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A 'mArgazhi' diary: some reflections-4

From: sampath kumar (sampathkumar_2000_at_yahoo.com)
Date: Wed Dec 22 1999 - 03:51:37 PST

Dear friends on the bhakti-list,

Through the phrases "neyy-unnOm, pAl-unnOm...etc."
gOdA-pirAtti reveals to us the central place that
"yagnyAm" or "sacrifice" has come to occupy in the
Vedic way of life. 

Yesterday (21st December) we alluded in this
connection to the words of the "purusha-suktam": 
"yagnyEna-yagnya-maya-janta devAh:, tAni dharmAni
pratamAnnyAsann...etc. ... yatra-purvE sAdhyA santi
devA:".

The "devA-s", the celestial beings performed "yagnya"
for the creation of the world. And thereafter they
also established it as the fundamental basis
("dharmA") on which all the world sustains and
perpetuates itself.

The observance of ritual-sacrifice during mArgazhi (or
the "nOnbu" or "vratam" that is carried out then) in a
spirit of solemn sacrifice (described poetically by
Andal as "mai-yittu ezhudOm malarittu nAm mudiyyOm,
seyyAdana seyyOm...etc.") is also a sort of "yagnyAm".
>From AndAl's lines we gather humans too have to
perform "yagnyam" in order to reap the benefits of
"rains" ("mazhai") and universal well-being
("teenginri-nAd-ellAm" "neengAda-selvam neeraindhu!").


Thus, in these verses of the tiruppAvai, pirAtti
reveals how both mortals and super-mortals must abide
by the Vedic covenant of "yagnyam".

We may ask ourselves a question here:

Why should the Veda enjoin "devas" and "mAnusha-s" to
perform "yagnyAm"? And why does AndAl allude to this 
Vedic principle right at the beginning of the
"tiruppAvai"?

The answer is in the lines of the "bhagavath-gita":

"dEvAn bhAvayatA nEna tE dEvA bhAvayantu vah:
 parasparam bhAvayantah: srEyah: param'avApsyatha "

Krishna spoke: "Oh, ye men! You keep the devas
satisfied with the performance of sacrifices. And they
in turn shall look after your welfare by producing
rain on earth. Thus, helping each other ("parasparam
bhAvayanta"), may you both be more and more prosperous
and happy!."

In the tiruppAvai, in Verse 3 and 4, we see the
poetess of Villiputtur praying to devas, the
"rain-gods" (parjanya). She asks them to show
themselves up in the skies in the form of dark, dense
clouds ("mEy-karuthhu"), streaks of lightning
("aazhi-pOl minni") and bolts of thunder
("valampuri-pOl ninratheernthu"). She asks them to
send cascades of showers down from the heavens. She
beseeches them for "thrice-blest" rains
("tinggaL-mummAri-peyydu" "vAzha-
ullaganil-peyydhiDai!"). And she finally asks for the
gifts of prosperity and plenitude on earth
("kudam-niraikkum ...neengAdha selvam niraindhu!"). 

But Andal's prayers to the "devas" in the 3rd and 4th
"pAsurams", if you notice carefully, are not voiced in
helpless tones! We must note that she has made sure
first to preface her prayers with ample references to
the sacrifices ("yagnyam") preceding the petition.
Which is why in Verse 2 itself she takes pains to
elaborate on a host of "sacrificial" harships 
undergone for the sake of the devas..."neyy-unnOm,
pAl-unnOm" and "maiyittu-ezhudOm,
malarittu-nAmuddaiyyOm" and "seyyAdana-seyyOm".

PirAtti therefore would have us believe that if we are
prompt and faithful in the performance of our various
Vedic duties such as "vratam" and "yagnya-kArma", then
our prayers attain a certain rare potency. When our
prayers attain power we have also earned our right to
boldly petition the devas for plentiful rains and
prosperity on earth. We are then empowered to call the
attention of the 'devas' to honour their own
obligations under the Vedic covenant between Man and
Celestial --- a covenant that had been duly notarised
in the Bhagavath-gita by Bhagavan Sri.Krishna Himself
as "parasparam bhAvayantah:".

Thus, through these wonderful "pasurams" in the
'tiruppAvai', 'pirAtti' reveals to us a spiritual
truth: she shows us how without "yagnyam", or without
due performance or observance of Vedic sacrifice,
there can be no potency in our prayers too! 

And when prayers lack potency, how can they ever be
heard by the 'devas' or celestials residing in
elemental forms such as "water", or rain ("parjanya"),
"varuna", "vAyu","agni" etc.?

There is an old Tamil saying:

   "vEdam Odhiya vEdiyyark-Or mazhai
      needhi-mannar nEriyinarkk-Or mazhai
    mAdhar karpudai mangaiyarkk-Or mazhai
      mAdham munru mazhai-ena pEyummE !
Meaning:

"In season's month, thrice shall the rains reward us: 
 Once, in reward for the Vedic chanteur;
 The second, in honour of the king who rules his land 
 justly,
 And once more,yet,for the chaste woman of the land!"

AndAl-pirAtti had exactly the above idea in mind when
she uttered the immortal phrase: "tinggaL
mummAri-peyydu" !

dAsan,
Sampathkumaran      


 
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