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Salutation to Swami Nammazhvar

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I dedicate this thread to Shri Silverfox, who is my elder and a well-wisher. Somehow I managed to create a false impression with Shri Silverfox of erudition of Azhvar poetry -- this is not false modesty, as I am so intimately aware of how limited my familiarity is with this subject.

Yet I venture for just two reasons, (i) Shri Silverfox's suggestion, and (ii) I happen to listen to a series of lectures on the most exquisite poetry on Acharya Bhakti by a Brahmin older pupil to his NB acharya of much younger age. (Even in this topic I am not letting my single point agenda alone :).)

The poem is called கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு and the author is Swami Mathurakavi Azhvar and it is the only poem of the 4000 Dhivya Praghandam dedicated to Acharya and not to Lord Sriman Narayana. What I intend to present is based on a long series of lectures Srimat Azhgiya Singar offered over telephone conference to audience mainly in USA and from other places including UK, Gulf, Singapore and Australia.

I will begin ASAP. Thank you.

To RVR sir -- peace

Prof Nara,

I salute your knowledge on Vaishnavism particularly your depth of knowledge in Naalaayira Divya Prabandham.

I want to learn lot from you about the same through this forum

I don't know sanskrit but I am always fascinated by the brilliant works of Azhwars, Naayanmars and other great Tamil poets.

I don't think anybody would have enjoyed Lord Ranganatha of Srirengam better than Thodarapodi Azhwar in the pasuram starting with `பச்சை மா மலைபோல் மேனி Pachai Maa malai pol meni'

I don't think there is no parellel to Aandaal as she literally ruled Tamil Language. Kannadasan complimented Aandaal as `கோதை ஆண்டாள் தமிழை ஆண்டாள்'

Please enlighten me perpetually with Aazhwar Pasurams

All the best
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Yet I venture for just two reasons, (i) Shri Silverfox's suggestion, and (ii) I happen to listen to a series of lectures on the most exquisite poetry on Acharya Bhakti by a Brahmin older pupil to his NB acharya of much younger age.

Dear Nara

I have a request and I am sure members of this forum will mandate and endorse my request as well. Salutation to Nammalwar is a good topic and expect it be of highly literary and I am sure you are the fittest or the right person to do that with your in depth knowledge.

"(Even in this topic I am not letting my single point agenda alone :).)"

This is what really worries me. We want the knowledge undiluted with your single point agenda from you. Rajaji & CNA both wrote Ramayanam. Rajajis work seems to be immortal compared to CNAs so many editions and still going strong Why? Rajajis writing was lucid CNAs was acid
I request you is to be lucid and no acid please. This thread should be a treasure house of knowledge and should not go into oblivion like CNAs Ramayanam Hope you will consider my request Jambu :eek:hwell:
Folks, Greetings!

At the outset I must caution everyone here, it seems with my writings I am giving an impression that I am some sort of an expert in 4000 Dhivya Prabhandam. I assure you, and it is not false modesty when I tell you this, I am no such thing. There are many people who can recite the entire compendium from memory. Not only that, they can recite just the first phrase at the beginning and first phrase at the middle of each verse, called அடிவரவு, of all 4000 verses from memory. The extent of my knowledge is what is in my bookshelf and I probably have a reasonable idea where to look, that is all.

Interestingly enough, I seem to have misplaced my கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு book in which I had made some notations. I hope to locate it soon (i.e. my wife, I probably can't find myself without my wife's help), but in the mean time I will start with some background story.

That will be my next post....
Alright, here we go ....

The life history of Nammazhvar is known only through stories narrated in SV hagiography, the earliest of which is ஆறாயிரப்படி குருபரம்பரா ப்ரபாவம் by பின்பழகிய பெருமாள் ஜீயர் who lived probably about 900 years ago, about 100 years after Bhgavat Ramanuja. BTW, the term படி in ஆறாய்ரப்படி, refers to number of verses, in other words, this text contains 6000 verses.

The story of Nammazhvar and Mathurakavi Azhvar narrated in this text is exquisite, with beautiful poetry dripping with adulation and reverence. However, there is not enough salt in the word for us to take these accounts as authentic. You will see why when I briefly narrate the story as it appears in this text.

Kariyar, born into a family with long and devout SV roots, was living in Thiru Kurugur, on the southern bank of river Thamraparani. He married a young woman called Udaiya Nangai from Thiruvan Parisaram, one of the 108 Dhivya Desams, just north of Nagarkovil. Then, upon the instruction of Lord Sriman Narayana, Viswaksenar from Sri Vaikuntam was born as Nammazhvar to Kariyar and Udayanangai, 43 days after the start of Kali Yugam. The baby was named மாறன்.

Maran was born with வைராக்யம் for life. He refused to eat or drink. When the parents took the baby in desperation to the temple of Athipiran, the baby climbed into a hole in a tamarind tree within the temple premises. The boy lived in this hole for 16 years, without eating, drinking, or saying a word.

In the meantime, an older Brahmin man, called Mathurakavi, who was living in a place called Thirukkolur, a couple of KM from where Maran was born, was on a pilgrimage to Ayodya. He saw a bright light appearing in the southern sky at night. It was as brilliant as sunrise. It kept appearing night after night. Madhurakavi traced this light all the way south and when he reached Thiruk Kurugur, the light stopped appearing at night.

The next day, upon enquiry, he found out there is a 16 year old boy, living in a hole in a tamarind tree, who has not eaten anything and not spoken a word in 16 years. Madhurakavi went to the tree and wanted to see whether the boy can hear. So, he tossed a small stone in front of the boy, and Maran opened his eyes. Then to check whether he can talk, Mathurakavi asked, "செத்தத்தின் வயிற்றில் சிறியது பிறந்தால் எத்தைத்தின்று எங்கே கிடக்கும்?" The boy immediately answered, "அத்தைத்தின்று அங்கே கிடக்கும்".

The answer was so profound that Madhurakavi realized the boy was a ஸர்வஜ்ஞர் (all knowing) and fell at the boy's feet and asked to be accepted as a pupil. The text describes this scene as follows: ஆழ்வார் திருவடிகளிலே ஸாஷ்டாங்க ப்ரணாமமாகத் தாளுந்த்டக்கையும் கூப்பி விழுந்து ஸேவித்து....

At this point, Lord Sriman Narayana appeared, seated on Garuda, with his ever present consort Lakshmi. Upon beholding the Lord, Maran wrote 4 poems that are supposed to be the 4 vedas. They are:

  1. Thiru viruththam - 100 verses (Rg Veda),
  2. Thiru Asiriyam - 7 vreses,
  3. Periya Thiru Andati - 87 verses (Atharvana Veda), and
  4. Thiruvay mozi - 1102 verses (Sama Vedam).
Maran recited, and Mathurkavi wrote them down in palm leaves. Finally, Mathurakavi himself wrote a poem called கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு containing 11 verses.

Among the many puzzling details, how come Mathurakavi, who is supposed to be from a village only about 2 kilometers from where the boy spent 16 years without food or water, did not hear about this amazing miraculous boy at all, and had to follow a strange brilliant light when he was away on the pilgrimage north?

While the SV tradition holds Nammazhvar's birth to have occurred 43 days after the start of Kali Yugam, which would make his period 5000 years ago, normal people think he lived about 1200 to 1300 years ago.

He is also called ShaThakopan (शठकोप) for he is supposed to have gotten enraged with the air called ShaTham (शठं), from entering his body, thus ShaThakopan (शठकोप). This is supposed to have allowed him to stay untouched by Samsara.

It seems the title "Nammazhvar" was given by Lord Athipiran of Azhvar Thirunagari, when, according to the legend of Athivan Shatakopa Jeeyar, the founder of Srimat Ahobila Matam, the Jeeyar restored the Dhivya Managala Vighraham of Shathakopan back to the temple.



Mathurakavi's question:
செத்தத்தின் வயிற்றில் = within achetana
சிறியது = jeevan
பிறந்தால் = jeevan taking a body made of achethana
எத்தைத்தின்று = what will it be afflicted by
எங்கே கிடக்கும்? = and where will it end up finally

The boy's answer:
அத்தைத்தின்று = the jeevan will be afflicted by karma
அங்கே கிடக்கும் = and will remain in samsara

Greetings. Thank you for starting this thread. I am thouroughly enjoying it. (By the way, I was in Chennai recently. When I met my friend, his wife said ' ஸ்ரீவைஷ்ணவத்துல இவ்வளவு விஷயம் இருக்கா? I did not know Non-Brahmins could become Sree Vaishnavas! So much information! Still I am trying to understand them'... This was the comment about your எங்கே ஸ்ரீவைஷ்ணவம்? thread).

Thank you for starting this thread. I am thouroughly enjoying it.

Thanks Raghy, I appreciate your encouragement. Hope I find my book soon, otherwise I have to rely on my memory, which is not particularly good.


Swami Nammazhvar sits on top of the SV acharya lineage for all branches of SV. For this reason, among others, he is called ப்ரபன்ன ஜன கூடஸ்தர் (कूटस्थ), i.e the base or foundation of all things SV.

Among the many epithets used for Swami Nammazhvar are:

வேதம் தமிழ் செய்த மாறன் சடகோபன் (This refers to the 4 poems that represent the four vedas)
அருமறைகள் அந்தாதி செய்தான் (this also refers to the 4 vedas)
தமிழ் மறைகள் ஆயிரமும் ஈன்ற முதல் தாய் சடகோபன் (மொய்ம்பால் வளர்த்த இதத்தாய் இராமானுசன்)

Among the few free standing verses in praise of Swami Nammazhvar, I like this one the best.
மனத்தாலும் வாயாலும் வண்குருகூர் பேணும்
இனத்தாரை அல்லாது இறைஞ்சேன் -- தனத்தாலும்
ஏதும் குறைவு இலேன் -- எந்தை சடகோபன்
பாதங்கள் யாம் உடைய பற்று.
For SVs Nammazhvar poems are nothing but Vedas. While they consider Vedas as aupurusheya and the ultimate pramana, they consider 4000 to be even superior to the Vedas in certain ways. These certain aspects in which 4000 is considered superior to Vedas are:

  • Northern Vedas are for dvaja males only, but all have a right for 4000
  • Northern Vedas are written in a language available only to the learned, but 4000 is in Tamil, the language of the masses
  • Northern Vedas contain lots of extraneous stuff (mainly Poorva Mimamsa), but 4000 is only about மோக்ஷம்
  • Northern Vedas sing the praise of all devathas in their respective sections, but 4000 is completely dedicated only to Sriman Narayana, the Supreme Brahman.
These are praises offered by quite orthodox TBs, some 1000 years ago, to an NB they knew only through his poems. The person who brought Swami Nammazhvar into SV reverence is Sriman Nathamuni. He lived in a placed called Kattu Mannar Kovil, about 20 KM southwest of Chidambaram.

By chance, which in SV parlance means through some celestial premeditation, Sriman Nathamuni heard in the temple, a group of traveling SVs from Kumbakonam recite a few verses in praise of Sarangapani Perumal of Kumbakonam. These 11 are among the best of Nammazhvars 1102 Thiruvaymozhi verses (5.8.1 to 5.8.11). The first of these 11 starts with:
ஆரா அமுதே அடியேன் உடலம் நின்பால் அன்பாயே
நீராய் அலைந்து கரைய, உருக்குகின்ற நெடுமாலே
Can any love poem be more beautiful? Swami Nammazhvar's love for நெடுமால் comes out pouring, as his entire body is melted by his love for him.

Let me give another.
அரியேறே, என்னம் பொற்சுடரே, செங்கண் கருமுகிலே
எரியே, பவளக் குன்றே, நால் தோள் எந்தாய், உனது அருளே,
பிரியா அடிமை என்னைக் கொண்டாய், குடந்தை திருமாலே
தரியேன் இனி, உன் சரணம் தந்து என் சன்மம் களையாயே
என்னம் = pleasing to me
எரியே = brilliant light

As the verse is free of any archaic words, the simple meaning of the is verse is easily understood.

The last verse the traveling group recited was:
உழலை என்பின் பேய்ச்சி முலையூடு அவளை உயிர் உண்டாய்
கழல்கள் அவையே சரணாகக் கொண்ட குருகூர் சடகோபன்
குழலின் மலியச் சொன்ன ஓராயிரத்துள் இவைபத்தும்
மழலை தீர வல்லார் காமர் மானேய் நோக்கியர்க்கே!
உழலை என்பின் பேய்ச்சி = Demon with bones like உழக்கட்டை
குழலின் மலிய = Sweeter than the flute of Kannan
மழலை தீர = wiped clean of ignorance
மானேய் நோக்கியர்க்கே
காமர் = will be loved by deer-like women
(Commentators have opined the apparent reference to women is actually Sriman Narayana)

Sriman Nathamuni noticed the phrase, ஓராயிரத்துள் இவைபத்தும், in the last verse and enquired the group about the rest of the 1000 mentioned in the phrase. But the group knew only these 11 as these were about Lord Sarangapani of Kumbakonam. They pointed to the name of the town குருகூர் mentioned in the verse and told Sriman Nathamuni that he may get more information if he could go there. That took Sriman Nathamuni on a long journey down south to the present day Azhvar Thirunagari. east of Thirunelveli.

From all this, at least one thing can be reasonably inferred -- some of Swami Nammazhvar's verses were already popular. Perhaps the temple town folks were familiar with at least the verses that mentioned their temple.

more later ....
The little phrase ஓராயிரத்துள் இவைபத்தும் launched Sriman Nathamuni into a life long search for poems on Perumal, which ultimately ended with the compilation of the 4000 Dhivya Prabhandam, which IMO, is the reason SV became so popular among all Tamils in general and TB in particular.

Upon the direction of the travelers from Kumbakonam, Sriman Nathamuni set out to Thiruk Kurukur, some 500 KM down south. Hard for me to believe, but the traditional text says the people in Thiru Kurukoor, the very town where the miracle boy of the tamarind tree who had an elderly Brahmin as pupil, had no knowledge of any of the boy's wonderful poems. They directed Sriman Nathamuni to Thiruk Kolur (திருக்கோளூர்) the birth place of Mathurakavi, the author of கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு prabhandam.

No luck there as well, but one resident called Sri Parangusa Dasar (பராங்குச is another name for Nammazhvar), claimed by the text to be sishya of Mathurakavi (if Nammazhvar/Mathurakavi lived 5000 years ago, and Sriman Nathamuni about 1100 years ago, how can Sri Parangusa Dasar be a sishya of Mathurakavi? Perhaps it was a different Madhurakavi, or perhaps not a direct sishya -- anyway), were familiar with the 11 verses of கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு. He proceeded to teach the 11 verses to Sriman Nathamuni.

Then, the text seems to go off into the deep end. After learning these 11 verses, Sriman Nathamuni recited them 12,000 times in a formal way. At this point Nammazhvar appeared in front of him. Even though Sriman Nathamuni was after only the 1,000 inferred in the phrase, ஓராயிரத்துள் இவைபத்தும், Nammazhavr presented to Sriman Nathamuni, not just the 1102 verses of Thiruvay Mozi, but the entire collection we now know as 4,000 Dhivya Prabhandam, plus the arcane purport of the three Rahasyas (Thriu Ashtaksharam, Dvayam, and BG Carama Shlokam -- Sarva darmAn ... mamEkam sharaNam vraja), and much more. Here is the description of this from the text.
திவ்யஜ்ஞாந சக்ஷுஸ்ஸை ப்ரஸாதித்து அருளி, ரஹஸ்ய த்ரய அர்த்தத்தையும், திருவாய்மொழியையும், மற்றுமுள்ள மூவாயிரப் ப்ரபந்தங்களையும், அகில தர்சந தாத்பர்யங்களையும், அஷ்டாங்க யோக ரஹஸ்யத்தையும் ப்ரஸாதித்து அருளினார்.
It is this passage that establishes the Guru Parampara connection beween Sriman Nathamuni and Swami Nammazhvar, even though they lived in different time periods, from traditional POV they were separated by about 4000 years, and a more believable POV by about 250 years.

One thing we can reasonably infer is, Sriman Nathamuni was so taken by the beauty of the 11 verses he heard from the travelers from Kumbakonam, that he spent the rest of his life gathering, cataloging, and incorporating these poems into SV worship rituals.

After his return to Kattu Mannar Kovil (Veera Narayana puram) the Perumal in the temple is supposed to have commanded that the 4000 be set to music and dance abhinaya mudras. From the text:

நீர் இவற்றை இயலும் இசையும் ஆக்கும், என்று அர்ச்சக முகேந நியமித்து அருள


ஸ்ரீவேதவ்யாஸ பகவான் வேதங்களை உதா3த்த அநுதா3த்த ஸ்வரித ப்ரசய யுக்தங்களாக உச்சரிக்கலாம்படி பண்ணினாப்போலே நாதமுனிகளும் இத்திவ்ய ப்ரபந்தங்களை திவ்ய கானத்திலே அடைத்து, இயலும் இசையும் ஆக்கி பாடுவித்து அருள, இது லோகத்திலே ப்ரஸித்தம் ஆயிற்று.

This form of reciting 4000 with music and abhinayam is called Araiyar Sevai. Araiyar Sevai in Sri Rangam during what is called பகல் பத்து, இராப் பத்து, during Vaikunta Ekadasi celebration time is supposed to be very special.

Let me close this post with a verse in praise of Sriman Nathamuni, from இராமாநுச நூற்றந்தாதி authored by திருவரங்கத்து அமுதனார்
ஆரப் பொழில் தென் குருகைப் பிரான் அமுதத் திரு வாய்
ஈரத் தமிழின் இசை உணர்ந்தோர்கட்கு இனியவர் தம்
சீரைப் பயின்று உய்யும் சீலங்கொள் நாதமுனியை நெஞ்சால்
வாரிப் பருகும் இராமானுசன் எந்தன் மாநிதியே
ஆரம் = garland
பொழில் = சோலை
தென் குருகைப் பிரான் = Lord of Kurkur = Nammazhvar
ஈரத் தமிழ் = Compassionate Tamilian = Nammazhvar
இசை உணர்ந்தோர்கட்கு = to those connoisseurs, i.e. Mathurakavi
இனியவர் தம் = descendants of Mathurakavi
சீரை = treasure/knowledge

(The treasure of Nammazvar (ஈரத் தமிழின் சீர்) was conveyed to Sriman Nathamuni, having passed down through the lineage of connoisseurs starting from Mathrakavi (இசை உணர்ந்தவர்). Imbibing this nectar of love straight into his heart is Bhagavat Ramanuja, our greatest treasure.)

So, among SV tradition, Dravida Vedam is supreme, Swami Nammazhvar is the ultimate Acharya, Sriman Nathamunigal is the Veda Vyasa who organized the Dravida Vedam into daily worship.

I hope I have given sufficient background about the unique place கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு ப்ரபந்தம் has in SV tradition. To recap, the two main reasons for its central importance are (i) it is by reciting this Prabhandam 12,000 times Sriman Nathamuni was supposed to have received all of 4000 from Swami Nammazhvar, and (ii) it is the only Prabhandam that speaks to the most important aspect of SV tradition, namely, holding Acharya in a reverential plane even higher than that of the Lord himself. This prabhandham is fully in praise of Swami Nammazhvar even to the extent of relegating Sriman Narayana to a lower level.

One more piece of trivia, recitation of திருவாய் மொழி is always sandwiched between recitation of கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு, i.e. recitation of திருவாய் மொழி begins with first reciting கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு, and it is repeated again at the conclusion as well, which is called சாற்றுமுறை.

There are 24 Prabhandams in the entire collection of 4000. There is a common set of free standing single verses called தனியன் that is recited at the start of any recitation of 4000. Then, there are one or more தனியன் specific to each Prabhandham. கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு has two such free standing தனியன் verses, one in Samskritam and one in Tamil.

I will present the Samskritam verse today. The author of this verse is Sriman Nathamunigal.
अविदित विष्यान्तरः शठारेः उपनिषदां उपगान मात्र भोगः ।
अपि च गुण वशात् ततेक शेषी मधुरकविर्हृदये मम आविरस्तु ॥

(அவிதித விஷயாந்தர சடாரே, உபனிஷதாம் உபகான மாத்ர போக: |
அபி ச குண வசாத் தத் ஏக சேஷீ மதுரகவிர் ஹ்ருதயே மம ஆவிரஸ்து ||)
This verse is in praise of the author of கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு, i.e., Madhurakavigal. The verse piles on one adjective over another and ends with declaring that the object of all these great adjectives, being Madurakavigal, should remain ever present in my (i.e. of Sriman Nathamuni and the reciter) heart.

First, the series of adjectives:
अविदित विष्यान्तरः = the one who is disinterested in anything, but
शठारेः उपनिषदां = the poems of Swami Nammazvar called Dramidopanishad
उपगान मात्र भोगः = and for whom only the singing of them with music is pleasurable

अपि च = and further
गुण वशात् = enslaved by Swami Nammazhvar's kalyana gunas
ततेक शेषी = takes only him as his lord, not even Sriman Narayana
मधुरकविर्हृदये मम आविरस्तु = such a Madhurkavi must remain in my heart for ever

The poetic beauty aside, this enlightened devotion to Acharya has over the centureis transformed into mindless devotion to Acharya. Now, even mere persistent questioning of traditional and archaic practices and views is immediately put down by others as the worst and unspeakable form of blasphemy.

Dear Shriman Nara:

I may be elder to you (only in age) but I will do my pranams before you; you are, in my mind, as close to a modern Azhwar -- for your Bhakti, your knowledge of Tamil and interpreting the paasurams in beautiful Thamizh!!
We all are enjoying your writings and are also learning. I didn't know the meaning of 'Shatagopan' until now. Let me dedicate this thread to all our members who, I am sure, will benefit immensely.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your outstanding public service.

>>>I dedicate this thread to Shri Silverfox, who is my elder and a well-wisher. Somehow I managed to create a false impression with Shri Silverfox of erudition of Azhvar [COLOR=#DA7911 ! important][COLOR=#DA7911 ! important]poetry[/COLOR][/COLOR] -- this is not false modesty, as I am so intimately aware of how limited my familiarity is with this subject.<<<<<
Respected Nara sir,
excellent description on SRI VAISHANAVISM....adiyenunudaya dandavat namaskarams....i have some knowledge about SRI BHASHYAM OF


...i think you are UBHAYA VEDANTA KESARI....

Thank you tbs sir, but let me assure you, I am not even a ரவா உப்புமா :), let alone கேசரி :):)

Being an academic I have the time and I am just referring to some books and presenting what is already there in the books, nothing original from me.

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தமிழ் தனியன்

The second of the two Thaniyan is in Tamil and is as follows:
வேறொன்றும் நான் அறியேன் வேதம் தமிழ் செய்த
மாறன் சடகோபன் வண்குருகூர் ஏறு எங்கள்
வாழ்வு ஆம் என்று ஏத்தும் மதுரகவியார் எம்மை
ஆள்வார் அவரே அரண்.
Words rearranged for easy reading:

வேறொன்றும் நான் அறியேன்
வேதம் தமிழ் செய்த
ஏறு வண்குருகூர் மாறன் சடகோபன்
எங்கள் வாழ்வு ஆம் என்று ஏத்தும் மதுரகவியார்
எம்மை ஆள்வார் அவரே அரண்.

(The Madhurakavi, who extols that his very life is Maran ShaThakopan who rendered the Vedas into Tamil outside of whom there is nothing to be known, the one born in the exalted and eminent town of Kurukoor, that Madhurakavi rules our lives and he verily is our protection.)

The recitation of கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு will begin at this point. But I want to discuss one more Pasuram about Madhurakavi by Swami Sri Desikan. This one is a particularly musical one and pregnant with arcane meanings.
இன்பத்தில் இறைஞ்சுதலில் இசையும் பேற்றில்
இகழாத பல் உறவில் இராகம் மாற்றில்
தன் பற்றில் வினை விலக்கில் தகவ ஓக்கத்தில்
தத்துவத்தை உணர்த்துததில் தன்மை ஆக்கில்
அன்பர்க்கே அவதரிக்கும் மாயன் நிற்க
அருமறைகள் தமிழ் செய்தான் தாளே கொண்டு
துன்பற்ற மதுரகவி தோன்றக் காட்டும்
தொல் வழியே நல்வழிகள் துணிவார்கட்கே.

-- அதிகார ஸங்க்ரஹம் #2

Before we get into the meaning, don't you think this is a beautiful pasuram even without fully deciphering the meaning? The எதுகை, மோனை, and the multifarious allusions is equal in all respects to ஆண்டாள் திருப்பாவை. Swami Sri Desikan is probably the brightest of brilliant stars India has produced.

For all his greatness, he is the one who finally took SV permanently back to the Brahmincal casteist ways, away from the progressive strain so painstakingly introduced by Bhagavat Ramanuja, though SSD himself sincerely believed he was only following Bhagavat Ramanuja's true intent, letter and spirit.

Now, the pasuram. In this verse, SSD is alluding to the 10 kinds of association Madurakavi expresses in the 10 verses of கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு (the 11th is பல ச்ருதி) towards Swami Nammazhvar and concludes that he wishes for these 10 types of association with Madhurakavikal.

  1. இன்பத்தில் = experiencing bliss of Sri Vaikuntam
  2. இறைஞ்சுதலில் = pleading for protection from samsara
  3. இசையும் பேற்றில் = the desired fruit of protection, namely, eternal service - கைங்கர்யம்
  4. இகழாத பல் உறவில் = the many kind of inseparable relationship between Jiva and Supreme Brahman (father, mother, freind, child, master, servant, etc.)
  5. இராகம் மாற்றில் = in triumphing over attachment to things material
  6. தன் பற்றில் = taking refuge
  7. வினை விலக்கில் - annihilating karma
  8. தகவ ஓக்கத்தில் = experiencing the flood of compassion
  9. தத்துவத்தை உணர்த்துததில் = to fully impart arcane truths
  10. தன்மை ஆக்கில் = bestowing equality of bliss
These 10 types of associations are normally thought of to be between Jiva and Supreme Brahman. But Madurakavi prefers Swami Nammazhvar over Lord Krishna to have these 10 associations. This is the main theme of கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு. For SVs this is not just allegorical, but literal. How?

Well, as I presented earlier, Madurakavi was supposed to be traveling in the north when Nammazhvar was born soom 43 days before the start of Kali Yuga. This chronology would mean, according to traditional view, Lord Krishna was still in Bhu Loka when Madhurakavi was traveling around in the north. Lord Krishna's departure is supposed to mark the end of Dwapara Yugam and the start of Kali. So, even though Lord Sri Krishna was still around, at least for part of the time Madurakavi was in the north, there is no account of an encounter between the two. This is illustrated by the phrase,

"அன்பர்க்கே அவதரிக்கும் மாயன் நிற்க"

(The very reason, cause belli, of Lord Sri Krishna's avatharam is to show love to devotees like the Gopikas, and yet, Madurakavi, an exemplary devotee, turns away from Lord Sri Krishna (மாயன் நிற்க), and rushes south to Swami Nammazhvar, following a shining southern light. This is described by:

அருமறைகள் தமிழ் செய்தான் = the one who rendered the exalted Vedas in tamil
தாளே கொண்டு = taking refuge at his feet
துன்பற்ற மதுரகவி = Madhurakavi who is free of all worldly blemishes
தோன்றக் காட்டும் = revealed clearly in the verses of கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு
தொல் வழியே = the hoary path of surrender at the feet of acharya
நல்வழிகள் = are the best paths
துணிவார்கட்கே = for those who choose this path

This verse of SSD is particularly noteworthy as he has distilled the essence of Madurakavi and his Prabhandam and packed them into one simple and exquisitely musical verse.

hi U .VE nara sir,
i studied advaitha from a vadakalai iyengar professor from navalpakkam....u might be knowing navalpakkam ramanuja tatachariar....even though

he is very expert in visisthadvaitha....he thought me advaitha vedanta very beautifully...like him u are expert in sri bhashya with dravida vedam..

so u are ubahaya vedanta.....i heard that only vadakalais generally called ubhaya vedanta,,,,not thengalais...plz enlighten me... i may be


adiyenudaya vinnappam

.......u might be knowing navalpakkam ramanuja tatachariar....

yes tbs sir, I know of him, but not much more. I am aware he is much respected scholar of Vedanta.

so u are ubahaya vedanta.....i heard that only vadakalais generally called ubhaya vedanta,,,,not thengalais...plz enlighten me.
"ubhaya vedanta", or U. Ve (உ.வே.) for short, indicates proficiency and knowledge about two sets of Vedas, the Sanskrit one and the Dravidian one, namely the 4000 Divya Prabhandam. But, out of respect or deference, often people address others with that epithet. You would find the traditional marriage/upanayanam invitations addressed as u.ve, as a matter of routine. Everyone gets called u.ve, even those who are not. I suppose if Obama gets invited he will be u.ve Obama.

One could perhaps say that u.ve simply indicates faith in the equality of authority of the two sets of Vedas, not necessarily in the scholarship of them. That is not unreasonable.

In any case, the title u.ve. does not suit a free thinker like me well at all.

BTW, since both Vadakalai and Thenkalai believe in this principle of equal authority of the two sets of Vedas, both can be and are called u.ve.


All commentaries of Prabhandam begin with an introduction, called அவதாரிகை or ப்ரவேசம். In this section the intent and purpose behind the entire Prabhandam (திருவுள்ளம்) is presented. Further, in front of the commentary of each pasuram an separate அவதாரிகை dealing with the upshot of that particular verse is also given.

In this post I intend to give a summary of the அவதாரிகை for the entire கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு ப்ரபந்தம். This will put the reader in the right perspective.

The central theme of this prabhandham is total reverence towards Bhagavathas in general and Acharya in particular. Madurakavi repeatedly invokes his total dedication to Nammazhvar. He uses phrases like தேவு மற்றறியேன் -- I know of no other Lord. For him, there is no greater புருஷார்த்தம் than service to Swami Nammazhvar.

On the surface, this seems just a respectful exaggeration, a natural tendency among sishyas to over elevate their Acharya. But the SV commentators argue that this is no exaggeration. They claim that the ultimate goal of all Jeevas, which they call புருஷார்த்த காஷ்ட்டை, is service, or கைங்கர்யம் to Bhagavathas. If servitude to Sriman Narayana, i.e. பகவத் சேஷத்வம் is பரம புருஷார்த்தம், then, servitude to devotees of Sriman Narayana, i.e. பாகவத சேஷத்வம் is பரம புருஷார்த்த காஷ்ட்டை, i.e. ultimate in the most desirable objective of Jeevas. They even go to the extent of saying that devotion to Sriman Narayana can be considered a பாபம் if you let it come in the way of serving Bhagathas and Acharya.

The commentators then proceed to prove this point by citing the role of the four brothers from Valmeeki Ramayanam, which is considered a Pramanam no less in importance than the Vedas among SVs. Here is the original from Swami Periyavachchan Pillai (SPP) commentary.
வேத உபப்ரும்ஹணார்த்தமாக ப்ருவ்ருத்தமான ஸ்ரீராமாயணத்தில், ராமாயண புருஷர்கள் நால்வரும் தர்ம ஸம்ஸ்த்தாபன அர்த்தமாக அவதரிக்கையாலே, நால்வரும் நாலர்த்தத்தை அநுஷ்ட்டித்து காட்டினார்கள்.
With the first phrase in this passage SPP establishes the authority of Ramayanam. Then says since the avathara of the four brothers is for the purpose of establishing Dharma, each brother demonstrated one of four Dharmas.

The first brother, Rama, exemplified the ordinary dharma of பித்ரு வாக்ய பரிபாலனம்.

The next two brother, Lakshmanan and Bharathan demonstrated a higher dharma of servitude to the Lord. However, SPP says there is a difference between the servitude of Lakshmanan and that of Bharathan, with the servitude of Bharathan being superior. Lakshmanan wanted the bliss of servitude to Rama and he insisted that he will accompany Rama into the forest. On the other hand, Bharathan, though wanted Perumal to come back to Ayodya, relented and accepted to follow Rama's orders. SPP says,
நிர்ப்பந்தித்து அடிமை செய்கை அன்றிக்கே, "சேஷி உகந்த அடிமையே சேஷபூதனுக்குக் கர்த்த்வ்யம், என்னுமிடத்தை அநுஷ்ட்டித்தார் ஸ்ரீபரதாழ்வான்.
Unlike Lakshmanan, who insisted on having his way of servitude, Bharathazhvan, accepted that his duty as a servant (சேஷபூதன்) to his Lord (சேஷீ) is to do what Lord wills. So, SPP concludes, Bharathan's servitude is superior to that of Lakshmana.

But, SPP says, in as much as Shathrugna took to serving Bharatha, for whom the wish of Rama was greater than his own promise (ப்ரதிக்ஞை) to bring him back to Ayodya, this is the ultimate. SPP says,
பகவத் சேஷத்வ காஷ்ட்டையான ததீய சேஷத்வத்தை அநுஷ்ட்டித்தான் ஸ்ரீசத்ருக்நாழ்வான்.
ததீய = Bhagavathas
சேஷத்வம் = servitude

SPP further elaborates that the reason Sri Vashishta Bhagavan named him Shatrugnan is not only because of his ability to vanquish external enemies, but he foresaw his the ability to vanquish internal enemies, namely indriyas (அந்த்தர சத்ருக்களான இந்த்ரியங்கள்).

Then SPP asks rhetorically, in what way did Shathrugnan triumph over the indriyas and answers it in the most beautiful way possible. He says Shathrugnan served Bharathan with total selfless dedication to the extent of not even getting lured away by the most enchanting beauty of Rama. He let Bharathan take him along wherever he went just like how a king would take a sword, or any inanimate object.
ராஜாக்கள் போம்போது உடைவாள், மற்றொன்று கொண்டு போமோபாதி, கொண்டுபோகப் போனான்.
This is why, SPP says, Valmeeki uses the term, அனகன், the blemishless one, only for Shatrugnan. Laskhmanan was after his own pleasure of கைங்கர்யம் and insisted on going to the forest with Rama. Bharathan was also interested in serving Rama on his own terms and argued with Rama. So, both were blemished. On the other hand, Shathrugnan understood what Rama wanted, i.e. to serve his devotee Bharathan, and without any argument or protestation, allowed Bharathan to use him in whichever way he pleased.

SPP then concludes that this is the state of Madhurakavi with respect to Swami Nammazhvar. Therefore, like Shathrugnan, Madurakavi is also அனகன், free of the blemish called பகவத் சேஷத்வம், and filled with the superior பாகவத சேஷத்வம்.
ஆக இப்படி ஸ்ரீசத்ருக்நாழ்வானைப் போலே இருப்பார் ஒருவர் ஆயிற்று மதுரகவிகள்.

p.s. I am just conveying what is in the book. I feel kind of odd writing all this as I personally think what Shatrugnan is said to have done is totally foolish.
பாசுரம் #1

I will first give the direct meaning of this pasuram and then discuss the commentaries of early Acharyas.
கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பினால் கட்டுண்ணப்
பண்ணிய பெருமாயன் என்னப்பனில்
நண்ணித் தென்குருகூர் நம்பி என்றக்கால்
அண்ணிக்கும் அமுது ஊறும் என் நாவுக்கே.
In brief, in this verse Madhurakavi says he is forsaking Krishna for Swami Nammazhvar, the one whose name when said is sweet to the tongue and produces a groundswell of ambrosia.

Difficult words:
கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு = A rope made from small pieces of ropes bound together with small knots
நண்ணி = leaving, i.e., என் அப்பனில் நண்ணி = leaving my lord Sri Krishna
தென்குருகூர் = Present day Azhvar Thirunagari, native place of Swami Nammazhvar
நம்பி = பரிபூர்ணன்; female பரிபூர்ணி is நங்கை
அண்ணிக்கும் = தித்திக்கும், sweet taste (Not sister-in-law)

The major themes the commentators focus on in this verse are (i) கட்டுண்ணப் பண்ணிய which refers to the fact Lord Sri Krishna allowed himself to be bound by Yesoda, and (ii) என் அப்பனில் நண்ணி which refers to the rejection of Lord Sri Krishna in favor of Swami Nammazhvar.

It is absolutely amazing to see how much meaning the commentators saw in this little phrase "கட்டுண்ணப் பண்ணிய".

First, they suggest that it was Krishna's wish to get bound, but wanted to have some fun. So, before embarking on his butter thievery Kannan took all the ropes in the house and cut them to small pieces. Then he embarked on his mission of larceny. The commentators marvel at this little scheme.

It is a wonder, they say, that Sarveshwaran decided to descend to this earth as a little helpless child. Even more wondrous is the fact he became hungry, that too for mere butter. A further wonderment is he decided to steal some butter. To top that, he made a mess of it, by smearing the butter all over his face and body. The height of all this was to deny he did any butter stealing when he was confronted by Yesoda.

Why did he do all this, the commentators say because he wanted to enjoy the banter with his devotees. When an ordinary person steals anything he/she will be put in jail, but when the one who owns everything in this world and the other, resorts to stealing something that belongs to him in the first place, it is what legends are made of.

Now, having caught Kannan red-handed, Yesoda decides to bind him to the millstone. But all the ropes are cut into small pieces. So she binds them all with knots to make a big rope. This is the reason Madurakavi says it is கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு, a rope made of lots of small knots.

But, when she tries to bind him with this makeshift rope to the millstone, the rope is not long enough. Seeing Yesoda struggling to bind him, Kannan shrinks his body just enough to free her from her predicament. This is the purport of the choice of term கட்டுண்ணப்பண்ணிய, instead of கட்டப்பட்ட.

Now, not realizing that Kannan allowed her to bind him, Yesoda is triumphant that she was able to bind her mischievous little son and challenges Kannan to free himself if he can, and goes about her business.

Now, Krishna stays bound, on his own accord. The all powerful, the one who can cut even the worst of all bondage, namely samsara, is powerless and stays bound by a small little makeshift rope, made out of many flimsy knots, by a little lady Yesoda, whose very sustenance is provided by him. The one who binds all jeevas into samsara is now bound by a mere jeeva.

It is said that only the one who binds can provide release from bondage. Kannan binds all jeevas into samsara, and only Kannan can provide release. Kannan now wishes to follow the same rule. Since Yesoda is the one who bound him, he awaits Yesoda to come and release him. This gives him immense pleasure. Anyone who contemplates upon this divine bondage, the commentators say, will get release from their bondage to samsara.

The commentators compare this bondage to what one calls பேராண்மை in Tamil. To wage wars and defeat enemies is only ஆண்மை. But, to stand defeated by the one you love and get bound by her is பேராண்மை. The commentators explain this with a story. A great king set out to track down and defeat an enemy. The queen says he should get the enemy alive and bring him in before sunset. The king accepts the challenge and agrees to suffer any punishment at her hands if he fails.

After all his efforts, the king succeeds in capturing the enemy alive and brings him home, but he is late, it is two hours after sunset. He enters his andhappuram and not seen for a long time. The impatient general waiting outside dares to enter to see what is going on. He sees the king bound to a pillar by a strand of flowers from the queen's head. Amazed, the general asks what is the deal. The king answers, conquering enemies is only ஆண்மை, but submitting to the punishment of the one you love is பேராண்மை. Likewise, Kannan, who is Iswara himself, who could free himself from anything, stood helplessly bound by a little woman who is part of his own creation, all for love.

This is seen as the epitome of Iswara's love for jeevas. When Nammazhvar sang about this super Sowsheelyam, the nature of a great person to humble himself in front of his love, like Rama embracing Guha, and Anjeneya, the Azhvar went into a stupor for six straight months. Here is that pasuram from Thiruvay mozhi 1.3.1:
பத்துடை அடியவர்க்கு எளியவன், பிரர்களுக்கு அரிய
வித்தகன், மலர் மகள் பவிரும்பும் நம் அரும்பெறல் அடிகள்
மத்துறு கடை வெண்ணை, களவினில் உரவிடை ஆப்புண்டு
எத்திறம் உரலினோடு இணைந்திருந்து ஏங்கிய எளிவே!
பத்துடை = one possessed of bhakti
அடியவர்க்கு எளியவன் = easily approachable to such Bhathas, this is called sowlabhyam
பிரர்களுக்கு அரிய வித்தகன் = but inscrutable to those without that kind of bhakti
மலர் மகள் பவிரும்பும் நம் அரும்பெறல் அடிகள் = our lord loved by Mahalakshmi
மத்துறு கடை வெண்ணை = butter churned by maththu
களவினில் = getting caught by stealing that butter

உரவிடை = in the chest
ஆப்புண்டு = getting bound
எத்திறம் = such a wondrous sight to see
உரலினோடு இணைந்திருந்து = the lord bound to the millstone
ஏங்கிய எளிவே! = meek humility

Lord Krishna, the one loved by Mahalakshmi residing in lotus flower, is ever so easy to approach for those with Bhakti, but is ever so distant to those bereft of it, look how simple he is, allowing himself to be bound to a millstone by getting caught steeling some measly butter. The very idea that Sarveshvaran is allowing himself to be dictated to by an illiterate cowherd woman was enough to send Swami nammazhvar into a trance for six months.

The commentators also cite a verse from Thirumangai Azhvar, from a set of verses in which a click of girls tease one of them (the Azhvar himself in nayaki bhavam) who is head over heals in love with Kannan. Here is the exchange between the silly little girls.
வண்னக் கருங்குழல் ஆய்ச்சியால் மொத்துண்டு
கண்ணிக் குறுங்கயிற்றால் கட்டுண்டான் காணேடீ,
கண்ணிக் குருங்கயிற்றால் கட்டுண்டான் ஆகிலும்
எண்ணற்கு அரியான் இமையோர்க்கும் சாழலே. 11. 5.5.
The first two lines is about the girls making fun of Kannan getting beaten and bound with a makeshift rope by a cowherd women. This is an illustration of the Lord's sowlabhyam, ease of befriending. The last two lines constitute the an answer to the mocking by the girl who is immersed in love for Kannan, the girl is Azhvar himself in Nayaki Bhavam, that proclaims Kannan's greatness.

Note the similarity of expression with Madhurakavi, both use the term கண்ணினுண் கயிறு. But, Thirumangai goes one step further and says he gets beaten by the rope, மொத்துண்டு. He also uses கட்டுண்டான், implying it was his wish and he allowed himself to be bound. The first girl makes fun at Kannan, look he got beaten by a cowherd woman with a rope. Then, the girl mad with love for Kannan, the Azhvar himself, answers, so what, even though he was bound by a simple cowherd woman, his greatness is beyond the comprehension of even the devas.

All this is to show how great is Madhurakavi's control of his senses, a true Shathrugnan, to leave the Lord oozing with humility for his devotees and seek out servitude for Swami nammazhvar. That is illustrated by the phrase, என்னப்பனில் நண்ணி, and that is for tomorrow.


p.s. I hope all the time I am spending on this is of some use to somebody!
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Dear Prof. Nara:

<<<Nara: p.s. I hope all the time I am spending on this is of some use to somebody!>>>

I don't know about others but it is definitely is very useful to me. Thank you and please continue to do this great work. You know, as a boy growing up, every day at our temple, i used to recite கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பினால் along with the veda goshti brahmins; never paid much attention to the meaning. Now I begin to see the depth of these paasurams.
Dear Shri Nara,

Thankyou very much for this thread (the meanings and the descriptions are very beautifully written and conveyed) (reg Shatrughna, his sacrifice i think was indeed the greatest).

Am intrigued by the fact that Madhurakavi forsake Krishna for Swami Nammazhvar (me thinking its not without reason...while Bhagavan Krishna is known by many, how wud we (the world) know of Swami Nammazhwar if Madhurakavi Alvar had not found him...so perhaps that's why Madhurakavi went in search of Swami Namazvar.)..

Please continue the wonderful posts..

My respects and thanks again.

If you don't mind, please also post which are your favorite pasurams and why.

.. Now I begin to see the depth of these paasurams.

Dear Shri sf and Smt. HH,

Thanks for your responses.

Since my views in general are not very popular here, I realize I will only be F student for many. But, in this thread, it is like a perennial F student getting all excited when he unexpectedly and barely passes a class, but the stern parents still are not satisfied expecting an A from him.

Think of me as the last straggler, struggling to finish a marathon race, who suddenly gets a boost of energy when the few remaining die-hard spectators in stadium cheer him on to cross the finish line. Believe me, I am not grovelling for accolades, or even generic kudos like, yea good job, etc. A comment or two about the content will be most welcome.

One more thing, posts like these are perhaps my insurance policy. For all the muck I rake elsewhere, it is posts likes these that make sf and praveen take some pity and not throw me out :).

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Dear Shri Nara,

I am able to learn about SV that too a critical study, right at the beginning. Many thanks. One question that comes foremost in my mind is how and when Srivaishnavam got transformed to a caste-oriented group, whereas from the accounts of its origins one would have thought it to be an egalitarian religion based on Vishnu Bhakti alone.
...If you don't mind, please also post which are your favorite pasurams and why.

Dear HH, this is a difficult question, where do I begin...

There is none more majestic than the opening verse of Swami Nammazvar's Thiruvay Mozhi, "உயர்வர உயர் நலம் உடையவன் எவன் அவன்".

There is none more self effacing than the opening verse of Thirumangai Azhvar's Periya Thirumozhi, "வாடினேன் வாடி வருந்தினேன் மனத்தால்".

There is none more playful than Thirumangai Azhvar's 11.5.3 Periya Thirumozhi, "ஆழ்கடல் சூழ் வையகத்தார் ஏசப் போய், தாழ் குழலார் வைத்த தயிர் உண்டான் காணேடீ".

There is nothing more amorous than Thirumangai Azgvar's Siriya and Periya Thirumadal,
"உத்தமன் தன் பேர் ஆயினவே பிதற்றுவன், பின்னயும் காரார் கடல் போலும் காமத்தர் ஆயினர்"

There is none more deeply engrossed in Lord Ranganatha's beauty than Thirup Paanazhvar's "நீல மேனி ஐயோ! நிறை கொண்டது என் நெஞ்சினையே".

There is none more grief stricken than Kulasekara Perumal's description of Dasaratha's and Devaki's separation,

"மெல்லணை மேல் முன் துயின்றாய் இன்று இனிப்போய் மரத்தின் நீழல்
கல்லணை மேல் கண் துயில கற்றனையோ, காகுத்தா கரிய கோவே"

There is none more poignant than Kulasekara Perumal's total dependence on Lord of Vittuvakodu,

"அரி சினத்தால் ஈன்ற தாய் அகற்றிடினும் மற்று அவள் தன்
அருள் நினைந்தே அழும் குழவி அதுவே போல் இருந்தேனே"

There is none more illustrative of how we must treat others than Thondaradippodi Azhvar's "கொடுமின் கொள்மின்"

There is none more servile to Bhagavathas than Kulasekarap perumaal's "தொண்டர் சேவடிச் செழும் சேறு என் சென்னிக்கு அணிவனே"

There is no more louder call for an egalitarian world than Periyazhvar's call to abandon "பண்டைக் குலத்தை தவிர்ந்து" and join the "தொண்டர் குலம்க்குலம்"

The list can go on, but let me stop.

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There are couple of more points of the many I surely missed that I would like to mention before moving on to the next phrase.

When explaining "கட்டுண்ணப்பண்ணிய", the commentators note that Yesoda sternly challenges Kannan, after binding to the millstone, get out of this if you can and goes about her household chores. Even though Kannan is Sarva Saktan and can easily get out, he remained bound waiting for Yesoda to come and release him. The commentator explain the reason like this:
ஸர்வஜ்ஞனுக்கும் ஒரு அஜ்ஞானம் உண்டு ஸர்வ சக்தனுக்கும் ஒரு அசக்தி உண்டு
The omniscient Lord, by his own choice, acts as though he has no knowledge of the papa/sins committed by his devotees. According to the SV doctrine of Prapatti/Saranagathi, the lord won't even take cognizance of unintentional apachara of Prapanna (one who has performed saranagathi for moksham). For intentional apachara, the Lord is said to give only minor punishments. The exception is if the apachara is committed against a Bhagavatha. Then, the Lord will not forgive. Only the party to whom offence was directed can absolve the perpetrator. The recommended course of action to escape the Lord's wrath is to perform a saranagathi at the feet of the Bhagavatha one offended. This is the purport of ஸர்வஜ்ஞனுக்கும் ஒரு அஜ்ஞானம் உண்டு.

Next, ஸர்வ சக்தனுக்கும் ஒரு அசக்தி உண்டு. Having sucked the life blood out of Puthani when he was no more than a little baby, and took care of a series of attempts against his life, it is laughable to think a simple rope made up of many knots can hold him. It was his love for Yesdoa that made him impotent to break the flimsy rope. The omnipotent remained helplessly impotent when bound by love. This is the அசக்தி of ஸர்வ சக்தன்.

The second point is about "ஆய்ச்சியால் மொத்துண்டு". This phrase from 11.5.5 of Thirumangai Azhvar's Periya Thirumozhi implies Kannan got beaten by the rope first, before getting bound. Commentators describe Kannan's reaction to getting beaten with a verse from Nammazhvar's love poem to the Lord, Thiruviruththam, verse #2:
செழு நீர் தடத்து கயல் மிளிர்ந்தால் ஒப்ப சேயரிக் கண்
அழு நீர் துளும்ப அலமருகின்றன வாழியரோ
முழு நீர் முகில் வண்ணன் கண்ணன் விண் நாட்டவர் மூதுவர் ஆம்
தொழு நீர் இணை அடிக்கே அன்பு சூட்டிய சூழ் குழற்கே
The key term from this pasuram relevant to our ஆய்ச்சியால் மொத்துண்டு" is "அலமருகின்றன". But first let us look at the full meaning of this pasuram.

செழு நீர் தடத்து கயல் = fish in the clear water pond
மிளிர்ந்தால் = splashing left to right
ஒப்ப சேயரிக் கண் = likewise eyes, சேயரி = with beautiful red vains
அழு நீர் துளும்ப = those eyes filled with tears
அலமருகின்றன = the eye lids circling everywhere
வாழியரோ = let us praise this sight

முழு நீர் முகில் = dark cloud filled with water
வண்ணன் கண்ணன் = Kanan of that color
விண் நாட்டவர் மூதுவர் ஆம் = the ones never touched by Samsaram, Nithyasoorees

தொழு நீர் இணை அடிக்கே = worship worthy feet
அன்பு சூட்டிய சூழ் குழற்கே = for this love stricken young lady with beautiful hair

Nammazhvar is contrasting the greatness of Lord Sri Krishna with the second two lines pointing out that he is worshiped by Nithyasoorees without interruption सदा पश्यन्ति सूरय:, with the aparent helplessness of Kannan getting beaten with a rope by a simple cowherd woman. The sight of Kannan eyes all welled up is driving Parangusa Nayaki (Nammazhvar in nayaki bhavam) into a stupor of love.

Now, to the term, அலமர்ந்தான். A upanyasaka interpreted this like shown above, i.e. his eyes were circling with apparent fear while getting beaten (மொத்துண்டு) by Yesoda. The story goes, Parashara Bhattar, the Acharya once removed from Bhagavat Ramanuja, listening to this interpretation, got incensed. He pointed out that there is a second patam for this verse where the term அலர்ந்தான் appears in place of அலமர்ந்தான், which gives an entirely different, but immensely delectable meaning. அலர்ந்தான் means blossomed with joy. So, when he was beaten by Yesoda, one of his own creation, Iswara was overjoyed and it showed with his body shining like a flower in full bloom.

Srimat Azhagiya Singar narrated a small story to illustrate this point. An elderly couple visited their son for holidays and were looking forward to playing with the grandchildren. But, the daughter-in-law, mindful of her in-laws acharam, was over careful and warned the children not to go close to them or to the touch them. So, the old couple expecting the children to be all over them, hugging, sitting on their laps, stroking bald head, etc., got none of it and were extremely disappointed. Like these grandparents, Kannan left Sri Vaikuntam and came down to earth on his holiday to play with his devotees. Unlike the grandparents, he got his wish. This is why when Yesoda meted out punishment by beating him the rope and tying him down to a millstone, Kannan bloomed with joy like a flower அலர்ந்தான்.

...Am intrigued by the fact that Madhurakavi forsake Krishna for Swami Nammazhvar (me thinking its not without reason...while Bhagavan Krishna is known by many, how wud we (the world) know of Swami Nammazhwar if Madhurakavi Alvar had not found him...so perhaps that's why Madhurakavi went in search of Swami Namazvar.)..

Yes HH, you are absolutely correct. The commentators point out and Srimat Azhagiya Singar also emphasized, that the reason Madurakavi leaves kannan behind for service to Nammazhvar, is because Nammazhvar is a devotee of Kannan. The justification for this is illustrated by Shatrugnan being the only one who understood what is in the Lord's mind, பெருமாளின் திருவுள்ளம், and acted accordingly. Lakshmanan insisted he would accompany Perumal to forest, Bharathan argued with Perumal before giving in. Shatrugnan on the other hand, implictely understood what is most pleasing to the Lord and did that, so he is called anagan. Acharyas liken this to serving and showing affection to the children of great Prabhus is more pleasing to the Prabhu than serving the Prabhu himself.

Hope this clarifies.

.. One question that comes foremost in my mind is how and when Srivaishnavam got transformed to a caste-oriented group,

I don't think a casteless SV group was ever realized. IMO, Azhvars and early Acharyas set out a path to slowly grow the ranks of SV and change their mindset. But this slow process did not have a chance to take a firm hold. There was constant internal sniping to keep the caste thing going. Eventually, the castiest forces were able to shut down these progressive tendencies for good. Swami Sri Desikan, who was one of the greatest logicians India ever produced, கவி தர்க்கிக ஸிம்ஹம், drove the final nail, with all the force of logic he could muster.

Thanks, Cheers!
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