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Editor's Note - 93 (February 1, 2016)

An Overview Of Thooppul Pillai’s Tamil Prabandhams - 1

Dear Fellow-Bhagavathas,

Swami Desika’s literary genius has been well documented in his hundred-plus profound works and his title ‘Kavi-Thaarkika Simham’. The contexts and salient features of the 28 Sanskrit among these have attained reasonable awareness and familiarity and among the devotees. That many in the women folk are conversant with them is really heartening. A series of articles ‘Desika Darsanam’ comprising each Sthothra has been archived here.

However, in comparison, the 19 Tamil Prabandhams by the illustrious Acharya which are now available, are lesser known except mainly for the scholars and those who chant them in temples. Starting with this Note, we shall take a brief look at them. It is relevant here to recall the traditional Thaniyan that is recited ahead of Thooppul Pillai’s Prabandhams.

சீரொன்று தூப்புல் திருவேங்கடம் உடையான்
பாரொன்றச் சொன்ன பழமொழியுள் -- ஓரொன்று
தானே அமையாதோ தாரணியில் வாழ்வார்க்கு
வானேறப் போமளவும் வாழ்வு.

1. Amrutha Ranjani

This Prabandham is a compilation of the Paasurams that Swami Desika composed as part of 17 of his 34 Rahasyas (Esoteric works) called ‘Chillarai Rahasyangal’. There was a compelling need for him to re-establish the principal tenets of Bhagavath Ramanuja’s Visishtaadvaita philosophy and he did that ever so emphatically by composing these Rahasyas.

Amrutha Ranjani consists of 39 Paasurams which have been covered in 17 Rahasyas, as follows:

  1. Sampradaaya Parisudhdhi (Paasurams 1 & 2),
  2. Thathva Padhavi (3),
  3. Rahasya Padhavi (4),
  4. Thathva Navaneetham (5 & 6),
  5. Rahasya Navaneetham (7 & 8),
  6. Thathva Maathruka (9, 10 & 11),
  7. Rahasya Maathruka (12 & 13),
  8. Thathva Sandhesam (No Paasurams),
  9. Rahasya Sandhesam (14 & 15),
  10. Rahasya Sandhesa Vivaranam (No Paasurams),
  11. Thathva Rathnaavali (16 & 17),
  12. Thathva Rathnaavali Prathipaadhya Sangraham (No Paasurams),
  13. Rahasya Rathnaavali (18 & 19),
  14. Rahasya Rathnaavali Hrudhayam (20, 21 & 22),
  15. Thathva-thraya Chulakam (Achethana Adhikaaram (23 & 24), Jeeva Adhikaaram (25 & 26) and Iswara Adhikaaram (27 to 30));
  16. Rahasya-thraya Chulakam (Thirumanthra Adhikaaram (31 & 32), Dhvaya Adhikaaram (33, 34 & 35) and Charama Sloka Adhikaaram (36 to 39)) and
  17. Saara Deepam (Luptham - Extinct).

It may be seen that the general pattern adopted is to prelude and conclude every Rahasya with a Paasuram each and the collection of these verses has come to be known as ‘Amrutha Ranjani’. The literal meaning of the Prabandham is ‘one which is as enchanting as Amrutham, the nectar’.

Some of the important points that are dealt with in this are: The benevolence of the Acharya, the vitality of the Triad of Truth (Achith, Chith and Iswara), the enormity of the Azhwars’ and Acharyas’ works, the greatness of Prapaththi , censuring of other faiths, the three kinds of Jiva — the Bhaktha, the Muktha and the Nithyasoori, favour that the Lord does to us, safeguarding ourselves from other faiths, how the Lord is both Upaaya and Upeya, the ten meanings of Dhvaya Manthra and how the Lord is an ocean of compassion.

2. Adhikaara Sangraham

Srimath Rahasya-thraya Saaram is a phenomenal treatise by Swami Desika and ranks among the four great Kalakshepa Granthas referred as the Grantha Chatushtayam (the other three are Sri Ramanuja’s Sri Bhashyam and Gita Bhashyam, and commentary on Thiruvoymozhi known as Bhagavath Vishayam). It comprises 32 chapters (Adhikaarams) and the gist of the master piece has been given in the previous Note.

Adhikaara Sangraham is basically a collection of the Tamil verses forming part of the 32 chapters of Srimath Rahasya-thraya Saaram. This Prabandham starts with salutation to the Azhwars and Acharyas. The central part consists of the Paasurams from the 32 chapters of the Srimath Saaram. The final part has verses on Kanchi, Srirangam, Thiruvenkatam and the Mudhal Azhwars, followed by one glorifying the feet of Lord Ranganatha, and concludes with a Paasuram dedicated to Lord Hayagriva.

Weekly Paasuram Quest — 300

It is a matter of great pleasure that the Weekly Paasuram Quest has reached another milestone, that of the 300th week yesterday (January 31). The enthusiastic participation is well sustained and this is a pointer as to what a great treasure the works of the Azhwars is. Let’s continue the quest in all earnestness.

எங்கள் தூப்புல் பிள்ளை பாதம் என் சென்னியதே!

Natteri P. Srihari (a) Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar

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