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Re: A 'mArgazhi' diary: some reflections-4

From: Mani Varadarajan (
Date: Wed Dec 22 1999 - 11:33:54 PST

Sri Sampath Kumar wrote:
> 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".

Dear Bhaktas and Sri Sampath Kumar:

It should be understood that our pUrvAcharyas have
a different conception of Andal's "nOnbu".  According to
them, Andal engages in this vrata or vow merely as a 
pretext to serve Lord Krishna and engage herself
in bhagavad-anubhavam.  They point to the following
as evidence of this:

  (a) Though Andal says "come, let us take our early
      bath (for our vratam)" (neeraada pOdhuveer pOdhuminO),
      in the poem we don't see the girls bathing in a river
      but rather only approaching Krishna and praying for
      everlasting connection with Him. This means that 
      that the "bathing" Andal refers to is "bathing in
      Krishna" (Krishna samslesa) and doesn't refer to a
      mundane vrata.

  (b) In the "Ongi ulagaLandha paasuram", Andal herself 
      implies that the "paavai" vrata is a mere pretext, 
      and not a yajna to seek personal benefit. Here words
      here are "If we go under the *guise* of bathing for
      our vow..." (naangaL nam paavaikku caaRRi neeraadinaal).

  (c) She declares in the "siRRam siRukaalE" paasuram that
      she is not approaching the Lord, i.e., performing this  
      vrata for any personal benefit. "Dear Govinda, we have
      not come here (even) for the drum which we claimed to
      ask for." (iRRai paRai koLvaan anRu kaaN govindhaa).

So, the undecaying wealth (neengaadha selvam) and bountiful
rainfall that she promises in the second and third verses are
not an outcome of any vrata, but purely a result of the grace
of Lord Krishna.  Notice how she doesn't *pray* to the god
of rain (Varuna deva) for succor in the second verse, 
"aazhi mazhaik kaNNaa".  Instead, she *commands* him as only a 
mystic of her stature can do -- "don't withold your rain!" 
(onRu nee kai karavEl), and "Let those showers fall now!" 

It is very important to keep these ideas in mind.  If the paavai
nOnbu is not understood as merely a pretext, and not a method by
which to seek personal favors, the entire intent of Andal will
be lost.