Saturday, November 1, 2008

Divya Prabandham - Part 1

(continued from previous post)..

The incident which triggered the Mudhal Thiruvanthaadhi, Irandam Thiruvanthaadhi and Moondram Thiruvanthaadhi verses to get composed:

Once, these three Azhwars chanced to meet at a place called Tirukkoyilur. Feeling sleepy at nightfall, Poigai Alwar found a small room at the entrance of a house just enough for a single person to lie down and sleep. After a while, there came Budat Alwar who requested permission to stay with him. Poigai Alwar permitted him saying that the room was sufficient for two people to just sit down. No sooner had they seated themselves, there came Pey Alwar also seeking a place to rest. It had by then started to rain.

The two earlier occupants accommodated the newcomer saying that the three could stand, because the space was just enough for that.

As they started to share their experiences, they found that an invisible fourth person was trying to turn the company into a crowd by trying to accomodate himself in the already cramped space.

The three Alwars found out in their divine vision that the fourth person was none other than Lord Vishnu, who had brought them together.

As it was pitch dark and they had no way of producing light, Poigai Azhwar hit upon the idea of lighting a novel lamp to have a vision of the Lord. Using the elements of Nature as ingredients, considering the whole earth as a lamp, the waters of the salty seas as oil and with the shining Sun as the wick, he lit a glorious lamp that would shine forever and show up everything with clarity.

He sang thus:

வையம் தகளியா வார் கடலே நெய்யாக
வெய்ய கதிரோன் விளக்காக - செய்ய
சுடர் ஆழியான் அடிக்கே சூட்டினேன் சொல்மாலை
இடர் ஆழி நீங்குகவே என்று

Vaiyam Thagaliyaa Vaar Kadale Neyyaaga
Veyyak Kadiron Vilakkaaga - seyya
Sudar Aazhiyaan Adikke Soottinen Sol Malai
Idar Aaazhi Neengugave Enru


Vaiyam : Universe, VaarKadal : The sea surrounding it, Thagazhi : Lamp

Veyyak Kadiron : Hot Sun, Seyya : Beautiful, Sudar Aazhi : Bright discus

SolMalai : Garland of words (verses), Idar Aazhi : ocean of misery (Samsara)


Meaning: Lord Narayana, who holds the Divine Chakraayudha, is the cause of this wonderful universe and the seas. In order to cross the miserable ocean of 'Samsara', I am singing these Maalai(Garland) of verses(paasurams) and dedicating to Him, whose vision I had with the light emanating from the lamp of the earth, oil being the seas, the sun being the source of the light.

Next, Budattaazhwar lit another lamp, using entirely home-made ingredients, all available within oneself and yet the hardest to find in any human being- he made a lamp out of his unfathomable love for the Lord. Oil for the lamp was his uncontrollable urge to see the Lord and the wick was his intellect, made sweet and melting by constant contemplation of the Lord. He sang:

அன்பே தகளியா, ஆர்வமே நெய்யாக
இன்பு உருகு சிந்தை இடு திரியா - நன்பு உருகி
ஞானச் சுடர் விளக்கு ஏற்றினேன் நாரணற்கு
ஞானத் தமிழ் புரிந்த நான்.

Anbe Thagaliyaa Aarvame Neyyaaga
Inburugu Chintai Idu Thiriyaa - Nanbu Urugi
Gnaana Chudar Vilakku Etrinen Naaranarku
Gnaana Thamizh Purindha Naan

Aarvam : Involvement, Parabhakti-to feel the love of God intimately, Inbu : endearing

Meaning: It is the love as the lamp and involvement as the oil and the Azhwar says" I dedicate myself to the service of the Lord, by singing this song that blesses wisdom(Gnaana), with love as the lamp,endearing involvement as the oil(Ghee), and knowledge as the wick of the torch".

Such was the extraordinary illumination provided by the two lamps lit by these two Yogis, that the third, Sri Peyazhwar, was able to see clearly the fourth person who had been squeezing them tight. He sang:

திருக்கண்டேன் பொன்மேனி கண்டேன், திகழும்
அருக்கன் அணி நிறமும் கண்டேன் - செருக் கிளரும்
பொன் ஆழி கண்டேன்,புரி சங்கம் கைக் கண்டேன்
என் ஆழி வண்ணன்பால்,இன்று

Tiruk Kanden Pon Meni Kanden Thigazhum
Arukkan Ani Niramum Kanden-Seruk Kilarum
Pon Aazhi Kanden, Puri Sangam Kai Kanden
En Aazhi Vannan Paal, Inru

Seru : Battle, Aazhi Vannan : One whose color is like that of the blue seas.

Meaning: First and foremost, the Azhwar's eyes lit up on seeing the glorious form of Sri Mahalakshmi adorning the broad chest of the Lord-"Tirukkanden" sang out Sri Peyazhwar, excited by the wonderful spectacle that caught his eye.

Ponmeni Kanden - Having realized, from the presence of the Divine Consort, that it was none other than Lord Narayana who had entered, Azhwar's sight fell next on the glorious golden Tirumeni of the Lord.

The blazing complexion of the fourth guest imprinted itself upon Azhwar's eyes, prompting him to comment ecstatically on the same-"Thigazhum arukkan ani niramum kanden". The Lord's Divine Discus and the Cosmic Conch adorning His upper hands presented a spectacular sight to the thirsty eyes of the Azhwar-"Serukkilarum Ponnaazhi kanden, puri Sangam kai kanden".

The three Azhwars, inspired by the grand vision of the Lord's glorious form in their midst, poured out their devotion in a hundred beautiful verses each, filled with Bhakti.

Poigai Azhwar composed the first 100 verses starting with the words ' Vaiyam Tagaliya, Varkadale Neyyaaga' ( the universe being the lamp and the oceans being the oil).
Budattazhwar composed the next 100 verses starting with the words 'Anbe Thagaliya, Aarvame Neyyaaga' ( the love as the lamp, the involvement as the oil).
Pey Alwar concluded by singing the third 100 verses starting with the words ' Tiruk Kanden, Pon Meni Kanden' ( I found the glorious, golden form of the Lord').


The verses were so constructed that the ending word of each verse became the commencing word of the next verse - a special kind of prosody characteristic of Tamil literature called 'Anta Adhi' 'Anta' means 'end' and 'Adhi' means 'beginning'. The three works were thus called Mudhal (First) Anthaadhi, Irandam (Second) Anthaadhi and Moondram (Third) Anthaadhi respectively.

These three works which constitute the earliest poetical compositions by the Vaishnava saints of South India, contain philosophical and theological ideas of Srivaishnavam.

(My next post this week will be on Tirumazhisai Azhwar's work 'Naanmugan Tiruvanthaadhi').

1 comment:

Amimu said...

Gayathri ji,
This is an absolutely awesome project, and We learnt a lot from the posts itself. Is there anyway you could get this into DVDs or CDs and someone like Giri Trading sell through their outlets to reach a broader audience. (not sure of copyrighting issues). This knowledge should be definitely disseminated and we are eagerly awaiting.
pushkala&raju