by S. Satyamurthi Ayyangar | 388,514 words
This is the English translation of the Tiruvaymoli (or, Thiruvaimozhi): An ancient Tamil text consisting of 1102 verses which were sung by the poet-saint Nammalvar as an expression of his devotion to Vishnu. Hence, it is an important devotional book in Vaishnavism. Nammalvar is one of the twelve traditional saints of Tamil Nadu (Southern India), kn...
Tamil text and transliteration:
அருள்பெறுவார் அடியார் தம் அடியனேற்கு ஆழியான்-
அருள்தருவான் அமைகின்றான் அதுநமது விதிவகையே
இருள்தருமா ஞாலத்துள் இனிப்பிறவி யான்வேண்டேன்
மருள்ஒழி நீமடநெஞ்சே! வாட்டாற்றான் அடிவணங்கே. (2)
aruḷpeṟuvār aṭiyār tam aṭiyaṉēṟku āḻiyāṉ-
aruḷtaruvāṉ amaikiṉṟāṉ atunamatu vitivakaiyē
iruḷtarumā ñālattuḷ iṉippiṟavi yāṉvēṇṭēṉ
maruḷoḻi nīmaṭaneñcē! vāṭṭāṟṟāṉ aṭivaṇaṅkē. (2)
English translation of verse 10.6.1:
The Lord, Who does the discus wield, graciously insists
On salving me, the vassal of His devotees, who on His grace subsist;
He would want me to order Him about! I shan’t desire
Birth in this land of dark nescience any more,
The feet of the Lord at Tiruvāṭṭāṟu, do adore
And yield not, Oh, fickle mind, to the thought, that allures,
Of enjoying the Supreme Lord, right from here.
(i) The Āḻvār cajoles his mind to revel, along with him, in the enjoyment of the Lord’s glorious trait of loving condescension, in the following terms:
“Don’t you see that the Lord is all agog to confer on me the supreme bliss, and that too, at my dictation? Oh, what a trait and how glorious! There is none over here with whom I can share my jubilation over this wonderful trait of the Lord. Would you, therefore, come along with me to the Eternal Land (Heaven) where we can appropriately share this exulation with the exalted and enlightened denizens over there? The Lord wants to get hold of me as firmly as He wields the lovely discus. In other words, He shall give me up only if He gave up the valiant discus. Actually, He sheds on me the aggregate of the love He bears unto the discus and other exalted members of that holy band, known as Eternal Heroes (Nitya Sūrīs). Well, do you know how this has come about? Surely, I could not have been chosen as the recipient of His super-abundant love and overwhelming grace, had I invoked His grace directly instead of being the humble vassal that I am of the one that stands last in the chain of His devotees”.
The last sentence of the above monologue obviously reflects the theme already set out by the Āḻvār in VIII-10 and here then is the point of time at which that bears fruit. The Āḻvār’s mind was, however, quick to retort, saying “Well, You were, all the time, keenly awaiting the influx of the Lord’s grace and now that it is forthcoming, You are the blessed recipient thereof, all right. What then is the special feature, you are trying to import into it now?”
And now is the turn of the Āḻvār to make the brilliant exposition, as follows:
No doubt, God Himself is eager to grant salvation to the subjects, unsolicited, as becomes His high office (Godship) and yet, He chooses to see the soul spontaneously fly to Him for embracement. This is like the bridegroom, throbbing with love for his bride, waiting, all the same, till the bride herself did make the first movement and fly to him, the pleasure thus getting enhanced on both sides. This is precisely the meaning of God waiting and the soul moving towards Him. Mysterious indeed is the way of God in the exercise of His grace, and He suffers the creatures’ complacence in believing that they deserved the Lord’s grace by their own acts of merit. Lakṣmaṇa, who was all agog to render service unto Rāma and Sītā in every conceivable manner and followed them into exile, indicated to Rāma, just before the commencement of the exile, the inordinate longing on his (Lakṣmaṇa’s) part to serve the Divine Couple, in a concrete manner.
He addressed Rāma thus:
“You shall with Your Videhan Spouse
Recline upon the mountain’s brows;
Be mine the toil, be mine to keep
Watch over You both, awake or asleep”.
When the three of them actually reached the forest, Lakṣmaṇa recollected that he was but Rāma’s vassal and had to do his bidding; Lakṣmaṇa, therefore, petitioned to Rāma to grant the necessary permission before he (Lakṣmaṇa) would stir into action. Even then, Rāma tried to keep Himself in the background and said:
“Let a spot he chosen, pleasant and pure Where waters gleam and trees are fair”.
“Select yourself some pleasant spot, Be mine the care to rear the cot”.
And now, the Āḻvār tells his mind,
“How amazing is this indeed! the Lord addresses me in such terms as Lakṣmaṇa did unto Rāma and wants me to command Him and take service from Him. He wants me to order Him to take me to Heaven and indicate the elaborate arrangements to be made by Him en route, such as setting up banners, buntings and festoons, holding over my head the parasol, to the accompaniment of music from pipes and drums, the Lord Himself leading the way, with torch in hand, proclaiming that I, His Lord, was coming behind, heralded by the holy band of chanters of Divya Prabandha and so on”.
How the Lord hesitated to exercise His own will in the matter of taking the Āḻvār to Heaven without a specific directive from him, is succinctly brought out in Iṭu commentary which, for its sheer brilliance, deserves to be reproduced here, in toto. Nampiḷḷai puts it that his Master, Nañcīyar directly heard his Guru, Parāśara Bhaṭṭar, elucidate the point at issue, by expatiating on Śloka 42 of Aḷavandār’s ‘Stotra Ratna’ (hymnal gems) (Tathānujānantamudhāra vīkṣaṇaiḥ), as follows:
Senāpathi is the Archangel and premier chamberlain to God. Dressed in his stately robes, he carries the fan (the sign and privilege of royalty) and holds the baton (symbol of authority). Vast indeed is the privilege he enjoys at the hands of the Lord; unbid, he can enter the private chambers where the Lord and His Divine Consorts are in the gay abandon of their love. The Lord would not take offence at His hoary Chamberlain’s sudden entry into His private chambers. On the other hand, He would even feel more delighted in bis company, relegating His sport with the Divine Consorts to a secondary place. Far from being embarrassed by the sudden entry of the Minister, without prior notice or summons, the Divine Consorts just suspend their free disport and are all attention from the throne which they share with the Lord. The Minister, who is by-no-means unaware of the delicate situation, tarries not longer than absolutely needed for the transaction of the State business and puts before the Lord, in as few and select terms as possible, proposals relating to the Cosmic administration, such as the transfers and appointments of Brahmās (the Demi-urges in charge of each Cosmic egg, comprising fourteen worlds) etc. The Lord at once signifies His approval of all such proposals unquestioningly, literally signing the sanctions with sweet looks. He would say, “Sire, as you have proposed, so be it”.
As Bhaṭṭārya was expounding the profound secrets of God’s love unto His trusted lieutenants, as embodied in the śloka in question, he fell into praroxysms of joy, in the company of Kiṭāmpi-Āccāṉ (the bodyguard disciple of Śrī Rāmānujācārya) and others who were present in that assembly. Āccāṉ was Bhaṭṭārya’s co-student and so great indeed was their mutual affection that Iḷaiyāḻvāṉ, a disciple of Āccāṉ queried the Master as to how he happened to love and follow Bhaṭṭārya, much more than Bhaṭṭārya’s own disciples did.
“Son, you don't seem to be aware of what took place, the other day; placing a book in Bhaṭṭārya’s hands, Śrī Rāmānuja led him before Lord Raṅganātha and there, outside the Holy Bar, made him recite a Śloka; looking round, Śrī Rāmānuja called upon all his disciples, assembled there, to hold Bhaṭṭārya on a par with himself, and bestow on him love and regard in an equal measure.”
(ii) “I shan’t desire birth in this land of darkness and nescience any more”. Thus does the Āḻvār clarify his present stand to his mind which questioned him whether, in the light of the Lord’s subservient mood, he would go his own way and enjoy the Lord, right here, or yield to His wish and permit Him to lift him up to the heavenly abode. As a matter of fact, the Āḻvār’s mind was quite aware of the earlier attitude of the Āḻvār and his special fascination for the several pilgrim centres in this abode, where the Lord is manifest in His worshippable iconic Form, displaying, at each such centre, a particular aspect and special attribute to be meditated upon. The Āḻvār now impresses upon his mind that, while his love for these centres remains unabated, he nevertheless dreaded this soil, because of its corrupting influence on even that exalted band of Eternal Heroes (Nitya Sūrīs), if ever they came down here. Nay, the Earth’s contamination would extend even to their Chief. Well, did it spare even one of the eminence of Prahlāda? Further, although Nammāḻvār and the other Āḻvārs came into this world, at their own volition, for the redemption and uplift of mankind, as set forth in the Śloka: “Kritātiṣu narā Rājan......... Kalau iccanthi sambhavam” of Śrī Bhāgavada, yet he would not wish to stay in this abode any more, having already rendered the service expected of him, namely, singing these hymns, thereby rendering ‘Kali’ (the evil forces of the current yuga) ineffective.
True, there was a time when the Āḻvār stuck fast to centres like Tiruvāraṉviḷai and would have voted for everlasting stay there in preference to going up to Heaven. But now, he has been completely disillusioned and will no longer like to walk on the double-edged razor that life is, in this material body made up of the five elements and in this land of dark nescience, with its endless potentialities for mischief and incalculable damage to his spiritual progress. If that were so, addressing his mind currently to adore the Lord, enshrined at Tiruvāṭṭāṟu would appear to be rather misleading but it is not so. The Lord has come to this centre only to expedite the Āḻvār’s ascent to Heaven and it, therefore, behoves the Āḻvār to cooperate with the Lord and facilitate His work. Adoration of the Lord, in this particular context, would, therefore, mean that the Āḻvār should fall in line with the Lord, whose presence in Tiruvāṭṭāṟu forms part of His project of lifting the Āḻvār up to the high Heavens.