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Editor's Note - 100 (September 1, 2016)

An Overview Of Thooppul Pillai’s Tamil Prabandhams - 8

Dear Fellow-Bhagavathas,

Thirumandhira-Churukku, Dhvaya-Churukku and Charama-Sloka-Churukku, the next three Prabandhams form a triplet and bring out the essence of the celebrated Rahasta-thrayam. Swami Desika, in his Magnum Opus, Srimath Rahasya-thraya Saaram, has delved deep into the subjects while presenting the interpretation of the syllables and phrases that are encapsulated in the Moola Manthram or Thiru Manthram, Dhvayam and Charama-Slokam, the three principal doctrines of our Sampradaya.

Much before this exhaustive and exemplary work, the Acharya had composed these short Prabandhams corresponding to the three Manthras. It indeed is astounding the way he has packed so much of details into these four-line verses. We shall take up the first one now.

12. Thirumandhira-Churukku

The most important among all Manthras, and so rightly named, is Thiru Manthram. It is also known as Moola Manthram because it begins with the ‘Pranavam’ which is the basis for all Manthras, and Ashtaaksharam because it comprises eight letters. Thiru Manthram, which is the quintessence of all the Vedas, can obliterate all sins and show us the Lord’s feet. People of all caste and creed can, within the framework of their eligibility as provided in the Saasthras, chant this and reap the rewards. Incidentally, this the Manthram that Thirumangai Azhwar received direct initiation from the Lord, by putting his sword-power to good use.

In this Prabandham, Sri Desika advises the Chethanas of the greatness of the Manthram and insists them to benefit from it. The Paasuram-wise abstract of the Prabandham is as follows:

The Pranavam, which is the first segment of the Manthram, is the combination of the letter ‘’, ‘’ and ‘’. We shall denote these by ‘a-kaaram’, ‘u-kaaram’ and ‘ma-kaaram’.

  1. The a-kaaram is derived from the suffix ‘av’ in Sanskrit which means ‘to protect’. Since it is Sriman Narayana who protects the whole world — (Chethana) the sentient and (achethana) non-sentient, the a-kaaram denotes Him.
  2. The fourth case which is hidden in the a-kaaram is explained here. This indicates the subservient nature of Jiva as regards the Lord.
  3. The u-kaaram rejects connection with anything else. So when this is added to the a-kaaram, it would mean that ‘I’m not subservient to anyone other than Sriman Narayana’.
  4. Another construal is that the u-kaaram denotes Sri. So, it is the union of the a-kaaram and u-kaaram, that is Narayana and Sri that the Jiva has to worship as the means and not just the Lord alone.
  5. The ma-kaaram stands for Jiva. That is one should be clear in the knowledge of himself and his status that he is subservient to the Lord.
  6. The second word of the Thiru Manthram is ‘Nama:’. It is a compound word consisting of two parts, ‘Na’ and ‘Ma:’. ‘Na’ refers to ‘Not’ and ‘Ma:’ means ‘For me’ (For the Jiva). ‘Nothing is mine’ is the meaning derived from this.
  7. The meaning of the word ‘Naara’, as a part of ‘Narayana’ is explained here. The word contains two syllables ‘Na’ and ‘Ra’. ‘Na’ denotes ‘Not’ and ‘Ra’ means ‘Destruction ’ and the compound word gives the meaning that both Paramaathma and Jivaathma are eternal. Also, the syllable ‘Nara’ is derived from ‘Nru’ which means that which shows the right path to all Jivaathma.
  8. The next syllable is ‘Ayana’. When this is added to ‘Nara’, it results in the name ‘Narayana’, meaning that the Lord is the body of all Chethanas, Achethanas and everything else. It also means one who is omni-present, that is, resides in all the Chethanas, Achethanas and everywhere else.
  9. The fourth case of ‘Narayana’, that is, ‘Aaya’ is dealt with here. It shows us the great Kainkaryam that we ought to perform to (for the sake of) the Lord.
  10. In conclusion, Swami Desika submits that he has rendered the meaning of nine elements of the Thiru Manthram that has been safeguarded and handed over to us by our illustrious Acharyas. He adds that those who have mastered the nuances of the Manthram would not dare to pass them on to unqualified persons and that if someone does so, it would mean that he does not actually comprehend the real meaning of the divine Manthram.

Meet you in the next Note.

எங்கள் தூப்புல் பிள்ளை பாதம் என் சென்னியதே!

Natteri P. Srihari (a) Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar

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