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TIRUPPAVAI - PART 1

Ramanbil_at_aol.com
Date: Wed Dec 16 1998 - 16:23:36 PST

TIRUPPAVAI - PART 1

Dear Bhagavatas,
As stated by Sri Sampath Rangarajan, it is not possible to explain all the
Nirvahams of all Acharyas of Tiruppavai in a short write up like this. For
this reason, we  may not be able to strictly adhere to the "one a day" norm
but we will try to be comprehensive enough but at the same time as concise  as
possible in the following postings. Whatever is correctly stated is due to the
Apaara Kaarunyam of our Acharyas; Anything otherwise, the fault is entirely
mine and I request Bhagavatas to forgive me and point out any errors of
commission and omission to me in private. This is because, I do not propose to
enter into a debate but to correct my own. 
understanding.

The following is presented by way of Avatarikai (Introduction).

As I commenced writing about Andal, I was so daunted by the explosion of
informational, inspirational and interpretational material gathered over a
whole lifetime -

(i) from the 'in-camera closed circuit' Kalakshepams from our Acharyas like
H.H. the Jeeyar, Ahobila Mutt, Srirangam Srimad Andavan( Tirukkudantai)  and
Andavan Swami of Poundarika puram Ashramam (both in their Purvaashramam and
after their Sannyasa Sweekaranam) explaining the inner meanings ,

(ii) from the religious Pravachanams of scholars like Abhinava Desika Uttamur
Swami, Srivtasaangaachar, Santhana gopalachar, Tirukkallam Swami, Prathivaadi
Bhayankaram Swami, Velukkudi Swami and 

(iii)) through the more open - ended Hari Katha Kalakshepams of Srirangam Sada
gopachar, Embar, Annaswami Bhaga vatar (with Chapplaakattai, Jalra, Harmonium
/ Tamboor, Assistant singer - Pinnpaattukkaarar et al ).

Diwali and Holi may be the time for revelry and merriment but the whole of
Margazhi is surcharged with an aura- sober and serene, and an era of spiritual
awakening and awareness.

The time of one year for humans represents one day for the divine.Makara
(Thai) month that opens the Uttaraayana represents their  'daybreak'. Dhanus
(Margazhi0 that immediately precedes is deemed the 'Ushat Kala' or "Arunodaya
kala' for the Devas. Also known as  ' Brahma Muhurtham', it is considered the
most appropriate time for MEDITATING on the Lord. Thus, Margazhi is important
for the divine and the human alike. In Baghavad Gita, Lord Krishna declared
-'Among the months, I am Margazhi'

Come Margazhi ! In almost all temples in every county of every town or city in
the whole of the Tamil speaking world, the morning air is filled with a
spiritual resurgence, what with the recitation of Tiruppavai ( and as a late
and perhaps an 'after- thought addition', of Tiruvembavai also) reverberate
through loudspeakers, broadcasts and telecasts and Bhajans by groups of
devotees moving from street to street in the neighbourhood. 

Regarded as a ' Sunya Maasam' when routine study of scriptures is suspended,
only Tiruppavai is exceptionally allowed. Breathtaking expositions of the
esoteric meanings of the work explained by experts fill the day deep into the
late hours. Students of our religious classes would form into groups to attend
these discourses in various locations and overlapping timings with tape
recorders, notebooks etc (like news reporters), pool the materials and compare
the information in joint studies.That is real and fruitful utilzation of one's
time - REAL Kala Kshepam.
O! How we miss the thrill and joy of these experiences?
Dasoham
Anbil Ramaswamy
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AN INTRODUCTION
Tamil literature bristles with love lores employing techniques such as Thoodu
and Madal. Mutholl Aayiram and Sanga literature which depict the
distinguishing feminine aspects as Acham (fear), Naanam ( shyness), Madamai (
Innocence) and Payirpu (Exclusive single minded devotion), the physical
changes wrought by the joys of union with and the pangs of separation from the
beloved etc and even Srimad Valmiki's Ramayanam take a back stage in relation
to the portrayal in the Divya Prabandhams which exalt love and ennoble the
soul, combining linguistic, scenic and sense effects and blending the mundane
with the divine.

Devotional poetry spontaneously emerging from a God- infatuated heart like
that of Godha, the sweetheart of Krishna, is sure to contain much more than
what appears on the surface .In Tiruppavai and Nachiar Tirumozhi, generations
of Acharyas and other scholors have been and still are seeing new meanings and
fresh beauties. And, the two provide an inexhaustible goldmine of such
delectable material and an incomparably rich fare.

What is said of Valmiki applies with equal force to Godha -. 
"Tad Upagatha Samaasa Sandhi Yogam, Sama Madhuropana Artha Vaakhya badham"-
For her, the words fall in place so inimitably, that you cannot alter even a
comma or a semicolon without damaging the beauty and style of poetry or the
depth and sense of the sentiments expressed. We are simply carried away by the
torrential flow of Nachiyar's expressions into the unfathomable depths of her
love; She not only loved but she also wedded the Lord. Nachiyar sways our
emotions so much that - 
- - when her heart throbs, our hearts throb too in unison!; 
- - when her mind melts, our minds melt with empathy!; 
- - when she entreats the Lord, we entreat too!; 
- - When she enjoys the Lord, we share the enjoyment equally!
Here was an Andal; Where comes such another?

Godha indeed stands out as the outstanding exponent of bridal mysticism and in
this is regarded as setting a model for the Alwars themselves. Unlike the
other Alwars who were all males and had to simulate a ' Nayaki bhava' ( the
role of a lady love), since she was herself a woman,  the bhava came to her
naturally. Her only ambition was to marry Lord Ranganatha.


LIFE HISTORY OF SRI ANDAL
Even as Sri Sita was found from earth by King Janaka, Sri Andal was found as a
baby girl in the pit in which the Tulasi (divine basil) was grown by
Vishnuchitta at Srivilliputtur. She was the incarnation of Bhumi Devi ( Mother
Earth) and was named 'Godha'. It is believed that Mother Earth heard Varaha
Purana while she was being rescued by the Lord in His Avatar as the Wild boar.
She desired that the essence of the teachings should be publicized for the
benefit of humanity. " Aham Sishyaa Cha Daasi Cha Bhakta Cha Tvayi Maadhava !
Mat Krite Sarva Bhutaanaam Laghu Upaayam Vadha Prabho!".  And, she was born in
the world as Godha for this purpose.

Vishnu Chitta used to make beautiful flower garlands to adorn the Lord in the
temple. When he went out, Godha would don the garlands herself and look into
the mirror to guage the suitability of her beauty to match with the charming
personality of the Lord. Before her father returned, she would fold the
garlands and place them in the basket as before. Unaware of this (a
sacreligious act), Vishnuchitta used to take the used  garlands and offer them
to the Lord. One day, unexpectedly, the Alwar returned earlier and caught her
red handed. Chiding her for her impetuosity, he desisted from offering the
used garlands that day.

Lord Ranganatha appeared in his dream that night and told him to bring the
garland used by Godha not only on that day but always. The Alwar was
wonderstruck and acted accordingly. From then, she was called ' Andal' -One
who ruled' and 'Choodi Kodutha Sudar Kodi'- ' the creeper like damsel who
offered flowers after being adorned by her'.She is also 'Aazhndaal' in the
sense that she was immersed in Krishna Guna anubhava. Bound by her garland of
flowers (Poomaalai) and her garland of verses (Paamaalai), the Lord will save
us who earn her grace.

When in due time, the Alwar took steps to get her married to a suitable groom,
she flatly refused saying that she would not live to marry a mere mortal but
that she would marry only Lord Ranganatha.' Manidarkku Enru Pechup Padil
Vazhakillen' . The Alwar was in a fix. Again, Lord Ranganatha appeared in his
dream and asked him to bring her to the temple at Srirangam. On arrival, she
made a beeline to the Sanctum Sanctorum and became merged in the image of Lord
Ranganatha.. The Alwar was asked to return to Srivilliputtur to continue his
garland service.

Earlier, Andal used to imagine herself as the bride of Lord Krishna, imagine
Srivilliputtur as 'Aayarpaadi'- the place where Krishna played his boyhood
pranks on the banks of Yamuna river, imagine her friends as the very Gopis
(the cowherd girls) of Brindavan and sang two soul stirring poems of exquisite
beauty- Tiruppaavai in 30 hymns and Naachiyaar Tirumozhi, the latter
describimg her dreams in getting married to Lord Ranganatha in his incarnation
as Sri Krishna. 

The two together are masterpieces couched in simple but chaste Tamil, pouring
forth her sentiments which contain not only the apparent meanings ( Bahya
artha) but also the inner esoteric meanings ( Svaapadesa) and the Supreme
meanings ( Para Artha). The Tiruppavai is recited , especially 'one a day'
during the 30 days of the month Margazhi  
( December- January) and selected hymns from Nachiyar Tirumozhi during the
wedding functions of Hindu  families.
Some people gleefully criticize ours as a religion of abnegation, of
escapism, a negative religion of the recluse which always emphasized on the '
other worldly' with scant regard for what we need ' right here and now in this
world '. They fancy that ours is a religion of rigour, regret, remorse,
repentance and renunciation that takes away all the joy out of life rendering
it a saga of ' sack cloth and ashes ' all the way. 

We would advise them to read Andal's Tiruppavai. Tiruppavai shows how ours is
the first and foremost religionwhich has the practical wisdom and pragmatism
to recognize the purpose of life both ' here and the hereafter'. Tiruppavai
laid down the principles and practices to make life on earth enjoyable,
meaningful and worthwhile - while unfolding the 'after-life' scenario in
equally vivid expressions.
Let us see some of her positive expressions-

Selva Sirumeergaal : Dear darling prosperous girls; 
Vaiyathu Vaazhveerkaal : You who have come to live and prosper in this world; 
Neengaatha Selvam Niraindhu : Securing bliss that does not diminish;   
Vaazha UlaginilPeithidaai : Rains that pour life into  us ; 
Poya Pizhaiyum Pugu TharuvaanNinranavum Theeyinil Thoosu Aagum : The Sanchita
and Prarabda Karmas extinguished like dirt burnt by fire;  
Ullam Pugundhu Kulirndu : Entering the mind to make it cool and pleasant;  
Naayakap Penn Pillai : O! leader among womenfolk; 
Tesam Udaiyaai : O! Shining one; 
Kodhukalam Udaiya Paavaai: Lady full of hope and enthusiasm;  Selvap
Pendaatti:  Dearest spouse;   
Nar Chelvan Nangaai : Daughter of the prosperous one; 
Podharik Kanninaai : O! You who have eyes like the honey bees lying on
flowers;  
Elle! Ilam Kiliye! : O! Parrot like beauty!;  
TiruThakka Selvamum Sevakamum Yaam Paadi Varuthmum
Theerndu Magizhndu : By praying for undiminishing wealth and eternal service,
we can get rid of our grief and enjoy happiness; Koodaarai Vellum Seer
Govinda! : Govinda who can win over even dissidents;  
Unthannodu Uravel Namakku Ingu Ozhikka Ozhiyaadu :Our relationship with you
here and herafter can never be severed; Enraikkum Ezhezh Piravikkum Unthannodu
Utrome Aavom :
We will be with you ever and anon through any number of lifetimes;
Engum Thiru Varul Petru Inburuvar : You will obtain the grace of Mother
Goddess Mahalakshmi and enjoy life forever.

Jeeyar composed a famous 'Tanian'  ( dedication verse) dedicated to Andal
which says-
" Tiruppavai will obliterate all sins and show us the feet of the Lord; it is
the very seed of all the Vedas. Those who do not know the  5 x5 + 5 ( i.e) 30
verses of Tiruppavai are indeed an unnecessary burden whom the earth carries
in vain" 

Pathakangal Theerkkum Paraman Adi Kaattum / 
Vedam Anaithukkum Vithu Aagum-/ 
Kothai Tamizh Aiy Aiyndum Aiyndum /
Ariyaadha Maanidarai Vaiyam Sumappadum Vambu/"

While Nammalwar's four works are said to be the essence of the four Vedas,
these 30 verses of Andal constitute the very seed of ALL the Vedas and What it
does? It can destroy all our sins; It can show us the way to Moksham - all in
simple, chaste, Tamil.

(To Continue)
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