| Kandhar Alangkaram (by Thiru V.S. Krishnan, Tamil Nadu, INDIA.)|
Arunagirinathar has weaved a beautiful garland to adore Lord Muruga. He weaved not a garland of flowers (Poomalai), but a garland of songs (Paamalai) by way of Kandhar Alangkaram. Each word appeared like a selectively chosen flower to adore God. Kandhar Alangkaram, consisting of 102 verses, is a marvelous creation of poetry that portrays the magnificence of Muruga and presents Him in all His splendor and glory before us.
Apart from being an ornament that adds to the beauty of Muruga, Kandhar Alangkaram describes the various qualities of Muruga, His benevolence, His knowledge, His valour, the power of His Vel, the exquisitely beautiful peacock and the ensign of the rooster. It describes how Muruga comes into our lives in various roles.
In the beginning, the poet expresses his happiness that Muruga, Son of Lord Siva, the embodiment of compassion, has helped him to come out of his various worldly bondages and showed him the correct way to salvation. He describes Muruga as a Guide, who helps, even the devotees who have not done any effort towards spiritual realization, in sailing through the turbulent ocean of life and reaching the shore of His Lotus Feet (Petrai Thavam). In the verse No. 8, Muruga is depicted as a Guru. The poet says that as a result of the valuable advice (Upadesa) given by the Lord, he was liberated from the world of ignorance and elevated to a high state of Jnana (knowledge). One can find frequent references about the saintly advice received from Lord Muruga. (Oliyil Vilaintha). In the verse No. 13, Muruga is described as the embodiment of beauty, looking majestic with His various ornaments (Oruvarai). The verse No. 16 and many other succeeding lines give the picture of Muruga as Gurunatha, the Teacher who advises His disciples to remain in a state, beyond mind and body, beyond attachment and aversions. In one of his songs, ("Tholal Suvar Vaithu"), Arunagirinathar says that this body is a house made of flesh, veins, skin and bones and one should free himself from the influence of the body, mind and senses to be able to realize the inherent divinity (Atma Chaitanya). There are many other verses which highlight the futility of accumulating wealth, (20 Kozhi), which seeks to remove the obsession towards the body (44 - Tholal), give the strength to conquer the fear of death and help us to reach the shores of Muruga's Lotus Feet.
Every verse of Kandhar Alangkaram speaks volume about various infinite qualities of Muruga. Here, an attempt is made to explain just one out of the 108 stanzas of Kandhar Alangkaram how the Lord grace the devotees as the Protector.
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"Vizhikku thunai Thiru Men Malar Padhangal
Meimaikundram Mozhikku Thunai, Muruga Enum Namangal
Munbu Seitha Pazhikku Thunai, Avan Paniru Tholum
Bayantha Thani Vazhikku Thunai, Vadi Velum Sengodan Mayooramume." ... 
Vizhikku Thunai: What we see through our eyes, what we hear through our ears and what we feel through our senses are mere illusion. Vedanta gives the example of a man walking in the veil of darkness and mistaking a rope lying on the road as a snake. It is only when someone puts on a torch, he realizes that his perception was wrong. Similarly, the eyes merely make an object visible, but they do not reveal what the object is exactly. It is the inner eyes which gives the correct vision. We need someone to give us this inner vision. We need someone to light a torch and tell us what is real and what is not. Who else can guide us other than Muruga?
Mozhikku Thunai: An effective communication is one which helps to create a bridge of understanding with the other. This is possible only if we communicate truthfully, clearly, briefly, politely and friendly. The tongue is a tool by which the divine knowledge is expressed. It is through the tongue one expresses his divine experience and shares his knowledge. But the tongue, already on slippery ground and prompted by the mind, does not always speak the language of truth. In Kandhar Anubhuthi (17) Arunagirinathar prays that the Lord should always walk over our tongue so that we always speak the words of truth and sing the glory of the Lord. Let us therefore use the medium of tongue not only to sing the glory of Muruga but also to pass on our knowledge to all. According to Arunagirinathar, we should not only use the language of expression but also learn to use the language of silence where necessary (Summa Iru - Anubhuti 12).
Pazhikku Thunai: One performs various deeds in the course of his life which are known as Karmas. The word 'Karma' denotes action. Any action bears a possible reaction, depending upon the nature of the action. A deed, done with a selfish motive, invites adverse consequences. The consequence which one is called upon to bear either in the same birth or in the succeeding birth is called Karma Vinai. It is the Karma or the necessity of bearing its consequence that brings one back to this life again. If he is going to add up his Karmas, it would become a chain reaction, leading to the cycle of birth and death (Punarabhi Jananam ...). One may have done some Karmas out of his ignorance in the previous birth and it is the grace of Muruga that can liberate him. Arunagirinathar prays that the names of Lord Muruga (Muruga Enum Namangal), like Kanda, Kadamba, Kartikeya, Karunakara and Kumara would come as a help and uplift the devotees from past Karmas.
Vazhikku Thunai: We pass through different roads in our lifetime. We are comfortable while walking through these roads because there is always a companion with us. But we dread one road; the road that takes us to the end of the journey. It is the dark road where there would be no companion. It is the road one has to necessarily pass alone. Howsoever he wishes to avoid it; he has to pass through it ultimately and inevitably. It is here one feels the real need for a companion. In the Vel Vakuppu, Arunagirinathar prays: "As I walk through this lonely path, may the Vel (spear) of Muruga accompany me on my left and right and give me solace, courage and protection". (Thanithu Vazhi Nadakkumena ...). Of all parts of the human body, the shoulder has special significance. Kachiappa Sivacharyar, the author of Kanda Puranam, first hails the shoulders of Muruga and then only he comes to describe about the face. (Aariru Thadanthol Vazhga Arumugam Vazhga). When a person is in distress, he leans upon the shoulder of his friend for solace and support. When human shoulder itself gives a relief, think of the shoulders of Muruga and the enormous support they can give. As one makes his last journey, walking through the dark corridors of death, Arunagirinathar prays for the grace, comfort and relief from the shoulders of Muruga (Avan Panniru Tholum Bayantha Thani Vazhikku Thunai). Let us all seek the grace of Muruga, the savior and Protector.
Lord Velavan, who has chosen His abode at Thiruchengodu, holds special fascination for the saint Arunagirinathar. This is overwhelmingly evident in Kandhar Alangkaram. According to the poet, even if one is destined to suffer due to his past Karmas, he will be able to redeem himself by worshipping the Thiruchengodu Velavan. In the hymn starting "Deiva Thirumalai" (23) he prays: "Oh Lord, come and liberate my soul before this house of body crumbles down." In another hymn starting "Senthanai (72) he says that there will be no downfall for those who worship Thiruchengodu Velavan and the Lord would bestow them a life of happiness and prosperity. In another song (Malon Maruganai 90), Arunagirinathar says: "Oh Lord Muruga, the Son-in-law of Lord Vishnu, Son of Lord Siva, the Connoisseur of the divine art of dance at the Court of Devas, the Lord most adored and worshipped by the Devas, the Epitome of knowledge, Who resides at Thiruchengodu, the abode surrounded by lush green paddy fields and lakes, how fabulous and magnificent You look!. Even if Lord of Creation, Brahma, has endowed me with four thousand eyes, it would not be sufficient enough for me to see and admire Your majesty and splendor to my heart's content. The saint-poet mentions about the divine qualities of Thiruchengodu Velavan in the hymn No. 23 and then continues portraying His various divine qualities in hymns No. 36, 70, 72, 90, 91 and 97.
May the grace of Thiruchengodu Velavan be showered on all devotees.
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V.S. Krishnan is the author of "Thiruppugazh: Glory to Lord Muruga"
Visit him at his website: www.thiruppugazh.org
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