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"tiruppAvai" & "praNavam"

From: sampath kumar (
Date: Mon Jan 17 2000 - 01:53:53 PST

Dear friends,

"mArgazhi" has come and gone but adiyen is still
suffering from the "tiruppAvai" fever!

One young "bhAgavata" on the list has been privately
discussing with adiyen certain aspects of the
"tiruppAvai". One of those has been "tiruppAvai" and
the use and invocation of the "praNavam" (A-U-M)in the

This young bhAgavata told me something which adiyen
had never heard before! From the standpoint of pure
poetic appreciation, his view is indeed very
revelatory! But adiyen does not know if it accords
with tradition. 
Perhaps someone really knowledgeable (like SrimAn
Anbil, Sadagopan or Sempath Rengarajan or other) can
throw some light on it.

Here is what the young bhAgavatha says:

"The whole of the "tiruppAvai" is actually in the form
of the "praNavam" (in Tamil, "tiruppAvai anaithum
praNava-vadivvulE irukkinradu yenrE sollallAm"!).

"praNavam" begins with ""a"-kAra-shabdam", "A" which
is symbol for Isvara or God. It ends with ""ma"-kAra
shabdham", "M" which symbolises "jeeva" or soul. And
in the middle there is ""u"-kAra shabdam", "U" which
is the symbol for the agency of divine intercession
("purushAkAram") that brings about the union between
Isavara and jeeva."

"The whole of "tiruppAvai" deals with "jeeva", Isvara
and purushAkAra.
"How is that?

"Just look at the stanzas! They start with
"mArgazhi-tinggal...", with the letter "M". Right from
Stanza#1 until Stanza#17,the tiruppAvai's principal
focus is on the theme of what the "aayarpAdi" girls
do....And they actually represent "jeeva-s"...
individual souls.

"Stanza#18 begins with "undhu-magallitran..." and with
the the syllable "U". In this stanza and the next two,
the focus of the "tiruppAvai" is wholly on "napinnai",
who is "thAyyAr" or the symbol of "purushAkAram"...
the agency of divine intercession that enables "union"
between jeeva and Isvara.

In Stanza#22, for the first time in the entire
sequence of the 'tiruppAvai", the "aayarpAdi" girls
begin to address Lord Krishna directly. Thereafter, in
the rest of the hymn right upto Stanza#30, the focus
remains fixed on the Lord or "Isvara". And quite
signficantly, Stanza#22, we see, begins with
"anganmAnAlath- arasar...." with the letter "A"...
""a"-kAra- shabdam"... the syllable denoting Isvara
principle in the "praNavam" A-U-M!

"So, we see how the "tiruppAvai" begins with examining
the principle of "ma" (jIva), then procees to deal
next with the principle of "u" (purushAkAra) and
finally ends with essaying the Supreme principle of
"a" (Isvara). 

"Thus the symbolic structure of the tiruppAvai is
clearly founded on "ma", "u" and "a" which in reverse
order is "a", "u" ,"ma" or the 3 phonetic elements
constituting the primordial sound, the "praNavam"!"
    *******     **********     *******

When adiyen heard the above interpretation, a small
doubt struck him. We see that in the actual sequence
of the "tiruppAvai", even before Stanza#22, in
Stanza#21 itself ("Etra-kallangal..") the "tiruppAvai"
talks of the Lord or Isvara. So how can we say (rather
conveniently) that it is in Stanza#22 that Isvara is
first talked about? 

So adiyen posed the above question to the young
"bhAgavata" and his brilliant reply was:

"Yes, Stanza#21 also deals with the Lord but it deals
with Him in his "para-nilai"... His Distant and
Transcendent form... as indicated in the phrase
"periyAy" in that stanza. But if you look carefully,
it is only in Stanza 22("aganmAnAllat-arasar...") that
the Lord is first talked of in His easy
'saulabhya-nilai" indicated in the phrase "nin
palli-kattil keezhiyE"!. 
"Therefore, we should take Stanza#22 and not Stanza#21
into reckoning when determining where exactly the
""a"-kAra-shabdham" of the "praNavam" begins in the
natural sequence of the "tiruppAvai"."

  *******      ********     ********
Adiyen thinks the above is simply brilliantly
conceived! It clearly shows how the whole of the
"tiruppAvai" AndAl structured around the

What do other members think? Kindly give your
comments, if any. Thanks,

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