Sri Kaliyan’s Shadangas – Shri.Elayavilli Sriraman Swami

Sri Nammalwar’s four Divya Prabhandas are popularly known as the quintessence of the four Vedas namely Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana. Even as the four Vedas have for their elucidation the six Angas namely:

  1. Siksha (phonetics)
  2. Vyakarana (grammar)
  3. Chandas (prosody)
  4. Niruktam (etymology)
  5. Jyotisham (astrology)
  6. Kalpam (mode of performance of sacrifices)

Sri Nammalwar’s four Vedas-like Divya Prabhandas (1.Tiruvirutam, 2.Tiruvasiriyam, 3.Periya Tiruvandadi, 4.Tiruvoimozhi) have six Angas. They are to be seen in the six divine compositions of Sri Kaliyan. They are:

  • Periya Tirumozhi
  • Tirukkuruntandagam
  • Tiruvezhukutirukkai
  • Siriya tirumadal
  • Periya Tirumadal
  • Tiruneduntandagam

Let us see the state of mind of Sri Kaliyan in his six nectarine like divine poetic compositions.

1. Periya Tirumozhi

Sri Kaliyan was formerly known as Neelan. He served as a soldier in the army of Chola King. He then became a tributary king. He was given to worldly pleasures and was ever in pursuit of objects that would satisfy his five sense organs. Naturally it led him to the vicinity of Sri Kumudavalli. Forced by her, he received the Pancha Samskara from Nacchiyar Koil Emperuman and performed Tadiyaradhana to Srivaishnavas. Lord Sriman Narayana observed his pathetic plight. He thought, “This gentleman is not capable of seeing any other objects except that meets the eye. Hence I must also present myself before his eyes. If I do so, he is sure to see me just like the other objects of the world. Therefore He came down to this world with His consort Sri Mahalakshmi with all His paraphernalia, as a divine couple after marriage sitting in a palanquin. He initiated the robber, Neelan into Tirumantra. He became Tirumangai Azhwar.

The inner meaning of Tirumantra is Sriman Narayana’s Soulabhya and the Soulabhya is reigning supreme in the Archavataras. So he should him His Archa Tirumeni in all the Divyadesas. The irresistible charm of His divine personality totally occupied Sri Kaliyan’s mind and he went to the extreme extent of not living without Archavatara Anubhava. Sri PeriyaVacchan Pillai’s remark in this context is worth remembering. “The Princes cannot take their food without ghee. At every morsel of food they will add plenty of fresh ghee. Similarly Sri Kaliyan cannot go without Archavatara Anubhava at every song of his. So the entire portion of the first Prabhandam is devoted to Archavatara Anubhavam starting from Tiruppiridi.

The Lord also showed him His Paramapada, while Kaliyan was living in this world and bestowed on him the supreme knowledge, devotion and renunciation as that of Nitya Suris and thus slowly he went on enhancing his devotion to Him and finally made him ascend Paramapada. This is in short the summon substance of all the six Anga Prabhandams.

How did the Lord slowly increase his appetite for Him? Let us closely examine the other Prabhandas.

2. Tirukkuruntandagam

In this second Prabhandam the God behaves like a mother. The mother delays in giving food to the child until it gets very good appetite. So also the Lord does not appear before Sri Kaliyan, so that his hunger of devotion may enhance. But Sri Kaliyan cannot brook the delay and he is unable to sustain himself without the enjoyable company of Sriman Narayana. Just like a man with his parched palate falls into a water resort, drinks water and pours forth water over his face and body to put an end to his thirst, Sri Kaliyan also praises the lord with his mouth, bows down at His holy feet with his bent head and meditates on Him with his heart. This is the central theme of Tirukkuruntandagam.

3. Tiruvezhukutirukkai

The water drunk to quench the insatiable thirst will only aggravate the thirst. In a similar fashion the experience in Tirukkuruntandagam, instead of putting an end to Sri Kaliyan’s thirst for the sweet company of the Lord, it more and more enhanced his longing for the enjoyment of the Lord. Therefore he falls at the feet of Tirukkudandai Aravamudan by way of taking refuge in order that He may bring about an end to all his sufferings. Sri Kaliyan is highly celebrated for all his poems and is popularly known as “Nalu Kavi Perumal”. What are the four Kavis?

  1. Asu Kavi (One who readily composes a poem when ordered by anyone to do so without any hesitation.)
  2. Madhura Kavi (Composing sweet songs with suitable words, pregnant with meaning and most enjoyable by the introduction of several figures of speech.)
  3. Vistara Kavi (If a poem is composed with the use of several meters called Kalivenpa etc in Tamil, in an elaborate manner, it is known as Vistara Kavi. Periya Tirumozhi, the 2 Tandaga poems, the 2 Madals belong to this category.)
  4. Chitra Kavi (Tiruvezhukutirukkai belongs to this type of poetic composition. The Sanskrit rhetoricians have divided this Chitra Kavi in various ways: Chakra Banda, Padma Banda, Muraja Banda, Naga Banda, Ratha Banda.

This third work of Sri Kaliyan belongs to this Ratha Banda. It has some particular specifications laid down by Tamil rhetorics. Drawing the figure of a chariot into several compartments the words of the poem are to be used for filling up the apartments according to the specific rules in rhetorics. (For a detailed summary of this Chitra Kavi please refer to Divyartha Deepikai of Sri U. Ve. Mahavidwan Kanchi P. B. Annangarachariar Swami on this Prabandham).

4. Siriya Tirumadal

Sri Nammalwar in his Tiruvoimozhi said twice, that he would resort to taking Madal in order to compel the Lord to come to him. As it is other means (Upayantara) , the Lord cannot tolerate it. In this context it is better to have a clear cut idea of Madal Oordal. The estranged lovers get separated. At that time the girl wishes to have reunion with her lover. The girl clad in dirty clothes without taking bath and with her disheveled locks of hair shedding profuse tears and carrying the photograph of her lover beating her bosom with a horse shaped toy made of Palm leaf , would go round the streets crying piteously, “this man has deserted me for no fault of mine. Is there anyone who can make him see reason and effect reunion with me?” On hearing the wailings some good hearted men may come forward and bring about a reunion or the husband himself may be moved by the pathetic plight of the girl and come forward for a compromise or the king of the land may issue an order for the reunion of the separated couple. This is the net result of Madal Oordal.

Sri Kaliyan expanded the concept of Nammalwar as regards Madal in his two Madal Prabhandas. In his Siriya Tirumadal, Sri Kaliyan declares that he would represent the Lord as one without the virtues like compassion etc in his Vibhava Avataras. He does it especially in Sri Rama Avatara and Sri Krishna Avatara.

4. Periya Tirumadal

The Lord did not appear before Kaliyan even after listening to his threats in Siriya Tirumadal. Therefore Sri Kaliyan resorts to nullifying all the excellent virtues in Archa Avatara, as Archa Avatara is considered to be the boundary of Soulabhya.

4. Tiruneduntandagam

The Lord is now stricken with fear even as the ocean king became mortally afraid of Sri Rama when the latter was ready to discharge Brahmastra at him. If He does not appear before Kaliyan now and take him to His abode, Paramapada, the whole Astika world would condemn Him and may be even prepared to affix their signatures on the declaration paper pronouncing the absence of God. So the Lord rushes to him and fulfills his desire.

Thus we find the six Angas of Sri Kaliyan substantiating all precepts found in the four Divya Prabhandas of Sri Nammalwar. This is only a bird’s eye view of the six Prabhandas. A detailed study of the same at the feet of a holy Acharya alone would give a proper understanding and supreme joy.

Aazhvar Emberumaanaar Jeeyar Thiruvadikalle Saranam.

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