Revolving though, in the encircling current of the Lord’s navel, the Alvar’s mind could envision His belly where the navel is located and the ornamental band around it and stroll along. There are three folds in His belly, signifying that all three categories of His subjects, namely ‘Nityas’ (the eternal angels in heaven), ‘Muktas’ (the souls, freed from bondage and granted entry into heaven) and ‘Baddhas’ (the bound souls, still wandering down below, caught up in the dreadful cycle of birth and death) are under His control, as the Sovereign Master of the entire Universe. But then, there is also the scar, beneath the folds, resulting from binding of the belly by Mother Yasodha with a rope (small bits, knotted together). While the former (folds) points to His supremacy, the latter (scar) brings into focus His amazing simplicity, the other extreme. As Sri Parasara Bhattar puts it, the gold plate around the Lord’s belly is but the bridge linking the two extremities (supremacy and simplicity). Pondering over this unique blending in the Lord of dire opposites (see also Tiruvaymoli VI-3) the Alvar’s mind strolled along the belt greatly astonished.
Caturamamatilcul ilankaikiraivan talaipattu
Utiravotti or venkanai uyttavan ota vannan
Maturama vantupata mamayilata Arangattammantiru vayirru
Utarapantam ennullattul ninru ulakinrate ! ||4||
Saunters my mind along the belly-band of my Sire at Arangam
Where hum bees tuneful and peacocks dance in merriment,
The sea-hued Lord whose supermissile felled the heads ten
Of the monarch of Lanka, well fortified besides walls tall around ||
Catura ma matilcul ilankai: The impregnable city of Lanka with tall, square-walls around, apart from the outer fortifications in the shape of water, forests and mountains, in succession.
Iraivan: Ravana, the monarch, also fortified by many a boon, conferred on him by Brahma and Rudra, apart from his own formidable physical prowess and the military outfit with enormous striking power. Alas ! all these proved of no avail; his exclusive dependence on all these, in defiance of Rama, the Supreme Lord Visnu-incarnate, could hardly save him from final doom. On the other hand, Vibhisana, whose only fortification was his refuge at the feet of Lord Rama (sarvaloka Saranyan), is flourishing, down to this day, ruling over Lanka (not the neighbouring island, you and I know of, but the glorious one, hidden from human sight). Yes, he is worshipping Lord Ranganatha at Srirangam daily, during night; they say, there is tangible proof of this. It is noteworthy that he was crowned King of Lanka by Rama, symbolically, even ahead of the bunding of the ocean and engaging the enemy in battle. Of course, his formal coronation took place in Lanka after the overthrow of Ravana.
Talai pattu utira otti or venkanai uyttavan: The tyrant’s ten heads were felled down by Rama’s dreadful darts, like the palmyra fruits, dropped down the trees. As the heads rolled down, new ones cropped up in their place, the mischief of the boons, granted by those very minor deities who, later on, entreated Lord Visnu to annihilate Ravana and rid the worlds from his tyranny. As the Commentator puts it, the heads which came up, in replacement, looked at their tumbling predecessors and dreaded a similar fate overtaking them in a few moments. It is indeed puzzling why Rama did not slay the demon straightaway although such a heinous offender, who went to the abominable extent of abducting no less than Sita, the Divine Mother and keeping Her captive in Lanka, deserved to be slain at sight. Whereas the far more powerful Vali, the monkey chief, was shot down by Rama, mortally wounded, with just a single arrow and in no time, what was the logic behind Rama dragging the battle with Ravana over a whole week ? Well, the puzzle has been solved by the Acharyas, the intellectual stalwarts, with a rare vision as follows: At the end of the first day’s battle Ravana’s chariot, horses, charioteer, arms and all were destroyed by Rama’s unfailing bow and He could have done away with him, there and then. However, Rama, the ‘Dharmatma’ called it a day (for the battle) on seeing His opponent, totally disarmed and His magnanimity bade him go back to Lanka for a night’s rest and recuperation and come back for fight, the next day, refreshed and equipped. Implied in this command of the Lord was the option thrown open to the opponent to surrender at His feet and seek His pardon that very moment. The felon was asked to turn up the next day, only to resume the fight. Alas! He would not bend. The Lord (Karunamurti – mercy personified), who just wanted to bend the evil-doer and not break him altogether, grieved over the opponent’s stubborn divergence. This way, the battle dragged on by Him for a whole week, during which He fondly hoped that Ravana’s enmity towards Him would gradually subside, egging him on to surrender at the Lord’s feet. It is a case of His incurable optimism rooted in His boundless magnanimity, that took a whole week to perceive the opponent’s incurable divergence. On the seventh day, the Lord saw no point in prolonging the battle any further and He started felling down the demon’s ten heads, one by one, only to find that they got replaced, there and then. Rama was, therefore, obliged to press into service ‘Brahmastra’, the lethal supermissile and aim it into Ravana’s (heartless) heart, totally devoid of devotion to Him, contrary to His week-long expectation. And that was the end of a long, long reign of parlous terror. Sri Andal has, however, given a swift burial to this long-drawn episode, in just half a line of Song Thirteen of Tiruppavai – ‘Polla Arakkanai killikkalaintanai’, that is, the malignant Raksasa was done away with, by Rama, effortlessly and, in no time, like clipping off the stem of the betal leaf with one’s finger nail !
‘Madhuramavandupada, mamayil ada‘: The humming bees and dancing peacocks symbolize the singers and dancers in Lord Rangaraja’s court.
Arangatamman: This has already been explained at length. It will, therefore, suffice to point out the special background of the Lord reposing in Srirangam, in the present context. After slaying Ravana, the Lord entered the Shrine in Srirangam by the principal (southern) gate and retired to bed. When He came down from Tiruvenkatam in the north (Vatavenkata mamalai), He entered the shrine in Arangam by the north-gate – an intellectual treat indeed, provided by the learned commentators, with intuitive perception of God-head.
Tiru utara bandham ennullattul ninru ulakinrate!: The belly-band is the gold belt, adding luster to the womb of Mother Yasoda (the one who yielded Krsna for all intents and purposes), besides ridding the beholders of their earthly bondage. Little wonder then, it drew up Pan perumal’s mind, releasing it from the clutches of the navel, the whirlpool in the center of the belly and made it saunter (stroll along the belt), intoxicated with joy like the elephant in rut.