A decad dedicated entirely to the ‘People of Koshtiyur’
Benchmark on how to live life - Their generosity was a standout feature
Even the Asuras would feel ashamed to steal here
Thiru Kottiyur stood for JUSTICE
People always spoke the truth
For ever they performed selfless service
Always welcomed guests with honour
Developed good habits and noble thoughts
Youngsters wanted to emulate their Preceptors
In the entire Periyazhvar Thirumozhi comprising of 473 verses, the people of Thiru Kottiyur get the highest form of praise from Periyazhvar. While he has praised Srirangam and Thiru Maliruncholai in multiple decads with far more number of verses, in his praise of Thiru Kottiyur in the fourth Canto comprising of 10 verses, he cites the people of Thiru Kottiyur as the ‘Gold Standard’ for living our lives.
The verses on Srirangam and Thiru Maliruncholai are more about the greatness of the Lord and what he offers his devotees. The one on Thiru Kottiyur is about how one should live life showcasing several examples of how the residents were a benchmark in the art of a Noble Life.
These 10 verses are a beautiful mix of showcasing the greatness of the sacred town through a negative connotation. The residents were seen as people with the greatest of qualities. Even in the most testing of times, their character stood out.
Periyazhvar is so pleased with the way the Thiru Kottiyurans lived life that he even talks about the kind of punishment that should be meted out to those (thankfully they were in the minority- he does not even mention that there were a few, he only questions if there is a possibility of any existing) who strayed away from the normal way of life of the people of Thiru Kottiyur.
The people of Thiru Kottiyur always spoke the truth. They welcomed guests with honour. They performed selfless services to the Lord. Youngsters learnt the Vedas all the time and tried to perfect it through their life time, such was their dedication.
If ever there was anyone away from the aforementioned qualities, he wonders as to why the lord created them at all in the first place (முதல்வனைச் சிந்தியதை அப்பாவ காரிகளைப் படைத்தவன் எங்ஙனம் படைதான் கொலோ).
They were blemish-less with almost no faults. From a young age, they cultivated good habits. You could find no one with malice. Their generosity was a stand-out feature. The youngsters always wanted to emulate their preceptors and each one of them strived to perfect the Vedas.
If ever there is anyone from Thiru Kottiyur who does not offer worship to this Lord and who strays from the above qualities, he is likely to cause unbearable pain in the womb of his mother for having been born here (தன்னைத் தொழாதவர் பெற்ற தாயார் வயிற்றினைப் பேரு நோய் செய்வான் பிறந்தார்களே).
Blessed to Sing Praises
Periyazhvar then describes the physical structure of the place. Big mansions and Gem Studded porticos used to cast shadows by their light of brilliance. Those destined to be born at Thiru Kottiyur were blessed to sing praise of his names.
The Lord gave us fingers to use them to count his names. If ever there remained a person who did not understand this wish of the lord even for a moment and who thought that his only job in life was to push food down his throat to create a bad odour, it is unfortunate to have someone like that (உன்னை கண்ட தம் ஊத்தை வாய்குக் கவள முந்துகின்றார்களே).
A pity if the tongue does not utter HIS Names
He describes it further. Rows of swans rise over the fertile fields that are abound with red lotus. Having been blessed to have obtained a birth at Thiru Kottiyur it would be such a pity if his tongue does not utter the Lord’s name.
If he did not use this blessed life of being born at Thiru Kottiyur to utter the Lord’s name, then the water he drinks and the clothes he wears must have sinned, for him to be so (நரக நாசனை நாவில் கொண்டு அழையாத மானிட சாதியர் பருகு நீரும் உடுக்குங் கூரையும் பாவம் செய்தன தாங்கொலோ).
In addition to the swans, Thiru Kottiyur had large number of fishes that jumped on the back of turtles and then on to the fresh lotuses and moved around playfully.
Log of Dead Wood
Periyazhvar compares the devotion-less people to dead wood.
If ever any person from Thiru Kottiyur did not invoke the blessings of the Lord, he is like a log of dead wood and a burden on the entire earth. His anger rises and he even contemplates taking away the food from their mouth and replacing it with grass (நேமி சேர் தடங்கையினானை நினைப்பிலா வலி நெஞ்சுடை ப்தூமி பாரங்களுண்ணும் சோற்றினை வாங்கி புல்லைத் திணிமினே).
He praises that a majority of them as being generous, blemish-less and without enemies. He goes to the extent of saying that when their feet touch the ground, the earth gets sanctified and becomes purer (பாத தூளி படுதலால் இவ்வுலகம் பாக்கியம் செய்ததே).
The seers at Thiru Kottiyur unmindful of their health recite the four Vedas day and night praising their Lord offering their heart and soul. Periyazhvar wonders what penance they would have done in their previous birth to have been blessed with a life in Thiru Kottiyur.
Thiru Kottiyur is a place that provides highest form of justice. Lord has himself assigned Selva Nambi to serve him and chant his names. He praises Selva Nambi as one who has excellent qualities, brings people together, is highly compassionate and sings praise of the Lord of Thiru Kottiyur.
Even Asuras won’t steal here
In the last two verses, Periyazhvar places Thiru Kottiyur as an ultimate place to be for noble people and takes the sanctity of Thiru Kottiyur to a different level. He says that such is the purity of the place thanks to the reverberation of the sacred chants that even Asuras won’t steal grains at Thiru Kottiyur (விளைத்த தானியமும் இராக்கதர் மீது கொள்ளகிலார்களே).
Even the cuckoos sitting along the huge trees seem to be singing praise of the Lord with their cooing. These cuckoos and the noble beings that he sees at Thiru Kottiyur symbolise the qualities of the Lord. Just seeing them fills one’s hearts with good thoughts.
Do such people exist now?
Periyazhvar has reserved showcasing the greatest quality of the residents of Thiru Kottiyur for his concluding verse.
During famine, grains sell at such a premium that even a handful of grains cost a gold coin. But even during these most testing of times, the people of Thiru Kottiyur, known for their extra ordinary generosity, feed the guests with honour as if everything was normal. They do not use such tough times to hide their stocks and claim shortfall to their guests. Would you not sell yourselves as bonded slaves to such high quality people, asks Periyazhvar
(காசின் வாய்க்கரம் விற்கிலும் கரவாது மாற்றிலி சோறிட்டு தேச வார்த்தை படைக்கும் வண் கையினார்கள் வாழ் திருக்கோட்டியூர் ...........அடியார்கள் எந்தம்மை விற்கவும் பெறுவார்களே).