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"arivOnrum-illA".."pin-senru".."siru-pEr-azhaitu"

From: sampath kumar (sampathkumar_2000_at_yahoo.com)
Date: Wed Jan 12 2000 - 03:40:31 PST

Dear friends,

The 28th Verse of the "tiruppAvai", meant to be
recited by all of us today (12 Jan) in our homes and
more importantly in our hearts as part of daily
worship, constitutes the glorious culmination of
"mArgazhi". 

The verse marks the grand finale of the "pAvai-nOnbu"
... the sacrificial labour of intense love which the
"aayarpAdi" girls, those dear soul-mates of AndAl in
Nandagopan's idyllic hamlet, cheerfully undertook in
their burning desire to attain God.

In Stanza#28, our "gOdA-pirAtti" truly achieves the
acme of her many-splendoured poetic gifts. 

  *****    ******   *******

There are 3 splendid expresions 'pirAtti' uses in this
'pAsuram' which constitute its essence:

(1) "arivOnrum-illA"..
(2) "pin-senru".. and,
(3) "siru-pEr-azhaitu"(:

They can be studied first in their dramatic context
and then in their philosophic context.

Let's look at the dramatic context:

"arivOnrum illa" is the term the girls use to describe
their condition as simple cowherdesses.

"As members of a simple, naive and unpretentious
bucolic community", they tell their Krishna, "Lord, we
have no claim whatsoever to "gnyAna" ("arivu")...
knowledge of things exalted in life. O Krishna, what
do you expect of us? Great understanding of this Truth
and that? You know quite well that we are all utterly
unregenerate, down-to-earth creatures. Our moments of
exaltation in life are not those spent in "high
thinking" but in those moments of "simple living" when
we stuff our bellies with food ("sErndu-unbOm!" or, in
other words, "We live to eat no less than we eat to
live!") How do you expect us then, O Govinda, O
Supremely Impeccable One ("kurai-onrum-illAda
gOvinda!"),how do you expect us to have knowledge and
undersanding of matters concerning high Truth and
"tattvam" ... matters quite beyond the ken of our
minds?".

The Lord hears this and replies,"But if you are beings
with lowly "gnyAna" you could always go to a "guru" or
preceptor and follow him? You could gain knowledge
thus?".

To which the poor girls reply, "O Krishna the only
"gurus" who will allow "aayarpAdi" girls to follow
them are our own cows... "karavaigal pin-senru"! We
have no "gurus", O Krishna, worth the name, except the
cows we graze and follow into the forests! We are
utter ignoramuses, O Krishna... "ariyAda-pillaigal"...
where can we go in search of a "guru"?"

The Lord listens to these extremely moving words of
self-deprecation, nay, self-humiliation even
("naichhyAnusandAnam"), of the "aayarpAdi" girls, and
then queries them further in mock consternation and
seriousness:

"But my dear girls, this is getting ridiculous! First
you ask me to fetch things for you, to help you
perform your "nOnbu". Then you say you want precious
"gifts" of "armlets", "anklets" and "feasts" in reward
for the successful conclusion of your "vrata". Now if
I ask you why I must grant you all your hearts'
desires... and how you consider yourelves deserving of
my generosity... all of you turn around and say you
are simple, ignorant villagers! Then when I ask you to
go and seek the help of a "guru" you turn around and
say that you have none but "cows" to serve you as
"gurus"! Now what's all this?! This is too much! What
cheek, indeed! You must all take me for a complete
fool or simpleton... not the Lord Almighty that I
am... to grant you your wishes for the mere asking!
Why should I? Why indeed? Give me one good reason why
I should?".

When Krishna bursts out thus, the "aayarpAdi" girls
reply immediately:

 "O Krishna, if we make bold to demand your Grace and
Generosity, knowing fully well that we are utterly
undeserving of it, it is because of the liberty we
take with one such as You who are one of our own kind!
You too are one of our clan, aren't you? Are we not
blessed that You, O Lord of Creation, freely chose to
be "born" especially amongst us ...the community of
lowly cowherds and cow-maidens..."undannaip-piravi-
perunndanai-punniyam-yAm-daiyOm"? It is because you
are one amongst us, O dear Krishna, that we take these
easy liberties with you.... like asking you to do
errands for us or to bring us little gifts or even
calling you by familiar nicknames
("siru-pEr-azhaittu") such as
Narayana,("nAttra-tuzhAymudi-nArAyanan"), Son of
Nandagopan ("nandagopan-kumaran") or O! lion-cub of
YasodhA ("yasOdai-illan-singham")...etc.".

The Lord listens again to these wonderful words of
love and "bhakti" with inward joy he can barely
conceal. And yet, playfully, He continues to maintain
the severe facade that He presents to the poor girls,
as if to say "All that you say...and  you say such
fine things indeed... will however cut no ice with
me!".

At this point the "aayarpAdi" girls employ their final
weapon of endearment. They invoke the nature of their
relationship with Krishna. They swear by the eternal
and unexcisable bond of kinship with their Lord and
hail it as a knotted tie of love that will survive and
sustain for now and for all times: "undannOdu utrayval
namakku ingu ozhikka-ozhiyAdhu...".

"O Krishna, we may be ignorant, we may lack the grace
of "gurus", we may be behaving improperly with you.
You may think lowly of us, you may be annoyed with us
and you may think of us as undeserving of your love
and protection. But the fact of the matter is, O
Krishna, no matter what offence we commit and what you
feel about us, YOU HAVE TO GIVE IN to our heart's
desire... which is nothing but You Yourself! You have
no cchoice in the matter! And that is because You and
We are bonded inextricably into a kinship that knows
no time, no boundaries, no obstacles...Therefore, O
Lord, please grant us our wish..."iraivA! nee tArAy
parai!"...

The Lord listens to this outpouring of "bhakti" and
can bear no more to see the pain and pining of the
"aayarpAdi" girls! 

He grants them the gift they seek... the Gift of
Himself!

And the curtains drop on the final scene of the
"tiruppAvai" !

  ******     *******    *******

adiyEn has only explained the dramatic content and
sequences of Stanza#26 and not the esoteric
significance or "svApadesArtham". He will try and do
so in the accompanying post (2 of 2).

dAsan,
Sampathkumaran.

         


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