You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : August 1997

ANDAL Thoughts

From: usdeiva (usdeiva_at_ix.netcom.com)
Date: Fri Aug 01 1997 - 14:03:04 PDT

"SrImatE rAmAnujAya namah"
                --------------------------
                      ANDAL THOUGHTS

                 - by T.S. Sundara Rajan.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The asterism 'tiru-vADippUram' (the next one falls
on Aug 6 Wednesday) marks a fragrant day in our 
calendar, as the 'tiru-nakshatram' of ANDAL.  This 
blessed day is highlighted by SrI maNavALa-mAmunigal 
in the 'upadESa-ratnamAlai' stanza ~

     "periyAzhvAr peNpiLLai-yAi ANDAL piranda
      tiruvADip-pUrattin SIrmai, oru nALaikku
      uNDo? manamE uNarndu pAr, ANDALukku
      uNDAgil oppu idaRkum uNDu."

On this day, the 'rathOtsavam'/'tiruttEr' festival
is celebrated in SrIvilliputtUr, when ANDAL in her 
bridal finery and her winsome consort SrIrangamannAr 
mount the imposing 'ratham' (the loftiest in the 
country), to course through their domain.    This is 
verily a heavenly celebration of the profoundest of 
mystical and literary traditions of the country. 

ANDAL is venerated as divinity per se. The great 
hagiographer pinbazhagia perumAL jIyar affirms this 
by citing the SlOkam ~

dEvasya mahishIm divyAm AdAu gOdAm upAsmahE |
yan-mAuli-mAlikAm prItyA svIkarOti svayam prabhu: ||

It is said that for the mental peace of a disciple
who confessed to restlessness, SrI parASara bhaTTar
composed two SlOkam:  the first one, "bhUtam saraScha
mahadAhvaya..." naming the ten 'divya sUri' (AzhvAr)
and SrI uDaiyavar, and the second one, "nILA-tunga-
stana-giri-taTI-suptam..." exclusively devoted to the
'daivatam' (ANDAL).  These two SlOkam constitute 
important 'taniyan' to 'aruLic-cheyal anusandhAnam'
(recitation of 'divya-prabandham).

'kOdai' and 'gOdA'
------------------

'kOdai' was the first name periyAzhvAr gave to ANDAL.
This Tamil word stands for 'a string of flowers'. In 
the golden quadrangle of tirukkuRunkuDi, vAnamAmalai, 
AzhvAr-tirunagari and SrIvilliputtUr, girl-children 
were commonly named 'mAlA-nAcchiyAr'.   When the Tamil 
name was Sanskritised as 'gOdA', it yielded a rainbow 
of meanings.   In Sanskrit, the root 'gAuh' means, 
inter alia, the 'vEdam';  hence, 'gOdA' signifies one 
who gives of the 'vEdam'.

ANDAL Book is scripture
-----------------------
"vEdam anaittukkum vittAkum kOdai tamizh" is how
SrI vEdappirAn bhaTTar affirmed tiruppAvai's scriptural 
status.  As SrI parASara-bhaTTar perceives it, ANDAL 
in her Book seems to instruct ISvara Himself on his 
majesty, on the several proofs of the Sruti, in his 
being One without a second:  "kr*shNam pArArthyam svam 
Sruti-Sata-Siras-siddham adhyApayantI".   This was no 
parochial or denominational boast.  

It was given to SrI kAnchI (prativAdi-bhayankaram aNNA)
svAmi of blessed memory, to identify the several vEdic
sources of not only tiruppAvai but of 'nAcchiyar 
tirumozhi' as well. In the best of poets' traditions in
all climes and languages, the ANDAL Book reisters many
an echo of revelations in the smr*ti as well. The well-
known line "achalAm Sriyam ApnOti" (in the 'sahasranAma
phalaSruti') reads as "nIngAda Selvam niRaindu" (in the
'Ongi ulakaLanda...' tiruppAvai).  

  "sakhEti matvA prasabham yad-uktam...
   ajAnatA mahimAnam tavEdam... tat kshAmayE..." 
          (from SrImad-bhagavad-gItA 11:41-42) reads as 
  "aRiyAda piLLaikaLom, anbinAl untannai  
   SiRu-pEr azhaittanavum SIRi aruLAdE,
   iRaivA!"
          (in the 'kaRavaikaL...' tiruppAvai).

The dear and auspicious 'rukmiNI-pariNayam' chapter of
SrImad-bhAgavatam contains rukmiNI-dEvi's heart-rending 
appeal to SrIkr*shNa to rescue her from being forced in 
marriage to SiSupAla.  She urges that a lowly character 
like SiSupAla be not allowed to appropriate the offering
(that is, herself) already dedicated to SrIkr*shNa.

  "mA vIrabhAgam abhimarSatu chaidya ArAd
   gOmAyuvan-mr*gapatE: balim ambujAksha!"

These charged lines, we know, translate into nAcchiyAr
tirumozhi (1:5) as 

  "vAniDai vAzhum avvAnavarkku
       maRaiyavar vELviyil vakutta avi
   kAnidait-tirivadOr nari pukundu
       kaDappadum mOppadum Seivadoppa..."

One could stray outside of SrIvaishNavam and discover in
the Bible books of Solomon's Song and the Psalms several
parallelisms (of lyrical expression, sentiment, episodic 
situation and even doctrine) with texts from nAcchiyAr
Book, and from the entire run of aruLiccheyal.   Thus,
the following texts read like translations of each other:
  ~ "the smell of thy garments..." (SSong 4:11)
  ~ "peNNin varuttam aRiyAda perumAn araiyil pItaka-
     vaNNa-vADai..."               (nAcchiyAr 13:1);

  ~~ "his lips like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh"
                                   (SSong 5:13)
  ~~ "karuppUram nARumO, kamalap-pU nARumO?
      tirup-pavaLac-chevvAi tAn.." (nAcchiyAr 7:1)   

The 'aruLiccheyal' occasionally brings up to an episode or
two which are not traceable in the popular Sanskrit canon.
I for one could not guess the source of "Amai-yAi gangai-yAi"
of periyAzhvAr (4:9:5) till I came across a 'rasOkti' 
essay of SrI kAnchi-svAmi tracing it to harivamSam. Likewise 
ANDAL speaks of a fine point of ritual procedure in,
  "muLLum illAc-chuLLi eri maDuttu
   muyanRu unnai nORkinREn kAmadEvA!"  (nAcchiyAr 1:2).
I discovered (and I regarded the discovery as a blessing 
of ANDAL) from the relatively less-known 'vishNu-dharmOttara-
purANam' that the pippala (ficus indicus?) samit (twigs 
offered in hOmam/oblation) with spiky notches were prescribed
for 'black' rites (abhisArika yajna) provided for in the
(AitarEya?) brAhmaNa; accordingly, in organising the rite for 
winning over tiruvEnkatam-uDaiyAn, this young prodigy takes
care to select for her sAttvika-hOmam the notch-free twigs. 
These are only a few illustrations of ANDAL Book as scripture. 

ANDAL in SrIrangam
------------------
It is important to note that as many as three shrines are 
dedicated to ANDAL in Srirangam.  It is well-known that to-day's 
chitra (originally, mADa) vIthi constitutes the seventh and last 
of the dedicated enclosures (tiru-vIthi / prAkAram) of periya-
perumAL.  There is an eighth enclosure, known as 'aDAiya-
vaLAindAn' (meaning, 'all-embracing'). [Even though this eighth
enclosure is the 'outer' one, its name served as a metaphor for
a gloss ~ aDAiya-vaLAindAn arum-pada-urai ~ on tiruvAimozhi,
written after the IDu.]  At the time when periyAzhvar escorted 
ANDAL on pilgrimage to Srirangam, the present-day uttara 
(trivikraman) and chitra (mADa) vIthi were tenanted by only the 
temple functionaries;  accordingly, the AzhvAr (and, of course, 
ANDAL) put up in the south-western part of 'aDaiya-vaLaindAn', 
so as to be within easy reach of the streamlet 'tirumanjana-
kAvEri'.  On this site came up the first ANDAL sannidhi in 
Srirangam.  Here ANDAL is represented in the 'seated' posture 
and is worshipped only in the 'mUla' form;  since the sannidhi 
is on the 'veLit-tirumuRRam' [outer yard] of the periya-kOyil, 
it is referred to as the 'veLi ANDAL sannidhi', and it could be 
almost as ancient as the SrIvilliputtUr ANDAL sannidhi. This
sannidhi is administered by SrI kOyil kandADai aNNan tirumALigai.

The second ANDAL shrine (commonly referred to as the 'uL ANDAL)
is approached from the 'ranga-vilAsam';  the 'utsava mUrti', also
in the seated posture, was moved here from the veLi ANDAL sannidhi.
SrIrAma is also worshipped in this sannidhi, and one can notice
a replica of uDaiyavar's 'tAn-Ana tirumEni' in a sub-shrine here.
It is on this spot that the enchanting episode of "vAraNam Ayiram"
is recalled, after namperumAL dismisses the Anai-vAhanam
(elephant mount) and pauses to exchange garlands with ANDAL.

A few steps to the east of chandra-pushkariNI, and across 
SrI-kOdanDa-rAman sannidhi, is the parama-pada-nAthan sannidhi 
where all the AzhvAr are in 'sAlOkyam' with perumAL.  In this 
sannidhi, ANDAL (in standing posture as in SrIvilliputtUr) is 
worshipped in a sub-shrine.   In simhAchalam (near viSAkhapatnam),
uDaiyavar had raised a shrine for ANDAL (in the same stance) near
the SrI varAha-nr*simha sannidhi, to recall the 'mAri-malai
muzhanchil mannik-kitandu uRangum SIriya Singam..." tiruppAvai.
 
periyAzhvAr's darling child
---------------------------

'archA' or vigraham or pratimA, for the SrIvaishNava, is 
the sentimentally satisfying and self-sufficient proof, and 
manifestation of the Deity; this is the case in every one of our
108 'divya-dESam'.  The Lord beckons to each of us and admits us 
to His epiphany in a 'divya-dESam' of his choice;  the entirety 
of 'aruLic-cheyal'/'divya-prabandham' is but a luminiscent 
record and testament of each AzhvAr's experiences during such 
ecstatic visitations.   Just to gaze ('sadA paSyanti) at ANDAL 
at SrIvilliputtUr is indeed such transport;  one verily is 
reminded of periyAzhvar's remembrance (8:1) of ANDAL ~

  "oru-makaL tannai-yuDaiyEn, ulakam niRAinda pukazhAl
   tirumakaL pOl vaLarttEn, SenkaN-mAl tAn konDu pOnAn!"

periyAzhvar is consistent in the memory of his precious child
ANDAL.   His initial book tirup-pallAnDu declares that he had
'no want', being in the service of the Lord:

"ennAL, emperumAn! un-tanakku aDiyom enRu ezhuttuppaTT annALE
 aDiyOngaL aDik-kudil vIDu-petru uindadu kAN!"

ANDAL having attained mystic union with 'periya-perumAL' in
SrIrangam, periyAzhvAr returned all by himself; nevertheless,
he exclaims (in his final decad) in fulfilment, "Who in this 
world but me can be so blessed as my being yours?":

"ninnuLEnAip-peRRa nanmai ivvulakinil Ar peRuvAr?" 

ANDAL's shrine in SrIvilliputtUr
--------------------------------

We cannot but marvel at the manner in which ANDAL shrine 
dominates that of SrI-vaDa-perum-kOyil-uDaiyAn ('vaTa-patra-
SAyI) in SrIvilliputtUr;  just the same with nammAzhvAr 
shrine and that of Adip-pirAn in AzhvAr-tirunagarI, of 
uDaiyavar and of SrI AdikESavap-perumAL in SrIperumpudUr. 

The vaTa-patra-SAyI 'gOpuram' at SrIvilliputtUr acquired a
distinction of recent history when it was adopted as the
emblem of the government of Tamil Nadu; the sacred temple's 
lofty gOpuram is presently in near-ruin condition 
nevertheless.  Not much is being spoken of the huge and 
surpassingly beautiful terra-cotta images of 
lakshmI-nArAyaNa and SrI-nr*simha cresting this gOpuram.   
The fine-carved wooden images in the courtyard (tirumuRRam) 
of vaTa-patra-SAyI, like the breathtaking stone freizes on 
the interior of tiruk-kuRun-kuDi gOpuram, deserve notice.  

We should learn to contemplate a divya-dESam in its entirety.
When great souls like uDaiyavar visited any of these, they
absorbed everything that was to a place:  the streams, the
mountain-stretch, the orchards and arbours, the approaches
and streets around the temple, et al.  In SrIvilliputtUr,
there is a whole street (to the north of the temple) named
after the 'kandADaiyAr' clan which yielded jewels of AchArya
like SrI mudali-ANDAn (uDaiyavar's nephew), SrI kOyil aNNan,
tirumaNi appan svAmi, sholingur (SOzha-singha-puram) 
doDDAchar who wrote the well-known 'chanDa-mArutam' 
commentary on svAmi-dESikan's 'SatadUshaNI'.   

SrIvilliputtUr happens to be among the places where 
SrInAthamuni's institution of aRAiyar / viNNappam-seyvAr
(reciters of 'aruLiccheyal') has survived. Other places are 
SrIrangam, AzhvAr-tirunagari, tiruk-kuRun-kudi and mElkOte/
tiru-nArAyaNapuram.   It is blessed soil, this place named 
after the wild bowmen tribe of 'villi';  mutter to yourself
the verse of vEdappirAn bhaTTar if you sought to know how
rich it is in vibrations:
  "kOdai piranda Ur, gOvindan vAzhum Ur,
   SOdi maNi-mADam tOnRum Ur -- nItiyAl
   nalla pattar vAzhum Ur, nAn-maRaigaL Odum Ur,
   villiputtUr vEdak-kOn Ur !"

While in SrIvilliputtUR, wait for the bewitching moment when 
aRAiyar recites svAmidESikan's hymn-consummate 'gOdA-stuti' ~~

"SrI-vishNuchitta-kula-nandana-kalpa-vallIm
    SrIrangarAja-harichandana-yOgadr*SyAm
 sAkshAt kshamAm karuNayA kamalAm-ivAnyAm
    gOdAm ananya-SaraNaS-SaraNam prapadyE !"

~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~
               ANDAL tiruvaDikaLE Saranam.
~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~