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Date: Sat May 11 1996 - 12:59:35 PDT
Dear Bhagavatas, Please find enclosed Part I - Section 2.8.1 on Andal. As already mentioned, I am writing this from out of my memory and with the help of bits and pieces I have with me, since all my source materials are left elsewhere. Because of this, there may be some errors here and there. I would be obliged if they are brought to my notice by personal mail and I shall issue corrections, if necessary, after due verification, acknowledging my thanks for your cooperation. Dasoham Anbil Ramaswamy An Introduction As I commenced writing about Andal, I was so daunted by the explosion of informational, inspirational and interpretational material gathered over a whole lifetime - (i) from the ' in-camera closed circuit' Kalakshepams from our Acharyas like H.H. the Jeeyar, Ahobila Mutt, Srirangam Srimad Andavan( Tirukkudantai) and Andavan Swami of Paundarikapuram Ashramam ( both in their Purvaashramam and after their Sannyasa Sweekaranam ) explaining the inner meanings , (ii) from the religious Pravachanams of scholars like Abhinava Desika Uttamur Swami, Srivtasaangaachar, Santhana gopalachar, Tirukkallam Swami, Prathivaadi Bhayankaram Swami, Velukkudi Swami and (iii)) through the more open - ended Hari Katha Kalakshepams of Srirangam Sada gopachar, Embar, Annaswami Bhaga vatar (with Chapplaakattai, Jalra, Harmonium / Tamboor, Assistant singer - Pinnpaattukkaarar et al ). Diwali and Holi may be the time for revelry and merriment but the whole of Margazhi is surcharged with an aura- sober and serene, and an era of spiritual awakening and awareness. The time of one year for humans represents one day for the divine.Makara (Thai) month that opens the Uttaraayana represents their 'daybreak'. Dhanus (Margazhi0 that immediately precedes is deemed the 'Ushat Kala' or " Arunodaya kala' for the Devas. Also known as ' Brahma Muhurtham', it is considered the most appropriate time for MEDITATING on the Lord. Thus, Margazhi is important for the divine and the human alike. In Baghavad Gita, Lord Krishna declared -'Among the months, I am Margazhi' Come Margazhi ! In almost all temples in every county of every town or city in the whole of the Tamil speaking world, the morning air is filled with a spiritual resurgence, what with the recitation of Tiruppavai ( and as a late and perhaps an 'after- thought addition', of Tiruvembavai also) reverberate through loudspeakers, broadcasts and telecasts and Bhajans by groups of devotees moving from street to street in the neighbourhood. Regarded as a ' Sunya Maasam' when routine study of scriptures is suspended, only Tiruppavai is exceptionally allowed. Breathtaking expositions of the esoteric meanings of the work explained by experts fill the day deep into the late hours. Students of our religious classes would form into groups to attend these discourses in various locations and overlapping timings with tape recorders, notebooks etc (like news reporters), pool the materials and compare the information in joint studies.That is real and fruitful utilzation of one's time - REAL Kala Kshepam. O! How we miss the thrill and joy of these experiences? 2.8. Aandaal ( Aadi - Pooram ) Tamil literature bristles with love lores employing techniques such as Thoodu and Madal. Mutholl Aayiram and Sanga literature which depict the distinguishing feminine aspects as Acham (fear), Naanam ( shyness), Madamai ( Innocence) and Payirpu (Exclusive single minded devotion), the physical changes wrought by the joys of union with and the pangs of separation from the beloved etc and even Srimad Valmiki's Ramayanam take a back stage in relation to the portrayal in the Divya Prabandhams which exalt love and ennoble the soul, combining linguistic, scenic and sense effects and blending the mundane with the divine. Devotional poetry spontaneously emerging from a God- infatuated heart like that of Godha, the sweetheart of Krishna, is sure to contain much more than what appears on the surface .In Tiruppavai and Nachiar Tirumozhi, generations of Acharyas and other scholors have been and still are seeing new meanings and fresh beauties.And, the two provide an inexhaustible goldmine of such delectable material and an incomparably rich fare. What is said of Valmiki applies with equal force to Godha -. "Tad Upagatha Samaasa Sandhi Yogam, Sama Madhuropana Artha Vaakhya badham"- For her, the words fall in place so inimitably, that you cannot alter even a comma or a semicolon without damaging the beauty and style of poetry or the depth and sense of the sentiments expressed. We are simply carried away by the torrential flow of Nachiyar's expressions into the unfathomable depths of her love; She not only loved but she also wedded the Lord. Nachiyar sways our emotions so much that - - when her heart throbs, our hearts throb too in unison!; - when her mind melts, our minds melt with empathy!; - when she entreats the Lord, we entreat too!; - When she enjoys the Lord, we share the enjoyment equally! Here was an Andal; Where comes such another? Godha indeed stands out as the outstanding exponent of bridal mysticism and in this is regarded as setting a model for the Alwars themselves. Unlike the other Alwars who were all males and had to simulate a ' Nayaki bhava' ( the role of a lady love), since she was herself a woman, the bhava came to her naturally. Her only ambition was to marry Lord Ranganatha. Even as Sri Sita was found from earth by King Janaka, Sri Andal was found as a baby girl in the pit in which the Tulasi ( divine basil ) was grown by Vishnuchitta at Srivilliputtur. She was the incarnation of Bhumi Devi ( Mother Earth) and was named 'Godha'. It is believed that Mother Earth heard Varaha Purana while she was being rescued by the Lord in His Avatar as the Wild boar. She desired that the essence of the teachings should be publicized for the benefit of humanity. " Aham Sishyaa Cha Daasi Cha Bhakta Cha Tvayi Maadhava ! Mat Krite Sarva Bhutaanaam Laghu Upaayam Vadha Prabho!". And, she was born in the world as Godha for this purpose. Vishnu Chitta used to make beautiful flower garlands to adorn the Lord in the temple. When he went out, Godha would don the garlands herself and look into the mirror to guage the suitability of her beauty to match with the charming personality of the Lord. Before her father returned, she would fold the garlands and place them in the basket as before. Unaware of this ( a sacreligious act), Vishnuchitta used to take the used garlands and offer them to the Lord. One day, unexpectedly, the Alwar returned earlier and caught her red handed. Chiding her for her impetuosity, he desisted from offering the used garlands that day. Lord Ranganatha appeared in his dream that night and told him to bring the garland used by Godha not only on that day but always. The Alwar was wonderstruck and acted accordingly. From then, she was called ' Andal' -One who ruled' and 'Choodi Kodutha Sudar Kodi'- ' the creeper like damsel who offered flowers after being adorned by her'.She is also 'Aazhndaal' in the sense that she was immersed in Krishna Guna anubhava. Bound by her garland of flowers (Poomaalai) and her garland of verses (Paamaalai), the Lord will save us who earn her grace. When in due time, the Alwar took steps to get her married to a suitable groom, she flatly refused saying that she would not live to marry a mere mortal but that she would marry only Lord Ranganatha.' Manidarkku Enru Pechup Padil Vazhakillen' . The Alwar was in a fix. Again, Lord Ranganatha appeared in his dream and asked him to bring her to the temple at Srirangam. On arrival, she made a beeline to the Sanctum Sanctorum and became merged in the image of Lord Ranganatha.. The Alwar was asked to return to Srivilliputtur to continue his garland service. Earlier, Andal used to imagine herself as the bride of Lord Krishna, imagine Srivilliputtur as 'Aayarpaadi'- the place where Krishna played his boyhood pranks on the banks of Yamuna river, imagine her friends as the very Gopis ( the cowherd girls) of Brindavan and sang two soul stirring poems of exquisite beauty- Tiruppaavai in 30 hymns and Naachiyaar Tirumozhi, the latter describimg her dreams in getting married to Lord Ranganatha in his incarnation as Sri Krishna. The two together are masterpieces couched in simple but chaste Tamil, pouring forth her sentiments which contain not only the apparent meanings ( Bahya artha) but also the inner esoteric meanings ( Svaapadesa) and the Supreme meanings ( Para Artha). The Tiruppavai is recited , especially 'one a day' during the 30 days of the month Margazhi ( December- January) and selected hymns from Nachiyar Tirumozhi during the wedding functions of Hindu families. Some people gleefully criticize ours as a religion of abnegation, of escapism, a negative religion of the recluse which always emphasized on the ' other worldly' with scant regard for what we need ' right here and now in this world '. They fancy that ours is a religion of rigour, regret, remorse. repentance and renunciation that takes away all the joy out of life rendering it a saga of ' sack cloth and ashes ' all the way. We would advise them to read Andal's Tiruppavai. Tiruppavai shows how ours is the first and foremost religion which has the practical wisdom and pragmatism to recognize the purpose of life both ' here and the hereafter'. Tiruppavai laid down the principles and practices to make life on earth enjoyable, meaningful and worthwhile - while unfolding the 'after-life' scenario in equally vivid expressions. Let us see some of her positive expressions- Selva Sirumeergaal : Dear darling prosperous girls; Vaiyathu Vaazhveerkaal : You who have come to live and prosper in this world; Neengaatha Selvam Niraindhu : Securing bliss that does not diminish; Vaazha Ulaginil Peithidaai : Rains that pour life into us ; Poya Pizhaiyum Pugu Tharuvaan Ninranavum Theeyinil Thoosu Aagum : The Sanchita and Prarabda Karmas extinguished like dirt burnt by fire; Ullam Pugundhu Kulirndu : Entering the mind to make it cool and pleasant; Naayakap Penn Pillai : O! leader among womenfolk; Tesam Udaiyaai : O! Shining one; Kodhukalam Udaiya Paavaai: Lady full of hope and enthusiasm; Selvap Pendaatti: Dearest spouse; Nar Chelvan Nangaai : Daughter of the prosperous one; Podharik Kanninaai : O! You who have eyes like the honey bees lying on flowers; Elle! Ilam Kiliye! : O! Parrot like beauty!; TiruThakka Selvamum Sevakamum Yaam Paadi Varuthmum Theerndu Magizhndu : By praying for undiminishing wealth and eternal service, we can get rid of our grief and enjoy happiness; Koodaarai Vellum Seer Govinda! : Govinda who can win over even dissidents; Unthannodu Uravel Namakku Ingu Ozhikka Ozhiyaadu :Our relationship with you here and herafter can never be severed; Enraikkum Ezhezh Piravikkum Unthannodu Utrome Aavom : We will be with you ever and anon through any number of lifetimes; Engum Thiru Varul Petru Inburuvar : You will obtain the grace of Mother Goddess Mahalakshmi and enjoy life forever. Jeeyar composed a famous 'Tanian' ( dedication verse) dedicated to Andal which says- " Tiruppavai will obliterate all sins and show us the feet of the Lord; it is the very seed of all the Vedas. Those who do not know the 5 x 5 + 5 ( i.e) 30 verses of Tiruppavai are indeed an unnecessary burden whom the earth carries in vain" Pathakangal Theerkkum Paraman Adi Kaattum / Vedam Anaithukkum Vithu Aagum-/ Kothai Tamizh Aiy Aiyndum Aiyndum / Ariyaadha Maanidarai Vaiyam Sumappadum Vambu/" While Nammalwar's four works are said to be the essence of the four Vedas, these 30 verses of Andal constitute the very seed of ALL the Vedas and What it does? It can destroy all our sins; It can show us the way to Moksham - all in simple, chaste, understandable Tamil. We will continue in the next posting some more reflections and the esoteric meanings of some of the expressions of Andal's works.