TIRUVAIMOZHI AMUDHAM — Parts 1 & 2: Commentary by V.N. Gopala Desikachariar; Akshara Publications, No.5, 5th Street, S.S. Avenue, Sakthi Nagar, Porur, Chennai-600116. Rs. 140.

Neduntheru S. Kannan

The Vedas remained out of reach for a majority until Nammalvar captured their spirit in Tiruvaimozhi, a book of 1,000 verses in Tamil. Unfortunately, these were lost and it was left to Nathamuni to meditate and retrieve them for the benefit of posterity. Several commentaries came to be written on Tiruvaimozhi to facilitate a better understanding of its true import and underlying message. The earliest of them all, known as ‘Aaraayirappadi’, was composed by Pillan under the direct guidance of Ramanuja. Among the latter ones, the better known is ‘Idu’.

Spiritual experience

Tiruvaimozhi expounds the art of divine life and love embodied in the spiritual experiences of Nammalvar. Service (‘kainkarya’) performed for the satisfaction of God is held forth as the prime goal of life. The most important aspect of it is that such service includes service done to the Lord’s devotees as well. For the Alvar, the pangs of separation from the Lord are unbearable. This only serves to heighten his longing for union with the Lord, even as the Lord Himself pines for the love of His devotee. The principal message is for the seeker to surrender, an action that is consummated only with His grace justified by faith. It is again the grace of the Lord that transforms Alvar into a liberated soul for savouring the bliss of service in the divine home.

While the very first verse of Tiruvaimozhi delineates the nature and qualities of the Lord,the first ten sum up the teaching of the whole work, setting forth the essentials of Vedanta intuitively grasped by the Alvar. Ramanuja, who derived the Visishtadvaita philosophy logically from the Sutras of Badarayana, is said to have been inspired by Tiruvaimozhi, while interpreting the Sutras. The first section of 100-verses hails the Supreme as adorable and attainable and gradually builds up the momentum for seeking the ultimate bliss. The chief merit of Tiruvaimozhi is that it lays emphasis on experiencing the bliss as the goal, rather than the metaphysical exercise of deducing the first cause of

Gopala Desikachariar has, in his commentary, brought out the message of Nammalvar’s work with utmost clarity. Lucidity, which is the author’s forte, shines forth in the interpretation of every one of the first 202 verses the two volumes under review cover. By enabling an assiduous seeker to comprehend the subtle truths embedded in the Alvar’s works, commentaries of this genre undoubtedly create an irresistible urge in him to dive deep into the nectar-ocean of the Tamil Vedas.