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The Significance of ANDALs Incarnation in This World Part I

From: Kalyani Krishnamachari (
Date: Wed Feb 09 2000 - 18:55:54 PST

      SrI ANDAL samEta SrI rangamannAr tiruvaDigaLE

The Significance of ANDAL’s Incarnation in This World
– Part I

On February 10, 2000, mahAsamprOkshNam is being
performed from 8:45 am to 9 am in SrIvilliputtUR ANDAL
temple.  On this most divine occasion and at this most
auspicious time, let’s dwell on the significance of 
bhUmidevi pirATTi’s incarnation in this world in the
form of ANDAL, and the mangaLASasanams showered on
godai by our pUrvAcArya-s.  As most bhAgavata’s may
have noted, we concluded the  meanings of nAcciyAr
tirumozhi last week while skipping the arum pada urai
for the pASurams after 10.7 in order to complete the
first round of meanings prior to the mahA
samprokshaNam.  adiyEn will start where we left off on
the arum pada urai in the next few weeks.  The current
high-level summary of the significance of ANDAL’s
incarnation is undertaken partly since aDiyEn was
considered a significant enough object to be
approached by SrI venkaT iyengAr of SrIvilliputtUr
with a proposal that aDiyEn attempt this write-up to
coincide with the mahA samprokshaNam.   

Write-up based on  SrimAn Sadagopan’s tamizh treatise:

Of all the AzhvAr’s, ANDAL is the only one who took
the incarnation as a female.  It is known that in
their intense devotion, AzhvArs imagine themselves as
His mother, His beloved, etc., and enjoy Him in these
roles.  In their anubhavam of the SR’ngAra rasam, the
AzhvArs who were males could only imagine their roles
as His beloved.   They had their anubhavams of having
association with Him, being separated from Him,
sending messengers in the form of clouds, birds, etc.,
being angry with Him, and being reunited with Him in
the end – all in their imagined role as a female.  
Even svAmi deSikan had to imagine himself in the role
of a female when he composed SrI acyuta Satakam on the
emperumAn in tiruvahindrapuram, and set out to
describe His immense beauty using the prAkRt language
which was used traditionally by females and is
associated with the sweetness with which it echoes
when it is read.  In ANDAL’s case, she did not have to
pretend any of these, because it was natural for her
to express her devotion without any role play.  No
wonder that the SR’ngAra rasam comes out in its full,
with no inhibition or imagination, in her devotional
outpourings expressing her longing to be united with
Him.  This was her right, her duty, and the only
proper thing to do.  

The question of why bhUdevi sacrificed the great
bhogam of being with emperumAn in the great
SrIvaikuNTham and came to this earth as the divine
daughter of periyAzhvAr is answered by SrI maNavALa
    “inRO tiru AdippUram, emakkAga 
      anRO ingu ANDAL avadarittAL – kunRAda
      vAzhvAna vaikuNtha vAn bOgham tannai igazhndu
      AzhvAr tirumagaLarAi”

It is only for the sake of protecting us and 
recommending us to her nAthan that ANDAL gave up the
bhogam of being with Him in SrI vaikunTham and made
her appearance on earth here. 

pirATTi’s essential role in protecting the cetana-s
from His wrath for all the infinite and ceaseless sins
that the cetana-s revel in, is well known in our
sampradAyam.  BhagavAn’s incarnations are meant for
the protection of the good, the destruction of the
evil, and the establishment of dharma in this world
(paritrANAya sAdhUnAm, vinASAya ca dushkRtAm, dharma
samsthApanArthAya sambhavAmi yuge yuge);  pirATTi’s
incarnations remind us of the infinite mercy that She
has for us, which she uses in every way to influence
Him in order to protect us.  SvAmi deSikan vividly
illustrates this over and over again in SrI dayA
Satakam, which is a whole composition of over 100
Slokams praising Her dayA or Mercy towards us.  In
godA stuti, svAmi deSikan again refers to this guNa of
pirATTi – the reason why bhagavAn forgives the
cetana-s who have taken a vow to commit sins against
Him, is because of the intervention of piraTTi who
first binds Him to her using whatever means she can
bring to power at her disposal – including her beauty,
and then makes Him do whatever she  wishes, to protect
the cetana-s against His wrath.  In godA’s case, He is
subservient to her because He was blessed with the
garland that she wore on her head, and she also
composed intensely devotional praise on Him through
her SrI sUkti-s (tava mauLi dAmnA, tantrI ninAda
madhuraiSca girAm nigumbhai: niyamitah – godA stuti –
5).   If none of this yields the desired result
towards the sinner, then she expresses her displeasure
by her facial expression which is beauty itself (bhoga
rasAnukUlah tava bhrU-kshepah eva – godA stuti 25),
and He gives in and does whatever she wants to protect
the cetana.   

Not only was this the significance of her incarnation,
but the whole of the southern part of the bhArata
deSam was blessed in a special way thus far unknown,
because of her birth in SrI villiputtUr. This is
pointed out by none other than svAmi deSikan in SrI
godA stuti:

       “dik dakshiNApi paripaktrima puNyalabhyAt 
         sarvOttarA bhavati dEvI tavAvatArAt  |
         yatraiva ranga patinA bahumAna pUrvam
         nidrAkunApi niyatam nihitA: kaTAkhsA: ||”

Until godai was born in the southern part, everyone
had implicitly believed that the northern part is the
more blessed place by His kRpA – The sacred ga’ngA
flows in the north, Lord kRshNa was born in the north
(bRndAvana caram vallavI jana vallabham),  Lord rAma
was born in the north, He married sItA pirATTi in
mithilA in the north, He incarnated as nara and nAraNa
in badri in the north, and on and on.  All this was
true till godA decided to bless the south by being
born in SrIvilliputtUr.  By her birth, the south
became the “northernmost” to everything that was
considered “north” or blessed.    

The birth of godai also earned the name “periyAzhvAr”
for her dear father, vishNucittar (“tvan mouLi gandha
subhagAm upahRtya mAlAm, lebhE mahattara padAnuguNam
prasAdam”) – vishNucittar pleased  emperumAn so
immensely by offering to Him the garland that godai
had first worn, that the Lord conferred on him the
title “peria AzhvAr”. 

The significance of the name “godA”:

SrImAn Sadagopan quotes SrI S. S. kRshNa aiye’ngAr who
gives the following interpretations for the nAma godA:
 “gobhih dIyate iti godA – She gives us the essence of
the veda-s, the totality of what the veda-s teach us”;
“gAh dadAti iti godA – She who provided the meaning
that the veda-s contain in them”;  “She who has the
fragrant locks of hair in which she wore the garlands
before giving them to emperumAn” – go referring to the
“locks of hair”, and dA referring to she who gave.

In the next section we will see several instances
where our pUrvAcArya-s have sung the praise of not
only ANDAL, but the sacredness of the day on which she
was born (tiru Adip pUram), and the greatness of the
place where she was born (SrI villiputtUr).    

The Devotion and Respect of our pUrvAcArya-s to ANDAL:

1. SrI uyyakkoNDAr (also called SrI puNDarIkAkshar), a
direct disciple of SrI nAthamunigAL, is one among the
first of our AcArya-s who sang the praise of godai
through the two well-known tiruppAvai tanians:

“anna vayal puduvai ANDAL ara’ngaRkup
 pannu tiruppAvai pal padiyam – inniSaiyAl
 pADik koDuttAL naRpAmAlai pUmAlai
 SuDik koDuttALaic collu”

“SuDik koDutta SuDark koDiyE tolpAvai
 pADi aruLa valla pal vaLaiyAi – nADi nI
 vE’nkaTavaRkku ennai vidi enna immARRam
 nAm kaDavA vaNNamE nalgu”

“Oh Mind! Always meditate on godai, who made her
appearance in SrIvilliputtUr surrounded by fields
laden with swans, who sang the great tiruppAvai, and
who gave the pUmAlai to tiru arangan after it grazed
her head.”

“Oh godadevi!  With your exquisite, beautiful hands
wearing several bangles, you gave emperumAn the
garlands you wore!  Please bless us with the sthira
bhakti for tiruvE’nkaTam uDaiyAN that will ensure that
we never transgress the thought you convey in your
pASUram (in nAcciyAr tirumozhi) “Oh manmatha! Make
sure that we are destined only for doing kaimkaryam to
tiruvE’nkatamuDaiyAn – vE’nkaTavarkku ennai

2. SrI tiruvarangattamudanAr, who lived in the same
time as SrI rAmAnujar, tells us how much bhakti the
latter had for ANDAL:

“arnagar mouLi SuzhginRa mAlaiyaic cUDik koduttavaL
  tol aruLAl vAzhginRa vaLLal irAmAnuSan ennum

(irAmAnuja mAmuni flourished  because of ANDAL’s dayA
which was like amRtam; he could not live without her
blessings being showered on him).

SrI periya nambi, one of the five AcArya-s of SrI
rAmAnuja, conferred the title “tiruppAvai jIyar” upon
him, to show the world the vishesha vAtsalyam that his
disciple had on ANDAL’s SrI sUkti-s.  We all know of
the episode where SrI rAmAnujar was singing
‘SentAmaraikkaiyAL SirAr vaLai olippa vandu tiruvAi’
and fainted when SrI tirukkOTTiyUr nambi’s daughter
opened the house door with her bangle-laden hands. 
SrI rAmAnuja was so much immersed in the anubhavam of
godai’s devotion that he thought ANDAL herself had
appeared in front of him.  This is an example of the
devotion SrI rAmAnuja had for ANDAL.  ANDAL herself
had extreme fondness for SrI rAmAnujar, whom she
called her “aNNA”, when he fulfilled her prayer of
submitting “nUru taDA nirainda akkAra aDisal” and
“nUru taDA veNNai” to her tirumALirum SOlai
sundararAjap perumAL. Hence the name “kOil aNNar” for
Sri rAmAnujar. Hence the three tirunAmams,
“gOdAgrajah, digvijEtA, and gOdAbhIshTaprapUrakah”
that are included in SrI rAmAnuja ashTOttara arcanai.

To Be Continued ...

sarvam SrIman nArAyaNAyEti samarpayAmi.

kalyANi kRshNamAcAri

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