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Editor's Note - 94 (March 1, 2016)

An Overview Of Thooppul Pillai’s Tamil Prabandhams - 2

Dear Fellow-Bhagavathas,

In an extension of the previous Note, we shall take up the next two Prabandhams of Swami Desika in this one.

3. Amruthaa Swaadhini

This is another Prabandham that comprises 37 Paasurams forming part of Chillarai Rahasyangal. The esoteric works covered in this are:

  1. Saara Saaram —
    Thirumanthra Adhikaram (Paasurams 1 to 6),
    Dhvaya Adhikaram (7, 8 & 9) and
    Charama Sloka Adhikaram (10 to 14),
  2. Abhaya-Pradhaana Saaram (15 to 19),
  3. Rahasya Sikhamani (20 to 23),
  4. Anjali Vaibhavam (24),
  5. Pradhaana Sathakam (25, 26 & 27),
  6. Upakaara Sangraham (28, 29 & 30),
  7. Saara Sangraham (31),
  8. Virosha Parihaaram (32, 33 & 34) and
  9. Munivaahana Bhogam (35, 36 & 37).

The Chillarai Rahasyangal-connect and fact that this is also nectar-like in nature has lent this Prabandham an ‘Amrutha’ name. Starting with the three most significant tenets of the visishtaadvaita philosophy — the Thirumanthram, Dhvayam and Charama Sloka — it goes on to emphasise the Doctrine of Surrender in reference to the Kakasura and Vibheeshana Saranagathi. The meaning of the Varaha Charama sloka is explained in verse No. 22, while the greatness of the folded hands is highlighted in verse No. 24. In a course of an imaginative and novel conversation, Paasuram No. 33 of lilting grandeur brings out the magnificence of Bhagavath Ramanuja. The Prabandham draws to a close with a brief account of ‘Amalanaadhi Piraan’ of ThirupPaan Azhwar, a favourite of Swami Desika.

Our great Acharya’s reverence for the Azhwar is evident from the fact that in both the references in the Prabandham, the term ‘Paan Perumaal’ has been used. It is relevant to note here that In Adhikaara Sangraham, the Azhwar is referred as “Paana Nathan”.

The other esoteric works of Swami Desika that are independent of the Chillarai Rahasyangal and for which there are corresponding Prabandhams are: Adhikara Sangraham, Paramapadha Sopanam, Paramatha Bhangam and Mei Viratha Maanmiyam. Of the Amruthaa Swaadhini Rahasyas, Thathva Sikhamani and Madhurakavi Hrudhayam are extinct (Luptham).

4. Paramapadha Sopanam

There are three Thaniyans — two Slokas and one Paasuram composed as a prelude for this Prabandham which extol Thooppul Pillai for determining the nine steps to reach Sri Vaikuntam (‘Sopanam’ means ‘steps’).

In the Prabandham which contains 21 Paasurams, the Acharya lays out nine steps which a Mumukshu (one desirous of Moksha) has to ascend one by one in order to achieve his objective. These are explained in two verses each in this Prabandham, after the first Paasuram gives a general introduction in which the author traces his lineage to Sri Ramanuja (எதிவரனார் மடைப்பள்ளி வந்த மணம் எங்கள் வார்த்தையுள் மன்னியதே).

The nine chapters corresponding to the equal number of steps are covered in the next 18 Paasurams and their content briefs are as follows:

  1. Viveka Parvam — the power of discriminatory knowledge as regard to Chith (sentient), Achith (non-sentient) and Iswara (the Supreme Being).
  2. Nirvedha Parvam — the sense of self-deprecation for doing things that are against one’s Swaroopam.
  3. Virakthi Parvam — the sense of austerity and self-denial from worldly pleasure.
  4. Bheethi Parvam — the fear of recurrence of the experience of Samsara.
  5. Prasaadhana Parvam — the practising of one of the only two means of attaining Moksha — Bhakthi and Prapaththi.
  6. Uthkramana Parvam — the Jiva’s leaving of the body through the critical nerve-centre in the head.
  7. Archiraadhi Parvam — the Jiva’s journey in which he is welcomed and led through the Archiraadhi way by different Adhikaaris at various stages en route to Vaikuntam.
  8. Divyadesa Praapthi Parvam — the arrival of the jiva at Parama Padham which is beyond all the materialistic worlds.
  9. Praapthi Parvam — the grand finale where the Jiva gets to meet the Supreme Lord Sriman Narayana, converses with him and enjoys Him and His Kainkaryam.

The 20th Paasuram summarises all the nine steps at one go and the final verse gives why we, the Jivas, live in this world even after performing Prapaththi, the all-important means. The reason provided is providence on the one hand and on the other hand, to engage ourselves in divine experience such as Bhagavath Kainkaryam, Sribhashyam, Aruli-cheyal, etc.

எங்கள் தூப்புல் பிள்ளை பாதம் என் சென்னியதே!

Natteri P. Srihari (a) Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar

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