‘Margazhi, which precedes the Uttarayana is ushah-kaala (the short period just before dawn) for devas for whom a human year constitutes one day. The period just before dawn in this month is therefore very sacred and it is common for all to visit the temples and go around the streets singing Tiruppavai, Tiruvenbavai and other bhajans – the intention is to rouse the latent spiritual powers in every one of us.’( Kanchi Paramacharya)
In other words, if the whole year is deemed to be just one day, margazhi month is the pre-dawn period of awakening, transit from the stillness and calm of the wintery night to a days of meaningful activities. It is the time for singing, before dawn every day of the month, the praise of God, at home, on the streets and in temples, be it Andal’s Tiruppavai, or, Manickavachagar’s Tiruvembaavai and Tiruppalliyeyuchi. It is also the month when the holiest vaishnavite temple in Srirangam and the most sacred saivite one at Chidambaram, have their most important annual festivals, Vaikunda Ekadasi and Aarudra Darshan, respectively, both celebrated before sun rise.
And, on the last day of month, on Bhogi, we clean our houses in readiness to welcome Uttarayana and the Tamil month of Thai with a Suryanarayana puja and Pongal….
Belief in ‘தை பிறந்தால் வழி பிறக்கும்’!
Andal’s story is well known. Born in Srivalliputtur a great vaishnavait temple town, she was determined to get married to the Lord and to no one else. She composed and sang 30 verses or ‘pasurams’ comprising Tiruppavai, each sung on one day of the month of Margazhi. Appropriately the first pasuram starts ‘margazhi thingal …’. She is believed to have ultimately attained her wish in Srirangam temple.
INTRODUCTION: Sri ANDAL is the Quintescence incarnation
of Sri BHUMI DEVI the Divine Consort of SRIMAN NARAYANA,
who took birth on this earth to liberate suffering human
beings from worldly bondage.She sang thirty sweet songs
containing the cardinal principles ofSriVaishnava Dharma
during the month of MARGAZHI.Singing these songs,with
understanding of their inner meaning, will bring to us
peace, prosperity and above all Divine Grace.
ANDAL, though a Brahmin girl, assumes the guise of a
cowherdess and yearns for Everlasting Happiness and
Service of the Lord.It is the age-old practice of
Sri Vaishnavas to sing these stanzas every day of the
year in the presence of the Lord in the temple as
well as in their homes.This practice assumes special
significance during MARGAZHI so much so that each day
of this month gets its name from a pasuram,like for
example the first day (12.16.97) is called MARGAZHI-
It may appear in the beginning that Andal is intending
to perform a particular religious vow to marry the Lord
and thereby obtain His Everlasting Company,and that she
is inviting all her girl friends to join her.It is only
towards the end of TIRUPPAVAI that we learn that she
did not actually go to any pond or river or perform
a religious rite; SHE IS ACTUALLY PRAYING TO BE GRANTED
THE SERVICE OF THE LORD FOR ALL ETERNITY.It is the
Soul’s inner craving to redeem itself and to reach
His Divine Nearness in order to serve him (” Attaani-
cchevagam” as her father PERIYAZHWAR calls it) which
forms the real purport of this poem.
- MARGAZHI TTINGAL
The first stanza which states the central premise to be
elaborated in the rest of the poem contains the
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 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” which
characterises a SriVaishnava.
7.Yasoda’s over-indulgence of Krishna is responsible
for all his pranks and misbehaviour towards the young
8.SrimanNarayana 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.
- VAIYATHU VAZHVIRGAL
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
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 which was not practised 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
A SriVaishnava 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
illtreatment 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
- ONGI ULAGALANTHA UTHAMAN
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” every one
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.
Which 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” which
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 essentially 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.AAZHI MAZHAI KKANNA
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.
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
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(Subse-
quent 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
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).
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 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 approch 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 croos 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.
- PULLUM SILAMBINA KAN
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 an excellent quality
of the Lord:
PUL is 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’sand 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.
- KISU KISU
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
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 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
make it delectable.
- KIZH VANAM
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
“The horizon has become bright.Get up.” say the girls.
But she astonishes them by replying,”It is the lustre
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 cowherdess.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
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 valour.Tat Tasya Sadrusam Bhavet.That alone would be
befitting to Him.” Hanuman applauded these words.
So also this girl having transfered 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 blood relationship with Sri RAMANUJA.
Fie upon me!That good fortune is with MUDALI ANDAN
and EMBAR!” This idea is noteworthy in this verse.
There are two addresses in the vocative case in this
pasuram – NOTRU SUVARGAM PUKUKINRA AMMANOY! and
ARUN KALAME! – both bring out the excellences of this
gopi and thereby imply the excellent characteristics
of good Sri Vaishnavas.
- 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
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.
….. In essence, margazhi is the month for singing praise of the Lord.
Thyagaraya aaraadhana is celebrated in Tiruvaiyaru! A Feat for the ears and eyes…Yes..Celebrities,Amateurs, Students, all music lovers instruments, singers etc..join together to show rtheir reverence to Thyagaraja,the doyen in music..
All ekadashis, 24 in a year, are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and for many people it is a day of fasting, but, if one cannot observe all of them, one is enjoined to observe at least the ekadashi in the sukla paksha (waxing phase) of margazhi. It is the most important festival during the year in Sri Ranganathar temple in Srirangam. The celebrations last 21 days and divided into pagal-patthu (ten mornings) and ra-patthu (ten nights). Bang in the middle is Vaikunta Ekadashi. Early in the morning around 4.30 am, the Paramapadha vasal, or swarga vasal – the entrance to heaven or vaikuntam – opens and Sri Ranganathar’s murthy, decked in diamonds, is taken through this entrance, followed for the rest of the day by throngs of devotees going through the same door.
Similar events take place in all other vaishnavite temples – in Tirupathi, Lord Venkateshwara enters through vaikunta dwaram. Paramapada vasal, as indeed vaikunta dwaram, is closed rest of the year. Anyone who passes through these doors on vaikunta ekadashi day is believed to attain salvation.
Lord Shiva’s star is Aarudra, or Tiruvaadhirai and in the month of Margazhi it usually falls on the full moon day that follows vaikunta ekadashi. It is celebrated in all Shiva temples, most importantly, in Chidambarame
Kanchi Mahaperiaval explains.
“Lord Shiva, in his manifestation as dancing Nataraja gives his darshan early in the morning on the day of confluence of the full moon and the star Aarudra that occurs only once in a year, ie in the month of Margazhi. Arudra in Sanskrit means wet, or dripping. This is the time of the year when nature itself puts on a cloak of cool dew. Full moon is also associated with cool soothing rays. On this auspicious day, it is the tradition to perform an abhisheka and worship Lord Shiva, with our hearts overflowing with compassion to other beings. What is also highlighted is the Nataraja form of Lord Shiva, in his ananda thandavam, or cosmic dance. It is only at His raised and slightly inclined foot – ‘குஞ்சித பாதம்’ – that we can seek our sanctuary.”
Margazhi is famous for various other Hindu religious festivals and events, such as Hanumath jayanthi and Ramana Maharishi jayanthi. It was the month in which Kurukshetra battle was fought and Paandavas regained their lost kingdom – indeed, when Geethopadesam to Arjuna by Lord Krishna took place.
This year, vaikunta ekadashi falls on 5th January, 2012 and Aarudra darshan on 8th January, 2012. And, Mahasamigal’s aaraadhana itself starts on 21st December, 2011. May we follow his advice: ‘In this sacred Maargazhi month, everyone should get up at the ushah-kaala, long before dawn, perform pujas to Him and join in bhajans and turn their thoughts to God.’