Tiruppavai Pasuram 11


kattu kaṛavai kaṇangaḷ pala kaṛandu |
 cettār tiṛal azhiya cennu cerucceyyum |
kuttram onnillādā kōvalartam poṛkoḍiyē |
 puttaravalgul  puna mayilē! pōdāray |
cuttattu tōzhimār ellārum vandu | nin
 muttam puhundu muhil vaṇṇan pēr pāḍa |
cittādē pecādē śelva peṇḍāṭṭi | nī
 ettukku uṛangam poruḷ ēlōr empāvāy ||


kattru kaṛavai– calf but like milch cows;

pala kaṇangaḷ– innumerable in number;

kaṛandu – milk the cows;

cettrār- enemies or foes;

tiṛal azhiya–  strength is destroyed;

cendru cerucceyyum– those who go to the place of the enemy and win a battle;

kuttram ondrillādā– absolutely faultless;

kōvalartam poṛkoḍiyē – Golden creeper born in the clan of cowherds!

puna mayilē! – Like a peacock in its home ground;

Pōdarāy– please come out!

cuttrattu tōzhimār ellārum– All your relatives and friends;

 vandu– have gathered;

nin muttram puhundu– in your courtyard;

muhil vaṇṇan pēr pāḍa– even after singing the divine names of that beautiful Krishna, with His complexion like the dark clouds;

śelva peṇḍāṭṭi nī– you who are all wealth (for us);

 cittrādē pecādē– immobile and speechless;

uṛangam poruḷ ettrukku – why are you still sleeping?


 In this verse Andal awakens a gopi who is celebrated as “kōvalartam poṛkoḍiyē” “puttaravalgul puna mayilē! “”śelva peṇḍāṭṭi” because similar to Kṛṣṇa she is the most adorned special girl in Thiruayppadi (highest rank in all aspects, a great devotee)  She is relaxing with the feel that, “When Kṛṣṇa is the special boy and I am an equally special girl why should I go and undertake vratha why not He do the same to get my companionship?”


 (kattru kaṛavai) the cows are of the age of calves but due to the special touch of Kṛṣṇa they have become milch cows; Similar to the celestial beings (nityasuris) in the divine abode of the Lord always being 25 years of age due to the divine touch of the supreme Lord here the milch cows are always like calves;

 King Dasaratha after living for 60,000 years says that the very sight of Sri Rama makes him feel like a youth.  If just seeing the Lord can do miracles what to say about his magical touch! Thinking in mind makes us elated, seeing im makes us youth.

 Kṛṣṇa had a special liking for going at the back of calves because they are innocent and don’t depend on their self efforts. He was also fond of cows but extremely fond of calves;

 More than the cowherd men who were independent, Kṛṣṇa was more attached to the cowherd women who were dependents. More than them he was deeply in love with the small girls in Thiruayppadi. More than that He liked the cows that was relying on Him; Even closer were the calves to Him as they knew no one else other than Kṛṣṇa.

 (kaṇangaḷ pala) such cows were not one or two but in groups and there were many such groups of milch cows in thiruayppadi; 

 Similar to ‘nAra’ in the thiruashtAkshara manthra ( a secret manthra preached to the disciple by a preceptor during the special ritual of pancha samskara that gives one the identity of a Srivaishnava); ‘nAra’ is a first part of the divine Name nArAyana indicating everything else in the universe other than the eternal supreme soul (paramatma); ‘nara’ means imperishable; there are many groups of eternal objects that is “nAra” and even that groups are innumerable so it becomes “nArA:” The one who resides inside and outside of these eternal “nArA:” is Narayana.  Similarly here kattru karavai kanam- calves similar to milch cows; kanangal – such groups; kanangal pala – many such groups, countless; 

 Similar is the case of the divine qualities of the Lord; Even if we can count the divine qualities of the Lord atleast in groups, the calves in thiruayppadi are truly countless, admire our preceptors;

 (pala kaṛandu) the calves may be innumerable and may yield gallons and gallons of milk but this milkman is capable of milking all of them all by himself.  Being born in such a special clan and being trained right from his childhood this cowherd man effortlessly milks all the cows;

 Andal now indirectly tells to the gopi inside, so what if you are born in a family who are capable of doing admirable tasks? Why don’t you come and join us? The gopi inside enquired – Then to whom should I show my greatness?

 (cettrār tiṛal azhiya cendru cerucceyyum) The people of this place are capable of going to the place of the enemies and destroying their strength;

 Surrendering to an enemy, not able to fight them is adhama veera lakshanam (lowly warrior); fighting a battle in one’s home ground is madhyama veera lakshanam (middle level) whereas a superior warrior (uththaman) goes to the enemies place and fights the battle and becomes victorious.

 But who can be an enemy to a devotee? Anyone who doesn’t accept the supremacy of the Almighty and talks ill of Bhagavan are considered the enemies of devotees. Though both of them do not have direct enemies, The Lord considers enemies of devotees as His enemy whereas the devotees consider the enemies of the Lord as their enemies.

 (kuttram ondrillādā) Faults of warriors are keeping quiet when an enemy wages a war or running away from a battle or fighting against anyone without a weapon etc.  The cowherd men of Thiruayppadi are absolutely faultless; how can they have fault when they are monitored closely by Kṛṣṇa Himself.

 The supreme Lord has a special quality of considering even a fault of a devotee to be a good feature (vAtsalyam); He forgives, forgets and considers all our mistakes as a matter of eminence;

 (kōvalartam poṛkoḍiyē) Similar to Sita Devi celebrated by King Janaka as the decorative creeper of the Janaka vamsa, this gopi sleeping inside is celebrated as a golden creeper to the cowherd clan; Creepers have a tendency to go in search of a proper support similarly you used to call us as your support, has it become false now?

 (Puttaravalgul) Your waists are like the glittering hood of a snake in its hole;

 The snake gets muddy while it roams about and loses its beauty when caught by someone but while in its hole it is of utmost beauty; But why should girls admire the beauty of another girl? Similar instances are seen in mahabharatha where other ladies awe the beauty of drowpathi and other men awe the beauty of Sri Kṛṣṇa because the beauty is beyond words and attracts any onlooker;

 Here ‘poṛkoḍiyē’ samudhAyashObhai (all round beauty) ‘Puttaravalgul’ avayavashobhai (charm of a specific part);

 (puna mayilē!) Oh beautiful maiden like a peacock in its home ground; the thick hair on your head, resembling the peacocks tail

 (Pōdāray) Please energize us with your beautiful walk;

 Have all others come? Asked the gopi inside;

 (cuttrattu tōzhimār) Those in thiruayppadi are not only her friends but also related in some way;

 (ellārum vandu) everyone has come since they have no goal other than waking you up;

 (ellārum vandu nin muttram puhundu) all of us are in your courtyard, which is capable of accommodating  any number of devotees like Srivaikunta; Not only for us but this courtyard is special even to Kṛṣṇa;

 (muhil vaṇṇan pēr pāḍa) Let us sing the praise of the Lord whose complexion matches that of the dark cloud; both the colour and nature are similar; He is blue in colour, giving coolness to the eyes of the devotee and also showers His limitless grace on one and all.

 (cittrādē pecādē) Why are you like this motionless and speechless? Have our song on the divinity made you unconscious (deeply immersed)

 (śelva peṇḍāṭṭi nī) You will not know our difficulty of separation.  You enjoy the union with Kṛṣṇa but we suffer in your separation. You are so precious to both us and Kṛṣṇa;

 Or otherwise one who is immersed in the wealth of krishnAnubhavam (experience of Kṛṣṇa);

 How do you say I am rejoicing with Kṛṣṇa? Asked the gopi inside;

 (ettrukku uṛangam poruḷ) Then why are you still sleeping?  Shouldn’t there be a valid reason for you to sleep in spite of hearing our call?

 Earlier you longed for the companionship of devotees and waited for all of us to come but now you are sleeping inside or are you enjoying in solitude (kaivalyamoksha– experiencing the soul alone)?  What is the reason for you to keep sleeping and not looking into your nature, our suffering and the joy of Kṛṣṇa?

 The three epithets “kōvalartam pokoiyē” “puttaravalgul puna mayilē! “”śelva peṇḍāṭṭi”  denote respectively that the girl belongs to a highly respectable family, that she is a paragon of beauty and that she is an embodiment of good character.


 Leela vibhuthi is a playground for the supreme Lord.  It is an excellently organized system established by the universal creator.  Each one has a specific role to keep the cycle of samsara rolling without interruption.  The Lord has created hierarchies based on each ones capabilities and eligibilities.  He created four varnas vis., brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya and sudra.  Each one of them has specific duties prescribed in the sastras.  Though ideally they were classified according to characteristics, in practice our varnas are defined by birth. A child born in a brahmin family, for example, is genetically supposed to imbibe certain qualities from the surroundings and family and gets tuned to perform the duties of a brahmana. Though, unfortunately, there are a lots of lapses in this system today, we still find traces of characteristics remaining predominantly. Also it is important to understand that the Lord has created four varnas only, for distribution of duties, and not the hundreds of divisions and exploitations that exist today in the name of castes. Saints and preceptors from all four varnas and also outside have always been revered equally by authentic Vaidikas like Bhagavad Ramanuja. 

So if a devotee aspires for the pleasure of the master (the supreme Lord) then it becomes important for him to follow the rules and regulations of the varna and ashrama (brahmachari, gruhasta, vanaprasta and sanyasa) he falls under as specified in the authentic texts, the sastras.  Performing the varnashrama duties to the level possible should be the prime concern for any devotee. 

In the 11th verse in thiruppavai Andal credits the ‘kovalan’ who performs his duty of milking the cows perfectly.  Irrespective of the number of cows or the gallons of milk the cowherd man performs his duty in a most efficient manner and hence he is said to be faultless.

Let us all try to know more about our varnashrama dharmas (duties) and try to perform the same not as a means but for the sake of following what our dear Krishna has told us to follow.