archAvathAra anubhavam - nammAzhwAr anubhavam

srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

In the previous article ( we observed thirumazhisaiAzhwAr anubhavam.

We will now move on to nammAzhwAr who enjoyed many dhivyadhEsa emperumAns.

mAmunigaL identifies that nammAzhwAr is "vEdham thamizh cheytha mARan" (வேதம் தமிழ் செய்த மாறன்). All the deep meanings and the essence in the sruthi, etc are given in a very simple manner by nammAzhwAr in his prabhandhams. The essence of vEdham is excellently explained by azhagiya maNavALa perumAL nAyanAr in his AchArya hrudhayam in chUrNikai 16. Let us just see the particular portion from that chUrNikai.

vEdhasAra upaNishadh, sArathara aNuvAga, sArathama gAyathriyil muthalOdhugiRa poruL mudivAna churukku (வேதஸார உபநிஷத், ஸாரதர அநுவாக, ஸாரதம காயத்ரியில் முதலோதுகிற பொருள் முடிவான சுருக்கு).

mAmunigaL in his beautiful vyAkyAnam shows the deep meanings of this portion. Let us see a simple translation of the same now.

  • vEdham - sruthi - nithya (eternal), apaurushEya (not created by anyone) and without any faults
  • vEdhasAra upaNishadh - the essence of vEdham is vEdhAntham
  • sArathara aNuvAga - essence of upanishadh is nArAyaNa aNuvAgham (nArAyaNa sUktham)
  • sArathama gAyathri - essence of nArAyaNa aNuvAgham is the vishNu gAyathri which identifies the 3 thirumAmams of emperumAn which show his vyApthi (omni presence) - nArAyaNa, vAsudhEva, vishNu.
  • muthalOdhugiRa poruL mudivAna churukku -  the name which is first identified among the 3 names, i.e., nArAyaNa and that which explains the meanings of nArAyaNa clearly and briefly, i.e., thirumanthram.
Thus, in this beautiful chUrNikai, nAyanAr establishes that the purpose of vEdham is to reveal the glories of thirumanthram. mAmunigAL in his beautiful commentary shows based on several pramANams from sAsthram that thirumanthram (dhvayam and charama slOkam as well) is the most important aspect in vEdham.

In chUrNikais 208 and 209, nAyanAr explains that, the rahasya thryayam is explained in the 4 prabhandhams of nammAzhwAr.

  • thiruviruththam explains praNavam and nama: padham in thirumanthram
  • thiruVasiriyam explains nArAyaNa padham in thirumanthram
  • periya thiruvanthAdhi explains charama slOkam
  • thiruvAimozhi explains dhvaya mahA manthram
thirumanthram explains artha panchakam clearly. In mumukshupadi piLLai lOkAchAryar explains that thriumanthram contains all that is to be known for a mumukshu. A mumukshu should understand artha panchakam clearly. And this artha panchaka jnAnam is only considered as valid knowledge for the AthmA. All other loukIka knowledge is only good for maintaining our dhEham (body).

artha panchakam is explained by nammAzhwAr in his prabandhams very clearly. This can be understood by the thanian that is recited for thiruvAimozhi.

  • mikka iRai Nilai (மிக்க இறை நிலை) - paramAthma svarUpam
  • meyyAm uyir Nilai (மெய்யாம் உயிர் நிலை) - jIvAthma svarUpam
  • thakka neRi (தக்க நெறி) - upAya svarUpam
  • thadaiyAgith thokkiyalum Uzhvinai (தடையாகித் தொக்கியலும் ஊழ்வினை) - virOdhi svarUpam
  • vAzhvu (வாழ்வு) - prApya svarUpam
And it is because of this reason that nammAzhwAr revealed the great meanings of artha panchakam which is the essence of vEdham, he was identified as "vEdham thamizh cheytha mARan". Just a few words of mAmunigAL has so much meanings - what to speak about his lengthy vyAkyAnams.

Now that we have seen a brief introduction of nammAzhwAr and his prabandhams, we will move on to his archAvathAra anubhavam. We will see how artha panchakam is enjoyed by nammAzhwAr in archAvathAra emperumAns in thiruvAimozhi.

azhagiya maNavALa perumAL nAyanAr identifies in chUrNikai 211 in AchArya hrudhayam that artha panchakam is explained in thiruvAimozhi in 20 padhigams briefly and further explained in detail in the remaining 80 padhigams.

  • paramAthma svarUpam - uyar (1.1), thiN (2.2), aNai (2.8), onRu (4.10)
  • jIvAthma svarUpam - payil (3.7), Eru (4.8), karu (8.8), kaN (8.9)
  • virOdhi svarUpam - vIdu (1.2), chonnAl (3.9), oru (4.1), koNda (9.1)
  • upAya svarUpam - nORRa nAlu (5.7, 5.8, 5.9, 5.10)
  • prApya svarUpam - emmA (2.9), ozhivil (3.3), nedu (8.10), vEy (10.3)
Of these, we will discuss the padhigams specific to archAvathAram for each one in artha panchakam. 

paramAthma svarUpam

chAndhOgya upanishadh declares that "kAraNam thu dhyEya:" - one should meditate on the root cause. It is established in other places in vEdham that emperumAn sriman nArAyaNan is the root cause of everything and his parathvam is accepted clearly.

nammAzhwAr establishes that parathvam of emperumAn in Adhi nAthan and polindhu ninRa pirAn who are the mUla and uthsava mUrthys in AzhwAr thirungari his avathAra sthalam.

In thiruvAimozhi, onRum dhEvum padhigam (4.10), nammAzhwAr shows the supremacy of emperumAn and the dependent nature of all other dhEvathAs clearly. 

nampiLLai in his eedu vyAkyAnam, establishes using several vEdha/vEdhAntha vAkyams how emperumAn is supremely independent and how he stays as antharyAmi in all other dhEvathAs to execute the specific tasks assigned to them. He specifically quotes "kAraNam thu dhyEya:" (one that is the root cause is the object of meditation) and  "yathO vA imANi bhUthANi jAyanthE| yEna jAthANi jIvanthi| yath prayanthyabhisamvisaNthi| thathvijijyAsava| thath brahma" (from whom everything is created, by whom everything is sustained, by whom everything is destroyed, that is to be known as brahmam the great). He further explains using "ekOha vai nArAyaNa  AsIth na brahmA nEshAna:" meaning only sriman nArAyaNan existed in the beginning and others were not existing. All other sAsthra vAkyams which show others as supreme should be understood that emperumAn as antharyAmi who is being glorified there.

Let us see the 5th pAsuram which is the main pAsuram in this padhigam.

ilinGgaththitta purAnNaththIrum chamanNarum chAkkiyarum (இலிங்கத்திட்ட புராணத்தீரும் சமணரும் சாக்கியரும்)
valiNthu vAthu cheyvIrkaLum maRRuNum dheyvamumAgi NinrAn (வலிந்து வாது செய்வீர்களும் மற்றுநும் தெய்வமுமாகி நின்ரான்)
maliNthu cheNNel kavari vIchum thirukkurugUrathanuL (மலிந்து செந்நெல் கவரி வீசும் திருக்குருகூரதனுள்)
poliNdhu NinRa pirAn kanNdIr onRum poy illai pORRuminE (பொலிந்து நின்ற பிரான் கண்டீர் ஒன்றும் பொய் இல்லை போற்றுமினே)

Simple translation:

saivas who are linga purANa nishtargaL, boudhdhAs and jains who dont accept vEdham as pramANam, others like vaisEshikAs who give wrong interpretation to vEdham, and the leaders of all these various groups are all controlled by sriman nArAyaNan. That sriman nArAyaNan has situated himself in thirukkurugUr as polindhu ninRa pirAn amidst beautiful scenic fields. This is nothing but truth, so give up all the other attachments and glorify emperumAn.

nampiLLai shows some great meanings in this pAsura vyAkyAnam. 

  • He identifies anya dhEvathAs like rudhran are glorified in thAmasa purANas. He also identifies that if a poet is asked to glorify a buffalo as an elephant he will do that. The same way these thAmasa purANas glorify other dhEvathAs by glorifying them with no real substance.
  • He also identifies through vEdha vAkyams that emperumAn is the antharyAmi for everyone and it is he who controls every one and everything in both nithya vibhUthi and leelA vibhUthi.
  • He beautifully explains "polindhu" - polindhu means "glowing with beauty" generally. nampiLLai explains, when emperumAn descends from paramapadham in to samsAram, he is not affected by the defects in this world, instead his greatness increases especially in archAvathAram where he is here to just enjoy being controlled by his bhakthas (like thirumazhisai AzhwAr's interaction with yathOkthAkAri and ArAvamuthan).
Thus his parathvam and soulabhyam are manifested  wonderfully in archAvathAram.

jIvAthma svarUpam

jIvAthmA is generally identified as sEshan, parathanthran to emperumAn and also one who has knowledge (chEthanan). In karu mAnikka malai (8.9) padhigam, AzhwAr identifies the jIvAthma as ananyArha sEshan to kutta nAttu thiruppuliyUr emperumAn (mAyappirAn).

In this particular padhigam, AzhwAr is taking the mood/bhAvam of  a thOzhi (friend) of parAngusa nAyaki who is already married to mAyappirAn. But her parents (unaware of this) are looking to get parAngusa nAyaki married to some one else. At that time, parAngusa nAyaki's friend is telling her parents that she is suspecting that parAngusa nAyaki is already married to emperumAn based on the fact that she smells thiruthuzhAi all over her.

Let us see a beautiful pAsuram (8.9.1) from this padhigam.

anRi maRROrupAyamen? ivaLaNthanNthuzhAy kamazhthal (அன்றி மற்றோருபாயமென்? இவளந்தண்துழாய் கமழ்தல்)
kunRa mAmanNimAda mALigaik kOlak kuzhAnGgaL malgi (குன்ற மாமணிமாட மாளிகைக் கோலக் குழாங்கள் மல்கி)
thendhichaiththilathampurai kuttaNAttuth thiruppuliyUr (தென்திசைத்திலதம்புரை குட்டநாட்டுத் திருப்புலியூர்)
NinRa mAyappirAn thiruvuLLam ivaL NErpattathE (நின்ற மாயப்பிரான் திருவுள்ளம் இவள் நேர்பட்டதே)

Simple translation:
kutta nAttu thiruppuliyUr is described here beautifully as a place which is filled with beautiful palaces (with lots of pearls, beeds and decorations) and is like a landmark for the southern part of bhAratha dhEsam. mAyappirAn emperumAn who resides there has directly blessed parAngusa nAyaki to be fully situated in emperumAn only without thinking about anything else. This parAngusa nAyaki on whom we can smell the thiruththuzhAi has no other means other than emperumAn.

In this pAsuram, jIvAthmA's ananyArha sEshathvam (that we are only sub-servient to emperumAn) is established by AzhwAr. This is explained in the "ukAram" in praNavam. 

Thus we have seen the jIvAthma svarUpam in relation to archAvathAra emperumAn.

 virOdhi svarUpam

Finally we have to see how AzhwAr identifies the virOdhi svarUpam in relation to archAvathAra emperumAn. 

In oru NAyagamAi (4.1) padhigam, AzhwAr identifies that ishvaryam and kaivalyam are to be given up completely. When we have even a little bit of attachment to ishvaryam and kaivalyam, that stays as a hurdle in our spiritual progress. This padhigam was offered by emperumAnAr as mangaLAsAsanam to thirunArAyaNapuram emperumAn as it aptly relates to that emperumAn.

In this padhigam, the impermanent nature of ishvaryam and the defects in AthmAnubhavam (kaivalyam) are clearly explained.

It is explained that ishvaryam (material wealth both in this earth and svargam) that is generated is destined to be lost - as it is seen in this world that even great kings some days become completely wealthless and when some one makes it to svargam, once his puNyam is exhausted he comes back to the earth to accumulate puNyam/pApam here.

As far as kaivalyam is concerned, it is compared to some one eating their own body parts and thinking that as enjoyment. Even though this is also a type of mOksham, since it is not apt for jIvAthma svarUpam to enjoy oneself, it is condemned by our AzhwArs and AchAryas.

If we gave up these two meaningless pursuits (of ishvaryam and kaivalyam) and engage in worshipping the lotus feet of thirunArAyaNan emperumAn, we are destined to go to paramapadham.

Thus we have seen the virOdhi svarUpam in relation to archAvathAra emperumAn.

upAya svarUpam

sharaNAgathi is identified as the means to attain emperumAn by AzhwArs. nammAzhwAr performs sharaNAgathi in five padhigams in thiruvAimozhi.
  • nORRa nOnbilEn (5.7) - vAnamAmalai dheivanAyagan - shows his Akinchanyam (that AzhwAr has nothing to offer to emperumAn)
  • ArAvamuthE (5.8) - thirukkudanthai ArAvamuthan - shows his ananya gathithvam (that he has no one else to go to)
  • mAnEi nOkku (5.9) - thiruvallavAzh kOlppirAn - shows his bhakthi pAravasyam (extreme level of affection for emperumAn)
  • piRanthvArum (5.10) - kaNNan emperumAn - enjoys emperumAn's kalyANa guNams and performs sharaNAgathi
  • ulagamunda peruvAyA (6.10) - thirumalai thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn - surrendering to emperumAn with the purushakAram of pirAtti explaining the meanings of the first part of dhvaya mahA manthram.
It is explained that the sharaNAgathi performed to thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn is the most apt one and it shows how much love nammAzhwAr has for thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn. Let us enjoy the 10th pAsuram from this padhigam which is the essence of this padhigam.
 agalagillEn iRaiyumenRu alarmElmanGgaiyuRaimArbA (அகலகில்லேன் இறையுமென்று அலர்மேல்மங்கையுறைமார்பா)
NigarilpugazhAy ulagam mUnRudaiyAy ennaiyALvAnE (நிகரில்புகழாய் உலகம் மூன்றுடையாய் என்னையாள்வானே)
Nigarilamarar munikkanNanGgaL virumbum thiruvEnGgadaththAnE (நிகரிலமரர் முனிக்கணங்கள் விரும்பும் திருவேங்கடத்தானே)
pugalonRillA adiyEn unnadikkIzhamarNthu puguNthEnE (புகலொன்றில்லா அடியேன் உன்னடிக்கீழமர்ந்து புகுந்தேனே)

Simple translation:

(AzhwAr is addressing emperumAn in this pAsuram and performing sharaNAgathi here.)
You are the one who makes pirAtti say "I wont leave from your heart even for a micro moment", you are the one who is full of vAthsalyam, you are the one who is sarva svAmi, you are full of souseelyam (magnanimity) and you are full of soulabhyam. adiyEn (who is completely dependent on you, your sEshan and parathanthran) who does not have any other go, surrenders unto your lotus feet.

This directly relates to the pUrva vAkyam of dhvaya mahA manthram.

  • sri is explained by alarmEl mangai
  • mathupu is explained by agalagillEn iRaiyum
  • nArAyaNa is explained by  NigarilpugazhAy, ulagam mUnRudaiyAy, ennaiyALvAnE and thiruvEnkataththAnE.
  • charaNau is explained by unnadi.
  • sharaNam is also explained by unnadi since thiruvadi is the upAyam for AzhwAr.
  • prapadhyE is explained by pugunthEnE.
In addition to what is in dhvayam, here AzhwAr identifies the jivAthma svarUpam clearly using pugalonRillA adiyEn. Here he establishes that he is completely dependent on emperumAn and has Akinchanyam and ananya gathithvam fully which are required for a sharaNAgathan. 

nampiLLai, in the vyAkyAnam for this pAsuram, has explained emperumAn's upAyathvam and pirAtti's purushakArathvam in great detail. pirAtii's charama slOkam "pApAnAm vA" is explained wonderfully and her mercy towards every jIvAthmA is fully explained in this vyAkyAnam by nampiLLai.

Thus we have seen that upAya svarUpam svarUpam is explained by AzhwAr in relating to archAvathAra emperumAn.

prApya svarUpam 

dhvaya mahA manthram has two parts - the first part is performing sharaNAgthi to emperumAn and the second part is requesting for kainkaryam from emperumAn. AzhwAr performed sharaNAgathi in agalagillEn pAsuram. His kainkarya prArthanai is done in ozhivil kAlamellAm padhigam (3.3). In dhvaya mahA manthram it is explained that, we should serve sriman nArAyaNan with his divine consort sri mahAlakshmi constantly in many different ways, keeping in mind that any Anandham (joy) that comes out of the kainkaryam should be to emperumAn only. We being jIvAthmAs (with knowledge) will also have a bit of Anandham looking at the joy of emperumAn, but the focus is always on emperumAn.

AzhwAr's attachment for thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn is limitless. When AzhwAr wanted to serve emperumAn constantly, emperumAn manifests himself as thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn in front of AzhwAr, making AzhwAr glorify him and request him for kainkaryam in thirumalai. Let us see the first pAsuram from this padhigam.

ozhivil kAlamellAm udanAy manni (ஒழிவில் காலமெல்லாம் உடனாய் மன்னி)
vazhuvilA adimai cheyya vEnNdum NAm (வழுவிலா அடிமை செய்ய வேண்டும் நாம்)
thezhikuralaruvith thiruvEnGgadaththu ezhil koL chOthi (தெழிகுரலருவித் திருவேங்கடத்து எழில் கொள் சோதி)
eNthai thaNthai thaNthaikkE (எந்தை தந்தை தந்தைக்கே)

Simple translation:

In the beautiful hills of thirumalai where waterfalls makes very loud noise, to thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn who is the leader of our thoNdar kulam, we (who are completely surrendered to him) should stay with him constantly and serve him in all places, all the time and in all different ways without the defect of looking for personal happiness.

nampILLai shows that just like iLaya perumAL served sithai and rAman throughout his life, AzhwAr also desires to perform several kainkaryams without any self-interest. He also explains beautifully the glories of kainkaryam to emperumAn and the difficulties in doing kainkaryam for anya dhEvathAs. Finally nampiLLai explains that the whole meaning of thirumanthram is available in this pAsuram itself.

Also, in the 4th pAsuram, AzhwAr says "NIchanEn NiRai onRumilEn, en kanN pAcham vaiththa param chudar chOdhikkE" (நீசனேன் நிறை ஒன்றுமிலேன், என் கண் பாசம் வைத்த பரம் சுடர் சோதிக்கே). While he says he is very lowly, he also glorifies emperumAn that emperumAn started glowing so much after showing attachment towards AzhwAr.

Also, in many pAsurams, AzhwAr takes parAngusa nAyaki bhAvam and speaks like a girl who wants to see emperumAn. It is explained by nAyanAr in AchArya hrudhayam that "jnYAnaththil than pEchchu, prEmaththil penN pEchchu"  (ஜ்ஞானத்தில் தன் பேச்சு, ப்ரேமத்தில் பெண் பேச்சு) which means when AzhwAr's attachment for prApyam increases so much, he takes the bhAvam of a pirAtti and longs for emperumAn. This can be wonderfully observed in "enganEyO annaimIrgAL" (4.5) padhigam, where AzhwAr explains her love towards thirukkurungudi emperumAn.

Finally, talking about archAvathAra emperumAn, AzhwAr shows the great importance of gruhArchAi (emperumAn in homes) in cheyya thAmarai kaNNan (3.6) padhigam. 

In this padhigam, 9th pAsuram,  AzhwAr says "avan ivan enRu kUzhEnmin, NenchinAl NinaippAn yavan, avanAgum NeeL kadal vanNnNanE" (அவன் இவன் என்று கூழேன்மின், நெஞ்சினால் நினைப்பான் யவன், அவனாகும் நீள் கடல் வண்ணனே) meaning dont doubt that archAvathara emperumAn is as good as paramapadhanAthan for us to surrender and relieve us from our miseries because emperumAn takes the form which is desired by his bhakthan (so he is the same person).

In the vyAkyAnam, nampiLLai shows a wonderful nirvAham of mudhaliANdAn for "avan ivan enRu kUzhEnmin". ANdAn says dont think that paramapadhanAthan has come down to samsAram as this archAvathAra emperumAn, but think that this archAvathAra emperumAn has gone upto paramapadham as paramapadhanAthan.

It is very important to understand that emperumAn is not just available in dhivyadhEsam temples. emperumAn takes many different forms in many different places like village/city/overseas temples, mutts, thirumALigais and most importantly our own homes. emperumAn coming down to our own homes where we dont follow any Agamam, AchAram, anushtAnam, etc., is the pinnacle of emperumAn's soulabhyam and his love and attachment towards all jIvAthmAs especially his bhakthas. In jithanthE sthOthram, it is said that all his names, forms, etc., are only for the purpose of satisfying his bhakthas. So, we should also ensure that we take care of him very well. Our pUrvAchAryas have explained that it is the foremost duty of every srivaishnava to perform thiruvArAdhanam to his emperumAn at home without fail. For details on thiruvArAdhanam please see

Thus we have seen the prApya svarUpam in relation to archAvathAra emperumAn. 

With this we have seen how nammAzhwAr was fully immersed in archAvathAra anubhavam and demonstrating the artha panchakam through many pAsurams dedicated specifically to archAvathAra emperumAn.

Please see for a listing of the various archAvathAra emperumAns and their unique guNams as enjoyed by AzhwAr in thiruAimozhi and as listed by azhagiya maNavALa perumAl nAyanAr. In the near future, adiyen will discuss this in detail in nAyanAr's archAvathAra anubhavam.

In the next article we will enjoy madhurakavi AzhwAr's archAvathAra anubhavam.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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