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Seventeenth Day Of Dhanur Maasam : AndAL's Bridal Mysticism

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Wed Jan 01 1997 - 06:31:39 PST

Dear Members of the Bhakthi Group :

First Of all , May the blessings of the Divya Dampathis
keep this precious group together in this New Year 1997 
to experience their Anantha KalyANa guNAs ! May their 
choicest blessings shower  on every member of this group 
and bring them closer to their sacred feet in  a spirit of
Atma Nivedanam and Bhagavatha Kaimkaryam ! 

In today 's posting , I will summarize the highlights of an
excellent paper by Dr. G.R. BalakrishNan : " IS ANDAL 

Definitions : Mysticism in general has been defined as 
" the first hand experience with God " .  Professor Sarvapalli 
RadhAkrishNan has defined "GOD " in this context this way :
" GOD is not a logical concept or the conclusion of a syllogism
but a real presence , the ground and possibility of ALL knowledge
and values " . 

Bridal Mysticism is one of the nine modes of relationships with the Lord
where the relationship is similar to that one between the bride and the groom
(BharyA-BirthA ) . The soul of the devotee is the bride and GOD 
is the Bridegroom ; their union is recognized as the spiritual marriage .
The charactrestrics such as "  irrevocableness , unswerving  loyalty ,
love ad selfless service are supposed to mark the human marriage 
to mellow to the greatest extent in the spiritual marriage" .

The great outpourings of AndAL to realize the Lord as her husband 
are full of this experience of Bridal mysticism . As the only female AzhwAr 
and on top of it as the consort of the Lord , She could exceed the experiences
of the other two AzhwArs , who took on the role of ParakAla and 
Paraankusa Nayakis to delight in their experiences as the brides of the Lord . 
For all of us too , the path shown by these three AzhwArs and 
particularly AndAL is a living proof of the Vedanthic revelation :

Sa Eva VaasudevO sau sakshAth purusha uchyatE
StriprAyam itarat sarvam jagadh brahmapurrassaram 

" The supreme Lord is the only Man ; all others from Brahma 
downwards are like women  , Who long to be united with HIM ."

AndAL rejected the worldly pleasures , marriage to mere mortals
and longed for union with the Lord as her groom in body and soul.
The outpourings of her thoughts in NacciyAr Thirumozhi are suffused 
with this sense of longing and  seeking of the Lord as her bridegroom 
in the spirit of bridal mysticism .

The soul in the practise and experience of bridal mysticism 
goes through the harrowing experience of separation from HIM
(Vislesham ) and the exhilirating experience of union (Samslesham )
with HIM . In Professor P.N. Srinivasachari "s words , " for them ,visleshA 
appears to be stretched into eternity and in SamsleshA , the eternity is
crowded into a moment " . In response to bride AndAL's soulful cry ,
her Groom blesses her with an elaborate dream in which She 
lives through the individual rites of a Vedic marriage to the Lord 
to unite her with HIM as HIS bride  ( VaraNamAyiram Pasurams of NacchiyAr
Thirumozhi ) . After waking from this thrilling dream , she suffers the 
worst from separation from her Lord. He was almost there.
She cries out to the Sacred Conch (Panchajanyam ) and asks it 
to relate the blessed experience of the taste of the Lord's nectar -like
kiss . She implores the dark rain clouds , birds,flowers and bees to be her
messengers to her Lord and to bring HIM to her quickly .She is
reminded of Her Lord in everything she sees around her . After these
painful efforts that get her no where , she decides to put up 
with her sorrow and places her trust in  the Lord's infinite mercy .

PiLLai LokAcharya and ManavALa Maamuni have pointed out the need to 
annihilate AhankAra to realize the fruits of bridal mysticism . according to
them ,
even the presence of a tiny bit of AhankArA (divisive ego ) 
led to sorrow for even the greatest  devotee of the Lord like AndAL .
Once that was banished in the intense pursuit of realizing 
the unitive life with the Lord as her groom  , AndAL was able to face
 " the  sorrows undismayed and enjoy pleasures uncontaminated " .
 Any shred of divisive ego was pulverised through total surrender to the Lord , 
the eternal bridegroom . Here , Dr. Balakrishnan quotes the following two
statements of RamaNa Maharishi and Sage AurobindO in support of 
the selfless love of a jivan for  ParamAthmA :

" Love of GOD for the sake of love and for nothing else , not even for
the sake of salvation " is the true mark of bridal mysticism ---RamaNa Maharishi

 To a true devotee , therefore , GOD is both the path and the goal 
of the journey on this earth (Deha YaatrA ) , "  a path in which 
there is no self-losing and  a goal to which his wisely guided steps 
are surely arriving at every moment ." --Sage AurobindhO 

Dr. Balakrishnan Continues : " And true love brings with it deep 
humility , an awarenes of one's insignificance before all and helplessness
before God . AndAL does not feel it as  a humiliation at all when she
goes al out with her sufferings to pretty little things like flowers 
and bees and seeks consolation from them .It is this humility ,
born of love of God , that helps her WIN the game of Love ". 

The limbs (AngAs ) of SaraNAgathi like KaarpaNyam , Gopthruva 
VaraNam, Atma NikshepaNam and others are built into these appeals of 
AndAL to her Lord in both Thiruppavai and Thirumozhi paasurams .
The last deacd of her Thirumozhi , she provides proof for attaining 
her quest  of spiritual union with the Lord in wedlock as HIs bride.
With utter rapture, joy  and contentment , she describes her visions 
of Lord KrishNa in Brindhavanam going about attending 
to the welfare of the  cows and playing with his companions 
under the shade of GarudA's lofty wings .  

AndAL's Sacred Prabhandhams attest to her unique experience 
of GovindhA as her Consort in the mode of bridal mysticism . Through
the sharing of her divine experience , she invites all humna souls
(jeevans ) to experience the unitive life  with Sriman NarAyaNA , her
consort . AndAl then is the greatest bridal mystic of all seeking the 
Lord as their bridegroom  through SaraNAgathi performed with the help 
of a SadAchArya in the hallowed and hoary SrivaishNavite tradition 
of BaraNyAsam . 

In the next posting , I will summarize the thoughts of 
Professor A . Srinivasaraghavan of Madras on the concept 
of Prapatthi as experienced by GodhA Piraatti .

Sri Ranganatha MaNI PadhukhAbhyAm Nama : 

Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari  Sadagopan
January 1 , 1997