Tiruvāymoḷi of Nammāḷvār | Book 1
First Centum-First Decade
Arise, O heart, worship the feet of the one,
who is higher than the highest good,
who is the Lord of the ever-wakeful celestials,
who dispels all doubt and grants pure knowledge.
He cleanses the heart, makes it blossom and grow,
he is beyond the ken of thought, feeling and senses,
He is pure consciousness, all goodness, and eternal.
He has no peer or superior, he is all our souls.
He cannot be thought of as "this" and "not that".
He is the sentient and insentient, in high and in low.
He is in the senses, but not of them and endless.
Let us seek the good one, he is everywhere.
He stands as the "he" there' here and in between
the 'she' there, here in between and wherever the things that are –
here, there, in between and wherever –
he is their good, bad, indifferent, their past and their future.
Let each one offer worship as he deems fit,
and each one shall attain his god's feet.
For our Lord, who stands above these gods
accepts the offerings made to them and bids them deliver the fruit.
Our Lord is eternally one, unchanging
while standing, sitting, lying or walking;
not, standing, not sitting, not lying, not walking;
forever the same, forever not the same.
The Lord of the Vedas who swallowed the Universe
is manifest as Fire, Earth, Water, sky and Air.
He is there in all the things made of these,
hidden, like life in the body, everywhere.
Though He is everywhere, He cannot be seen, even by the gods.
He is the first cause, the almighty, who swallowed all.
He burnt the three cities, and granted wisdom to the gods,
He is Brahma the creator, and Śiva the destroyer too.
Would you say he is, then he is, and all this is him.
Say he is not, then too he is, as the formless spirit in all.
With the twin qualities of being and non-being,
he pervades all things and places forever.
He who swallowed all, reclines in the cool ocean,
resides in every drop, the Universe itself,
complete on Earth and in the sky, hidden everywhere,
in every atom and cell continuously, forever.
The decade of the thousand songs by Kurukūr Caṭakōpaṉ
on the Lord who exists in Fire, Earth, Water, sky and Air,
subtly as heat, mass, coolness strength and sound,
offers liberation to those who recite it.
First Centum Second Decade (1-2)
The transcendental glory of the Supreme Lord, His Supremacy as the material cause as well as the efficient cause and final cause of all life and being,
the fact of His being the one and only Giver, either directly or through other minor deities, whose favours their respective votaries seek.
His lustrous Feet being the sure and certain means of salvation for one and all, all these having been revealed to the Saint by the Lord Himself, the Saint revelled in this blissful knowledge, in the preceding Tiruvāymoḷi.
Far from being selfish and self-centred, he wanted to share all this knowledge with his fellow beings, as a matter of mutual joy and enlightenment.
But alas! he found them all steeped in worldly life, just the very reverse of what he was. And yet, He would not lose heart.
Banking on their inherent capacity to discriminate between good and bad things, he now exhorts them to give up the elusive and obnoxious pleasures of worldly life, disengage themselves from the erroneous notions of 'I’ and Mine" and dedicate themselves to the apprehension of the limitless wealth and splendour of the Supreme Lord and reap the rich harvest of eternal bliss and beatitude.
In this decade, the Ālvār also teaches that true renunciation is of the mind, as distinguished from mere bodily displacements, such as fleeing away from the haunts of men and living a secluded life in a forest.
No place is safe and impregnable to the invasion of temptations which could molest the mind, as seen from the examples of Ādi- Bhāratī (Jaḍa-Bharatā) and Śoubhari.
The Ālvār exhorts, in the third stanza of this decade, as follows:
"Pluck out the disease of ‘l-ness' and ‘My-ness’,
right from the roots and join the Lord
Renunciation, therefore, lies in disengaging one’s mind from the erroneous notions of ‘I
’ and ‘Mine’ and surrendering oneself, in toto, to the will of God.
Examples of such mental renunciation are found in King Janaka and Saint Kulacēkara:
Did not the former say, unaffected by the illusory fire inducted by Sage Śuka:
“Mithilāyāṁ pradagdhāyāṁ na me kiñcitpradahyate?”
If Mithilā is burnt, it is Mithilā burnt; what is it to Me?
Kulacēkara Ālvār sang, in his ‘Perumāḷ Tirumoḷi, IV decade:
“This realm, with all its wealth, I abjure.
Riding the elephant in rut, frightful te behold;
The blessing of being a shrub, I implore,
At lovely Tiruvēṅkaṭam, abode of my Liege, Lord
“Little do I value being a King of Kings, all that name and fame,
Holding sway under a single parasol, white as the full moon;
Instead, this my earnest will that I should, as a jungle stream.
Course through Tirumalai, with its honey- studded flower gardens”.
Give up everything, surrender your soul to the Maker, and accept his protection.
Fleetier than lightning, is the life of the body.
Ponder a while on this matter yourself.
Uproot all thoughts of you and yours.
Merge with the Lord, there is no greater fulfillment.
The Lord is beyond being and non-being,
Cutting all attachments, attain that infinite good.
When all attachments cease, the soul becomes free,
So seek the eternal Lord and cut all attachments.
The Lord has no attachment. He exists everywhere.
Become freed of attachments and merge with him fully.
Look at the Vast wealth of radiance all around.
Know that all these are his, and merge into him.
Go to the source of thought, word and deed.
Direct them to him, and merge yourself too.
When thus directed, all obstacies will vanish,
Then wait for the moment of shedding the body.
Unite with the feet of the glorious Nārāyaṇa,
Lord of countless virtues. Lord of incomparable good.
This decade of the thousand are the considered words
by Kurukūr Caṭakōpaṉ, surrounded by water fields.
First Centum—Third Decade (1-3)
(Pattu utai Atiyavar)
In the first decade of this centum, the Ālvār spoke of the Super- eminent glory of the Lord and, in the very next decade, he exhorted the worldlings to turn their minds God-ward and get absorbed in Him, with whole-hearted devotion.
But then, they felt that they were no better than the man, lame of both hands, being required to mount an elephant.
Now, in this decade, the Ālvār puts them at ease by depicting the disarming simplicity of the Lord like unto an elephant making itself so pliable as to enable even such a lame man to mount it easily.
Speaking about the Supreme Lord’s easy accessibility (saulabhya), the Ālvār at once conjures up the vision of His being tied down to a mere pounder,
when He, as Kṛṣṇa, the cowherd boy, got caught in the act of stealing butter—the very antithesis of His transcendent glory as the consort of Śrī Maha Lakṣmī, residing on His winsome chest.
Oh, what a contrast and what an amazing simplicity, which literally struck the poet dumb, nay, sent him into a deep trance, lasting six months!
Here is an episode of episodes, melting down the hearts of the true devotees into running rivulets.
As Śrī Vedānta Deśika says, in his rapturous composition “Yādavābhyudaya“: mere contemplation of this episode leads to our release from bondage.
The Lord is easy to reach by devote through love.
His feet are hard to get for others, even Lotus-dame Lakshmi
Oh, how easily he was caught and bound to the mortar,
pleading, for stealing butter from the milkmaid's churning pail.
Tradition has it that Śrī Matura Kavi and several other savants, who had the great good fortune of listening to Tiruvāymoḷi from the sacred tips of the Ālvār, gathered round the insensate Ālvār and eagerly awaited his return to his senses.
It was after the lapse of a period of six months, that the Ālvār recovered himself, took up the thread where he had left it and proceeded to expatiate on the Lord’s aforesaid ‘Saulabhya’ (easy accessibility) by saying that He is simplicity itself (simplicity personified).
Heedless of places and context, he appears in countless forms.
His radiant fullness is beginning-less and endless.
Forever providing the ambrosial experience of liberation,
he exists with cool grace within and without.
Who can comprehend the wonders of Nārāyaṇa?
He bears the highest good of Vedic sacrifice.
Forever the creates, destroys, and plays between the two.
He contains the gods, and the livin and the lifeless.
My Lord is hard to see as the changeless one.
My Lord is easy to see as the changeless one.
My Lord bears a thousand names and forms.
My Lord is opposed to name and form, being and non-being.
Accept the method of the Vedas, and know him through realisation,
He is the Lord without end, and beginning of all, spoken of therein.
Give up all doubt and cut as under your attachments,
for he resolves the conflicts in the six schools of thought.
Worldlings to the Ālvār:
“Oh, Saint, to us with limited knowledge, the Trinity, standing in a row, Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra, appear to be all of the same stature.
Pray, enlighten us, as to whether it is actually so or one of them is Superior to the other two or there is yet another Power superior to all the three, so that we may worship that Supreme Authority”.
The Ālvār's reply is as in this stanza, vide gist given below:
O People! Even if you realise your nature as different from your body,
-formless, without length, breadth or height, -the Lord is not attained.
Praise him who is spoken of as Brahma, Vishnu and Śiva,
he is the Lord dwelling in your heart.
He pervades all forms, eluding count as one or as many.
He is the radiant Nārāyaṇa, the four-faced Brahma and Śiva.
Hold him in your hearts with steady devotion,
shed all desires and serve him alone, that is the only good.
Let us purge our hearts free from desires,
and worship the radiant feet of the Lord, spouse of Lakshmi.
Our past karmas will vanish, and we shall not want,
Even if death comes, we shall die humbly and well.
Śiva who burnt the three cities occupies the Lord's right.
Brahmā who made the seven spheres resides on his navel.
Yet he is here within the Universe for all to see.
Such are his wonders, the thoughts that fill my heart.
He mystifies even the clear-thinking gods,
he has wonders that would fill the sky,
he has a dark cloud-hued, his lotus-feet measured the Earth,
I shall forever sit and praise, adore and worship him.
This decade of the sweet thousand songs by Caṭakōpaṉ
of dense-groved wealthy Kurukūr addresses
the celebrated Lord of celestials, who churned the mighty ocean.
Those who master if will rejoice in heaven.
First Centum—Fourth Decade (1-4)
(Am ciraiya mata nārāy)
The Sublime and the Sensual have always co-existed in both the worlds-the mundane and the spiritual.
There is, however, a fundamental difference in their inter-relationship, in the respective spheres:
In the material world, the two are mutually exclusive, being diametrically opposed to each other.
In the spiritual world, that which, in the language of aesthetics, is termed as Śṛṅgār is nothing but the psychological imperative for man’s consciousness moving towards Him (Super-Soul) of ravishing beauty (as Bhagavatā bears out),
just the very inversion of the skin-deep, carnal variety of lust, stamping out the human lover-beloved union.
If the love-smitten Parāṅkuśa (Nammāḷvār, who was like unto a goad wearing round his spiritual antagonists through his scintillating hymns and making the Lord Himself pliable, enraptured by his sweet, love-laden hymns) turns out to be a female, expressing herself now as Parāṅkuśa Nāyakī (God-lover),
then as the Mother, the intuitive gnostic friend of the love-lorn daughter trying to keep the latter under sobering restraint and sometimes as the soothing Mate,
it is but the natural corollary to his boundless love for God and the deep yearning, beyond words, for the Divine presence and lasting union.
Actually, the Lord is the only Male or Husband (Loka bhartā), the ‘Puruṣottama’ the Kṣetrajña’ and all the Individual souls are but marks of the feminine, the Kṣettras (Location), the female centres of the creative activity of God.
It is indeed quite some consolation that the lover-beloved theme is familiar ground for the worldlings and now, without adopting the austere Vedic approach, the Ālvār would only want them to shift the base and turn the whole d God-ward and be wholly absorbed in Daiva Rasa (spiritual love), the “Brahmānubhava”.
Even as the female anatomy plays a key role in the earthly variety of love, in the spiritual world, Para Bhakti, Para Jñāna and Pa Bhakti in the ascending scale of God-love, too deep for words, symbolise the breast of the God-lover, swelling up with God-love.
Songs attributed to the Mother and the Mate are all sung by the Ālvār only:
The Mate is the cementing force joining the lover and the Beloved; this Mate is only symbolic of the sense of fusion and belonging, the inalienable relationship of Master and Servant, between God and Man, inculcated by Prāṇava (Aum) in Tiru- mantra.
The Mother plays the role of ‘Namaḥ' in the said Mantra which puts an embargo on the Individual soul indulging in egoistic self-effort to attain God-head, instead of awaiting the descent of His grace.
Thus, she prevents the love-intoxicated Parāṅkuśa Nāyakī from trespassing, that is, breaking all norms of correct feminine conduct, and keeps her under restraint.
In this decade, where the Ālvār is seen transformed as Nāyakī (female lover), some birds are sent by her as emissaries to the Lord.
This is the first of the four decades in the whole work, where messages are sent by the Ālvār to the Lord, the other three being VI-I, VI-8 and IX-7.
The winged birds typify the efficient preceptors possessed of the mighty wings, a happy blending of knowledge and conduct.
This technique of the Ālvār has been adopted by the subsequent poets as well. C. F. Kālidāsa’s Meghadūta and Vedanta Deśika’s Haṁsa Sandeśa.
Parāsara Bhaṭṭa would exclaim:
“The monkeys shot into fame with the advent of Śrī Rāma who employed Hanuman as His chosen emissary to Rāvaṇa’s court; likewise the Ālvārs have made the winged birds famous by commissioning them to carry messages to their Beloved God".
The messages in the four decades, referred to above, were all despatched by the Ālvār to the Lord but to different destinations, namely,
(1) Vyūha or the milk-ocean, the seat of the Lord's creative activity,
(2) the Vibhava or the Lord’s incarnate forms,
(3) "Paratva' (transcendent) and ’Antaryāmī' (Internal Controller of all) and
(4) Arcā (Iconic manifestation), in the chronological order.
The Ālvār is now in the same plight as Śakuntalā, left behind in the hermitage, after her initial meeting and union with King Duṣyanta and hence the necessity for this message invoking the Lord’s special trait of forgiveness, by way of overlooking the drawbacks noticed by the Lord in the Ālvār during their erstwhile union.
And to end this preamble precisely as it was begun, here is an interesting tale:
When the great Preceptor, Nañcīyar was discoursing on this Tiruvāymoḷi, one of his listeners abruptly left the place, murmuring that the discourse had assumed the complexion of a sensualist’s love-conversation.
In the first three decades, the saint had expounded Divinity as the Exalted, the worship-worthy and the Easily-accessible.
The listener in question appreciated these and observed:
“Here is a grand theme, worthy of acceptance by the world-weary, and so long as it treats of the Almighty in His sublime character I am bound to listen to it, as a sensible man ought to.
But, as soon as the Saint changed the Divine discourse into the form of love to God, love treated by analogies taken from the experience of mankind in this world, especially in its relation as Lover and the Beloved, Mistress and Spouse and so on,
the disciple turned away from it, thinking that this kind of treatment was a shock to good taste, outrage to his wisdom and a violence to his common-sense.
Nañcīyar couldn't but deplore the failure of this unfortunate listener to see, in it, the explanation of the mysterious Divine Love (Bhakti), contained in the Commandment of the Brihadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (Maitreyī Brāhmaṇa, 44) to the effect that the Lord is to be lovingly, intensely meditated upon.
First Centum -Fourth Decade (1-4)
O Frail crane, compassionate, with beautiful wings and a handsome mantel
would the two of you not pity my plight and take a message from me,
to my Lord who rides the fierce Garuda bird?
why, were he to cage you both, indeed, would that hurt you?
The love-intoxicated Ālvār beckoned the stork pair, in the preceding stanza, to carry a message to the Lord but the contents of the message are now revealed by him to a band of Kōels. This kind of concision only reveals the intensity of the Ālvār’s God-love, the ecstatic imbalance of mind.
O Flocking Koels! Would it hurt you to take a message
from me to my lotus-eyed Lord?
Come, are you not my good pets?
Oh, my past misdeed, that I had never sought him so long!
O Graceful swans fortunate to be in the company of spouses!
That clever dwarf who notoriously took the Earth by begging, -
Go tell him that this maiden has lost all her senses.
Alas, mindless me! My dark karmas will never end.
Seeing that Parāṅkuśa Nāyakī was commissioning several birds,
a few blue-tinted Aṉṟil (Cakravāka) birds approached her
as if to enquire whether they could also be of service to her.
But the dejected lover that she was,
she was struck down by the futility of sending a message
to the Lord who remained aloof despite an intimate knowledge of her plight,
her inordinate love for Him, during their erstwhile union
and failed to see the injustice of the present separation.
And yet, she asked the blue birds to apprise her blue-hued Lord
of her precarious condition, with little or no chance of survival.
My cloud-hued lord does not notice my plight,
nor take pity on me and say, "Oh, this is not proper", what more can I say?
O Blue Curlews, go tell him that he has no goodness left in him,
Would you, or would you not?
Parāṅkuśa Nāyakī begs of a heron
to convey the following message to her beloved Lord:
"It matters not if I rot here, away from Him. But He is Nārāyaṇa
who, by the very implication of that name,
resides in all beings and sustains them all,
unsought and unsolicited, with no exception whatsoever.
Even the solitary exclusion of myself from the scope of His benevolent protection
will jeopardise His position of eminence, His very name.
It behoves Him, therefore, to avert this calamity."
O Strong heron searching for worms in the watered groves!
If you see my Lord Nārāyaṇa, would you give him my message, Pray?
He made the seven garden-worlds and tended them with love.
Only this hopeless maiden tearfully stands unworthy of his touch.
O Clever bees! If you see my compassionate Lord,
pray speak to him thus; "You are unjust. Before her life withes,
direct your good Garuda bird to walk through her street".
Alas! What crime have we committed?
O My found parrot, you hurt me with your talk. Are you not my pet?
The cool dew-breeze blows like a needle threading through my bones.
Go and ask my un-relenting Lord, who sees my faults alone.
"What wrong has she done, for not receiving your grace?"
O My little mynah! I have lost my lustre and my charms.
Alas, even when I beseech you to go to my distant Lord
and tell him of my grave sickness, you do not take notice!
Better start looking for someone to feed you henceforth.
O Cool dew-breeze! This body is made for collecting flowers
to place at the feet of my Lord Nārāyaṇa every day.
Of what use is it to be separated from his thus?
Go ask him this, then come back and spilt my bones.
The Lord who is the cause of cyclic birth, and souls and all else,
lies reclining in the peaceful ocean with a radiant discus in hand,
Hapless we, shall tell him this when we see him, then merge into him.
Till then, O Dark desolate heart, do stay on with me.
This decade of the matchless thousand songs
by Caṭakōpaṉ of Kurukūr surrounded by fertile fields
addresses the measureless Krishna, maker of the sever worlds.
Those who master it shall enjoy the wealth of heaven.
First Centum—Fifth Decade (1-5)
(Vala el ulakin mutalaya)
In each of the preceding four decades, the Ālvār has highlighted a particular trait of the Lord:
These are exaltation (transcendent glory), Worship-worthiness, easy-accessibility (saulabhya) and forgiveness, respectively.
In this decade, the Saint brings into focus the Lord's condescension (sauśīlya), mixing freely with the lowliest, the crowning trait of the Lord, heading the list of sixteen traits mentioned by Śrī Vālmīki, in his poem at the very beginning of Rāmāyaṇa - Śrī Rāma’s rapport with Guhā, the hunter, and intimate association with the monkeys, Vibhīṣaṇa etc., illustrate this.
When, in response to the heart-rending, rather, heart-warming appeal of the Ālvār, in the preceding decade, the Lord presented Himself before the Ālvār, in all His grandeur, betokening the enormity of His grace unto the Ālvār,
one should have expected the latter to just jump in and get himself locked up in the Lord’s sweet embrace. But what did he do?
The Ālvār beheld, with bewildering amazement, the Lord, in His full splendour, in dire contrast to his own littleness, a very picture of oppressive contrast indeed, oppressive because he dared not defile and desecrate the Great One, taking undue advantage of His condescending love.
And so, he attempted to run away from the Lord, a very strange behaviour for which the only possible explanation is that he just got drifted into such a mental complex at the mere thought of the Lord’s transcendent glory.
Such alternating extremes of behaviour are, however, noticeable in Saint Yāmuṉa,
Kūrattāḷvāṉ and his illustrious son, Śrī Parāśara Bhaṭṭa also.
As a matter of fact, the draw-backs in us serve as the foil against which the Lord’s ’Sauśīlya (condescension) shines ever the more.
Hapless me I saw the Lord of celestials, cause of the seven worlds,
and faintly called, "O Rogue who ate butter by stealth",
Then, "O strong herdsman who killed seven bulls
for winning Nappinnai's Jasmine smile, O My lord".
O My wonder Lord! You are the will and the seed of all creation,
undiminishing, known to the heart alone!
Sages and celestials faint in your contemplation.
They offer worship with water, Sandal, incense, and flowers
and count your glories with melting hearts, but never come to an end.
You created the sages and the celestials, even the four-faced Brahma,
and gave him the power the make the wombs of all creation.
Lord who stepped over all creation and measured the Universe,
you are compassionate to all, like a mother to all beings!
Finding the Ālvār, a little less scared of the Lord’s exaltation than a little while ago, some persons asked him what exactly he was intending to do, whether to get near the Lord or get away from Him. This stanza provides the answer to this question, real or supposed.
The Ālvār says:
"Even if I wish to keep aloof, my Lord would not give me up.
Look at His condescending love of amazing dimensions.
The great Creator of all the worlds
and all classes of sentient and non-sentient beings, the Supreme Master of all,
including the celestials in the High Heaven, above wants of any kind,
reclining on the bosom of the vast expanse of water in Yoga nidrā,
is now tight here to claim me as His inalienable property.”
The Lord of celestials, Lord of Vaikuṇṭha, my own Lord himself
became the cause of the three. –Brahma, Śiva, Indra, -within him.
He caused the celestials, and sages and the living, and all else
to be, then appeared in the deep ocean sleeping on a serpent couch.
There are two ways of looking at the background of this stanza:
The first is:
With the recession of his self-abnegating humility, the Ālvār prays for the felicity of constant attendance on the Lord, in close proximity.
The other is:
Intent upon stabilising the Ālvār’s longing for Him so that there is no slipping back again, the Lord intensifies the longing by keeping away from him for a while.
Unable to stand this separation, the Ālvār cries out his heart, invoking the Lord’s grace for reunion.
O Mādhava, Lord bearing the fawn-eyed dame Lakshmi,
O Govinda, who straightened the bow-like bends of Trivik's body!
O Madhusūdana, gem-hued Lord of effulgent celestials light, hear me!
Grant that this hapless self - attain your nectar lotus-feet!
O Mādhava, Lord who entered the cowherd-fold and became their chief!
O Keśava, Lord of celestials, you are the medicine and cure for my despair!
O Śrīdhara, you shot an arrow piercing seven dense trees!
O Lord of many great acts and many names, I call and swoon calling you!
My Lord, Tirumāl, wearing the fragrant Tulasī garland!
My Krishna, you release devotees from weed-like mortal bondage.
Alas! when even great minds fall to understand him,
I, of lowly intellect, weep to see him;
can there be a greater folly than this?
O Lord who swallowed the seven worlds, and brought them out again!
What a wonder, that you took birth as child Krishna,
and ate butter by stealth, leaving not a trace behind!
Was it expellant medicine for a little earth that had remained inside you?
The peerless Lord of celestials, our Lord and protector is the spouse of Śrī;
a beautiful great form compassionate like a mother to all creation;
with the innocence of a child he sucked the poisoned breast
of the fierce demonness Pūtanā, and drank her life to the bones.
The Vaikuṇṭha-Lord of effulge knowledge, beyond size and shape and situation,
pervades all things and beings, as the indwelling spirit of all.
Driving out my twin karmas, he cut as under my Māyā-bonds,
then made me set my heart on him, faithfully.
This decade of the thousand songs of Kurukūr Caṭakōpaṉ,
praised by musicians, devotees and poets alike
fondly addresses the Lord of wonders, full of grace.
Those who sing it will never suffer on earth.
First Centum—Sixth Decade
Following the pattern, hitherto noticed, of bringing to the fore a particular auspicious trait of the Lord in each decade (Tiruvāymoḷi), Swārādatva (i.e.) easy worshippability of the Lord is emphasised in this decade.
Unlike the minor deities whom it is very hard to propitiate, what with the sacrifice of goats and hens and other such harsh demands on their votaries, the Lord is pleased with whatever is offered to Him lovingly, with pious will.
Being above wants of any kind, it is unthinkable that He would want from us any offering at all. God sets greater value upon the devotion of the heart than the material value of outward offerings. He hates hypocrisy and estimates the sincerity of the soul.
In His song Celestial (Bhagad Gītā), He has affirmed:
“Whoever offers Me in faith and love, a leaf (as Draupadī did), a flower (as Gajendra did), a fruit (as Sabhari did), water poured forth (as Ambarīṣa did), that offering I accept, lovingly made with pious will.
Things, easy of procurement for all, including the poorest of the poor, offered, not for expiation of sins or securing other ends but considering giving to Me as an end in itself and out of sheer inability to exist without making a love- gift to Me are indeed acceptable.
In the absence of the devotee's inability to offer anything for eating, I consume even the leaves and flowers offered:
Vidura gave me plantain skins and Kuchela gave me but poor beaten rice and yet, I devoured them all with great avidity, like a famished fellow
The outward offerings may be trifles but, in God’s eye, they carry much weight, when offered in humility and devotion:
Once, some Princes had a desire to offer champaka flower to Lord Jagannātha at Pūri, knowing that it is His favourite flower.
At flower market, they found that all but a single flower had already been sold out. Each one of the Princes was keen on buying it and offered competitive price.
One of them staked his entire fortune, bought the flower and offered it to the Lord.
That night, God appeared in the Prince's dream and said, “The debt of thy flower is very heavy. I cannot bear its weight”, thus showing His gracious acceptance of the sincerely made offering.
As already stated, the Lord is above wants of any kind, and yet He greedily grabs at the selfless service rendered unto Him by the devotees disinterestedly, as an end in itself. In this decade the Ālvār enjoys and extols this great trait of the Lord.
Seekers of infinite joy, do not give up!
Sing of the faultless Lord, offer flowers, incense and pure water.
The cool fragrant Tulasī-wearing Lord is the Lord spoken of in the Vedas.
Whole heartedness in devotion alone is the qualification to serve him.
The Lord is beyond likes and dislikes.
My heart never parts from him, my tongue forever sings of him,
my body dances like a-ghoul!
My body dances like a ghoul, worships and serves the Lord, repository of all virtues, that celestials argue and rave about!
The Lord is neither attracted, not repelled, displays neither hatred nor friendship. Pleased by abstinence and steady devotion, he is ambrosia to the devotees.
The Lord is sweeter than ambrosia. He gave ambrosia to the gods. He reclines in the deep ocean with a radiant discus in hand.
The Lord is sweeter than ambrosia. He gave ambrosia to the gods. He reclines in the deep ocean with a radiant discus in hand.
Surrender, O Devotees, and worship him. The heavy karmas in your path standing as obstacles will vanish and abiding wealth will be yours.
He breaks the two-fold karmas and grants the highest fruit. The great celebrated Lord is peerless spouse of Lakshmi.
The beautiful bridegroom Mādhava, in the bat of an eyelid, will purge us of our karmas; his banner bears the fierce Garuda!
This decade of the faultless thousand by pure-hearted Caṭakōpaṉ addressing the perfect Mādhava secures freedom from rebirth.
First Centum—Seventh Decade (1-7) Piravittuyar ara
Easy worshippability apart, the Lord should also be adorable.
We see around quite a few persons whom it is easy to please but we don’t like to court as there is nothing attractive or prepossessing in them.
This decade shows that the Lord is highly adorable because of His extraordinary sweetness.
As Nampiḷḷai would have it, the Lord is adorable to such an extent that He grows envious of His devotees and wants to adore them, in turn, having Himself tasted the sweetness of adoration.
In Śloka “Manujatva tiroitena...” of Pādukā Sahaśram, Śrī Vedanta Deśika observes that, unlike the previous Avatāras when the Lord came all alone, He assumed four forms when He came down as Śrī Rāma and the three younger brothers:
The purpose behind this was to adore His own pair of sandals which have a high reputation of their own. This He did in His other form as Bhārata. Had Rāma come alone, He couldn’t have achieved this purpose.
(Oh, what a pity!) the Lord, gracious and immaculate.
Sporting the effulgent discus, is tenaciously sought
By those votaries wanting no more than to liberate
Themselves from the miseries of birth and death and get lost
In a state of Self-enjoyment (of the Soul in its free state).
The Lord of infinite virtues, beyond reach of person and place
is the darling child of the cowherd-clan.
He is the medicine and the wealth of devotees;
he will not allow the power of the senses to ruin them.
I drank deep from the ambrosia of my sweet Lord,
wonder-Lord, gem-hued Lord, darling child of the cowherd clan
who took their beating, all for stealing butter!
Broken are the cords of ignorance that bound me to rebirth.
Oh! How shall I give up my adorable Lord now?
He drove out ignorance and entered my heart fully.
The roof and stock of all the omniscient celestials,
he gave me his radiant self-light and glorious virtues.
The Lord who appeared before the cowherd-girls like one elf
and played mischief with them,
is my light and soul.
Oh! How can I leave him now?
He lifted the Earth from the deluge waters.
He pierced an arrow through seven trees.
What a wonder! The Lord who wears the fragrant Tulasī on his crown
has entered into my heart, will I ever let him go?
I did not intend to hold him in my heart,
He came of his own and occupied me fully.
He has blended himself into my very flesh and breath,
Will he decide to forsake me now?
The Lord is first cause of the ancient celestials.
He enjoys the embrace of Nappinnai's bamboo-like arms.
Even if he desires to forsake me now, my heart is so good,
he has not the power to leave and go.
The Lord who gave ambrosia to the gods,
is the darling-child of the cowherd clan.
My souls has blended my being into him.
How can the thought of separation arise again?
My Lord is one who leaves if left, stays if restrained,
My Lord is hard to reach, my Lord is easy to reach.
Let using and praise his infinite glory,
and enjoy his union, ceaselessly, night and day.
This decade of the thousand sweet songs
by Kurukūr Caṭakōpaṉ, on attaining the Lord
who wears the nectarine Tulasī wreath humming with bees,
provided a cure for sickness and disease.
First Centum- -Eighth Decade (1-8)
Otum pul eri
In this decade the Ālvār brings to the fore the Lord’s quality of Uprightness (ārjava or rujuḥ), His transparence in word, deed and thought, free from sophistry, duplicity, mental reservation, mischievous distortion etc.
The Lord would not mean one thing, say another and do a third thing:
When Sūrpaṇakhā saw Śrī Rāma at Pañchavaṭī and interrogated Him about His personal history, there would have been nothing wrong if He had tactfully withheld the truth from the demoness. But it was not in His grain to do so and hence He gave out the actual fact with remarkable sincerity.
Tirukkurukaippirāṉ Piḷḷāṉ, the earliest glossator on Tiruvāymoḷi, holds that this decade highlights the Lord’s wealth (Aiśvarya). The other commentators, Periyavāccāṉ Piḷḷai and Vaṭakku Tiruvīti Piḷḷai, however, prefer to bring into focus the Lord’s ārjava in this decade, as stated at the outset.
Our own lord, he wears cool Tulasī, rides the Garuda bird and lives with eternals.
Though Lord of all, he took birth, as lotus-eyed Krishna, fore Keśin’s jaws.
The Lord who is like unto a pair of eyes
For those on Earth and Heaven,
Stays in Vēṅkaṭam, cool and nice,
The Celestials' favourite haven.
Forever I shall praise the Lord
who stood holding a mountain high that revealed his glory.
Without a doubt the Lord who stole butter, and ate with both hands, is blended in me.
Blending into my soul, he bears my good.
As a charming lad he measured the Earth.
He swallowed the seven worlds, he slew seven bulls,
his cool resort is my consciousness.
For the love of me, he became the cowherd,
and the fish, and the boar too.
Our Lord who appeared in all forms
bears a discus and conch on beautiful hands.
My Lord and master who measured the Earth
is praised by the Vedas, like waves of the ocean.
This decade by Caṭakōpaṉ, in the thousand sons,
sings the glories of the ocean-hued Lord.
First Centum—Ninth Decade (1-9)
If the Lord’s flow of grace unto the hitherto starved Soul were to be full and flooding, all of a sudden, the Subject cannot stand it and will just be swept off his feet.
It is a matter of common knowledge how babes are fed through a graded course, beginning with breast milk, a little gruel some time later, and then, small bits of rice and so on.
If, out of misplaced love, a parent fed the young one straightaway on adult scale-rice, curry and all that-the result would be disastrous. As in the ease of food, in the matter of imparting education also, one goes step by step.
Little wonder then, the omniscient Lord regulates the influx of His grace in such a manner that the recipient is able to stomach it all right.
As is oft repeated in these pages, the Lord’s grace is the sole means for attaining Him and yet, against the above background, the Ālvār was not straightaway conferred the final bliss right at the beginning when he prayed to the Lord (opening song of Tiruviruttam) for the termination of existence in his foul body.
The Ālvār had to pass through a course of shock treatment, experiencing alternately the bliss of Divine presence and union and the cruel pangs of separation, whetting his appetite and enriching his Divine love and wisdom ati the time.
Before wearing a heavy ornament in the car which is pretty delicate, one has to gradually prepare the ground by enlarging the car-hole by stages, first inserting a small piece of string, then a thin metallic ring or chip and so on.
Again, one who has been on a month’s fast, either due to sickness or as a matter of penance, has to restart taking food only by stages, rice ground into a paste being smeared on the body, oral administration of gruel of low consistency, so on and so forth.
The Lord, according to the Ālvār’s own admission in this decade as well as IV-5-5, unfolds unto the Ālvār His glorious traits and deeds by stages, consistent with his capacity for in-take.
It would indeed be too much for the Ālvār to bear if he were conferred, all at once, bliss enjoyed by the Eternal Angels in the Lord’s close proximity in Heaven.
No doubt, the Lord covets the Ālvār’s body, being the last of the series of bodies donned by him, in which the Lord has now been able to reclaim him. And yet He would not straightaway jump into the crown of his head, much as He would like to.
If He did so, it would doubtless bring about the sudden collapse of the Ālvār, like unto the pauper from birth, which suddenly comes by a sizable treasure, succumbing to the shock.
He would first get near the Ālvār, stand close to him, get into his hip, thence move upwards, to the region of his heart, from there, step on to the shoulder, enter his tongue, peep through his eyes, pause for a while on the forehead and then reach the head, His ultimate destination.
It is this trait of a well-regulated flow of the Lord’s grace that the Ālvār admires and brings out in this decade.
The Lord is first-cause of all things and beings everywhere,
he contains all in himself, then makes them again and protects them,
My Lord, my ambrosia, the taste of sweetness, is the spouse of Lakshmi,
He has entered my Vicinity.
My Lord Keśava is the Lord of many wonders,
He killed the rutted elephant; he came as a boar and lifted the Earth,
he reclines in the deep ocean mystifying celestials.
He is near me now.
Faultless Lord of infinite glory, first cause of the celestials,
dark gem-hued Lord of lotus-red eyes, peerless spouse of Lakshmi, -
he delights in riding the Garuda bird of fierce wings.
He has entered into me, giving me the bliss of union!
Three queens Bhū, Śrī and Nīla love to be seated with him.
The worlds that he rules are also three.
Lord more wondrous than the ocean, he swallowed them all
and slept as a child floating on a fig leaf.
He has risen to my lap now.
The wondrous Lord instantly by his will
created Śiva, Indra, Brahma and all other gods and all the world.
He is my darling child Krishna who took such from Pūtanā’s poison breast.
My Lord has-now risen to my bosom.
The Lord in my bosom is the body and spirit of all,
pure enchanting and deceitful; wind and fire too are him.
Lord afar and Lord near, whom none can reach through,
he has ascended on my shoulders; who can know this wonder?
He is an icon of radiant light, brilliance beyond comparison.
On his shoulders, over his chest, on his crown and his radiant feet,
he wears a garland of woven Tulasī flowers,
My Lord. becoming dearer day by day, is on my tongue now.
In the wisdom of all the arts that blossom from the tongue,
he is their letter and spirit; protector and destroyer too are him.
Petal-soft, four-armed Lord with battle-fierce discus and conch,
the lotus-eyed Lord is in my eyes.
He created the lotus-born Brahmā and the forehead-eyed Śiva.
He created the pure gods and all their worlds.
I see the lotus-eyed Lord in my eyes, he too sees me clearly.
He is in my forehead.
The crescent-crowned Śiva, the four-faced Brahma,
Indra and all the other gods
place their heads of his lotus feet and worship him.
The Tulasī wreathed Krishna, my lord protecting me
from my forehead has risen to my head!
This decade of the thousand songs
by Kurukūr Caṭakōpaṉ addressing Krishna, Lord of gods,
with love will abidingly secure his holy lotus feet
to those who sing it to the Lord, with feeling.
First Centum—Tenth Decade (1-10)
(Poru ma nil patai)
In this decade, the Lord's voluntary or spontaneous grace is prominently brought out and extolled by the Ālvār.
Some Ācāryas, however, hold that the Ālvār gives vent to his boundless joy resulting from the Lord’s contact with him, limb by limb, mentioned in the preceding decade.
The remarkable approach of Śrī Parāśara Bhaṭṭa, that intellectual giant of extraordinary divine fervour, to this decade is as follows:
In the preceding decade, the Supreme Lord was shown to have finally got on to the Ālvār’s head. Could there be any mystic experience more exalted than this? It was now up to the Lord to keep it up without once again snatching Himself away from the Ālvār.
That apart, the highest bliss, thus conferred by the Lord on the Ālvār, led him on, to introspection as to how he came to it.
A thread-bare analysis of his own attainments reveals that he has none whatsoever and, at best, it could be said that he was God-bent and free from hatred for Him.
Can it be said that a lemon fruit has secured a Kingdom, simply because a subject reverently placed a lemon fruit at the feet of a munificent King and got a liberal gift of territory, at the King’s pleasure?
It is absolutely impossible, rather, it would be preposterous to correlate the slender means of the Individual, as good as non-existent, with the “End” of mighty dimensions, as in the example cited above.
Verily, the Lord is the root-cause even for the little merit, if any, acquired by the Individual, down the ages, as the latter was dowered with body and limbs, and put on a career of useful activity, only by Him.
And so, the present ecstatic experience of the Ālvār is traceable only to the Lord’s redemptive grace and, little wonder, the Ālvār thaws down in grateful acknowledgement of the Lord’s benefaction, totally unrelated to the merit in him.
It will be seen from the above exposition that Bhaṭṭa lays emphasis on the Lord’s redemptive grace besides sharing the view of the other Ācāryas, so far as the Ālvār’s ecstatic experience is concerned.
I saw in my eyes the dark gem-hued Lord,
resplendent with the war-waging discus and conch.
He came as a manikin then and strode the Earth with great feet,
O. How he grew and became worshipped by the seven worlds!
My Lord unfolds himself as Earth, water, fire wind and sky.
Whenever worship him with love,
he enters into my eyes and fills my heart.
What more do I want?
O Heart, worship the cool lotus-eyed Lord!
On his chest he bears the lotus-dame Lakshmi
whose hips are slender like a snake or a twig.
He is the Lord of my father, his father and the forefathers before him.
Well done, my mind! what is there
We can’t secure when you are here?
Well, is there anything we would want anymore?
Malarāḷ’s (Lotus-born Lakṣmī’s) Consort, ever young.
Leave not, even if you find me straying.
Haven’t you seen, my mind! how things occur,
With no pre-thoughts in us? did the seven worlds
Know that the Lord would, during deluge, sustain Them all?
Who knew that the Lord would measure
The worlds in three strides and set His feet on them?
Well, did you ever know that you would see Him?
My mind! if you and I continue in this state,
Our sapphire—hued Lord, Master of all,
Who is our Father and Mother as well.
Will rid us of all ills, let me truly state.
The Sovereign Lord, the Celestials contemplate
And sing His glory as their Progenitor (Primate):
How dare I, a sinner, likewise meditate
And call Him my Father, my Master and all that?
“Celvanāraṇaṉ” the word uttered by someone,
Heard I, and lo! with tears my eyes did run;
Searched I whither He is gone, oh, what a marvel!
Through friendly days and nights with no interval.
The perfect Lord, full of grace, tries to win
My love and elects with me ever to remain.
On what pretext shall I forget my Lord of dazzling charm,
The Progenitor of the exalted denizens of heaven,
The perfect Lord Who, in Teṉtirukkuṟuṅkuṭi stands
With an exquisite Form that does like red gold gleam?
I know not what it is to feel or forget
And yet, the Lord, with red-lotus-eyes, does apprehend
That I’ll forget Him and, as one forewarned,
He has lodged Himself firm in my heart;
The gem of a Lord, shall I any more forget?
This decade of the thousand songs
rendered in service by Kurukūr Caṭakōpaṉ
addresses the gem-hued lord, one without a peer.
Those who master it will attain pure knowledge.