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A 'mArgazhi' diary: some reflections- 5.1

From: sampath kumar (
Date: Sat Dec 25 1999 - 11:38:35 PST

Dear bhakti-list friends,

According to Tamil pundits Andal's tiruppavai meets
and surpasses the "7 Standards of Poetic Excellence"
set down by Kamban. They explain how as follows:

Standard No: 1: "puviyinuk-aNi-Adal" (Ornament of the

The tiruppAvai is undoubtedly an ornament to the

It is an adornment of "sangha-tamizh". Tamil
grammarians and litterateurs of all ages recognize it
as one of the prized examples of the best in Tamil "all-time great'! For sheer beauty of
Tamil "aNigal" or "alankaras" --- i.e.  the use of the
simile ("oovamai-aNi") in conveying subtle impressions
of truth --- the tiruppAvai is considered to be THE
pre-eminent standard setter. It is the dazzling
show-piece --- the "Kohinoor" --- of Tamil
litterateurs of all generations.

Secondly, "tiruppAvai" is regarded as the family
heirloom of the bhakti-traditionalists of the
"sri-sampradAya" Vaishnavites. Sri.RamunujachArya 
regarded the "tiruppAvai" as the crest-jewel of the
"tamil-vEdam"... referring to it as "upanishad-sAram".
He himself recited it everyday of his life
("suddi-kOdutthaval tol-aruLAl vAzhginra vaLLaL
Ramanujan"), proudly showing the "jewel" off to the
citizens of SriRangam as he went around its streets
for his "uncha-vratti".  So much so, Ramanuja came to
be popularly nick-named in his time as "tiruppAvai-

Thirdly, it is fit to be an adornment in all temples
of India. Just as an exceedingly precious jewel is
taken out of a safe-vault only on rare and very
important occasions and then safely restored to its
orginal place of secretion, the "tiruppAvai" too is
usually "taken out" only during the the holiest month
of "mArgazhi" and recited with great gusto and
reverence in all "perumAl" temples in south India. In
the famous Tirupati temple, it is given a pride of
place way ahead of other "agama"- prescribed hymns and
chants that constitute the daily temple litany in the
other 11 months. 

Fourthly, the tiruppAvai is an adornment to millions
of homes in India. It is bestowed with the status of a
"family-jewel". A household may give up other
religious practices and hymns for reasons of
incompetence or desuetude but it will never ever give
up the "family jewel" of "tiruppAvai". When offering
"nitya-aradhana" to the Deity at home, even if the
householder is ignorant of any other hymn of worship,
he will simply make do with a few verses from the
"tiruppAvai" and suffer no sense of inadequacy on that
score... none at all! 

When the family heirloom is safe with us what does it
matter if the glittering jewellery of the market-place
remains unattainable? 



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