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Swami Nammazhwar Snippets - 1 (July 15, 2012)

A Peek Into Satakopa's Enrapturing Sentiments
Anbil Ramaswamy, U.S.A.

We commence our homage to Nammazhwar with his ‘Thiruviruththam’, which is known to be the essence of Rug Veda.

In the very first verse, the Azhwar dramatically stops the Lord, asking Him to “listen” to his petition.

பொய்நின்ற ஞானமும் பொல்லா ஒழுக்கும் அழுக்குடம்பும்
இந்நின்ற நீர்மை இனி யாம் உறாமை -- உயிரளிப்பான்
எந்நின்ற யோனியுமாய் பிறந்தாய் இமையோர் தலைவா!
மெய்ந்நின்று கேட்டருளாய்! அடியேன் செய்யும் விண்ணப்பமே.

The Azhwar, for whom the Lord granted absolute wisdom (mayarvaRa mathiNalam) by His grace, starts with a plea to detach him from the endless chain of Samsaara.

“O, Lord of Nithyasooris! Lend me Your ears!” says the Azhwar. “You came down to earth several times on Your own accord to save the Jeevas. But, we are born with deep attachment to our filthy and impermanent bodies and despicable conduct. Thus, we are irrevocably immersed in misery. Only You can salvage us from this plight. You must listen to my petition. There is no other way for us.”

The Azhwar indicates all the five realities in this first stanza itself:

The Azhwar’s next Prabandham ‘Thiruvaasiriyam’ is considered to be the essence of Yajur Veda. In this, Swami Nammazhwar wonders why people do not realise their ultimate goal of Moksha but waste their lives over futile things in life. He brings this out in the sixth Paasuram.

ஓ ஓ உலகினதியல்வே
ஈன்றோள் இருக்க மணை நீராட்டி
படைத்திடந்து உண்டுமிழ்ந்தளந்து
தேர்ந்துலகளிக்கும் முதல் பெரும் கடவுள் நிற்ப
புடைப்பலதானறி தெய்வம் பேணுதல்
தனாது புல்லறிவாண்மைப் பொருந்தக் காட்டி
கொல்வன முதலா அல்லன முயலும்
இனைய செய்கை இன்பு துன்பளி
தொன்மா மாயப் பிறவியுள் நீங்கா
பன்மாமாயத்து அழுந்துமா நளிர்ந்தே.

“The Lord created the entire universe. Once, He saved it by taking the form of a wild boar. At the time of deluge, He kept the whole universe with all its inhabitants in His tummy and when the time came, He released them for another lease of life. He takes care of all the needs of everyone. When such an all-merciful Lord is there, it is intriguing why people ignore Him and run after petty deities mentioned in some insignificant contexts in the Saasthras and thus are permanently condemned to the miserable cycle of existence. It is like disregarding one’s own mother who gave birth and celebrating a mere wooden plank by giving it ceremonial bath and offering even meat by killing creatures! They do so only in the false hope of securing some evanescent worldly benefits. Though they may at first appear pleasant, ultimately, they will lead to further misery by pushing them down into the mire of Samsaara.”

He feels sorry for such ignorant folk and exhorts them not to be misled but to return to the royal road to Moksha, viz., Devotion to Lord Sriman Narayana.

In Periya Thiruvanthaadhi, which is held as the essence of Atharva Veda, the Azhwar wonders about the Vaamana Avathara in the following Paasuram (16).

சீரால் பிறந்து சிறப்பால் வளராது
பேர் வாமனா காக்கால் பேராளா -- மார்பாரப்
புல்கி நீ உண்டுமிழ்ந்த பூமி நீர் ஏற்பரிதே
சொல்லு நீ யாம் அறியச் சூழ்ந்து.

“How come” he asks “without living up to Your numerous glorious names and being known as ‘well born’ and ‘well bred’, You took the Avathara with the name of Vaamana — a despicable dwarf who cannot boast of any merit of birth or upbringing? Perhaps, You thought that only by assuming such a ridiculous form You could go begging for a gift of earth. And, what earth?”

“YOUR earth that You embraced; YOUR earth that You gulped: YOUR earth that You released at the time of a new Kalpa. Even though such an earth was YOUR VERY OWN, why on earth did You beg of Bali to gift it to you with the symbolic pouring of water? I really need an explanation for this queer act of Yours.”

In verse 75, he refers to “container being contained.”

புவியும் இரு விசும்பும் நின்னகத்த நீ என்
செவியின் வழிபுகுந்து என்னுள்ளாய் – அவிவின்றி
யான் பெரியன் நீ பெரியை என்பதனை யாரறிவார்?
ஊன் பருகு நேமியாய்! உள்ளு.

“O, Lord! You hold a discus which is capable of devouring all flesh. Both this world and Paramapadam are contained in You. Thus, You are the Lord of both the worlds (உபய விபூதி நாதன்). How come, while this being so, You chose to enter me through my auditory faculty and You became contained in me and that too permanently? Now that You are contained in me irretrievably, who can say which one is greater than the other? You or Me? If You know, You may Yourself explain this conundrum (and admit Your defeat!)”

In the 86th and penultimate verse, the Azhwar wonders how people could save themselves when they have absolutely no thought of salvation which Sriman Narayana alone can grant.

கார் கலந்த மேனியான் கை கலந்த ஆழியான்
பார் கலந்த வல் வயிற்றான் பாம்பணையான் – சீர் கலந்த
சொல் நினைந்து போக்காரேல் சூழ்வினையின் ஆழ்துயரை
என் நினைந்து போக்குவர் இப்போது?

“People of the world are wasting their time without experiencing the bliss of the Lord’s names. The Lord is of the colour of the azure skies; He has the divine discus in his hand; at the time of deluge, he keeps the worlds in “safe custody” in his stomach and protects them; He reclines on the serpent couch. If only people should talk of these facts, they can free themselves from all sins. Without doing this, why are they wasting their lifetime? I wonder how they are able to do this and how else could they ever hope to rid themselves of sins?”

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Next in series: On August 15, 2012.

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The author is President, Swami Desika Darsana Satsangam (SDDS) and Editor,
Sri Ranga Sri (SRS) Electronic Journal, U.S.A.

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www.svdd.com - © Sri Vedantha Desikar Devasthanam, Mylapore, Chennai.