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T i r u v a i m o z h i of N a m m a z h w a r - Centum : 3-4

pugazhum _nal oruvan en_gO!* poruvilseerp boomi en_gO,*
thigazhumthaN paravai en_gO!* theeyen_gO! vaayuven_gO,*
nigazum aakaasam en_gO!* neeLsudar iraNdum en_gO,*
igazvil ivvanaitthum en_gO* kaNNanaik koovumaaRE! (2) 3.4.1

"Emperumaan- KaNNan- How will I describe Him?- as the One who is
unparalleled and praised Gloriously by sruthis and smrthis; OR as the
One who is like the Mother Earth in its unmatched Patience; OR as the
Big Ocean which is full of cool and bright water; OR as the Fire; OR as
the Air; OR as the Sky? OR as the Bright, Shining Sun & Moon? OR as the
Entirety of all Objects? _ How will I address Him? OR Should I say all
these ones?"

koovumaaRaRiya maattEn* kunRangaL anaitthum en_gO,*
mEvuseer maari en_gO!* viLangu thaaragaigaL en_gO,*
naaviyal kalaigaL en_gO!* NYaana_nallaavi en_gO,*
paavuseerk kaNNan emmaan* pangayak kaNNaNnaiyE! 3.4.2

"I am totally speechless and at a loss of words to sing pAsuram (about
Him) due to the ecstasy of my bhakti; Is He all the Mountains? Is He
the reat Rains? Is He those Bright, Shining String of stars? Is He
those arts? Is He the embodiment of jnAnA? The Red Lotus eyed Lord of
mine- How will I address His Auspicious attributes?"

pangaiyak kaNNan en_gO!* pavaLassevvaayan en_gO,*
angathir adiyan en_gO!* ancana vaNNan en_gO,*
sengathir mudiyan en_gO!* thirumaRu maarvan en_gO,*
sangusakkaratthan en_gO!* saathimaaNikkaththaiyE! 3.4.3

(What a tamizh!) He is of the Most Grandest form of Black MANIckkam
(Emerald)- Should I call My Lord, The Supreme? As The Red Lotus Eyed
Lord (SenthaamaraikkaNNan); OR as the Red Coral lipped Lord
(pavaLacchevvayan); OR as the One who has the Bright Shining Most
Beautiful Lotus Feet; OR as the One who is of Most Darkest Colour like
the "mai"(anjanam)- (kaajal in Hindi); OR as the One who has the
Shining Crown? OR as the One who has the Goddess MahAlakshmi in His
chest; OR as the One who has the sanghu (Divine Conch) and chakrA
(Divine Discuss);"

saathimaaNikkam en_gO!* savikOLpon muttham en_gO,*
saathi_nalvayiram en_gO,* thavivilseer viLakkam en_gO,*
aathiyaNY sOthi en_gO!* aathiyam purudan en_gO,*
aathumil kaalaththu enthai* acchuthan amalaNnaiyE! 3.4.4

"Should I call Him as the MaNickkam of the Highest Quality? As The
Brightest Shining Gold? As The illustrious Pearl? As The invaluable
Diamond? As the ceaseless Light? OR as the Paramapadham? OR as the
Chief of Parama padham? (AdhiyanjOthi- His divine Body in Paramapadham;
Aadhiyam purudan- DivyAthma swarUpam); Is HE NOT the Faultless One, who
has granted me the knowledge to know my connection with Him and the my
support after I become supportless in this worldly life? He is My
Acuthan, who NEVER LEAVES me.

acchuthan amalan en_gO,* adiyavar vinaikedukkum,*
naccumaa maruntham en_gO!* nalangadal amutham en_gO,*
acchuvaik katti en_gO!* aRusuvai adisil en_gO,*
neyccuvaith thERal en_gO!* kaniyen_gO! paalengEnO! 3.4.5

"Should I call Him as the One who DOES NOT HAVE any blemish/fault
whatsoever and is always united with endless, Ceaseless Paramapadham?
OR as the One who is the Best, Most Desirable Medicine for removal of
karmAs/sins of His Devotees and protecting them? OR as the One who is
like the amirtham (nectar) churned out in pARkadal? OR as the Sugarcane
like the nectar? OR SHOULD I CALL HIM as the "akkAra adisil" (Sweet
Food)? Or the Most tastiest Ghee? OR the Sweetest Madhu? OR the Best
Fruit? OR the Milk? OR WHAT? - How shall I describe Him? (AzhwAr has
tasted Him and He is trying his level best to put in words for all
of us to comprehend; BUT, alas! He is indescribable!)

paalen_gO!* naan_gu vEdhap payanen_gO,* samaya neethi
noolen_gO!* nudangu kELvi isaiyen_gO!* ivaRRuL nalla
mElen_gO,* vinaiyin mikka payanen_gO,* kaNNan en_gO!-
maalen_gO! maayan en_gO* vaanavar aathiyaiyE! 3.4.6

"Should I call my Emperumaan as The Milk? OR as the Fruit of VedAs? Or
as the Epics? Or as the Divine Music that pulls us automatically (the
moment we start listening to it)? OR Much Higher than all of these
with extremely little effort of ours? (Sisters and Brothers, What a
Beautiful narration, What an anubhavam of AzhwAr!) Should I call Him
"kaNNa!"? OR as the "Thirumaal"? OR as the "Maayan"? He is The One who
is the Cause for dEvAs lives."

vaanavar aathi en_gO!* vaanavar theyvam en_gO,*
vaanavar bOgam en_gO!* vaanavar muRRum en_gO,*
oonamil selvam en_gO!* oonamil suvarkkam en_gO,*
oonamil mOkkam en_gO!* oLimaNi vaNNaNnaiyE! 3.4.7

"Should I call Him as the Cause for NityasUris ? He is the Most
Brightest MaNickkam; Should I address His as the Lord of NityasUris? OR
as the Grandest bhOgam of NityasUris' anubhavams (enjoyments)? OR ALL
OTHER THINGS? OR as the Endless, Ceaseless WEALTH? OR as the Endless
Swargam (heaven)? OR the mOkshArtham? - HOW WILL I ADDRESS HIM?."

oLimaNi vaNNan en_gO!* oruvanenREttha ninRa*
naLirmathic sadaiyan en_gO!* naanmugak kadavuL en_gO,*
aLimagiznthu ulakamellaam* padaitthavai Ettha ninRa,*
kaLimalarth thuLavaNn emmaan* kaNNanai maayaNnaiyE! 3.4.8

"Should I narrate Him as the Most Brightest, Shining colour of
MANickkam? OR as the One who addresses You as the "Unmatched!" and the
one who has the moon in his head- sivan? OR the Four Headed BrahmA?
What shall I tell? Oh My Lord, The One who created the Worlds and
protected them! KaNNA! Oh Lord, The One who hasthe Most Fragrant
ThuLasi Garlands in His head! How should I call You? "

kaNNanai maayan dhannaik* kadalkadainNthu amuthaNG koNda,*
aNNalai acchuthanai* ananthanai ananthan dhanmEl,*
naNNi_nanku uRaikinRaanai* NYaalam uNdumizntha maalai,*
eNNumaaRu aRiya maattEn,* yaavaiyum yavarum thaanE. 3.4.9

" I DO NOT KNOW Him fully and also the way to narrate Him and call Him;
He churned the Ocean and offered the Nectar (amirtham); The Lord is He,
who is lying down on the AdhisEshan; He retained all the worlds in His
stomach and spat them after the Cosmic Cycle end and protected them-
Such a great Lord is He- and I do not know at all the way to praise His
glories; He is The One who stays in everything and has Everything in
Him and directs everything"

yaavaiyum yavarum thaanaay* avaravar samayanN thORum,*
thOyvilan pulan ainthukkum* solappadaan uNarvin moortthi,*
aavisEr uyirin uLLaal* aathumOr paRRilaatha,*
paavanai athanaik koodil* avanaiyum koodalaamE. 3.4.10

"He is the quintessence of all; He is the antharyaami in the Non-
sentient(achit) and in the Sentient (Chit); Such a Lord is He and He
stays in them while He remains unaffected by them simultaneously; He is
the Embodiment of knowledge (jnAnam) and is totally INCOMPREHENSIBLE by
the capacity of Five sense organs; (For the Athman, there is no Growth
or decaying even though Athman stays in the body; Similarly Emperumaan
IS NOT AFFECTED by the karmas even if He is an antharyaami;"

koodivaNdaRaiyum thaN_dhaark* koNdalpOl vaNNan dhannai*
maadalar pozil* kurukoor vaNsadagOpan sonna,*
paadalOr aayiratthuL* ivaiyumOr patthum vallaar,*
veedila bOga meythi* virumbuvar amarar moytthE (2) 3.4.11

"The Lord is of Blue Hued Colour of the Dark Clouds; He wears the Most
Fragrant Garland flowers surrounded by the humming bees; About Him,
Thirukkurugoor SadagOpan has sung 1000 pAsurams; Out of those 1000,
those who tead these TEN pAsurams (or their meanings) ARE DEFINITE to
obtain The Endless, Ceaseless Divine Spiritual Life and will BE GREATLY
APPRECIATED BY NITYASURIS. (That is Great! But why? Aren't they Greater
than mukthALs? They are! But the NityasUris love to be in this Earth
BECAUSE the Lord desires to stay right here to bless us! And those who
get closer to Him by becoming His ardent devotees, are naturally His
favorites and also NityasUris'. In fact, NitysUris love the
bhAgawathAls more than the Lord.")
oLi maNi vaNNan enkO! oruvan enRu Etta ninRa
naLir madic caDaiyan enkO! nAnmugak kaDavuL enkO!
aLi magizhndu ulagam ellAm paDaittu avai Etta ninRa
kali malart tuLavan emmAn kaNNanai mAyanaiyE.

AzhvAr pours out his unbounded emotions on the indescribable nature of
emperumAn, His unbounded vyApakatvam (pervasion into everything), His
antaryAmitvam in everything because of which whatever shines in this
world gets its ability to shine, etc. All the ten pASuram-s of this
tiruvAimozhi 3.4 contain the many expressions of bhagavAn?s Infinite
Power in this Universe. We are covering only one pASuram of this
tiruvAimozhi, where AzhvAr specifically notes that bhagavAn is the
antaryAmi of rudra and brahmA. Before we get into the detailed meaning
of the current pASuram, it is worthwhile getting an overall idea of the
scope of all the ten pASuram-s of this tiruvAimozhi.
Probably the best summary of the thought of AzhvAr in this tiruvAimozhi
is given in pASuram 3.4.9, where AzhvAr declares: ?j~nAlam uNDu
umizhnda mAlai eNNumARu aRiya mATTEn, yAvaiyum evarum tAnE? ? ?There is
no way that I am going to be able to describe this great Lord vishNu
who swallowed the whole Universes and recreated them later ? He is the
Force behind anything and anyone that exists?. He starts in pASuram
3.4.1 with ?Should I describe You as the Supreme purusha, or should I
describe You as the Great Earth, or the Great Waters, or the Fire, or
the Air, the Ether, the Sun, the Moon, or all of these together?. O My
Lord kRshNa! How am I going to describe You?? He continues groping for
many ways of trying to describe emperumAn in the next six pASuram-s,
and then in 3.4.8, AzhvAr continues:? Should I call You the One with
the complexion of the bright shining diamond? Or should I describe You
as rudra or as brahmA? O kaNNa! You of wondrous acts that are beyond
anyone?s comprehension! You who wears the tulasi garlands, and
swallowed all the Universes at the time of pralaya and then recreated
them later! How am I ever going to describe You?? For AzhvAr, there is
no difference between bhagavAn?s vibhUti-s and His guNa-s. AzhvAr
only thinks of bhagavAn in everything he does, and sees only bhagavAn
in everything he sees. BhagavAn is the antaryAmi of everything, and
whatever shines in anything is because He is their antaryAmi. At the
same time, He is not in the least affected by their Impurities. SrImad
tirukkuDanthai ANDavanpoints out that AzhvAr is enjoying bhagavAn?s
guNa of sarva vastu sarIritvam ? His having everything and everyone as
His Body, and His sarva vastu gata aSesha doshaiH asamspRshTatvam ? His
being unblemished by any flaws of all that He is associated with as
their antaryAmi. AzhvAr is performing vAcika kainkaryam ? Service to
Him through singing His praise through words through these pASuram-s,
since bhagavAn is stava-priyan (One Who is pleased by His devotee?s
praises). Note that every pASuram in this tiruvAimozhi, after saying ?
should I call You as this, as that, etc.?, ends with ?kaNNaniak
kUvumARE?, ?emmAn pa?ngayak kaNNanaiyE?, Sa?ngu Cakkarattan?, ?acyutan
amalanaiyE?, ?kaNNanai mAyanaiyE?, ?kaNNanai mAyan tannai acutanai,
anantanai?, etc. So it is unambiguously clear who the Supreme Deity is
that is being talked about by AzhvAr - It is kaNNan with Infinite
attributes that is beyond description. Perhaps the best way to
understand the idea of manifestation of bhagavAn through rudra, brahmA,
etc., is to recall Slokam 41 in chapter 10 of bhagavad gItA, where
bhagavAn summarizes His brief illustration of His manifestations,
including those in the form of rudra etc.:
yad-yad-vibhUtimat sattvam SrImad-Urjitameva ca |
tat-tadevAgaccha tvam mama tejo?mSa sambhavam || (gItA 10.41)
?Whatever being is possessed or power, or of splendor, or of energy,
know that as coming from a fragment of My power?. In the beginning of
this chapter in the gItA, bhagavAn points out that ?He is the source or
beginning of all the gods and the great seers?:

aham Adir-hi devAnAm maharshINAm ca sarvaSaH | (gItA 10.2)
Also, Lord kRshNa declares that the sapta-Rshi-s and the four manu-s
were created by bhrhmA for the purpose of continuing the creation and
preservation according to His Will (It is well-known that brahmA
himself was created by bhagavAn, and entrusted with the function of
continuing the creation):

maharshayaH sapta pUrve catvAro manavas-tathA |
mad-bhAvA mAnasA jAtA yeshAm loke imAH prajAH || (gItA 10.6)
?The seven great seers of yore, and the four manu-s, all possessing My
mental disposition (that is, acting according to My Will and driven by
Me) were born of My mind. All the creatures of the world are descended
from them?

The subject of this tiruvAimozhi is same as that expounded by Lord
kRshNa in chapter 10 of the gItA - the chapter titled ?vibhUti yoga?.
In the gItA, we get bhagavAn?s description of His unlimited vibhUti-s,
and in tiruvAimozhi, we get a description of the same vibhUti of
bhagavAn as experienced by the foremost of devotees of bhagavAn ?

In the gItA, Lord kRshNa describes a limited few of His unlimited
vibhUtis- or manifestations. Bhagavad rAmAnuja explains the term ?
vibhUti? as a reference to bhagavAn?s ?pravartyatvam? of all beings ?
His being the effective Force that drives everything. We should be
clear on the meaning of this term ? it is not a suggestion of ?
identity? of bhagavAn with all His vibhUti-s; it is an expression of a
tiny fraction of His Power in each of the manifestations listed (Lord
kRshNa Himself clearly expresses this in Slokam 10.41 whish has been
referenced earlier).
BhagavAn lists among His vibhUti-s, the Sun, the moon, the stars,
Sa?nkara ? one of the rudra-s, agni, the mEru mountain, the ocean, etc.
Now compare this with AzhvAr?s exclamations in this tiruvAimozhi:
tigazhum taN pAravai enkO (3.4.1) ? Shall I describe You as the Great
Ocean; tI enkO (3.4.1) ? or as Fire (agni); vAyu enkO (3.4.1) ? Or, as
vAyu (air); nIl SuDar iraNDum enkO (3.4.1) ? Or, as the Sun and the
Moon; kunRan?ngaL anaittum enkO (3.4.2) ? Or, as all the mountains;
viLa?ngu tAragaikaL enkO (3.4.2) ? Or, as the shining stars in the
sky; vAnavar Adi enkO, vAnavar daivaum enkO (3.4.7) ? Shall I describe
You as the Origin for all the deva-s, or as the Lord and Master of all
the deva-s; naLir maDic caDaiyan enkO, nAn mugak kaDavuL enkO
(3.4.8) ? Shall I describe You as Siva with his knotted hair, or as the
four-faced brahmA, etc. In pASuram 3.4.9, AzhvAr says that there is no
way that he is going to be able to comprehend the full extent of the
vibhUti-s of emperumAn, since He is the Driving Force behind everything
and everyone ? (j~nAlam uNDu umizhnda mAlai eNNumARu aRiya mATTEn
yAvaiyum yavarum tAnE. This is how Lord kRshNa also summarizes His
short description of a few examples of His vibhUti-s in the gItA:
nAnto?sti mama divyAnAm vibhUtInAm paramtapa |
esha tUddeSataH prokto vibhUter-vistaro mayA || (gItA 10.40)
?There is no limit to My divine manifestations. Here the extent of
such manifestations has been made in brief by Me?. Thus, nammAzhvAr?s
tiruvAimozhi 4.3 is a devotee?s anubhavam of what came out of the Lord
through His own words in the gItA ? namely, the unlimited nature of
bhagavAn?s Glory. The important point to remember is that bhagavAn has
everything and everyone as His Body, and is the antaryAmi in everything
and everyone, and is the driving force behind everything that exists,
without exception. Thus, AzhvAr says in the current pASuram that rudra
and brahmA are but an expression of a tiny fraction of bhagavAn?s true
powers, they operate because of His Will, He is the driving force
behind them, and He is their antaryAmi. Any other interpretation, such
as the ?equality? of brahmA and rudra with bhagavAn (as the ignorant
people may try to suggest, based on ?Shall I call You rudra, or shall I
call You brahmA?), is neither the message given by AzhvAr, nor a true
understanding of AzhvAr?s message even in the remotest sense.
nammAzhvAr?s message should be correctly understood in the context of
all the other pASuram-s we have studies so far, which is the same
message given by bhagavAn in the gItA. aLi magizhndu ? Out of His sheer
kindness towards the jIva-s, and feeling happy to protect the jIva-s
(?aLi? means ?love, kindness?). Sarva-loka rashaNaika bhogan ? He Who
finds pleasure in protecting all the beings of all the worlds. (kAkkum
iyalvinan ? pASuram 2.2.9).
- BhagavAn is happy that He is protecting the jIva-s during the
pralaya by keeping them inside His stomach
- Or, He is happy that He is going to re-create everything by
giving all the jIva-s a body again. ulagu ellAm paDaittu ? He created
everything in the Universe (including brahmA and rudra)
avai Etta ? The cetana-s thus created, and those who realize this
kindness of His, worship Him ninRa ? He Who stands in kshetra-s such as
tiruvE?nkaTam to be worshipped thus kaLi malar tuLavan ? He Who wears
the tulasi garland that is sweet and fragrant with honey (?kaLi?
means ?honey?). emmAn ? He Who is My Lord kaNNanai ? He Who is easily
accessible to His devotees mAyanai ? He Who is full of unimaginable
and wonderful acts of protection and kindness towards His devotees
oLi maNi vaNNan enkO ? Shall I describe Him as One with the beautiful
complexion that resembles the pure and lustrous pearls naLir madi
SaDaiyan enkO ? Or shall I describe Him as the antaryAmi of Siva
who carries the cool, nascent moon in his head and who has knotted hair
oruvan enRu Etta ninRa ? and who is worshipped by some as the Supreme
Deity himself nAnmugak kaDavuL enkO ? Or shall I describe Him as the
antaryAmi of brahmA who is the Lord (father) of Siva also BhagavAn is
referred to as ?oLi maNi vaNNan? because of His attributes of unbounded
love to the jIva-s, His sauSIlyam to them, His saulabhyam, and the
innumerable kalyANa guNa-s that are all meant to help the jIva-s ? He
has the greatness, the luster and all other attributes that make Him
the compassionate Lord and Master of all.

Alternatively, the term ?oLi maNi vaNNan? could be a reference to
indra, since there is a phrase ?indra nIla maNi?, a blue-colored
precious stone that is associated with the complexion of indra. In
this case, ?oLi maNi vaNNan enkO? will mean ?Shall I refer to emperumAn
as the antaryAmi of indra, who has the complexion of ?indra nIla maNi?.
If an uninformed reader reads only this pASuram of AzhvAr, and does not
look into any other pASuram, then this uninformed reader can
erroneously conclude: ? ?AzhvAr says ? Should I call You as rudra, or
should I call You as brahmA? ? ?naLir maDic caDaiyan enkO! nAn mugak
kaDavuL enko!?, and proceed to conclude that AzhvAr is saying that
vishNu, rudra and brahmA are one and the same. Even though anyone who
has even the faintest idea of AzhvAr?s message will not come to such an
inappropriate conclusion, still it is aDiyEn?s lot to discuss this
specific issue as part of the title of this write-up. In order to
avoid falling into this trap of total misinterpretation of AzhvAr?s
message, all we need to do is to keep in mind all the previous pASuram-
s that we have covered so far, where AzhvAr has repeatedly refuted this
kind of misinterpretation. In order to properly understand AzhvAr?s
message, we have to remember that AzhvAr has repeatedly pointed out
that bhagavAn has everything as His body (in other words, everything is
controlled by Him), He is the Creator of rudra and brahmA, He is the
antaryAmi (Controller dwelling within) of everything including rudra
and brahmA, and that they do not have any power except that which He
has given them. So, when AzhvAr says ?Should I call You rudra? etc.,
all he is saying is: ?Should I describe You as the Force behind the
power of rudra to destroy, or the Force behind the power of brahmA to
create, which are all but aspects of Your Infinite Power. There is no
limit to Your vibhUti-s, and I am lost in my ability to fully describe
You?. Extensive reference to the bhagavad gItA has been provided in
this write-up in order to provide additional clarification of this
point. It should not be necessary to belabor this point any further.