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Nammalvar's Tiruvaymozhi - An Insight

Nammalvar, the foremost among the Alwars has contributed four gems to the monolith - the sacred Four Thousand or Divyaprabandam. Out of the four, the magnum opus, Tiruvaimozhi is a collection of a little over thousand songs, all in the rare anthadi metre - an unsurpassed feat in Tamil literature. It is said to be the quintessence of the musical Sama Veda and is grouped in decads (pathigams) of ten songs each. Thus there are hundred pathigams and each pathigam includes the eleventh song as the phalasruti.


In many of his pathigams he spells out the phalasruti or the benefit/profit that accrues out of reciting, singing or even dancing of the pathigams. Thus (1) Aazhi Ezha (7-4) ensures the victory (success) of any endeavour undertaken (2) Poliga poliga (5-2) cleanses one's mind of its dross (3) Endraikum ennai (7-9) produces happiness (4) Kangalum Pagalum (7-2) lands him in everlasting bliss (5) Porumal neel padai (1-10) develops one's knowledge. These are but a few of the ever so many sparklers strewn all over. It is customary to begin any venture with the all potent Pranava Bijashara Mantram - OM or its alphabetic constituents A.U.M. In consonance with this principle the three lines of the opening Tiruvaimozhi have the words Uyaravara, Mayarvara and Ayarvara though not in the same order.

The taraka nama of Saint Tyagarajahswami is Rama. Similarly the Ishta devatha of Nammalwar is Lord Krishna.

He is obsessed with this name so much that he finds utmost pleasure in mentioning it, times without number. To him Kannan is the only Godhead whereas all others are only his manifestations. Kannan allal deivam illai, irupathu ellam avan murthy (5-2-7). One should seek refuge only at his feet Kannan allal illai kandeer saran (9-1-10). For him Kannan is his food, drink and pan (betel leaves) to chew - unnum sonum, parugum neerum, tinnum vethilaiyum (6.7.1). He ascribes to him the manifestations of other gods. It was Kannan not Narasimhamurthy who emerged from the Pillar to save Prahlada (2-8-9). The saviour of Markandaya is Kannan not Siva (7-5-7).

It is interesting to note that he lived a short span of thirty two years and has sung on an equal number of deities, without visiting any of them. It is believed that all of them gathered around the sacred tamarind tree at his birth place to receive the benediction - case of the mountain moving to the muhamad. He could visualise the natural ambience of the respective shrines - whether it be the cool, cascading waterfalls of Tirumala or the verdure hills and vales of Tirumaliruncholai (Madurai) or the buffeting waves of the sea at Tiruvananthapuram or the gentle swaying (in the wind) of the rich rice crop of Tirukundanthai (Tanjore) or even the enchanting lotus ponds of Tirumogur near Madurai.

Poet Kambar of Ramayana fame has eulogised Tiruvaimozhi and its author in highly felicitous terms in his Sadagopar Anthadi (1000 songs). In it he has referred to an incident (SA 17). A Siddha (Yogi) resident of the North bank of the Tamaraiparani river, had a dog as his companion. The dog as its wont used to cross the river daily in ankle deep water, roam about eating the remnants of the cast over leaves and return back to its master. When it did not turn up on a particular day, the yogi went on its trail and found its carcass with a slit skull. He immediately realised that it had attained salvation or mukthi. He burst forth into a song, appealing to Nammalwar to grant him salvation on the lines of the low born dog which could achieve such a feat by eating the remnants of the Vishnu bkathas of Tirukurugoor. This is featured in the mural paintings of the temple as well as on the stone cut on the river bank nearby.

Nammalwar has a special fascination/preference for the Tirumala deity. Among his four contributions, the first one is Tiruviruttam and the very first refference in it is to Tiruvengadam (T.V.18). No other deity has been bestowed with as many as three sweet decads as on Tirumala (1) Olivil Kalamellam (3-3) (2), Ulagam unda peruvaya (6-10) (3) Malukku (6-6) besides numerous passing references scattered all over his outpourings.



Swami Nammalvar in his 6.10 ten, gives the essence of Dwaya manthram in his famous "aghalagillEn iRaiyumenRu alarmEl mangai uRaimaarbhA!". It is the tenth pAsuram in this set. The whole set is an equivalent of Dwaya manthram, especially the tenth one completely. The entire set of these ten pAsurams is on Srinivasa PerumAL. (ThiruvEnkadatthaan).

1."ulaghamuNda peruvaayaa! ulappil keerthi ammaanE!..."...During Cosmic cycle end (PraLaya kaalam) You ate the entire universe and protected the same by retaining it in your stomach; Such a Large mouthed Lord! (in order to eat the universe); The unbounded Powerful AmmaanE! (EmperumaanE!), the embodiment of fame! The Complete form of Suddha satva EmperumaanE! You are with the Most shining illustrious form of ThirumEni ( Divine Body)! NedumaalE! (Tall Lord! TrivikramA!) My Dearest life of my AthmA! Oh ThiruvEnkadatthAnE! The Lord Srinivas, who is standing at Tirumala! I hail from a family that has been performing kaimkaryam at Your Feet. You should bless me and let me join Your Lotus Feet.

2.EmperumaanE, The Chief of NityasUris! You have the most strongest Divine ChakrA in Your right Hand. What A strong ChakrA is that! It can cut the asurA groups into pieces and destroy them, and burn them to ashes. It shines so brightly with such ferocity and terrific rage. Oh BhagawaanE The One who has such a GREAT CHAKRA as Your weapon! ThiruvEnkadatthaanE! Your place Tirumala has Lotus flowers on the ponds like the beautiful lamps on the pond. You should bless me (adiyEn, who has faultless love for You, Lord) to join You and reach Your Lotus Feet.

3. BhagawaanE! You possess the Beautiful dark Colour that stupefies those who see and arrest their hearts in its exquisite dark beauty! ("aiyO en chinthai kavarndhadhuvE!"- ThiruppaNaazhwAr) Oh My dearest Lord! You, not only possess such physical Beautiful Divine Form, but also the Most Glorious unbounded, limitless Most Auspicious attributes (kalyANa guNAs) and are the Primordial Lord! Just by a mere thought, You enter into my heart and taste so sweetly like "akkaara adisil" (nectar). Oh Chief of Your dearest NityasUris! In spite of being the chief of NityasUris, You have still gracefully made Yourself available to us at Tirumala. There at Tirumala, the beautiful waterfalls shower pearls, Gold and Emerald stones (means: they are so enjoyable). You are My Chief, ThiruvEnkadamudaiyaan, who is there standing at Tirumala! You should take pity on me and empathize with me (telling aiyO, aiyO, paavam SadagOpar) (for my longing to be at Your Feet) and take me to Your Feet. (In as much as You blessed me the way to reach You, as the only means for me, You should now bless me to reach Your Feet also. Emperumaan's Thiruvadi is the means as well as the end.)

4. Without taking pity on the world, (and its people), the asurAs attack the world and kill its people mercilessly. To such cruel asurAs, You shower on them the rain of fiery arrows and destroy their lives completely! Oh valorous Lord, the One who has the Divine Bow in Your Hand (Saarngham)! Oh Master of Periya Piraatti, MahAlakshmI! Devaadhi DevA! The One desired even by Rishis and DevAs! The One who is at ThiruvEnkadam! Srinivaasaa! You should gracefully bless me to join Your Lotus Feet completely and uninterruptedly.

5. BhagawaanE! (When Sugreevan tested You) You sent an arrow through the disorderly grown seven trees and showed Your capacity with Your Divine Bow. You went in between the two marudha maram (trees) with the mortar tied to your waist, during Krishnavataar. Like that You appeared as Rama and krishna and became our savior. You now are standing at ThiruvEnkadam as Srinivasa PerumAL for our benefit again. You are carrying the Most strongest Divine Bow in Your hands. When will adiyEn reach Your Most beautiful Lotus Feet? (Please bless me).

6. DevAs come rushing to Tirumala, to obtain His Blessings with a desire to see His Lotus Feet. They always talk and sing in praise of Him, Srinivasar, and always worship Him in their thoughts, actions and words. Oh Srinaivasa, ThiruvEnkadamudaiyaanE! The One who is worshipped like that even by DevAs at ThirumalA! Your daasaanu daasan, adiyEn, when will I be able to see Your Lotus Feet and reach Your Feet? (Please bless me for the same.) (Sri Mukkur Lakshimi narasimhachariar has written in his "kuRai onRumillai GovindhA" book about Lord Srinivasar. When someone pays obeisance to the Lord of Seven Hills, His right hand pointing downward, appears to be saying two things: 1. "Please do not always immerse Yourself in seeing my Thirumugham (face). Look at my feet and surrender. I will save you." 2. O.K You have come here to worship me and pay obeisance to me. But Did you go there first? "keezhE thaayarai sEvicchiyaah?". He shows AlarmEl manghaapuram, where His dearest Nithyaanapaayinee- AlarmEl mangaithaayaar-akhila jagan maatharam- asmath maatharam- is majestically sitting.)

7. "adiyEn mEvi yamarginRa
amuthE! imaiyOr athipathiyE,
kodiyaa atupuL LudaiyaanE!
kOlak kanivaayp perumaanE,
sediyaar vinaikaL theermarundhE!
thiruvENG kadaththem perumaanE,
nodiyaar pozhudhum unpaadham
kaaNa nOlaa thaaRREnE.

Oh Nectar! (amudhamE) For me (the One who has no other thinking except the enjoyment of Your Beauty), You are the insatiable nectar, who has come and stayed in me. Oh the Chief of NityasUris! You have GarudA in Your flag. He is the One, who has the natural capacity to destroy the enemies. Oh Lord! the One who enslaved me with Your Most beautiful curvy, Reddish BimbhA fruit like lips! Lord! You are the medicine to alleviate the sins and sorrows arising out of our past karmAs. Oh Srinivasa, ThiruvEnkadamudaiyaanE! I have NO WAYS AND HAVE NO PUNYAMS NOR ANY AUSHTAANAM to reach You. BUT I CAN NOT SIMPLY WITHSTAND AND BEAR TO BE AWAY EVEN FOR A SECOND FROM SEEING YOUR LOTUS FEET. (When Paraasara Bhataar was asked by one of his disciples as to which slokA or pAsuram, Sri Ramanuja used to advise for pilfering the food to Emperumaan, Bhataar said it is this pAsuram, "adiyEn mEvi amarghinRa amudhE!"... and Pacchai maa malai pOl mEni..that YathirAjar wanted us
to recite).

8. EmperumaanE! I HAVE NO QUALIFICATIOSN NOR ANY CREDITS TO REACH YOU. I HAVE NOT PERFORMED ANY PENANCE. - This statement - Am I the Only One who is telling? The Greatest jnAni and bhakthA, Sivan, the Faultless BrahmA, Indran- each one of such Greats- individually has approached You and claimed that they have NOT performed any penance nor do they any other means to attain Your Lotus Feet. They pay obeisance to You and go to ThiruvEnkadam to praise You there. (Because You are kaliyugha Varadhan). Oh Such Greatest Lord! Like You came as a Sowlabhya KrishNan, You should come near adiyEn, too and bless me.

9. "vandhaay pOlE vaaraadhaay!
vaaraa thaaypOl varuvaanE,
sendhaa maraikkaN senganivaay
naalthO LamuthE! enathuyirE,
sindhaa maNikaL pagarallaip
pagalsey thiruvENG kadaththaanE,
andhO! adiyEn unpaadham
agala killEn iRaiyumE.

.....An excellent pAsuram- this one and the next one. PerumaanE! You entered into my heart and have granted me immense happiness and anubhavam of having come into my heart. But You have NOT SHOWN YOURSELF FOR MY PHSYICAL EYES. I AM NOT ABLE TO SEE YOU AND TOUCH YOU WITH MY HANDS. Hence, You have NOT ACTUALLY COME. i.e. When I realize that You are not attainable and You have not come for me to touch You, I suffer terribly and melt; Then, You have suddenly made Yourself present in my heart and made me realize that You have COME. Oh My Dearest Lord! You have red Lotus like Beautiful eyes; BimbhA fruit like lips and mouth, Broad, Large Huge Four shoulders; My Life! My Dear! You are standing so gracefully at TirumalA, where the Most precious stones (like ChinthAmaNi) in those mountains shine so brightly that even dark nights appear and are illumined like broad daylights. Oh ThiruvEnkadamudaiyaanE! I, (adiyEn), CAN NOT EVEN FOR A FRACTION OF A SECOND, STAY AWAY FROM THE ABODE OF YOUR LOTUS FEET AT TIRUMALA AND MY ENJOYMENT OF BEING WITH YOU. (So beautifully written by AzhwAr; I am sorry I can NOT write in English what AzhwAr wishes to convey.- especially the next one is more excellent)!

10. (This is the Most famous pAsuram: If we can memorize, understand the meaning and recite daily, WE ARE SURE TO BE SAVED BY AZHWAR AND LORD SRINIVASAR.)


`agala killEn iRaiyum'en
RalarmEl mangai yuRaimaar_paa,alt
nigaril pugazhaay! ulagamoon
Rudaiyaay! ennai aaLvaanE,
nigaril amarar munikkaNangaL
virumpum thiruvENG kadaththaanE,
pugalon Rillaa adiyEnun
adikkee zhamarndhu pugundhEnE.

Telling that She, AlarmEl manghai, will NOT be away from You even for a fraction of a second and stays in Your Chest always (Nityaanapaayinee), Oh SrI nivaasaa! The One who is unparalleled and unbounded famous Lord! The One who has all the three worlds to His possession! My Ruler! The peerless dEvAs and rishis worship You, pay obeisance to You, and desire You at TirumalA, always, ThiruvEnkadatthaanE! I,- THE ONE WHO HAS NO OTHER MEANS AND NO ONE ELSE FOR MY REDEMTION EXCEPT YOU AND ONLY YOU- YOUR ETERNAL SEVANT AND ONLY YOURS- HEREBY SURRENDER AT YOUR LOTUS FEET. YOU SHOULD BLESS ME AND TAKE ME TO BE AT YOUR FEET FOR EVER. (AzhwAr in order to fulfill his desire and wish for being with the Lord's Lotus
Feet, takes Periya Piraati to his side, as Purushaakaaram and surrenders at Emperumaan's Lotus Feet. In the above nine pAsurams, he talks about Emperumaan's greatness. Here, he expressed his disqualification, limitations, helplessness, and having none else to save and protect him. i.e. Having no qualifications, Having disability to pursue any other means (like jnAnam, karma, Bhakti yOgam), realizing the eternal nature of being His servant always- are the qualities to perform Prapatti at Divya Dampati's Feet. (also taking Periya Piraatti to his side and recommendation, praising her being closeness with Him). this pAsuram is the essence of Dwaya manthram. AlarmEl magahi: SrI. aghalagillEn- math (Sri + math). Nigaril pughazhaay... ThiruvEngadatthaanE... NarayaNa. unnadikkeezh- charaNau. amarndhu pugundhEnE....saraNam PrapadyE).

11. ThiruvEnkadamudaiyaan shows His Feet to His BhakthAs by pointing His right Hand down and asks them to surrender at His Feet for their redemption. About that peerless, unparallelled Supreme Lord, Srinivasar, and in praise of Him, Sri SadagOpar has sung 1000 pAsurams. Out of those 1000, these ten are on ThiruvEnkadam. Those who read these ten are DEFINITE TO STAY AT THE ETERNAL EVER PERMANENT PARAMAPADHAM.


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