Mudhal Thiruvandhadhi | verses 1-50
Mudhal Thiruvandhadhi | Poigai Āḻvār
Invocation (Single Invocatory Verse. )
Born in Kānchī set amidst beautiful gardens lush with wild flowers, Poigai Pirāṉ who is akin to a king bull among poets, lighted up this earth, in his compassion, with his hundred- verse magnificent Tamil Poem, so that all devotees of the Lord may live their lives meaningfully.
Śrī Deśika’s Invocation:
Śrī Vedānta Deśika, in his Tamil work Prabandha Sāra, has dedicated the following verse to Poigai Pirāṉ:
Thou Sacred Being, That materialised on this earth in a lotus pond in the city of Kānchī, under the star ‘Thiruvonam’ in the month of ‘Aippasi’,
the very Embodiment of benign grace, to enlighten the truths contained in the Vedas, for the liberation of the denizens of this world.
With that purpose, on a stormy night a long time ago, Thou stood in a small dark corridor of a house in Thirukkovalur with two other kindred souls, when Lord Nārāyaṇa with His Consort Lakshmi wedged in Thy midst, craving Thy physical closeness.
Then, Did not Thou shower Thy grace on me in the form of Thy poetry of One hundred verses that is verily the Light That guides us to steer clear through this saṁsāra?
This world is a lamp, the surrounding oceans the butter oil, And the blazing sun its wick; Let me dedicate my garland of Verses at the Feet of the Lord who sports the sparkling Sudarśana, so the suffering of this world may pass.
When was it that Thou churned the oceans or for what world Thou Accepted the offering of water? Where was I, without witnessing all this, When Thou built and destroyed the bridge across the ocean, or reverted to Thy slumber on the Ocean? Is it not the same world that Thou created and retrieved from under the oceans, the same that Thou swallow at pralaya, and reinvent after aeons have passed?
Oh Lord, How can I define or delineate the dimensions of Thy Deeds?
Did they not meet their end, who imagined they did?
With one Step, Thou outdistanced the ends of this earth, the Other scaled the limits of the surrounding oceans. With a mere suck, Thou set limit to the life of the demoness who came in the garb of a divine nymph.
What of me? A long time ago, Śiva of the blue neck so turned by consuming venom, and overcoming the insurmountable pull of the five organs of Knowledge, instructed the four sages on the right path under the banyan tree. Yet, he barely knew Thee, That are both the Means and the End of All existence, Oh Lord!
His name is Hara the Destroyer, Thou art Nārāyaṇa the ultimate Haven of All beings and things. His preferred means of carriage is the Bull, Thine Is Śrī Garuda, the embodiment of Vedas. He is the subject of man-made
Agama’s, Thou are the substance of the eternal Vedas. His abode is the hard rock, Thou reside in the cool waters. His role is destruction, Thou are the Protector of All beings. His weapon is the spear, Thine is the Sudarśana. His form is like fire, Thy Form is like the cool dark cloud. But, he like everything else is Thy Body.
A long time ago, when I was entrapped inside the womb, I had witnessed the Qualities of the Lord of Śrīraṅgam, and worshipped Him. I have not through the ages forgotten any of that experience. Lo, the Poor Of the earth, who are bereft of That knowledge. How will I forget Him now Who is lying on the Ocean?
The worlds in various directions, the deities in charge of those directions, the tasks being carried out by them in keeping with their roles—All this is the Design of His, slated to draw a mental veil, — The dark-hued Krishna resembling the ocean and the rain-clouds, of immortal auspicious qualities, The Lord with abiding love for His devotees, Who churned the ocean.
Oh Beloved of Śrī! Why didst Thou mystify the minds of all warriors,
In the fierce army-filled battle-field, by blowing on Thy Pañchajanya”,
Engaging Bhīśma in battle by taking up the ‘Sudarśana’ in Thy hand,
And making the sun, in its course on the sky, disappear, by the same ‘Chakra”.
It is this earth which Thou in illimitable size, with the heavens and directions fraught with fear, measured with Thy Feet resembling the wide-open lotus. But then, on a previous occasion, the self-same earth that Thou as an incomparable Boar with battle- sharp teeth, had brought up from under the depths of the oceans, had lain contained in the space of a mere edge of one of Thy teeth.
The Sages confirm as true that Thou as a mere Child swallowed this earth, the Surrounding mountains, oceans, the air, and the canopy of the sky above. When contemplating this deed, one wonders if this world just about measured the size of Thy Mouth, Oh Lord of innumerable auspicious qualities and holding the beautiful Chakra.
My tongue will not sing the praise of anyone but Him, nor my hands will worship anyone but the Mighty One Who measured the worlds with His Feet My eyes will not set sight on any form, nor ears hear of any name except My Lord Who drank the venom of the demoness’s breast, as if it was nectar.
They say that the five instruments of cognition, the five elements that make up the body, indestructible spiritual wisdom, the path of action in a spirit of non-attachment, and the pursuit of spiritual practices are the means of attaining The grace of the Lord Who once took the form of the Boar.
From time immemorial, the blessed eternal beings have always been in attendance at the lotus Feet of the Tulasī garland-clad One. But He is ever in the forefront to bless others who, in earnest, recite His auspicious Names, and follow the pursuits prescribed in scriptural texts.
Different people in keeping with their differing perceptions adore As their masters different gods and worship their portraits and idols. The truth is though, the Form of Lord Trivikrama, Who set His Foot Over the worlds, is the primary One.
The Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Rudra are the Supreme God-head. Of the Trinity, the Foremost is the Lord resembling the wide blue oceans. Without the grace of the Benevolent One Who is the First Cause, It is futile to seek the grace of others in this ocean-covered world.
Setting my sight on the red-eyed, blue-hued One resembling the oceans, resting on Ādiśeṣa on the Milk-Ocean in apparent slumber, with Feet washed by the waves, I prostrated and shed tears with fear gripping me thinking of all the days gone by in utter waste.
The realised souls say about the Lord Who tore apart Hiraṇya’s chest with razor-sharp nails, and Who rides the mighty-winged Eagle King, that when He scaled the worlds, His Feet went far beyond this earth, The Shoulders pervaded the directions, and the Crown filled the skies above.
Thou art the Lord that drank the poison from the surging breasts of Pūtanā, that ate butter from the pots hung in the ceiling in full view of everyone, that stood His ground against the invincible and cunning elephant, making him come apart in pieces, that tore the beak of the crane asura, that mowed down the two marudha trees, by crawling through them, and as Trivikrama, scaled the worlds.
Oh, Blue Ocean! How blessed Thou art, to be caressed by the touch of the dark-hued red-eyed compassionate Lord, Who having put away the worlds in His Stomach in safe-keeping and gone to sleep on a floating banyan-leaf, is resting on Thy waves.
Departing from the Milk Ocean, He caused the shackles round His parents’ feet to fall off. Earlier, as Vāmana, He playfully scaled and took away the worlds of His adversary. The celestial beings pay their obeisance to this Lord with red eyes and beautiful lotus Feet, with folded hands and flower garlands.
Listen, Oh my bold heart, to the bewitchingly red-eyed Lord Who accepted the earth by symbolically taking the proffered water in His lovely Hand, and exhausted the space in all directions with just three Steps. Seek and reach the sacred Feet of the Lord Who has for His bed the Ādiśeṣa, Whose eternal armour is the mighty Sudarśana’ and Whose vehicle is the eagle King Garuda.
Oh Lord Who ride the mighty Garuda of multi-coloured feathers, Thou allowed Thyself to be tied with a small rope by bedecked sweet-smelling Yaśodā of slender bamboo-like shoulders, for stealing butter. Not only I but the whole world knows about the mark left by the rope on Thy waist.
His Hands carry the tell-tale mark left by the strings of the bow Śārṅga, His Feet bear the impress of kicking to death the cunning Śakaṭāsura, and what about the mark on the fingers, when the Lord with complexion resembling the blue oceans took the form of the fierce Lion in human form and tore the chest of the asura Hiraṇya, sending some trepidation to even His Consort Śrī with her profusion of tresses.
Oh Lord with Form resembling the surging waves of the ocean, when Thy mother Yaśodā caught Thee in the act with butter-stained fingers in Thy mouth, and bound Thee lightly to the grinding stone, Thou broke out in a ceaseless whimper, all the while planning other ways of stealing butter without getting caught. Tell me Sir, was it not true that Thou became then the object of merriment to all and sundry.
My heart will always find fulfilment singing in ecstasy the glory of the Lord, Who is like a sapphire-embedded mountain floating on the waves of the Milk-ocean, and Who in the Form of a Boar retrieved this earth lost in the unfathomable depths of the ocean, and restored it to its position. This verse describes the sarva-śakti and saulabhya of the Lord.
The lofty Veṅkaṭa mountain it is, that puts out the fire of past sins, of those desirous of worldly riches, those who desire to art with the Lord for the joys of paradise, and also those who constantly seek and pray for proximity of the Lotus-Feet of the Lord wearing the beautiful Tulasī garlands, without ever having to part, and stirs the inner flame of the realised beings of the parama pāda.
The hand of the One Who holds the Śaṅkha, which when blown sounds like the thundering clouds, held the Govardhana, like an umbrella, tore the asura Keśi who came disguised as a horse, shot the arrow that bored a hole through seven trees, broke the battle-tested tusks of the murderous elephant, and pushed down the flower-laden Kurundha tree.
Oh Lord with complexion resembling the beautiful rain- cloud, Thy hands hold the Valampuri, and the Chakra. Thy Consort the lotus-born Lakshmi embellishes Thy bosom. From thy navel sprang the four-faced Brahma, Who is always chanting the Veda’s taught by Thee, and showing the way to reach Thee, and Rudra who destroyed the tri-city of high towers with a single arrow is but a part of Thy vast Body.
Oh, My dear heart, The Lord of all worlds, Who is at once this earth, the wide sky, the air, the water and the burning fire is the red-lotus eyed Nārāyaṇa, Who wiped the affliction, and saved the life, of big Gajendra of crescent-shaped tusks and beautiful eyes, Understand.
The mind of those devotees whose consciousness has found absolute balance, free from sensual distractions through inner realisation easily finds its niche in the Feet of the Lord wearing the cool Tulasī garland, even as a calf instinctively finds its own mother amidst the herd.
Would I think for a moment of anything else other than the sacred Feet Of the Lord Who holds the conch in one Hand and the golden ‘Chakra’ in another and Who assuming a half-human and half-leonine form, tore the chest of the Hiraṇya of fire-like complexion.
Those who can look into themselves and dispel the darkness therein with the aid of their inner spiritual eyes, and hold Him, with His boundless grace, close to their hearts, even if subject to the sway of the irrepressible sense organs will reach the abode of the Lord Who reclines on the thousand-faced Ādiśeṣa.
The compassionate Lord gave space to the four-faced Brahma on the lotus that sprang from His navel, and instructed him in scriptures for the benefit of all others. If one does not meditate on His countless Names, what is the use of mindless practice, in the name of daily rituals like sandhyā?
Oh, You Enchanter resembling the dark clouds, Who at the beginning of time, slept on a banyan leaf after tucking away the seven worlds in Thy tiny stomach. The incomparable sages of yore affirm as true that while the cunning Pūtanā who came in the guise of a mother to suckle Thee lay stone-dead, Thy cowherd mother of big-set eyes that seem to vie with each other, breast-fed Thee with such melting concern. How incredible?
Pray, Thou must treat with indulgence the inadequate utterances of Thy devotees, whose love forever falls short of what might be expected. After all, did not the hostility of the ten-headed Rāvaṇa lead him eventually in another age to attain Thy sacred Feet?
Earlier Thou had torn to shreds the egotistic Hiraṇya who had looked upon this earth as his possession. Yet the manner in which with the self-same hand that wields the Sudarśana, Thou asked for and accepted the gift of this earth holds a lesson in clearing our minds of ego-centred thoughts, does it not?
The Veṅkaṭa hill is the preferred resting place of the Lord Whose lips blow the white Śaṅkha, where the learned ones who have the subtle Vedic wisdom, capable of cutting asunder lesser gods and goals, hasten from all directions, carrying incense, flowers and holy water to offer their prayers.
On the Veṅkaṭa hill, the sliding snake with lined skin hastens into its hole terrified of the sight of the dignified Kaurāvas hurling sapphire-like stones at the black elephants, which have strayed into their territory. It is the hill of the Lord which the eternal beings of Vaikuṇṭha cherish as their very own.
Aeons ago, the Lord with complexion resembling the great blue ocean, retrieved this lost world as the great Boar. Then as Krishna, He held up the Govardhana hill like a parasol, and destroyed Kamsa in sheer fright. He rests between incarnations on the waves of the milk ocean, but forever stands waiting to bless us at Tiruvēṅkaṭam.
It is the Veṅkaṭa hill, where on the dark night, the encroaching elephant is frozen in fright at the sight of the burning fire-stick held in one hand of the Kaurāvas treading their way, and bow and arrow in the other, and the falling stars streaking across the sky, Which is the abode of the Lord Who a long time ago, exulted after snuffing out the life of Hiraṇya.
Oh my heart, from this moment on, even if only for outward expression, and for ever, dwell your thoughts on the greatness of the Lord of the golden Sudarśana in His Hand. The Lord then will overlook even your mountain of follies, and graciously acknowledge your dedication.
The love of the Lord - with form like the cool blue ocean resting under the canopy of Anantha with his mirror-like hood, amidst the spray of milk particles - for Goddess Śrī is special, such that it predominates in the Lord’s relationship with Śrī Devi, Bhū Devi, and Nīla Devi. What marvel!
Devotees carry flowers and fragrant water to offer at the Feet of the Lord, wearing the garland of Tulasī leaves that look forever fresh, as if they still remained planted on the earth, and prostrate before Him. At this instant, the avidya clouding the mind vanishes, and even irreversible Karma does not bind, as the enriching flow of bhakti engulfs them.
The Lord Who holds the golden Disc assumes that Form, in which His devotees desire to worship Him, that Name which they wish to ascribe to Him, and that Symbol that they visualise of Him, and constantly meditate upon.
My good heart, on that occasion when the evil Rāvaṇa prostrated at the feet of Brahma seated on the lotus-flower did not Nārāyaṇa, taking the form of a babe on Brahma’s lap forewarn him by counting the heads of the Rākṣasa king with His tiny toes? Can Brahma and the Devas grasp the greatness of the Lord. Be that as it may, we who are the recipients of His grace perhaps have a better clarity of mind to understand His greatness.
Nārāyaṇa washed away the sin of Śiva wearing the white tread across his chest, with blood from His own Chest - the sin Of plucking the head of Brahma who was the first to be imparted Vedic instruction by Nārāyaṇa. Those who bow to the Feet of that Lord will attain the bliss of the eternal beings and attain it here on this earth.
Those who bridle and bring under tight control their five senses that, like elephants in heat, run amok along bylanes, and make them stand still, and direct their awareness towards Him with the aid of their subtle understanding will reach the sacred Feet of the Lord Who once saved the life of Gajendra.
Oh, my heart deep like the ocean, rejoice and hold close to the crimson Feet of the Lord, Who with one hand caught the legs of, and tossed into the void, His sworn enemies like Namusi, and Held aloft in another, the flaming- red Sudarśana raring to swipe at the adversaries, raising fear in the minds of Deva’s and Āsura’s alike.
Barring those who strive to let go of the cycle of being born in different bodies, like the seeds of the maghizham tree set in different value slots for counting, for others with mere desire to see my great Lord, the Prime Cause of everything, He Who is donning a dazzling golden crown, and resembles a brilliant broad band of light, is very difficult to reach.
Controlling the near-intractable five sense organs and worshipping Him, with offerings of pure love and thoughtfully gathered flowers, it is easy to attain the One Who accepted the symbolic sprinkle of water, from the giving hands of the proud and unfailingly generous Mahābali.