Monday, February 23, 2009

Maangalya DhaaraNam – part - 4

The meaning of Maangalyam!.

We have seen in the earlier posts that the tying of the Mangal sutra or thaali

was not prevalent in Vedic marriages and

also in ancient Tamil marriages which largely followed Vedic customs only.

We also saw the origin of thaali which was worn by kids as a protection from evil.

After having seen what thaali means,

let us move on to see what 'Mangal' or Mangalya and sutra mean.

The word Mangal is used both in Sanskrit and Tamil.

The meaning also is the same in both the languages.

Mangal in Sanskrit means





anything fortunate,




auspicious occasion etc.

In Tamil also Mangala or Mangalam is used in the same sense.

We see the mention of Mangal in Kannagi's marriage,

but used in the sense of auspiciousness and / or auspicious occasion.

One of the earliest mention of Mangal or Mangalya is found

in the Adhithya Hrudhaya sthothra, given by sage Agasthya to Sri Rama

in the war front in Lanka.

"sarvamangala-mangalyam sarva papa pranashanam |
chintashoka-prashamanam ayurvardhana-muttamam || "

This means,

"This supreme prayer is the best amongst auspicious verses, it will destroy all sins,

dispel all doubts, alleviate worry and sorrow, anxiety and anguish,

and increase the longevity of life.

It is a guarantee of complete prosperity."

Here Mangalyam is used in the meaning of auspiciousness.

What this Mangalyam as auspiciousness is capable of doing, is also described.

We get to untie the knots of the secrets of this term, as we look at another important,

yet ancient sthothra on Mangalyam.

It is a sthothra called 'Mangalya sthavam'.

'Mangalya sthavam' is a prayer addressed to several avatharas of Lord Vishnu,

occurring in the forty third chapter of the Vishnu Dharmotharam Ithihasam.

It is a conversation between Sage Pulasthya and his disciple sage Dhaulabhya.(2)

On being asked by Dhaulabhya,

about the most suitable prayer

to drive away bad dreams and

for being able to complete all jobs in a proper fashion,

sage Pulasthya tells him that only a prayer to Lord Vishnu

would help him achieve that, and he also teaches the prayer to him.

That prayer is "Mangalya sthavam".

The prayer is for increasing 'mangalyam' (Mamasthu mangalya vivrudhaye)

by seeking Lord Vishnu's blessings,

to protect oneself from all evils and sins

The result is that any work started with a prayer for

Mangalya- vriddhi, (as in Mangalya sthavam) is completed without any problem.

The Phala-sruthi of this sthothra says that

on reciting this at the beginning of any action,

the sins that hinder that action are removed.

The action can be fulfilled without hindrances and

one will also be blessed with all types of wealth.

The similar result is echoed in Adhithya hrudhayam too

and wealth includes everything from longevity to prosperity of every kind.

Without long life, there is no use in having wealth.

That longevity is implied in the blessing of wealth is made out

from the very first verse of the prayer of removing evils and opposition of sorts.

Evil is a broad term that includes,diseases, death and enemies.

It can noted that the significance of Thaali as in

'aim padai-th-thaali' in Sangam period tied to kids

is similar to mangalyam or asking for ever increasing

Mangalyam or mangaLam,

in that the purpose is to remove evils threatening oneself,

removing sins, getting protected, getting longevity and all sorts of prosperity.

It is significant to note that the very first chapter of Silappadhikaram

is named as "Managala vaazhtthu-k-kaadhai".

This chapter solely deals with KOvalan- Kanngi marriage.

The author could have named it "ThirumaNa-k-kaadhai" or

"Vaduvai-k-kaadhai" as it is about marriage.

But he chose to call it as "Managala vaazhtthu-k-kaadhai",

invoking the significance of Mangalyam!

This tallies with the goal of the two sthothras explained above –

that of invoking Mangalam at the beginning of any action or event

so that the evils and sins can be removed

and the action can be done with protection from the Lord.

In the case of Silappadhikaram,

this has resulted in the proper completion of the work

that has withstood time and

also brought immortal fame to the author!

The significant factor in this is that

the story of Kannagi which starts with her marriage with Kovalan,

was deficient in the aspects related to Mangalya!

The evils and sins had been there.

It is told later in the story how the previous bad karma had been responsible

for the end of Kovalan and the plight of Kannagi.

That evil could not be removed.

Also the protection to their marriage was not there.

Their marriage ran into trouble twice –

first when Kovalan went after Madhavi and

second, when the marriage ended early and abruptly in Kovalan's death.

For such a kind of story on a couple with a dreadful fate,

the author Ilango adigaL seems to have deliberately given a name

that goes with one of the Mangal things that is meant for

the verse-type that he employed for Silappadhikaram. (3)

He started the work with a name "mangala vaazhtthu"

and invoked in the opening verse,

the Mangal thing –

the fore most one among the celestial auspicious entities,

namely the Moon

by praising it as "ThingaLai-p-pOttruthum"

It has been a practice to celebrate marriage on the day when moon is in exaltation!

When moon is in exaltation in Rohini, that is considered as the most auspicious time.

We find mention of this in Sangam texts. (4)

Silappadhikaram also says that Kovalan –kannagi marriage happened

on the day of Moon in Rohini! (5)

But a further surprise comes to us in the Purananuru (6)

This verse is categorized under the thurai "Kudai Mangalam"

Yes, Mangalam had been in usage from very olden times in Tamil lexicon.

It is one of the sub divisions of a poem as told in the grammar work of Tholkappiyam.

The Kudai mangalam verse from Purananuru is indicative of

how Full moon or Moon in its highest splendor is an object of auspiciousness.

The moon resembles the Royal umbrella (7)

which is a symbol of protection to the subjects

as how the Full moon protects the world from heat

by absorbing the light rays of the sun

and spreading only cool light to the earth.

The verse gives some extra details of the Moon in the sky.

It is here we get into another surprise link on mangalyam.

From Moon we go to Mars, the planet known as Mangal!!

This Purananuru verse was sung on a day

when the 'Chemmeen' also was in the sky with the Full moon.

Chemmeen means the 'meen of Chevvaai' or

the star of Mars, the Mangal planet!

There are 3 stars lorded by Mars, namely

Mriga sheersha, Chitthra and dhanishta (avittam).

Generally all the stars of Mars are considered to be inauspicious,

particularly with reference to longevity of the spouse and marriage .

The star Chitthra is an exception because it is in this star

that the Moon becomes Full in the month of Chitthirai!

It is perhaps for this reason, this star is accepted for auspicious functions.

The Puranauru verse says that the Moon is Full,

shining in mid sky with the star of Mars that was like a deepam.

This verse is categorized under "Kudai mangalam"

because this speaks about Mangalam of the King in terms of the Royal Umbrella

in the image of the Full moon which is the company of the star of Mars, the Mangal.

The Moon and Mars connection in ensuring auspiciousness is to be noted here,

which actually was a break through factor that helped me divulge further into these,

and eventually landed me in vital clues on why Mangalyam

which was a prayer done at the beginning of any work,

was further fine-tuned into a sutra – a thread,

to be tied on the neck of the bride – which of course was not done in earlier times.

For further authentication, that I am proceeding in the right path,

let me quote from Thirukkural.

Thiruvalluvar speaks about Mangalam in the context of

'manai maatchi' – the household affairs or with the wife!. (8)

The Kural states "mangalam enba mania maatchi".

The glory and prosperity attached to the wife is the 'Mangalam'.

The additional ornament to it is the birth of good children!

(same as the purpose of marriage quoted in part-1)

So Mangalam which originally means auspiciousness

is connected with married life

and the prosperity that is enjoyed by the partners

To put in a nutshell the analysis done in this post:-

Today we sing MangaLam at the end of any event.

But as per tradition and texts,

mangal sthothra must be sung or mangalam must prayed for at the beginning of any and every event.

Marriage is considered as an event of Mangalam

as it brings all auspiciousness and prosperity to the couple for a life of togetherness.

The Mangalam is prayed for,  from Lord Vishnu,

(Lord Vishnu with his consort Lakshmi is a giver of wealth and prosperity,

while He by means of His panchayudhas assure protection)

seeking His protection from evils and sins and

ensuring longevity and prosperity.

The phala sruti of Mangalya sthavam indicates that

Mangalyam also gives protection from the ill effects of planets

Shamam prayanthi dushtani graham peedascha dharuna,
Karmarambaascha sidhyanthi punyam aapnothi cha uthamam
. (9)


The inauspiciousness vanishes,

and horrible ill effects by planets is set right,

And when done before the start of an action,

the learned gets divine grace.)

This directs the analysis to the planetary connection to Mangalam,

the moon and the Mars being Mangal ensuring entities.

Based on these let me proceed further in the analysis of Mangal sutra in the next post.

(to be continued)


Reference :-

(1) Adhithya Hrudhayam - verse 5

(2) The complete sthothra of Mangalya sthavam with meaning can be read at


(3) Moon is the mangal word for 'thodar nilai-ch-cheiyuL'

according to Thol kappiyam – poruL – Su - 61

(4) Agananuru – verse 136 – (lines 4 -8)

(5) Silappadhikaram – chapter 1 – (lines 50-53)

(6) Purananuru verse 60.

(7) Royal umbrella is one among the 21 Mangal objects of the King

Choodamani nigandu – 12-121

(8) Kural 60

(9) Mangalya sthavam verse 49

No comments: