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Thiruppavai commentary from the Hindu

From: Bharadwaj, Jaganath (
Date: Tue Dec 23 1997 - 11:14:18 PST


The Almighty assumes different forms 

Date: 23-12-1997 :: Pg: 24 :: Col: c 

Cl: Religion 

CHENNAI, Dec. 23. 

The Supreme Being takes innumerable forms because the transcendental
form is beyond the ken of human reach. According to Srivaishnava
religion the Almighty who is Sriman Narayana in His eternal abode,
Srivaikunta, when He deigns to create this universe assumes the
reclining form on the milk-ocean (Kshirabdhisayi, Anantasayana). This is
the form from which the Vyuha forms of the Lord responsible for creation

In the Tiruppavai, Andal points out this fact in the opening verses
where she identifies Narayana as the Almighty and subsequently refers to
His form on the serpent couch to point out that from the standpoint of
the devotees this form is more important. Further it is made clear that
it is out of compassion for the sages and His devotees that the Lord
assumes this form. 

In his discourse on the Tiruppavai the Jeeyar Swami of Parakala Math
said, the role of Sri as the mediator (Purushakara) became prominent in
His Kshirabhdhisayi form. While describing the details of the Pavai
nonbu which Andal undertakes with the object of performing service to
Lord Krishna, she stresses that Sri had to be propitiated first thereby
underlining the fact that the Divine Mother is the very embodiment of
Lord's compassion and grace and that it is possible to approach Him only
through Her intercession. 

A legitimate doubt which can arise in this context is (why Andal should
describe the transcendental and Vyuha forms) when she had undertaken the
performance with Lord Krishna as the end to be attained instead of
addressing Him directly. The commentators have pointed out that it is to
clarify that the Supreme Being had incarnated as Krishna in Gokul that
Andal addresses these forms first. 

In the second verse of this hymn Andal points out that those who are
born in this world are most fortunate in that they have been given an
opportunity to express their devotion to the Lord. There are two aspects
to spiritual practices. There are certain observances which have to be
followed and some which have to be abstained from. By this process the
spiritual aspirant does not lose sight of the goal to be attained. 

That the Nonbu described in the Tiruppavai is for the sake of spiritual
progress and not for any material gain is another point made right at
the outset. All the rituals described and the actions of the devotee
must be dedicated to the Lord and must be undertaken only for His
pleasure as service to Him. That the Lord can be approached only through
the mediation of the preceptor is stressed right at the outset.