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THE HINDU article on Tiruppavai part 5 of 5

From: Venkatesh Elayavalli/DCOM (
Date: Fri Jan 19 1996 - 09:16:09 PST

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Tiruppaavai-the soul's quest

Date: 07-01-1996 :: Pg: 36 :: Col: a

Cl: Religion

The  concluding  article  in  the series  by  S.  SWAMINATHAN  on
Andaal's garland of verse.

        THE  thirty hymns which together constitute Sri  Andaal's
Tiruppavai  bring out the spiritual ardour of an earnest  devotee
of God. There is little doubt that the hymns represent Bhakthi in
its  most chastened form. The craving for personal boons  is  not
what the prayer of the cowherds in Tiruppaavai is all about.  The
yearning, instead, is for eternal service to God with the devotee
surrendering himself/herself unconditionally to the will of God.

        The lyrics in Tiruppavai (which is believed to belong  to
the  ninth century A. D.) represent Tamil literature  of  vintage
tracing its lineage to the hoary Sangam age. An amazing  majority
of  these words are still very much a part of spoken and  written
Tamil. A more amazing feature of the hymns is that they represent
Tamil  at a stage of evolution when Sanskritic influence had  not
yet crept in.

        Learned   commentaries   on  Tiruppavai  dwell   on   the
philosophical   import  of  each  hymn  which  is  not   directly
discernible  from the words used but which is often derived  from
association  of  words with concepts which  belong  to  religious
doctrine.  Diverse  as these interpretations are,  there  can  be
little   doubt   that  Tiruppavai  is   an   exemplification   of
Visistaavaita  which holds that the devotee and the Lord  are  of
the same cosmic spiritual unity and that the best means for  God-
realisation is intense obedience and devotion.

Hymn 25

        Oruththi maganaai-p-pirandhu or iravil
        Oruththi maganaai oliththu valara
        Tharikkilaanaagi-th-thaan theengu ninaindha
        Karuththai pizhai-p-iththu kanjan vayittril
        Neruppenna ninra nedumaley! Unnai
        Aruththithu vandhom parai tharudhi yaagil
        Thiruththakka selvamum sevakamum yampaadi
        Varuththamum theerndhu magizhndhu el or   empaavaai.

        Oh Lord of the three worlds! Born of the matchless  Queen
Devaki,  you  were  taken on the same  night  in  concealment  to
Gokulam,  to  be  brought up by  another  peerless  noble  woman,
Yasodha.  The evil King Kamsa who would not bear the  thought  of
your  growing  up,  tried many stratagems to harm  you.  But  you
foiled all his wily schemes virtually tormenting him like in  his
stomach.  We  have come to beseech you for favours. If  only  you
could  condescend  to give us the drum, we would  sing  extolling
your  great prosperity befitting your consort,  Mahaalakshmi  and  93
your valorous deeds. And then we will rejoice with all our pining
coming to an end.

Hymn 26

        Maaley! Manivanna! Maargazhi neeraaduvaam
        Melayaar seivanangal venduvana ketliyel
        Gnalath-thai ellaam nadunga muralvana
        Paalanna Vannathu un Paanchajanyamey
        Polvana sangangal poi-p-paadu udaiyanave
        Saalap-perum paraiyey pallaandu isaipparey
        Kola vilakkey kodiyey vidhaaname
        Aalin ilayai! Arul el or empaavai.

        God,  you  are  the  embodiment of  pure  love  for  your
devotees!  Oh Lord with the fascinating blue colour  of  Saphire!
Please listen to us as we prepare ourselves for the sacred river-
bath  in  the  serene month of Maargazhi!  In  keeping  with  the
traditions  set  up by our great forbears, we  require,  for  our
austerities, conches similar to your Paanchajanya, shining  white
like milk and which produces sound that threatens to shatter  the
entire  universe. Also big drums, a group of musicians who  would
sing  your glories, decorative lamps, flags and  canopies.  Lord,
the light of the race of cowherds! You who recline on the  banyan
leaf,  as a child, at the time of the great deluge, please  grant
us our request!

Hymn 27

        Koodaarai vellum seer Govindaa! Unthannai
        Paadi-p-paraikondu yaamperu sammaanam
        Naadu pugazhum parisinaal nanraaga
        Choodagame thol valaye thoday sevi-p-poovay
        Paadagame enranaya pallalanum yaam anivom
        Aadai uduppom adhanpinnay paar choru
        Mooda nei peidhu muzhangai vazhivaara-k
        Koodi irundhu kulirndhu el or empaavai.

        Oh  Lord!  The  protector of  cows!  You  overwhelm  your
enemies  with  your  valour and virtues! The rewards  we  get  by
singing  your  praise and getting the drum  (for  spreading  your
word) are no less than those which the whole country commends  us
for.  Now that our austerities have borne fruit, we shall  bedeck
ourselves with sparkling jewellery  bangles, armlets, anklets and
ear-rings.  We shall dress ourselves in lovely robes.  And  then,
with  Nappinnai  and yourself, we shall sit down for  a  gorgeous
meal of rice cooked in milk and suffused with ghee. That will  be
our bliss!

Hymn 28

        Karavaigal pinsenru gaanam serndhu unbhom
        Arivonrum illaadha aai-kulaththu unthamai
        Piravi Perunthanai punniyam yaanudaiyom
        Kurai onrum illaadha Govindaa! Un thannodu p73
        Uravel namakku ingu ozhikka ozhiyaadhu
        Ariyaadha pillaikalom anbinaal unthannai
        Siruper azhaiththanavum seeri arulaadhe
        Iraivaa! Nee thaaraai parai el or empaavai.

        Oh  blemishless Lord! What a great blessing for  us  that
You  are  one  with  us! After all, we  are  unlettered  clan  of
cowherds  who tend cattle, sing carelessly and eat their food  in
the open. The bond between You and us can never be dissolved.  If
ever  we have out of ignorance and our love for you,  caused  you
hurt  by  calling  you by names  which  belittle  your  unbounded
magnificence, please do not take offence. Oh compassionate  Lord,
grant us the drum and eternal devotion to you!

Hymn 29

        Sittran sirukaale vandhu unnai seviththu un
        Pottraamarai adiye pottrum porul kelaai
        Pettram mayththunnum kulaththil
        pirandhu nee
        Kuttreval engalai kollaamal pogaathu
        Ittrai parai kolvaan anru kaann Govindaa!
        Ettraikkum ezh-ezh piravikkum un thannodu
        Uttrome yaavom unakke naam aatcheivom!
        Mathai nam kaamangal maattru el or

        Oh  Lord Govinda (Krishna)! Why have we come so early  at
dawn to worship You and to adore your lotus feet? You have  taken
birth  in our cowherd community and You live amidst us  who  tend
cattle  for  a living. It is only proper that you  permit  us  to
render  our humble service to You. It is not only today  that  we
would seek your grace but in all our births to come. You and  You
alone we shall ever be committed to in servitude. Everything else
is of no concern to us.

Hymn 30

        Vanga-k-kadal kadaindha
        maadhavanai kesavanai
        Thingal Thirumugathu seyizhayaar senru irainji
        Anga-p-paraikonda aattrai ani puduvai
        Painkamala thantheriyal pattar piraan
        kothai sonna
        Sangath-thamizhmaalai muppadum thappaame
        Ingi-p-parisuraippaar eerindu maalvarai-th-tholl
        Senkann thirumugaththu selvaththirumaalaal
        Engum thiruvarul pettru inburuvar em paavaai.

        This garland of thirty verses in classical chaste  Tamil,
celebrating the devotional fervour of the beautiful cowherd women
who  worshipped  Naaraayana,  variously  incarnating  Himself  as
Maadhava (the Lord who churned the ocean of milk) and Kesava (the
Lord  who  slayed the demon Kesi), has been  strung  together  by
Kothai,  the daughter of Periaazhwaar, who belongs to the  lovely  p73
place called Srivillipuththur.

        All  those  who  recite  these  hymns  with  passion  and
sincerity are bound to receive the favour of Naaraayana, the Lord
with  four  mighty arms and resplendent face with  crimson  eyes.
Theirs will be joy eternal and bliss manifold.



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