Ongi ulaku alantha uththaman- Dr. Saroja Ramanujam..


asuram 3.- Ongiulagalandha

Ongi ulagaLandha uththaman perpaadi

naangaL nampaavaikku saattri neeraadinaal

theenginri naadellaam thingaL mummaari peydhu

Ongu perumsennel oodu kayalugaLa

poonkuvaLaippOdhil porivaNdu kaNpaduppa

thengaadhe pukkirundhu seerththa mulai patri

vaangakkudam niraikkum vaLLaL perum pasukkaL

neengaadha selvam niraindhelOrempaavai


When we sing the glory of the Lord who measured the whole universe with one foot, and proceed to do our ritual by bathing in His grace the whole country will be blessed with rains three times a month and the paddy crop will grow tall and the fish will swim in the water that surrounds it and the bees will sleep inside the kuvalai flowers that grow in the water. The aayppadi will become prosperous with the cows filling the pots by mere touch of the udder.


The Lord is referred to as Utthaman. The particle ‘thama’ is added to words to show the superlative degree. ‘ Uth’ denotes mukthas the realized souls, uththara the nityasuris, the ever-free souls like Garuda, Ananta etc. and uththama the Lord.

Ongi ulagaLandha UththamanOngi means rising high and ulagalandha means measuring the world. This has reference to the Vamanaavathaara when the Lord came as a midget brahmin youth and asked Mahabali three feet of ground as dhaana. When Mahabali started to give it the Lord grew in size and covered the whole earth with His foot and the heavens with the second and challenged Mahabali to give him the ground for the third foot and when Mahabali offered his head for the Lord to put His third foot He sent Mahabali to Paathaalaloka and being pleased with his devotion the Lord also positioned Himself as his guard. He is Uththama because He destroyed only the pride of Mahabali but gave him in return His bhakthi samrajya. When He covered the earth with His foot He placed it on all irrespective of their merit to deserve it. He will give rain, which stands for His grace, unasked and hence He is Uththama.

Mahabali acquired the post of Devendra for a short duration due to his merit and he gave away all the riches of Indra to the saptarshis and as a consequence was born as Mahabali chakravarthi and became arrogant of his power and confiscated the heaven from Indra . When Aditi the mother of devas prayed to the Lord , He came down as her son Vamana and punished Mahabali.


When the Lord raised His foot to heavens Brahma washed His feet with the water from his kamandala, holy pot, but it was not sufficient.

Then the Lord tore open the cosmic shell and the waters beyond the universe, aavaraNajala poured through and washed His feet and that was Aakaasaganga, the heavenly Ganges which later Bhagiratha brought to earth.

The whole creation belongs to the Lord as He is the seshi and all the rest are seshas. Mahabali thought that the world belonged to him and performed the sacrifice feeling proud of all his wealth and thought that he is capable of bestowing anything to anybody. The Lord killed only this arrogance but otherwise showered His grace on Mahabali. Similar to Mahabali we also think that our soul, atman, belongs to us whereas not only our soul but nothing else belongs to us. Even our children are born through us into this world but not born to us. The story of Mahabali illustrates only this .

Nammazvar asks, ‘ When the Lord covered the whole earth with his first foot where was the space for His second foot?’

So Mahabali gave on enough land for only one foot !

Even when He came as Vamana, Lakshmi was in His chest. He covered His chest with His upper garment so that her glance should not fall on Mahabali lest He could not take away the possessions of Mahabali.

PErpadi – Singing His name is enough to secure His grace. The nama is even greater than the nami. It was the nama that came to the rescue of Draupadi. So Andal here praises the name which is enough to give them rain.

nangaL nampavaikku saatri neeraadinaalneeraadal or taking bath implies engrossed devotion. We bathe for cleansing ourselves of impurity . Here the inner and the outer purity is intended as Purandaradasa said, ‘manasu kuliyabeku krishnaanadhiyalu thirthamaadi,’ the mind should be cleansed, and not the mere body, by bathing in river of Krishna, the Lord. Saatri neeraadal means doing everything as a service to the Lord, bhagavatkainkaryam.

theenginri naadellaam thingLl mummaari peydhu – theenginri means without obstacles. The rain should come three times a month, maadham mummaari, to the whole country naadellaam. In ancient days when people lived adhering to dharma, there were three showers a month, nine days of sun and one day of rain. This ensured that there were no excessive rain, athivrishti, or anaavrishti, draught. When for instance the reading of virata parva of Mahabharatha was going on, not only that region but the whole country got rain.

The word mummaari, according to the commentators, implies the three streams of water, the water poured by Mahabali in the hand of the Lord giving dhaana, the water from the kamandalu of Brahma to wash His feet and the water of the Ganges created by Him by tearing open the cosmic shell and bringing down the Avaranajalam.

Ongu perum sennel – The paddy crop, sennel, grew high and big giving bountiful harvest after the birth of Krishna.

Oodu kayalugaLa – The water level was high likewise and the fish were seen running through it. Commentators see a reference to Matsyavathara and take the word kayal, fish. to refer to the Lord Himself.

poonguvaLaippodhil porivaNdu kanpaduppa – The beautiful black bee, porivandu, which has entered the kuvalai flower to drink the honey became drowsy and slept inside as in a cradle rocked by the fish going to and fro. The Lord Himself , who enters the heart of a devotee and rests there rocked by the loving hand of devotion could be imagined as the bee here.

Thengaadhe pukkirundhu seertha mulai patri

vangakkudam niraikkum vaLLal perum pasukkal – The cows of aayarpadi were big, perumpasukkal, bountiful, vaLLal, generous and do not withhold their milk, thengaadhe , and fill the pot, kudam niraikkum, when the cowherds touched their udder pukkirundhu seertha mulaipatri vanga. When the cow is ready to give all she has if one is not able to milk her fully, it is not the fault of the cow but due to the inefficiency of the cowherd or insufficiency of the pot. Similarly the Lord is like a generous cow, ready to give everything if we ask him for trifles it is our fault.

The acharyas are likened to vaLLalperum pasukkal as they are ready to impart all their wisdom to the disciples. But how much the disciple is able to grasp depends on the vessel he carries, namely the amount of faith, his thirst for knowledge and his intellectual capacity, more than anything else his karma and the grace of the Lord.

In this context the mummaari, the three showers are, the resolve of the devotee who surrenders to the Lord to accept Him alone as his master, to desist from seeking any other means of salvation except the devotion to the Lord and not to look for any other end than to attain Him. The word is also taken to refer to the three types of serving Him, namely, to write about Him,(likhitha kainkaryam) to tell others about His glory (vaachikakainkaryam) and to serve Him in the form of Archavathara , idol to be worshipped.

 Onguperum sennel , the tall crop of paddy is the growth in the number of devotees who surrender to Him which makes Him sleep peacefully in their hearts like a Porivandu, a black bee with spots. The spots described here could be His ornaments as Azvar said’ palappalave aabharanam, His ornaments are numerous or by a stretch of imagination one can be reminded of the sloka of Kulasekhara, ‘ ‘Ksheerasaagaratharngasheekaraasaarathaarakilachaaru moorthaye’ the body of the Lord is speckled with the drops from the milky ocean like the sky shining with stars.

To the devotee, whatever he sees will remind him of the Lord. The gopis thought only of Krishna when they saw anything tall and beautiful. To Parasara bhattar and Alavandar, the lotuses grown in the water of the paddy fields and the tall full grown stalk of paddy bending downward, brought the picture of the Lord and His devotees.


2 Responses to “Ongi ulaku alantha uththaman- Dr. Saroja Ramanujam..”

  1. Raghavachary Vedantham Says:

    chudikudutha Nachiyaar thiruppai pasuram “Ongi…” meaning, explanation, vyakhyanam is very vivid and interesting. thanks to the writer. God bless the devotees. Andaal Divya Thiruvadi gale sharanam. Adien dasaha. Raghavacharyulu Vedantham. San roman California USA

  2. Raghavachary Vedantham Says:

    Ongi pashuram of Chudikudutha Naachiyaar Thiruppavai is also being used by aacharyaas as Mangalaashashanam/ blessing. Dr.Saroja madam`s commentary and meaning are very vivid and interesting, Goddes Andal may pour blessings on us in general and on madam in particular. adien Raghavacharyulu. California USA.

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