You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : September 1996

Re: Brahminism

From: Mani Varadarajan (
Date: Thu Sep 26 1996 - 15:28:12 PDT

[from Varadhan ( -- Thirumalai Anandhaanpillai)]


The interesting discussion on brahminism & the role of
birth in our tradition  reminds me of kulasekaraazhwaar's perumaaL 
thirumozhi - 4th thirumozhi. In this thirumozhi, aazhwaar yearns to be born
as something that is always present on the hills of Thirumalai so that he 
can be close to our Lord.
He does not even care as to what he is born as - sentient or insentient. 

Personally, for me this thirumozhi is one of the most devotional 
decades in the prabhandham. Reciting this thirumozhi makes one wonder as to
what is His design that made us all come to this country leaving behind the
joy of performing nitya kainkarya to our Lord in the divyadesams. 

Aazhwaar starts in the first paasuram by yearning to be a stork that lives
in the temple tank -
        'vEnkadaththu kOnEri vaazhun kurugaayp piRappEnE'
(kurugu = naarai = stork).

Aazhwaar then thinks that if he were born as a stork, there is a possibility 
that the stork may fly out of Thirumalai hills. So, in the second paasuram,
he wants to be born as a fish that always resides in one of the water bodies
that are present in the Thirumalai hills -
        'meenaayp piRakkum vidhiudayEn aavEnE'

A fish may be eaten by the stork or other beings that depend on the fish for
survival. Aazhwaar does not want to be taken away from the Lord. He wants to
perform kainkaryam to Him. In the third paasuram, he says
        'pon vattil pidithudanE pugap peRuvEn aavEnE'

He wants to be born as the person who carries the pon vattil to the Lord

He then thinks that if he were the person who carries the gold vattil, there
may be a chance that he might steal the vattil & be jailed for that (i.e taken
away from the Lord). In the fourth paasuram,he says that he wants to be a 
shenbaga tree that gives the flowers that adorn our Lord
        'shenbagamaay niRkum thiruvudayaan aavEnE'.

(Shenbaga flowers are special to our Lord - 
periyaazhwaar says in poochootal - 'thEnil iniya piraanE - shenbagappoo chootta

Well - some people may want to have a shenbaga tree in their homes & may uproot
the shenbaga tree and take it away from the holy hills - To avoid that, in
the next paasuram aazhwaar says

        'thambagamaay niRkum thavamudayEn aavEnE'

He wants to be a shrub on the Hills of thirumalai.

The shrubs may be removed by people when they are cleaning up the hills-
So, in the next paasuram, he says
        'annanaya poRkuvadaam  arunthavaththaan aavEnE'

He wants to be a part of the golden peaks that adorn the Thirumalai hills.
Then he realises that some people may take away parts of the hills when they
are building new temples & wants to avoid that. In the next paasuram, he says
          'kaanaaRaayp paayum karuththudayEn aavEnE'

He wants to a stream that flows on the hills of Thirumalai.

A stream does not flow year round and is dry during certain periods of the year
& also during the drought seasons - So, aazhwaar does not want to be a stream 
now. In the next paasuram, he says 
        'nERiyaayk kidakkum nilayudaiyEn aavEnE'

He wants to be the pathway on which devotees walk to the temple. 
There can be different paths to a temple & if the devotees take a different
path, then he will lose the fortune of being walked upon by the devotees.
So, in next paasuram, he says

        'padiyaayk kidandhu un pavaLavaayk kaaNbEnE'

He wants to be the step to the temple
(aside: 'kulasEkarappadi' - the first padi in the temple at Thirumalai is named
so due to the above paasuram)

He then realises that since the step is to the temple of the Lord, people
may cover it with Gold, thereby taking away the opportunity for aazhwaar to
enjoy the sight of the Lord all the time.
Everytime he wants to be something, he sees some potential
obstacle that may take him away from the Lord. Aazhwaar gives up & in the
next paasuram says

        'emperumaan ponmalaimEl edhEnum aavEnE'

I want to be some thing (anything) in the golden hills of the Lord.

All aazhwaar cares about is being born as something in the temple of thirumalai.
Such is the importance given to being born as a sentient being (leave alone
being born as a human being & then in a particular varna). 

Pillai Lokaachaariyaar in SriVachanaBhooshanam eloquently discusses the 
role (rather 'non-role') of birth in our religion at great length.

Daasaanu Daasan,