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From: sampath kumar (
Date: Thu Jan 06 2000 - 14:02:50 PST

Dear friends,
Today's verse of the "tiruppAvai" (6 January) is
Stanza#22 beginning with "anganmA gnyAlat-tarasar

This is a verse of extraordinary significance because
of 2 reasons:

(1) It is said to contain several lofty parallels with
the Upanishads and,

(2) It is full of extremely heart-rending expressions
of human pathos. The "aayarpAdi" girls use such
agony-filled phrases like:
 --- "vandu-talai-peyydOm" ,(O Krishna, we have come
running to you, thrown ourselves at the feet of your
bedstead ("nin palli-kattil keezhEy!") hoping thus
that we may be relieved of all our living
 --- "siru-siridE-emmEl-vizhiyavO" ("Why do you tarry,
O Krishna, in receiving us! Won't you please at least
slowly arise from your slumber and cast your eyes upon
our lowly selves?")

--- "engal mEl sAbam izhindu...". (Let not the curse
of separation from you and your grace, O Krishna, let
not that sinful curse befall us...")

Anyone who can appreciate Tamil language to even a
small extent cannot fail to be stirred to tears by the
above phrases. When mulled over in "pensive mood" they
each truly touch one's heartstrings. They make you
begin wondering "What a sublime mystery this emotion
called "bhakti" is! What is it really? Of what stuff
is it made of? Where does it spring from? And why, and
wherefore? ... 

(This stanza usually used to be sung by great Carnatic
music 'vidwAn's' like Sri.Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar
and Smt. M.L.Vasantakumari in that particularly
emotive 'rAgA' called "yamun-kalyAni". This "rAgA' 
has the power to simply melt down one's emotions
anytime you listen to it and can bring a big, swollen
lump to your throat. Real "rasika-s' say that a few
lines of Stanza#16 of the 'tiruppAvai' soulfully sung
by anyone in "yamun-kalyAni" gives them the same, if
not deeper and more intuitive, understanding of true
"bhakti" as what 100  pages of "vyAkhyAnam" do!) 

The phrase "engal mEl nOkkudi..." in this Stanza is
shown by "achAryA-s" to be a parallel of the
KatOpanishad (1-2-23) and the MundakOpanishad (3-2-3):
      nAyam Atma pravachanEna labhyO
        na medhayA na bahunA srutEna
     yamavaisa vrNutE, tEna labhyas tasyaisa
       AtmA vivrNutE tanUm svAm II

"This Self cannot be attained by instruction nor by
intellectual power, not even through much hearing and
cogitating. He is to be attained only by the one whom
the Self chooses. To such a one the Self reveals His
own nature."

The Upanishad 'vAkya' above informs us that no one can
know God except through His Grace coupled with
"bhakti" on the part of man. And that is precisely the
reason why the poor "aayarpAdi" girls throw themselves
entirely at Krishna's mercy. They beseech the Lord
ALmighty  saying "O Krishna, we have thrown ourselves
completely at your mercy to deliver us of our earthly
anxieties ("vandu talai-peyydOm"!) If you do nothing
for us now, what shall we do? Where are we to go? We
shall stand condemned to the curse  ("sAbam") of
separation from you! (i.e. Ignorance) Arise, O
krishna, please, can't you at least slowly open your
eyes and cast them upon us
  ******        *********      ********
By far the most evocative and significant phrase in
this "pAsuram" is "siru-siridE-emmEl-vizhiyAvO...".

It means "Won't you please gradually open your eyes
and cast them upon us, O Almighty!".

The reader instinctively asks why the aayarpAdi girls
ask Krishna to open his eyes and "gradually"... 
"siru-siridE"... cast them upon their poor selves? In
their love-lorn state, would'nt one surely have
expected them to demand "immediate" or "ASAP"
deliverance and Grace from Krishna?! Why does AndAl
instead use the term "siri-siridE" --- "gradually" or
by "degrees"?

The "achAryA-s" commenting on the "svApadEsArtham" of
this line, explain that the call to God in
this"pAsuram" is essentially a heart-rending call for
Divine Grace to dispel the pall of darkness that
Ignorance ('a-gnyAna') has cast around the  
"jIva", the individual soul.

Now, everyone knows that even in the natural world, at
daybreak or dusk... when the sun or moon sets or
arises ("tingalum Adittianum ezhundAr pOl"...) ... the
darkness of night gets dispelled only gradually over a
certain period of time ... say 20-30 minutes....and
never all of a sudden within one instant stroke of the

AndAl, being the consummate Vedantic 'gnyAni' herself,
here reveals how even as during the natural occurence
of dawn and daybreak, in Man's condition too the
outbreak of spiritual awakening or the "dawning of
"gnyAna", as a result of God's Grace, never comes
about instantly but gradually ("siru-siridE"). No
matter how much hurry Man may be in to attain the
Light of Divine Grace, the darkness of his ignorance
dissipates but slowly and only in accordance with the
natural order of God's Will... Never too soon... never
too late...
   *******       ********  **********
A great "achArya" who lived amongst us not many year
ago explained  (in a not altogether different context)
 the "siri-siridE" nature... the GRADUALITY ... of the
spiritual awakening within a human soul with the aid
of a most telling analogy:

 "The fruit is formed from the flower, first in the
tender unripe form and finally in the mellow form. The
flower smells fragrant to the nose and the ripe fruit
tastes sweet to the palate. The mellow or ripe fruit
is full of sweetness. How did the fruit taste before
it became ripe and sweet? The flower was bitter, the
tender fruit was astringent, the unripe fruit was
sour... but the fruit that is mellow now... it is
  "There must be astringency when it is time for
astringency and sourness when it is time for sourness.
But neither astringency nor sourness must remain a
permanent state. Just as a tender fruit becomes
mellow, we too must become mellow and sweet. If we do
so there is no need to seek liberation on our own. If
we are as we should be in the different stages of our
life, liberation shall come in the natural process. On
the other hand, if we make an effort at an
inappropriate time (if we force ourselves) it will be
like making the fruit prematurely ripe. Such a fruit
will not taste sweet."
   "We should not however remain always in the same
state as the one in which we find ourselves today,
indifferent to everything. At the same time, when our
bag of sins is still to be emptied, we cannot thirst
for the Supreme Knowledge. Instead, let us keep doing
our duty hoping that we will realise the Supreme
Knowledge, if not now, after many a birth. Let us
adhere to the dharma prescried by the Vedas. If we do
so we will gradually ("siri-siridE") proceed to the
Supreme gnyAna.... "By degrees" then let us go to the
inner reality through the different stages --- from
that of the tender fruit to the fruit that is mellow,
ripe and sweet."

Great thoughts, great words, indeed!



   ******      *******    *********
In the previous Stanzas, AndAl describes how
the"aayarpAdi" girls finally succeed in winning over
"napinnai-thAyAr". Napinnai responds to their sorry
plight and throws open the door to the Abode of the
Lord ("tAl tiravAy")! Krishna is now visible to the
poor, love-lorn cowherdesses who have come all the way
in search of Him!

But what do they see? 

They see Krishna still in slumber and seemingly
indifferent to their state of restiveness and
spiritual agitation.

It breaks their heart to see Krishna being a little
indifferent to them. They cannot understand how the
Lord can remain callous to their entreaties to  

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