Sunday, 15 November 2009

திருவடியும் , திருந்தடியும்

In the last post we analyzed the meaning of Thirunthadi – a term that was used in the place of Thiruvadi. As we don’t have the commentary for this song by Parimelazhagar, I keep wondering what the poet and the commentator would have meant by this. A little probe into this term gives newer insights.

The songs says,
திருந்தடி தலையுறப் பரவுதும் தொழுது .

The transliteration of this is
திருந்தடி எம் தலை மீது பொருந்தும் வண்ணம் , உன்னைத் துதித்து வணங்குகின்றோம் ."

“Let us praise His glory so that His Thirunthadi will rest on our head.”

It is conveyed that His feet must rest on our head. This is the converse of the commonly expressed desire of reaching His feet or resting our head on his feet.

If we look at Parimelazhagar’s commentary on similar terms, we have quite a few in Thirukkural. The first chapter of Thirukkural on ‘கடவுள் வாழ்த்து ” mentions ‘அடி ’ – feet of the Lord in 7 out of 10 verses.

If we examine them along with Parimelazhagar’s commentary ( for ThirukkuraL) we find the familiar sentiment of reaching His feet. Interestingly all those expressions also find an echo in the paasurams of Aazhwars making us conclude that the tradition of praise of Thiruvadi has been the same from Thiruvalluvar to Aazhwar – for all times.

The Thiruvadi is

(1) வாலறிவன் நற்றாள் ’ (KuraL-1) – நற்றாள் means நல்ல அடி ” -“
அடலாழி கொண்ட அறிவன் ” (Azzhwar)

(2) “மண்மிசை ஏகினான் மாணடி” (kuraL- 3) – மாணடி means “மாட்சிமை பொருந்திய அடி ” –
மனனக மலமற மலர்மிசை எழுதரு மனனுணர் வளவிலன்(Azzhwar).

(3) “வேண்டுதல் வேண்டாமை இலானடி ” (kuraL- 4) – means the feet of one who has no likes and dislikes.
கொள்கை கொளாமை இலாதான் என் கலி ராகமிலாதான் ” (Azzhwar)

(4) தனக்குவமை இல்லாதான் தாள் ” (kuraL- 7) - means the feet of one who can not be compared with any.
தன்னோப்பாரில்லா அப்பன் (Azzhwar)

(5) “அறவாழி அந்தணன் தாள் ” (kuraL- 8) - means the feet of the one who is Dharma personified.
அறவனை ஆழிப்படை அந்தணனை ” (Azzhwar)

(6) எண்குணத்தான் தாள் ” (kuraL- 9) – means the feet of one who is endowed with 8 attributes such as vaathsalyam, swamithwam, souseelyam, sowlabhyam, gyaanam, shakthi, praapthi, poorthy. (பரிமேலழகர் உரை )

(7) “பிறவிப் பெரும் கடல் நீந்துவர் நீந்தார் இறைவன் அடி ” (kuraL -10). The commentary for this does not describe the adi as feet or Thiruvadi. Parimelazhagar equates this adi with புணை or a life-support. Thiruvadi offers a support to cling to. Geethacharyan’s “Maam ekam sharanam vraja” is followed by the devotee by clinging to His feet. His feet are the support-base or ஆதாரம் with which the devotee can cross the ocean of rebirths.

In all the above expressions, the act of reaching His feet or the utility of clinging to His feet is described. But any reference to Thirunthadi is missing.
However the very composition of KuraL conveys what Thirunthadi would mean.

KuraL with 2 short adi (lines or steps) covers the 3 purushaarthas, namely அறம் (dharma), பொருள் (artha) and இன்பம் (Kaama)

The Lord as குறளன் (Vaamanan) covered the 3 worlds with His 2 feet!

Once the 3 purushaarthas are covered, the 4 the one namely ‘வீடு ” or MOksha will be the automatic outcome (result). Similarly the lord after covering the 3 worlds, grants Moksha by His 3rd feet.

He did that for Mahabali. By his 3rd foot, he smothered the Ego of Mahabali and reformed him (திருந்தச் செய்தார் ). He granted him Immortality besides fulfilling his wish of becoming the Indra for the next manvanthra.

From this, we know that there are two ways of connection with His feet.
Either His feet must be placed above our head – as conveyed in the line of the song or our head must rest on His feet (when we surrender at His feet).

There is a qualitative difference between these two.
When he places His feet on our head it means He has come to us or He is reaching out to us.
When we place our head on His feet, it means we go to Him or we reach to Him.

He placed His feet on the head of Mahabali in Vamana avathara.
The purpose was to teach a lesson – (திருந்தச் செய்ய ).
மகாபலியின் தலை மீது தன் அடி வைத்து அவனை அடக்கவும் செய்தார் , ஆட் கொள்ளவும் செய்தார் . ஆட் கொண்டதன் பயனாக , அடுத்த மன்வந்திரத்தில் , அவனுக்கு இந்திர பதவியும் அருளினார் .

In this incident, His thriuvadi became thirunthadi – திருந்தச் செய்த / திருந்தச் செய்யும் அடி .

In another place we come across the same description of His feet being placed on head.
Periyaazhwar describes this in Periyaazhwar Thiorumozhi 5-4 -7.
He says,
திருப் பொலிந்த சேவடி என் சென்னியின் மேல் பொறித்தாய் ".

Azzwar has received the Thiruvadi of Thirumaal on his head.

One way of interpretation is that it means receiving His Sataari in daily worship.

The சடாரி that is placed on our head is nothing but the feet of Thirumaal that comes to us to accept our surrender.

Photo courtesy:-

But I don’t think Aazhwar has expressed this in his paasuram.
He must have meant the blessing he received from Him in establishing the Para- tatwam in the court of Pandyan king and in return, getting the Bhaagyam of seeing Him in Garuda vahanam – that made him sing the famous Thirup-pallaandu.

This is also an incident of “ஆட் கொண்ட தன்மை ” by Thirumaal.
In this incident, the thiruvadi became Thirunthadi – not to correct or teach a lesson as He did to Mahabali, but to elevate the Azhwar to higher realms of Spiritual experience.
இருக்கும் நிலையில் இருந்து , மேம்பட்ட நிலைக்கு , திருத்தி எடுத்துச் செல்லும் அடியாக இருந்ததனால் , அது திருந்தடி ஆயிற்று எனலாம் .

That the aazhwar must have meant a greater meaning like this (and not receiving sataari everyday) can be known from a paasuram by Namamzhwar which conveys that it is not easy to receive His Thiruvadi on one’s head.

In 6-10-6 of Thiruvaimozhi, we find Nammazhwar lamenting that he has not yet received His feet on his head.

எந்நாளே நாம் மண்ணளந்த
தாமரைகள் காண்பதர்கெந்ட்ரு
எந்நாளும் நின்றிமையோர்கள்
இறைஞ்சி யினமினமாய் ,
நா மனத்தால் வழிபாடு
திருவேங்கடத்தானே ,
எய்தி என்னாளுன்
அடியேன் மேவுவதே ?”

“When can we see Your lotus feet that measured the worlds? (Your feet could be seen only when you came as Vamana). The Devas worship the Lord at Thiruvenkatam with such a longing to see that scene once again. When can I get such a blessing of receiving your feet on my head?” asks Namamzhwar.

This is in contrast to what Periyaazhwar says – that he has already got His feet placed in his head.

The Thiruvadi becomes Thirunthadi when He comes in person and places His feet on the head. Such an occasion will be a special one as the gods themselves will gather together to witness such a scene of “ஆட் கொளல் ”.

This view is expressed in Acharya Hrudhayam in verse 224 to 226 in 4th prakaranam.

When He comes on His own volition and places His feet on our head, it shows that we are blessed. It shows that He has accepted our surrender – that He has picked us up for salvation.

The communication with God is a two-way traffic.
We reach to Him and He too reaches to us.
When we reach to Him we hold his Thiruvadi as our life-saver.
But the response must come from His side also.
This is explained by Ramanujacharya as the essence of Vedanta.

In verse 251 of Vedartha sangraha Ramanujacharya says the notion of the Upanishads that ‘the atman (Lord) is attained by one whom He chooses’. Whom He chooses conveys the idea of the devotee becoming the object of choice for Bhagawan. He comes to be chosen, who is the object of greatest devotion. God says, “I am ineffably dear to the man of knowledge (in the form of devotion) and he is also dear to me”. (Gita 7-17).

This can be explained with an analogy of a king and his subjects.
The subjects are eager to serve the King in his palace so that they can be always with him enjoying him. All of them have gathered in front of his palace to get a glimpse of him. Almost all of them think that they are worthier enough to be included in the close circle of the King to be near him always.

The King appears in the balcony to give darshan to his subjects. He looks at the ocean of his subjects. Everyone in the crowd will be thinking and yearning that he is looking at him. அரசனின் பார்வை தன் மேல் விழ வேண்டும் என்று ஒவ்வொருவரும் விரும்புவர் .

But the one who gets the chance to get near him or enter his palace is the one whom the King picks up. While looking at the crowd, the king may pick up anyone among them and tells his guards to bring that person to him.
It is the King’s choice that matters – that makes the subject be taken to him.

Similarly any number of singers (பாணர் ) may approach the king to sing about him and receive gifts from him. But when the king takes a special interest in a particular person, he will send his emissaries to him or himself will go to him to honour him.

That is the honour bestowed by the Lord on the devotee by coming to him and placing His feet on his head. To such a devotee, the Lord comes in person and places His feet on the head. Such a happening is very rare that the gods of higher realms are eager to witness that event.

It happened for Mahabali.
It happened for Periyaazhwaar.
The interesting correlation is that Periaazhwar received his Feet in Madurai – in naan maadak koodal.
The Sthala purana of the temple of Koodal azhagar says that Periyaazwar sighted Thirumaal of this temple in Garuda vahana.

It also says that a Pandyan king, named Satyavrathan was blessed by this lord in choosing the emblem for his kingdom.

One day the king went to worship this lord. Before going into the temple he washed his hands in the Kirutha maala river near the temple, where a fish was found in his hand. He thought the fish was the Lord Himself as Matsyam or fish (the first avathar of Vishnu). He took it as the message of Koodal Azhagar and affixed the fish symbol in his flag from then onwards.

If Irunthaiyur Thirumaal is the same Lord that we know today as Koodal Azhagar, then it is not surprising that the poet has mentioned Thirunthadi instead of Thiruvadi.

Thirumaal set precedence in Vamana avatara. He comes to the devotee and places His Thiruvadi on his head.
It may be to quell his ego or to change his state of waiting for ever.
In both cases, அவன் திருவடி , திருந்தச் செய்யும் அடி ஆகிறது .
Thirumaal in Irunthaiyur seems to be known for such ஆட்கொளல் .

(Comments and cross references are welcome)

Let us continue with the Paripaadal song in the next post.

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