O Achyuta! With a body like a great green mountain, a mouth like coral, with eyes shaped like a red lotus, O Lord of the celestials! O tender sprig of the cowherds!’ Other than the pleasure of uttering these words, I want nothing, not even attaining the experience of ruling the world of the celestials!
Is it 2014 already? I cannot believe it! Decades seem to rush past, faster and faster, leaving me far behind. I feel as if I stand on a platform, with trains rushing past on either side of me, people hurrying from here to there, while I stare bewildered at them all. When did I stop being a participant and become the audience instead? Is it perhaps that my children have grown and live far away with lives of their own? Is it maybe that my husband occupies the same physical space as I do but seems to live in a different mental space? When did I become so disassociated, disengaged, disjointed? What is the remedy?
ஊரிலேன் காணி இல்லை உறவு மற்றொருவர் இல்லை I sing quietly to myself. ‘I am of no town, I have no land, I have no other kin in this world’. I am not in an unhappy place, but a place of stillness, a place removed. I think that perhaps we will all arrive in this place of one at sometime or the other. And in this place, the poetry that I have chosen for today seems so meaningful that it could have been written today, not 1200+ years back. Written by Thondaradippodi Azhwar (8th Century AD), Tirumaalai has 45 verses in devotion to Lord Ranganatha (Vishnu) of Srirangam. The two verses that are featured in today’s post are both from Tirumaalai; no Tamilian can remain untouched by these beautiful words.
பச்சை மாமலை போல் மேனி பவளவாய் கமலச் செங்கண்
அச்சுதா! அமரர் ஏறே! ஆயர் தம் கொழுந்தே! என்னும்,
இச்சுவை தவிர யான் போய் இந்திர லோகம் ஆளும்,
அச்சுவை பெறினும் வேண்டேன் அரங்க மா நகர் உளானே! (2)
pachchai mAmalai pOl mEni pavaLavAy kamalach-chengkaN
achchudA! amarar-ERE! Ayar tam kozhundE! ennum,
ichchuvai tavira yAn pOy indira lOkam ALum
achchuvai peRinum vENDEn aranga mA nagar-uLAnE!
‘O Achyuta! With a body like a great green mountain, a mouth like coral, with eyes shaped like a red lotus, O Lord of the celestials! O tender sprig of the cowherds!’ Other than the pleasure of uttering these words, I want nothing, not even the experience of ruling the world of the celestials, O Lord who lives in the great city of Arangama (SriRangam)!
The verse above is very famous and sung in many Vishnu temples during the daily rituals of worship. The Azhwar rejects even the pleasure of ruling heaven when compared to the pleasure of singing the praises of his dearest Lord Ranganatha.
ஊரிலேன் காணி இல்லை உறவு மற்றொருவர் இல்லை
பாரில் நின் பாத மூலம் பற்றிலேன் பரம மூர்த்தி
காரொளி வண்ணனே என் கண்ணனே கதறுகின்றேன்
ஆர் உளர் களைகண் அம்மா அரங்க மா நகருளானே (29)
UrilEn kANI illai uRavu maTRRovar illai
pAril nin pAda mUlam paTRRilEn parama mUrtti
kAroLi vaNNanE en kaNNane kadaRuginDREn
Ar uLar kaLaikaN ammA aranga mA nagaruLAnE
O Supreme Lord, I am of no town, I have no land, I have no other kin in this world. I have not even been able to access your feet! O Lord with the complexion of brightly lit clouds! O my Kanna (Krishna)! I cry in despair! Who is there to be support me like a mother! O Ranganatha!
In this second verse, the Azhwar says he has nothing and no one on this earth and cries in despair to the Lord to support him. To read the complete Tirumaalai, click here.
These verses are sung in exquisite Hindolam by Unnikrishnan. His voice is so gentle, so full of peace that I feel totally centred after listening to him. God bless him!
Tamilians of a certain age will no doubt remember the following brisker and stronger rendition by T.M.Sounderarajan in Thirumal Perumai (1968)
Happy New Year!