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"muppadUm thappAmE" -- CONCLUSION

From: sampath kumar (sampathkumar_2000_at_yahoo.com)
Date: Fri Jan 14 2000 - 01:20:54 PST

Dear friends,

Today (14th January 2000), AndAl in her "tiruppAvai"
sings the concluding and 30th benedictory stanza
beginning with "vangak kadal mAdhAvanai
kEsavanai....".

In this Verse the poetess decalres that those who:
---- merely recite this hymn  ("ip-parisu uraippAr")
even without fully comprehending its meaning or
significance 
--- and recite all its 30 verses ("muppadUm thappAmE")
 
--- will now and herein in this world ("ingu")
--- and also later and therein in the other world
("engum") 
--- reap the Lord's Grace ("selvat-tirumAl") and enjoy
plentiful pleasure, happiness and peace

           ********       *********        *********
Now, reading the above some questions may arise in our
minds:

Question 1:
Why does AndAl speak so highly of her own composition?
Is it a form of self-adulation? 

Answer:
No, it is not. This stanza is called "phala-sruti", a
poetic convention in all religious poetry of India
where the concluding verse will briefly name the
author of the work, sum-up the nature and scope of the
work and also extol the benefits accruing by a study
thereof. Such a convention lends a happy and
auspicious note of ending to the work. AndAl too was
following this poetic convention.

Question 2:
We know the name of the author of tiruppAvai. But what
is the subject-matter and nature of the work, if we
were asked to put it in a nutshell?

Answer: The subject matter of the "tiruppAvai" is the
substance of the Upanishads. AndAl in this poem dealt
completely with Upanishad-sAram... the essential
truths of the "upanishads". In the "muvAiyapadi" of
Sri.PVPillai it is said, "pirAtti andAlAnAr pOla
upanishattu tamizhAnapadi"." ie. If  "thAyyAr", the
Consort of Lord Narayana descended on earth in the
avatar of AndAl then the Vedantic Upanishads too took
their avatar in Tamil as her "tiruppAvai". 

Question 3:
The benefits of reciting "tiruppAvai" is spelt out
clearly. But it says that even recitation without
knowing the meaning of the stanzas will do alright!
Why should God shower His Munificence on us if we were
to recite the tiruppAvai like parrots or children with
no inkling of its real substance?

Answer:
Yes, the benefits will definitely accrue. Nobody could
have given the reason for this matter in a better way
than Sri.Parashara Bhattar who said, "kanru-izhanda
talai-nAgu tOr-kanrukkam irangumAp-pOlE
ip-pAsuramkondu puga namakkUmm pallikkUm." i.e. The
mother-cow that has lost its own calf will continue to
secrete copious milk at the mere sight of a stuffed
effigy of its dead calf. Similarly God will bestow His
Grace upon us even if we recite blindly the tiruppAvai
with neither the "anukAram" (the endearing God-love")
of an AndAl nor the "anushTAnam" of the "gopikAs" (the
enduring faith of the 'aayarpAdi" girls).

Question 4:
Why does AndAl say "muppadUm tappAmE"? Why is it so
important to recite ALL 30 verses? Why is it not
sufficient to recite only the few, say 6 or 7 stanzas
which we know are the most significant and contain the
heart and soul of the entire hymn?

Answer:
No. Reciting all 30 verses is not negotiable. Reciting
a few important verses is NO SUBSTITUTE for all 30.
The reason has again been given by the
"muvAiyarapadi": "oru rathnam kuraindhAlum nedUmpAzhAy
irUkkUmirE!" i.e." Will you accept to receive a
precious necklace of 30 rare gems with even one of
them missing?"

Question 5:
But what if one is unable for reasons of ignorance or
incapablity to learn all the 30 verses? Suppose one
falls ill? Suppose one is travelling in far-away and
alien lands? What if one has no time to recite all the
30 everyday? What then?

Answer:
There is no substitute for reciting all 30. But under
special and exceptional circumstances as above, it is
said that reciting Stanza#29 may just about barely do.
Even if that is not possible for a person let him/her
simply imagine in his mind a large gathering of
devotees who are immersed in the joy of reciting the
entire 30 pAsurams. It may perhaps suffice. 

In this regard, please recollect that Sri.Parashara
Bhattar died young at the age of 32. He was stricken
with an incurable malignant tumour in his neck which
in the last days of his life was given medical
attention but to no avail. When it became insufferably
painful, Bhattar's tumour was surgically operated
upon. No local or general anaesthesia was however
available in those days. It is said that since Bhattar
was a man who was thoroughly "soaked" in the beauty of
the 30 stanzas of the "tiruppAvai" he reportedly told
everyone that his "tiruppAvai" is my anasthesia. When
I recite the tiruppAvai I shall feel no pain!". 

Question 6
The world is not all filled with Parashara Bhattars
and Peria-vAchAn-pillais. What happens to those people
amongst us who are either unaware of the "tiruppAvai"
or simply don't care about it?

Answer:
Sir, those who choose to remain unware or indifferent
to the "tiruppAvai" can please consider themselves as
an "unqualified burden to this earth." :

    "pAthagang-gaL theerkumm paraman-adi-kAttum
    vedam-anaittukkum vitthAkum kOthai tamizh
      aiy-aiyndu maiynddum ariyAda mAniddarai
     vaiyanja sumappathum vambu".

meaning; 

"The tiruppAvai eradicates the sin of men; it contains
the distilled essence of the holy Vedas.Hence, knowing
this to be true, if there is one among the species of
men, with all his senses intact, who yet chooses to
remain ignorant of the 30 verses of the Song
Celestial.... then what can be said of such a one save
that he is an unqualified burden to Earth?" 

andAl tiruvadigaLE sharanam
 
           ******** CONCLUDED *********

dAsanu dAsan,
Sampathkumaran
                 
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