bhOgam' stands unique among
all of the acharya's works. It is his only extant 
maNipravALa commentary on a poem of the Divya Prabandham.
It is unique in that it is also considered a 'rahasya-
grantha', or a work concerning a discussion of the
meaning of the esoteric mantras of the Vaishnava faith,
because Sri Desika elaborates on the meaning of the praNava
(Om-kAra), holy tirumantra, etc., in the course of the 

Sri Sadagopan has kindly supplied us with the benedictory
Sanskrit slokas and Tamil verses that grace the beginning
and end of this work. I would humbly like to offer
a correction to the translation of one of them:

Sri Sadagopan wrote:

   At the beginning of this Rahasya grantham ,
   Swamy Desikan expresses his desire to comment on 
   the AmalanAdhipiran with great control of senses
   for the benefit of BhaagavathOtthamAs:

   (Meaning): The poet with the name of VenkatEsan wishes to
   comment with indhriya nigraham ( with Rigorous control over 
   his sense organs) on the Sri Sookthi of the great poet 
   ThiruppANar , who travelled on the back of Loka Saaranga 
   Muni as his vaahanam and who was eager to enjoy 
   the soundharyam of the Lord of Srirangam , whose heart 
   delights in seeing His Bhakthan. 
[the verse itself]

vyAcikhyAsati bhaktyA virakta-tOshAya venkateSa-kavi: |
mudita-mukunda-vilOkana-munivAhana-sukavi-sUktim imAm ||

Here 'virakta-tOshAya' is in the dative case and means
"for the sake of the dispassionate".  I feel the sloka
should be translated as:

   For the sake of the dispassionate and with profound love,
   poet Venkatesa wishes to elaborate on this divine utterance of
   that great poet Munivahana, composed upon the [long-awaited]
   vision of an overjoyed Lord Mukunda.

   "Venkatesa" is an alternate form of Venkatanatha,
   Swami Desika's given name. Munivahana means 
   "one for whom a sage served as a vehicle" and refers to
   the well-known story of Tiruppan Alvar's being carried
   by Lokasaranga Muni to see Lord Ranganatha.

The "dispassionate one" referred to by the phrase
'virakta-tOshAya' is seen by some as a reference
to Sri Periya-vaaccaan Pillai, the great commentator
on all the Alvars' verses. The belief is that Swami Desika
composed this commentary at the request of the 
vyAkhyAna-cakravartI.  In any case, there is no doubt
that this is a truly inspired work, wherein the acharya
provides several unique thoughts not expressed in 
his other works.

'munivAhana-bhOgam' has been published by several people
in recent times. There is the edition by Sri R. Kannan Swami
mentioned by someone else earlier.  This edition contains
the commentaries of both Sri Periyavaaccaan Pillai and
Sri Alagiya Manavala Perumaal Nayanar.  Unfortunately,
this printing suffers from the lack of usage of subscripts
to distinguish mahaprANa-s and alpapraNA-s, as well as
voiced and unvoiced syllables, making the maNipravALa
quite difficult to read.  There is also an earlier edition
published by Sri Puttur Srinivasa Iyengar, which uses
granthAkshara in places. This has been recently republished
by his son Sri Puttur Krishnaswamy Iyengar.

There is also the edition of Sri Uttamur Viraraghavacharya
Swami, published along with his 'prabandha-rakshA' urai.
This edition was republished during Sri Uttamur Swami's
centenary celebration and contains a combination of devanAgari
and Tamil letters, which many people may not be comfortable

aDiyEn pAN perumAL dAsan

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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