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SRI

SRIMATE RAMANUJAYA NAMAHA

SRIMATE BALADHANVI MAHAGURAVE NAMAHA

SRI ANDAL's TIRUP-PAVAI

by

U.Ve.E.S. Bhuvarahachariar Swamy

Tiruppavai Audio Station

   
                
        INTRODUCTION: Sri ANDAL is the Quintescence incarnation
        of Sri BHUMI DEVI the Divine Consort of SRIMAN NARAYANA,
        who took birth on this earth to liberate suffering human
        beings from worldly bondage.She sang thirty sweet songs
        containing the cardinal principles ofSriVaishnava Dharma
        during the month of MARGAZHI.Singing these songs,with
        understanding of their inner meaning, will bring to us
        peace, prosperity and above all Divine Grace.

        ANDAL, though a Brahmin girl, assumes the guise of a
        cowherdess and yearns for Everlasting Happiness and
        Service of the Lord.It is the age-old practice of
        Sri Vaishnavas to sing these stanzas every day of the
        year in the presence of the Lord in the temple as
        well as in their homes.This practice assumes special
        significance during MARGAZHI so much so that each day
        of this month gets its name from a pasuram,like for
        example the first day (12.16.97) is called MARGAZHI-
        TTINGAL.

        It may appear in the beginning that Andal is intending
        to perform a particular religious vow to marry the Lord
        and thereby obtain His Everlasting Company,and that she
        is inviting all her girl friends to join her.It is only
        towards the end of TIRUPPAVAI that we learn that she
        did not actually go to any pond or river or perform
        a religious rite; SHE IS ACTUALLY PRAYING TO BE GRANTED
        THE SERVICE OF THE LORD FOR ALL ETERNITY.It is the
        Soul's inner craving to redeem itself and to reach
        His Divine Nearness in order to serve him (" Attaani-
        cchevagam" as her father PERIYAZHWAR calls it) which
        forms the real purport of this poem.

        1. MARGAZHI TTINGAL
        The first stanza which states the central premise to be
        elaborated in the rest of the poem contains the
        following ideas:
        1.Andal praises the day (NANNAL)that has appeared of
        its own accord for the observance of the vow.What it
        means is that for a soul,that day is the Good Day when
        he understands all about himself and God and their
        mutual relationship of Lord and Servant which is stated
        in the Tirumantram.
        2.The fruit in getting one's body is for serving the
        Lord here and hereafter (NEERADA PODUVIR)
        3.All those who have a longing for the service of the
        Lord are qualified to join her.(PODUVIR PODUMINO)
        4.She speaks of the radiance that attended on the face
        of her companions on hearing her requisition.(MADI
        NIRAINDA ;the moon is not in the sky alone!)
        5.The prosperity of Gokula consists of Sri Krishna's
        amiable pranks in stealing butter and girls; i.e.,the
        wealth of a Sri Vaishnava consists of his intoxicating
        love for and enjoyment of Lord's company.
        6.Nandagopa's vigilance in guarding Krishna with his
        very sharp spear in hand symbolises the "ASTHANE
        BHAYA-SANKA" and "MANGALASASANA-PARATA" which
        characterises a SriVaishnava.
        7.Yasoda's over-indulgence of Krishna is responsible
        for all his pranks and misbehaviour towards the young
        gopis.
        8.SrimanNarayana is the SOLE MEANS of attaining His Feet.
        This strikes the keynote of the Song Divine-TIRUPPAVAI.
        NARAYANANE (Upaya Swarupam) NAMAKKE (Adhikari Swarupam)
        PARAI (Phala Swarupam) TARUVAN.The safest means of securing
        Him is not Karma yoga etc but His Grace only.
        That is the sum and substance of this verse.


2. VAIYATHU VAZHVIRGAL
 
         At her cordial invitation a huge crowd gathered and the
         wonder-struck ANDAL exclaims,"in this ignorance-spreading
         world,are there so many interested in Emancipation!".She
         proceeds to prescribe "dos" and "don'ts"( which actually
         are the SAMBHAVITA SWABHAVA,the natural characteristics
         of the Adhikari).
 
         While we appear to be performing this vow for getting
         rain,in reality it is different.She stresses the words
         "NAMUM NAM Pavaikku"- NAMUM- WE are quite different 
         from others; we long for His company and firmly believe
         that He alone is the Means for achieving it. NAM Pavai-
         Indrajit did a malefic rite to put an end to Rama;but
         OUR beneficent rite is for securing Lord's and His
         World's prosperity and happiness.
 
         The SriVaishnavite Code of Conduct as prescribed by
         her is as follows:
         Recite the Samskrita and Dravida Veda which sings the
         glory of the Feet of the Lord reclining on the Serpent
         in the Milky Ocean,all the while thinking about one's
         Redemption.
         Eschew all carnal and even worldly desires like eating
         ghee,drinking milk etc.
         Bathe early in the morning.Don't adorn your eyes with 
         collyrium,or your hair with flowers till the completion 
         of the vow;meaning thereby that a SriVaishnava needs
         decoration etc only when he is in union with the Lord.
         Never indulge in an act which was not practised by our
         righteous minded ancestors.Bharata refused the kingship
         though granted by his father and permitted by Rama
         on the grounds that the tradition of Solar Kings did
         not permit a younger son to rule when the elder was
         living.
         A SriVaishnava should not speak ill of others or
         even think about it (which is tantamount to reporting
         it to the God inside the heart,thereby ensuring their
         fall);Sita never uttered a word to Rama about the
         illtreatment by the Rakshasis.
         He should ever be ready to do charity and impart
         knowledge about God to all those who need it.
 
         In short he should constantly be thinking about his
         upliftment and keep his mind filled with peace and
         happiness.
  

3. ONGI ULAGALANTHA UTHAMAN
 
         In this worse ANDAL wishes for rain and consequential
         prosperity for the whole world as the world is the
         property of her Lord.So who is a Sri Vaishnava ? It
         is he who while being detached with reference to the
         riches of the world,is at the same time aspiring for
         them considering them as his Lord's riches.Hence all
         Sri Vaishnavas after daily prayer recite the verse
         which says "Sarve Janah Sukhino Bhavantu" every one
         should be happy.
 
         Andal tells the girls,"If we,girls,recite the NAME of
         the Lord who measured the entire universe with his
         three steps and observe this vow then the whole world
         will become prosperous."
         Note the text which says "Uthaman PER"(his NAME).She
         could have simply said "if we sing the glory of the
         Lord." But she says instead, the NAME of the Lord.
         Which means that the NAME OF THE LORD (the Tiru
         Ashtakshara Mantra,the Eight-Syllabled one) is more
         efficacious than the Lord Himself.When,in the court
         hall of Duryodhana,Draupadi was being disrobed by
         Dussaasana,it was only the NAME "Govinda" which
         saved her modesty while the Lord failed her.
 
         But we Prapannas (Surrenderers) seek salvation only
         from Him.The Mantra is only for understanding the true
         nature of the Soul,Lord,and the mutual relationship; 
         it is essentially to promote the ARTHA PANCHAKA knowledge.
 
         NEENGATHA Selvam - we see that riches do not remain for
         long with any man; then what does NEENGATHA mean ? It
         refers to the Moksha Aiswarya,Service of God,obtained
         through the recommendation of Sri Mahalakshmi.
 
4.AAZHI MAZHAI KKANNA
 

          
 
          The Presiding Deity of Rain was keenly observing the
          happenings in this world.He saw his master Sriman
          Narayana serving all the gopis.So he thought that
          taking orders from the gopis and carrying out their
          commands was the best and easiest means of pleasing
          his master.So approaching Andal who was in the guise
          of a gopi he requests her to command him;and she
          does so in a detailed manner in this verse.
 
          The inner significance is as follows:Just as the
          heir apparent to the throne is always feared and 
          respected by all ministers and officers so are the
          Sri Vaishnavas by inferior gods.Hence When a Sri 
          Vaishnava worships other deities like Indra,Rudra
          Varuna etc,he is doing something inappropriate as
          well as ridiculous.It will only cause his downfall
          and ruin his chance of getting salvation.So Beware!
 
          So here the Rain God who has come to hear her command
          is told," Go to the middle region of the sea,drink
          the entire water leaving not a drop,then pour it out
          in its entirety without discriminating between the
          places where the good and bad live.The rain, which
          resembles the arrows shot by Sri Rama to shatter the
          demons to pieces, should instead bring forth happiness 
          and prosperity to the entire land."
 
          A Sri Vaishnava  is one who always thinks of everything
          good for everyone in this world.
 
5.MAYANAI
 
 
 
          Among the assembled gopis,one expressed a doubt,"we
          are planning elaborately for getting the company of
          Krishna.But remember,we are sinners and our sins
          will throw obstacles in our path.It always happens
          when a good deed is contemplated.It is the way of the
          world.Take the case of Dasaratha who planned the  
          coronation of Rama;the great omniscient sage Vasishta
          fixed the date;the citizens clamoured for him and
          applauded the decision.But what happened ? Rama went
          to the forest forsaking the city,and it was His
          Paduka (holy sandals) which sat on the throne for
          fourteen years.So what is the surety that we will
          succeed?" 
          
          The answer is given in this verse: Recite the name
          of Krishna;think of him;offer flowers;and all
          obstacles will vanish.All sins committed before
          taking Refuge with Him,as well those unwittingly
          accruing after Surrender (Saranagati) will perish.
          The Purva Agha (earlier sins) will be burnt to ashes
          like cotton bales in a fire;and the Uttara Agha(Subse-
          quent Sins) will not stick to the person like drops
          of water to a lotus leaf.
 
          Milk is both a pleasurable food as well as a medicine 
          to cure bile.The same is the case with Him.(Maruttuvanai
          ninra mamanivanna)
 

         SECTION II
 
         INTRODUCTION: The first five pasurams of Tiruppavai form
         one section and pasurams 6-15 the second section.These 10
         stanzas describe the sleeping girls being woken up by those
         who are already up.These two groups represent KAINKARYA
         NISHTHA (those impatient to serve God,like Lakshmana) and
         GUNA NISHTHA (those who are content to meditate on the
         glorious qualities of God,like Bharata).Nammazhwar speaks
         of their presence even in Vaikunthaloka - VAIKUNTATTU 
         AMARARUM (service minded) MUNIVARUM (enjoying His Virtues).
         Poison acts on different people in different ways - some
         faint and some run here and there;so do the attributes of
         Sri Krishna.Hence the sleeping girls not a bit inferior
         in their longing for Krishna to those who wake them.Though
         one could go to Krishna on one's own,it is not advisable
         "VEDAM VALLARGALAI KKONDU,VINNOR PERUMAN TIRUPPADAM
         PANINDU " says Nammazhwar.We should always approch Him
         through some godly person;because we have sinned against
         Him and being a SWATANTRA (free to act as He pleases),He
         may punish us.Hence a Recommending Authority is very much 
         needed.Moreover His virtues are like a huge river in
         spate during rains,and so if a man wants to croos it
         surely he needs the help of others.Further unlike in the
         case of carnal company,enjoyment of His company will
         be sweeter in the company of Bhaktas.
         
         Those gopis who are vigilant are goaded on by their 
         haste (twara) to get Kainkarya,while those that are
         asleep have firm faith (adhyavasaya)in the Lord as 
         Upaya.Hence pasurams 6-15 give room for interpreting
         them as referring to Azhwars and acharyas.
 
6. PULLUM SILAMBINA KAN
 
        
 
         The girls approach the mansion of a gopi and wake her
         up by indicating signs of early dawn,"even the birds are
         up and chirping.Get up." The sleeping girl rejects this
         reason,"oh girls,you never allow the birds in your town
         to sleep,with your chanting of His names and making them
         chant too.This is no sign of dawn!" Then they mention a
         noteworthy sign," PULLARAYAN KOIL etc..The blowing  conch
         in the temple of Vishnu for early morning worship, is
         inviting us all for His service.Get up."
 
         Here the phrase PULLARAYAN KOIL brings out an excellent quality
         of the Lord:
         PUL is bird,here Garuda; ARAYAN king ; KOYIL temple.
         The temple of Vishnu.But why this circumlocution?
         There is a reason.
         In Ramayana while narrating to Hanuman her abduction by
         Ravana,Sita says,"On that fateful day I was lured by that
         demon disguised as a deer,and was separated from Rama's
         younger brother and Lakshmana's elder brother(RAMANUJAM
         LAKSMANA POORVAJAM CHA)."  Such phraseology is used for a
         purpose.The Lord feels happy when His name is coupled 
         with His devotee'sand so does the devotee when he is referred to as 


         being  subservient to the Lord.The message of Sita (Sri Devi)
         and Andal (Bhu Devi) to us is that when a Sri Vaishnava
         names his child he should follow this principle.
 
         ULLATHU KKONDU etc in this verse is noteworthy.The munis
         and yogins get up in the morning very slowly from their
         beds so that the Lord,taking eternal abode in their hearts
         may not be disturbed.Prahlada was pushed down from the top
         of a huge mountain,and while falling he held fast his
         bosom with great concern for Sri Hari living there,never
         bothering about what was happening to himself.But the Lord
         waited for him at the bottom of the mountain and received
         him in his spread arms.
 
         Parasara Bhattar used to embellish his body with silken
         robe,ornaments,sandal paste etc, and when asked about its
         propriety in respect of the despicable body,he said in his
         view it was not despicable but adorable being the sanctum 
         sanctorum of the Almighty.
 
         Andal also leaves this lesson in this verse: When you get
         up in the morning chant the name of Hari (HARIR HARIR
         HARIRITI VYAHARET VAISHNAVAH PUMAN).Let us do so.
 
7. KISU KISU
 
         
 
         In this stanza,from the two addresses in vocative case
         PEY PENNE! and NAYAKA PPENPILLAY! which are diametrically
         opposite in meaning,we are to understand that they are
         said out of love and affection for the sleeping girl.
         Whatever may be the apparent contradiction,the inner
         feeling is most important while moving with Sri Vaishna
         vas.
         In the 6000-Padi commentary we find very interesting and 
         enlightening comments and to illustrate them an episode
         narrated with exquisite charm.Having woken up a handful
         of girls Andal could have proceeded on to Krishna.Why go
         to EVERY house ? If one is a Sri Vaishnava he should
         think of the welfare of ALL- not just a few.Not even a 
         single girl should lose the golden opportunity of getting
         the grace of Sri Krishna. A man's relationship with
         Sriman Narayana is true only if he rejoices at the good
         luck of another man as if it were his own son's.If
         he fails to feel that way he is no Sri vaishnava.
 
         ALKONDAVILLY JEEYAR,a sincere pupil of SRI RAMANUJA
         once met in Sri Rangam NANJEEYAR,the disciple of
         PARASARA BHATTAR.The former exclaimed," O Jeeyar!
         Really I have not developed a taste for Bhagavad
         Vishaya (i.e., God)." Nanjeeyar was amazed and asked
         "How is this possible? you are the faithful student
         of Sri Ramanuja,serving him assiduously - still  you
         say this ?" The former said," If a man has real taste
         for Bhagavan he must enjoy the sweet company of His
         devotees.If not he is no Sri Vaishnava.Have we
         developed that pleasurable attitude towards Sri
         Vaishnavas ? Hence I say so."
 
         Unless the meeting,mingling and deriving supreme
         satisfaction and happiness in the company of Bhagavatas
         are secured here in this world (which is the intensive
         training ground for our life in Sri Vaikuntha),the
         Moksha will not be delectable.NAMMAZHWAR says at the
         end of Tiruvaymozhi,"ADIYAARODU IRUNDAMAI". He aspired
         not for the mere union of the Lord but for the same
         in the company of His devotees,which alone would
         make it delectable.

8. KIZH VANAM
 
      Here a girl who is Krishna's particular sweetheart is
      being woken up.She can be compared to NAMMAZHWAR (Krishna-
      trishna tatvam) the very embodiment of deep devotion to
      Sri Krishna.Her company is certain to accomplish their
      desire. KOTHUGALAMUDAYA PAVAAI! is a most beautiful form
      of address.
 
      "The horizon has become bright.Get up." say the girls.
      But she astonishes them by replying,"It is the lustre
      from your moon-like faces which has brightened the
      Eastern quarter.The day is yet to dawn."
 
      The second sign of daybreak mentioned in this stanza
      indicates that Andal has indeed been transformed into
      a gopi - "The buffaloes are fast dispersing in the
      fields searching for the tender green grass with the
      dew drops of dawn clinging to them.If we delay, Krishna
      would have followed them into the forest and our purpose
      would be lost."  This statement could not have come out of
      the lips of anyone other than a true cowherdess.So Andal
      has totally identified herself with a gopi,living with
      the cowherds and taking part in all their daily chores.
 
      Her father Sri Vishnuchitta was a learned Vedic authority
      and had even written a rule book for conducting sacrifices
      called Kalpa Sutra.He too assumed the role of Yasoda to the 
      extent of participating in every childish activity of
      Krishna.For this his daughter affectionately calls him,
      "Bhogattil Vazhuvada Puduvayarkon"(one who has not missed
      a single opportunity to enjoy Krishna).Now his daughter
      does the same.
 
      The conclusion is this: Only that caste is desirable,which
      is congenial for the enjoyment of God and which is calculated 
      to bring down His Grace on us.SRI LOKA DESIKA says in SRI
      VACHANA BHUSHANAM,"Periyazhvarum Tirumagalarum Gopa Janmattai
      Asthanam Panninargal."

9.THOOMANI MADAM
 
        The gopi woken up in this verse has unflinching faith in the
        Lord's UPAYA BHAVA.In this regard she matches very well
        with Sita who ,when Hanuman suggested that he carry her
        back to Rama,sternly refused and rebuked him saying that
        he was equal to Ravana,(Ravana-tulya) in this that while
        Ravana robbed Rama of one of his possessions,Sita; Hanuman
        is trying to rob Him of another,His "Sarva loka rakshakatvam"
        (sole right to protect all).Then she added,"With my power
        of chastity which cooled your burning tail,I could have
        saved myself;but that would have only destroyed Rama's 
        reputation.He alone by His prowess should rescue me and establish
        his valour.Tat Tasya Sadrusam Bhavet.That alone would be
        befitting to Him." Hanuman applauded these words.
 
        So also this girl having transfered her burden to Sri
        Krishna,sleeps having total faith in His words," Ananyah
        chintayanto mam......Yoga kshemam vahamyaham". ANDAL
        teaches us in this stanza that a soul after surrendering
        to the Lord should be like this gopi.
 
        "MAMAN MAGALE!" -Oh,my uncle's daughter!. Though blood
        relationship is condemned as it contributes to worldly
        attachment,the same is most welcome if it helps to do
        service to God and His devotees. NAMMAZHWAR recommends
        living with all relations in TIRUVAYMOZHI 8.10,11,but
        condemns the same in 9.1.1. for the above reasons.
        KOORATHU AZHWAN,used to remark with a sad heart," I
        do not have blood relationship with Sri RAMANUJA.
        Fie upon me!That good fortune is with MUDALI ANDAN
        and EMBAR!" This idea is noteworthy in this verse.
 

 10.NOTRU SUVARGAM
 
 
        There are two addresses in the vocative case in this
        pasuram - NOTRU SUVARGAM PUKUKINRA AMMANOY! and 
        ARUN KALAME! - both bring out the excellences of this
        gopi and thereby imply the excellent characteristics
        of good Sri Vaishnavas.
        1. SUVARGAM here means only union with God.
        Sita says,while pressing Rama to take her with
        Him to the forest," If I am with you that is heaven for            
        me.Separation from you means hell." The girl here has
        completed all her rites by surrendering to the Lord and
        hence is enjoying His company.So also for a Sri Vaishnava
        there remains nothing to be done by way of" Upaaya" after
        accepting Him as the sole refuge(SARANAGATI).
 
        2.ARUNKALAME! "Kalam" has two meanings (a) vessel and 
        (b) ornament; A Sri Vaishnava is the vessel to contain
        His Grace.A Sri Vaishnava possesses superior ornaments in 
        the form of virtues;or he himself is the best ornament
        embellishing the gatherings of other Sri Vaishnavas.
       SUVARGA can also be broken up into SU+VARGA (SU=good
       VARGA=gathering).If a man possesses all good qualities
       he will be taken into the fold of Sri Vaishnavites.
       (Ref to PERIYAZHWAR TIRUMOZHI 3.6.11 - Saadu kottiyul
       kolla ppaduvare.)
 
 
11.KATRU KKARAVAI
 
       In this pasuram a gopi reputed for her exquisite beauty
       like a golden creeper (POR KODI) and born of a very noble
       family,is being woken up.Her father and kinsmen are known
       for discharging the duties pertaining to their cowherd 
       caste,which entails milking an endless number of cows.
       So Andal seems to say that performance of one's duty as enjoined
       in the Scriptures is calculated to bring happiness to the
       Lord and thereby falls into the category of His Service.
       One should hence never discard one's duty.
 
       SETTAR TIRALAZHIYA is noteworthy.SETTAR means enemies.
       Who are the enemies meant here ? Not those who despise
       them but those who want to harm Sri Krishna.For a
       Sri Vaishnava there is no direct enemy;he will not
       mind or may even welcome (as it will take away his
       sin) someone trying to harm him.But he considers him
       his enemy who intends harm to the Lord.
 
       SUTTATTU THOZHIMAR - the girl-companions of this gopi
       - who are they? They are those who even after performing
       all kinds of services to the Lord,do not expect anything
       in return except His Supreme Satisfaction and Happiness.
       "Praharshayishyami sanatha jeevitah"-I'll make my life
       worthwhile by pleasing Him- says Sri ALAVANDAR.The stanza
       in NACHIYAR TIRUMOZHI " Naaru narum pozhil".(9.6-7) is also
       to be remembered in this context.

Click here for Part II