Tirumāḷai verses| Thondaradipodi Āḻvār


Tirumāḷai by Thondaradipodi Āḻvār

Loving the God in Srirangam


You, the ancient one,
swallowed the three worlds and spit them out.
We do not like the feelings
that come from the enjoyment of our five senses
and we do not sin anymore.
The messengers of Yama cannot hurt us now.
We are brave because we have learned your names
and recite them,
O god of Srirangam.


Your body is like a beautiful green hill.
Your lotus eyes are handsome
and your mouth is red as coral.
O father, you are a bull among the gods.
You are a tender child to the cowherds.
I only want to praise you with these words.
I will not want anything
even if I were given the gift of ruling Indra’s world,
O god of Srirangam.


Even if a man lives for hundred years,
half of those years he spends sleeping.
Many he spends as an innocent child and as a youth
and the rest he spends suffering sickness, hunger,
old age and other ills.
I do not want to be born any more in this world,
O god of Srirangam.


When Ksatrabandu suffered from bad karma,
he worshipped the god,
recited the three syllables word “Govinda” and received moksha.
Even though I continually worship Raṅga,
the crazy god who gave his grace to devotees like Ksatrabandu,
he has not taken away my births.


Those who enjoy the pleasures of women
will fall into many troubles.
They will get sick and suffer, unable to eat night and day.
Why do those base ones not become the devotees
of the god whose chest is decorated with cool Tulasī garlands,
singing and dancing the praise of the god?
They enjoy the food they eat and do not know
that worshipping the god is like drinking nectar.


You build tall walls for your palaces
that have long porches and enjoy living in them
and you do not think at all of your next birth.
You do not become a devotee of the god Raṅgam
whose walls are dharma.
You decorate the exterior wall that is your body
and live inside it as if you were a bird
concerned with nothing else.


Can those who learn from the good religious books
hear, listen and know about the dharma of the mean religions,
Buddhism and Jainism?
If I think of any other god,
I promise that even if someone cuts off my head
I will not die because I am a devotee of the god.
The only god of gods is he who destroyed Lanka with his bow.


O god! You stay in Srirangam!
The bald-headed Jains, Buddhists and the Sakyas
hate our religion and say terrible things about you.
It is better if they get sick and die rather than living.
When I hear their bad speech, it hurts me.
If I could, I would cut off their heads.


O ignorant men! Is there any other god?
You will not understand that he is the only god
unless you are in trouble.
You should know one thing for sure:
there is no god except him.
Worship our father’s feet decorated with anklets
who grazed the calves.


He created all the gods by his good grace.
He showed Srirangam as the path
to those who want to be released from their births.
O Nambis, listen.
The god who rides on the eagle is here,
but you look only for the wealth
that is achieved by bad deeds.


Our god, the protector of the world,
built a bridge on the large ocean, shooting one arrow.
He fought with the king of the Rākṣasas in Lanka.
You do not think of the beautiful temple
in Srirangam surrounded by forts,
and so you do not have good luck in this birth
but waste your life.


Once some people heard
Yama and Muthkalan talking together in hell
and thought that hell is heaven.
They forgot that the place of the dear god Nambi
who has many names is Srirangam
and they did not worship the god there.
They plunge into sorrow and I am worried
that they will have trouble in their lives.


All the creatures of this wide earth
surrounded by oceans with rolling waves
worship the king of the gods in the sky
who is decorated with a fragrant blooming Tulasī garland.
If ignorant people praise Srirangam,
all the hells that have been created for them
because of their enjoyment of the senses
will be destroyed and disappear.


Beautiful Srirangam is surrounded with groves
where bunches of bees swarm around flowers, peacocks dance,
clouds float above in the sky and cuckoos sing.
Indra the king of the gods comes and stays there.
Such is lovely Srirangam.
You should take the food that bad people eat
who do not praise Srirangam filled with beautiful groves
and give it to the dogs.


The king of the gods who has an eagle flag
is true for those who think he is true
and he is false for those who think he is not true.
If someone thinks he can escape birth
only by worshipping the god,
his doubts about the god will go away
and he will understand
that Srirangam is the Tirupati of the beautiful god.


I was a gambler and a thief.
I consorted with bad people
and was caught in the love-nets of women
who have fish-like eyes.
But then the beautiful god said, “Come out!”
and entered my mind and made me love him.
Srirangam is the Tirupati of the beautiful god
who made me love him.


I don’t know how to praise you with my tongue
and I don’t have the good luck of knowing how to love you
or a good mind that knows how to glorify you.
My strong iron-like heart melted
to see the sweet sugarcane-like god
who stays in the wonderful temple in Srirangam
surrounded with groves swarming with bees.
How my eyes were delighted when I saw him!


My lotus-eyed god
rules the world, sleeping on the ocean
where waves break on the banks
and spray drops of water with foam.
My eyes that saw Kaṇṇaṉ
whose red mouth is as soft as a fruit shed tears.
What can I, a sinner, do?


My father, my god who has the colour of the blue ocean,
lies on the snake bed.
As he sleeps his head is on the west side,
his feet are extended toward the east,
his back is turned toward the north
and he looks toward Lanka in the south.
When I look at him as he sleeps my body melts.
O people of the world, what can I do?


The god Māyaṉār sleeps on a snake bed
in Srirangam where the water of the Kāverī strikes its banks.
He has a beautiful divine chest.
His body has the colour of emerald.
He has strong arms and pure lotus-like eyes.
His coral-red lips are beautiful.
He has handsome shining hair.
How could his devotees forget his beautiful sleeping form?


O heart, you are humble
and you want me to make my mind one with Raṅgam
who has a coral mouth. You are strong and tell me
that I should always think of the god, beautiful as a jewel,
who sleeps in the mountain-like temple made of beautiful, precious gold.
Tell me how can I approach him?


O heart, you may speak of him
but you cannot really know his greatness.
No one can know him except those who are faultless.
We can only worship him
who stays in the hearts of his faultless devotees.
O ignorant heart! Can you speak of him? Tell me.


Srirangam is in the middle of the Kāverī river
which is purer than the Ganges.
Its waters rise and spread through blooming groves.
Our god Maal, our Esan, lies there on the river.
How can I live forgetting him
after seeing him sleeping on the water of the Kāverī?
I am to be pitied, I am to be pitied.


I see the god’s beautiful lotus face
and the way that thief who stole my heart lies on the Kāverī
in Srirangam surrounded by a rising flood of water
and flourishing with groves.
O my heart, you are brave.
You know he is the one you really love,
but you love him secretly and spend your days
without telling anyone.


I have not lived the life of an orthodox Brahmin
who bathes and makes sacrifices with three fires.
I do not understand myself.
I am not a devotee in your eyes.
What is there for me to be happy about?
O Nambi, you have the blue colour of the ocean.
I cry out for you.
Show pity on me and give me your grace.
You are the god of Srirangam!


I don’t worship your golden feet,
decorating them constantly with flowers.
Even though I have much time,
I don’t praise your divine qualities with faultless words.
My heart doesn’t know how to love you.
O Raṅga, I don’t have the fortune of being your devotee.
What can I do? I was born in vain.


I am like the squirrel
that turned and plunged into the water
when the monkeys threw stones
and could not find help.
My heart is hard as wood.
I am a bad person.
I have not served the god of Srirangam with my mind
and I am tired and wretched.


Even the gods in the sky do not understand the radiant god.
He came to protect the elephant Gajendra
and grew angry at the crocodile that ate red meat.
Am I fit for him to come to me?
I am like a dog, I am mean.
I don’t serve the god.
What can I do? I was born in vain.


I don’t belong to a village.
I don’t own any land.
I don’t have any relatives.
O highest god!
I worship your feet on this earth
and I don’t know any other refuge.
You have the bright colour of the dark clouds.
O my Kaṇṇā! I cry out for you.
Who do I have without you as my support?
Come and remove my sorrow.
You are my mother, you are the god of Srirangam.


I don’t have a pure mind.
No good words come from my mouth.
I get very angry, shout and speak bad words.
O god, you are decorated with fresh Tulasī garlands
and you stay in Srirangam, surrounded by the Ponni river.
Tell me, what will happen to me?
You are king. You rule me.


I have not done any tapas like the sages.
I am not wealthy.
I am as useless as salty water for my friends and relatives.
I fell for women whose mouths are like coral
and became like dust when I didn’t have any money.
You gave me this birth only to make me suffer.
You are the god of Srirangam!


O Kaṇṇā! Your body is as dark as a thick cloud.
You stay in beautiful Srirangam
where bees sing and swarm in the groves.
I don’t know even one path to take to see you.
I am a thief, I am violent, stupid and rough.
I come to you. You are my refuge.


I stopped telling the truth
and fell into the passion of women who have long hair.
I told only lies and now I have no refuge.
I come and stand before you.
O lord, Raṅga, I, a liar, come before you
hoping that you will give me your grace.
I am a liar, a liar.


The god Maal abides in my mind
but I am unable to understand that he is there.
I am a thief disguised as a devotee doing service.
When I realized that you are in the minds of those
who think of you and you know what they think,
I was ashamed and laughed so hard
that it seemed the bones in my chest would break.


O my father, you measured all the world with your feet.
I will not worship anyone but you.
You are the god Maal who has beautiful eyes.
You are my soul! You are nectar!
You are my father and are as dear as my life.
I am a sinner.
I will not worship anyone except you.
I am a sinner, truly I am a sinner.


When you were young
you carried Govardhana mountain to stop the storming rain.
You are a sweet river.
I suffer, caught in the net of doe-eyes women.
Why don’t you look at me and give me your grace?
I have no one but you. I call you.
You are the ancient god!
O god! You stay in divine Srirangam.


The bright god is my father and mother
and he stays in Srirangam
surrounded by the clear water of the Kāverī.
I am a poor person.
My dear lord doesn’t show me even a bit of compassion.
He doesn’t think, “He is pitiful, I should help him.”
What is this, O god? Isn’t this a terrible thing to do?


O god of Srirangam surrounded by water,
you are happy with the devotees
who abandon their wealth, understand divine truth,
know what will they be in the future,
control their five senses,
shave their heads
and stay at your doorstep, living a quiet life.


O god, your hair is decorated with a Tulasī garland.
No one has to be born in a good family to become the your slave.
Even if someone is born like a dog
and doesn’t belong to the families of Vedic Brahmins,
if he worships your feet decorated with sounding anklets,
it seems you will be happy with him,
O god of Srirangam.


O god, you stay in Srirangam.
You have beautiful Lakshmi on your chest.
Even if hunters kill animals cruelly,
burn and eat them,
if they think of you in their minds
and keep you there with love,
worshipping you,
their bad karma will disappear
and they will not suffer.


Even bad people who do evil things
and make others do evil deeds,
if they praise you saying, “You are the god of the sky.
Even the gods in the sky do not understand you.
O god, you are decorated with a Tulasī garland
that swarms with bees,”
and if they become your slaves and offer food to your devotees,
they will become pure.


You are the god of Srirangam surrounded with walls.
You give your grace to those who worship you and tell them,
“Even if you belong to a low caste,
you should recite the Vedas,
follow a faultless way of life
and become my devotee,
mingling with other devotees, worshipping them,
giving them whatever they need
and sharing your things with them.”
Isn’t that the way you give grace to poor people
and make them worship you as your good devotees?


O god, you stay in beautiful Srirangam.
If even Brahmins of the highest caste
who recite the six divine Upanishads and the four Vedas
disgrace your devotees,
they will become Pulaiyars in a moment.


Shiva who has the Ganges in his Jaṭā
and Nāṉmukaṉ who did tapas for countless ages
could not see you and felt ashamed.
You came and gave your grace to the elephant Gajendra,
amazing the gods in the sky.
Why do people think of you as their refuge
and hope you will remove their suffering
when you do not show your grace to all like me?


Thoṇḍardippoḍi, the great devotee
praised Kaṇṇaṉ, Maal, the god of Srirangam
who killed the strong well-fed elephant
in flourishing Madurai
that has beautiful palaces decorated with coral.
Those who recite his simple poems
will become sweet devotees of our dear god.