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TiruvAdi Pooram

rangaswamy_m_at_hotmail.com
Date: Tue Jul 24 2001 - 12:17:20 PDT

Sri:

SrimatE Gopaladesika MahadesikAya Namaha,

Dear Bhaktas,

On this most sacred Tiruvadi Pooram day, the Tirunakshatram of Andal, 
adiyen wishes to share the following reflections. Srivilliputtur, the 
birth place of Andal is sanctified because, Andal chose to incarnate 
there. Unlike avatarams of the Lord where He incarnated through 
GarbhavAsam, Andal was found by Periya Azhwar in his flower garden. 
Therefore, Her birth was Avirbhava.  It is significant to note that 
two months of the year designated as Shoonya masams are -Adi and 
Marghazhi. Significantly, both of these months have been rendered 
sacred by Andal-Adi due to Her incarnation and Marghazi due to the 
brilliant delivery of the Tiruppavai verses, at the end of which She 
attained eternal union with Lord Narayana. Significantly, Lord 
Krishna Himself declares in the Bhagavad Gita "mAsAnAm 
marghashIrshOsmi"(among the months I am the MargashIrsha) in 
anticipation of His union with Andal. For Andal, expression of Her 
pangs of separation from Her Beloved (Lord Narayana) came naturally. 
Therefore, She did not need to adopt Nayaki Bhavam in her outpourings 
like Swami NammAzhwar or Tirumangai Azhwar. 

Andal, being an Amsham of Bhumi Piratti is the epitome of compassion. 
This is glorified in the Purusha Sooktam rk "HrIscha thE lakshmIscha 
pathnyoU". The term Hri denotes compassion. Andal's compassion. Since 
Lord Narayana is the father of the entire universe, Andal as His 
consort becomes the mother of the entire universe. Her limitless 
compassion for Her children (erring baddha jIvans, who are subject to 
a seemingly endless cycle of births and deaths), who perform 
SharaNagati manifests itself in the form of Her impassioned appeals 
to Lord Narayana to forgive their sins. The act of granting refuge to 
a Prapanna is a yajna performed by Lord Narayana. The term Patni is 
reserved for exclusive use in the context of yajna. Andal's elevated 
role in this yajna of protecting Prapannas is glorified in the Bhu 
Sooktam Rk "shrungE shrungE yajnE yajnE viBhishaNIi"

Her compassion for Her children is such that She undertook the 
performance of the Vratam (nombu ) of SharaNagati to illustrate the 
jiVatma-ParamAtma relationship. The 30 verses of Tiruppavai contain a 
consummate description of this relationship, which has been 
elaborated upon in the Upanishads and in the Bhagavad Gita. It is 
instructive to note that recitation of Vedic hymns have significant 
restrictions in that one must be aware of the time and place to 
recite these hymns. Furthermore, not everyone is qualified to recite 
these hymns. Some hymns can be recited only by Gruhastas, while some 
are the privy of Sanyasis alone and so forth. Whereas no such 
restrictions apply to the recitation of verses from Tiruppavai. Also, 
the Vedas are quite cryptic in their reference to the margam of 
SharaNagati. Therefore, they are often termed as Marai (that which is 
not visible to the naked eye). However, Andal being an Amsham of 
Bhumi Piratti beautifully intuited the nuances and prescriptions of 
SharaNagati from the Vedas and described it a simple-to-understand 
language using 30 delectable verses of Tiruppavai. The following 
important messages are contained in this outstanding literary 
masterpiece.

(1) Every jivAtma is irrevocably the property of the ParamAtma, Lord 
Narayana, who is its Sheshi, ruler, Swami.
(2) The existence and activities of every jivAtma are solely for the 
pleasure of Lord Narayana.
(3) The surest way to restore the property (jivAtma) to its rightful 
owner is through the path of unconditional, total surrender to the 
Lord's Lotus Feet, i.e., SharaNagati
(4) The performance of sharaNagati is simply Atma vivAham, i.e., a 
wedding between the jivAtma and the Paramatma
(5) The rules underlying the performance of this nOmbu are clearly 
stated in the Tiruppavai. For example, verse 2 elaborates on the yama 
and niyama exercises. The term yama means that which must be given 
up, whereas the term niyama means that which must not be given up, 
i.e., that which must be followed. Some of the rules contained here 
are significant in that they echo important upanishadic messages. 
First, upon waking up one must recite the name of Lord Narayana-this 
seems to be the basis of Swami Desikan's Vaishnava Dinasari, where he 
notes that upon waking up one must recite the name Hari 7 times. 
Next, Andal discusses that which must be given up-neyyuNNOm pAluNNOm. 
This is not interpreted to mean that one must give up partaking of 
ghee and milk. However, it is merely an instruction that these should 
be partaken only upon offering to Lord Narayana. Further, Andal 
discusses what must be given in charity. This is a remarkable echo of 
the Taittriya Upanishad salutations "shraddaya DhEyam" and "shriyA 
DhEyam" and the Dharma Shastras (Manu Smriti for example) which 
contain stipulations for setting apart a percentage of one's income 
for charitable/philanthrophic purposes. Exponents of Yoga have also 
commented that verse 2 is a prescription for faciliatating the 
realization that Lord Narayana who resides in the milky ocean is 
forever resident in the lotus of one's heart. This illustrates the 
Mahanarayana upanishad salutation "yOanta samudhrE kavayO vayanti"
(6) The thirty verses of the tiruppavai represent the condensed 
essence of the esoteric messages contained in the three Srivaishnava 
rahasyams. The gist of these three rahasyams is that (i) Lord 
Narayana is the supreme being-Tattvam (ii) Performance of SharaNagati 
(unconditional, total surrender) at His Lotus Feet is the surest way 
of redemption-Hitam (iii) Upon performance of SharaNagati, one must 
take delight in performing Kaimkaryam for Lord Narayana, His 
Bhagavatas, and Acharyas. Nithya Kaimkaryam at the behest and for the 
pleasure of the Divine Couple follows at the end of one's earthly 
existence-PurushArtham
(7) It may be questioned as to what is the authority for performing 
this Nombu of SharaNagati? Andal answers this through the 
salutation "melayAr seyvanagal", i.e. treading the path established 
by elders. The reference here is to the mahOpakaram of Swami 
NammAzhwar-the Prapanna jana Kootasthar, who established the efficacy 
of SharaNagati beyond doubt. 
(8) The salutation "unakkE nAmAchaIvOm" is the condensed essence of 
the sAma vedam, which glorifies Lord Narayana to the exclusion of all 
other deities. 

Swami Desikan's Goda Stuthi seems to follow the path of Andal's 30 
verses in letter and spirit. Specifically, Swami Desikan's opening 
contains a surrender to the Lotus Feet of Goda ". In the concluding 
verse of this Stuthi, Swami Desikan elqouently describes the fruit of 
this surrender through the salutation "charaNa kamala sevAm 
shAshvatIm abhyupAishyan".  The bountiful blessings arising from the 
performance of SharaNagati is also Swami Desikan echoes the message 
of Andal's "shara mazhai pOl" salutation in the Daya Shatakam 
verse "shArnga DhanvAnukampa" It is instructive to note that in the 
war against Ravana, after the killing of Indrajit, Ravana was grief 
stricken and orderd his fiercest hordes of demons to launch a full 
scale offensive on Lord Rama and the Vanara army. The Vanara army 
suffered heavily as a result of this attack by the asuras, who used 
the darkness of the night to full advantage. Lord Rama entered the 
fray at this juncture and rained an unending stream of arrows from 
his bow, which effortlessly repelled the attack of the Asuras. 
Adikavi, Valmiki, states in the Ramayana that the arrows came so 
swiftly from Lord Rama's bow that  it appeared as if a multitude of 
Ramas were present on the battlefield. This is illustrative of the 
fact that every baddha jIvan is unaware of its true swaroopam and is 
thus steeped in the darkness of ignorance. Sri Sookthis from Acharyas 
bestow the light of knowledge upon the Baddha jIvan, resulting in the 
performance of Prapatti. The bountiful fruits arising from the 
performance of Prapatti are akin to the copious stream of arrows from 
Lord Rama's bow. This is indicative of the Vedic messages "tamasOmA 
jyOtirgamayA" and 'mruthyOrmA amruthanga mayA". The bliss arising 
from the performance of eternal Kaimkaryam at the behest and for the 
pleasure of the Divine Couple is described in the VishNu Sooktam 
Rk "Tad vishNO: Paramam padagam sadhA pashyanthi soorayaha" and the 
Taittriya Upanishad salutations "sa yEkO brahmaNa Ananda:" 
and "AhamannAdO". 

Happy Birthday Amma!

Namo Narayana,

SriMuralidhara Dasan


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