The Esteem Of Bhagavathas In Azhwars’ Outlook - 2
In the Previous Note, we saw Periyazhwar’s great regard for Bhagavathas and his gross contempt for their opposite numbers. In this edition, Kulasekhara Azhwar’s extreme longing to serve at the feet of the Devotees of Lord Ranganatha, as brought out by him in the second decad of Perumal Thirumozhi ‘Thettarum Thiral’, is taken up for some elaboration.
The Azhwar’s unflinching loyalty towards Bhagavathas is legendary as can be seen from the ‘snake-pot’ episode.
Once, some ornaments of the Lord were found missing from the palace temple and the security personnel brought in a Bhagavatha as prime suspect, to the court of the royal Azhwar. Instantaneously, he proclaimed that devotees would never ever steal the Lord's belongings, and to establish that he placed his hands in a pot that had a poisonous snake in it. The dangerous reptile, bound by truth, did not harm the Azhwar, thereby proving his point.
Manakkaal Nambi’s Thaniyan for Perumal Thirumozhi, captures the essence of the story nicely.
|ஆரம் கெடப் பரன் அன்பர் கொள்ளாரென்று அவர்களுக்கே|
|வாரம் கொடு குடப்பாம்பில் கையிட்டவன் — மாற்றலரை|
|வீரம் கெடுத்த செங்கோல் கொல்லி காவலன் வில்லவர் கோன்|
|சேரன் குலசேகரன் முடிவேந்தர் சிகாமணியே.|
Now, over to ‘Thettarum Thiral’. Here, the Azhwar sings the glory of the Devotees of Arangan and portrays different dimensions of Bhagavatha Bhakthi through lilting and sweet Paasurams.
- Sweet as quality honey which is difficult to get, Lord Arangan, With His chest adorning the unfading ‘Vanamala’ garland and dwelling place of Lakshmi, He is adored by bands of true devotees who dance, shout in devotion, call out ‘Aranga!’ and in the process, get exhausted. If my eyes see them do all this, would they have not served their purpose?
- The deeds of the Lord who embraced the lotus-dame Lakshmi are very many, like shooting an arrow through seven trees in-a-row, herding cows, and so on. His devotees, constantly having them in mind, sing and dance and call ‘Aranga!’. Why should one crave for a dip in river Ganga, if one could get to bathe in the dust of their holy feet?
- The devotees, singing the Lord’s deeds, such as taming the seven bulls (as Krishna), lifting the earth as a boar, killing Ravana as Rama, scaling the earth (as Thrivikrama), shed tears of joy and devotion that flood the temple of Arangan and slush its inner courtyard. I shall decorate my forehead with the slush found in the devotees’ feet.
- My Lord Arangan swallowed cool curd, butter and milk and was caught by mother Yasodha, who tied him by his arms. His devotees let out a cry of ecstasy ‘Narayana!’ till their tongues swell and fall at His feet repeatedly till their bodies ache. My heart shall ever worship and praise their holy feet.
- The Lord of Arangam is surrounded by steepling compound walls that radiate His aura. He killed seven charging bulls and fought against a dangerous serpent. Those who contemplate Him — who is akin to a rain-bow adorned dark cloud — experience goose bumps. Mere thought of such devotees will result in goose-bumps for me too.
- Arangan is the beginning and the end; the eternal and the wonder-Lord of the celestials. Sinners are those who lack devotion to Him and do not wear the flowers of His feet on their head. Devotees offer their service with love to redeem and put the sinners on the faultless path. My heart will, forever, be filled with love for these devotees.
- Lord Arangan has a dark frame like a monsoon cloud-cover, with a pleasant glow, a pure-white smile, coral-red mouth and a garlanded chest. Devotees yearn and wait to get a glimpse of this great sight with their eyes filled with tears. My heart is a slave at their feet.
- Amid big waves in the ocean reclines the lotus-eyed Lord. He is wearing a fragrant Thulasi garland surrounded by humming bees, on His chest. Devotees stand up, dance, sing and wander with ecstasy over Lord Arangan. My heart longs for a life like theirs.
- Devotees of my Lord, my Father, Arangan stand there yearning for Him, with tears welling in their eyes and hairs of their body standing up. They dance together in frenzy, sing and fall prostrate at His feet and surrender unto Him. Mad are not these devotees but only the others!
- In the 10th and final Paasuram, a benediction verse, the Azhwar says that those who master this decad will become devotees of Arangan’s devotees. A fitting blessing, indeed!
Meet you in the next Note.
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