Extensive praise of the Cauvery
Vedic Seers of Srirangam are praised as those welcoming even unexpected guests with humility and taking good care of them
Periyazhvar Thirumozhi 4.8
In his Periyazhvar Thirumozhi, Periyazhvar has praised only a few Divya Desams in detail. These include Thiru Vellarai and Deva Prayag. On Thiru Kottiyur, he showcased the people as best in class and ones who were generous and noble and lived a selfless life.
He has praised Srirangam and Thiru Maliruncholai with the most in his Thirumozhi dedicating three decads each. The last three decads of the fourth Canto are all on the greatness of Srirangam and Lord Ranganatha. In each of the verses, he praises some of the achievements of the Lord in his different Avataras including killing the arrogant Ravana, who had assumed invisibility because of his earlier boons, taking on the boar form to lift the huge earth with effortless ease and assuming the half lion form to tear open the chest of Hiranyakashipu.
Praising the Cauvery
In this 8th decad, Periyazhvar begins by praising the sacredness of the Cauvery. He says that Vedic seers bathe in the Cauvery wearing pure clothes (this is particularly relevant because Vaishnavites are expected to bathe in the river only with taintless clothes).
தோதவத்தித் தூய் மறையோர் துறை படியத் துளும்பி எங்கும்
போதில் வைத்த தேன் சொரியும் புனல ரங்கு மென்பதுவே
Cauvery inundated at Srirangam
Cauvery is further praised as a river that produces flowers with nectar like qualities alongside its banks giving a divine feeling. The river is also praised as one that is often inundated (quite a different scenario now where water is pumped into rivers such as Cauvery and Vaigai through a motorised route ahead of important festivals!!!) and the waves in the Cauvery are sometimes violent, turning up and down.
He takes us through the long stretches of Cauvery and cites the example of the river picking up sandal wood along the way from the mountain finally submitting herself at the feet of Lord Ranganatha at Srirangam. Cauvery is described as roaring and swirling.
தழப்பரிய சந்தனங்கள் தடவரைவாய் ஈர்த்துக் கொண்டு
தொழிப்புடைய காவிரி வந்து அடிதொழும் சீரரங்கமே
Because of the ever flowing Cauvery, there is a rich growth of plantation in Srirangam. This sends a strong breeze that blows softly on the beautiful young girls of this temple town.
Krishna pays Tuition Fees!!!!
He highlights the greatness of Lord Krishna in this first verse. In recognition of his Guru’s contribution, Krishna offered to his Guru Sandipini his long lost son in the same form when he was lost long ago (his Guru had lost his son in the sea) as his TUITION FEES.
மாதவத்தோன் புத்திரன் போய் மறிகடல்வாய் மாண்டானை
ஓதுவித்த தக்கணையா உருவுருவே கொடுத்தானூர்
Residents of Srirangam
Periyazhvar describes the people of Srirangam, especially the Vedic Scholars, as being very generous and ones who received even unexpected guests with great humility and took great care of them (This is similar to his praise of the residents of Thiru Kottiyur).
மறைப் பெருந் தீவளர்த்திருப்பார் வருவிருந்தை அளித்திருப்பார்
சிறப்புடைய மறைப்பவர் வாழ் திருவரங்கு மென்பதுவே
Periyazhvar praises Krishna’s achievements – his redeeming life of Parikshit, preventing the progeny of Abimanyu from getting destroyed by a deadly weapon (Ashwathama had sent his Brahmmastra towards Uttara and it was Lord Krishna who prevented it from killing him while he was still in his mother’s womb).
Reference to hunch back Manthara
Periyazhvar presents a lot more positive picture of Kaikeyi than is generally perceived. He says that it was Manthara the hunch back who repeatedly pushed Kaikeyi by pointing out faults in the proposed coronation of Rama ( through this, he gives us the feeling that Kaikeyi was not naturally as bad as she is made out to be and that she succumbed to the repeated negative energy being thrust upon her by this evil force). And finally she got Kaikeyi to agree to redeem her pending boons with her husband Dasaratha and banish Rama to the forest.
கூன் தொழத்தை சிதகு உரைப்பக் கொடியவள் வாய்க்கூடிய சொல்கேட்டு
ஈன்று எடுத்த தாயாரையும் இராச்சியமும் ஆங்கொழிய
Huge Groves and Cuckoos/Bees/ Peacocks
He praises Srirangam as a place in between groves and hills, where beautiful flowers bloomed in the groves and there was nectar all around. He makes specific reference to ‘Kuruva’ trees that grew and blossomed in large numbers here (அரும்புக் கொங்கலரக் குயில் கூவும் குளிர் பொழில் சூழ்).
One could hear the sweet music of cuckoos emanating from the grooves all the time. And it seemed to spread happiness around the place. Bumble bees too constantly hummed around this place and their humming seemed to indicate the victory music in praise of the Lord of Srirangam.
(யாழினிசை வண்டினங்கள் ஆழம் வைக்கும் அரங்கமே)
He describes the happiness of a bird at being able to reside in Srirangam. He makes a mention of the presence of beautiful peacocks that are seen unfurling the feathers and dancing.
Evenings at Srirangam
In the evenings, Periyazhvar finds beetles with fierce scary wings buzzing around the dense bunch of Jasmine flowers and this almost seemed as if they were singing praise of the Lord. He also describes Srirangam as a location that is fortified by big walls (is he referring to Thirumangai Azhvaar’s ‘Mathil’?) around the four streets.
எல்லியும் போது இருஞ்சிறை வண்டு எம்பெருமான் குணம்பாடி
மல்லிகை வெண் சங்கூதும் சங்கூதும் மதிளரங்க மென்பதுவே