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From: Venkatesh Elayavalli/DCOM (vke_at_cypress.com)
Date: Thu Jan 11 1996 - 12:41:32 PST
---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Poems in devotional fervour ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: 10-12-1995 :: Pg: 39 :: Col: a Cl: Religion THE month of Margasiram, otherwise cherished as Maargazhi, is the Tamil month of religious austerities and devotional singing. It corresponds to the December-January period culminating in the harvest festival called "Pongal". Maargazhit-thingal or the month of Maargazhi is hallowed all over Tamil Nadu as the most appropriate time in the year when people, old and young, rise up at dawn, go round the streets singing bhajans and particularly two celebrated devotional hymns, the Tiruppaavai, sung by the legendary Aandal - one of the twelve Alwars, and the Tiruvempaavai, sung by Saint Maanickavaachakar, one of the sixtythree Nayanmars. Both these immortal hymns belong to the form of poetry called PAAVAI, signifying maiden girls seeking divine intervention for securing worthy husbands. Legend has it that Andal and her father Periyalwar belonged to Srivilliputhoor in the Pandyan Kingdom during the ninth century. Andal was the foster child of Vishnuchitta or Periyalwar who found her as a child beneath a tulsi plant, in his garden. The father brought up the girl with great care and love. His own overwhelming devotion to Lord Vishnu (known in the shrine of Srivilliputhoor as Vatapatrasaayin) led to Periyalwar's encouragement of Andal in her participation in the worship of the Lord. Andal thus grew up in a religious ambience and soon began to show a rapturous devotion to Lord Krishna. Her poetic talents were extraordinary and she composed the Tiruppaavai consisting of 30 hymns and the Naachiar Tirumozhi in 143 stanzas, both of amazing lyrical felicity and rich imagery besides puranic allusions evocative of the great epic literature of ancient India. Andal, also known as Kothai, was believed to be an avatara of Sridevi, Mother Earth. It is said that one day, Andal decked herself with the garland which her father, Periyalwar, had kept for adorning the Lord. On discovering this, Periyalwar was filled with remorse and decided not to offer the garland to God. God Vatapatrasaayin appeared in Periyalwar's dream that night and told him that he would be delighted to wear the garland which Aandal had worn. Periyalwar was thrilled that the Lord himself had attested to the great devotion of Aandaal. In course of time Aandal's Bhakti knew no bounds and she took to Paavai Nonbu (austerities) in expression of her earnest desire to have none other than Lord Krishna as her husband. It is said that later, Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam appeared in a dream and asked Periyalwar to bring Aandaal to his abode. It was there that Aandaal, the saint-poetess, merged with the divine form of Lord Ranganatha. p73 Tiruppaavai is a lyrical poem of thirty stanzas, of exquisite beauty and devotional ecstasy. The hymns which constitute Tiruppaavai are as imaginative, in the literary sense, as they are vivid portraits of the life-style of the Aayarpaadi's, the members of the cowherd-community. Traditionally, the thirty hymns of Tiruppaavai, are classified into six groups of five each. Hymns 1-5, providing the overview, refer to the five essential requisites by way of knowledge for Jeevanmukthi, namely, the nature of the Paramatman or the Supreme Being, of Jiva, the individual soul, mukthisadhana or means of redemption of which Bhakthi is the most accessible means, the God of attainment, and the obstacles to redemption. HYMN 1 Maargazhi-th thingal madhinirainda nannaalal Neeraadap pothuveer pothumino nerizhayeer! Seermalgum aaipaadi selvachirumeergaal Koorvel kodum thozhilan Nandagopan kumaran Er aarndha kanni Yasodai ilam singam Kaar meni-ch-chengan kadhir madhiyam pol mukathaan Naaraayanane namakke parai tharuvaan Paaror pugazha-p-padindhu-el or empaavaai. Now is the month of Maargazhi. It is the auspicious full moon day. Lovely young ornamented maidens of the cowherds colony which is flourishing in wealth! Don't you want to bathe in the Yamunaa? Please come along! Take part in the festival! (Paavai nonbu). Naaraayana, the son of King Nandagopa who is the terror of his enemies what with his sharp spear, Naarayana, the young lion's cub of Yasoda, of charming eyes, Lord Naaraayana with his dark-cloud like complexion and eyes of crimson lotus hue, with his lustrous face shining like the sun and cool like the full moon, He will surely grant us all our desires! Come, let us bathe and celebrate the festival, for which the world will praise us. HYMN 2 Vaiyathu Vaazhveerkaaal! Naamum nam paaavaiku Seyyum kirisaigal keleero! paar-k-kadalul Payya-th-thuyinra parama adi paadi Ney-unnom paal unnom! Naatkaale neeraadi Mai-ittu ezhuthom, malar ittu nam mudiyom! Seyyaadana seyyom; thee kuralai senrodhom Aiyamum pichayyum aanthanayyum kaikaati Uyyumaaru enni uganthu-el- or em paavaai. People of this earth! Listen to the austerities we shall follow during the paavai-nonbu! We shall sing the praise of Naarayana who sleeps gently on the milky ocean. We shall abstain from ghee and milk. We shall p73 bathe before daybreak. We shall not apply collyrium to our eyelids nor shall we adorn our locks of hair with flowers. We shall not indulge in gossip nor perform actions which are taboo. Of alms and gifts, we shall give liberally. We shall follow the path to a life of contentment and happiness. HYMN 3 Ongi ulagalanda uthaman per paadi Naangal nam paavaiku chaatri neeraadinaal Theenginri naadellaam thingal mummaari peidu Ongu peru sennal oodu kayal ugala Poomkuvalai-p-podhil porivandu kannpaduppa Thengaade pukkirundu seertha mulai patri Vaanga-k-kudam niraikkum vallal perum pasukkal Neengada selvam miraindu-el-or empaavaai. When we sing the glory of the Lord (Trivikrama) who took his cosmic form and measured the three worlds in two gigantic strides and put his foot, for the third stride, on the head of the arrogant emperor Mahabali, and when we perform the paavai- nonbu, the whole country will be rid of all evils. It will then rain three times every month. Fishes will gleam and leap amidst the rich paddy plants. Spotted bees will fall asleep among the water lilies. Cows milked tirelessly will yield copious bounties enough to fill pots and pots. Prosperity will thus pervade the land. HYMN 4 Aazhi mazhai kanna! Onrum nee kai karavel Aazhiyul pukku mugandhu kodu aarthu, eri Oozhimudalvan uruvam pol mei karuthu Paazhi am tholudai Padmanabhan kaiyil Aazhipol minni valampuripol minru adhirndhu Thaazhaade Sarngam udhaitha saramazhai pol Vaazha ulaginil peidhidaai; naangalum Maargazhi neerada magizhndu el or empaavaai Oh Lord Varuna (God of rains), please do not hold back your gift of rains. For the sake of the prosperity of the world and for our sake so that we can gleefully bathe in the river during this sacred month, plunge into the sea, gather as much water as there is, make thunder, and rise into the sky in the form of a cloud mass which would resemble, in its black colour, the body of our primordial Lord (Vishnu). May you then pour down your bountiful showers! You will then become resplendent with lightning like the discus held by Lord Padmanabha. Your thunderous roar would reverberate like the couch called Panchajanya held by our Lord in his left hand. May you bring forth rains in abundance without a pause in the manner of the flow of arrows from the bow of Sri Rama, called Sarngam! HYMN 5 p73 Maayanai mannu vada Madhurai maindhanai Thuyap P peruneer Yamunai-t-thuraivanai Aayar kulathinil thonrum mani vilakkai Thaayai kudal vilakkam seida Dhamodharanai Thooyomaai vandhu naam thoomalar thoovi-t-tozhudhu Vaayinaal paadi manatthinaal sindhikka Poya pizhayum pugutharuvaan ninranavum Theeyinil thoosaakum seppu-el or empaavaai. Our mysterious Lord, born at North Mathura, who sports in the pure deep waters of the great river Yamuna and who is the veritable jewel-light of the race of cowherds, gloried his mother Devaki by being born of her and transported his foster mother Yasoda into a world of joy by showing her his little belly with the imprint of the tiny ropes with which she had bound him to put him out of mischief. If only we approach Him with a pure mind and body and worship Him with fresh and fragrant flowers, singing His praise and meditating on Him, we can be certain that our sins of the past births and those which ensued without our intentions, will all be extinguished the way cotton is reduced to ashes in a fire. HYMN 6 Pullum silambina kaan; pull araiyan koilil Vellai vili sangin peraravam kettilaiyo Pillaai! ezhundirai! peymulai nanjundu Kalla-ch-chakatam kalakkazhia-k-kaalochi Vellathu aravil thuyil amarndha vithhinai Ullathuk kondu munivarkalum yogikalum Mella ezhundu UHari' enra per aravam Ullam pukundhu kulirndhu-el or empaavai. Young girl, don't you hear the chirp of the early birds? The beckoning sound of the white conch from the temple of Vishnu who rides on the king of birds, Garuda? Wake up, innocent girl! The sages and ascetics with their minds ever focussed on the great Lord, who sleeps on the serpent-couch in the ocean of milk, have risen. These sages have started chanting the name `Hari' over and over again, in a rising cresendo. While they chant His name, no doubt, they are reenacting in their own minds the deeds of the child-God who sucked the poison from the breast of the demoness, Putana and who kicked to death, with his little toe, the demon who came to destroy Him in the guise of a cart. Don't you hear all the loud chanting which enters our hearts and makes them rejoice? ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Go to : |Weekly edition |THE HINDU Main Menu| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Copyright ) 1995 THE HINDU & PARALOGIC CORPORATION.