Arthi Prabandham was Manavala Mamunigal’s swansong before he attained Acharyan thiruvadi. He authored this prabandham solely for prapannas, who, when caught in the quagmire of samsaric afflictions, find themselves unsuitable for performing gnana yoga, karma yoga, bhakti yoga or sharanagathi. By projecting himself as a jivatma caught in the web of samsaric afflictions, Mamunigal, through this prabandham, immediately strikes a chord with the samsaris. He prescribes to them the secret that will help them sever all connections with samsara and attain an everlasting place in paramapadham.
The relationship between jivas and emperuman continues from time immemorial. It is for the jivas to realize the everlasting continuity of this relationship with the Supreme Self. During Pancha Samskaram, the jiva gets to know of the nature of this relationship in the form of Thirumanthira upadhesam from one’s immediate Acharyan. However, the theoretical knowledge of this relationship alone doesn’t suffice to gain the candidacy required for performing sharanagathi. The samsaric pulls, which are a result of our previous karma, can at some times be too strong for us to condition and discipline our mind to practically realize the truth learnt through upadhesam. It is here that we need the grace of our Acharyan to cross the river of samsara.
All through Arthi Prabandham, Manavala Mamunigal appeals to the infinite grace of Ramanuja to deliver him from samsara. But why did Mamunigal appeal to Ramanuja instead of seeking the grace of Namperumal or his immediate Acharya Thiruvaimozhippillai? Mamunigal himself answers this question in two of his verses in this prabandham. In order to receive the grace of Namperumal, one needs to obtain the qualifications required of a spiritual seeker. On the other hand, Ramanuja, as a sincere father and a care-taking mother will be tolerant of our inadequacies for we are ultimately his sambandhis. Hence, access to his grace, by means of meditating upon him, and by chanting his holy names in the form of Ramanusa Nootrandhaadhi (also called Prapanna Gayathri), is the means that will elevate us to the Lord’s divine abode, Paramapadham.
In addition to driving home the importance of singing the holy names of Ramanuja, Mamunigal also makes passing references to the following topics in this prabandham:
1) He describes at length, the pit stops the soul encounters, as it takes the archirathi route to end the repeated cycles of birth and death;
2) He extols the scholarly might of Ramanuja that established the supremacy of Vishishtadvaita Vedanta by defeating the Advaitins, Buddhists, Jains and the preceptors of other religions;
3) He delves on what constitutes Srivaishnava Lakshanam by emphasizing the need to do service to the devotees of Namperumal and Ramanuja. He also points out the need to avoid the company of the non-believers in Ramanuja Sampradayam.
Arthi Prabandham – Invocatory Verses
thEn payilum thArAn ethirAsan sEvadi mEl
thAn paramabaththi thalai eduththu – mAndharkku
uNavAga Arthiyudan oNthamizhgaL seidhAn
maNavALa mAmunivan vandhu
By virtue of the immense devotion he had towards the lotus red feet of Ramanuja (who adorns a flower garland flowing with honey), Manavala Mamunigal, experiencing alternating fits of love and pain, put together the collective wisdom of instructions in Tamil language for the consumption of the nescient inhabitants of this world.
vambavizhththAr vaNmai maNavALa mAmunivan
am puviyil kAl porundhA ArthiyinAl – umbar thozhum
viNNulagil sella viraindhu ethirAsan padhangaL
naNNi uraiththAn namakku
Manavala Mamunigal, the one who wears a garland made of flower buds, the one who remained glued to the lotus feet of Ramanuja and the one who is an embodiment of generosity, out of utter despair at having to remain in this world and desirous of a permanent place in paramapadham where the celestials offer their daily prayers to the Lord, instructed this prabandham to the people of this world.
Arthi Prabandham – Pasuram Translations
vAzhi EthirAsan vAzhi ethirAsan
vAzhi ethirAsan ena vAzhthuvAr – vAzhi ena
vAzhthuvAr vAzhi ena vAzhthuvAr thALiNaiyil
thAzhthuvAr viNNOr thalai
In this verse, Mamunigal refers to three categories of people. First, he refers to “Ramanuja Adiyars” – those who sing the glory of Ramanuja all the time and serve his lotus feet. Second, he refers to the well-wishers who sing the glory of “Ramanuja Adiyars”. Third, he refers to those people who sing the glory of the well-wishers of Ramanuja Adiyars. All these three categories of people occupy an exalted status when compared to the celestials. That is, even the celestials will worship the feet of these three categories of people.
irAmAnusAya namah endru sindhith
irAmAnusarodu iRaippOzh – IrAmARu
sindhippAr thALinaiyil serndhiruppAr thALinaiyai
vandhippAr viNNOrgal vAzhvu
It is imperative to avoid the company of the non-believers who, instead of chanting the mantra “Ramanusaya Namaha” that can deliver us from samsara, engage themselves in the objects of the world. Those who worship the feet of the people who have managed to avoid the company of such non-believers will be exalted to a status equivalent to that of the celestials.
Note: Through the first two verses, Mamunigal drives home the greatness of Ramanuja Sambandham which can liberate us from samsara. By chanting the glory of Ramanuja and by serving the feet of the servants of Ramanuja, we can exalt ourselves to the eternal abode of the Supreme Lord Sriman Narayana, where the celestials will worship our feet and welcome us with a warm reception.
thanthai naRRAi thAram thanayar perunchelvam
endRanakku neeyE ethirAsa! intha nilaik
yErAdha ivvudalE indRe aRutharuLa
pArAdhadhu ennO pagar?
In this verse, Manavala Mamunigal refers to Ramanuja as his father, mother, children and all his prized possessions. However, he is pained when his material body, with all its earthly afflictions, is preventing him from sustaining this devotion to Ramanuja. He sincerely demands an explanation from Ramanuja himself for not blessing him with his abundant compassion to rid his body off its earthly afflictions.
indha udal siRaivittu eppozhudhu yAnEgi
andhamil pErinbathuL AguvEn – andhO
irangAi ethirAsA! ennai ini uykkai
paRangAn unakku uNarndhu pAr
In this verse, Manavala Mamunigal compares his human body to that of a jail. He earnestly asks Ramanuja, the king of hermits, about the time it would take for him to enjoy the eternal bliss that Paramapadham has to offer. Whilst appealing to his compassion, Mamunigal also reminds Ramanuja of the responsibility he has to take care of him. He opines that there is no one in this world but Ramanuja who can lead an unqualified person like him to salvation.
than pudhalvan koodAmal thAn pusikkum bOgathAl
inburumO? thanthai ethirAsa! – un pudhalvan
andrO yAn urayAi AdhalAl un bOgam
nandrO enai ozhitha nAL
Will a father be able to enjoy his material prosperity without his son partaking in the enjoyment? Oh Ramanuja, aren’t I your son? Is it fair on your part to enjoy the eternal bliss of paramapadham when I remain entrapped in this bondage of samsara? Please answer me!
vEmbu muRRak kaippumiguvadhu pOl vevvinaiyEn
theembu muRRum thegamuRRich sellungaal – AmparisAl
yErkavE sindhithu ethirAsA! ivvudalaith
theerkaveyAna vazhi sei
Like a neem tree which augments its bitterness with the passage of time, my body has been aggregating bad karma with time. Oh Ramanuja, have a look at my nature! Bless me with the means to sever the connection with this inferior, material body!
annai kudineer arundhi mulaiyuN kuzhavi
thannudaiya nOyaith thavirALO? – EnnE!
EnakkA ethirAsA! ellA nee seidhAl
unakku adhu thAzhvO urai
Doesn’t the mother of a new-born admonish herself when her child picks up an infection? Doesn’t she take in water and the necessary medicines (before breastfeeding) to cure the baby’s infection? Oh Ramanuja, aren’t you like a mother to me? What harm will befall you if you take care of me like my mother would? Please explain.
Note:In this verse, Mamunigal wonders why Ramanuja has waited for a person of inferior intellect (like Mamunigal) to remind him of his motherly duty. Shouldn’t it have been the responsibility of Ramanuja himself to deliver his children from samsara without their calling out to him?
thankuzhavi vAn kiNatraich sArndhirukkak kaNdirundhAL
enbadhandrO annai pazhiyErkindrAL – nangu uNaril
ennAlE en nAsam mElum ethirAsA!
unnAlE Am uRavai Or
(If a child dies before it turns five, the child’s mother is accountable for not having attended to it properly according to the sastrams).
When a mother carelessly fails to notice her child crawl slowly towards a deep, sullen well and doesn’t come to its rescue in time, isn’t she culpable according to the sastrams? Similarly, when I am slowly descending down the bottomless pit of samsara as a result of my past actions, shouldn’t you Ramanuja, as my mother, come to my rescue?
Note: One must not misunderstand Mamunigal’s plea here. He is not holding Ramanuja (whom he regards as his mother) responsible for his suffering. On the other hand, he acknowledges that the suffering he is undergoing is due to his own deeds/misdeeds. Thus, Mamunigal’s plea in this verse should be construed as an earnest appeal to Ramanuja to bless him with the means for liberation.
koobathil veezhum kuzhaviyudan kudhithu av
vAbathai neekkum andha annaipOl – pAbathAl
yAn piRappEnElum ini enthai ethirAsan
thAn piRakkum ennai uyppadhA?
When a child falls into a well, the child’s mother too jumps into it to save the child. Like that child, I have also fallen into the dark, sullen well of Samsara which has forced me to take multiple births. Like the mother who jumps into the well to rescue her child, my father Ramanuja will take multiple births to liberate me from this worldly bondage.
poomagLkOn thennarangar poongazhaRkup pAdhugamAith
thAm magizhum selvach sadagopar – thEmalarththAtkE
Aendhu iniya pAdukamAm enthai irAmAnusanai
vAindhu enadhu nenjamE vAzha
Nammazhwar serves the Lotus feet of Periya Perumal, the divine consort of Sri Ranganachiyar (whose beauty has been likened to that of a lotus flower). Nammazhwar finds eternal bliss in staying at the Lord’s feet and engaging eternally in His service. Similarly, my father, Ramanuja, is eternally engaged in serving the feet of Sri Nammazhwar. Oh! My mind. Isn’t it necessary for us to be associated with Ramanuja and spend our life thinking about him and serving his feet?
Note: In the context of this verse, it may be worth referring to the translation of the first verse posted above which says that those who serve the feet of those who serve the feet of the Lord will be accorded a status equal to the celestials.
unnaiyozhiya oru deivam maRRaRiyA
mannu pugazhsEr vaduganambi – thannilaiyai
en thanakku nee thandhu ethirAsA ennALum
un thanakkE AtkoL ugandhu
Oh Ramanuja! Didn’t Vaduga Nambi attain unparalleled fame for his devotion to you by believing in (only) you as the Supreme Lord? Please bless me with a devotion of that kind such that I can forever remain a servant to you.
Note: Vaduga Nambi was one of the renowned disciples of Ramanuja. He was considered an epitome of Guru Bhakthi. He believed in only one Supreme i.e. Ramanuja, even above Sri. Ranganatha. It requires sincere devotion and guru’s grace to attain this shade of Bhakti whereby Guru is considered the highest form of worship.
dEsam thigazhum thiruvAimozhipiLLai
mAsu il thirumalaiyAzhwAr ennai – nEsathAl
eppadiyE eNNi ninpAl sErthAr ethirAsA
appadiyE nee seidharuL
In this verse, Manavala Mamunigal eulogises his Acharyan Thiruvaimozhippillai (who is also referred to as Thirumalai Azhwar and whose fame spread in all directions) as an epitome of unadulterated purity. Out of his love for his disciple Mamunigal, Thiruvaimozhippillai performed pancha samskaram for him, formally instituted him into his Guru Parampara and made him a “Ramanuja Dasan”. Through these verses, Mamunigal announces his servitude to Ramanuja and requests the king of hermits to similarly bless him with his abundant grace.
ethirAsan vAzhi ethirAsan vAzhi
ethirAsan vAzhi endru Ethich sadhirAga
vAzhvArgaL thaaL inaikkeezh vAzhvArgal petriduvAr
AzhwArgaL thangaL aruL
There are people who lead their life, incessantly chanting “Long live Ramanuja”. Also, there are other people who lead their life serving the feet of such devotees who sing the praise of Ramanuja. These servants of the devotees Ramanuja will receive the blessings of the Azhwars.
adhikAramuNdEl arangar irangArO
adhikAram illAdhArkku andrO – ethirAsA
nee iranga vENduvadhu neeyum adhikArigaLukkE
irangil en seyvOm yAm
In order to access the grace of Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam, we need to sever all connections with this world and reach out to Him like Nammazhwar does in the 28th verse of Thiruvirutham (puNNanthuzhAmE poruneerth thiruvarangA). Oh Ramanuja! Aren’t you generous enough to grace even those who don’t fulfil such candidational qualifications? If you were to alter your stance and become rigid like Lord Ranganatha, where shall we go and what shall we do?
emperumAnAr thiruvadigaLe saraNam
enbadhuvE nAvuraikkum iththalen? – anbavarpAl
ippOdhaLavum yAn ondrum kANgindrilEn
eppOdhu undAvadhu ini?
Though I keep verbally saying that I have surrendered to the lotus feet of Ramanuja all the time, I have not been able to actually develop deep devotion and love towards him. When will I be able to do it? Unless I develop such love and devotion, what good will admitting my servitude to Ramanuja bring to me?
AgAdadhu EthendRu aRindhum piRarkku uraiththum
AgAdhadhE seyvan AdhalAl – mOgAnthan
endru ninaiththu ennai igazhel ethirAsA
endru unnadi sErvan yAn
Oh Ramanuja, I keep advising others about the actions that are forbidden (according to the sastrams). However, I still continue to perform certain forbidden actions being fully aware of their consequences. Realising this, I request you not to desert me as an unsuitable candidate for receiving your blessings. Please let me know when will I give up this material world and attain your divine abode.
pollangu anaiththum podhindhu kondu nanmayil ondru
illA enakkum ethirAsA – nallArgaL
naNNum thirunAttai nAn tharuvEn endRa nee
thaNNendru irukkiRadhu endhAn?
Oh Ramanuja, like a metal plated with impurities, I (my body) have (has) assimilated bad (and forbidden habits). In spite of that, you had promised to lead me to paramapadham – a place where only highly evolved souls manage to reach. In this context, please explain your delay in coming to my rescue.
endru vidivadhu enakku endhAi ethirAsA!
endrum aRigindRilEn urayAi – kundrAmal
ippadiyE indha uyirkku endRum iruLE viLaikkum
ippavamAm neeNda iravu
My father Ramanuja! This indestructible atma, by virtue of being entrapped in the darkness of ignorance, suffers an everlasting night of samsara. When will your solar rays dispel this darkness of ignorance?
allum pagalum yAn Akkai vazhi uzhandru
sellumadhu un thesukkuth theengu andrO – nallOrgaL
tham thanayar neesarkku Atcheyyach sagippArO
enthai ethirAsA isai
Day in and day out, I keep gratifying myself with all the sensory pleasures that my body gets attracted to. Oh Ramanuja, will great men passively watch their children slide to disaster (when the latter perform forbidden activities)? As my father, won’t your name be tarnished as a result of my activities? Please answer me.
pOmvazhiyaith tharum ennum inbam ellam
pusiththu vazhipOi amudha virasai aRRil
nAm moozhgi manamaRRuth theLivisumbai
naNNi nalanthigazhmENi thannai peRRuth
thAm amarar vandhu edhir koNdu alangariththuch
saRkarippa mAmaNi maNdabathuch sendru
mAmalarAL kOn madiyil vaithu ugakkum
vAzhvu namakku ethirAsan aruLum vAzhvE
In this verse, Mamunigal explains the journey that the jivatma undertakes to reach paramapadham by explaining the pit stops it encounters enroute to Srivaikuntam. Having departed from a material body, the atma travels via the “archirathi” nerve (nadi) to reach Paramapadham. On its way, the soul takes a dip in the Viraja river to quench itself from the heat of samsara (dhabha trayam) and to wash off other impurities. The purity of the atma (i.e. its original nature) now shines through the “sattvic” body that it assumes for itself. As the atma leads its way to the palace of Vaikuntanatha where the Lord is seated along with His consort Mahalakshmi, it is welcomed by celestials who give it a divine decoration. Afterwards, the Lord, Sri Vaikuntanatha, accepts the atma, places it on His lap and gives it unparalleled, eternal bliss. Having explained the secret of everlasting happiness, Mamunigal concludes the verse by saying that Ramanuja alone is the means that can make us recipients of such eternal joy.
thirumalaiyAzhwAr thiruvAimozhippiLLai seerarurAl
tharum madhi koNdavar thammai uthAragarAga eNNi
iru manamE! avarkkAi ethirAsar emai kaduga
paramapadam thanil yERRuvar enna bayam namakkE?
Oh my mind! Meditate upon the great teacher/deliverer Thiruvaimozhippillai (popularly known as “Sri Sailesar”), who, out of his unbridled grace, blessed us with the knowledge required to deliver us from samsara. By doing so, we can expect Ramanuja, who is like a father to my teacher Thiruvaimozhippillai, to recognize our devotion to our teacher and bless us with a place in paramapadham. In that case, what else have we got to worry about?
thEdhaRRa nyAnath thiruvAimozhippillai seerarulAl
yEdhathai mARRum ethirAsar than abhimAnamennum
bogaththai yErip pavamAm puNaridhanaik kadandhu
kOdhaRRa mAdhavan pAdakkaraiyaik kuruguvanE
By meditating upon our teacher Thiruvaimozhippillai (who is an embodiment of spotless knowledge and possesses divine, auspicious qualities), we become eligible recipients to the grace of Ramanuja. It then becomes easy for us to cling on to the “boat” called Ramanuja, who overlooks our sins, removes our imperfections and thereby enables us to cross the ocean of nescience and achieve the highest wealth of a permanent place in the divine abode of Paramapadham.
adiyArgaL kuzhAngaL azhakOlakkamirukka
AnandamayamAna mAmaNi maNdabathup
padiyAdhumil padukkaiyAi irukkum ananthan
paNAmaNigaL thammin oLi maNdalathin idaiyil
vadivArum mAmalarAL vaLavarugu maRRai
maNmagaLum AimagaLum idavarugum irukka
naduvAga vEtRRirukkum nAraNanaik kaduga
nAn anubhavikkum vagai nalgu en ethirAsA
Continuing from 20th verse discussed earlier, Mamunigal explains to us the structural arrangement in paramapadham through this verse. In this verse, he explains how Nithya Mukthars like Adishesha, Garuda, Visvakshena, Nammazhwar and Thirumangai Azhwar are seated in paramapadham, with their collective arrangement symbolic of glittering beads and pearls. He also describes the Thirumamani Mandapam, at the centre of which the ruler of Paramapadham, Sri Vaikuntanatha is seated on Adishesha accompanied by His consorts Mahalakshmi to His right and Bhoo/Neela devis to His left. Mamunigal compares the Lord’s position in the centre of the Thirumamani Mandapam to that of a lotus flower with three shoots, from where He manages the affairs of all the worlds.
Having described the setting in paramapadham, Mamunigal appeals to the grace of Ramanuja so that he can soon worship the form of the Lord as described above in Paramapadham.
indha udal vittu iravi maNdalaththUdEgi
ivvaNdam kazhithu idayil AvaraNamEzhpOi
andhamil pAzhkadandhu azhagAr virAsaithanil kuliththu angu
amAnavanAl oLi koNda sOdhiyum peRRu amarar
vandhu edhirkoNdu alankariththu vAzhthi vazhinadatha
vainkuntam pukku maNimaNdapathuch chendru
nam thirumAl adiyArgal kuzhAngaLudan koodum
nAL enakkuk kurugumvagai nalgu enn ethirAsA
This verse continues from the journey to Paramapadham described in the 20th verse. Once again, Mamunigal explains the journey that the atma undertakes to reach paramapadham by describing the pit stops it takes enroute to Srivaikuntam. Having departed from a material body, the atma takes the “archirathi” route to reach Paramapadham. In this route, the atma first departs from the solar system, arrives at Brahma Lokam. Further, the atma departs from Brahma Lokam, crosses the seven varanas, the endless world of moola prakruthi and finally ends up in the Viraja river that marks the end of Leela Vibhuthi. After having gone beyond these worlds, the soul reaches the pure waters of Viraja river and rejoices by taking bath in it. Then, the atma assumes a pure “sattva” body that a person by the name Amanavan offers it. Afterwards, the Atma leads its way to the palace of Vaikuntanatha in a procession, welcomed by the celestials. Once it completes its journey, our atma joins the other servants of the Lord and remains eternally singing the praise of the Lord in the gathering.
Having described this journey, Mamunigal requests Ramanuja to grace him with liberation so that he can join the Nithya Mukthars and engage in eternal service to the Lord in paramapadham.
endru nirethukamAga ennai abhimAnithu
yAnum adhaRindhu unakkEyAyirukkum vagai seidhAi
andru mudhal indraLavum anavaradam pizhayE
aduthu aduthuch cheyvadhu anudhavippadhu inichcheyyEn
endru unnai vandhu irappadhAm en kodumai kaNdum
igazhAdhE iravupagal adimai koNdu pOndhAi
indru thirunAdum enakku aruLa eNNugindRAi
inik kadukach cheydharuLavEndum ethirAsA
After Mamunigal’s Pancha Samskaram, he got initiated into the lineage that connected him to Ramanuja and was blessed with the knowledge that service to the holy feet of Ramanuja was the means to his liberation. However, since that day, Mamunigal admits to have committed several sins and repents later about his act of commission. However, even after watching Mamunigal’s pitiful plight, Ramanuja did not desert him and continued to permit him to serve his feet. In addition, Ramanuja had also decided to offer Mamunigal a place in Paramapadham. Thus, in this verse, Mamunigal appreciates the compassion of Ramanuja and urges him to expedite the process of granting him liberation.
then arangar thamakkAmO? deviyarkatkAmO?
sEnaiyarkOn mudhalAna sUriyatkarkAmO?
manniya seer mARan aruLmAri thamakkAmO?
maRRum uLLa dEsikargal thangalukkumAmO?
ennudaiya pizhai poRukka yAvarukku mudiyum?
ethirAsA unakku andRi yAn oruvarkku AgEn
un aruLAl enakku rusi thannaiyum undAkki
oLi visumbil adiyEnai oruppaduthu viraindhE
Oh Ramanuja, considering the nature of the mistakes I have committed, will Periya Perumal Sri Ranganatha forgive me? Will his consort Sri. Ranganachiyar and his pirattis (Bhoo and Neela devis) forgive me? Will the celestials beginning with Visvakshena forgive me? Will Nammazhwar, the foremost of the Prapannas and an embodiment of divine auspicious qualities forgive me? Will Thirumangai Azhwar, the one who is otherwise compassionate about the spiritual seekers, forgive me? Will the preceptors beginning with Sri. Nathamuni forgive me? Oh Ramanuja, who else but you can forgive me for the sins I have committed? From now, I won’t approach anybody else but you. By virtue of your grace, create in me the interest for liberation and bless me by being my means to paramapadham as soon as possible.
ivvulaginil ini ondRum eNNadhE nenjE
iravupagal ethirAsar emakku inimEl aruLum
avvulagai alarmagaLkOn angirukkum iruppai
adiyAr kuzhAngaL thamai avargaL anubhavaththai
ivvuyirum adhukku ittup piRandhu izhandhu kidandhadhu
ennum aththai endRum adhukku idaichchuvarAi kidakkum
vevvinaiyAl vandha udal vidum pozhudhai vittAl
viLaiyum inbam thannai muRRam vidAmal irundhu eNNE
Oh my mind! Do not think about anything that is remotely associated with this material world. Just think about a place in paramapadham, something which Ramanuja is going to bless us with. Picture the way Sriman Narayana resides with his consort Sri. Mahalakshmi in the throne of paramapadham along with the bliss the celestials and Nithya Mukthars enjoy in His company. Think about the obstructions that prevent you from achieving a place in paramapadham. Keep longing for the time when you can sever all connections with your body and keep thinking about the benefits that accrue to you after you have given up the body.
paNdu palavAriyarum pAr ulagOr uyyap
parivudan seidharuLum palkalaigaL thammai
kaNdadhellAm ezhudhi avai kaRRarindhum piRairkkum
kAdhaludan kaRpiththum kAlathai kazhithEn
puNdareegai kElvan urai ponnulagu thannil
pOga ninaivu ondRum indRi porundhu ingE irundhEn
eNdisaiyum Eththum ethirAsan aruLAlE
ezhil visumbai andRi ippOdhu en manam ENNadhE
Oh Ramanuja! The great acharyas, who lived in the days of yore, have taken pity on us and blessed us with many of their scholarly works to lead us to liberation. I underwent formal tutorship to learn their works, understood them, wrote commentaries and spent my life delivering discourses on them for the benefit of the society. In all these days, I spent my life desirous of a place in this world without thinking about paramapadham – a place where Sriman Narayana resides permanently with his consort Sri. Mahalakshmi. The blessings of Ramanuja, whose fame is well-spread in all eight directions, have helped me recalibrate my true purpose of existence and have strengthened my resolve to seek liberation.
sAruvAga madhaneeru seidhu samaNach chedikkanal koLuththiya
saakkiyak kadalai vaRRuviththu migusangiyakkiri muRiththida
mAru seidhidu kaNAdhavAdhiyargaL vAi thagarththu aRamiguththu mEl
vandha pAsupadhar sindhuyOdum vagai vAdhu seidha ethirAsanAr
koorum mA kurumadhathOdu kumArulan madham avaRRin mEl
kodiya tarka saram vittapin kurugiya mAyavAdhiyarai vendrida
meeRi vAdhil varum pArkkaran madhavilakkadik kodiyeRindhu pOi
mikka yAdava madhathai mAyththa peruvIrar nALum miga vAzhiyE
In this verse, Mamunigal praises the scholarly genius of Ramanuja who was instrumental in establishing the supremacy of Vishishtadvaita over other competing philosophical schools. Mamunigal extolls the scholarship of Ramanuja who, through his works like the Sri Bhashya, defeated the Charavaka School – the epistemological foundations of which rested on the assumption that only those that can be physically seen can be true. In addition, Mamunigal extols Ramanuja’s might i) In incinerating the philosophical foundations of the Jains, ii) In being instrumental in evaporating the entire ocean called Buddhist Philosophy, (iii) In decimating the mountain of Sankhya Philosophy and grinding it to dust, (iv) In defeating the Ganathavadins through the power of his speech, (v) In driving away the invading Pasupathas through his arguments (by comparing it with the incident in which Rudra ran away, unable to defend Banasura from Emperuman), in addition to mentioning Ramanuja’s triumph over the Prabhakaras, Kumarila Bhatta, the mayavadins and finally his first teacher Yadhavaprakasa.
seerArum ethirAsar thiruvadigaL vAzhi
thiruvarayil sAthiya sendhuvarAdai vAzhi
yErArum seyyavadivu eppozhudhum vAzhi
ilangiya munnool vAzhi iNaitholgaL vAzhi
sOrAdha thuyya seyya mugachchodhi vAzhi
thoomuRuval vAzhi thunai malarkkaNgal vAzhi
ErARu thirunAmam aNindha ezhil vAzhi
ini thirupOdu ezhil nyAnamuthirai vAzhiyE
The feet of Ramanuja, that contains the best of divine auspicious qualities, may that live long! The saffron robe that Ramanuja wraps around his body, the one that can even put the brightness of the sun to shame, may that live long! The body (thirumeni) of Ramanuja, which glitters in bright red colour, may that live long! The sacred thread (upaveedham) that runs around his body, the one that appears like lightning in the background of a dark cloud, may that live long! Oh Ramanuja, may your mighty shoulders (which are adorned with basil garlands), which can retrieve people from the depths of samsara and the compassion that drives you to their rescue live long! May your divine face, which bears a bright smile, live long! May that smile on your face (which resembles that of a bud in bloom) due to your continued service to the Lord and due to the love you have for your devotees, live long! May your divine eyes, which sparkle when one glorifies “Sri Ranga Sri” and “Srivaishnava Sri” and when you see your devotees, live long! May the twelve thirunamams (dvadhasa urdhva pundrams) on your body live long! May the beauty of your body posture, in which you are seated in Padhmasana with a mudra of knowledge, live long!
aru samayach sediyadhanai adiyaruthAn vAzhiyE
adarndhu varum kudhittigaLai aRathuRandhAn vAzhiyE
serugaliyaich siRudhum aRath theerthuvittAn vAzhiyE
thennarangar selvam muRRum thiruththivaiththAn vAzhiyE
maRai adhanil poruL anaiththum vAimozhindhAn vAzhiyE
mARan uraiseidha thamizhmaRai vaLarthOn vAzhiyE
azhagArum ethirAsar adiyiNaigaL vAzhiyE
In this verse, Mamunigal praises the scholarly genius of Ramanuja that defeated the six philosophical schools propagated by foreign forces. He dedicates this verse to praise Ramanuja‘s scholarship. “May Ramanuja, who defeated those who misinterpreted the essence of the Vedas, live long!” “May Ramanuja, who drove out Kalipurusha, the person instrumental in propagation of such false faiths, live long!” “May Ramanuja, who, through his reforms, set the administration of Sri Rangam temple in order, live long!” “May Ramanuja, who conveyed the esoteric meanings of the Vedas through his scholarly works like the Sri Bhashyam, live long!” “May Ramanuja, who was instrumental in spreading the message of Thiruvaimozhi (also known as Dravida Veda), live long!” “May the beautiful feet of Ramanuja live long!”
sankara pARkara yAdava bhAtta prabhAkarar thangal madham
sAyvuRa vAdhiyar mAykuvar endru sadhumaRai vAzhndhidunAL
vengali ingu ini veeRu namakilai endru migaththaLarnAL
mEdhini nansumai ARum enath thuyar vittu viLangiya nAL
mangayarALi parAngusa munnavar vAzhvu muLaiththidu nAL
manniya thennarAngApuri mAmalai maRRum uvandhidunAL
sengayal vAvigaL soozhvayal nALum siRandha perumpudhoorch
seemAn iLaiyAzhwAr vandharuLiya nAL thiruvAdhirai nALE
In this verse, Mamunigal glorifies the birth star of Ramanuja, i.e. Thiruvadhirai. He praises this auspicious day as birthday as the day on which: (i) The misleading faiths propagated by Sankara, Bhaskara, Yadhavaprakasa, Kumarila Bhatta, Prabhakara and many others were rooted out of existence; (ii) The Vedas celebrated the uprooting of those faiths that misinterpreted their message; (iii) The earth celebrated the riddance of Kalipurusha and others who performed gross misdeeds; (iv) The Prabandhams of Thirumangai Azhwar, Nammazhwar and other Azhwars celebrated as Ramanuja established their epistemological authority; and (v) The divya desams of Srirangam and Thirumalai – the abodes of Azhagiya Manavalan and Thiruvengadavan respectively, rejoiced. In essence, Mamunigal glorifies the day on which Ramanuja took birth in the sylvan surroundings of Sriperumbudur – a hamlet that has lakes (with beautiful fishes) which are in turn surrounded by cultivable lands.
innam eththanai kAlam indha udambudan yAn iruppan
innapozhudhu udambu vidum innapadi adhudhAn
innavidaththE adhuvum ennum ivaiellAm
ethirAsA! nee aRidhi yAn ivai ondRaRiyEn
ennai ini ivvudambai viduviththu un aruLAl
yErArum vaikundhathERRa ninaivu uNdEl
pinnai viraiyAmal maRandhu irukkiRathen? pesAi
pEdhaimai theerthu ennai adumai koNda perumAnE
For how long will I continue to live with this body that is incompatible with my atma’s original nature? Oh Ramanuja! You have all the knowledge about when my body will dissolve into its composite matter, how the dissolution will happen and where it will happen even though I have no idea about this. O’ Ramanuja! If you have it in your mind to lead me to liberation by showering your grace on me, why is it that you are not expediting the process and remaining silent about it?
munnaivinai pinnaivinai Araththam ennum
moondRu vagaiyAna vinaiththogai anaiththum yAnE
ennai adaindhOr thamakkuk kazhippan ennum arangar
ethirAsA! neeyitta vazhakkandrO? sollAi
unnai alladhu aRiyAdha yAn indha udambOdu
uzhandRu vinaippayan pusikka vaeNduvadhu ondru uNdO?
ennudaya iruvinaiyai iRaippozhudhil mARRi
yErArum vaikundhathu yERRi vidAi neeyE
In this verse, Mamunigal refers to three types of sins: 1) Sins due to past actions (Purvakam), 2) Sins for which the jivatma has not yet suffered (Uttarakam) and 3) Sins for which the jivatma has only partly suffered (Praraptam).
O’ Ramanuja! I appear to be suffering as a result of all the three kinds of sins. Doesn’t Periya Perumal, Sri. Ranganathar, forgive the sins committed by those who surrender unto Him? Doesn’t He listen to your words when it comes to recommending people for salvation? I have unconditionally surrendered to you as my means of salvation. In that case, why are you passively watch my body suffer the consequences of my past sins? Please absolve me of my sins and bless me with a place in Srivaikuntam soon.
aruLAle adiyEnai abhimAnitharuLi
anavaratham adimai koLLa ninaiththu neeyirukka
maruLAle pulan pOga vAnjai seyyum endRan
valvinaiyai mARRi unpAl manam vaikkap paNNAi
theruLArum koorathAzhwAnum avar selvath
thirumaganAr thAmum aruLich cheydha theemaith
thiraLAna aththanaiyum sEravuLLa ennaith
thiruththi uyyakkoLLum vagai thErum ethirAsA
Oh Ramanuja! Due to your infinite compassion, you blessed me, accepted me as your servant and gave me an opportunity to serve your feet. However, out of ignorance, I have been drifting aimlessly in the direction of my sensory pulls. Please help me get rid of such forbidden actions and focus my mind on you. Koorathazhwan and his son Parasara Bhattar, out of sheer modesty, claimed to have committed grave sins, when they actually didn’t. In my case, I have been really committing those grave sins. Therefore, I urge you to absolve me of my sins and help me focus my mind to unconditionally serve your feet.
vAsanayil ooRRamO mALAdha valvinaiyO
yEthendRu aRiyEn ethirAsA – theethAgum
aimpulanil Asai adiyEn mananthannai
vanpudanE thAn adarum vandhu
O’ Ramanuja! This longing for worldly desires, which is at loggerheads with the realization of Atma Swarupam, has got into me surreptitiously without my realization. Why did this happen? Is it a result of the conditioning that my atma has received from sinful desires accumulated across the different bodies it previously assumed for itself? Is it a result of the cumulative karma, which, does not seem to reduce despite my earnest attempts to seek redemption? I am not able to understand this. You should know this better. Please rescue me.
indRaLavum illadha adhikAram mElum enakku
endRu uLadAm sollAi ethirAsA – kundRA
vinaithodarai vettivittu mElE vaikundhathu
ennai kaduga yERRAdhadhu yen?
I am yet to fulfil the candidational requirements to deserve a place in paramapadham. When will I ever be able to do it? O’ Ramanuja! Instead of helping me to get rid of the effects of my actions (which, incidentally, have gathered by the heaps) and elevating me to paramapadham, why are you remaining silent?
anjil aRiyAdhAr aymbadhilum thAmaRiyAr
ensol enakkO ethirAsA – nenjam
un thAL ozhindhavaRRayE ugakka indRum
anudhAbam aRRu irukkaiyAl
O’ Ramanuja! Ideally, my mind, which has so far only sought lowly things, should have forever remained addicted to serving your feet. Instead of that, my mind has been chasing worldly riches in an everlasting pursuit of futility. Did the adage “If one does not learn at five, is he ever going to learn at fifty?” originate exclusively to describe my hopeless plight?
vEmbu kaRiyAga virunbinAr kaiththathendRu
thAm pugadAthE pusikkum thanmaipOl – theemban ivan
endRu ninaiththu ennai igazhAr ethirAsar
Though neem leaf has a bitter taste, people consume it along with food for medicinal reasons. Similarly, even with the knowledge that I have many bad qualities, Ramanuja did not desert me. It was out of his compassion that he took pity on me, absolved me of my sins and accepted me as his servant.
avaththai pozhudhai adiyEn kazhithup
pavaththai irukkum adhu paNbO? – thivathE yAn
sErum vagai aruLAi seerAr ethirAsA
pOrum ini ivvudambaip pOkku
O’ Ramanuja! As your servant, I have been wasting the time which I should have otherwise spent engaging in your service. This way, I have been preoccupied with worldly affairs in a manner that is incompatible with my Atma Swarupam. Isn’t my continued persistence in this state a blemish to your grace and compassion? Please enable me to get rid of this body that incarcerates me in samsara and elevate me to paramapadham.
enaippOl pizhaiseyvAr ivvulagil uNdO
unaippOl poRukkavallAr uNdO? – anaiththu ulagum
vAzhap piRandha ethirAsa mAmunivA
Ezhaikku irangAi ini
Is there another person like me in this whole universe who keeps committing the kind of mistakes I do? Is there another person like you even in the higher worlds who is an embodiment of tolerance and compassion? O’ Ramanuja, the saviour of all living beings in this world! Show mercy on me and liberate me from samsara.
aympulangaL mElittu adarumpozhudhu adiyEn
un padhangaL thammai ninaiththu Olamittaal – pinbhu avaithAm
ennai adarAmal irangAi ethirAsA
unnai allAmal enakku uNdO?
When my five senses get the better of me and force me to indulge in worldly affairs, I meditate on your lotus feet and call out your name “Ramanuja”. Oh Yatiraja! Who else do I have (but you) to protect me? Please help me to overcome this distress.
indha ulagul porundhAmai yEdhumillai
andha ulagil pOga Asaiyillai – indha namakku
ippadiyEdhAn tharuvar enthai ethirAsar
oppil thirunAdu ugandhu
I am yet to overcome the longing I have for materialistic things in this world. The interest to attain paramapadham is yet to take root in me. While I continue to remain in this state, on what basis, will my father Yatiraja come forward and offer me a place in paramapadham?
mAgandha nAraNanAr vaigumvagai aRindhOrkku
EgAndham illai iruL illai – mOgAndhar
ivvidam EgAndham iruL endru bayam aRRu irundhu
seivargal thAm pAvaththiRam
Those who realise that Sriman Narayana resides both inside and outside them are never alone. Since they have realised the divinity within, they are never prone to committing mistakes. It is only those who don’t understand this truth think that their actions are beyond the purview of the Lord and indulge themselves in forbidden activities.
nArAyaNan thirumAl nAram nAm ennum muRai
ArAyil nenjE anAdhi andrO – seerArum
AsariyanAle andRO nAm uyndhadhu endRu
koosAmal eppozhudhum kooRu
Oh my mind! Can we ignore the fact that our relationship with the Supreme Lord Narayana is continuing for several aeons now? Wasn’t it our acharya who pointed out the nature of this relationship to us? As a result, let us acknowledge this fact and say emphatically that “we became elevated solely because of the grace of our acharya.”
guruvAgi vandhu uyyakkoNdu – poruvil
madhi dhAn aLiththaruLum vAzhvandRo nenjE
ethirAsarkku ALAnOm yAm
This is the second consecutive verse where Mamunigal hails the glory of his immediate (upakaraka) acharya, Thiruvaimozhippillai. He directs his mind to acknowledge the role played by his acharya in guarding him from the negative effects of his actions. He also acknowledges the role played by his acharya in initiating him into the acharya parampara, begetting him Ramanuja Sambandham and in delivering the essence of liberation through Thirumanthira Upadesam.
irAmAnusAya namavendRu iravum pagalum sindhiththu
irAmanusargaL iruppidam thannil iRaippozhudhum
irAmAnusar avarkku ella adimaiyum seyyaveNNi
irAmAnusar thammai mAnusarAga enkol eNNuvadhE
One should avoid the company of people who do not chant the glory of Ramanuja day in and day out. We should spend our time doing service to the Lord in places devoid of such people. In fact, how can we consider those people as human if they fail to chant the name of Ramanuja?
eNNAdhu ennenjam isaiyAdhu en nAvu iRainjAdhu senni
kaNNAnavai ondRum kANaluRa kaLiyAr naliya
voNNAdha vaNNam ulagu aLithOn ethirAsan adi
naNNAdhavarai arangEsar seidha nalam namakkE
Through his scholarly works and his infinite compassion, Ramanuja saved the people of this world from falling into the trap laid down by Kalipurusha. People who do not recognize this magnanimous gesture of Ramanuja do not deserve my attention – my mind won’t think about them, my eyes won’t see them, my tongue wont spell their name and my head won’t bow in their respect. I thank the Lord of Srirangam for blessing me with the capability to control my senses according to my wishes. This capability has helped me to stay away from those who don’t recognize the contribution of Ramanuja.
nandhA naragaththu azhundhAmai vaeNdidil nAnilaththeer
en thAthaiyAna ethirAsanai naNNum endrum avan
andhAdhi thannai anusandhiyum avan thoNdarudan
sindhAkulam kedach sErndhirum muththi pin siddhikkumE
O’ the people of the world! Do you want to know the secret to get rid of samsaric afflictions? Forever keep thinking about my father Ramanuja. Engage yourself in regularly chanting “Prapanna Gayathri” (or Iramanusa Nootrandhaadhi, as it is widely known) – a collection of hymns that extol the glory of Ramanuja. Keep alive the desire in you to serve the lotus feet of Ramanuja all the time. Live in the company of the devotees of Ramanuja, as it helps you to overcome the qualms in your heart. If you manage to do all of these, you will be automatically blessed with liberation.
Note: In the verses we have seen so far, Mamunigal had been discussing at length about how it was difficult for him to overcome the distractions of this world and direct his mind towards serving the feet of Ramanuja. His sincere pleas to Ramanuja to bless him with liberation give us an impression that Mamunigal underwent all the travails of a jivatma in kali Yuga. However, we must understand that a highly evolved soul like Mamunigal would have had his way to liberation in a much easier fashion. He has written Arthi Prabandham solely for us spiritual seekers who find it difficult to sever connections with this material world. No verse captures this thought better than the current one, where, he advises what spiritual seekers have to do.
avathE arumanthakAlaththaip pOkki aRivinmaiyAl ip
pAvaththE uzhalgindRa pAviyargAL pala kAlam nindRu
thavathE muyalbavar thangatkkum yeidhavoNNAdha vandhath
thivaththE ummai vaikkum sindhiyum neer ethirAsarendRu
O’ the people of the world! Why do you waste your precious time indulging in worldly affairs rather than chanting the name of Ramanuja? Oh sinners! Why do you desire to forever remain entrenched in the ocean of samsara! Keep reminding yourself of the holy name of Ramanuja. If you manage to do so, you will easily find a place in paramapadham, something which eludes even an ascetic who spends years in isolation to meditate on the Supreme Lord.
endRuLan Eesan uyirum andReyuNdu ikkAlam ellAm
indRaLavAgap pazhudhE kazhindha iruvinayAl
endRu izhavindRi irukkum ennenjam iravu pagal
nindRu thabikkum ethirAsA neeyaruL seidha pinnE
The jivatmas have lived ever since the time of Lord – who Himself has been around through the cycles of creation, sustenance and dissolution. From time immemorial, it has been our karma that has decided the repetition of our birth-death cycle. Oh Ramanuja! So far, my mind has failed to recognize this truth. Ever since I was blessed with your sambandham, wisdom has dawned on me and I now keep worrying about my plight day in and day out.
kanagagirimEl kariya mugil pOl
vinadhai siruvan mERkoNdu – thanuvidumpOdhu
yErAr arangar ethirAsarkkAga enbAl
vArA munniRpar magizhndhu
As I enjoy being the object of grace of Ramanuja, Lord Ranganatha mounted on Garuda will appear before me when my soul departs its body (at the time of my death) like dark clouds appearing on the hillock of Meru. Here, Mamunigal visualises the scenario at the time of his Charama Dasai (the time for the departure of the soul from the body). This vision of Mamunigal can be likened to the Thiruvaimozhi verse “kAi sinap paRavaiyoornNthu pon malaiyin meemisaik kArmugil pOl”.
idhaththAlE thennarangar seigiradhu endRaRindhE
irundhAlum tharkAla vEdanayin ganaththAl
padhaiththu Avo ennum indhap pAva udambudanE
pala nOvum anubhaviththu ippavaththu irukkappOmO
madhaththAlE valvinaiyin vazhi uzhandRu thirundha
valvinaiyEn thannai unakku ALAkkik koNda
idaththAyum thandhaiyumAi ethirAsA! ennai
inik kaduga ippavathinindRu eduththarulE
The sorrow I experience today is solely a result of my karma. It is the divine will of Lord Ranganatha that I should annul the effects of my karma in this very birth. Despite knowing this design, I was finding it difficult to bear the sorrow with the sinful human body that I possess. It was at this time that I had your sambandham through which I became your servant. Oh Ramanuja (whom I consider my father and my mother), bless me and quickly deliver me from this world.
innam eththanai naaL ivvudambudan
irundhu nOvu padakkadavEn iyO
ennai ithinindRum viduviththu neer
endRudhAn thirunAttinuL yERRuveer
annayum aththanum allAdha suRRamum
Agi ennai aLitharuL nAdhanE
yen idhaththai irAppagal indRiyE
yEgameNNum ethirAsa vaLLalE
Oh Ramanuja! My master! You care for me like my father, mother and my close relatives would. You only think of what is good for me day in and day out. How many days will I have to continue occupying this body and tolerate the suffering? When are you going to deliver me from this misery and elevate me to paramapadham?
thennarangar seer aruLukku ilakkAgap peRROm
thiruvarangam thiruppadhiyE iruppAgap peRROm
manniya seer mARan kalai uNavAgap peRROm
madhurakavi soRpadiyE nilaiyAgap peRROm
munnavarAm nam guruvar mozhigaL uLLap peRROm
muzhudhum namakku avai pozhudhupOakkAi peRROm
pinnai ondRuthanil nenju pErAmal peRROm
piRar minukkum poRAmai illAp perumayum peRROmE
Oh Ramanuja! We set out to achieve the divine grace of Lord Ranganatha as our goal. We are blessed to stay in the town of Sri Rangam, the first of the divya desams. We are indebted to have had a taste of Nammazhwar’s Thiruvaimozhi, a work that contains a heavy dosage of divine auspicious qualities. We were enriched through your sambandham in a manner Madhurakavi Azhwar benefitted by associating himself with the lotus feet of Nammazhwar. We learnt the Rahasya granthas of our preceptors and spent our time delivering discourses on them. While doing all of this, we were fortunate to have been blessed with single-minded devotion and focus to the duties we carried out. By living a life like this, we also became the object of other people’s praises and good wishes.
undhan abhimAnamE uththAragam endRu
sindhai theLindhirukkach seidha nee – andhO
ethirAsA! nOigaLAl ennai nalakkAmal
sadhirAga nin thiruthAL thA
Oh Ramanuja! You made me realize that being your devotee is important for my upliftment. I earnestly urge you to deliver me from this world without my having to undergo the illness associated with this body.
desikargaL pORRum thiruvAimozhippiLLai
vAsamalar thAL adaindha vaththuvendRu – nEsaththAl
yen pizhaigaL kANA ethirAsarE – adiyEn
punpagarvai kElum poRuththu
Oh Ramanuja! I have attained the feet of Thiruvaimozhippillai – a doyen glorified by other renowned scholars. For this reason alone, you should overlook my limitations and sins and put up with my repeated requests to bless me with salvation.
endhai thiruvAimozhippiLLai innaruLAl
undhan uRavai uNarthiyapin indha uyirkku
ellA uRavum nee endRE ethirAsA
nillAdhadhu uNdO yen nenju?
Oh Ramanuja! My father Thiruvaimozhippillai, out of his abounding grace, helped me beget your sambandham and blessed me with the spiritual meanings contained in Thirumanthiram. After gaining the knowledge that your relationship is the sole means to my liberation, wouldn’t my mind have strengthened its resolve?
endhai thiruvarangar yerAr garudan mEl
vandhu mugam kAtti vazhinadathach sindhai seidhu ip
pollA udambu thanip pOkkuvadhu ennAl kolO
sollAi ethirAsA! soozhndhu
The Lord of Srirangam, Sri. Ranganatha, who is like a father and a mother to me, will appear on his Garuda Vahanam at the time of separation of my atma from my body. He will display his kasthuri thirunamam and his beautiful thirumugam that would bear a smile on it. He will lead me to paramapadham through the archirathi route. As I keep thinking about this, oh Ramanuja, please tell me when I can give up this body to reach paramapadham.
indha arangaththu inidhu iru neeyendRu arangar
endhai ethirAsarkku Eendha varam sindhai seyyil
nammadhandRO nenjam naRRAdhai som pudhalvar
The Lord of Sri Rangam, Namperumal, blessed my father Ramanuja with a boon that he can forever stay within the comforts of Sri Rangam temple. If we keep reminding ourselves about this boon, then the benefits of the boon will accrue to us as well. This is because it is natural for a son (us) to inherit the father’s (Ramanuja’s) property.
Note: For offline reading, you may download the PDF from here: Arthi Prabandham – Final
English Translation of Arthi Prabandham Completed
Azhwar Emperumanar Jeeyar Thiruvadigale Saranam