The fact that emperumAn possesses infinite kalyAna guNAs is an argument that is central to Vishishtadvaita Siddhantham. In this article, we will look at how Azhwars have sung emperumAn’s kalyAna guNAs in the Dhivya Prabandham by looking at three examples.
In the fourth pAsuram of Thiruppavai (“aazhi mazhaik kaNNA”), ANdAL requests the rain clouds to assume the hue of the body of the creator (“oozhi mudhalvan uruvam”). The term “Oozhi mudhalvan” refers to Padmanabhan, the creator of this universe. Why does AndAL request the rain clouds to assume the body colour of Padmanabhan? Why shouldn’t the clouds acquire the hue of Rama or Krishna?
Padmanabhan is referred to as “jagath kAraNa bhoothan”. He is responsible for the creation and dissolution of this world. During the time of the great deluge (praLayA), he holds the chit (non-matter) and achit (matter) in His stomach. When the opportune time for creation arrives, He goes about creating the world from Himself. He desires that us, the chEthanAs, follow the route of the scriptures to attain salvation and reach His eternal abode. However, we go about committing sins and forgetting the purpose behind our existence. Despite our several failings, He, out of His infinite compassion (kAruNyam) towards us, gives us another birth to realize our purpose of existence. He is so tolerant of our sins and is an embodiment of compassion. Reflective of the compassion that abounds in Him, His bodily complexion takes a dark hue. Thus, when ANdAL calls forward the rain clouds, she requests them to assume the body colour of Padmanabha and come thundering down.
Please note that ANdAL refers to the body colour of Padmanabhan (“oozhi mudhalvan uruvam”) and not Padmanabhan (“oozhi mudhalvan”) Himself. This is to drive home the point that there can be no match to the compassion of the Lord. Since the rain-bearing clouds can never match the Lord in compassion, AndAL is requesting them to atleast assume the dark hue of Padmanabhan. Thus, this pAsuram reveals to us that the kalyANa guNa “kAruNyam” abounds in Sriman Narayana.
In the fifth pAsuram of Thiruppavai, ANdAL begins with the term mAyan (creator of miracles) to refer to the Lord. The word ‘mAyan’ in this verse forms the bridge in the transition from Padmanabhan in the previous verse (reflective of parathvam, the primordial cause of the world) to Damodharan in this verse (reflective of saulabhyam, easy accessibility). The creator of the world, Padmanabhan, is someone who is beyond our perception. Azhwar calls him “uyaRvara uyarum perunthiRalOn”. That is, the more we try to understand Him, the more we will realize that He is beyond our grasp. The word ‘mAyan’ refers to the “samastha kalyAna gunAtmahan” – an embodiment of kalyAna gunAs (Refer to nammAzhwAr’s Thiruvaimozhi Pasuram: uyaR vara uyaR nalam udayavan, TVM 1.1.1). He is not perceivable by our senses and He is not bound by time, space or form. For Him to be accessible as Rama, Krishna and His archAvatharams in this world (leela vibhUthi) while He is assuming the role of the creator in Paramapadham (nithya vibhUthi) reflects this mAyam. Ideally, parathvam can never co-exist with saulabhyam. However, emperumAn demonstrated their co-existence to us when He took birth as Krishna and Rama, faced the travails of the common man and showed us how to uphold dharma in testing times. For instance, Krishna bears the scars left by the rope that yasodhA tied around His waist to control His mischievous activities. Similarly, in his ramAvathAram, He went on exile for fourteen years and put up with a lot of pain and misery in the process at the behest of His father’s wish. The fact that He could be subservient to a bhAgavathA (like Dasaratha, Yasodha etc.) indicates his accessibility (dAmodharatvam or saulabhyam). In the previous verse, we saw how inaccessible Padmanabhan, the creator of the cosmic universe is. On the contrary, His vibhava forms as ramA and krishnA avatArAs indicate another aspect of His personality, i.e. easy accessibility.
In order to understand the mArdhavam guNA of the Lord, we need to refer to Thirumangai Azhwar’s Periya Thirumozhi pAsuram on the Lord of Thirumoozhikkalam. Thirumoozhikkalam is a Malai Naadu Dhivya Desam situated in the Ernakulam District of Kerala. Azhwar refers the emperumAn here as “pinnOrgaL vaNangum sOdhi”. That is, Azhwar refers to us – those who were not born in the times of Rama and Krishna avatars as late comers (“pinnOrgal”). The Lord of this dhivya desam abounds in the quality called mArdhavam. mArdhavam refers to the tendency of emperumAn to long for His near and dear ones. Since we, the people of Kali Yuga, could not catch a glipse of Rama and Krishna avatars, emperumAn, out of his longingness for us, has taken the form of the deity (archAvathAram) at Thirumoozhikkalam. When one worships the deity here, he will be able to feel the proximity with the divine.