Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thirumangai Azhvaar on the Asuras of Lanka

Thirumangai Azhvaar dedicates an exclusive 20verses to the Rakshasha clan of Lanka bringing to us their confused state of mind soon after the death of their mighty Lankan king
In his over 1000 verses in Periya Thirumozhi, Thirumangai Azhvaar has been largely very expressive.

He argued with Lords in Divya Desams. He has threatened to leave without singing praise if proper treatment was not meted out to him at the temples!!!! He even went to the extent of deserting a Divya Desam without singing praise only to be called back by the Lord himself. He has connected very many Divya Desams in a single verse describing their different postures and analysing their similarities.

Even for such versatility in his compositions, this set of verses comes as a surprise. Thirumangai Azvhaar has actually dedicated 20 exclusive verses to the Rakshashas of Lanka and brought to the devotees the stressed state of mind of the Lankans after Rama had knocked out Ravana.

In these 20verses towards the end of Periya Thirumozhi, Thirumangai Azhvaar captures beautifully the mood of the Asuras immediately after the death of Ravana.

Each verse in his typical style is very expressive and helps a devotee visualise the feelings of the Rakshashas as they are plunged into sadness as a result of the wrong doings of their king over whom they had no control whatsoever.

The First Ten Verses - Pongathan Pongo

In the first ten verses, Thirumangai Azhvaar brings out the fear in the hapless asuras as they dance in tears. Through the stanzas, they narrate the many opportunities Ravana had to return Sita and to allow everyone to live in peace. The asuras ask themselves as to what use it is to talk about all these wrongdoings now as the King of the Monkeys and his huge monkey force were sure to kill them for they would think that the servants of Ravana too were as evil as the king.

The asuras claim that they had absolutely no role in all this. Those who have survived the battle cry aloud as to how their king did not listen to anyone and continued making mistakes. They say that his doom began when he brought the Goddess like Sita from the Dhandaka Forest when her husband was away. As mere servants of Ravana, they atone not knowing Rama ‘we just grew up without having devotion to Lord Rama.’

தண்டகாரணியம் புகுந்து அன்று
தையலை தகவிலி எம் கோமான்
கொண்டுபோந்து கேட்டான் எமக்கு இங்கு ஓர் குற்றம் இல்லை
கொல்வேல் குல வேந்தே

பெண்டிரால் கெடும் இக் குடி
தன்னைப் பேசுகின்றது என் தாசரதீ
உன் அண்டவாணர் உகப்பதே செய்தாய்

His younger brother pleaded before the king to let her go but he would not listen. The asuras look back at how their king called it a shameful act at even the thought of discussing returning Sita.

The Lust for Women led to his downfall
They say that he had such a beautiful wife in Mandothari and many other lovely looking women in his palace but alas the lust for women took over and he just could not let go the instincts of bringing Sita to his palace.

மனம் கொண்டு ஏறும் மண்டோதரி முதலா
அம கயல் கண்ணினார்கள் இருப்ப
தனம் கொள் மென் முளை நோக்கம்
ஒழிந்து தஞ்சமே சில தாபதர் என்று

Physical might alone not enough
In one of the verses, the asuras describe the physical might of Ravana as one with 10heads and double the arms that even the Devas feared. But physical prowess alone is not enough for Rama with just two hands and one head like a normal human being could not be defeated.

பத்து நீள் முடியும்  அவற்று இரட்டிப்
பாழித்  தோளும் படைத்தவன் செல்வம்
சித்தம் மங்கையர் பால் வைத்துக்  கேட்டான்
செய்வது ஒன்று அறியா அடியோங்கள்

ஒத்த தோல் இரண்டும்  ஒரு முடியும்
ஒருவர் தம் திறதோம் அன்றி வாழ்ந்தோம்
அத்த எம் பெருமான் எம்மை கொல்வேல்

The monkey messenger’s warning ignored
The asuras discuss further. They exclaim that Ravana had a serious warning sign written all over Lanka when the messenger crossed the ocean even without the aid of a bridge, killed the mighty rakshasas, ruined the city leaving the beautiful Lanka in flames and enough scars for Ravana to contemplate returning Sita. 

Should not have Ravana realised what the master’s strength would be if just his messenger could cause such destruction. However, their king’s ego was far too big, for him to accept the reality.

The asuras send a warning message to us that we should not allow our strengths to become a self destructing weapon and that we should have control over our ego.

ஓத மா கடலை கடந்து  ஏறி
உயர்கொள் மாகடி காலை இரத்து
காதல் மக்களும் கற்றமும் கொன்று
கடி இலங்கை மலங்க எரித்து

தூது வந்த குரங்குக்கே உங்கள்
தோன்றல் தேவியை விட்டுக் கொடாதே
ஆதர் நின்று படுகின்றது

At least when Rama had built the bridge across the huge sea, which seemed mighty impossible, 'Ravana should have realised your strength and returned Sita to you and begged for your forgiveness.'

The two great rakshasas, Kumba and Nikumba, too are now gone. Even the gigantic Kumbakarna is dead and 'we are almost left all alone', claim the asuras. They fear being consumed by the monkeys and have no hope left except to dance in tears.

Now that their king is gone, they do not know whom to share their worries with. Will the monkeys slay those who have survived the great battle?

The 2nd set of 10verses –  Kuzhamani Dhooram
In the 2nd set of ten verses, Thirumangai Azhvaar brings out a sense of hope in the Asuras. In these verses, the surviving asuras are seen praising the monkey clan and pleading with them for a new lease of life.

சோத்த நம்பி சுக்க்ரீவா
உம்மைத் தொழு கின்றோம்

The asuras shout out the names of Rama, his brother Lakshmana and the king of the monkeys Surgreeva and his army and request them to not harm them for they were only helpless silent spectators. They sing praise of the King of Monkeys, the son of the Monkey King, the son of the Great Vali, the powerful and dutiful Hanuman and Jambavan. 

They say that they will sing and dance in praise of the victorious.

The asuras call out for their families to let go their egos and surrender to Lord Rama and await his instructions.

Thirumangai's brings out the hope in the Rakshashas

ஆற்றல் சான்ற தொல் பிறப்பில்
ஹனுமனை வாழ்க என்று

In each verse, Thirumangai Azhvaar brings out the hope in these surviving rakshasas as they  promise to sing and dance praises of the monkey clan and entertain them but they are so scared that the monkeys will kill them and plead for life.

Finally, the asuras say that they have accepted defeat and want to start a new life that is righteous. They plead to Lord Rama to grant their wishes and request him to direct his army to not kill the helpless asuras who are now left without a King whose instructions they had followed through their entire lives. 


Sudha Ramaswami said...

Enjoyable article on one of my favourite verses of the great Thirumangai Azhwar!

Prabhu.S said...

Good to hear.