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Editor's Note - 104 (January 1, 2017)

An Overview Of Thooppul Pillai’s Tamil Prabandhams - 12

Dear Fellow-Bhagavathas,

The next two Prabandhams are the only ones available of the total seven composed on Lord Devanatha of Thiruvaheendrapuram by Swami Desika. The other names of the deity are Deivanayakan, Achyuthan, Adiyavarkku Meyyan known as Daasa Sathyan in Sanskrit, and Moovaraagiya Oruvan. The Goddess is Hemabjanayaki. It is no secret that Devanatha, as also Lord Varadaraja of Kanchi, are our Acharya’s favourite deities.

Though he has, by his own account in the final verse of Navamani Maalai, dedicated seven Tamil works to Devanatha — MummanikKovai, Pandhu, Kazhal, Ammaanai, Oosal Esal and Navamani Maalai — except the first and last, the others have become extinct. The available part is vested with such poetic excellence so as to accentuate our misfortune in having lost five of the group. It may be seen that Swami Desika has himself named all the seven Prabandhams.

16. MummanikKovai

This Prabandham follows the innovative pattern of three types of verses alternating, true to its name. It is similar to a chain-like ornament (Haaram) strung together with three different kinds of gems. It is believed that the author must have composed 30 Paasurams for this Prabandham, going by the grammar rules governing this nature of work. It has only 10 in its present form.

The three kinds of poems are Aasiriyappaa (1, 4, 7 & 10), Venpaa (2, 5 & 8) and Kattalai-Kaliththurai (3, 6 & 9) and it is evident from the final verse that it is not the final one.

In the opening verse, Swami Desika, while invoking the grace of Devanatha, seeks Piraatti’s help (Purushakaaram) in realising it. The second verse proclaims that just as the Lord proudly wears gems like Kousthubham, He is delighted with this ornament (MummanikKovai) too. In the third Paasuram, the author seamlessly slips into the role of ‘Naayaki’ and brings out her plight as expressed by a friend.

The fourth verse speaks about the various forms of the Lord. In the next one, Swami Desika says how he became subservient to the Lord of Ayindhai. In the sixth verse, again, the author adopts ‘Naayikaa Bhavam’ and similar sentiments to the third verse are expressed.

In the seventh Paasuram, Sri Desika extols the virtues of the Lord and says how the Lord is the Moon, Radiance, Mother, Father, Relative, Right Source, Means, Dharma, Friend, Pure Lord, The Cause, The Kalpa Tree, God, Happiness, Me, Mine, Good Lord, All Powerful Lord, and so on.

The author juxtaposes Devanatha’s ‘easy accessibility’ with His ‘Supreme Being’ nature in the eighth verse and the sentiments of the mother of a daughter who got herself entangled in love with Devanatha. The tenth verse sings the praise of the Lord.

17. Navamani Maalai

Just as the name suggest, the Prabandham is made up of nine different kinds of verses. They are: The 16-phrase Aasiriya-chandha Viruththam, The 28-phrase Aasiriya-chandha Viruththam, The seven-phrase Aasiriya-chandha Viruththam, Kali Viruththam, The six-phrase Aasiriya Viruththam, The eight-phrase Aasiriya Viruththam, The seven-phrase Aasiriya Viruththam, the 14-phrase Chandha Viruththam and Kattalai-Kaliththurai. The final Phala Sruthi is in The Eight-phrase Aasiriya Viruththam.

In a fabulous opening to the Prabandham, the author glorifies the great feats performed by the Lord’s feet which are the means and end of one and all. The second Paasuram speaks about the Lord’s deeds during the Dasavathara. The third verse is an extension of expression of the Lord’s great acts. The fourth one delineates the experience of Lord Devanatha’s Maasi-Magham festival.

Through the fifth verse, the author prays to Devanatha to have the fortune of meditating on Him during his final moments. In a succinct expression, Swami Desika avers that those who do not forget the beauty of Devanatha are sure to attain Moksham (நின் வடிவழகு மறவாதார் பிறவாதாரே), in the sixth Paasuram.

In the seventh verse, the author pleads with the Lord to spare him from the torture of Yama. He seeks refuge in the feet of Devanatha, urging Him to protect him — ‘அஞ்சல்! அஞ்சல்! அஞ்சல்! என்று அளிக்க வேண்டும் அச்சுதா!’ — in the lilting eighth verse. In the next verse, the author seeks to take refuge in the Lord’s feet.

In the tenth final and final verse, Swami Desika submits that he has fulfilled the divine commandment of Lord Devanatha by composing the seven Prabandhams on Him.

Meet you in the next Note.

எங்கள் தூப்புல் பிள்ளை பாதம் என் சென்னியதே!

Natteri P. Srihari (a) Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar

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