The Glory of Tiruvirutham

Nammazhwar being graced by the causeless mercy of the Supreme was able to realise the defects of this world, the misery associated with the cycle of births and deaths and the eternal happiness awaiting one in the Lord’s upper abode (Vaikuntam). However, the Supreme Lord’s grace notwithstanding, Nammazhwar continued to remain in this very world and the defects of material existence deterred his stay here. Having attained the knowledge of discerning the right from the wrong, Nammazhwar pleaded to the Lord to remove him from this world and to take him up to the VAikunTam. On the one hand, Nammazhwar was happy that he had realized the Lord in His true form while on the other hand, he was forlorn that he was still being kept in this world in a physical body associated with earthly defects. It is this longing of Nammazhwar that runs throughout the Tiruvirutham. Nampillai demonstrates this to us from Nammazhwar’s choice of words from the first song ‘inninra neermai’ to the last one ‘polla aruvinai’, indicating that his plea to the Lord, to remove the impediments to salvation, goes on forever.

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Eedu Anubhavam – Ivaiyum Avaiyum

In the preceding “Odum Pulleri” thiruvaimozhi, Nammazhwar enjoyed the ‘Arjava’ guNa of the supreme Lord. Azhwar’s yearning for the Supreme Lord grew manifold after enjoying His Arjava Guna at the end of the previous decad.

In this decad, we see how the Supreme Lord, the One with an eye for taste, bound by Azhwar’s devotion, locks Himself in divine union with the latter and thereby relishes/finds pleasure in latter’s company.

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Eedu Anubhavam – Amchiraya Mada Narai

In the Amchiraya Mada Naarai padhigam (அஞ்சிறைய மடநாராய்), Azhwar turns despondent at his separation from Emperuman. He assumes a feminine form (நாயிகா பாவம்) and sends emissaries in the form of birds to appeal to Emperuman’s அபராத ஸஹத்வம் – a quality whereby He graces His devotees by being tolerant of their mistakes.

We shall begin the preamble to this Padhigam with an interesting anecdote. Once while Nanjeeyar was giving his discourses on Thiruvaimozhi, one of his listeners abruptly left the place, murmuring that the discourse had turned into a sensualist’s love conversation. In the first three decads, Azhwar had exalted Emperuman’s omnipotence (பரத்வம்),worthiness of worship (பஜநீயத்வம்) and ease of accessibility (ஸௌலப்யம்).The listener in question appreciated the sublime nature of the Lord described in these topics. But when the topic shifted to Amchiraya padhigam where a form of love to God was described by Nanjeeyar, taking analogies from the experience of mankind in this world, the disciple turned away from it, thinking that this kind of treatment is a shock to good taste and outrageous to his wisdom. Nanjeeyar could not but deplore the failure of his listener because the form of love expressed here is of an elevating kind.

Nammazhwar, having been blessed with the knowledge that dispels all ignorance (மயர்வு அற மதி நலம்),immediately grew desirous of Moksham (ஆர்த்த பிரபன்னன்) and wanted to leave this world of nescience to enjoy the permanent company of emperuman in paramapadham. However, emperuman distanced Himself from Azhwar, thereby increasing the latter’s feeling of separation for two reasons, as Nampillai indicates to us in the introduction to this padhigam:

  • ஆமத்தில் சோறு பாதகம்: That is, when one suffers from indigestion, feeding him more food is only going to worsen his medical condition. Such a person should ideally starve until his metabolism becomes normal so that he can take in further food. Similarly, Azhwar, by virtue of being in Samsaram, is still suffering from the ஆமம் of samsaram. The consumption (போக்யம்) of Bhagavad anubhavam will not be digestible by Him unless he is starved by emperuman’s separation.
  • When emperuman causelessly showers His grace on the jivAtma, the latter should not be in a position to deny it (விலக்காமை). So, emperuman distanced Himself from Azhwar such that the thirst for moksham grows more in Azhwar and thereby makes him undeniable of accepting His grace.

Emperuman’s manliness (புருஷோத்தமத்வம்) is so powerful that it forces all jivAtmas to assume feminine forms in order to enjoy it. But an important question in this juncture is whether it is appropriate for Azhwar to assume the form of pirAtti in her nayika bhAvam. The answer to this question has been clarified in the கடிமலர் பாவை சாம்ய ஷட்கம்in Acharya Hrudhayam. Nayanar provides samAdhanam for this question by explaining that all jivAtmas can be considered pirAttis of emperuman as they are dependent upon Him (பரதந்த்ரம்), owe servitude to only Him (ஆநந்யார்ஹ சேஷத்வம்), have only Him as their means (அநந்ய ஷரணத்வம்), are eligible objects of His enjoyment (அநந்ய போக்யத்வம்), obey his orders (ததேக நிர்வாஹத்வம்) and exhibit fits of despair when separated from Him and enjoy happiness when being with Him (கூடி இருந்தால் தரித்தல்).

The next question that Nampillai raises in the introduction section is the need to employ birds as emissaries. Nampillai reasons out this question thusly:

  1. The accomplices of Parankusa Nayaki, due to their unbridled love for her, are themselves despondent at azhwar’s plight that they lack the strength and capability to go as emissaries on behalf of Azhwar and
  2.  The birds have பக்ஷபாதம் for Azhwar, i.e. they will obey nayaki’s words. In addition, the birds are endowed with wings which can take them to emperuman’s abode with the message of nayaki, something that is not possible for Nayaki’s accomplices.

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