Kanninun Sirutthambu Onbatham Pasuram

Excerpted from an upanyasam by HH Srimad Azhagiya Singar

mikka vEdiyar vEdatthin utporuL
niRkap paadi ennenjuL niRutthinaan
thakka seer satakOpan en nambikku aaL
pukka kaadal adimaip payananRE

Sri MadhurakaviyAzhvAr (SMK) is talking about how he became devoted to SwAmi NammAzhvAr (SNA) and how he obtained the grant of doing kainkaryam to him.

SMK is saying that SNA has set in his heart the primary matter of TiruvAymozhi, the essence of all the vEdas, which is bhaagavata sEshatvam. Sri Nanjeeyar in his vyaakyaanam states that there are two sets of pAsurams in TiruvAymozhi that speak of this - "payilum sudaroLi" (3.7) and "nedumaaRkkadimai" (8.10). These state that bhaagavata kainkaryam is the most important enjoyment as well as purpose for every devotee. The vEdaas speak much about bhagavat sEshatvam, but do not say much about bhaagavata sEshatvam. These two paasurams in TiruvAymozhi speak about that.

In "payilum sudaroLi", SNA says that he would want to be a bhAgavata sEshabhootan no matter how many times he is born. In "nedumaaRkkadimai", he says that if he can get bhaagavata kainkaryam then he wouldn't want even mOksham. Thus, he has given parama rahasya saaraartthams to us in Tiruvaaymozhi.

SAS noted that the important phrases to note in the first line of this pAsuram are "mikka vEdiyar", "vEdiyar vEdam", and "vEdatthin utporuL". With the first two phrases, SMK is celebrating not only the vEdas, but also those that recite and live by the vEdas. With the third phrase he is saying that he has been given not just the meaning of the vEdas, but their inner meaning.

The experience of SMK is more special than that of the other aazhvaars. The other aazhvaars got His grace and then sang about Him. With SNA's grace, SMK understood the inner meaning of the vEdas. He then sang only about his aachaaryan. In the second and third lines of this paasuram, he sings about the grace of SNA and the help he gave to SMK. SMK is stating that SNA's words are so full of his grace that they have taken root in his mind and made him attain the highest guNam that is bhaagavata kainkaryam.

SAS mentioned here that kainkaryam cannot be made for any reason, not even bhakti; it can be made only out of love (prEmai or preeti).

In the last line, SMK is saying that aachaarya kainkaryam is the fruit ("adimaip payan").

In earlier songs, SMK had shown his aachaarya viSvaasam and aachaarya vaibhavam. In the fourth song, he pointed out that even bhagavat dedication is not important. The help that our aachaaryaas provide us, who were of no use whatsoever, providing us with knowledge, correcting our ways and making us His devotees, that help we should never forget. In the fifth song, SMK stated that aachaarya anugraham is such that it removes even the sins that cannot be easily removed. In the sixth song, SMK celebrated the help our aachaaryaas give us (upakaara vaibhavam).

However, it is not enough to state that our aachaaryaas have helped us. It is important to state what kind of help they did. So in this song, SMK explains the help that SNA provided. Our mind is so small and petty that it notes many things but not the important ones. SNA steadied such vascillating minds and settled lofty ideals and meanings from SAstrAs in them.

SAS then went into a detailed explanation of the phrase "mikka vEdiyar".

By stating "mikka vEdiyar", SMK is talking about those that recite and follow the vEdas in every aspect of their life. He has based this phrase on SNA's "mikkaar vEda vimalar".

A brahmin is not one who is born as one and/or looks like one. That is the same as a wooden elephant that looks every way like a real elephant. It is the action that determines one. This is the reason why SMK used the word vEdiyar; it is those who study, recite and follow the VEdaas. By stating "mikka", he is talking about the highest amongst such people.

What is the importance of vEdam? It is the pramaaNam; it speaks only the truth; everything can be learned from it. While there have been many interpretations of the vEdas, its meanings were made clear by Sri Ramanujar. SAS explained here that one does not have to read an entire work to understand the author's purpose. A study of the beginning and the end will do. While Mahabharatam speaks of may things and many dEvatas, Sri vEda Vyaasar begins and ends with Narayana and Kesava. People who doubt his intentions and misinterpret his works still, are not mikka vEdiyar.

The vEdas speak of many things and many dEvatas, but as Sri GItAchAryan said, all the vEdams truly speak of Him. As Sri Bhattar explained, when one speaks of a King, it is customary to speak of his kingdom, subjects, wealth, etc. Those who truly understand what the vEdas are saying are mikka vEdiyar.

Pratyaksham, anumaanam and vEdam are all pramANams. Pratyaksham only shows what is before the eyes; anumaanam might even go wrong; vEdam can never go wrong and shows the highest things. It is important therefore to study and recite such vEdam. More important is to understand them and their inner meaning. Those who do that are mikka vEdiyar.

While it is important to study and recite the vEdas, once must only execute what is said in them that suits one's station. For example, a sanyaasi cannot follow what is said for a family person. Those who study the vEdas, recite them and follow what is right for them are mikka vEdiyar.

There are very few people who study the vEdas and follow them. Most of them, however, look for the wrong thing. They looks for ways to reach swargam, etc. They make a big effort in studying vEdam, but go for the small fruit that is swargam. Rare are those who look in them for ways to attain mOksham. Such people are mikka vEdiyar.

Those who study, recite and understand the vEdas and pick the essential in them which is bhagavat praapti are mikka vEdiyar.

The first meaning to understand from mikka vEdiyar is that, it is those who do not commit sins, those who do not do good deeds but take the lowly fruit that is swargam, but those who do bhakti and prapatti to attain His tiruvadi. The second meaning to take is that the vEdas tell what nothing else can tell. The third meaning is that the vEdas are the wealth of those who live by them ("vEdiyar vEdam").

It is not enough to study and recite the vEdas. It has to stay in the mind. He who is its meaning, has to stay in the mind. It's inner meaning that is bhaagavata kainkaryam has to stay in the mind. SMK says that SNA sang it (he did not even have to explain it) such that it stayed forever in the mind. SMK says that he did not just put it in any mind; he put it in his mind ("en nenjuL"). SNA sang it and made sure it would stay in SMK's heart such that even if SNA sang it again that would serve no purpose.

To understand the vEdas and write their meaning as Tiruvaaymozhi, that itself is a difficult task. SNA did that, but to write it such that not just the meaning, but their inner meaning takes root in lowly minds that are incapable of comprehending even simple matters, that is a phenomenal task.

It is important to understand the capacity of the audience before teaching. Here SAS used the example of Tirumangaimannan's "paLLasseruvil kayalugaLa ... puLLup piLLaikku iRai thEdum puLLampoothankudi". The mother bird searches for fish in a ditch filled with large fish; it is searching because it is looking for small fish for its young.

The important message is, to understand the meanings and inner meanings of the vEdas it is not sufficient to have bhakti to Him; it is important to have bhakti to the aachaaryas who explain them to us. First there has to be bhakti to the pramaaNam that is the vEdam; then it is important to have bhakti to Him who is the meaning of the vEdas; finally it is important to have bhakti to the bhaagavatas who study and live by the vEdas.

For SNA, the other dEvatas, swargam etc. spoken in the vEdas is the external stuff and He is the internal meaning. SMK is not even aware of the other matters in the vEdas; to him even He is the external meaning and bhaagavata kainkaryam is the internal meaning.

SNA came to be known as SatakOpan because he became angry and drove away the vaayu that was trying to remove his gnyaanam. SMK is stating that he has that name, also because he drives away the agnyaanam of all who surrender to him.

Nambi means one who is complete. SMK is saying that SNA shows his completeness by correcting him. Thus, he is not just nambi, but he is "en nambi".

To do kainkaryam to SNA, that is the meaning of SMK's life. Kainkaryam does not lead to purushaarttham; kainkaryam is purushaarttham. This is Sri Madhurakavi Aazhvaar's message to us through the ninth and all the other paasurams of kaNNinuN siRutthaambu.