You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : December 1999

"Bhagavathi Geetha"

Ramanbil_at_aol.com
Date: Mon Dec 20 1999 - 08:44:05 PST

Dear Bhagavatas

On this auspicious Vaikunta Ekadasi day, hailed  as  "Geetha Jayanthi" 
celebrating "Bhagavad Geetha"- the "Song celestial", I felt it appropriate to 
celebrate another Geetha - "Bhagavathi Geetha" -the "Song bridal" of Bhoomi 
Devi incarnated as NAchiyAr. If Bhagavad Geetha is called "GeethOpanishad", 
Andal's Tiruppavai is "GOdhOpanishad". 

There can be no better time than this because we are in the midst of 
celebrating the Tiru AdhyayaNOtsaam of Lord Ranganatha at our very own 
"Srirangam of USA" - the "Bhooloka Vaikuntam at Pomona, New York  as a humble 
dedication to "GOdhA SamEtha Sri RanganAtha".

If Sri Andal merged with Lord Sri Ranganatha at Srirangam, let us at least 
enjoy immersing ourselves in the great Utsavam held as a prelude to the grand 
Samprokshanam of the Sri Ranganatha Temple slated in the first year of the 
new millennium.

In another sense also, it is appropriate because both the Upanishads proclaim 
the secret and efficacy of "SaraNAgathi"- the former in BhagavAn's words and 
the latter in Bhagavathi's words.

As Swami Desikan has mentioned. "mounAn mukharayanthi GuNAs TvadheeyAh", the 
perenniel spring of Anubhavams that gushes forth when we experience the 
profound esoteric content of Andal's Tiruppavai , even a mute person like me 
feels compelled to place before you a few ramblings on the subject!

Though I desired to be a silent reader of the bhAvam filled scholarly and 
emotion laden outpourings of our esteemed  Sriman Sampath Rangarajan, it is 
in deference to his prompting that I venture to offer this series. My 
heartfelt thanks to him and also other Bhagavatas who have encouraged me on 
this project. Hope you will enjoy.

Anything that is correctly stated is due to the grace of my AchAryas, HH. 
Srimad Gopala Desika Maha Desikan Swami of Poundarikapuram Andavan Ashramam 
and  Prakritam HH. Azhagiya Singhar of AhObila Mutt who initiated me into 
these studies. All errors of commission and omission are entirely mine and I 
seek your indulgence in forgiving me for the same.

Dasoham
Anbil Ramaswamy
=============================================================
An 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 Paundarika puram Ashramam (both in their Purva ashramam 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 ).

It is impossible to cover all of the above due to the vastness of resource 
and absolute lack of my capacity, it is proposed to bring to light some of 
the nectarine Nirvahams of Poorva and Prakritam Acharyas on the nuances 
contained in this masterpiece of spiritual outpouring. 

While Tiruppavai can be recited in full or on the "One-a-day" basis, it is 
difficult to stick to this schedule in a write up like this and may spill 
over several postings, may be far beyond Margazhi.

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.

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 neighborhood. 

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?

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.

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 (vEdam 
anaithukkum vithu Aagum) 
What it does? 
It can destroy all our sins (pAthakangal Theerkkum);  
It can show us the way to Moksham (Paraman aDi kATTum) - 
all in simple, chaste, Tamil.
============================================================
To Continue
=============================================================