perumAL thirumozhi - sharaNAgathi at its best

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

kulasEkara AzhwAr is fondly called kulasEkara perumAL. It was his great attachment towards perumAL (srI rAman) and many similarities with srI rAman (being born in kshathriya vamsam, thirunakshathram being punarpUsam, being most righteous, etc) which earned him the name kulasEkara perumAL.

perumAL thirumozhi is one of the greatest expositions of the principle of sharaNAgathi towards bhagavAn. There are 10 padhigams (105 pAsurams) in this dhivya prabhandham. In this article, we will go through the most beautiful and esoteric meanings that are present in abundance in this dhivya prabhandham. Each padhigam is explained briefly using the avathArikai (introduction) of most merciful periyavAchAn piLLai's wonderful vyAkyAnam (commentary) and the phala pAsuram (the last pAsuram which explains the result of reciting/understanding the pAsuram).

1. iruLiriyach chudar maNigaL - mangaLAsAsanam to srIranganAthan 

kulasEkara AzhwAr acquired bhakthi rUpApanna gyAnam (knowledge which has matured in to bhakthi) by the causeless mercy of srIman nArAyaNan (who is fully situated in knowledge and bliss, who is filled with all auspicious qualities, who is the master of both nithya vibhUthi and leelA vibhUthi and who is the antharyAmi (in-dwelling paramAthmA) of everything/everyone). Since AzhwAr was divinely blessed by emperumAn, he develops great attachment towards emperumAn and since the ultimate state of bliss is acquired by enjoying the auspicious qualities of bhagavAn, he desires to enjoy the same in srIrangam as well. Just like nammAzhwAr who desired to enjoy bhagavAn's qualities with his devotees, kulasEkara AzhwAr also desires to enjoy and serve emperumAn along with other devotees of bhagavAn.

In this padhigam AzhwAr fully immerses in enjoying the various aspects of emperumAn like his parathvam (supremacy), his sauseelyam (magnanimity), his akila lOka sharaNyathvam (being fully capable of giving shelter to everyone), his krupai (mercy), his ability to remove all hurdles in our endeavours towards him, etc.

In the last pAsuram, AzhwAr declares that the ones who learns and masters this padhigam, will be able to blissfully serve the lotus feet of periya perumAL who is full of auspicious qualities.

2. thEttarum thiRal thEn - mangaLAsAsanam to srIranganAthan's devotees

For the ones who surrender to bhagavAn, naturally many auspicious qualities will develop. 

ANukUlyasya sanGkalpa: prAthikUlyasya varjaNam  rakshisyathi ithi vichvAsO gOpthrthvE varanNam thathA Athma NikshEpa kArpanNyE sadh vidhA charanNAgathi:

ஆநுகூல்யஸ்ய ஸங்கல்ப: ப்ராதிகூல்யஸ்ய வர்ஜநம்  ரக்ஷிஸ்யதி இதி விச்வாஸோ கோப்த்ர்த்வே வரணம் ததா ஆத்ம நிக்ஷேப கார்ப்பண்யே ஸத் விதா சரணாகதி:

Doing what is favourable for bhagavAn/bhAgavathas, avoiding what is unfavourable for bhagavAn/bhAgavathas, having strong faith that bhagavAn will protect us, accepting him as our refuge, offering oneself to him and humility are six qualities of the ones who surrender.

Of these, in the first 2 padhigams, AzhwAr explains Anukulyasya sankalpam. In the first padhigam, favourable attitude towards bhagavAn is exhibited and in this padhigam favourable attitude towards bhAgavathas is exhibited. Both are required. 

bhagavAn being avAptha samastha kAma (one who has no unfulfilled desires) cannot be done any favours especially in paramapadham. But when he descends to samsAram and stays in archA vigraham (form), he completely depends on his devotees for his bathing, eating, dressing up and caring. So, it is the utmost responsibility of the devotees to serve bhagavAn's archA form in dhivya dhEsams and other kshEthrams.

While bhagavAn being the most supreme, he can protect himself. But on the other hand, bhAgavathas being jIvAthmAs with limited capabilities, must be the object of our service and care - since they are the ones who really need it. And this aspect of bhAgavatha kainkaryam is greatly explained in this padhigam.

In the last pAsuram, AzhwAr declares that the ones who fully understand this padhigam, will accomplish bhAgavatha sEshathvam (being subservient to the devotees) which was most desired by him.

3. meyyil vAzhkkai - giving up attachments to unfavourable association

In this padhigam, prAthikUlyasya varjanam is explained. Previously, the importance of associating with devotees is emphasised by AzhwArs. In this padhigam, AzhwAr shows his detachment towards the ones who are not favourable towards emperumAn. It is natural that samsAris are always going behind wealth, fame, etc - everything centered on their body and mind. To differentiate ourselves from samsAris, we should avoid any association with them and also try to not behave like them. After all if we are to be prapannas, we should try to exhibit some qualities for that. Serving the devotees can only happen if the devotees accept us and our service. But giving up the attachments is completely with us. It is the same sAsthram which shows our engagement with devotees that shows our dis-engagement with others. True realization means mixing with devotees who are situated fully in sathva guNam (mode of goodness).

prAthikUlyam (unfavourable attitude) is thinking that we are the body, being attached to materialistic pleasures and not thinking beyond the bodily platform. We have to overcome these to be fully situated as a devotee. Just like srI prahlAdhaAzhwAn who first tried to help his father and srI vibhIshaNAzhwAn who first tried to help his brother - but eventually both of them gave up their relationship and surrendered to bhagavAn to protect themselves, we should also try to help others, but when our position itself is challenged, we should simply give up the attachments and take shelter of bhagavAn.

In the last pAsuram, AzhwAr says, one who follows this principle of avoiding unnecessary association, can live happily even in this samsAram (which is full of sorrows) by fully engaging in kainkaryam.

4. UnERu chelvam - kainkarya prArthanai at the lotus feet of thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn

Even after being favourable towards bhagavAn and bhAgavathas, giving up attachments towards others, developing great taste to enjoy bhagavAn's divine auspicious qualities, AzhwAr is wondering why he is not getting engaged by bhagavAn in kainkaryam. AzhwAr understands that bhagavAn is always waiting to engage everyone in his kainkaryam (because he is equal to all) and realizes that he needs to perform kainkarya prArthanai (revealing his desire for engaging in kainkaryam), he does that at the lotus feet of thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn. We can see nammAzhwAr also prayed for un-interrupted, pure kainkaryam at the lotus feet of thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn in ozhivil kAlamellAm (thiruvAimozhi 3.3) padhigam.

In this padhigam, AzhwAr desires to be something in thiruvEnkatam hill. He desires to be a fish in the pond, a tree, a bird, etc., and finally says that it does not matter what it is, he wants to be something there. ananthAzhwAn explains that AzhwAr would even not mind being thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn himself.  bhattar explains AzhwAr saying that "neither I need to know I am there, nor thiruvEnkatamudiyAn needs to know that I am there - I just have to be there". Also, AzhwAr reveals the most confidential principle of our sampradhAyam which is achithvath pArathanthriyam (showing utter dependency on lord like insentient) - we should be like achith (insentient) in being completely controlled by bhagavAn but we should also show some joy in being controlled by bhagavAn to prove that we are chith (sentient/knowledgable).

In the last pAsuram, AzhwAr says that, one who understands this padhigam will become completely dependent on thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn.

5. tharu thuyaram thadAyEl - AzhwAr manifesting ananya gathithvam (devoid of any other refuge) towards thiruviththuvakkOttamA

thirumanthram explains ananyArha sEshathvam (total servitude to bhagavAn alone and no one else). ahankAram and mamakAram. ahankAram means anAnthmani Athma budhdhi (considering body, mind, etc as AthmA/Self) and mamakAram means asvE sva budhdhi (considering some one else's property as our own). These two are the root cause for one's binding in the samsAram according to sAsthram. This is common for all jIvAthmAs, what to speak about great emperors (who have more opportunity for such ahankAram and mamakAram) due to their high position. Unless the jIvAthmA becomes completely accessible to bhagavAn, there is no true realisation. Even when one becomes fully surrendered, if there is a tinge of ahankAram and mamakAram, the true realisation will not manifest.

According to sAsthram, it is said that srIman nArAyaNan is the master of the entire creation and once we are surrendered to him, we should not look out for any other refuge. And being surrendered to him means being surrendered to his devotees as well. AzhwAr being situated at this level, thinks about why he still has not achieved emperumAn and realises that he is yet to show that srIman nArAyaNan is the only refuge for him. In this padhigam, AzhwAr establishes that only thiruviththuvakkOttamA is his master and controller and neither he is dependent on himself, nor he is dependent on any one else.

In this padhigam, AzhwAr gives many examples to establish ananya gathithvam. Let us see a couple here:
  • When a mother gets angry with a child, since the child is fully dependent on the mother and no one else, the child still goes to the mother only. The same way, even if we become target of emperumAn's anger due to our sins, we should only depend on him.
  • When a doctor is even cutting/applying great heat to cure a disease, the patient understands that the doctor is doing it for the ultimate benefit of the patient and co-operates. The same way, whatever emperumAn gives us, we should accept that with gratitude.
In the last pAsuram, AzhwAr declares that, the ones who understand these 10 pAsurams, will not reach narakam - here narakam means samsAram, since for prapannas being in samsAram is like being in narakam only.

6. AzhwAr's nAyikA bhAvam with kaNNan emperumAn

After glorifying archAvathAra emperumAns, AzhwAr desires to enjoy vibhavAvathArams. Of those, krishNAvathAram being the most recent, AzhwAr assumes the mood of gOpis who enjoyed wonderful pastimes with krishNan. Having full knowledge about the relationship between him and bhagavAn, she assumes the mood of a pirAtti (srI mahAlakshmi) and starts having sweet quarrels with emperumAn.

nammAzhwAr manifested his firm nature while assuming the form of gOpis in minnidai madavAr (thiruvAimozhi 6.2) padhigam. thirumangai AzhwAr manifested his most tender nature while assuming the form of a gOpi. Here kulasEkara AzhwAr manifests his princely qualities (being born in a kshathriya family) while assuming the form of gOpis.

krishNAvathAram is the most recent incarnation of srIman nArAyaNan. That is why many AzhwArs sung many pAsurams in relationship with kaNNan emperumAn. As AzhwAr has the same love of the many gOpis put together towards emperumAn, he starts manifesting divine pastimes with emperumAn.

In the last pAsuram, AzhwAr declares that the one who repeats these pAsurams (even without having the same mood as AzhwAr himself), they will have no sorrows in this life and after. For prapannas, separation from emperumAn is sorrow.

7. AzhwAr assuming dhEvaki's mood and feeling for missing out on krishNan's childhood activities

After understanding that AzhwAr has the eternal relationship with bhagavAn which even allows him to have sweet quarrels with him, he feels for having lost having such relationship thus far. Reflecting on that, AzhwAr assumes the mood of dhEvaki pirAtti who gave birth to kaNNan emperumAn but missed out on the whole of childhood activities.

In this padhigam, AzhwAr beautifully brings out kaNNan emperumAn's childhood pastimes. He glorifies yasOdhai's great divinity and being so fortunate to fully witness the navanItha chouryam (butter theft), etc of kaNNan emperumAn. AzhwArs fully become immersed when they think about kaNNan emperumAn's childhood activities due to him being the most supreme still making himself fully controllable by the gOpis and gOpas of vrindhAvan. AzhwAr finally glorifies dhEvaki also since she was fortunate to carry emperumAn and give birth to him and finally witness his divine childhood pastimes later (after kamsa's death) by the divine grace of emperumAn.

In the last pAsuram, AzhwAr declares that the ones who can sing these pAsurams with tune will enjoy emperumAn in paramapadham where there is unlimited bliss.

8. AzhwAr assuming kausalyA's mood and feeling for srI rAman in thirukkaNNapuram sauri perumAL

AzhwAr thinks about how kausalyA had the fortune of taking care of her dear son, srI rAman. AzhwAr looking at thirukkaNNapuram sauri perumAL, shares the same feeling of kausalyA and brings out the glories of sauri perumAL. AzhwAr sings 10 pAsurams which brings out the great motherly affection of kausalyA in the form of singing soft lullaby to induce srI rAman to sleep. srI rAman's vIryam (bravery) and supremacy over all dhEvathas are beautifully presented in these pAsurams by AzhwAr. AzhwAr's great attachment to srI rAman can be wonderfully understood through these pAsurams.

In the last pAsuram, AzhwAr declares that the ones who understand these pAsurams, will become very matured and developed in their bhakthi. This maturity is nothing but showing vAthsalyam (motherly affection) towards emperumAn. This is the most advanced stage of bhakthi - i.e., mangaLAsAsanam (constantly praying for bhagavAn's well being) - periyAzhwAr and emperumAnAr were situated in this mood always and is specifically glorified by piLLai lOkAchAryar in his srIvachana bhUshaNam and maNavALa mAmunigaL in his upadhEsa rathina mAlai.

9. AzhwAr assuming dhasarathan's mood and feeling great sorrow over the separation from srI rAman

AzhwAr enjoyed kausalyA's great fortune previously. In this padhigam, AzhwAr assumes the mood of dhasarathan who enjoyed srI rAman's childhood activities but when srI rAman grew up, dhasarathan lost the opportunity to have bhagavath anubhavam since he sent srI rAman on kaikEyi's request to vanavAsam (forest dwelling) for 14 years.

AzhwAr, assuming the mood of dhasarathan cries out due to great sorrow that srI rAman being the most tender prince (along with equally tender sIthA pirAtti and iLaya perumAL (lakshmaNan) had to go and suffer in the forest. He desires to have srI rAman as his son, birth after birth. AzhwAr also highlights the beauty and graceful appearance of srI rAman in this padhigam.

In the last pAsuram, AzhwAr declares that the ones who understand these 10 pAsurams will engage in bhagavath vishayam not engage in inappropriate actions. In this context, we can also understand that, srIvaishnavas who understand the importance of bhagavath vaibhavam, when posed with a challenge of chosing between visEsha dharmam (bhagavath kainkaryam - special principles) and sAmAnya dharmam (karmAnushtAnam, etc - ordinary principles), they will give more importance to bhagavath kainkaryam. Dhasarathan chose to follow sAmAnya dharmam (fulfilling the vow to his wife) over visEsha dharmam (protecting emperumAn) and ended up losing emperumAn fully.

10. AzhwAr glorifying thiruchithrakUdam gOvindharAjan emperumAn as srI rAman

emperumAn descends to dhivyadhEsams in archA vigraham (form) with great love towards his devotees. One such dhivya dhEsam is thillai thiruchithrakUdam where emperumAn is in the form gOvindharAjan. Just like srI vAlmiki bhagavAn sung srI rAmAyaNam in glorification of srI rAman, AzhwAr beautifully sings the whole charithram of srI rAmAyaNam in just 10 pAsurams and relates his anubhavam to gOvindharAjan emperumAn as if emperumAn is enacting the charithram visually in front of AzhwAr at present.

thiruchithrakUdam - gOvindharAjar with ubhaya nAchiyAr, srI rAmar with ubhaya nAchiyAr

In the 10th pAsuram, AzhwAr beautifully explains that gOvindharAjan emperumAn is manifesting all the qualities of parampadhanAthan fully here and ofcourse more since sausIlyam (magnanimity), saulabhyam (easy accessibility), etc have no real manifestation in paramapadham (since everyone in paramapadham is fully realised and have no defects).

In the last pAsuram, AzhwAr declares that the ones who understand these pAsurams, will ascend to paramapadham and enjoy the unlimited divine auspicious qualities of emperumAn in paramapadham.

Thus we have seen a little glimpse of this wonderful perumAL thirumozhi, where kulasEkara AzhwAr brings out the wonderful aspects of sharaNAgathi - engaging in favourable activities towards bhagavAn/bhAgavathas, avoiding unfavourable activities, having great faith in emperumAn, accepting him as our protector, offering oneself to bhagavAn fully and showing great humility.

kulasEkara AzhwAr's archAvathara anubhavam can be viewed at

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

Sources: 6000 padi guru paramparA prabhAvam, perumAL thirumozhi vyAkyAnam

archived in, also visit, 


  1. Wonderful anubhavam, reading your post, swamin. dhanyosmi krishnan

  2. "True realization means mixing with devotees who are situated fully in sathva guNam (mode of goodness)."

    I don't get the above statement. Can you explain it further in a different manner?


  3. We should understand that we are jIvAthmAs who are totally surrendered to emperumAn. That is the first stage. The highest stage is to understand that jIvAthmA is totally surrendered to srIvaishNavas (who are fully devoted to emperumAn and srIvaishNavas). Once we understand this fully, then automatically we will tend to associate towards such srIvaishNavas and learn bhagavath vishayam from them all the time.
    adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

    1. Thank you very much. I understand now what you mean by 'True realization'.