Art is long, life is short
This is indeed true! Every time we chant or listen to Thiruppavai, the divine pasurams unfold gloriously. We embarked on the journey of admiring Andal in our previous article just to find out that the journey is an eternal enigmatic and enriching one. Let us peer through the window of time to get the divyadarshan of our adorable Andal.
As the early sunrays caressed the holy tulsi vatika in the sylvan ambience of Srivilliputhur Agraharam, a quiet hamlet in Tamilnadu, pious vaishnavaite Periazhvar heard the squeals of an infant while collecting beautiful flowers and tulsi for pooja. He rushed to find a girl baby whom he adopted as his own daughter. He named her Kothai and cared for as a loving father as well as a spiritual Guru by telling her the stories of Bhagavan Sri Mahavishnu. As she was born in this holy month of Ashaada on the day Poora nakshatra, our hearts are filled with joy and our minds overflow with devotion to contemplate on her.
Thiruppavai is like a divine lens of a devotee to get a glimpse of the Bhagavan. Every time we look through this enigmatic prism we get a spectrum of varied perspectives enriching us as seekers of the ultimate truth.
Thirupavai is considered as the quintessence of the Vedas. Three different lofty aspects are explained poignantly within 30 pasurams by our little Kothai. In this article let us endeavor to understand the unparalleled talent of Andal to lucidly describe about the five manifestations of Bhagawan, different Avatars of Sriman Narayana and the nine ways of devotion (Nava vitha bakthi) which was encapsulated in a slokam, by Baktha Prahalad.
Manifestation of Paramaatma as exemplified by Kothai Nacchiyar:
Srivaigundam, Kshiraabdhi (Thiruppaarkadal), Vibhavam, Antharyami and Archavathar are the five forms in which Lord Sriman Narayana manifests himself.
Margazhi Thingal Pasuram exemplifies the beauty of Srivaigundam. In this pasuram Andal clearly states that Sriman Narayana alone can redeem us and bless us with Moksha (Narayanane namakke parai tharuvan).
Vaiyathu Vazhveergal, the second Pasuram outlines the way Paramaatma manifests himself as Paarkadal. She portrays the picture of Bhagawan in yoga nidra in the milky ocean Kshiraabdhi.
The above two manifestations are very difficult for the mortals like us to perceive. Due to his divine benevolence, Paramaatma comes down to Earth as an avatar to live among us. The 3rd pasuram Ongi Ulangalandha salutes the glory of Trivikramaavathar.
The 4th manifestation of paramaatma is the antharyami which is nothing but seeing god within us and within everything around us. In the Aazhi mazhai kanna pasuram she dwells on the innate presence of Sripathi in us. She sees Bhagawan as the generous dark clouds which nurtures all the life forms. Further she compares the lightning to the brightness of Sri Sudharsana Chakra and the thunder to the sound of conch (paanchajanya), the downpour of rain to the shower of arrows from Saarnga (the holy bow of Sriman Narayana).
Mayanai mannu vadamadhurai mainthanai sketches the Archaavathar or the form of thirumangala vigraham worship, which is very popular among the masses. In this pasuram she elaborates how we all do our pooja to God by offering flowers, singing hymns (thooyomai vandu thoomalarai thoovi vaayinaal paadi manathinaal sindhikka). If we perform our duties with utmost respect, our sins will be incinerated to ashes “theeyinil thoosaagum”.
The first five Pasurams explains the five forms of Paramathma’s manifestation, and then Andal starts to explain the different ways of showing devotion to the omnipotent.
Andal and Bakthi:
Bakthi is defined by Baktha Prahaladha to be characterized by shravanam (listening), keerthanam (singing), smaranam (contemplating), paadha sevitham (saashtaanga namaskara), archanam (chanting holy names), vanthanam (welcoming god in our hearts), daasyam (servitude), sakyam (friendship), athma nivethanam (complete surrender).
In the sixth pasuram pullum silambinakaan, she dwells on shravanam. She wakes up the devotee, by saying “Dear child! Don’t you hear the chirping of birds and the loud sound of the white conch?”
In the seventh pasuram (kesavanai paadavum) and in 8th pasuram (paadi parai kondu) she details about the keerthanam.
The 9th pasuram (thoomani madhatu sutrum vilakeriya) portrays a devotee who is enchanted in Narayana smaranam completely unaware of her surroundings. In the 10th notru suvargham pasuram she persuades the girl who is in the smarananam of Narayana to open the door with grace to enable other devotees to also imbibe the divine glory of sriman Narayana.
Paadha sevitham: in the pasuram “ambharame thanneere” – she praises the lotus feet of the lord which is adoned with gold kazhal (sempon kazhaladi), an ornament similar to anklet. This way she shows her devotion in the form of Paadhasevitham.
Archanam is detailed in the 24th pasuram (andru ivvulagam alanthai adipotri). This is also known as potripasuram where she praises bhagawan. Vaishnava sampradaya Acharyas recommend this pasuram to be included in our daily Pooja rituals.
Vanthanam: In the 23rd pasuram Kodhai invites the lord to come and take the throne in our hrudayakamalam (pondaruli koppudaiya seeriya singhasanathil) and then bless us.
Dasyam: In the 28th pasuram katru karavaigal pin sendru, Andal glorifies the dasyathvam. We don’t think independent or intelligent. We follow behind you just like cows following their cowherd.
Sakyam: friendship is explanined I beautifully in sirupeyar athaithanavum seeri arulathe… karavaigal pasuram she says we call nyou with pet names just the way friends do don’t get angry but bless us.
The 29th pasuram (chitran chiru kaale) explains the saranagathi tattva. How many ever births (janmas) we may take, we will only surrender to the Purushothama (ezh ezh piravikkum umakeyaam aatcheivom) claims Kodhai. This is in line with Srimad Bhagavad Gita charama sloka (chapter 18) where Lord Krishna assures Moksa to those who surrender to him alone “maam ekam saranam vraja”.
Avathars of Sri Mahavishnu:
Among the numerous avathars of Srimannarayana, Andal in her Thirupavai portrays some of them, which is considered dasavathar by our maharishis.
Matsya: In the second pasuram, she mentions the matsyavathar as “oodu kayal ugala”.
In the 30th pasuram (Vanga kadal kadaintha) she reminds us of perumals Kurmavathara in which he supported the manthra malai during the churning of milky ocean.
Narasimha: In the 23rd pasuram, Andal paints the picture of a majestic lion, which is waking up from his sleep and starts on his journey with a roar. She compares Krishna to this lion and by doing so she reminds us of Srinarasimha Avathar.
Vamana/Trivikrama: In the third pasuram (Ongi ulagalantha utthaman) she states the magnificent avathar of Mahavishnu where he comes to the Yagasala of Mahabali as Vamana and grows majestically to Trivikrama and measuted the whole universe.
Rama: in the 12th pasuram kanaithilam katrerumai, Andal saluted the anger of Srirama who punished the king of Lanka (sinathinal then ilangai komanai setra)
Balarama: Ambharame thanneere pasuram, the 17th in Thiruppavai praises the beautiful feet of Balarama. She wakes him and asks him to wake his younger brother.
Krishna: Andals love for Krishna is evident in almost every Thiruppavai pasurams. To quote a few, in the very first pasuram itself Nandagopan kumaran and yasodai ilamsingam refers to Krishna. In the 6th pasuram, pei mulai nanjhundu she explains about Krishna drinking the poisioned milk and in the process drinking the life out of Boothana and shattering of Sagadasura – kalla sagadam kalakkazhiya kaalochi. In the 25th pasuram “oruthi maganai piranthu oriravil oruthi maganai olithu” she encapsulates the whole life story of Krishna. In the Potri pasuram, she adores the feats of Krishna like protecting the Gokulam by holding the Govardhana hills as an umbrella during the torrential rains. Yes she has praised Krishna in every possible pasuram.
Kalki: 20th pasuram “Muppathu moovar” eulogizes the Kalibaghavan who leads all the devas and removes or enemies. Neela devi who has incarnated herself as Nappinnai is also praised in this pasuram.
Our altruistic Andal, an Avathar of mother Earth, has showered us with her blessings through Thiruppavai. It is written in Tamil using simple words which are in day to day use till date. This enables us to comprehend this wonderful work relatively easy compared to other literary works which are filled with difficult words. Each one of us, as Sanadhana Dharma followers should make an earnest effort to learn Thiruppavai, which nurtures us in a holistic manner for both materialistic world and the spiritual world. Yes! Thiruppavai is indeed an Amirtham – An elixir of our lives.
Padhagangal theerkum Paramanadi kaattum
Vedam anaithirkkum vitthagum
Kothai Tamil Aeiaeinthum ariyatha manidarai
vaiyam sumathum vambhu.
Andal thiruvadigale saranam!!
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