Perumal

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Perumal (பெருமாள்) is the name with which Lord Narayana is addressed by Srivaishnavites. Let us take a look at the concept of Perumal and his attributes particularly on the basis of the 4000 divya prabandhas.

Meaning of Perumal

Perumal can be interpreted in two ways.

1. பெரும் (perum)- great + ஆள் (Aal)- man

The great man, the greatest among Purushas- Purushottama.

2. பெரு (peru)- great- Maha + மாள் (Maal)- Vishnu.

Vishnu is called Maal in Tamil.

So Perumal also means Maha Vishnu.

Meaning of Thirumal (திருமால்)

திரு (Thiru)- Lakshmi + மாள் (Maal)- Narayana.

Thirumal means Lakshmi-Narayana.

Meaning of Narayana

Naara in Sanskrit means water. Ayana means abode. The one who has made Naara is Ayana is Narayana. Perumal has made the milky ocean his abode. He rests on top of Adi Shesha in the milky ocean.

Then what about Vaikuntha?

Vaikuntha is his permanent abode. Perumal has several aspects. In one of them, he is in charge of creation - sustenance - dissolution of the universe. After pralaya or dissolution, it is water everywhere. It is called ekarnava or the single ocean. At this time, Perumal also takes rest making Adi Shesha his bed in the middle of this ocean. This form of Perumal is called Narayana.

When the time for creation comes again, Perumal first creates Brahma who sits on top of a lotus coming out of the navel of Perumal and creates the universe.

How the Alvars present Perumal as the God Head

  • Alvars never found the need to prove that Perumal existed.
  • Everything is a manifestation of Perumal.
  • Perumal is the Supreme Brahman and Personal God at the same time.
  • Nammalvar uses the term "avan" when referring to Perumal showing that he is a Personal God.
  • Perumal as Narayana is all the Trimurthys together. Perumal created Brahma and Rudra originated from Brahma.
  • Since both Brahma and Rudra originated from Perumal, he is the supreme God Head.
  • Nammalvar says: Perumal is equal only to himself, no one is superior to him
  • Brahma creates the universe, Rudra eliminates the universe, Perumal administers the universe himself from the time of creation to its elimination.
  • Perumal consumes all the other Devas at the time of pralaya. They come out of him at the time of creation again.
  • Nammalvar says: Arjuna had placed a garland at the feet of Lord Vamana. He later found Lord Shiva wearing it upon his head.
  • Alvars depict Shiva as the right side of Perumal. Brahma and all the universes exist in Perumal's navel.
  • All the other Gods praise and worship Perumal.
  • All the other Gods wait at his gate patiently to serve Perumal's lotus feet.
  • Periyalvar says: Even Brahma and Rudra have not understood Perumal's greatness fully.
  • Tirumalisai Alvar says: Even Brahma who sits on Perumal's navel has not seen his lotus feet.

Perumal is Narayana and Lakshmi together

  • Perumal and Thayar (Lakshmi Devi) as divine couple prompted the Alvars to write the 4000 verses called the divya prabandhas.
  • The prabandhas of the first three Alvars were sung in the presence of Perumal and Thayar.
  • Peyalvar had vision of Perumal and Thayar.
  • Nammalvar addresses Perumal as "Mathavan" meaning the husband of Thayar.
  • Tirumalisai Alvar says: Those Gods who are not connected to Thayar are no Gods at all.

Bhudevi is also Perumal's consort

After Perumal rescued Bhudevi by taking avatara as Varaha, she became his consort. Both Thayar and Bhudevi massage Perumal's lotus feet.

Perumal's physical form

  • Perumal has got four hands.
  • Perumal holds shankha, chakra, and gada in his hands.
  • Perumal also has got a sword and a bow as his weapons. The sword is called Nandaka. The bow is Sharnga.
  • Perumal's garland of Tulasi is unique and famous.
  • Garuda is his vehicle and also the sign on his flag.
  • His bed is Adi Shesha.
  • Perumal wears a gem called Kaustubha upon his chest.
  • He has got a curl of hair upon his chest called Srivatsa.
  • Perumal's clothes are golden yellow in color.

 

Author

Ramaswamy Sastry and Vighnesh Ghanapaathi

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