Balancing act

January 14, 2020 10:05 pm | Updated 10:05 pm IST

In his Thiruvezhukoottrirukkai, in praise of Lord Aravamudhan of Kumbakonam, Thirumangai Azhvar uses words referring to numerals, counting from one to seven, to get the image of a ratha. But why not go beyond seven? The grammar for this type of poetry does not talk of more than seven numerals and seven Azhvars have praised Aravamudhan. There is a Vedic story, too, which could be seen as justification for ‘seven,’ said V.S. Karunakarachariar in a discourse.

The devas decided to use poetic metres to form a chariot for Prajapati. The metres they chose were Gayatri, which has 24 aksharas; UshNik with 28 aksharas; Bruhatee with 36 aksharas; Pankti with 40 aksharas; Trishtubh with 44 aksharas; anushtubh with 32 aksharas and Jagati with 48 aksharas. The seven lokas are said to be contained in these seven metres. But the question now arises as to how a ratha could be constructed using mantras, each of which had a different number of aksharas. This problem was solved by metre Bruhatee. Bruhatee suggested that with its own 36 aksharas, it would be the anchor, and all other metres could be brought to equal its aksharas. So, Pankti yielded four aksharas to anushtubh; Trishtubh gave eight aksharas to UshNik; Jagati gave 12 aksharas to Gayatri. Thus, all mantras ended up having 36 aksharas, and the required balance was achieved.

It could be that Thirumangai Azhvar did not go beyond ‘seven’ in his Thiruvezhukoottrirukkai, because only seven metres were used for Prajapati’s chariot. The word chandas also means desire. So, the Lord goes wherever and whenever He wants to, travelling in His ratha. If one performs a yaga, focusing one’s thoughts on the Lord proceeding in his chandoratha, one will be blessed. An easier alternative is for one to listen to the mantras being recited.

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