Tirrupavai

‘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’!

Image result for thai in tamil

 

 

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.

Andal

 

 

 

 

Tirrupavai

 

 

 

 

 

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-

TTINGAL.

 

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.

 

  1. MARGAZHI TTINGAL

 

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 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

gopis.

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.

 

 

  1. 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

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 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

living.

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

happiness.

 

 

  1. 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.

 

 

5.MAYANAI

 

 

 

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(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

ninra mamanivanna)

 

 

SECTION II

 

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.

 

 

  1. 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.

 

 

  1. 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

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 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.

 

  1. 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

of address.

 

“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

Asthanam Panninargal.”

9.THOOMANI MADAM

 

 

 

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.

 

 

10.NOTRU SUVARGAM

 

 

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.

  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 KKARAVAI

 

 

 

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..

 

Vaikunta Ekadashi

 

 

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.

 

srirangam temple

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.

 

Aarudra Darshan

 

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

Natarajar Temple

 

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.’

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