Thursday, March 17, 2016

Kulasekara Azhvaar Srirangam Ranganatha

In his Perumal Thirumozhi, Kulasekara Azhvaar provides a simple methodology for devotees to offer their prayers at a temple

Sing Praise of Lord till your tongue becomes Numb
Pray with ‘Folded Hands'
Lower your head, Fall at his feet with total reverence
Care for others and their well being
Experience the Lord with eyes filled with tears

Kulasekara Azhvaar was at the peak of his powers ruling as the King of Madurai and yet he renounced his power, the large army at his command, put down his victorious sword and came here to Srirangam. On seeing the handsome reclining Lord of Srirangam and taken over completely by his initial experience here, he composed the first 10 verses in praise of Lord Ranganatha providing insights into the methodology of invoking the Lord’s blessings. 

 In the very first decad of his Perumal Thirumozhi, he says that one (a devotee) should immerse his self in prayers while seeking the Lord and provides a methodology for a prayer with interesting specifics such as ‘bow down with humility’, ‘simply melt in devotion’ in front of the Lord, ‘pray sincerely with folded hands’, stand in front of the Lord and try to experience him with tears in your eyes, mingle with like-minded devotees at the temple and repent for every wrong deed of yours.

With happy and noble people all around, Kulasekara Azhvaar says that he is waiting for the time when he will be able to stand in front of Lord Ranganatha and keep watching forever the Lord’s handsome features.

Hold on to your devotion with the strength of pillar
Kulasekara Azhvaar suggests that it is a great feeling to hold on to those fragrant pillars and one is transformed as one with positive energy while invoking the blessings of Lord Ranganatha.

மாயோனை மனத்தூனே பற்றி நின்று
என் வாயார என்றுகொலோ வாழ்த்தும் நாளே

Present flowers every day
Even Brahmma with 4 tongues and 8 eyes prays devotedly to the Lord of Srirangam whose navel is shining in Golden light and from where the beautiful red lotus emanates. 

Those who knot and offer flowers at the Lord’s feet are truly blessed souls. 

Kulasekara Azhvaar is hoping that he too would be blessed to serve the Lord’s feet with flowers every day.

Tongue should become Numb
He praises Srirangam as a place for those who relinquish the worldly pleasures to listen to the great sacred recitals in Tamil and Sanskirt. Learned scholars are chanting the sacred Vedas (and slokas) through the day. 

A devotee should recite such verses in praise of the Lord till such time the tongue swells and becomes numb.
He says that when in front of the Lord, one should pray with folded hands that are raised well above the head.

அந்தமிழினின்பப் பாவினை அவ்வடமொழியைப் பற்றற்றார்கள்
பயிலரங்கத் தரவணையில் பள்ளிகொள்ளும்

கோவினை நாவுர வழுத்தி எந்தன் கைகள்
கொய்ம்மலர்தூய் என்று கொலோ கூப்பும் நாளே

Fall at his feet with total reverence
He is delighted at the sweet devotional music emanating from renowned musicians such as Thumburu and Narada.  As he goes around the town of Srirangam, Kulasekara Azhvaar finds the temple protected by big fortified walls. Around the streets, he finds huge mansions and largely wealthy people. 

Suggesting another mode of prayer for sincere devotees, Kulasekara Azhvaar asks one to offer his sincere prayers by lowering his head and falling at the Lord's feet with total reverence.

மணிமாட மாளிகைகள் மல்கு செல்வ
மதிளரங்கத் தரவணையில் பள்ளிகொள்ளும்
மணி வன்னனம்மானைக் கண்டு கொண்டு
என் மலர்ச் சென்னி என்று கொலோ வணங்கும் நாளே
He finds bees buzzing all around the huge groves. Shiva, Indra, the Celestials and the great sages are all looking for space here to offer their everlasting prayers to the Lord. Kulasekara Azhvaar hopes that he too would be able to find his own little space here to offer his prayers with his heart and soul immersed in the Lord’s thoughts. 

While one offers prayers to the Lord, the devotee should melt down experiencing the handsome features of the Lord in his full form.

ஒளி மதி சேர் திருமுகம் கண்டு கொண்டு
என் உள்ளம் மிக என்று கொலோ உருகும் நாளே

Nobility of the People
Kulasekara Azhvaar presents a beautiful picture of the noble residents of Srirangam.

Keeping away the issue relating to an unstable mind, controlling their senses and ridding themselves of the pains arising from the worldly life, the devotees worship the Lord 5 times a day trying to pursue the sacred path of righteousness to free themselves from bad thoughts and to live a life of welfare without any war of words.

These people are always seen caring for others as required of noble people and are adopting a path to seek refuge in the Lord freeing themselves away from a life they see as being filled with deception. 

Eyes filled with devotional tears
Kulasekara Azhvaar too wants to be able to stand in front of the Lord offering prayers with devotion till such time his eyes are filled with tears that stroll down like a stream.

மறம் திகழும் மனமொழித்து வஞ்ச மாற்றி
ஐம்புலன் களடக்கி இடர்ப்பாரத் துன்பம்
துறந்து இரு முப்பொழுதேத்தி எல்லை இல்லாத்
தொன்னெறிக்கண் நிலைநின்ற தொண்டரான

அறம் திகழும் மனத்தவர் தம்கதியைப் பொன்னி
அணியரங்கத் தரவணையில் பள்ளிகொள்ளும்
நிறம் திகழும் மாயோனைக் கண்டு
என் கண்கள் நீர்மல்க என்று கொலோ நிற்கும் நாளே

Personality of the Lord
Kulasekara Azhvaar praises the physical personality of the Lord as one with the famous Saranga Bow, the Sudarshana Chakra, the White Conch, the Mace that instantly kills opponents by knocking at their foreheads, the Sword that shines and Garuda renowned for his speed. In each of these verses of the 1st decad he praises the Lord as one seen in a sleeping posture atop the Serpent King Anantha. With all these in his hold here at Srirangam, Kulasekara Azhvaar says that the people of Srirangam have nothing to fear.

Kulasekara Azhvaar wants to experience the Lord by embracing him so he could enjoy the bliss forever.

How do they pray in Srirangam
Kulasekara Azhvaar describes the prayers offered by the people of Srirangam. The residents are seen clapping their hands and singing the Lord’s praise as a group. He finds the loud beating of the drum, a scene probably during a festival.

Describing another methodology to invoke the Lord’s blessings, he wants to roll on the ground and dance around in joy praising the Lord.

தூராத மனக் காதல் தொண்டர் தங்கள்
குழாம் குழுமித் திருப்புகழ்கள் பலவும் பாடி
ஆராத மனக் களிப்போடு அழுது கண்ணீர்
மழை சோர நினைந்துருகியேத்தி........

 In the first decad, Kulasekara Azhvaar also describes the personality of the reclining Ranganatha, the Serpent Adisesha, the river Cauvery and the town Srirangam.

Lord Ranganatha is Ruby Dark in complexion, possessed with special virtues (of providing Moksham) and is seen in a sleeping posture atop Ananthan, the fiery serpent king with a 1000 beautiful hoods and being in a separate class providing the Lord with a beautiful couch to relax on. His presence, Kulasekara Azhvaar says, dispels darkness everywhere.The sands of Cauvery are shining in lights of silver and it is with the pure water from the Cauvery that the Lord’s feet are washed.

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