October 2007

Lord Rama, the seventh of the Dasavatharam (Ten Incarnations) of Lord Vishnu, is the most worshipped God in the country, with more epics written in his name of which the Valmiki Ramayana in Sanskrit and Kamba Ramayana in Tamil being the two most prominent ones. Those great epics were not just because Lord Rama was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, but also for the qualities and the character Lord Rama possessed. A loving son to his parents, a kind brother to his younger brothers, a loyal husband to his wife, a generous and great king to the subjects of his kingdom, a merciful but brave warrior to his enemy – Ravana, A true friend to his friends, A wise guide to his disciples (Hanuman) and so on. The qualities that Lord Rama embraces are the most liked qualities of everybody. A man with these qualities having epics written in his name is no wonder to us. And also the man possessing these divine qualities can be considered God. People have realised this and have sung many songs, of which the ones that inspired me a lot are from Kambar and Sivavaakiyar. Yes, Sivavaakiyar he wrote Sivavaakiyam and then became a Vaishnavite and his name was called Thirumazhisai Azhwar, which is when he sang the song about Lord Vishnu and his avatars.

The following two songs are by the Kavi Chakravarthi Kambar

“Naadiya Porul Kaikoodum Gnanamum Pugazhum Undaam
Veediyal Vazhiyadhagum Veriyankamalai Nokkum
Neediya Arakkar Saenai Neeru Pattazhiya Vaagai
Soodiya Silayiraaman Tholvali Kooruvaarukkae”

meaning, The people who chant and praise the valiant Lord Rama’s adorned with the Vaagai flower garland after defeating and decimating the great army of demons, will attain the things that they went in search of; They will attain all the knowledge and fame; Their home and family will be in good welfare; Goddess Lakshmi will bestow her blessing and good wealth.

Naadiya – Search, Reach
Porul – Things
Kaikoodum – Materialise, be fruitful
Gnanam – Knowledge
Pugazh – fame
Undu – Exist, happen
Veediyal – Veedu (Home, Family) + Iyal (Discipline, Order, Welfare)
Vazhi – Path
Kamalai – Goddess Lakshmi
Nokkum – Bestow, See
Neediya Arakkar – Large Demons
Saenai – Army
Neeru – Ash
Pattazhiya – Decimated
Vaagai – The garland that the warriors used to adorn when the win in a battle
Soodiya – Adorn
Silayiraaman – Lord Rama
Tholvali – Strong shoulders; The valiance is always measured my the breadth and the strength of one’s shoulders
Kooruvaar – People chanting, uttering

“Ramanaai Vandhu Thondri Raavanan Thannai Veeti
Tharathalam Muzhuthum Kaathu Thambiyum Thaanumaagap
Paraaparamaagi Nindra Panbinai Pagaruvaargal
Narapathiyakip Pinnum Namanaiyum Velluvaarae”

meaning, He incarnated as Lord Rama and defeated Ravana. Saved the entire planet from Ravana. Then He and His brother Lakshmana stood as Divine Omnipresent Beings. And those who chant these qualities of Lord Rama, will become Kings and will even win Yama, the life taker.

Ramanaai – As Lord Rama
Vandhu – Coming, Incarnating
Thondri – Come into existence, being born
Raavanan – Ravana
Thannai – Pronoun refering Ravana
Veeti – Defeating
Tharathalam – The earth
Muzhuthum – fully
Kaathu – Save
Thambi – Brother
Thaanum – pronoun referring Lord Rama
Paraaparam – Divine Omnipresent Being
Nindra – Exist, stood
Panbu – Characteristics
Pagaruvaargal – People who chant (Pagar) the name of Lord Rama
Narapathi – King/Leaders of humans
Pinnum – Later
Naman – Yama
Velluvaar – Win over someone

There is legend that Lakshmana is considered to the incarnation of Lord Vishnu’s 5 headed snake mount called Adhi Sheshan. Adhi Sheshan wished to be near Lord Vishnu in his Rama avatar so he was born as Lord Rama’s brother Lakshmana

This song is by Sivavaakiyar

“Andhikaalam Uchchi Moodrum Aadukindra Theerthamum
Sandhi Tharpanangalum Thapangalum Sebangalum
Sindhai Mevum Gnanamum Thinam Sebikkum Mandhiram
Yendhai Rama Rama Rama Vennum Naamamae”

meaning, The three time periods during the day (The dawn, the dusk, the noon); The bathing sacred waters; The offerings to the ancestors offered during dawn and dusk; The divine chantings; The knowledge the resides in the mind, all of these chant the only mantra, the name of my dear Father like God, Rama Rama Rama.

Andhi – period of time referring to either dawn or dusk, usually dusk
Uchchi – Noon
Moondru – Three, in this context the three time periods
Aadukindra Theertham – The sacred water like rivers where people bathe
Sandhi Tharpanangal – Offerings to ancestors and Gods during the dawn and dusk
Sebangal – Chantings
Sindhai – Mind
Mevum – Occur, Reside
Gnanam – Knowledge
Thinam – Daily
Sebikkum – Chanting
Mandhiram – Mantra
Yendhai – My Father
Rama Rama Rama – Chanting in praise of Lord Rama
Naamam – Name

The next song is about the greatness of the two letter tamil word Rama (Ra, Ma)

“Nanmayum Selvamum Naalum Nallkumay
Thinmayum Paavamum Sidhaindhu Thaeyumae
Jenmamum Maranamum Indri Theerumaey
Inmayey Rama Endra Irandu Ezhuthinaal”

meaning, All the goodness and wealth will come to us; The pains and the sins will get defaced and erased; The tribulation of birth and death will get over; All just by uttering the two lettered word (in Tamil) Rama in this birth

These songs come out of a realised mind. In fact, some people have the practice of praying to Lord Rama and Lakshmana, when they go on a long travel. There is a belief when people pray and utter the names of Rama and Lakshmana when they go on a travel, they will return back safely without trouble. And that is backed by a legend in Ramayana, where Sage Vishwamitra uttered the name Rama and Lakshmana and took them to the forest to kill Thadagai, the female demon, and returned safely to the country.

Nowadays, many argue the existence of Lord Rama in the Treta Yuga, but it is an undeniable fact that the qualities described about Lord Rama, stand as a proof and as a guide and principle on how a man should lead his life peacefully. If not all, at least a few of those qualities will really make mankind to live peacefully and happily. And uttering Lord Rama’s name has brought fame to many people who were unknown to the world before they chanted this Divine name. Valmiki for example was a thief and he uttered the name Ram in reverse MRa, the first time he tried to utter, but he was hailed for his great epic the Ramayana. And so is Kambar hailed has the Kavi Chakravarthi, just because of his work the Kamba Ramayanam. The devotion to this incarnation is a real great thing to be revered and chanted for time to come. And because Hanuman enjoys himself in hearing and being the disciple of Lord Rama, He is a Chiranjeevi (immortal). Let us get all the good things in our life by chanting the divine name “Rama”

More to come, until then…


Being the Tamil month of Purattaasi, an auspicious month consecrated to Lord Vishnu, I thought it would be great if there is a post about the great Thirumangai Azhwar. There are other Azhwars who are equally worshipped as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu except Aandal who is worshipped as the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, but Thirumangai Azhwar inspires me a lot. His endurance in his devotion to Lord Vishnu has exalted him to the position of an Azhwar. He has travelled extensively to all the 108 Dhivya Desams, of which 106 are in this Earth and the remaining two are in the Heavenly Abode. He is said to have lived for 105 years and then attained salvation at the Lotus feet of Lord Vishnu at a place called Thirukurungudi. He has sung a majority of the songs in “The Naalayira Dhivya Prabandham”, a collection of 4000 hymns, sung in praise of Lord Vishnu. His works in the Naalayira Dhivya Prabandham are Periya Thirumozhi, Thiru Kurunthaandagam, Thiru Nedunthaandagam, Thiruvelukootrarikkai, Siriya Thirumadal and the Periya Thirumadal which count to over 1200 hymns in all. He was a crude person before he became an Azhwar, same as what Valmiki was before writing the Ramayana.

His original name is Kaliyan, born to the Army Chief Command Neelan (as Abithana Chintamani state), he was cheftain of the Chola Empire and later crowned as King by the Chola Emperor for a small kingdom called Thirumangai as a token of the friendship and the gratitude for winning the war on the enemy, and hence the name Thirumangai Mannan – subsequently Thirumangai Azhwar. He explains in his songs that he slayed innocent lives, has not even uttered kind words to the poor and needy, plundered the wealth of people and had a affinity towards women. But later when he was crowned as a King he was attracted to a great lady called Kumudhavalli, who was the main reason for Kaliyan to divert his attention to the devotion to Lord Vishnu. He wanted her in marriage, but Kumudhavalli accepted his proposal conditionally stating that she would marry only a person who feeds 1000 devotees of Lord Vishnu daily and the one who helps the construction of the Vishnu temple at Srirangam. Kaliyan agreed and Kumdhavalli married him. He ardently carried on with the tasks. And later, troubles started to crop up, his reserves started to dwindle and there was pressure from the Chola Emperor, on the dues of taxes to be paid to the Chola Empire, but Thirumangai King was very serious in completing the work of the temple he started and feed the devotees of Vishnu. And later he was imprisoned for not respecting the orders of the Chola Emperor. Later while in the prison he heard the instructions from the voice of Lord Vishnu (Lord Kariperumal) asking him to come to Kanchipuram to pay off the dues to the Emperor. He informed the Emperor about it and Lord Vishnu directed Kaliyan to the place where there was treasure and he paid the dues, but he was dethroned out of his kingdom and he wandered lonely in the forests, where he got into the company of thieves. But even at that time his intention and endurance was to complete the temple of Lord Vishnu. Before he got into the company of thieves, he begged the wealthy people in his kingdom telling the reason that he needed money to complete the temple and their help is very much needed, but in vain. Then he started the booty and started plundering from the wealthy men. His looting continued and he got a lot of wealth enough to complete the temple work.

One fine day, he planned looting a marriage party, he intimidated the people of the marriage party to put all the jewels and valuables in one place and it happened. But when he tried to lift the ransom, he could not. This suprised him as he has lifted more that what he had plundered now, but he was still struggling to move the bundle, but it didn’t budge. Then, Lord Vishu and Goddess Mahalakshmi reveal themselves from the incarnation they took as a groom and the bride respectively and then he realised and fell at Lord Vishnu feet and pleaded mercy and apologies. Lord Vishnu blessed him and told that the hardships he went under were to test his endurance in his commitment and thereafter Kaliyan be called “Thirumangai Azhwar” thereby exalting him to an Azhwar. Later he got back his kingdom and wealth, and started to continue with the good deeds and devotion to Lord Vishnu. After this he sung the Periya Thirumozhi in praise of the Lord Vishnu.

The enthralling effect and the greatness of his songs are simply out of this world. In most cases, we would try to justify our faults or mistakes that we committed, but Thirumangai Azhwar accepted all his crimes, mistakes and faults at their face value without any justification offering his complete surrender to Lord Vishnu. The songs not only consist of repentance, but also the eloquence in the praise that shows the devotion and the high regard and respect he had for Lord Vishnu. This along with his endurance has exalted him to an Azhwar. Let us see some of his songs

“Kulam Tharum Selvam Thandhidum
Adiyaar Paduthuyar Aayinavellaam
Nilandharam Seyyum Neel Visumbarulum
Arulodu Perinilam Alikkum
Valam tharum mattrum thandhidum Petra
Thaayinum Aayina Seyyum
Nalam Tharum Sollai Naan
Kandukondaen Narayana Ennum Naamam”

meaning, It gives you status, wealth, eliminates sorrow by demolishing them to the ground. It bestows you with lengthy heaven along with lots of land. It blesses you with strength and all sorts of good things. It does more than what a mother would do to a child. And I found that all good bestowing name, Narayana. Here land means not only the materialistic property land, but grounds on which the person is recognised.

Kulam – status
Tharum, Thandhidum – provides
Selvam – Wealth
Adiyaar – devotees
Paduthuyar – sorrow
Aayinavellaam – all of the sorrows
Nilandharam – ground level
Seyyum – Does
Neel – Lengthy
Visumbu – Heaven
Arulum – Blesses
Arulodu – Along with the blessings
Perunilam – A huge piece of land
Alikkum – Provide
Valam – Strength
Mattrum – Others
Petra Thaai – Mother who begets a child
Nalam – Goodness
Soll – Word,
Kandukondaen – Found and realised
Narayana – Lord Vishnu’s name
Naamam – Name

The next songs illustrate his meekness and great devotion. His acceptance of his mistakes at their face value without any justification, but all he requests was salvation

“Vaadinaen Vaadi Varundhinaen Manaththaal
Perunthuyar Idumbaiyil Pirandhu
Koodinaen Koodi Ilayavar Thammodu
Avartharum Kalaviyae Karudhi
Odinaen Odi Uyivadhor Porulaal
Unarvenum Perum Padham Thirindhu
Naadinaen Naadi Naan Kandukondaen
Narayana Ennum Naamam”

meaning, I anguished, felt weak and sad in my heart just because I was born in this whole lot of sorrow and distress. I had friendship with the mean and cheap people, just for the mean pleasures they gave me. Then I ran and ran because of the Supreme Being changed my instincts and senses to search for the Supreme Being. Then I because of search I found the Supreme Being in the name of Lord Narayana.

“Maanei Kann Madavaar Mayakkir Pattu Maanilathu
Naane Naanavidha Naragam Pugum Paavam Seidhaen
Thaenei Poompozhilsuzh Thiruvenkatamaa Malai Enn
Aanai Vandhadainthaen Adiyaenai Aatkondarulae”

meaning, I fell for the attractive deer like eyes of women and committed sins that will take me to all the four kinds of hell. The Lord, Lord Venkatachalapathy, of the Thiru Venkata mountains, that have flowers bearing nectar; I have come to surrender at your feet, please accept me and bless your devotee.

“Theriyaen Paalaganai Palatheemaigal Seithumittaen
Periyaen Aayinapin Pirarkae Uzhaithu Yaezhaiyaanaen
Karisaer Poompozhilsuzh Kanamaamalai Venkatava
Ariyae Vandhadainthaen Adiyaenai Aatkondarulae”

meaning, As a young child that commits mistakes, I have committed a lot of sins. And when I grew up (mental maturity), I became a poor fellow just by working for others (Feeding 1000 people daily as per Kumudhavalli’s request). The Lord Venkatachalapathy, of the great mountains that have majestic elephants. Lord Hari, I have come to Tirupathi to fall at your feel, grant me an asylum in your heart and bless me.

“Kondraen Palluyirai Kurikkole Ondrillamayinaal
Endranum Irandhaarkku Inidhaga Uraiththariyaen
Kundraei Megamadhir Kulirmaamalai Venkatavaa
Andrae Vandhadaidhaen Adiyaenai Aatkondarulae”

meaning, I killed many lives aimlessly, I never spoke benignly to those who came for help. Lord Venkatachalapathy, the lord of the mountains covered with misty chill clouds, I have come then to surrender at your feet and take asylum in your heart, bless me.

As already told, the greatness of Thirumangai Azhwar was his simplicity and the attitude to accept his mistakes at their face value, and most of all his endurance and the devotion to Lord Vishnu and his incarnations. His poetic eloquence has bestowed us great songs that have to be remembered for days to come and indeed sung in all the Bramhotsavam’s celebrated in Tirupathi and various other Dhivyadesams. One such eloquence is the Thiruvelukootrarikkai covered in the earlier post about Chithira Thaer in the Saarangapani temple of Kumbakonam. Thirumangai Azhwar stands as an example of how a devotion to the their God should be, whatever religion be it. Let us praise Thirumangai Azhwar during the month of Purataasi and get the blessings of Lord Vishnu.

More to come, until then…