Thiruppavai in English and Meaning:
1) Margazhi Thingal or Margali Thingal
Maargazhi-th thingal madhiniraindha nannalal
Neeradap pothuveer pothumino nerizhayeer!
Seermalgum aaipadi selvachirumeergal
Kooerval kodum thozhilam Nandagopan kumaran
Er aarndha kanni Yosadai ilam singam
Kaar mein-ch-chengan kadhir madhiyam pol mukathan
Narayanane namakke parai tharuvaan
Paaror pugazha-p-padindul-el or empaavaai
The first stanza which states the central premise to be elaborated in the rest of the poem contains the following ideas:
1. Andal praises the day (NANNAL)that has appeared of its own accord for the observance of the vow. What it means is that for a soul, that day is the Good Day when he understands all about himself and God and their mutual relationship of Lord and Servant which is stated in the Tirumantram.
2. The fruit in getting one’s body is for serving the Lord here and hereafter (NEERADA PODUVIR)
3. All those who have a longing for the service of the Lord are qualified to join her. (PODUVIR PODUMINO)
4. She speaks of the radiance that attended on the face of her companions on hearing her requisition. (MADI
NIRAINDA; the moon is not in the sky alone!)
5. The prosperity of Gokula consists of Sri Krishna’s amiable pranks in stealing butter and girls; i.e., the wealth of a Sri Vaishnava consists of his intoxicating love for and enjoyment of the Lord’s company.
6. Nandagopa’s vigilance in guarding Krishna with his very sharp spear in hand symbolises the “ASTHANE
BHAYA-SANKA” and “MANGALASASANA-PARATA” characterises a Sri Vaishnava.
7. Yasoda’s over-indulgence of Krishna is responsible for all his pranks and misbehavior towards the young gopis.
8. Sriman Narayana is the SOLE MEANS of attaining His Feet. This strikes the keynote of the Song Divine-TIRUPPAVAI. NARAYANANE (Upaya Swarupam) NAMAKKE (Adhikari Swarupam) PARAI (Phala Swarupam) TARUVAN. The safest means of securing Him is not Karma yoga etc but His Grace only. That is the sum and substance of this verse.
2) Vaiyathu Vazhvirgal
Vaiyathu Vaazhveerkaaal! Naamum nam paavaiku
Seyyum kirisaigal keleero paar-k-kadalul
Payya-th-thuyinra parama adi paadi
Ney-unnom paal unnom! Naatkaale neeraadi
Mai-ittu ezhuthom, malar ittu naam mudiyom
Seyyaadana seyyom; thee kuralai senrodhom
Aiyamum pichayyum aanthanayyum kaikaati
Uyyumaaru enni uganthu-el or em paavaai.
2) At her cordial invitation a huge crowd gathered and the wonder-struck ANDAL exclaims,”in this ignorance-spreading world, are there so many interested in Emancipation!”. She proceeds to prescribe “dos” and “don’ts”( which actually are the SAMBHAVITA SWABHAVA, the natural characteristics of the Adhikari).
While we appear to be performing this vow for getting rain, in reality, it is different. She stresses the words “NAMUM NAM Pavaikku”- NAMUM- WE are quite different from others; we long for His company and firmly believe that He alone is the Means for achieving it. NAM Pavai Indrajit did a malefic rite to put an end to Rama, but OUR beneficent rite is for securing Lord’s and His World’s prosperity and happiness.
The SriVaishnavite Code of Conduct as prescribed by her is as follows:
Recite the Samskrita and Dravida Veda which sings the glory of the Feet of the Lord reclining on the Serpent in the Milky Ocean, all the while thinking about one’s Redemption.
Eschew all carnal and even worldly desires like eating ghee, drinking milk etc.
Bathe early in the morning. Don’t adorn your eyes with collyrium, or your hair with flowers till the completion of the vow; meaning thereby that a SriVaishnava needs decoration etc only when he is in union with the Lord.
Never indulge in an act that was not practiced by our righteous-minded ancestors. Bharata refused the kingship though granted by his father and permitted by Rama on the grounds that the tradition of Solar Kings did not permit a younger son to rule when the elder was living.
A Sri Vaishnava should not speak ill of others or even think about it (which is tantamount to reporting it to the God inside the heart, thereby ensuring their fall); Sita never uttered a word to Rama about the ill-treatment by the Rakshasis.
He should ever be ready to do charity and impart knowledge about God to all those who need it.
In short, he should constantly be thinking about his upliftment and keep his mind filled with peace and happiness.
3) Oongi ulagalandha
Ongi ulagalanda uthaman per paadi
Naangal nam paavaiku chaatri neeradinaal
Theenginri nadellaam 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
Neengade selvam niraindhu-el or em paavaai.
3) In this worse ANDAL wishes for rain and consequential prosperity for the whole world as the world is the property of her Lord. So who is a Sri Vaishnava? It is he who while being detached with reference to the riches of the world,is at the same time aspiring for them considering them as his Lord’s riches. Hence all Sri Vaishnavas after daily prayer recite the verse which says “Sarve Janah Sukhino Bhavantu” everyone should be happy.
Andal tells the girls, “If we, girls, recite the NAME of the Lord who measured the entire universe with his three steps and observe this vow then the whole world will become prosperous.” Note the text which says “Uthaman PER”(his NAME). She could have simply said, “if we sing the glory of the Lord.” But she says instead, the NAME of the Lord.
This means that the NAME OF THE LORD (the Tiru Ashtakshara Mantra, the Eight-Syllabled one) is more efficacious than the Lord Himself. When in the court hall of Duryodhana, Draupadi was being disrobed by Dussaasana, it was only the NAME “Govinda” who saved her modesty while the Lord failed her.
But we Prapannas (Surrenderers) seek salvation only from Him. The Mantra is only for understanding the true nature of the Soul Lord and the mutual relationship; it is essential to promote the ARTHA PANCHAKA knowledge.
NEENGATHA Selvam – we see that riches do not remain for long with any man; then what does NEENGATHA mean? It refers to the Moksha Aiswarya, Service of God, obtained through the recommendation of Sri Mahalakshmi.
4) Azhi mazhai kanna
Aazhi mazhai kanna! Onrum nee kai karavel
Aazhiyul pukku mugundhu koda aathu, ari
Oozhimudalvan uruvam pol mei karuthu
Paazhi am tholudai Padmanabhan kaiyil
Aazhipol minni valampuripol minru adhirndhu
Thaazhaade Sarngaam udhaitha saramazhai pol
Vaazha ulaginil peidhidaai; naangalum
Maargazhi neerada magizhndu-el or em paavaai.
4) The Presiding Deity of Rain was keenly observing the happenings in this world. He saw his master Sriman Narayana serving all the gopis. So he thought that taking orders from the gopis and carrying out their commands was the best and easiest means of pleasing his master.So approaching Andal who was in the guise
of a gopi he requests her to command him and she does so in a detailed manner in this verse.
The inner significance is as follows: Just as the heir apparent to the throne is always feared and respected by all ministers and officers so are the Sri Vaishnavas by inferior gods. Hence When a Sri Vaishnava worships other deities like Indra, Rudra Varuna etc, he is doing something inappropriate as well as ridiculous. It will only cause his downfall and ruin his chance of getting salvation. So Beware!
So here the Rain God who has come to hear her command is told,” Go to the middle region of the sea, drink the entire water leaving not a drop, then pour it out in its entirety without discriminating between the places where the good and bad live. The rain, which resembles the arrows shot by Sri Rama to shatter the demons to pieces, should instead bring forth happiness and prosperity to the entire land.”
A Sri Vaishnava is one who always thinks of everything good for everyone in this world.
Maayanai mannu vada Madhurai maindhanai
Aayar kulathinil thonrum mani vilakkai
Thaayai kudal vilakkam seida Dhamodharanai
Thooyomaai vandhu naam thoomalar thoovi-t-thozhudhu
Vaayinaal paadi manatthinaal sendhikka
Poya pizhayum pugutharuvaan ninranavum
Theeyinil thoosaakum seppu-el or empaavaai
5) Among the assembled gopis, one expressed a doubt,”we are planning elaborately for getting the company of Krishna. But remember, we are sinners and our sins will throw obstacles in our path. It always happens when a good deed is contemplated. It is the way of the world. Take the case of Dasaratha who planned the coronation of Rama; the great omniscient sage Vasishta fixed the date; the citizens clamoured for him and applauded the decision. But what happened? Rama went to the forest forsaking the city, and it was His Paduka (holy sandals) which sat on the throne for fourteen years. So what is the surety that we will succeed?”
The answer is given in this verse: Recite the name of Krishna; think of him; offer flowers and all obstacles will vanish. All sins committed before taking Refuge with Him, as well those unwittingly accruing after Surrender (Saranagati) will perish.
The Purva Agha (earlier sins) will be burnt to ashes like cotton bales in a fire, and the Uttara Agha(Subsequent Sins) will not stick to the person like drops of water to a lotus leaf.
Milk is both a pleasurable food as well as a medicine to cure bile. The same is the case with Him.(Maruttuvanai ninra mamanivanna)
INTRODUCTION: The first five pasurams of Tiruppavai form one section and pasurams 6-15 the second section. These 10 stanzas describe the sleeping girls being woken up by those who are already up. These two groups represent KAINKARYA NISHTHA (those impatient to serve God, like Lakshmana) and GUNA NISHTHA (those who are content to meditate on the glorious qualities of God, like Bharata). Nammazhwar speaks of their presence even in Vaikunthaloka – VAIKUNTATTU AMARARUM (service-minded) MUNIVARUM (enjoying His Virtues).
The poison acts on different people in different ways – some faint and some run here and there; so do the attributes of Sri Krishna. Hence the sleeping girls are not a bit inferior in their longing for Krishna to those who wake them. Though one could go to Krishna on one’s own, it is not advisable “VEDAM VALLARGALAI KKONDU, VINNOR PERUMAN TIRUPPADAM PANINDU ” says Nammazhwar. We should always approach Him through some godly person; because we have sinned against Him and being a SWATANTRA (free to act as He pleases), He may punish us. Hence a Recommending Authority is very much needed. Moreover, His virtues are like a huge river in spate during rains, and so if a man wants to cross it surely he needs the help of others. Further unlike in the case of carnal company, enjoyment of His company will be sweeter in the company of Bhaktas.
Those gopis who are vigilant are goaded on by their haste (twara) to get Kainkarya, while those that are asleep have firm faith (adhyavasaya)in the Lord as Upaya. Hence pasurams 6-15 give room for interpreting them as referring to Azhwars and acharyas.
6) Pullum Silambina kaan
Pullum sillambina kaan; pull araiyan koilil
Vellai vili sangin peraravam kettilaiyo
Pillaai! ezhundirai peymulai nanjundu
Vellathu aravil thuyil amarandha vithhinai
Ullathuk kondu munivarkalum yogikalum
Mella ezhundu ‘Hari’ enra per aravam
Ullam pukundhu kulirndhu-el or empaavaai
6) The girls approach the mansion of a gopi and wake her up by indicating signs of early dawn,” even the birds are up and chirping. Get up.” The sleeping girl rejects this reason,” oh girls, you never allow the birds in your town to sleep, with your chanting of His names and making them chant too. This is no sign of dawn!” Then they mention a noteworthy sign,” PULLARAYAN KOIL etc. The blowing conch in the temple of Vishnu for early morning worship is inviting us all for His service. Get up.”
Here the phrase PULLARAYAN KOIL brings out excellent quality of the Lord: PUL is a bird, here Garuda; ARAYAN king; KOYIL temple.
The temple of Vishnu. But why this circumlocution? There is a reason. In Ramayana, while narrating to Hanuman her abduction by Ravana, Sita says,”On that fateful day I was lured by that demon disguised as a deer, and was separated from Rama’s younger brother and Lakshmana’s elder brother (RAMANUJAM LAKSMANA POORVAJAM CHA).” Such phraseology is used for a purpose. The Lord feels happy when His name is coupled with His devotee’s and so does the devotee when he is referred to as being subservient to the Lord. The message of Sita (Sri Devi) and Andal (Bhu Devi) to us is that when a Sri Vaishnava names his child he should follow this principle.
ULLATHU KKONDU etc in this verse is noteworthy. The munis and yogins get up in the morning very slowly from their beds so that the Lord, taking eternal abode in their hearts may not be disturbed. Prahlada was pushed down from the top of a huge mountain, and while falling he held fast his bosom with great concern for Sri Hari living there, never bothering about what was happening to himself. But the Lord waited for him at the bottom of the mountain and received him in his spread arms.
Parasara Bhattar used to embellish his body with silken robe, ornaments, sandal paste etc, and when asked about its propriety in respect of the despicable body, he said in his view it was not despicable but adorable being the sanctum sanctorum of the Almighty.
Andal also leaves this lesson in this verse: When you get up in the morning chant the name of Hari (HARIR HARIR HARIRITI VYAHARET VAISHNAVAH PUMAN). Let us do so.
7) Kichu Keechendrm
Keechu keechu enru engum aanauchaathan kalandhu
Pesina Pecharavam kettilyo peyppennay!
Kaasum pirappum kalakalapp-k-kai perthu
Vaasanarumkuzhal aaichiar maththinaal
Osaipadutha thayir aravam kettilayo?
Nayaka-p-penn pillai! Naarayanan moorthy
Kesavanai-p-paadavum nee kette kidaththiyo!
Thesamudayai Thirav-el or empaavaai
7) In this stanza, from the two addresses in vocative case PEY PENNE! and NAYAKA PPENPILLAY! which are diametrically opposite in meaning, we are to understand that they are said out of love and affection for the sleeping girl. Whatever may be the apparent contradiction, the inner feeling is most important while moving with Sri Vaishna
vas. In the 6000-Padi commentary, we find very interesting and enlightening comments and to illustrate them an episode narrated with exquisite charm.Having woken up a handful of girls Andal could have proceeded on to Krishna. Why go to EVERY house? If one is a Sri Vaishnava he should think of the welfare of ALL- not just a few.Not even a single girl should lose the golden opportunity of getting the grace of Sri Krishna. A man’s relationship with Sriman Narayana is true only if he rejoices at the good luck of another man as if it were his own son’s. If he fails to feel that way he is no Sri Vaishnava.
ALKONDAVILLY JEEYAR, a sincere pupil of SRI RAMANUJA once met in Sri Rangam NANJEEYAR, the disciple of PARASARA BHATTAR. The former exclaimed,” O Jeeyar! Really I have not developed a taste for Bhagavad Vishaya (i.e., God).” Nanjeeyar was amazed and asked “How is this possible? you are the faithful student of Sri Ramanuja, serving him assiduously – still you say this ?” The former said,” If a man has a real taste for Bhagavan he must enjoy the sweet company of His devotees. If not he is no Sri Vaishnava. Have we developed that pleasurable attitude towards Sri Vaishnavas? Hence I say so.”
Unless the meeting, mingling and deriving supreme satisfaction and happiness in the company of Bhagavatas are secured here in this world (which is the intensive training ground for our life in Sri Vaikuntha), the Moksha will not be delectable.NAMMAZHWAR says at the end of Tiruvaymozhi, “ADIYAARODU IRUNDAMAI”. He aspired
not for the mere union of the Lord but for the same in the company of His devotees, which alone would.
8) Kizh vaanam vellendru
Keezh vaanam vellendru! erumai siru veedu
Meyvaan paranthana kan! mikkulla pillaikalum
Poovan pokinraarai-popokaamal kaathu unnai-k
Koovuvaan vandhu ninrom! kothu kalamudaya
Paavaai! ezhunthiraai! paadi-p-parai kondu
Maavai-p-pilanthaanai, mallarai maatiya
Devaathi dhevanai chenrunaam sevithal
Aa Aaa enru aaraindhu arul-el or empaavaai
8) Here a girl who is Krishna’s particular sweetheart is being woken up. She can be compared to NAMMAZHWAR (Krishna trishna tatvam) the very embodiment of deep devotion to Sri Krishna. Her company is certain to accomplish their desire. KOTHUGALAMUDAYA PAVAAI! is a most beautiful form of address.
“The horizon has become bright.Get up.” say the girls. But she astonishes them by replying, “It is the luster from your moon-like faces which has brightened the Eastern quarter. The day is yet to dawn.”
The second sign of daybreak mentioned in this stanza indicates that Andal has indeed been transformed into a gopi – “The buffaloes are fast dispersing in the fields searching for the tender green grass with the dew drops of dawn clinging to them.If we delay, Krishna would have followed them into the forest and our purpose would be lost.” This statement could not have come out of the lips of anyone other than a true cowherds. So Andal has totally identified herself with a gopi, living with the cowherds and taking part in all their daily chores.
Her father Sri Vishnuchitta was a learned Vedic authority and had even written a rule book for conducting sacrifices called Kalpa Sutra. He too assumed the role of Yasoda to the extent of participating in every childish activity of Krishna. For this, his daughter affectionately calls him, “Bhogattil Vazhuvada Puduvayarkon”(one who has not missed a single opportunity to enjoy Krishna). Now his daughter does the same.
The conclusion is this: Only that caste is desirable, which is congenial for the enjoyment of God and which is calculated to bring down His Grace on us.SRI LOKA DESIKA says in SRI VACHANA BHUSHANAM,”Periyazhvarum Tirumagalarum Gopa Janmattai
9) Thoomani Maadathu (thumani madathu)
Thoomani maadathu sutrum vilakkeriya
Dhoopam kamazha thuyil anai mel kann valarum
Maamaan magale! mani-k-kadavam thaalthiravaai!
Maameer! Avalai ezhuppeero! Un magal thaan
Oomayo? anri-ch-chevido? ananthalo?
Ema-p-perum thuyil manthira-p-pattalo?
Maa maayan, Maadhavan, Vaikuntan, enrenru
Naamam palavum navinru-el or empaavaai
9) The gopi woken up in this verse has unflinching faith in the Lord’s UPAYA BHAVA.In this regard, she matches very well with Sita who, when Hanuman suggested that he carry her back to Rama, sternly refused and rebuked him saying that he was equal to Ravana,(Ravana-tulya) in this that while Ravana robbed Rama of one of his possessions, Sita; Hanuman is trying to rob Him of another, His “Sarva loka rakshakatvam” (sole right to protect all).Then she added, “With my power of chastity which cooled your burning tail, I could have saved myself; but that would have only destroyed Rama’s reputation.He alone by His prowess should rescue me and establish his valor.Tat Tasya Sadrusam Bhavet.That alone would be befitting to Him.” Hanuman applauded these words.
So also this girl having transferred her burden to Sri Krishna, sleeps having total faith in His words,” Ananyah chintayanto mam……Yoga kshemam vahamyaham”. ANDAL teaches us in this stanza that a soul after surrendering to the Lord should be like this gopi.
“MAMAN MAGALE!” -Oh, my uncle’s daughter!. Though blood relationship is condemned as it contributes to worldly attachment, the same is most welcome if it helps to do service to God and His devotees. NAMMAZHWAR recommends living with all relations in TIRUVAYMOZHI 8. 10, 11, but condemns the same in 9.1.1. for the above reasons.
KOORATHU AZHWAN, used to remark with a sad heart,” I do not have a blood relationship with Sri RAMANUJA. Fie upon me! That good fortune is with MUDALI ANDAN and EMBAR!” This idea is noteworthy in this verse.
10) Notru suvargam
Notru Suvargam puguginra ammanai!
Maatramum thaaraaro vaasal thiravaadaar
Naatrathuzhaai mudi Naraayana: nammaal
Potra-p-parai tharum punniyanal pandorunaal
Kootrathin Vaai veezhnda Kumbakarananum
Thotrum unakke perum thuyilthan thandhaano
Aatra ananthal udayaai! arumkalame
Thetramaai vandhu thira-el or empaavaai
10) There are two addresses in the vocative case in this pasuram – NOTRU SUVARGAM PUKUKINRA AMMANOY! and ARUN KALAME! – both bring out the excellence of this gopi and thereby imply the excellent characteristics of good Sri Vaishnavas.
1. SUVARGAM here means only union with God. Sita says while pressing Rama to take her with Him to the forest,” If I am with you that is heaven for me. Separation from you means hell.” The girl here has completed all her rites by surrendering to the Lord and hence is enjoying His company. So also for a Sri Vaishnava, there remains nothing to be done by way of” Upaaya” after accepting Him as the sole refuge(SARANAGATI).
2.ARUNKALAME! “Kalam” has two meanings (a) vessel and (b) ornament; A Sri Vaishnava is the vessel to contain His Grace. A Sri Vaishnava possesses superior ornaments in the form of virtues; or he himself is the best ornament embellishing the gatherings of other Sri Vaishnavas. SUVARGA can also be broken up into SU+VARGA (SU=good
VARGA=gathering). If a man possesses all good qualities he will be taken into the fold of Sri Vaishnavites. (Ref to PERIYAZHWAR TIRUMOZHI 3.6.11 – Saadu kottiyul kolla ppaduvare.)
11) Katru karavai
Katru-k-karavai kanangal pala karandhu
Setrar thiral azhiya-ch-chenru seru-ch-cheyyum
Kutram onrlladha kovalar tham porkodiye
Putraravu algul punamayile! podharaai!
Sutrathu thozimaar ellarum vandu nin
Mutram pugundhu mugil vannan perpaada
Sitraadhe pesaade selva-p-pendaatti nee
Etrukku urangum porul?-el or empaavaai
11) In this pasuram a gopi reputed for her exquisite beauty like a golden creeper (POR KODI) and born of a very noble family, is being woken up. Her father and kinsmen are known for discharging the duties pertaining to their cowherd caste, which entails milking an endless number of cows. So Andal seems to say that performance of one’s duty as enjoined in the Scriptures is calculated to bring happiness to the Lord and thereby falls into the category of His Service. One should hence never discard one’s duty.
SETTAR TIRALAZHIYA is noteworthy. SETTAR means enemies. Who are the enemies meant here? Not those who despise them but those who want to harm Sri Krishna. For a Sri Vaishnava, there is no direct enemy; he will not mind or may even welcome (as it will take away his sin) someone trying to harm him. But he considers him his enemy who intends harm to the Lord.
SUTTATTU THOZHIMAR – the girl-companions of this gopi – who are they? They are those who even after performing all kinds of services to the Lord, do not expect anything in return except His Supreme Satisfaction and Happiness.
“Praharshayishyami sanatha jeevitah”-I’ll make my life worthwhile by pleasing Him- says Sri ALAVANDAR. The stanza in NACHIYAR TIRUMOZHI ” Naaru narum pozhil”.(9.6-7) is also to be remembered in this context.
12) Kanaithilam Katrerumai
Kanaithu ilam katrerumai kanrukku irangi
Ninaithu mulai vazhiye ninru paal sora
Nanaithu illam serarkkum narchelvan thangaai!
Panithalai veezha nin vaasal kadai-patri
Sinathinaal then ilangai-k-komaanai-ch-chetra
Manaththukkiniyaanai paadavum nee vaaithiravaai!
Iniththan ezhundiraai, eethenna peruakkam!
Anaithu illaththuaarum arindhu-el or empaavaai
12) This gopi is the sister of a cowherd who, unlike the duty-conscious one in the previous verse, totally neglects the daily duty of milking the young she buffalo so as to be close to Krishna and serving Him. He is called NAR SELVAN; thereby indicating that for a Srivaishnava it is not the doing or neglect of Nitya Karma that helps attain salvation, but it is God alone who is the Means for salvation. For example for a temple priest who is always engaged in Antaranga Kainkarya, there may be neglect of his daily duties; this would however not be considered as sin.
MANATTUKKU INIYAN- Sri Rama, unlike Krishna, brings joy to the minds of his devotees as well as adversaries. This is said by Andal, the very personification of the Love for Sri Krishna, and hence is the richest tribute paid to Sri Rama. It might be recalled that she, in NACHIYAR TIRUMOZHI goes to the extent of blaming Yashoda for bringing up Krishna to be a very bad boy. (Vembeyaaga valarthaale).It is not such an extraordinary thing or a great wonder if Sri Rama is loved by His devotees and subjects; but when even Ravana is fascinated by His valour, it makes the derivation of His name apt (Ranjaneeyasya Vikramaih).
SINATTINAAL – out of anger but without hatred. Rama had no hatred towards Ravana. Actually, He wanted Ravana as a devotee; it was Ravana’s own hatred that caused his downfall. It was only when he tried to attack Hanuman that Rama became furious and showered arrows on Ravana (kopasya Vasameyivaan). So He is always ready to forgive
sins against Himself but not against His devotees.
13) Pullinvai keendanai
Pullinvaai keendaanai-p-pollar arakkanai
Pillaikal ellarum paavai-k-kalam pukkaar
Velli ezhundhu viyazham urangitru
Pullum silambina kaan podhari-k-kanninaai!
Palli-k-kidathiyo! Paavaai Nee nannaalaal
Kallam thavirundhu kalandhu-el or empaavaai
13) A girl with bewitching eyes (PODARI KKANNINAAY) is woken up in this verse. She is of the view that Krishna will come to her fascinated by the beauty of her eyes.
To add to this she is lying, brooding over Krishna’s heroic exploits, in the bed formerly shared with Him and which still retains His fragrance.
The statement in the previous verse that Sri Rama scored over Krishna in being “MANATHUKKU INIYAAN” created a sort of mutiny among the girls, some of whom disputed this by saying, “how can Rama be said to be the receptacle of all the virtues? Did He, like Krishna who acted as Pandavaduta, go as a messenger for anyone? Didn’t Krishna’s charms allure even the sages? Even His mischievous pranks are meant for us only. Moreover, Krishna is our husband and irrespective of how he treats us, it is not proper for us to praise another as being greater.”
Some mediators intervened and pointed out that both are the same Sriman Narayana, and so where is the cause for dispute. Thus reconciled the girls split into two halves each praising the glory of Krishna and Rama. This is the excellence of this verse.
14) Ungal puzhakkadai
Ungal puzhai-k-kadai-th-thottathu vaaviyul
Sengazhuneer vaai negizhndhu aambal vaai koombina kaan
Sengal podi-k-koorai vennpal thavathavar
Thangal thirukkoil sangiduvaan poginraar
Engalai munnam ezhuppuvaan vaai pesum
Nangaai! Ezhundiraai! Naanaadhai! Naavudayai!
Sangodu chakkaram endhu thadakkaiyan
Pangaya-k-kannanai-p-paadu-el or empaavaai
14) A gopi who is an expert orator and who is also chief among these girls is woken up. She had promised that she would get up before the rest and wake them up.
She has conveniently forgotten all about it and is sleeping comfortably and peacefully. This is an unpardonable crime. But still, her inclusion in the group is most essential as, with her silver tongue, she can easily subdue Krishna. Moreover it is essential that not a single girl loses His grace. If she were to sing of Krishna as He appears bearing the discus and conch He is sure to relent.
Incidentally, Andal tells us, ” Use your tongue not merely for tasting delicious dishes, but for singing about the Lotus-eyed One. That was the main purpose for which it was gifted to you in the first place by God.”
15) Elle Ilam Kiliye
Ellay! Illam Kiliye! Innam urungudhyo!
Chill enru azhayen min Nangaimeer! Podharukinren
Vallai un katturaikal pande un vaai arithum
Valleergal neengale! Naanthan aayiduga!
ollai nee podaai, unakkenna verudayai
Ellarum pondhaaro? Pondhaar pondhu ennikkol
Vallaanai-k-konraanai, maatraarai maatrazhikka
Vallaanai Mayanai-p-paadu-el or empaavaai
15) This pasuram which brings out the characteristics of a SriVaishnava is considered to be the very essence of Tiruppavai by our Acharyas.
The girl who is woken up begins to sing.
1.YELLE ILANKILIYE -the implied sense is that the speech of the devotees is most welcome.
2.INNAM URANGUDIYO -It is wrong to indulge in other things if the company of Bhagavatas is available.
3.CHIL ENRU AZHAYENMIN – Not a single harsh word should be used with the Bhaktas.
4.NANGAIMIR PODARGINREN – Devotees should be addressed respectfully.
5.VALLAI UN KATTURAIGAL – Even the chastisement by a Bhakta (which will always be constructive) should be accepted gratefully.
6.VALLEERGAL NEENGALE NAANE THAN AAYIDUGA – owning others’ mistakes as one’s own is the hallmark of a Sri Vaishnava. For ex. Bharata holds himself responsible for Rama’s exile.
7.OLLAI NEE PODAAY – Separation from devotees even for a second is unbearable.
8.UNAKKENNA VERUDAYAI – The path laid down by one’s ancestors is to be followed, not what is dictated by one’s own mind.
9.ELLAARUM PONDAARO PONDU ENNIKKOL- seeing a congregation of devotees is the most desired fruit in this life. The enjoyment is not complete even if one devotee is missing. Their sight and touch are all contributory factors to one’s enjoyment.
10.VALLAANAI..etc – Singing His virtues, valour, victory etc are vital to a Sri Vaishnava as a means of pleasing other Srivaishnavas; as such it results in the service of Bhagavatas.
These ten commandments (golden rules) are to be cherished as they constitute the acid test for testing whether one is really a Sri Vaishnava.
16) Nayaganai ninra
Naayaganai ninra Nadagopanudaya
Koil Kaappaane! Kodi thonrum thorana
Vaayil kaappaane! Mani-k-kadavam thal thiravaai
Aayar sirumiyaromukku arai parai
Maayan Manivannan, nennale vaai nerndhaan!
Thooyomaai vandhom, thuyil ezha-p-paaduvaan
Vaayal munnam munnam maatraadhe amma! Nee
Neyanilai-k-kadhavam neeku-el or empaavaai
16) Thus in ten pasurams Andal woke up girls of differing natures and thereby all the girls of Gokula were woken up and they all proceed to Sri Nandagopan’s mansion and request the doorkeeper to let them in.
Cowherd colonies in those days may have contained only huts and Nanda’s mansion may be a big hut, without a doorkeeper. And all this may be Andal’s fertile imagination.
But what she is doing is to tell us how one should enter a temple in Archavatara, and worship the Lord. Sri PARASARA BHATTAR in his SRI RANGARAJA STAVA lays down the procedure for temple entry based on this stanza. The door keepers are really our Acharyas. In our daily pooja, we open the door of our ‘koyil azhwar’ (the box where the home idol is kept) by reciting the Acharya Parampara and finally this verse without fail.
TUYOMAAY VANDOM – we have come with purity. What is purity meant here? Not the usual physical or even mental purity.The physical purity of cowherds is well known, say the commentators.The purity referred to here is the fact that they have come to do service to the Lord WITHOUT ASKING ANYTHING IN RETURN.Kainkarya
itself is the end (Swayam Purushaartha) and is not the means to an end.This point should be ever fixed in the heart of a Sri Vaishnava.
17) Ambarame Thannere
Ambaramay, thanneeray, soray aram seyyum
Emperumaan! Nandagopaala! Ezhundhiraai!
kombanaar-k-kellam kozhunday kulavilakkay
Emperumaatti! Yosodhaai! Arivuraai!
Ambaran oodaruththu ongi ulagalandha
Umberkomanne! Urangaadhu ezhundhiraai!
Umbiyum neeyum urang-el or empaavaai
17) Having entered Nandagopala’s palace with the permission of the guards, the Gopis (Andal) wake up Nandagopa, Yashoda, Krishna and Balarama, panegyrising their greatness.
Nanda has placed his bed near the entrance for fear that the gopis, like Usha in the case of Aniruddha, may steal Krishna; especially as Krishna is more handsome than His grandson! Andal glorifies Nanda as a munificent donor of clothes, water and food; but we do not come across any such reference elsewhere. The commentator says:”As Krishna was seen giving clothes to Draupadi to save her modesty; water to the chariot horses at Kurukshetra;and food to his boyhood companions in the forest – it could be presumed that his qualities were inherited from His father.”
But the gopis are not here for these items; they need only Krishna (VAASUDEVAH SARVAM). Yashoda gave birth to Krishna only to make Him their husband; and being a woman she knows their plight. So they next wake her up.
Sri Krishna in his past incarnation as Trivikrama had obtained Indra’s kingdom for him.But the gopis do not want Him to do any such thing for them. It is enough if He allows them to do service to Him.Krishna does not respond.
Realising their mistake in not approaching Him through Balarama,they do so now and ask him to help them as he had once done in the case of the gopis separated from Krishna when He went to Mathura.
18) Undhu madhakalitran
Undhu madhakalitran, odhaadha thol valiyan
Nandagopalan marumagale! Nappinnai!
Gandham kamazhum kuzhalee! Kadai thiravaai?
Vandhengum kozhi azhaithana kaann! Maadhavi-p-
Pandalmel palkaal kuyilinangal koovina kaan
Pandhaar virali! Un maiththunan per paada-ch-
Chenthaamarai-k-kaiyaal seeraar valai olippa
Vandhu thiravaai magizhundhu-el or empaavaai
18) This is a very important pasuram.Even after waking up all from Nanda to Balarama,when Krishna does not open His lips,they realise their folly in not waking up first NAPPINNAI,the chief queen and Purushakara (recommending authority) during His sojourn in this world as Krishna.They do it in this verse.
Nappinnai is Sri NEELA DEVI,the other two being SRIDEVI (Rukmini) and BHOO DEVI (Satyabhama). Nappinnai’s name is not found anywhere in the Puranas and in Sanskrit poems except in SRI YADAVABHYUDAYAM of Sri DESIKA,where she is referred to as Neela; and in the stotras of Sri KURATTAZHWAN.See also the “Taniyan”
of Sri Andal -“NEELA TUNGA…” by Sri PARASARA BHATTAR.
As we are sinners and the Lord is known for His “Swaatantrya” (acting according to His own will), it is necessary to approach Him through somebody who is very near and dear to Him and whose advice is infallible. Hence Nappinnai’s intervention is is essential.
She is addressed as Nanda’s daughter-in-law,because she thinks that that is what gives her prestige and status in society. Sita,when asked by Hanuman said,” I’m the daughter-in-law of Dasaratha first,and then only the daughter of Janaka.” So to an Indian woman Andal’s exhortation is: “After marriage a girl should always prefer herself to be referred to as the daughter-in-law of her father-in-law; which means that the welfare of her husband’s family should weigh more with her than that of the family of her origin. This attitude would enhance her own prestige and bring immense joy to her own family.”
This pasuram was the special favourite of our Acharya Sri Ramanuja.He was in the habit reciting to himself Tiruppavai stanzas while he went for his Maadhukara Vritti (for collecting the alms the householders used to give) .Once just as he reached the door of his Guru’s house he was meditating on this verse.While the last line ” SEERAAR VALAI OLIPPA etc ” was on his lips the door opened to the clinking of the bangles of the daughter of his guru. Sri Ramanuja thought that it was Nappinnai herself who opened the door and overwhelmed with jubilation promptly prostrated himself before her. The terrified girl ran to her father and narrated the incident. The guru TIRUKKOTTIYUR NAMBI exclaimed, “Jiya! were you reciting UNDU MADAKALIRU ? ” What an understanding between the Teacher and the taught ! May that relationship save us all!.
19) Kuthu Vilakeriya (Kuthu vilakku Eriya)
Kuthuvilakkeriya-k-kottukkaal kattil mel
Methnra pancha sayanathin meleri
Koththalar Poonkuzhal Nappinnai kongaiymel
Viththu kidantha malar maarbha! vaai thiravaai!
Maiththadam kanninnaai, nee un manaalanai
Ethanai podhum thuyilezha vottaai kaan
Ethanai elum pirivaatrakillaaiyaal
Thathuvamanru thagav-el or empaavaai
19) A chola king who was constructing one of the ramparts of the temple at Sri Rangam found that the beautiful circular design was being spoilt by the house of a disciple of KURATTAAZHWAN called PILLAI PILLAI AZHWAN,and ordered it to be demolished. Sri PARASARA BHATTAR adviced him against it explaining that it it is not his rampart but the mangalasaasana (PALLAANDU) of the devotees which would ensure safety to the Lord; and also that demolishing the house of a SriVaishnava would be sure to bring down the wrath of God. But the king turned a deaf ear to this advice, and becoming furious caused trouble to Sri BHATTAR, as a result of which he had to leave for Tirukkoshtiyur. While he was suffering the grief of separation from Sri Rangam and the Lord, his disciple NANJEEYAR requested him to compose a song in praise of ANDAL to mitigate his feeling of sorrow. There appeared from his lips the ‘taniyan’ “NEELA TUNGA etc”,which is the essence of the present paasuram (KUTTU VILAKKU).
NAPPINNAI is lying on the costly couch along with Krishna. The cot stands on four ivory bases,the ivory for which was obtained by Krishna by his valorous act of plucking the four tusks from the murderous mighty elephant Kuvalayapida. Being the wife of a great hero she cannot get sleep anywhere else except on such a cot. The references to the various kinds of pleasures in this stanza is a suggestion by Andal that all gopis should get them in Sri Krishna’s company and only for that reason Nappinnai is keeping company with Him.”If you don’t ensure this, you surely don’t have mercy,” Andal rebukes Nappinnai.
20) Muppathu Moovar (Muppathu muvar)
Muppaththu moovar amarar-ku-munsenru
Kappam thavirkkum kaliye! Thuyilezhaai!
Seppamudayaai! Thiraludayaai! Settraarku
Veppam kodukkum vimalaa! Thuyilezhaai!
Nappinnai nangaai!Thiruvey! Thuyilezhaai!
Ukkamum thattoliyum thanthun manaalanai
Ippothe emmai neer att-el or empaavaai
20) Despite the rebuke, NAPPINNAI was moved to pity by the wailing of the Gopis and getting up approached the door to open it. Krishna thought,” Nappinnai thinks that my devotees are her own just as I consider hers to be mine. Hence she should not open the door and get a good name, leaving me out. It is I who should open it.” So He came from behind and lifting her up bodily threw her on the bed with Him. But the mutual touch was so pleasant to them that they promptly forgot all about themselves and the poor Gopis.
The inner meaning of this high drama,as given by the commentator is that there is a Divine Couple who are vying with each other to look after the welfare of all of us (souls). Hence we have no cause for concern at all. All we have to do is to accept their protection.
Andal says to Sri Krishna in this stanza: “You have on several occasions in the past dispelled fear from the minds of the Devas and rescued them from the Asuras. Now by delaying in granting our boon you are going to lose all that hard-earned reputation as a saviour. Note also that we are not asking you to become the target of the weapons of a Hiranya or a Ravana. We merely want to see you get up from your bed and grant us the boon of serving you.We are ANANYA PRAYOJANA ADHIKARIs.
21) Etra Kalangal
Yetra kalangal ethir pongi meethalippa
Maatraadhe paal soriyum vallal perum pasukkal
Aatra-p-padaithaan magane! arivuraai!
Thotramaai ninra sudare! thuzhilezhaai!
Maatraar unakku valitholaindhu un vaasarkann
Aatraathu vandhu unnadi paniyumma poley
Pottriyaam vandhom pugazhndu-el or empaavaai
21) NAPPINNAI opened the door and told the Gopis: “Know that I am one amongst you. Don’t think I was keeping mum. I was just waiting for an opportunity to advocate
your cause to the Lord.I will certainly accomplish your end.”
So she joins them. The Gopis now eulogise the Lord: “Your father Nanda’s prosperity is immeasurable; his cattle-wealth is endless. It is sufficient if you understand our distress.”
The phrases UTTRAMUDAYAAY etc have double meanings:
UTTRAMUDAYAAY – 1) You are perfectly described in a holy Scripture called Veda,which is unshakable, is not of known authorship, permanent, flawless and is an Authority by itself. 2)You have a very strong determination not to abandon those who surrender to you (as you exhibited in the case of Vibhishana).
PERIYAAY- 1)Even those Vedas cannot fully describe you as you possess an indescribable greatness. 2) Even after doing everything for your devotees you think you have done nothing for them;and that what you did was your own personal work. This is your greatness.
ULAGINIL TOTRAMAAY etc.. 1)Vedas are rendered trust worthy by your incarnations as Rama, Krishna etc. You have shown your form even to the lowliest among the low in this world. 2)You have a predilection for your devotees;you show this by going as messenger for the Pandavas and acting as charioteer for Arjuna. So much so that your ‘Aasrita-Pakshapaata’ (undue predilection towards devotees) became evident even to enemies like Duryodhana and Sisupala.
SUDARE -1)while the lustre of all the souls who take birth due to their good and bad deeds gets dimmer with each birth,your lustre (SUDAR) gets enhanced each time, as your births are out of your Mercy (Kripa) for the distressed souls.2)By willingly subjecting yourself to slavery in respect of your devotees you enhance the lustre of your greatness.
22) Anganmaa Gnalathu
Anganmaa gnaalaththarasar abhimaana
Bangamaai vandhu nin palli-k-kattil keezhay
Sangam iruppaar pol vandhu thalaip-peydhom
Kinkini vaai seidha thaamarai poo-p-poley
Sengansiru-ch-chiridhey emmel vizhiyaavo!
Thingalum aadhityanum ezhundaar pol
Angann irandum kond engal mel nokkudhiyel
Yengal mel shaapam nirandhe-el or empaavaai
22) Sri Krishna enquires with the Gopis the reason for their visit, and they reply:
O Lord! even though you know very well that we have approached you as refugees, having no one else to give us protection, you have not condescended to cast your nectarine glances on us. We are born of a family (of Azhwars) whose constant prayer is for your Grace and that you should talk to them by moving your coral-like lips. We, like vanquished arrogant kings, have cast aside our ego and assembled under your bedstead in search of refuge. Our sole ambition is to be the target of your merciful eyes. Your inquiry regarding the purpose of our visit appears to be a new practice in your relations with us. Know that we, who should be always united with you, are today pining in separation. This situation, which appears to be due to some curse, can be modified only by your nectarine glance. It is only for this cool look that we have come to you and not for any other favor. So open your eyes slowly and steadily look at us.”
This is the very pathetic but gentle and sweet prayer of ANDAL to Sri Krishna which would melt even an adamantine heart.
NOTE: Each limb of the Almighty is capable of nullifying the evil effect of a curse as can be seen in these cases:
1.HIS FEET -Ahalya’s curse by her husband
2.HIS KNEES- Nala Kubara and Manigriva, sons of Kubera transformed into joined trees.
3.HIS THIGHS – Madhu and Kaitabha who were crushed to death by them
4.HIS CHEST – Durvasa’s curse on Indra, removed by Sridevi who resides in His bosom
5. Now HIS EYES -the curse of separation in the case of ANDAL
23) Maari malai muzhanjil
Maarimalai muzhainjil manni-k-kidandhurangum
Seeriya Singam arivuttru-th-thee vizhiththu
Verimayirponga eppaadum perndhthari
Moori nimirndhu muzhangi-p-purappattu
Podharuma poley nee poovai-p-poovanna! Un
Koil ninru ingane pondharuli koppudaya
Seeriya singaadhanath-thirundhu yam vandha kaariyam
Aaraindhu arul-el or empaavaai
23) Sri Krishna felt sad on hearing this pathetic appeal from the Gopis who had come as refugees when they were attendants of Nappinnai. He also recollected two similar incidents in His previous birth as Rama: 1)The Dandaka forest sages came and exhibited their bodies mutilated by the demons; and He had to apologise for His tardiness 2) When Vibhishana came to Him, He thought He alone was responsible for all the humiliations he had suffered at Ravana’s hands.
When this is His behavior towards even men, what then to speak of women! So Sri Krishna consoled them and promised to do whatever they wanted. They request Him to stir out of His bed chamber with all splendor and grandeur. They had seen His sleeping posture, but now they want to see His grand gait as well as His sitting posture on His royal throne.(Ninravarum Irundavarum Kidandavarum). “Like a lion sleeping with a lioness in a mountain cave during the rainy season, you sleep with Nappinnai, being a jewel for Her bosom. Now O Lord, Awake and stride out”.
Krishna asked: ” Do you want me to appear before you like RAGHAVA SIMHA or YADAVA SIMHA or NARASIMHA ?”
Gopis replied: “We merely gave the simile of the lion to stress the fact that your greatness is natural to you, just as a lion cub even at birth is the king of the jungle and doesn’t need any coronation. Further, it is like calling you POOVAI PPOO VANNA when this comparison of your supreme bodily complexion to this flowers is unworthy and highly improper.”
UN KOYIL is noteworthy. In the 16th verse, the Gopis said “NANDAGOPAN KOYIL” (Nanda’s mansion). Now they say “Krishna’s mansion”.Strictly speaking to whom does it belong? It belongs to both; just like the Hridaya Kamalam (heart of man) where both the soul and God reside; or like AZHWAR TIRUNAGARI which belongs to both Saint NAMMAZHWAR
and the deity POLINDU NINRA BIRAAN.
24) Anru ivvulagam
Anru ivvulagam alandhaai adi potri!
Senru angu then ilangai settrai! thiral potri!
Ponra-ch-chakatam udaiththaai pugazh potri!
Kanru kunilaai erindhaai! kazhal potri!
Kanru kudayaai eduthaai gunam potri!
Venru pagai kedukkum nin kaiyil vel potri!
Enrenru un sevakame eththi-p-parai kolvaan
Inru yaam vandhom irangu-el or empaavaai
24) In days of yore Arjuna ordered Sri Krishna, on the holy battlefield of Kurukshetra, to park his chariot in between the array of the two armies and the charioteer did so. So also now the Gopis earnestly solicited Him to walk out and embellish the royal throne by occupying it. He did it. When He stirred out all the Gopis with Nappinnai followed Him with prayers for His safety (Mangalaasaasanam)and when He sat on the throne held His feet with their very tender hands and pressed them to their heart and eyes with veneration. They beheld quickly the change in hue (i.e., the feet became very red owing to the strain of walking and being pressed by their soft hands gently).
This reminded them of Sri Krishna’s former heroic feat of measuring the whole universe with His very delicate feet. They thought they were also as cruel-hearted as Indra and the devas who never thought about His tenderness (Saukumaarya).
That Andal is the very worthy daughter of Periyaazhwar is proved in this verse. She says: ” O Lord! you measured this universe for the sake of Indra, who was intent on getting back his kingdom; while Bali was after fame. No one gave a thought to your tenderness; so we have come to pray that you must be free from all evils.
Ravana was worse; he had neither the generosity nor the aesthetic sense of Bali. Just like entering a cave and waking up and fighting a wild beast you walked to Lanka and fought with him. Hence we are afraid for you. That was when you were 37 years of age. What about the asura who entered the cart which was there to protect you, at the time when you were an infant and unable to distinguish between friend and foe? So we fear all the more for that.
Then two asuras assuming the guise of a calf and fruit tried to put an end to your life. They were hidden enemies. We fear that all the more.
These were evil acts by your foes; but what about Indra for whom you strained every nerve? He suddenly became an adversary, for the flimsy reason that you consumed his food, and rained stony rain for seven days. You lifted up the mountain and saved the entire Gokulam. Mangalam etc..”
UN SEVAKAME – only your (Krishna’s) heroic feat. But it may be remarked that in this paasuram Andal has sung the glory of Vamana, Rama and Krishna. However there is no contradiction here because they were all His own previous births. Similarly, her father Sri Vishnuchitta sings of them all – “Varuga varuga inge Vamana nambi.. kariya kuzhal..Kaakutta nambi etc.” As Sri Nanjeeyar delectably puts it, “Both father and daughter had the habit of building dams after all the water had flown through to the sea.”
25) Oruthi Maganai Pirandhu
Oruththi maganaai-p-pirandhu or iravil
Oruththi maganaai oliththu valara
Tharikkilaanaagi-th-thaan theengu ninaindha
Karuththai pizhai-p-piththu kanjan vayittril
Neruppenna ninra nedumaley! unnai
Aruththuthu vandhom parai tharudhi yaagil
Thiruththakka selvamum sevakamum yaampaadi
Varuththamum theerndhu magizhndhu-el or empaavaai
25) Lord Krishna after hearing their mangalaasaasana said with a melting heart and an affectionate tone: “O girls! By your birth (as the daughter of Periyaazhwaar) you are ever interested in my welfare and pray for that. You have all come here braving the biting cold and unmindful of your health. Have you anything else on your mind except PARAI (accessories for the NONBU rite)?”
Gopis replied: “We have come under the pretext of petitioning you for the accessories,but actually our request is for your Service only.”
Lord Krishna: ” I may find it difficult to grant your request immediately. After all it is not all that simple. There may be so many impediments in the way.”
Gopis: ” You were born as the son of Devaki and on the same night you became the son of Yasoda. To the former you gave the pleasure of giving birth to you(avataararasa), and to the latter the pleasure of enjoying your sport (leela-rasa). Having falsified Kamsa’s evil intentions and you made them fall on his own head. All this you did because of your love for your votaries. So nothing is impossible for you. You can do away with all obstructions. The only thing needed is that you should have the mind to bless us with your Service.”
26) Maaley! Manivanna!!
Maaley! Manivanna! Maargazhi neeraaduvaam
Melaiyaar seivanangal venduvana kettliyel
Gnalath-thai ellam nadunga muralvana
Paalanna Vannathu un Paanchajanyamey
Polvana sangangal poi-p-paadu udaiyanave
Saalap-preum paraiyey pallaandu isaipparey
Kola vilakkey kodiyey vidhaaname
Aalin ilayai! arul-el or empaavai
26) Lord Krishna: “O Gopis! your words are selfcontradictory. You say you have come for getting materials for the NONBU, and in the same breath that it is for enjoying my company. Those who desire my company need to eschew all other desires. Moreover what is this vow you mention? who has prescribed it and what are the accessories needed?”
Gopis – “The cowherds proposed this vow. As it came in handy to see your face and sing your glory and as it is in no way opposed to our primary purpose of enjoying your company we readily responded. We do it also to express our gratitude towards these cowherds who have brought about our union under this pretext.
“Although there is no direct Vedic injunction, we do it because our ancestors have done it (Melayaar seyvanagal). We give more importance to the practices of our very learned ancestors than to any other injunctions.”
Age old customs,traditions and practices of our Acharyas are to be respected and observed with great care is the message of Andal in this paasuram. By enumerating all the accessories for the Nonbu, Andal is actually speaking about SAAMYAAPATTI- where the delivered soul gets emblems similar to the Lord’s in Sri Vaikuntha; and the warm welcome it receives there after casting off this human mantle.
MAALE -depicts the LORD’s excessive,boundless and unlimited loving care and affection for the soul.It is the meaning of MAAM in Geeta Charama Sloka. AALINILAYAAY -mentioning His immeasurable and most wonderful prowess brings out the sense of AHAM in the same sloka. MAAM shows His SOULABHYA (accessability) and AHAM His omnipotence.
27) Koodadarai vellum (Kudarai vellum)
Koodaarai vellum seer Govinda! Unrannai
Paadi-p-paraikondu yaamperu sammaanam
Naadu pugazhum parisinaal nanraaga
Choodagame thol valaye thoday sevi-p-poovay
Paadagame enranaya palkalanum yaam anivom
Aadai uduppom adhanpinnay paar choru
Mooda nei peidhu muzhangai vazhivaara-
Koodi irundhu kulirndhu-el or empaavaai
27) Sri Krishna, after hearing their list of articles needed for the vow said- “O girls! If there is a God equal to Me then you may find a conch equal to my Paanchajanya. You have asked for ‘many conches’I can give the conch blown at the temple PULLARAYAN KOIL you mentioned in St.6, and the one I used to blow to bring back the cattle from grazing and my Paanchajanya.
“As regards PARAI – I can give the kettle drum JAAMBAVAAN beat when I measured the whole universe; and the huge drum beaten to celebrate my victory at Lanka; and the big one I tie to my waist to attract all girls to my dance of the pots (Kudakkoottu).
” PALLAANDU ISAIPPAAR – are your father Sri Vishnuchittar and Sri Nammaazhwaar.
” KOLAVILAKKU – is Nappinnai; KODI – Garuda;and VITAANAM (canopy) is Ananta.Are you satisfied ? Now you may go.”
Gopis – “These are for the observance of our vow. But after the vow we have to receive certain honours. They are exclusively for us. You have to give them to all
This is the prayer of ANDAL in this paasuram;the inner meaning being MUKTA BHOGA – the delivered soul’s enjoyment in the Lord’s company at Sri Vaikuntha.
Incidentally Andal leaves a message for posterity. The Lord can punish a soul for a wrong only if the the soul is not prepared to take refuge unto Him i.e., only as long the soul is bent on protecting himself by himself. The moment he accepts His protection, the Lord cannot punish him for his sins. This is the means to secure a victory over him. This is the inner meaning of the firstline KOODAARAI VELLUM SEER. For ex: 1)Parasurama, instead of confronting Rama with a bow and losing, could have come with clasped hands,and won. This, perhaps he was not aware of. 2) Ravana was allowed by Rama to get back to his palace when he had lost everything and stood there unable to defend himself. He came back the next day fully furnished with with chariot and weapons, and lost his life. Had he come without weapons he could have conquered Rama.Gopis won Him over by their humble submission to Him.
The ornaments referred to in this stanza are ornaments not only for the body but the soul also. The food (SORU) is the Lord; ghee and milk are His virtues (KALYANAGUNA). MUKTA BHOGA is the quintescence of this stanza.
28) Karavaigal Pin Chenru
Karavaigal pinsenru gaanam serndhu unbhom
Arivonrum illaadha aai-kulaththu unrannai
Piravi Perunthanai punniyam yaamudaiyom
Kurai onrum illadha Govindaa! Un rannodu
Uravel namakku ingu ozhikka ozhiyaadhu
Ariyaadha pillaikalom anbinaal unrannai
Siruper azhaiththanavum seeri arulaadhe
Iraivaa! Nee thaaraai parai-el or empaavaai
28) In the very first paasuram Sri ANDAL declared unequivocally that Sriman Narayana alone was the Means(UPAAYA) for getting emancipation and His Service.”NarayananE Taruvaan”- the “E” is very significant. Similarly Lord Krishna in His CHARAMA SLOKA commanded “Maam EKAM Saranam Vraja.” – “EKAM” = Me ALONE. This is very well brought out By Sri Andal in this verse.
A Prapanna who firmly believes that the Lord alone is capable of putting an end to our ever-revolving cycle of births and deaths should possess SIX essential characteristics:
1.He should have no truck with any other “means” like Karmayoga etc( this is his AAKINCHANYA).
2.Moreover to observe such Yogas he does not have any legitimate right,as sanctioned by the Scriptures. He has to declare his “lowness”.(ANANYAGATITVA)
3.He has to keep thinking constantly of the Fullness or unimaginable capabilities of Lord Almighty who is the “MOOLA SUKRITA”.
4.He should concentrate on the indissoluble relationship that he has with God.
5.He should beg pardon of the Lord for all his countless acts of misbehaviour in the past.
6.He should pray to God for the realisation of his aspiration, namely Service to the Almighty. Sri Andal in a very dramatic manner brings out all these in this verse.
Sri Krishna observed,”O Girls! When your aspiration is for the highest End – my Service (KAINKARYA), you must have also performed the prescribed rites for it like Karma Yoga etc. Have you done so ?”
Gopis: (emphatically) No,O Lord! To perform them we should in the first place have learnt the Vedas by sitting at the holy feet of a great Acharya(Prasaanta-chittaaya samaanvitaya etc) reputed for his erudition and practice of rites. But our “gurus” are the milch cattle and our vocation is tending them to fill our stomachs.(KARAVAIGAL PIN SENRU etc) To add to this we are born of a race which has no claim for knowledge.(ARIVONRUMILOM)
Krishna: If that is the case I can’t help you.
Gopis: We are imperfect creatures but your perfection should fill up this gap.(KURAIVONRUM etc)
Krishna: Now you claim a relationship with me, but this can be broken off very easily by performing a rite called “Ghata Sraaddha”
Gopis:That rite is applicable only to the relationships which are the result of Karma.But our relationship(namely the one between the Soul and God)is indissoluble either by you or us or both together.(UNTHANNODU etc)
Krishna: Now you correctly understand our relationship and call me “Govinda” signifying my being one amongst you.But in the past you have called me as ‘Narayana”
which has caused me considerable pain.(NOTE: NARAYANA indicates the Lord’s relationship with every created being,prapanna as well as non-prapanna;where as GOVINDA
was the title He received indicative of His special Accessibility(SOULABHYA) and compassion towards calves, cows and cowherds.)
Gopis: we apologise to you for this oversight on our part. But after all we are innocent cowherd girls. Out of our affection for you we lost our balance of mind.
Please forgive us.(ARIYAADA PILLAIGALOM etc) Krishna then summoned NAPPINNAI and ordered her to give them what they desired.
Gopis: No! she has played her role by recommending our case to you (PURUSHAKAARATVA). Now it is your turn.You are the UPAAYA,the bestower of your very valuable and
much sought-after Service.(NOTE: in a similar case Sri RAMANUJA in SARANAAGATI GADYA prayed to SRI LAKSHMI for intercession and when she said ,”Astu te; tayaiva sarvam
sampatsyate”, he proceeded to pray to the Lord for Kainkarya.)Please do it.(IRAIVA etc)
“Sriman Narayana charanau…etc” – the First Line of the DVAYA Mantra is well illustrated in this paasuram.
The stanza needs to be understood with an elaborate explanation by an erudite Guru.The sum and substance of the stanza is that He alone is the sole Means of Salvation; and a person who has no claim for any Sat Karma as the Means of salvation and a refugee, alone is fit for surrendering himself unto the Lord.
29) Chitram Chiru Kale
Sittran sirukaale vandhu unnai seviththu un
Pottraamarai adiye pottrum porul kelaai
Pettram mayththunnum kulaththil pirandhu nee
Kuttreval engalai kollamal pogaathu
Ittrai parai kolvaan anru kaann Govindaa!
Ettraikkum azh-azh piravikkum un thannoda
Uttrome yaavom unakke nam aatcheivom!
Mattrai nam kaamangal maattru-el or empaavaai
29) This stanza clearly tells us of the highest Purushaartha (the end of human life), explaining the meaning of PARAI. Asking for Parai is a pretext; as the cowherds proposed this “nonbu’ for getting rain and as it came in handy for Gopis(Andal) to keep looking at the face of Lord Krishna for as long as they liked,they accepted it. Their real intention is to get KAINKARYA (eternal service)at the lotus-feet of the Lord. The word NARAYANANE used in the first stanza was explained in the previous verse; the word PARAI is explained here.
Both “Means” and “End” are the same in Sri Vaishnava Sampradaaya;it is Sriman Narayana himself. If those who take Him as the “Means’ have contact with other “Means” like Karmayoga etc,it is akin to pollution due to contact with a dead body(because Karma Yoga etc are by nature inert and need His Presence to give Result).And if they
consider their act of Surrender to the Lord (Prapatti) itself to be the “Means”, it is like accretion of sin due to contact with a chandaala(because anything which has the taint of the ego pollutes the purity of the Prapanna).
Similarly regarding the “End” also there are two mistakes which need to to be avoided: 1)Desiring other mundane things from Him, which would be like desiring to eat poisoned or contaminated food; and 2)serving the Lord for one’s own enjoyment rather than exclusively for His pleasure(Swaartha Kainkarya),which would be like eating food left over from another eater (Uchchishtha Bhojana).
Both these types of Purities (UPAAYA SUDDHI and UPEYA SUDDHI) need to be strictly ensured by a Prapanna. The previous verse (28) speaks of UPAAYA SUDDHI -“UNTANNAI.. ..PUNNIYAM YAAM UDEYOM”- You ALONE are our Means. The present verse enjoins UPEYA SUDDHI – “UNAKKE NAAM AATSEYVOM” We serve you for the sake of your happiness ALONE, and we derive happiness on seeing your enjoyment.
Even the least trace of selfish enjoyment is to be totally erased in the service of God.It is just as in the case of sandal paste, cool breeze, flowers, ornaments etc which give pleasure to man,without themselves feeling any; the only difference being that man not being inert like them feels happy looking at the pleasure of the Lord.
Krishna ordered His servants to bring the huge kettledrum (PARAI). Then Andal says,”O Wonder! you have not understood us. We require only your everlasting, most enjoyable service. We wish to be always born alongwith you, and keep company with you always to serve you.(Like Lakshmana who served Rama whether He was in Ayodhya
or in the forest.).Kindly guard us from evincing interest in anything except you.”
Just as the body serves a man, the Soul, which is the body of the Lord (Yasya aatma sareeram), should serve Him.This is the natural law.This is the message of Andal in this crowning verse.
30) Vanga Kadal Kadanthu
Vanga-k-kadal kadaindha maadhavaani kesavanai
Thingal thirumugathu seyzhayaar senru irainji
Anga-p-paraikonda aattrai ani puduvai
Painkamala thanntheriyal pattar piraan kothai sonna
Sangath-thamizhmaalai muppadum thappaame
Ingi-p-parisuraippaar eerirandu maalvarai-th-thool
Senkam thirumugaththu selvaththirumaalaal
Engum thiruvarul petru inburuvar empaavaai
30) Those who study this Tiruppavai are forever acceptable to Sri Mahalakshmi and Sriman Narayana – this is the gist of this stanza. In days of yore, in Dwaapara Yuga, Gopis actually performed this Nonbu. Later on Sri Andal imitated them in her heart. Both Gopis and Andal got the service of the Lord. So also even without performing the rite or imitating it, just by chanting this Divya Prabandha, people will get the same fruit (Kainkarya). Sri PARASARA BHATTAR said,”Just as the mother cow gives milk even in the presence of its dead and stuffed calf (TOL KANRUKKUM IRANGUMAPOLE) so also the Lord will bless us even though we are absolutely devoid of the supreme devotion of Andal, merely because we are repeating her words.”
Gopis had surrendered themselves to Sri Krishna, but their Saranaagati would gain fruit only through the PURUSHAKAARA (recommendation) of Sri Mahalakshmi. The Lord had churned the Milky Ocean to get her and so the Gopis begin by chanting that herculean effort of the Lord VANGAKKADAL was churned only to get Sri Devi who had remained hidden there. Thus He became MAA(Lakshmi’s)-DHAVA(husband). In stanza 2 Andal said ADI PAADI- singing the glory of His Feet; here in 30, she says KESAVANAI -of Him who has fascinating locks of hair.
Thus she enjoys the Lord’s Form from His Holy Feet to His Head (Aa paada choodam).
The meaning of the POORVA KHANDA (first half) of the DVAYA Mantra is implied in this first line.
The word “SRIMAT” (He who is ever in the company of SRI) in DVAYA mantra is represented here by MAADAHAVANAI.
” NARAYANA” in DVAYA means He who has the noble qualities of VAATSALYA, SWAAMITVA, SAUSHILYA, SAULABHYA, GNAANA and SHAKTI.
These are brought out in the present paasuram as under:
1.KADAL KADAINDA -Lord Vishnu, turning a blind eye (Kaanaakkannittu) towards the blemishes of all the gods and demons, churned the ocean to get the nectar; this is VAATSALYA.
2. He established His Supremacy by managing the entire operation single-handedly; this is SWAAMITVA.
3. He even worked in cooperation with the worst criminals the lowliest of the lowly; this is SAUSHILYA.
4. He took the guise of a charming cherub and personally distributed the nectar; this is SAULABHYA.
5. He had the requisite knowledge, the know-how to churn the ocean; this is GNAANA.
6. And He had the required strength to complete the task up to the end; this is SHAKTI.
KESAVANAI- By referring to the locks of hair, His Form is implied; that is the meaning of “CHARANAU” in the DVAYA.
Those who recite the Tiruppavai paasurams are sure to be blessed by Him. They will get everything here and finally attain Salvation. Sri PARASARA BHATTAR used to say,”everyone should every morning recite all the 30 verses;or at least the 29th one-SITTAM SIRUKALE; if he finds even that difficult, he should at least bring to his mind how much exquisite joy WE added to our days and nights through chanting, understanding, discussing and in fact living with these Divine Verses (Naam irunda iruppai ninaippadu).”
Those who thus take refuge unto Him will serve Him for ever and ever;no rebirth for them. Let us also chant these sweet songs and make our mother SRI GODA DEVI’s appearance in this world useful and purposeful.
Kothai Piranthavoor Govindan VaazhumUr
SothimaNi maadam thOnrumUr –neethiyAl
nalla patthar vaazhumUr nAnn maRaihaLOthumUr
Paathahangal theerkkum Paramandi Kaattum
vedam anaitthukkum vithAhum- Kothai Tamizh
Iyainthumainthum aRiyAtha maanidarai
vyaam sumappathum vampu
ThiruvAdippUratthu sehatthuthitthAL VaazhiyE
ThiruppAvai muppathum seppinAL VaazhiyE
PeriyAzhwAr peRReduttha peNN piLlai vaazhiyE
PerumbhUthUr mmamunikkup-pinnAnAL vaazhiyE
oru NooRRu nARpatthu moonRu uraitthAL vaazhiyE
UyarangarkkE kaNNIuhanthaLitthAl VaazhiyE
maruvAruntirumalli vaLa naadi vaazhiyE
van Puthuvai naharkkOthai malarpadhangal VaazhiyE