Nammalwar, regarded as leader of Alwars, has praised 12 Malayala Kshetrams! He has presented a decade [ten pasurams] for Sri Thirukkatkarai Appan, Who exhibited the quality of sowseelyam to the Alwar. Sowseelyam [ஸௌசீல்யம்] means a great person, ignoring the difference in status, mixes freely with persons in lower status. Sri Rama was friendly with Guha, Sugreeva and Vibheeshana. and declared they were His brothers. It is an example of sowseelyam. In sowseelyam we can see the friends sit together, eat together and remain together. In Acharya Hrudayam, Swami Azhagiya Manavala Perumal Nayanar, says 'bhogatthil thattu maarum, seelam kaatkaraiyile karaiyai azhikkum![போகத்திலே தட்டு மாறும், காட்கரையிலே கரையை அழிக்கும்!]'. He means that in Thirukkatkarai, the Lord and Alwar had exchanged their nature! Though He is Lord and Alwar was servant, the Lord wanted to serve Alwar! In one pasuram, Alwar says that he called His name and wanted to see Him. The Lord also wanted the Alwar to serve Him, by massaging His feet, by praising Him with flowers, etc. But the moment Alwar came to the Lord, He welcomed him and pitied that the Alwar had been waiting long to see the Lord and so the Lord wanted to massage Alwar's feet! He wanted Alwar to sit for some time in His seat! Alwar was puzzled! How could a servant sit when the Lord was stamding! But he had to obey the Master and so sat on the seat! Now the Lord wanted to massage Alwar's feet. Alwar was very much embarrassed! How could the Great Lord touch Alwar's feet?! The Lord argued that after all it was the duty of Alwar to fulfill Master's wishes! It was a very delicate situation. Whether to agree or not? But the Lord without waiting for Alwar's response, simply started massaging Alwar's feet! Alwar then decided that if he behaved like a master, perhaps the Lord might stop; and so, he ordered the Lord to massage his another leg! The Lord was too happy and did that service to Alwar with greater enthusiasm! Here the Server and the served should have been reversed; but because of the quality of sowseelyam, the roles had reversed! The Lord had ignored the difference between them and wanted to taste this unique experience and did not mind crossing the limits of dignity, by holding His devotee's feet! Thus sowseelyam breached the limits of Master and slave relationship; and, this is what Swami Nayanar meant. In another pasuram Alwar says that the moment he saw the Lord, he wanted to swallow Him as He was so sweet; but the Lord was quicker and He swallowed Alwar, who was sweet to the Lord! With the blessings of Alwar, we will return to aswatta tree in the sloka! We will have to see the second part of sloka 3, along with First part of sloka 4 and then, second part of sloka 4. For easy reading, second part of sloka 3 is also reproduced. The Lord says that the roots of this [samsaram] tree are well established and so the tree can not be easily shaken. To cut this tree, one has to have a robust and strong axe of vairagyam or detachment, formed by good learning. If the axe is weak and tree is strong, then the axe might get broken! So axe also has to be strong. Therefore, the axe of vairagyam should have been formed on strong foundation of learning. This is being told by the Lord. Now part of sloka 3 and sloka 4:
aśvattham enaṃ suvirūḍhamūlaṃ
asaṅgaśastreṇa dṛḍhena chittvā 15.3
tataḥ padaṃ tatparimārgitavyaṃ
yasmin gatā na nivartanti bhūyaḥ
tameva cādyaṃ puruṣaṃ prapadye
yataḥ pravṛttiḥ prasṛtā purāṇī 15.4
We will have to see latter half of sloka 3 and the First half of sloka 4, together. Enam = this [the samsara tree described in the last 3 slokas], aswattham = peepal tree has, suvirudhamulam = very well formed roots. The roots are both deep and spread out, and so give the tree a unshakable foundation! To cut this tree the Lord describes the axe. Drdhena = resolute, asanga = detachment, sastrena = as the weapon [axe], chittva =to cut. This detachment formed should be founded on strong learning and should not be based on weak and instant decisions! It should not be like taking resolution not to have icecream, when one is suffering from cold! The resolution of detachment should be based on proper learning and should be durable. Now sloka 4 should be seen. Tatah = by that [such detachment], tat padam = that level [of Kaivalya Moksham], parimargitavyam = should be sought after. Thus, after cutting off samsaram tree, by the strong axe of vairagyam, with the same vairagyam, Kaivalya Moksham should be sought after. How that Kaivalya Moksham would be? It would be, yasmin = that place, gata = attained [by those], bhuya = again, nivartanti = never return. Persons desiring to reach Kaivalya Moksham, from where, after reaching, one never is reborn, have to gain good knowledge by studying shastras and form vairagyam or determined detachment, with which they should eliminate this tree of samsaram; and, again with the same vairagyam, they should seek to attain Kaivalya Moksham. Arjuna gets a doubt. How to obtain this axe of vairagyam? Samsaram, like one's births and deaths, is infinite. None knows where samsaram started. Births have been without a beginning. Therefore, Karmas are continuing without a beginning. Accumulated papa/punya are infinite. With such imponderables, how can we get suddenly good knowledge and have vairagyam? Sri Krishna pacifies the perplexed Arjuna in the second half of sloka 4. Tam = that, adyam = Ancient and the Cause for all, purusham = Paramatma, Sri Krishna, eva = alone, prapadye = had to be approached in surrender, yatah = from Whom, purani = for a very long time, pravrtti = [desire in the Three qualities] development, prasrta = has been flourishing. From Whom, we developed desire in the Three qualities [satvam, rajas and tamas], and Who had bonded us in samsaram by our past Karmas, He, that Ancient and Cause for everything, that is Sriman Narayana or Sri Krishna, has to be surrendered by us to bless us with that vairagyam or determination. Being compassionate, the Lord makes available to us that axe of vairagyam, to cut the tree of samsaram and seek Kaivalya Moksham. We should note that only He, Sriman Narayana, the most Ancient and Cause for everything, should be surrendered to by us. Why only He? Because, He is the Cause for our being in samsaram. Why should He make us to be in samsaram? Because of our past Karma and the consequent papa/punya, accumulated by us. The Lord had told earlier that since He had bonded us in samsaram, with past Karma, so we should seek His divine feet to get rid of samsaram. Praying Sri Thirukkatkarai Appan to bless us with vairagyam, we will now take leave of this Kshetram.