kaNda kaNgaL

The magnificent amalanAdipirAn pasurams were written by ThiruppANAzhvAr. This Azhvar wrote only ten verses, but his unmatched devotion elevated him as one of the ten Azhvars.

The pasurams themselves are dedicated to Lord Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam. The story, in brief, behind the pasurams and Azhvar is as follows.

Thiruppanazhvar was born in the lowest of castes - panchama varNa. As such, he was not allowed to even step into the divyadesam of Srirangam. He was born in a class of singers - pANar kulam. They lived on the south side of Cauvery river across from Srirangam, under the divine gaze of the Lord of Srirangam (”then thisai ilangai nOkki”). Azhvar used to look toward Srirangam and sing wonderful songs on the Lord from the banks of Cauvery each day. It is to the same part of the river that Sri Loka Saranga Muni, a devotee of the Lord, used to come each day for his daily ablutions and for gathering water for the temple.

One time, when Loka Saranga Muni came there to fetch holy water for the Lord, Azhvar was there also, singing the Lord’s praise with eyes closed and immersed in the divine moment. Loka Saranga Muni, seeing Azhvar, tried to catch his attention to ask him to step away while he collected the water. Azhvar, with his eyes closed, did not notice him. At this point, Loka Saranga Muni, threw a stone at Azhvar to make him open his eyes. The stone hit Azhvar’s head and he started bleeding. It also made him open his eyes. Realizing what had occured, Azhvar hastily stepped away from the bank. At which point, Loka Saranga Muni fetched the water and went back to Srirangam temple.

Not happy with had happened to his dear devotee, Sri Ranganatha told Loka Saranga Muni to go apologize to Azhvar and bring him to the temple. Shocked at what he had done to the Lord’s devotee, Loka Saranga Muni, immediately went across the river to Azhvar’s home and told him what the Lord had instructed.

However, Azhvar refused to step on the holy land of Srirangam. Loka Saranga Muni, then carried Azhvar on his shoulders into the temple - thereby, fulfilling the wishes of both the Lord and His devotee. Hence, Azhvar attained the name Muni Vahanar.

Upon reaching the temple and seeing the great Lord reclining on Adisesha, Azhvar burst into the amalanAdipirAn pasurams. He concluded the pasurams with the verse “en amudhinaik kaNda kaNgaL maRRonRinaik kANAvE” (that is, his eyes which saw Sri Ranganatha would see nothing else). At this time, Azhvar attined His divine thiruvadi.

Let us examine this last line of Azhvar. Azhvar clearly says that having seen the Lord of Srirangam (”aNi arangan”), his eyes will not see anything else.

Interestingly, the pasurams while dedicated to Sri Ranganatha, do not refer to Him first. In the very first pasuram, Azhvar refers to the Lord of the Seven Hills - thiruvEngadavan (”viraiyAr pozhil vEngadavan”). Only after that does he refer to Ranganatha (”nIL madhiL arangaththammAn”). In the third pasuram, Azhvar starts with Thirumalai (”vada vEngada mAmalai”) and then comes to Srirangam (”arangaththu aravinaNaiyAn”).

So, why did Azhvar refer to ThiruvEngadamudaiyAn even while stating that he will see nothing but Ranganatha. VyAkhyAnams state that Azhvar was not making any mistake here. The Lord of Srirangam and Thiruvengadam are one and the same. Paramapada Nathan left His divine abode and stopped at Thirumalai. From there, He looked around for the ideal place to rest and saw that the banks of the Ubhaya Kaveri was the most appropriate place. The vyAkhyAnams state that He entered Srirangam through the northern entrance (”vadakku vAsal”), meaning that He came there from the northern Thirumalai hills.

Let us examine the verse to see if we can get another angle at this. Azhvar finishes by saying that his eyes that saw Sri Ranganatha will see nothing else.

For one thing, we can say that Azhvar did not fully see Ranganatha till he had seen Him in full. That is, he started with the Lord’s divine feet first and worked his way to His crown and then His whole body. It is at that point that he declares that he has (fully) seen Ranganatha and will see nothing else. So, we can say that it was okay for him initially to refer to another divyadesam, namely Thirumalai, before stating that ‘having seen Ranganatha fully (at the end), I will see nothing else’. But this explanation does not have full ruchi.

So, let us look at another view. What does Azhvar say? That he will see nothing but Ranganatha. One does not have to assume that he is refering to the physical figure of the Lord inside the temple. Azhvar could be saying that, from that point on, having seen the Lord at Srirangam, no matter what he looks at, he sees nothing but the same Lord. So, when he says “maRRonRinaik kANAvE”, he is not saying that he won’t see anything else. What he is saying is that, he will only see Ranganatha in everything and nothing else. Having said this, he could refer to any number of divyadesams. It would not mean that he is singing about the Lords of those divyadesams. It would mean that he is singing about Ranganatha in those divyadesams.

Thus, Azhvars eyes which saw Ranganatha, from that day forward saw nothing but Ranganatha.

In this sense, Azhvar who had ridden on the shoulders of a lOka muni, had become a brahma muni - such as sukha brahmam who saw nothing but para brahmam in everything that he saw.

Finally, Azhvar is talking not just about himself but everyone else in this regard. Anyone whose eyes saw the divine Lord Ranganatha will see nothing else. Not just “en amudhinak kaNda (ennudaiya) kaNgaL maRRonRinaik kANAvE”, but also ”en amudhinaik kaNda (evarudaiya) kaNgaL(um) maRRonRinaik kANAvE”.

Thiruppanazhvar Thiruvadigale Sharanam 

Written on May 5, 2005